Faithinflipflops

Living simply, loving deeply!

Archive for the tag “friendship”

Dark Night of the Soul

I know most of the time I come across as positive and that everything is always going well. After all my blog is named “Faith In Flip Flops”! What’s happier than summer and flip flops?  This is not Sunny and Happy Heidi. This is raw. This is real. This is me. I do not know if I will actually publish this or not on my blog. I am transparent but this is even deeply personal for me.

I was up all night crying. I rarely do that. I can count on one hand the times I have done that (the death of my mom, my dad, and my brother are three of them). I cry easily when it comes to things that move and inspire me, but not from pain and anguish. I hate the empty feeling that envelopes me when I am all cried out. So I avoid at all costs.

Last night was triggered by a discovery that is quite personal and not really important to the story. The trigger is just what re-awakened a part of me that has been lying dormant in me for years, the broken part – the part of me that is so full of pain, hurt, anguish, and anger that it makes it difficult to breathe. It is the part of me that drove me to party in high school before I encountered Jesus. It is the part of me that drives me to find comfort in food, spending, and every other self-sabotaging behavior that helps me keep the pain at bay…to keep it from crashing over me like a tsunami.

Last night was a dark night of my soul. It came so suddenly and unexpectedly.

 

All I want to do is withdraw from people and life and lick my wounds.

I have been on this journey to wholeness my whole life. And as God has peeled off layer after layer, He has brought me peace and comfort. But He has never brought me healing.

This past year has been a journey of overcoming self-destructive behavior, especially in regards to food and how I treat my body. The attacks have intensified this summer. Our church is currently in the midst of a month long season of prayer and fasting. My last time of an extended time of prayer and fasting (a complete food fast for 40 days back in 1999) led to one of the most difficult seasons of my life. I haven’t really fasted consistently since. I know what it brings to the surface. And it ain’t pretty.

I feel so broken and helpless. And crazy.

While showering this morning, I had a moment of clarity. This broken part of me cannot be healed. God can comfort and bring insight, but the pain, hurt, and anguish is real and has had a real impact on my life.

Sidenote: I come from a denomination whose theology believes in healing. I believe in healing. It is a gift of the Spirit. But the reality is no one gets out of here alive and no one gets through life unscathed. When God heals it is for His name sake and out of compassion. This me-centered Gospel Western Christianity has embraced is frustrating and does not work in most parts of the world.

Back to the shower…the realization that this part of me cannot be undone, or healed, or erased. It has to be faced. I thought of Jacob from the Bible who wrestled with God. I read the story again this morning.

Jacob’s name means deceiver. He was a deceiver. His whole life he had consistently made poor choices and done some shady things. He betrayed his twin brother Esau. The story finds Jacob having to face his brother in the morning. This is the first time in years encountering him since he betrayed and screwed Esau over (with the help of his mother).

Jacob truly thought his brother could kill him the next day and rightfully so. He sent everyone and everything else ahead and he stayed in camp by himself for the night. And wrestled with God. All night long. Jacob would not give up.  When God saw this (Jacob’s tenacity) and that He could not win (God couldn’t win? What an amazing thought)…He gave up. Scripture says God had to say to Jacob, “Let me go”. Jacob insisted on a blessing before letting God go. Before God blessed him, He asked Jacob “What is your name”. Jacob had to say “Jacob”. Basically, Jacob stood before God, dripping sweat, bloody, hip hurt, scared, and tired and he confessed, “I am a deceiver”. He didn’t hide it from God. He was honest and raw. God changes his name from Jacob to Israel, from deceiver to one who fought with God and man and won. How do you beat God?

But God also marked him. He touched his hip. Jacob had a limp from that day forward. So he would remember. The pain was a reminder that the deceiving part of him died that night…that dark night of his soul.

Everyone knew Jacob’s deceptive ways.

Jacob could have blamed the way he grew up. He grew up in a dysfunctional home. His dad favored his brother, Esau, because he was a hunter and a manly man. His mom favored Jacob and pitted the two against each other. But he didn’t play the blame game. He was a deceiver because he chose to be. And God brought Jacob to the end of himself so he could rename him.

I will always walk with a bit of a limp – with pain and anguish that sometimes gushes out. But I take responsibility for the wrong ways in which I have tried to cover and appease the pain. The sinful ways. The ways that have left me empty and hurt and even more broken.

God has always been in the business of changing names. He changed

  •             Abram to Abraham
  •             Jacob to Israel
  •             Saul to Paul
  •             Simon to Peter (John 1:42)

All had broken, less than stellar pasts.

What would God change my name to? Am I ready to have my name changed?

I don’t know where I go from here but I am completely undone. The pain and hurt still come crashing over me in waves. I have to trust as every wave that is crashing over me, it is cleansing and taking the parts out of me that need to go. Following Jesus isn’t easy, safe, pretty, or graceful.

 

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The waves crashing over the break wall at the mouth of the Vermilion River. Depicts how the waves of pain and anguish feel.

It is actually, at times, heart-wrenching, hard as a hell, and ugly. My ugly cry last night was not for weak of heart. My puffy eyes this morning are not attractive. Nor is my mood.

But it is worth it. I want the tenacity of Jacob or as my friend, Cristi texted me today, I want to be fierce, strong, and brave. I want to wrestle with God and win. Pain will mark that journey. No way around it.

I want to be like Peter and come to the conclusion he did, “Where else would I go? Jesus, you alone have the words of life?”

I may not know where to go but I do know the starting place even as frustrated, angry, and hurt as I am and that is to the foot of the Cross. I take my hurt, my broken pieces, and thoughts there. I find it ironic that I am leading our congregation in communion this Sunday morning.

I feel so ugly and insecure and trying to hide all of that at the same time as trying to fix it myself leads to self-destructive behavior. I want to be free. I want to be enough. I want to be valued. I want to be fought for. (How’s that for real?).

God has brought me full circle. It is 20 years since I graduated from College and went into ministry. For the most part, I have enjoyed every moment. It has been hard and messy but amazing and fruitful at the same time. I would choose it over and over again though it has cost me a lot.

Eighteen years ago, after a dark season, instead of admitting I was broken and wounded, I indulged in self-destructive behavior. I don’t want to do that again.

I have spent most of the day in the sanctuary of our church, setting up for Sunday, preparing for communion, and writing. I am reminded how much I need a tribe of people around me. I am thankful for Pastor Jim and my friend Cristi who have allowed me to be incredibly raw and real. I haven’t been fired yet. And especially Cristi, who gets my inappropriate way of talking about things. I am an open person but in my life, I have never experienced a friendship in which I can confess my sins, fears, and insecurities and not feel judged. Or have it used against me. That is what James was talking about in Scripture when he admonished us to confess our sins one to another so we can be healed. I am also thankful for another unexpected friend that has helped me through this season in ways in which they have no idea. Their impact has been immeasurable. I hope I can someday repay the favor.

Texting Pastor Jim I eventually said this, “God is good but He is definitely not safe”.  (From a quote from my favorite book by C.S. Lewis). He responded “No He is not safe and we are not either. I wore a T-shirt yesterday that said “Pursue peace – Prepare for war” words to live by”. He went on to say, “You are that kind of dangerous also. Don’t be surprised or over reflective of your weakness. Rely on your strength…it is what makes you dangerous”

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I now understand why King David wrote so many Psalms. He wrote himself off the ledge. I write myself off the ledge. Even in the midst of this, God is good and He is worth it all. And I am grateful He allowed waterproof mascara and foundation to be invented.

25 Years Later: Wisdom from a Sailor

This weekend is my 25 Year High School Class Reunion. I graduated in 1988 from a high school on the shores of Lake Erie. We were known as the Vermilion Sailors. Last night was our pre-celebration and tonight is the actual reunion. Fun times. I was thinking today about how different 18-year-old Heidi is from a 43-year-old Heidi. A lot of life happens in 25 years. So in honor of my 25 year class reunion here are:
25  26 things I have learned since high school!
(I couldn’t whittle it down to 25)
1. Having lost about 20 family members since my senior year…life is way too short to hold a grudge. Let it go. Let those important to you know that you care. Send a card. Tell them you love them. Mend fences.
(I LOVE this song…so fits!)
2. Don’t let who you were as a teen-ager or how you grew up dictate who you are today (unless it is positive). Don’t be the victim. Choose to be the victor.
3. God is faithful. Always. Through the good and the bad times.
4. Childhood friends are a blessing. Sharing the same childhood memories, growing up, and experimenting with boundaries as teens form bonds of friendship that cannot be broken. I look at my group of friends and how diverse we were/are (conservatives, hippies, single, married, divorced, pastor, cop, business owner, environmentalist) and am grateful that no two of us are the same and that we never expected that of each other.

Some of us from the pre-celebration.

Some of us from the pre-celebration.

5. Don’t judge people. You have no idea how hard their life has been and what goes on at home.

6. Laugh. A lot. Life can be tough but there is healing in laughter.

7. Don’t be afraid to cry. God’s healing comes through tears and laughter!

8. Grumbling, complaining, and whining is a waste of time. Do I really want to waste this one life I have been so graciously given on that? Hold to what is good, let go of the bad.
9. Prayer works. Really. God has always come through in countless times and in countless ways! A blog will be coming shortly on a miracle that has occurred in the past 2 weeks in my own life.
10. Life can really be hard. Excruciatingly hard. Mind-numbing, take your breath away hard. You need people. You need God.
11. Life can be breathtakingly wonderful and fun and full of joy. You need people to celebrate and rejoice with! You need to thank God for those times.
12. Jesus is everything to me.

13. Everyone you meet still has some of that shy, awkward teen-ager in them. Everyone. So cut them some slack!

14. Beauty is a state of mind, a disposition…not your appearance. The most beautiful people I have met have been those who are genuinely kind and compassionate. This has been my toughest battle. Has taken me 43 years to get here.

15. Family is important. Before my dad died, he had us 4 girls around him and said “remember, you always got family.” Very touching…that was until he tried to punch the nurse.

My dad and me before he passed away

My dad and me before he passed away

16. If you don’t have family around, God can create one for you. It says in the Scriptures that God sets the lonely in families. Many people in VA I still consider family from my time spent there.

Two guys I consider family! They come over every Sunday night for family night. Some family is not blood but just as strong...they were out for Dylon's bachelor party :)

Two guys I consider family! They come over every Sunday night for family night. Some family is not blood but just as strong…they were out for Dylon’s bachelor party 🙂

17. There is NOTHING God can’t forgive. NOTHING! I speak from experience.

18. You have to learn to laugh at yourself. You are not as great as you think you are, nor are you as sucky as you think you are. Lighten up!

19. Deal with your insecurities. They will cripple you if you don’t get them under control.

20. Enjoy life! Arms wide open, lifted high, embracing every experience with as much wide-eyed joy, wonder  and gratitude as possible.

21. Every so often throw your clock/watch out the window. Don’t allow time to rule you. I learned this when I was in Mexico City and Jamaica. Slow the pace. God was on to something when He said to keep the day of rest.

21. Exercise daily. Your mind and your body.

22. Learn something new every year.

23. Don’t be afraid of failure. They are only failures if you don’t learn from them or quit.

24. Following Jesus is the best decision I have ever made.

25. Be kind to everyone you meet. Even if you don’t think they deserve it.

26. It’s never too late to start over. Some of the most awe-inspiring people I have met are older people who are brave enough to face change!

These are a few of my favorite things…

It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I love musicals. I think periodically throughout the week, we should spontaneously break out into song. It would make life much more fun and enriching! One of the best songs from a musical is “My Favorite Things” from the The Sound of Music. A portion of the song says:

When the dog bites, when the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

Today has not been the best of days. It’s one of those days in which nothing is wrong but just general feelings of sadness and inadequacy and self-doubt. I’m assuming everyone has days like these. It is really hard to write when I feel like this but I have this goal of writing a blog a week…

And I received a letter from a friend today who is in a much tougher place than me. And he wrote on how he is beginning to keep a journal of 1,000 gifts. 1,000 gifts in an environment that never seems to change. And He is seeing God’s goodness all around him. It deeply challenged me.

After chewing on that all day, I decided my blog this week would be to remember a few of my favorite things. And hopefully when I’m done, I won’t feel so sad! So here goes: (and no particular order besides #1)

1. My Bible.

God's Word to me. I find Him daily in these pages. And grow to love Him more and more!

God’s Word to me. I find Him daily in these pages. And grow to love Him more and more!

2. My mom’s rose-bush. My mom has been gone 25 1/2 years and this is one of the few things I have of hers besides pictures and memories. And it was my dad’s favorite memory of her. This bush has been transplanted more times than I care to remember. It is a testament to resiliency.

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3. Chocolate covered Strawberries. Makes everything better. And hint, hint to any friends or family….Valentine’s Day is coming up! 🙂

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4. My Winnie the Pooh rock that my sister Nancy painted for me when I was 4. It is in my Cross treasure box…

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5. My Cross Treasure box. A dear man-made it for me when I lived in Virginia. It is hand-made and no nails were used. It reminds me of him and the power of forgiveness. God used me in his life while I was pastoring. I pray for and think about him when I look at it. He is still faithfully serving the Lord.

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6. Pedicures!

Brenda, Bethany, and me getting a pedicure during a girl's weekend!

Brenda, Bethany, and me getting a pedicure during a girl’s weekend!

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7. Bonfires.

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8. Flip flops 🙂

My blog name has come from my love of flip flops!

My blog name has come from my love of flip-flops!

9. Dad’s Bible and dog tags. My dad was a WWII vet. He was given a pocket Bible during the war with a metal cover. It went in the pocket over the heart. It was protection for his heart. The Word of God really does protect the heart!

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10. Laughing! I say in every Bible study I lead and class I teach and person that I counsel that God brings healing in two ways…through laughter and through tears. The Bible says that “a joyful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22).

This is one of my favorite pictures! Long story from a women's retreat...taken by a drunk man...so captures that weekend!

This is one of my favorite pictures! Long story from a women’s retreat…taken by a drunk man…so captures that weekend!

11. Palm Trees. My house is decorated in flip-flops, flamingoes, and palm trees!

This pic was taken laying on a beach in Florida!

This pic was taken laying on a beach in Florida!

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12. Tattoos – this surprises most people but I really love tattoos. And I have 2 of them.

One of my tattoos with one of my favorite Scriptures.

One of my tattoos with one of my favorite Scriptures.

13. Practical Jokes.  I will write a blog one day on a couple of the practical jokes that I have done and have been done to me.

One of the most elaborate jokes ever pulled on me. A locksmith, a trip to the junkyard, switching of hoods...it will have its own blog...

One of the most elaborate jokes ever pulled on me. A locksmith, a trip to the junkyard, switching of hoods…it will have its own blog…

My house after it was saran wrapped and potatoed.

My house after it was Saran wrapped and potatoed.

Jodi and I giving Katie and Randall the big "L" and "W" for punking them after they punked us!

Jodi and I giving Katie and Randall the big “L” and “W” for punking them after they punked us!

14. A note I received from my nephew, Harrison, while I was in college. I still have it. 

Vermilion-20121223-0018715. Preaching. I really do love to communicate God’s Word to people and share all the goodness He has shown me. It has taken me awhile to be comfortable in my own skin and style and not compare myself to others.

Preaching.

Preaching.

This was a gift from my good friend, Connie Hansen, whose parents really believed in me and helped me in college! It's a skinny :) woman preacher!

This was a gift from my good friend, Connie Hansen, whose parents really believed in me and helped me in college! It’s a skinny 🙂 woman preacher!

16. Books.  I love the smell of books. I love getting caught up in a plot of a book and staying up all night to finish. I love buying books….And I always say that “readers are leaders”.

I have books everywhere in my house.

I have books everywhere in my house.

My pile of to read books that is next to my recliner.

My pile of to read books that is next to my recliner.

I have run out of book cases...one of my spare rooms has hundreds of books in piles...

I have run out of book cases…one of my spare rooms has hundreds of books in piles…

My all time favorite series...the Chronicles of Narnia...

My all time favorite series…the Chronicles of Narnia…

17. My family. While my dad was in the hospital…shortly before he died…he told us four girls that “remember that you always have family.” This was right before he tried to punch the nurse. 🙂

My favorite picture of some of my nieces and nephew!

My favorite picture of some of my nieces and nephew!

My favorite picture of the 6 of us kids with my dad!

My favorite picture of the 6 of us kids with my dad!

18. Elvis Leg. This one makes me laugh and wonder at the same time. This reminds me of my first youth group that I pastored. Some really great and fruitful times of ministry.

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19. Crazy Dresser. This was a grief purchase after my dad died. There is a crazy story that goes with it. My family teases me about it but when I die they will all fight for it 🙂 I think this dresser captures my personality and is proudly displayed in my living room!

Note the face and that it is leaning. Also note the muscle on the left and the hand holding it up on the right! This is hand made.

Note the face and that it is leaning. Also note the muscle on the left and the hand holding it up on the right! This is hand-made.

20. Friendships. I have been blessed with the best friendships throughout my life! God’s endless blessings! Other pictures of my friends are scattered all throughout this blog…most of my favorite things have come from my friends!

Close high school friends, Jen and Jen and me! One of my all time favorite pics!

Close high school friends, Jen and Jen and me! One of my all time favorite pics!

BFF from college Jodi and me making snow angels!

BFF from college Jodi and me making snow angels!

Sonia and me!

Sonia and me!

21. Chocolate. Don’t need to say anything more.

Winner of a chocolate contest! Imagine that! :)

Winner of a chocolate contest! Imagine that! 🙂

22. Porcelain Conch and Seaweed Music box. This has its very own blog. A gift from my brother Bill.

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23. Hog hair shearer. This is one of my most treasured possessions. My favorite ministry story stems from this. This will get its very own blog someday!

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24. Picture/art work. This picture speaks volumes to me. It captures how I want to live my life. I want to take risks and go down swinging if I ever have to go down! I eventually will get this put on canvas!

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25.  All things Beach and water! 

Lake Erie in my kayak on a summer day.

Lake Erie in my kayak on a summer day.

Beach in Florida where my brother lives.

Beach in Florida where my brother lives.

Main Street Beach on Lake Erie. One of the most beautiful spots in the world to me!

Main Street Beach on Lake Erie. One of the most beautiful spots in the world to me!

Columbus, the passing of a friend, and tearing down house…lessons in friendship (essay from 7/10/2010)

When something is bothering me, the way that I deal with it is to write about it. Being able to express my feelings on paper or computer helps me to process through things. So here I go…
A few weeks ago, I met with two of my good friends from college. We had a girls getaway in Columbus. We came from Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio. It had been years since we had all been together. There was a lot of laughter, story telling, eating, talking about what God was doing in each of our lives, even some crying. My friend Bethany said something during those couple of days that I have been thinking about a lot. We were talking about friendship and how glad we were to see each other and she said “this is the only thing we get to take to heaven with us…relationships.”This past week two sad things happened. The first, a very dear friend and mentor, Jimmy Davis passed away. He was one of those people who had so many challenges in life yet refused to be defined by them. He was more than a survivor, he was a thriver. He would ask me questions about “where does Jesus fit into politics, how would Jesus have you respond.” He would really challenge me to think through those questions. When I was unjustly politically attacked, Jimmy was my sounding board and encourager of taking the high road but not backing down or retreating. He taught me by example that you could be a strong leader and still maintain integrity in the worst of circumstances. I am a better person for having known Jimmy. The best thing that has come out of being on City Council for me are the friendships that I have been able to make. And Jimmy was one of the best!The second thing that happened was a house across from where I live, a house that has been there through my growing up was demolished. While I was watching the guys tear it down, I was overwhelmed with sadness. It was a perfect picture of how I felt the past few years have been…so much change, so much loss. The reminder that nothing ever stays the same. It’s funny how I don’t mind change if I am the one initiating it (but isn’t that all of us).

After Jimmy’s beautiful memorial service today, I could tell that God was trying to tie all three things together. And I hope I can articulate it.

While watching the house being torn down, I thought of the family that lived there through my childhood; the Showalter’s. The memories I had of swimming in their pool, the neighborhood picnics/pool parties, playing with their son, the watching of each other’s house when the other were gone, John bringing smelling salts over when my sister Penny cut her hand so bad, she was passing out….the friendship and memories that the house represented. and how each person we meet and befriend through life changes us, making us a better person.

When we die we can not take money with us, we can not take titles with us, we can not take our homes and our toys and our stuff and our jobs….the only thing we can take with us are people, relationships. We spend so much time cultivating “stuff” we can not take with us that we miss out on the good stuff and that is relationships/friendships. Jesus says “let us love one another for love is of God” and “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” and “treat others as you would want to be treated.”

I do not have a lot of material stuff…I live pretty simply….in fact by some standards I might be considered poor 🙂 but one thing I do have are deep, rich relationships. And I want to spend my days letting those I love know how important they are to me and getting to know others better, recognizing the only thing I get to take to Heaven when Jesus calls me home, are the relationships I cultivate here on earth. Live simply, love deeply

The Adventures of Cabin 17

This past weekend, God once again demonstrated the power of friendship and the importance of living life together. Eleven ladies from my church went to a women’s retreat (or a soul vacation as I like to call it) at Punderson Park. There were six of us in my cabin. I have attended a lot of retreats/conferences but this one was by far one of the best, most fun, most deep, most freeing one I have ever experienced. Friday night during service, we had to go and have quiet time as part of the service. Jessie, Tammy, and I went out to the foyer, right outside the bar in which a guy was singing  (wonderfully, I might add) with a guitar. So there we were, in a “haunted” manor, under the shadow of a knight in shining armor, listening to a guy with an acoustic guitar, spending time with Jesus. I love my relationship with Him! He shows up wherever I am! While I was sitting there, I wrote down all the songs that the guy sang so I am incorporating all the titles of the song in to my blog! J

The six of us all came as “Desperado’s – all desperate for God and for breakthroughs in our lives. And breakthroughs came! Breakthrough came in the form of tears, laughter (lots and lots), worship, the Word, prayer, YouTube (yep, I said it) and through each other. We all discovered “everybody needs somebody, sometimes.” (Thanks, Keith).

The theme of the weekend was Untangled. We are broken people and life tangles us up. We get tangled in unforgiveness, bitterness, wrong thinking, worry, fear and insecurity just to name a few. We need to allow God to untangle the broken pieces in us.  This weekend each of us experienced “landslides” in these areas. Landslides of God’s love and healing. Landslides of laughter. I have discovered in my own walk with the Lord that there are tools that God has given us to help with our healing. Two of these tools are tears and laughter. Both of these flowed over the weekend!

And every evening, back in Cabin 17, we discovered that “the freaks come out at night.” J And so did the laughter. Blueberries, fighting holly hobbies, 2-legged horses, jumping, Lemuel Punderson, golden bath tubs, peeing out the calories, sea weed ghosts, haunted rocking chairs, crazy camera man, chunky dunking, the blue jean dance all became part of the healing laughter. Saturday, after circle time and an evening of sharing our stories, and putting into writing what we most admire about one another, and jumping like maniacs, and me taking an elbow to the shoulder from Melanie (that was caught on film), we all went to bed. Just as I was about to drift off into a contented, peaceful sleep, Melanie and Jessie burst into our room shouting “Where is Heidi? Is Heidi in her bed? We heard the front door shut.” We tried to convince Melanie that it “was just her imagination” or Mr. Punderson leaving and returning to his golden bath tub.

Sunday morning was an amazing time of worship and the Word. I had the privilege of praying for ladies with Susie. To see God seal all that He had done in each of the ladies was overwhelming. For some reason, God in His infinite wisdom wired women to need each other. My prayer for the 11 ladies from our church that went is that they would not leave the retreat thinking “Here I go again on my own”. I pray that they would continue to see the need for friendship, authenticity, laughter, and tears. Someone asked me what made the retreat so great. I thought about the answer to that and I came to the conclusion it was the ladies that went that made it so great. For a weekend we got to share our lives and our hurts and our tears and our laughter with one another. We got to pray for one another and rejoice with one another. Keith Urban really was right when he sang the song “Everybody needs somebody sometimes.” And God always seems to know who those somebodies need to be. So the adventures of Cabin 17 have come to an end but somehow I know that the friendships that were made and strengthened there will continue to grow!

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