Monthly Archives

June 2017

1 In Blog

Gently

I want to start this post off by explaining something. My blog posts often discuss the hard bits of my faith journey, the difficult parts of life that we tend to want to avoid but I have learned that having faith does not make things all happy-go-lucky all the time. I told my mentor the other night, that faith and a life with God is a bit like a rose–incredibly beautiful but sharpened with some thorns. I hope that my blogs don’t make it seem like I am living a life in despair, I am just living life, however, I choose to discuss the bits of life that are hard.

My blog is my heart, if you read it you are getting a glimpse into the inner workings of me. Those inner workings are not always happy-go-lucky, but that does not mean that they are not beautiful. To me, my blogs are rooted in the hope that God is present, working on my heart as I expose the things that I feel. I write in order to let God in; as I write, God reaches in and does some incredible healing on my heart. I write and share these writings in the hopes that if anyone feels alone or the same pain my heart is feeling, they know that they are not alone and that God is faithful–even if they cannot sense the presence of God.

I share the darker things, because I know I am not the only one who has struggled with walking in the dark. I do, however, try to keep the hope of God in the posts, please forgive me if it is not as clearly present to you as it is to me when I am writing. This period of life has been difficult, the last year and half has been one with many ups and downs, difficult times, but nevertheless, has been beautiful and joyous. I have struggled in the last six months to really sense God’s presence, I think it has been mainly due to not really looking for God’s hand upon my life. But as I shared that last post about the fear and panic that is plaguing my heart, I felt just how near God is.

God is not saying too much in this season of life, but God is near, comforting me and tending to my heart and soul. God has filled my life to the brim with a village of people who are surrounding me (literally and figuratively) with love and protection. This season of life has introduced me to the true importance and joy of having your people, the ones who know when something is wrong and show up when things start to crumble. I am learning of the true importance of community and what church actually means.

I am letting myself feel God’s presence. I am letting God in bit by bit. I can feel God gently nudging my heart open. For once in my life, God is being very gentle with me and my heart, I think God knows right now I need gentle. I am overwhelmed by God’s loving patience. I am thankful for God’s loving patience but also the loving patience my loved ones are extending to me.

Today I am just working on letting myself be, letting my heart feel God’s nearness and letting God in a little bit more today. I am resting in the true joy that comes from the loving presence of our faithful God. I hope that in whatever part of your journey you find yourself to be in, that you let yourself be, you let yourself see God’s hand upon your life and open up your heart just a little bit more.

May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Peace, Joy, Blessings and All My Love,

Margaret

0 In Blog

Fear

This season of my life has been marked by fear. I would dare to say my life has recently been run by fear. I am exhausted from unceasingly working to fight against the fear, to fight against the woman fear turns me into, and to fight against the bad habits my fear has made me create.

I have done some scary stuff in my short 24 years. I thought fear would stop having control on my life when I went to Scotland, but it is almost like the more I step out and face fears, the more fear tries to chase me down. I am reading a book right now and the author, Annie Downs, writes of how she doesn’t want to work through grief and the hurtful bit of life, also known as feeling all the feels. Yet, as she lets herself feel the darker side of life she begins to see beauty in places she couldn’t see it before. I am trying to remember how much sweeter life tastes when I step out from behind those walls the fear has caused me to build.

Right now, I feel frozen in fear. It is like I cannot really move–I am scared of so much in my life and the heartbreaking thing is that I am scared of the incredible good that is in my life. It all comes back to my root problem, my trust issues–I don’t trust God so I certainly don’t trust people. I currently feel like a wounded animal, raw and curled up in a corner of a dark room behind those cold stone walls–willing to lash out at anyone trying to get near me.

There are many things that have caused me to feel this way and to hide behind those walls, things that I don’t feel comfortable going into depth right now (maybe one day, but not today). I just feel raw from the hurt and the fear of future hurt that I am settling for a life that is miserable. Miserable, because I am hiding away from fully experiencing the sheer beauty of all that God is doing in my life. Sometimes I see God just reaching out God’s hand to me, inviting me to the table that God has prepared for me, reaching out her hand to invite me into the dance she is shimmying in BUT fear stops me from taking the hand of God and fully participating in the joyful festival that is a life shared with God.

I have been here before. I have been to scared to take God’s hand and participate in this life fully in communion with God and my fellow brothers and sisters. Why? Because I am so blasted scared of getting hurt. I sat down and journaled tonight; tons of “What if?” questions began flooding the page, questions that only made the fear and panic worse. All the things were hypothetical and panic only reaps more panic. THEN I did my devotional and the passage that it led to was the one I used in my previous post, 1 John 4:18;

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”

Yeah, you could say that God is really trying to tell me something.

I spoke with one of my best mates tonight and he said something that forced me to reflect. Like the true friend he is, he called me out. He told me he was concerned about all the scaredness I was feeling because it was causing me to lash out. I hate this about myself. I hate that when I am so scared, I lash out at the people I love the most. I become very defensive and hide behind those walls, rather than let people in and listen to the words they are speaking in love to me.

I don’t want to be a woman living in fear. I do not want to be a woman too scared to let people in or to let God in. I don’t want to lash out at the people who love me and who I love. I desperately want to take God’s outstretched hand and choose to live fully present in this world, free of walls. I want to lay my heart out, I want to leave it open so that all who come to me can find a home, and I want to keep it open even when it is hurt and abused. I want to dare to believe that love, and only love, is the answer. I heard a song today that said, “You have to love like there is no such thing as a broken heart.” That is the type of person I want to be, the kind that loves like my heart has never been broken.

Fear makes me a shell of the woman I know I am. Fear holds me back from experiencing the fullness of all that life has to offer. When I block off my heart in a broken attempt to “guard my own heart” I only block off my heart from experiencing life in its beautiful technicolor (anyone hear the song from the Lizzie McGuire movie: “Yesterday my life was duller now everything is technicolor??).

What is on the other side of your fear? I hope that whatever fear is blocking you from doing, you choose to step out in faith and take God’s hand.

I think one of the best things I have read, something that I continue to come back to time and time again, is a section that comes from the book that helped me to recognize my call from God, Hearing the Call:

“…for ultimately, God does not often call us to be ‘safe’–but what he has promised is that he will always be with us. This is summed up for me by John Macmurray: ‘The maxim of illusory religion runs: ‘Fear not; trust in God and he will see that none of the things you fear will happen to you’; that of real religion, on the contrary, is: ‘Fear not, the things that you are afraid of are quite likely to happen to you, but they are nothing to be afraid of'” (p. 41).

God never asks me to do the things that are easy–God asks me to do the things that scare the living daylights out of me, but promises to never leave me. I rely upon one of my favorite passages, the passage that gave me the courage to say “yes” to God’s call to Scotland, Genesis 28:15

“Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Let’s step out in faith together, trusting that wherever God’s call leads us we will not go alone and it will be far more beautiful than anything we designed ourselves.

May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Peace, Joy, Blessings and All My Love,

Margaret

0 In Blog

Courage, Dare, Love and Freedom

I love quotes. If you flip through any of my notebooks you are bound to find quotes scrawled across the pages, or scribbled on loose pieces of paper, which are then folded and tucked away in some journal or folder. I store quotes in my head and nine times out of ten, if you are talking to me I will whip out some paraphrase of some quote I read somewhere. I love quotes because they often give words to the state of my heart, which makes me feel less alone, because someone, somewhere out there in this vast world, has felt the very thing I am feeling.

Lately, I have had words floating around my head and in my heart. These words have been pointing me to what I feel I need to write–maybe for you to read but things I know God wants me to hear as well. I have found that a few words have been continually popping up: courage, dare, love and freedom. All of these words have been laid upon my heart recently and all the quotes I have been writing down seem to deal with these words in some sense.

I have been existing in a frozen state of fear. I have let, and still seem to let, fear control my life and the decisions I make. Fear controls my mind and warps God into a deity that is nothing more than a grumpy, judgmental, cruel and unforgiving idol. Fear causes me to push God away, which leads me to push love away. A few weeks ago, I realized the true hold fear has upon my heart, when I was confronted with feeling the feels. I realized that I had a wall put up, blocking God and love from the inner bits of my heart; the inner bits that are ragged, a bit shredded and so very raw. Hurt, rejection, and betrayal caused those wounds and when my heart is abused I retreat into myself and build walls. Yes, a terrible habit, but one that has become far to familiar.

I have written many posts about my revelations, that Love is the one thing that can truly bring about proper healing. But the issue is, that Love asks me to be vulnerable, to lay my heart out on the line meaning that no walls are there to “protect me” from the hurt. However, those walls that I build block real Love out, so I am incapable of really giving my heart to anyone and am only capable of “loving,” if you can call it that, in halves.*

Fear builds walls–love does not. 1 John 4:18

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”

There is something I desperately want to experience, and I know I am not the only one. I want to experience true freedom. Freedom to be fully myself, freedom from society’s unreasonable standards, freedom from fear, freedom to be brave enough to keep my heart open, freedom to really love. Someone very special to me, shared with me a quote from Mother Teresa, that reads:

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until in hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

If only I could have the courage to keep my heart exposed, despite the nasty wounds, and let Love heal my heart rather than letting the wounds fester behind cold and damp walls. However, the nature of Love is, as described so eloquently in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

“Love is patient, love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endure all things.”

(Sidenote: I did not know where the Spirit was going to lead with this post, and WOW, I am in awe of what God is trying to get through to me.)

Love is patient with me, Love does not insist on its own way, Love bears all things–Love will not abandon me, no matter how many times I shut Love out. Love continues to pursue my heart and to seep in through those cold stone walls and gently, and sometimes aggressively, nudge my heart to open up.

Love is so much stronger than fear. It may take a bit of time, but I have experienced the healing power of Love too many times to count. I fully believe Love is always going to win, just as I know it is winning in my heart now. I  think Maya Angelou hits the nail on the head, as she usually does, in the following quote,

“In the flush of love’s light we dare be brave and suddenly we see that love costs all we are and will ever be. Yet, it is only love which sets us free.”

I think about what this quote speaks to in my own life, which is, to properly love I have to let down the walls and let people see who I really am. I also am reminded of what it means in the context of my Savior. Love cost Jesus all he was, it cost his life, which set us all free.

Love is some incredibly powerful stuff. One of my favorite artists is Ed Sheeran and on his most recent album he has a song written in honor of his grandmother entitled, Supermarket Flowers. Two of my favorite lines from this song are: “A heart that’s broke is a heart that’s been loved” and “A life with love is a life that’s been lived.” I think these two lines speak to what happens when we truly open up our hearts to Love.

Love is the key to true freedom and true healing. I want to dare to love, to be courageous and open up my heart to Love and ultimately open myself up to the true freedom that is only found in Love.

Friends, let us choose Love, choose to open up our hearts–despite the nasty wounds and as we step into Love’s enduring embrace may we trust that we are stepping into freedom.

May the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Peace, Joy, Blessings and All My Love,

Margaret

*Love is capitalized here because I am using it as another name for God while also using it as the active noun love. 1 John 4.8: “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love”

2 In Blog

Dare

I have walked around for weeks with this desperate need to write. I have a journal, strictly reserved for the thoughts for this blog that run around in my head and heart, and it is filling up. I have a million thoughts, feelings, ideas and emotions that have been building up over the last month and I am just ready to attempt to share them. I have no real direction for this post, no clue where it is that the Spirit wants to take me, but I am going to just try and follow my heart.

This last month has been one of abundant blessings. God’s hand has been fully upon my life, patiently guiding me, providing for me and filling my heart with more love than I deserve. This last month has been packed with laughter, love, good wine, wonderful food and so many beautiful children of God. I did not know a heart could be as full as the one I have right now.

A few of you already know that this last year has been one of immense struggle, discernment, heartache–an achingly beautiful year. I have been trying to cling to God when all I have really wanted to do is run very far away from the God that I know can help but who is also calling me to something I am terrified of. Yet, God still has been answering prayers, providing and making my life immensely more beautiful than I could ever imagine it could be.

I have a dear friend and she and I have a few themes right now: God’s hand upon our lives, weaving an incredible tapestry and how God’s timing is perfect. I think these two themes sum up all that has been going on in my heart and my life recently.

No matter how much I want God to be the crusty, old, grumpy, judgmental god that my fear makes God out to be–God is in fact an active, loving, mischievous, forgiving, welcoming, great hugger and comforting God. God has a way of constantly coming into my life and shaking up everything and continually challenging me to open up my heart, to look for the good in everything and everyone, and to love in spite of my fear–God seems to never stop showing up and calling me to be and do more than my fear. When I look at my life, in the last year, the last six months and especially in the last month I am humbled and thankful to find God’s colorful fingerprints all over the pages of my book.

I have never really paid attention to the “active experiences” I have had with the Holy Spirit. I have had a few distinct images of God before–but the Holy Spirit is much harder to pin down, which I kinda think is how the HS likes it. During this six(ish) months that I have been in the Charleston area, I have had a hard time seeing the more “tangible” images of God that I have clung to in the past. But if I lean in, look closely I can see and feel the whisper of a being blowing in my heart and in my life. Sometimes it is a noticeable gust other times its just the tickle of a breeze but still very much active. Someone recently sent me a message that said: “…Breathe deep the Spirit be blowing.” I have felt the HS breathe into my life, patiently breathe life, love and laughter back into my heart and soul and wake me up.

I see this so fully in all the beautiful people God has brought into my life. As another dear friend said to me the other night, “You have your village.” Oh Lord, how I do! My village is full of brilliant, vibrant, colorful, gorgeous children of God with hearts that are so full of love. We always joke that “it takes a village” but it really does, we, as humans, are relational creatures that rely upon community. My village is near and far but they surround me with healthy affirmation, love, laughter and so much color.

One of my recent devotions spoke to the heart of what I am experiencing and feeling. It comes from Henri Nouwen’s (I know, another one by him–but I am telling you this man speaks so much Truth) The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom. The journal entry that has really spoken to me is entitled, “Be a Real Friend.”

Henri writes:

“There [in the inner correspondence] spirit speaks to spirit and heart to heart. True friendships are lasting because true love is eternal. A friendship in which heart speaks to heart is a gift from God, and no gift that comes from God is temporary or occasional. All that comes from God participates in God’s eternal life…Dare to love and to be a real friend. The love you give and receive is a reality that will lead you closer and closer to God as well as to those whom God has given you to love” (pp.80-81).

I think the line that really gets me is: “Dare to love and to be a real friend.” Something that has become abundantly clear to me is just how scared people, including myself, are to committing to something. Just how scared we are to opening up and revealing our true selves, our true hearts and our true beauty to others. Maybe it is because of all the hurts our hearts have suffered; all the rejections, all the times our hearts have been broken, all the bruises and stab wounds–I know that is what it is for me. Yet, I can hear God calling me out saying, “Step out, Margaret. Step out in faith. Trust and dare to love, dare to let people in, dare to be a real friend.”

As Maya Angelou wrote, “Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”

Wherever you are in your life, I truly hope that you are sensing God’s hand upon your life. I hope that you feel the Holy Spirit blowing all up in your business and let yourself just go with it. I pray that you step out in faith and dare to step out in love.

May the Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Peace, Joy, Blessing and All My Love,

Margaret