Over the last few weeks on Wholistic Hearts podcast we have been talking about the Wild Mystery and Comforter of the Holy Spirit, Jesus- the Bearded Man who is arresting us with His presence, and now the Father.
Who is the Father?
It’s nearly inevitable we grow up with a view of who the Heavenly Father is without viewing Him with a lens of our own. Some of us had loving, caring fathers and some of us had absent fathers. No matter the circumstance we grew up in, our view may be clouded with our own experience of a father…good or bad.
For me, even though my dad was a great dad, I still have struggled to picture The Father. At the beginning of my relationship with God, I saw Him as distant and unapproachable: a pointing a finger type God who was disappointed.
In the beginning stages of visualizing the Father and Jesus, I was standing behind people in a crowd. I did not feel I could approach Him. Then as some of you know in an Encounter He gave me, I pictured Him sitting at a fireplace. He was sitting in a chair facing the fire. And I walked in the room walking steadily behind him. The beauty of this, which has just surfaced as I have been talking about the Father this week with family and friends is His kindness in letting me approach.
Another picture He gave me is a scene where I have met a new dog and I kneel down and stretch my hand out non intimidating and allow the dog to approach me. This is how the Father waits for us.
In addition, my mom reminded me the other day that even Jesus confirms the Father’s gentleness by sharing this Truth, “Come to me all who are weary…” Notice He says, COME.
The heart of the Father is approachable. He is patient. And He waits in a cloud of tenderness.
God has met me in so many areas of doubt, mistrust, and timidity. He continues to softened my heart through using my imagination.
I have seen more of the capital T Truth- which is this…
Last Saturday, a handful of my family- my mom, my oldest brother and two of his sons, drove from Georgia for an adventure to Colorado- in our home. We greeted them with excitement and anticipation to show them around our beautiful glorious state of Colorado over the next week. After months of being quarantined and only being around the same few people, we all embraced each other with gratitude and relief. Starting off the adventure with a good ol’ backyard fire pit and talks.
The following day we ventured over to the stunning Red Rock Canyon for a family hike.
Exploring the red rocks and walking our feet through red dirt will never grow tiring for us Coloradans or visitors alike. As I hiked the trails, I remembered a time when he lived in Colorado and I lived in Florida. He asked me to come out for the summer to experience Colorado. I came out for the summer, as a 20 year old, timid with worries of being far from home and yet excited to do something outside of my normal comfort zone. That summer changed me. I realized I was an adventurer. I realized I loved hiking and the mountains. I realized I could ask questions and almost tangibly hear the heart of God. The deep conversations my brother and I would have through Colorado trails would center around God and adventure. I’d ask questions and he would answer in a way which would usually make me long to know God more. So here we are, full circle- I am guiding him through the wild trails of Colorado where he once introduced the wildness of Colorado and the beckoning of God calling me out to adventure.
We may not have been able to do some of the family trips we had planned for this summer, but this made up for it. Having our family come out and visit and share giggles and experiences and exploration was a deeply needed treasure.
Now if I could just get the rest of my family to come out to Colorado…
I think my testimony will be called, “You can’t make this shit up.”
I know, that’s offensive to some of you. It was to me, too. And that’s okay. But really…Holy Spirit is wild and so very liberating.
When I first started learning about the Holy Spirit, the wildest things were happening. I had driven up to a retreat (WE REVEL) where I witnessed healing happen left and right: healing of hearts and healing of physical ailments, which totally blew my mind that this was real. I was witnessing women of faith stop and listen and then speak things to people so specifically to people to encourage them. I watched people give gifts to other people they had never met and witness their reaction to receiving such a personalized handwritten note.
Then… this was where it got personal for me. I was listening to one of the speakers at the retreat as I sat on their living room floor. I instantly found my ears perked up as she said, “Become aware of the things which you can’t stand. Sometimes the enemy will put his thumb on something that he knows is actually a provision from God to prevent you from fully walking in your destiny.”
My first thought was a peacock. I hated peacocks; I truly found them annoying. We have a local zoo which they roam freely in and squawk and display their feathers in a “look at me” fashion. Each time we visited and saw them my gut reaction was, “They are so vain.” Well, at the retreat, I wrote down in my journal- “Oh! Like the peacock!” Later on that day, I was sitting down to decorate my journal I had received with different varieties of scrapbook paper, and I noticed a giant piece of paper with a peacock. I thought to myself, “Huh. That’s funny,” and stuck it in my journal. Again, we gathered up to hear a speaker and she handed out a prayer which printed on the paper was…a peacock. Now my eyes became more attune to what the Holy Spirit was saying. My faith was beginning to build. I had hoped He would speak to me, but I was so cautious. I didn’t want to get burned and feel silly and humiliated by even thinking He was directly talking to me.
Fast forward to the evening at the retreat where we talk about the Holy Spirit. They were handing out scarves as a gift- which is powerfully significant- (you should really go to a REVEL retreat)…The leader stops and says, “I feel like Holy Spirit has another scarf for someone that is different than this one I am handing out.” Another woman attending stands up immediately and says, “I have one I am supposed to give away. Hold on, it’s in my suitcase.” She runs to her luggage and comes bounding back in the room with joy and describes how she packed and unpacked the scarf multiple times and finally put it in her suitcase. It was a peacock scarf! I stood up, shaking…and said “Oh it’s definitely mine!” I was stunned. I was hopeful. I was instantly like a little child in wonder.
I arrived at the retreat with the burning question, “Who is the Holy Spirit?” And through using nudges and words which might have been insignificant to others started a path of asking more of who is He and who am I? The next day I wrote down for the first time- I am His Peacock, displaying the colors He has created me to be. I stepped into a place I’d never gone. I started to see how I had hid my beauty, covered up, and been ashamed of my feminity. The enemy no longer had the tightest grip on who I am called to be. It was now a time of discovery and relationship and intimacy of asking questions with the Holy Spirit.
He is so full of wonder and mystery. He is infinite. He is intentionally with me. He is whispering to the deep places of my heart and yours.
Nine years ago, I was in so much physical torment. My feet felt like fire ants were stuck inside the bottom of my foot. My skin raw and blistering from the uncontrollable itching. Sleep was not an option with this intense rash on my feet which lasted for 5-7 days for years upon years. Questions played through my mind like a scroll that never ended. Why did it have to come every 21 days? Why could no one answer what was happening to my body? Why doesn't medicine help? I went to doctors desperate for answers and each one giving me the look like, “Hmm…I don't know what it is.” Referral after referral I got no where. I felt at the end of my rope over and over. Each month being hopeful that something would help- prayer, essential oils, supplements, medicine, etc.
But each month I felt like I was slapped in the face. After seven years of torment, I had a major epiphany. My husband sat next to me while I cried in frustration and said this pivotal annoying profound question, “Babe, what if it doesn't go away?” I felt like an instant pouting child. I so wanted it to heal. I wanted healing desperately. I wanted breakthrough. I hated how my body was acting. There was a legit anger at my body for creating this rash every month. But something within me started to shift as I pondered this question. I started saying, “Even if the rash comes back, my body is still a temple. God gives me strength to be okay. I can still be a mom who loves her kids well. I can still show up.”
In the ugly moments of insomnia and racing mind, I began to see Jesus in the midst. I do not believe He caused this situation but I do believe He has taught me more than I could have without the rash.
Fast forward a few years past the conversation with my hubby, and the rash still continues though it seems it is fading. I have worked with my functional lifestyle coach for many years to discover the beauty of my relationship with my body. I am learning to love the parts of my body which speak very loudly especially when it comes to the rash. I am learning to trust what it is saying instead of fight against it.
Our body is telling us a story, and it is our job to listen. Sooner or later if we ignore it long enough, it will yell instead of whisper. Our body is a tool to listen. God uses the most amazing ways to speak with us. Through this thought process, I have spent multiple hours praying and asking what the feet represent. He answers. In your body, what is it saying? What is the Lord saying through your heavenly temple? Develop a relationship with your body which is based on love and not hatred. As I emerge from years of this place of hatred to a place of love, I continue to find freedom from pain, self-judgement, and walk more into who He has created me to be.
Do you need help guiding you through these conversations? I'd love to come alongside and coach you through. Contact me here.
This week on Wholistic Hearts Podcast I have talked about the importance on being creative during this unique season. With the variety of emotions which can range from panic and fear to joy and relief over not having a stifling end-of-the-year schedule, creativity pulls us into a safe space. With creativity, we are joining in on God's craftsmanship of our lives. One special way we can both create and be a gift to others is through an activity we call Listening Prayer.
I want to share this creative tool of Listening Prayer with you because it can be an amazing tool to encourage you and your kids to trust His leading voice. Our family has done this activity together several times over the last few years and each time it expands our hearts and faith. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice,” and in the purity of a child's heart, it feels so tangible. It is always such a gift when we make time and create space for listening to His voice and listening on behalf of others.
Listening Prayer Activity With Children
To set the tone for this activity, we put on instrumental music like Bethel's Without Words like this below.
2. Put out paper, glue, scissors, crayons, magazines for clipping, paint, etc. Whatever your kids and you like to be creative with, use it!
3. Invite your kids to think of a person in their heart. Once they picture this person in their heart, ask Jesus to speak to you or your child's heart about this person.
4. Ask Holy Spirit for specific words for this specific person which they may need to hear. It may be a picture or it may be a whole movie like scene running in their/your mind. It may be song or a quote. It may be a verse.
5. Take a card or blank picture and draw the picture or word on a card. Mail it to them! Or maybe send them a text or take a picture of what they drew and send it to the person.
An example: A few years ago, my son Ryker told me he felt like God put it on his heart to send my mom a bouqet of flowers. This was completely out of the blue but since we were practicing listening to the voice of God, I immediately got on a flower delivery website and had him write the card. My mom STILL holds this note from him and the whole scenario as one of many times God has winked at her. (She ADORES flowers.) Ryker's note still sits upon her fridge to this day.
I can only imagine the smile the person who receives this gift from you or your child.
When you teach your child to discern the kindness of God's voice, they will be more attune as they get older. Not only does it strengthen their faith but it also is a gift to the person receiving it to know the God of the universe cares for them immensely.
Be brave today and become a gift to someone and listen to what God has to say about them and share. I'd love to hear your stories!
This week on the blog and on my new podcast, Wholistic Hearts, I will talk about the idea of self care during quarantine. The first topic I want to cover is the MOST important: REST.
YALL… Rest and me have had to learn to mesh together and join in a divine relationship. I am a girl who likes to get things done and naturally have the underlying conversation “I should do this; I need to do this…If I don't do it, no one will.” Anyone else feel me?
Let me share my story about discovering the importance of rest.
When I look back over my life as a young married little lady and four small children – DISCLAIMER: we had four babes in four years. I see times where I thought it was either ALL IN or nothing. My weakness was in the “no pain, no gain” motto. I thrived off of the turbo- all in- no mercy lifestyle. Not only was I pushing myself physically to the limits by running or strength training, I also wasn't eating in the morning because WHO HAS TIME TO EAT WHEN YOU HAVE FOUR UNDER FOUR. I was spiritually fighting without resting. I thought it was my job to be the strong, defensive, on my game woman. I was holding so many things- our kiddos health issues, my health issues, strange weird spiritual things happening in our 100 year old home, schedules of the twins and oh…my second born didn't like to sleep…ever. As Ben Harper sings, “I woke up more tired than before I slept,” on most mornings. I was exhausted but I didn't ever want to appear weak.
Here's the glory in telling you all of this… our physical bodies are brilliant at sharing the inner workings of our spirits and our emotional well being. Despite my body's efforts telling me I needed rest, I did not allow it. I began to have major flare ups with autoimmune disease and began getting sick over and over. I would bet even a few friends who walked alongside me during that time would have thought, “Wow, she is a warrior.” But friends, here is the thing. I thought if I did as much as I could, life would be better. But in turn it made me weak.
Until one day, I had a dear close friend come alongside and tell me, “Rest IS Your Weapon.” That conversation changed everything.
I began to let go of the control I thought I had. I began to see the spiritual fight around me was not solely dependent on me. I began to see I was hurting my physical body rather than moving it in a way which was loving. I became aware of HOW TIRED I WAS. Rest was a weapon. I began to allow myself to take those <pause> moments to sit and reflect. I began to let go of trying to control my children when they wanted to do something which wasn’t in the playbook according to me. I began to let go of expectations of others and of myself which were only there because well…that's just what a “good” wife/mom does. I began to learn to listen to the still small voice whispering, “It’s okay to not get that load of laundry in today; just be present.” I began to say no. I began to create margin.
So…What does rest look like now as our days have shifted to this new normal? I am learning to bring in what the Lord has taught me in previous seasons into the present moment of our current situation. We have overcome much more than this and so we will choose to AGAIN choose the REST we need in this time.
Rest is honoring the season we are currently, TODAY, living in- not fighting for control over how we used to do things. We embrace this new rhythm of slow.
Let's break down ways you can REST this week.
Rest is curling up next to Jesus sleeping in the boat while the storm thunders around us. If you haven’t listened to my Encounter, which is like an imaginative exercise where you can rest with Jesus, please find it here. This is a beautiful experiential way to surrender and rest in His arms.
Picturing Jesus taking a hold of all the burdens you are carrying right now- friends and family with various prayer requests, job insecurity etc. And laying it at his feet and asking for His peace in exchange.
Mentally allowing yourself rest is important. There is so much on social media/news and Zoom calls and online meetings…our brains are overloaded. Take a social media break for a day. Or don’t turn on the news for a few days.
Emotionally resting is another good one. I call it Constipation of the Heart. There will be days when I feel like I just need to cry but I got nothin’. So, one of my favorite things to allow my heart to rest from holding it all is speaking it out loud or writing the emotions down and allowing space to validate, THEN REST. Literally say to yourself, I have felt it and now I can rest You have it Jesus.
Physical REST- how to love your body well in this season.
It means listening to your body when it says it is just feeling like a walk or a stretch today. Or maybe you allow a bubble bath instead of an interval workout. When you begin to listen and become in tune with what your body is saying, you will be able to distinguish between the genuine need for rest versus a time to push through.
Rest can look like letting the dishes go after a meal.
Rest can look like a literal nap while the kids watch an afternoon movie.
Rest can look like sleeping in or going to bed a little earlier.
(Anyone else feeling the exhaustion at the end of the day?)
Other ways to incorporate rest…
Rest can look like popping in headphones and listening to a good book or podcast or an Encounter or worship.
Some of the ways my husband and I are finding places to rest in this season is having our kids go to bed a little earlier so we can have alone time a couple night’s a week.
One of my favorite “Rest Soul Care” Options is we have a light structure in the earlier morning so we can ease into the day with a cup of coffee, some time to journal, and read the Word and reflect. If you have small children at home, don’t feel guilty about popping in a little show while you have some alone time. If need be, switch off mornings with your spouse to have some space to do this.
Most of us listening have limited space to ourselves during this Stay At Home order, and I would say REST is the utmost important self care request I can make. When we rest, it is the art of submitting that He has it all. We have to trust He has got it all.
I invite you to jump into this imaginative thoughtful place today. Are there places in your heart you are feeling the need to surrender? This Encounter is a special one for me personally. I experienced this Encounter a number of years ago during a season of wanting to grasp control on every part of my life. I felt so out of control as a young mom and as a wife. The Lord led me through this Encounter and the realization of letting go was so powerful. I pray for each person to experience His presence. As always, I’d love for you to share your experience! I love hearing how the Holy Spirit comes for you!
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“Is your relationship with God a Zoom call or a face to face, in the the flesh interaction?”
With the quarantine’s protocol, our social world’s have tried to embrace the new way of meeting with using Zoom or Google Meet. Although it is better than not seeing another human face than my six lovely people I live with, I am not the biggest fan of Zoom. And yes, God bless the wonderful opportunity to have technology which allows us to see people across the country- i.e., Grandmommy reading books to my children thousands of miles from here. There are many great things about technology; however, it is not the same as in person, face to face interaction.
I was preparing for a zoom call this morning with some of the loveliest group of women I know, and I still had to pump myself up to log in to this virtual reality group meeting. I asked the Lord what is it which makes me frustrated about zoom…He showed me how I am easily distracted, and how I become focused on the things like “Am I too close to the camera? Should I interrupt? Does the audio sound ok?” If I am honest, I am partially listening. (Sorry, dear friends and family.) In summary, my heart is not totally vested in the moment. I long for the moment when we get to for real embrace extended family and close friends. The long awaited hug will be magical.
Then God dropped this in my heart- how much more is this parable of zoom vs. real life interaction when you look at our relationship with the Holy Spirit. I don’t know about you, but I long for the real deal. I long for the tangible, sink your teeth into relationship with the Holy Spirit which is talked about in Acts 2.
“‘This is what I will do in the last days—I will pour out my Spirit on everybody and cause your sons and daughters to prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will experience dreams from God. The Holy Spirit will come upon all my servants, men and women alike, and they will prophesy. I will reveal startling signs and wonders in the sky above and mighty miracles on the earth below. Blood and fire and pillars of clouds will appear.” Acts 2:17-19 TPT
Can you imagine the powerful experience of this? In my own spiritual journey I walked for many, MANY years in the “Zoom Call Zone.” The past seven years have shifted my experience of the Holy Spirit from a touch point on a Sunday or Wednesday to the in-person interactive relationship. He led me in this transformation through people leading the way of what it meant to walk with Jesus in the everyday- not just in a bible study or in a small group where I crammed the day before- But in the everyday moments of sleepless nights and changing diapers and hearing whining from tired children and doing dishes and doing endless laundry and the anxiety which overwhelmed me….I began to see He was in all the moments, not just the 30 minutes in the morning.
There is something about the face to face encountering of Jesus which cannot be replaced. Our bible studies and our virtual Instagram quotes (as beautiful as they are) will not replace the FIRST-Hand experience of a relationship with Our King. He longs to meet with us- FACE to Face. He wants to hear the hurt, the pain, the frustration, the heartbeat, the unspoken communication, the uncomfortable-ness. When we meet with a friend face to face, we cannot ignore the demeanor in which they walk in the room- neither can the Holy Spirit pass over the recognition of the state of our hearts IN PERSON. When we settle to drop in like a zoom call on our knowing ABOUT God, we miss out on the intricacies of which a relationship is built on. There is beauty and intimacy in the presence of one another. How wonderful to be able to invite Jesus into these spaces? I am continuing to walk along this road to a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit and I want more! I want to live in His presence and not the second best Zoom call. I want to tangible smell like Him. I want to feel the heartbeat of who He is. I want to be in His grill! I pray you don’t settle for the Zoom call and reach out for the more, my friend.
“I'm done pretending, I want the real thing”- Dante Bowe
Communion has always been such a mystery to me. It has really dumbfounded me. So, I asked the Lord for understanding and He answered in such a huge way. Growing up a Christian, I have taken communion and tried my hardest to step into the sacredness of it and repent. I would take the bread and take the wine and really enter into this sacred space. I really tried my best. But underneath, I knew I didn’t get it. How strange for a person to say “Take and Eat this bread and think of it as my body.”
I was finally brave enough to pray and ask Jesus about it. Jesus is slowly uncovering the beauty of this ritual to me. He led me to John 6:55 in the Amplified Bible. It reads, “For my flesh is true (spiritual) food, and My blood is true (spiritual) drink.” Maybe you already knew this but for me, this was such a light bulb moment. When I partake in the ingesting, receiving, digesting His truths, His love I am made new. I am being sanctified into more of who He has created me to be- more like Him.
Through reading these Scriptures and talking to Jesus on my walks, He led me to the Encounter- Communion- Come Into Union. The Encounter is now a deep part of my heart which the Lord walked me through. I encourage you to be open to where the Holy Spirit wants to highlight. When I walked through this Encounter with Jesus, there were some incredible moments of tenderness which I didn’t realize were even areas I held back. As I ate the bread, fears and shame were revealed where I am most guarded…yet, I let Him enter into that space for more healing. I long to be free from the place of shame over the autoimmune disease which continues to hurt me; but I know, in the Spirit, He is making ALL THINGS NEW. When I look to the Cross on Friday evening, I will picture my Jesus taking on the battle of the autoimmune disease and I will choose to remember the battle is not mine. But His. And “It is Finished.” What do you bring to the Cross this Friday night? Nothing is too big or too shameful. Allow Him to meet you in those places. “For the Joy set before Him…He gives us Spiritual Food!” (Paraphrasing Hebrews 12:2 and John 6:55).