Are you holding on? What does that mean? Varies in life doesn't it?
The first thing that comes to mind for me with that simple phrase is the image of these trees. I took this picture on our Big Road Trip we took this year. These trees were all over along the Oregon Coast, and they totally fascinated me. Funny what people notice isn't it? I couldn't help but stop and look at them each time we ventured to the ocean shore; yet, I saw people coming and going that never gave them a second glance.
I look at these trees and how distorted they appear, twisted and bent out of shape. Nothing particularly beautiful or perfect about them. In fact most people wouldn't even want them as part of their landscape. It's just the opposite for me, I find them fascinating! I know, many of you are already saying "you would" as you laugh.
But, they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, well to me these trees are beautiful. They appear to be over-comers victorious, and thriving in life regardless of the storms they've been hit by.
Even while we were there an unbelievable storm hit and winds blew so hard, but still they stood almost as if it never even phased them. How could they not only continue to grow, but thrive?
How do you continue to grow and live? In my life as you already know have been many storms and just like these trees my heart has been torn, twisted, and broken apart - BUT - yet I not only live, I thrive in life. Why? Because of the one Who was beyond torn and broken apart on a cross over 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ. He made a way with His grace, gift of love and salvation that allows me to walk with my head up and not controlled by the shame I once lived in. Yes there are many scars, just like these trees, but they do not stop me from living...really, I think they encourage me to move forward.
This morning on the way to church my mind wandered with the scenery as we traveled through the prairie. I started with thoughts about the beauty of the land, then to the cows, then to a comment made to me yesterday regarding someone in the cattle business from my past. Not a good part of my past either, and I was instantly ashamed of the memory of who I was at that time in my life. But, instead of "holding on" to it and allowing it to take me down to a mode of worthlessness, I chose to thank God that I am ashamed of that time. Thankful that I get embarrassed, and that I care about what I have done to so many people. You may disagree with that, but, the old Jaylene definitely would not have been embarrassed or sorry for any of it. In fact, she probably would have added more harmful actions and/or words to the situation. See, I had to let go of the past to move forward to place of life this morning.
Like always, it's a daily choice and I chose to praise and move forward rather than "hold on" to death.
What are you holding on to? What continues to fester inside and prevent you from letting go of what was and moving on to what is? There is nothing too big for God to heal, don't allow the lies and fear to keep you holding on to the very thing that robs you of life.
The only thing we should "Hold On" to is Christ, our refuge, our protector and anchor...He is our Peace in the midst of life's storms.
Have you ever reached a point in your life where you felt nothing but loneliness?
Have you asked, "is there really life out there, somewhere, anywhere?"
I have, many times unfortunately...in fact I've read journal entries that I wrote during some of my best highs, on drugs that is - but, everything I felt was opposite of what I was trying to reach. I thought the better the drugs, the more I used, the more I drank, etc. that eventually I would experience the greatest high there is. I never did, the things I wrote from a life that was filled with a deep loneliness that can only be described as torment. No matter who I was with, what I did, how much I got or how much people tried to love and help me, it was still there: alone, empty, pain...
My life was a lot like this picture: so much dead debris that it built walls of hardness, barriers that would not allow the tide of life to enter in. So dark, empty and cold...but, at the same time it could hear life on the outside, just like standing a long an ocean shore and the roar of the powerful waves. But, it never reached the heart, it just continue to push more death around my heart.
Tonight I spoke to someone that lost their spouse during the holidays; so this year they're dreading the season. Trying to figure out a way to get through it, but at the same time feeling guilty about hurting peoples feelings that are inviting them to spend the holiday with their families. It's a tug of war that goes on through the heart that is already torn and scarred by the battles of life and loss. Do they need to choose to please others by accepting their invitation? Or do they seek out a hide away place to spend time alone remembering, crying, trying to understand? Is there a correct answer of right and wrong in this scenario? When they described how they truly feel right now, the statement that got me the most was the one I once lived in: "even when I'm around people I am alone"! My heart broke for this person, because I know in my heart what they need, but, I cannot choose the path for them. It's heart wrenching.
I realized after I hung up the phone that if I lost my husband to death there would be a huge difference. I would know where he is for one thing; the other, I would not be alone. God's Word assures us that nothing can separate us from His love, and He will never leave us alone, not ever. Now, we can choose to walk away from Him, but He will not leave us. I would most definitely go through a season of deep pain, grief, and probably even crying out "why God"...but, I know my God and I know that His grace would see me through to the place of me on my knees crying out to Him to just hold me and direct my path once again. I can't say how exactly I would feel, but I'm human so I know there would be some kind of struggle.
My friend I spoke to needs Christ in their life, please be praying they come to that place of saying "yes" to Him so that healing may begin. I know that I am going to be more diligent about lifting them up to the Lord, and thanking Him in advance for their salvation.
Let's never take for granted the daily moments we have with those we love, not one single person is guaranteed a tomorrow here on earth.
Have you ever went through situations that bring you to that place of saying "REALLY GOD"? Of course you have, we all do at one time or another. Maybe you're like me and it's like a repeated offense where it becomes "habitual"! Sorry, just being real about it.
So this last week I attended a family reunion, something I never look forward to; so, I often don't appear at family functions. This time I decided to go, but not only make an appearance, I was going to camp out the entire weekend with the others there and with a GOOD ATTITUDE...no faking it stuff. It was genuinely a heart attitude of excitement and great expectations!
Well, let me clarify, yes there were multiple bad points in relationships, but, there was also an event that I wouldn't have missed for the world. You see, there are 7 children in my family: 4 that are approximately a year apart then about a 12 year gap and three more. I am the oldest. My dad (step dad, but he's been my dad since I was born) came for a few hours and the highlight was sitting in a circle with him, and us four oldest kids plus a cousin. It was the first time we've all been together in over 25 years. No big hurrah events, just together and it was a brief time of my life that I will always treasure.
The bad parts? Well, let's forget about them and accept the fact that some people choose attitudes and behavior that affect others painfully. However, I have to be responsible for how I receive it and whether or not I allow them to have any control in my life.
Kayaking is one of my favorite outdoor activities, it doesn't matter what time of the year it is, I love it! I've been out in the freezing winter on the river and thoroughly enjoyed the beauty all around me as I paddle, views I wouldn't see if in a vehicle some where. That's the similarity to life choices I want to share today: Paddling Through Life
Recently I've been struggling with "me"...too many areas to begin to go into; however, it's had me in an emotional tormenting place that was coming between not just friends, family, etc...but me and God. People do not think before they speak most times, unfortunately, and words are so damaging...or life giving. Things had been said recently that were sucking me back to my past, plus I was dealing with past issues and it was becoming a prison of lies. There's a song that I remember that says "a picture paints a thousands words"...you know what, you can look at a picture of a person (me for example) of years ago and think things like: pretty, thin, nice smile, etc. BUT all you're seeing is the shell of a person in a photograph, you can't see inside their thoughts, heart, personality - all you see is an image frozen in time! This morning as I was in prayer I realized the battle I've been fighting is foolish. Why would I ever want to be the person in those photographs? I remembered who she was: dark, tormented, angry, depressed, consumed with death and violence. There was nothing beautiful about her, she was so full of pain and loneliness, unable to love or be loved.
This morning I realized what I have been missing the most: just being me, the daughter God created me to be. It's not about other people accepting me. My husband's love for me is not based on how other people view me, but he sees me through God's eyes. It doesn't matter if I'm the weight I am now, or thin and "appealing"...actually, why do we as wives desire to be appealing/sexy to others? Hmmm...never thought about that before - future blog :)
I love the person I am today, and yesterday is just that - it's in the past and it's where it belongs. I am choosing to retain the good lessons I've learned from the past and incorporate them into who I am today. But, I will never be that person again, nor will I ever live the life I once lived (thank God). Memories can be so deceiving, destructive actually and too many people are ruled by yesterday's memories that have been altered by the mind, or repeating them in conversations over and over till they forget what really happened!
When I'm in my kayak paddling up a river, I see everything through different eyes. I see the beauty that few take the time to appreciate. I enjoy the quiet and the feel of moving along against a current that wants to push me the other way, but, I choose to be different - to just be me. I let go of everything else that is going on in life around me. When I turn my kayak around and allow myself to be drawn home where I belong, it reminds me of being drawn into my Savior's arms. That's where the real peace of life exists, not in a quiet, war free zone, but in Jesus. That relationship is the only pure healthy one that will ever exist.
This week a special woman in my life left this earth, my heart ached not for her but for myself. I thought of so many different times in my life where she taught me life lessons, how to put up a tepee make fry bread, to bead and yes to choose to go a direction that by many was unacceptable. Even then she continued down the path she chose, while I may not have understood it or accepted it, I never turned against her. I always loved her. Recently we were at a wake for a nephew and I remember sitting next to her in the quiet and she just held my hand and kept rubbing it - at that time it felt like such a safe place of love and a healing balm all in that one little action of kindness. Too often we take for granted that those we care about will be here tomorrow, or even at the end of the day, STOP and spend time with those you love. Even if it's to write a note, make a phone call however you do it---JUST DO IT!
Let go of what was, learn from yesterday, and live for the moment today...tomorrow will always be different than anything you could have imagined...or for some, it may not come. Life is short compared to eternity, choose to live it not survive it. I know about surviving, I've done it too many years and thankful that I did; but, now I want to paddle through and be thankful for the currents, and eddies that have only helped to make me who I am today, and I want to continue to draw closer to the Lord. It's foolish to think we can do it all in our own strength and alone...why would you want to? See lately I've been my own worst enemy, because I am the one who has allowed false expectations to rule in my life. Unrealistic expectations really, and also judged others by how I perceived they were treating me. Like the pictures image, things aren't always what they appear to be; we have to stop, listen and really see the truth in situations. Just like out kayaking and seeing the beauty, choose to see the beauty of someone's life - even if they are not living the way you think they should. It's not your life, it's theirs and they have to paddle through the journey they've chosen just like you do your own. Get a good paddle that fits you and enjoy the journey!
The journey of healing in my heart continues…I think it will till the day I leave this earth. Mother’s Day was coming up and I spent the entire week prior to it praying about reaching out to my mother. We haven’t had a strong, close relationship and there’s been so much past hurts; but, I wanted to continue to walk towards life and bring change.
Sometimes you can just show love with your actions and eventually the heart will line up and follow…but, I wanted it to be different this time. I wanted what ever I did for Mother’s Day to be from my heart. Then I came across the scripture “honor your mother & father”, this has always been difficult for me. So, I did what I knew was the best course of action – put it on the table before the Lord. After several days of prayer and meditating on this, I got this revelation:
Honoring someone is not based on their works, quality of life – how good or bad of a person they are. It’s just like respecting your spouse, it’s not based on their actions – but – they are a life that God created. Regardless of whether she’s a picture perfect mom, or one that you have felt you didn’t deserve, you can still honor her. I know this sounds hard and unfair, especially when it comes to those who have suffered abuse (mental, emotional, physical, sexual, etc) but hear me out. I am not saying that we are to put ourselves into a position of further harm in any way, just that you can extend kindness in different ways to honor that person. It’s the same principle as forgiveness. Forgiving someone who has harmed in various degrees is not a stamp of approval for what they’ve done; nor is it forgetting about it. It’s acknowledging what they’ve done but asking God to help you to forgive them so that you can heal and move on. It’s really not for the one who’s hurt you, it’s for your heart and your relationship with God.
I made the decision to take my mother out to dinner. At first I was concerned about where to take her and costs. Then I had this picture come to me about when someone says they just want to bless you with clothes they have hanging in their closet. You get excited about adding something new & different to your wardrobe; however, when you receive the clothes they are far from being new, let alone nice…you just replaced the goodwill drop box. The person didn’t mean it to be hurtful or offensive, but really? Did you feel honored when you pulled those clothes out of the bag? I felt God was showing me it’s the same thing about where to take my mother to dinner, to honor her with something nice. So I took her to a nearby resort restaurant that is definitely nice in every way with great quality food and service. The view of the lake was perfect, complete with valet service. It was a stretch for me in every way, financially and emotionally; but, I would do it again in a second. My heart was in it, just as I had prayed and I really did want her to feel special.
It opened another door of healing for my heart, now, will our relationship improve? I don’t have the answer to that, but it wasn’t an action I put in place to receive something in return. I was just choosing to honor her and give of my heart unconditionally. No strings.
Our forgiveness of someone needs to be the same way – no strings attached, just letting go and moving on to healing and life.