I can't deny it, as much as I'd like to say I can ride it out and claim it's all good, not having any trouble over here, life is good. Life is hard, it is painful, it is stressful, and it is just plain impossible some days to deal with everything coming at me. The past few weeks have been some of the hardest days of my life. I was a bit reluctant but at the same time felt very strongly that God wanted me to go with a group of ladies for our church women's retreat, Women's Encounter. The week leading up to the retreat, was hell. I know the other ladies in my group will tell you the same, satan was gunning for us to the very last moment before we stepped into the vehicles to head out. Though we struggled, we all agreed and encouraged one another through that week to stay on course, not give up, reminding one another we needed this retreat and it was a specific time that God had appointed for each one of us. The retreat was amazing, brutal but amazing. I came clean, truly emptied myself of so much junk I've carried for nearly 3 years now. It's hard to admit we are beat up, in pain, burdened, weak, heavy hearted, angry, bitter, and ready to walk away from the very thing God has called us too. When Ryan and I made the transition to Missouri, we were coming out of the most difficult ministry experience we have ever had. It is hard to pinpoint exactly when things started going down hill, but at some point there was a shift in what we were doing to this incredible pressure of somehow we weren't doing enough, the to-do list was not meeting with someone's satisfaction, and from there you can imagine the tearing down that occurs in a person's pride and confidence, and overall abilities. You start to question, you start to doubt, you start to fear. You start to question if you can move on and maybe you aren't up for this calling anymore. It sucks when man gets in the way of what God intends for His called. And I didn't see us moving past it anytime soon. I was done. Ryan and I were both dealing with varying degrees of anger, doubt, disappointment, heartbreak, and grief. How do you work through this stuff and somehow prepare to move into a new ministry opportunity? You can't bottle it up, you can't put it off to deal with later, you can't get over it quick and put on a happy face for the sake of jumping right into the next thing God has for you. It takes time for this kind of wound to heal. So, how do we make this transition? We found ourselves stepping into a short term worship role at a small store front church, but we felt a bit shaky going into it. It was good, but somehow there was something yet to experience and we knew it wasn't going to be long term. We found ourselves at the close of that opportunity and through some connections, introduced to another ministry opportunity. As we continued to nurse our wounds, figure out a way to heal and find restoration, we felt compelled to step into this new opportunity. I cannot describe it any other way that a breath of fresh air for both of us. Little did we know that God intended for the shift in our healing process to truly begin with this opportunity. Shortly after the holidays, just as we began a new year in 2014, the hard truth of what we had to face, own up to came slamming down on us both. There is a point in our lives, when we've experienced so much disappointment and so much of life that didn't go exactly the way we had hoped, that fear and desperation causes us to determine, "God, I cannot let go of this. I don't trust you completely with this, and I can't seem to find you when I need you most. I need to do this for myself. It is just too hard. I am desperate. I am tired. I'm losing hope." What do you think happens when that voice drowns out the voice of Truth? When that voice starts to win, to dominate to the point you act on something in a way that puts everything most precious in your life at risk? Panic. Betrayal. Disappointment. It is an incredibly helpless place to be. More so than any other time in my life I think. We had a choice right away to give up, or to give it all to God and acknowledge He was never far away. He was right there with us in the absolute worst of it. He was in that pit right beside us.

The worst of it? The immediate realization that I felt so unworthy, so horrible to have ever questioned God's ability to take care of me and my family. There is this guilt, this self-condemnation that wedges its way deep into my mind, and then it starts to infect the heart like a virus. I was crying out to God, searching His Word for answers, answers that were right there in black and white, and yet....I hadn't completely let go so I couldn't really grasp it! I couldn't grasp that simple truth that He was right there all along! I was in my own way, I was getting in the way of the complete restoration God has always had for me. All of this garbage that Ryan and I have been experiencing, holding on to, was so unnecessary and exactly the point satan wanted us to be all along. Can you imagine the reality I came face to face with on that retreat, because I finally let my guard down and dropped it all at the foot of the Cross? Can you imagine the humiliation and disgrace I felt in that moment? And then, can you imagine the utter and indescribable relief? Oh the joy of knowing my Savior in a fresh and new way! Oh the freedom in knowing I could be released from this bondage I'd been in for so long! How could I question God was not enough, at any point in my life? You know how. The human mind is a wondrous but terrible thing. I am convinced now more than any other time in my life, we have got to take our minds captive for Christ! Whatever we think we are doing right in our day to day time with God, whatever our habits, our schedules, our routines--stop and consider what more can I be doing to guard my mind, my thoughts? We must be on our guard, daily, throughout our day, because satan will do things in the most subtle way over a long period of time to tear us down! This is a life long battle and particularly for those of us who are prone to anxiety and OCD/perfectionist disorders. We have to be on our guard, we have to arm ourselves, and we also need to breathe life over one another, be an encouragement, be an accountability partner, be Jesus to one another and not just to people around us who don't know Him!

Ryan and I are in a season of brokenness, and we are so in awe of how God is using our church family and especially our leadership team to walk us into a season of restoration. As we walk through this season, we have chosen to stand firmly on the commitment to full obedience to Him with our finances, with our marriage, with our children, with everything He has given us. Everything we have and everything we are has been laid bare before Him, and we are walking into this new season of ministry with a church leadership team and family right beside us every step of the way, offering us the unconditional love and accountability we have needed for so long.

Can you feel it? Can you see it? There is a shift taking place in our lives this year, and God is ready to pour out His abundance at just the right time as He wills it. God, we pledge our lives to your ministry, we are thankful for renewed hope and as you continue to break us down and build us back up, we will step into the good, the bad and the ugly knowing we have such freedom to share with a world that needs You so desperately!

Zechariah 4:6 (NIV)

6 …‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.

'that word “spirit” in the Hebrew means “breath.” it’s saying, it’s not gonna happen just by our talent, connections, who we know; it’s going to happen because God breathes in our direction, God shifts the winds and blows healing, promotion, restoration our way.'

(Check out the full blog entry: "How you're coming into a shift", Bizarrely Blessed,
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