Heavy

It’s like a heavy weight, a mantel to shoulder.  Smiles and happy faces hide the stooped shoulders and weary heart.

So much to say, but no way to ever explain it.  There is the picture of what people see but the reality behind it is so different.

Isolated.  Lost.  Selfish.  Alone.  Burdened.  Painful.  Hurt.  They are like bullets, piercing when you least expect it but yet they hit their mark every time.

There is nothing to say, nothing to do but to stand firm against the storm and ride it out.  Some days are sunny with a light breeze, and others come in with flood waters, lightening and thunder.

Even now the true nature can’t be divulged, even now words are carefully selected to let out the emotion without letting out the cause behind it.

In the morning, the sun will be shining again and life will move forward, always forward.  But for now, the words run onto the page and out of the mind…of the heart.

God I know you hear my plea, I know You hear my prayer.  I know You carry me when I can’t go forward.  I know that You are always with me, in the very thick of the battles.  But oh Abba, sometimes these battles feel just a little too big for me, a little too heavy, a little too lost.

Remind me, REMIND ME!  Remind me of all the times You NEVER let me down, of all the times that You used the hard times to bring out fruits of YOUR spirit in me!  Remind me, please Abba Father remind me.

Tonight I will rest in Your promises.  I lay this at Your feet.

brown book page
Photo by Wendy van Zyl on Pexels.com

Psalm 77 ESV

“I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me.

 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
    in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
    my soul refuses to be comforted.

When I remember God, I moan;
    when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah

You hold my eyelids open;
    I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old,
    the years long ago.
 I said, “Let me remember my song in the night;
    let me meditate in my heart.”
    Then my spirit made a diligent search:
“Will the Lord spurn forever,
    and never again be favorable?
 Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
    Are his promises at an end for all time?
 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah

Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
    to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
 I will ponder all your work,
    and meditate on your mighty deeds.
 Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
    you have made known your might among the peoples.
 You with your arm redeemed your people,
    the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah

 When the waters saw you, O God,
    when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
    indeed, the deep trembled.
 The clouds poured out water;
    the skies gave forth thunder;
    your arrows flashed on every side.
 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
    your lightnings lighted up the world;
    the earth trembled and shook.
 Your way was through the sea,
    your path through the great waters;
    yet your footprints were unseen.
 You led your people like a flock
    by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”

 

Justine N.

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Why

I don’t know if I will post this, we shall see.  It has been a while since I sat down to write anything.  And this week, what has been going on has driven me to want to write.  Warning, this is a heavier topic.

Many of you know I am a goat breeder.  Many of you know how much I love my herd, how I care for them.  For almost every single goat in my herd, I was at their birth…I helped bring them into this world, I cleaned them off, I bottle fed them from birth, I was their “mom” and raised them, they trust me.

Some of these I have delivered their kids, and their grandkids (I have been in the goat breeding realm for a while).  This might give you a taste, an example of how much I care for them and how emotionally entangled I am with them and their wellbeing (and I am a woman so I naturally nurture lol!).  I know ultimately I am their steward and they are God’s animals first, but He put me in charge of their care and their wellbeing.

This week, for reasons unknown I have had to watch one of my does go through the painful process of losing her babies 2 months before they where ready to be born (a little over halfway through the pregnancy).  The doe doesn’t 100% know what is going on, she doesn’t think like a human does or know the emotional pain as a human would.  But I do, and it hits me like a anvil in the chest.

I know these are just animals and this is a part of farming, but I delivered this doe into this world, I delivered the doe’s mom into this world.  Watching my girl lose her kids, even if she doesn’t know what is happening, well it has hit me harder than I thought it would, knowing there is the loss of life.  You can tell she doesn’t feel 100%, how could she as her body prematurely loses the pregnancy.

I don’t know why this is happening, I know it does happen in herds…you stay in this farming game long enough it is bound to happen.  Maybe she got hit wrong, maybe something was wrong with the babies…maybe…maybe.

I didn’t realize how hard it would hit me in terms of my faith and my walk with God.  No I am not angry at God, however I am questioning why….as my heart aches at the loss of life I am asking God why He is allowing this to happen.  I have prayed that by some miracle He would spare the little ones but it seems like that isn’t to be a prayer that is answered.

I still sit here tonight…tears in my eyes, hurting knowing this Spring I will only have 6 does having babies instead of 7.  I honestly hesitate to post this…to say anything because in the farming realm this happens.  It is hard, it is sad but it happens and to be honest Flora (the mom) isn’t a human but an animal.  So I can’t compare this to what a human mother would ever go through (and I would never want to compare it).

But oh my tender heart aches!  I find myself coming before God asking what I could have done different, could I have somehow stopped or prevented this.  Did I miss something, did I go wrong somewhere.  And if I didn’t go wrong….why is a seemingly perfectly healthy animal losing her babies.  I also hurt that I can’t comfort the doe, not really.  I can only watch and wait….make sure she is safe…but ultimately helpless.

It might sound goofy, but I prayed last night that God would send an angel to sit with her through out the night, to bring comfort to her.  I could tell she didn’t feel good and I hated not being able to stay with her.  As I was praying, I was thinking of when God talks about the sparrows and how He cares for them and watches over them, I thought if He cares that much for the sparrows maybe He would send someone to watch over my girl during the night.

Ultimately life will go on, the doe will be okay (as far as I know), she will go on to have other healthy pregnancies and think probably nothing of this week.  Farming will go on, life will go on and I will go on.  But this week, this week it weighs heavy on my heart, on my soul and in my thoughts.  I don’t have any special spiritual reasoning or thoughts behind why God would allow this to happen in my herd.  But…..in a round about way it ties in with some thoughts I have been having about King David in the bible.  We are going through 1st and 2nd Samuel and the history of David and how he came to be King of Israel.

God said that David was a man after His own heart….and David was a shepherd…he tended to sheep for the first part of his life.  And I think of how Jesus is called the Shepherd and we are his flock.  And as I am watching my girl go through this…I am thinking of King David when he was but a shepherd watching his flock, the emotional connection he had to them to some extent…the feeling of being their steward and their provider.  I am thinking of Jesus, who is also a shepherd but of people…

To connect all of this…as for how much I love my doe, how I hurt and cry for the loss my doe is going through,  who in all honesty doesn’t fully understand (or thankfully emotionally grasp) what she is going through.  I think of how much more God loves us, how much more deeply He hurts, how much more deeply He feels a connection to us who are MADE, CREATED in His image.  We are not just sheep to him but His adopted sons and daughters.  How much more does He weep for us when we go through trials, through pain, through bitter heartache, loss, suffering.  How much more does He comfort us, stay near us, watch closely and make sure we are never far from His side.

I love my goat, but she is not made in my image, she is not my adopted daughter but yet I check on her, watch her, keep a close eye and make sure she is comfortable, safe and comforted when need be.  So how much more does my God, of whom I am made in the image of, of whom I am called His daughter, of whom I am brought into His fold do the same for me?  It has brought a different light to other areas where I have struggled or asked God where He was in the dark times, the hard places, the times where I was losing things, where I was in pain, or when I was just plain not walking with Him.  In a weird (or not so weird I guess) way this entire experience with my goat is making me look a little deeper at just how close God truly is to me, how much He truly cares for me, how near to me He truly is on a daily basis.

So, while I don’t know the reason why this is happening with my goat, I do know it has been making me ponder my relationship with God more.  It has been making me see where my faith is lacking with Him (won’t go into that….).

To close….I think believers who are farmers have a unique perspective for when the bible talks about us being God’s sheep, Jesus being our shepherd and when King David started as a lowly shepherd but became a King and was a man after God’s heart (yes he made mistakes…but he still was a man after God’s heart).  When we care for our own livestock, our own sheep (or in my case goats) it gives us maybe a little deeper look into the heart of God in a different way than others might.

 

Anxiety is a joy stealer

Anxiety is a joy stealer.  It comes in with its unknowns, its accusations, it’s what if’s, it’s desire to choke out any sense of victory or happiness.

So what do I do about this?  I rebuke the unknowns with telling my anxiety that God knows them.  I tell its accusations that they are not founded on truth.  I remind it that the what if’s of life are not bigger than my immeasurable God.  I stand firm in the victories that God has already awarded me and cling to the happiness that God gives me every day.

It is a daily struggle because sometime my anxiety is sneaky, it comes when I least expect it.  Other times it comes roaring like a lion and I see it from miles away.

Sometimes I don’t win, sometimes I lose.  But I am learning to speak truth to myself, to not just dwell in those anxious thoughts but dwell in the truth of the Lord.  Sometimes it is the SMALLEST of victories but it is a victory none the less.

Psalms 56:3 sums this up beautifully.  “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”.  There are many other versus that I could quote…but this one, though small is the crux of what I am trying to do every day.  When fear overwhelms even in the smallest of moments, when anxiety comes on the heels of good things…I put my trust in God.  I don’t rest it on just empty faith but a faith that has been born of other fearful times, hard times, anxious times that God always faithfully brought me out of and through.

*sigh* can you tell today anxiety was sort of kicking my butt?  Actually has been for the past few days….not just anxiety but rather fear.  So tonight I wanted to sit down and remind MYSELF of these truths…of these things.  To put it on paper (or screen…) and see the truth and (at the risk of sounding cliché) let the truth set me free.

Stop Running

It eats away at you, like a cancer in your bones.  Try to stay busy, try to stay ahead of it so the thoughts don’t consume you.  Keep your brain busy, stay working, turn on music to occupy your mind…don’t let silence creep up, don’t let stillness settle in.  Because in the silence, in the stillness…..you start to think.  And that hurts, you have to face things, you have to work through things.

Try to remember they are scars…no longer open wounds.  God won’t take you back there, God brought you through it and He won’t make you go back.

Breath, its okay to cry.  The tears heal, stop running.

Run to Me, my daughter.  Find comfort in My Word, find solace in My embrace.  Let Me open your eyes so you might see yourself as I see you.  You are my beloved, remember Hosea 2:19-20, remember Psalm 23.

My Beloved, find rest in my still waters, find peace in my green pastures, remember I will always find you, I will always care for you, I will always cherish you, I will always want you and you will always be Mine.

All those wounds you have picked up over the years, they are now scars.  I have brought you through those dark valleys, I didn’t leave you there, stop going back to them.

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Some days are harder than others, but I am thankful that I serve a loving God.  What I wrote above probably won’t make sense, and some if it comes across as “Christianese”.  But it makes sense to me and it is therapeutic for me to write it.  A sweet, dear friend reminded me of a VERY important truth.  The hard times I have walked through in my life, the darkest valleys where I faced some hard…hard…hard things.  God has brought me through them and I am now standing on the other side.  I need not fear that He will take me back there, yes I have scars from them but they are scars not open wounds, what open wounds there are…are being healed over time.

It was…an important reminder and something I truly needed to hear.  Sometimes I keep myself so busy…I am not honest with myself.  I don’t want to think too much about things, because I find myself easily overwhelmed by the simplest things if I do so.  So I tend to stay busy, to not let myself rest….and when I do rest I listen to music or I read to keep my mind occupied.  Not that this is a bad thing…but it also doesn’t allow me to process, or plan…or truly rest.

*sigh* this mainly is writing therapy for me.  This won’t make sense to many and that’s okay.  It needed to be put on paper, and out of my head.

Why do I love the stars…

It has been a while since I sat down and really wrote something very open and honest (not that I write closed off, un-honest things the other times LOL!).

I was thinking last night as I was finishing up my barn chores in the dark, why do I love the stars so much?  I talk about them a lot…well not a lot but I do mention them sometimes in posts and how they are a love note from God for me.  But I haven’t really understood WHY I felt that way about the stars or when I started feeling that way about them.  Why they are such a comfort…not even a comfort but why I feel so loved by God every time they are visible at my house.

I think the best way to start is to explain what nights used to be like for me.  From the time I was roughly 15 to the time I was probably…22 years old I struggled with severe depression and was suicidal at times and nights where some of the worst for me for many reasons.  But nights where the time when the emotions crashed in the most, when I was at my deepest pits and when I felt utterly alone.  I won’t get into full detail but suffice it to say nights during those years where long and incredibly hard.  I was a Christian during this time, but my walk with God wasn’t where it is now at all and nights where when I remember feeling acutely alone and separated from God.

Fast forward to when I was 25-26yrs old….for about a year (maybe less) I had what could only be described as a mental breakdown.  Many MANY people don’t know about this period in my life and those who did know didn’t truly know the severity of it or the depth of how shattered and truly broken I was or what I was walking through.  Nights again where hard, lonely, dark times for me, I remember many nights spent bitterly crying out to God (sometimes screaming at Him), wondering where He was in all of this and why He allowed this to happen in my life, why He allowed me to become so broken and in so much pain.  This is also when I started to realize that I struggled with anxiety (or maybe this caused me to struggle with anxiety….not sure which came first LOL!)

Fast forward to now, 31…still dealing with the scars from those times of my life.  I still struggle to a minor degree with depression but anxiety is more of a struggle now than the depression to an extent.  I struggle more with social anxiety, large functions, people I don’t know..ect.  I don’t have panic attacks (though I believe I have probably had some just not HUGE ones), but I still can see the effects of anxiety in my life.  But what has REALLY changed is how nights are for me.  Nights now…are my refuge and my “me time” with God, what was once one of the hardest times for me is now a time I relish.  I am a pretty busy person, I work from home with my family and live with my family.  I don’t REALLY have a chance to ever be FULLY alone and not be bugged until evening sets in and my family is all in bed.  This is when I can go for a walk, or be in my barn and just spend time with God.  It is a time when I usually will plug in some earbuds, listen to some worship music and just pour my heart out to God.   Sometimes I will even go and sit beneath the huge oak tree out in the back pasture, I love sitting under the huge branches and just enjoying the night sky.

So where do the stars come in?  I haven’t mentioned them yet…I am coming to that.  The stars…well they started becoming kind of an anchor for me.  I realized last night that in a lot of ways it they are a mirror of my relationship with God.  I don’t always see the stars….but they have ALWAYS been there, just like God has ALWAYS been there even in the darkest, hardest parts of my life when I felt He was gone.  Just because I couldn’t see Him didn’t mean He wasn’t there with me.  Now the stars have become such a delight for me, where I live when the nights are just right there are SO many stars in the sky and you can even see the Milky Way at times.  I delight in the stars, I delight in the wonderful beauty God has created each and every night when it is clear and many time…when I am struggling or had a hard day the night sky will be FILLED with stars and I can just feel the love of my God pouring out on me by such a beautiful sight.

Nights have become a place where I spend a lot of time praying, actually just really talking with God.  Sometimes it is filled with deep prayers, sometimes it is filled with laughter, sometimes it is filled with tears, sometimes it is filled with just silence.  I often feel closest to God at night, like it is just me and Him.  Some of my FAVORITE things to do are put in my ear buds, lay on the porch and just enjoy the stars while listening to my favorite worship music (or sometimes just instrumental music).  I sometimes see planes passing by, often times I will catch a few shooting stars or maybe a satellite will be moving across the sky.  It is my time to unwind, to be refreshed, to be with my Heavenly Father and just enjoy what He created.  And let me tell you, He ALWAYS wows me in some of the most amazing ways.

So, this is little glimpse into why I have come to love the stars.  They remind me of who God is and of His promises (thinking of His covenant with Abraham in the Old Testament), they fill me with joy and awe me at how creative God is with beautiful things, they are also a reminder that just like the stars…God is ALWAYS there even if I can’t see Him.

I think God has a special thing for stars…I mean He used a star to guide the shepherds to where Jesus Christ was….and He has used the stars for me to be a comfort and a delight <3.

Well…that was a little more drawn out than I thought it would be.  I hope I did justice and made sense to why I love the stars.

Broken Dreams

Broken dreams litter the floor around her feet, their glitter fading with each passing day.  Tears track down her cheeks as she keeps trying to put them back together again.  The pain is deep, the pain is ragged, it threatens to overwhelm.

Oh Abba Father, hold her close, scoop her up and dry her tears.  Abba Father, gently speak into her ear to stop looking back at what was, to stop seeing the past as only dreams broken, dreams shattered, dreams lost.   Take her face into Your gentle hands and direct her gaze back to You.  Reminder her that You always go before her, You direct her footsteps, You have such amazing dreams waiting ahead of her.  You haven’t left her in her sorrow, You haven’t forgotten about her tender heart, her deepest desires, her carefully guarded wishes and hopes.   Today You are inviting her to step out in faith and walk with you, to take Your hand and start the new journey, see what great joys You have for her, what new dreams You have laid in her precious heart.

Father, there are days I doubt.  Days all I see are the shattered dreams lying around my feet, days that I fear the pain of those lost dreams & hopes will take me under.  But You have been teaching me to steep myself in Your word, to remind myself of Your promises.  To stay close to You, to pour my heart out to You, to cling to You as my hope and my anchor.

It isn’t easy, Oh Abba Father it isn’t easy.  But the more I dive into You, the more I see You going before me, sheltering me, carrying me, loving me.  Those painful, broken things are still there…they will still leave scars.  But I know that You will use those for Your glory, Your goodness, Your Kingdom.  Some days are easier than others to remember that, but I am so thankful that You are not dependent on my remembering Your promises to still keep them.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 54:10

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed”, says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Deuteronomy 31:8

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

 

Written by Justine N.

The bottom in BOLD:  Versus from the Bible

 

This Season

Sitting out, underneath Your sky, I come to You with my broken pieces, my carefully guarded dreams, my hopeful wishes & my tearful prayers.

You comfort me, You draw me close to you, You listen to my prayers patiently, with arms open wide.  The world falls away, it is just me and my Abba Father, together…gazing at the stars He put in the sky, spending time together, leaning into His strength, resting on His promises, knowing my needs are so great that He is the only one that can meet them.

These past months have felt, lost.  I have felt lost, last year was…such a visible shift in directions I felt for where God was calling me to walk.  But, things didn’t go as I planned, or how I thought they would go.  I didn’t go on a mission trip this year (my heart still wrestles with this), I haven’t “grown” or “moved” in any direction or so I have thought.

But, I think this year it is more about what is going on inside me rather than outside me.  I started seeing it as I went through the book of Luke in woman’s bible study…I wondered how it would change me and honestly it felt like since January it was all I could do to not want to throw my hands in the air and feel like it wasn’t changing me at all.

Until..I got to the end, where Jesus hung on the cross, reading what happened to him, what he went through and all I could do was sit, and cry to Jesus “Not for me……not for me”.  It struck me that I felt somehow….I wasn’t worth saving, I wasn’t worth dying for, somehow it shouldn’t have been for me.  And then I felt selfish, I felt like who was I to sit there and think it was all for me, and not for many.  But the reality struck me (after hearing one of the women in my bible study make the point), he would have done it even it was JUST for me.

That is what I am wrestling with, accepting what he did that day, on that cross.  And it cripples me, it weighs me to the ground, I am struggling to understand that kind of love…for me.  I am also struggling with accepting God’s mercy & grace…for myself.

I don’t have any answers to how to stop struggling, I wish I did.  I have spent…so many nights tearfully spent with my Abba Father.  Praying, crying out, sometimes physically aching from the sorrow.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t spend all my days like this, but when the night falls…when I can let my guard down with no one else around, I take these things to Him.  My pains, my hurts, my struggles, my fears, my anxieties, my prayers, my dreams, my hopes, my wants, my aches.  I pour them out at His feet, sometimes it is hours…others it is minutes.

It…refreshes me..which sounds weird I know.  But it does, it doesn’t always make everything magically better, my problems don’t disappear and I don’t always get answers.  But, I am learning how to truly be real with my Abba Father.  I am learning to go deeper, I am putting deeper roots in my walk with Him.  By wrestling with what happened on the cross, by wrestling with how I see myself, by wrestling with where I thought I would be right now.  This is God refining me, purifying me, taking me out of where I was and bringing me closer to where He wants me to be.  Molding me, creating in me a new heart, tearing down old walls, cleaning out old wounds, bringing me closer to Him.

This season has been hard, lonely, sometime physically painful from the grief.  There is joy in this season as well though, God doesn’t just leave me in those places.  He gives me joy, He brings me things to delight in, He meets me in the quiet times, He reminds me I am His Beloved, He…is my shelter in this storm.  I know this valley is deep as I walk through it, but I look forward to the day when I can look back at this season and see His mighty works, where His loving hands guided me, how this was used to bring good things into my life, how this was used to bring His kingdom into fruition.

The one thing I am certain of in all of this, I am loved, I am cherished, I am wanted, I am free in Christ.