Saturday, September 16, 2017

For Such A Time As This

When you discover that God has created you uniquely, you won’t spend your life trying to copy everyone else. - Lisa Bevere

Question: What is a current lie you believe about your own life? Write one universal truth that exposes this lie. 

I believe what I have been given is not enough. I constantly fight between the knowledge that I have been given gifts to use, and comparison with others who have been given the same gifts and are using them in far more interesting and impactful ways than I could.  Writing is an art. It is not an art that makes you untouchable, but connects soul to soul. I am a writer and deep inside I desire to be an artist. To create with whatever I can get my hands on and share it proudly. Then the lie soaks into the surface and penetrates my bones. There is no place for you. You do not have what it takes. Those words have already been spoken. And then it starts over again, repeating and restating lies that dismantle my creative spirit. The tension between lie and truth, flesh and spirit, desire and hope.

Truth. 

If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s family will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” Esther 4:14

I am set a part for such a time as this. This day, this life I am moving about in the body that pumps the blood to my heart and let’s air into my lungs. This life I have been given was given to me for just such a time as this. My spirit, gifts, talents, voice, and soul are needed right here and right now. I am not a mistake and I most definitely belong at the table next to you, because my time here is not a mistake or glitch, it was set for a purpose. My words have a place. My heart has a beat. My art is needed. My soul is continually transforming. For such a time as this. Every moment I strike keys, move my pen, grab color, flip pages, kneel down, and lift hands high there is purpose. There is purpose in my days not just because of what I have been given, but who gave it all to me and for Him. There are many around me, beyond me, and surrounding me; such a great cloud of witnesses for such a time as this. There is no question even in the doubt, that what I have been given is meant to be used and its purpose as well as impact is beyond my comprehension. It is not about me, it is all for Him. How is my life to fit in the kingdom that lives here on earth, which is experienced in the midst of the devastation and chaos of the broken world? I may never know how my life is used for glory, but I can rest knowing that the strikes, moves, dips, flips, and sanctification are used in the kingdom work. A generation hungry for food and thirsty for drink and finding temporary satisfaction in all the wrong places, as I struggle to stay on my knees. There is a place for me, simply because I am alive. There is a seat for me here for such a time as this. 

Jesus came as a babe, lived, walked, taught, traveled, saw, healed, washed, and laid it down to conquer it all to raise up and save us all…for such a time as this. His coming, dying, raising, giving of Spirit, and promise to come again are all for such a time as this. There was purpose in all of his life, the timing of his physical coming into this world, it was all for such a time as this. Today. Right now and in Yesterday.


For such a time as this there is a time for everything under the sun. Nothing is wasted. Everything is used for something greater. Every move. Every sick day. Every sin. Every repentance. Every worship. Every craft. Every word. Every place. Every person. Every broken and beautiful thing in this world, is for such a time as this. It is hard in the broken and confused, but every moment of it is used. Every blessing and triumph no matter how superficial it feels, is used. A greater purpose and plan, one that I will never understand, for such a time as this. 

I sit at the table and I come offering what I have been given and open to what I am meant to receive. This life of mine is precious in the set a part of the nature of my Jesus. I come. I am here. Use me. I am here and I am listening.

- Hannah

Friday, September 15, 2017

Friends With You

Our culture is all about shallow relationships. But that doesn’t mean we should stop looking each other in the eye and having deep conversations. – Francis Chan

Question: Explore a recent challenge in one of your closest relationships. First, remove expectation or blame. Now what happened? What did you learn about yourself? 

Miscommunication is the nice way to put it, but in general it is a complete lack of communication is what fractures my relationships. I wish this would only describe some of my relationships, but it is most of them. I am not the best communicator. In the world of screens rather than faces and emotions I tend to misread, and misreads become misunderstandings, which lead to conflict, which feeds avoidance, and turns into years passing and me scratching my head wondering what the heck went wrong. Then I “ding”. I come back to the miscommunication and a lack of love that I was so confident in proclaiming that I had for the people I called “my people”. A lack of respect for others and a deeper concern for my own feelings, shoots poison into heart of friendship. I am a creator and receptor of poison. 

Some would blame it on my “only child upbringing”, which I always have felt is more of a finger point at my parents than at me. Some would blame it on my personality of introversion and introspection, which I always though was shooting a finger at the God who crafted me. I blame it all on my sin. A heart condition bent on pleasing myself before anyone else. It is not my parents or Gods fault, it is my own. Justification can’t make selfishness, fear, and pride become a picture of beauty. It is vile, the poison that pumps from my heart, to my veins, straight through to the spit in my mouth as I open or swallow in response or lack of one. Sin is gross. But, I am a victim of grace. So much grace is poured out on me and repentance is a moment by moment posture in my life of words or lack of. I am a stubborn girl. 

I am not good at confrontation. There was a group of friends I used to be close with and it irritated me how much they did not want to enter into a good messy confrontation over miscommunication or sin or whatever was causing some issues in any relationship. I was so frustrated, then I looked in the mirror. I am the same. I avoid the very thing that can take a relationship, any relationship, deeper in connection and support. It is when we lay it down ourselves and bring the muck into the light that we can move forward. Without forward motion I just keep kicking mud up over myself and others, until the whole world looks like the muck; dirty and too messy to bother with. I miss out, while I wait for the mud to dry out.

It is a sick fact, but I sometimes really like missing out. There is a weird contentment in staying put and not moving. There are seasons for staying put in rest and reflection, but then there are the seasons when we need to move to live out instead of within ourselves. Then there is a part of me that starts bubbling with envy, sadness, and feeling like trash when I am not included when I am tossed out to the side of the road waiting to be picked up by the garbage man. Rejection comes back around to you when you reject confrontation, to see the others. Feeling like garbage is a reflection of treating others like garbage, but that is not who we all are. We are all rare one of a kind treasures set loose on the world for a divine purpose, but yet we can feel the direct opposite of who we really are. I can feel the opposite.

When I feel like I am all that is wrong with the world and am super aware of all that is in process of daily sanctification; divine transformation, I stop myself. I am learning to stop, take what is really wrong, confess it, and do my best to live in peace. I am not perfect, but I am a treasure. They are not perfect, but they are divine creatures. How can I develop healthy relationships if I am not willing to acknowledge who both of us truly are; worth confrontation, tears, laughter, and growth in purpose and love. I am working on it. Each day. Getting back up, seeing my sin, and coming to you in honesty. I am wrong in so many ways, but I hope that even in my messy display, we can be friends that communicate with each other. I want to be a friend to you. 

- Hannah

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Family Plan

Fear arises when we imagine, that everything depends on us. – Elisabeth Elliot

Question: What does surrender mean to you? What are you unwilling to surrender? Explore with honesty.

To me surrender is letting go, laying something down, and taking a step back in trust that what I desperately want to have control over will come to be. Surrender is the opposite of control. Chains broken off flying free. Surrender is an openness to experience creation rather than create experiences. Surrender says “Yes Lord I am listening”. Control screams “Lord, I do not trust you with this”. I live in a constant state of laying down and picking up, a place of pleading to God to help my unbelief because in and of myself I am weak and I need His strength to get back down and walk away from my desires. 

I am all for pursuing what God has placed before me. But, some things are not before me they are purely desire floating out in the wide open landscape of possibility. They are maybes that I hope will be yes’s and part of me is scared of getting a no. What will become of me if those desires do not happen? Who will I be, will I be ok? The answer is always yes. I will be secure, because God is good all the time, all the time God is good. No matter what goes sideways or if I meet a bolted shut door, I will be good. My life will be good, because He is good. I will be ok. But…I struggle with letting go and being ok with the no. I do not know if I am content with that option, I know I need to be, but I do not know if I am. I say “am”, because right now that is what I am faced with. Some people call it “the maybe place”, but until it is a “yes” it is a “no” in my eyes. I have to face the possibility of no, because I know if I am greeted with a yes, I will be excited, but the no is another story. Can I lay down my desire knowing fully well a “no” could be the answer? 

Ever since I could remember I have wanted to have a family. To meet a godly man, grow in like and love, do a little jig down to the chapel, start the wild adventure of togetherness, watch my belly grow, and stand back amazed at the adventure God chose for us to travel, eternally grateful for the gift we have been given in our family from God. I desire it. A family. That adventure. I do not talk about the desire often, because if I do I tend to spiral into a cycle that starts with fear, panic, ungratefulness, and ends in a pit of bitterness about my life. I live my days in the land of “no” because that is what I have been given today. 

I lay down my desire and I keep my mouth shut in the world around me, because if I acknowledge it I start trying to find “him” that wink-wink Mr. to my Mrs. Some would say that is what I need to be doing, hunting till I find the one to capture and take him as my prey. I am oddly old fashioned when it comes to family, compared to the world and my peers. I believe in the guy doing the searching and seeking with God, not the other way around. So…because of that truth, I stay in my lane in my zone and do not dwell on it. When the thought comes or lust comes a knocking, I lay it all down again. God you lead the way of my life, love, and craft. 

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness.” 
Romans 6:12-13

It is hard for me to surrender it, because for a long time it is was something I placed my hope on. Hope for my future was dependent on who was next to me. The thing is I already have someone next to me, inside of me, and leading me through my days and transforming my life. An adventure is what I am already on and today I look around at this gift I have been given through blood and the life around me…and I am grateful for it. It is a beautiful gift my life, no matter if I will ever enjoy it with someone else, I am not and never will be alone. 

I lay down my desire at Your feet.

O, God help me not grow weary.

I raise my hands in the heat.

While my mind battles with theory. 

-Hannah

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How to Grow

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6: 34 (MSG)

Question: What has uninvited change taught you in your own life? How can you better embrace it?

I can try really hard to plan and map out my days on this spinning world, but I will never have a perfect day where everything goes as planned. I can’t recall a day where every hour ended up with a neat little bow on top. I am not saying to throw out the day planners, vision boards, and all ambitions in this life…but hold them loosely. 

Hold them loosely and take each day as it comes. One day at a time. After my Nana and Papa fell in Vegas this became almost a mantra in my life. There was a period of time where I was moving through the day, but anticipating death. Death was near and for the first time in my life I had to admit it was going to happen. One day at a time. After I was diagnosed with a birth defect that required surgery to correct, this became a solid statement in my life. Through doctors, tests, unknowns, and recovery…one day at a time. 

That is how I embrace the uninvited bumps, turns, and surprises of life. One day at a time. I am a pessimist at heart, or as I like to say a realistic thinker. I like to take sky high dreams and crash them back down to reality. A real problem for the dreamer in me, but it is also a gift. A gift that allows me to roll with the punches when the fire comes and respond in gratitude when unexpected happiness comes along. One day at a time. I lay down my plan, my ideas of the day and open my hands to receive whatever may come and ask for the strength and gratitude to walk through it. 

Sounds nice and pretty, but more often than not when things don’t just go south but also hit the fan, I go down. My anxiety kicks in and the fog tunnel of a panic attack settles over me and everything moves in slow motion. I am not the best at taking one day at a time, as the days blur and before I know it a year has gone by. It is too easy for me to get distracted by the trials and even by the blessings in this world. I get flack for saying this, but I believe God is in everything. Sin does not win. The darkness of night and trial does not win. God uses all things for good, even the bad; He is present in the darkness. He can withstand all, because He overcame it all. 

“Indeed, an hour is coming, and has come, when each of you will be scattered to his own home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.  I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” John 16:32-33

“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15

With Him in me I will see the dawn. And when the light is shining bright I also have the strength to stay down on my knees. Thankfulness. Gratitude. That is how one day at a time, can actually become a reality. On my knees in surrender and thankfulness for the dawn. Unexpected and uninvited, become a welcome opportunity for growth and change. Painfully hard to live out, but that is how a life changes. Work=Pain=Growth. 

This is how to grow.
This is a beautiful life.
Don’t miss because it is causes soreness, it is worth it to wake up.

- Hannah

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fig Leaves

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves…So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.’” Genesis 3:7, 9-10

Question: How have you attempted to hide your failure in the past? Where you successful in doing so? Why or why not? 

I have already stated this, but I am a hider. Think Adam and Eve in the garden after they ate the no-no fruit. Think Jonah and the big fish. Think David trying to cover up his bad decision that started by looking out on the neighboring roof top. I pull back from what is around me and do my best to hide my short comings. I have done this from big things, like my fear and stealing, to smaller mistakes like food hording and surrendering to desire. I am good at sewing fig leaves to cover my vulnerability and humanity, to hide from the things that everyone else already knows and many can relate to. 

Failure is not my favorite label. I like to be optimistic and think of all those moments as learning opportunities. They were not failures, I was just being an active participant in learning. In reality they are failures. I failed. I messed up. I sinned. I lied. I hid. I failed. Yet I am not very good at hiding my short comings. It seems my failures are pointed out more than I would like them to be, or maybe I am just listening to the wrong voices. Being optimistic or not, failure is a lesson maker. I learn from every wrong turn, mistake, and straight bad judgement. They lead me to something greater, connection. 

I am most vulnerable in my wrong decisions and weaknesses. Doing the right things and succeeding at everything I touch, is not relatable. Fact: I just completed a year of walking through a 12-step recovery program. I touched on this journey earlier in this Journal Journey, it is my most read blog post. Why? Because it is authentic. It is real. It shows my weaknesses. In our weaknesses God is made strong. When they are exposed to the light, weaknesses lose their power of shame, and opportunity for real connections become a reality. 

So yes, I have been successful in hiding my failures from myself. I tend to be an open book. People look at me and they can see the reality behind my eyes and make a pretty accurate educated guess at my weakness as a human being. People do not like to be friends with others who are not honest. It is a breeding ground of insecurity and betrayal. I have lost and destroyed more relationships with my dishonesty and fake facade of togetherness.  It is easier to hide when there is some sort of shame associated with the failure. Most of the time that is the case. Even though I can bury the fail and pretend it didn’t happen, it slowly but surely grows a bud of shame. Shame continually reminds one of the failure and shows up when ones searches my soul. Some successes are not worth being proud of and are really more of a failure

Hiding failure is not a success, it is another failure. Embarrassment, shame, or fear of exposure for the benefit of individuals who are struggling with those same struggles themselves. How can the cycle stop? Come into the light, expose it all not to become “relatable” but to be honest. Honesty is the best policy, I have learned that truth on most of the avenues of my life. Honesty is what breaks the cycle, it is what turns every failure into that learning opportunity, and failure loses its ability to breed shame; the “why bother” life. 

I am glad I have never been successful at hiding my failures from others, because it helped me walk into the light and provided me with some critical life lessons

- Hannah

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Purge

There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love. - 1 John 4:18

Question: What is one thing you can purge today that will make a positive impact on your home or life? (Hint: This needn’t be a material thing.) 

Purge, to rid (someone) of an unwanted feeling, memory, or condition, typically giving a sense of cathartic release. What is interesting about purge is that one of the synonyms is purify, to remove contaminants from. I wish some of the dark memories would go out the window, but those memories keep me turning to God. I keep going back to this, but it is an issue in my life, it is the main reason I am traveling through recovery; fear.

Fear is tricky. There is the healthy kind that kicks in when there is danger or an unwise situation. The one that says do not go here by yourself or go out in the dark alone. That fear has kept me from my own unique brand of stupid. Then there is the fear that thrives off of insecurity. The fear that takes those past situations where you felt smaller than a spec in your capability and intelligence as a human being and keeps you trapped there while time keeps passing by. That is the side of fear that I experience most often. It zaps me back in time and I freeze. I let it feed off of me and take captive my identity more than I would like to admit. Purging.

I would love to purge fear. To be cleansed from my unrighteousness. To be purified by a love that cannot be in the presence of fear. I am working on it. It is this thing called a process, sometimes I get sick and tired of hearing the word process. I would love some absolute cut and dry absence of fear for the rest of my life. I am continually and constantly surrendering my fear. The fact that I am writing a blog again is proof that God’s love drives out fear. I stopped writing and even decided to trade it all in to become a teacher, because of fear. Writing scares me. I love it, but it terrifies me to my core. I study, read, and learn from some of the greatest writers and communicators in this world. I am thankful for them, but in light of them I get scared to be faithful with the gift I have been given. I have been given much, but I am scared to use it

What is one thing that I can purge today that will make a positive impact in my life? Today, tomorrow, and as long as it takes I am purging the buckets of buds, stalks, and roots of fear that have mucked up the garden of my heart. Fear that I let in because it looked more beneficial than fearlessness; than diving in and saying yes to daily walking forward in my gifts while remembering God’s faithfulness to me

My fear, that unhealthy chain laden kind, is a form of unfaithfulness. So I am a daily and forever work in progress. God does not see me through a lens of fear, but a lens of purity, white as snow clean. Fear is not a part of my identity in Christ, the identity I have been given. Much has been given so that I can live in the freedom and absence of many things, which includes my fear. There is freedom from this. A freedom door is right there. It is a daily choice to open it, accept it, and live in that space. 

I am purging fear today. I made the choice this morning, sometimes it takes me to the afternoon or I let full days go by without surrender, I listen to the fear. Today I am not listening. I am choosing to walk in freedom. To believe that I have been given too much to let fear be a factor. Today I am writing, painting, reading, laughing, and working on projects one step at a time. I am going to purge it today, give it up, for the fruit that grows in my heart as I step into the secret place, a place of purity of fearlessness because of regeneration through the blood of Jesus. Perfect love drives out fear. I can purge fear, because of the love I have accepted, the love that comes from Christ. Only the love of Christ can purge my unrighteousness and unfaithfulness. The words of man that tore me down at young ages and helped plant seeds that grew roots that have turned into a whole ugly cycle in my heart. The words of mere man can’t drive out my fear. They can’t drive it out, I can’t drive it out in my own will. I can’t. I do not have that power. But with God. But with God, I can experience freedom, a fearlessness that takes steps daily to walk in the will of God.

Purging doesn’t happen without perfect love.   

- Hannah

Sunday, September 3, 2017

It's A Multi-Generational Journey

Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn. 
- Benjamin Franklin
Question: Explain an interaction or experience that changed your entire perspective on life. 

Goodness, I feel like everyday changes my perspective on life. This country is constantly changing as this world is continually moving. Somedays I look around and I am proud to live where I live and other days I shake my head in shame. I have a constantly shifting perspective on this life and all I can say is this world is not my home and I should not let this place affect my thoughts and feelings so much. There are a couple of experiences that have come to mind typing this out.

Serving in youth. I love young girls and even those young men, they are cool too, but I love watching those girls discover Jesus and grow in their gifting’s. I didn’t start out loving young people, I use to despise those younger than me. I thought they were annoying. But after a summer serving in vacation bible school that perspective changed. I am thankful that early on in my serving, I discovered the beauty of the younger generation. Fast forward several years and I was graciously and undeservingly given a chance to co-lead a group of 5th grade girls. My life hasn’t been the same since. I once thought only the older ones could teach me about life and Jesus, I was wrong. Life is meant to be a multi-generational affair, the older with the younger. I like living life in this way, a way I once frowned upon and rolled my eyes at. I am extremely thankful for every young person on this planet and their unique places within the church and society; they are world changers and I am more than happy to cheer and make a fool of myself in the stands of life. You go girls (and guys). 

College in the broadest sense of the term has been an eye opening experience. My college experience has not been normal, but beyond that I have been given the opportunity to learn more about myself and the world. It is a privilege that I have spent too many hours being ungrateful about. I had a professor during my time at DBU that helped reignite a dying part of my soul. Art has always held a special place in my heart. My dad’s side of the family is extremely creative and I have always been surrounded by pieces of beauty and encouragement to find my creative expression. Writing has become my avenue, but I used to draw, paint, and take pictures on a regular basis. DBU came at a time when I was extremely down and out on life and my purpose, but this teacher was not satisfied with that outlook. For one week I sat under her perspective and knowledge of the arts, from various periods, techniques, and mediums I was immersed in the arts. I found my love for it again. I found a desire to create. It took a few more years to get to the point of participating in creating, but I will always remember my professor's passion and strong desire for each of us to be involved in the creative process. God did not just make us to sit and be, but to participate in creation through creating. The arts are a beautiful way to express worship and thanks to the Savior. I am thankful. 

My social circle is much prettier and livelier with the younger generation spinning around. And the arts not only calm my soul but remind me that I was created to create; to share. Life is worth sharing and participating in. There are more girls who feel awkward than not, and more artists that feel like art is not worth pursuing when they stare at their bank accounts. I am thankful I get to be a part of encouraging the next generation to pursue their creative; my purpose. The spirit of the living God is in all things. He made it all and he is in it all, through mentorship and the arts I see it clearer than when I am holed up within myself. My perspective changes every time I open my Bible over coffee conversation and every time I put my brush, pen, or lens to the world around me and enjoy the works of those who have gone before me. Multi-generational living at its finest, my favorite way to grow. 

- Hannah