Category Archives: Freedom living

When Good Keeps Getting Better

I’m guilty of letting the disappointments and heartache of the past become too familiar. 

Maybe you are too.

embarrassmentIts easy enough to let it happen. I mean… when we’ve lived it, breathed it, and experienced it for any length of time it just naturally becomes a way of life. What’s expected.

Recently I pulled out some of the old CD’s that my ex and I had recorded so many years ago, and I’ll tell you this: it was weird to listen to them again.

The influx of memories that crashed through my mind carried many good feelings with them because I used to love to sing on stage.

Loved bringing people into worship.

Singing about hope.

– I’m wired to encourage, and I really got to do that all over the country for a few years (way before social media became my jam!), yet there was another side to those years on the road, as well as the ones before and after.

And its hard to forget.

The past few years have been a training ground for me.

I’ve been relearning what goodness is.

What it feels like.

And how to reprogram my thinking.

When I made the daily decision to plunk down in front of Him every day, God invaded my space by teaching me about who He is and what that means to me on a daily basis.

He has convinced me that He loves me like a really good dad loves his kid.

Like a proud papa who adores his little girl.

As a new husband loves his bride.

Me.

He loves me.

It took awhile to grasp it. And then to own it… but it has totally rocked my ever-lovin’ world.

The reprogramming has included His soft whispers of hope for my future, which I confess has been extra difficult for me to wrap my head around.

My life has been full of things that have hurt me, things that stretched me, things that have blindsided me.

And I became accustomed to not expect anything much better than the very simple pleasures like my children’s smiles, their health, a decent job to pay bills and put food on the table, and good friends.

Those are really good things, and I do not take them for granted.

Yet He kept repeating certain scriptures of hope in my time with Him everyday, compounded by confirmations through random sermons, books, emails, quotes, music, and conversations.

I’ve written about many of this over the past few years, and its safe to say that it is well documented that I have struggled.

My most recent posts have been rather jubilant, if I do say so myself, because I have had the privilege of watching God come through with some of His promises for me, and I can hardly stand it.

A very big component of my joy is realizing that I’m not crazy! Which feels really good.

Duh.

When I sensed Him tell me to start praying and repeating aloud the things He had been promising me, and to do so with some urgency, I was a wee bit afraid that I may have finally toppled my rocker.

But the stuff that started to happen shortly after I obeyed, well, still kinda gives me shivers.

You guys, let’s be honest. We all know there’s a lot of smarmy hocus-pocus garbage that has been tossed around in the name of God over the years. And a chunk of it seems to have padded pockets more than anything.

Here’s the thing though: when you learn to hear God’s voice, and He consistently speaks to you about something, and then pushes the GO button… it pays to listen. In ways that are much more fulfilling than common currency.

He is a faithful God, and when He says something He always follows through. It may not be in our preferred timing, but His is better anyway.

Because He’s just so smart.

Anyway, I want to let you know that I am experiencing some really good things in my life these days, and feel compelled to encourage you to not give up, or to give in to despair if you are in the midst of some really tough stuff.

I am living proof that God is the Master at creating newness, of bringing beauty up out of our ashes, of restoring those things that the locusts have eaten, of redeeming, of healing, of replacing our mourning with joy.

He is the author of all that is good, and it pleases Him to take the yuck and transform it into something amazing.

A year ago He began the process of getting me ready for a new person in my life by allowing me to feel deep loneliness (which, if you recall, really ticked me off).

I eventually allowed myself to start to date, and had no idea what I was doing.

He also began to stir up more inside me regarding the dreams and plans He planted within me for business and for championing women…

metomToday I am thrilled to be building a relationship with a man that surprises me almost daily with something I am pleased to discover that I like, respect, or admire about him.

It is a good thing, and I am thankful that God laid the foundation for me so I could fully enjoy it.

And these good things only seem to get better.

God is a good God.

And He likes to spread that goodness around, contrary to what many may think.

The hard things in my life are being used to help others… I might have hit someone for telling me that all those years ago, but today I am happy about it.

He doesn’t waste a thing.

Let Him show you.

– love love

Shev

 

 

 

It is Well With My Soul


For some reason, I still stutter when people ask me how many kids I have. 

Do I say four?

Or do I draw it out, and say, “I have three girls, and had one son who passed away when he was eight months old.”

Or do I not say anything about him at all, and just answer that I have three?

Because do I really want to see the cocked head, hear the little cluck of the tongue, followed by “oh I’m so sorry, that must have been hard. My sister/daughter/friend lost a child too. I can’t even imagine how you got through that.”

I can’t imagine it either

Sometimes it sneaks up on me, and I am surprised to realize and remember that this actually happened in my life.

I traveled this path.

I gave birth to, and eventually said goodbye to, my little boy.

I wonder what he would have been like…

Would he have played sports like his dad? Bantered with his Grandma over favorite hockey teams?

Would he have loved music as much as we do, or had some other creative bent?

Would he have been like my side of the family and lean a little more redneck? Learned to hunt with his uncle, fish with his cousin? Tinker under the hood of a truck?

What would it have been like for the girls to grow up with a brother? Who would poke and tease them at home, but stick up for them at the playground.

Would he kick their ass for even thinking about dating so-and-so, and make their lives miserable until they dumped said-date.

Would we have been close? Would our bond be any different than the ones I have with the girls?

What is it like to have a little boy?

 I don’t even know. I never got to know him.

If he had lived, he would be 21 years old this month. A legal adult.

But he didn’t.


My grief was like a festering wound, but fairly well hidden, for at least ten years after his death.

I didn’t know how to process it all. How to grieve, especially since I felt like such a failure. It was my body that failed him, after all.

So my turbulent emotions stayed at a simmering boil just beneath the surface for far too long, and caused so much damage.

I was stuck.

I was in pain.

And I didn’t know how to fix it.

Funny how having my husband walk out on me turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. 

Too harsh?

Not really.

I was forced to feel when Kevin walked out; when he told me it was over, that there was nothing we could do to fix our marriage, and he wanted a divorce.

All the pain I had kept bottled up for so long crashed its way to the surface and broke through, surging forth with a vengeance.

I cried for a year. No kidding.

And slowly began to come back to life.

We’re not doing anyone any favors by locking down our emotions. Least of all ourselves.

In order to continue to live with any meaning, we must be willing to face what hurts. Process it. Feel it. And heal.


These three. 

I would have missed out on so much more with them if I had not had the opportunity to face the hurt.

Mando was 11 when I crashed, and she had already borne the brunt of my pain for 9 years. Poor kid.

But God. God is so much more amazing than I could imagine. He has brought beauty out of this pain. Out of our ashes. Produced songs from our mourning.

It still sucks that I don’t have a young man to hug and kiss on and tell him I love him and call him Joe.

But I do have his sisters. And I squeeze them and tease them and kiss them and nag them and laugh with them and love them fiercely all the more now.

Because I am no longer stuck.

I know that life has all too many unpleasant surprises. But I also know that if I field them well, safely in the hand of the Lover of my soul, I will always come out on top.

Because He says I am the head, and not the tail.

That no weapon formed against me shall prosper.

That His plans for me are good.

And He began a good work in me, and will continue to bring it to pass.

Oh. And He is a Good Good Father, despite what some may think.

Life and people can hurt. But I have experienced great healing from the God of the universe on a very personal level.

It is well with my soul. And my heart. And my mind. And even my body. It is well.

Love love

Shev

Why the Heck Must We Wait?

warriorprincessI’ve noticed that before many major battles that took place in the Old Testament, before there was a huge shift in power, before a significant promise was fulfilled, and before God used someone to further His plans in the New Testament… there was a time of waiting.

I am not a big fan of waiting. I’m actually rather impatient. Always have been.

But what I have learned over the years of my waiting in the desert, is that this is where the learning has taken place. This long period of waiting has been my training ground, where my spirit has been working out, preparing me for what He has in store for me.

I have not enjoyed it one iota. Not a smidgen. Nothin’. Nope.

It has been dry, this desert I have been training in. Dry, and hot, and tiring. I have been sore from the workouts. I have felt the bruises, the cuts, the sting of embarrassment at my frailty. Yet I have noticed that I now wobble less after spending so much time practicing under the hot, relentless sun. The strokes of my sword have become much more second nature as I wield His truth with new-found strength and ease.

I parry every attack knowing that my Master taught me well, and I feel the confidence as I beat back my adversaries with the power He gifted me with.

There is a battle going on.

And I am not afraid.

The weapons I fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

I have found my footing. My feet are planted, shod with the completeness of Christ. I am whole, and have been given His righteousness to protect me. His truth holds me in place. My faith in Him deflects and extinguishes every shot taken at me. His salvation protects me from all the lies, from the attempts to bludgeon me, from the sneak attacks trying to take me out.

I am hated because of the One who loves me.

But the desert has produced a Warrior. My enemy trembles because it knows I am filled with the power of the Most High, and whispers “oh shit” now that I am standing at the Jordan, ready to cross over.

This land is mine. The giants before me are nothing compared to my God.

Ants.

I am either bat-shit crazy or a formidable foe, but either way, I am grateful for my time in the desert of waiting. Because the little girl who used to cower and whimper at every little push, taunt, and blow has morphed into the Warrior Princess I was created to be. It has been hard work, and I understand it will be hard in the field as well; but I am ready. I do not fight alone.

This is why the waiting is mandatory: to be equipped for the battles. To know our weapons, become so familiar with the footwork that it feels like dancing, and to understand the strategies of the enemy.

I worship the King of kings. My praise wreaks havoc in the unseen realm in ways I won’t fully understand until I am taken up with Him. 

My prayers, and my declarations of His might move mountains and dispel darkness. 

I am in Him.

He is in me.

I love with power and humility because He first loved me. It is undaunted and strong.

This is my battle cry:

May your Kingdom come, your will be done here on earth as it is in Heaven! 

Yours is the kingdom

The power

The glory

Forever and ever

Amen

– Shev

 

My Place at the Table

imageThis morning I came face to face with how deep my sense of unworthiness has been. It shook me up a little, to be honest.

I mean, I have been undergoing significant transformation over the past 11 years, changing my mental, emotional and spiritual framework for the better. Learning what it means to be a daughter of the King; bought, sought after, loved, and enjoyed by the Three. I have experienced the presence, the power, the comfort, peace, kindness and love of our good, good Father.

So, to be so overcome with a sense of shame and unworthiness this morning has left me a little weak. Apparently its one thing to walk out His presence and power in my life in the typical everyday things, but yet another to take my place at His table personally. My head knows that He says I belong there with Him, but my heart had not been convinced.

I felt a strong connection with Jonathon’s son, Mephibosheth, when I read about him in 2 Samuel 9 this morning. David called him by name, and wanted to honor Jonathon by restoring all Saul’s property to Mephibosheth as well as have them eat all their meals together. But Mephibosheth couldn’t comprehend it.

He didn’t know who he was. He didn’t understand that he was the grandson of King Saul.

He had lived his entire life surrounded by poverty and wilderness, and equated that to his worth.

I bawled like a baby as I read that.

I understand what that feels like.

I know that God calls me His. That because of Jesus I am grafted in to His family. That because of His blood, I am gifted with His righteousness. That I could never have earned it on my own, but because God loves me and values me, He gifted me with Himself through Jesus. I know this. In my head.

Yet, because I have lived for the majority of my adult life with multiple seasons of pain, disappointment, anger, and loneliness, I have somehow managed to become conditioned to living with shame.

I realize now that I feel unworthy of elevation, acceptance, and complete love for me because I lived in a desert for so long. I have believed that I am not enough. Am not good enough. Worth enough. I guess death and divorce will do that to a girl.

That makes me sad. And I know enough to understand that it makes God sad too.

So I laid it before Him this morning. I thanked Him for seeing my value even when I have not. For using my seasons of pain for His glory, to point the way to His goodness for others that are in the pit of despair, pain and rejection. Because I know that HE is good. I just haven’t believed that I am good enough.

Today I am making a deeper shift in my thinking. I will endeavor to embrace my value to my King. He sees me as perfect, as priceless, because of Jesus. I live because of Him. In Him. Him in me. And HE thinks I’m all that.

So I will stop second guessing, doubting, and rejecting the truth of my worth.

I don’t have to strive for it. I don’t have to earn it. I just have to live in it.

I will sit at my place at His table, and revel in the pure joy of it.

I hope you take your spot too. We can sit together if you want.

 

love love

– Shev

From Fearful to Grateful

worshipI have graduated from blubbering uncontrollably out of fear when I pray, begging God to have mercy and kindness when it comes to teaching me, to blubbering out of a grateful heart — smile and all. Yay me!

I have recently uncovered a few lies about God that I have been living with, which has led to this new style of blubbering. Go figure.

(Blubbering: aka shameless-ugly-crying. Usually involves rocking back and forth and lots of tissues. Good times.)

Like the one where I believed that He was going to make me go through something hard in order to teach me a lesson.

There’s always a wee bit of truth in the lies that the enemy spins; he just puts a hard twist on it to try to get us in a downward spiral. Yes, God uses hard things to grow us, stretch us, love us into more… But not to torment us.

And I’ve been jumping on this particular ride of twists from the enemy for quite a few years. (If you’ve ever seen or heard me on a rollercoaster, you’ll understand the torment for me.) I’m pretty sure I can trace the origin of this lie to 2005, where I was listening to a message from some preacher reminding us about counting it all joy in the midst of our trials. And how God will bring us growth, closer to Him, the whole shebang.

And all I translated was: oh shit.

This meant something bad was going to happen to my youngest because I still haven’t got the whole God-thing figured out yet, and since Mando somehow missed the train wreck by being the first born, Ruby was just naturally (what?!) next in line for something hard to deal with since her older brother was dead and her sister Hannah had special needs.

Gah.

Keep in mind that I was in the midst of learning some pretty wonderful things about God by this point. My husband had moved out the previous Christmas, I fell apart (finally!) and I began to experience the presence of God in a very real, very tangible, very humbling way. Blew me away, really.

I had no idea that I could experience the Living God this way. That He got a kick out of me, of all people, and was dying for a relationship with me. Such a bizarre notion, yet I was desperate to know more. He showed up in ways that continuously proved His presence; something I would read that would coincide with something someone would say to me the same day that was exactly what I needed. Providing financially when there was nothing, and I mean nothing, to glean from. Providing jobs I needed. Changing a situation. Giving me a sense of peace in the middle of something crazy. It was very personal, very emotional, and very true to me.

But this little lie hovered over everything. And I let it, because, you know: God is God and if He thinks I need a lesson then I guess it was His prerogative. I’d just have occasional meltdowns thats all. Like those shelter dogs shaking in the corner of the pen, afraid to come near the hand thats feeding them in case it strikes.

Nice.

I believed that all the hard things I had experienced so far in my life were directly from Him. Sure, I made choices, but… it was God’s fault. Wasn’t it?

Hmmm…

So, over the last few years I find it interesting that one of the things He’s been drilling into me is to try to uncover Who He IS. Taking me through the Old Testament to discover how He really felt about His people and giving me a glimpse of His loving, merciful heart. Honest, its there!

And then let me experience His words coursing through my mind and my soul as I learned to meditate on His promises… revealing Himself to me through Jesus as I read His words and those of His disciples in the New Testament. I began to understand that if the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control then perhaps-maybe-kinda-sorta God might BE all those things.

To me.

Gah.

***

And then this week something crazy happened to me.

Through a series of recent events He has let me know that something very particular that He promised me a few years ago will be finally coming to fruition.

As you can well imagine, I freaked out a tad. I sent my sis-in-law a video of me yelling as I explained to her all the things leading up to this point, and she had the audacity to agree with me that it looks like God is telling me something’s up… Oh my heart.

Because, you know, I was doubting. That’s just normal, right? Surely Moses and Noah and Joseph and everybody doubted once or twice, right? Right?

So. I did what I typically do when God does something nice for me. I immediately assumed that there’s a catch. A twist. A “yeah, look at what I’m gonna do for you, but either you’re gonna owe me, or its not going to be as good as you hope it to be...”

Then I did the begging thing. With the fear-blubbering. There was just so much torment.

And my Mom shed some light on the darkness for me. (thanks Mom!)

She said: “You grew up with a good father. Would he treat you like that? Would he torment you in order to teach you? Did he ever? And would he cause you this much anxiety when he had promised you something wonderful?”

Um. No.

So I told God about this new revelation, as if He didn’t know, and I said I was sorry. Asked Him to take it away and fill it with His truth.

Crazy.

He did.

He has flooded me with understanding of the lengths He will go to to bring us joy. Fullness. Even in the midst of trials, hard things, painful things — He will be there to bring us out and walk with us to experience His rich and full life within us.

With all the lovejoypeacepatiencekindnessgoodnessgentlenessandselfcontrol we can handle.

If. We. Let. Him.

Thats the only caveat.

One of the things that has continued to jump out at me in the Old Testament is how God always redeemed His people when they screwed up. Sometimes took forever, but He always did it. And what blasts me in the face each time I read this stuff is how He says: it’s not because you deserve it. Its because of me. I am good. I want to. You are mine, and I will lavish you with all this because You Are Mine.

Cool.

He’s kind of bad-ass, eh? I like that.

And every single day this week He has showed up in multiple ways to assure me that I’m not nuts.

To remind me that He’s doing this because HE is good. And that He loves me. Because HE is good. And wants me to experience joy that blows my mind.

Good grief, I can’t even.

Maybe someday, long after it happens, and my heart rate has been restored, I’ll tell you about it.

In the meantime, I double-dog-dare you to investigate who you think God is compared to who He really is.

And who He wants to be for you today.

He’s a good, good Father.

love love

Shev

 

 

What a Fresh Awakening Feels Like

Today would have been my 24th wedding anniversary. I remember throwing a 25th for my parents, many moons ago… but I won’t be getting one next year.

imageI’m not as broken up about it as one might expect. At least not anymore. Its disappointing of course, but when I stop and look at the journey God has walked me through, I am a much different person now than I would have imagined. And I am grateful.

I feel like there is a fresh awakening afoot. The seasons keep changing, literally and figuratively, and I notice that there is an element of elevation in the seasons God takes us through. Elevation as well as depth, if that makes sense. Its hard to describe, but this new season I’m in right now is taking me deeper into His love for me, in ways that completely delight me! And I sense that I am being lifted higher, too, yet I’m not even sure how to convey what I mean by it.

I have known for awhile that I have a strong gift of faith. Of an awareness of things we cannot see, of things at work in other realms that we are not aware of, but are important. That I am able to trust Him even when it doesn’t make sense.

Sound crazy? Yeah, I know.

There is so much evil in this world. So much hatred, injustice, and pain. Such hard, hard things to witness, to wrap our minds around. And where is God in all of it?

He is here. He weeps right along with us. He is angered by the injustice, the heartache, the inexplicable madness. And He will use us to overcome it, if we let Him. Because He has overcome.

He has gifted me with an assurance that what He says, will be. He has convinced me of His faithfulness, His goodness, His abundance, His joy and His unending love.

His giving nature.

His extravagance.

He. Always. Comes. Through.

He has changed something within me over the years. And now there’s something new, something fresh, something I haven’t encountered before with Him.  I’m excited to watch it unfold…

He told me (sorry, no big voice or anything, just a heart-knowing, – validated by reading, people, and circumstances) that if I grab hold of this moment, that He will elevate me to a different place in the Spirit.

So I’m grabbing.

Its partly terrifying, because I feel so absolutely out of control. Which of course had me scarfing copious amounts of food before bed last night… sigh. Until I had a good cry and laugh. Since when have I ever controlled anything, anyway?

The joy He has been sharing with me is incredible.

The passion He has been infusing me with is palpable.

And the wonder and excitement for the future and what He has in store is unmistakeable.

He is teaching me to thrive in His immense love.

What a trip!

I praise you. I thank you for this season. I thank you for today. I thank you for all the yesterdays. I thank you for the future. You are so good. I wait in anticipation as You unfold it all. Thank you for overcoming evil with Your goodness.

I wait. I learn. And I wait. 

love love

Shev

 

 

When You Find Yourself Lacking

waterSo many of us live safe, protected, monotonous lives, threatening us with complete boredom, and more often than not its because we have not allowed ourselves to become personal with God.

That’s right. Personal.

When we feel like we’re in a drought, when we find ourselves lacking, we usually try to fill it with busy-ness, with entertainment, with experiences… you know what I’m talking about.

To know God is to be loved by Him. And to be loved by Him, we also inevitably get to know Him. (See what I’m doing here?)

And to get to know Him, and experience His great love in our lives– always, always leads us to love Him in return.

And once we love Him out of this indescribable love He has for us, we begin to spread that love around. To want to please Him because we love Him so.

This is like the well that never runs dry. Like being planted by rivers of living water.

Roots that go down deep.

***

That, my friends, is the greatest commandment summed up by Jesus Himself. Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love others as yourself.

We love Him because He first loved us. John talks about that in 1st John 4.

We love simply because HE first loved us.

***

So how do we experience this love that Paul talks about in Ephesians? This love that we can’t possibly understand. This love that he urges all believers to experience. To know personally how deep, how wide, how long, how high the love of God truly is. To let our roots sink down deep into this marvelous love.

How?

I propose that we ask Him. Open ourselves up to the possibility that we don’t know how to do this, and we want help.

Direction.

And you know what? This is the kind of thing He really digs; when we come to Him, asking. Seeking Him.

He tells us that when we seek Him, we will find Him.

And when we find Him, we get to know Him. And to get to know Him, we learn how much He loves us.

Which causes us to nearly spontaneously combust with our love for Him in return.

He’s kinda cool like that, the way He weaves it all.

So, go on.

Ask.

 

– love, love

Shev