Moving Forward

Last week I sat with an incredible group of women and talked about how we hear from the Lord, personally. Several women shared different ways God speaks to them.

One way that was mentioned and has played a huge role in my faith walk is themes & repeating. Often, when I hear something from the Lord I repeatedly hear the same thing from different people or in a different setting – often in some secular/ non-spiritual way as well.

Fire is the current theme.

Last summer God brought an amazing women into my life. Instantly, I felt a connection with her. Something about being a trauma survivor is evident only to those who have been through something similar. We ended up discovering we are both homeschoolers and attending the same co-op this year. Thank you, God, for that!

After an intensely emotional week she sat with me before a worship service we both attended Saturday night. She shared a small part of her story and how terrified she was of being rejected in church again. (Hello! The injustice of this makes my blood boil. But we won’t go there. I’m working on calming down not amping up)

At the service, I watched her do the most incredible thing. I saw her face her fear and say yes to what God was asking her to do. She saw fire, (fire of God that is) prayed for it and then broke out in spontaneous worship. People I want to scream as loud as I can here! THIS WAS AMAZING!

I had no ability to respond that night. I was so wounded all I could do was sit and cry. But I saw my friend and the victory God gave her that night. She is a mighty warrior, y’all! Had to throw that in since she’s from Texas. Texas you’re doin something right cause they women coming out of your state are on fire!

This beautiful friend also pointed out that fire is hot and tends to burn when in contact with human flesh. I feels like an all consuming fire is burning up everything in my life. It doesn’t feel good. It’s causing physical pain in my body. Last night, as I wrestled with sleep I had the same thought each time I awoke. It was about fire.

There is a story in the Bible (Daniel 6) about three men who were were living and working in a foreign land. They were told they had to worship the way the King wanted or they would be thrown into the fire.

Even though these men were facing death their relationship with God was far more important to them. They couldn’t compromise and it landed them in a furnace full of fire.

I can relate to this!

To stand for what you believe and what you know to be true is not easy. We live a society marred by compromise. Pressure to conform is intense. Anyone raising teens understand what I mean and sadly a large percentage of adults don’t know how to stand in the face of peer pressure either.

As a follower of Jesus, I am called be like the men in the Bible story. In order to stand up for what I believe I have to know who I am and what, exactly, I believe. Those men would have easily conformed to what everybody else was doing if they didn’t know who they were and who they belonged to. They belong to God and their moment of truth came when all three entered the fire. Instead of three men there were four. The were untouched by the flames because God was with them.

This is a truth I know very well. When God is with you, you are perfectly ok no matter what the circumstances are indicating. As I watch things I’ve invested in for years burn up and turn to ash God is reminding me that He is in control and the fire can not touch anything He doesn’t want to burn. I am being refined through fire.

~ See, I have been testing you for myself like silver; I have put you through the fire of trouble ~ Isaiah 48:10

As I prayed with my daughter to night she told me she prayed for me at YG. She gave me several pictures others had for me. I’m excited to get creative with it and see what happens!

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Do hard things!

Amber & Ali ~ Rizzmic Instructors

My heart is shattered again. I hate moving on from my faith community. Why does life involve so many painful parts?

It’s time. I’m certain. But the impact on my heart is still excoriating. For me, church is family. When you do life along side people week after week you become so connected that when a green light signals to get moving, I have a pattern of finding myself stuck and in need of lots of positive affirmation to move at all.

I’m learning to own my failures. I do not have the ability to heal from trauma and be neat & tidy at the same time. I’m learning to identify triggers and asking others to help me. Ali girl, you stabilize me like no one else.

Most importantly, I’m learning to love the way God created me and accept my challenges as part of His purpose and plan for me. Together we are drafting an amazing story of redemption.

Healing is hard. It is also beautiful and valuable beyond my human comprehension. It has cultivated compassion and understanding in me. As my hearts mends creativity emerges and I’m uncovering the potential behind wholehearted living. I’m doing hard things and finding Joy comes in the morning.

Do hard things. I promise you will discover an amazing story! I’m praying for it!

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Mission Accomplished!

I did it! I taught my first Rizzmic class in a gym.

First day at Anytime Fitness!

It was a completely exhilarating experience. I wish I could say it was all good. The word exhilarating, after all, elicits positive thoughts. But these days any emotional highs (positive or negative) seem to be followed by panic & anxiety.

It’s a war I’m determined to win. But truthfully, I mostly feel like I am failing miserably. I haven’t battled these feelings for a long time. Suddenly, I’m facing feelings that take me back to my teen years. Instead of enjoying the triumph of reaching my goal, I battled nausea and stomach pain. This is my current reality and some days it’s incredibly discouraging.

Thankfully, it is only part of my story AND the other parts are being written so beautifully. The beautiful ending to this little story is that, once again, God orchestrated my circumstances in a way that healed a small part of my broken spirit.

Rizzmic has become my creative outlet. Teaching it utilizes the gifts God has developed in me so perfectly. How cool is that? What an amazing blessing!

The even more beautiful thing I’ve discovered through Rizzmic is a sense of acceptance, belonging and community. The relationships I share with these ladies are not deep – yet – it’s only been a short time.  I know a little about them and they know a little about me but I’ve never felt more comfortable in my own skin while being embraced & encouraged.

Rizzmic Sisters

This week, I had the privilege of seeing these amazing ladies in action.  They are hard-working, dedicated individuals that know how to have a good time while getting the job done.  I cannot accurately express the joy my heart feels to have found my place among them. For God to place them in my life during such a difficult season confirms that my Creator knows me implicitly and is working to piece me back together with perfect precision so I can fully become exactly who He created me to be.

If you are struggling right now, please hear me when I say, “there is a way through your present circumstance.” To heal is a painful process but it is far worse to stay stuck in brokenness. Often it is a treacherous journey but the reward is so beautiful. Find your people and NEVER give up! Maybe join me for class? You can find me at Anytime Fitness in Snoqualmie Wednesdays at 9am. I’d love to teach you how to discover this for yourself!


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January 1st 2019

As 2018 came to an end so did my Finish Strong – Healthy Living Challenge. Back in November, I set 5 goals for myself; one in each of the following areas: Water, Food, Faith, Relationships & Exercise. I also set an overall goal to teach a full Rizzmic class. I had a partner and we competed on a team. When starting, I felt a little bad. I’m mostly acquaintances with this group of co-op moms so I can’t image any of them know I’m a recovering obsessive/compulsive control freak with unheard of amounts of excited/anxious energy. I really don’t need a partner or a team to motivate me but I’ve been free balling it for a little too long and I’m working toward balance. It was a good avenue for that. I kept my goals broad but healthy and achievable. It was helpful that part of our schooling this fall included a fantastic mindset curriculum done by Khan Academy called Learnstorm. We learned together the components of good goal setting. I love how God puts little details like that together for me.

I crushed my goals and super awesome things happened. My relational goal was to pray with all of the family members living in my house every night. I do, after all, lead prayer ministry at church and if I’m honest praying with my family didn’t happen nearly enough before this challenge.

I can not say enough good things about nightly prayer with my people. It is so good for our relationships. It is so good for anxiety and worry. This is one goal that WILL become a habit. I even made my college kid appease me when he was home. That boy is so kind to his mama. I love him.

My faith goal was to be in the word everyday, pray for needs and then listen. I documented all of this in a journal that will, forever, be a treasured keepsake of all God taught me through this. I love the visual record of what God said.

Like every other story of my life this journey is not without its fair share of struggle and pain. Literal physical pain. Do you know what it feel like to be hit by a truck? I do, experienced that in 2016. It wasn’t awesome. The current pain of my journey feels very similar. It threatens to pull me back to a place of helplessness and hopelessness.

I managed to collect all of my points for 7 weeks in a row. I learned a lot. But I set a very lofty overall goal. To teach a full rizzmic class is not an easy endeavor. I worked hard and trained. At thanksgiving, I taught half a class with another gal. I was certain I could do it.

Then I got sick. First it was a head cold just after thanksgiving. Then mid way through December it turned into a wicked migraine and then added abdominal pain a few days later that won me a late night trip to the ER. I spent the entire holiday laid up in bed. 😫

The last week of my challenge I felt like I might be dying. The ER trip confirmed that was not the case but I was having severe abdominal pain on top of a terrible migraine. I was in so much pain. At one point the doctor restricted me to clear liquids for 24 hours. I hadn’t really eaten in several days and to follow those orders left me feeling like I slowly dying from starvation, a brain aneurism and abdominal pain all at once.

Thankfully the challenge distracted me. My partner was super kind and brought me bone broth. Two days in row. Can you see this blessing from heaven? I mixed the broth with a boxed chicken noodle soup and called it a meal so I could get my points. 😂 Even when I feel like I’m dying, I’m still competitive.

When I added up my points, at the end of the last week, I did better than expected. Building discipline into your life has it’s benefits. But I didn’t have enough energy to finish my overall goal. For that, I’m choosing to have grace for myself. Grace is one of those things Jesus ALWAYS extends to me and yet I struggle to extend it to myself. I sometimes even have a hard time excepting His grace. 😂 The point of the challenge was to work towards healthiness. For me healthiness looks like grace.

Instead of focusing on my failure I’m choosing to see the growth and the beauty. Being intentional about growing and moving forward is so important and exponentially beneficial.

Today, I’m working on my next set of goals for 2019. At the top of that list is teaching Rizzmic. I hit the ground running co-teaching again today. We had a blast as evidenced by the cute picture. Come join me for a class in 2019. I promise I’ll be teaching!

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Learning to Fly

I constantly have words and stories running through my head but to get them down on paper has been difficult. I’m currently in the middle of a dessert experience.  My set of life circumstances is finding me struggling, a lot. I often get pictures to explain my feelings.  Right now, I see myself in a boxing ring and life keeps taken its swing. I feel like I’m fighting for my life. Thankfully I’m strong. I’m a survivor because of my Savior.  No matter how many times I get hit I will always find the ability to get back up. God always meets me here.  He is my strength.  He picks me up, sets me back on my feet and holds me up until I can stand on my own. Every time!

I have such a desire to tell the amazing stories of how I see Jesus moving and working.  I don’t want to let the emotional weight I’m carrying quiet my voice. As hard as it is, I’m going to share my stories.  The beautiful side of my story is how God takes the meager scrapes of my life and turns them into something incredible.  This week God showed up for me in powerfully evident ways. In a way that made me feel like I AM incredibly special in the eyes of my Heavenly Father.  The way He pays attention to me is just astounding.

To grasp the gravity of it all I need to give a little background information.  Last summer, I got “certified” as a dance fitness instructor – kind of on a whim. Not really.  I knew I wanted to do it, but it wasn’t like I’ve ever aspired to be a fitness instructor. Dancing has become a creative outlet that I have completely fallen in love with.  I have so much fun and it is so good for my mind and body.  I’m really focused on healing my mind so anything that can help facilitate that and is fun is a major bonus.  Dancing has become my path of healing and ultimately my path to strength.  I can go around and round in that boxing ring as long as necessary because I’ve been training on a dance floor.   This week I pushed myself a little more and pressed on to becoming exactly who I was created to be, before the effects of my trauma set it.  It was terrifying and amazing at the same time but Jesus was leading me, so I boldly went along.

In the midst of what feels like a life-threatening storm God is challenging me to keep moving forward. The blessing for me is that my challenge comes in the form of fun. The reality is being fun doesn’t make it any less difficult to do.  I was completely terrified and wanted to back out.  I like to dance, and I feel like I’m pretty good at it but to be in front of others showing them how to do is not so easy.  If that wasn’t scary and difficult enough, it was a left lead class which makes it 100x more difficult.  But I didn’t let that stop me and God orchestrated the whole thing in way that made me feel fantastic!  Two of my favorite instructors helped me out big time and then showered me with encouragement. The best part for me, the part that makes me feel completely overwhelmed by the love of God was the song we did for stretching. It was Avril Lavigne’s new song Head Above Water.

A little over a week ago, I heard this song for the first time.  A beautiful woman, who was hugely influential on me early in my walk with Jesus, posted it on Facebook.  I like to think, if I was a little more musically inclined, I could have written this song.  Every piece of my spirit resonates with this song.  It has been on repeat for a solid week. To hear at the end of this super intense experience was like a giant bear hug from God.  My reality is even though I feel like I might drown, God is doing so much more than keeping my head above water.  He is showing the truth of Isaiah 40:31 that says “those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Slowly, I’m learning to fly.  It’s terrifying and painful but it also feels completely amazing!  A feeling I want to experience again and again.  I feel alive!  For now, my flight happens on the wings of my Heavenly Father and thankfully He knows exactly how to support me.  But I know someday, hopefully someday soon, I will be able to sour on my own. Thank you, Jesus, for that!  Here’s a cute picture of us after class for your viewing pleasure.

rizz pic

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Patterns

Patterns.  They can be helpful.  When I was a little girl my mom made a lot of my clothes.  I have found memories of her laying out the pieces of a dress pattern onto colorful fabric and turning those pieces into a beautiful dress. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for those memories. The majority of what I remember is bad but the Lord is healing my heart and causing me to remember so much good.  Those good memories are the fulfilling of a promise that God is making all things new in my life.

Currently patterns are threatening to destroy me.  More specifically patterns of unhealthy behavior.  I’ve had so many unhealthy behaviors in the last 40 years.  I’m a walking miracle really. Because of Jesus, my stupid patterns have never actually succeeded to completely take me out.

Earlier this year, I heard God tell me it was time to come out of the desert.  Seemed timely since I turned 40 this year.  I was so excited and full of hope.  Jesus was moving in my life and I often felt like I could burst with excitement.

Fast forward a few months and I find myself in a place of complete brokenness again.  How did I get here?  Why is this happening?  I was focused.  I was finding Jesus in every moment of my life.  I was trusting and trying like hell to get it right.  God was building strength and character in me and I was finding joy in it.  How could all of that diminish in a moment.

The good news is, I’ve been here so many times I’ve gotten pretty good at recovering.  And I have a fierce determination to stop giving the enemy free reign in my life.  There’s a story in the bible about Jesus fishing with his disciples and a storm comes out of nowhere causing them to fear for their lives.  Jesus was sleeping in the boat, yet these guys were freaking out.  That’s me.  I’m the one freaking out even though I’m fully aware of the Presence of Jesus in my everyday life.  Jesus gave me a picture of him waking up from his sleep.  He’s not angry with me for waking him. He’s not hurt that I didn’t trust him.  Instantly, He is with me and in that space the storm dissolves and I’m surrounded in a bubble of peace. The storm is not gone.  It is still raging all around. But Jesus is in my boat so there is not way it can be destroyed. I need him to be fully present all the time; sleeping on the job is not an option, at this time.  I’m learning that God loves my weakness when it drives me to need Him.  He never tires of my total dependence on him.

It’s time for me to stop letting patterns have control.  I’ve never considered myself a creative person. For me to be creative was to open myself up to ridicule and I learned very young to protect myself from rejection.  I am discovering that as I allow God to heal all the brokenness pent up in me beauty is emerging in the form of creativity.  My latest creative endeavor is dancing.  Recently, I got certified as a dance fitness instructor. I feel like a kid when I’m dancing.  When I started I felt like I was going to die, after all I didn’t start until I was 39.  But it was so fun and the advantage to starting that late is I really don’t care what anyone thinks of me.  I have no idea what God will do with this current passion but I’m going to let Him work it out form me.  I have full confidence that whatever God has planned it will be for my benefit and it will be beautiful!

When I spend time with Jesus creativity flows freely and beautiful things are created. The patterns I have conformed to for so many years must go.  They are lies and they have the power to destroy me. I will not be taken out by circumstances.  I have the power of the Living God in me and he has the final say in my life.  What he says is I am loved,  I am strong, I am capable, I am beautiful, I am HIGHLY valued as the daughter of the KING!

I have no idea what my next step is.  I’ve been trying to break the pattern for most of my married life. My 20th anniversary is this year too. Crazy right?  I got married at 20.  When I reflect on the person I was back then I find myself covering her in grace.  She was so unaware of the effect of her brokenness.  She made the best decisions she could.  Love dominated everything for her.  Or so she thought. Turns out it was not healthy love.  Thankfully God gave me three beautiful reasons to find out what healthy love looks like and demonstrate it at all cost.

My journey to discovering what true love is has produced so much joy, peace and beauty in my life.  So, I do the next thing. I keep moving forward trusting that God will get me where I’m supposed to be.  And it will be beautifully me!

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My two-cents about Church Culture.

I’ve grown up in the church. I don’t remember a time where I wasn’t plugged into a church or youth group. I LOVE serving God. He has blessed my life incredibly and I can’t wait to see Him work more in life, but I really want to speak a little from my heart and where I’m coming from when it comes to church, religion and just popularity in general, so please hear me out (If you want).
I have always viewed my walk with Jesus as a walk. I have always struggled to conform to the ‘rules’ of Christianity. This idea that you must live your life a certain way and if you don’t there will be harsh judgment or even shame by ‘Christians.’ It’s almost like religion has put a restriction on Jesus and everything He is capable of doing. If you have all of these ‘rules’ you must live by, and if a fellow follower does something that goes against those ‘rules’ they feel shamed or feel like they are on the outside. I’m a firm believer in Jesus and following Him and what is clearly (ha, sometimes not so clearly) written in the bible. God has given us the bible to help guide us in the world we live in, but I feel sometimes, Christians focus on ‘rules’ and lose sight of one of the most important calls on our lives; to love others over EVERYTHING else. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34. God gave us the commandment of loving one another because He has loved us… but where has the love gone? I have seen and heard of many stories that the second someone makes a mistake in the eyes of the ‘church’ the love is no longer there, why is that?

Does God stop loving us when we make a mistake? I really hope not, because then I would’ve lost God’s love a long time ago. I’ve been working on loving everyone to the fullest capacity that I can. I’m not always the best at this because I am not God, but I’m holding myself to a high standard of trying to love everyone despite what they do. I’ll be very honest and let you in on a fault within myself. I struggle to find love for people who have wronged me (I think we all struggle with this to an extent) but people who have hurt my feelings, I really struggle with finding that love that God has called me too. I have found myself slipping into a place of negativity and hatred and Jesus correcting me and focusing my thoughts on that love. I want to be the kind of person who is rooted in love ALL THE TIME. “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, -” Ephesians 3:17.

I am very thankful to be serving a God who loves me no matter how many mistakes I make, to be serving one that doesn’t make me feel shame or guilt, but instead the feeling of freedom when I come back seeking His love and forgiveness. God sent his only son to pick up that cross so I wouldn’t feel shame, that’s SO cool. 
Another thing that has been weighing on my heart recently is popularity within church. I full heartedly believe that people shouldn’t feel like they aren’t cool enough to be apart of a church. I know there are a lot of really cool people out there. I know that some people would say i’m one of those really cool people, but the truth is the actions speak louder than the words. I could shout from the rooftops about how ‘cool’ someone is, but that doesn’t mean that person will feel cool after hanging out with me. I think that sometimes, people can hold the power of popularity. If you don’t get invited to hang out with certain people, post about them on social media or even just talk to them, then you aren’t cool… that’s actual bs.. I don’t want to be apart of a environment where I feel like people are being praised for being cool. I fully agree with giving honor where honor is due, but when it gets to the point where honor is due because they look cool and act cool, that’s not something I want to be apart of. I have left youth groups because of this. I have been apart of youth groups that made me feel SO cool and so accepted in the beginning and then after time i was no longer cool. I’m solely chasing after God. I’m not going to try and conform to another person’s view of what’s cool to fit into a church, I’m going to continue to hear from the Lord and do what His will for my life is. I am not trying to call anyone out or make anyone feel attacked and if you read this and felt attacked by it personally, please message me about it because I am not calling anyone out personally, I’m just putting what has been on my heart out there for people to see the real things i have been struggling with recently (and throughout my entire church journey). I knew that deciding to write this and the possibility of posting it could create really hard conversations, but I am willing to have those because I want it to be known. I know i’m not the only person who feels this way,or has felt this way at some point during their journey with church. I love the church and youth group I have been apart of for all this time and can’t wait to see all the things God does within both and within me.

Let’s keep focusing on listening, pursing and serving God and He won’t lead us astray. Be rooted and established in love always. Thank you for reading and listening to my heart.
With love and all that, Bannah Hurley.

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