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Broken Relationships

Broken relationships. They are a painful reality. For some, it is a daily ache that shackles our every step, and for others, it is an ache that shouts and settles throughout time. Universally, however, the holidays seem to ignite and amplify the grief that resides in the hearts and minds of those carrying the cross of someone living in the world but lost from our lives.

Sometimes reconciliation is not possible. Maybe you have hurt someone, and despite your repentance and request for forgiveness, it was refused. Know this; we are only responsible for what we can control, an apology, but not an acceptance.

Sometimes reconciliation is not achievable because the pathology of the relationship is too unhealthy. The loss is still painful, nevertheless. I get it.

Although being reconciled is implausible, relinquishing resentment, retaliation, and further ruin is not. I realize and know that takes time. Often, a lot of time. A lot of prayers. A lot of dying to self and surrendering to the Savior. We cannot make ourselves forget, but we can pray ourselves to forgive. The two things are not the same. Forgiveness does not always look like an active relationship, but it can manifest as an intentional release of the toxicity that grows from the root of resentment.

In some scenarios, forgiveness is not a one-time event.

For some, it takes a daily recommitment. It is painful. I know.

There are other times that forgiveness is possible, but pride convinces us that we are justified staying stuck. It is then easy to find ourselves reasoning, “I cannot do it.” What that statement means is, I will not do it. Forgiveness of tender transgressions requires sacrifice. It demands a figurative death that feels real.

The antidote for my stubborn pride is always the cross.

I can try and run from its reality. I can try to deny its ramifications, but I have not found a comfortable place to hide.

The truth is, I am a sinner who was in desperate need of the greatest act of forgiveness history has ever known. It did require a literal death. It did require bloodshed. It demanded far more than my flesh can comprehend, but Jesus did it anyway. Like a lamb led to the slaughter He was my substitute, and He never articulated a word. No complaints. No poor me. No. Whining.

This holiday season friend, if you are in the league of the unforgiven, have asked for forgiveness from a well-intentioned place and were denied, I am sorry and pray that you find peace. I know the anguish will always be present to some degree, but remember pain is the best tutor, and it’s redemptive purposes are infinite.

And you, dear friend, if you are on the other side of the fence, carrying the weight of unforgiveness, that I sympathetically recognize is not a one size fits all scenario, I pray that your heart would soften because I wish freedom for you.

Sometimes the very things we are trying to escape, we cling to.

Holding on to the pain can oddly feel comforting. It is a counterfeit comforter. I know you must have been intensely wounded. About now you may be thinking; you just have no clue. No, I do not pretend to understand, but I have experienced a lot.

One thing I do know for sure, life is so very short. Once someone is gone, what was not spoken cannot be undone. Sometimes there are no second chances. No do-overs. If you possess the power to release someone, not necessarily reunite with them, I am praying for you. It is so very hard. I. Know.

I am not writing to you because I have gotten anything right. I am writing to you because I have gotten just about everything wrong and I am processing my realities, too.

This Thanksgiving may we all acknowledge the sadness of what is not, and then shift our hearts towards the abundance of what is.

You are loved. All of you.♥️

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What If You Get It Wrong?

Recently, I was struggling with an important decision. It was tearing me apart as I was allowing the lies of the enemy to compromise what I know to be true.  I was lamenting to a trusted and wise friend that my fear was I would get it wrong.  My friend said to me, “D’Anna, what if you do get it wrong?”  It was then that I remembered that Jesus’ gift of salvation does not come with a qualifier that I get it all right.  If my performance was a qualification, that would mean I have some responsibility for my salvation and in my eyes, I would never be enough.  How exhausting that would be!

Thankfully, I can take no credit for my eternal destiny.  Any good work I do is as a result of the Holy Spirit’s presence, not my power.  I cannot even take credit for faith, for it is from God, as well. (Ephesians 2:8).

Are you wrestling with getting something wrong today?  Has the idea of not being perfect or falling short thrown a dark disguise over the veil of truth that is meant to set you free? (John 8:32).  I pray if you find yourself here, you take the hand of truth today.

Father, I repent of the times I fail to believe. Help me and my friend remember that you and your promises are the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) AMEN.

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Purpose Amidst Imperfection 

Nestled amidst the sunrise of a fresh week and all the promise it holds is an ever faithful reminder of my inadequacy. I am presently, but peacefully aware that I got more wrong than right last week, and that will surely be my truth this week as well.

My keen sense of insufficiency poses a different purpose for me now, though. Growing in grace teaches me that it is no longer about striving for perfection only to be frustrated, but seeking purpose amidst my imperfection only to be furthered.

 It is an incongruent truth that on the other side of our failures is an intention designed for our prosperity. 

Understanding that falling down is not a shameful thing, but a sacred tool is the genesis of praise. Praise opens the door and welcomes gratitude right into our hearts.

When gratitude is our guest, we see through all the heavy right into the heart of the holy, and joy becomes a source of our strength. 

This week, friend, I pray you have eyes to see and ears to hear all the beauty that your brokenness beholds, and your heart will sing, it is good and it is well with my soul.
You are loved.❤️

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Send Me. Use Me.

 

…meanwhile, Puerto Rico is devastated and may not have electricity for 6 plus months.  They along with residents of the Virgin Islands, Texas, Louisiana and Florida have lost everything.  Recovery and rebuilding could take decades in some areas.

Every two minutes somewhere in America someone is sexually assaulted.  Human trafficking is a thriving travesty.  Five to six children die each day as a result of abuse.  America’s numbers of homeless children and adults are in the millions.  Astounding!  Hundreds of school children in my city alone have no food on the weekends.  Every day scores of our people become widowed, terminally ill, addicted, lost, orphaned, homeless, unemployed, hungry and the list goes on.

Anxiety and depression is at an all time high even among our country’s children.  

Pornography is no longer a taboo topic, because it is a common place epidemic ravaging men, women and children.  Yes!  Children.

 Everywhere I turn I am tempted to grab a quick fix, whether it be food, fantasy or Facebook, to numb, deaden or make tolerable the pain all around me. We are a society of self-medicators, myself included.  

I have to look at myself and ask, where am I spending my energy, time and resources?  Am I busy complaining about the problems or contributing to the solutions?  

I reserve the right to protest peacefully, but I also acknowledge that I was ransomed the right to pray personally and that alone can accomplish more than any demonstration.  

I also regard the luxury (yes, it is a privilege afforded to me by many selfless men and women in uniform!) to respectfully disagree, but may I always remember that unless I am putting my concerns into productive action,  I am merely a purposeless reaction void of favorable fruit.

 Here I am Lord.  Send me.  Use me.

 

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Louies, Leggings, Leopard Prints and Lamenting Stints

Lamenting has been the tone of my heart in lately.  I do not know if I recall a time when I have felt enslaved to such oppressive spiritual warfare.  I have been stepping on dark, enemy lines lately with a project I am working on and the closer I get to completition, the more aggressive the attacks become.  I have been crying out to The Lord for relief, but He has appeared silent in the midst of my struggle. I do know this about my Father, though; His seeming silence does not equal stagnation.

I woke up today with that familiar tightness in my chest that has been my frequent companion in recent days.  Anxiety is like a skilled, thief, masterful at surprise attacks.  I never know when he will show up, and he renders me largely powerless to his presence except for the provision of prayer.

Getting ready for Sunday School and Church felt laborious because I was tired before I started. That slightly strangled feeling that is indigenous to anxiety was an unwelcome reminder of the storm swirling in my soul.

On days that I am out of sync, my motto is, if you don’t feel well, at least dress well; so I put on some of my favorite things and headed out the door masking on the outside the incongruence dwelling inside. I long for my inward appearance to parallel my outward one, but some days it is not plausible.

We are studying the Psalms in Sunday School right now. This morning as I listened to the lesson, slightly frazzled because we were late, I was reminded how the Psalms reflect my life. I am a mixture of grief and gratitude, flawed and favored, stitched together by an ever-welcoming Savior.

We all endure seasons of strife, friends. Louis’, leggings, leopard prints, (some of my favorite things), and lamenting stints go hand and hand this side of Heaven.☺️ My desire to be congruent is so real, but rarely realistic, and that is entirely ok.

Thank you, Jesus, for the precedent of your word that reminds me that I am not an anomaly, and neither are you, friend!

You are loved!♥️

Outfit details:

Cardigan:  joseph-a-leopard-print-double-knit-cardigan

Leggings:  3828364

Boots:  4615297

Bag:  www.louisvuitton.com

 

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God’s Silence Does Not Equal Stagnation


Recently I was in a beautiful place surrounded by the sights and sounds of God’s creation.  My children and husband were with me, and we drove up to a beautiful beach that had an area lined by ocean rocks as if to create a safe, swimming hole for would be snorkelers.  I did not feel like getting in the water this particular morning, but my kids wanted to try snorkeling.  It was their first time, and they were curious to see what they would find living just below the surface of the emerald blue water.

I found a shady spot on a hill with a peaceful picnic table that looked down over the majestic beach.  I could not bring myself to leave the refuge of the picnic table, so I assured my children I would watch them from above and they could go ahead and snorkel. I watched as one child put on her equipment and swam off strong and smooth like a fish in its natural habitat. Then I sat and watched as my son, who has dyspraxia, struggled to get the mask, snorkel, and fins on.  It felt like an eternity of him trying over and over again and not succeeding.

Eventually, he began putting his head in the water and trying to coordinate all the necessary steps to swim and breathe. He would lower his head into the water a minute and then come up for air, never mastering the required motor coordination skills needed to put it all together, the skills that just come naturally to most of us. My heart was bleeding as I watched. Tears filled my eyes telling the story of my hurt for him as they trickled down my face. I was rooting and praying for him but painfully witnessed him fail over and over again. I wanted to rescue him. Running to him and helping felt like the loving and natural thing to do, but I knew delivering him from his struggle was the worst thing I could do because he would quit trying and rely on me.  Fixing the situation for my son would stunt his learning and crucial growth skills he needs to function in life.  As much as I wanted to intervene, as heart-wrenching as it was to watch, I had to sit and silently pray for him and watch over him from above the water.

It occurred to me at that moment that this was such a picture of our walks with our Father.  He looks down on us from above and often sees us struggling, sometimes drowning. In our estimation, it feels as if he is ambivalent to our struggles and suffering.

God seems silent, but His silence does not equate to stagnation.

Just as I was watching over my child, He is looking down and watching us, His children.  Our Heavenly Father is supporting us and working outcomes that are for our ultimate good.  Many times, though, He does not provide an immediate and noticeable rescue or His relief looks like more struggle and pain to us.  We don’t have the whole picture.  We feel like we are drowning, but God is there.  His heart must hurt as a Father like mine did as a mother watching his children struggle, but He knows just what we need.

Sometimes no rescue is the best rescue.

As we drove away from that beautiful place this thought occurred to me, my child didn’t fail.  Sure, he did if it I measured it by what I saw, but in God’s economy, the only failure is the one you didn’t trust Him in.  Be encouraged, friends!  God is looking down on you.  He sees you, and He has you.  When it feels like He is letting you drown, remember this, “All that is given is necessary.  All that is withheld was not.” ~Timothy Keller

You are loved.❤️

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Footprints 

A few days ago I left my footprints in the sand. I was walking in search of Jesus, reaching for his nail scarred hand. This countenance, a plea and praise on my heart did land. When I wander forth from you, Lord and my veers, direct me back till Your Light in my view appears. May my steps always follow your trail for that is the only way my flesh will fade and allow Your Spirit to prevail. You are the Light of the world. You shine in the heavens, on the waters and among the tiniest grains of sand. There is not one spot under the sun that Your light can be undone. May your glow always lead me to look up and ahead, never back where my transgressions in your sight are dead. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for dying for me; it is only because of you that my blind eyes are allowed to see. When I needed a friend it is you who has always been there; and because I required a Savior, it was you who my sins did bear. It is finished you did cry, so that I may live with you forever, never to die.

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Peace

I have been on a mission lately to identify and minimize or eradicate the things in my life that compromise my peace.  When I started putting ink to this stuff, I was surprised just how exhaustive my list is, and I have not unearthed it all yet.  One thing that was at the top of my list is the bad habit  I have perfected of assigning thoughts and feelings to other people.  Not many things steal my peace like this destructive practice.  You know what I am talking about, right?  When a friend does not acknowledge a text or email promptly, I can easily allow my thoughts to sabotage me.  My internal dialogue goes something like this,
“She must be mad at me.” or
“Maybe she didn’t like what I said.”

I have found that the overwhelming majority of the time I. Am. Wrong.

There are hundreds of scenarios like this that vandalize my sanity.  It is plain ridiculous.  When I get honest, though, it is much more about an unwise behavior.  There is a deeper root to the problem.  I want people to be pleased with me.  I want people to like me.  I am a forever recovering people pleaser.  There should be a support group for this kind of thing!  I am no expert but perhaps going even deeper this is about the sinful pride that lurks in my heart that I need to pray for the grace to see and uprooted daily?

In his short, but stirring book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, Tim Keller says this;
“People sometimes say their feelings are hurt. But our feelings can’t be hurt! It is the ego that hurts – my sense of self, my identity.  Our feelings are fine. It is my ego that hurts.”  “Walking around does not hurt my toe unless there is already something wrong with it .” Well, a big ‘ole ouch and Amen to that!

When my identity, worth, value, and placidity are rooted in people, I am in trouble.  There will be no peace in my heart.  I continually have to put on the attire of Christ’s atonement that sealed all those things for me at a very high cost.  Otherwise, I am simply not living free in the abundance of my Father, but a prisoner to the perceptions and permission of people.

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Shine More

 When the sadness of the world is shutting the doors of your heart, open them up more.

When persecution is preying on your joy, look for reasons to praise more.

When grief says the world will never be like before, gratify Jesus more.

When you want to give up, instead give more.

When there seems to be no love left, love more.

Evil only wins if we lose our light to the lust, lies, and lawlessness of the world. When you want to surrender shine more.

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Seasons of Change

Father you know we mamas are creatures who crave constancy not change.   When it comes to our children, our hearts are troubled by the trials of transition.   Tis the season of approaching change, God. Soon our babies will be starting kindergarten, entering high school, arriving for their senior year and launching off to college.  As our lives are fluctuating, and our familiar becomes foreign, our normal becomes new and our usual becoming unknown, it feels like permanent pieces of our lives will be changed forever.  They will never be as they were again.  It is the dying of a chapter that is so deeply rooted and known that it is painful to imagine how life will look moving forward.  We are challenged to hold gently and fondly to what was so that we may courageously embrace what now is.  Give us the grace to be more than conquerors in all these circumstances of change, Father.   May the faith that lives in our hearts be bigger than the fear that lurks in our minds.  Bless our children.  Insulate each and every one of them from head to toe under your wing of protection.  Remind us mamas that we have raised or children to run with determination not retreat in doubt.  There will be trails, and there will be triumphs.  May we all remember that disguised in all our disappointments are Your Appointments.  Give us the grace to not look for life somewhere under the sun, but in someone above it-You, Lord Jesus.  Amen