Moments of Pause

Several years ago, I learned to pause. I would intentionally stop and do nothing, even if just for a minute or two. Over the years, this time has proven to be an amazing reset and reprieve as there’s always something to do in a house of 7.

During these moments, I rarely actually pray. I simply turn my heart and mind towards God and am open to hearing from Him in these moments. One of the things I have noticed is that it has caused me to be far more in tune with Him. At the busiest points of my day, in the midst of all the noise, I can still hear Him clearly. It’s as if, in the intentional moments, I am tuning in more pointedly and as I leave that moment, the tuning that I have gained remains, only to be improved with the following intentional pauses.

I love and appreciate that in the midst of anxiety ridden moments, I can still hear Him. I love it when He asks me, “What are you looking at?” in those moments, jarring me from sinking further into despair. I am able to shift my focus and look at Him because He is just so beautiful. It feels like such an amazing cheat to have in life. We never have to wallow in despair and anguish. What a gift!

My time of pausing typically includes me just listening to whatever sounds are around me. Right now, my children are asleep and I hear my cockatiel Birdie, singing and chirping beautifully. I hear planes flying overhead, cars whizzing by, birds outside, the hum of the refrigerator and the clicking of my fingers as I type this. I really enjoy the simple beauty in just being.

God is changing my pauses now in an interesting way (for me). My pause now includes worship music at times. Being a classically trained coloratura soprano who has sung in church for most of my life, one would surmise (incorrectly) that I listen to music all the time. Music is a sore spot for me. Oftentimes, it is very triggering, especially now. It takes me back to times that I had forgotten about, feelings I’d buried because I couldn’t deal with them at the time. It brings too much to the forefront, too fast and too intensely and I hate it. Most of the time, I don’t mind when my husband and children play music around me. We have fun singing during road trips and have frequent dance parties in our living room, but sometimes, depending on the type of music being played, I can’t handle it and seek to escape. On my own, I am far more prone to listen to books or lectures than music. Now, God has me actually wanting to hear music at times during my pauses and it is quite glorious.

I would like to share one of my current favorite pause songs by Rick Pino called Pour My Love On You. Click here for the link. I hope you enjoy it. It really blesses me every time I listen.

I’m still not listening to music in the car as I drive, though. Don’t want to. Love you…

Harmful Perceptions and Mindsets

In Disney’s Pocahontas, when they sang, “They’re different from us, which means they can’t be trusted”, it was easy to see how self-righteous they were. I believe it was easier for viewers to see because we got to see both sides.

We got a glimpse into how both sides lived and thought and had a picture that was more broad. From what I can see, the sentiment from that song has permeated a good deal of people in America.

On one hand, we say we love freedom and free speech, but the moment someone says something in opposition to the narrative we have chosen to believe, we damn them. They are wrong, we are right. We condemn what we don’t understand and label people accordingly. We call them hateful names, believe them to be deceived and worse, all while missing the venom spewing from our very pores. All this, because we don’t understand their point of view. How childish… How self-righteous… How, narcissistic.

Our thinking and comprehension is finite. We have little more than tunnel vision when it comes to many things. We need each other to see things more clearly. We need God. In some instances, we seem to be able to face this fact, but the idea that someone you don’t understand is suddenly deemed whatever horrible label you want to assign to them, is sheer lunacy. Just say you don’t understand! You know your side, how about you listen to another side? You just might learn something.

People’s hearts are so wounded. It grieves me to witness the horrific things that come out of those I previously thought were mature, balanced, and kind. I am even more amazed as I see that they are completely blinded to their hatred. It is true that when pressure is applied in one’s life, what’s inside comes out. For some, it is a shining moment, where obvious inner beauty shines forth as with diamonds that have endured tremendous pressure. For others, what comes forth is simply rancid and ugly.

My prayer today is that we can all learn to look inward. As I type, Michael Jackson’s Man In the Mirror plays in my mind. We truly need to be the change we wish to see. Many of us have heard that often, but how many of us actually live like that? If you have hatred and are holding grudges, spewing all forms of malice in anyone’s direction, you are bound and only hurting and deceiving yourself. Galations 5:1 in The Passion Translation reads, “Let me be clear, the Anointed One has set us free– not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.”

If you see yourself still bound, still as a victim, still being oppressed and depressed by some elusive other, you won’t experience the freedom Jesus died and paid for. As long as you see yourself this way, yeah, you are oppressed. You need little help from anyone else to keep you that way too. You do it yourself just by your thinking. You turn your back on what the Word of God says, in favor of… what? As my dad, Russ would say, “How’s that been working for ya?” We have to stop putting all the focus on some elusive other, look inward, get real with what’s there, and seek to heal. Famous Actor Denzel Washington said, “We can’t blame the system. It starts at home. By the time the system is involved, it’s already too late.”

Truly, it starts with that “Man In the Mirror”. As long as we are looking outward for others to fix our issues, we will only be as good as they are to us, moment by moment. I don’t know about you. You are free to do what you want, but I am not set up for that kind of bondage. I am free.

Who Is Responsible For My Wounds?

We live in an unjust world. We live in a world where people, for whatever reason, can do us wrong, wreak havoc in our lives on many layers, and simply walk away without ever taking any responsibility at all, never making any attempt to make amends or right the wrong(s).

I believe, a very difficult truth to stomach, is that our wounds are our responsibility. Recovery from any wounds is never easy, although some wounds are easier to recover from than others, but if we wait around for the offender(s) to make things right for us we may very well wait until we die, all while we sit, feeling justified and angry or pretending our wounds don’t exist.

Some of us actually allow ourselves to get comfortable in our pain, preferring the position of victimization, taking it on as an identity of sorts, nursing and in some cases, deepening our own wounds without any further help from the original offender(s). We can make things worse for ourselves and be completely deceived all the while.

I believe this isn’t necessary. Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. It was for freedom that he has made us free but we have a choice in the matter. At every turn, we have free will. We can decide to just stay enraged, hurt and grow more and more bitter, or we can take him at his word, move into experiencing all he paid for on the cross, and actually be healed.

The path to healing is not linear, easy or fun, but it is far better than remaining stagnant, steeped in anger, fear, frustration, and confusion, all while trying to make someone else take responsibility and make things right for us.

I am not saying we should be an open door, allowing any and everything to come our way without us seeking to protect ourselves. That should be common sense. Most of us, when we come home for the day or before going to bed at night, lock our doors. Boundaries are necessary. We must guard our hearts in the same way or we will slowly allow what the enemy has sent our way, to utterly destroy us.

I don’t say any of this from any sort of rosy position. I say this as one with experiences, many times over, where I have been mistreated without any sort of recompense.

I say this as the 14 year old girl, whose mother decided to leave her and her 9 year old cousin home alone overnight while she went to on a trip to a casino and rape occurred when we allowed neighborhood friends over that evening after school.

I say this as the one whose rapist told many that “He had her”, never making any sort of amends ever, even up until he died.

I say this as the girl whose mother, when she learned of the rape, said, “I thought about whether I may be responsible for that happening to you, but I decided I’m not. I deserved to get away.”

I say it as the Black woman who has been the token in several workplaces, knew it, and has personally experienced racism and discrimination.

I say this as the woman who, with God’s leading has decided to stand up and say, “No more!” to years of abuse, betrayal and more from the very person who should have protected me, loved me and cared for me, all while my character is being tarnished to all who will listen behind my back because I have stepped out of my “proper” place.

Of the few who dared approach me upfront, only one has asked me why I backed away. The others who approached me came to try and convince me to fix what I did not break. I feel they came to me because they know I am the safer one to speak to in such a manner. Others just talk about me behind my back, believing whatever is being said about me.

There is no responsibility being taken. There are no apologies, no changed behavior. Nothing. So who will fix this? Who will fix me? Should I go around enraged, unloading my anger on any and every one who hits one of my many raw nerve endings I possess and sometimes nurse as dear friends? Should I wait for the day they will see their errors and seek repentance? Would that fix me? Would it make me brand new if they did? Who will fix it all for me? Who will take responsibility for me?

I won’t go to my offenders for help in repairing my wounds. It doesn’t work. They are massively wounded themselves to even have the self-awareness necessary to even glance my way, and I know this like I know my name. I choose to take responsibility for my own wounds, face what is, and go to The Great Physician. I won’t go to people to do for me what I know, only God can do for me. I take full responsibility for my wounds. My position, my confession, and my declaration over my life is that with God’s help and by Jesus’ stripes, I AM HEALED.

The God Cheat

There have been so many times I thought to write. There have been many things I thought to write about, but each time, I just didn’t. I have had so many different things on my mind. I have several new things I am already doing and a few others that want to get into, so, as usual, I’m all over the place.

I pray all is well with you and yours during this time. For many, it is fraught with fear, uncertainty, sadness and more. I pray often for us all, and especially those having a tough time as we wait out this pandemic.

I never want to appear callous or as if I take grave things lightly, especially when others around me are clearly suffering. I am sensitive to that as I have been told throughout my life that I didn’t take things seriously because I wasn’t perceived to be worried enough.

The fact is, I trust God. That doesn’t mean I don’t have bouts of fear and He doesn’t have to pull me back into sanity, but as I heard a doctor say on a video, (paraphrasing) “If I can’t trust God to protect me from this virus, how can I say I trust Him for salvation and an eternity with Him in Heaven?”

In the beginning of this, I remember a moment where I felt fear creeping in. It was because of false information being circulated. Thankfully, God set me straight and showed me where I was to get my information. Ever since then, I have felt hope and peace and even joy in the midst of it all.

In this moment, I sat to write because I suddenly turned my attention to Abba and said, “Are you serious? Am I really sitting here happy and making plans and enjoying this time? It seems like I am cheating. It seems kind of wrong.” I am enjoying time with my husband and our 5 children. I am planning and delving into new things and old things that I used to enjoy, like rollerskating. Numerous blessings have come about because of and in spite of all that is going on. Things just look, hopeful and bright. I won’t apologize for this, and I refuse to allow anything or anyone rob me of this.

A former pastor of mine used to say peace isn’t the absence of conflict. You know you have peace when all hell is breaking loose around you and you’re good. I am using wisdom when I have to go out, but I am grateful that I am not afraid. I see this as an opportunity to grow deeper in intimacy and trust in God. I remember when I felt that first bout of fear coming on, I asked God to help me to trust Him because I didn’t really know how. The really cool thing is, even with Him saying we are to trust Him, He is the one who helps us to do it. He does it all. I pray you are well.

Loneliness

I am convinced that the idea of loneliness is a scam. Perhaps it’s our feelings, trying to lie to us.

The fact is, we are surrounded. We are never, ever alone, not even for a millisecond.

I have not felt lonely in a long time, several years now. I’ve noticed a few times recently, that I am tempted to feel I am alone but it never seems to take hold these days and I am grateful.

I’m grateful that I hear from God so well, that if that inkling comes, I hear Him say, “Hi.” or, “I’m here.” It is actually difficult for me to feel alone in this world.

Truly, I shouldn’t feel alone. No one should. It’s a lie. The truth is, I am in union with Him. There’s nothing I can do to change that and I don’t want to. Maybe I could ignore it, but why would I want to even do that?

My prayer for you is that if you don’t experience this as your reality, that you will. You are never alone. You never have been, nor will you ever be, and that is an amazing thing to consider.

Owning My Stories

Anne Lamott says we own everything that happens to us and that we should tell our stories. This brings up fear, sadness, false shame, false guilt and anger for me.

I don’t enjoy causing anyone pain, whether it be directly or indirectly. I have gone out of my way to not say things, or to say them only when absolutely necessary, with such meticulous calculation, that I can cause the least amount of pain possible. I see now that this is another layer of codependence. This is another way I take on responsibilities that are not my own, and frankly, I want to be done with this harmful practice. It serves no one, not even the ones who think they would fare better with my silence and enabling.

When I was ordained 3 years ago, I didn’t want to tell anyone. I remember low-key begging my mother to keep quiet about it and of course she didn’t. Anything I didn’t want shared, should not have been discussed with her, lol because it would always be as good as broadcasted before anyone who would listen. It took far too long for me to understand this. I think part of the reason I felt unofficial was because I didn’t feel I had a clear understanding of my purpose.

I now understand my ultimate purpose is to love and be loved by Him. From there, I have gifts and things to share, all from a place of overflowing love from my Abba. These are things I get to do, not absolutely have to do. There’s no ball and chain that comes along with this deal. There is freedom, peace, love, joy, and when the trials of life come, there’s my Abba, walking me through it all. We do it all together.

I am naturally, an open person. I don’t like superficial conversations and small talk. That is draining to me over time. If you look at my very first blog post, I’m sure there was a level of vulnerability there because it’s just who and how I am. I make no apologies for that, but now, things are different. God has shown me areas of my life that I need to face full on. Things I need to accept and deal with, and in doing so, I need to speak and share openly.

It hurts. The last thing I want to do is cause others to feel uncomfortable, but my sharing my story is just that- me sharing my story. I am not responsible for others’ feelings or actions beyond that.

Anne Lomott’s quote says, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

God is giving me greater clarity on my ministry, and in order to do it, I must have room to speak openly. I will do my best to be sensitive to others, but I will not shy away from where God leads. I said earlier, that beyond loving and being loved by God, I get to do other things. I refuse to live a mundane existence where I cower in fear of man or woman. When it comes to my life, I want Jesus to get what he so dearly paid for because I love him. I love him more than I fear you. There’s more to come, dear reader.

Sacrificial Praise (& Worship)

God bless those who deal with pain day in and day out, with no definitive end in sight. I must say first, that I don’t believe this is God’s will for anyone. Jesus said we would have trouble in this world but he also said he has overcome the world. He didn’t say he, Holy Spirit and the Father were conspiring together, figuring who they would dole out what ailment to for this amazing “opportunity for growth” or something else that we like to make up when we don’t understand another’s suffering. If sickness and death were God’s pleasure, he’d be downright crazy to have sent Jesus to take care of it all. No, God is not crazy, and I don’t pretend to understand much beyond His being a good God and giving us the ability to heal.

That said, today marks 16 days of dealing with pain from back spasms. I’m not sure how I managed this, but I did and boy does it hurt.

At first it was a pain that I ignored. Then I took notice of it but still kept going as normal until the pain jolted me to respect its presence and had me crying because I couldn’t do much without feeling it.

Once I was in bed, I began to feel sorry for myself and even got angry. I am not good at sitting still, and frankly, I didn’t. I still managed to make a sourdough cake, sourdough pumpkin bread, apple cinnamon bread, lasagna, hummus, tuna dip, sourdough crackers and more. Again, I am not a good patient.

Thankfully, a friend introduced me to a Christian talk show called Better Together. One of the women on the show reminded me of how, when we get to Heaven, there will be no more pain and suffering. The type of praise and worship we are able to give here on earth, the sacrificial, sweet smelling aroma, born of pain, trials and tribulation, will no longer be something we can offer our Heavenly Father once we are gone from this earth. That gave me another jolt, albeit a nicer jolt than the back spasms provided.

I suddenly had an opportunity! Instead of wallowing and being angry about the pain and having to be still, I could offer a sacrifice of praise to my dear Abba. No, I wasn’t thanking Him for the pain, that’s stupid and weird, plus He didn’t cause it. I could spend that time however, praising Him and loving on Him in spite of it all. It reminded me of the last miscarriage I had before giving birth to my youngest son, Jonathan.

I was literally contracting, and could feel when my baby left my body. In that moment, something changed as I stood before a crowd, leading worship with my daughter and my dad Russ, singing Great Are You Lord to my Abba. It felt amazing. By the time I got home, I had bled through everything and found the remains of my child. Thankfully, my pants were black so no one noticed.

That memory is bittersweet, obviously because I miscarried again, but it is a very sweet memory because I was making a statement and taking a stance that all of hell likely shuddered to witness. Yes, I was hurting, both physically and emotionally, but I was still worshiping my God right in the midst of it all and receiving a healing that I can’t begin to describe. And it was no coincidence that the son God named and promised me I would have, is called, Jonathan, “Yahweh has given”.

Again, I’m not saying this is a good thing to be able to be in pain to praise God. I know how to praise Him when I am not in any pain too. But now, when I feel the pain from these muscle spasms (which has greatly diminished, thank you Jesus), I will use it as an opportunity to worship. I won’t be able to worship this way when I get to Heaven, so for now, I am taking advantage of it.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I just wanted to share some love notes from a class led by Francois Du Toit, author of The Mirror Bible translation. I hope you take the following thoughts to heart and know you are, have always been and will always be, deeply and immeasurably loved.

No one looks for something they’ve never lost possession of in the first place. You were always His. You can’t be lost if you did not belong to begin with.

My prayer for you today is that you would agree with God about you.

I pray that more than pleading with God to know His plan for your life, that you realize that your life is His plan.

I pray that you would rest beside the still waters and see yourself as He does. Your spirit remembers who you truly are.

I pray that you remember that whatever is true of Jesus is true of you too. As he is, so are we, in this world. (1 John 4:17)

Enjoy your day!

Love, Patrice

Grateful To Hear From God

My greatest pleasure has to be the fact that God speaks to me and I hear Him. Growing up, I was taught about a god being more so, a distant deity, not really a person with feelings. Well that god had anger, and plenty of it, lol. I know God to be totally different from the one I was taught about while growing up.

Looking back on my life, I now understand that God has been speaking to me -and I have actually listened, quite a bit. I now know that so much of what I have done in life was because of His leading. He’s had me travel paths that I didn’t know existed so there was no previous interest in them. He has led me to have the types of birth experiences I’ve had, from my first and only hospital birth to go on to have unassisted homebirths. I went from sending my oldest to daycare, inwardly dreading her first day of real school, to taking her out of daycare and going on to unschool her and my other children.

With the track record God has established between us, I trust Him implicitly when He gives me a directive. That’s not to say that I don’t get afraid. I most certainly do. I am just ok with moving forward in spite of fear. Really, it’s because this is God we’re talking about. It has happened many times that people want me to do one thing when God has directed me clearly to do the opposite. I always go with God. In that way, I am not a fool.

I find that God can get real weird in His directives with me at times. I think He does it sometimes just to show me (not Himself) how willing I am to follow Him. He already knows what I will do from one moment to the next. I believe He’s teaching me about myself in these instances. He’s showing me how I can advance to greater levels of trust and intimacy with Him. Sometimes it’s fun, other times it’s hard, there’s pain involved, but it’s always good.

So, I will keep right on trusting and following Him, even when others are saying something different. Some even say that what they are telling me to do is from Him. Sometimes I laugh it off, knowing what He told me directly. Other times, I freak out and He gently says, “Who are you going to listen to?” Now, more than ever before, I am so grateful that I hear Him.

Ramblings

I am sleepy. I have been awake during hours I should have been sleeping. What started out as a typical trip to the bathroom, turned into my remembering more traumatic events from my childhood.

So many things come to mind.

I consider how easily and without any thought whatsoever, people get into destructive and dysfunctional roles and play them out, sometimes, for the rest of their lives, with little to no self awareness.

I consider all it takes for one person to stop the cycle of abuse that has been perpetuated in a family, in a most covert manner, for generations.

I consider who will be the ones trying to bring back the old order and way of doing things so that all is “back to normal again.”. Sometimes these people are intentionally sent, and sometimes, because they are uncomfortable, they just go of their own accord, all with the intent of “restoring” things.

I wonder how adult after adult, could be so dismissive, caught up in their own issues, to not see hurting children.

I consider and now see patterns in my own behavior and have a better understanding of myself, and why I did and do things in certain ways.

I am dissecting what people are really saying when their behavior, patterns and what they say aren’t aligned with one another.

I am questioning much of what I was taught as a child and believed most of my life, up until now.

I am uprooting lies I have been told and replacing them with Truth. Truth is a person named Jesus.

I am more mindfully parenting my children like never before.

I am learning to treat myself with love, compassion and care. I am angry at times that it isn’t easy at all.

I am paying attention to the knot that develops in my gut when I feel a boundary has been or is in danger of being trampled. I am gaining more self respect as I honor my feelings and observe my boundaries.

I feel I have an invisible, but very real muzzle on. I think it is coming off. I am exploring my feelings about this.