Tag Archives: healing

Soul Scents: Flourish Available

The blogs I’ve shared this season are excerpted from the ending of Soul Scents: Flourish, the last book in the Soul Scents devotional series. It is now available in paperback and electronic versions on Amazon.

I invite you to come with me. To brave the deeper release. To seek Him for the deeper rsz_pmapprov4-01healing. So we can learn to live like daughters of the King instead of slaves. So we can quit striving and beating ourselves up with all that pressure, so we can walk through the pain to the other side. To freedom. So we can learn to live in His unforced rhythms of grace.

Soul Scents: Flourish. All 506 pages of the journey to healing. Short daily excerpts. Not an easy read, but an accessible one.

Here’s the back cover copy:

At just the right time in history God sent His beloved Son to set the captives free and claim victory over the darkness. At just the right time in each life God shows His child how to step into the freedom He already won.

Lie weeds twist around the good plantings of our heart, choking abundant life, but when we step into truth, the tendrils of that vile weed uncurl. In this fourth volume of the Soul Scents series, Paula talks about her journey out of emotional, verbal, and spiritual abuse.  She says, “As God reveals how pain and abuse twists our understanding of who He is and how He works, the distrust falls away.  The root of the lie weed is exposed, and the Lord pulls that sucker out completely! In its place comes a deepened intimacy with Jesus and the joy we’ve prayed for but couldn’t find. We rise from the pain and live free to flourish.”

Take the Flourish journey and brave deeper healing, letting go of shame and learning to live as vibrant daughters of the King!

The Soul Scents collection invites readers into an ever-deepening discovery of who God is and how He interacts with us. Combined, its four volumes—Awaken, Rooted, Bloom, and Flourish—offer a year’s worth of devotional reading. Each book has thirteen weeks of down-to-earth insight gleaned from Scripture and the author’s journey into spiritual freedom.  The week-day readings include Scriptures and prayers. Rest in the Son’s embrace as you enter the beautiful heart of the Freedom Giver Himself.

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Honey Tears

IMAG0010The tears start early today. Little drops of golden honey that will bring healing to me and to the chosen who read my next book.

At least that’s what He tells me. That my tears will drop and form words, phrases, and paragraphs, coming from the deep places and calling out to the deep places.

Healing.

Not just me. But me too.

The words will be His heart and mine. Together. Right. For many. For me.

But I barely have energy to move today. The tears started long before I reached for the keyboard. I didn’t work yesterday. Tuesday’s writing was done in dropping tears. Taking a break and pacing the living room. Returning. Hands on keyboard. Until I had to stop.

I don’t want to be in a holding pattern of tears. I want to surrender to this latest call, to bravely go where I have not gone before. To get to the other side for whatever glory awaits. Peace. For me. For others.

Telling my story because we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.

Blessing and suffering together. Two cups. He asked me to drink of both. He promised to be in both.

For good. For beauty. For hope.

Not for despair.

But today–and for a stretching of days–I walk through to get to the other side. I choose this journey for love of Him and for love of those He heals.

I choose it in the security of the knowledge that He never does harm. He only does healing.

I brave it because I am loved. Forever. Unconditionally. By Him.

Please pray me through my friends.

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On the Flip Side of Suffering

The day I had been waiting for finally came.

It didn’t look like what I had seen in my dreams. It certainly didn’t feel anything like I had imagined.

I found the flipside.

Most of my process in the last three years has been about unearthing hidden and suppressed wounds so they may be brought into the light. Wounds that had been buried out of the necessity to survive. Wounds that had been masked by manipulated theology. Wounds that went far deeper than I could even imagine.

Turning to face the wounds was scary, riddled with fear. But they demanded their right to become a part of my story, to be integrated in rather than left behind to dwell in the dark. And so, Sorrow and Suffering became the companions to Much Afraid as she journeyed up the Mountain (Hinds Feet on High Places, Hannah Hurnard).

Would this turning and facing ever end?

When could I allow my companions of Sorrow and Suffering to go on their way, taking the hands of another soul bereft and wandering, hopelessly longing for release? I often wondered. I wondered and wandered my way right into 2014 and all the way to August where I landed in post-back-surgery recovery, at home, in bed, unable to do one single thing for myself.

I began to read Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown. I found myself in every single character, taking turns bouncing from one of the four leading women to another. “I wrestled with that same truth in my twenties,” “Oh yeah, I know what that feeling is.”

But I was blown away by the end of the book. The imagery shared was mine. I had seen those pictures before. My mind had witnessed those stories, that journey, her heart.

In a time of prayer Hannah (one of the four women in Sensible Shoes) had imagined herself as a child running in and out of the throne room with Jesus. He would hand her flowers and she would rush out to give them to another. She was a passionate runner of His goodness. But He stopped her and said, “These flowers are for you.”

In the story, Hannah was a pastor of a church for 15 years. But I think she symbolizes all of us who grew up in the church in the midst of immense personal suffering.

In a sense we have worn ourselves out serving others. The beautiful vice of busyness, often lauded by our church culture, is an acceptable numbing and addictive agent in the lives of those deeply wounded.

We end up like the Pharisees, internally recounting all the ways we have served others and then wondering why (in the quiet of life) we feel lost, empty and depressed. Rather than sitting long enough with the Spirit to discern these surface symptoms of a marred soul – we just keep busy.

Unlike the Pharisees, this pattern was not formed through conscious effort. We grew up in a Church culture that encouraged this attitude of serving, this becoming nothing so He may be everything. It still sounds right. It should. It is scripture.

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30 (NKJV)

There is a vast difference in living out the theology of serving from a place of wounded-ness or a place of whole-ness. When Christ flipped this theology, I found myself on the other side of my healing, the flipside of suffering.

While continuing to read Sensible Shoes many scriptures from the book of John kept popping up. John, the ONE whom Jesus loved.

The Spirit called up from my memories a sermon I heard in my youth. Each disciple had a theme to their writing and John’s was, The Beloved Disciple. Or in his own words, the one whom Jesus loved.

Yet John in particular was contrasted with the other Disciples. In the church setting of my youth, while others were extolled for identifying Christ as the Word made Flesh or for presenting irrefutable evidence of Christ’s lineage, John was reproached for his arrogance.

As if Christ would love one disciple MORE than another. John’s delight in knowing he was deeply loved was resented.

Suddenly, my mind remembered scenes from home, words spoken in that same resenting attitude.

  • You were Dad’s favorite.
  • You’re the one who will end up marrying well and have a husband who will dote on you.
  • Your life is ‘easy.’
  • Nicknamed ‘the brain,’ but the teasing felt laced with a sneer.

I grew up internalizing this: To be given favor, to be loved, to practice my gifts was arrogance.

Envy had flipped what was good and made it evil. My pride and arrogance became the source of every conflict. And at fourteen years old, I broke.

The lie was successfully engrained. I am only allowed to live in a certain amount of favor and grace, we call it salvation – to have more love than that is arrogant and prideful.

I was only worthy of the love that saved me but not the love that lavishes itself all over my soul. I was only worthy to carry flowers from His throne to another, never to take them home for myself.

I journaled once how God showed me the story of Mary breaking open her costly perfume to anoint Jesus. There was a song I once sung for church called “Broken and Spilled Out”

Broken and spilled out

Just for love of you Jesus

My most precious treasure

Lavished on thee.

Broken and spilled out

And poured at your feet

In sweet abandon

Let me be poured out and lavished on thee.

A beautiful song indeed. With a beautiful truth. The problem was that I internalized this message as though I was the oil and not Mary.

To one who is abused – this is an incredibly important distinction.

–          To be the oil meant I had no being or identity of my own, I was a thing to be used – and my purpose was to be broken and spilled out. In my home it translated at submitting to the abuse – it was God’s purpose and plan. While in my relationship with God it meant my serving was what earned his favor. I was very clear I could not earn my salvation, but Favor? Blessing? Extravagant Love? I would have to prove I was worthy of those. Serving viewed from wounded-ness.

–          To be Mary means that I am deeply loved by my savior. This love is complete, deep, and often frivolous and is not based on anything I have done. It is out of this completeness I am able, and joyfully choose, to let my giftings and blessings be broken and spilled for His glory. Serving from a place of wholeness.

My experience reading Sensible Shoes was mystical. In this sacred space a fog settled between my present and my past. Only the presence of Christ could suspend time, recall the exact memories and weave them into my current reality.

The next words I read leaped from the page…

“The image I’m seeing is Mary of Bethany pouring out that costly ointment to anoint Jesus feet in this beautiful extravagant act of love. What If Jesus wants to pour out something totally extravagant into your life?”

I audibly crashed into weeping. What if Jesus has been wanting to lavish his love on me?

He had been! He had been wanting to for years now!

Twice, two years in a row, at Colorado Christian Writers Conference, Joy had prayed over me and both times she said out loud – “I just have this urge to dump this whole thing of oil all over you.” In those moments we laughed out loud at the outrageous thought.

But it happened again just a few weeks ago as Jill prayed over me – Only months before my back surgery did she prophecy that my physical body was manifesting the inward life-time of carrying burdens that were not mine to carry.  My body was done with the weight of it. She said it was time to lay them down.

And the burden I had to lay down was the belief that I am not worthy of God’s extravagant, beautiful, lavish and frivolous love.

A flood of His Holiness washed in and over and through me.

I am the one whom God loves. I am His Beloved.

To be lavishly loved is not arrogance.

It is intimacy

It is drawing nearer to the heart of God

I am worthy of more than an adequate love.

Jesus is adequate, he is enough to redeem my soul.

But he longs to be extravagant.

He desires to move from my Father who heals, to the Faithful Friend who walks beside never leaving or forsaking and move to become the passionate lover of my soul. If I would only receive.

In a sense I had to go through back surgery. I had to be down and unable to doing anything. For in this time of physical disability I could finally hear with my heart.

“If you never left this bed…I would still love you lavishly.”

And I finally let go. There is nothing I can do to make Him love me more.

I don’t have to prove my love for Him to receive love from Him.

I am His Beloved.

I am the one whom Jesus loves.

And in this sacred space my companions of Sorrow and Suffering did not leave like I had longed for. They transformed into Joy and Peace. And Much Afraid? Well…she became Grace and Glory.

He longs to love you frivolously…fiercely…lavishly.

You are worthy of His love because He chooses to make it so. Period. The End. Nothing more to be added.

You are worthy of His love because He said so.

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Reprinted with permission from the author, Cheryl Meakins. From the blog, Wounded~Healer~Warrior

Ebb and Flow

1969169_10204236623770825_8216786949685125869_nGrief comes in waves.

It’s life as usual, then the tears start. Or the energy is completely sapped away.

My precious sister-in-law shared a teacup with me that she’d given her mom. I’ve taken to having a few quiet moments each day drinking tea (or sometimes coffee. Yes, I know that is sacrilege!) from the pretty cup.

Ray and Fencine’s wedding picture now hangs on our wall. Other little treasures grace our home, next to reminders of Bernice. I didn’t know it, but this method of home decor is actually recommended by hospice as a healing way to process grief. Nobody told me this until later; it just happened naturally.

Grief makes me clean. Reorganize. Decorate.

When my two oldest sons both left for college on the same day a few weeks ago I spent the weekend cleaning. Bringing their spaces to order. Dusting off the shelves that held their treasures–a baseball or hockey puck. A picture. A hunting knife.

I’m not sure what the next few weeks will hold for this blog. August began with a trip to Missouri where we saw Jerry’s mom for the last time. While we were there God whispered to our hearts that we would not see her again this side of eternity. Then we came home to letting go again, another step into empty nest. Lots of work went into launching those boys. Grief, too.

I just couldn’t write where it would be read. Not yet.

But in the midst of all of that I had some amazing adventures with a best friend from college. Some deep musing about launching children. Hours of journaling and seeking God for insight. Brief moments that seem so powerful they have to be shared.IMAG0563

I know me. This will all need to come out in my public writing. I don’t know when it will happen, but I’ve no doubt you’ll see bits of it as it does.

Until then I’ll keep drinking tea. I’ll work hard when I have the energy, and when I don’t I’ll stop again.

I’ll try to avoid grief by chocolate. At least in quantity.

Instead I’ll drink more tea. Call a friend. Read. Journal. Walk.

Let the little things once belonging to my loved ones speak comfort.

Naked and (UN)ashamed

Don’t you hate naked dreams? You know the ones. You’re in a public place and suddenly IMAG3123realize you forgot to get dressed. You’re horrified and afraid of being seen.

I had one of those dreams the other night.

What’s really funny is that in my dream there was a young man who upset me. We were in a crowd of people, and he kept doing irritating things. Then he started stripping!

The next scene of my dream I ran upstairs, looking for my father to ask him to deal with the chaos this young man was causing. But before I could find my dad, I looked down and realized that I was naked! I ran and found a sheet to hide in and wrapped myself in it, weeping.

When I awoke from this dream I immediately equated it to my life, especially the stuff I’ve been processing the last few weeks. When I wrote my Tension Tummy post I spoke about how boxes and legalism have hurt me and a lot of other people. I ended with these words:

I’ve had ample opportunity to process legalism and judgment lately. . . My human self comes up with all kinds of wonderful ways to fight . . . Instead I ask God to shed Truth and Grace where it is needed.

Including in the ugly remnants of legalism and religiosity in me.

See, my heart is to be loving and grace-filled, but I never perform up to my own desires. When I am hurt, or worse yet when someone I love is hurt, judgement and legalism are right there, ready to take up space in my attitude.

I think my dream is a reminder that while I am passionate about speaking out against boxes and legalism, I can never do it without that voice inside reminding me that I, too, am not perfect.

I have not yet let go of judgment or stepped out of boxes to the extent I want to. My mind is ahead of me even in the progress I have made. Often my thoughts and emotions don’t keep up with what I believe to be true. Sometimes even my actions contradict the grace I believe in.

I’m a work in progress.

There’s something in the Bible that talks about Jesus giving us robes of righteousness. That is the only answer to my naked problem. My raw, naked faults will be exposed from time to time. Hopefully I’m processing forward and becoming more loving, not less. But no matter how I long to be perfect, I’m just not.

That’s when I remember Jesus never left me naked and exposed. Long ago He gave me that righteousness robe to cover all the humanity I wish the world never saw. So when I feel hurt by my own lack, I look to HIM, to HIS fullness. To the way He cares, forgives, and covers me with the Good that is Himself.

Then I grab hold of His hand and hope I can listen to His Voice in a way that helps me be more loving and less judgmental the next time.

It’s not my desire to take away from anything I said in that Tension Tummy post. I believe those words to be true. It just seems important to say that even in my passion for freedom and against religiosity I have to say, “Me, too.”

I too am trying to find my way out of legalism.

I too have boxes I wish I could step out of.

I too fail at this grace thing, no matter how much I wish I didn’t.

Thank God HE is always there to remind me that failure is not the end of the story. That my missteps are forgiven. That He will help me journey down that road to loving more like He does.

Gulps of Grace

I just clicked off on the cordless phone, thoughts churning. My friend is an abuse survivor, no longer a victim, a woman of great integrity and strength. One of my heroes. I’m reminded of her journey forward, of how her abuser kept her in a stranglehold of condemnation and low self-esteem for far too long. How even survivors, victors who’ve long overcome have to keep fighting to maintain their freedom, especially when people who don’t understand knock them down again.

On the radio yesterday a woman called a talk show for advice. Her “husband” was clearly destroying her emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, but still she argued that she “should” stay to do the “right” thing.

If you know me well, you know I am not easily angered. But this. This makes me want to fight hard against the lies, against the boxes, for FREEDOM!

challah bread 9This morning’s phone call from my victorious friend who’d once again endured a senseless assault by a clueless do-gooder left me reeling, as did that lady on the talk show.

I reached for Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts Devotional in an attempt to right the churning inside of me. Ann reminded me that giving thanks is declaring my trust in God and that without the ability to trust God there is no joy.

For years I begged God for joy. Instead His offering was to allow seven years of grueling circumstances far beyond my control. I’m beginning to understand Ann’s words, that giving thanks is about joy and about trust and about choosing. It is curling up with the Bread that nourishes my soul.

So I today I wrote little notes of gratitude instead of dwelling on all that angers me. And what came out surprised me.

I thank Him for: freedom air gulped and eventually breathed in natural rhythm. 

When I first stepped out of my own crap, of walls self-imposed and imposed by others, of boxes of perfectionism and guilt and performance, I couldn’t breathe freedom every day, every minute, like life. I grasped for it. Looked for it. Begged for it. Gorged on it when I found it.

I found it in grace.

I gulped grace. Sucking it in for survival. Guzzling it. Only pure grace, the truth of it, fed me. The gulps pounded into my malnourished system, setting it free, a little at a time.

I sucked in the grace air as I could understand it, when I could appropriate it.

Grace.

God’s complete unconditional love and acceptance. The favor He offered even though I didn’t deserve it.

Wiki says it this way: . .  grace has been defined, not as a created substance of any kind, but as “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it”,[1] “the condescension or benevolence shown by God toward the human race”.[2] It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man – “generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved”[3] – that takes the form of divine favor, love, clemency, and a share in the divine life of God.

For years I lived without freedom. I didn’t know it. But I was controlled by the self-condescension of one who could never live up to her own ideals and of one who tried so hard to please others that I lived in a straight-jacket of effort and failure.

I didn’t understand grace saturated the very air I breathed. That I didn’t have to chase after it or fight for it, grabbing and suffocating.

I didn’t get that always, always, always my Creator surrounds me with loving acceptance, cheering me on in my victories, helping me to my feet in my failures, never condemning, only offering Himself and His grace, longing to love me and remake me into one who could love Him, myself, and others.

I had heard about God’s love, about grace, all my life, but I didn’t appropriate it to myself–thus the gulping when I happened upon grace. The gorging on it when I began to understand.

But over time–years, not weeks–I began to feel less desperate. My soul began to know grace would never run out, never be beyond my reach, never disappear.

And I began to breathe normally. Rhythmically.

In freedom.

Once in a while something happens. My throat constricts once again, and I struggle. I am hurt or I hurt others. My imperfections are glaring. And my breathing gets erratic as I take huge, gulping, heaving breaths.

Grace. My lifeline.

As I inhale I stabilize. My breathing becomes natural. Saturated with freedom.

As I type right now I finally understand how all of this comes together. Why in my need to reach for hope, for peace, I seek to offer thanks, to trust God, to hold onto joy. Why in the midst of this churning I wrote those words: freedom air gulped and eventually breathed in natural rhythm. 

It’s because of the process of freedom. It’s because when my friend first fought out of an abusive situation she, like me, had to gulp grace bubbles. She couldn’t yet understand the air was saturated, and grace was always there, free.

It’s like my friend and I spent years under putrid water, pressed down by the voices that said we would never be good enough to deserve such freedom as normal breaths. But eventually we had to breathe, to lift our heads out of the water before we drowned. At first we could only raise our head on occasion, could only allow ourselves stolen gulps because we thought we deserved no more. Didn’t even deserve those gulps, really, just needed them so much we had to take them.

Over time we began to understand that the air was ours, given freely by a loving God, and that we didn’t have to earn it with good behavior. We bobbed for a while at the surface where the air was  tainted by the smell of stinking water. But it was better. At least we were breathing more often, even with the times we were pulled back under. Then came the day we slowly swam toward shore. Swimmers still get their face wet, but they also have air. And they are moving forward

It was a while before we climbed out, touched the shore, realized how good and pure the air could be and that we were given the right to breathe it.

And sometimes, on bad days, we still forget. That cesspool of unworthiness and condemnation is always there, waiting for us to climb back in.

But we’re getting better, my friend and me. We’re choosing to stay away from the stinky water.

We’ve gulped freedom and are learning to breathe it in natural rhythm.

Breathing with you today, my friend.

Until next time,

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Water Under the Floor

It’s not earth-shattering, Lord.

It’s not death or disease.

But even such a little thing can feel like destruction.

Even such a little thing is an assault on your gifts.

And they were your gifts.

In a time of financial empty you gave them to me, one at a time, over the long season of want.

A dishwasher and a new floor.

Both hand-me-down gifts that looked brand new.

I should have paid closer attention when something didn’t seem right in front of the dishwasher. Why did I wait until the beautiful floor seemed to buckle before sounding the alarm?

My heart dropped as the dishwasher was pulled from the cabinets and we saw the gush of water.

I cried as we began pulling up my beautiful floor, one long gorgeous board at a time.

We don’t live in financial nothingness now. But we’re still unprepared for this expense in this season of college bills and baseball teams.

Habit has long taught me to worry at such times.

But it has also taught me to give my worries to you.

That floor was your promise to me that all that was wrong in my home could be provided for in a snap when you chose to move.

Not only were the boards themselves a gift, the labor of love, the weekend of friendship was from you, too.

But hanging onto the gratitude is a bit testy while I watch my gorgeous floor boards crumble from the wet, smell the rank of saturated sub floor.

I’m not sure how to deal with this, Lord.

Even if there are enough scraps in the garage for the repairs, we don’t know how to cut and lay them.

And there is the issue of the gaping hole where a dishwasher used to be.

(I’m not thrilled about doing the volume of dishes we go through by hand, Lord.)

I want to fight through to gratitude and hope and praise and faith.

After all, if you cared enough to give me these gifts back then, isn’t such still important to you now?

The floor that my sweet family has walked upon, where I have fed precious children meal after meal. The room I’ve opened to guests, no matter how we had to crowded around my small table.

You care about my floor.

You care about my dishwasher.

You own the cattle on a thousand hills. This is not even pennies to you, this repair, this new provision.

Guilt whispers to remember all I have in this land of America. That I have dishes. Food to put in them. A comfortable home, pretty floor or not. Guilt says I should not care so much about such things as broken appliances and broken beauty.

But you’ve been showing me that your voice isn’t guilt.

You teach me to care about others, look for ways to serve and give, but not to pretend I don’t care about my own needs because they seem petty compared.

My needs and desires are my own.

And they are important to you, the hopes of this mom in America, just the same as the hopes of a mother in Africa who today prays for more immediate, life-giving needs.

I won’t live in guilt. I won’t pretend I don’t feel this need.

I won’t live in the knee-jerk hopelessness and worry of the past.

I will live in faith of provision.

I will live in the Truth that You see and care.

I will remember the provisions of the past and look to the provisions of the future, no matter what form they take.

Friends, I started praying with pen and journal this morning, talking to the God who Loves about this issue (and others). But this little blog beckoned, this place where I’ve chosen to be vulnerable about the big things and small. This place where I’ve asked for prayer, and it has been given.

I’m not sure why I choose to share this mundane problem. Maybe because I so desire to take a stand for hope and faith and to it in front of the whole of the Internet seemed definitive. Maybe because I know some of your stories and how my little tales of provision have given you hope in your own long season of want. Maybe because I know some of you will whisper a prayer for my attitude and my provision. Maybe just because we’re journeying together, you and me, and this is today’s journey.

As I type I whisper a pray for your journey of this day. Whether issues are big or small assualt or whether it is a day of sheer ease, I ask Him to bless you, to provide for you, to show His love. I pray that you have hope and faith. That neither you or I try to ease the stress by stuff that never fixes anything, like pigging out on cheese dip and chips. ;o)

Until Next Time,

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