Control Addict

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Control gets old after a while—whether it’s allowing someone else to control your life or trying to control other people or situations. I’ve experienced both. But no matter how hard I’ve TRIED to control things, I just can’t seem to get that elusive ball in the hole. My trajectory gets skewed every time if I’m trying to PLAY GOD.

I was never meant to play God.

I was meant to partner with God, to embrace His agenda and where He is going–which means I HAVE to surrender this bad boy of control. I can’t serve both. And if God is going to use me to any great degree, I know that this idol has to die.

It’s been a LONG process for me—not instantaneous. Christianity often propagates a lot of ideas that growth and healing CAN be these microwave, quick light-switch moments of instant deliverance. God is sovereign and DOES often do supernatural healings. But more often than not, walking with God is usually defined by time, process, and following His sequences for growth. Growth takes TIME—everything in Creation testifies to this.

The greatest fruit in my life has come from embracing productive pain and leaning into whatever God brings before me as the next dot in His connect-the-dot sequences. I’ve stopped fighting Him and just leaned in.

For years now, I’ve battled control—learning to release people and situations into God’s hands and trusting that He KNOWS what He is doing. I’ve also had to work to get out from other people’s thumbs and agendas for my life—people that I’ve passively allowed to dictate some portion of my life or time.

I think one of my greatest sources of freedom has come from realizing two things:

1) I truly cannot CONTROL anything (I can only believe the deception that I do.)

2) Other people aren’t meant to control me either.

I’ve realized over time that God ALWAYS gives us choices and that any community or person that is trying to force me or manipulate me into doing ANYTHING—should hopefully make me pause and reassess the situation.

And as I’ve leaned into getting free from CONTROL, darned if God didn’t send me a MILLION different people trying to control, manipulate, or pressure me to fulfill their agenda for some portion of my life. I can only laugh that’s He’s facilitating my healing and growth in such a way. But He’s cool like that. I’ve needed tons of practice. This process has put a strength in my soul—an assertiveness that wasn’t there before. And He’s been teaching me how to season all these things, including boundaries and assertiveness—with grace, honor, and kindness.

Control is a nasty little bugger. Manipulation can be SO subtle. But I’m starting to see clearer through the matrix.

God’s end game is always transformation, redemption, glory to glory, strength to strength, and greater freedom. And those that get free, God then uses to lead others into those same areas of victory.

GOT PAIN? Get ready to lean into it and let God heal and grow you out of it.

GOT VICTORY? Get ready to be used.

Nova

 
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BREAKING UP with 2017

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Dear 2017,

I’m breaking up with you but I hope we can still be friends. Your season in my life has finally come to a close. I do recognize and honor the productive part you played in my life, but I’ve met someone else—a new year, 2018 to be exact, and I’m ready for a change in scene. But don’t worry—I’ll NEVER forget you. You will be a part of my heart forever.

You were truly a painfully complex and glorious suitor. Our story together was in essence BEAUTIFUL. We journeyed together through SO many chapters of mystery and intrigue in God. We tackled pages of new risks…AND we found tons of surprising discoveries and epiphanies along the way. We battled old foes and fears together and took lots of fresh ground. We saw new friendships, resources, and attitudes arrive on the scene, while simultaneously watching old mentors, assets, and mindsets phase out.

Our story together included much divine intervention and rescue, multiple times of divine withholding and pain, and LOTS of soul searching. We wrestled together between the realities of denial and truth and between the old and new man. We experienced a deepening of trust and intimacy with our Creator and also a time of new BEING and mindfulness within ourselves.

You really taught me how to partner with process and God’s connect-the-dots sequences, and I will be forever grateful to you.

You, 2017, were crucial to helping me leave slavery, discover sonship, and look towards new creative options. You helped me recognize the cadence of brideship and what intimacy draws and gifts look like from the bridegroom. But you also taught me how to attune and synchronize with heaven in numerous other ways too—like in my daily rhythm, in nature, in the Spirit’s present leading, and even in transitions.

You helped me discover and unpack myself. You saw things in me that I didn’t know were there. And you gave me a ton of time to practice just being me. I have to admit—a lot of it WAS actually fun.

You brought a lot of pain into my life too, but I forgive you—because it ended up being productive pain with a good return on investment. You also taught me how important it was to make space for pain and process. To honor them—rather than to avoid or ignore them as irrelevant. And you compassionately walked alongside of me as I grieved and felt ambivalent about a lot of life stuff—including the ending of past seasons of fruitfulness.

And in those times when I got kicked abruptly out of my comfortable nests, YOU believed in me—even when I didn’t feel ready to fly.

You believed in my potential SO MUCH that you even taught me how to be intentional with my time and decisions, so that potential would give birth to ability. You taught me so many lessons during our time together, but I think my ALL-TIME favorites were the simpler ones of know thyself and trust thyself. I also really appreciate how many times you continued to remind me that challenges and snafus were a normal part of the growth curve, and that eventually…victories would come too.

You helped me heal AND grow so much…In fact, YOU were the one who helped me FINALLY to grow up and just decide to be who God made me to be all along. I’m not really sure HOW you even did that—because I can be seriously stubborn. You must have slipped that one under the radar when I wasn’t looking.

Anyway—this is goodbye 2017. I bid you adieu. I applaud you for being a faithful companion and an integral component of my journey. I will always remember our time together. It has even given me hope as I enter into a new relationship with 2018.

I find myself poised with earnest expectation of good things as I preview the blank pages to come.

❤️

Nova

DISILLUSIONMENT

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I feel a bit upside down. I am reminded again today just how many things I do NOT have control over. I have this idea in my mind that I’m pro-change. That I like change and can role with it. And to an extent, that’s been relatively true in more recent years. My past was a different story. But I got some upcoming-change news today that really bummed me out and left me in an emotional funk. And so I find myself here again at that same crossroads, where I know that I need to surrender yet another change to Him.

John Eldredge’s prayer comes to mind right now—“God, I surrender everyone and everyTHING to you.” 

Yah, I know that stillness is the eventual route I will need to pursue once I’m ready. I KNOW that when I choose to sit quietly in His presence that I will get to the peace and perspective that I need. But for now, I’m sitting in an emotional swirl of ambivalence. I feel grief and disappointment about how this change will affect my life.

But I’ve realized something over the years: Change is often the avenue that the Father uses to show up in new ways in my life. To facilitate new paradigm shifts and propel me into new–and GOOD things.

I feel like the path of my life over the years has in essence been a journey of surrender. I keep coming back to this place of surrender again and again….and again. Sometimes I can see or sense change coming. This one took me by surprise. I had envisioned the train going one direction, and now the train-tracks have split and the train has jerked into the opposite direction.

And I’m not really sure where that leaves me. 

I’m always REALLY good at imagining the way that things will play out in the future. And so it’s not just about an unexpected change; it’s really about a death to a made-up dream. And that’s okay. I don’t have to like it. I can be real about the way that I feel and still trust God at the same time, knowing that eventually this will all work out for my benefit. But I can’t see it yet.

My spirit knows it’s all good. It’s my soul that is wrestling it out.

It’s just disillusionment, really, so it’s okay that it has to die. And I like this quote about the process of letting illusions go:

 “Dying to an illusion is the way into truth. I’ve learned to embrace disillusionment cause it just shows me that I had an illusion that needed to be dissed.”—John Thomas (Streams Ministries)

Diss away, God.

“Let each thing fall away that isn’t of your making. I trust your building process. I trust your vision and blueprint for my life.”

My emotions will line up eventually.

Nova

“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)

Driveway Guy

IMG_3472Dear Driveway Guy-

We think you’re awesome. We love your cheerful wave to us each morning as we frantically tear around the neighborhood bend, hoping to make it to school on time. Seeing you standing in your driveway, waiting for your own carpool, and waving to us as we pass by always brings us a giggle and a smile.

How old are you? 16? 17? You’re obviously in high school. How is it that you came into your jovial personality in Californian culture? I think it’s a beautiful anomaly actually. My previous experience with Californian hand gestures has been less than positive. But I do remember my Missourian days—days when people waved to everyone just in passing by. How is it that you tapped into such a lost social art in our entitled, self-centered culture?

You—Driveway Guy are a counter-culture social rockstar and have by far exceeded my expectations of a technologically-savvy but socially-inept high schooler. And since you obviously maintain the internal fortitude to wave to every distracted and harried commuter that passes you by in the morning, then I can honestly say to you that you can do ANYTHING with your life.

Bravo, Driveway Guy! You make the world a brighter place. 

Oh yah—and one more thing. We bought you a Christmas present to encourage you back. Hope you like it!

Nova

When God Drops In

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I love the ways God pops into my day to remind me that He is here.

Two days ago, God took my breath away by sending me an eagle that soared directly over my car as I was driving. The eagle was flying so low that I could see his majestic and yet tiny face. It was a beautiful awe moment inserted into the otherwise chaotic busyness that was the rest of my day. Yesterday, He sent me a hug via a heart-shaped chicken sandwich from Chick-Fil-A. I only looked inside the sandwich bun because the protruding chicken appeared exponentially larger than any I’d previously purchased.

And when I saw that the chicken patty was in the shape of a heart, I was delighted. I knew THAT sandwich was a hug for me from above and it brought me the gift of laughter and awe.

In a standardized restaurant world of conformity, only God could rework the food-making logistics, dispense multiple angels on that assignment, and make sure that I was the one that received that gift. And that’s not my first heart-shaped God hug.

This has been an ongoing experience. He constantly surprises me with the discovery of heart-shaped items as I am just going about my daily routine. It’s not every day. It’s usually when I’m not expecting it that it will pop up on my radar. A heart-shaped fog on my car windshield—emanating upwards from the steam of my coffee. A heart-shaped water stain outside on the concrete. A heart-shaped tree. A heart-shaped leaf or rock. A heart-shaped cloud—I’ve seen these multiple times. 

Sometimes the heart hugs are God’s intervention to rescue my heart from worry or stress. Other times, they are intimacy draws—calling me to step OUT of my daily busyness and step INTO purposeful intention and an acknowledgment of His presence. It usually works. I try to leverage those God hugs and awe moments to take a brief time alone with Him.

Sometimes its just a quick praise break where I worship Him and admire His creativity. Other times, I try to quiet the loudness that’s within my soul—with all it’s swirling demands, emotions, and endless to-do lists; and I try to reengage with the mindfulness and peace that’s within my spirit instead—as I take a few moments to just stay in God’s presence.

And in those times of purposeful intention, God recalibrates me. I’m able to move into the rest of my day from a more grounded, aware, and intentional place.

God always knows JUST what I need.

Nova

Demons & Divine Nudges

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I wasn’t expecting to find myself alone in an alley at night with a homeless man. It definitely wasn’t on my agenda. I was actually on my way to San Diego to visit some friends, but I had stopped for a quick lunch and coffee on the way.

I first saw him after I parked my car and walked towards the coffee shop. He was in a wheelchair and had only a grocery bag hanging from the back of his seat in way of possessions. I felt my heart tug in his direction. I wanted to talk to him or something—to find out how he was doing. I wondered about his story. How had he ended up homeless in a wheelchair? It was just SO sad.

But I didn’t stop—I let my internal editor talk me out of it and went and got coffee instead.

I emerged from the coffee shop about an hour later as dusk was setting in, all caffed up and ready to finish the second part of my drive. But as I walked back to my car, I saw him again—this time wheeling off into a different direction in another parking lot.

My heart tugged on me for the second time. Was this an assignment?

The internal monologue started back up within me. What would I say if I walked up to him? Should I offer him food? I already knew money was off the table since I never carried cash, but I figured he could at least use some food. I had a friend who recently watched a documentary about the homeless. She told me it highlighted food and conversation as the two things that a lot of homeless people wanted most. Maybe that would be enough.

But what food did I have? I was pretty sure he didn’t want my half-eaten leftovers. Then I remembered I had a protein bar. And what about blankets? It was almost nighttime. I knew I had a couple blankets stashed in our trunk for when the kids got cold. Hopefully I could find one that WASN’T pink.

I grabbed the protein bar, dug out a green blanket, and started walking in his direction.

It was getting darker and when I finally caught up to him, he was at the end of a weird parking-lot alley. It was surrounded by various fences, so I mapped out my exit routes just in case this interaction went south. He was facing the freeway—just kind of staring off into the distance.

“Hello? Excuse me?”

What followed was a surprisingly pleasant interaction. I knew as soon as he started talking that he was lucid and safe. I was able to let my guard down a little and just engage in the conversation. I asked him if he wanted the blanket and protein bar. He accepted both graciously.

Then I asked him how he was doing. I dug a little more into his story. He told me about some of the rougher struggles with living on the streets—like his difficulty with getting the medicine that he needed and the very real harassment by harder cases like drug addicts that lived alongside of him. Any money and possessions were frequently found missing when he awoke from sleep. 

This whole situation FELT orchestrated, like it was an assignment from the Father. But so far, I couldn’t figure out why he wanted me there—as opposed to someone else. So as I stood there chit-chatting with the man, I checked in with God. Father, why am I here? What do you want me to do? Is this just a compassion mission—giving this guy some needed provisions or is there more? What’s next?

I was so against the more old-school evangelistic techniques that left people feeling spiritually mugged, that I now found myself erring on the other side of caution. I wanted to tread carefully. I cared not only about his spiritual situation but also about his dignity and heart.

And then God threw me a clue.

The man mentioned difficulty with sleep and referenced something that sounded A LOT like demonic torment. “Oh! Do you mean demons?” I asked him to elaborate. Yes, he answered. He definitely meant demons. They were messing with his sleep and bringing him torment. “Do you want that to stop?” I asked. “Can I pray for you about that?”

His answer surprised me. NO. He didn’t want prayer. He had received prayer before and said the demons would leave temporarily, but that they’d always return. And it was always worse when they did.

Awwwww…the picture was now becoming clearer for why I was there.

I validated his experience and told him that scripturally that was true. If he kicked a negative entity out but didn’t fill the vacated spaces with more of God, then they WOULD return in greater quantity. So I went deeper with my questions: Do you know Jesus? I explained that if he did, then he actually had the authority to kick the critters out himself. Yes, he said. He’d previously worked that particular reality out.

So what was keeping this guy stuck in torment then?

And then it hit me: generational ties.

“How about your relatives?” I asked him. “Do you know of any ties to the occult in your family line?”

BINGO. I’d found it. The answer was yes, along with some specific details. I now knew why I was there. I could help this guy with the bungee cord that kept yanking him back into torment—IF he would accept my help. I gave him a mini explanation about how generational issues from our family lines can keep yanking us back, until we finally pray to sever them. Then I asked him: Do you want me to pray to disconnect this generational bungee cord? 

His answer: Yes.

So we prayed. I felt the heavy spiritual atmosphere around him. It was thick and took some serious concentration to pray through. But we did it. And I hadn’t even made it all the way through my prayer, when the man started coughing up and spitting out huge chunks of mucus. That outward indication was helpful to know that the unwanted critters were vacating the premises.

We parted ways a short time later, shaking hands. He was looking forward to a good night’s sleep. I was gearing up for a major praise session in my car. I was just in awe at the whole experience. The God who plans ahead. Only God could set up a situation so perfectly—I just had to step into it and follow the clues along the way.

So glad he gave me TWO chances.

Nova

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40).

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21).

BUSTED!

IMG_2757So my kid got in trouble today. I even got a call from the school principal with the guess-what-your-kid-did-today question. It was a typical school malfeasance. I’m not gonna say which kid; I’ll keep it generic for the sake of privacy—but boy was it a good one! And I couldn’t have picked a better learning lesson as a parent if I had tried. Such GREAT natural consequences as a result of their personal choices.

I keep thinking God must REALLY trust me to give me this kid.  Continue reading