Consider this Your Permission Slip to Let Yourself Grieve Physically

This is the sky with heaven shining down through a storm. It was taken shortly after Mike lost his uncle Tom a few years back and we were driving home from his memorial service. It reminds me that through every storm, his light shines if we look for it.

This is the sky with heaven shining down through a storm. It was taken shortly after Mike lost his uncle Tom a few years back and we were driving home from his memorial service. It reminds me that through every storm, his light shines if we look for it.

Have you ever wondered why grief feels so physical? Have you actually realized that it's physical? Many people don't and wonder why they drag. I'm here to tell you today that it IS physical and we need to give ourselves permission to grieve just as much when it is physical instead of pushing through it. 

Apparently the 30th of this month (Sunday) is  National Grief Awareness Day, so it just seemed like the opportune time to focus on the grief process, because it is so real to me. I believe we don't talk about it enough in our society. There's too much "get over it" and not enough of showing people every single aspect of the process to find inner strength. A lot of quick fixes and not a lot of guidance. Anyway,  I hope this blog post helps a few people in the process.

Yesterday was the day after the day my Dad died four years ago. On Friday afternoon, Mike and I drove 7 hours out to Des Moines where he grew up. We stayed at his parents house and Saturday was the 10 month mark for his Dad's passing from ALS. So it was kinda heavy. It was really good time with family, but heavy.  With that, I just knew that drive home Sunday was going to be rough. It was. So yesterday....

I knew when I got home Sunday night, I'd wake up Monday morning feeling like a truck hit me, and I did.  My body was dragging. My brain was cloudy. I sat at my desk and tried to get a few things done, but my body and mind just weren't there. So instead of beating myself, I gave myself permission to feel it and took a nap. Then, a little while later I took a walk. By the evening, I was feeling much better, simply because I listened to my body telling me to stop. 

Here's the deal -- grief is physical. It will DRAG you. It will DRAIN you. It will dig a hole for you of depression if you let it.

But there is one thing you can do to get you through it, and that is to get your strength from God. Why? Because as you go through it, you'll feel like you can't and you won't have the mental or emotional strength or sheer will. But God does. He is the only one who can (and will) comfort you at the depths of your pain, but you have to let him into it. 

Losing a parent is the perfect example of how we can tap into God's love. We know that we have no power over the loss, or the timing of it. We see it as tragedy, which it is - but God makes death - something we all have in common, an opportunity for us to draw nearer to Him. What a beautiful thing.

It doesn't have to just be the death of someone. It can be sending your kids off to college or grieving a closed door. It can also be a workout injury. Man, I can't tell you how close I got to God when I was recovering for a year from that shoulder surgery. There is nothing you can do in that space but surrender. But the beauty is he's right there ready for you.

That's why in Matthew 11:29-30 it says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

The most crucial passage that is helping me in my journey of grief is this. I really like the New Living Translation (NLT) of it. It's 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us un all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with His comfort through Christ."

He is the God of ALL comfort. He comforts us in ALL our troubles, and the coolest part - he uses us as vessels to comfort others just as he comforts us. What an amazing God. So give yourself permission to REST as you grieve, my friend.

______

Tomorrow, I'll be doing a video message on how through the tough times we find our inner strength; the strength that matters the most. Thursday, I'm going to try out another podcast, got a 10 tips for those of you on this journey of grief to find tools in your everyday life for navigating it. So come back!

And here are two great articles that helped me this week. Maybe they will be a resource for you. The first is an article about how we all grieve in different ways, "We All Grieve in Different Ways on Different Days," by Traci Evison.  The second is an article about how we react to the anniversary of a loved ones death, called, "Anniversary Reactions." . I needed it yesterday myself so maybe it will help you!! 

Your Brokenness is Where your Light Can Shine Through

How many of you have kids starting school today? 

And how many of you went on Facebook and tortured yourself a little - criticizing or comparing other moms who posted pics? I know, I get you!

I don't know if you know this, but Facebook has a tendency to do that...which is exactly why I want to speak right into you.

You may feel broken, like you are this imperfect parent (or student) starting this school year - like someone else has it more together and you just don't.

Okay, that's just not true.

You are being hard on yourself and using your Unhealthy Voice as your bat.

Think about your kids. Think about your parents if you are a student. Would they want you to be beating yourself up like that? I bet not.

So - here's the deal. You got an Unhealthy Voice. We have ALL got an Unhealthy Voice.

It's ugly and it completely ATTACKS our brokenness. It takes a stab when we're down. It loves our brokenness, but not in a good way. So we've got to fight it, and the best way we can do that is to get in the Word and give it to God, to see where He is in those broken places. 

The absolute BEST thing you can do for your kids, those that love you, is to not try to stuff down your insecurity or "fix" it alone on the surface trying to keep it all together.

Let God into it with you.

You wouldn't want your kid to face a bully at school. Don't be your own bully. 

Show them how they can depend on God. But do that by depending on God yourself and going deeper in your relationship with Him. Don't tell them. Just walk in it. Get in a small group because you need friends to do life together, not just get a good body together.

Think about your goals are as your kids start this year cause no matter how cute their outfits are, how packed their schedules are, or how good their grades are - their worth rests in none of that. It rests in God. Show them that, especially on the days when it stinks and they get made fun of. They need to know truth.  And we need to know - it's not our job to save them, but to lead them towards the light. So, don't try to save them and don't try to mold them, or make them who you didn't get to be. They are themselves. 

I read in a devotional this morning, "God listens and accepts me as I am. God doesn't give advice. God knows that learning comes only from experience - experience I am not led to until I'm ready." This is true for everyone. We'll learn when we experience. They will learn as they experience school this year. We will learn as we walk with them.

So my question for you - is are you going to try to achieve, "I got it all together"? or are you going to be real.  As you adjust your schedule for this new phase of the journey - consider it. Consider being real cause we are ALL broken. Take the pressure off and let God into your brokenness. And oh - one of the best ways to do that is to look at your workout and your diet. Are you determined to get that all "perfect"? or do you want to see what's there on a deeper level?

Intentional verses for Reflection:

Philippians 4:4-9

Hebrews 4:15-16

Matthew 11:28-30

and

2 Corinthians 4:7-12

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may always be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

 

Campaign 2016: A Quick Post Outside the Beltway Perspective on Last Night's Debate from a Former Campaign Political

Photo Credit: CNN, Getty Images. 

Photo Credit: CNN, Getty Images. 

 

That was one entertaining debate. A lot of sarcasm and hilarity but also some really good points made by the candidates. It had a Hollywood feel maybe brought on by the Trump factor. But I have a feeling that had something to do with the Megyn Kelly factor who was real and direct - a breath of fresh air in the world of politics. I felt like I wanted to have a cup of coffee with her when it was all over. She was definitely a star.

The other star I thought - also a woman, was Carly Fiorina, who wasn't even on the stage for the evening debate. She rocked it in the earlier one and in the Chris Matthews interview. She's  doesn't just have smarts but she's got class and the road cred to prove it. I've seen her speak at another conference, which just happens to be going on this week called Willow Creek Leadership Conference where she shared her heart about the things she's been through in her life and how God's made her stronger for them. She's an inspiration and I'm excited to see where she goes. Don't underestimate her. She's legit.

A sidenote: People want your story. They don't want talk of what you are going to do, or what you did. They want your story. They want your story not just of "how your dad was an immigrant" or that you read the Bible everyday, but what God got you through. I know it's not traditional politics but in a broken world, people want hope beyond what the surface and politics bring.

After seeing some of the "who won and in what order" on people's Facebook pages, I can't say who won. But what I can say is being outside the beltway out in the #flyoverstate of Indiana - is that I have a different perspective, not from who I like but who I'm hearing people out here in the heartland like.

They like Trump. He shoots it straight and isn't interested in rhetoric. I know a lot of friends think he's losing big time, but no matter how crass he is? He's not trying to put on a show. He is, yes - a show himself. But you know he's going to shoot straight. Just don't ignore him as a contender cause out here? He is, and it won't surprise me if his numbers continue to shoot up. People outside Washington don't like people in Washington so even though this guy is from New York and big money - he's outside of it.

As far as the other candidates? No one was really the big stand-out winner, but I'm not as engaged as I used to be. I watched this more to see who could stay in the game and who was acting fake. Everyone had some good points and I'm excited to see what happens next.

One thing I will say, and expand on as the campaign goes - we need to remember one big thing. It's the thing that was discussed briefly by a few of the candidates at the end of the debate. It's the God factor. I was so glad to hear it being discussed by a number of the candidates who seemed to have a firm foundation in their faith. Whatever their faith or their background in it religion, Christianity - whatever, we have to remember one thing - none of them are in charge. God is in charge. Period. End of story. None of these guys are running because they are going to fix everything. They are running because they want a shot at leading the country. If we've got a guy who's got God, we've got a guy who has a good chance of changing the tide. But even then, he won't fix ever broken piece of our nation. So put it into perspective. When you want to criticize a candidate, weigh the emotional power you are giving to them. I watched my Dad for years got intensely fired up (it was his passion so I understand) but getting angry at some of these candidates from the depths of your gut only makes it more stressful. So relax a little when you get to that place and go, "Okay this is just a race."

Speaking of races, it's a long race ahead. If you've run a marathon - think marathon. It's no wonder I ran so many marathons when I worked in politics.

 There are a lot of candidates. I'm not exactly in it with skin or intensely passionate about politics like my Dad was, but I'm definitely interested in writing about this campaign from a perspective of life after presidential politics. I've had some distance from Dad's death and I can watch these debates without wanting to cry. I just know he's got a comfy seat in heaven and is at peace.

So - skin in the game or not - everybody keep your head on straight. God's got this. Remember who's in charge and pray that the right person in the end takes the seat.

Otherwise - pace yourselves. We've got a marathon to go....May the games begin...

 

Healthy Voice on Marriage and Relationships and Why It's Really About Spirituality; First of a Blog Series Dedicated to Millennials

Hi everybody! So I just saw that the last time I posted my blog was June 1st. It has been one busy summer. From running in the Tetons to getting my appendix out, to a blended family vacation and a 2 week trip out East to be with family - can you say whirlwind?!! Life flows. Content flows. But when you are in the middle of it - you gotta stay in the flow and let it hit the page when it's time. I know you are sad you didn't get to see a video of me the Wednesday morning in June I woke up out of appendix surgery...

Mind you, I wanted to write this post Monday and have it for you Tuesday but of course that didn’t quite happen because 2 weeks out East requires a few adjustment days. Not only that, God had me sit down yesterday and work on the first part of the teaching for Healthy Voice. So - it's good to know he's in charge. I always appreciate the reminders or else I'll miss what his plan is next. 

So - The following blog is for anyone but is primarily dedicated to Millennials. With so many kids starting school in a few weeks I want to write a short series on subjects that I hope will speak to you/them, so if you are a young person of the next generation or you love them - please share. They need hope for walking through life on subjects they don't always get to hear real talk about so, consider this the "Series for Millennials" and today I'm starting with the topic of marriage and relationships.

 The bonus for YOU as the reader in all this, is that it’s giving you a double dose in one day of Healthy Voice content cause you are getting this blog followed by a Wednesday video. I mean, it really works out in your favor. Okay, with that, let's get on with it!

***

MAWWIAGE.

Anytime I think of the word marriage, I can hear the guy from The Princess Bride calling it, “Mawwiage.” It’s kinda funny too because I went to church on Sunday and the sermon actually started with a clip from that movie on the topic.

Sidenote:This is not a post all about how to get married. It's for anyone in any kind of relationship or not. I'm not writing this blog to get into the political debate about the state of it. No Thanks. I'm just sharing something I'm learning along the way at a time when marriage has been the theme the last few weeks of my life and a bit in the world (again - not the political part. I don't do politics on here except to cover my prospective leaving it)

 My goal here is to show you why when it's not about that person making you happy but seeking God's love and plan for your life that makes it a beautiful journey.

***

So last weekend I got to my cousin Becky’s wedding outside of Philadelphia. It was a very special wedding because she is very special to me. But it was also special because I could see that they were in it together, for the right reasons. I could see that God was at the center, not because of a building but of a peace in their hearts. That excites me when I see that, because I see the potential for glory God can display in a marriage that starts from the heart. 

A few days earlier I got to have dinner with another cousin Allie, who is getting married next year to a wonderful guy. These two as well, excite me - because I can see in her heart and theirs together that they are approaching it as a spiritual journey with God guiding them. The wedding in the church will be a very special day for them, but what God does in them together as they build a life, is the really cool part.

Another friend - from home, I was talking to on the way out recently started seeing a guy. Marriage is not where they are at but I can tell from talking to her it's the same theme - trusting God to guide them. It's not a self-righteous thing. It's a knowing thing and when you know that God's in charge, you aren't all in for yourself. You are in it because you know God's gonna do something awesome in it by bringing you two together. Is it perfect? No. Do you bring your desires, fears, hopes, dreams, good, bad and ugly? Yes. But above all - you bring you trust in the fact that you aren't in charge. No matter how you feel about each other physically, mentally, emotionally - the spiritual really comes first. It's the foundation. 

These three relationships I brought up happening right now are all three in different phases.  I have no idea how their relationships or in two of the cases marriages will unfold but what I do know is that they are willing to meet at the middle where God is in charge of it all. When I see that, I see good things to come because that’s the glue that keeps my husband and I together. God is first.

 So, if you are reading this and wondering why you haven’t found Mr. or Mrs. Right - look for that. Look for someone who gets beyond their physical needs, or their ideas of you or feelings for you - to their spiritual connection with you cause intelligence is great, physical is great, feelings are great but all of them are incomparable to the great love of Christ in your life. And by the way - you won't get that from them, you get that by building your own relationship with God and then doing it together. But it's not a check list thing. It's a God thing. Just don't expect to go out and say, "I need someone spiritual," cause you will miss out. You've got to find that in yourself first by letting God love you. Be that person who gets closer to God and let God bring them to you.

On another note, can we talk about the Bachelorette that ended this past week? My mother made me watch that wonderfulness of a show with her when I was home last week. This show is the example of what you don’t want to do. It’s brave for these people to go on the show and wonderful that they meet each other but there is no foundation except desire. The place for growth is TV, not the heart. So if that's your dream to find the person on that show? Drop it. In fact, maybe not watch it cause it's just not good for the brain.  

Fast forward to when I got home this past weekend. We went to church on Sunday, and the sermon was on marriage. Pastor Bob talked real life. He talked about being married to his wife (who is awesome) for many years, and how and why God created the man and wife to be different. It was so full of hope. It was also full of understanding in how we aren't supposed to "get" each other but take care of each other. I can't explain it. You've got a watch it to hear how he describes it. It was better than any Mars/Venus talk I've heard. You've also got to watch it just to hear the story about the fighter pilots. The whole service is on there, but you can worship a little and then sit back and relax to watch Dr. Bob Laurent. I dedicate the whole post to the couples I mentioned in this post.  Here’s the sermon: http://subsplash.com/gccwired/v/c004d0a

Lastly, I want to leave you with a verse.

1 John 4: 7-12, 16

Dear friends, let us continues to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love — not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. (vs. 7-12)

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love and all who love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. (vs. 16)

We love because he first loved us. If I can leave any kind of legacy for the next generation - it’s for them to understand that love comes from Him, because when you know love comes from Him? No amount of love - how little or how big - that can be felt, can come even close to the love he has for us. So when we don’t feel loved, lovable, in love, or loved period - we can know, that He loves us. He IS love.

 

Why We are Good Enough for God. We Just Have to Trust Not Fear

A shot of one of the Sleeping Bear Dune Drive Overlooks that Mike and I ran over Easter (very hilly!)

A shot of one of the Sleeping Bear Dune Drive Overlooks that Mike and I ran over Easter (very hilly!)

Yesterday at church, my favorite Pastor preached. Dr. Bob Laurent. We've been in a series about the 10 Commandments and he spoke about "Do Not Steal." What was really cool about it is that he didn't stand up there and preach about following the rules. He preached about how following the rules instead of Christ - makes us fearful of not following them right. That fear makes us do things like steal because we believe that we aren't good enough for God, or we need to have what someone else has to be good enough (ahem - Wednesday video message - good enough). We become performance driven in following the rules instead of driven by His grace and love and we miss the point of why he came. 

He said, "We don't trust God's love so we choose fear. We think we aren't enough..." Wow, ever felt that way before? He got to the root of the issue - fear - and reminded us that God wants us to  TRUST.

He said, "Beloved, he will provide for you. Stay where you are - let him work in you. Your value comes from the death of Jesus Christ - is that enough?" That makes you think, doesn't it!?

So  -I just wanted to share with you what I wrote at the end of the service in reflection on Dr. Bob's words and my sermon notes. Maybe some of this will speak to you...

God I know I've been doubting you with my actions. Like I'm trying to have it arranged all together so I can offer it (me) to you on a silver platter. But you want the platter shattered. You want a shattered platter (of me) with all it's pieces so you can put it (me) back together and made whole. You want me "but God I can do..." and you want my everything. As I write this I'm hearing this verse:

Isaiah 43:19, "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams of wasteland."

So on Friday I had meeting with women who support Healthy Voice. I've come to the end of myself - where I can't do it all myself (which I knew) and I need help. So I reached out to these women who I've spent a lot of one-on-one time with to come together.

So we came together, let the Holy Spirit guide us (because He truly is what Healthy Voice is all about) and He gave us the direction. But before He did, he took a little bit of my weakness and laid it on the table. At one point, my heart began to break for those who are lost - with no direction spiritually, with only their material wealth or future accomplishments to give them peace knowing how much they need a Healthy Voice. I want so desperately for them to have it. But I also want to help pull it out of them. I want to help them see, and really all I can do - is BE.

All I can do is be real and be the voice for Healthy Voice so that HE Can do the work only HE can do, and my friends assured me of that. As my heart broke down with tears of empathy, my friends encouraged me and reminded me that God will do the job of saving the lost through the Holy Spirit. We just have to be real about our lives because he loves us.

They also assured me of this: Philippians 1:6 "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

So being real - my heart breaks for those who are lost, but I know that God will use me to reach them. I don't have to do all the work. I don't have to figure out all the ways to get them. He's going to take care of that. He already has and does. So I'm just going to continue letting my heart break for them, and let Him continue to heal my heart and use it to reach them. 

My heart is all out for Jesus and I'm here to trust Him, to let go of my platter and let Him put it all together.

If there is anything I know about the last two years of growing deeper in my dependence on Him - even in a performance driven society - HE is the one who provide - not me, not my trying, but HE.

All I have to do is trust and know he's not looking for worldly, performance driven Meredith but daughter of the one true King, child of God, servant, warrior and overcomer Meredith.

That's it. That's all. He just wants me.

So here's ME!!

Today...I was in my devotionals and found this from Utmost for His Highest to really complement what I was writing. So maybe it'll give you a little extra oomph. And come back Wednesday for a little video message on "What to do with Not Good Enough" and a bonus at the end of the week about "Running the Race" as I'll be running one in Grand Teton on Friday!!!


Proof that Darkness Cannot Hide the Light: A Weekly Message from our Healthy Voice

As I sat down to write this blog, this song was playing on my computer. Maybe you'll listen to it as you read the rest of this blog. It helped me process as I wrote...

The rush of life can get to us - which is why I've come up North for a few days in solitude and stillness. We all go through seasons of busyness, of darkness - sometimes we don't even notice it - until it's overwhelmed us. In our house, we've had quite a few years - a LOT of loss scattered with joy, laughter, healing - inside and out, and new beginnings. During this time there is ONE that has gotten us through it - and that is God. When someone asks me what I've been doing - I can say this: I've been in the Word letting God direct my paths at a time when it feels like you can't see the forest through the trees. HE is the one who lights the way.

If we focus on him, seek HIM above all us - he'll guide us. 

I can be tempted to focus on Healthy Voice and planning - but planning can only go so far. I have to act on the things he directs me to do.

God's the one who carries it out and I have to be the one to take action forward on the stuff he's put on my heart. HE is my light and guide, but he also doesn't want me to hide my light. That is huge. I have to take the steps no matter how much I fear the light maybe not being there.

Last night I posted this photo below on Instagram - a glimmer of light between dark clouds and rough waters. With it I had this passage: In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9.

About twenty minutes later, the skies started to open up to this picture - the glow started to spread. It's like the light was getting brighter - His presence, his light and the light in me.

Then I went inside to sit down and write this message and the sun started to literally glare in my eyes, as absolutely bright as it could be - right in my face, like it was directed right to me.

And that whole process of the glimmer of gold, followed by the brightness opening up the sky and then the sun glare into my eyes - just reminded me of the process of life, and the seasons we live in life. Sometimes the sky seems dark and we're looking for that little glimmer of light. Then one moment it just gets brighter, and then sometimes God is showing his light so bright that it feels like it's made for us (which it is!)

It's like God is saying, “Look at the light I can bring to you. I love you this big. I bring you this much light and more. I am your light and I shine in the darkness. YOU shine in the darkness my child!" I will remember how bright that light was last night, for a long time...

So I guess what I'm saying here and in my video is "Rest in him. Trust in him. Seek him."

I want Healthy Voice to succeed in reaching people but I've got to let HIS light guide me - not the work itself. Then I've got to take the steps he guides me towards. This week he's had me focus on the spiritual gifts he's given me to encourage through my writing, speaking and teaching. Then I have to let the rest fall into place. 

You know part of me coming up here this week was to visit a very special place to host a retreat. I wanted to do it last year and life didn't let it happen. Spiritual experience retreats are part of this plan for Healthy Voice because just like I got away to connect with God and my Healthy Voice, I want to help others do the same, and coming to places like this - where you and we together can get away from the rush of life - can do just that. So there it is - it's about being accountable, growing up, being responsible for the LIGHT that is un us because darkness cannot hide that light, no matter how grey it gets.

Here are a few of the verses I mentioned in the video:

1) Your word is a lamp unto my feet. Psalm 119:105

2) The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Matthew 4:16

3) You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

4) The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

5) When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12

6) Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of the light.” John 12:35-36

The final Words at the last stroke of paint - REST in me. TRUST in me. Seek Me.

These were the finishing touches on this masterpiece of a sunset God created last night...

And so - I leave you with the glorious display God showed me last night. He was the painter and all I did was watch and run out to it so I could share these pictures with you. It's proof that we are God's masterpiece and he really does have it all worked out for our good - if we just trust him and let HIM lead. Every color, every detail of a split second - he's got planned. We just got to get ourselves out of the way and follow him.

For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 NLT

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Have an awesome Memorial Day, and I can't wait to see what God's got next for your Healthy Voice.

It's Amazing what God CAN Do with Our Brokenness and Why Our Next Generation Deserves a Spiritual Solution

I got this at a Women's Retreat a few weeks back. Thank you Angela Bryant for leading us!

I got this at a Women's Retreat a few weeks back. Thank you Angela Bryant for leading us!

7 years.

I was seven years old when my parents got divorced. I was 31 when I began these last 7 years of life in recovery.

I got to choose. Either I was going to keep walking as the victim on the inside of the loss I'd had as a child - escaping with my drugs of choice - food, alcohol, overexercise - or I was going to find the courage to change. In one instant I got to choose to be victory or defeat. In one moment, I heard God's voice calling me to a new life and I chose to believe. I may have been a victim as a child to a change I couldn't control. But as a grown woman, I could take control of my own life and choices. I could stop reacting by running away (literally and figuratively).

 I could stop the cycle and get the help.

I'm glad today - BEYOND glad, I got the help.

I am a victor in Christ. I'm an overcomer. Where I am weak, HE is strong. Where WE are weak and can't find our way - HE can be the light...

***

My heart aches for those who are broken on the inside - especially those of our next generation who are deep in the trenches of peer and life pressure with access to substances at every corner. I'm glad to take this opportunity to mark Mental Health Awareness month to share my testimony of getting help and to point out the importance of THEIR mental health. They are our future.

No matter how much we may have materially or resourcefully, or how much our parents love us - we can still hurt at the depths of our soul. There are a lot of kids out there, and grown adults who still struggle with past trauma, with feelings of brokenness, low self-esteem, insecurity and fear that occurred from things like divorce, loss, toxic homes and more. Without another way the quick-fix escape from reality becomes alcohol, drugs, food, cutting, and the like, but they don't HAVE to go there. And if they GO there, they don't have to stay there. They have a choice. But it's up to those of us who've walked through the pain to share the hope.

I am blessed to have found a spiritual program at the young age of 31. It is the program that pulled me out of my spiritual emptiness. It's the program that pulled me out of my destructive thinking, behaviors, and broken heart. It's the program that showed me the way to WALK this life, instead of escape from it. Most importantly -  it is the program of 12 step that opened the door for a new relationship with God that I never knew was possible. It's the program that gave me the space for self-seeking so that God could remove the hurt and the pain in my heart to bring peace.  

I truly believe the solution to all the struggles our next generation face in unhealthy behaviors could be solved by a spiritual solution. Not everyone belongs in a 12-step program, but everyone - especially every child deserves a spiritual solution. I know you and I can be part of that solution. 

 

The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of man; it searches out his inmost being.
— Proverbs 20:27

Another thing the program and my relationship with God did was bring me to the Word of God which brings LIFE. Today I find abundance in it and I just wanted to share one of the stories that was brought to me today as I looked up the significance of the number 7 in the Bible and found one of my favorites. I hope it speaks to you....

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”

“How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”

He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.
— Matthew 15:29-39, NIV

This story is proof that he heals the BROKEN hearted (like you and me). Not only that - he wants to take care of us. He wants to provide for us. Here are the Disciples going, "We've only got 7 loaves," and he's saying, "That's okay," and just does what only he can do with the little they had. The story is proof, that he can do MUCH with the little we might have. Maybe it's a mustard seed of faith. Maybe it's something in us that we know we can't do enough with - but we TRUST that HE can do, because with 7 loaves he can feed 4000.

***

A little Musical Inspiration

There are two songs that speak to me right now in this stage of my sobriety. I hope you'll watch the videos below and they will speak to you.

The first one is called "Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)", by Hillsong and it is one of those whose lyrics often play in my mind:

"All these pieces broken and scattered in mercy gathered mended and whole. Empty-handed but not forsaken. I've been set free. I've been set free. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now I see. Oh I can see you now. I can see the love in your eyes. Laying yourself down. Raising up the broken to life....So take this heart Lord, I'll be your vessel - the world to see - your life in me."

It reminds me of the verse that has been speaking so profoundly to me in Romans 12:1-2. "Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, please and perfect will."

The second, "Through All of It" by Colton Dixon - I heard last night on the way to a meeting and the words were just so profound. Most poignant were these, "I have won and I have lost. I got it right sometimes, but sometimes I did not. Life's been a journey. I've seen joy. I've seen regret. Oh and YOU have been my God through all of it."

The last one came on while I was writing and it sums it all up and it's called "Thank you Jesus" by Hillsong. "You've given me life. You've opened my eyes. I love you Lord. I love you Lord. You've entered my heart. You've set me apart. I love you Lord. I love you Lord."

Thank you Jesus.

 

And this is one final shot I had to share to mark the day. This is a picture of from my high school graduation at Gwynedd Mercy Academy in Gwynedd Valley, PA. It is one of my favorites because it's a shot of my two favorite angels always with me on my shoulder - Dad to the right of me, Grandma Cass to the left of me (who was sober when she died). I know they can't read this but today I'm especially grateful for the walks they walked and the doors they opened to my recovery. Forever grateful. Forever changed.

And this is one final shot I had to share to mark the day. This is a picture of from my high school graduation at Gwynedd Mercy Academy in Gwynedd Valley, PA. It is one of my favorites because it's a shot of my two favorite angels always with me on my shoulder - Dad to the right of me, Grandma Cass to the left of me (who was sober when she died). I know they can't read this but today I'm especially grateful for the walks they walked and the doors they opened to my recovery. Forever grateful. Forever changed.