Dreaming in Reverse

When I was a little girl, Sesame Street came to our town. My mom said that one of the actresses kept putting the microphone in front of me to sing into and I would suddenly sing very, very quiet. While I don’t believe this was a moment that would have launched me into stardom, I often consider it to be one of those moments when my life could have gone a completely different way.

And I’m so very glad it didn’t.

Many of us have dreams and when they don’t pan out, we immediately consider ourselves robbed. Sometimes, when the dream really matters, we get angry at others that we feel stood in the way of our dreams coming true…parents, siblings, friends, spouses, and even God. We find that we become the kinds of people that dream in reverse, which is really just bemoaning lost opportunities in the past, and wishing that our lives were different.

When I dream in reverse, I see the trajectory that life in the spotlight would have brought to me, a complex woman with major issues in the realm of self-esteem and self-compassion and a desire to be seen for who I really am, loved and accepted and valued. Should that spotlight have been placed on me, my life would be completely different.

And not for the better.

It’s rather funny, in fact, because I make flippant comments like, “Well, when I marry Chris Pine, this and this will happen,” and “Well, when I’m famous, then this and this will happen,” fully aware that I have no desire whatsoever for either scenario to play out. Okay, well, maybe the first one. I mean, it’s Chris Pine!

But, seriously, would I have been a Christian if I were famous? Would I have ever turned to God or would I have become angry and bitter and would I have never cherished the treasures in my life? I think, okay I know, that I would have given away my very soul to maintain the fame that is so fickle and fleeting. My Twitter and Facebook would be filled with selfish and pompous declarations of how great I believed myself to be, exhibiting my foolishness by expressing my opinions as fact and having my fans follow mindlessly along. My Instagram feed would have been filled with selfies upon selfies and I would definitely have an eating disorder. I know that I would have tried drugs and consumed a great deal of alcohol and my career would eventually die out because people would hate to work with such a prideful and mean woman whose acting would be subpar at best. I would be so lonely, even with the promiscuity I would have engaged in, and I would die in a horrid way, because it’d either be drug/alcohol related or suicide.

And this is what I know and can honestly reveal without any flinching, because I know who I could very possibly be without Christ.

And you know who you’d be, too. We try to deny it, to pretend that we would still be who we are, regardless, but the truth of the matter is that we would be completely different people. I consider myself blessed to never have achieved fame.

Yet, the dream of that fame power still comes sometimes, like when I’m at Disneyland and it’s overly crowded and I’m a face in that madness and I think, for one day, how awesome it would be to be a VIP in the Park for one solid day. I don’t need much more than that, truthfully. Just one day of elite treatment. The truth is, of course, that I would want more, because the magic of that day and the addiction to that feeling would be strong and would ruin the rest of my “normal” times at the Park.

Sometimes, I say, “I just need 500 thousand dollars. That’s it. I’m not greedy.” But, we all know that once we get to a certain place, we desire more and more and more and more, and satisfaction is fleeting. So, would I be satisfied with even 10 thousand dollars or 50 thousand? Would satisfaction ever come? Considering that many that win the lottery end up worse off than they started and quicker than one would imagine and that the suicide rate is high, well, let’s just say that money and that dream is definitely not for me, either.

Now, the one that most dream of: beauty and attractiveness. Ah, that fleeting head turning power and ability to take photos without filters and angles and just be beautiful. I immediately think of Catherine Zeta-Jones when I think of that kind of beauty. You may have someone else in mind. But, I can pretty much promise that someone came to mind when you read the word. It could even be someone in your immediate circle. Now, being a woman, I feel that I kind of leave the men out of my blogs. I’m not even sure that men read my blogs, truthfully. But I do know that some men struggle with this area, as well. They can see the handsome or toned man in their mind that they believe women desire and they, in some small or large way, wish they could be the man that women desired. So, I think about things like my weight and my health and the fact that my forehead is large and I don’t exactly have grace when I walk and move, and I imagine what life would be like without the burden of “ugliness” upon me. But, in this regard, I thankfully love food a little too much to deny myself in a dangerous way, which is good and bad, of course, and I would not do the surgeries because I have this horrid habit of looking into things and once I know things, like what actually happens in a facelift procedure, well, you can’t unlearn that sort of thing. And, with all of that, the desire of beauty if fleeting, just as beauty itself is, and I can shrug my shoulders and move on from there.

So, you may be wondering, what in the world is the point? I wish I knew! Just kidding. The point is, of course, that we need to stop dreaming in reverse. We need to stop being angry at God because we can’t see the full tapestry yet. We can’t see His design clearly yet. The things that we longed for could very well have been our undoing, our death, and our turning away from Him forever.

And, while some of you reading this may be thinking, “I’ve already turned away from Him because He didn’t give me my dreams,” I am here to tell you that He loves you so much. His love is beyond the comprehension and words of this writer. And, the dreams denied are not due to Him not caring. In truth, I’d say they’re denied because He cares more than anyone else ever will…including you! That sounds so foreign, I know, because we believe that our concern for our own success and well-being would trump everyone presumably caring for us, but it’s not true. So the opposite with Jesus.

While fame, money, and beauty were all things that I held firmly in my little dream box, they just weren’t something that would have created the Julie before you, the one that writes blogs that are painfully transparent and honest at times, the Julie that is in her Senior Year for her BSW at ENMU as I type this, the Julie that is a part of a church and is a member of the Pastoral Staff and is healed after 7 years of hurt, a Julie that desires to help people and not use them for my own means. That Julie would not exist if even one of those dreams above had come true.

There have been storms in my life and I have three major regrets that I just can’t shake. I’ve lived through abuse and betrayal and bondage and I’ve lost so much in the journey, but I’ve gained Jesus Christ and all that He has for me. I’ve gained life eternal, you see, outside of the temporal. I’ve gained peace that surpasses understanding, joy that flows like a wellspring from somewhere deep inside, wisdom to face the things of this world with confidence, and trust that no matter what happens, Jesus Christ is at my side and He is never, ever caught by surprise.

Each morning, I don my armor. I put on the helmet of salvation and pray that my mind is guarded against the distracting and dark thoughts of the world, that my thoughts will focus on the godly things, not the worldly things, and that I’d have the wisdom to know the difference. I put on the breastplate of righteousness and pray that my heart, as it is being made flesh again, would be protected from the poison of this world, that its purity would be maintained and renewed each day, that my entire being would be aligned under the Spirit of God, in order to be a conduit through which He flows through me and into the people around me, His anointing and love and peace and grace and, yes, correction. I put on the belt of truth and pray that I will know His truth over the lies of the world and that I would speak His truth in love and that I would never use His truth to harm another, that I would be sensitive to His timing and that His words are the ones spoken, not my own for my own selfish reasons and agenda.

I put on the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace and pray that I will be prepared to go where He sends me and to do what He calls me to do, with boldness and sincerity, that I would not waiver from the path He’s set before me, and that I am prepared to go and share the Good News with all that I encounter and that I would run to wage battle beside others and never leave them to fight the battles alone. I put on the shield of faith and pray that I cling to the true character of Jesus Christ, that I trust in who I know Him to be, that I trust in who His Word says He is, and that I use that trust to thwart the fiery darts of the enemy, darts of fear and annoyance and bitterness and doubt and anger. I take up the sword of the Spirit and pray that God’s Word would be made real to me and that I would wield the sword with precision and grace, that I would never use it to harm others, but only to defend and to bring divine separation of truth and lies and allow the Lord to bring the correction and the healing that is needed, that I never wield it to further my own plans in my life or the lives of others.

While our dreams may never be realized, what we must realize is that God has better dreams. I always think of the Casting Crowns song that portrays God asking His children to let Him dream for them, because His dreams for us are far better than the dreams we have for ourselves.

I am not encouraging you to stop dreaming, but rather, to place your dreams in the hands of a loving Father and let Him mold and shape those dreams for the very best that He has for you and, when the dream is returned to you altered from that which you believed you wanted and needed, thank Him for His amazing attention to detail and to His devotion to who you really are and who He wants you to be and take those dreams and run full tilt toward them with Jesus by your side.

And stop dreaming in reverse.


Journal: Born Anew

On Friday, August 4, 2017, 12 ladies from People’s Church of Santa Fe left to go to El Paso. They were Esther, Yvonne, Michelle, Tam, Linda, Angie, Marilyn, Sheila, Catalina, Brittany, Peggy, and myself.

To start out, we had three vehicles with a driver and three passengers each. Our first stop was Taco Cabana in Albuquerque for dinner, after meeting in the church parking lot after work. We all had a great dinner and then the car passengers switched up and headed into different cars. We stopped in T or C at McDonald’s and the switch happened again.

There were many things that happened and great conversations all that night. I want to preface this with minor details, because the last year and a half can be easily recalled in order to give weight and powerful glory to God over what happened this past weekend, but the minute details of the weekend can be lost if I spend too much time on the past, so suffice it to say that I spent the last year and a half in bondage of severe anxiety and chest pains. I truly had few nights where I didn’t lay down to bed and feel like death was coming for me that night. I had very few nights without chest pains adding to that lie. In this year, those chest pains led me to the ER twice. Once, it was truly the hand of God to establish that I had reached a dangerous place in my anemia. That resolved, this time it was to show me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me or my heart physically and that there must truly be something else at work.

Thursday night, August 3, 2017, I told my mom that I would need to sleep in her room because the anxiety was one of the worst bouts I ever had. I blogged about this on Friday morning, so I won’t give more information here, but needless to say, it was bad.

The third leg of the journey to El Paso was short and pivotal because in the car I was driving sat the passenger, Tam. As we lightly talked and I kept my walls engaged, I found myself speaking about previous pains and tearing up, as I normally do, and while Tam spoke many profound things to me, the one that resignated in my soul was her telling me that there was hurt I never let go of and that this hurt was what was causing me anxiety. She spoke about disappointment and discouragement and revealed how “dis” means “no” and if you look at those words in that context, you can see clearly that my appointment in God was stuck and stifled because of my disappointment in my hurt and that my anxiety came for overwhelming fear in my lack of courage due to my discouragement. She also talked of how it is very likely that illnesses that have no cause in the external can be linked to something internal, if that makes sense, so surely the heart and chest pains were linked to the very hurt that she spoke of.

I wanted, then and there, to ask her to pray with me, but I felt that would be doing a disservice to the power needed to be delivered and set free. How could I fully invest if I was having to focus on the road and the safety of myself and the passengers? So, I didn’t ask but I acknowledged that what she said made much sense, albeit with the cold distance that I had learned how to address everyone in my life these days. We arrived at the hotel, checked in, and went to our respective rooms.

As I lay there, I recalled how she had talked about the hurt needing to be pulled out of me and that it would happen with some form of physical manifestation, such as a cough, hiccup, burb, etc. I lay there and I prayed three separate times about the hurt in my soul and I felt a nauseous feeling across my chest. It was then that it was entirely clear to me that there was a deep hurt (a spirit?) that didn’t want to come out. But, the time had come. The light had been brought into the darkness and the truth had flared a fire and the hurt inside was dislodged and shaken loose and there were only two options for me: keep trying to heal alone or be vulnerable again and ask for help.

The next morning, I talked to Tam and I asked her if we could find some time that day (Saturday) to pray for the hurt to be released. She readily agreed and I explained what had happened the night before. She asked if I wanted to do it then but I thought later would work and so Tam agreed and assured me that it would happen, it would not be forgotten. As I went upstairs to get my things for the day, God spoke to me and He told me that I had to be open and vulnerable when they prayed for me, that I had to not hold back and that no matter what happened, I had to not fight it.

We headed to the salon where the ladies enjoyed a morning of their preferred choice of pampering. Sheila, Linda, and my mom got amazing haircuts. A lot of the women had pedicures, manicures, and facials. Yvonne had her lashes done. The joy and the confidence was amazing to behold.

From there, we all went out to do our preferred day of fun. My mom, Brittany, Catalina, and I headed to Barnes and Noble, Ulta, and Dollar Tree before heading back to the hotel to spend some time in the pool and sun. We were ultimately joined by some of the other ladies. It was a great day and my mom and I headed upstairs to get ready for the devotional that night.

Michelle brought an amazing message from Beth Moore about the provision of Christ and our faith in light of who He is and what He does and can do. It was a powerful time of sharing and revelation and a message that was relevant and meaningful. Michelle then had us draw a name and say something encouraging to the woman whose name we’d drawn, about how we see them, how God sees them. It was an amazing time of joining together to hear the Word of God and to bond as sisters in Christ.

After this, we were to head to dinner and a few ladies headed out but Tam called those there to gather and pray for me. The moment of truth had come. I had the devil whispering doubts in my ear during the day that I quickly rebuked and more rapidly during the devotional, namely that it wouldn’t work, that nothing would happen, and I would remain trapped in hurt forever. But, I declared that Jesus had shown me the open prison door and freedom was mine and I was going to get it that night, regardless of the cost. It wasn’t that eloquent, in truth, but I like to wax poetic. I truly just said, “No, I will be free tonight,” or something as simple as that.

Tam said that she would pray over me and then I was to pray for what I wanted God to do. Words will never, ever be able to capture that moment. Never. I am so tempted, in fact, to pass it by with simple words, but I feel that that is even more wrong than not doing it justice with my meager words. So, here goes…

As I prayed, and no, I can’t recall what I was speaking, it felt kind of hollow and false, like a great deal of my prayers had felt, but I pressed on and when I got to the word “hurt”, there it was, like a dark evil inside me, rising up suddenly and choking off my words. But, you see, it wasn’t the hurt in retaliation that was choking off my words with deep, deep sobs. Rather, it was Holy Spirit purging it from my soul, pulling out from its seven year depths, and wrenching it from my forever. Two deep, painful sobs emerged and the third remained, lodged somewhere unknown to me, as hurt and Holy Spirit battled in my flesh and in my soul and I couldn’t breathe while that sob remained there, lodged as it was, but there was no panic or fear. It was like being frozen in time for a moment, a moment that stretched far longer than it truly was, and in that moment, before the hurt was fully pulled from my body forever, I believe Jesus did some things there, set some things right, aligned some things that were askew and, yes, finally fully removed the wall I’d built with the broken pieces of my heart and then, when He was through with the foundations of my new life, the final sob emerged.

I was free! I felt lighter and different…though I couldn’t put my finger on it. We went on to dinner and there was much going on in me as I sat there. I think my body, soul, and spirit needed some time to rest and align and survey the new landscape they now faced. I can’t believe that I held onto so much pain and hurt for seven years. It’s truly remarkable.

Later that night, as some of us headed out for dessert, I told Esther and Brittany that I was truly full of joy for the first time in seven years. Real joy! It was amazing!

Sunday morning, I had multiple opportunities to talk with Tam and Michelle and address the petty jealousy and anger that had tainted our relationships from the start due to that hurt I felt. I was able to tell them the truth that I no longer felt that at all, that there was no need to compete or fight or challenge. That we were free to live and serve God together. It was very freeing to admit something and to be able to be accepted and move forward without fear or shame.

I brought the devotional Sunday morning and the move of God was powerful. There was passion and joy and excitement in me that has been absent for so very long. I am looking forward to this new life.

The devil worked overtime to destroy me before this trip and he nearly succeeded. If I still didn’t have Jesus speaking sound wisdom to me, I would have given into my flesh and not have gone on the trip. Ah, the freedom I was given from this trip is beyond expression and the words “thank You” that I send to God is not enough, but I know that matters not to Him, because He can clearly see my heart and He knows just how truly grateful and amazed I am.

I prayed this morning and praised and I put on my armor and while I’m still struggling to break some old habits, it isn’t as it was. In fact, as I drove to work this morning, God revealed to me my pettiness in holding on to a certain parking space and He showed me that one of my first acts of being free from hurt, which was leading me to spiteful acts and isolation, was to park in another space next to my preferred space and to let the other person have the space they, too, preferred. Little things, you see, such as that and attending the potlucks in the future, well, these will be how my co-workers, who have only known me three years or so, see the Julie that used to be, the one that existed before the hurt came and enslaved her to coldness and anger and pride, and the people in my church family will see the new Julie, too, and I can hardly wait for the worship to become the passionate praise I once lived…only better!


One Word: Humility

This week has been a blur of anxiety, fear, and pain. Today, after a severe bout of anxiety yesterday, I wonder if it was all brought on by that single cup of caffeinated coffee that I drank a small amount of on Sunday…or if it was something more.

I went to the E.R. on Wednesday at around 11 a.m. because I was afraid that I was dying. The feeling remained with me even after the tests determined that my heart and all other things were in great condition. The anxiety, oddly, was highest yesterday. I spent most of Thursday afraid of something…dying, I guess…and I didn’t want to eat…not really. Eating was dangerous, you see, because the pressure in my chest would cause me great amounts of distress and fear.

Today, I’m feeling better, and while I want to say that it is because of the Pepcid prescription and the passage of time, I think it is something more. Last night, in pain and panic, I prayed. I rebuked the demonic spirits that are intent to plague me with anxiety every single chance they get and I prayed in tongues and I took the power that is granted me as a Child of God and I proclaimed life. While the anxiety didn’t immediately flee, at one point I recall speaking aloud, “I am not dying,” and feeling the power of those words break the coils of anxiety that were tightening around me.

It has been a long time since I’ve spoken things over my own life with power and authority, gifts from my Father. This is partly due to the fact that I have not been living the best Christian life I want to live. I’ve been settling and mediocre and just kind of drifting along, hoping I would end up at the place God has for me, blessed with a godly (and long-haired, extremely handsome) husband that truly loves me and cherishes me, that I’ll have my purity ministry fully going without any effort in the building, and I’ll be doing God’s will just by happenstance and the fact that He has called me to things.

It doesn’t happen that way, though. There are things that I must do first. Obedience is the most difficult thing for us in times when it would be easier to just sit back and let the rain water the crops. Considering that the fields have merely been prepared and the seeds haven’t yet been planted, it is ironic that I expect God’s rain to produce a harvest on seedless ground.

The point of this blog is just this: to acknowledge that the Word of God is solid and undeniable truth and that we, as His children, must learn how to speak truth and life and edification, not only in the lives of others, but in our own lives, too. Since I am one of those people that constantly appreciate the Pink verse that says, “Don’t let me get me, I’m my own worst enemy, it’s bad when you annoy yourself, don’t want to be my friend no more, I want to be somebody else,” it’s a bit difficult for me to like myself, or even love myself, in a way that is empowering to myself and to those that are walking along with me as godly family and the unchurched.

It is no small wonder that the word God gave me as my word of the year is humility. When one first looks at this word, they consider the commonly known definition, which is about thinking of one’s skills in the context of lowliness. While this is surely relevant and true, it isn’t the full understanding of the word. When God gave me this word, I thought, “What? Am I not considering others fully?” I think that there is an aspect of truth to this query, however, when I finally took some time to look at the word in its historical Jewish context, I was in for a surprise.

Humility is to overlook not only your abilities, but your lack thereof, as well. I don’t know how to make it clearer, sadly, but it basically means that we aren’t to be proud and we aren’t to be self-hating and abusive. It means that we understand that God, in truth, is the only One who can, indeed, see the true worth of a person, and can, of course, reveal this to us, and that we cannot assume our worth as greater than another or less than another. It means being able to see that one has value, all while seeing that in the lives of others.

Many presume, as I did, that humility means that one thinks of themselves as worms, begging and seeking the face of God to shine upon them, while they whip themselves in twisted repentance for their unworthiness. They feel as though they have to earn and deserve the favor of the Lord and, when they receive it, they are still on a razor’s edge of losing it. But, in truth, humility is far, far from this warped understanding.

To see oneself as the Lord sees them allows that person to love themselves in a healthy and honest way, to appreciate the gifts that God has given them, and to use those gifts boldly and confidently, not mildly and lowly. It allows that person to do all that God has called them to do and to do so with humbleness, because while they can see the truth of their value and worth, they also can see and understand that they are part of a body of those with unique value and worth, that they are the hand or the spine or the neck and that they need others, also with humility, doing their parts, too, in order for there to be any effectiveness at all.

Humility is not as it is simply defined and understood today. It is far more complex than simply “a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness”. In fact, I believe that definition loses the vast truth of what God really means when He calls us to humility. While it definitely is not pride, it is also not a feeling of shrugging off the importance of oneself in the light of who God is and what He’s called them to. It is a complicated and vast way of living, in which one firmly appreciates who they are in the Lord, the fact that they were fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14) for a unique purpose and call, in a way that sets them apart from the drudgery and darkness of the world, yet brings the reciprocal revelation that everyone else is this, as well, and that there is no reason or need for jealousy, bickering, backbiting, sabotage, or hate. While I can sing, others can, in fact, sing far better than I can, however, I will not silence my praise in light of this. My voice is just as beautiful to the Lord as the voice of one who can make melodies that touch the deepest soul. It is all about my willingness to be me in the midst of others being themselves and to not try to be anyone else.

Ironically (or not), this was not what this blog was supposed to be, however, I feel that God wants me to move forward in my understanding and acceptance of humility in my life. When He gave me the word, it wasn’t to tell me to back off from pride and other emotions, but rather for me to stop feeling so worthless and pointless in my walk with Him and to begin to embrace the true value and worth of my life as a Christ-follower and, in so doing, to be able to encourage others to do the same, to truly love others in a godly way, to see them with the eyes of humility and to help them do the same.

Further reading on Jewish defining of humility:




Have you ever heard a group perform that hasn’t quite gotten their harmonies down, where they’re singing together, but it sounds like they are competing to be heard?

That is what church divisions are like. You feel uncomfortable and you enjoy the moments when the voices rise alone, but when the voices “join” together, you feel tense and out of sorts and a bit uncomfortable.

Right now, there are things I’m facing, even from hundreds of miles away, that are leaving me uncomfortable, tense, out of sorts, and downright miserable.

Things that started out so bright and shiny have become tarnished and brassy.

As I sat here reading and wondering what sounded off about the band performing their last song behind me, I realized how horrid the division is right now, even if others can’t see it or notice the hypocritical tone of the division.

A lack of harmony, creating a battle to win, to be heard, to be loudest…that’s what we have now.

The Whole Story

There’s a hole in my sock.

Earlier this year, it was easier to believe and overlook and play at maturity. I didn’t realize I was playing, however, with the passage of time, I have learned that all the feelings I have about being mature and a godly leader in amazing form were not quite as gold as the glittering appeared. It was only cellophane.

I have had a lot happen the last few weeks and it’s been getting steadily harder to keep the appearances up. Starting last week when I wrote a true revelation blog that I have yet to share with the world (I may never share it, truthfully) that led me to decide that I’ve been wrong for years and years, believing in a call of being a Pastor’s wife just to give myself hope of finding love one day. I have been there before, you see, but not in a flat out denial…or maybe it is the same…I lose the ability to separate one doubt from the other over time.

The planning of a trip and the absolute chaos and division that has come in one week has revealed to me that favoritism will never, ever leave God’s church and that division will always, always come. The frustration and pain is horrid and consistent.

And I rebelled.

Now, my rebellion takes on a milder light to some people, yet it is still rebellion and so is sin for that reason alone. My rebellion? Two days in a row, I drank one alcoholic drink. And, I did so because I told God that I just didn’t care and that I had nothing left to give.

Through it all, He keeps telling me that He’s preparing me, training me, pruning me, and all I keep thinking, “What about them, God? Why am I the one You keep teaching and correcting and pruning and they can just complain and insist and, due to their favoritism, win every, single time?”

No answer.

I don’t know if God is doing anything in anyone else through this mess, or if He is focussed solely on me. I don’t even know why this is happening and how division came so rapidly. All I know is I am no longer looking forward to the trip and I have to address my heart and take the punches and deal with the brokenness with a maturity He is obviously intent on forging in me.

All I know is there is a hole in my sock and only God and I are aware of it and I have miles to walk before I can put on a new one.

Cars 3 is everything you want it to be…and more!

Remember the feelings that arose watching Cars so long ago, the rooting for Lightning McQueen, the thrills, the laughter, the tears? Well, Cars 3 delivers all of this again..with powerful messages throughout.

I don’t normally post blogs about movies…unless I’m warning someone NOT to watch them. I have to say that, while I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, they paled when looking at their predecessors. Truly, I think I just expected too much from GotG vol. 2 and Pirates was amazing, truly, and not disappointing, however, both of these Disney brand films pale in comparison to the amazing return of the Cars films.

Let’s be honest here…Cars 2 was a letdown. It was a good film and helped give Mater more screen time…leading to some shorts that I’m sure you’ve seen at all (Mater’s Tall Tales) if you watch the Disney Channel at all, however, it left so much lacking. You didn’t experience the same “feels” that the first movie created, the thrill of discovering new things and seeing all the car related items made larger than life in Radiator Springs and other locales, and the joy of meeting vital characters and making new friends. There wasn’t that tug at the heart, that feeling that there were triumph and growth and a happy, glorious ending just around the corner, that desire for more as the movie came to a close.

Cars 3 brings us back to a place that holds the viewer’s heart and captures the imagination, igniting that desire to root for the underdog, that innate dislike of the bully, and that fierce determination to see it through to the end…without being disappointed. In fact, while this movie could wrap up the Cars line of films with a lovely bow, it could also continue on with all new heart-warming stories and adventures…something Disney-Pixar has a strong reputation of doing.

The new characters meld perfectly with the familiar faces and any absences are truly and deeply felt, leaving a hole throughout the film in a way that is strong enough to pull you in and keep them in your mind…rightly so! The message revealing the value of long and loyal friendships through times of separation, struggle, and loss and the long-forgotten appreciation for the wisdom of those older, all while realizing that there is a place for new mentors to arise…from the most unlikely places! There are reminders of understanding why things matter and why one’s passions must be pursued, yet not at the cost of all else. Lessons are gleaned in the understanding that one’s dream can change in order to encourage another to reach their own dreams when the timing to do so is right, and to choose when one presses on in the same way despite the odds or chooses to remain an active part of their dreams and passions through means not readily considered or understood.

Cars 3 takes the viewers back to the time when Cars captured the imagination and hearts of others. Considering that a movie all about cars (and car parts) can captivate even the least interested in such things, it is amazing to see Disney-Pixar do so again in ways that the disappointed (which I admittedly was) could only dare hope to see. While the favorite characters of old return to delight and thrill once again, the addition of new characters rounds out the story in vibrant ways.

I am not going into great detail here because I want my readers to go and view it for themselves. Believe me when I say that if you loved Cars and whether you were or were not disappointed with Cars 2, you will love Cars 3, which brings it all back to the central focus: friendships and humility matter and are the true indicators of a winner.

Into the Forge of God

What does it mean to lay it down? We hear that so often and we tell people that they can lay their cares at the cross, lay down their burdens and walk away and let Christ help and heal and deliver them. What does this really mean, though?

I immediately thought, “All right, God, I’ll look online and see what I can find.” He immediately showed me Peter. Who but Peter can fully understand what it means to completely and totally betray Christ and have Him reach out to him, love him, and hug him? While we all consider the story of the Prodigal son to be about us, and rightly so, maybe, just maybe, Jesus told that story for Peter. Maybe He was speaking directly to Peter, understanding that eventually we would see it to represent all of us who betray and abandon God only to be joyously welcomed back.

These are all fresh revelations and considerations to me as I type this. So, why am I here?

NOTE: I usually jump from first person to all inclusive in my blogs, so you can feel like you’re a part of it and apply it to yourself. This blog has a completely different feeling to it. Every time from the paragraph below and on, I tried to universalize the revelations, Holy Spirit made it uncomfortable and I had to go back and personalize it. Truly, even when I tried to deter from the above revelation and discuss the internet revelations of “laying it down”, it felt forced and stifled and I couldn’t move beyond the first sentence I typed. There is something here, some content, that God is bringing to light in me. If it helps and blesses you, please let me know. I find that these kinds of blogs are the most relevant. So, beware that there will be rambling. This is a journey blog. Thank you for walking with me.

First, let’s start with the feelings of being alone, the feelings of being overwhelmed and worthless, because I think we all face that at some point in our lives, don’t we? Well, I face it often, mainly because I am one of those always busy kind of people and I don’t really do the creative things I once did. In fact, outwardly I would be analyzed as dangerously depressed, as one of the signs is loss of interest in things and another is social isolation. Believe me when I say that I have both. Of course, there is a great deal more involved and I am not the least bit in danger of drastic measures because even on my worst day, I am grateful for the life God has given me. The darkness in my life is my own doing. God only brings light, you see, so the issues that I face are caused by my own hands.

That isn’t even the point of this. I digress, as usual. So, I was sitting here thinking about my upcoming graduation from ENMU with an unexpected Associate of Arts degree and I realized that my excitement has progressively waned and I don’t even want to walk in the ceremony on Saturday anymore and I was thinking about the distance and the things that prevent things from happening that I’d desire to have happen, and I was just feeling off and downcast. Not depressed, mind you, but just not wanting to don the cap and gown and see that my weight has increased horribly since a year ago and that I’m just a face in a sea of faces and who even really cares, truly, and this is all in the midst of constant support and encouragement. So, yeah, I get it when I feel like I just don’t care and no one else does, even when everything in life tells me differently. Sometimes, liars try to tell me that I don’t matter. That’s for later, though, a blog for another time.

As I finished up listening to the Glenn Beck show, I decided that I wanted to see what was going on with The Blaze on iHeart radio. I had it set on KLove, and Jud Wilhite was speaking about feeling alone and being called by God and believing that He is with me in the midst of it. Deuteronomy 3:8, “The LORD is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” HCSB

It pierced my soul like a sword. I looked up Jud Wilhite on my cell phone and listed to his most recent sermon. Then, for lack of interest in investing while working, I turned iHeart back on to give me some music and inspiration and the song “Oh My Soul” by Casting Crows was on and I shut my eyes (I was and currently am on my morning break) and I said, “Okay, God, what are you trying to tell me?”

You see, the song was at the part that said, “Oh, my soul, you are not alone, there’s a place where fear has to face the God you know. One more day, He will make a way, let Him show you how you can lay this down, ‘cause you are not alone.”

Now do you see it? How in the world do I lay it down? How do I walk away from the travesty of my own destructive choices and actions? I am in dire straits currently, you see, and it seems like it’s getting worse. The sermon I listened to by Jud Wilhite was about the armor of God and standing firm and knowing that testing isn’t about my favor with God. He spoke about how Jesus had just been identified by God as His Son and in whom He was well pleased. And from that moment, God’s Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil for 40 days.

Into the forge…but who likes to be molded and shaped and forged? The metal isn’t alive. It doesn’t protest. I do, however. The pruning of my dead and dying branches makes me cry out in protest, unless I’m willing to be pruned.

I’m hungry. It’s been growing and I feel so dissatisfied with the level of commitment and dedication and attention I’ve been putting into the relationship with Jesus. I’ve been to the wedding feasts and felt His banner of love waving over me and I’ve been in the battle when the fight for the moment is done and He changed my armor into bridal raiment and led me into the courts to dance with Him. I’ve been in the weary places where all I could do was lay my head upon His knee and be with Him. I’ve sat beside the fountain and have had intimate conversations with Him, gentle and strong and sure. The intimacy I’ve shared with Him is still in my mind and it is still a longing of my soul. It’s crying out to Him, pleading with Him to open the gates and let Him in, but my flesh and my fear are keeping it locked.

This isn’t about what was, but rather about what is. I am in a place where I have been more encouraged in my godly life and call than ever before, and yet I am more discontented than ever. The things that lay before me are not the things I ordered, you see, but that matters little at all, because the purpose of the journey, of what God intends to do and where He is taking me is beyond my capacity to understand. Another song by Casting Crowns sings of God asking me to let Him dream for me. His dreams and plans and goals are beyond my own.

Laying it down…how do I do that? How do I lay down the feeling that I’ve failed so miserably and am now under water, not even treading water anymore, and how can I even ask Him to help me? How can I even ask God to come and save me from this mess? I deserve these consequences, you see, and they aren’t eternal, but they are long-term here in the temporal. The feeling of being trapped and burdened is overwhelming me. I can see the future that He has for me, at least a part of it, but I have self-sabotaged so much that I am now under the water I once treaded in.

In a couple of acts, there are no regrets. They were necessary. It was the piling on of these necessary onto the willful and greedy acts of my life. I need to lay things down, put on the bridal gown, and dance with my Beloved. There is a cry for worshipers to arise, a cry for the passionate to lead the way into the courts with thanksgiving and praise. But, how do I lay down the heavy burdens I carry, knowing that they are still things that I must face tomorrow?

Looking at the definition of “prostrate”, which came up when I searched the biblical definition of “lay it down”, I see to lay lowly and be humble, to spread one’s body over the ground, lay flat on the ground, to “sink totally; to deprive of strength; to reduce”, and “to overthrow; to demolish; to destroy; to deprive of efficiency; to ruin”.

Wow. When I consider that many times, my only option before Jesus is to lay down and weep, just pour it all out to Him fully prostrate on the ground, no shame, not loss, just crying out to Him with no reservations, it makes sense that to lay down my burdens and my sins and my regrets and my failures and my sins at His feet would be to fall face down before Him and just let Him take them from me.

The burdens and the sins and the regrets lose their strength there, they are deprived of their power, and they are overthrown and destroyed…if I leave them there. How do I leave them there?

Peter. I identify with him so much it’s almost frightening. I mean, I’d rather be John, the disciple Jesus loved. Now, Jesus loved them all, of course, but John just got it, you know what I mean? He saw that He was nothing without Christ and that he was genuinely and completely loved by Christ and that became his identity. Wow. To be identified within myself by the wondrous truth of the love Christ has for me would be a life altering experience. I mean, I once lived it, you see? Long ago…so very long ago…when He could call to me in the grocery store and tell me to come to be with Him and I would go.

Leaving it at His feet is a separate task, you see? I can lay it down rather simply. I just can’t walk away from it. Peter ran the gambit of faith and failure and gives me an abundance of hope. He spoke Holy Spirit inspired truth and flesh-inspired folly. He was rebuked by Christ for his untamed tongue. He was full of bravado and most of the time he fully lived it out. He walked on water! I mean, really, this wasn’t a placid lake. This was a storm tossed sea! And he asked Christ to let him come out of the boat and walk on water to reach Him and Christ said yes! The fact that Peter sank is neither here nor there. He got out of the boat! What more can I expect from the man?

Peter cut off the ear of a man trying to arrest Jesus. Jesus healed it. Peter swore previously that he would stand with Christ until death if need be and then fell asleep in the garden, couldn’t even take time to pray. Jesus brings that kind of peace, you see? Even in the midst of His own turmoil, His peace covered His followers to the point that they could find rest while He prepared to lay down His life for them. In reverse moments, when facing a raging sea, they cried out in dismay at Him as He slept in the boat. Where can I rest my eyes? In His presence, for He was with them and they could see Him, there was fear and yet in the garden, when He was off with God and choosing His Father’s will and saving me, they were content and peaceful. Surely the climate, the very air, was full of the electricity of the struggle and of the impending darkness. Yet, they slept and so did I.

In the face of danger, even with Christ by my side, peace is elusive. I am in the very eye of the storm and He is with me and He is telling me that I am not alone and that I must trust Him and I must lay it down and leave it at His feet and trust Him, despite the storm, despite the appearance of danger, despite what my eyes are seeing. Trust Him enough to leave it all behind.

The Prodigal came to his senses in a pig pen. Am I not in my own pig pen? As Peter felt the shame of his betrayal and denial of Christ in the most vital moments of declarations, Jesus was aware of his shame and said, “And tell Peter,” because others would have gladly left that vile betrayer out of it. Understand that even Judas would have been summoned, had he not taken his own life.

I can’t even begin to imagine the feeling Peter had upon seeing Jesus again. The shame he felt upon even hearing that Jesus had, in fact, risen from the dead was overwhelming, I’m sure. “He’s risen, and I’ve failed Him!” Agony and despair and loss and tragedy. Peter didn’t even run very fast. John was able to overtake him in his excitement. Jesus had promised and had delivered!

Jesus is alive!

Later, Jesus appeared to them. It amazes me to no end that Jesus waited for Mary at the tomb. He could have left the angel there, as he did for the others, but no, for Mary, He lingered and He waited and He offered this woman who was rejected by all before she met Him the love that He always held for her. “Mary,” He said, and in that instant she recognized Him, because His love was poured out in the way He said her name and how could she possibly deny that familiar tone of reckless love when she had been so starved for love for so long?

Digression. It’s my gift. As I mentioned, this blog is one of those “journey” blogs that many get weary in and stop reading. And that’s okay.

Peter and John heard of His rising from the dead through an angel and Peter had to be woefully nervous and concerned. Would it be the same? Would it even matter anymore? How he had failed Him! He had let Him down! How could he ever be in His presence again?

I’ve felt that way. And, in the life of Peter, Jesus reassures me of His absolutely boundless love.

Ray Boltz sings a song, “He’s Alive” and it says, “Back inside the house again the guilt and anguish came; everything I’d promised Him just added to my shame. When at last it came to choices, I denied I knew His name; and even if He was alive, it wouldn’t be the same. But suddenly the air was filled with a strange and sweet perfume; light that came from everywhere drove shadows from the room. Jesus stood before me with His arms held open wide; and I fell down on my knees and just clung to Him and cried. He raised me to my feet and as I looked into His eyes, love was shining out from Him like sunlight in the skies. Guilt in my confusion disappeared in sweet release and every fear I’d ever had just melted into peace. He’s alive! He’s alive! He’s alive and I’m forgiven, Heaven’s gates are open wide!”

Peter, at that moment, laid it down and left it. He left the betrayal and his failure behind forever. Yes, he was aware of it. The action didn’t cease to be. It had happened and billions of people have been made aware of it over and over and over again. However, I have also been made aware of this moment, and the seashore moment, the fact that I can see clearly that Peter did, in fact, lay it down forever. Peter leapt from the boat and swam to shore to have an intimate encounter with Christ.

So, maybe that’s what it means to lay it down and leave it. It isn’t that the acts or even the consequences will go away quickly or at all, but rather that I can still leap from the boat and swim to the shore and be with Christ as His beloved, as His friend, and not feel distance or as though I need to earn the right to worship Him, speak with Him, seek Him.

In the forge of God, I am hammered and ignited and molded into His call for me. In the palace, I am equipped and rested and guided into His will. In the garden, I am seeking Him with my soul torn open and my heart grieving. In the boat, I am called to trust Him in the storms that the boat will reach the shore and that I can walk to Him on the water. By the tomb, I am instructed that He is alive and that I can believe His words and His promises. In the house, I am called to Him, to be forgiven and restored, to be held and comforted. In the upper room, I am called to worship Him, to receive Holy Spirit, to not be silent. In the streets, I am to follow Him, to be His hands and feet, to be salt and light, and to be love to all.

At His feet, I am to lay it down and leave it there and just be with Him. Just be His. Just beYOUtiful. There is nothing else that I can do, truly, if I want to leave this distress and burden behind and leapt into His arms and dance with Him again.

Ref. http://biblehub.com/topical/p/prostrate.htm