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

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Everyday Miracles

It’s shocking, I know! I’m writing a blog post.  As much as I’d like to blog every day or even every month, my to-do list never allows it.  I have endless ideas but currently, I’m writing about other things, so I never seem to get it from my head to the paper.  But sometimes God does something, and you just have to tell everyone.

Last week I experienced the miraculous.  Some might argue the story I’m about to share doesn’t qualify as miraculous but for my weary heart, it was nothing short of a miracle.  At church on Sunday, God gave me Isaiah 40-:29-31 that says:

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but 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.

This describes my experience with Jesus last week.  I was struggling.  I was weary and weak.  I know God’s presence and I trust Him but truthfully, I STILL struggle…a lot.  I struggle to continue to have hope when I can’t see an end.  I easily get distracted with what I want and before I know it selfish feelings are demanding attention. To make matters worse I usually heap a giant load of guilt on top, just for good measure, because I’m a mature Christian woman, I SHOULD NOT still be dealing with this.

Thankfully, the Lord is always working in me.  I chose not to shy away from the hopeless feelings that hit me last weekend.  I was real about how I felt, and I processed my emotions with the Jesus.  Several situations last year have left me in a vulnerable & raw place emotionally and the only way to keep from stuffing my feelings is to process right away with Jesus.  I love that God doesn’t need me to actually speak my thoughts and emotions to Him because he already knows everything. Yet the process of doing so always brings me so much clarity.  What I get in the process is understanding and instructions.  I was able to process my emotions and then move on.

Later in the week, Matt had his regular small group meeting.  Instead of leading the discussion, as he had planned, God had different plans.  Instead, another member of the group prophesied destiny over him.  The experience had a profound effect on Matt especially after reading a text I had sent him that were the EXACT words his friend was proclaiming.   My text was simple: Good luck! Praying for a supernatural experience. But the impact it had on Matt in that moment was profound, dare I say, life changing! It was God’s way of showing up and confirming all that was spoken about him.

For me, it had a different effect.  I was battling hopelessness, again.  And again, Jesus very lovingly took me by the hand and said, “no worries, I’ve got this.”  My Heavenly Father handled my feelings with care in the moment and then confirmed His presence and provision later in the week.  Thank you, Jesus, for the miraculous things you do in my life every day and allowing me to “soar on wings like eagles.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In the Garden with Jesus

It’s been a long week. After a week like this I find myself wonder why God created us to be emotional beings? Dealing with emotions is tough and tiring stuff.  Often life has a way of pulling the rug out from under you and I seem to be caught in one of those moments.  Thankfully, I have learned a little bit about the best way for me to handle times like this without a complete mental breakdown.  I’m not saying it will work for everyone but for me when I am feeling mentally overwhelmed I usually end up focusing my energy on creating a beautiful space.  I love beautiful things and I will shamefully admit that often a beautiful space is just a really clean and/or organized house.  You don’t have to know me for long to know that I clean when emotional whether I’m experiencing positive or negative emotions.  But today, I didn’t clean, 1) because my house was mostly clean anyway thanks in part to my 17-year-old and 2) because I had flowers in my garden that needed to be planted before they died.

Gardening really isn’t my thing and I wouldn’t spend any time doing it if it wasn’t for my affinity for all things beautiful.  I spent my day pulling weeds, planting new flowers, pulling weeds, repositioning old flowers and did I mention pulling weeds.  Weeds are so tenacious. No matter how often you pull them up, inevitably they will reappear.  They also come in different shapes and sizes. The weeds in one area of my flower garden weren’t too bad.  They were plenty but easily eradicated. While I was pulling a bazillion of them I got a sense that the weeds represented the sin in my life.  I think I have an overactive sin nature. Most days I feel like a pretty great human.  I love Jesus and I try my best to follow Him and His Word so that other people can see Jesus in me.  But that doesn’t change the sin that is so prevalent in my heart and life.  I want to be like Jesus but I am also acutely aware of all the parts of me that reflect my humanness. That inherent nature means I’m ALWAYS in need of a Savior.  My sin will not ever be gone this side of heaven.  So, I need Jesus to maintain my connection to the father. Thank you, Jesus, for what you did for me on the cross. You make it possible for the sin in my life to be pulled out so I can be who I was created to be – a reflection of Father.

In another area of my yard, not far from my flower garden, are other various kinds of weeds. Here the ivy and blackberry bushes have taken over.  I don’t like the ivy. It’s a weed; I know this.  It is invasive and can be home to gross critters but what lies beneath the ivy is so ugly that I’ve intentionally allowed the ivy to remain. As I was trimming it back today, I first had to deal with huge blackberry bushes that were threatening to take over as well.  I hate blackberry bushes so so much and today I was determined to get them out of my yard.  I wrestled these things all day and as I did I began to see another parallel in my spiritual life.

The ivy represents the pain in my heart.  By all outward appearances, my pain doesn’t seem that bad.  I have an exterior that I allow the world to see that seems functional and even somewhat beautiful. Much like Ivy which has some curb appeal on the exterior,  it is not really that beautiful because it is rooted in pain. Sadly the pain acts as a form of security for me. I cling to it.  What I’m learning is that I’m clinging to lies.  My pain is destroying the good in my life. But God’s word say in Genesis 50:20  “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”

What hides below the surface of the ivy in my yard has enormous potential. It has the potential to overtake you but it also has the potential to unlock the shackles of bondage. In the beautiful picture, the Lord gave me, this potential is the blackberry bushes. They represents unresolved issues that the Father brings to the surface of our awareness. Blackberry vines can sprout up fast and if left unchecked they can unknowingly take over everything. You can cut them back but doing so only temporarily fixes the problem.  A permanent fix requires locating the root, digging down as deep as necessary and pulling out as much of the root as possible.  Roots have a funny way of growing and often will spring up in a totally new location just for the heck of it.  So even when you do all the work of trying to pull the entire root system you still might have to deal with it again at some point in the future. This is hard work.  It requires determination to withstand the pokes and scratches that come with handling sticker bushes.  Dealing with pain has the potential to leave you broken and bleeding but doing it with Jesus can produce the most incredible freedom in the end.

Today I did so much more than rid my yard of blackberry bushes.  I processed some painful situation with Jesus.  Every time I choose to do that I experience more freedom and I become a truer version of myself – someone created in the image of the Lord Almighty.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A New Adventure with Jesus

IMG_4989

Psalm 107:29-32

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm. And he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deed for mankind. Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.

This is a verse The Lord gave me last week and I’m in awe of what I hear the Him speaking to us. This verse sums up our life in 3 short sentences.  We’ve endured some mighty waves. By the grace of God, we have moved into a season where God has stilled our storms and guided us to our desired haven. Our heart is to do exactly what verse 31 &32 instructs.  We have experienced God’s healing presence and intense love for us and it has completely transformed us individually as well as relationally.

So now we are moving onto to the next thing he has for us: Prayer Ministry!  Woohoo!  For me, I feel like God has been preparing me for years to lead this ministry.  I’ve been well instructed in all things prayer for the last 6 or 7 years.  The freedom I have experienced in response to this training is so incredible.  For Matt, he’s diving in head first.

A while ago, I shared a picture God gave me of the East Australian Current from Finding Nemo.  I saw the move of God going by at rapid speed and the Spirit inviting us to jump in and enjoy the ride. This is EXACTLY what we are doing.  Together we are going to go after Jesus.

If you are currently a part of the prayer team, we would first like to say “thank you” for serving our church family this way.  Matt and I would love to have coffee with each of you to see how you are doing and hear any vision or ideas you may have for prayer.

We will be prayerfully looking at what this ministry we look like going forward and we would love to talk with you feel any interest in being involved.

~Lyndsay and Matt

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Neighborhood Missions

17807432_1009268309206146_6567089830508089411_oYears ago, I was part of a mission team that went to serve orphans in Tijuana. It was my first experience with sharing the love of Jesus in an evangelistic way. There are months of planning that go into organizing a trip like that, so naturally it was saturated in prayer. Our goal for the mission to Mexico was to determine a need, meet the need in a tangible way and pray for the presence of Jesus to show up. Jesus did not disappoint and we saw Him do super amazing things.  Last Saturday, I got to do it again; in Federal Way.

Our church has the privilege of serving alongside a tremendous leader, our Outreach Pastor, Michelle.  She and I have served in ministry together for many years so I have seen firsthand that she is a woman with a heart to do missional things. She was with me in Mexico.  She saw God move in mighty ways and wanted to see the people in our own neighborhoods experience the same thing.

So, she planned an Easter Egg hunt for a community in Federal way that most people probably just overlook. I signed up to help but I did little compared to Michelle. She prayed, planned, prepped and pulled off a beautiful Easter celebration for a community that needed to know the love of Jesus. I simply put my name on a piece of paper and showed up at the correct time and place (which for me is slightly miraculous in itself.)

The story I want to tell is how I saw Jesus move.  I want to include enough detail so you can catch the gravity of the miracle but not bore you death either. Hopefully, I can nail it.

A few weeks ago, the hubby and I got to share about the miraculous things we see Jesus doing in our lives. It was crazy and awesome all at the same time. I started a blog post about it but then I hit a road block and never finished it – probably because my road block turned into a five-car pileup in a matter of moments. I will admit that I wasn’t praying about what Jesus was going to do at the Easter Egg hunt because I was too focused on personal stuff.  My conversations with God all last week were not very friendly. I was angry, fed up and convinced I had no ability to keep going.

Have you ever found yourself there?  This whole following Jesus things is great until you hit a wall. For me, it is a place where I wonder if it is all worth it.  It’s a place where I’ve prayed every prayer I can imagine. I’ve begged, pleaded and bargained with God. But still I’m stuck.  I’ve been in this place so many times.  Each time, I’m convinced Jesus isn’t going to come after me because my pride is too strong or my indignation will prevent it. Each time I am wrong. My Savior has never failed me. He’s always present, always working. And when I thought I just couldn’t keep going, he told me to be still, to remember what He has told me in the past, and to listen to only His voice.

It wasn’t really a choice. I know the outcome of my circumstances when I choose to go my own way. It’s ugly. Thankfully, I have also experienced the outcome when I choose to go God’s way. It is always a beautiful, life-giving, joy-filled experience.  Always! On Friday, with my emotions warring within me, I made space for Jesus to do His thing. As always, he showed up in a powerful way.  Jesus spoke truth into my situation and confirmed it with His Word.  He identified the source of my brokenness and by His Presence made me whole.  He enabled me to once again see who I am in Him. Without knowing it at the time, Jesus called in me into my destiny.  Just in time too, because he had a mission for me.

The mission was to show the love of Jesus to the Westway community of Federal Way. After my powerful encounter with my Risen King, I was super pumped to get to it.  My job for the day was to go door-to-door passing out donated bread and praying as we had the opportunity. This is a perfect job for me because it combines two of my favorite things, walking and praying! I set out with our Senior Pastor with a cart full of bread and a heart full of anticipation.

The first house we came to we prayed for a family who had a close family member that was in a serious accident. This family was not English speaking so an older sibling translated a little but mostly the two older ladies were unaware what we were saying. That didn’t stop the presence of Jesus from touching them.  We prayed for another young boy who had a growth on his chest. I’m not sure how much his mother understood but the presence of Jesus touched her too.  Another young man, that happened to go out for a smoke as we were walking by, spent several minutes talking with us.  He shared details about his life and his family.  Although, he did not let us specifically pray for him I know that Jesus was at work in our conversation.

When we were down to our last loaf of bread, we found ourselves at the home of a mentally disabled man and his caregiver.  We had a delightful encounter.  The caregiver was a believer from Kenya and she was so excited to talk to people who loved Jesus.  The man kept asking over and over if she would take him to church.  We extended an invitation, prayed with them, and then went back to see how the egg hunt had gone.

Upon returning, most of the festivities had wrapped up.  There were still people milling about but mostly the crowd had moved on. I noticed three people sitting at a table in the back by themselves and I felt a promting to go sit with them. This mom and her foster kids had thought they were coming to an egg hunt put on by people they  knew.  That had not been the case but Jesus wanted them in that room.  Again, simply by introducing myself and being open, this woman shared details of her life.  When I asked if I could pray with her she gave honest answers to very real needs she has.  As I prayed for her, I saw Jesus touch her.  It was precious. I probably will never find out the outcome of this encounter but I’m praying it is the beginning of her beautiful journey with Jesus.

Following Jesus on hard days is tough stuff.  But when we decide to do it in spite of how we feel the blessing that comes in simply incredible.  I didn’t spend months praying and preparing myself specifically to go on a mission trip to Federal Way.  What I did was say yes to what Jesus was asking me to do; to be still, remember His promises to me and listen for His voice.  In doing so, I got to be a part of God’s mission to spread the love of Jesus.  That IS totally worth it and I want more.

Oh and Sunday, guess who came to church? The caregiver and the disabled man.  Praise!

Posted in Evangelism, Faith issues, love of Jesus, missions | Leave a comment