She is clothed in Strength and Dignity

Writing4Joy
“Strength and Dignity”

Proverbs 31:25
She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.
She makes me laugh. She gives hope when I feel discouraged. She reminds me that my mind needs to have redirection when I am thinking of the things that are not life-giving. She is a woman of Grace.  She understands my struggles, either because she has lived them or because she is walking close to the one that knows my every moment and breath.
She is my friend. She is my warrior in battle. She is a Proverbs 31 woman. A woman fully clothed in strength and dignity.

Who is she? She is many. She is the many women that the Lord has put in my life to edify, encourage, build up, and strengthen me in this thing we call life.
In the presence of these mighty women, I can’t help be changed and transformed to be the woman that God had created me to be.

Just as the scripture says bad company corrupts good character (I Cor. 15:33), so can a strong woman influence the ladies within her circle.

Because she spent the time to cultivate my walk, I am able to say that I too am a woman of strength and dignity. I too can laugh at my future without fear.

I have been blessed to have women in my life give of themselves and take the time to instruct and teach the truth. They have spoken into my nows, for the development of my next.

Who the Lord chooses to place in my life has taken turns over the years. But each one that has imparted has made a lasting impact. I remember the women, that taught a young girl, how to raise my hands in worship. I remember the women that taught me how to go to the scriptures in all of my trials, longing, and joys. I remember the women that taught me how to be a wife that saught God’s plans for my family. I remember the woman that spoke to me as a young mother and reminded me that the seasons would go fast and to enjoy each moment. I remember the woman that taught me how to retrain my thoughts. I remember the woman that told me I was assuming another’s heart was ill-intentioned and that I  needed to trust in God for other’s motives and love without restriction. I remember the woman that spoke into my life, teaching me about my identity in Christ.

These many women changed my life from the victim to the victorious. From the mundane to the extraordinary. To a life full of expectation rather than a focus on what was lost or left behind.

Because she was willing to invest, I too can boldly say that I  am a woman clothed in strength and dignity and I can laugh without fear of the future. Because of the Holy Spirit within her pouring out, I was changed.

She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.
She can walk in this truth as she listens to the instruction of the Lord. She dwells with the Holy Spirit. Letting His power be at work within.

She may not even know the impact she has made. For her efforts may have seemed so small in the grand scheme of things. But to the one that had her life changed, it meant everything.

She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, but until then: Seven steps to peace.

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We are getting into our sunny season around here and I couldn’t be any more thrilled. But, I have to admit with COVID-19 orders to stay in, I could get a little discouraged that the sun is finally here again, and I have to wait for the trips to the zoo, parks, waterfalls, mountains and ocean.

When I was little, my aunt would sing to me the lyrics of Annie’s famous song,
The Sun will come out tomorrow. 
Living in months of rainy Oregon weather every year, I have to admit I still absolutely love that song! I will sing it often to cheer myself on a cloudy day. Especially when despite the situations outside, my heart may be feeling a little damp and not so sunny.

Sometimes I have to just shrug off the situations in my life and say, oh well, the sun will come out tomorrow. Otherwise, things can go from gloomy to worse, quickly. And most assuredly the situation always changes, and often looking back I can be thankful how I have grown and that this too was survived. Life is ever-changing and the sun truly does come out tomorrow. Oh maybe not today’s tomorrow, but some days tomorrow.
Until we see the sun come out in our lives, both figuratively and literally, there are seven steps to peace that I try to follow these days. I find even in the darkest gloomiest seasons, I can often find a bit of sun after all.

Seven Steps to Peace

1. Ask yourself if the situation is truly dark as it seems. Is there any opportunity for the good within the circumstances to be seen? Look for even a glimmer of hope in the most hopeless of days. When you find it, hold on tight.

2. There is true wisdom in the words, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Evaluate what is worth the energy to keep you from peace. If it truly is not worth it, don’t give in to it. It is okay to let the small things go.

3. Sing Baby Sing! Music truly is an opportunity to bring about peace. Find some music that stirs up your peace, or joy, or a little sunshine on a cloudy day and sing along.
Or if you are more into grooving, dance along to that favorite tune. My favorite worship leader would always remind me, with praise and thanksgiving, give a shout of triumph unto the Lord. Oh, how it is hard to stay in turmoil with praise on your lips!

4. Meditate. The scriptures tell us to meditate on the word of God. Meditate (think upon) His word and promises. Think upon whatever is good, right and brings honor to His name.

5. Walk away. If you are dealing with toxic people that are robbing you of peace, and you are able to, walk away. Nothing is worth the damage that constant turmoil brings your life from a situation that is unhealthy. If it is a situation that you just can not walk away from, seek some wise counsel on how to best maintain your peace and handle a toxic situation/relationship.

6.  Be mindful to not pick up someone else’s anger, frustration, anxiety or self-righteousness over a situation. I have been peaceful and joyful and walked into a room of grumbling and complaining and picked up the very same attitude. Likewise I am positive that I have changed atmospheres with my own negative mindsets. Now I am learning to take the time to breathe, slow down and think of a way to encourage in a frustrating situation, rather than becoming a part of the problem.

7. Write it down. We are human and we are going to go through battles that sometimes are too big to think away, sing away or hope away. But I have found writing all the good, the bad and the ugly down in my situation, often turns into my prayer, and not only helps me put things in perspective but releases the pressures building up in me when it is all just too much. Often when I get to the end of my writing, I will begin to see the situation with a new lens and gain ideas to best equip me in the battle ahead. I also have found that keeping it all down, leads to testimonies when the sun shines and it has all worked itself out in the end.

You see, the rains come. The storms of life hit hard. But eventually, the darkness rolls away and hope shines again. The sun will come out. My hope is we can avoid being a soggy mess when it arrives. But instead being the strong tree, with the roots that run deep. Still standing tall at the end of it all. Ready to glisten in the shimmer of goodness as the light once again shines.

Loneliness: Call Me

 

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Awakened Arts: Call Me Anytime

 

Sometimes the damage of rejection can have roots that run deep. I have had seasons of extreme loneliness. Many times, it had been a lingering feeling of not having a place in the world. The mind can play games when you have a lot of time on your hands. The silence can be your biggest enemy.

Often my loneliness had been my own making. I have hurt others by canceling plans due to my illness. I understand their frustration, it would break my heart to cancel and the lies start wreaking havoc about my worth. So then I would not make plans, and the invites never came.
Also,  I am not one to love talking on the phone, in fact I cringe at the thought. I get anxious about the onslaught of sensory overload that inevitably follows phone conversations. My form of communication is writing, or time together, but not everyone works the same way.

Society teaches us to not invite ourselves. And I have done the inviting more times than I can count, only to sit back and watch everyone else gather time and again without an invite. I have traveled 8 hours twice to go spend time with a friend, only to have them unable to go 10 min out of their way to come see me when we were in the same town, they rather take a picture of a building (their bucket list item), than allowing a few minutes for a quick hello and hug as they passed through. It has hurt extremely deeply. And the enemy would use these moments to attack, the remembrance that others didn’t want me, and actually preferred I didn’t exist at all, would ring loud in my head after every new rejection.

There have been times I even voiced my loneliness to others, to only receive empty stares back at me or a nod of understanding but then weeks of silence followed. Even if I was unable to do, the invite would have been a treasure.

I have beaten myself up with lies that I am unlovely and unwanted.  I surely must be annoying or boring or any other ‘thing’ that would keep others uninterested in spending time with me by their own choice, would fill my head.

I even ordered a book titled: Uninvited- Lysa Terkeurst which I have yet to read as I lost it in some transitions.

Imagine my surprise, when a friend heard my words, “I am lonely”, and acted on them. She heard my cry and invited me to coffee.
She shared her own seasons of loneliness. And admitted that the Lord told her if you are lonely do something about it. This truth touched my very core.
I had been letting the enemy lie to me so much I stopped reaching out. I was waiting for everyone else to notice me, in a world where sometimes, this just does not happen.
To see someone so charismatic, beautiful, fun, well-loved, talented, gifted and all other things lovely, to deal with being lonely was a shock to me.

It was a few days later the Lord had revealed a life-giving truth to me.  When loneliness rises up, it is often a tugging and call from the Lord.
He wants to spend time with us. Loving and healing us through our inner hurts. He wants the opportunity to sit in His presence. It is in those moments with Him that I have been given hope, peace, joy, healing, and revelations. It is in those moments that I discovered my identity. I discovered that I am wanted. My pain has melted away and new life rises up.
When I get so wrapped up in the fact that I am sitting in silence and the invites are not coming, I miss the most important invite of all. He tells me I can call anytime. He is there and faithful to seek us out. To draw us near. And meet us right where we are at.

One of my favorite scriptures ‘rings’ so true at this moment.
Jeremiah 33:3-  Call to me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things that you do not know.  

We are now in a season where loneliness is knocking on our doors. We can not reach out and gather the way many of us value. We can’t busy our thoughts of isolation away. It is the forefront in our mind.

I want to encourage you this day my friend. Call to the Lord, ask Him what new treasure He may have for you. What hidden truths does He want to bring to light? How can only He fill the innermost needs in your life that are missing?

The time will come, we can be busy, social and all the good things fellowship brings. This is a time to call on Him, like never before. There are so many great things to discover.

I am spending time today…. just calling…listening and enjoying.
Here is a song to enjoy in the journey. Call Me 

 

When the World Went Silent

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When the world went silent we truly began to see.
We learned to enjoy what we have and how to just be.

When the world went silent we began to care.
We work together and some of us learned how to share.

When the world went silent our hearts began to cry.
Together we were moved to mourn the loss of many lives.

When the world went silent we fell to our knees.
We cried out for freedom and hearts to be filled with peace.

When the world went silent we saw what held our hearts captive.
We learned how to look to others with renewed compassion.

When the world went silent we began to live anew.
We began to long for our community and love grew.

When the world went silent it was then that our ears were able to hear.
We began to open our souls and walk in a knowing greater than fear.

When the world went silent we saw how strong we could really be.
We opened our hearts and with God, who goes before us, we were set free.

 

Shaey Anthony (Writing4Joy) March 2020

Help

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Help. Why has this word been so tainted? Why does the word “help” represent weakness to many instead of strength?

When you have exhausted all your own efforts and still banging your head against the wall, asking for help can move you into the greater faster. With help, there comes the opportunity for support and can often bring better results.

I have a vision of a giant city bridge. It is beautiful in structure. But without the support underneath that bridge, it will not stand and extend to fill the gap and do all that it was created for.

There are times I have been frustrated that help has not come. I have been the hamster on the wheel getting nowhere with all my efforts. I wonder, “why am I in this alone?” The answer is simple. I was in it all alone, because I didn’t bother to ask for help. I kept plugging along trying to figure it all out when some of the answers were not attainable to me.

It is wise to reach out for strong counsel when you need help. It is comforting and encouraging to reach out the God that created you to rest in the Lord’s promise that He comes to help in your time of need.
You can rise with confidence that you are not in this process alone. Help has arrived. Asking for help allows a deeper connection. It reveals our humanness. It leaves you with room to focus on the solution rather than the struggle.

I encourage you my friend, don’t walk in your struggles alone. When you have done all that you can do, ask for help to see you onto your best self. Ask the Lord to comfort you, encourage you, give you wisdom and open the doors to propel you on.

Think of the bridge again. This time we are thinking of a draw bridge that is open. You can make it part of the way, but you can not cross to the other side until the bridge is lowered and connected. You are on one side, standing it alone. Your hopes, dreams, and goals are waiting on the other side. Ask for help to connect your bridge.  Use the effort you have put in, and the effort, wisdom or support of another to fully arrive.

Along with resting in the Lord and His promise of help, sometimes He will use others.
Ask those around you for help. Look to a professional for help. But please stop trying to do it all on your own. Depression, isolation, and defeat is not a sign of strength, rather, it will take you longer to arrive (if you even do). And you may just have been striving for so long and hard that you show up too exhausted to enjoy the fruit of arrival.

Asking for help is not a weakness, in fact, it just may be the strongest thing you ever did in your life. I will start my mornings asking God to help me when morning dawns and I will not be moved in my strength!

Dear Daughter-in-law

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Dear Daughter-in-law,

My sons are one of my deepest loves. I will fight for and support them until the day I die.  There is a lie out there that mother-in-law has to be the enemy. I am so thankful that this is not the case but there is more on my heart for you to know.
One of the best ways that I can love my adult son is to be your champion.

Champion: To fight for, defend, or support.

Daughter-in-law, you are a fellow woman but more than that you are now my family. I will shout for joy with your accomplishments, I will walk with you through the trials and be a source of hope when you are feeling less than.

Daughter-in-law, your concerns are my concerns. I will not side with my son just because he is my son when you come to me for counsel. I am your champion as well as his. You can confidently know that I will not run to him every time you may come to me with something on your heart. You can know I don’t ever expect you to come but I am always here when you need to.

I champion your success. I champion for you to be joyful, confident and fulfilled not only in your marriage but in your place of this family.
You are to always come first in his life. You are to be his focus and your happiness is his greatest concern.

Daughter-in-law, you are a treasure to never be overlooked as life gets crazy or the comfortable sets in, I will remind him to date you and pursue you forever. To listen to your heart. To be your helper and leader. To put your needs above his own and to love you first.
His greatest duty is to you, his wife and partner. I will forever be your champion because not only are you his, you are now mine.

 

10 Ways to Bless away the Stress

I mentioned in a previous post that by being a blessing and serving others, the focus was off of me and my ‘issues’ that were leading to anxiety. I literally was able to bless away the stress. To be quite honest though, that was not my intent, but it was the fruit of it all.
Now mind you, the motive is key.  If you bless others hoping to get something from them in return, you can be very disappointed and if you are not careful it can sow seeds of resentment.

10 ways to Bless away the Stress

1. Get involved in a local fundraiser in your community.
If you are not able to give financially, you can see if there is an area that needs your involvement through volunteering.
My favorite events from the past have been fundraisers for child abuse prevention, cancer research, rare disease awareness, newborn advance screening efforts,  youth groups, pregnancy counseling, school supply drives, and holiday gift baskets.

2. Send texts, cards, or letters of encouragement.  One of my hardest seasons left me very lonely, so I wrote letters to strangers. I encouraged them and shared what was on my heart. I had a PO BOX set up specifically. Remember the key is to encourage and edify, building someone up.
I had many replies back and corresponded for some time. I even obtained a very close friend as an added joy.
If strangers are not your thing, perhaps a pen pal to soldiers, prisoners or the many efforts asking for cards to those that are ill.

3. Leave flowers or your favorite craft on a doorstep to surprise someone. You may want to leave them for a friend, neighbor, or even local business that you frequent.

4. Serve someone that is ill or has a recent loss in the family. Meals, babysitting, dog walking, and house cleaning are all ways that you could bless someone with this need.

5. Give health packs to the homeless. I have handed out packs with water, wipes, soft granola bars, feminine products, socks, hand warmers, etc.

6. Visit the elderly. You could ask the staff at your local elder care facility if there is anyone that has a need for visitors. Or you can offer to set up activities in the common area. We have held Christmas Caroling in the lobby.

7. Far and away. It can be life-changing for you and a blessing to those you serve, to go on a mission trip. There are many options out there to serve all interests. If you are not one that feels comfortable or able to travel, consider supporting someone else’s trip financially.

8. Purchase gift cards and give as the needs arise. Often if families are out of work or have loved ones in the hospital, receiving gift cards can ease the burden.  Grocery stores, Gas stations, and restaurants are some of my favorites. If you know someone that has been under the weather, gift cards for self-care are great too!

9. Engage in conversation. Some of my most blessed moments are conversations in the grocery store with the clerk or encouraging my waitress in some small way. You don’t have to talk for hours. Just a kind word and a thank you can go a long way.

10. Host a community event giving others the chance for connection: Christmas caroling followed by hot chocolate,  lead a bible study or book group at a coffee shop, organize a block party for your neighborhood, or host a game night at a local meeting place are some examples.

I would love to hear more creative ideas, so please share!

Just Get Over It

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The darkness is overwhelming and their head is spinning and I have heard others that have never dealt with depression or anxiety, look at them and use the words, “Just get over it.” And I  see the faces of the ones in the struggle, hearing these words while the shoulders tighten and their head sags in defeat. My own thoughts start to swirl, and I think to myself if they were able to just get over it, don’t you think they would? Who wants to live this way?

There is an ever-revolving cycle when dealing with depression and anxiety that often leads to someone overwhelmed and in a place of isolation. The motivation and even energy to just get over it are lacking, as they might even see what they ought to do but just can’t bring themselves to make the changes that will bring them out.

There are some things that helped me in my own process of victory.
Yes, I may still get smacked in the face with anxiety or depression, but with these tools, I am not overtaken by them anymore.

While people may mean well when they say “Just get over it” and offer no solution on how to do so, I have listed some tools that helped me to actually climb above the mountain and see the joy on the other side. You see, you can’t get over something, without the climb.

10 Steps I use to get over it

  1. Talk with a professional:
    First and so important, when facing clinical depression and anxiety is to talk with a professional. I can’t emphasize enough, how encouraging it was to have the support of my doctor. We discussed medications and my reasoning for no longer wanting to be on them. She gave me solid advice on natural ways to combat anxiety and depression. Most importantly she reminded me that I was not alone.
  2.  Deep slow breaths when the thoughts come: 
    The anxiety may rise up, but does not need to become a stronghold. I can take deep slow breaths and release the concern. This is also where I meditate on the word the Lord has given me or spend time in thoughts of His goodness.
  3. Get to the root:
    Recognize where you may be feeding the anxiety and depression. I find it so interesting that even in the word, it says anxiety leads to depression! And over and over it is written to not worry, not be afraid, not to be anxious. But when you are in the ‘feeling’ of it all, how do you not walk in it?
    I was feeding my anxiety by obsessing on things I could do nothing about. I even recently had full-on attacks because so much came at me at once in the last months.
    This was a root, so I had to be aware of how I was opening the doors and being mindful to close them.
  4.  Journal:
    I get all my thoughts down concerning the situation. Then leave it there.
    There is no health in replaying the hard stuff over and over in my mind. Also often when I journal, I see the picture more clearly of where the root is taking ground, than if I try to figure it out on my own.
  5. Remember your victories:
    This has helped me so much! Recognizing joys rather than all the junk.  There is a plan for good things for your life. It may take some very hard searching for a victory but there absolutely is one there. Start with the simple truths if you must, and grow from there.
    Even though this moment is awful,  it is a moment. I know you have had some good ones as well!
    It may take longer than we would like, but the season will change. Remembering the past victories helps us in the waiting.
    This goes in line with focus. Our health is tied so much to what our thought life is. Find more on my thoughts to a victory mindset here: Victory
  6. Change the environment:
    Sometimes when the anxiety comes, just removing myself from where I am at helps. It may not always be possible, like if you are in the middle of a work shift, but when you have the ability to walk away and regroup, do so. When you leave the stressful environment, work hard at not living there in your mind when you are away.
    As crazy as it sounds, sometimes bedtime can be the most anxiety-filled moment of my day. I finally stopped doing and slowed down and my brain tries to roadrunner all over my peace. Honestly, sometimes I will have to remove myself from trying to sleep until I walk through the steps of getting over it.
  7. Diet/ Exercise:
     I am not going to get over anxiety and depression with a body in stress mode for lack of care.
    I know for a fact that gluten along with a myriad of symptoms, amps my anxiety through the roof. I do not have a marked allergy, it is just something that happens. Is there something in your diet that is triggering your anxiety? It may be time to start an elimination process to figure out what it is.
    My friend can’t drink coffee, another has issues with tomatoes, sugar, dairy, and the list goes on. I have touched on this topic on my post: Don’t eat the doughnut.

    Concerning exercise, I have health issues that make it difficult for me without feeling sick. Even walking makes me nauseated (unless I walk with my eyes closed). BUT exercise releases feel-good chemicals that relieve stress! Not to mention your stamina increases and your overall health improves.
    I was down a few days ill, and then my pup had surgery and just a few days without our walk, I felt the difference in my calm meter.

  8. Do for others:
    Community is so important. Isolation leads to depression. When we are serving and doing for others, the focus is off of all of our worries, our own mess and we reap what we are sowing into others.  Keep your eyes open to where there is a need near you. Also, important to remember in regards to this, don’t have expectations from those that you do for, just do for the joy of doing. Otherwise….more anxiety may follow as it may lead to resentment.
  9.  Don’t delay:
    It takes work to overcome anxiety and depression. The longer I walked in it, the harder it was to climb out. I would sink into my isolation and tell myself that I would do better tomorrow, then the next day would come and I would be in the same mess. It is hard to rise up,  but if you wait it becomes even harder. Nobody can do it for us. We must take action ourselves. We can make every excuse to not do, but we will not have victory if we stay still.
  10. Word, Prayer, and Praise and Worship:
    This is my MUST and listed last not because it is the lowest on my list but the one I want to remain on the mind.
    The presence of God is tangible and available. I have complete peace in those moments I am with him. The Lord is my refuge and hiding place.
    (Psalm 91)
    No matter all the steps I do, I personally did not obtain victory until I put this first in my life.
    People will let you down if you run to them for your refuge. They have their own flaws, their own ‘stuff’ and they can’t meet your every need. They make mistakes and they may be your very source of frustration.
    BUT GOD.
    Word helps me remember what He says about me, shows me other victories if I am in the struggle with my own. His word connects me to the heart of my creator that wanted a relationship with me.
    Prayer is my opportunity to cry out and rejoice and thank. I get to pray for others and their situations rather than let the anxiety overwhelm. It is my communication with him and another opportunity for him to speak into my heart.
    Worship is my intimate time with the Lord. It is my, you are mine and I am in your love and belong to you God moment. and Praise is my rejoicing in all He has done, and will do and all that He IS.
    There was a season where I had shut God out due to anger and frustration because life was a mess. The scars were deep and I had disconnected.
    That season was my most anxiety-filled season and the deepest depression I had walked in. Yes, some may argue that it was because the season was hard. Trust me, it wasn’t. Because with God I have walked joyfully through much more difficult seasons because he helped heal each of those scars. With Him, I can do all things and without Him, I fail in my own strength.

I Should Be

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Daily I hear the words wringing in my head, “I should be.”
I should be doing x rather that y. I should be farther in my writing. I should be earning money by getting a job. I should be healed by now. The onslaught of the I should be’s can be so distracting that I am missing the I am’s.

This afternoon I wanted to be working on some projects around the house and cleaning. The dog was whimpering to go outside to play as it has been cold and finally the sun was shining. She just had a bath, so of course I had to go out with her so she would not cover herself in mud by digging again. If we didn’t go outside to expel some of her energy she would get into all kinds of mischief while I tried to accomplish my list.

This is one of the moments the I should be’s would usually creep in, but as I sat in that moment outside as my pup roamed and discovered the yard, I realized how incredible the sun was feeling on my face. I heard the rustling leaves falling from the birch tree. The crackle as they fell from the tree top through the branches was a new sound for me. For the first time this week, I was taking in the full moment rather than thinking of all the things I should be doing that I was not. If I had being doing those other things, I would have missed this beautiful moment. Then I wondered, how much have I missed?

The “I should be’s ‘ often come at a time of rest, reflection and recovery. They become so distracting that I can’t take the moment for the gift that it is. There is much to be learned in the process of taking in everything that He has for us.

By being so focused on the next thing I should be doing that I am missing what I am taking effort in, is a form of discontent and comparison. I am comparing myself to that which I think I should be. I am discontent with where my efforts lie.
This is another lie that I am not enough. That I can’t accomplish enough.
Mind you, I know I should be doing everything on my list, but the lie is that I can accomplish it all at once and am failing if I am not. So I have decided, I will take the moments as they come. I will put effort and focus to the task at hand and the other should be’s will be right there waiting for when I can get to them.
I will not miss the moments of accomplishment, because of a lie that it wasn’t enough.

There is only one thing that I should be…. That is what the Lord has created me to be,  nothing more and nothing less. Seeking Him first will give me the clarity of what to pursue and when.

As I reflect, I am reminded of Martha and Mary. I want to chose that which will not be taken away from me.

Luke 10: 38-42

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

 

Even If…

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These last few months the words resonating in my heart are, “Even If.”

We have had many changes in our life recently and I hate change. My body reacts even when I tell myself everything is fine and all the changes have been for a great purpose and plan.

One of those changes involved us leaving a church of the last five years and follow the Lord in His leading to our next. We knew that we were called but not the why, to our calling.
I told the Lord, even if I don’t have the answers, I will listen to your voice. So in faith, we stepped forward in the plan for our life.

Even though leaving the team of people we had grown to love hurt my heart, I had to obey what I knew to be true and serve my God and husband first. Even if it meant uncomfortable change and new people, a new place and a new level of finding my self in the midst of ministry, I had to say yes.
Even if it means admitting that I took on roles at our previous church that were not my own to take on, in order to try to fill up the restlessness within me.
Even if it meant stepping into a new realm of vulnerability. Even if.

I know there are many purposes for following the Lord in the Even If seasons of our life.
I know that God has done many amazing things in the last 4 months and He has not even touched the surface. But in this process, He has stirred a call I had felt at 15 years old in youth group. Life happened and the leading faded but was never gone. I had begun a collection of paintings in the last few months and titled them “Women of the World.” Little did I know I was painting the very call within my heart…
The call to serve with mission teams.

Here the thoughts would rise up as the stirring would come, but then so would the excuses. Most of which was linked to how I am doing in this season physically. But the thought would not leave that I was called to go and serve.
The stirring rose afresh as I sat with the new church congregation and heard about the heart of serving in Baja Mexico at the Door of Faith Orphanage.
I had every excuse, but the tugging kept coming.
We had no money in savings and the trip was coming fast. I have been in an unbelievable flare physically. We just received additional fees to add to a huge bill from hospital tests and then a few days before DHS sent a bill for overpayment when we were foster parents. This doesn’t account for all the other life needs on hold at the moment.
But mostly my heart I didn’t want to hurt over leaving the orphans and I felt as if I had nothing to offer.
I felt that with my physical limits Dan would have to go and he has absolutely told me over the years this was NOT his area of calling. All these thoughts and excuses rushing my head and I still felt my heart-tugging… EVEN IF. Even if there is no way, God can make the way. Even if there seemed to be too many obstacles, God is able to move those obstacles. Even if I have my doubts…HE is faithful despite them.

So I prayed. I said, God if you truly want me to move in faith as your word says, faith without works is dead, then I am going to be as Gideon and request that you show me without a doubt that it is you that I am hearing and not just my over compassionate mama heart.

These were my conditions as I spoke to the Lord:
I need Dan to go with me. I will not ask.
I need the leader to come to me directly who I have not yet met and tell me that He feels I am to join the team.
I need the provision.

Service was over and Dan leans to me and says, ” I feel like I may be called to go on the mission trip.” I kid you not my mouth about fell to the floor. I may even have laughed out loud. You have to know this is absolutely a tugging from God. He would have not been opened to the idea otherwise.
I was stopped by a friend and visiting after church. I looked over at Dan and He was talking to the leader. Dan called me over and as I was introduced, the team leader said, “God highlighted you to me, I feel you are called to go on this trip.” (paraphrasing as I can’t remember exact words). At this point, I knew and I just nodded my head and said as much.
Now we are waiting on provision and believing for the plan to unfold as we walk out the little hiccups of life in the planning process. The trip is coming fast!
With my lack of knowing where the funds would come from and a time crunch, we had started a go fund me even though I felt so foolish in doing so, I said again…Even If.
The fees for the passport came in first at the Go Fund Me site as well as the cost of plane tickets that were mailed to us. I saw how it was exactly what we needed when we needed it.
We are over halfway to our goal and I know the rest is already accounted for. We are praying for the paperwork we need to move forward will come quickly as Dan had to order his birth certificate before getting a passport. We are on a time crunch. But of course, God already knows this.

I am excited. I know there are many purposes for following the Lord’s leading. But I am still reminded to hold fast to those words… Even If… because often His call does not match my human understanding. Even If I don’t see it, I can rest assured that HE knows it. Even… If.

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.