IMG_2213

Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened.

-Acts 3:1-7 NLT

Can you imagine being crippled from birth and needing to beg every day of your life for provision? Can you imagine being helped to the gate of something beautiful and not accessing what’s beyond the gate? This unnamed man in the bible had found complacency in his ailment. Whether he was happy or sad is unstated and left for implication. What we can see clearly, however, is that his routine was set. His plan was locked tight each day. He was carried in, perhaps by the same people daily or maybe the community all committed to a certain day to be responsible for his transportation to the gate.

I want to pose a question to you in this moment, and I challenge you to be completely honest with yourself. When you see a beggar on the street, how do you respond? Most of us are not willing to give eye contact. It feels awkward. The better part of our mind thinks to say a small prayer for them, maybe; and we soon forget their faces. Some of us, on the other hand, go a step further and give loose change or even dollars on a good day. And these are often the cases that we see on social media when the person gives them-self praise for helping someone less fortunate.

Now, Peter and John! They put us all to shame. They didn’t have money to give this man, but they didn’t leave him how they found him. They connected him with a power much more beautiful than the gate of which he had made his daily occupation. With the power of Jesus, they commanded him in faith to get up and walk. The scripture shows us that this beggar was healed instantly. After receiving his healing, he praised God beyond the gate of beautiful.

While reading this, perhaps like me, you wanted to place yourself within the shoes of Peter and John. Maybe you begin making mental vows to handle things more like Peter and John the next time you are in the same position with a beggar. But what if I told you that we are more like the beggar than Peter and John?

How many times have we laid at the entrance of something beautiful, staying complacent with our inabilities and begging for small increments of satisfaction?

What if I told you that a lot of us have been stuck watching others enter this beautiful place filled with the unknown joys and process of marriage and family. What has kept us stuck? It has been the absence of hope, the fear of being wrong, lack of vulnerability, impatience, misunderstandings, depletion in confidence, constant reminders of offenses. It has been hoarding memories, harboring unforgiveness, fearing rejection, embracing shame and regret. These issues have left us crippled--unable to move beyond the gate and into this beautiful place that God desires us to witness and live.

Surely you had to wonder, why didn’t this crippled man asked to be carried beyond the gate of Beautiful? Did he not feel worthy enough to enter? Did he feel limited and unsure? Perhaps his fear suggested that it was best he simply sit at the gate and beg for something temporary.

Perhaps it is our fear of embarrassment or rejection that forbids us from asking to go beyond the gate to experience what is beautiful. Because of this, we will sabotage a relationship that has been sent from heaven or exit prematurely. During my six year journey of discovery, I asked the Father why was this my behavior and he answered me quickly and simply.

“You’re afraid of beautiful.” Maybe you’re like I was and for that I say this to you:

I understand how comfortable it is to lay at the gate of beautiful in search of temporary provision. My prayer is that you would understand that what is temporary will always pass away, but I want to introduce you to something eternal. That is the power of Jesus. I introduce you to the faith that forced me to my feet and right beyond the gate of Beautiful. What’s beyond the gate is beautiful. Work is required, even beyond the gate. The biggest secret is that when I stepped beyond the gate, my groom wasn’t right there waiting on one knee and a ring. Beyond the gate was a place that welcomed the real me; the healed me; the whole me. Beyond the gate, it was far more beautiful than the temporary gifts I received at the gate. Beyond the gate was a freedom that could never be taken away from me.

-B.Reel

IMG_1954

Facebook: Brittney L.Reel

Instagram: @b.reel

 

The Letter

Hello old friends, new followers, and fellow bloggers- 

My thoughts are hot of the presses and I’m excited to share with you the raw, the real and the now.  Today was all about cleaning.  I recently moved home to prep for my next, but for the last three weeks or so, I’ve been sleeping with boxes all around me.  Clothes are strewn all over the floor as my anxiety is increasingly heightened by not being able to find what I want to wear.  Tucked in a corner is a plastic bag full of paper: scriptures, prophecies, business cards, song lyrics, and other pages are all gathered in a messy heap ready to be sorted by yours truly.

As I reached my hand into the bag, I pulled out a letter I wrote to God about five years ago.  This letter was one of gratitude, thanking Him for always being with me and for showing me the road ahead.  At the end of the letter, I began to thank God for my ex, the possibility of our children (what we discussed together) and the businesses we would run as we took over the world for good.  I was thanking God for the life I thought He commissioned for me, the life I thought I would live.  Fast forward five years, and I do not have that life.  I am not with that person anymore, I do not have any children and those businesses do not exist.  My life now doesn’t match the hope for my life in that letter.  It’s crazy how things change.  Who knew that 11 mos ago, I would enter into a season of singleness, would forsake all desire for children and would find myself trying to figure out what I was going to do. Once upon a time, I was so sure, now I’m peering into the future like “God is this really for me?  “Can we actually do this?”  Can we actually dream again about this buried desire: the desire to be both wife and mother. Can we return here?  In gentleness, He whispers “Yes.  Yes, we can.”  “We can revisit this place in your heart, my love,  do not be afraid.”

“But How?”  my hearts screams out.  “How can we return to a place I never got to.  I almost got there, I thought I was there but I failed… I never got there.”  In love, He grabs my hand and whispers, “Your only failure would have been to marry someone who was never designed to love you.  To procreate with someone who did not have the capacity to be a father and to enter into a business partnership with someone with no integrity.  Babygirl, you did not fail.  You succeeded!  For you chose your future over your present and you chose what was hard over what was easy.  You said Yes even though the cost was your heart. You, my dear, can return to this place…”

Today, I look at the letter as an obituary of the life I thought I would live.  I mourn the union someone promised, the blueprints for businesses I envisioned and the picture-perfect family described.  I mourn what I thought I needed to be complete, to be whole.  I mourn what I thought I wanted to secure happiness.  I have found that my “Yes” to God has always been the answer.  I’ve found that my ability to walk away from what I prayed for is what makes me brave, my ability to be grateful in the new, in the unknown is what gives me strength and my sweet surrender is what makes me His, and His alone.  I cry as I reflect on the past but I am so hopeful for the future, because anything we give up for Christ including our dreams, He returns it 100 fold in this lifetime and the life to come.  I don’t know why I am sharing my process with you.  I wish I had some neat and tidy ending that describe this perfect healing process but I don’t.  All I have is the truth, and the truth is God is good even when our hearts are broken.  God is good even when plans change.  God is good even when we don’t understand our way.  In every season, in every moment, He is good and that in itself is worthy of a simple ‘Thank you!” 

He’s good, He’s God and because I’m His, I am going to be okay.

Xoxo,

Simone

FIC: http://kaizenjournaling.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/large_3584131250.jpg

Phone Calls

Hello old friends, new followers, and fellow bloggers- 

I’m an old soul, born circa ’93 but in my heart, I feel like I’m from an earlier era.  I love phone calls.  Yep, I’m one of those weird people that rather receive a phone call than an email or a text message.  It’s something about hearing the voice of those you love, it’s comforting yet exciting.  It’s a simple way of building connection and intimacy, two things that I hold dear.

I have a friend who is a master of connection.  She is the only one I know that loves phone calls, facetime, and face to face meetings.  It’s like she feels no anxiety as she bares herself to me in conversation.  Every time I’m with her I feel safely loved, heard and just free to be myself!  Over the past eight months, she has taught me about connection: both with God and others.

I realized that I shied away from connection because it allowed people to see me. And I mean see me: in rawness, brokenness and undone.  Yet, it is this baring of oneself that builds intimacy and connection.  If you cannot see me fully, then you cannot know me and you cannot love me.  Now, I find myself putting my phone down in the company of others, preferring face time calls, and wanting to have amazing conversations over a hot cup of coffee.  I prefer connection because to me:  it’s raw, it’s intimate, and it’s real.  Who wants to be in relationships and cannot be real?  Who wants to invest in something that only appears to be close?  That only appears to be solid?  Not me.  I’m good without the facade.  Give me the real, where I can hear in your voice that you’re not good.  The real, where I don’t have to decode your text messages or wonder why you used a certain emoji?  Instead of laughing emojis, I want to hear the ones I love laugh and I want to know that they are laughing from a genuine place.  At the end of the day, we all want something real.  Now, for my friends who are not like me, I’ve mastered my text game: GIFS, emojis, and short paragraphs of text but in my heart, I love a good phone call!

So why talk about phone calls? Well… maybe because we live in a world where people desperately want to feel connected.  To something, to anything; to someone, to anyone.  There are people all around us who want to know that they are seen, heard, loved and valued.  If we look up from our screens and start looking into the face of those around us, maybe we will build connections based on the raw, based on the real.  It’s harder to forget about those whose voices you hear frequently- that’s why when someone is around you all the time, you find yourself feeling closer to them.  On the flip side, those we only engage with via social media from time to time and even through an occasional text, sometimes we forget about them.  We forget to see how they are doing, beyond the highlight reel, we forget that we were once apart of their lives.  Our friendships lack communication, our relationships lack depth and before you know it, it’s easier to move on breaking covenants because what we had lacked the real- it lacked connection beyond a keyboard.

I encourage you to look up!  To be aware of those around you.  I encourage you to come out of your comfort zone and to connect.  I love phone calls, but it’s because at the end of the day I am okay with vulnerability. Are you okay with being vulnerable?  Are you okay with revealing who you are to have depth in your relationships? It’s okay if you’re not ready yet.  It’s okay if vulnerability frightens you, but I can guarantee that the level of love you desire is only coming through vulnerability.  What you want in your friendships and relationships is only going to come through revealing who you are, baring yourself to your inner circle.  Depth only comes through the raw, it’s only strengthened through the real. Happy connecting!

Xoxo,

Simone 

 

 

Trust Issues

Hello old friends, new followers, and fellow bloggers, 

My name is Simone and I have trust issues.  Yep, it’s true – I have a hard time with trust.  I thought this journey of becoming was going to be easy.  I shouted on the promise that year 26 was going to be the year of eradicating my fears.  On January 11th, I thought God was going to eradicate fear out of my life by challenging me to do new and exciting things like traveling or skydiving.  I had no idea that His eradication process would consist of moving back home or admitting to my community one of my issues.  I never imagined this post being apart of the plan, but yet here we are.

Let’s start from the beginning.  I am preacher’s kid, I grew up in church memorizing and reciting scripture.  I’ve probably heard the term “Trust the Lord” more times than I can count.  So much so, that the phrase became a cliche and Proverbs 3:5-6 was just another reminder of my childhood Sunday School class.  I don’t think I’ve ever come into a place of complete trust.  The majority of the years of my fellowship with God have been marred by skepticism.  I would declare trust only to get into circumstances that revealed that I truly didn’t believe that He cared about me deeply.

Whoah.. that moment of transparency was a lot but let’s continue.  So, why my lack of trust?  Fear.  I was afraid to trust again.  I’ve placed my trust in individuals and experienced disappointment, in churches and left broken, in systems that have failed and I think over the years I’ve equated all of the heartbreak with trusting in God.  My lack of trust stemmed from a fear of shame.  Even last night, I had a need. I’ve been praying for the longest and last night was the deadline.  I remember saying to the Lord, “I’m not trying to be out here looking embarrassed.  You got me out here in the middle of nowhere proclaiming that you’re with me and if you don’t come through, I’m going to be so ashamed.  I’m not placing trust in you to end up humiliated.” If I was Him, I would have been so offended.  I mean God has done so many things for me: time and time again and I still didn’t fully trust Him to keep His Word.  I mean let that sink in… homie has proven himself even died on a cross and we’re still at this crossroads of trust.  Yet, in gentleness, he spoke these words to me:

Those that place their trust in me will never be ashamed.  If you trust me, you have no need to be afraid.  I won’t let you down.

I surrendered to his request to trust Him.  The need was not met last night but it was provided for this morning.  He came through, just like He said he would.

I have a friend that one night in a rehearsal began singing “You always do what you say you’ll do.”  In a moment of vulnerability, he began to sing that line over and over proclaiming that God could be trusted.  That line came back to me this morning and I began to sing it too.  The fact of the matter is, God is trustworthy.  I can’t say the same for every person, or job opportunity or even my own logic or reasoning, but I can say that about the one who has not switched up on me even when he had every reason to.  I can be a lot.  A lot to deal with, a lot to console, a lot to journey with.  I can be really headstrong, stubborn sometimes, petty on my good days and unforgiving on my bad days. I’m a lover of justice and my pride will convince me that I can be both judge and jury but that’s not my job.  I know me.  So for God to stick with me all these years is a testament of His love.  He loves me beyond me and that amazes me every single time.

Early this morning, I prayed a simple prayer:  “Lord, will you help me?  I want to trust you and those you’ve given me.  Can you please teach me how to trust?”  That was step one.  Now, I’m leaning into him. I’ve chosen to trust Him and share my journey with each of you in spite of the risk.  At the end of the day, He got me and He’s going to make sure I’m good!

Friends, will you let him speak to your fears? To deal with your issues?  I know it uncomfortable and there is this notion of risk involved in healing but what is the alternative?  Living life alone?  Worrying about everything all the time?  Always viewing people and situations through the lens of skepticism?  Dr. Matthew Stevenson III stated that “everything we need to receive is funneled through trust.” Every gift in a person or relationship, every prophecy, every amount of healing comes through trust.  We cannot get what we need if we do not trust.  I think this is why God is dealing with trust within me because He’s promised me some things that will only come if I place trust in Him.  I can’t go to my next outside of trust.  I encourage you to be honest with yourself and ask some hard questions. For example: Do you really trust God?, Do you trust anyone?  If not, what is the fear that’s keeping you from trusting in God’s love for you?  And lastly,  do you want to be able to trust?  All it takes is an honest conversation with God and community and I promise He will help you!

May you find the courage to be honest and the strength to trust in the One who hasn’t switched up on you.

Xoxo,

Simone

FIC :https://cdn-images-1.medium.com//max/1200/1*XfamT0OI3iaB8yS_s40XoQ@2x.jpeg

“Trust Issues” sermon by Dr. Matthew Stevenson III: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znoJoFw0f00