Forgive and Let Go

Healing is often blocked by unforgiveness.
Just a few  months ago I met with a wise older woman who talked me through some hurt that was lingering from a bad transition I went through a few years ago. It was the right thing to move on but as transition often is, it got messy. I had already worked through the issue with the people involved at the time, really truly forgiving and letting go but sometime since that original forgiveness, I heard someone say that once trust is lost it takes time to earn it back. 

This thought gave the enemy a window of opportunity and I let the self righteous prideful voice speak. You know the one. It said, “Yeah! They have to EARN my trust back now. Even though they asked for forgiveness and I had forgiven that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences.” I let the nuance of that accusation against them reopen the wound growing back into bitter unforgiveness. All I knew was that it still hurt and I was stuck.

My wise mentor reminded me of the story from John 8 about the Pharisees who went to stone the adulterous woman. But Jesus after mysteriously drawing in the sand he stopped them by saying,

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

She went on to tell me that some Pharisees dropped their stones, but some threw them in anger wishing as they hit the ground, their stones had been directed at her still. The scariest and most disturbing, were those who hung onto their stones as they walked away. Not letting it go. Saving them to be thrown later.

She explained that the hurt I was feeling was because I was hanging onto a stone of accusation against the people involved. She shocked and challenged me by flatly saying,

“You can’t trust people. We put our trust in God alone. Only He is perfect.” 

I realized that I had been putting more of my sense of worth or security in my standing with others than with what God says or how he gives me worth. “Imagine that Jesus is on one side of a scale.” She said. “What in all of creation could equal him? All the angels? All riches?”

It felt like a trick question. No obviously nothing is worth what Jesus is worth. She continued, “And yet, Jesus said that you are worth his putting on skin, living a pure life and for the joy set before him pain and sacrifice. Even death.

Jesus says the same about everyone’s worth. So if we begin to see others through Christ’s ascribed worth and love it makes it easier to forgive.

She asked me if I ever get angry at Josephine for messing her diaper. No of course not! “That’s what they did when they hurt you.” she explained, “They just messed their diapers.” She led me through a few prayers and I was able to let go of the stones I had been carrying. I’m so grateful for a safe coach to love me enough to help me walk through this. And most of all I’m humbled and grateful all the more for the continued working out of my salvation and the renewing of my mind through the love of Jesus. Profound freedom and joy are found in this Love.

Repentance and Forgiveness are very similar, in that we often need to say these prayers out loud with someone and making the choice to do so is not often in line with how we feel in that moment. But God honors when we choose to forgive and repent. In my experience He rushes in quicker than I think He should and gives freedom and all of it’s feelings after we choose to let go of those stones.

And I’m convinced that sometimes forgiving others and repentance are the same thing.

There’s always more to say more to learn. What are your thoughts on these things? That’s all for now- thanks for reading commenting and following!

J

I was MADE for this…

Sometimes when I’m singing there are these transcendent moments of fully expressing myself in my giftings and everything in the universe clicks into place. And it’s so natural for me to think,

“I was MADE for this!”. 

But my perspective completely changed, as it often does, after I sat down with my dad about a month ago to talk about how expressing my personal dreams and goals might intersect within our church’s Missional Communities.

Now, my understanding of what a missional community is, is still growing and I’m sure will change, as all visionary plans are moving targets with their own life cycles (see the Teach Me page). But I’ll take a stab at describing them. A Missional Community at Navah Church KC is a group of friends who intentionally get to know each other’s stories, pray together, eat meals together, serve our communities and neighborhoods and try to live out what the church of Acts might look like today. My dad coached the church into this M.C. idea in the last year and we are slowly growing these communities at the pace of relationship. As I said, the process is slow. But roots that go down deep can support a strong tree that will bear much fruit. So we are rooting our relationships with the Trinity and with each other at a natural pace. [Hit the link above to learn more on M.C.’s from the Navah website.]

So back to, “I was MADE to sing!” I asked my dad if there might be two missional communities that I’d connect to. One relationship-first and with a missional focus towards my neighborhood or whatever that becomes, and one with a focus on expressing my dream of using my musical gifts with other musicians and worshipers.

He surprised me by challenging the notion that my individual dream or goal is the best use of my giftings, or will be the most fulfilling thing to pursue in my life. He explained that this “But I was born to do this.” feeling is a very culturally western and individualistic  idea.   We played out the scenario big picture. If I pursued the idea that I was MADE to sing as the fulfilling force and driving purpose of my life, what would it do to my family? Would my relationships and every other thing be subject to that gift? It seemed like a good path to a broken sad life. By the end of our conversation I was realizing that “I was made for this.” is a small perspective and a bad starting point to answer the age old, “what should I be doing that will fulfill and bring meaning and purpose to my life? Are there things I was put on this planet to do? ” I think turning 30 has also turned up the pressure I feel from these kind of repeating questions.

Now I’m the first to say it is important to know and recognize how beautifully unique God has made each of us (see Read Me). In fact, (ha! of course I know this..) seeing “individualization” is one of my top 5 Strengths on the Strength Finders quiz. But through this conversation I am coming to realize that our talents are called “gifts”not only because they were given to us as presents from the Father, but because they are to be given away in service and as a blessing to others. If all of the worshipers got together and were not serving each M.C. it would be monocultural.

The opposite of a monoculture is a permaculture. Wikipedia says, “Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system…..The focus of permaculture, therefore, is not on each separate element, but rather on the relationships created among elements by the way they are placed together; the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts.”

This is the vision of a Missional Community. Each one bringing their unique gifts to the table to be celebrated and brought with full love thy neighbor as yourself, kingdom-come, submission and service.

“I was made to sing.” has turned into,

“I was made for relationship with God.” and,

“I was made to worship and encounter God, and serve others when I sing.”

That feels like the right place for my gifts to land. They don’t own me. I don’t owe them. But they serve and edify all when they are given as freely as they were received.

Well, that’s it for now.  And as always, I’d love to hear what you’ve learned about these things. Let’s continue the conversation and keep learning together.

J

 

[featured photo is of my mother at her potter’s wheel]

 

Heart mind and soul

I woke up one morning at about week six of pregnancy to the Lord saying with a smile, “I’m putting the soul in today.” I immediately told Tom and pulled up one of the many pregnancy apps on my phone.
A special thing happens in week six, the neural tube that eventually becomes the brain and spinal column begins to form, and the rudimentary heart begins to pump blood for the first time.
“I knit you together in your mother’s womb…” means so much more to me, as I am the mother, and it’s my womb and my child in this instance! 🙂
How amazing and how much like God, the original eternal Father of all humans it is to reveal something so profound and instinctive about the connection between the formation of our hearts and insertion of our soul.
We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made!

It’s a Miracle!! Baby Gosda is on the way!

Last August we started seeking infertility treatment and after months of testing and waiting we finally had our 1st Intrauterine Insemination or IUI the day after Christmas. The Friday before, we celebrated my brother Taylor’s engagement and 12 hours later my sister LeahRae gave birth to my immediate family’s first grandchild Charlotte Rae!   We called this year the “Miracle on 34th Street” Christmas and we got 3 miracles in a row.IMG_2583

Tom and I find ourselves giggling as we soak in the new reality. After seven years of waiting and grief we are pregnant for the first time! We got to see the baby last Thursday and the nurse found our peanut right away! (get ready because the exclamation marks just won’t stop!!) We could actually SEE the little heart beating at 113 bpm. Amazing! We are so grateful for the family and friends gave almost $3,000 between September and January towards the out of pocket fertility expenses. And so many were praying faithfully, what a blessing! God has honored their prayers and investment with a New Life!!

1655865_10152641125508438_789307093_nWe go in for two more ultrasounds this week and next and then transfer out of the fertility clinic to whatever doctor we choose for the duration of the pregnancy. I have been tired but not sick and very much in awe of the Creator God who knows the best for us.

There are many things to be grateful for in our world and I hope you have been given a bit of hope if you are still waiting for your miracle.

j

Love Trust Joy Hope and Peace

I wrote a duet this year. It is a conversation I’ve been having with the Father God.

I was afraid of infertility the first moment I learned of its existence.

I was about four and I ran from overhearing my parents empathetic tones. “They can’t have children, it’s so sad.”
What?!? That’s a thing?!!
My four year old mind imagined would be like and I thought “Oh No God! That would be Too Much!! I can handle anything but not that!”

Through this experience I have learned so much and I am being shaped and formed in character through this pain.

God has taught me that Love and Pain, Trust and Doubt, Joy and Sorrow, Hope and Lament, Peace and Worry are all two sides of the same coin. And you need to feel the negative emotions before you can get to the positive side.

He is the Potter and I am the clay. He is stronger than me and I yield to his good hands.
The Lord is King. And I am not afraid of him but I do need him to rule me.
The Lord disciplines His children because he loves them. And I do feel challenged to be soft

God is teaching me about Hope. Hope as he defines it not as I do.

 

Your Love Goes

Tell me can can you hear my song
The song of joy I’m singing over you

I am in the valley low I am on this lonely road with you

I see your tears I understand
Beloved child I hold you in my hands
Even when my well of grief overflows Your love will overfill me

My love goes deeper than your pain Deeper than your Sorrow
Deeper than your Shame

Even when the well of grief overruns and dims the flame hope
My deep is crying out to deep I finally know what it means to grieve
I will not abandon you for my love overcomes your fear
Even in the depths I’ve found your love and I will sing

Your love goes…

Hills may shake mountains fall I will trust you through it all through it all.
Favored Daughter sing your song. A Song of joy I sing it over you.

My love/your love goes deeper…

Your Love love love
Only you can write my story
Only you receive the glory.

Chorus.
Your love goes.

What I’ve learned from infertility.

I learned what grief is.
And I learned that as deep as my pain and grief is, God’s Love for me is deeper still. And that you can only trust to the extent that you know you are loved.
And I learned how to be comfortable with others in their pain as I became ok with my own. I learned what the Father must have been feeling when he created me. And why everything in society and life comes back to Family. And all that has taught me to hope.

Six years and we are still in the middle of our story. You know what? I think it’s going to be a great one.

“Don’t Worry You’re Safe!”

I just woke from a dream where I knew that the devil was stealing gifts from people.  
There were two buildings and an alley or street between them. The buildings were lined with doors and my parents lived on the one side and all the new homes , were on the other side of the alley. There was a character in the dream who I knew was the devils dirty work man. And I watched as two others were each devastated and changed and defeated because the gifts that were just given to them in their new homes were put on the street and then stolen.
 I was given my black guitar and when I noticed that my guitar was fixed and re-strung I got nervous that they were fixing it just to take it away. I saw that there was a pattern and got upset and called my parents out into the street and to the man who was helping the devil. He was an older thin man with grey short hair on his round head and he wasn’t tall reminded me of Danko from Heroes that detective. I started saying: “He’s going to steal from me!”  And then I looked at him and felt pity and wondered how he ended up as the devil’s advocate..I asked Danko,“What did he steal from you?” And he looked scared. Fear and hopelessness rolled off of him. I felt like I was comforting a child and as he started to cry I told him, “You’re safe! You’re safe!” And I held him and laid my head on his shoulder. My mom and others were standing around him like we were praying for him.
I knew that he was afraid that it was too late for his “salvation” and when I said “you are safe” I meant you will be in heaven. When I laid my head on his shoulder and closed my eyes I saw light streaming through clouds like heaven. I felt assurance and peace for him. “You are safe from the hopelessness of this age’s idea of the gospel.” is what I meant.
When Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life and no one enters the kingdom but through me.” I think he was just stating a fact not giving us ways that we can exclude people from that gift and be plagued by the worry, “Will I make it in? What if I’m doing something wrong and the rapture comes?!”  If this is how we think, Jesus no longer becomes radical and the gospel just plain isn’t good news.  We no longer have to live in fear. We are safe in Christ because we already are all in him whether we know it and are transformed by it or not. The two men on the cross next to Jesus are used in the church as a lesson of “this guy just squeaked into heaven and you can too!” If the man who didn’t respond wasn’t there also. It’s just not good news.

I heard this recently:
God isn’t the god OF Love like a greek god is the god of many things..
God IS Love
If God IS Love what Jesus came to “do” must be representative of the truest love we can Imagine. (because he created us for… that’s right. Love. )
Not a “I love you but.., if you don’t do x y z you are out!” Project Runway style values.. that is so exclusive.
We know better! The holy spirit says it to us. And we want to believe it! We just stop listening because the preacher told me so.
We have to have faith that Jesus really Lived and died for All not Some. And that is where the Beauty and transformation happens in our lives. When we begin to understand God’s Love for us. Plain and Simple. I refuse to believe that he asked us to forgive each other 70×7,  but God is a sin record keeper. NO! That is the thing about this dream. I think it speaks to the grand lie we in today’s church have become the devils workers for: that if you do xyz you get into heaven. But you will never really know, so don’t think about it too much. And go get those lost sinners out there with our prepackaged “sinners prayer” because that is the only way into eternal life. Because God put the fate of the world in our hands and he is just way up in heaven and can’t do anything about it.  Sound like good news?  It is not our job to save anyone. How arrogant to think so! 
Also I am convinced that The #1 thing the Devil wants to convince us of is our lack of worth. Our individual spark or gifts are the thumbprint of God on us. And we release healing and freedom when we are simply truly who we are. Personalities and Gifts and all of that Identity stuff is so celebrated by God. But if we are convinced that we really don’t have anything of worth inside of us to contribute and that God made us as a joke and we are alone,  we have lost something so precious! I believed for a long time that if I was truly free in being who I am I would just hurt people all around me because I was told that I am too loud or too much for others to handle in the past. That fear kept me changing faster than a chameleon in every situation. And I had myself convinced that this was the most loving thing to do for other people. I was just accommodating what I thought they wanted me to be.  And it was anxiety ridden and exhausting trying to remember who I thought the person I was with- needed me to be.
 When we start to live out of the acceptance and peace that this Love is giving we can just truly be authentic and take a deep breath and not worry so much! I am so loved! And so are you- so just live and breathe and be.
And love will make you new. 
Joelle-

Our Mother

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We just moved to Kansas City a few months ago and the community of Christians here talk a lot about “Spiritual Family” or “Kingdom Family” in reference to the relationships with each other and with God. For example, the idea of having a “spiritual dad” is common. Understanding God as a good Father who loves his children; and receiving that you are a Son or a Daughter, are ideas on repeat here. I love this understanding of God. It’s not a new concept to me but witnessing the way an entire group of people who actively engage with God as their Father IS new. And I think it is integral to being free and healing the wounds that we have carried into our present. People don’t say “God” in conversation or prayer as often as they say “the Father” or simply “Father”. They also talk about being secure in or understanding “sonship”. This is such a beautiful thing to discover and learn more about for me. Here is a revolutionary and foundational book called “Orphan, Slave, Son” by Ben Pasley that encapsulates the whole of these ideas. 

So if there are three personalities we can relate to within who God is, God our Father, and Jesus is his Son, who is the Holy Spirit?

I heard on the radio the other day that Jesus referenced the Holy Spirit as his mother. And in a flash it made so much sense. There is so much talk of God our Father, and Jesus his son, but Holy Spirit our Mother? This is such a new idea to me and I want it to be true for so many reasons on such a deep level that I feel like I’m tip-toeing out onto a frozen lake one baby step at a time.
Wouldn’t it be so amazing to have my womanhood be a true image of who God is?!
The idea that who I am is an image bearer of God is completely new to me as a woman. I’ve heard all my life that “God made man in his image.” But woman in her image? Not once. Not in this deep confirming way.

The Holy Spirit is called “the Helper” over and over again in the Bible.
“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning. (John 15:26, 27 NASB)

And in Genesis, the first thing said about Eve was that she would be a helper to Adam.
“Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18 NASB)

One of the only times Jesus’ attitude was translated as harsh or unforgiving has been this verse below. It has always bothered me. He was talking about using the Holy Spirits name in vain or with slander.

“Listen to this carefully. I’m warning you. There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven. But if you persist in your slanders against God’s Holy Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives, sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives.” He gave this warning because they were accusing him of being in league with Evil. (Mark 3:28, 29 MSG)
The message gives some liberal context but here’s the version I grew up hearing:
“Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mark 3:28, 29 NIV)
That’s pretty heavy stuff to sift through at face value. But with this new view of the Holy Spirit as Jesus’ mother, I see a son defending his mom from bad-mouthing. Of course it got heated.
“No yo-mama jokes allowed y’all! You can’t talk about my mother that way!!”

Jesus also talks about being born a second time.
“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. (John 3:3-6 NIV)

Here is an article that talks about the linguistic viability of using the pronoun “she” in reference to the Holy Spirit.
The Female aspect of the Holy Spirit

The fact that I’ve never connected this being born again concept to a female aspect of God is astonishing to me! I think there is a need for celebrating the female perspective and what it brings to the church community. And yes we need to deconstruct our views of God as our Father in light of our biological dads, and allow Him to reveal himself to us new and bring healing to our brokenness. But is that it? What about God our Mother being an example for mothers and children? We have missed a piece of Kingdom Family without God our Mother.

Women, you are not forgotten by God! And you are not a mystery to God.
There is so much more to explore and think about in this topic, so more soon. But it’s good to get some of this down.
I’ll end with a prayer I need to keep praying and invite you to join me.

Our Mother, Holy Spirit, Holy is your name. Comforter make your home in me. Teach me to love my femininity and see myself as you do. Speak to the places that say I’m less because I’m a woman. Forgive me for believing those lies. Mother Spirit mother me and teach me your ways. Reshape my ideas of other women and bring unity. In me as it is in you.

Added Jan 2016:

Here is a teaching called Journeying with the Holy Spirit shared by Trent Sheppard. Around minute 15 he talks about the feminine aspect of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

 

What I’ve Been Listening to Lately

Here are a few recordings from the Sunday gathering at the Kansas City Boiler Room. kcboilerroom.com
My parents both tell stories and share our family history:

my dad Joe shares his family history and values

my mom Angie: The Family Meal Project

A family shares their history and gives a prayer for those struggling with infertility and also those who long to be married. May it bring grace and healing to you as it did me.

New Family Legacy

A Poem, A Prayer

I have a list of what I think I need

And another of what I want

You invite me into your house and cover me with Grace

You ask me to give it all and put it in your hands

And while I wait you break down walls I thought would never fall

Between who I am and your Love

Between what I see and your Truth

Between what I know and your Grace

Between my disappointment and your Hope

I’m tired of this homeless wandering and

I’m ready to come homeland take my place in your Family

And when the road leads through a dark forest of anger and pain

You never shy away

You walk with me all the way

And when I start to see the sun again

I realize that it was your Love

That lifted me out of the depths.

And now I know your love is deeper than my lowest despair

And I had to understand such sorrow to be baffled by this Peace.

I’m so grateful for your tangible Grace

Trust takes experience and a leap of Faith

You can only Trust as much as you know you are Loved

So I put all my hope and dreams firmly in your hands.

You are a Good Father who understands.

And as I look a little closer

I know this now more than ever

Your love carries my pain

And I came from your hands.

So let gratitude pave the way

I’ll sing a song of thanks

Because even now I know you will take care of me

Like you always have.

Thank you God for showing me how deeply you love me

For settling the questions of my worth

For never giving up on me

For the Peace I feel

For the Grace on me

For the Future you’ve planned

And hold in your hand

Help me to Live in the five minutes I have

And keep speaking my name

Make my home in you and yours in me