Open.

Hello old friends, new followers, and fellow bloggers

“Be Open.” That is the instruction ringing in my heart.  All of my fears are contending with the Lord in the form of what-ifs, yet in kindness, He repeats himself once more: “Open your heart. Open your heart to love.”  Tears stream down my cheeks as I realize that I’ve been closed to the idea that someone will actually love me.  Fully.  To tell you the truth, I’ve just fully accepted the idea that He loved me fully.  I just became content with that phenomenon; that in spite of all of my mistakes, weaknesses, and shortcomings, this great God was in fact deeply in love with me.

My heart resisted but the instruction remained the same, “Open your heart. Open your heart to being loved.” “But God” my heart persisted, “What if he hurts me?” The instruction remained the same, “Open your heart.  Open your heart to being loved.”  “But God.” my heart pleaded, “What if this breaks me worse than last time?” The Father remained gentle, in pure kindness- he stated one more time, “Love, the choice is yours. But darling, I’ll ask again – Open your heart.  Open your heart to being loved.”  I sat on my couch and I heard his gentle voice like oil caress my spirit and I had a choice to make.  Either I would open up and take the risk of pain or remain closed and ultimately alone.

At the end of the day to trust in the instruction of God is to ultimately trust in Him.  To trust Him requires the hard thing:  it requires facing our fears, it requires confronting our doubts, it requires trying again at the thing we think we suck at the most.  For me, love.  I have this obvious track record of failed relationships, of apparent heartbreaks.  I have this rap sheet of ugly moments and countless memories of love lost.  I am a woman who has made peace with her regrets yet fear gripped me when I heard his voice.  Fear came to remind me of my past and shame came as a drinking buddy ready to cosign me into self-sabotage.  Yet, here comes Holy Spirit: kind, gentle and full of truth with one simple instruction.  Be Open. Open your heart to being loved. 

So, here I am completely open and vulnerable and just plain scared but willing.  I am willing to be open, I am willing to be loved.

I have no idea where this heart journey is going to take me.  All I know is that I am committed to obeying sweet Holy Spirit’s instruction.  I am committed to being open and to keep my heart open to being loved. I am willing and my heart says “Yes.

Until next time,

Simone 

FIC: https://i.ebayimg.com/images/i/371447628482-0-1/s-l1000.jpg

 

DeActivated

Hello old friends, new followers and fellow bloggers-

There is nothing more exhausting than living a life of comparison. Nothing. I didn’t realize how much of a comparison-driven life I was living until I saw how much time I consumed reflecting on the adventures of others through social media. To be connected to so many, yet to feel so alone is a travesty within itself.

I think this is the trap of the enemy to get us into this mindset of comparing our realities to others’ highlight reel. I mean the snare to compare is so stealthy, you’ll think your life is great until a late night scrolling sesh on insta and all of sudden you’re looking through your life with regret. Crazy to think that something that is supposed to unite us can be the very thing that tears us apart. So last night, I deactivated and logged out of my social media accounts, just to take a temporary break. I didn’t realize how much time I spent scrolling until I took away that option. Ladies and gents, I was in the middle of the comparison trap and I had to tackle that head on.

To say we are immune to comparison would be a complete lie, especially since we live in a world that positions us to compare ourselves one to another. We are indoctrinated in a culture that causes us to readily check our lives against the lives of our peers. We measure our successes, failures and even our worth to the words and opinions of others. Loves, sometimes the Father will ask us to disconnect so that we can come face to face to the truth of what He’s spoken about us. He removes the distractions so that we can be real about our desires and our discontentment with life. It’s not until we’re reminded of the truth of what God’s spoken that we can combat the snare to compare.

So, friends I encourage you to take the time that you need. If that means, getting off of social media for a period of time or so, and becoming present with those around you or even deactivating for a while- do what you must to thrive as a son or daughter!

I love you guys and I can’t wait to speak with you all soon!

Xoxo,

Simone

FIC: https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTNnr7bU3b_aEiTk7UA3tnYroHYaiIrl_EE3oib4Rt6mjdf5qB_aQ

All Walled Up

Hello old friends, new followers, and fellow bloggers- 

I’m back and I have so much to say!  Have you ever wondered why we have walls? I mean, why do we have partitions between rooms, people, experiences?  I know we are taught that walls protect us, they are necessary for privacy and are critical for boundaries.  But, what if our walls are damaging us?  I mean the walls we keep on the inside that keep us from being honest with others. I remember once upon a time, my Pastor  (PT) preached this epic sermon about walls.  He discussed the dangers of living with walls, of being closed off from those given to you.  I left that service inspired to tear down my walls, but I noticed that some of the walls I’ve built were rooted in my own disappointments and unrealistic expectations. Immediately, God began to deal with my walls.

If I’m candid, the walls I’ve built to protect myself from others became this tool to destroy me.  Here are some of the walls, the Lord and I have been tearing down one by one:  (1) Walls of disappointment, (2) Walls of rejection, (3) Walls associated with childhood trauma, (4) Walls of depression/suicidal ideations, (5) Walls of anxiety and fear, (6) Walls of self-hatred and diminishment of self, (7) Walls of guilt from past mistakes and behavior, (8) Walls of doubt, and finally (9) Walls of expectations.  I shared my former walls so that you can have the courage to identify yours. I mean, your healing is your responsibility.  I’m a big believer in honesty/transparency because I desire to grow as a person.  This new found freedom drives me to open the same invitation to each of you.  We do not have to live all walled up.  The same God who created us can protect us and we can trust Him with our happiness.

Our walls keep us from receiving all that the Father has destined for us.  Think about it, how can we believe in our dream if our wall of false belief about self stands in the way?  I remember delaying on what God placed on the inside because His Word had to run into my wall of fear.  It became exhausting to believe in anything, especially God’s Word.  I wonder what our lives would look like if we had the courage to tear down our walls.  I mean we don’t have to do this by ourselves, our Father is able and willing to help.  That’s the beauty of living in this new way, we don’t have to do this alone!  I couldn’t receive until I tore down my wall, I couldn’t love well until I rid myself of my walls, I couldn’t help effectively until my walls were demolished.

Our walls hinder us from loving ourselves and therefore determine how we love others.  

Xoxo,

Simone

FIC: https://alifebeyondrubies.files.wordpress.com/2013/03//walls01.jpg

My Pastor’s EPIC sermon about walls (Pursue Series: “Come Outside”): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ilyuf3GCZlQ

Goodbye.

Hello old friends, new followers, and fellow bloggers- 

It’s Tuesday, the weather is frightening and today was one of making hard decisions and letting go.  It’s easy to talk about letting go but sometimes God asks for things that we’ve grown quite attached to.  Sometimes we will give these things up, and sometimes it takes a sacrifice of self for us to release that which is super important to us.

Anything you’re not willing to let go of is an idol- PT, 6for2 Prayer

For me, it was a man.  I loved this man so much so, that I couldn’t imagine my life without him being in it.  God was like, “Oh really? Why don’t we find out?” And for the past six years, I lived life without this man being in my life.  I found out that I didn’t need this person in my life for it to be filled with joy, adventure, and fulfillment.  Without him, I was fulfilled because I found myself in Christ.

It’s hard to admit that you’ve been serving and striving for other things than God, who wants to face the truth that their heart hasn’t been totally devoted to their Savior?  Not too many people.

But, I think honesty is the catalyst for freedom.  It is not until we face the music that we become free!

In order to say hello to the new, we must say goodbye to the old.  This can include but not limited to:  who we thought we were, who we thought we would be with, where we thought we would live, what we sought career-wise, and other things we refuse to release control.

We must say goodbye because at every end is a new beginning.

I wish I could tell you that saying goodbye is easy.  Oh man!  I wish I could assure you that goodbyes won’t produce any tears, but that is simply not the case.  In fact, a hard goodbye may cause you to cry for days but I promise that what’s coming is so much better than what’s been.

Give yourself time to feel, cry, worship, do whatever it takes to heal properly. To pretend that you’re not in pain is not holiness neither is it spiritual, it’s simply foolish and a sure way to remain injured.  Feel, acknowledge what you feel, be honest with yourself and heal.  Give yourself the permission to heal!

Your (God’s) way is not just right, your way is better! – PT, 6for2 Prayer

May you find the courage to say goodbye. 

Xoxo,

Simone 🦁

FIC: https://cdn.tinybuddha.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Woman-Waving-Goodbye.png

 

A Lover of Love

Hello old friends, new followers, and fellow bloggers- 

I hope you all are having a great Saturday.  I love love, but I realized that I don’t love it as much as the one who created me.  God loves love.  Like for reals… God loves love.  So much so, that he desired someone to love deeply and that is why he made us:  man and woman.  He wanted to love and to be loved.  I think that is why we all have this innate desire to be loved because we were made in the image of our Creator.  So, we have a God that has everything, a huge house, streets made of money, angels who serve on the regular and there is still something missing- us.  To fulfill a need, God created mankind to love him, each other and all that he has placed into the Earth.  How beautiful is the understanding that God made us to love us?  He didn’t need any more servants, he had plenty (angels); he didn’t need any more beautiful things, he made so many (stars, flowers, etc.); he didn’t need any more houses, he had a huge one with a shiny throne on the inside; he didn’t need any more money, for his streets were made of gold.  But there was one single need, God needed someone to love.  He needed someone to lavish love upon, to demonstrate love to, he needed someone to love well.  Because of this and this alone, he created you and I.  I was created because God wanted someone to love. 

When we come to the place where we see our Heavenly Father as a lover of love and not a beacon of hatred and terror, it is then that we can appreciate the sacrifice of his Son.  We get so caught up at seeing God as this hard taskmaster, waiting for us to mess up- hating us for what we do that we lose sight of the reason by which we were created.  We were created to love and to be loved by Him.  Do you know why God hates sin?  I mean, really know?  It’s because sin creates separation between us and Him.  When God created Eden and formed man in the garden, scripture speaks of a time where man and God were not separated.  He was our homie, hanging out every waking moment.  I could imagine, man and God fishing together or taking walks on the nature trails, or even sitting up late to count the stars- all TOGETHER. As soon as Adam and Eve ate that dreaded fruit, they were aware of one of the biggest evils known to man: BAD SEPARATION.  Think about it:  all criminal activity results in bad separation. When we steal, we separate the owner from their possession.  When we kill, we separate that person from their loved ones, co-workers, and just the world.  When we engage in adultery and various sexual affairs, we separate a person from a covenant they made with their partner.  All pain stems from some type of bad separation: whether separation from joy, peace, trust or happiness.  GOD NEVER DESIGNED OUR WORLD TO BE FILLED WITH SEPARATION FROM WHAT’S GOOD.  However, this is the mission of sin.  Sin is designed, advertised and encouraged to breed separation from God and good and its biggest hype man is the thief, the accuser, Satan.

I bet you’re like whoah, wasn’t expecting the Sunday School lesson and that may be the case, but I’m sharing all of this so that you all may gain a deeper understanding of the one who designed you, who formed you and called you good.  It is my desire that you may know Him and know Him rightly.

So,  we have this Lover who made us to be loved and here we are loving everything but Him.  I mean we love our jobs more than Him, we love our significant others/spouses more than Him, we even love our pets more than Him.  Though He designed us to be loved and to love Him well, we don’t in fact- many of us aren’t even submitted to Him, yet He loves us anyway.  I remember a time in my life when I loved everything more than I loved Him.  I mean, I sought for things to replace His spot in my life.  Time progressed, people entered my life and people left but yet He was still there seeking to love me.  How beautiful it is to be loved consistently.  His love didn’t waver because of my behavior and I didn’t have to work to earn His love,  He freely gave it time and time again.  His ultimate goal is a relationship that would stand the test of eternity.  He desires that there would be no separation between Him and me.

This is the One whom I live for. An honest guy who loves love, who hates sin because it causes separation and who desires to love and be loved by me.  This is the core of who He is.  Every other quality, trait, and characteristic is like a beautiful bonus: icing on the cake to the solid foundation of who He is.  May you rest in the simplicity of his decision to love you.  He decided to love you before he made you, seeking to demonstrate his love for you throughout each day of your life.  Bad things happenI know and the question comes, if God loves me why did this happen?  This is the question I’ve asked multiple times, but then I came to the understanding that God is not the orchestrator of the bad things in my life.  He’s not out here seeking to make me sad, or to destroy my esteem or to take life from me.  There’s another presence at work, super jealous that God loves me with all of my flaws – so he works overtime to cause me to doubt this love I was given.  The thief comes to steal, kill and to destroy and he is responsible for the evil we see in this world.  “For I have come that you may have life, and life more abundantly.” (Jn. 10:10)  God desires that I live and that I live to the fullness, only someone who loves us can hope so deeply that we live well.

I am loved.  I was created to be loved.  I was created to love God.  I was created to love others well.  This is the core of why I am here, this is who I am. 

Xoxo,

Simone 

FIC: https://www.jashow.org/articles/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/garden-large.jpg

This Is Love.

Hello old friends, new followers, and fellow bloggers-

I hope all is well.  I’ve been swamped with the routine of life.  The top threes: Church, School, and Work, these things seem to consume my time, energy and attention.  The older I become, I realize that life is not about things and places but rather about our love relationships with people.  The way we love a soul lasts for an eternity, whereas position, prestige and the riches of this world will only last a lifetime.

For a substantial portion of my life, I believed the life that  I was not good enough. That me, with nothing added, was not enough for those who loved me.  Since I did not love myself properly, I did not love others properly.  Unless they could offer me something (self-seeking) or add something to me- then I wouldn’t invest or love wholeheartedly.  The day I realized that I was enough: just me and not the “me” with all of the stuff added, was the day that I realized that those around me were valuable and substantial within being themselves (with nothing added).  I was no longer seeking for others to add to me because I was complete and whole in Him.

Love is being whole. For God is love and He is whole all within himself.  If we live life loving Him, He teaches us how to love ourselves and others.  He makes us emotionally stable and mentally sane.  I’ve got it wrong for so many years, but as I wait and place my trust in Him- he proves over and over again that He loves me.  Not for what I do but because of who He is and His relation to me.  I am his and this pure acceptance is love.

You are loved simply because…

Xoxo,

Simone 

FIC: https://alwayspushforward.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/godislove.jpg

New Garments

Hello old friends, new followers, and fellow bloggers- 

It’s a rarity that I post twice but when things change in your life, it deems time fit for another post.  After the post earlier (Shades Down and Lights Off),  I sat on my bed and just began to think.  I thought about God, my life, my past, my present, my hopes, and desires.  To calm the anxious thoughts in my mind, I searched for the 8AM sermon at All Nations Worship Assembly.  Instead of a traditional sermon, Apostle Stevenson got up and began to pray against the spirits of death, suicide, and anxiety.  Man oh man, that prayer wrecked me.  He had no idea that a young girl in SC would listen to something he imparted into Chicago earlier that morning.  I sat, cried, worshipped and kneeled and in that moment I felt the beautiful presence of God. In my lowest of lows, His love came to the rescue once again.  I removed my clothes of sadness and mourning and changed into garments of joy.  My peace returned to me and I decided to go to church again: this time in new garments!

How great is our God, that when we think it’s all over He shows up?  When we turn to Him and express our need for Him, he comes to our rescue- so faithful and so kind, is he.  There’s a lyric in this song called “Reckless Love” that says “There’s no wall you won’t kick down/ Lie you won’t tear down/ Coming after me”  And today, He kicked down some self-made walls and he tore down the lies I  was being enticed to believe.  Loves, I want to affirm you today.  You are NOT a lost cause.  You are NOT hopeless.  You are NOT going to remain in the same situation overwhelmed by the same things.  God STILL loves you.  He STILL chooses you.  He STILL desires you and though your mind may say otherwise, HE thinks of you the SAME.  Today, in my darkest moment the Father showed up in grace, mercy and reckless love.  You are not alone, for the Creator of all good things comes to you- ready in hand with whatever you need.

Thank you for the prayers,  thanks for being my online family and thanks for giving me the freedom to live a transparent life.  I love you all very much!

Xoxo,

Simone 

FIC: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mZaIKqL7HIM/TyooZ_7sj-I/AAAAAAAAAbI/oBUqO-zywVY/s1600/jacobscoat.jpg

Shades Down, Lights Off

Hello old friends, new followers, and fellow bloggers

I’m not okay.  At all.   Not even close.  I think for a long time, I painted this face of being always happy but I’m not happy not one bit and the more I think about it the more I want to reveal exactly where I am.  There’s a saying that those who can’t, teach.  I’ve invested my whole life into loving people well because I sought to be loved well.  I’ve invested my whole career into advocating for people because I know exactly what it feels like to not have anyone advocate for me.  I push community on others because I would be rich if I had a quarter for every time I felt alone.  In fact, I feel alone now.   I wish I could change that thing about me, I wish I could say I had more good days than bad but truthfully that’s not the case.  Even now, though the sun is outside and it’s beauty is radiating… I’m in my room the shades down and the lights off, wondering if I can really do this thing called life.  It took me twice as long to figure out if I was going to church this morning because it took me a solid hour and some change to figure out if I still wanted to continue breathing.  Like, if I disappeared off the face of the planet, would it really matter?  If my presence disappeared from my apartment, my school, my church or my job- would anyone actually care?  At this moment, I understand so deeply what Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain felt, to be surrounded by people that don’t know you, who are oblivious to the inward turmoil that you’re facing because they assume by your success, position, gifting and outward garments that you’re okay.

I’m done pretending that my faith has positioned me on some pedestal, and I’m over pretending that there are no days when I want to let go.  Today was one of those days… the idea that I have to be strong is overrated and the fact of the matter is: I need God as much as you do. In fact, I need Him now!  I need him to sort out the messiness of my mind, I need his help to break destructive patterns, I need his love to soothe the pain.  I need him now and I refuse to live another day hiding my feelings for the conveniences of others.  It’s okay to not be okay.

Xoxo,

Simone

There’s More

Hello old friends, new followers, and fellow bloggers

Happy Thursday!  Have you ever sat back, reflected on your day and was like “How in the world did I get all of that done?”  You know what I mean?  No, well if you knew how hectic my schedule was you would be like: “OMG I can’t believe she is still breathing!”  Every day is another fast-paced adventure full of twists and turns,  looming with the unexpected and thriving with the unknown.  I plan for the day and I keep a day planner, or I used to- but every moment seems to be an invitation to release control and to step into the adventure that is Him.

How beautiful is it to feel unlimited?  To no longer be bogged down with the weight of limitations?  Whether those limitations are time, energy, money, intellect, etc?   For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’ve broken through the glass ceiling and there is an appreciation of the fact that there is so much more!  There is so much more adventure, much more ideas, much more creativity!  It is as if a well of creativity is flowing on the inside and where there was blockage of doubt, insecurity, and brokenness- healing has come to produce a well that never runs dry.  This is what it feels like to lean into His grace, to relinquish control, to receive His love.  It feels like the words of hope never end, the ideas for the future fail to cease and innovation become a neverending reality. And just when, just when you feel like there is nothing left to give, that well springs up again spouting forth something new and something good.

He is the well and with him, there is so much more!

Xoxo,

Simone

“…but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14 NIV

FIC: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/63/Strokkur_geyser_eruption%2C_close-up_view.jpg/300px-Strokkur_geyser_eruption%2C_close-up_view.jpg

 

Oozing With Words

Hello old friend, new followers and fellow bloggers- 

I wish I could say that I’ve always had the right words to say, or that I was always confident to speak my heart, but that is not the case.  I remember times, having so much to say but not knowing exactly how to translate my pain.  I remember moments of feeling incredibly numb, lacking the motivation or the passion to write my truths.  It’s crazy how pain makes us silent.  It robs us the freedom of bold speech and instills within us the fear of being misunderstood or hurt again.  So, to make sure we don’t experience pain again, we become silent.  The last blow to my heart almost took me completely out emotionally.  I remember doubting my words, my actions, my friendships, my family, my ability to be loved and to love.  I remember the pain of betrayal gagging me.  I remember word curses binding me, words such as “you’re not good enough.” “Oh really, you want to sing?”  “Do you really think you can write that?”  words uttered by those close to me: those I served with, those I called my Columbia family, those who were once my home.   I was dropped as a daughter, dropped as a sister, dropped as a friend and it was at no fault of my own.  So here I am, gagged by pain.  What’s even more bizarre is that I served through it.  I served through my pain.  I gave through the pain.  I danced in the midst of pain.  I sang songs of victory while bound.  I was mentally and emotionally at a standstill with God, numb by pain.

Over time, fear became my portion.  I lived in fear because I saw life through the lens of regret.  Regret causes us to doubt everything, to come to a standstill, to live in delayed obedience ( which is simply disobedience), and to become hesitant concerning everything.  Regret turned into unforgiveness, and unforgiveness turned into bitterness except I was bitter against myself for opening up in the first place, for placing expectations upon people that did not have the capacity to carry me, for desiring community that I did not see that this community was more toxic than helpful and bitter for trusting my own instincts.  In my mind, I couldn’t trust myself so I stopped advising, writing, singing, encouraging, and speaking.  I became mute.

I went to Charlotte a few nights ago, a young woman began to pray for me and encouraged me to forgive myself.  She said these words: “You have not been treated well as a daughter and God knows that it was not of any fault of your own.  He wants to heal that heart pain where it concerns sonship.”  I broke down in tears because for the first time in a long time, she saw my pain.  She spoke to my pain and all the words I wanted to utter began to ooze out to the Lord.  Her intentional prayers destroyed the gag of pain and released me to a place of tears and healing.  I’m oozing with words because pain no longer binds me.  I am free to express my heart and I’m healed to share the story of my pain with each of you!

Friends, I don’t know where each of you is in life.  Some of you may be like me:  serving through pain, some may be experiencing pain now and some of you may be alright and that is great! For those who were feeling like me, I want to remind you that God sees you.  He knows all about your pain.  He knows what they did.  He knows what you experienced.  He invites you to forgive, to open yourself to his healing voice and he invites you to freedom from heart pain.  He wants you to ooze with words of life, no longer gagged by painful experiences.  I pray that he speaks to you and that you will be healed!

Xoxo,

Simone

“Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul” Proverbs 16:24

FIC: https://2pobaduekzw9jt9a-zippykid.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/honey.jpg