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Posts from the ‘Tell His Story’ Category

Say I Don’t Know

I am participating in Emily P. Freeman’s #mynextrightthing 24 days of writing prompts to celebrate the release of her new book, The Next Right Thing.

 

 

 

Today, the prompt is: “say I don’t know”.

 

 

Emily says in The Next Right Thing (p.69): “Rather than being an expert, children are free to be curious. Children are able to sit down and let other people know things for a change. Children are able to observe, to watch, to make mistakes, and to learn new things. You are in Christ and your smallness is not a liability. Your smallness is a gift.”

 

It has been a repeated prayer of mine to become that trusting child before God. Oh how I see Him answering that prayer. Just not quite like I expected Him to: by putting my weakness on display for all to see. 

 

The Words He gave me to share, 3 years ago now, were about weakness. About God using the weak things of the world to shame the wise and about God perfecting His power in weakness. About His will not always being physical healing here on earth because in our suffering more of Him becomes visible for the hurting world around us, as He transforms our hearts in and through the pain.

 

Oh how I liked sharing this Word from my pedestal, from a place of “fully healed”. And so He knocked my pedestal down to destroy the growing wall between us. He asked me, even if they mock you, turn their back on you, won’t believe you: will you still choose to utter what is pure and not what is worthless? He invited me to join Him in a communion of suffering.

 

Oh how pridefully I fought this precious invitation: “How dare He do this to me, cause me such pain after only just lifting so much pain and shame in my life? After only just “fully healing” me from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, an illness born as I spoke the truth and was turned away in the name of God as a child, unable to protect the one I loved. How could it be love to put me back in a similar situation yet again?”

 

At first, I became the insolent, angry child. But this, believe it or not, was in fact progress. For, right there, I came to Him as myself. As a little girl, who does not play the “good girl”, but who knows her Father well enough to bare herself fully before God, allowing His tender and patient discipline to do its work in her heart. This was the harvest from the first layer of healing He had walked me through a year earlier. 

 

And as I got angry and even bitter before Him, He spoke in kindness. Truth and grace pierced my sin hardened heart until the tears flowed relentlessly and He got to the root. Again and again. And oh how He held me tight in His arms, turning my eyes to what HE sees. Oh the repentance that flowed, naturally and unforced. Oh the thankfulness for the depths of His mercy. Oh the peace, the hope and joy that flowed there, safe in His arms, as my heart grew to deep down know the Cross has truly paid it all. And so, I went where He asked me to, obediently bearing the Words He gifted me.

 

In sharing the Word He gave me via email my weakness remained very much hidden. But physically standing before those He asked me to speak to, I so often faltered. I either placated to please or hid in my trembling fear and shame. And yet even there, He was growing trust in me, growing my heart to lean into the power of His grace at work in me. For, He is the God who sees and knows us like no other.

 

He saw the root of my fear and my shame. He saw what others couldn’t: just how close I came to taking my own life, as I tried so very hard to be obedient to His will. He saw the horrific attack on my mind and body as wave after wave of trauma crashed over me. Again and again. And He saw how once, when I cried out in absolute terror, He even physically tethered my feet to the ground to stop me from running into the canal. And yet right there He was ushering in my healing, as He exposed my desperate need for Him and my absolute insufficiency to stand firm in my own strength.

 

God knew all along that He had to take me back to the root of my trauma to rewrite my story in grace and truth, to humble me beneath His mighty hand. To help me acknowledge and confess that the truth He had asked me to speak, both as a child and at my former church, was a truth my very own heart still needed to receive.

 

I only realized in writing this piece that I needed to become that child clothed in weakness, He was asking me to speak up for. I needed to deep down know that God defends the weak and powerless. I needed to know He never needed me to protect His children, just to join Him in His suffering and watch His goodness and mercy chase us all home.

 

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Psalms 23:3 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/psa.23.3.KJV

 

 

Piece by piece Jesus is helping me to shake off the dust of my past. I am learning to stop covering up my weakness in fear and shame. I am learning to lay down “expert” legalistic and ritualistic interpretations of Scripture and to listen instead to the Spirit’s gentle, relationship-led revelations of the Word. Revelations that do not incite absolute terror in me, nor awful shame, nor a need to “earn” my salvation by “fixing” myself or others. But instead these revelations are invoking a deep and holy awe for my God, a trembling before the depths of His love for each and every one of us, just as we are.

 

 

Yes, I am a beginner. A needy child before my King. A child who is learning to say: “I don’t know, help me oh LORD.” A child who is learning to embrace her imperfection, so that she may receive grace and mercy in the time of her need. I hear Him say: “Forgive her, Father, for she knows not what she does.”

 

And I see Him lay down His life for me, taking my sin upon Himself, dying on a Cross and rising on the third day, that I in my smallness and weakness, and many others too, might arise anew in His power: in the Way, the Truth and the Life. That I might joyfully take up my Cross and join my Savior in a communion of suffering, knowing my Savior is using this communion to refine my heart and restore me unto Himself and unto others through Him.

 

 

 

For the kingdom is the Lord’s : and he is the governor among the nations. All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul. A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.
Psalms 22:28‭-‬31 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/psa.22.28-31.KJV

 

 

 

 

My dear friend, Joy Lenton, also just released a book – Embracing Hope – that has been such a blessing to me.  I would encourage you to check it out.

 

Here is an excerpt of my review:

Going through a time of uncertainty, not quite knowing what is next, Joy’s poems and the words God whispered to her heart brought me both comfort and the courage to keep walking forward, or as Joy puts it so beautifully:

“to stay in faith, believe
there’s an opening
where potential has been sown
where future steps are known”

It’s so easy to become discouraged and turn away from the path of the Cross God has gifted us to discover more of Him. Joy’s words have helped me see purpose in this season of many endings, opening my ears to, as Joy writes:

“Listen, listen with intent”

To remember that even when life seems to pass us by, “life’s heartbeat” is still “ringing loud and clear in us”.

 

Just in case you haven’t heard: Bettie and I have some wonderful news. Our second Treasures from the Sands podcast – Pure GOLD – has gone live!!

What do we do when God doesn’t physically heal us or our loved ones? Where is God in our pain and suffering? Bettie shares what it was like growing up with a mother who suffered from chronic illness and what it is like now being the one who hasn’t been physically healed. It is a story of discovering fresh hope, of God uncovering the stunning beauty of His pure gold in us right there in our pain.

Move On

I am participating in Emily P. Freeman’s #mynextrightthing 24 days of writing prompts via Instagram to celebrate the release of her new book, The Next Right Thing, and what a blessing it has been.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, the prompt is: “move on” and I decided to pen a blog post, rather than an Insta only post . . . (pssst: keep reading for two bits of exciting news at the end!!).

 

Shaking the dust off our weary feet can be harder than it sounds. And yet, if we shake off the lies spoken over us, we can arise and shine in the sacred space God has purposed for us right now. Yes! When we leave something in obedience, our feet are right where He wants us.

 

And yet, I don’t know about you, but my flesh cries out for that next thing. Like I need to be going somewhere. Like I need to be proving my next thing explains and justifies my departure from the old. But what if Jesus just wants me to open my eyes and see? To awake. To see He has me right where HE has always wanted me to be.

 

Isaiah 42:16 ESV

And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.

 

 

As Emily puts it in The Next Right Thing (p.60): “We are looking for a plan, but then you offer us your hand.” And His hand in mine, that’s when I truly begin to see, feel and know afresh. I don’t need to be anywhere but where my God has set my feet. Right here. Waiting upon Him. Resting in His love. Trusting and opening my eyes to the  beauty and joy of my unknown, unfurling His known.

 

 

Song of Songs 2: 13 – 15 ESV

“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away.
O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.

Catch the foxes[e] for us,
the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in blossom.”

 

 

What if moving on isn’t necessarily always about taking on something else? What if moving on is actually discovering who we truly are? What if it’s discovering the longings and desires God has placed within us? What if it’s about losing the “should do” and “must do” to recognize and embrace the “get to”? What if it’s about shedding the weight of our calling to grow into the grace of our calling?

 

 

What if it’s about clasping His hand and leaning into a dance His feet have always been leading?

 

 

Dance in Abandon

I dance here in abandon
The lover of my soul
He calls me forth
Wild and free, I AM is He.

Pointing fingers
Cutting words
Shaming stares
No man can tame these feet.

My childlike heart
Abba Father stills to hear
No fear or shame
Heaven’s love withholds.

Safe in His arms
I learn to lean and sway
To know His breath of life
My every move has always led.

Yes, I dance in abandon
The lover of my soul
Calls me forth
Wild and free, the Great I AM in me.

 

 

I am so thankful to God for the encouragement He keeps sending me. My dear friend, Joy Lenton, also just released a book – Embracing Hope – that has been such a blessing to me.  I would encourage you to check it out.

 

Here is my review on Amazon:

“Going through a time of uncertainty, not quite knowing what is next, Joy’s poems and the words God whispered to her heart brought me both comfort and the courage to keep walking forward, or as Joy puts it so beautifully:

“to stay in faith, believe
there’s an opening
where potential has been sown
where future steps are known”

It’s so easy to become discouraged and turn away from the path of the Cross God has gifted us to discover more of Him. Joy’s words have helped me see purpose in this season of many endings, opening my ears to, as Joy writes:

“Listen, listen with intent”

To remember that even when life seems to pass us by, “life’s heartbeat” is still “ringing loud and clear in us”. To slow to see and hear God’s Presence with us in the here and now. I am so thankful for Joy’s precious words and her willingness to boast in her weaknesses to draw us closer to the compassionate and steadfast heart of God.”

And finally: Bettie and I also have some news of our own. Our second Treasures from the Sands podcast – Pure GOLD – has gone live!!

What do we do when God doesn’t physically heal us or our loved ones? Where is God in our pain and suffering? Bettie shares what it was like growing up with a mother who suffered from chronic illness and what it is like now being the one who hasn’t been physically healed. It is a story of discovering fresh hope, of God uncovering the stunning beauty of His pure gold in us right there in our pain.

 

A Legacy of Love

5 years ago today, Mum (and Grandma to her many grandchildren) entered heaven’s gates at 59 years old. The Scripture I placed in the frame is one that I have carried in my heart almost 5 years now. God has truly been filling me with joy and gladness, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. No doubt Mum prayed for that for each one of her 6 children.

Our last Christmas together

The greatest gift Mum gave me was the outpouring of Jesus’ heart at work in her. I am so thankful for those really hard last months because I saw Jesus like never before. In the first weeks after her diagnosis with brain cancer that came in precious advice, hard lessons learned from her own life. In the last weeks it came through the palpable peace I felt upon her, as everything else was taken away from her. A peace that filled me with a hunger and thirst for Jesus and brought me home.

Mum, our youngest daughter and I, shortly after Mum’s diagnosis

Mum was the one who told me I should seek counseling. Mum was the one who told me boundaries were vital. Mum was the one who told me if there was just one thing she wanted me to remember it was to look after myself better than she had herself as a Mum to us 6. She knew that seeking rest, healing and wholeness for myself would reap fruit not just for myself but for my children and her beloved granddaughters also.

Mum was the one who best modeled a life of prayer and worship to me until her final breath. No, she wasn’t perfect, but therein lay her beauty. The grace of Jesus shone so brightly in and through her because she was humble enough to admit her weakness and sins and to embrace the imperfection of others in loving truth and grace.

She poured herself out for others her whole life: as a wife, mother, Grandma, sister, Aunt, friend to many, missionary, pastor’s wife, high school and preschool teacher. Even as psyioratic arthritis took away her ability to teach pre-schoolers, she looked to bless struggling Moms, graduating as a counselor mere days after a brain operation. No excruciating pain from her arthritis or employers who made it difficult for her to leave could ever stop her from traveling to the other side of the world to welcome her granddaughters, our two girls, into the world. Family came first.

Mum with our oldest, mere months before she went to be with her LORD and Savior

She was a woman who hungered & thirsted after God’s heart. On her tomb stone my Dad had the words of a dear friend engraved: “When you were with Margaret, you knew you were loved.” Oh how she loved us. Oh how Jesus loved us through her.

Mum and our oldest on one of my parents’ many visits to our home in the Netherlands

She leaves a legacy of love that continues to bless many lives. And I pray that sharing a piece of her story here blesses and encourages you too. She would want you to know you are loved. Whatever you are walking today, may the love and peace of our LORD Jesus be with you. May He make His face shine upon you, draw you up on His knee and call you His beloved.

I will leave you with one of the many worship songs my Mum loved to sing:

His Voice Us Calls

Healing from trauma is a step-by-step process. In my own process, God has taken me through a four step process, twice. First complete rest and a steady diet of the Word of God, which slowly brought the trauma to be healed to the surface. Then, one trigger after another inducing the symptoms of (Complex) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a time through which I clung to Scripture as my very breath. Then, complete rest in a safe cocoon in which I could walk through therapy that required me to face the traumatic memories of my past and the lies I clung to in those moments behind safe, closed doors, where Jesus entered these memories and rewrote them in the truth. Finally, it has required a gradual reintroduction to triggers in real life, by going places that remind me of the trauma I have walked through. There, God has given me the opportunity to press through the fear and the pain I feel to find Him present with me and to internalize the truth He spoke over me in therapy.

During the most frightening and painful parts of my healing process, I have faced believers, who have both encouraged me forward into the truth, and others, like Peter, who have tried to protect me from the path of the Cross. Likewise, when God called me to leave my legalistic church to enter an extended period of cocooning and rest, away from a physical church building but surrounded in precious fellowship that God provided both locally and abroad, I also met with both truth speakers and with the enemy’s accusations spoken through fellow believers.

Our enemy will always seek to derail us when we are walking into healing and will most often do it, not through unbelievers, but through fellow believers. But even there we can trust God to guide us through to hear and do HIS will.

In my own healing process, Jesus has repeatedly spoken: “Get behind me Satan.” and led me further on the path He has set before me. He has helped me to hear His Voice above the naysayers, and to take a different path from the one I took as a teenager. With God’s help, I am now slowly and surely arising in the truth of my calling in Christ. Oh yes, I still fall back into pain and shame at times, but I now know: “for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again” (Proverbs 24:16 NIV). And just so you know: I have been on the other end at times too, as Jesus has turned to me, when I have pridefully tried to “protect” or “heal” others and He has said: “Get behind Me, Satan.”

I will never regret those terrifying moments that came as I chose the path of the Cross, because they are the moments that wrote truth upon the stone tablet of my heart. Truth that now tethers me as I choose to walk toward triggers of trauma again. And I will never regret the year and a half I did not attend a church, but met the church of Christ in my living room and the living room of friends. God truly knew the best path for me and always has. Even my Prodigal path He always purposed for good: to answer my childhood yearning to plunge deeply into His rivers of mercy and grace. I now know, He has never left my side and never will.

I pray that He will embolden us all to (continue to) hear and obey HIS Voice above all others. May we see His purpose threaded through our whole life. May He help each one of us not to become a stumbling block nor a vessel for Satan’s accusations levelled at our brothers and sisters. And where we fall into Satan’s traps, may He lift our eyes back up to Jesus, so that we can lay down the enemy’s accusations and take up our swords of truth. May we be ones who walk in the Spirit of truth and grace.

 

His Voice Me Calls

Rest, they say
Meaning well
They call me halt
Storms they’ve seen
Upon me hail.

And yet I hear
Your still small voice
Lead me come
Tread where waves
And wind me meet.

Voices hold me back
Sink my feet
Down into sand
Of fears and doubts
Surely reason calls me halt?

But then I see
Your hand outstretched
Beckoning my own
Not alone I walk toward
But Abba’s own, clasped and held.

Yes, the wind and waves
They lash and roar
But My Father’s Voice
Is stronger still
Winds and waves “Be still” He calls.

Tears my eyes now fill
My Father He hears and answers me
Hidden fears and doubts He sees
Spirit-led I cast and pour
My feet He treads toward the deep.

Oh yes, my victory
Rests not in reason’s claim
Nor in man’s safe berth
But in God alone
Abba Father calls me come.

Yes, I will rest
Upon My Peace
Upon My Refuge, Rock
His Voice alone
My shield and sword.

Psalm 62:7 NLT
My victory and honor come from God
alone
He is my refuge, a rock where no
enemy can reach me.

Galatians 3: 6 – 7 NLT
And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba Father”. Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are His child, God has made you His heir.

Perfume Sweet

When I was a preteen and teen, I knew the power of lament. Of casting and pouring, and breathing in the Word. And yet, it’s then, much like Hannah at first was at the Temple, I was met with accusing tongues and stern disapproval. I was turned away in my pain and grief. I was told there was something wrong with me. And yet, I was worshipping God from the depths of my soul through the injustice I saw before me.

Rather than believe my God, I agreed with the lies and fled who God had made me to be. Then one day, He overwhelmed me in His palpable peace, when my Mum was given just 3 months to live. No words brought me home. Just the Spirit of God speaking through His presence. He had come to lift the weight of a burden that was never mine to carry.

Words of death can go much deeper than we think. It has been almost 5 years since I gave my heart back to God. But God is still patiently and lovingly breaking me free from the pain and shame of my past. He is lifting the weight of each and every single lie spoken over me.

As I ran in the forest, seeking His face, the tears streamed as I heard Him remind me yet again that it breaks His heart. That it hurts Him, when I turn away ashamed, believing the injustice done is my weight to carry, my punishment. When I believe my weakness is ugly to Him and wrong. When in fact my laments and my cries for truth to be unveiled, for restoration, healing and unity in His Body, are and have always been, beautiful to Him. For they are His perfume sweet.

It is there, in and through my lamenting, I am being conformed (sýnmorphḗ – https://biblehub.com/greek/4862.htm and https://biblehub.com/greek/3444.htm):

4862 sýn (a primitive preposition, having no known etymology) – properly, identified with, joined close-together in tight identification; with (= closely identified together).

3444 morphḗ – properly, form (outward expression) that embodies essential(inner) substance so that the form is in complete harmony with the inner essence.

to His image.

 

If you too are struggling beneath a weight you know that is not yours to carry, I pray that my poem and this song will bless you. I pray that as you pour out your own lament, you will deep down know He is joining you unto Himself. For He is the God who sees us, knows us and weeps for and with us. May He release His perfume sweet in and through each one of us:

Perfume Sweet, A Spoken Word

 

 

Oh Yes, I’m Home

This is a vulnerable post I’ve been praying through, wondering what to share and what to withhold. But in praying and trusting here deeper, I’ve decided love is both grace and truth, is naming what wounded and broke me, because it is what God has used and is still using to transform my heart, to breathe new life in me. So, I speak of sins, my own and others, but only to His glory and His grace. To acknowledge that in Him, there is forgiveness and healing, peace and joy
For each one of us.

OH YES, I’M HOME

Thank you for my sins confessed
In sermons spoken
Thank you for the silence
Shunning truth You called me send
Thank you for the turning backs
When I reached out, just for one
Thank you for the stares and talk
Behind my back of mess and “evil” me
Thank You for the fixing prayers
Devoid of loving Father’s touch.

Thank you for the wind and waves
In trauma’s throes, my weakness
And my ugly sinful heart laid bare.
Thank You for uncovering
My pride and shame and stealth
Uncovering all my cruel of “fixing” man
And denying my own need for health
For healing hand and loving touch.

Thank you for now showing me
The ugly of my idol worship
Of claiming strength
That I might to the world belong
Not as myself but icy cold façade
Denying all my sin and need
Of turning those who truly love me
Cold away.

Thank You for returning me
To acknowledge You alone
To embrace the love
And grace and truth of those
Who daily acknowledge
You in me.

Thank You that there is now
No condemnation
For those who walk in You
Forgiven, free.

Thank you
For pressing me
Ever deeper
To know
And grow
And hear
Your heart in me.

To know
Your righteousness is
My only covering

To know
My darkness is
As light to You

To know
My weak
And cracked open all is

Chosen, treasured
Whole, perfumed sweet
In You.

To know You are
My great I AM.

So, thank you
For my Cross
For sharing in Your suffering
For privilege and honor
So undeserved
Your broken body
To my lips to take
Your cup to drink
In the presence
Of my enemies
At Your lavish table
As Your friend to feast.

My sins in light
You’re bathing
Oil of joy
Upon my head
I feel
For You’re restoring me
Rebuilding and now strengthening me.

All in fear and shame
I always turned away

I now turn to You
The God who’s breathing all now whole again.

You wrap my dark
In holy shining cloak
And call me Yours
You lay Your crown
Upon my head
As my knees bow low
And hands lift high.

Thank you for exposing all my thirst
For love, affection, affirmation,
For all I’m finding here in You.

Thank you for Your severing
For pruning branches of my ugly pride,
Fear and shame to burn
That I might here return
To rest in You alone

To abide and bear
Fruit in every season
Firmly planted
My roots are growing
In living water
Now to drink and bathe.

Thank you for Your loving like no other
For transforming me each day anew
In Your gold of worth to rest
For lifting me from mirey clay
Your countenance upon me shining
That I might know Your goodness
Your mercy ever chasing me

Oh yes, I’m back
I’m HOME
In Your House forever.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

Thank You, Jesus, for this Love – for YOU – at work in me.

Did you know Bettie Gilbert and I have just released our first ever podcast episode for #treasuresfromthesands:

Treasures from the Sands Episode 1 – Our Home

Welcome to the table to feast with us in prayer, worship and fellowship at our Father’s table, as He delights in us. As He pours out His oil of anointing upon us right here in our daily trials of chronic and/or mental illness. For, we are loved. We are seen. We are known. And we are forever in His Presence and at Home in HIM.

I am so blessed to be linking this post up to Mary Geisen’s #tellhisstory: