Thank you...

This time last year I was miserable.
Trapped in a hole with a beggar who intended to take any happiness I had.
I refused to let go, to quit, to leave.
But they quit and I learned to let go and then God gave me my Blessing.
The loneliness I felt leading up to my Blessing was worth it to be where I am now.
The daily fight to keep moving forward and appreciate all that I have is on.
I am thankful and I am wounded.
Suffocating from a fog and darkness that encases my soul, yet a joy and light that overwhelms my heart.
I wonder which one will win.
If I die I want to go with God, if I live I want to please God.
Why is this so hard for me? Why is being thankful and praising Him so difficult?
I live in a state of brokenness being blessed by God moment by moment and I can barely muster the strength to tell Him thank you.
I repeat, why is this so hard for me?
I am in between these feelings of sadness and thankfulness and joy and darkness and I tell God I have no strength left to tell Him anything.
I know He understands and I know I will be out of this darkness when I see what He wants me to see and while I'm here in it I must learn to love Him and the life He has given to me.
Thank God for the breath in my lungs and the man that holds my hand and pushes me to keep going and the family I have and the dog that loves relentlessly and the food I ate hours ago and the class that lets me know I'm going somewhere with my life.
Thank God for the grace that beckons me forward when my feet are stuck in the mud.
Thank God for the grace that understands me in my stubbornness and continues to pursue even when I don't deserve it.
Thank You, God.


Messy rest

My mind is covered in fog and darkness.
My heart feels entangled by lies that sound like truth and pain that feels like comfort.
That's strange to type, it's even stranger to speak out loud.
I'm happy and depressed from one minute to the next.
How am I supposed to get past all of this if one minute I'm taking the next step and then the next minute I'm running away?
I'm tired.
Tired of doubting, running, trying, crying, fighting, pleading, breathing heavy.
Joy and pleasure are closer to me than I knew and yet I feel guilty for grasping it and shame for feeling it.
I have reached out for help so many times and been stabbed in the back afterwards to a point that I fear every relationship in my life will repeat itself in the same ugly scenes and I'll be left with the same shame and hurt I felt all the way back to little two year old me watching my dad walk off the front porch and never come back...he said he would.
I feel the struggle all day every day.
I see it in my eyes and I see in the eyes of others.
I see the pain behind the cashier, bartender, pastor, mother, friend.
There's a silence that hangs there, pain that only those who carry it can understand.
God allows us to suffer.
God loves us so there is a reason, yet in the fog and darkness we wander and we wonder about His plan.
I hope that's ok.
I'm doubting right now.
I'm angry and fearful and wondering why everything in my life looks beautiful and hard at the same time.
Within my grasp yet always escaping just before I can get it.
Today has been a hard day covered with grace and yet my focus is on the problems. I don't lie about that at all.
The problems can point me to Him, but that's not exactly where my mind has been going.
My mind has gone to the many ways I could end it. All the possibilities.
I can't do any of them, though.
I made a promise and that promise has grown and so have I and even though I want to turn back with all my being, I really can't. Love won't let me.
I'm tired today.
I'm not going to focus on anything but rest. I will rest and I will trust and walk through it all one tiny microscopic step at a time.


My real struggles

I hate letting people in.
You might understand it or be completely confused by it.
I've been hurt so many times.
Statement. Not meant for pity or judgment, just a truth.
My pain has lead me to trust issues.
I am choosy. This is good. I am careful. This is good too.
You expect me to be someone I'm not, open up and let you in.
I can't do that.
I have to wait. Pray. Observe. Mingle. Steam. Simmer. Lay low.
I'll get there though.
Just don't rush me. I'll shut down and shut out and you'll be wondering what happened and I definitely won't tell you because I'll be gone. God knows. He's seen me do it before.
I'm like a flower that opens in the sun and closes back at nightfall.
I do not regret this or explain it because it's simply a part of who I am.
If I let someone in it's because I trust them.
I'll be open to the best of my ability, but if that person takes my trust and stabs me in the back with it, I will close up for good.
Pain has been a constant companion for me my entire life.
People might think this is the first hurdle I've had to jump through, but it's not.
I like pain. It's a comfort at times. Now that might sound scary to you, but not to me.
If I feel pain that means I'm feeling something and that I'm alive.
Sometimes I need both of those reminders- I am capable of feeling still and I'm still alive even when my darkness seems to be unending.
I trust God and doubt God simultaneously.
He has pulled me through and He has never let me down, but He has let me walk through this pain for so many years that I begin to question Him. I can't lie about that.
I know God will deal with me in this, though, as He has with everything else in my life - my attitude, my thoughts, my decisions, all of it leads me back to Him in His timing and in my willingness to follow.
These are my real struggles. My battles on the daily.
I don't want a coach, a judge, or a therapist, I just want a friend that listens and in Him I find that. He is my coach and judge and therapist, yes, but when I pray I know my God isn't lashing out in any way, He's listening to me knowing that He's going to take me to better places even when I can't see it or don't trust Him in it.
That is why I do my best to simply listen to others. You don't need my judgment, advice, thoughts, etc. sometimes you just need to be heard in love. I will do that. I hope others will do the same for me.
Just as each tear wells up in my eyes, I extend my hand to a few select people and ask for help to push past this.
I hate letting people in, but love and faith compels me to.
Here we go.


Not unseen

I'm trying to hide, but I've found some people who won't let me do that.
They scare me.
They can tell I'm trying to hide.
Try to tell me who I am.
I don't even know who I am right now, so I'm not sure what they see.
Sometimes I want to find that hole in the ground that will lead me to places far away.
I'm not sure what I'm hoping for anymore.
To be loved?
To be seen?
To feel less?
To feel more?
I think I'm just hoping to hope.
Not a bad thing.
Nightmares every night. Gotta forget them. Hide them.
I'm tired of being haunted by the pain of my yesterdays so I shove them and everything that reminds me of them away.
I like to run.
I run on the daily.
Run from God.
Run from people.
Run from problems.
Run from myself.
There's a point to the madness. There's a plan in the pain.
God is here.
I just can't find Him right now.
I feel like there's a purpose for everyone in the world but me sometimes.
Someone for everyone, but where is my role in the story?
I like answers to the whys, but since I can't get them anymore I just throw up my hands and lay low.
Chasing the highs to forget all the lows, but the highs end and the lows don't.
I can't think. Gotta stay busy.
If I think, I'll leave and never come back.
But that promise... I can't break it.
This is what happens when everything breaks you.
This is what happens in order to find yourself.
To find God.
I'm not running today.
I'm gonna feel, think, cry, and keep going.
It's okay to not to be okay.

Word vomit

Walking with tears streaming down my face, covering them as quickly as I can. 
You won't see me cry.
Hiding behind a facade to keep myself from being hurt. 
Tougher than you'd think, but weaker than you know. 
I can't handle anything anymore so I let it all go.
Threw my hands up and gave in. 
Giving in isn't quitting. 
Taking a break, just need to breathe before I leave this world sooner than expected from the things I could do to myself.
I made a promise. Can't go back now.
I love and hate being known. I can't explain it.
Building and breaking are the sounds of my life. 
God is in it. 
I'm not worried.
I'm tired.
Loved, but not feelin' it.
In pain 90% of the time, but trying to hide it behind these "beautiful green eyes". 
Experience, life, teaching me so much.
All of this is part of the plan that's why I'm not giving up.



Rolling over I feel groggy, how I'd imagine a hangover feels.
Still not dead, still wondering about the purpose of the pain.
I try to communicate what I feel but it all comes out in a choke of hurt.
It's like a noose is around my neck and it just keeps getting tighter, but never to its full capacity.
I'm still breathing.
I feel lonely. I seek God in the midst, but He seems so far away.
Why am I still here? 
They tell me I have a purpose here and I'm loved... even though I don't really believe that right now and I'd rather be resting in peace.
I want to cry, but these tears are tired too.
I want to kick and scream and yell and cuss and punch, but I've been fighting for so long.
I just want to lay down and let go.
I gave 100% to each situation. Why on earth am I still here?!
I'm Jonah.
I'm running. I'm tired. I'm afraid. I'm angry.
They tell me I'm pretty and smart, like those things matter so much to me.
They don't.
I'm not sure what matters to me anymore.
I'm sure God is still God. After that, I don't know.
I'm sure that my family is torn apart and my friends are few.
I'm sure that I'm clinging onto a rope that could tear apart any minute.
I'm sure that if I fall, I might not get back up.
I'm sure there is purpose in this pain, but for now I don't know what it is.


His way in the midst

It doesn't have to be this way.

Faced with a choice - fear or faith?
Joy or sorrow?
Life or death? 

I was told not to do it... but my hands trembled. I was ready to go.
I'm not afraid to die. I'm not. I know the God that awaits me.
I'm afraid to let others down, to not finish well.
To have unending agony.
To be left alone.

It felt so deep I thought I was drowning in it. I felt it in my throat, in my stomach, dragging me under.
I was breaking.
So thick, so full, so overflowing that I swear I thought my eyes were going to fall out of my head before they stopped.
Beat, beat, beat.
My heart beating faster and faster.
Do I do this? 
Rushing in. Giving strength.
My strength didn't look strong it was simply taking one step and then another and another. That's all.
It didn't feel strong, it felt weak.
And that's what He meant for it to be.

Tell me what God who can do the impossible would allow His children to stay strong in the possible?
To me that's the very definition of weak: belief in the Almighty, but never using it.
Like starting a car to sit in a parking lot... do you know the possibilities that await you?
How do you glimpse Him if all you see is the things you can do?
How do we call that faith when it looks more like doubt?

Ever notice the silence that comes after a thunderstorm?
Here I sit in it.
Unfamiliar, quiet, peaceful, strange.
The tears come every once in a while, but not so often.
The pain is slight, aware of my more stable state.
The one true God watching me. Loving me. Caring for me.
He lets me rest.


Three months and a beautiful mess of words...

I remember the darkness. I felt pain so deep that my heart threatened to fail me. I didn't know that an emotional pain could turn physical so quickly.

I sobbed.
I asked God to help me.
I prayed for sleep... or death.
I would sit in my bed and read the Word, journal, and try to sleep. My heart was beating so fast that I couldn't find sleep.
Hours turned to days and days turned to weeks and I was just. so. tired.
Drip, drip, drip.
I watched tears pool on my journal.
Reminders of the new reality of my life.
Silent mourners joining at a funeral, not knowing if this was to be the end or the beginning of something greater.

The Lord gave me rest after three long months of tears falling every night.
I was growing. Seeking. Praying.
Thriving under the Son who made my soul blossom into something the world knows as impossible - but I dare to show them differently.

Fear came and seized me on a typical day.
The reality of the situation became as clear as day and a choice was looming over my head and my heart- the same choice I discussed with my mentor- the same choice I had prayed about and wondered about every night before sleep came for me:
Can I do this, Lord? followed by, I can't do this, Lord.

Except I can because He did and so here we are.
The tissue boxes are emptied again.
The prayers are sometimes long (on the good days) and sometimes silent (on the bad ones).
Abba and I just sit sometimes.
I don't talk, I just try to listen for a change.
He speaks to me, too. He strengthens me.

These days I wait.
I wait for this famine of the soul to be gone, this valley to be fully walked through.
I wait for Him. I look for Him. I look to Him.
He knows the weariness, the tears, the pain all so well.
He knows yours so well too.
Our stories may be different, but His story remains the same.
He wants you. He wants me. He wants the people in the world.

You and I, we are on mission to tell His story.
To tell His story written thousands of years ago and fulfilled through Jesus Christ.
And to tell your story of His story unfolding in your life on the daily.
Don't sugarcoat it or ignore it, just share it.

The road is hard and long and narrow and tiring.
It is worth it though.
When I'm left all alone, whether with my thoughts or physically, I know that the emptiness that creeps in is only there to remind me this world is not my home and this life holds nothing that can fully satisfy me other than my Savior Jesus Christ.

So I accept that only He satisfies me.
I accept His grace through these challenges.
I accept the help I am given in these challenges.
I accept the manna one day at a time.
I accept the challenge of the challenge.
Because the brokenness is beautiful and it leads me to Him.
So, I accept the broken too.

It comes to me now, eyelids near shut, but heart and mind wide open.
He sees me here.
He holds me here.
He sees you and holds you.
So we can both sleep now.
No challenge will overtake us because He already has it in His hands.


The Gift

There was a gift given to a young woman.
It sat outside her door.
It wasn't so beautiful on the outside to her
In fact, it looked mighty dangerous.
It had thorns and thistles around the brown paper that wrapped it.
She couldn't see what was inside, but she was afraid to touch it.
It had been burned on the outside, just enough for flame marks to be visible.
She wondered what on earth anybody could possibly be giving to her.
She decided she was going to get some gloves and throw it away.

Clearly, based on how it looked, there was no hope for whatever was inside.

Just as she was about to toss it away, a man appeared.

She had never seen him before, but from far away she could feel a sense of peace and calm from him.
He asked her what she was doing.

"Well," she said, "I'm throwing this away. I have no earthly clue who gave it to me or where it came from, but I don't appreciate someone leaving trash here at my home."

He smiled for a moment and then answered,
"I gave it to you."

Stunned she looked at him closer, did she know him? No, she was sure she didn't. So why was this stranger giving her this... whatever it is?
"Oh, I...uh... what is it?"

He chuckled and told her, "Why don't you stop being so afraid and just open it?"

Reluctantly she peeled back the paper carefully, so as not to cut herself on the thorns, and looked. Inside was a beautiful strand of pearls.

"Oh my. These are beautiful! Where did you find them? Why would you give these to me? I don't even know you."

Her last sentence must've saddened him because he looked away for a moment and then answered her,
"Daughter, I have known you all your life. I have seen your every struggle. I have gifted you with life and you're choosing to throw it away just because it's a little beat up around the edges and painful to handle. You cry out to Me, but when I answer you just throw away my Words and keep running. I gave you a gift and you rejected it. I gave you another gift and you rejected it too. The pearls represent the beauty that surrounds you because of Me. The thorns, the burn marks, they represent the pain that surrounds the beauty. I am over it all though. If you would seek Me you would see Me and know Me. That's what the gift represents- being unafraid to peel back the layers, however scary they look to you, and see the beauty inside."

The young woman started to say something, but didn't.
She knew the Man in front of her.
She knew He had heard her thoughts the night before. How she wanted to end it. To flee from the pain once and for all.
Immediately the tears began to roll.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to reject Your gift. I'm just so tired and hurting. I didn't mean to hurt You too. Will You forgive me?"

He gently wiped her tears and grabbed her hand, "Daughter, you matter to Me. You are going to make it through this. Yes, I forgive you. However, you must not doubt My goodness or My plans because they are much higher than yours. Learn to trust Me, daughter. I want what's best for you."

For several moments she cried and finally decided that she was going to accept all the gifts surrounding her and make Him happy by how she lived, even when it was hard. She started to tell Him all her thoughts, but when she looked up, He was gone.

He wasn't gone though. He just wasn't in front of her anymore. She knew He would always be with her because He told her He would and she knew it to be true.

She grabbed the pearls and placed them around her neck.
Just as she accepted these, she will accept life and she will live because of Him.

I can and will

I woke up this morning and I felt like I was choking.
I couldn't breathe well and my heart was pounding.

What's wrong with me, Lord? Oh. Yeah. That. 

Worry. Losing sight of the One who made us and trusting in what we see.
It's hard. Life is hard. God is not.
He is good and loving and just and He won't leave us in the hard.

This year has been my living hell on earth. I never believed that these seasons I've walked through, and am currently walking through, would happen.

I've cried.
I've yelled.
I've prayed.
I've begged.

But I'm thankful.

I have been praying for a long time that God would make me into the woman He wants me to be. Now tell me, how is that possible without tests and trials? It's not. See, I've learned something. We want to be godly and more Christ-like and holy, BUT we don't want to have to endure similar struggles that true saints must endure in order to get to that holy, godly, Christ-like heart.

This year my relationship of four years ended. I found out there was somebody else in the picture. That broke me for several weeks. I asked God why somebody would do that. How. You know what I sensed after I asked? Well, for four years I had allowed one person to become my all in all and I allowed that person to draw me away from my Savior.

So He told me, Daughter, it felt the same way when you chose to run from Me instead of to me. Unfaithful and disobedient.

Ouch. Okay God, I hear You.

I wanted to hold on to this bitterness and anger I felt. This pain. Yet, how could I when this pain was the same I gave to my Heavenly Father and yet He forgave me? So I let go. I thanked God for allowing me to experience emotions that He experiences and giving me a glimpse of true forgiveness and love.

Now, this month has lead to yet another trial. This one is bigger than the breakup and much harder and I want to run. I want to run fast and long and hard... away. I'm a fighter, but not to this extent. Yet, I believe He wants me to do this. To fight this. To fight for this.

I wish I could tell you what is happening, but for confidential reasons, I cannot. However, know this my friend, whatever you are facing today our God is bigger and mightier than it and you will and can get through this.

I will and I can through Him.

So tonight, let's rest. Rest in Him. Trust in Him. Cry our tears and know He sees and cares and will comfort us and be near, His presence being the difference maker. His will being done. He kingdom coming. His children becoming. At the end of it all let's focus on the eternal and leave the fears and doubts behind.

Lord, help us.