This. Is. Freedom.

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Remember I told you that a few months ago I lost my SH*T?!

See what had happened was … someone called me a hypocrite and some other names because they got their feelings hurt by me. It wasn’t so much that they called me names but more about the fact that they misunderstood my heart and would NOT let me explain myself.

It was as if the person enjoyed being the victim and found pleasure in punishing me.  They were not trying to listen to me or work it out or understand at all.

Just straight played the victim.

I did everything I could to make peace and ultimately I realized the person just wanted to hate me.  I couldn’t change their mind and I couldn’t do anything about it.

No control. No power. No influence. No reconciliation.

I, April Poynter, had an enemy.

I frickin’ lost it.

The Lord had already been working on my heart and rearranging furniture in my soul.  But all my performance and striving and good-christian-girl motives crumbled this particular day.

I realized that no matter how good you are (or think you are),  no matter how much you pursue peace among others –  you still mess up and people can still choose to hate you.

I found myself so angry about this situation.  I’m talkin’ FUMING! I was mad, y’all.  But it was just what I needed to push me into a new place in my life.

For 2 days I pretty much said nothing to anyone.  I just didn’t have words.  I sat in silence and tears would flow.  You ever feel that pain in your heart and there are no words … just tears?  That’s where I was. I felt bruised on the inside.

On day 3 I snapped. I was at lunch with my husband, sitting at The Juice Bar, sipping a green juice in silence when I finally opened my mouth and a flood of cuss words started flowing out.

I was really pissed off.  I was pissed off at everyone and every thing.  I was pissed off at church.  Pissed off at ministry. Pissed off at friends.  Pissed off about everything that revolved around serving Jesus and being in “community” with others.

All my efforts had left me really pissed off.

Tony, my husband, sitting in silence and listening to me rant- starts cracking up.  I mean, I’m fuming and the guy starts laughing at me.

I wanted to be pissed off at him in that moment but instead I started laughing too. I was exhausted.

Tony, with true compassion, looked at me and told me that he understood. He knew exactly what I was going through and it was actually refreshing to see me be human.

The next 5 days I isolated myself from the world (besides work) because I couldn’t trust myself to not destroy anyone and everyone I came in contact with.

If I heard one more “I’m praying for you” or “God will get you through this” or had another scripture texted to me – I was going to lose it. I know people meant well. Hey, that’s what we do as Christians.  Honestly, you were damned if you do and damned if you don’t in this situation.  Offer hope and support  and I would bite your head off.  Stay silent and I would be irritated that you didn’t care.

I didn’t need to be fixed.  I wasn’t broken in this season. I mean, I was broken… but not like that.  I actually felt like I was busting out of the matrix! I knew if I told anyone I would be called a ‘back slider’ or judged because I was going against the Williamson County cultural Christian ‘way’.  I get it.  I would have done the same thing to anyone else going through what I went through.

I didn’t trust myself during those days.  I was a loose cannon.

Everything I had built up came crashing down. I didn’t want to lead anymore.  I didn’t want to be a ministry leader, writer, or freedom advocate anymore. I didn’t want to save people and strive for opportunities to share the gospel … I just wanted to be April.  Broken, messy, lover of Jesus, don’t have all the answers, passionate, in process – April. I didn’t want a platform.  No audience. No “can you pray for me” messages….

Because for once I saw myself just the same as everyone around me… the same as those I had tried to reach and lift up.  I realized I am that person too.  I don’t have answers.  I’m no better or higher leveled than anyone else!

I created myself as a leader.  I created myself as a woman after God’s heart.  I painted the picture exactly how I wanted and I was tired.

I remember sitting on my patio one night – alone in silence.  Staring at the stars, tears filling my eyes from the unexplainable pain I felt in my core. I thought to myself, ‘THIS is not freedom.’  So, I said to The Lord, “Jesus! This is not freedom.  This is not what you died for. I believe in freedom but this is not it.  Take me back to that simple place with you – before the striving and the doing and the going and all these works. All this pressure and ‘look at me’ and feeling guilty for not acting/doing/being good/nice enough… or praying enough or reading my Bible enough or quoting scriptures perfectly…  I missed something along the way and I’m desperate for the freedom that you speak about.”

He answered, “Me.”

It makes me tear up now.  He is freedom.  Simply Jesus. I have tasted and seen that The Lord is good … just because He is.

You guys – I was a heathen hot mess for those few days.  My thoughts and words were awful. I was so mad. I was not put together. I was not nice. Yet, God sat right there with me. He let me be a horrible person (I consider it horrible for me … and for all “I knew better”.)  I was ugly and He came close. My ugliness didn’t scare Him away.

His goodness has nothing to do with my goodness.  He’s good because He’s God and that’s His very nature.  He’s good when I’m not good.  He’s good when I royally screw things up.  He’s good when things don’t go my way or when I’m not on my best behavior.  He’s good when I yell at my kids or act bratty with my husband.  He’s good when I’m acting worldly and sweetly grabs my attention through conviction.  He’s good just because.

His goodness and grace and love isn’t tied to our wretchedness.  No, it just covers it.

I cannot understand that type of goodness but I know it exists.  I know He offers it over and over again.

13 years ago I went to church and fell in love with Jesus – or so I thought.  In actuality I went to church and fell in love with church.  I saw women leaders in the church and realized if I could be as good as them – I was on the right track.  If I could hang out in their groups, I was on the right track.  If I could speak their language and pray pretty prayers like them – oh yeah, I was on the right track.

What a crock.

This leaves you empty.

13 years ago I did go to church and fall in love with church …  but a few months ago I sat on my patio with Jesus, completely broken and really pissed off and realized somewhere along the way I fell in love with Jesus and HE was all I wanted … and I was willing and wanting to give up everything just to have him.

No more lights and smoke machines.  No more ‘look at me’ moments posted to social media.  No more “community” that was really just meeting for coffee every once in a while, texting and/or Facebooking with each other (In Jesus’ name of course).  No more showing up to Sunday services packaged nicely.

Just desperate for Jesus.

And I heard Him say to me, “All I ever wanted was you.  Right where you are.  Not where ‘they’ are…. but where you are.  I can do more with you where you are than where you think you should be.”

“What?! Jesus?! You mean…. you want THIS?  You want the April who totally loves you and wants to live her life for you but still cusses sometimes and can be extremely selfish?! ….

You want this girl who doesn’t always have the best disciplines?  This scattered brain loner?  You want this person who’s natural gift is NOT hospitality …  more of a taker than a giver… You want that?!  Me?  Who struggles to trust people?  The me who can actually be extremely critical?!”

Romans 12:3 flooded my mind:

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

I still don’t understand how God can love me right where I am.  I thought I was doing a pretty darn good job letting God love me where I thought I should be. I realized that striving was never about God’s approval.  It was about people approval.  It was more about where the church culture says we should be as individuals rather than where God says we should be.

I may not understand his love but I know I feel it.

And because I have let him meet me where I’m at … where I’m truly at …  love and grace meet me daily (moment by moment, second by second).  I’m constantly living under an awareness of his love and grace and how I don’t deserve it and yet he keeps pouring it out.

Fear vanishes.

Anxiety flees.

When you experience that kind of love …  When you accept – Hey! Here I am.  Here’s where I am today.  Am I still loveable?  And He says you are… The hurt and The Healer collide.

You are changed forever.

You cannot receive this kind of love without wanting to let it pour out of you and onto others.

It’s just too powerful.

It’s transformational love.

We don’t have to strive to be good Christians.  What the heck is a good Christian anyway? Who put the ‘good’ in front of Christian.  That says a lot, actually.  Just be a Christian. A devoted follower of Jesus Christ – in process.

We’re quick to say “Oh, I know we don’t arrive until we get to heaven” and yet we expect every one who claims to love Jesus to NOT be in process.  To not be messy.  To not speak out of line.  And Heaven forbid –  to not miss a Sunday church service. (Not to be confused with accountability… there’s definitely a place for that.)

That’s what following Jesus is …   ‘Look – I’m a freakin’ hot mess express and I’m in desperate need of a Savior!”  Right?!  I’m not who I was 10 years ago (Thank God!).  I won’t be the same 10 years from now (I’m sure I’ll be saying ‘Thank God’ again then).

Jesus met the woman at the well.  She was a hot mess express too.  He went out of his way, broke cultural rules and met her where she was.  Her encounter with Jesus changed her.  Yeah, He called her out …  but he didn’t box her in with a list of rules and regulations.  He didn’t rub her face in her short comings.  He met her where she was.  He loved her where she was.  However, she didn’t stay where she was because her encounter with His love changed her.

I believe the thought of bypassing rules and regulations of cultural Christianity leads people to believe you’re condoning bad behavior… as long as you love Jesus.

 That’s not what I’m saying at all. Jesus met the woman at the well but that same Jesus flipped tables in the temple. Jesus will never condone sin. Never.

I get that. 

Behavior change comes from heart change. Heart change comes from a relationship with Jesus.

Jesus touched the leper.  Disease stricken, nasty people.  They had to ring bells and yell “Unclean!” as they walked through the town.  Jesus walked right up and touched the leper. Jesus isn’t afraid of your mess.  Your mess doesn’t rub off on Him.  He rubs off on you.

This is Who I’m in love with.  This is Who I want to chase after all the days of my life.

This.

This. Is. Freedom.

His name is Jesus.

I Went To Church Today …

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I went to church today.  It’s been 5 months since I’ve attended a church service.

In 2016 I wrestled a lot with the idea of ‘church’.  I see how church is described in scripture but in all my years of following Jesus I’ve only experienced church services and church buildings.

Don’t get me wrong – there are some really awesome church buildings and I’ve experienced many services where God moved in mighty ways but my heart has been yearning for more.

I just couldn’t take it anymore.

Showing up on Sunday, looking like everyone else.  Checking my children into childcare and making small talk with greeters and other church volunteers.  Sitting in my chair pretending to be researching something extremely intense in scripture so that no one would talk to me … yet I longed for someone to talk to me … but around here you cannot be desperate for human connection or friendship because it will come across as lack of boundaries and burdensome.

Then when I would hit it off with another woman, we would have the same conversation every Sunday and never go beyond maybe becoming Facebook friends and liking each other’s posts.  Not to mention she’s a stay-at-home-mom and I’m a working mama.  No one is at fault but those schedules are hard to match up.  I get it.  I’ve been a stay-at-home-mom before too.

Then there are small groups, connect groups, house church.  This is a space outside of the church building where a group of people come together on a smaller scale to fellowship and talk/learn about Jesus.

Right.  But go into one of those groups and unload all of your baggage or talk about your drug addiction and see what happens.  And don’t get me wrong.  I’m not blaming or bad mouthing anyone here …  it’s just what I’ve experienced.

In my own experience I’ve often felt like we’re just going through the motions of being in “community” and “doing life together”.

While I’m just going for it, let me not forget my own hangups.  Expectations that NO ONE could ever live up to. Picking apart how someone responded to me or didn’t respond to me all because of my own insecurities.  All up in my feelings about how I don’t fit or belong.  Trying to jive in a group setting but unable to get my focus off of myself long enough to even love on anyone else.

Consumer.

Straight up consumer.

And never ever satisfied.

So you church hop.  Because, hey – there is literally a church on every corner in middle Tennessee.  And if you don’t like those you can just start your own!

I can’t even tell you how many churches I’ve visited or ‘joined’ in the past 13 years.  In my defense, I didn’t grow up in church so I was okay with checking out new churches because I wanted to see what else was out there.

But church hopping doesn’t do much for a lonely heart.

Soooooo …. you DO!  You serve and create and do things in the church.  There is nothing wrong with doing but when your heart gets more focused on doing than on Jesus, that’s a problem.  When your identity is found in what you do and not in Jesus, that’s a problem.

So, yeah. I’ve been a hot mess with church.  Completely overcomplicating it.

Last year I was going about my normal ‘churchy’ life when I just burnt out.  Done.

I wasn’t back sliding or doubting my faith.  I wasn’t exploring different religions.  I wasn’t ‘taking a break’ and making up my own rules and ideas to support my own wants and needs.  I simply burnt out.

I started to question what my deal was with church and why it wasn’t working out for me.  Here’s where I landed:

“God, what do I do when church, community and serving become the idol?”

So I stopped going.

My adult life had been spent in church and I needed to step away to find out what church is supposed to be through the lens of scripture.

Side note*  People freak out when you say you’re not going to church anymore.  Holy crap, do they freak out!!! I get it.  I used to do the same thing when someone told me they were leaving church for a bit.  “Backslider!  Let me try to DO or SAY something to convince them how wrong they are for taking a break from church.  The devil clearly has ahold of them. Let me send a few daily scriptures to them just in case they’re not reading the Word anymore”**

I laugh now.  I used to be that person. I would never take time to listen or understand what the other person was going through. I just immediately started sounding alarms in my mind about how they were detaching from the church and going astray.  It’s funny now because I became the other person.

I did leave the church (building and service) but I stayed in close community with a couple of my friends who are Christ Followers. I actually felt closer to God than I ever have in my life.  There was no audience.  So when I went to Jesus, it was really just to be with Him.

When I read the Word, it’s because I wanted to read the Word.  No other reason. When I prayed, it’s because I wanted to pray.  Not to be heard.  Actually my prayers stopped sounding so Hallmarkish and started sounding like real conversation… the way friends would talk to each other in love and confidence.  It felt wrong at first. But I felt like I was acting if I said prayers the way I’ve heard others say prayers.

I don’t freakin’ talk like that…. so why would I talk like that when I pray?  If I’m supposed to be real and bring the real me … why not bring the REAL me?

For once my faith wasn’t running on hype or feelings or my next Facebook post.  My faith was just my faith.  There weren’t these highs and lows in my faith.  It just became steady.  It was quite incredible actually (and still is).  I’m altered forever.

So today I woke up without a plan.  I decided in a moment that I wanted to go to church alone.  In my job where I work with people who are battling substance abuse and mental health issues, the job gets heavy.  My company moved downtown Nashville last week so between the commute and the job itself, I knew I needed to find a place to help ground me.

Where better than the church?

5 months of not attending church and today I came back to the building.

It was a church I have never been to before, as far as church service goes, but my husband and I got married in the building 11 years ago.  It had a different name and congregation back then. Over the past few months I’ve felt drawn to that church for some reason but I knew it wasn’t time to go back yet.  One day on my way home from work I pulled into the parking lot and just sat there in conversation with God.

Today I was greeted at the door by two kind people.  Their smiles were genuine.  I quickly found a seat and kept to myself.

I worshipped.  They worshipped.  We worshipped.  In unity we worshipped our King, Jesus.

For the first time in my ‘church life’ I wasn’t insecure or focused on myself.  I didn’t battle the “you don’t belong here” lie.  I actually didn’t hear that lie at all.  I was just there. Being me.

I didn’t seek out cool people I’d like to be friends with or search for my place to serve.  I was just there.  Being me.

As the pastor started to speak and share the Word, I realized I wasn’t really feeling anything.  I wasn’t having this intense spiritual experience that maybe I thought I should have after being away from church for 5 months.  I was just there. Being me.

I realized that church was never about feeling something.  It was never meant to be an experience (by itself). God goes way beyond our feelings and each of us experience Him differently (in the context of scripture, of course).  So to think that church was ‘not good’ or ‘not for you’ because you didn’t feel the hype is silly.  **This doesn’t mean you can’t feel something … it just means our relationship with Jesus shouldn’t be based off of our feelings.**

Church is not a service or a building.  Church is the gathering of Believers. The Church is referred to as the Bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:32; Revelation 19:7; 21:9).  It’s referenced as sacred family relationship between Jesus and The Church (the people of God).

The Bride of Christ.  The Church.  So beautiful.

So simple. We’ve overcomplicated church.

So today I went to a Sunday church service.  God revealed that it was never about the building, or the feelings, or the doing.  It was about His Bride coming together to worship Him and build up one another in love. We don’t have to figure out anything beyond that … He pours out ‘what’s next’ as we seek Him.

There I sat with a sweet revelation that The Church is simply The Bride of Christ in the same building where I became a bride 11 years ago.

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He is faithful.

Love,

April

Drug Addiction. Jesus Wept.

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This week my heart has been breaking repeatedly. I recently stepped out of my Corporate Human Resources role with Addiction Campuses and joined the front lines as an Admissions Manager.  This past week I have been sitting side by side with our amazing Treatment Specialists who take calls from people who are struggling with drug addiction or their loved ones.

The phones ring constantly.

Constantly.

Drug addiction is real, people. It’s right in front of our faces… it’s not just the homeless person living under a bridge. It’s the CEO, the stay at home mom, the ministry leader, the accountant, every day “normal” people suffering from a real disease.

I’m overwhelmed by the need … but I’m hopeful about the treatment.

If you or a loved one needs help, please reach out to me. We can get you help!

If this breaks your heart like it does mine – please offer up some prayers for our nation.

I sat at my kitchen table last night, eating dinner, heavy heart with tears streaming and the only thing I could hear in my spirit was, “Jesus wept.”

He wept …. but then he gave life back to a dead person.

He. Is. Faithful.

You can find out more about Addiction Campuses below:

http://www.addictioncampuses.com

1-888-816-8415

-April

#UndoingTheDoing

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Following Jesus is such a wild and crazy adventure.  Whoever thinks being a Christian is boring, clearly doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

The past couple of months have been interesting for me.  The Lord has revealed some new layers of broken areas of my heart that need healing. He’s so gentle and kind with our hearts, though.

I have so often found myself so frustrated after experiencing a mountain top season, only to find myself back in the valley.  Gosh. This used to make me so upset.  If only I could grip onto the mountain top a little longer …  if only I could dig my heels in and hold on a little longer… but nonetheless – back to the valley I go.

I’m learning that my time spent on the mountain top actually makes me long for the valley.  I used to think that happiness was up there on top of the mountain, but it’s not.  The mountain top is a place of victory and rest AND much needed but we’re not meant to stay there forever on this side of eternity.

In 2011, the hardest year of my life, I was plagued with anxiety that literally almost killed me. It was the darkest and hardest season of my life.  When I was released from that season, I remember longing for that intimacy with Jesus again.  I never wanted to return to those dark days – but once it was over, in an odd way I missed it.

Once I got past the initial shock of ‘what the hell is happening to me!?!?’ and was forced to endure, I experienced a closeness with Jesus that I never experienced before .  Anxiety is no joke.  That season leveled me.  It dropped me to the bottom of the bottom and I had to fully rely on Jesus day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.

Once I emerged from that season I started a ministry to help other women overcome anxiety and depression.  After 3 years of battling it out for other women’s freedom, God asked me to release the ministry.  I was heartbroken but I surrendered.

With the ministry (good works) out of the way and with a crushed heart, I realized there’s a difference between healing and coping.  Although God was healing me, I had learned to cope.  Anxiety no longer controlled my life – but it was still very present, just manageable.

God started to pull back more layers in my heart and showed me deep wounds.  My need for affirmation and validation was crippling.  He walked with me through a year of intense surrender and learning about contentment.  In one year I experienced incredible grief and yet it was the happiest year I’ve lived thus far.  It was like I discovered a whole new me – or more like the ‘me’ that has never been allowed to show herself.

I called that season #TheUndoing.  It was where God stripped me down. He showed me so much disgusting stuff in my own heart and mind.  He lavished me with love and grace and walked me through a season of releasing my dreams.  During this season I realized that we are taught our whole lives how to act, how to think, how to be – and then one day your eyes open and see clearly.  What if I don’t want to act, think, and be that way?!  So, God had to undo a lot of wrong wiring.

Now this season –

A word from God while pumping gas, “You’re done with this. You’re moving on.”  This meaning the constant lies of “you don’t belong”, “you don’t fit”.  The Lord gave me a word that those were falling off of me.  I was ecstatic for weeks.

I’m not gonna lie.  For a second there – I thought I had arrived.

It was awesome to feel that way and yet at the same time terrifying because I know we NEVER arrive on this side of heaven.

And sure enough, I slid down that mountain top so dang fast and landed so hard in the valley that it knocked the air out of me and might have broken a few bones. I’m still not sure if I have internal bleeding or not. ;o)

So here I am.  In the valley. Again.  Except I don’t try to resist the valley anymore. I trust that God knows what He’s doing.  He has proved Himself faithful so many times before and this time won’t be any different.

I’m calling this season #UndoingTheDoing.  As in, undoing the need to ‘do’ all the time.  Create, post, write, share, encourage, dream, do, do, do.  Yeah. I’m stopping that.  I’m undoing the need to do.  Not for forever.  Just for a bit.

I don’t hide the fact that I’m in recovery.  I’m a recovering people pleaser.  I’ve realized over the past few months that I have not been healed from people pleasing – I’ve just learned to cope.

As a victim of intense mental/emotional abuse as a child/young adult, a person gets REALLY jacked up, y’all. Either you know that from your own experience … or because you’ve met me and think I’m crazy. Sorry, not sorry.  Mental/emotional abuse as a child and young adult planted seeds in me that buried roots so darn deep.

Look straight ahead.  What you see is an accurate view of what’s in front of you.  Now, keep looking straight but tilt  your head to where your chin is pointing toward your shoulder.  You’re now seeing the world through my lens.  It’s all off.  It’s skewed. It’s tilted.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t see the accurate view.  Not yet.  But I will.

It’s great for creativity.  It’s great for writing.  It’s great for capturing the world from a different angle – but at the end of the day, it leaves you wondering ‘what the heck is wrong with me?’

Growing up with co dependence issues taught me to be an extreme people pleaser.  I was told how to feel, how to act, how to think, how to be.  I was told I wasn’t good enough . I was called selfish.  It was spoken over me that I believe the world owes me something.  I was told I was a liar, I was told to shut up.  I was called a whore.  My mom tried to fight me. I would make my mom cry and it was the most devastating feeling.

I was accused for something and without any explanation at all, my dad slapped me in the face so hard it knocked me to the ground.

[Side note – God has reconciled my relationship with my parents and I love them dearly and am so grateful for his miraculous healing power in relationships]

So I learned to be who they wanted me to be.  When I was with my parents I tried my hardest to be their ideal ‘April’.  When I was with my friends – I was ‘me’.  I lied about everything with my parents to please them and tell them what they wanted to hear.  If I performed well, I felt loved.  If I slipped into ‘me’ mode, I felt like the love was taken away.

I became a master of people pleasing and living a double life.  The problem with living a fake life and a real life is that eventually you forget which is which.

From 4th grade until I was 23 years old, I pleased everyone around me so I could feel love.  If I ever started to think about myself or care for myself, I would be so afraid that someone would discover I was selfish, so I cared for others instead and never gave attention to my own needs, thoughts, desires, or voice.

From age 20 – 23ish, I was a professing follower of Jesus and was learning about boundaries.  I was putting boundaries into practice and getting good at it.

At age 26 my whole world came crashing down because of anxiety.  General Anxiety Disorder took my feet out from under me and left me in a deep depression.

Here I am at 31, free from GAD, great with boundaries, but I feel like God is shining a spotlight on this people pleasing root.  It’s deep y’all.

I look back at my whole life and I see anxiety.  I never even knew what the heck anxiety was until I was 26 and it tried to murder me.  But looking back, anxiety is fear – and I have been fearful my whole life.  Specifically fearful of people not loving me.

Because of this fear, I have learned to be a really nice person.  I have learned to go good things.  I try my hardest not to step on toes.  When I want to make good life decisions for myself that will better me, I feel like I’m wrong.

When people are mad, I feel like it’s my fault.  When someone has clearly wronged me, I think of some way how it might be my fault so I can let them off the hook.

If conflict is happening in front of me (that has nothing to do with me), I get extremely uncomfortable.   I am so stinkin’ naive sometimes.  Because I was always called selfish and I know how bad that hurts, I refuse to call others selfish when they are straight up being selfish.  People can butter me up with their words and drop me flat on my face with their actions – but because the words felt good, I totally miss the actions.

I’ve learned to doubt my thoughts and opinions and I get stuck when I’m trying to hold my ground – it’s as if I forget what my position was on the matter or that I don’t even care.

I don’t fit because I won’t let myself fit.  I don’t belong because I don’t know how.  I never feel good enough because I’m not perfect.  I’m not looking with a straight view – I’m looking with a tilted view and I need God to do a chiropractic miracle up in here!

 

I remember one day having this melt down in front of one of my good friends and I was telling her that I just couldn’t handle the expectations of who I’m supposed to be and I just wanted to get away so I wasn’t under that ‘rule’ anymore.

She looked at me with a confused look and said, “April. Who is asking you to be that way?”  I didn’t have an answer back then but tonight I have an answer.

No one.

No one at all.

 

So what’s up with all this clutter in my head?

Roots of deception from childhood trauma and a lack of identity.

Sigh.

Identity 101, again.

This round is gonna be good.  I’m excited – ish.

So why am I telling you all this?  Well, for those of you who actually read this stuff, I wanted to explain before I just disappear.

I’m stepping away from social media until January 2017.  My pages will still be active but I won’t be there.  I won’t write on my blog during this time, I’ll write privately.

I won’t be attending many social events.  It’s not personal.  I’m going to be very prayerful and specific about the events I do attend. So, if you message me and say ‘let’s get coffee’ and I decline, it’s just a season and I hope you’ll stick it out with me.  Plus – I already know this is gonna be a MESSY season and I’m trying to protect you.  You’re welcome.  ;o)

I have to find myself, y’all.  I need to find that April that got suppressed many years ago. God knows where she’s at and we’re on a journey to rescue her. I need to know what she likes.  What she doesn’t like.  I need to tell her that she’s loved and wanted and able.  She needs to know its not her fault.  She has a voice and it needs to be discovered.  She’s breaking free, you guys!

In 2011 my feet were knocked out from under me, I was tossed into the fire and I had to sit in the uncomfortable pain that comes with lack of control.  To finish off 2016, I’m voluntarily walking into the furnace.  It’s going to suck – but I know that God is going to do something incredible. He never leads us where He isn’t willing to go Himself.

I’m running hard after Jesus over these next few months.  I need to know what following Jesus looks like without the culture telling me what it looks like.  I need to know what following Jesus looks like without an audience.  No likes, comments, amens, etc.  No affirmation.

If my fear is that people won’t love me, I need to be led into a lonely place where I can see that people not loving me, is okay. People not seeing me, is okay.  People not cheering me on, is okay.  People not agreeing, is okay.

Jesus is enough.  I don’t want to go on idolizing what others think or really even caring what they think.  I cannot serve two masters.  Jesus is enough.

My doing is a manifestation of anxiety.  It’s an outlet for me to feel good and that I’m contributing good to this world.  I need to learn what life looks like when I’m not doing. I need to be still and silent.

God always reveals things to our hearts at just the right time.  The things I’ve shared here are so obvious now … but I’ve never seen them before.

I can’t wait to see what God has in store.

Soooo… if you wanna keep in touch and just say hi – feel free to email me at april@pointherjourney.com  … I can’t guarantee I’m always going to answer.  This is really a time of stripping away (again) but I always love hearing from people.

Although I won’t be meeting for many social events or one on one chit chats, if you find yourself in a place where you need one on one advice, I will still be open for business and am always happy to discuss one of my consulting packages with you.  Just visit my website and fill out the bottom form and we can see if consulting  would be a good fit for you.

Frequent the blog.  Go get you some!  There’s like 7 years of writing in this piece.  Get your encouragement on! ;o)

Alright.  I think that’s it.  Prayers are always appreciated.

I’m out, friends.  I’ll see ya in 2017.

#UndoingTheDoing

 

Peace.

April

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broken Surrender

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Can I be real with you?

Like, can we just sit together right here and be real?

Tonight, in the shower, I cried.  I wept because I’m frustrated.  It’s been a rough few weeks.  Nothing insanely life altering but it just seems like one heavy thing after the other.

One more thing on the to-do list.

One more concern.

One more “I didn’t see that coming”.

One more heavy burden.

Those things pile up.  They eventually wreak emotional havoc.

I have prayed. I’ve talked to Jesus. I’ve released the unknown to Him. I’ve worshipped. I’ve read the Word.  But sometimes our ‘humanness’ has a delayed response to our ‘spiritness’.  Bare with me – it’s a making-up-my-own-words kind of night.

I threw my hands up this evening and cried.  My hands in the air represented surrender.  My tears represented me as a human – and all of that is okay.

You better believe if you stand up in front of a group of 30ish people and declare God’s faithfulness and teach about surrender that you’ll soon be led into a season where you’re asked to surrender and have to put your money where your mouth is.  (This happened recently at a women’s event I hosted in August, where I spoke about surrender.)

I’m reminded of Jesus’ baptism.  He was baptized and a voice from heaven said, “This is my son whom I am well pleased.” BUT THEN – Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days.  Major spiritual high to major “attack”.

(Matthew 3:16-17 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Matthew 4:1-3 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him…”)

I’m learning more and more not to give the enemy credit.  He doesn’t deserve any.  I heard a preacher say the devil ALWAYS overplays his hand and launches us right into our destiny.  Notice the scriptures above say that the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness?

Tonight while talking to my husband about a pretty intense situation in our lives (that came out of ‘nowhere’), my husband’s response was – “I’m not quite sure yet if this is the devil or God. But even if it is the devil, God will make good out of it.”

I believe when doors are shutting or discomfort comes it’s easy to immediately think we’re under attack … it’s the devil!  But I’ve seen situations in my own life where it’s extremely uncomfortable, I have no clue what we’re going to do next and I actually start to see God’s handy work in the midst of it all.

That’s where I want to keep my focus. On Jesus.  On Truth. Clinging to hope.  Resolved.

Just because you feel true emotion and cry doesn’t mean you’re not trusting God. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  I’m learning to embrace brokenness.  I never thought I’d say that.  But it’s true.

My brokenness keeps me clinging to Jesus.  It’s humbling.  Brokenness with a surrendered heart is the perfect breeding ground for miracles.  It’s during trying times that I remember the deposit, the Holy Spirit who lives in me, assuring me that this is not it.  Our inheritance isn’t on this jacked up earth.  That hurting in our soul is us yearning to be face to face with Jesus.

But until then – we carry on.

Denying ourselves, carrying our cross, and choosing to follow Jesus daily – sometimes minute by minute or second by second, to be honest.

Tonight I’m thanking God for the beauty of tears.  Sweet emotion – even when it doesn’t feel so sweet. I’m thankful that he hears us loud and clear even when all we have are hands thrown up and tears streaming.

Yeah.  He understands that language.

Ladies, He gets us.  He gets you.  When you feel overwhelmed or misunderstood or frustrated, He gets you.

When you’ve overreacted or lashed out in anger – He still loves you.

Recognizing our brokenness and bringing those shattered pieces to Him in surrender is where his glory shines through.

His power is made perfect in weakness.

But he (Jesus) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

You are dearly loved, sister.

April

 

Free To Worship

 

worshipI love to watch people worship.

It’s seriously one of my faves.

I remember 13 years ago when my hubby (boyfriend at the time) took me to church with him.  I was so intrigued – and a little weirded out – by watching the people worship during the service.

I had never seen anything like it.

I didn’t grow up in church and the handful of times I did go it was stiff, we sang hymns with thy, thou, ye, etc. (Nothing wrong with that by the way, I just didn’t understand), and I just remember itchy clothes, the smell of moth balls, and wondering why grown people would stand up at the front of the church and cry while they were talking.

When I went to church with Tony (the hubs), he took me to a multi racial, multi cultural, non denominational Bible church.  We were running late that day and we entered the service during the worship set.

Hands were raised in surrender, people were crying, people were smiling, some were dancing.  They didn’t seem to care about who was around them or what anyone else thought.  It was a little odd to me but I was certain that I wanted whatever it was that they had.

As I fell in love with Jesus over that next year I remember lifting my hands in worship for the first time.

I just knew everyone was staring at me and everyone knew I was a fake.  I was still such a hot mess and I could only truly think of myself the whole time my hands were lifted and how I really wasn’t worthy to lift my hands to such a Holy King.

But I lifted them anyway.

It took me years to become comfortable with being free in worship.

The more that I learned to trust God – through some SERIOUS trials and Him coming through – the freer I became in worship.

Oh my goodness – when I walked up out of a year of paralyzing anxiety, panic attacks, and depression I could NOT keep my hands down.  Even during communion (when most people are sitting, I was standing with arms raised high).

You see, I knew what God had done for me. He had proved Himself faithful over and over and over again.  I knew He was worthy to be praised and if I didn’t praise Him the rocks would cry out in my place.  Ain’t no rock taking my place in worship.  **Waves finger back and forth**

I started to think about how I would worship Jesus if I could physically see Him standing in front of me and it helped me to get past my natural mind.  I started to realize that the people standing next to me in a church service are supposed to be my brothers and sisters in Christ – we’re all in this together … so why would I care what they think?

I love to watch people worship because I love to see freedom manifesting into the natural that spills over from the spiritual.

I also remember that first church service I went to with my now husband.  The people I saw worshiping. Their freedom caught my attention.  Their love for Jesus pouring out in worship caught my attention.  Their obedience in worship pointed to Jesus and not to them.  It wasn’t for show or to bring them attention. They were simply just responding to The Father’s love.

When we are free in worship we give others permission to be free in worship too.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Years ago I attended a church with an incredible worship team.  I wanted to be on that worship team SOOO BAD! I specifically remember God telling me no. He told me that I was a balcony worship leader.

This church was pretty large and had a balcony.  Those in the balcony seemed to be a little more reserved than those down on the floor.  Me and Tony loved sitting in the balcony so we could watch The Spirit move over the congregation as they responded to Him in worship – raising hands, dancing, singing loud.

It was harder to be free in the balcony because often times you would literally stand alone and be the only one singing … and people would know where it was coming from.

When God told me I was a balcony worshiper I started pushing past the walls of embarrassment in my mind and began to stand, arms reaching toward heaven, singing loudly, eyes closed and just being free.

I would start to hear other voices and when I would open my eyes there would be multiple people standing, arms reaching for Daddy, some crying, some singing loudly, some dancing – all worshiping freely.

It was never easy to stand and worship with hundreds of others around me who were sitting quietly – but I did it anyway because God is worthy to be praised regardless of background, personality, or if anyone else is standing with you.

I’m that weird person.  Yup.  Sure am.

I’m inviting you to be that weird person too.

I’ll leave you with this:

Last week I hosted a women’s night of prayer and worship.  One of my friends who is newer to her walk with Jesus was sitting behind the women.  Another one of my friends who has been walking with Jesus for quite some time was there as well and she was responding freely in worship with arms lifted high and singing loudly.

Both of these girls are pretty introverted and reserved.

My younger friend was amazed by the older friend’s freedom and especially since they both have similar personalities.

I had lunch with the older friend and shared the younger friend’s amazement – to which she smiled and responded with, “If I can’t be free there in worship, where can I be free?”

This pierced me.

If you can’t be free in worship – where can you be free?

Worship is not songs or hands lifted …  worship is a condition of the heart – how we live our lives.  That’s where I think a lot of people get it wrong.  “corporate worship” is when we gather and worship through song together.  We are literally ushering in the presence of God by saying ‘we want you here’ … why would we ever want to put up a wall against that?!

So I just wanted to share this with you because it was heavily stirring on my heart today.

I just want to encourage you to be free in your worship of Jesus.  It gives others permission to be free too.

Be bold.  Bring it. If anyone is watching and judging you they are obviously there for the wrong reasons.  Don’t let that stop YOU from responding to The Father’s Love any longer.

You are loved and FREE and God is worthy of all our praise and worship – Amen!

April