Forgiveness??

If you were to make a list of the people in your life that you needed to forgive, could you be honest? Would your list have two names? 20? None? How many of those people are family members?

The family dynamics in Colossians 3:18-21 is God’s perfect plan. You can call me old-fashioned, sexist, barefoot and pregnant…I don’t care. It’s what I believe. Our family is supposed to be our first line of defense. Our parents to protect us. Our siblings to build and learn about friendships with, along with conflict resolution (even if that involves these hands! Right Lyss? You were so mean!). But instead we have strife. Jealousy. Bitterness. Anger. A house divided cannot stand (Mark 3:25). And no, I’m not referring to the SEC…at least not today haha!! Go Dawgs!

If there is division, it can destroy the family structure, causing us to “wander” solo. No one by our side to hold us accountable…yes we have friends, but we can talk about that later….that’s how Eve was able to be tempted. She was alone. When a sheep wanders away from the herd and it’s shepherd, it’s more vulnerable to its predators.

The funny thing about this blog post is that I don’t have an answer or resolve to what I just talked about. Which brings me to my next topic.

Today was my first counseling session at Elevate. I had one major issue in my life that was causing me a tremendous amount of stress. That’s what caused me to make an appointment in the first place. I wanted some healthy coping mechanisms for when I felt anxious. God had bigger plans, y’all. I wasn’t ready!! My first session and I’ve already learned that I’m dealing with un-forgiveness. I didn’t even know!!! It was so profound that I’ve decided I’m going to make this journey public. I’m going to blog after each one of my sessions. I will share my revelations, my heartaches, my joy and my victories. My darkest places. I really hope that my transparency will help you to see that you’re not alone. No, I won’t be sharing names if anyone, in case you were wondering! This is for my exposure, no anyone else’s.

I thought I knew how to forgive someone, but today I found out that I don’t. I’m excited to learn and share as I go. My hope is that it will inspire you to seek it out for you and your family too.

xoxo

The Weekends are Always the Hardest

I have so much I want to say today I’m going to try and share this with you in the best way I know how, which is real, raw and painful.

The holidays are my thing. I love having a house full of people. I’m constantly baking, Christmas music is always playing. It’s a magical time. It’s a reminder of why we’re all here. Jesus. But lately, I’ve been dreading it. All of it. I don’t want to celebrate Thanksgiving. I don’t want to put my Christmas tree up. I hear Christmas music and I cringe. I’ve dealt with these type of feelings when I was a teenager/young adult because I always felt alone. My birthday is on Christmas, and (most) everyone forgets. Wah, wah, right? I know. There are bigger problems in the world. This year is different though. My husband won’t be here for Thanksgiving. He won’t be here for Christmas. He won’t here for Bella’s birthday, my birthday, Elisha’s first Christmas or Paisley’s birthday. Like I’ve said before, I know military mom’s do this all the time. And again, I applaud you for your strength. I look to you for inspiration.

I mentioned in one of my last bog posts the story of Mary Magdalene and how important this story is to me. I’ve always felt a connection to her. Her love was lavish, uncontrollable and it made people uncomfortable. She was an outcast, or as I like to call her, a wierdo. Just like me. She acted ridiculous in front of Jesus and His disciples. She didn’t care at all. Because this is the same Mary that was caught in the act of sex, with someone that wasn’t her husband. The Pharisees dragged her out into the street. I’m certain she felt shame. She was naked and vulnerable and humiliated. I imagine she felt like the lowest person on earth; like she was of no value.

I want to backtrack a little bit on myself. I grew up from the age of 15 without a dad. I didn’t know what it was like to feel the love of a father. So much like Mary, there were times (and still are) that I feel shame. Guilt. Humiliation. Vulnerable. My heart was hardened.

But just like Mary, my first encounter with Jesus, my REAL encounter with Jesus, set me free. He came down to my level. He lifted my chin and looked me in my eyes and told me I was valuable to Him. Ever since then, it’s been a battle in my mind to remind myself that He sees me as cherished and valued.

Mary had a special relationship with Jesus. Her act of love was instigated by her, not the opposite. She had fallen at His feet when He drew the line in the sand. She had fallen at His feet during her display of extravagant worship. She experienced His love, protection and deliverance. He cast  7 demons out of her!

Lazarus was sick. So sick that he died. Jesus took 4 days to get to Lazarus. Martha ran to meet Him, but Mary stayed behind. Remember, Mary loved Jesus on a level that some of us may not ever understand (although I hope to). I believe she was feeling rejected and forgotten. If Jesus had been there, Lazarus wouldn’t have died. When Jesus finally arrived, He comforted Martha but He knew the love that Mary had for Him. He called Mary by name. She didn’t run to the grave to mourn. She ran to the place of her Savior’s feet that had been a source of comfort for her. The same place where she met Him the first time during her moment of humiliation and shame, the same place where she poured out her love on Him.  He stands her up to look into her eyes. She says to Him “Where have you been? You’re late.” I see this as a moment where she was mad at Him for not being there. She couldn’t hide her feelings towards Him. But being the Jesus that we serve, He looks at her with tears in His eyes (Jesus wept) and said “I’m not late. Take me to see my friend Lazarus.” In other words, TAKE ME TO THE SOURCE OF YOUR PAIN. He tells them to roll the stone away and He commands the grave wrappings to loosen and free him. This is significant because Jesus wants to come to Him raw. NO matter how angry we are with Him. He’s saying TAKE ME TO THE SOURCE OF YOUR PAIN and let Me fix it. When we are real with Him, even though He already knows, the bondage that has us bound can fall off at His command and set us free. What the devil meant for harm, Jesus turned it around and made it into something good.

So next time you’re (me) weeping uncontrollably on the bathroom floor, so badly that you’re blinded, cry out to Jesus. Take Him to the source of your pain.

I don’t have all the answers. All these words sound great. But it doesn’t bring my husband home. It doesn’t bring my family back together. But it reminds me that Jesus is FOR ME. HE IS FOR YOU. Not against me. Not against you. He has plans to give us a hope and a future. John 13:7 says “You do not realize what I am doing, but later you understand.” If you’re impatient like me, which I’m sure you’re not, this is so hard for me to grasp. It doesn’t make me feel better. It makes me hurt worse. I know it’s supposed to do the opposite. I’m just being honest with you because I know there is someone out there that is battling something and you feel like God has abandoned you. He hasn’t. Even though it feels like it, He hasn’t. Keep your hope and keep your faith Even if all you can muster up is the faith the size of a mustard seed. He said that’s all we need. My precious Bella told me the difference in hope and faith is that hope is something you think or want to happen but faith is something you know will happen. Out of the mouth of babes!

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Luke 7:47-“Therefore I tell you, her sins have been forgiven-as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little”

Be Blessed,

Jess the Haute Mess

Reflection

Now, this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became….oh wait. Wrong story! 

Seriously though, it’s been almost a year since my life changed drastically. When it happened, I never thought I would be here. In this place. This place of peace. I thought I would be stuck in the dark forever. 

Let me back track a little for you. 

I went on a “blogging hiatus”, if you will. I was a wreck. I was hurting. It was the hardest moments of my life. I say moments because I felt like I had to get through each of them. But God has been doing a beautiful thing in my life lately. It doesn’t look big to some. You may not even notice if you see me. But it’s there. 

He’s reminded me that love covers a multitude of sins. Love wins. Remember that? I saw that bumper sticker everywhere. I never took much notice of it until now.

 So I started applying this mantra to my everyday life. Repeating it over and over again in traffic. At the DMV. In the grocery store. It didn’t affect the people around me. But it affecting me so profoundly, that I wanted love to win everywhere I went! It’s helped me in my relationship with my ex-husband as well. Whaaaat? I know. I never thought I could be in a place where I said “ex-husband” and “relationship” in the same sentence. I was so bitter and angry at him for taking me to court over custody in the first place. I’m still trying to walk that one out. You feel me??

Ok now to my point. I’ve been praying for a year now that God would fulfill His promise and answer my prayer. Well, today, Bella was sick all day with some stomach bug junk. We prayed over her, like we always do. About 30 minutes later, she threw up again. But after that, she wasn’t sick anymore. Like she made a total turnaround. You’re thinking “so what?”, right?

No! Not so what!! God showed me that just because He doesn’t answer your prayer the way YOU think He should, doesn’t mean He’s not going to. God is a God of order. He likes things organized (He would not be happy with my pantry!!). Yes, He could fix it all with a wave of His God-hand. But I think He prefers us to do some of the legwork too. Because we can learn from it and we can grow from it. 

Love wins, y’all!Image

 

This photograph was taken by my beautiful friend Amber. 

Just an encouraging word

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Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, (Hebrews 6:17-19 NIV84)

You know it’s God when the peace is there, but not the logic

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Well, it’s done. Me and the girl are going up the mountain and me and the girl will return.

When God makes you a promise, you really have no idea when it will be fulfilled (unless He tells you specifically). But in the meantime, you must trust Him daily.

If you don’t know, I have just recently finished my court trial over custody for my 7 year old daughter. It took 8 months of waiting, 4 days of trial, 27 days for an answer, and a 30 second phone call for my world to come crashing down. The judge ruled in her dad’s favor. As I was sitting, looking over the order she had written, I was in shock and disbelief. She says in the order that I am a GREAT and NURTURING mother. But that I shouldn’t have baptized her at the age of 6 because she didn’t understand what it meant. Bella could out-preach half the pastors I know. She knows what it means and how significant it is. Because of 3 things, I lose. I lose my legal rights. I lose any say-so in her upbringing, extra-curricular activities. Where she goes to school. I. Lose. I’m sure you’re wondering what these reasons could be, what did I do that was so bad that she stripped me of everything. Well I’ll tell you.
1.) She missed 10 days of school, 7 that were unexcused, while she was with me.
2.) Because my husband works out of town, leaving me with 3 children by myself, which takes away from one-on-one time with her.
3.) I threw away an antibiotic that was giving her diarrhea.
Because of these 3 things, the judge decided that Bella’s father was more stable and able to take better care of her. Shocked? Yes. I was too. As I’m reading this, I was crying harder than I’ve ever cried in my life. In fact, the next morning I look like I’ve been in a boxing match. I love my children so much. I’ve made sacrifices for them, just like any mother does. There are moms out there who allow their kids to live in homes with meth labs in the basement, crack houses. There are moms who physically, sexually and mentally abuse their children, yet they still have custody of them. How could this have happened to me??

Of course my flesh wanted to fight and appeal. And that’s exactly what we did. I told my attorney, “Whatever it takes, whatever the cost.” But God had other plans for me and Bella. You see, when she was 4 years old, God told me, in an altar, “If you give her to me, I will give her back to you.” Ok God! Cool! She’s yours!!! After court was over, He said, “Ok now really give her to me and I’ll give her back to you.”

I don’t know what that looks like. I’m at God’s mercy and on His timetable. But He told me not to fight. “Let me perform this spiritual surgery on her, and you cannot be a part of it.” He kept reminding me of the scripture in Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” I mean, I would see this everywhere, in the most random places!!

This is the prequel to my last post. Those were all the things God used to reassure me.

So for now, I get to see my daughter, the one I carried in my womb for 9 months, the baby I swore was a boy but cried when I found out she was a girl (because that’s what I wanted), the one I named, the one I woke up with all night to breast feed, the one I rocked constantly because of colic, every 2nd and 4th weekend of the month. And whenever her father is gracious and kind enough to allow me to see her more.

Radical obedience produces radical blessings. God made me a promise and God does not lie. So until the day that promise is fulfilled, I will be seeking and crying out to Him daily because “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

I now will be fattening the calf for when the prodigal daughter returns.

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