Intentional Love: Measuring Intention Through My Responses

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“Take the time to discover your real intention before you act. If it is to change someone or the world so that you will feel safe or better about yourself, don’t act on it, because it is an intention of fear and can create only painful consequences”  Gary Zukav

It was 5 o’clock on a brisk morning. I woke early to gather my thoughts for a meeting I was soon to have. I said a prayer to ask God for the right, firm words.  These words needed to set boundaries and rules. These words needed to remind others that I was the boss and communicate how I would not be made to feel like I was a guest in my own business. A dear friend texted me the above quote 15 minutes before my 11 o’clock meeting. My prayers were answered, alright. Just not in the way I was demanding. Just as my ego was about to take the front seat, God swooped in and gave me the right words to say that morning. His right words. You see, He knew I was about to respond from fear driven intentions when my heart was longing to respond in love to create harmony.

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…my deeds had not been done with the right intentions, because if they had, I would not be using them for ransom to protect myself 

I crumbled up the laundry list of “I did this and that for you’s!” and the “How can you treat me this way after all I have done’s?” The minute I read the above words, I threw the papers out of my hand like I had just realized they were a sack of burning coals. That quote revealed that my deeds had not been done with the right intentions, because if they had, I would not be using them for ransom to protect myself from getting any more uncomfortable with the situation we were all in.

My heart was saddened for a minute because my desire was not to push anyone away with a “you owe me” attitude, but reconnect and restore what seemed to be lost in translation over the last few weeks. Had that text come 15 minutes later, I would have said some things that I would’ve regretted for a very long time. Isn’t God amazing??? When we have given ourselves over to Him completely, He swoops in to save us at the perfect time. 

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Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death. Psalm 68:20

This situation made me wonder how many times I have acted out of fear and suffered consequences for having intentions that I didn’t truly have. The flawed human heart in me began to get a little embarrassed of the possible scenarios where I acted under fearful intentions. That’s were God’s unwavering love rescues again to remind me that I am not a slave to my old ways anymore. He gave me the gift of growth that day by providing me a real, live example of what fear based intentions look like. 

As cliché as it may sound, lately, I have been trying something a little different with my husband. When I get the urge to get sassy with him (and ladies we all know what sassy looks like) I have began to ask myself “What would Jesus do?” I not only think of that particular phrase, but I literally try to vision myself as a bystander watching him humbly walk through crowds bowing low as if He was a mere peasant and not the Son of God. When I do this, I instantly feel a peace come over me and my demeanor changes. Once I realized my responses were not matching my intentions, I remembered that I can use this question to measure my intentions in future situations like this one. 

I have learned not to expect perfection in my season of healing, but to keep my heart open to accept the lessons God gives me to grow closer to Him in my ways.

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I want to learn how to forgive every situation as Jesus forgives

I recently told my husband that I want to learn how to love like Jesus. When I am angry and upset, I want to learn how to forgive every situation as Jesus forgives. So we made a deal. Every time I seem to get upset, I asked that he say to me, “I need you to love me like Jesus would right now.” We haven’t had the opportunity to use this yet (which must mean we are still in honeymoon phase♥), but I am curious to see how well it works!

If any of you get the opportunity to use it, please let me know! I would love to hear back from you!!

Dear Heavenly Father,

We ask that you guide our intentions, Lord, so they may come from a place of love. We ask that you forgive past transgressions made out of fearful intention. We ask that you guide our future endeavors, Lord, so that we may always know and live in the image of Your Son, Jesus Christ.

In your name we pray. Amen.

Sweet child, live free.

Love, D

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From Pain to Purpose: A Lesson in God’s Healing Sovereignty

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I stood there, silent, as our pastor asked us to repeat our vows. Staring at him, I had flashbacks of what our love used to look like. It wasn’t this. It wasn’t happy. It was so hurtful.

In the beginning, he felt so empty. He wouldn’t let me in. We would enjoy small moments of closeness. Then, when it was time to take another step, he would push me away and I would fight harder to stay. For 3 years, I let his love wound me with his distance and lies. As if I needed more wounding in my life. That’s just it, though. His empty love felt like home. In a world where I had known nothing but retractable love, his emptiness validated the very thing that had been spoken over my life for the previous 35 years. It was quite obvious that broken had attracted broken.

I knew that there was this incredible, responsible guy with so much more potential than he was giving and I couldn’t find the right words to help him see what I did. I wanted to get him to church. I knew I couldn’t teach him how to be the man I was needing, but I knew the Bible could. But he wouldn’t go and all I knew to do was the very same thing I had done my whole life…. fight. It was the only thing I was good at in relationships. My words had been formed as weapons at a very early age and I was very talented at aiming them below the belt.

 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. Proverbs 21:9, NIV

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Life was gloomy. We fought constantly. As time passed, our fights became more intense and violent. Our life together was a war zone. We would break up and get back together as often as most people changed clothes. 

His demons were those that most women wouldn’t accept, which I did for 3 years. My demons were the reason most people had walked out of my life, and he hadn’t. So, we held on to fighting for a love that neither of us knew how to give.

I remember coming to the realization things would never change. My spirit was so broken and he had surrendered to a whole new level of deceit. I knew, at this point,  the best thing I could do for myself was cut my losses, evaluate my part in our madness, and begin fixing the woman within.

Next thing I knew, I was standing in front of him with teary eyes telling him, “I have given you everything that I have. I have tried to prove to you that I was worth investing your life in. From ripping my heart open to opening a business to prove my worth to you, I have tried it all. My heart is so exhausted. I am hurting and I need to heal. I can’t be here while I do that. Loving you hurts me and if I am going to do this life alone, I am going to be alone while I do it.”

Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife;
    quarrels and insults are ended. Proverbs 22:10, NIV

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In the blink of an eye my life flipped upside down. As I have mentioned multiple times in previous posts, this is when I fell homeless, sleeping in my office for Thanksgiving, working day in and out in my salon and remodeling my fixer upper camper. During this madness, I agreed to see him here and there, but my heart wasn’t completely focused on him, anymore. It was focused on therapy and God’s plan. Although, I must admit that I was utterly exhausted at the time, so my heart barely knew it was beating all. I still loved him, but the busyness of healing made it easier to shut him out when I couldn’t see the changes in him that God was making inside of me.  

This was equally the most beautiful and brutal time of my life. 

I am not sure what his days were like during that season, but I could imagine pretty quiet. For 3 years he had lived with the constant noise of my son and I. Then, all of a sudden he had nothing but the sound of his own silence. I couldn’t imagine that would be an easy transition. Relaxing, at times, I am sure, but not necessarily the family environment that he had gotten so used to. Every now and again I’ll ask him and all he says is, “I just missed you.”

By wisdom a house is built,
    and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures. Proverbs 24:3-4

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The day came when I, finally, finished the building process. A season of content and finding out who DeLayne really was, was upon me. It was a season where I wrote… a lot. This writing began with speeches, then quickly transpired into a blog… this blog to be exact. 

While all these newfound aspirations and hobbies began to take hold, I felt a sense of ending when I thought of him. I wasn’t wondering what he was doing anymore. I wasn’t missing him. Matter of fact, when I thought of us, I couldn’t understand why I fought so hard to stay.

Just as I was getting over him, I met someone who would, ultimately, change my life forever… but for reasons I could never expect. This was the moment that God changed my husband’s heart.

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”

Ephesians 5:28, ESV

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This is the day he finally finally showed up. Just as life was moving on, he called me with the words I had been waiting so long to hear. “I didn’t know that’s how it was supposed to be.  I treated you so wrong for 3 years and you never left me for dead. If you need to date him, date him, but you didn’t leave me for dead, so I will not leave you. I will still be here.” That’s the day I first noticed God’s work in his heart.

A week later, after the heartbreaking reality of my situation had settled, my soon to be husband was there with a message from the Bible to pick up the pieces. That moment changed the dynamics of our lives together forever. This message brought him closer to God and brought us together in ways that only God could achieve. 

Since then, peace and forgiveness has spread through my life like a wildfire. I have watched the miracle of God’s mercy bless our relationship in ways I could have never expected. I see the unfolding of our story with a whole new understanding. 

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death
or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Revelation 21:4, NIV

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You see, we were brought together with empty toolbox’s. We, both, come from broken families. We didn’t know how to love one another as God wants a husband and wife to love one another. We were irresponsible with each others love and didn’t know how to work things out together. So, as parents do when their children cannot stop fighting, He separated us. God had to take us out of the situation so that He could work on us individually. He had to bring both of us to our knees, begging for mercy, so that we no longer leaned on each other for guidance, but on Him, our creator. We were unarmed until the day God took His place in our relationship. 

I imagine more storms will come. Frankly, I look forward to them, because the way that my husband looked at me the day we were married told me that I have nothing left to fight for, except my love for God. I can rest assured that we will handle whatever is to come with grace and endurance through faith, and faith alone. I would do it a hundred times over if I knew we would land right where we are today. 

The work that we put in means nothing without the love of our Lord, Jesus Christ. He is the true hero in our story. This healing would be completely meaningless without God’s ever flowing mercy. 

The critics can say all they want to say… but I am 100% certain that God blessed our journey on that incredible day. His presence in this world is so evident and our love is a living testimony to it!

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 
and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 
So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mathew 19:4-6

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Thank you, Lord, for blessing our lives with the trials of the last 4 years. It is because of these hardships that I was able to heal the most broken parts of my being. It is because of these obstacles that my husband is such an incredible man today. I am forever thankful for Your mercy and the journey we get to walk with You tomorrow and always. Please let the words of our story touch someone’s life today, Lord. So that they may find peace in their battle. Your name will forever be alive in our home.

Sweet child, live free.

Love, D

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Seasonal Bloom

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For every season there is a reason. How often do we hear these words? How often do we evaluate the season we are in rather than the weight of opportunity?

I’m a pro at forgetting to look at the big picture. I walked through this life holding on to anger for the things I had no control. I often wondered, “Why me?” The question I should’ve been asking… “Why NOT me?!?”

As I journeyed through truth and healing this year, I watched my life bloom in unexpected ways. This gave me perspective on a much larger scale.

“Why NOT me?!?”

I realized that we all go through the same evolution in life. We just experience each stage at different times and with different degrees of severity. Each transformation builds self awareness specifically for our unique purpose on this earth.

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What a blessing it is to have the privilege to bloom in the most unexpected places!

When life seems to be throwing curveballs left and right with no end in sight, try shifting  your view. Ask the universe to provide the bigger picture to see the season for what it is… The chance to bloom for your grand purpose.

Sweet child be free.

Love, D

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via Daily Prompt: Blossom

The Self in Cleansing

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There I was. Irritated. I had been working so hard on taming my words, yet here they were flying out of my mouth like I had never made an effort. This is, by far, my biggest flaw and, in that moment, it seemed as though I wasn’t equipped to conquer it any time soon.

The Sunday after I failed miserably, our pastor’s words hit home. That’s when I realized I am suspended in an uncomfortable space between my old self and the spiritually mature self. She is the self in cleansing. She is living in the divine space where the ashes of old are sifted through to polish and refine what’s buried beneath. It is in this place where she must truly be still and allow the purging of her surroundings draw to completion. The self in cleansing undergoes this purification process to be redressed in a more Christlike patience. She is to rest in an unfamiliar stillness and loosen her grip on unfulfilling dreams she desperately clung to for an identity that can only be found in Christ.  This is where God arms her with grace and understanding while relationships and things she invested time, love, money, and energy in dissolve. The self in cleansing is the stage where we are practicing the art of letting go with integrity. It is the stage of refinement.

 

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Once the beauty of these words settled on the screen of my computer, God revealed a similar process to me… the refinement of gold. In order for this valuable metal to be made pure, it must be extracted from the earth as ore, crushed, then processed depending on its nature. For example, higher grades of ore require a more extensive level of processing than lower grade. Then, according to providencemetals.com, the actual refinement process of gold happens when impurities are stripped through melting in high temperatures, treated with chloride, then passed through an electrolytic cell which results in 99.99% pure gold. In other words, it takes an extreme process to bring gold to its pure state to make it a metal of obscene value.

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Isn’t it amazing how similar that sounds to a person who is spiritually maturing in their relationship with the Lord? The ugly effects of sin, such as anger, has to be extracted from our heart. Old plans are crushed to reveal a bigger picture that leads to the spiritual maturing process. The extent of maturing needed is dependant on the nature of our brokenness. Then, refinement happens when we are suspended in extreme conditions, where we are required to sit still while God purifies our lives as new christians! I feel like my job right now is to sit still without saying a word, let nature take its course, whether good or bad, and let God remove all that doesn’t line up with the integrity of my life as a new Christian.  I believe so many people avoid taking those first steps because it seems like so much work. Truth is, it’s tons of work! But what is our other option?? Staying stuck in a ridiculously difficult, meaningless life that requires three times the effort to struggle through while sucking every bit of energy that we were meant to use to love others? Dramatic? Maybe. But we all must understand that the most valuable element of life can be found at the end of refinement and cleansing… a Christlike peace in trusting God is waiting for us! That is what true happiness is!

The more I learned about gold, the more intrigued I became. I wanted to understand where this precious metal was first found. So, I buried myself in an article from ZME Science where I was introduced to the theory of how gold got to Earth. It said that about 200 million years after the formation of a pretty important planet, meteorites loaded with incredible metals plunged onto its surface. Molten iron sank to its center to form the core of what we now call Earth… the only planet, that we know of, in the universe that is home to life29D2A57D-58CD-4E0F-9DCF-898D50D7AB0AWhile reading about this theory, I, also, found out an interesting fact! Gold can match the human body’s temperature when worn as jewelry! Think about this… the earth’s most valuable metal lives at the core of the only place God’s most valuable creation exists. Like people, gold becomes moldable under extreme conditions and, if worn, it can actually coordinate its temperature to become a physical part of us. 

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According to britannica.com, “Gold’s chemical stability is based on the relative instability of the compounds it forms with oxygen and water.”  As I dug deeper to understand why God would want me to dissect this process, I had a revelation. I began to think about how environmental and social elements throughout my life effected my emotional, mental, and spiritual stability. I began using my words to defend myself when I was very young. Taming my tongue is going to be my biggest battle and God is removing impurities from my life so I will be less tempted. Patience is required on my part, and, obviously, I was going to need a lot of it. I have known for quite some time that my life was undergoing some kind of major transition. Now that I understand that God was bringing me closer to His plan, I see the insability effect of gold happening in reverse in my life. I am witnessing the destruction of environmental and social elements of my life that do not align with scripture or His assignment on my life. Doing this research made me realized the self in cleansing is a necessary process of refinement that will eventually expose the most valuable trait that will be most useful for leading others closer to God’s mercy.

Lord, I ask that you watch over me during this season of purification. Give me the wisdom of discernment while you remove what’s necessary from my life. Help me to forgive others as quickly as you forgive me. In your name, I pray. Amen.

Sweet child, be free.

Love, D

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Confessions of the Approval Seeker

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I try my hardest to shed light on what is real in every blog post I write…well, this nugget of truth just might come as a huge surprise to many… but this confession is necessarry for living my truth with integrity, which is so important on my journey of following a God led path…

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We might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law because by the works of the law no human being will be justified. Gal 2:16

An interesting post flashed across my computer screen today. Alongside the post was the picture of a woman in a bikini with a perfectly sculpted physique on stage for a bodybuilding competition. The author wrote, “I can’t understand how a woman could let herself go after having children. I stay fit and healthy so that I can play sports with my children one day. I choose to be healthy to set a good example for my children.” I thought about what she said and, must say, my flawed human heart saw something completely opposite of what this post communicated. My first thoughts were, “Is she seriously trying to convince me she is healthy???  She is prancing around on Facebook in a bikini and heels, which she, obviously, does on stage in front of judges to win their approval….and is clearly comparing and criticizing other women. Yet, she is trying to be a good role model to her children?? Is that really society’s image of a healthy woman?????”

Yes, I know. A christian woman should not be chastising or judging anyone for anything. I am not the judge of this world, God is, but bare with me here, my point will become clear…

I watched an interview with Collette Nelson from 2010 by Bryan Gumball on YouTube. In her interview, Collette says, “You’re the most unhealthy the day of a show. You’re dehydrated. You’ve eaten limited food. You’re taking some type of diuretic, whether it be natural or not. That day of the show, I’ve gotta tell you, you look like perfection, but inside you’re just, you’re barely hangin’ on.”

In other words, the day she needs the most approval in in her career, she is at her peak level of unhealthy. Let that sink in and resonate.

The aforementioned post brought to mind a few women who have shared their lack of enthusiasm for clothes shopping with me, lately, in part due to weight gain. I, myself, am struggling with this because I am so busy I have no time to dedicate to my health. Then I realized,  this woman and myself aren’t that much different. She may be using her health and appearances as a scapegoat to win the approval of others,  while I am doing the polar opposite with the same end goal in mind.

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Ladies think about this… could we, actually, be throwing our health away because we are carrying the work load of 3 full time jobs, getting our children into every sport possible, hosting pinterest worthy birthday parties, building massive homes that we don’t actually need, and killing ourselves to make our households appear perfect… to win the approval of people who are doing the exact same thing to win ours?  Are we seriously letting ourselves go  physically, emotionally, mentally, and morally because we are chasing something far beyond our reach?? 

After spending my day thinking of all the ways I seek approval from others, I decided to research the word approval back to its origins to try to find out what it is, exactly, that we are all desperately seeking. The word approve comes from the Latin word approbare. If you take the first two letters off that word and break it down, you get probare, which means to esteem as good. What I find compelling, is that when I dug deeper into the word good, to see exactly what the human definition of good was, I noticed something astonishing. The Old English origin of the word good…. gõd. Does this word look familiar to anyone else?? We are not hungry for human approval, ladies. We are starving for GOD

Now, I don’t know about you, but I was a little mind blown at that point… which leads me to my mighty nugget of truth…

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3 years ago I decided to open a business… for the wrong reasons. I’m pretty decent at what I do… but truth is, I always felt I could do better for myself. I have a bigger passion for the relationships that I get to build as a result of my career than I ever did the actual job. At the time I openned my busiess, I was actually trying to win the approval of another person in hopes that some day he would see that I was good enough to invest his life in.  I needed his approval to validate my worth.

When I was 26 years old, I quit the industry that I was in to go back to college and pursue what my heart truly desired. I was doing great. I was on the dean’s list and in honor’s classes. However, my living arrangements weren’t the best and I was having a difficult time passing Algebra (yuck!) Instead of sticking it out and pushing through, I chose to take the quick and easy route to further my education in the industry I was trying to leave, in hopes to quickly land a more stable job that would be a better fit than what I was doing previously. To make a long story short, it wasn’t a successful plan , but it got me out of my living situation, away from all of the partying, and utimately lead me to the place I needed to be  to heal. So, I have no regrets there.

However, in the meantime, I met Jacques. I instantly fell in love with him because he was the most responsible person I had ever met. It was the first time I felt safe. Unbenounced to me, I was in the middle of a life transition that I was completely unaware of at the time and I needed his support in ways that he was incapable of giving at the time.

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Jacques was not used to sharing his life with anyone. He is seriously an incredible guy, but when I first met him, he knew nothing about being a life partner. So, I did what most broken, unhealthy women do. I did everything I could to prove to him that I was worth investing his life in. I opened a business to earn the approval of the man that I love. The good part of the story is that the business succeeded. The sad part of the story is that it didn’t do for my relationship, or my life for that matter, what I had hoped. I fully understand why, now. God’s approval wasn’t a priority in my life at the time. I was putting man’s approval ahead of my Fathers.  Nothing will work according to any other plan but His.

I attempted to use worldly resources to fix what only God could.  And what did this get me? A business that has grown faster than I can keep up and heartbreaking lessons about the society I live in. I’ve learned that in an ego focused world, no matter how much you love people, we live in a disposable society. Which means, regardless of what these relationships mean to you, you will always be disposable in a world where the next best is right around the corner. We are starving for the approval of people which means a piece of us dies each time we are rejected. God doesn’t reject us. His grace accepts us right where we are. When human rejection  hurts us, God’s love rescues us.

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Ladies, what I am trying to tell you is that everything we seek from outside sources can only be found in God. We want others approval because we believe their approval proves that we are good… when God has already claimed that goodness over us!! 

Genisis 1:31 tells us that “God looked over all he had made and saw that it was very good.” Now, I dont know if you are familiar with this verse, but  before God made man, he made the sun earth moon and stars. When he looked over those things, he saw that they were good. Once he added man to the equation, he saw that it all was very good.  You see, before we understood the concept of approval, God had already set us apart from all that He created.

What I have learned from this past year is that no amount of human approval will offer our lives the peace that we so desperately need.  Our children cannot quince that hunger. Our husbands are not capable of approving of us just as much as our bosses, co workers, or clients. I hate to breaks it to you, we are not capable of fulfilling those needs for other people as well. We are just to love and serve like Jesus and allow God to fill us with his peace and approval.  I don’t know about you, but divine approval sounds so much more appealing than earthly approval.

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To the ultra fit bikini wearing Facebook lady:

God bless you and your incredible confidence. I pray you find the peace you need and the approval you seek.  You are worthy, you are valued, and you are loved beyond measure. You had the stamp of God’s approval before you were even born.

If you would like to start seeking God’s approval instead of earthly approval there are steps you must take. Begin by, first, acknowledging approval seeking behaviors.  Pray and ask God for the wisdom and courage to eliminate them.

Next, evaluate the earthly things in your life that tempt you to seek the approval of others. Again, pray for the wisdom to minimize these temptations.

Most importantly, spend more time in your Bible. Try to learn all that you can about the foundation in which we were created.  Only God can feed our human desire for approval. He approved of us that day he created us. There’s no performance based  standard that we need to meet  in order to earn that. It has already been given.

You, my friend, are good. You are God approved.

If you are feeling beat up and starving for the approval of the world say this prayer with me today:

Dear Heavenly Father

I come to you today and lay my worries at your feet. I ask for the wisdom to overcome my need for outside approval.  Your approval is sufficient for me Lord. Gift me with your mercy while I eliminate the temptations of approval seeking behaviors in my life.  I ask that you walk with me on this journey and protect everyone that my choices will effect. Lay your hands on the lives of my friends and my loved ones and grant us peace for our future.

In Gods name I pray, amen.

Sweet child, be free.

Love, D

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What It Really Means to Be Free

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Did you know that slavery, still, exists today? Do you believe that your neighbors are held captive against their own will for generations upon generations? Did you know that you work with slaves? Pass them in the grocery stores? You see at least one slave a day and you are too busy to notice them.

I recently read a compelling story of a family who had been saved from slavery of working a brick kiln. It is a gruesome example of manual labor, where workers prepare and bake clay into bricks. They dig up this clay, prepare and mold it, bake, then drag the bricks off to the side to repeat the cycle.. over and over again, every single day of their lives.

The first mention of a brick kiln is in the book of Jeremiah. Even as far back as 626 BC, work in a brick kiln was a job known to slaves.

Today, most who work brick kilns have been born into this life of slavery. They are held captive by generations upon generations of “debt” owed by their ancestors. Brick kilns will often take advantage of a slaves illiteracy to manipulate paperwork so the debt can never be paid back. Can you imagine what it must feel like to be born into an unimaginable form of slavery where day in and day out you wake to dig, bake, and drag this material next to a scorching furnace?? I can’t.

As I sat and read the miraculous story of this family’s rescue, my heart sank for them, for their bondage is far from over. Their physical escape is just the beginning. It will take nothing short of God’s mercy to carry them into salvation from the mental and emotional anguish inflicted on them through slavery.

I wondered, “If I passed a member of this family on the street, today, would I notice the effects of this turmoil in their smile?” The answer to that question was probably not.

This made me think of the many faces I pass everyday. I wonder how many of them are emotionally and mentally held captive from the effects of abuse, mental illness, inescapable addictions of family members, or slavery of another kind… I will never know.

I now feel a responsibility to all slaves. Whether it be slaves to the physically inflicted, or slaves to the mental and emotional inflicted. For I have been set free from my own bondage and it is, now, my job to take up my cross and share what the grace of God looks and feels like.

I will forever remember the beginning of my physical relief from mental and emotional slavery. It all began smack in the midst of the peak of my career.

I moved 6 hours away from my entire life to raise a child, alone for the very first time, without help, while pursuing my dream job. This was a blessing and a curse. I had yet to get to a place in life where I had the opportunity to deal with the past pains of rejection and labels of worthlessness.

As I struggled to make it in the city alone, the owner of the company I worked for did something insane! He had the audacity to believe in me. He not only told me he believed in me, he showed me by trusting me with the leadership of a pretty incredible team of students.

This was a double edged sword. As I have always longed to have someone believe in me, I, also, starved to be accepted. Though I earned the acceptance of my boss, my co workers were a different story. I spent endless hours trying to prove myself as a viable teammate to my coworkers, while battling emotional slavery to past labels of worthlessness. The feelings of failing at raising a child with no one around to help balance the workload didn’t help much, either. The dynamic of this picture would not have been as big of a big deal had it not confirmed what had been said to me so many times in the past… “You Aren’t Capable! You Are Not Enough! You Do Not Measure Up.” Though I was certain of my abilities, I constantly questioned whether others were. I had never felt more like an imposter than I did during that season. I had physically been rescued but I was, still, living like a slave.

Though I live with the regret of leaving because I may never get the opportunity to see what I was truly capable of, coming home was necessary at the time. It taught me that good performance is a band aid. It may feel good at the time, but obedience and faith in the real hero, Jesus Christ, is the only way to complete salvation and freedom.

We can get physically saved from bondage, but until we have full faith and trust in Christ and Christ alone, we will never truly be set free.

Since this family was rescued by an incredible non-profit ministry team, I have no doubt they will get the tools they need to build a fruitful relationship with the ultimate Rescuer!

You may know someone who is bound by physical, mental, and emotional slavery, or you, yourself may be weak from the chains of bondage… if so, I ask that you say this prayer with me today:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I lay the cross of slavery at your feet today. I have complete trust in You that I am now set free from all that has held me captive physically, mentally, and emotionally. I rely not on my own understanding but on You, Lord, and You, alone. For You sent Your only begotten Son to save me from shame, guilt, and worthlessness. You are the One, the only true light to our salvation and I lift up my past, present, and future up to you in accordance to Your divine will. In God’s name, I pray. Amen.

Sweet child, be free.

Love, D

Weatherproof

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It was a night that I will never forget. I was working on my camper when I realized the “small leak in the skylight,” actually meant the entire roof was damaged. It was this night when I found out that the majority of my soon to be home needed to be gutted to its bare walls and rebuilt if I were ever going to live in it.

I found the issue when the first rain of the winter season came crashing down and the strong winds ripped away the tarp I used to cover the roof. The front bedroom walls were soaking wet. I had to climb onto the top of the camper to secure as much of it as I could to protect what little work I had already done. While on top of the slippery roof, it sank in that there was no way I would finish this project in a month. I had no place to live, no help, and no light.

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The more my heart sank, the more frantic I became. The more frantic I became, the more difficult it was to solve the problem at hand…which was to temporarily weatherproof my future home to get through the night. Had it not been the middle of the night, I would’ve screamed outloud at God. All I could do was sit there, on my knees, 12 feet off the ground, on a slippery roof, in the pouring rain, and sob. My heart was so broken that I had been lied to and it would effect my survival for the next 6, long months. It was the second most vulnerable moment of my life.

Just as soon as I began to cry, I thought about the end result. It felt as if something told me, “it may be messy right now, but there will be something miraculous at the end of this!” So, I, quickly, gathered my thoughts, dried my tears, and completed the task. Considering what I was already going through, as devastating as it was, that raw moment gifted me with hope and grit. The next morning, as I layed in my bed, I told myself, “DeLayneif you can get through this, you can get through anything. 

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It has nearly been a year since that night. I still remember that helpless feeling at the pit of my stomach, as if it happened yesterday.  That night taught me a great lesson.  We cannot prevent the storms in our lives from coming, but our faith in God can weatherproof our spirit through any circumstance. 

Since then, I have often wondered how I could further weatherproof my spirit by going directly to God before falling apart like I did on that roof.

I have always been told that when making behavioral changes, start small. So, I decided, that if I were going to weatherproof my spirit through all circumstances, I must, first, identify where there is a leak in my faith. Because, as Phillipians 4:13 says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. A true follower of Christ doesn’t reflect that only when the sun is shining.

Recently, someone told me that when used figuratively, the word weatherproof means “incapable of failing, unassailable.”  One translation of unassailable is to secure against attack.

The question that I want us to ask ourselves is, “How often does our Godly spirit begin to falter when our sense of stability falls under attack?”

I know mine does, more often than I would like to admit. When I am feeling defeated, I allow it to effect my peace. I worry. I analyze. I create scenarios in my head that haven’t even happened yet. I do everything but find joy and give thanks for the current season, which as God promises, is being weaved together for good.

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With the crash of the oilfield in recent years, I am witnessing so many people in my community falling on hard times. Families are losing homes, relocating to find work, downsizing, selling all of their belongings. There seems to be silent panic and histeria. When I think of them, I think of how I felt on that cold, wet night. I relate to their questions and momentary doubt. If there is one thing I could share with them, it would be a glimpse into how the story ends. We may not have physical proof right before our eyes, but we have God and we have His Word. God’s word is truth. His truth is all we need to weatherproof our spirit in the middle of a storm. As hard as it may be, we must find joy in the storm.

Paul, in his letter to the Phillipians, says, “I long to depart and be with Christ which is far better but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that, because of my coming to you again your boasting in Christ jesus may abound.” Philipians 1:23-26

Paul wrote this letter during his time of imprisonment. His point was that his heart was split in two. He was ready to go home to God, his father, because he would no longer have to worry with worldly burdens.  Paul, also, knew, however, that he still had work to do on earth. If his life would be taken, he would no longer serve his fellow disciples as God needed. Because of this, he chose to find joy in serving while he still had time.

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Life is hard when our resources run out. Failure creeps up on us like death. However, what could possibly come of this? As God says in Matthew 6:27, “Which of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” 

There are many interpretations of this verse. My favorite one being the King James Version, which argues that the Greek term for lifespan is helikia. This can sometimes mean to add physical height to the body. I like this interpretation the best because when I begin to worry, my anxiety grows and I become more aggressive in my efforts. This is a learned behavior I picked up over a lifetime of living in survival mode. My brain has grown accustomed to thinking that the more aggressive I become, the better chances I have for survival. This makes me feel bigger than what I really am but it also makes me a difficult person to be around. My spirit becomes weathered and gray. I don’t want to be difficult. I want the world to see Christlike love when they see me.

I am trying to retrain my brain to remember that I don’t have to be big. I don’t have to be aggressive. My God is big. I don’t have to risk the state of my mental health over something as simple as worldly security. As the bible reminds us, does God not feed the birds in the sky? He values me much more than I value myself and if He is denying me, there is a reason. For whatever that is, I want to learn to be joyful in that so I can continue to do His work. All I want is to learn how to be present in the current season with a weatherproofed spirit.

If you are longing to find joy in your season of labor or waiting, pray this pray with me:

Dear Heavenly Father

I come here today to thank you for all seasons that I am allowed on this earth. Because your hands weave everything for good, I know you have got my life under control. I ask for a joyful heart in the meantime. Until then, I ask that you help me weatherproof my spirit to withstand the most grand storms so I can continue to praise Your most glorious name. Thank you for all that you are and above all, thank you for loving me, even when I am hardest to love.

In heaven’s name I pray. Amen.

Sweet child, live free.

Love, D

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