Art, Beauty, Emotions, Human Emotions, Self Image, Writing

When Life Gives You Lemons, EAT THEM!They are good for your immune system

Lately I’ve really been into Colbie Caillat! Well, actually, just the song Bubbly… It’s just so girly.  That sort of squirrely-girly, happy-sappy feely song with a subtle taboo undercurrent of what the song is really about. A woman’s orgasm. It’s amazing! And it resonates. I don’t care.  We are all here because someone orgasmed.

Orgasms are important.  Hey.  Derek told me that one way to protect yourself from the Coronavirus is stress relief.  He’s such a thoughtful lover.  We were healing each other earlier when he said that.  Happily married.  Happily healthy.  We like each other.  I don’t feel bad about admitting it.  Marital sex is too taboo or slandered as nonexistent, which has created an onslaught of negative, unhealthy, dysfunctional ideas about what marriage looks like as the years go on.  Longevity is beautiful.  Fine wine, people.  Fine wine.  This whole post is a beautiful exposure of false generalizations about marriage, parenthood, seasons of waiting, staying home and life simplified.  Boredom and apathy don’t stand a chance here.

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My husband and I were Juno MacGuff and Paulie Bleeker from the movie Juno for Halloween this year.  Every year we do a couple’s coordinating theme.  It’s just playfully bonding and even sexy.  I won’t pretend like we do it for the kids.  We do it for us.  In 2018, I was Janet Snakehole, a very rich widow with a terrible secret, and Derek was Burt Macklin, FBI, from Parks and Rec.

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Another thing I do is keep notes on my phone of cute-dumb things my husband says so I can look at them later.  After a few of our biggest fights, my husband got out our wedding video and had us sit and watch it together.  Yeah.  He is it.

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I can write this confidently and unapologetically for several reasons.  One, I’m very willing to be responsible for my internal stuff, but I am not responsible for everyone else’s.  I can write from a place of vulnerable purity and fully be okay that my intent may be so completely misunderstood.  I have nothing to prove.  I’m honest and trusting.  I trust people.  I know there are hungry, teachable people who are open to feel the presence behind my confessions.  I try to be a safe place.  Whenever people are in my presence, I would much rather they feel at ease to be real over being correct.  I’m all for keeping things real.  Tell me what’s really going on inside.

There’s s a trickiness with allowing people to be human but not cheerleading their dysfunctional behavior.  I’m walking that out with Holy Spirit.  I really love how even though we are spirits, we still have all the permission to be human.  I love being a human and feeling like I can connect with other humans.  I love savoring and celebrating the weird “isms” of being a human.  The only thing that keeps my heart in check when I share things or agree with things is the conviction that: far be it from me to misrepresent hope in order to relate to people.  That’s hard.  Especially when there’s a fear of what other people think.  Will they suspect that I think I’m better than them if I can’t pretend like I’m as miserable as they are, when actually, I’m super jazzed about my life lately?  Dear people, being authentic sometimes, most of the time, is not relatable to the environmental determinism around you.  I’ve heard it said that there are two kinds of people, thermometers and thermostats.  Most people feel pressured to match the climate of the culture around them.  Even if that means misery.  They will start reciprocating the same negativity vibes so they can relate.  Have you noticed that in yourself?  When have you actually felt that pressure to stoop to a neutralizing place, but instead stopped to check in with your own heart and found the energy to actually be resilient and hopeful in light of a hard situation?  Did you heed it and dare to be countercultural?

Friend, true authenticity is showing up with all of you and punching fear in the face!  For me, my most authentic self is manifested whenever I untangle from anxiety and find my hope!  I like what that looks like on me.  That girl is awesome!  And I want to be her more often.  There’s a confidence and miracle-working power on my life when my soul finds that clarity.  Clarity always shows up when you rise above discouragement.  I would much rather be hopeful than relatable.  Even if it’s offensive.  Even if it makes people feel uncomfortable.

With that being said… Memes:

So I’m cool with memes.  However, when I see our generation settling into a very pathetic, self-absorbed, miserable mindset and subtly admit it through melodramatized memes, I can’t partake.  It’s just a crippling spirit to own.  I can’t condone that for myself.  It truly just grieves me seeing young people act so old… Truly.  I’ve had enough therapy done to know and recognize unhealthy bugs when I see them. (“bugs” is a term my best friend and I coined for the strongholds, surviving mechanisms, demons, perversions, iches, split-personalities, coping mechanisms or things like such that hang on people’s unhealed trauma.)  And I’ve definitely had to squash that bug in myself.  That: I-don’t-expect-you-to-take-me-seriously-as-an-adult-unless-if-I-hint-about-how-much-I-am-suffering-to-do-all-the-right-things-and-project-onto-you-how-oppressive-it-is bug.

It’s so gross.  I don’t even think we realize we are doing it.  But it looks like this:  Someone will say something like, “I’m just tired; I didn’t get to sleep until midnight last night.”  And in this triggered urgency, I might respond something like, “Hmm. Yeah, I only got 2 hours of sleep last night.”  Just, WHY?! Uhg.  It’s gross. Why do we do that?  People try to make their misery into a generalized joke to relate with other people’s misery, but there’s also this underlying hint of morbid competition to see who is most miserable because that somehow makes you more deserving of pity… Which is a very perverted, passive-aggressive way to seek attention… Y’all know what I’m talking about.

Now I can easily recognize when someone is using this method of projecting their self-pity, trying to convince me that he/she is important.  Which in my spirit, I confess to God, “God I already know this person is important.  Self-pity only convinces me that they don’t believe they are important. I can’t empower that lie.  Help me set a boundary so I don’t violate the design of who they are to You.  Give me graceful words to speak the truth that imparts life and ambushes them in love.”  God believes in us way too much to stoop to our self-pity.  He cannot condone something that violates the way He designed us.   Hear me, friend.  He is a comforter and is near to the broken-hearted.  We will experience trials and heartache in this life, but there is grace specially assigned to those seasons.  I’m talking about miserable attitudes and victim mindsets.  Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional.  Some people opt out of doing the right thing, which is almost always the hard thing, because somewhere along the way they bought the lie that they “can’t.”  We truly are resilient at our core.  We are creatures of hopeful expectancy.  We shoot out of the hole that way; fear is what slowly steals that beautiful childlike faith.

Wow.  Who am I?  Orgasms.  Memes.  Then boom!  Philosophical atom bomb.  Please don’t take me as one who spiritually bypasses real life crap that hurts.  It hurts.  And I’ll cry about it.  I’ll whine and complain about it.  I’m a type 4 on the enneagram, I am stimulated by the romantic melancholy and am extra willing to feel all that there is to feel from it.  Hold my clothes! I’m gonna strip down naked and dive deep down into the sadness and fully permit Holy Ghost to comfort me in the painful confusion.  I’ve learned to actually grieve without losing hope.  It’s a thing.  There’s a paradigm for it.  The Blood of Jesus.  Even Jesus let Himself feel all the agony of bearing the full weight of sin.  So much that He sweat blood.  But He could do that because of the joy set before Him.  Love is SO much stronger than fear.  The resilient hope of joy coming to say “Good morning” is always on the other side of darkness.  Always.

Beloved, when you let yourself feel all of it.  Like, plunge deep.  Letting yourself feel sadness but refusing to despair, that sort of self-trust and hopeful surrender actually carves out a well inside of us to feel joy in all its fullness.  It takes my suffering and makes me tender and compassionate.  However, when you suffer without hope, it just makes you irritable and resentful.  Seriously, what an amazing life!  I can’t believe how much God trusts that we really are capable of true authenticity.  So much that He keeps allowing life to unfold so we are presented with moments that expose our junk.  Then He is there, in midst of all our mess, with grace and an invitation to be vulnerable and honest about it.  Just waiting for us to invite Him into our mess.

Phew. With all that being said, I can chuckle at a good meme that strikes so true.  I can even laugh uproariously at some that are eerie accurate.  Let’s talk about this one in light of my opening paragraph!

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…………….. Okay let’s not talk about it.  Let’s just look at it. LOL.

But even still, I have to check back in with my conviction to represent hope more than be able to relate.  Hope is sometimes irritating like that, especially to self-pity.  I love living in this paradigm.  It is the best antidote to cure anxiety.  Anxiety is the demon that tries to make your soul forget that it’s a soul.  And you know I’m not about to lose my soul.  I can’t afford to miss my love-notes from the universe.   I am wide-eyed and awake for appreciating the fine details.  The unspoken.  The micro.  The embarrassing.  The bypassed.

Serendipity is such sneaky friend of mine.  She’ll surprise me in some really weird moments.  I think she does that for all of us, but we don’t really acknowledge it.  Like when you go pee and all of a sudden, it’s one of those good pees that makes your spine tingle a little bit.  Yeah?  You know.

I personally love being aware of my body.  I like being aware of myself in all the oddities that occur.  There’s an enjoyment of being perplexed by some of the freaky little things about our body.  I think the human body is amazing.  It feels so much.  It processes so much.  The ecosystem of carbon, spirit and soul— a micro universe within the macro universe.  A world within a world.  So much is constantly happening, we just miss it because of shame or anxiety.  Man, anxiety is really such a punk.  Shame and self-loathing.  When people disassociate from their own bodies, they can hardly connect with the life happening around them.  I have fought hard to untangle from that ugly spirit.  Apathy, anxiety, boredom, shame.  In all honesty, I am grateful for this result of the COVID19 forcing people into self-imposed quarantine: it’s requiring people to be still.  Being still and slacken in their anxiety.  You have to.  If you don’t want to lose your mind; you must make it your responsibility to stay inspired.

I have always had a sense of responsibility to creatively look for hope and inspiration.  It’s hard.  Especially when you have this big “bug” of apathy and discouragement sitting on you.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked around my house, beating my chest as a prophetic act, yelling out declarations, “I AM STRONG AND FULL OF LIFE! I AM STEADFAST! NO COMPROMISE! I’M GONNA CATCH THE WIND!” So thankful for Melissa Helser for teaching me that.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this, so I didn’t lose my heart to apathy.  God always meets me in that.  It may take a while, but once I shake anxiety and apathy off my soul, it’s like this weight literally falls off my body.  And I begin to weep when Holy Spirit rushes in and pulls the plug.  Feeling floods in again.  My heart physically feels like it’s being defibrillated back to life.  The electric warmth of God’s love suddenly saturates my soul with fresh blood.  I will turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.  And suddenly, everything that was dull is suddenly animated and stimulating.  Suddenly, everything is inspiring.  Everything is full of color and speaking.

With all that in mind, in the midst of this time where everyone is camped out in their homes, boredom and apathy are bugs looking to settle on hearts.  I feel it.  I sense it.  Personally, I was wrestling with it this morning.  I finally came to my senses enough to ask, “God, I’m bored; what are You doing?”  And immediately I thought of the verse in the Bible where it says that in Heaven, the Living Creatures are constantly falling down all over themselves in worship before the Throne of God.  They look upon the face of the same Man, over and over and over again, forever!  And not only do they not grow tired of it, but it literally takes their breath away every-single-time.  The beauty of God is so much that they can’t even look at it for too long.  They have to look away.  Wow.  And it pierced me.  God is far from boring.  There are so many sides of His face.  He is constantly creating.  New life is continually flowing out of Him.  He takes beauty so seriously.  It’s all around, we just fall asleep.

So, I looked out my window and a sense of wonder came over me.  There was life happening.  Not anything obnoxious or demanding my attention.  (Our neighborhood has a big Forth of July Parade every year where hundreds and hundreds of people come to watch.)  Nothing like that.  It’s a rainy day.  Gray.  Ominous.  Cold.  Wet.  But my spirit was wide awake to the subtle details that were romantically lulling my senses to savor and consider.  I have a shrub outside my living room window that is covered in orange berries.  Cardinals, finches and robins congregating inside of it, picking at the berries.  The dead leaves (that my husband has been meaning to rake) all bunched up around the base of the bush, they started prophesying to me: Don’t you love how the dead things yield their life in such a humble, obscure way?  How they just let go, full of ease, to become fertilizer for the new life in the next season?  Holy…. Spirit… Folks! I CAN’T EVEN!  Holy Ghost can be the telescope into the macro things of Heaven and deep spiritual realities, but I especially love how He is the magnifying glass for the micro things!  I love how I get to snuggle up with my (almost seven month old) son and marvel at his body’s natural, yet miraculous, process of accelerated shaping and growing.  I love experiencing his heart and the purity of his affections.  How I can stick my face a few inches away from his face, with my mouth gaping open, full of chewed up Pad Thai, make a stupid-silly face, and he stares at me like I’m a beautiful sea nymph rising from turquoise ocean foam.  I love that he can fart, and it sounds like a grown man ripping one, and not think a thing about it.  Just tooting and playing and giggling through life.

What’s amazing is being aware of myself in the eyes of God the way I’m lovingly aware of my own child.  I’m wrecked and ruined realizing how I’m that adorable to God.  Friend, you are that intoxicating newborn baby smell to Jesus.  Being aware of His gaze seriously changes everything.  Boredom doesn’t exist.  Loneliness is swallowed up forever.  It just opens you up to see and feel seen.  Like I’ve said, serendipity is just love-notes in the universe from God.  And serendipity begins to capture you more often in this place.

Around the time I gave birth to my son, little playful things happened that allowed me to feel lighthearted and navigate my labor with a cheerful confidence.  I literally smiled and glowed with so much trust during that time.  God’s smile was warm and pressing on all the moments.  A few weeks before I had Bowie, my husband and I were walking out of the OBGYN,  just learning that I was already dilated to a 2, and I look down in the rock bed and there’s this freaky-looking rock that looks a lot like a dilated vagina.  Just.  It mattered.  God’s fun.  He made a woman’s body and when you can trust that He knows it, it brings about a confidence that you can trust your body.

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I don’t really plan on going into my birth story today, let’s save that for another time…. But it was beautiful and full of peace.  My husband and best friend were the only ones in the delivery room besides the doctor, nurses and angels.  My best friend is in nursing school, and she also shares an affinity for gross humany-human “isms” like I do.  She got some good pictures of my placenta.  It was really pretty.  My body made it!  Later on in the day while at the hospital, I was looking at the picture of my placenta and began to notice it was in stark resemblance to my heart tattoo on my arm.  Pictures are worth all the words so here you go!

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God is fun.  God is weird.  God knows me.

Celebrating the things that are going right.  Being beautiful and not apologizing for it.  Having a sense of responsibility to stay inspired.  These things are healing in nature.  I’ve given some very raw, real, gallantly gross examples.  In light of the times, I feel like this is an imperative practice.  It’s even a calling.  Look at yourself.  See yourself.  God is in it.  God is in the details.  They matter.  In the limited space, there are subtle mysteries that are just waiting to be discovered.  Wonder is such a key attribute.  Childlikeness.  Tiny ecosystems in your backyard.  Fresh, flavorful meals await in the hordes of ingredients sitting in your kitchen pantry.  An unspoken poem that’s been cultivated in the life you’ve lived but haven’t had the time to unpack what it taught you.  Consider what’s at hand instead of growing discouraged with the events you were looking forward to but got canceled.  There’s a lot of “woe is me” dialogue and morbid memes to “like” and relate to… Don’t.  Just don’t.  This may sound however.  But resist that pressure to let misery be a common denominator.  Misery really does like its company.  Connect with the hope-filled ones.  The joy chasers.  The ones who make staying inspired their own responsibility.  Find your tribe.  Be creative, make a meal, write a short story, start a livestream, connect and attract what’s healthy.  I salute you humans.  You’re all so amazing.  Wash your hands.

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JRH

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Sweet nothings and Serendipity – Life lately

I want to share some fortuitous things about my life lately that have captured my heart and hugged it with the spirit of feeling seen.  Random, just-because-kisses from the universe that ooze with the playfulness of God.  I smile and heal subtly unto myself in these moments because I can feel His intrusive smile in the mood of the moment.  My heart does that silent nod towards His nearness, knowing that He knows I fully appreciate these very curious, whimsical & mundane moments in humanity.  I’m thankful that I just “happen” upon them.  Serendipity, to me, is just love-notes in the universe from God.  My life is rigged with them.  Even the semi-inappropriate, intrusive, ill-timed timed ones.  I treasure them. Like the secret, behind-the-scenes comedy of aging in womanhood. The old gal I saw at Walmart the other day, taking up the whole aisle as she hunched over her cart, appearing to be engrossed in her phone.  Lady, bless your heart, please move over if you are going to read your grocery list or research on your phone.  But as I passed, my breath was taken away.  With her magnifying glass shamelessly hovering over a gigantic package of Maxi-Pads for her poor, ancient eyes to read all the undignifying words of caution and care for your most intense vaginal mishaps.  My heart leapt.  Swollen with love and tinged with tender humor.  I thanked God, This was just for me!  Someone’s precious mother, standing here, somewhere else in the diligent thoughts of her raw, real self-care.  I love humans.  I love women especially.  We’re great.  We have to make it a joke in order to indulge our need to relate and heal from insecurity.  Not for the sake of being obnoxious, but for the sake of authenticity.  The bravery of refusing to give shame a place.  Some woman might disagree, and that’s okay.

 

One other moment where I was a third party participant:

Just this Monday, sitting in my living room, watching 101 Dalmatians with my 6 month old son and 3½ year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and suddenly, it happened.  Out of the right-hand corner of the almost 100 year old window, framing the almost 100 year old neighborhood park in front of our almost 100 year old home, emerges a gangly person(male or female, I could not tell, this person had a helmet on) zooming through on a mini dirt bike with a derpy Husky pulling at the end of a leash.  My mouth hung open in a gaping smile too juvenile-looking for my age (Psssh. Who am I kidding.)  This… Clodhopper… This is just for ME!!! I gloated to myself under the smile of God that tinged with the unspoken “SURPRISE” one might unknowingly walk into at their surprise birthday party.  Thank you God for making people strange.  Truly, I’m so glad He did.  I am vigilant for the moments where I’m just a bystander.  Where I can simply savor and indulge my twisty adoration for humanity.  Literally, I purposely shun anxiety and dread just for the practice of this sort of frivolity.  It’s healthy.  When you are so absorbed in your own stuff, you miss it.  I don’t want to miss it.

It’s a weird sort of discipline, refusing to worry for the sake of enjoying the present.  It’s God’s way.  He’s fun and sneaky.  He is confident in how He made us, and He trusts us in the most ridiculous manner.  It doesn’t make sense, moving in the rhythms of grace and telling fear to shut the eff up!  A friend of mine told me recently, “Some people see fear as being responsible.”  And that’s just not the sort of responsibility God has put on us.  God has not given us a spirit of fear… We take on a false sense of responsibility to dread about life when we have trauma that isn’t healed.  (I didn’t plan on putting in this theological nugget, but it’s an added bonus, so you’re welcome.)  I have discovered that dread is just traumatized care.  Obviously, we are meant to care.  We were created to care, but it can get perverted based on how we respond to trauma.  Unhealed trauma victims can go one of two ways: they become anxious control freaks, or they become indifferent, “cold-hearted” narcissists.  Different people survive differently.  We all have crazy complex coping mechanisms.  Despite how that manifests in people, my deepest conviction and greatest revelation is that no one, not one human, was ever created without feeling or with a lack of care.  Our original design of self is the most enthusiastic, gushy Care-Bear-Super-Soul; we just get subjected to life’s crap right out of the hole.  Floundering in the orphaned-freewill aftermath of humanity’s foolish choices.

I could keep going, but ought not.  Anyway, in spite of all that, I have taken the initiative to embrace healing from all the shrapnel and second-hand, soul-sick sulfur that I was born into.  Thankful for being born again and the humble process of allowing the Blood of Jesus to heal me in the life-journey of becoming meek.  Can I just say that Jesus, the image of the Lamb, is the most distilled quality of meekness.  He is meekness incarnate.  And that’s my standard.  And that’s why I am willing to surrender to this process and the practice of refusing to worry, refusing to be anxious, refusing to freak out and refusing to be suspicious.  Hence why all the other details of life are magnified so vibrantly in my spectrum.  I want to enjoy people.  I’m allowed to.  My healing is releasing me to.

So, if I’m released to enthusiastically enjoy the crap out complete strangers, what level does that momentum release me into with enthusiastically enjoying my dearest people?  My family and friends?  I call it wearing love-goggles (like beer goggles, but it’s spiritual intoxication and not substance abuse.)  I don’t want to ever take them off.  Unhealed people often call themselves “being smart” or “gifted in discernment” when they are guarded and suspicious.  Suspicion is just discernment anointed in fear.  Hard-hearted is just a heart’s guardian that is demonized.  Guarding our heart means healthy boundaries and confident communication.  It’s the ability to disagree but still reach for connection.  This is such a beautiful, powerful key to cultivate the richest, deepest, most fulfilling relationships.  When you live in the light, refusing to hide your stuff, it’s effortless to feel God’s love in a tangible way.  His love never goes away, but it’s when we feel ashamed that we go hide and are not able to feel it.  Shame is also the root issue of being emotionally disconnected from people.  It’s so wild how so many people emotionally disconnect from the people they love the most, out of fear of rejection or loss.  I have done some hard work to crawl out of a numb, disconnected place.  I cannot afford to go live my life emotionally unavailable or indifferent towards the people I most care about.  And lately, I’ve been feeling it: the enjoyment of my people.  Wholehearted and tender.  Honestly, bliss.  With the spirit of revelation, I’ve defined bliss as the heart’s ability to gush all it wants to without the fear of knowing lack.  Gushing.  Treasuring.  Indulging my heart’s most tender affections.

Recent moments:

Last night my family and I were sitting around the dinner table eating.  Derek and I are slowly introducing solids to Bowie.  And by introducing I mean: we lay it on his high chair tray and let him play with it.  So yeah.  You can imagine.  We gave him mashed avocado.  It was so smashed and smeared so mercilessly by our 6 and a half month old that it resembled something pretty ungodly.  And it was everywhere.  But as doe-eyed, lovesick parents, we gloated and stared at our brilliantly disgusting offspring as we crunched on our homemade bread and vegan chili.  “Yeah.  I probably should have taken his shirt off before we let him do this.” The sentence barely ended when a drop of chili fell off my spoon and onto my shirt.  Snarky husband lets the cruel silence of his impending clever comment build momentum as he finishes chewing his bite of food, “You probably should have taken yours off too.”  Crunch.  He takes another bite of bread and raises his eyebrows at me.  Hippie me, never wearing a bra, reaches around the base of my shirt and pulls it up and completely off.  Smirking. Silent. Eating our stupid food. God somewhere smiling.

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A friend of mine texted me asking advice about her predicament of not feeling attracted to a guy she’s felt obligated to give a chance since he was “a good guy,” “loved Jesus,” yatta-yatta… She was suspicious of her heart’s ability to choose rightly.  Oh boy, it took me back.  I have always been really picky.  When I was younger, I had zero interest in guys because most guys in my sphere were just not what I was attracted to.  I always just felt like I’d know it when I saw it.  But I wasn’t seeing it.  And it concerned my mother and some peers.  Or the guys I was attracted to already had girlfriends (isn’t that always how it goes?) And thank God they did, because they still weren’t “the one!”  But it did give me relief that there wasn’t something completely wrong with me.  I did feel somewhat ashamed and a sense of urgency from other people’s senseless pressure and prodding.  There’s a whole story and testimony behind all of that that I won’t get into, but for the sake of giving a backdrop to my recent gushing, I had to give you some context.  The other morning, around the time my friend texted me about her predicament, my husband was doing his morning routine before work.  I happened to be sitting in the living room chair, silently taking it all in.  He came striding into the front door after running around the neighborhood.  Hood over his head.  Damp, sweaty beard.  The masculine and aggressive inhaling and exhaling from good, physical exertion.  That twinkly look of feeling accomplished in his eyes.  I immediately got butterflies.  He went into the kitchen and started making a smoothie.  I didn’t even realize I was staring.  Until, I felt that subtle, intrusive gaze from God in the background of the moment.  Whenever He pricks my heart with the gesture that He’s paying attention to what I’m paying attention to, I lose it.  Tears.  Silent ones.  Secret ones.  Unto myself and God.  Derek was in the zone of meticulous routine and I was fangirling so hard.  A few minutes later he comes in and starts eating his avocado toast on the couch, chatting nonsense to our 6 month old while simultaneously asking me what I had going on that day.  Heart swollen in the privacy of my ribcage, we exchanged practical dialogue.  Pangs of love mingling with a wash of relief.  Relief.  Sweet relief that my heart is true, that God is good and my marriage is so held.  It’s such a whole feeling.

 

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Another one that happened a few nights ago:  We were laying in bed shortly after putting our baby boy to sleep.  Derek was watching something on the tv.  I was reading a book.  A thought pops in my head, I lay my open book down on my chest, “Um.” He slowly hoists his arm up, remote in hand and presses pause on the tv.  “I was thinking instead of doing pad Thai next week, we could do that chickpea Indian dish instead… I’m kinda over the pad-Thai.”  He blinks, “It’s just too much oil.”  I narrow my eyes, “That’s not why. I just want more vegetable.”  He considers the dish I mentioned for 3 seconds in his mind, “There aren’t hardly any vegetables in that one either.”  We exchanged a few more sentences about it, then I go back to my book and he presses play on the tv.  A few minutes later, he hoists his arm back up and presses pause on the tv.  I lay my book flat.  He starts, “How about we can just roast some vegetables on the side for that dish?”  I raise my eyebrows and bite my bottom lip, “Like what?”  “Oh. Brussel sprouts. Broccoli… What’s another one?”  Blah-blah-blah-boring-married-people-conversing and then I go back to my book again.  I barely get into the sentence I left off on when I feel it.  The gaze from Holy Spirit.  Smiling.  What? My heart swells up in bliss.  The sweet-nothing moment of a boring married-couple dialogue captured in God’s attention.  God, You’re so my stalker.  And I felt His delight wash over me and my husband.  The wordless impression, silent but sensed, that expressed something that felt like: I love seeing your marriage stay resiliently in love.  This is My desire.  This is what I want for you.  I’m proud of this.

He’s been sealing simple moments like these a lot lately.  Authenticating them by acknowledging them.  Not that He doesn’t always, but making it known and felt that they are.  God is clever.  He knows us so well.  He trusts us so much.  He memorizes us and familiarizes Himself with our stimulants.  He really is a dove, subtle, warm, easy to miss.  His placement is always romantic and intuitive.  He won’t grab our attention.  He woos and whispers.  Only the hungry notice.  And I’m hungry.  I’ve prayed to stay hungry.  There’s a heart-song that rose up in me one day while I was in the shower. I was losing touch with my heart and feeling super disconnected from God.  I was desperate.  I stirred myself up in the spirit, and out of the deepest place inside of me, this song spilled out: “I can’t afford to not be hungry! I can’t afford to not be thirsty! You must love me! You must love me!”  I felt the wild, jealousy of the Lord pierce my heart and burn deep.  Painless but intense.  Surges of fiery love and passion.  The lyric from the song, How He Loves: “Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss.”  Yeah.  Exactly how it was.  More spontaneous songs and confessions poured out of me: “You must have me all the time! You’re a wild man! You’re a wild man! You have drowned me in Your delight! You’re a wild man! You’re a wild man! This Holy Jealousy has pierced inside! You’re a wild man! You’re a wild man in love!”  Sigh.  It’s one thing to hear about how much God loves you.  It’s another thing to feel it.  It truly is a paradox, God’s love.  Somehow beyond our ability to understand but not beyond our ability to experience.  This is why I’m obsessed with Holy Ghost.  The manifest Presence of God.  It’s air to my lungs.  It’s the reality that’s ruined me to live any other way.  It’s saving my life.  It’s saving my marriage.  It just saves.  You really are the walking dead until you encounter it.  Holy Ghost defibrillates and animates all the dead and dying places back to life.  True life.

All that to say, life lately is revived.  Nothing drastic has changed.  I get these aren’t crazy-prophetic-charged stories.  They are simple, crude sweet-nothings.  But there’s something on them.  There’s something on my life right now.  It’s just revived and refreshed.  Flesh and warmth and blood have miraculously flourished onto dry bones.  Oil is overflowing in all my cups that felt so hopelessly empty.  Right down to enjoying people.  Pausing in a moment to savor it.  Yesterday I was sitting with my neighbor on her porch swing, sharing real life conversation.  And we had to pause just to watch the scene across the street of my husband kicking the soccer ball around the driveway as my son squealed with delight in his walker.  And as we watched, a gust of wind blew a swirl of leaves into a dancing cyclone of serendipitous confetti to seal the moment.  God is real.  He is near and involved.  Especially in these very human moments.  Ridiculous, simple, playful, raw, crass and even somewhat offensive, especially those ones in all the realest of real moments.  Or the mundane, monotonous, slow, stupid and pointless.  I’m heartily savoring those moments with people.  There’s a smile lingering in the culture of love of that present moment, but it’s faintly felt by the curious and easily missed by the anxious.  Things don’t have to be profound to be powerful.  The purity of enjoying people is powerful because it isn’t trying to be.  It just is.  God just is.  He enjoys people.  He highlights them in specific details that seem random or strange.  I’m honing in on those.  I’m divorcing fear.  I’m evicting worry and dread.  Bye Felicia.  I can’t afford to miss a thing.  I am deciding to do whatever I can to be wholeheartedly present.  I want to be emotionally available to life.  No matter what.  There’s a kingdom at hand, and only the childlike find it.

 

JRH

Art, Beauty, Emotions, Pregnancy

Being Chased by a Rainbow

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Preface

This blog was created to showcase people. People are beauty incarnate. And artistic expression and writing is the vehicle I feel called to in showcasing that beauty. I haven’t made a blog post in over a year.. and I’m about to share a lengthy story as to why. And as insecure as I feel about sharing all that I’m about to share, I won’t stop at the threshold of opening the door of my heart, just because fear is barking really loud.  So I’m going to embrace the awkwardness of showcasing myself.  Here I am.  I’m going to use the art of storytelling to paint a picture of what beauty flourished out of the hardship and heartbreak over the course of a year. I’m not saying 2018 was bad, it was just really hard. And it really hurt. It broke parts of me. But in the parts that broke, God not only healed, He remade those parts.  I’m apologetically sure of my heart.  I’ve become very proud of who I’ve grown into.  I would not change a thing of what I went through this last year, but I definitely would not want to go back and relive any of it.  As I pour out my heart in telling this story, above being heard and understood, my deepest burning conviction is to make sure Hope is being represented in me.  Life really doesn’t get any easier.  Honestly, it gets harder, but we get better.  I told a friend of mine recently, “Well, we made this decision to live really aiming to look more like Love, so we can’t expect to ever live comfortably again.”

Just a quick verbal gratuity before I delve into my story:
Apart of my own art of storytelling, I’m going to include some photographs of myself taken by my dear friend Shelley.  Her gift of capturing people is another vehicle to showcasing beauty.  She is an artist and I want to honor her, artist to artist, friend to friend, because of how she’s honored me and championed me over the course of this past year. Thank you Shelley from the deepest place. You are deeply cherished in my heart.

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This is my awakening.

Literally… Holy Spirit woke me up at 3:30 this morning and started talking to me. I got up and went out to the couch.  In my quiet time with God, I just felt Him draw so close to me, and it felt like an all encompassing, wrap-around hug. Like the warmest, most protective hug. And as He was doing that, I felt fear just leaving me.

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Now before I further explain the weight or what this hug did for me, I must give context to the fear:

My husband and I recently made the public announcement that we are expecting a baby in September. Today I’m 15 weeks exactly. And this whole pregnancy there’s been this nagging, tormenting fear of miscarrying. Especially since I had such a hard season of discouragement with not getting pregnant. And then when I finally did get pregnant I had some bleeding in the beginning.  And just on top of that, let’s be real, this is a hard time to be pregnant with the constant Pro-Life, Pro-Choice upheaval all over social media and the news. There’s a noble intent with Pro-Life causes, but it’s fear driven. With all these sad, horrific stories starting to come out of the woodwork of women miscarrying just bombarding the news feed, it’s fear-invoking.  I can’t look away.  And I won’t look away. It needs to be seen, these women have a voice that needs to be heard, but it is hard to look at. There’s just a terror about it, it brings awareness of the precious life with their message, but there’s a spirit of fear on it.

I just don’t think it’s a method God uses to represent Truth… It inspires fear. I feel like it has an intent to “convict” but there’s this thing I’ve come to know with “God’s kindness that leads people to repent” being far more effective than invoking fear and shame in people.

Please hear me. I’m  so one for giving your pain a voice. Grieving is so important. It leads to healing. But there’s something about the fear and hopelessness behind this agenda… If there isn’t a partnership with hope, it’s not God, it’s just religion.. it’s self sabotage.

I’m only grieved because there isn’t a showcasing of Hope to the measure that there is a showcasing of fear and loss. There should be absolutely NO overly-religious pressure in keeping pain silent. If we don’t give our pain a voice, silence will give it shame. But there must be Hope. Grieving with hope is meant to lead us back into place of joy.  Trauma is anyplace where we can’t return to joy.

Trauma is hard. And hoping in the midst of trauma is sometimes impossible. But… if we believe God is who He says He is, we dare to make that risk and hope…

It’s been especially hard to hope when there are personal stories of loss from people in my life. One of my best friends has had 3 miscarriages in the past 2 years. My other lost a baby in giving birth. (But both are now new mothers again. God redeems and restores!)

Other friends in my life have been trying to get pregnant for A LOT longer than Derek and I have. And still aren’t able to… It’s hard stuff.

And when I was in it.  I could relate to their pain and felt the disappointment.  And even now, being pregnant, fear is still nagging.  Accusation and dread still present themselves.  Stupid thoughts come all the time from out of nowhere:

“You haven’t done your time waiting as long as this woman has.” 

Or “Your pain is inferior to so-and-so’s because she miscarried and you didn’t. Shame on you for feeling pain in the 10 months you weren’t able to get pregnant.”

Or accusations for feeling happy and shame for wanting to rejoice:

“Your joy is offensive because you didn’t really suffer hard enough for this. You didn’t earn it! Be quiet, keep it to yourself. You will hurt someone’s feelings.” 

Or just the layers of dread I’ve had to untangle from, finally being pregnant and still waiting for the hammer to drop because I’ve been so traumatized by the condition of disappointment.. AND THEN SHAME ACCUSING me for feeling that emotion by comparing my pain to other women’s and making mine feel inferior… It’s seriously the 1-2 punch knock-out. The enemy is a lair you guys…

Hopefully this gives context to add a backdrop for what God did for me this morning..

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In this moment as He was hugging me, I saw inside my womb, and I saw the Holy Spirit’s silhouette in the form of a mother curling around my baby. I just wept in relief. Holy Spirit is the maternal part of God. Brooding, nurturing, teaching and life-giving. The full Presence of that manifested in the room. Because for the first time I’m realizing how “not-in-control” I am and how mothering and over-protecting in fear does nothing but rob me of peace.. And I can’t afford to forfeit my peace.

I just sobbed under the relief of peace and comfort. I felt it in waves. I just melted. The fear of loosing a precious one just melted away at the kindness of God. I confessed, “Holy Spirit, mother my baby. Mother me. You are so good. Thank You for being our defender and protecter.” Just this maternal brooding was hovering over me and baby and it was a dual love happening.. Holy Spirit was doing deep surgery on my heart with the steadiest hand, removing fear’s cancer.. while simultaneously revealing how He was brooding over and lovingly creating new life inside of my womb. I can’t really explain how it felt the way I want to. But in that experience I became so aware of the worthiness of God… how worthy He is of our worship.. He is so enthusiastically excited about our lives.. I felt the excitement of God wake me up this morning. He couldn’t wait to show me that picture. He couldn’t wait to ambush my heart with that love.. uh! And I’m so aware of how His will is not to take things away..

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As I was experiencing all of this, I opened my Bible app and went to Isaiah 49, remembering there was a verse about how God loves like a mother. I struggled to re-read the entire chapter through blurred vision, gasping at the words I was rediscovering in a fresh way.

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He is always close. He cannot help Himself. We are SO irresistible to Him.. He has a mother’s heart. He must. He made a mother’s heart. Holy Spirit hovers and broods over us like a mother curls around a baby. I saw it. He is so CLOSE. In the here and now and in the beyond… and I thought about the fear of losing someone into the beyond. And my own selfish comfort of clinging to something so precious.. and even if it was taken away from me… It’s not by His hand.

I remember three years ago I had a vision of being taken into Heaven and I saw all these babies seated around the throne, singing and in intercession for their mothers. Many of the babies were victims of abortion.. and they were radiant and whole. The hope and mercy that gushed out of them in prayer just illuminated all of heaven and poured down to earth like rain.

Among them I saw the spirit of my sibling my mom miscarried after she had me and Jake… Seeing this vision brought so much healing so us. It was so unexpected but so relevant. It was in a time when my mother was praying over a concern she had with my brother Jake and I saw our sibling in heaven ceaselessly praying over him day and night. Over all of our family. It was so holy.

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Another spirit in Heaven is my grandmother. Back in November we lost my grandma Thonen to cancer. It was November 23rd, Black Friday… I’ll never forget that being the absolute worse day… on top of my grandma dying, about an hour after we got the news that she had passed, I started my period… Going on 10 months of trying to get pregnant, I remember just crumpling in a ball and wanting to die. Hopelessness and agony coiled up inside of me like a mass of the universes’ darkest matter… It felt evil. And I felt tormented. I remember being so angry at God.

You guys, when you’re in pain you say ridiculous things. I remember just spiraling into the most insane thoughts: “God are you even real?! Or is it just aliens out there f*cking with us!?!” Like.. legitimately wondering that.

Sigh. Needless to say, life sucked that next week. But God was in it. He sends you all the right people with all the comfort and all the hope. Even as offensive as Hope can be to us when we are in pain, Hope still shines a light and light always has the last word. My old boss and dearest friend called me during one of those days to check on me. Somewhere in our conversation she prophesied without even maybe meaning to. She shared about when her mother passed away and presented a hopeful outcome with a testimony, “Jordie, you know how sometimes after a loved one passes, that shortly after, a woman in the family left behind usually gets pregnant?” And she shared that her daughter, who had been unable to get pregnant, got pregnant shortly after her mother died… After I heard her say that, nothing refreshing or enlightening stirred in me. My attitude was pretty apathetic from waiting on all the other “prophetic words” and “signs from God” that weren’t coming true yet.. My attitude at this point was pretty much, “Well that’s cool. If it happens, it happens.”

Well, 2 weeks after my grandma passed I got pregnant. I found out around the 6 week mark, but my response wasn’t an exuberant one.. I was so suspicious. It’s been a slow going process of learning to trust God again as He is reintroducing me to His kindness in fresh new, redemptive ways. He’s been healing me of suspicion and dread. Still have freak outs and moments of doubt. But it’s in the moments like the one this morning… He is so patient and so enthusiastic in His pursuit of our affection… Even if it’s “slow going.” Because He is also a God of “And Suddenlies!” And it’s all in His timing.  As cliché as that is, it’s true.

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A week before we found out we were pregnant, I quit my job of 8 and half years because I was just over not getting pregnant. My job had become so stressful and it added so much agony to not feeling fulfilled as a woman and not feeling fulfilled as an artist.

It was December 31st of 2018, New Years Eve, and I was in the shower having one of the most violent cuss out sessions at God.  It became a 20 minute travailing, screaming emotional breakdown.. My husband came home early while all this was happening, which I didn’t know until I finally got out of the shower. Yes, he heard it all. He opened the door and said, “You’re done.” I went in that afternoon and put in my resignation. I just told everyone it was mainly to pursue my passions as an artist. Which was part of the truth.  Little did I know that I’d be “creating” in a duel aspect. I found out I was pregnant about a week later. God knew. Sigh. He’s SO smart. You guys, He seriously knows what He’s doing. We have no idea. That’s why it’s so so so important that we stay close to Him.

Another reason I believe He called me to be home, which is a fact, I’ve been so crazy sick in my first trimester. Like… so sick. I can’t imagine working. I probably wouldn’t have made it. I don’t know if God allowed me to be sick because it was the only way I’d actually believe that I was pregnant.. because I was still SO suspicious of God. I joke that it’s like the story in the Bible when the angel appeared to Zachariah and told him his wife Elizabeth would conceive in her old age, and because Zachariah didn’t believe it the angel took away his speech until the time of the baby’s birth as a sign that God is sovereign. We can all laugh. It’s funny.

So.. many.. other signs appeared to me throughout this past year up until I got pregnant. Signs and prophetic reassurances that I would get pregnant. And they feel all sweet and benevolent, until you go 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 4 months… 5+… and you’re still not pregnant. Then all the “prophetic words” just feel cruel.. It honestly just feels like the universe is effing with you. Just to be honest.

Pain and disappointment bring about so much confusion and crisis… A real faith shaker.. Still choosing to wait on God in that, and “have hope.” It’s healthy, but it hurts. It honestly stings. But… again.. staying close. God’s word does not come back void. And if you’re tired of “words” from people.. it’s still so important to be gracious with the “well-intended.” Most people are so ignorant to your pain, and your suffering makes them uncomfortable. And because most people are “fix-it” people, they give “good advice” or over-spiritualized input about your pain because they are too insecure to just sit and listen while you hurt. That’s such a hard and awkward place to be, to just be there while someone falls apart and do absolutely nothing. But honesty, if more people had the courage to do that, if we would just grieve with people and cry with them where they are at.. if we would just shut up with our good advice and get out of the way, and let God be near to the broken-hearted.. People would encounter Presence. He needs to be felt, especially when we are in our pain. Don’t try to make the pain go away… it bypasses the Presence. The point isn’t being healed or delivered right then and there.. the point is being close with Him. And sometimes we don’t realize how close He is until we walk THROUGH a hard season of suffering and find that we come out looking more like Him on the other side. Then we will be breathless at the realization that the point wasn’t getting our needs met, that ended up just being a byproduct of becoming more like Jesus.

Now that I have come into a promise fulfilled and face to face with a need being met… I can look back on all these prophetic words, signs and divine encounters with wonder. He is so faithful. And we really do need other people. Even when the truth they speak hurts and is offensive in our hope deferred. I’m so… so glad I didn’t grow so bitter. I’m so so glad I waited on the Lord. So glad.

The Teapot

One of the first signs that God was smiling on the idea of me having a baby was a prophetic gift given to me about 2 weeks after Derek and I started trying to get pregnant. And it wasn’t from an adult. But a little 4 year old boy.

In December of 2017, Derek and I were in a frantic predicament of figuring out where we were going to live because his job at the time was looking to relocate to Dallas “soon.” Soon wasn’t specific.. “Soon” ranged between 3 years our to 3 months out. Derek figured that the company wouldn’t actually move in less than a year because that’s just… insane. So my one compromise was, “I don’t want you to give up your job, but I surely don’t want to have a baby in another state all by myself and away from my family. If we can have a baby before the company  relocates then I’m all for moving.” So Derek agreed to that and he even had the cute suggestion of wanting to “start trying” on Valentine’s Day. I looked at the 2018 calendar and felt validated, “Oh! February 14th! That should be when I’m ovulating!” Boom! Deal.

So the weekend going into the 3rd week of February I get a text from a friend that her 4 year old son got a word from Holy Spirit during church a few weeks before. Holy Spirit told him to get me and Derek a gift, but that it wouldn’t be time to give it to us yet. So after my friend found the specific gift that her son heard Holy Spirit say to get, she asked him if it was okay to give it to us. And her son told her “No, Holy Spirit says it’s not time yet.” So about a week goes by and they ask again and her son said “Yes, Holy Spirit says it’s time.” It was a Monday morning and I was at work and my friend texted me to come over after I got off and get my “gift from Holy Spirit.” But while I’m at work God keeps telling me “Look for the smiles today.” Okay, God. Oddly enough, two customers called me “smiley” and another friend texted me and told me that someone just read her an essay about “Why We Smile.” So “smiles” were definitely on my radar at that point… You guys must know, with my personality type, I’m hyper sensitive to life’s textures and spiritual realities. I don’t miss things… God knows that about me. I’m an easy child to lull away in wonder and share secrets with.

So, I get off work and when I’m on my way up to my friend’s apartment, she let’s me in and tells me that her son was very specific in which gift bag they were supposed to put the prophetic gift in… at the moment before I even saw it I knew… and sure enough, it was a blue bag covered with all these little yellow smiley faces. You guys, I couldn’t even… I told my friend, “Even if the prophetic gift isn’t relevant, I’m good with the bag!” And I explained the word God have me about the smiley faces.

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So we sat down so I could open my gift and her son told me “Holy Spirit told me this is for you and Derek. It’s time now.” So I pull away the tissue paper and pulled out a little brown teapot with a blue flower on it. I waited for my friend and her son to explain the meaning they felt was behind it, but they said they didn’t know the meaning and trusted that I would know… It took me a minute, but I suddenly realized… No one could possibly know the personal significance of a teapot for me and what it represented to me expect my mother. 4 years before God told me to start giving my mom a prophetic gift for Christmas that represented her motherhood as a way to honor it. And I decided to give her a teapot for Christmas every year after that because she always used to say to me and Jake growing up, “Motherhood is pouring into your children.”

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…. Yeah… I got my teapot from Holy Spirit. My promise of motherhood. And it was wrapped up in smiley faces. God was smiling on my motherhood even before I was actually pregnant in the natural. He put a rainbow of promise over my life. So that set some undeniable hope in my journey right from the get-go! I couldn’t shake the timeliness nor the uncanny specifics of what this item represented to me. It was utterly divine. Derek and I hadn’t told anyone that we had just started trying to get pregnant. And I had never publicly shared how I give my mom a teapot every year for Christmas… Or that it represents motherhood.. and surely a little 4 year old couldn’t have just cleverly orchestrated that.. but because this little boy knows Holy Spirit and hears Holy Spirit and because his parents are sensitive to champion him in that gift, it marked me in such a profound way and I am so thankful…

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Other things happened along the way when it started to get a little harder to believe that promise…

The Gym Encounter

One particular instance, I woke up early in the morning, like 3:30-4ish, and had panic and anxiety about not getting pregnant. I crawled out of bed crying, went into the bathroom and took a fertility test I had just bought. It’s the kind where a “smiley face” appears if you’re very fertile. A blinking smiley face if you’re barely ovulating and a plain circle if you’re not fertile… well I took it and there was a “smiley face.” Urgency came over me and I wrestled with wanting to wake my husband up to have sex… on my way to the bedroom I heard God whisper, “Do you really want to go about it this way? Your husband is asleep and this isn’t meant to be a chore. Do you really want to partner with anxiety? You don’t want to birth an Ishmael. Be still. Partner with rest.” I went in there and knelt by Derek and just cried… I wanted to wake him up so bad… I even half-pressed and slightly nudged him just to test out if I was even “hearing God correctly.” Nothing happened.  Just Z’s from my husband. Because I had flirted with my anxiety a little, it was enough of a crack for a lie spawn in my mind. I should have just listened to God right off and not even pressed, and now my husband’s lack of response (because he was dead asleep) the lie exaggerate that to feel like rejection. And I just stewed in irritation and resentment towards Derek for being “indifferent” and “not caring.” For “leaving me to spiral in my emotions” and “selfishly not meeting my needs.”

Man… it’s embarrassing. The crazy, ridiculous things you think when you’re in pain and you partner with a victim spirit. As I was spiraling in those thoughts I felt God gently nudging me now, “Hey, go to the gym. Go run this out. It’ll be good for you to go to the gym.” I did NOT want to go to the gym… it was 4:20 in the morning.. but God pressed a little more and I was desperate to get out of my thoughts at this point so I tearfully put my shoes on and left.

As I was making my way up to the gym’s entrance and went to open the doors, a customer from the bank who I hadn’t seen for a while was pushing open the doors at the exact same time. “Oh hi! How are you doin?” … and on proceeded the small talk. I didn’t know why, but there was a lingering in our conversation and as it felt a little awkward and he turned to leave and even said farewell.. but suddenly he stopped and turned back around before I went inside, “Hey! Do you have any kids?” Immediately. My. Mouth. Fell. Open. “Actually..” before I could even finish my sentence, he steps forward, “Oh man, I don’t even know why I asked that!” I started to tear up, “I know why.. my husband and I have been trying for several months now to get pregnant and that’s why I’m here right now. To run out some anxiety I’m having about it.”

He stepped closer, and in the most genuine way said, “Hey.. Don’t make it a chore. I don’t know if many people can tell, but I’m kind of a religious person, and when my wife and I were trying to get pregnant, it took us a while but I just trusted God with it. I never worried about it, but my wife got hurt by how I handled it and she felt like I was indifferent and didn’t care about it and that it didn’t matter as much to me or something.. but sure enough we got pregnant.”

I couldn’t believe it. This man was literally saying verbatim what I was just thinking about my husband only 20 minutes before… It was unreal. He gave me a hug and I felt embarrassed by the kindness of God… just wow. He sent me there just for that reassurance, even after I lost my mind a little. He is SO smart you guys… He isn’t cruel. He is the kindest.

These kind of little encounters happened spontaneously throughout that time. Random cashiers and clerks at random stores would just volunteer that they just found out that they were pregnant after trying for a while..

Our Home & The Womb Prophetess

But there’s one last crazy instance I want to share. So Derek quickly found out that his job was relocating in August and obviously we weren’t getting pregnant.  And even if we had, it wouldn’t have mattered because I wouldn’t have had the baby in time. God’s timing doesn’t make sense sometimes, guys… but you seriously have to trust. Derek immediately started looking for new jobs that would be around what he was currently making. While job hunting, suddenly a house came on the market that was exactly what we had been looking for and in the price range we wanted. Everything about it was perfect for us… And even though I’m the hyper-spiritual one in our marriage, sometimes Derek’s faith has some wild-shining moments that take me by surprise. Even though it looked completely stupid to normal people, to put an offer on a house without having secure employment, (let alone getting approved by the bank for a loan) Derek wanted to… so we did.. and the sellers accepted. (Now… you need to know that Derek and I had been looking for houses for over a year and a half and had put offers in on several and they always fell through. And the disappointment of not getting those homes loomed over us in the wake of our urgency in Derek trying to find new employment.) And wouldn’t you look at God, calling us out onto the water.. UHG! Faith is RISKY!!! But the door opened this time.. and this house was better than the others we had previously put offers on. Also, I think it’s of cute significance that when the realtor put the SOLD sign on our house, that the “O” was a smiley face. 🙂

God’s fun.

Friends, God never says “No,” just “Not yet.” If He ever says “No” to a good thing, it’s because He’s making sure you hold out for the “BEST thing.” Sometimes people settle for “good” or “okay” when if they were just patient, even when it didn’t make sense, they’d have gotten so much better.

Oh.. and so a week after the sellers accepted our offer, Derek got offered a job at the State. For those of you who own a home, you know that if you switch employment during your closing on a home that it can prolong the process.. so Derek had to ask if they would hold the position for a month until we closed on our house. Normally, that doesn’t happen.. but they were basically like, “Okay cool! That’s fine!” Like…. WHAT!?

So it was June and we were several months into “trying” to get pregnant; and Derek and I were weeks away from closing on our home. I was at work one day and in walks a customer who is also a woman I have known since high school. She has a daughter around my age who ran cross country with me so we would always chat pretty surface level. I didn’t know her that well and it was always while I was at work in a very professional environment, so there was never any impression of our knitty-gritty, deep personal life issues surfacing.. I knew just from the impression of acquaintance that she was a “Christian” but I had no knowledge of how spirit-filled she was.

Well, not until this one particular day.  She comes into the bank, and walks up to the counter and reaches across to take my hand. She tears up says, “I need to talk to you…” Immediately, I feel a shift in my spirit and I’m anticipating that something miraculous is brooding over her.. She goes on, “I have been grieving the Holy Spirit for not sharing this with you, and I can’t keep this to myself anymore. I could be way off in left field, but I just have to share this with you.. I felt like God told me a few months ago that I needed to lay my hand on your womb and ask for Him to open it. God and I have this weird thing about showing me what women are trying to get pregnant and can’t. So He has me pray for their wombs to open. And I’ve been praying for you, but last night God told me that I’m not doing what He asked me to do… that I’m specifically supposed to lay my hands on you and pray OVER you.”

Yeah… So I’m obviously struck with so many feelings.  I told her “Friend, you hear from God. This is all so spot on. My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for months now.” She was so humbled. We decided to meet after I got off work later so she could lay her hands on my tummy and pray.

Now, obviously I still didn’t get pregnant for months to come. But it was another divine moment validating God is faithful. It also shows that WE NEED EACH OTHER! WE NEED PROPHETIC VOICES! Being prophetic isn’t fortune telling… it isn’t having some super power of accurate prediction… it isn’t mind reading… it isn’t psychic… All it means is that when we are near to God, He shares His heart with us… Being prophetic, is being childlike.

It’s a sense of wonder and dependency. When you are God’s friend, He tells you things. When you cling to the Father, He pulls you into His lap and you hear His heartbeat. Being prophetic is showing up at just the right time and having good news. The prophetic is hopeful and imparts life. It never invokes fear or destruction. God can’t give away what’s not within Himself..  And all that He is and all He gives is GOOD! So all prophetic words are simply Good News!

And thus, my friend gave me good news in a time of waiting when my promise was on its way. I’m so thankful for these voices of hope. Even when it offended me in my pain and confusion… These voices still moved in obedience to God’s voice. They moved to the rhythm of another source.. Not fear.. not anxiety… not caution.. but Hope. Life. Light.

I have a phrase I use frequently, that my life is rigged! I am unapologetic in expressing how rigged with grace my life is. I feel God’s smile on me, warm and pressing like the summer Sun against your skin. I feel Him. I notice Him. He’s involved and I’m aware. Somehow, there’s a spiritual principle that measures how aware you are and how joyfully expectant you are attracts more signs and wonders.  Signs and wonders follow me. I won’t act like they don’t. They do. Either I’m making all this up, sometimes I wish I was. And this is just a drop in the bucket of all the things… God is the funnest, most lovesick-for-life Person.  He has an infantile appetite for play and wonder. He pours out so much beauty and life to anyone who is open to His love. A long time ago I told God, “I’m wide open, Lord! Come get me.”  And this is me being got. I’ve been impregnated with eternal life. There’s a Spirit brooding and hovering over every shapeless void, giving shape and form to lifeless things. I pray, from the deepest place and with the upmost reverence towards people’s hearts… I pray Hope is felt in this very personal, very honest, very raw story… It’s prophesy.. It’s hope. It’s not just for me… I’m no more important than anyone else. When I was in pain, He heard my cry. He is near to every broken heart. And I’m obviously not a completed work… I’m still untangling from fear.. I’m still being healed of suspicion.. I’ve come a long, LONG way.. but until I breathe my last breath in this life, I will be sitting at the feet of my Jesus, learning and clinging to Him. He is so… so beautiful. He is so worthy.

This seems like a good place to end this story.  I love each of you reading. May goodness and mercy chase you down all the days of your life.

 

The End… for now…

JRH

Jordie 204

Art, Beauty, Emotions, Human Emotions, Painting, Poetry, Self Image, Uncategorized, Writing

The Glory of Process, Beauty in Progress and its Gardener

Have you ever been so enamored with the vibe of another person that you can’t help but obsessively wonder about the kindred connection you might have if you ever had the chance to sit down and talk?  Well, your vibe definitely does attract your tribe because that’s exactly what transpired in the session I had with this certain person I am showcasing.

I cannot explain the honor and pleasure I feel in treasuring this person’s heart.  This exceptionally special person desires to remain anonymous in this showcasing, but the crux of her beauty is no less powerful detached from a name.  She has agreed to everything I am about to share with you about her, and has endorsed this project as a dedication to any woman who has ever felt “less-than” and struggled to know her own worth.  Though I cannot publicly praise her name, I would like to adamantly express my deepest, deepest affection in who she is a woman, dreamer, lover of people, and “gardener of souls.”  In a span of 10 days, over 24 hours of painting, I had the most exhilarating privilege of intrusively peering into her innermost self, staring at the details, while listening to God express His heart in the exposure:

“See this, see that, I made it…  And here is why…  Her design is for this purpose.  This detail is for this reason.”

Oh my stars, the love He has for her is outrageous, AND I got to feel every violent wave of its intensity each time I scraped colors and blended shades just to get the right tone for her skin, hair and each allusive symbol of this painting that prophesies who she is. Every fiber of who she is in on purpose.  Every nitty-gritty thing and every intricate complexity is intentional and wrapped up in so much grace.  Her gala-smart giftedness to magnify the beauty around her is impressive, but it’s in how she beautifies the overlooked and obscure that’s truly moving.  It is innately God-given.  Her eyes are wide-open with wonder.  You know the kind I’m talking about?  They have that mystifying twinkle in them.  She’s a quiet listener and she can afford to be, because her eyes do all the talking.  She explores the silence of savoring people, but those sparkling eyes give away the secrets of the beauty she’s collecting in her heart.  She’s a lingerer and a listener, a modern-mystic who ministers through gentle musing.  (SO many M‘s in that sentence.  Wow…)

I pray with all my heart that she feels the weighty warmth of Love pressing against each detail of her being.  I also wish this for every single person reading this, may you feel the loving hands of the gentlest Artist adoringly and intentionally pressing against each detail of who you are.  May His love ambush every insecurity and kiss what’s been cursed and turn it into gold.  May your curse becomes your cure, just drop the s, shame.

Shame is a liar and we can’t afford to hide from Love anymore.  We are so amazing.  We are made to be loved so outrageously.

So let’s begin here.  With all the wildest, purest affection in my heart, I present to you this piece.  May this conglomerate of prophetic poetry and illuminative oil painting minister beauty to you and impart new vision to see and appreciate your own.

 

The Beauty Gardener

“So above all, guard the affections of your heart,
    for they affect all that you are.
    Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being,
    for from there flows the wellspring of life..”
                                                Proverbs 4:23 The Passion Translation

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To the woman who pays attention to the details.

You are a seer who sees, but also a lover who loves to listen.

As you see, you sow seeds.

As you listen, you labor in love.

You grow gardens.  You grow gardens inside of people.

It’s not that you’re an overbearing waterer.

It’s not that you’re notoriously picking at the weeds.

It’s not that you’re tying the feeblest plants to the tightest stake.

You’re not out to hurry along the process.

You see that it’s the baby-steps and small beginnings,

Patiently lingering in the beauty of progress.

That is what grows gardens in people.

You don’t listen to respond, but rather to understand.

And that’s the greenhouse-atmosphere you host: the adamant desire to understand.

Your heart to understand why some flowers are shy to bloom,

So you lovingly stoop and listen to their murmurs of progress.

No worry, no hurry,

Your soil is the softest and richest because you’ve guarded it by gardening it this way.

Your patience is a prairie all its own.  Wide open and safe.

 

 

 

To the woman who stewards beauty

In wisdom and trust, holding it loosely.

What wisdom to see that success

Is measured in the day to day progress.

You qualify the weakest “yes” as the very best,

And count that latest-bloom as an extravagant harvest.

You are fascinated with the growing stages, just as much as the final bloom.

A lonely seed, buried in the darkest tomb,

Dies, comes back to life; the grave now an earthy-womb.

The straining roots and struggling shoots.

Tediously fighting for sunlight,

Tethered to stakes just to grow upright,

But there you are, Gardener, adoring the process.

And when the blossom finally unfolds, it’s majestically effortless.

You learned this from your Father, who lingered in love for you, Daughter.

Because you were indeed His Flower, and He was your Gardener.

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Your life has become poetry in motion.

A song on a cellular level— feeling, thought, emotion.

Humming hybrid-chords,

Tears being your liquid-words.

Unable to communicate the heavy matters;

All along, the groans are the prayers your heart utters,

Giving language to your soul

The Spirit translates, making whole.

Giving praise to what’s been a mystery.

Desperately wanting to have history,

Of you and Him— You and Him completely.

Oh, adoring what it cost to know you deeply.

The breaking down,

Turning inside-out,

Unimaginable depths,

Hopes dashed, dreams swept.

Oceans you swam, people you held, affections you’ve felt

The intricate, complex ecosystem of self:

Of crisis leading to clarity,

Of grief leading to glory.

Of bitter turning into sweet.

Of winter turning into spring.

Learning to dance with the opposing winds,

Strengthening your core so it won’t break when it bends.

 

 

What has died, falling off and become the fertilizer for your new season.

What’s been taken away was never a punishment, but for the sake of mercy’s lesson;

Learning all along it was always for your protection.

Healing your eyes, removing the filters of your own self-perception.

Protecting you from settling for what you thought you deserved,

Stripping you down, back to the basics, so Love could redefine your worth.

Learning there’s grace in the moment,

That there’s never a “no,” just a “not-yet.”

Or God simply just has a better “Yes!”

There’s Hope in the “not-yet.”

He really has predestined you for the absolute, very best.

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And here you are, being loved.

There is no doubt, no more plucking off your own petals:

“He loves me, He loves me not.”

No need to knit-pick, no need to meddle.

He has laid you down in green pastures.

He has restored your soul.

Though you wilted in the dirt,

He got down on his hands and knees,

Seeing you crushed, He pressed His lips to each insecurity.

Kissed each wilted, crumpled, rumbled petal,

Like a loving Gardener would.

He loved you back to life.

And here you are, loving life back.

 

 

And here you are,

Kissing all the flowers in the garden.

Kissing, collecting pollen,

Re-pollenating— spreading it all around.

Tenderly savoring each smell,

Giving praise to each one’s own significant beauty.

Dear Miss Gardener, look at your garden!

Notice and see, how each row of the field turns to follow your light.

Notice and see, how every breath you breathe is inhaled like a sweet fragrance.

Notice and see, how many hybrids have re-pollinated in the softness of your soil.

You are the safest garden for so many shy flowers.

You are the softest soil for the most timid of seeds.

You’ve been so tenderly held, so you inherited the most gentle of arms.

You love well because you have guarded your heart well.

All you are flows from the innermost greenhouse of your soul.

You have stewarded your affections in the secret garden of His Love.

You have walked with Him in the cool of your daydreams.

You have conversed with Him in the morning mist.

You have gotten close and seek to be closer still.

And that’s why you are trustworthy with such a purpose.

You have a garden of smiles to tend.

You have thousands of hills to explore.

 

 

You gifted, glory-Gardener.

I hear the Father singing over you.

My heart responds in praise.

Your life makes me want to give praise.

JRH

Uncategorized

Solitude is for the Artist

I never realized how terrified I was of solitude until I decided to face some dark emotions and process pain.  I never realized how I glorified “busyness” as a substitute for feeling significant because deep down, I was terrified that I was lacking significance without feeling useful or needed.  I have been running around for quite some time trying to avoid this crisis.  I would have really good weeks where staying invested in people, feeling needed, feeling enjoyed, feeling purposeful for the most part, but I  wasn’t in my lane.  I was taking on too much and had all these grand intentions, but they stayed just that: good intentions.

Feeling unfulfilled and ashamed of this track record of unfinished “brilliant ideas” I kept having mini-crisis after mini-crisis after mini-crisis.  Finally after a heart wrenching disappointment and mini-crisis seven-hundred and sixty-four, my husband looked at me square in the face and with gentle-sternness said “You need to just do it! You need to stop being afraid of your own greatness and take baby-steps at your dream.  You keep distracting yourself and it’s time to stop.”

I wish I could say that it just clicked and boom, I felt super empowered by courage.  But I am even still dealing with layers of insecurity and timidity with all of this, but like he said, baby steps.  I wish I could say that this was the first time my husband had said those words, but it wasn’t.  He has probably told me similar words hundreds of times and has given me so many gracious, uplifting pep-talks in these last 3 years of marriage.

What the real testimony here is is not the embers of my dying dreams suddenly catching flame in a sudden moment of courageous breakthrough.  The real testimony here is unconditional love.  My husband’s resilient graciousness and patience.  This is the awe.  This is the real testimony of beauty.  This story.  One of many.  The tension, the sadness, the struggle, the heartache, the discouragement that set the wildest backdrop for our love to keep spelling out a vibrant, illuminating “yes” to one another.  With my most recent “yes,” I said “yes” to take this risk.  For the sake of my health, for the sake of honoring my husband, for the sake of my dreams, for the sake of trusting God, I am taking this risk: solitude.  No more chasing after counterfeit significance.  No more indulging in the addiction of busyness.  No more.

But…

While in solitude, I discovered something wonderful in the midst of all the scary insecurities and unknowns.  Solitude is for the artist.  It’s for me.  It’s rigged in my favor.  There’s so much grace in it to process and just be.  I will begin sharing the revelation of what it has looked like for me walking in a season of solitude thus far.  I truly believe this is a wonderful blueprint that gives language to those who are ignorant and afraid of solitude.

To the one who confuses solitude with isolation, this is for you.  To the one who is scared of solitude because you’re afraid of facing your truest self, this is for you.  To the one who is exhausted from going through the motions and desperate for change, this is for you.

 

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Solitude is for the artist.

Solitude is a holy occasion void of pressure and urgency.  Pressure drives the function part of us to compete against urgency & tension. Always functioning in order to complete a duty is the death sentence of artists, and ultimately, the abortion of beauty.

Solitude is sacred and essential in order for beauty to survive.  Custom, daily-grind, routine, occupation- the series of doings which requires interaction from the functioning part of us.  It initiates the “doing” part of us. Where solitude initiates the “being” part of us.

Both are important parts of our humanity, but one should never stifle the other. There must be a healthy partnership in order to thrive in excellence and purpose.

True artists find their craft as a vehicle to communicate beauty.  The kind of beauty that demands to be recreated. Solitude is the holy occasion that ministers to the emotions of an artist. Emotions are what beauty influences.

Without human emotion, beauty wouldn’t have a witness. Without solitude, an artist couldn’t recreate it.

The enemy attacks our emotions first because our emotions are the womb of beauty. Beauty is the personality of God, and its sole agenda is to communicate outrageous Love! Beauty is whimsical in essence, but the wonder of it evokes a sense of purpose.  Beauty is strategically placed.

So emotions that never experience beauty become love-anemic and enter into depression. An artist unable to detach from functioning can’t enter solitude, and stifled creativity will leave an artist feeling unfulfilled, purposeless and insecure.

 

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Artists are so important to culture.  Culture needs beauty.  Beauty is Love communicating to orphaned emotions.

The enemy is either presenting pressure to shut down emotions and exhaust the function part of us, or he is oppressing the emotions with anxiety and depression and in our frailty, initiates a lie that: our identity is in our condition.  So whenever we agree with that lie, we engage it as a concrete reality, that ushers in a lifestyle of substance dependency to cope with our emotions.  Medicating our dark emotions will numb ALL of our emotions.

Or, for a more religious ego, it appears more dignified to suppress emotions with a mindset of indifference, if there’s a fear of disappointment.  Where one might say they “care” out of caution or duty, but refuse to engage with the full depth of feeling towards a person or an issue.  But if there’s a pressure that inflicts pain, there’s a reactionary function of performance that replaces the emotional processing.  Refusing to grieve a hurt or face the root issue of why we feel urgency, anxiety or pressure will only default to a guardian emotion of rage, anger or even hate.  As much as our pride would like to get away with not falling apart in sadness for fear of appearing weak or incompetent, that sadness will just manifest in a different emotion like rage.  Rage seems like a stronger emotion, so anyone frantically upholding a strong, independent front will often hide out there.  Pride does cast a delusion that makes indifference and rage seem more dignified than sadness or tender-heartedness.  Pain is inevitable, but humans run and run and run from it.  Each human does it differently to.

God never intended for us to carry pain, but our emotions do have grace to process pain. Grieving seems scary, but grief and sadness are rigged with grace to lead us into a place of healing. The enemy wants to trick us into shutting down our emotions and “hold it all together” where God has given us grace to process our emotions. We don’t have to hold it all together because God has already got it all together. He is really great at restoring what’s broken. Holy Spirit is giving us permission to fall apart in His Presence. It’s safe there. If we refuse to face our agony, the Comforter can’t comfort us. Holy Spirit wants to be invited into our darkest emotions and lead us into a place of joy!

Comfort is beautiful. It’s a lovely quality God has & wants to express. God WANTS to express Himself. The enemy is out to sabotage the communication between God’s Love expressing beauty to our emotions. The enemy wants to isolate us from beauty and in its place, inject feelings of insecurity, unworthiness, shame and infirmity.

This isn’t something new the enemy is doing, he has done this since Eden. He tricked Eve and Adam into questioning the kindness of God so they hid when they messed up. They pulled away from fellowship with God because they felt shame. God’s response, “Who told you that? Who told you you were naked? I didn’t. I made you to be fully seen and fully accepted; basking in My smile and enjoying the Beauty of My delight.”

Detached from beauty, we forfeit thriving for surviving. We enter cycles of bondage to our pressures and anxieties. Self-preservation substitutes re-creation.

Pressure is so overbearing to anyone isolated from grace, so then the only alternative is to numb it with emotional-suppression; when actually, we are meant to be in open communication with a beauty that empowers emotional expression!  Solitude is that holy occasion where our emotions are postured to communicate with God.

God WANTS to express Himself to us! God takes beauty seriously because it’s His full investment in our emotions. He longs that we fully know who we are. He is Creator for the sake of Love. Love is always communicating as creation keeps re-creating. This is why solitude is so important, because we are creators made in the image of the Great Artist, and creativity needs rest to meditate and ponder over beauty. A healthy imagination is always immersed in the wonder of beauty.

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Let beauty possess you. Let yourself savor it. Linger in it.

Explore and express how it collides with your soul. Creativity is giving glory to God. Simply acknowledging what is beautiful releases glory. It gives praise. Praise completes the enjoyment and gratifies the emotions. It connects us to God and connects God to culture. Let God be found in beauty’s cause of wonder instead of having God be misrepresented by an overbearing religion or political agenda.

For the sake of beauty, create! For the sake of your soul, create! Creativity energizes and heals. Expose yourself to beauty so that creativity can happen. Beauty is more powerful than laws.

Art is the vehicle that expresses beauty.

Culture’s most powerful influence is art and beauty, not laws and wars.  The artists shape the future, not politics, not religion.

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So, with all my heart, I feel this conviction: to partner my role as an artist with the purpose of giving beauty a voice.  I truly feel this blog is the best YES I can say to this mandate: to give culture language for where they lack language.  To call out to the deep emotions and kiss what’s been cursed.  To love what’s been rejected.  To sanctify what’s been shamed.  And as a prophetic person, I have felt Heaven moving towards human emotion to bring revival and redemption.  The artists and prophetic creatives are rising up to give prophetic language to culture to navigate their emotions with intelligence and grace- without shame, without fear, without comparison or competition.  I feel deeply that God has it on His heart to break indifference off of the religious and arrogant, so they can feel, heal and walk in freedom in their emotions.  I also feel God is going to break addiction off of the tormented and indulgent, so they too can feel, heal and walk in freedom in their emotions.  God is after our self-esteem.  Beauty is out to minister to the human soul. Beauty is out to remind humanity that we are the crescendo of creation.  We are the baby in the cosmos-cradle.

So, dear one reading, I invite you to be loved and be known here.  I fling open the doors of my gypsy-jelly-heart and gush out all the pent-up ooey-gooey-gushy-creative-intuitive-expressions I have for you.  As I begin this journey of interviewing souls, prophesying to their emotions, translating their beauty and then showcasing their self, I pray you encounter the source behind the process: Love.  Not merely spectate it, but interact with it.  Talent is impressive, but passion is moving.  Be moved and touched by Love as your emotions wake up a little, maybe get startled a little, by the raw honesty of a showcased soul bearing witness to beauty.

Enthusiastically yours,

JRH