Finding Freedom

Where are you?

Who told you that?

What are you seeking?

Why are you afraid?

How much MORE?

The first time God asked these questions was in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had just been deceived by the serpent, and had eaten the fruit. Before then, they were both naked and were not ashamed (Genesis 3:5). Living FREE in who God created them to be. With eyes completely focused on their father. But then they ate the fruit ...

 and the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.  Then [they] heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from [Him] among the trees of the garden.

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” 

He said, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid.” 

God said, “Who told you you were naked?

One moment - SECURE in their identity. Eyes focused on their creator. Living out their purpose in the freedom they had been given.

The next moment - Their identity compromised, eyes focused inward, ashamed of their 'nakedness' that had become a part of them.

And so began the fight to recover our freedom.

What a love story.

I spent much of my late teens and early twenties desperately trying to discover my identityI loved Jesus, but I was more consumed with trying to fit in and look the part rather than seeing His outstretched hand calling me to just sit and be washed in His love and truth. I made it more complicated than it needed to be. I gave Him pieces of my heart but clung desperately to other areas of it - for what? For fear that I would lose control? For fear that I would be left with nothing? If I'm being 100% honest, I held on because I didn't fully trust Him...yet.

I was so good at getting in the way of my own advancement. My insecurities and fears kept me from living fully in who God created me to be. I allowed the world to define me and slap labels on me that didn't belong -- but I accepted them as part of myself and became hidden under the weight of trying to keep up appearances. Without fully realizing it, I let the enemy’s lies cycle on repeat in my mind -- accusing me of being less than, not worth it, unimportant, easily forgotten.

If the criteria for being one of His chosen was 'have it all together at all times' I would be a lost cause. I am so thankful for grace. For His patience with me as I've slooooowly discovered Whose I am and stepped into FULL freedom. It's taken me a good 30 years to finally rest securely in my identity. To stop searching and looking for acceptance from outside sources, to release EVERY. SINGLE. THREAD. of my heart to the Creator of all things.

                          So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)

Freedom

I didn't fully understand FREEDOM until just recently. Sure, I understood the concept. I claimed it and lived in it, but only in pieces. We sing about it in church and know we have been freed from the curse of sin and death (Rom 8:2) but FULL FREEDOM?! THAT is a game changer.

FULL FREEDOM means -- Confidence in your identity in Christ. It means loving FULLY the woman God created you to be (yes, every part of that woman). It means being so sure of Whose you are and who you are that comparison, judgement, insecurity, inferiority -- anything that would cause you to see another woman as a threat rather than a blessing loses its grip on you. It means not caring anymore what other people think, not being weighed down by the fear of being rejected by people, because you're so completely set on the heart of the Father. Full freedom means letting go completely of old mindsets and patterns of thought. It means releasing the limitations you've placed over yourself, letting go of needing to be in control, and stepping into the sweet purposes God has prepared you for. When you've experienced this freedom in FULL, you know it.

'What are you seeking?'

'Why are you afraid?'

I was only ever seeking more. More of Jesus, even though I was clinging to pieces of my heart I didn't want to surrender. I wanted freedom. I needed freedom. Still, parts of me were afraid to fully step into the abyss and free fall until He caught me, because I didn't fully trust Him yet. But I kept asking for MORE.

'How much More?'

MORE

how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!(Matt 7:11)

Because everyone who keeps asking will receive, and the person who keeps searching will find, and the person who keeps knocking will have the door opened.(Matt 7:8)

My journey towards freedom has come in small increments. He walked me through an eating disorder, saved me from myself and gave me freedom from it. He challenged the lies I had accepted as my truth, lies like 'I have no voice, I am insignificant, I am unlovable’, and replaced them with His words of affirmation. Even after ALL that, though I didn't realize it at the time, I was still living prisoner in other areas

Often, the path to claiming our freedom doesn't look the way we had anticipated. I would have been totally ok if my freedom had gone like this:

Me: Jesus. My mindset sucks. I'm so homesick for You. I'm tired of caring what people think, of feeling like I'm not good enough. I'm tired of being a prisoner to insecurity and comparison.

Jesus: waves His hands in the air *Freedom Granted

That's not exactly how things happened.

I remember specifically praying for freedom in a particular area where my health was involved. My dad called and told me he had been praying for me, and really felt like God was saying I needed to stop running. I was an AVID runner. Like...6 days a week, at LEAST 5 km a day. I didn't just run because I loved it, I ran because I was afraid of what would happen if I stopped. I heard what my dad said, but I shrugged it off. I distinctly remember thinking 'if God is actually speaking and telling me to stop running, He'll tell me Himself'.

Here ‘s the thing, there will ALWAYS be room for pruning, for refining. When He answers our prayers, often it’s in a way we weren't expecting. When we don’t keep our hearts teachable and trainable we risk stifling our growth by rejecting the life raft He sends for us. But the truth is, God loves us too much to leave us the way we are. So when we say "no thank you" to His answer, if it's something that is for our benefit, you better believe He will get our attention to prune that thing out one way or another.

A week after talking to my dad, I tripped on my own feet and broke my arm.

I couldn't run for six months.

By no means am I saying ‘God broke my arm’ but just as he allowed a large fish to swallow Jonah to get his attention, I know he allowed my feet to get caught up in my laces to get my attention. It's hilarious to look back at my hard headedness now, but that moment started the catapult of transformation and surrender of all the little pieces I was holding to so tightly.

And so He asks,

Where are you? Who told you that?  -- as if the God of the universe doesn't know where we are. But in His gentle love, He pursues us and lets us choose whether we answer Him or not. He gives us grace to share where our hearts are. He whispers,“Where is your heart, beloved?”And when we answer, with what we have allowed to steal our focus, what we have allowed to become apart of our identity, He swoops in gently and asks -- who told you that?

The reality is, if He didn't speak it over us, if it can't be lined up with His word, it has no place taking residence in our hearts and minds. This challenges me to live a life unhindered by cover-ups. To live in the fullness of the life we've been gifted with. To throw off the criticisms and opinions of others and keep my eyes FOCUSED on my truth. To keep my heart tender and renewed in His promises.

When you know Whose you are, when your identity is fully rooted in truth, when you experience the freedom that comes when you can finally LOVE yourself FULLY in all your perfectly imperfect ways -- look out world. A woman who is steadfast in her identity and confident in her Christ-given ability is a woman who changes atmospheres. Let’s choose to be those women who are so confident in His love for us and our own beauty that comparison and judgement are foreign concepts to us. Let’s choose to be those women that can embrace another woman's calling and influence without questioning our own.

You are on purpose.

Created for a purpose.

Planted where you are to fulfill that purpose.

You are not an accident, an afterthought, or an 'extra'

Your turn:

Where are you?

Who told you that?

What are you seeking?

Why are you afraid?

How much MORE?

My word will not return to me void [useless, without producing any effect] it will accomplish that which I please and purpose. It will prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

You will go out with joy and be led forth [by God himself and his word] with peace. (Isaiah 55:12)

 

Sisterhood Soul Roots

She stopped me suddenly and clenched my sweaty hands in her strong ones. I’ve come to appreciate the clasp of aged hands; they mean wisdom is being lavished.

Her crystal eyes penetrated with concern. She said, “You are going to burn yourself out if you don’t slow down. I know how it is—you are new and you want to prove you can do it all. Don’t do it! I’ve been there, I’ve experienced it and I don’t want it to happen to you…”

The day before, I sent a quick text asking a friend for help setting up a party. She graciously and wisely said no, and gave a suggestion for another avenue I could take. She knows the voice of Jesus and her highest aim is to walk in obedience to Him. She listens and moves in rhythms of grace and believes Jesus when He says:

“Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – MSG

She lives a grace dance with her soul roots stretched in grace ground.

Too often, I have kept moving because I thought I needed to … but I am learning that my utmost need is to be found at the feet of Jesus. Bowed low in surrender, listening, clearing clutter to get close to His heart.

Later that same day, a coffee shop table held cups of conversation –my friend Genny oozed new passion for wholeness and health. Her eyes dazzled as she explained surprises Jesus keeps leaving on her path, like a little girl on a treasure hunt, she described finding shimmering gifts and the joy of abiding.

Prayer before saying “yes”.
Knowing the wise “no”.
Risk-taking boldness.
Accessing The Holy Spirit for strength.

I want to know when to say no.
I want hands hard at work in response to God’s leading and timing.
There is rest here.
There is space to move and breathe and be sustained by Father God.

On October 29th, Sisterhoodyxe presents Restore My Soul, an event where God’s rest and His commission to care can beat together. After all, the world is transformed one heart at a time.

You are invited to participate as we expand, with many hands, the Kingdom of God in our city. Come with expectancy and tampons. (Yes, you read that correctly!) In fact, bring any of the following: tampons, pads, bars of soap, deodorant, small hand sanitizer, package of plain underwear, make-up remover wipes or a $5 Tim Horton’s or McDonalds card. Before the event, we will prepare individual, woman-to-woman, packages for girls in need in our community. These will be distributed through EGADZ Youth Center as a tangible expression of God’s love.

So come, those who are thirsty, and settle your soul roots in grounded grace and let love grow.

Get Your Hopes Up

Get Your Hopes Up

I've been listening to this song called "Get Your Hopes" up, for the past few weeks. I really like it, it's positive and up beat. I want to believe the things that it declares, but I will admit that there is a part of me that always says in the back of my mind, "Being hopeful is good, but I have to be realistic. The chances of ... happening are really unlikely."