7.22.2016

Seeing Beauty Instead of Pain

My aunt grew roses for years. She’s the one I lived with for almost a year when I was in middle school and my family was falling apart. I remember her telling me not to run through her rose garden. After all, she had what seemed like hundreds of other acres that unfolded in wide open fields. I could run there.

But I didn’t want to.

I only wanted to run through the rose garden. I wanted to spread my arms wide open and run between the rows brushing my fingertips across all the velvety blooms. I wanted some of the blooms to burst and shower petals all around. Then I could gather the petals and spread them along my path.

As if I could carve a new place in this world lined with beauty and void of adult words like divorce, rejection and hate … I wanted my world to be soft, pink and lovely. I didn’t want to think about my dad leaving our family. My heart couldn’t process how he not only didn’t live with us anymore, but he was also slowly pulling back from participating in our lives all together.

So, I took a running start with my arms outstretched only to be shocked with searing pain within the first few steps.

Thorns. Big, mean, vicious thorns. Thorns that ripped my flesh and opened up the flood of tears I’d been so determined to hold back. Suddenly, I hated that bush. I wanted to chop it down and beat it into the ground. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring myself to destroy something that produced such beauty.

I stood back from the source of my pain and wondered, Should I call it a bush of thorns or a bush of flowers? Really, it could go either way.

Suddenly I wasn’t just staring at a bush. I was staring at my life. My life. Such a bed of roses.
Would I see the hurt or would I see the beauty?

Luke 8:14 says, “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” The seed being referred to here is the Word of God. Isn’t it interesting that people who are choked by life’s circumstances and never mature are referred to as having thorns in the soil of their soul?

Yes, life sometimes hands us thorns but we have the choice to park our mind on the thorn or on the beauty it can eventually produce in us, if only we’ll cling tightly to God’s Word. How a person thinks is how they will eventually become.

If we dwell on the negative in life, we’ll become negative and God’s Word will have a hard time taking root in our souls. If, however, we acknowledge the negative but choose instead to look for the good that can come from it, God’s Word will take root in our souls and produce a lush crop of beauty.

It all comes down to choice. That day in my aunt’s garden, I chose to be aware of the thorns but park my mind on the beautiful roses.

And over the years, I have come to the place in my life where I realize I can focus on the hurt my dad’s absence caused or choose to focus on other things in my life. Beautiful things.

It’s been more than 25 years since I’ve seen my dad. That’s hard on a girl’s heart. But where he fell so short, God has filled in many gaps. I don’t have to be the child of a broken parent the rest of my life, I can be a child of God. Loved. Truly loved.

And that is a beautiful truth I can let flourish in my heart.

Are rejections from your past stealing from the joy in your life today? I understand. That’s why I wrote my new book, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. My deepest desire is to help you discover the soul-steadying truth that no person’s rejection can ever exempt you from God’s love for you. If you pre-order your copy today, you’ll receive free resources that won’t be available once the book releases on August 9th. Pre-order by clicking here.

And if you’re not quite sure if Uninvited is for you, take the assessment by clicking here.

6.22.2016

A few really scary days…

You might have noticed I’ve been a little silent on the blog lately. But I want you to know it hasn’t been by choice. I’ve missed you dearly. Which is why I really must update you on what’s been going on in my world.

About a week and a half ago, I was rushed into emergency surgery.

My large intestine had somehow detached itself from my abdominal wall and twisted to the point where blood flow was dangerously restricted. A large section had to be removed. After several days of recovering in the hospital, I was able to go home which is where I am as I type these words.

I’ve been hesitant to explain too much about what happened to me because it’s honestly a crazy story. And I’m not really into crazy.

But, I treasure you as a friend and sometimes friends just need to be invited in and told the bottom line.

God miraculously saved my life.

I don’t say that with drama. I say it with tears in my eyes and the deepest gratitude in my heart.

The surgeon called me on Friday to tell me there was no sign of cancer in the pathology report. Praise God.

But then he said something else that I can’t stop thinking about. “Lysa, I don’t like throwing around the word miracle. But the fact you survived this is a miracle. The pathology report showed your cells were in a state of death.” I didn’t know what to say.

I had no words. Except “thank you.” Thank You, God. Thank you friends who prayed me through this. Thank you to this surgeon who finally figured out why I was in excruciating pain for days and days in that hospital bed.

Thank You that I still get to do life.

So, here I sit. But this quiet morning is different.

I have a sacred realization. And I have a complete refocus on just how precious every second of every day truly is.

Might we all dare to whisper “it’s a gift” to God today?

When the baby is crying and the deadlines are pressing and the stress is mounting and the enemy whispers “just get through this crappy day.” Look up and shame the enemy back to hell by acknowledging today is a gift.

A gift from a good, good Father. And then look, seek, and dive deeply into what a true gift it is.

4.27.2016

Getting Past My Past

Is there something from your past that haunts you and constantly interrupts your thoughts?

For many years, that something in my life was my abortion. I walked around in a zombie-like state in the months following that decision with a growing hatred for myself at the root of my pain and confusion.

Up until that point, the things that brought hurt into my life were caused by others. But the abortion was a choice I made myself. It seemed like the only answer at the time. The abortion clinic workers assured me that they could take care of this “problem” quickly and easily, so I would never have to think about it again. What a lie.

I kept my secret buried deep within my heart. I was so ashamed, so horrified, so convinced that if anyone ever found out I’d had an abortion, I’d be rejected by all my church friends and deemed a woman unfit to serve God.

My complete healing began when I was finally able to turn my thoughts past my own healing to helping others in the same situation. It was terrifying to think about sharing my story with another person. But then I heard of a young girl who worked for my husband who was in a crisis pregnancy situation. She’d asked for a few days off to have an abortion.

I was faced with a fierce tug of war in my spirit. I knew if she heard my story, she might make a different choice. But what would she think of me? What would others think if they found out? I knew God wanted me to talk to her; so would I trust Him, or would I retreat back into my shame?

With shaking hands, I approached Sydney, intent on extending God’s comfort and compassion. Maybe I could just share a few Bible verses and offer to help her without making myself vulnerable.

But during our time together, it became clear she needed to hear my story. With a cracking voice and tear-filled eyes, I decided to care more about her situation than keeping my secret hidden. I told her the truth of what I’d experienced and prayed she’d make a different choice than I had.

A year after that first meeting, I sat across from Sydney once again. She choked out a whispered, “Thank you,” as she turned and kissed the chubby-cheeked boy in the baby carrier beside her. As soon as she spoke those two life-defining words, tears fell from both of our eyes.
Hers were tears of relief.

Mine were tears of redemption.

Both were wrapped in the hope that God truly can take even our worst mistakes and somehow bring good from them.

God has brought me so far since that first meeting with Sydney. Now I travel to crisis pregnancy events and tell my story in hopes of encouraging people to support their local centers. I also share my story from pulpits all across America, trusting that the many women in the audience will see it is possible to be healed and restored from the tragic mistakes from our past.

But I can’t reach everyone. There are women in your sphere of influence who need to hear your story.

I realize an abortion may not be the pain you’re dealing with, but I also know few of us have escaped very deep hurts.

Will you go? Will you share? Will you allow God to comfort you and then take that comfort to others? This step could help you start your own healing process.

I think you’ll find that you are the one who winds up doubly blessed as you walk out the truth of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Dear Lord, only You can heal my deepest hurts and use the bad in my life for good. I need You more and more each day. Please continue to work in my life and use me as a light to help those You have entrusted to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.