The word we focused on at the Wonder retreat this year was “qavah”. It’s a Hebrew word that means to wait, look for, hope, expect, to linger, to collect, bind together a “line” or “cord,” a collection of fibers that are twisted together to make a strong and firm cord. This same word is also used for the abstract idea of “hope,” a strong and firm mind.
And so we gathered at the top of a mountain and we lingered. We found rest in the beauty of the nature around us, in laughter and friendship, in the silence of a still morning at the top of a mountain, in the majesty of a clear night sky and all the stars, in a rainstorm that brought fresh wind and bright lightening, in a Texas sunrise painted by God Himself, in worship and reflection, and in the sharing of our stories with our sisters. We also found it in shared meals, coffee, queso, and cake.
My revelation this weekend was that it is okay to be okay. I realized that in the past few months I’ve been looking for something to be wrong. I’ve always lived in chaos. I’ve spent more time looking for a problem than looking for Jesus; I thought that certainly there must be a problem somewhere. So I kept deciding the problem was me because I couldn’t find one in my life.
“What is wrong with me, God?” I journaled this weekend.
“Nothing”, He replied.
And so, at Wonder Weekend, I left behind my false belief that there must be something wrong with me.
It’s really hard for me rest in being okay, to know that there doesn’t always have to be chaos or problems. Speaking with wise sisters this weekend, I came to understand that my past and survivor’s guilt leave me feeling uneasy with being okay, especially knowing so many others are hurting. Right now I’m doing really well, and I have to learn to press into that and be grateful for all He brought me through and all He’s doing now.
In 2016 there was so much chaos in my life. I was dying inside and out. I went to a Christian woman’s retreat that year too. Absolutely everything in my life changed after the November 2016 Splendid retreat. It wasn’t easy or fun or expected, but it was needed for my survival and for my relationship with Christ. I had to let go, surrender, wait, and be willing to be stretched. Stretching hurts, but that’s how you grow. My journey these past 2.5 years has been scary, ugly, beautiful, painful, exciting, sad, joyful, freeing, healing, restoring, riddled with anxiety, and filled with love. Every bit was worth it.
I am okay. I am happy. I am healthy. I am no longer just surviving, I am thriving. I am excited to see what He has planned for me next. I am walking into His best for me.
Me watching the sunrise at Mo-Ranch in Hunt, Texas. Photo by my friend, Pauline.
Hi, it’s me, I’m still here. I’ve been journaling in paper journals since summertime. I was working through a lot of life changes and honestly did not have the wherewithal to type it all out in this blog, nor was I ready for everyone to read all about this part of my journey.
I found my journals and read through them. I’m not quite sure what to write about yet because the past six months have been such an amazing, refining, difficult, and fulfilling journey for me. A journey of surrender, pain, discovery, and restoration. My journals contain a lot of Scripture, a few letters that I wrote to myself from God reminding me who I am (His daughter), and so many words that are really hard to read about how I was feeling and what I was thinking at the time. Many pages are crossed out with the word “LIES” written across them. I realized that I was writing down lies about myself because as I went through this trial I learned more and more about what God says about me. I learned the truth.
I want to tell you all about the journey I’ve been through in the past six months. I want to share about hardships overcome and friendships made; about sickness and brokenness, and faithfulness, God’s and mine.
This coming Sunday, November 5th, I will be six months free from my drug addiction. That is a huge milestone and I’m very proud about that. On that day at church I’ll be getting re-baptized. I was baptized when I first came to Christ five years ago because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do – and that’s not wrong, that’s okay. But now I want to do it because I’m more aware of who I am in Christ. I agree with my friend that baptism should be about you and Jesus and not a work that’s done to prove something.
For right now I want to share this that I wrote at the beginning of August:
When you decide to acknowledge a hard thing that, until today, you didn’t realize had been stuffed so deep down inside for so long, but it comes bubbling to the surface and makes your eyes all watery; when you decide to do this hard thing, go ahead and crank up the worship music and dance before you do it. Praise and dance and sing; pray thanksgiving to God for going in before you, coming along side you, and going in with you. Because this is no cakewalk. You are going to be hugging the fireball, which is exactly what you need to do for God to refine you; burning out the old and making space for the new.
Today is Monday. Most of you woke up early, maybe wishing it was still the weekend, bribing kids to get out of bed, and hurrying off to school or work.
I have a different sort of purpose today. I’m in the process of healing. In past posts I’ve mentioned the abusive relationship I was in and the drug abuse. It wasn’t just my husband who was abusing drugs, I was too. For years I’d been getting treatment for my addiction from a specialist. I’ve decided it’s time to stop taking the medication that treats my addiction, not to take another drug, and to take on the big bad wolf, quitting altogether and getting healthy. My doctor agrees it’s time. Which means I’m in the business of trusting God. I could not do this without God’s help. I know that because I’ve tried many times and failed for over 20 years.
This time it’s different. This time I have Jesus by my side, the Holy Spirit in my heart, and God coming for me. I may have been wounded by emotional, physical, and drug abuse, but the wound is not fatal and I serve the greatest healer of all, God.
Trusting God is not always easy. If you don’t know God, imagine trusting someone that you cannot see and surrendering your entire life to Him. Then waiting to see what happens on His time, not yours.
During this process, I have to be honest with myself & God, confessing my sins. I have to be willing to surrender to His will for my life. I have to stop depending on myself, let go of the reins, and let Him lead me. I have to be able to be silent and still, listening for His instruction.
Trusting God means going down the road less traveled when most people are going the other way; it’s usually not the way you wanted to go, or thought you were going, but it’s His way, the best way. It is not easy.
Trusting God means trusting the people around you who He sent to help, and trusting that He always has your best interest at heart.
I made the decision to break this chain about a month ago. Since then I’ve gone through many ups and downs, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I’m blessed because God has sent many people to help me, including my family, doctors, and my friends.
My friends are integral to this process because they always remind me of my goal, which is to be free and to accept the freedom that Jesus bought for me on Calvary when he died on the cross for me. They are my spiritual supporters, my midnight cheerleaders, and mid day musketeers, coming to the rescue with words of encouragement via text messages and phone calls. A sweet picture or meaningful scripture; just a soft reminder of how important it is that I do this, to break this chain that has held me back and weighed me down for 20 years. The enemy cannot have hold of me anymore.
My family and my doctor keep me in check, ensuring I do what I need to do. Things like eating well and checking my blood pressure. It sounds so simple, but when you’re in the thick of it, when you’re in the fog of war, a physical, emotional and spiritual war like this, it’s hard to remember what you’re supposed to do. If you cannot see the shoreline because the storm is raging all around you, you have to trust the people who love you. You have to trust they were sent by God.
In four days, by the end of the week, when everyone is saying “TGIF” and making plans for the weekend, I will be celebrating a major milestone in my recovery. I don’t know if I will feel horrible or okay. It will take my body some time to heal. I’ve been abused, and abusing myself, for quite some time.
I do know that God is going to take my brokenness and put me back together, better than ever, healthier, wiser, and stronger. A friend of mine once said that “brokenness blooms beautiful”. All I have to do is hang in until He gets here. To wait on Him, for His perfect timing, to trust in that and to not waver in my faith. To have blind faith that keeps going no matter what. Even when I cannot see the shoreline through the storm.
I’m scared because I have no idea how I’m going to feel and excited because I know that the healing process has started. My body will regulate back to normal over time, and I will start a new journey, whatever path the Lord has carved for me.
Normal. Whatever that means. But I’m looking forward to finding out who Bree is. She’s been missing for quite some time.
It was the summer of 2016. My husband’s birthday and my birthday, a week apart, had just passed. The sticky heat of Florida summer had me praying for rain. We lived in the country with wildflowers and wild animals; it was lovely and I truly enjoyed it’s beauty.
Two days after my birthday a tragedy involving my husband brought me to my knees in the middle of the night. It was too much. I wailed at God. I’d like to say I was hanging on to life by a string, but that’s not true. God was holding me up because I had no strength left. I felt alone and broken. But what I had failed to notice through my tears was that God had seen all of this coming long before the days of summer.
God had put a vision in a woman’s heart to send me a Loved Bible. At the time I’d never seen or heard of “The Loved Bible Project”. I’d also never communicated with the woman who mailed it to me in the beginning of September. This Bible was beautifully decorated with scriptures highlighted, fancy ribbon, and special notes written just to me. Imagine my shock. Why would anyone, especially someone who didn’t know me, take time to create this beautiful Bible for me?
As I read it daily, it’s words sank deep into my heart, patching the aching holes that fear had caused just weeks earlier. It was, to me, a gift like no other, of the upmost importance. This Bible, that seemingly came out of nowhere let me know that God knew what I was suffering. God was with me.
About a month later, following more problems, I decided to leave my marriage. I didn’t take much with me, but I certainly grabbed my Loved Bible. I walked away from my life, everything I knew, and followed the Holy Spirit down a path I’m still on today.
I’ve arrived at a point of rest where God has asked me to “be still” and wait on Him. With time on my hands, I pray and read a lot. I especially read my Bible. While praying, I decided I wanted to make a Loved Bible for someone else, someone specific I was praying for.
I got a Bible, pens, stickers, washi tape, notecards, and lots of ideas from The Loved Bible Project Facebook page. Then I got stuck. I just couldn’t do it, I was afraid to ruin the Bible by writing in it. I was afraid that I would mess it up, or do the wrong thing. I had all these plans, my favorite scriptures, great ideas, but fear took over. Weeks passed.
Finally, I did it. I created my first Loved Bible page! It was exhilarating! I was so excited. I drove a couple of people crazy by messaging pictures of every page I created. Now I can hardly stop. It is so much fun and something I look forward to doing every day that I can. In fact, I think I need to start a new Loved Bible before I completely fill this one up and leave no room for its recipient to take their own notes.
As for the woman who sent me my Loved Bible, Kelli Moore, we are now friends. Though we’ve never met, we hope to one day. We message often and talk sometimes. She is my beloved friend, a beautiful woman, and an angel sent by God; the hands and feet of Jesus that loved on a Bible just for me. And, because of her generosity, I am loving on Bibles for others.
If you have never tried to love on a Bible, you should. It is so simple and fun. Imagine reading the word of God and coloring, highlighting, drawing and decorating all of your favorite verses! You can make one for yourself, for a family member, or even for a stranger. Who knows, maybe that stranger will end up being one of your best friends. All you need is love. ❤️
A while ago a girl met a boy, the chemistry fantastic; like nothing she’d felt before. Yes, he had a family, 2 daughters and one on the way. But he wasn’t married; so she thought it ok. Her heart skipped a beat when he drove over 4 hours just so they could meet. Then he’d drive back home to his family. She was young and confused. Surely thIs is love she thought; he loves me.
(Doubt that’s what the mother of his daughters thought).
Many days and months passed; he’d hold open her doors, and hold tight her hand, paying the bills, and being her man. He once brought her roses “just because he can”. Swooning at the sight, she thought “this man is just right”. At night before bed, the comforter he’d heat, a few tumbles in the dryer is all it needed. Providing warmth and comfort, it’s what she needed. Surly this is love, she thought. Surely this is love indeed.
One day he was crying, we needed to talk. With tears in those big brown eyes he said “I’ve fallen in love with you”. Excitedly she said “I love you too!” But the boy replied, “No, this is my moment to love you”.
I was young and that thought was sweet. But looking back now, I wonder if this is where the control started, because it only got worse. At the time it was sweet, but now it’s perverse.
The trees have patience as they grow. Watching us run too and fro. Hunting, gathering, scattering like the wind, blowing by then back again.
The trees have patience as they grow. Maybe they’ve got secrets I should know. The secrets to longevity, stillness, silence, majesty.
It’s a long commute home on any day, but this day it was longer. This particular day I was driving down the same road, but on a different journey.
There is a road that I jokingly call the “long road”, because it is the longest of 3 country roads I take to get home after I exit the interstate. On this day, it was as if the “long road” had turned into the long, dark, twisted entrance to a cave; a cave I’d once been in and thought I’d never go back. I’d been there nearly twenty years prior, when first diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I’d left college, going home to my parents, because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I had been misdiagnosed by the college medical staff as “depressed”, but it was more than that. I was depressed at the time, but the medicine they gave me, anti-depressants, made me feel worse. So I dropped out of school and went home. By the Grace of God, my mother is a psychologist, and my father a counselor. They helped me find an amazing psychiatrist whom I saw, once a month (or more, if I needed to) for over 12 years. He said I reminded him of his daughter. He was a great doctor.
So there I was, on that road, headed for that cave again. Why? Because my friend was there, and I would not let him navigate that cave alone. I couldn’t drive fast enough to get to him, I was concerned and interested to see how he was, but not scared. I was never scared of him. I was scared for him. I knew that whatever he was facing, though different than what I faced, he would need me, and I would be there for him. Most importantly, I was bringing help. This time, as I entered that cave, I had Jesus with me.
I knew my friend’s smiles around others were faked because that’s what I used to do. I faked happiness for years so that I wouldn’t worry anyone. I just wanted everyone else to be OK, and not to pay attention to me. I wanted to melt into the background, go unnoticed, and just hide under a rock someplace. I saw this in my friend. I heard his words, and like a time machine, they took me back twenty years. Back to when I’d said those exact same words. “It’s like I am putting on a show for everyone”; “It’s exhausting”; “I don’t want to do this anymore”. I’ve known my friend more than 14 years, and saw though that fake happiness like his smile was made of glass. I saw through to the worry and pain he was in. I didn’t understand it and neither did he, but I would be there to try and figure it out with him.
I drove down that long passageway into the cave and found my friend. In this cave you never know behind which rock, or which corner, another scary thing is hiding. I knew because, like I said, I was in there twenty years ago, trying to sort it all out. For example, I would take a medication that was supposed to make me feel better. These medications can take 6-8 weeks to really start working. So I took the medication diligently, and for one month I was more depressed than ever. Fail; on to the next one. “Everyone reacts differently” my doctor said, “we have to keep trying”.
Around the next bend, I’d be prescribed something to help me sleep, but it only made me completely wired with a bad type of energy. So much terrible energy, that there was no way I could sleep. In fact, it gave me awful panic attacks. Fail; on to the next one. I felt like I was trying every medicine under the sun. But I had to keep trying.
There is light at the end of this cave; you can get through, and you can overcome. Not only that, but I think, after twenty years, I finally know why God allowed me to wander into that cave to begin with. So I could help others. So my cave becomes a blessing. From dark to light, from walking through hell to helping others. Amazing. Amazing realization for me but my friend still has a long way to go. So do many other people who find themselves at the mouth of this dark cave.
But I will be there with him every step along the way. On the other side of this cave is the rest of his life. I know because I’ve been thought it. And who knows, maybe I’m still walking through that old cave of mine, but now I have my faith, my God, and Jesus. And that makes all the difference.
I’d just like to give a shout out to The Lord. Without HIM, I would not have made it through these past few weeks, would not be making it through each moment today, and would not have hope for the future.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19
The Lord is protecting me. In so many ways HE is letting me know HE hears me. In mysterious ways I never could have thought of, HE is protecting my heart and mind.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Like I said in my post a few days ago, I’m hearing God talk to me through others. In my father’s words, I am reminded of God’s Word; something I’ve read in the Bible. Today a truck parked next to me at the store playing music loudly, a song with lyrics “I’ll be with you, girl, like being low. Hey, hey, hey like being stoned”. I used to know who sang that song. I used to sing along. Today though, when I heard the song, I immediately thought of Stephen, Jesus’ disciple who was stoned to death.
God’s Word. Flooding my brain, cleansing my thoughts; protecting me with the truth, and keeping me from negativity. The faithfulness of our Lord in action. Coming out of nowhere, surprising me and totally amazing me with His Love and faithfulness; His promise to protect me: mind and soul.
When I pray for peace in a difficult situation, I feel peace. When I talk to God, when I worship with song or writing, when I share my story and I am not afraid, He is pleased.
When I first started this blog, because I felt God telling me to share my story, I was shy about sharing my story with too large an audience. But today I’ve decided to utilize every outlet I have to share my story with the world.
God is keeping his promises to me. Protecting me. I will keep mine to Him and share my story without limitations.
After I’d been a believer for about six months, maybe a bit longer, I was really struggling. Not with my faith. My faith came on fast and strong. I didn’t need much convincing. If God wanted my problems, and would actually give me forgiveness, grace, and mercy in exchange for my problems, well, I was all for it! You bet ya! Thank you God, and thank you Jesus for what You did to facilitate me to have this awesome relationship with my Creator.
However, my worldly problems were still there of course. There’s no magic wand that comes with faith and “poofs” your problems away. The good news is that you can put your faith into action and watch, yes watch, God work in your life. God’s grace makes his promises available, but your faith makes them possible. In fact, you must put your faith into action. I didn’t know that at the time, but Sarah was about to teach me.
When she told me what to do, I thought it was the silliest idea I’d ever heard.I probably laughed at her. Maybe not out loud, but certainly in my head. This idea was ridiculous. If I haven’t said so already, “I’m sorry for laughing, Sarah”.
Since Sarah had been listening to my woes for quite some time now, she told me to make a list. “Make a list of the top ten most impossible things in your life. Things you think you’ll never accomplish. Then pray about them. Everyday.”
“Why?” I asked.
“You’ll see, just trust me.” And since she hadn’t lead me wrong yet, I told her (after much complaining, I’m sure) that I’d do it. I had to trust her. She was all I had. Little did I know that at that very moment Sarah was sharing with me the most wonderful thing I’ve ever learned.Priceless. And if you, dear reader, have read this far, keep reading. You’re going to want to hear this.
It was the end of December. That night, in my dismal, lonely hotel room, I sat with a pen and paper and made my list. Despite how awful my life was, I could only come up with seven things I thought impossible. I’m much more creative now, but at that time, I didn’t realize the enormity of what was about to happen. I probably wasn’t too serious about the whole thing. Nevertheless, doing as Sarah said, I prayed about my list of impossibilities daily.
Some of the things on the list I can share with you. Others are really personal.
I want Mark and I to move out of this hotel we’ve lived in for two years and into an apartment.
I want to get a car. (Note: Mark was not working at the time, money was tighter than tight).
I want to reinstate my driver’s license and fix my tag so I could drive legally. (Note: Expensive!)
I want to marry Mark, in a church chapel, officiated by a pastor (not a notary). (Note: we weren’t even members of a church yet.)
So, those are a few things on my list. (The “notes” I added today for clarification). To me, these things all felt totally impossible, mostly because of financial circumstances. There were other things on the list that I might share one day.
So daily, I prayed. “God, I cannot do these things on my own. I need your help“.
To be continued…
OK, I know you hate “to be continued’s”, but I’ll give you a hint: within 9 months, everything on my list had come true in ways you’d never imagine. Ways only God could have come up with.
Please come back to read what happened next, because a series of unexpected miracles is fun to read about! You aren’t going to want to miss this, and I have a feeling some of you, yes you, might have been “in” on the miracles and not even know it.
Let’s talk about what got me back here writing again; it’s been a while.
It’s about yesterday. I could start this post off like Charles Dickens’ book A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. Only yesterday was different because it was the best of days and the worst of days, but because of God in my life, there were two possible outcomes.
Yesterday started off like any normal day, waking at 5:45, on the road to work by 6:15. The joy of my two hour commute is seeing the sunrise, different every day, and presented to me by God. I take lots of pictures. It reminds me of when I was little, and my daddy used to stop the car so we could watch the sunrise. It never mattered if we were on the way to school, or he needed to get to work. He would pull over so we could watch the sunrise, even if just for a few minutes. We’d take in the beauty, the colors, and the majesty of it all. We knew we were loved by our daddy. Even if we were just happy about not getting to school so early – and you gotta give me a break here – my sister and I were young, that’s what kids get excited about, you know?
I bet at the time, 30-something years ago, my daddy had no idea how much this would mean to me as I grew up. Even now, as I write this, I’m teary eyed because, daddy, every time I see a beautiful sunrise, sunset, or sky full of stars, I wish I were watching it with you. Because I know that no one would enjoy doing that with me as much as you would.
I send pictures to my dad, but pictures don’t do a sunrise justice. Just like anything created by God, you can’t capture it. My camera can’t capture the beauty of a sunrise, and there’s no way to hold onto it like a balloon on a string, keeping it with you all day long. You have to experience it for yourself. See the glow of the rising sun, smell the fragrance of a beautiful flower, feel the breeze on your face during a hot day. God gifts these things to us because he loves us; because we are His children. Just like daddy gifted my sister and me a chance to stop and watch the sunrises. You have to experience God for yourself, no one can gift that to you, and even if they did, it wouldn’t be nearly as awesome.
On the way to work yesterday I ran into terrible traffic for miles. Literally 3 lanes crawling down the interstate; there was an accident right in the middle of downtown. Busiest section of the road. Waiting until the last possible moment, hoping not to have to, I finally sent my boss a text message that I was going to be late and why. He wasn’t happy. He’s an amazing lawyer and a businessman. He’s actually one of the best lawyers I’ve ever worked for. However, he hired me to do a job, which requires that I’m at work by 8:30. He doesn’t care how far away I live or if an accident is holding up traffic. He needs me at work by 8:30 to open the firm, among other things. Though I’m rarely late, when I am, the entire firm is affected. I get it. I understand. Someone has to answer the phones and do all the things I should be doing. Meanwhile, that someone is missing out on time to complete their own work. I know his reaction to me was not personal.
When my boss arrived to work, I asked him if I could talk to him (before he had a chance to call me into his office). No one wants to be called into the principal’s office, right? I wanted the upper hand, or to at least feel like I had it. I prayed before going into his office. We spoke. I left, and prayed some more. I told God that this was difficult, I was scared for my job, and upset because everyone was mad at me. I asked God to help me find a silver lining to this situation. I told God I did not want to stay angry, upset, fearful, sad, or worried. In fact, I made a decision right then to not be any of those negative things. To do that, I needed to focus on something positive. So God and I “collaborated” in prayer and came up with an awesome idea; or, rather, He came up with an awesome idea.
My “conversation” with God:
God: You know all that time you’ve been complaining about, Bree? Unable to write, unable to blog, or to even participate in the IF:Equip Bible Study you love so much, because you’re commuting for work so many hours per day, and don’t have internet at home? How about you leave home extra early, and when you inevitably arrive to work early, you can use that time to blog, or study the Bible, or read. You’ll be on time for work, and get your blogging done.
Bree: Yes! That’s a great idea, God! Instead of staying late after work to blog, I will do it in the mornings before work. Great solution! (God and I make a good team.) 🙂
Let me tell you that for the rest of the day I felt amazing! I felt like the favor of God was with me all day. It was as if I had a basket of blessings, one after another, that kept popping up. By the time I left work, I was in a great mood. I was so excited about starting to blog again.
I’d always wanted this blog to be my confession, and my testimony to the Glory of God and how Jesus has changed my life. I’d been feeling guilty for not writing, especially after getting all these followers and people who liked my writing and truly wanted to hear my story. I felt guilty about not continuing to tell my story of how Jesus was changing my life. God gifted me with the ability to write well, and I wanted to use it, I needed to. I want everyone to know the God I know. And I want to know Him even better, growing in my faith.
This lesson I learned – go to Godfirst with my problems, and wait, with expectancy, for the right answer. What you learn will be with you for seasons to come. Certainly, I will need to do this again. Answers don’t always come right away, but they will come. His will will be done, and His will is always good for you. I felt so safe and warm. Surrounded by God’s army of love. It felt like the unconditional, unstoppable, unchangeable love that my daddy has for me.
How lucky am I?I have a Father in heaven making beautiful skies for me to see daily, and I have a daddy on earth who taught me to stop and enjoy the beauty God creates for us. Even though it wasn’t explained to me like that as a child because I wasn’t raised in Church, it’s completely relevant to my life now. I am so blessed. I am so loved. I am so lucky.
Thank you, daddy for teaching me how meaningful it is to stop and watch the sunrise.