A Redemption Story, Day 717

My 2-year healing anniversary is coming up (4th Sept) and to be honest I thought things would be different by now. At the start of the year I felt prompted to get my story ready to share and I dreamt of holding a celebration party in September to launch my healing testimony. Which, unfortunately, hasn’t unfolded but I’m more than ok with that, I’ve realized that my story hasn’t finished being written because I’m still learning lessons that need to be included.

Last week I felt overwhelmed with busyness, I had done a few extra things that I hadn’t done for a long time and it was also my daughter’s birthday week. In the preparations for her party I had pushed myself harder than usual and I could feel it catching me. Friday I chatted to a friend over lunch who suggested maybe I should reassess my commitments and later that day, as I attempted to construct my daughter’s birthday cake, I realised I had set myself a task that was a bit too adventurous. Saturday was the actual event and it meant a later night than I would have liked which I could feel taking its toll on my body. Sunday was busy also with church and I felt absolutely wiped out by Sunday night. Monday I awoke with a terribly sore throat, no voice and no energy to get out of bed. My body reminded me that I desperately needed rest. Tuesday as I awoke still feeling flat I decided I needed to withdraw from almost every commitment for the rest of the week, I decided I’d still try to attend class but pull back and rest from other things. As I made that decision I also decided that I would study some more on how to rest well, I want to grow and learn from this so that I don’t keep pushing myself to the point of collapse. You’ve got to understand that it’s been so frustrating because as I start to feel better and stronger the need to limit myself is a HUGE struggle. I constantly find myself comparing my ability now to how much I used to be able to do and feel as if I’m ‘falling short’. I want to race ahead and get back into life as normal and enjoy all the things I used to do such as full days of activities or going out at night without feeling like I need to be back in bed. I’d love to be able to make plans and not worry about having to cancel them because I’m too tired or unwell. But the fact is that a great work has been done but I still have a long way to go.
My study, on how I can rest well, led me to a devotion titled “Sacred Rest” by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith on the YouVersion Bible app and the first words that ‘jumped out’ to me were: “Hunger to draw nearer to the sacred sanctuary of rest.”. I’m intrigued what is the “sacred sanctuary of rest”? Whatever it is I need to go there! I’m going to be brutally honest with you and say that this restoration phase sucks! I feel like it’s an uphill climb which entails a lot of really hard work and yet I still can’t see the top. Also, just when I think I’m making progress I slip back down the hill and find myself lying in the dust battered and bruised. I lie there wondering if I’ll ever make it to the top, hoping that at the next attempt I won’t forget the lessons learnt and I’ll take it slow.

It’s demoralising right now to have to step back from life yet again, to be stuck in bed for days feeling useless. I’m not well enough to attend class which is really sad. But I’m reminded that yet again I got busy with distractions, I started doing stuff that I wasn’t meant to do just yet. My friend, who asked me to look at the priorities, said the definite column was the things only I can do and I know the 3 things only I can do: be a wife; a mother; and write the things God has placed in my heart and upon my mind to write. So those things have to be my priority and everything else has to work around that. Easier said than done though when I’m the kind of person who sees a need and wants to fill it! But day 2 of my study reminded me to “Return to rest, quietness, and trust as a deer returns to a stream. Return to the source of your strength, and in doing so, you will be saved.”.

Once again I’m like that deer panting for water: “As the deer pants [longingly] for the water brooks, So my soul pants [longingly] for You, O God.” PSALM 42:1 (AMP)

Once again I find myself in silence (I literally can’t talk) before the Lord where I submit to Him and His ways; I remind myself that I will wait for as long as it takes for Him to do the work within me because my hope is in Him alone! (Psalm 62:5)

How wonderful it is to know that He promises to fully satisfy my weak and weary soul for He declares that He will give rest to the weary and joy for those who find themselves buried in sorrow (Jeremiah 31:25-26).

Dear reader I want to encourage you today that if you find yourself in a season of busyness, one that is leaving you exhausted, then maybe you could spend some time reassessing your priorities and look at the things that only you can do. Lay down all that you’re doing at God’s feet and ask Him to help you find wisdom around what you’re meant to be doing and the strength to do the things He has called you to do.

Many blessings, Keona

‘Take Courage’ – Bethel Music featuring Kristene DiMarco – YouTube Lyric Video

‘Backseat Driver’ – Tobymac ft. Hollyn & Tru – YouTube Lyric Video

The Pursuit of Sheer Silence 

At the recent Day of Prayer event Anne, the guest speaker, mentioned the need to be in sheer silence before the Lord. She was sharing with us from 1 Kings 19, here is the verse that talks about that moment:

“And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19:12 (NLT)

That moment is also described as:

“a still small voice” (KJV)

“the sound of a gentle blowing” (AMP)

“gentle breeze” (CEV)

“quiet, subdued voice” (CJB)

“soft whisper of a voice” (GNB)

I was absolutely fascinated by the term: sheer silence and decided to research it some more, here’s what I’ve found:

“..experts in Hebrew say that this phrase in its original form doesn’t refer to audible noise, but means something like “God was in the sound of sheer silence.” In this place of contemplation, quiet, stillness – a meditative state – God encouraged a tired, heartbroken, and freaked out Elijah, and told him what to do next. (The writer encourages us to) Listen for God; make yourself available to his instruction and presence; get silent. Remove yourself from the all the crazy stuff that happens around you. Forget about your schedule, the dishes in the sink, the shows on Netflix, the problems at work… and just be still. Silent. Focused. Relaxed. Inhale. Exhale. He is waiting.” An extract from: pktfuel by Liz

“It is in the sheer silence that God gives Elijah’s life purpose once again.” An extract from an article written by Laura Aase

Dictionary.com defines sheer as: unmixed with anything else. Synonyms include: complete, pure, no if ands or buts.

Dictionary.com defines silence as: the absence of any sound or noise; stillness; the state of being or the fact of being silent; muteness; concealment; secrecy. Synonyms include: hush and quiet.

Fears and distractions are silenced

I wonder in that mountaintop moment if the silence was directed to Elijah’s fears? Was God telling his fears to be silent? Because I’ve found that in order to listen I need my fears to be silent; in order to be obedient and move forward I need my fears to be silent; when fears are silenced then I can fully listen and embrace direction and instructions from God. In order to listen I need to be in a place where I’m not distracted, I need to stop long enough to hear. So that I can hear the pure voice of God I cannot be in a place of distraction and bound by crippling fear.

As I reflected upon that a desire to pursue great courage ignited and I decided I wanted an end to fear in my life. Unfortunately, fear had plagued my life from an early age and for the things I’m being called to I want radical instant obedience and great courage. In the pursuit of sheer silence I planned a trip to my parent’s shack in the central highlands. I wanted to take myself to a place where I could switch off from all potential distractions and listen. When I first started planning it and talking about it I felt like it was going to be such an exciting adventure but then a few days later, in the early hours of the morning, my heart was racked with fear. My mind raced through the all possibilities that could go wrong. As I laid in bed wrestling with those paralysing thoughts I knew what I needed to do….. surrender it to God; I reminded myself: ‘you’re being called there for a divine reason’; and I asked God to prepare me for the journey.  I wanted to experience the complete and pure voice of God. I wanted to steady and still myself long enough to hear. In the busyness of trying to prepare my first book to first draft stage I didn’t want to get so caught up that and miss what God is wanting to say. I chose to embrace courage and boldness!

My prayer:

I pray that the eyes of my heart, the very centre and core of my being, will be enlightened and flooded with the light of the Holy Spirit. I want to know and cherish the hope that has been granted to me. I want to fully understand the divine guarantee given to me by Jesus. I wait with confident expectation to receive the riches of His glorious inheritance, which is available to all the saints (God’s people). How my spirit longs to embrace the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His active spiritual power, which is extended to all who believe. Oh to understand the incredible greatness of God’s power, extended to those who believe in Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honour at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. How I long to serve Him in accordance with the working of His mighty strength!  Ephesians 1:18-19 AMP & NLT paraphrased

You Make Me Brave playlist:

In preparation I made a playlist to remind me of the call and to tell my fears to be silent. For the days leading up I played this over and over and praised God for granting me the courage to go.

  1. I Am Not Alone – Kari Jobe 2. Undone – Kim Walker-Smith
  2. Take Courage – Bethel & Kristene Dimarco 4. Shepherd – Bethel & Amanda Cook
  3. On My Side – Kim Walker-Smith 6. Brave Surrender – Kim Walker-Smith
  4. Confident – Steffany Gretzinger 8. New Wine – Hillsong
  5. You Are Good – C3 10. Be Still – Steffany Gretzinger
  6. God Who Moves the Mountains – Corey Voss 12. Victory in Jesus – Maranatha! Music
  7. No Longer Slaves – Bethel & Jonathan David Helser
  8. You Make Me Brave – Bethel

Hinds Feet

In my teens I was given a copy of Hinds Feet On High Places and I was so enthralled with the story. As I read a desire grew within me and I longed to leave my timid-weak-much-afraid nature behind and grasp a whole new bold and brave identity. Recently, in my early 40s, I rediscovered the story when I purchased Hinds Feet On High Places – An Engaging Visual Journey. As I journeyed once again through the story the desire to be bold and brave ignited again. I pressed into God to leave fear behind once and for all. I felt inspired that in my own high place, the central highlands, I could go and build my very own altar for God. I desired to find a place to lay down my fear but also my hopes and dreams because I don’t want to make any move forward that doesn’t have God’s blessing.

I created some prayers; I made a wooden cross with the words ‘Jesus my redeemer’ cut out in red plastic; and created a playlist. My first full day was filled with snow, wind and some rain which meant that it was too wet and cold to venture out. I prayed that the next day would bring me a small opportunity to stroll to the water’s edge. In faith I set my alarm for 6am so that I could have breakfast and walk down to watch the sunrise. But the second morning I was awake at 3:20am and unable to sleep. I spent some time reading in bed before I got up to have some breakfast, then I worked more on my book. Around 6.30am I walked down to the water and it was a crisp morning but thankfully there was no rain, snow falling or strong winds. I found a spot where I thought the sun would rise behind the cross and set up my altar. I put my music on and watched as the sky changed. It was a truly stunning display of colours and I smiled as I snapped picture after picture trying to capture the moment. I was mesmerized as I watched the sky explode with orange and gold, it felt like such a significant moment!

cross that i made

I’m reminded of what the cross represents – The Cross is not a symbol of defeat. It’s a symbol of the promise, the Crown, of hope and forgiveness and life. Ultimately the Cross is a symbol of TRIUMPH (see Colossians 2:13-15). Steven Furtick

I desired to grab hold of the following glorious promises:

He makes me as surefooted as a deer for He grants me feet like hinds’ feet. He enables me to stand on mountain heights, I can stand firmly and tread safely on paths of testing and trouble. He lifts me up and sets me securely upon my high places. Psalm 18:33 (AMP & NLT paraphrased)

I now confidently know that the Sovereign Lord is my strength for He is my source of courage! He makes me as surefooted as a deer for He has made my feet steady and sure like hinds’ feet. He enables me to walk forward with spiritual confidence on my high places, the places of challenge and responsibility. Habakkuk 3:19 (AMP & NLT paraphrased)

Bold Strong Courageous

As I process my time up on the mountain I realise that somewhere along the deep inner healing journey a transition took place, a desire grew where I didn’t just want to let go of the sickness, pain and grief of the past because somewhere along the way God had grown me and shown me the importance of being holy, a pursuit for sanctification had bloomed, I desire to be holy because He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). As I write this I smile and see that God in His great graciousness has taken me on a journey that has been more difficult than I ever imagined but has birthed in me glorious new life!

As I reflect upon those precious days I see that God has answered my prayer and my timid-weak-much-afraid nature has been changed and I have been granted a bold-strong-greatly-courageous nature. Praise the Lord! I can now move forward to in life bold, strong and courageous because of what He has done!

My prayer:

Lord let Your pillars of truth, wisdom, love and grace be the strength that surrounds me and propels me forth.

Let Your truth rule and reign in every aspect of my life. Let Your Holy truth lead and guide me forth. Let me live out Your great truth and speak words of truth.

Let Your wisdom rule and reign in every aspect of my life. Let Your wisdom alone lead and guide me forth. Let me live every moment in Your great wisdom and speak words of wisdom.

Let Your love rule and reign in every aspect of my life. Let Your transforming love lead and guide me forth. Let me live every moment displaying Your great love and speak words of love.

Let Your grace rule and reign in every aspect of my life. Let Your amazing grace lead and guide me forth. Let me live every moment with Your grace on display and speak words of grace.

Take my life and let it be beautiful and sweet for Thee.

Take my life and let it display Your truth, wisdom, love and grace!

An Abundance

On the way to the shack I drove past a swollen river and I felt prompted to stop on the way back and take a picture. As I drove home I was planning where I would park and I knew it would be a short walk. I arrived, parked where I planned, and as I walked I was praying and asking God to show me what He wanted me to see. As I looked at the swollen river I felt that God wants me to be like that – filled to overflow, to have such an abundance that I ‘breach my boundaries’. As I stood there and prayed to receive ALL that He has for me I knew that I also wanted that for others. That I desired to see myself and others filled and ready for EVERY good work set before us! As I took the picture I realised that there was a sheep posing for me which reminded me of the Great Shepherd who so lovingly laid down His life for me! He gave everything so that we can take hold of all that He is and all that He has! Oh how truly wonderful it is to know that Jesus came to give life, life in abundance (John 10:10). I pray that together we can declare:

“You’re kind and tenderhearted to those who don’t deserve it and very patient with people who fail you. Your love is like a flooding river overflowing its banks with kindness.” Psalms 145:8 The Passion Translation

pic of river

My dear reader I pray that you’re encouraged by this, that you smile and laugh with me over the goodness of our great God. I pray that you can know, deeply know, that His faithfulness is so great, surpassing all our expectations!

Many many many blessings, Keona

Notes:

Hinds Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Printed in the United States of America.

Hinds Feet On High Places – An Engaging Visual Journey by Hannah Hurnard. Illustrated by Jill DeHaan & Rachel McNaughton. Living Expressions, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Printed in China.

Altar playlist YouTube link

Arise from the ashes!

She was finally ready to let go of the past

to end the constant wondering, to lay down the hurt and pain

As she gathered the sticks around her body she dared to dream

Dared to imagine a bright new future

Dared to hope for a new fresh start

Dared to imagine herself as a new creation

As she prepared the nest of sticks around her she wondered

what it would be like to be free to fly again?

As the nest of sticks surrounded her she surrendered herself to the next painful process, reminding herself that this short-term pain would bring long-term gain

As the flames roared around her she screamed out all the pent-up rage that had once brewed so strongly inside her

After sometime all that could be seen was a pile of ashes

But looking closer you could see her there, waiting for the right moment

Just as the last ember died she started to arise

Slowly at first, weighed down by the ash, she struggled until the ashes finally parted and allowed her to rise

Slowly she stood and saw that she was a glorious new creation

She had a new magnificent set of wings, even more beautiful than the old ones

Her eyes had a new spark and her heart beat strong and pure in her chest

Yes! She had a deep knowing that the future was going to be bright and amazing!

He Has Won – Vertical Worship – YouTube video