Anchors

My Story: World IBD Day

A late post, I know 🙂

World IBD Day is observed each year on May 19 in order to raise awareness for inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, and to show support for the millions of people worldwide (including the 1.6 million Americans) that suffer daily with these these diseases.

I know firsthand the seriousness and severity of inflammatory bowel disease. Not only have I lost a first cousin to colon cancer after he suffered from Crohn’s Disease for years and years, but I too was diagnosed with both Ulcerative Colitis in 2006 and just a couple of years later, with Crohn’s Disease. I suffered severe complications, multiple hospitalizations, was found to have a colon stricture that left an opening in my colon only the size of a dime, and at just 32 years old I was thought to have colon cancer for months. On February 6, 2009, I was ultimately told that my colon was so diseased it would need to be removed in its entirety and (not to be graphic) possibly my rectum as well.

This news drove me back to my faith in God and trust me when I tell you that though I did not deserve it, God, in his tender mercy, great grace and overwhelming love, came right there into my circumstances. I was so scared, had no idea how I would move forward and was desperate for hope. The night I received this news, I was unable to sleep and I remember crying out to the Lord in the living room of my tiny condo at the time, holding on to a hope that thankfully I knew from childhood which is this: God IS a healer.

The Lord encountered me that night with this scripture:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you,
I have called you by name,
you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you,

and through the rivers,
they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you will not be burned,
and the flame will not consume you.

For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
your Savior….

and because you are precious
in my eyes and honored
and I love you.”

Isaiah 43:1-4

I decided to put my life, before anything else, in the hands of the One who made me and let Him direct me in the way I should go. The result? I can tell you that He means what He says and is faithful to every word He speaks. I can tell you that He is so acquainted with every detail of our lives and He cares so much about not just the challenges we face, but He cares even more about us! He loves US! And what I can also tell you with certainty is that nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, is impossible with Him. 

My journey wasn’t without challenges over the years following but even more than challenges, there were even more miracles and this was a journey that would ultimately change my life in every single way. I have shared pieces of my journey here and there on social media and on both my personal and health coaching websites, so I won’t go into the details here tonight, but I will say this:

My health has completely turned around! I am here today when doctors said I may not be, I have my colon, I now have two children which I never thought possible, and I have not been on prescription medication for over 5 years which I was told would never, ever happen! I am a sign and a wonder… and as wonderful as all of that is, it is only the beginning of what God has done in my life.

What I pray is that my story, that my very life, would offer hope to anyone who is reading. Whether you are living with a chronic disease, whether you have an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis, or whether you are going through anything at all perhaps totally unrelated to your health, I pray that my testimony and experiences will encourage you, inspire you and bring you hope in your own set of circumstances.

So in light of World IBD Day, this is what I want to leave you with tonight:

The Lord is so close and so near, and no matter what, there is always, always hope in Jesus.

♥,
Dianne

take the pressure off-2

Take the pressure off.

I was so encouraged by these powerful words and declarations over us made by The Crowning Jewels back on International Women’s Day, that I wanted to share them with you, especially in light of Mother’s Day this Sunday.  We as women, whether mothers in the natural or not, all have a sphere of influence, a God-given destiny, a life message, a voice that needs to be heard by someone and an impact to make in this world.  Yet somehow, we tend to put so much pressure on ourselves and many times feel like we have missed it, that we’re way behind where we think we should be at this moment, that what we have to share is not valuable or that we simply feel so inadequate. Trust me, I am talking to myself here too! 

The truth is this: God’s heart towards us is that we would feel fully loved, fully valued, fully approved of, fully confident in who He created us to be, and that we would know and truly believe that He is fully invested in us and His plans and purposes for us.  He is in our corner and He’s not going to let us fail.  The only job we really have is to cling to Him because apart from Him we can do nothing.


Please listen to The Crowning Jewels’ powerful Facebook Live video HERE. 
(I hope that you do… and put it on REPEAT!)  


Because I personally like to have words like this in a place that I can see, read and refer to over and over again, I actually took the time to transcribe them for myself back when they were released a couple of months ago, so here they are for you below if you want to read through them.  (And yes, many of the words are repeated here because sometimes we just have to keep hearing them over and over so we can get ahold of them!) 

I hope you feel encouraged and strengthened and that these words propel you forward in this season!


Alyssa, The Crowning Jewels, March 8, 2018:

“The Lord wants to take pressure off of you and release you from any false burdens you are carrying.

You have space to be yourself.

You have permission to be you.

You have permission to use your voice.

You have nothing to prove.

You have nothing to prove.

You have nothing to prove.

You have nothing to prove.

You are accepted.

You are accepted exactly the way you are.

I believe in you. Say this to your heart, “I believe in you.” And hear God this saying to you.

You have what it takes.

You have everything you need.

You have exactly what it takes.

It’s already been given to you.

There is room in this world for you.

There is room here for you to be yourself.

There is space for you and you belong here.

You have a place at the table.

You can do it.

You can do it.

You can do it.

I am proud of you. And tell your heart, “I am proud of you.” And hear the Father saying this to you, “I am proud of you.”

The pressure is off.

The pressure is off.

The pressure is off.

It’s okay to feel.

It’s okay to feel.

It’s okay to feel.

You are not a failure.

You are not a failure.

You are not a failure.

You are not a failure.

There is no time limit.

There is no time limit.

There is no time pressure.

The Father does not have a time limit on you.

Your time is not ticking away.

Nothing is going to expire.

There is no time limit.

You are free.

You are free.

You are free.

You can breathe.

You can breathe.

You are doing a great job.

You are doing an amazing job.

You are doing such a good job at life.

You can take all the time you need.

There is more than enough time for you.

You can take all the time you need.

You are not alone.

You are not alone.

You are never alone.

It’s going to be okay.

No matter what it looks like right now, it’s going to be okay.

You are safe.

You are worth it.

You are enough.

You are enough.

The way you are, you are enough.

You are worth it.

It’s okay to make mistakes.

It’s okay to try something new.

You were chosen.

You don’t have to have all the answers.

You are so strong.

You are taken care of.

You are taken care of.

You are taken care of.

You are so taken care of.

And you are doing your best.

The pressure is off.

You don’t have to be anybody or do anything.

You have space to be yourself.

You can give your heart space to talk.

You can give your heart space to be you.

The world needs you to just be you.

You don’t have to be anyone else.

You don’t have to put pressure on yourself to do anything else.

The only person you are responsible for is you.

You are doing a great job managing yourself.

The only person whose opinion matters about you is God.

Holy Spirit says you are lovable, you are worth it, you are enough.

He has chosen you.

That’s the opinion that really matters.

Now that the pressure’s off, I declare that:

You are walking in the fullness of your destiny right now, in the middle of your process.

No matter what you are going through, you are in the fullness of your destiny.

Take the heaviness off that says you are supposed to be somewhere, or you’re missing out, or you’re not where you should be.

You are in the middle of you destiny right now, in your process.

You don’t have to prove anything.

If you feel weak, God says that He’s strong in your weakness, so it’s a beautiful place to be.

Paul said, “I will boast all the more strongly in my weakness.” So if you feel weak or you have a weakness, it’s okay because God can be strong for you.

You are taken care of.

You are so taken care of.

You were created the way you were created very intentionally and with a purpose, a very specific purpose.

You were designed intentionally, created specifically, everything about you was intentional and purposeful.

You are not purposeless.

Nothing about you was a mistake.

You were an intentional human being. God created you intentionally and designed you intentionally.

Your design is perfect and beautiful and he loves the way he designed you.

You can’t miss it.

You can’t miss it.

You’re going to get it right.

You are getting it right, right now.

Your mind is valuable.

Your thoughts are valuable.

Your thoughts and your voice are important for this world to hear.

You have what it takes.

You were created to speak and you were not created to be silent.

What you have to say is good and beautiful.

You can put it out there in the world and it is going to make a difference.

You were created to make a difference.

You already are making a difference in people’s lives.

The little things that you do everyday, He sees. He notices.

He says, “Thank you, I honor you. You are making a difference right now.”

Just being yourself every day in and out, you are making a difference already.

God trusts you.

Your dreams are so valuable and so important.

They are the language of God.

Your dreams and your desires are God’s language and they are a way that He speaks to you.

You are powerful.

You can trust yourself and God trusts you to trust yourself.

He’s put everything inside of you that you need.

He’s always there with you.

You have infinite, unlimited wisdom to tap into.

You have a teacher on call.

The Holy Spirit is your teacher.

Anytime you need Him, He’s right there.

You can ask a question and He will give you the answer.

He’s all the wisdom you need.

You don’t have to worry about being stranded and not knowing what you need.

You have everything inside of you.

It’s been given fully to you, completely.

Jesus thinks you’re beautiful.

He is celebrating you.

He delights in you.

He’s singing over you.

He’s rejoicing over you.

Your body is beautiful.

Your mind is beautiful.

Your soul is beautiful.

And it’s all enough.

It’s fully valued.

Everything you are is enough.

You are perfectly designed and created.

Again, there is no pressure on you to be anybody else or to do anything differently.

You are perfect the way that you were made.

The Father wants to give you a big embrace right now and He says, “I love you my daughter, the way that you were created. Today is a day that I want to celebrate you.”

Take a deep breath and just sit in the Father’s voice and all that He says you are.

Delight in who you are.

Delight in yourself.

Celebrate who you are and the way that He created you.

Let yourself be celebrated with your Father.

You are an amazing, amazing daughter.”


Again, you can listen to The Crowning Jewels’ Facebook Live video HERE.

And be sure to follow this awesome business and ministry!  Not only do they make beautiful jewelry, but they are a true encouragement to women.

The Crowning Jewels:
https://www.thecrowningjewels.com
IG: @thecrowningjewels
FB: @thecrowningjewels


 

xo,

Dianne

My Story: Modern Witnesses

It was such an honor to be interviewed by Gabriela Yareliz of Modern Witnesses, a public forum and ministry representing the modern Christian woman.  Gabriela is amazing and has created such a powerful and inspirational space for women to openly tell their stories, share their faith, their struggles and their triumphs and to bring about encouragement, growth and connection with one another.  We are all in this together and our stories have the power to encourage and spur each other on as we walk out this life here on earth.

IMG_4579What I want people to know about God when they see me, listen to me or read anything that I write is that he is just so present and so acquainted with us. He cares so much and he comes right there in the middle of it all, right in the middle of the mess, and he always carries us through.  I’d love for you to check out my interview here.

I am sure you will also be encouraged by stories of all of the inspiring women represented and featured by Modern Witnesses.  Be sure to check them out and follow along!

Modern Witnesses
Website: https://modernwitnesses.wordpress.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/modernwitnesses_/

Link to interview: https://modernwitnesses.wordpress.com/2018/05/04/dianne-t/

 

Stop it. Please. Stop it.

Right before falling asleep I said, “Lord, show me the ultimate life you have for me.”  Well, how many of you know that God speaks to us in many different ways and that night, I believe He responded by showing me something that was actually keeping me from experiencing that “ultimate, abundant life.”

I dreamed that night that I was working on a business activity or some sort of presentation and it just didn’t seem to meet the standards of the person I was working with or presenting to.  I was critiqued and continually corrected until the person actually attacked me!  She leaned right over top of me, grabbed both of my arms and started shaking me back and forth violently, with such anger and annoyance that I just wasn’t getting it right.

As I woke up, I began to have my own thoughts as to the meaning of this dream and the attack on me, and so I immediately went into “fight back with scripture mode” because Uh-Uh… “NO weapon formed against me will prosper!” But after a day or so of pondering and asking the Lord to reveal more, I got the sense that the person so annoyed to the point of shaking me in the dream was actually me…. that I was the one beating myself up for not meeting my own expectations.

So, why do we do this? Why do we continually attack ourselves and beat ourselves up for “not measuring up?” Why do we set such high expectations for ourselves, many times beyond the expectations of the only One that actually matters?  Why do we do to ourselves what God doesn’t?


Oh, I thank you God that when you look at me, you don’t throw your hands up and say, “Welp, there she goes again! She’s just not getting it. Will you take a look at her?! She just keeps falling short. She’s just not measuring up. When the heck is she going to get it together?! How long is it going to take her to get it right?!”

fashion-hand-hurry-4956

No God, that’s not You talking. Those are lies talking. All LIES. 

Here’s the real TRUTH:

My God is merciful, gracious, kind and abounding in love towards me.  He is long-suffering, very patient and slow to anger. He actually sees me the way He created me, which is good.  He knows where I’m going.  He knows where He’s taking me.  He knows how it’s all going to end up.  He’s pleased with my progress.  In fact, He actually sees me as His finished product, certainly not by my past, and not even by my present.

He’s not mad at me. He’s not annoyed with me. He’s not disappointed in me.  He hasn’t written me off. He’s not waiting for me to screw up. He’s not shaking his head, rolling His eyes or looking at me with disgust or frustration.  He’s not wondering why I keep making mistakes, why I can’t get it all right, why I don’t have it all together yet.  He doesn’t just tolerate me or barely approve of me.  No… far from it.

He actually looks upon me with delight and in fact, all of those things about myself I consider to be so dark, He says, “Oh, but you are so lovely to me. You are altogether beautiful, my darling. I can find no flaw in you.”  

He sees me learning and doesn’t condemn me for it.  Rather, He encourages me and nudges me along like any loving parent would do their precious child learning to walk.  What a good and loving Father He is, looking at me with pride in His eyes. He’s actually so proud of me! Proud of every effort I make and every step I take toward Him and with Him.    

Not only that, but He’s so proud to call me His! He’s proud that I carry His name. He’s proud to call me His daughter, His darling one. He actually beams with joy over me and says, “That’s my girl right there. Would you just look at her!? That one right there. I love that girl beyond words! Look at her! Oh, she just steals my heart every single time. ”

adult-affection-baby-236220


Listen…

“… if God has determined to stand with us, tell me,
who then could ever stand against us?
….
Who then would dare to accuse those whom
God has chosen in love to be his?…”

(Romans 8:31, 33 TPT)

This includes us “standing against us.”  This includes us “accusing” and condemning us.  If God is so for us, why are we against ourselves?  We are ultimately fighting against what He fights forUS!  

You know, of all of the things I wrote earlier about how He sees us and how He joyfully beams over us… well I believe if there’s anything that He wishes we would just get ahold of… if He’s ever looking at us thinking, “Oh man, I wish she would get it!!”… it’s that we would actually see ourselves the way He does… that we would love ourselves the way He does… and certainly that we would not beat ourselves up when He’s not!

The truth is that if our thoughts, our minds, our hearts and our eyes were calibrated with His and if we really believed in ourselves the way He does…. oh man, wouldn’t we would be unstoppable? I mean, that’s what we all want for our kids, right? For them to know that they are truly u-n-s-t-o-p-p-a-b-l-e?

Oh God, help us to see ourselves the way you do.  Align our hearts and our minds with yours. Align the thoughts we have about ourselves with yours, God.  

Let’s give ourselves a break once and for all.  Let’s, please, stop beating ourselves up. And let’s look to Him, our loving, doting Father, as if He’s the only audience that matters, because He really is, and I can tell you that He is so well-pleased with what He sees in us right now.


 

Scripture references:

Isaiah 54:17; Psalm 103:8; Exodus 34:6; Ephesians 1:4; Jeremiah 29:11; Song of Songs 1:5; Song of Songs 4:7; Romans 8:38-39; Song of Songs 4:9; Proverbs 31:10, 11, 29; Zephaniah 3:17; Psalm 18:19; Ephesians 2:8; Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 2:17-19; Romans 8:31-34.

My Story: Afraid to die.

*Original story, “Too Young to Die?” written January 15, 2017.
**Edited and published January 15, 2018.


Interestingly as I begin to draft this piece of my story, it is the day before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, only now it is 8 years later (2017).** The number “8” in scripture relates to new beginnings, and this is actually the first time I’m beginning to finally write parts of my story. Wow. The timing of the Lord is impeccable. I can’t plan these things. Only He can. We often think we’re behind, but He’s not… and I have stories like this for days.  To think of where I was then and where I am now… Great is HIS faithfulness.  Why do I ever doubt you, Lord?

I am reminded of that January Sunday morning. It’s one of those pivotal, defining moments very early on in my faith journey that I will not forget, one that opened my eyes just a little wider and began to lay a foundation for the days to come. It was January 18, the day before MLK, Jr. Day in 2009, and our church at the time was in the middle of a 21-day fast to jump start the new year, which me and my husband were participating in for the first time ever (though we really didn’t know what we were doing).  We had just started returning to church on a regular basis after being married five months earlier. As we transitioned from worship to the message that morning, our pastor played a moving video presentation regarding the life and exploits of the late Dr. King, featuring his famous “I have a dream” speech, his mission and pursuit of justice in the Civil Rights Movement, the events leading up to his assassination, and his last speech, “I’ve been to the mountaintop,” where he eerily prophesied just one day before his death:


“Well, I don’t know what will happen now.… But it really doesn’t matter…. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain…. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!….
 MLK, Jr. (April 3, 1968)

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What an inspiration it was to recount the life and deeds of this man, so sure of his calling, sure of his mission, bold in the face of adversity and willing to die for his weighty cause even at such a young age, without even a hint of the fear of death, and resolving himself to the sovereignty of God and the numbering of his days.  However, if I’m being completely honest, my admiration quickly turned into panic as my mind rushed back to the reality of own situation and there I found myself again questioning my own personal fate.  Was I destined to die young? Given the health concerns that had been looming over me for the past couple of months, it sure seemed like a possibility.  Though obviously my circumstances were much different than those of Martin Luther King, Jr., I certainly didn’t display the courage he did.  No, quite the opposite; I was nothing short of fretful and in all honesty, I was shaking in my boots.

For the last two months I had been believing (the best I knew how to) for a miracle concerning my health, hoping and praying (okay, let’s be real… at that particular point in my faith, I was begging) that the Lord would heal me and that the doctor’s concerns of colon cancer would be found unsubstantiated. The stage, however, had already been set for fear to start taking root as not only did I have a family history of colon cancer, but I was also quickly reminded (as the enemy likes to do at just the right time) of a statement I had recently read in a book (and I’m paraphrasing), “You don’t know if it’s God’s will for you to be healed, so just pray for peace, comfort and that his will would be done.” These words never did sit well with me, but at that time my mind was just so vulnerable, I didn’t really know what else to think.  I can tell you though that as a young newlywed who had been diagnosed with severe complications relating to a chronic disease and now the potential threat of death, those words did not bring me much comfort.

As I continued sitting through the service that morning, I became increasingly uncomfortable as I pondered the short life of MLK, Jr. and how he must have so desired to see the fruits of all he had hoped and prayed for and so zealously pursued, yet he lost his life before he could see those things fulfilled here on earth. I wrestled inside with so much tension and emotion, wondering if I would see my own prayers answered or if I would succumb to an early death.  My mind raced back and forth and I was bombarded with the gloomiest of thoughts.  I knew the Lord was able to heal, I just wasn’t fully convinced He would heal me, though I desperately wanted Him to.  And again, if I’m being fully honest, my motivations for seeking healing could certainly be challenged at this point.  They were not really about Him at all. After all, I didn’t really know Him all that well despite spending my entire childhood in church.  I had never really fully surrendered my life to Him.  So at this point, my shaky theology and my lack of history with the Lord were definitely not helping me properly navigate through this roller coaster of emotions I was having or the things coming my way.

I started to feel very antsy and I could not wait for the pastor to just wrap it up so I could get out of there and spill my guts to my husband. It had already been such an intense couple of months with so much uncertainty and frankly, I was beginning to lose hope that my situation would turn around.  All I really wanted at that point was some reassurance and I was hoping my husband would give it to me.  I just wanted someone to tell me (or better yet, guarantee me) that, “…It’s okay. You are going to be okay…. and you’re not going to die young!”

I quickly hustled us along the moment church was dismissed and I nearly ran outside, jumped behind the wheel and drove us down the road a ways before pulling over into a public parking lot.  I felt far enough away at that point to finally… safely… release my tears and my fears to my husband and I began to furiously pour my heart out to him.

“What if I am supposed to die young?  What if that’s my destiny?  Martin Luther King, Jr. died young! And it even sounds like he was ok with it! Well, I’m sure he didn’t necessarily want to die young.  He did say he wanted to live a long life like everyone does.  But he knew he had a mission that he was carrying out.  And he sure seemed to have a peace about where he had been and where he was going.  He was courageous even if his cause would cost him his life! He wasn’t afraid!  But me?!  I AM afraid!  What if they really do find colon cancer?  What will that mean?  What will life look like?  I mean we’re newlyweds for crying out loud!  Are you okay with this?  Why is this happening to me?  And what is my mission anyway? Just to die young? This seems so unfair. I just feel so uneasy.  My stomach is in knots!  I am so scared!  I just don’t want to die!”

Okay yes, I was certainly dramatic but this was one of those breakdowns where you just keep it real and say exactly what your thoughts are telling you, even if you know you sound all over the place.  The truth is, I was just so consumed with self-pity… I just could not get out of myself.  The sad story of what could become of me haunted my mind over and over.  I mean, everybody loves a happy ending, right? But now if I die at 32 years old, a newlywed who hasn’t even gotten the chance to start her own family… the girl who has always appeared to have it all together that went from invincible to chronically sick to … well you know… how is this a happy ending? Is this truly my destiny and how it’s going down? That I would live a life full of searchingtoilingworkingstressing, even if it didn’t appear that way on the outside, only then to find my husband, but then to get sick and die? How could this be?!

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After continuing on and on, my husband (who has a way of reeling me back in every time I go out on an unraveling tangent) retorted,

“Okay, let’s stop for a second. So what if you do die?”

Well, that’s not the response I was looking for.  Ummmm….WHAT?!  Come again?! Did you really say what I think you said? I am your wife, remember?! Your young, sick wife who feels like she is fighting for her life, and right now fighting for her sanity… and you just married me like five minutes ago, and you just said…WHAT?!”

Now you would have to know my husband to know that he is a very practical person, a rational and objective thinker, and he tends to view situations with the bigger picture in mind and hardly ever through an emotional lens.  This is actually a gift… well, at least a perfect gift for me… because I, on the other hand, am by God-given nature an emotional, sensitive person who is really into the details (also gifts…!).  Although, yes, my husband’s outlook can be refreshing at times, I have to say that in this particular moment and considering my emotional state, I was stunned! Of course I looked at him like he was crazy and abruptly said,

“What do you mean? How could you say that?  You mean you don’t care if I die?”

…to which he quickly explained, “Come on!  Of course I care. I love you. I don’t want you to die.  But, the truth is… I don’t care if I die. I mean if I were to die today, what is the worst thing that would happen? Sure, you would miss me. Our families would miss me. But me… I would be in heaven which would be amazing, so what is there to be afraid of?”

Huh?! I was just flabbergasted by his response. I could not fathom how he could be so calm and fearless about his (or better yet, my!) potential or impending death. All I could do was sit in silence for a minute to reflect on his words, truly speechless… but it sure started me thinking… What peace one must have with God in order to make such a statement. To truly have no fear of death at all because of the certainty of where you are going was just astonishing to me. Gosh, really?  Was this also the same realization Dr. King had?  Is this certainty what allowed him to speak the words he did with such fearlessness and with such authority?  Wow.  What am I scared of?  Am I really sure of my salvation?  Do I really know God?  Is it the unknown that I’m afraid of?  Is it the process of death?  Is it potential pain? Suffering? Is it what I might leave behind? Is it regret?  Did I live a fulfilling life?  I just felt so unsettled, so afraid, but I really didn’t know how to think any differently.  It had never really occurred to me that one could have peace with God and with the thought of death.  I sure wasn’t there yet.  I was holding on ‘for dear life’ to my life and this wouldn’t be the last time the fear of death would be confronted in me.


The person who wants to save his life must lose it,
and she who loses her life for Me will find it.
Matthew 16:25 (Voice)


It was moments like this that began to define my journey and the Lord took me from hardly knowing Him at all, or only knowing the idea I had of Him, to truly revealing Himself to me little by little, piece by piece, and more and more in the days ahead.  He was in no rush to answer my prayers exactly the way I wanted Him to or expected Him to because He knows everything and He’s not in a panic.  Instead, He began sovereignly putting His finger on the things He wanted to address and in the timing He wanted to address them.  All the while though, there is no mistake: He held my very life in His hands and He still does.  He is a healer and His plans for me have always been good. His word was already settled in heaven long ago on this matter but at that point in my walk with Him, it had not yet been settled in my heart.

I truly had no idea the depths of what the Lord was beginning to do in my heart back then.  You will see as more of my story is told over time that yes, He healed me, not only physically but so much more, and He has done more for me than what I ever asked of Him back then, because He is way more into the details than even I am. 

-Dianne Todd
MY STORY:  Afraid to Die.

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His strength, not mine.

Inspired by a past journal entry and conversation with the Lord:

I stood there that day loaded down by the cares of this life, the sum of which felt like one BIG, loooonnnnnggggg, HEAVY, harDDD, never-ending upWARD climb.  My mind says, “There’s no way this is the pathway to the abundant life promised me.  Have I missed it?  Did I hear Him right?  What AM I DOING?”  My heart says, “Hold on, girl.  You got this.  The journey may be long, it may be hard, but it’s going to be worth it.  The Lord is faithful to complete the work He started.  Don’t give up. Persevere. You’ll see it all come together. He promised.”

Ultimately, what I knew was there’s something that’s just not connecting.  There is a Truth that was settled in heaven long before our measure of time even began… and then there’s the reality of the day to day walking it all out: the act of following the path to the promise while juggling this and carrying that, dodging life’s obstacles and fighting through every circumstance that’s thrown your way just to make it interesting.  But, if I’m on the right path, then where’s the flow?  Why is there always so much friction?  Why does it alway feel like I’m walking through quicksand or running through knee-deep water?  Where’s the grace that makes the hard things easier where “even the hard pathways overflow with abundance?” (Psalm 65:11 – NLT)

Lowering my head, I mumbled:

“Lord, why does everything have to be such a struggle? Really…. just WHY? I’m aligned with you. I’m surrendered to you. My heart is yours. I feel like I’m walking down the path you’re leading. So what is it? Why does everything have to be so hard?  Why?”

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Without hesitation He whispered right back, reminding me of how very close He really is and how acquainted He is with all that concerns me, and lovingly He said,

“Because you’re doing things in your own strength. It’s not you that does the work. It’s ME inside of you that gives you the strength to do what I’ve called you to do.  It’s ME inside of you that gives you the grace to walk the path and the power to persevere, to endure and to make it… but you’re operating in your own strength and not relying on MINE. It is Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory, remember? It is the power of Christ at work within you that empowers you to do anything, everything, all things.”

What a simple answer… of course, my heart knows this Truth very, very well… “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:13 – ESV)

Problem is, my flesh tells me to perform.  My head thinks it knows all of the answers so my hands say, “Just grind it out.”  But in all honesty, what other way is there?  How do you practically walk out the path from TRUTH to natural reality to the good plans and promises actually fulfilled?

Well, here it is again, Lord… all of my striving, all of my “making it happen.” Why do I always feel like I have to help you? I surrender it all again.  Now show me how to rely on your strength. Show me what that looks like. I want to see the application.  Show me how to walk it out.   Align my tendencies with your truth and help me to walk the journey of life out always plugged into the the true source of strength, which is YOU, never me.  Help me to recognize that mode of striving that kicks in and ultimately leads to so much struggle.  Help me to allow you to take the reins and do the work you want to accomplish.  

I really want to get it.  O God, just keep teaching me your ways.  I seriously can’t do anything without you.


For it is [not your strength, but it is] [a]God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the a

Onward.

i think it’s about time
to shake off the dust
yesterday’s cares
last season’s disappointments
all the what if’s and why didn’t’s
that hope deferred feeling
the weariness and fatigue from the travel
the fog of trying to remember what it is you’ve been clinging to all this time
the lines get so blurred after a while
just try it, throw off the grief and trauma of it all
dust yourself off and wiggle your feet clear
clear your throat and lift your drooping head

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let the wind come and blow it all away
and let the second wind come for your good
no more clinging to the umbrella of heaviness
it’s keeping you from the autumn rains
that have come for your refreshment
dip your hands in the puddle collecting near your feet
clean your fingernails from the dirt of your own efforts
step in and let the waters wash over your toes
lay that old season down for a rest now
it’s time to let it all go

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sleep off the clouds of shady grays and blues
and make room for fresh dreams
awaken with eyes wider than ever before
doesn’t it look new
you were just asleep that’s all
the sun is now peeking through
yes the morning is dawning
you’ve been waiting for this moment
the air may be crisp but these skies are the truest of blue
breathe in fresh, exhale your relief
the newness is abounding around you


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so get up and be going now, you’ve got things to do
the journey’s past helped build you, you’ll see
onward, you’re ready now and light as ever


Awards:
star-1139372_640The original draft of “Onward” was submitted to FaithWriters’ “The Official Writing Challenge,” on the topic, “Blue,” (challenge week 11/9/17) and was awarded 1st Place, Level 2, Intermediate and 5th Place overall (Editor’s Choice Winner).

 



FaithWriters.com, The Ultimate Community for Christian Writers, Silver Member.

 

Content, at last.

“I’ll be happy when….”

“I wouldn’t be stressed out if…”

“I would be content if only…”

“Life would be so much easier if…”

“I’ll be relieved when…”

“I wouldn’t always be worked up if…”


Who can relate?  Can you easily fill in the blanks?  Are there situations in your life that you tend to add “if only” disclaimers to in order to justify why the situation you are in is just not as fulfilling as it could be?

If our circumstances were different, then our lives would be so much easier, we would be happier, we wouldn’t be as stressed, everything would be great and all of our problems would be solved, right?  Well the truth is, many times we find that although our circumstances change, we actually remain the same and some of those issues we thought were as the result of our jobs, our financial situation or that difficult person in our lives, actually seem to follow us from from job to job, from home to home, from person to person and from situation to situation.

We repeatedly find ourselves faced with one imperfect circumstance after another making us think, “Geesh, can I just catch a break?  If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”  Well, this is so true.  If it’s not one thing, it will be another when we fool ourselves into thinking our circumstances are what governs our contentment.  We will find ourselves on a never-ending search for the place called “Perfect” and we will live in a cycle of always reaching for something we don’t presently have in an effort to find happiness.

Well, here’s the secret…


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The Lord is my shepherd.  I lack nothing.  I have all that I need.  I don’t need a thing.
Psalm 23:1 (NLT, MSG, NIV)


When we find ourselves disgruntled and unsatisfied circumstance after circumstance, it’s an invitation to search our own hearts.  If we think true contentment is found in our surroundings or in our relationships, we will find ourselves let down time and time again.  If we wait to be happy “when” … well, we may never get there because while we are living in this age here on earth, nothing will be perfect.

We were not destined to live a life unfulfilled in every circumstance. Rather, we were destined for satisfaction no matter the conditions, because our contentment is to be found in nothing but Jesus.  He is peace, He is love, He is joy, He is stability, He is an unlimited well of resources... He is everything that we search for in this life all wrapped up into one source.  We are made complete in Him and unlike other circumstances and other people, He never changes and He will never disappoint.


“…for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:12-13

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Jesus… He is the one thing that has the ability to fulfill every longing desire we have.  He is that something that “if only we had” and even more so, “if only” we realized everything He came to give us, then at last we would find contentment.  He is the secret to living in every situation, because it is Christ in us, the hope of glory, that gives us all we need.

Who you are.

Sometimes
you don’t feel good enough,
you feel so unqualified,
you lack that confidence and
you’re biting your nails on the inside.


Well, here’s the deal (like my husband would say): whenever you start to feel timid, shy or afraid, or if the world ever tries to make you feel inadequate or not enough, you have to remember who You are in Jesus.  You just have to… and if you don’t know Him and what He says about you, you need to, because that’s where “who you really are” will be found and that’s where true confidence comes from.

Even before He created the earth and everything in it, God already knew you, He set you apart as his prized possession and He placed His stamp of approval on you.  It was His very hands that formed you, fashioned you and knitted every part of you together in your mother’s womb with such tenderness and care.  Even from the womb, He knew what your name would be.  You are His workmanship, a masterpiece, a work of art, and long ago He prepared special things for you… things intended just for you… but the catch is, you have to know it and believe it.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:10

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You are adequate and capable if not just for the mere fact that God created you and everything that He creates has value and purpose.  He was intentional about you and He distinctly planned out all of your days out even before time began.  He is so acquainted with every detail of your life and in fact, He knows everything you are going to say before you even say it.  That could be a scary thought, if it wasn’t Him we were dealing with, right?  But it is Him, and thankfully so because He’s probably one of the only ones that sees all and knows all (the good, the bad and the ugly), and yet is still wild over you.

So whenever you feel unsure of yourself, wishing you were a little less of this, or a little more of that, feeling inferior or intimidated by your surroundings, your circumstances or someone in your path, remember who you are.  You are loved beyond measure and the Father is well-pleased with you already.  There’s nothing you have to do to earn it and there’s not one thing you can do to change it.  Even if you goofed up, what difference would it make in the way He feels about you? He’s a good Father that picks us up when we fall and sets us back on our feet. The pressure is off because He sees you as who He created you to be well before you even measure up to it.  We weren’t designed to do things in our own strength anyway but rather fully relying on His.  Apart from Him we can do nothing.  

He’s done the work, His plans for you are good, He made you for a specific purpose and He has designed you with the potential to fulfill that purpose.  Your confidence has to come from the ultimate truth of knowing where you came from.  Even if you fail, the truth doesn’t.  He will work all things out for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose.

You are well-equipped for this life and anything you have to face.  Now, all you have to do is partner with Him and believe it. 


 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.  You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether…. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. 
Psalm 139

The better way.


why me?
seriously.
hope? i need it.
fret. stress. worry.
soul so unsatisfied.
peace? what’s that?
so jumbled up inside.
heart longing for more.
emotions all over the place.
so connected to circumstance.
striving.  performing.  perfection.
why do i have to work so hard for it?
for anything. for everything. for something.
confident much?  yeah, i am.  on the outside that is.
what’s all this hustle for, again? i can’t even remember now.
just. so. tired. there’s got to be a better way.  do you know of one?


I remember years of feeling this way. Can you relate? The racing mind, the weariness of life, the world with all of its pressures, demands and expectations, the weight of burdens that aren’t yours to carry, the unfulfilled longings and unmet desires, the working so hard but coming up short, the unexpected challenges and trials, the loss, the struggles, the disappointments... it all can be so heavy, especially if you’re trying to shoulder it on your own.  It’s just way too much to bear; in fact, you weren’t even designed to.

Young Women Travel Together ConceptCome to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28


All of the fretting and striving in the world will not add one single second to your life.  All of the endless doing and performing will surely leave your soul empty rather than full.  All of the emotions that go up and down and side to side from this circumstance to that one will eventually wear you down.  It can just get so tiring… always pulling it together on the outside hoping to make up for what’s on the inside.  There’s just no end in sight. Ugh… what a dreadful thought.

[But] You, God, are my God… earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1

The truth is that the soul will never stop yearning and longing and trying to find its way as it travels from dry land to parched land and back again. The heart will always long for more until we choose to lay down our heaviness at the feet of the One who bears a lighter load.  Every single worry, every fretful thought, every false idea of who we think we need to be, every demand we place on ourselves, all of the striving we do to reach some imaginary place of contentment and all of the jumbles we carry around on the inside…  there’s really only one way to unravel it all…. and that way is Jesus.

He’s the order to all of the messiness.  He’s the piece (and the peace) that’s missing from every spent soul.  He is the way to getting it all sorted out…. and He is that better way your heart’s been longing for.

#Jesus.  He’s always the answer.  He’s always the better way.


Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear,
and come to me;
  hear, that your soul may live….
Isaiah 55:1-3


 

A trust rooted as deep as the trees.

a journal entry:

As I lay here tonight with one worry or another racing through my mind, keeping me from resting peacefully, I exhale and whisper,

“Jesus take me away. Just take me away with you.”

I immediately get a picture of a wooded area surrounding a body of water. It reminds me of Sandy Bottom Nature Park in my nearby hometown.  Jesus is there and He grabs my hand.  Together we walk around to the side of the nature path where the green trees are hovering over the still waters.  There’s maybe a dribble or a gulp here or there from life below, but otherwise, the waters are just so still.

“He leads me beside still waters…
beside waters of rest.”

Psalm 23:2

He takes me with Him into a small boat and we drift across the waters, in no rush for anything at all.  It reminds me of when my husband is driving and as I begin to become impatient (as I usually do), he likes to say, “Just relax.  We have nothing but time.”

Jesus isn’t even paddling; we are just coasting through, taking time to enjoy the still waters… these still waters of rest. There’s nothing like a peaceful boat ride. We had no agenda while in this boat. We just sat there, without saying a word, taking in the gentle atmosphere.

I then started to think,

“I never want to get off this boat. If I get off this boat, I go back to reality…. to the ‘this,’ the ‘that,’ the mundane, the fray, the bills, the ‘what am I going to do with my life’ type of stuff…. So no, I don’t want to get off.  Let’s just stay right here on this boat. Right here is good.  I won’t rush it, Jesus.”

But just as these thoughts go through my mind, Jesus directs the boat onto the shore on the other side. He has said that before, right?

“Let us go to the other side.” Mark 4:35

Jesus gets out and graciously takes my hand to help me as the boat rocks and sways from side to side. I step out with Him and wonder what’s next. What is He up to?  Where is He leading me?

We walk over and take a seat on an old wooden bench beneath a cherry tree.  It’s odd that I knew it was a cherry tree when I couldn’t actually see the fruit. But there we sat together and He started to talk with me.  You know, He has a soft nature about Him but then again He’s so sure of Himself, confident and strong. He isn’t rattled or concerned. He knows everything there is to know, yet He is still at peace and I can sense at this moment that His heart desires that I would so grasp what He wants to relay to me.

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He plucks a leaf from the tree above and shows it to me, twirling it back and forth in between His fingers as He’s talking.  He then extends his hand ahead as if to point out the beauty of the fields and the scenic view before us.  This is what I sense Him saying:


“No matter what season it is, no matter if the trees are in full bloom or if leaves are fading away, there is no toil here. Whatever comes its way, it [nature] just adapts and knows that it’s not forever.  Its day to bloom is coming and will come again. The seasons, the weather elements… all of these things are part of the process. Nature as a whole actually becomes stronger over time. Trees become taller and their roots grow deeper.  It’s so interesting. What a mystery this thing is called nature. It seems beautiful, yet sometimes messy and sometimes not so attractive… but then Spring comes and things begin to turn green again.  More and more days pass by and some parts of nature even thrive in the hottest temperatures of Summer… and then they can’t wait for the cool breeze of Fall and their time to rest in Winter….”  

“You see, I don’t want you to worry about a thing. I don’t want you to think about how things will work out. The cares of this life can be such a drag. But as long as you are with me, you will never want for a thing. Through every season, you will prosper. Don’t look at what it appears to be on the surface, but know that there is always growth happening and there is always prosperity when you stick with me. There are treasures hidden in the messes of life and how you access those treasures is through me. There must be a trust that goes beyond the natural eye. There must be a trust rooted as deep as the trees. That’s who you are. Don’t take your eyes off of me and what I’m showing you today.  Fix your eyes upon me. You will see such beauty arise. You will see such life arise. You will see green, upon green, upon green, with waters of rest in between, when you stick with me. You have chosen well to accept my invitation today. Let my words never leave you.”


She dances.

My heart blooms like a sweet flower naturally arrayed in beauty.  

But not the striving kind of beauty… 

Rather, a beauty that knows it was created with such tender thought and care.

Like fresh blossoms swaying in a cool breeze on a warm summer day, my heart dances.  

But it’s as if it’s dancing for you, Jesus…

twirling around and showing off

just like a young, carefree child.  

I smile.

My heart is coming alive again.

-Dianne Todd

June 15, 2017

It is well.


My soul beams with gladness

in the presence of my Savior.  

He has done marvelous things…

more than I can truly comprehend.

He is beyond what we can ever imagine.

His mere presence brings light and healing and truth.

My soul is transformed by the light that extends from his face.

He shines goodness upon me and brings loveliness to this dark heart.

My soul is singing and abounding in love….

the purest and truest of loves.

Indeed, it is well within me.


 

The beauty of Jesus.


Your beauty envelops me.  

It hovers over me like a canopy of colors never seen.

Beams and rays of sweet light surround me as I sit with you…

and it brings healing to my soul.  

Oh Jesus, there’s just so much more to you than I know.

This glimpse is good but it leaves me wanting more.

How the deepest part of me longs for this.  Is this what I’ve been missing?

Show me your beauty, more and more, 

do it again and again, for it transforms me.

-Dianne Todd
June 15, 2017