When God Vindicates

I hit a bump in the road the other day when someone totally misread me and corrected me for something that was well just…totally…dumb. She was trying to put me in my place. I think it was because I had asked her a question that ruffled her feathers since she was the leader in the situation and I wasn’t—and I had questioned the why of one of her decisions. So she responded by slamming me for a word choice that I used during a prayer session.

“We don’t use that word that way here”, she told me.

In retrospect, it WAS humorous, because I had told God in the past that I wanted to become someone who didn’t take offense at anyone. But in order to grow into that person, I knew I’d have to walk through actual offenses and CHOOSE not to be offended.

At the time she misread me though, it wasn’t nearly as funny. My body immediately flooded with a huge rush of adrenaline, which so often happens to me when I feel misunderstood. But I knew I needed to get back in the game—and fast. We were just about to enter into two intense prayer sessions in our team of three and I knew I couldn’t let this episode of bizarre mislabeling and correction derail me.

Because at that moment, I knew I was battling two things: the emotional offense at having been misread and my own physiological body reaction. I knew both of them needed to be subdued and brought back into God’s alignment or else I would be completely ineffective on the team. I was already feeling the adrenaline’s effect on my brain and thoughts. They were racing wildly. And I hadn’t driven an hour to be derailed and just sit on the sidelines.

So I silently prayed a prayer of release: “Jesus, I forgive her. I release her. I’m not gonna hold onto this and obsess about any injustice in being misread. I bless her and I trust you with my reputation.”

And then I asked Him to bring my entire spirit, soul, and body back into my regular spiritual equilibrium and balance. And then I got back in the game.

I battled a little bit of hypervigilance about my word choices during my times of praying in front of that leader. But overall, I was able to show up, be present to both God and each individual, and bring what I had to the table.

I was still able to synchronize with God in a weird people situation and just trust that He would straighten out all the awkward details. But I could have easily gotten stuck if I’d chosen to mentally stay in the offense and ruminate about the injustice of it all.

And so I just did me. I showed up. I trusted God with my reputation and honor. And when I prayed for each individual in our prayer sessions, I gave it my 100%. I was able to get back in the game.

Later on that night, God vindicated me in multiple ways. The leader that had initially misread and corrected me, ended up blessing and acknowledging God’s partnership with me. That was cool.

But honestly, even if she hadn’t, I would have been okay. I could have still walked away feeling intact in my identity, feeling loved and cherished by God, and feeling firm in my life mission and my specific assignment in being part of that community.

Because no person’s opinion or assessment of me gets to dictate who I am or how I show up. It just doesn’t. 

Nova

Anger Vortex

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I watched a highly-frustrated man at an office-supply store last night that was giving the cashier a hard time. As I walked across the store and up to the register, I could feel the spiritual dynamics that were swirling around even before I could hear what the man was actually saying. My first thought was “Ugh, I hate anger. I don’t want to be near this guy.”

Because I grew up around a lot of reactivity and walking on eggshells, anger is usually the last thing I want to be around. But God has been challenging me in this area, growing me, stretching me to be bigger, to become bigger in my spirit so that anger no longer intimidates me.

So I felt God telling me not to be afraid of the man’s anger vortex and just to watch him, to watch the interaction. And so I did. And as I watched and listened to him, I could hear the hurt and the fear behind his anger, behind his attempts to control what felt to him to be a powerless situation. And I felt compassion.

A few hours later, I happened to be at the yogurt store with my husband. I wasn’t planning to go. But after running a different errand together, I spontaneously decided to pop in and see whether my favorite yogurt flavor was back in stock (it wasn’t).

And lo and behold, as I walked into the yogurt store, who is standing at the register trying now to buy a yogurt but the same highly-frustrated man from my earlier errand. It was no coincidence. I knew it. God knew it. And so I listened to his second interaction with this new cashier. It mirrored the last one I had heard. Frustration. Anger.

The cashier was telling him that for some reason he wasn’t able to access his free points at this time in the store so he’d have to do it later from home. And for the second time that day, I watched this man spiral into feelings of powerlessness and frustration, followed by attempts to control the situation. My compassion engaged again.

And as I walked by him to exit the building, I just wanted to put my hand on his shoulder and tell the cashier that I’d buy his yogurt. The bummer thing was, I hadn’t brought my purse with me so I didn’t have my wallet.

And so I did the only thing I could think to do, which was to bless this man with peace (with the opposite of what I knew he was currently experiencing). I asked God to reveal to him how much he was loved. I asked God to comfort him and let him know that He was with him.

And I asked God to throw him or another into my path again one day, so that I could actually step into an opportunity to help a frustrated person and also help diffuse anger with a little bit of love and kindness.

I think God’s growing me out of my fear of other people’s anger, one slow step at a time. It’s all about the journey and the process– never about the destination. 

❤️

Nova

Protecting Kids From Predators

IMG_8397Being kind isn’t enough. One of the best ways to protect our children from sexual predators or any predatory people in life is to teach them to trust their own discernment.
 
Being a sexual abuse survivor myself, I constantly push back with my own kids against the passive mentality that I grew up in. Because I was taught as a child to respect and obey all adults indiscriminately. I was taught to allow any creepy adult that came over to hug and kiss me. Obey your elders. Don’t be disrespectful.
 
I was taught to be compliant and accommodating and helpful. That’s what good girls do.
 
And as my cousin so recently reminded me, the nice rules don’t apply to people who are trying to use your goodness in a way that is harmful to yourself. But nobody equipped me with that little empowering jewel growing up. So I was abused…a lot.
 
There are huge spiritual dynamics involved in how predators pick victims. They know how to pick the ones that won’t tell—the ones that come from a family line where there has already been victimization or where a prevalent victim mentality exists.
 
So I’ve DRILLED my kids: TRUST yourself. Trust your discernment. And when someone creeps you out or gives you a bad vibe, trust that feeling. Predators don’t look like predators.
 
My daughter used this principle recently when she picked her high school classes. She wanted to take guitar lessons through the school, but once she got a glimpse of the teacher she changed her mind. She had one of those icky feelings. She told me she trusted herself because I had taught her to.
 
And she found out over time through other students’ experiences that this teacher has been mean and creepy to the kids. And I was so proud of her. I would rather have my kids flip off a potentially creepy person than be “nice” to someone who is a predator.
 
We need to teach our kids that the niceness rules don’t apply to creepy people. And teach them that they don’t have to talk to or stay around a creepy or weird vibes person at any time or anywhere, even if they are in a conversation, etc.
 
I tell my kids that God has given them the discernment they need. I also teach my kids about their right to personal space and boundaries because abuse of any sort involves an infringement of personal boundaries and a misuse of power.
 
It’s SO important that we equip our kids. Teaching them to be nice or kind to people in general is great as a social tool. But it can actually be counterproductive to protecting them from harmful people.
 
It’s not enough to tell them NOT to talk to strangers because most abuse comes from people a child already knows. We need to teach them what TO do. Teach them to trust themselves. Equip them with healthy boundaries.
 
Let’s stop perpetuating passive mentalities that allow unsafe and predatory people around our children.
❤️
Nova

Stumble and Bumble

There is something so deeply satisfying about stumbling into something and realizing it’s totally a God set up. Takes off so much pressure. But that’s always been my cadence—just follow the clues God drops in my path, take lots of risks, and He backs me up.

I’ve had to deactivate so many of my Type-A tendencies and controlling mechanisms that helped me to survive when I was a child, in order to learn and grow into how to flow with the spirit. And I don’t regret ANY of my growth process—the good, the bad, or the uglies. Because God is faithful and He’s bigger than my mistakes. And failure should be normative anyway.

But if I lived in my bubble of self-protection for the rest of my life, I’d never have any fun. And I don’t want to reach the end of my life and realize I held back out of fear. I don’t want to talk face-to-face in person with Jesus one day and have him tell me that He deposited so much more in me then I actually unpacked. That would totally suck.

And so on I stumble and bumble along…into God’s will…into God’s presence…into His pleasure.

💙

Nova

Foretaste of Heaven

I had an intense dream last night that felt like a taste of Heaven, and when I woke up after the dream, I couldn’t stop crying. They weren’t tears of sorrow. They were tears of joy because of the foretaste and the hope that I’d just experienced and the craving for more of the same in the near future.

In the dream, I was journeying with a large group of friends. We were all heading together towards a specific destination, but we were just enjoying the journey and each other’s company along the way.

It was like we all had singing parts, like we were part of a broadway musical, and a good friend of mine began to sing her solo. (This friend in real life is someone who lost her daughter to a brain tumor about 5 years ago; she KNOWS deep sorrow.)

But in the dream, my friend began to sing with such joy and gaiety and gusto. We were all watching her as she sang, enjoying her song, and delighting in her beautiful soul. And as she came to the end of her song line, she lifted up her voice in a sort of lilty, silly, lyrical way. It was on purpose. She was deeply enjoying the glory of the song moment and she held nothing back. She had a HUGE grin on her face, reminiscent for me of her more carefree college days.

Her silly ending just caused the group to dissolve into deep belly-laughing joy. One friend in the group just plunked down on the ground right then and started laughing. I grabbed onto a nearby wooden post and began to laugh and cry simultaneously (a sign for me of a deep, deep joy experience).

But what stood out to me in that moment of laughter and joy was the COMPLETE absence of any internal or external dissonance. There was no sorrow. No insecurity. No awkwardness. No self-doubt or condemnation. And no rushing onto the next thing. JUST a deep joy, enjoyment, and a richly-satisfying camaraderie as each of us delighted in each other’s beautiful souls, and partook of the joy and laughter that was found in that moment.

Each of us was present in a way in our spirits, souls, and bodies that I have never experienced before on the earth. And I just kept thinking, “There is TIME for joy. SO much time for joy.”

And the joy was tangible, visceral, and that dream moment implanted a deeper hope in my spirit for eternity than I’d ever had before. That dream felt like coming home, felt like a reunion with old friends and people that I loved. And even though the joy was palpable, what surprised and struck me most was the complete lack of sorrow, dissonance, or any other negative emotion.

And now that I know what that tastes like, it leaves me wanting more. I feel a bit homesick after waking up. But the truth and hope that there IS a deeper experience of life up ahead for those of us that know Jesus–Powerful. Life changing. And it makes me want to pursue my destiny with even more gusto now, to bring as much Heaven to Earth that I can. To be a light that leads others. To show people the way to Him.

❤️

Nova

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:4)

Hearing God

What I love about the concept of hearing from God for other people is how simple it really is. It really does take childlike faith and trust though, and practice—but that’s it. Anyone can do it.

And stepping into those situations that God lines up for you is so fun once you can get past the fear and just trust.

I’ll share an example that God set up for me today to minister to a hurting person so you can see a picture of how simple it is to live in a naturally supernatural way of doing life.

There was a home nearby that I’d seen for sale for a reallllly long time. For some reason, God put it on my heart. Each day that I’d drive by it, I’d think—I should somehow talk to these people and give them my friend’s number (my friend is a realtor who also stages homes for free as a service to her clients). That’s the back story.

Here’s the God set up:

Today as I drove by this home, I saw the occupants outside. I had never seen them before. So after a quick prompting in my spirit, on the way home from picking up my kids, I pulled over. And I walked up to these people and asked about how their house sale was going. Turns out escrow was almost done. They didn’t need a realtor.

But during the convo, they told me how the buyer had been a jerk and had totally manipulated them, and had ended up unjustly taking things that weren’t in the original contract. And the owner was a sweet widow who had just lost her husband.

In that moment, I knew God wanted me to pray for her but I also wanted her to know that God saw her pain and was with her. So I asked Him for something to give her. He showed me a brief flash of a picture of flowers. I asked her if I could pray for her and she said yes. I prayed for God’s justice, restitution, and restoration for her family. I asked for God’s light to shine. She was crying after the prayer.

And then I just took my childlike faith that what God had shown me was from Him. And I asked her if she liked gardening. She said yes, that she loved her roses (which weren’t visible from the front yard at all so I wouldn’t have known). And then God showed me the rest of His encouraging word for her in that moment. “God is gonna heal you through your gardening, as you garden,” I told her. “Keep gardening.”

We chatted another minute or so, but by then my kids were yelling, “Moooom!!” from the car. So we said our goodbyes and I drove home.

Simple obedience. Stepping into a moment that God sets up. Using childlike faith to ask God for a word for somebody and then giving it.

God is the one that waters the seed.

Sometimes the simplest word can transform a heart. Just letting someone know that God sees them, knows their story, and is with them is the most powerful thing we can give people.

💙

Nova

Mommy Martyr

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Sometimes I get depressed and cynical from being under the continual daily stress and pressure of my normal mom life. In those times, I feel a lot like Elijah when he was sitting under the tree and moaning to God and wanting to die. I don’t have any huge Jezebels in the form of people in my life, but having a big family of six that constantly monopolizes my time and relies on me for a bazillion tasks often feels very controlling.

I start to feel like a robot. I feel like I lose myself. I feel like I am drowning in other people’s expectations and demands on my time. Not to mention all the mundane tasks that relentlessly devour my days and make me want to pull my hair out—like finding crusty dog diarrhea this morning on the carpet behind the couch.

I KNOW I was made for more than this—is my usual internal cry.

One of these days hit me just yesterday. And at the end of that long, exhausting, and anxiety-ridden day, I actually said to my husband, “Well, one more day of our lives used up. I hope we lived it well.” I wasn’t in a great mood (if you can’t tell). It had been one of those beastly days that felt like it almost took me out.

“Kind of morbid, don’t you think?” He responded.

“Well, it’s one day closer to eternity,” I said. “Our end game, right?”

Yah, it had been brutal.

Sometimes it all just feels like TOO much though. Like God, I CAN’T do this. I can’t keep juggling all these things that you have entrusted into my care. My family. My writing. My ministry. It’s too hard.

Some parts of my life are honestly just more thrilling than others. And I know I’m not alone in humanity here. I’m sure that most moms can agree that spending hours chauffeuring cranky kids, running to appointments, cleaning up never-ending messes, and being social-kid coordinator is somewhat disillusioning to the heroic and cavalier ideal we first started out with in our vision of parenting.

And some days, those precious parenting moments that I savor so deeply are just completely nonexistent.

Sometimes it seems like weeks of the endless routine go by before I have even one tiny flicker of a fulfilling mom moment. When they do come, they feel glorious. Those are the moments that seem eternal. Moments that seem etched in heaven.

They are the deeper parenting moments that incorporate healing, deep connection, or mentorship in some form—times when I can be spiritually life-giving and reveal God’s heart to my four strong-willed and otherwise-distracted children. But quantitatively speaking, I spend SO much more of my time drudging around in the mundane rather than soaring in those ethereal heights.

And it gets wearying.

I talked to another mom just last night about some of her recent struggles and she said the same thing about her situation, “I just feel weary.”

I get it. I REALLY do.

And when the mundane and the wearying continues to wear on and on with no end in sight, I crawl back under that Elijah tree and just tell God to take me now. Like Elijah. Like Enoch. I can feel my adrenals tap out, my emotional coping mechanisms shut down, and even my spirit take a hit as my soul beats it up with self-defeating thoughts:

Why did I even get a Master’s degree if this is all that my life is about? Why did I think that being a stay-at-home mom was a good idea? Why did we want so many kids again? Why don’t we have family nearby?

And on and on it goes.

Yet on the other side of that futility picture is a different reality. Because there ARE parts of my life, calling, and stewardship that feel extremely fulfilling on a regular basis if I allow myself space for them. And those parts of my life bring such a countering, restorative, and hopeful balm to all the other areas of discouragement, despair and discontent that I struggle with on a daily basis.

They refuel my tank with the passion and perspective that I need to keep on moving through the monotony. They fill me with hope that there IS more to my life than just the mundane.

Like the times at church when I am praying for somebody that God shows up BIG, and I see the person walk away with God-Encounter Stars in their eyes. Or the times when I hit that spirit flow in my writing and a post just seamlessly writes itself. Times spent out in nature where I meet God in beautiful contemplation. Times when I get to let loose and dance.

Or my favorite—just getting in the car and driving with no specific destination.

And I’ve come to realize over time just how absolutely necessary these things are because they are core parts of who I am. So I’ve become more purposeful in leaving space for them because they are the things that keep me going and help me not to give up. They are things that I was created to do. And they are the things that I have to fight to maintain, even in the midst of all the loud and demanding, never-ending pressures and commitments of daily life.

I told my hubby the other day, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

He didn’t get the movie reference but the principal remains:

Too much of anything for too long makes one feel a little bit crazy. We gotta leave room for those fulfilling areas of joy.

Nova