Tuesday, July 5, 2016

feel my love

no one may ever read this.  but if for my own sake to document it, when i need to be reminded of the love that passionately, relentlessly pursues me.  ripping through barriers, boundaries and bullshit.  (sorry)

tonight after i returned from the gym, i sat down after my shower and fixing up my mop top.  i just began to cry because something deep in my soul just longed for Jesus.  Just to sit on the floor across from him and tell him about what i felt towards him.  to hear about what kind of miracles he got to be part of today.  people he rescued, marriages he restored, chaos he brought peace to.  but i can't have that yet.  at least not this side of eternity.  one day, i will sit on the floor of heaven and sit eye to eye with the King.  until then, i long.  

as i sat and let tears finally, freely fall from my eyes without an ounce of shame, i mustered out a one sentence prayer.  i just looked up and said, as if he were kneeling in front of me, waiting for me to tell him what i needed, "God, help me to feel your love again."  

something i struggle so much with is my ability to hear God.  i am learning to give him more credit.  who gave me my brain, and my ability to process?  He did.  So instead of doubting what so quickly came into my head after i lifted that feeble little prayer, i acted on it.  

"God, help me to feel your love again."  Boom.  the song that rolled through my head was an older one.  It is by Garth Brooks.  God chased me down with a secular song.  The song is called, "To Make You Feel My Love."  i let the words wash over my heart, and even as it plays now, i know that he is the one who is singing over me.  "he rejoices over me with singing."  

i can know that he will always come after me.

here is the link to the song:

Monday, July 4, 2016

Seeing Jesus

Early Sunday morning, I was awakened around 2:30. I could not fall asleep. In moments when my body gets restless & my mind won't turn off, the enemy thinks he has me. And if I'm honest, he used to. In my many many years of undiagnosed anxiety & depression, he had a grip on me that sometimes felt like chains around my entire body, mind & spirit.  Shackling me to a weight of shame.  A ball and chain I lugged around loudly on the inside, and tried my damndest to keep quiet on the outside...where everyone could see.  The awkward tension that rises up like flames licking the vulnerable parts of my heart when even the slightest things changed quickly.  I kept thinking that I just needed to let God have control in all my circumstances.  Which is true.  But even beyond that surrender, there was still this terrifying anxiety that was so sinister and conniving, and it mocked me without relent. 

When I can't sleep, when my body refuses to be still, when my thoughts of sadness race fast enough to overlap each other, I find things that bring me life. I love to create things. Different media, designs, written pieces, blogging.  It's a safe coping skill I have learned to unashamedly pull out of my arsenal.  Yesterday morning when I couldn't sleep, I designed an image and all I could muster across my brain in a reel of thoughts was, "I wanna see you today, Jesus."  

And he heard me. And he answered me.  I didn't even have a certain level of expectation as to how I wanted to see him. All I knew was that I wanted to see him.  He came in a very unsuspected, but tangible way. 

The bible says our steps are ordered of the lord. And man, yesterday was such an awesome blessing for me. I went to church, and had a plan to go to the gym right after. I was on one of the last machines & had one more set of 15 I wanted to do on my triceps. I was ready to push another 90lbs but it was almost like the lord tapped me on the shoulder and said, "no, 55 is enough." So I got up. Something I wouldn't normally do. I went to tan for my usual 9 minutes and when I stepped in I felt so dizzy. I knew I needed to get out. So I did. Then I hopped back in. And I knew I shouldn't stay in because i was close to passing out.  so, against what i really wanted to do, i was nice to myself and got out. I let the time run out on the tanner, got dressed, and walked out.  my next plan was lunch.  i was going to walk to the food court for subway but remembered my wallet was in the car and i was not about to walk back and forth two more times just to get it. so i decided to drive to the next nearest subway.  as i pulled in, a familiar vehicle pulled in at the same time in the other driveway.  it was a couple of my favorite people.  we laughed and went inside.  they bought my sub and sat with me for lunch.  my next plan was to head to the water to read and journal.  but i got roped into some ice cream ... ahem ... sugar free frozen yogurt.  which also got paid for.  after that, i was then going to head to read.  but... God must have known i needed some sun, what with not being able to make it through my 9-minutes of UV.  So i went back with those sub-buying, fro-yo treating people and laid in the pool for 2 hours.  it was amazing.  

now i realize, this sounds non-amazing.  but as i sat back and reflected on a day that went mostly the way i had planned, i realized that it was so much better than i had anticipated.  it was going to be a day alone, reading, treating myself to some gym time, self compassion.  and i got all of those, but with a big huge cherry on top.  and i started to walk backward through my day.  God reminded me of the moment i was sitting on that weight machine, about to push another 15 reps of 90lbs.  but he told me i had done more than enough, to get up and go.  and then he showed me in the tanner, realizing it was too much and i chose to leave.  i realized if i had pushed thru those things, avoided his little nudges, i would have missed the subway rendezvous, the fro-yo treat and the best treat of all, spending time with people who have walked with me thru some pretty rough patches, never treating me any less, loving on me like i was part of them.  

so yea, i'd say my prayer was answered...when, at 5am, the morning of church, not being able to sleep that night, i mustered a feeble prayer that was just a few words, "i wanna see you today, jesus."  and i saw him.  big time.  

Friday, June 10, 2016

I love Jesus so much ... and i have depression.

i love jesus so much. and i have depression.
one day, i asked god to give me more influence in the lives of those around me.  
shortly after that, i was walking thru my newly exposed, seasoned, hidden struggle with depression and anxiety.  ever since i can remember, i have struggled with both.  and now, i am 29, fumbling thru the path of how to walk in the awkwardness of embracing this new thing, that isn't so new.  it is new to being exposed, but not new in the respect that its just always been there.  i am beginning to believe that my full healing will come as i continue to gingerly walk thru the hell of the darkness of depression, and the shame of anxiety.  unashamedly embracing what has been there all along.  my name is erica. i am a teacher, a daughter, a leader in an amazing ministry, i try to be a good friend, i crack myself up, desperately in love with jesus … and i have depression.  and guess what … it’s ok.

i ran into an old colleague from one of my former jobs.  i ran into her at the gym.  it was cool to see her again and get an update on her life.  she asked me if i was seeing anyone. what i wanted to say was “yea actually! I'm seeing two guys.  one is older, one is younger.  the younger one is my therapist. i see him a couple times a month.  and then the older one is a doctor. a doctor of psychiatry. and i see hime about once a month.”  i laughed to myself and had to suppress my secret inner giggle.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Jesus is dirty.

from the ashes of my journal...

"there is no way God has allowed for me to walk thru the hell i have walked thru and He not have an amazing, earth-shattering purpose for me, both in the midst of it and on the other side of it.  the purpose in the midst of it may even be more important than what comes after it. on the other side."

We see and picture God ... hang on.  Before i go any further.  take about 10 seconds or so and just think about what God looks like to you. and hold it in your mind.  what is the very first image you see?  what does he look like?  what is he wearing?  what does his face look like?  what do his hands and feet look like? you got it?  ok, don't forget it.
Image result for greasy mechanic hands
now...we see and picture God or Jesus (i am speculating) as maybe a neat freak.  Pristine white and perfectly clean.  I guess I see him as a mechanic.  Their hands are always greasy, grimy, dirt and oil all up under their nails.  Sleeves rolled up, work pants and steel-toed boots.  Pen behind their ear, smudges go grease and dirt and oil rubbed into the pores of their face.  Smudges of grime on work orders, each with its own list of diagnoses and remedies.

Jesus isn't clean.  Jesus ... is dirty.  Jesus isn't clean on the outside, but he wears robes of righteousness.

Jesus wears robes of grime.
Jesus wears robes of grease.
Jesus doesn't have smooth hands, He has holes in them, no doubt calloused from the hard nails that were driven thru them.
Image result for greasy mechanic handsJesus doesn't have manicured nails. He has dirt and grime up underneath them.

To me, Jesus doesn't wear robes.
To me, Jesus wears dirty carpenter jeans, work boots, a pen behind his ear.
Face of gentle tenderness, greased over with oil and dirt.

Jesus is a dirty mechanic.