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Posts Tagged ‘bonnie gray’

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Last week I wrote about wanting to be really me … who I really am, and who God made me to be.

As I opened my emails the other day, one written by Bonnie Gray (faithbarista), jumped off the screen and into my heart. What captured me were the words :

“something beautiful and real”

Bonnie wrote that as she reminded her readers of the formless earth, before Creation. She wrote that, on the cusp of God creating all that was to come, when there was … no form … God was still moving in it.

And then He Created … making something new, and it was :

“something beautiful and real”

I am one who struggles at times with yearning for something more (The Day I Wanted To Run Away), and I know that all of us do, because we were created to live in a place of perfect peace (Peace-on-Earth), a place of perfect peace. And so, since leaving the perfect garden, we have been yearning for more …

It is a dichotomy that our yearning for the future, for the perfection that is to come, can keep us from seeing the very real beauty of today.

Although the personal reflections that Bonnie shares (below) may not be your experience, there is a very tangible lesson from the walk she is taking through her past, so as to see light and life in her future …

“both sadness and joy can co-exist”

and I would say that when they do co-exist we are living something beautiful and real!

Just like Jesus did not want to experience torture on a cross … separation from his Father … he chose to endure the pain, the rejection and the loss because …

WE were worth it …
WE are worth it …

“Comes a time, on the journey, you wonder how you will survive,
There comes a time, when you’re thirsty and so alone…
There is a pool in the desert, where water flows from fountains unseen,
Saving water, healing water flowing over me.”  The Choir, Flowing Over Me

You don’t have to die, in order to feel like you’re not really living.

You can even be loved by the man of your dreams whose arms as husband gently encircle your waist every night in bed — you can love the world’s most beautiful two boys, the ones you’ll always remember resting warm and soft in the cradle of your neck as newborns — and yet feel something missing inside.

It’s hard to talk to other people about what you find difficult to face yourself.

They might think you’re being ungrateful.

They might think you’re not counting your blessings.

They might think your faith is broken.

But, it’s not that way at all.

There is something deeper going on inside.

The Place Inside

I know what this is like.

To make it on my own. To be okay.

It’s a numbness.  In places no one can see.

It’s me from my childhood. Still alone.  Holding everything together.

It doesn’t show up at work, when I used to stand up making presentations in conference rooms.

It doesn’t show up when I’m hanging out with my friends, or even at church, where all is as it should be.

And if you saw me at the grocery store, or driving my kids to soccer, running errands, you would think all is fine.

This place inside me where I pull myself together is where I go whenever I’m feeling down, confused or stressed.

In the privacy of my soul — where my memories lay — lies the wounded me.

Greater Faith

You know, the month of November is the time of the year when we talk about being thankful.

But for someone like me, who is going through the journey of healing — having to remember all the people, places and stories that have wounded me — what I’m thankful for may not be what everyone else has on their list.

Before my journey through debilitating anxiety, I was able to ignore the undercurrent feeling of shame I’ve hidden growing up in a dysfunctional home.

I wanted to be strong and courageous — by being competent.

I didn’t understand God could make me strong and courageous — by being broken.

I was still young in my journey of faith.

It wasn’t time for me back then, as a little girl, to understand it takes greater faith to be broken than being competent.

Even Though

It’s what Jesus chose in the Garden of Gethsamane, the night everyone was remembering Passover and giving thanks for God’s protection from passing death.

It was the night Jesus chose not to pass death.

It was the night Jesus felt like dying –

even though He had just celebrated the Passover meal with His closest friends,

even though Jesus had given thanks, for the bread,

and even though Jesus had given thanks, for the cup.

Jesus confided –

My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  
Stay here… With me.
I’m very sad.  It feel as if I’m dying…”
Matthew 26:37-38 (NIV, CEB)

 Jesus didn’t want pain, but He wanted us more.

So, Jesus chose to be broken.

This Thanksgiving, my heart is opening up.

My soul is awakening with each painful memory coming alive.

I’m stepping out — even in my numbness — to give thanks.

Not because I’m strong.

Not because everything is picture perfect.

I have something this year I’ve never had before.

I have a heart that is becoming real.

My Real Thanksgiving List

This year, I’m opening my heart to My Real Thanksgiving List.

I’m thankful –

I can be in need, so I can go on a new journey to find comfort.

I can feel sadness, so I don’t have to live separated from my heart.  I can cry and feel afraid because it means I’m real.

I don’t have to want suffering, but I can choose to embrace it.   Because God doesn’t see it as shameful.  He is going to stay with me.  As long as it takes.

I can fall apart.  Because Jesus is holding me tenderly and His tears are dropping onto the hands that have gone limp from praying too long and too hard in silence.

I’m thankful I can hear Him whispering –

I haven’t forgotten you.  

I’m not going to leave you.

over and again, even as I choke out in sobs to Him in return, “I don’t want this.  I don’t want this.”

I’m thankful I can finally stop to look at my wounds and investigate how they got there.

I’m learning to say no in ways I’ve never dared — to say yes to me and yes to God.

I’m thankful I can smell the rain and remember the dreams I’ve given up — so I can ask God if I can taste them again.

I can ask God, “Is it too late?” and still doubt, because God is faithful even when I’m not.

I’m thankful for beautiful things I’m finding among the devastation of letting go.

I’m thankful I can be broken and real.  Because Jesus still chooses me. 

Something Beautiful

I am finding new friends who understand that both sadness and joy can co-exist.  Who aren’t trying to fix me.

Friends who trust that love is greater than any resolution.

Friends who understand the journey of faith takes us off script.

Who share their own stories of struggle and dreams.

Who can touch the deep places.

Friends who remember the earth was once formless.

Empty.  

Yet, God was still moving in it, making something new and deep.

Something beautiful and real.

It was so real, that when God looked at what He was holding — after placing His lips and breathing into the dirt — He saw something come alive.

Something He never, ever made before.

It’s what God sees looking into your heart and mine today.

He is making something beautiful out of you.

Remember

As we walk into the heart of the Thanksgiving season, and all those picture perfect images and stories start flashing onto our screens, remember The Real Thanksgiving List taking shape in God’s heart — inside of yours.

This list is coming alive in the real stories He’s walking out with you in the current chapters you are living.  Today.

We can be thankful.

Jesus is going to keep loving us — the same way He calls the stars out on the darkest nights every day.

He whispers your name.  And mine.

Tenderly.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. 
He counts the number of the stars;
He gives names to all of them.

~ Psalm  147:3-5

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A couple of years ago at the school I worked, the theme of the year had to do with aesthetics … things to do with artistic beauty, or things that are pleasing to the senses. I have to say that my original thoughts on this theme were rather … ‘artsy-fartsy’ with little weighty depth. Upon further explanation, my perspective changed.

This theme came out of Creation, the amazing, ordered, pleasing world that our God has created. How could I argue with the beauty and order we experience every day?

Throughout the school year the word ‘aesthetic’ surfaced a number of times in a number of ways, each time drawing me closer with the realization that being made in the image of the Creator, meant that I was handed down a creative gene by my creative father.

When I read the following words, by Bonnie Gray, at her blog site, Faith Barista (which serves up a “double shot of faith”), I experienced that unplanned response of “ahhhh.”

I read the words,

I knew the words,

I had lived the words and knew them to be true in my own experience.

When you get closer to what truly moves your heart, you will touch the places that are still tender.

Because that creative place where you feel most safe is often where you’ve gone — when you’ve been most wounded.

Where do you go – to find safety, to express pain and beauty, in your world?

It’s there — in those private places of freedom — where you meet with God and your creative self speaks.”

… where you meet with God … and your creative self speaks …

Um, that speaks to me!

And now is the rest of the article, by Bonnie Gray:

“I sat there, at one spot on a table that stretched long, parked adjacent to other tables, wrapping us into a square donut of seats.

Faces blinked back at me from across the room on the other side. It was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop.

I was at an artists meeting that night.

And I was the keynote speaker.

I walked into this room with two legs, I began.

But, if you could really look deep inside me tonight…

I took a big, shaky breath.

You would see that the legs to my soul… are broken.

My lips start to tremble and my hands start to cool and shake, even though it is a warm summer eve.

I gulp and continue.

The reason is — because you see — I’ve spent a lot of the hours of my days this year in my bed.  In my home.

Afraid.

Not because I don’t love to be with people.

But, because of panic attacks.

They were triggered by memories that have come alive — doing something I’ve always loved.

Something I’ve always dreamed of doing.

Writing a book.

This is how I introduced myself to a group of painters, designers, illustrators, poets, musicians… writers.

It sure didn’t sound inspiring to me at all.

At one point, I even had to stop and collect myself.

I was overwhelmed by the surreal experience of recounting my story out in the open.

Even as I shared my story, I questioned whether there was any value in exposing pain that has been endured so privately.

I felt for sure I was making everyone feel uncomfortable and awkward.

Until I saw one woman’s eyes start to tear.  Then, another man’s head dip, in a knowing nod.

There is beauty behind the pain.

These are the words I found myself speaking into the room with my new friends.

When you get closer to what truly moves your heart, you will touch the places that are still tender.

Because that creative place where you feel most safe is often where you’ve gone — when you’ve been most wounded.

Where do you go – to find safety, to express pain and beauty, in your world?

It’s there — in those private places of freedom — where you meet with God and your creative self speaks.

When I finished speaking, I ended by asking if any parts of my story resonated?

The first question broke the silence.

“Have you always known you were a writer?” Someone asked.

I pause for a moment, to consider my answer.  And the response I chose to give sparked a beautiful response — stories flowing from everyone’s childhood around the table.

I’ve always been a writer, before I called myself one.

Writing has always been that one thing in my life — since I was a little girl — that no one could ever take away from me.

I didn’t have to be good at it.

I didn’t have to think about it.

Writing is just what I did.

It’s the most natural thing I can do.

The artist in me is a little girl.

“How about you?” I scan the gazes of new friends who suddenly feel closer than the space between us.  ”When you do your thing — play music, paint, design, blog about fashion, take cooking videos, build models, write, take photos — when you create — are you doing what came most naturally to you, as a child?”

Energy suddenly stirs the room, reminding me of the wind of the Holy Spirit that once blew through a room full of disciples gathering together.  They began speaking in a way that was different — that drew people from the outside closer in.

That’s what art does.  It connects us to each other, in those places we are most vulnerable, opening what is private, finding language for what’s unspoken. For what’s important and real.

Everyone started telling their stories — of themselves — as little girls and little boys.

What they’ve always loved to do.  Before they knew what it was called.  Before it became a struggle to claim artistic enjoyment as God’s legitimate imprint of Himself in us.

The artistic you. I discovered this is everyone’s continuing journey of faith.   To touch the artistic life we all hide deep inside. It’s the artist’s way.  The child in you.

Is there an ember of God’s creative voice flickering in you?

What is the one thing you’ve always enjoyed doing as a little girl, that felt most natural to you?

Take a moment to see yourself as that little girl right now.  Where is she and what does she like to do?

As you picture her, let your heart find its way back to where it longs to return.

Because that artist in you is God’s little girl.”

For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you…
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you… 

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity,
but of power and love and discipline.
2 Timothy 1:5-7

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It’s been a week …

Here I was (again) feeling

low. uninspired. discouraged. uninspiring.

That anxious, overwhelming feeling descended upon my heart.

The ‘to do’ list longer than the hours in my day.

The hindrances to accomplishment seemed to come from every angle this week.

If you believe in Satan, as I do, you will understand when I say he utilized every internal and external force to get under my skin, and infect my being with thoughts of doubt, frustration and discouragement.

So, as I sat down to locate the link I wanted to share today, I was in a mood to ‘just get it done’ so that I could move on to more pressing matters (like laundry).

logoI went to the home page of incourage.me. This is a blog I have just started following, since being drawn in by the fact that one of it’s contributors is Canadian author Ann Voskamp (a little Canadian pride surely won’t diminish our ‘nice’ reputation). The home page featured a different, newer post … I rolled my eyes, knowing I would now have to remember what day’s post I had wanted to share (and I cannot usually remember where I put my car keys).

Then I started to read …

I’m trying to type words onto the screen.

But, there is only blank space staring back at me.

If you’ve ever experienced anxiety — the kind that wraps around your heart with the cloak of stress — you’d understand how it can tether you back.

It keeps you silent.

Keeps you in your home.

And on the hours or days you need to be with others, you may end up retreating from being seen. Or heard.

You are working hard.  You are getting things done.

But, you might feel like I do, unsure if things can really be different.

Whether you can really be known.

This is soul wearying.

Because you may have been hurt, like I’ve been — by words that wound you still — that made you regret that you shared.

Words that made you feel even smaller than how you’re already feeling.

Words that make you feel pressured to get over what you can’t get over.

Words that make you feel more alone, standing on the outside of where you want to be: belonging, loved and understood.

It’s then, at that moment, you and I chance upon a glimpse into our soul.

To the little girl inside us who is broken, feeling cast off and lonely …”

Then I started to weep …

And I remembered something, a song, from my teens, that I would sing,

over

and over

and over again

until

I meant every word I had sung.

And so I sang it,

over

and over

and over again

until

I meant every word I had sung.

If you need to remember, like I did, that

our peace,

our futures,

our very souls

do not have to be controlled by the sufferings (whether from our own hands, or from the hands of the Destroyer) of our lives …

“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.”

Click on :

Walking The Little Girl In You Out Into The World

by Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith for everyday life.

“In the quiet crucible of your personal, private sufferings,
your noblest dreams
are born
and God’s greatest gifts are given
in compensation for what you have been through.”

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