Archives for the month of: July, 2019

Stephanie Payne was my friend. She was my sister in Christ and she was a glowing beacon of light and a fierce warrior to those of us that have been affected by tragic loss. She gave this hurting world hell and she did it with grace and one heck of a sense of humor.

After I learned of her passing, I took a minute to go through some of our old messages and listened again to her testimony from start to finish. Her common denominator in all of it was always joy. Stephanie could make me laugh like no other. I imagined her wasting no time in blasting straight through the pearly gates, right past God to get to Savannah, only to then sheepishly turn around with that thousand watt smile to receive her “well done.”

While I was sitting there listening to her recorded voice, I saw hundreds of dragonflies darting around outside my window. I think they had been there all morning but I was just then seeing them. Every single one of them, golden in color. I’ve seen them before. Swarms of them, just like this and right after I learned of another dear friends passing. I remembered their spiritual significance.

The dragonfly represents growth. It is strongest when it stays close to its source of strength—the sunlight. She absorbs it’s warmth and reflects light back onto the world through her wings.

The dragonfly is said to be the keeper of dreams. They symbolise understanding of the deeper meaning of life. In some legends, the dragonfly is a symbol of resurrection and renewal after hardship.

Stephanie was like a dragonfly to me. She truly declared the deeper meaning of life by using her wings for purpose and duty. She understood that she was created to grow and develop into all God had planned for her and with a heart wide open, willingly shared the wisdom learned from her travels. Like a dragonfly, she absorbed the light of Jesus and drew so many hurting souls to Him by simply being golden.

Freedom in Christ was her lead. Love was her sidekick. Time was her energy and loyal friendship was what she offered with destiny in her heart. She walked through the deepest pain a mother could ever know yet refused the hardening. Her heart stayed soft to the dawning of peace that brings a quiet knowing of true strength, courage, and laughter.

Stephanie changed my life for the better. She taught me how to find joy in the face of death and to channel that energy into something meaningful. Thank you, Father for the precious gift of Stephanie. The world is and forever will be a better place because of her. Her legacy of delight will live in our hearts until the day we get to meet again. ‘Til then, rest easy my once in a lifetime gift of a friend. Fly high, dragonfly.

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

2 Corinthians 4:6

***Please keep Stephanie’s family in your prayers, especially her Tim and Isabella. I pray that God will sustain them as He holds them close and that the stories of how deeply Stephanie touched other lives will bless them in the hard days ahead.

 

I’m walking out of a four month season of fogginess. I’m not exactly sure from which direction the fog came, why it showed up when it did, or how it managed to stick around for so long. All I know is that God’s timing is perfect and the fog rolled in because it was ordered to and it left me with no other option but to just roll with it.

The truth is I was mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. I think my creator knew I needed a minute. So for the first time in a very long time, I took one. While there, I decided to unpack.

Piece by piece, I began unpacking the heavy bag that I had the propensity to carry around. The thing is, my bag was on these super awesome rollers so I wasn’t aware of how heavy it had become. I mindlessly grabbed it everyday and allowed it to glide alongside me.

I was waking every morning, unconsciously throwing lies on top of fears, fears on top of lies, and lugging around a carryall that was so full I could barely zip it. No wonder I was so tired…I was toting that mother load around every. single. minute. of. every. single. day.

That’s when Jesus said “sit.” Something inside of my heart knew He meant it. Then He rang in the fog. I’m enchanted with a good fog. To me, it’s a visual representation of quietness, coziness, and security. This proverbial fog had a very loving and protective feeling about it, but it also had a warning aspect, wanting me to stay put and just be.

I’m no good at just being; I’m driven by purpose. I’m addicted to the sense of accomplishment. I enjoy having a full plate with several others spinning in the air above my head. But I knew I wouldn’t be going anywhere or doing anything until I took some time to uncrate.

So I put the bag down. At first, I just shoved it in a corner where I wouldn’t notice it. I would catch it repeatedly glaring back at me so I moved it to another space in time, ignoring it for a while longer. I was too drained to deal.

I’m not implying that I’ve been laying around in bed for four months just staring at a metaphorical suitcase. What I’ve been doing is nothing…but so much more. I’ve been at home, unpacking and doing things that I’ve needed to do…like painting, being fully present, facing down a few giants, silencing a few lies, slaying a few dragons, adopting a kitten, getting off the grid, and overseeing a renovation project we started on our house.

Really by “oversee,” I mean hang out with the workers. I made new friends with all of the unique craftsmen that came into my home. They provided me with lots of lingering smiles, deep laughs, fresh perspectives, new enlightenments, and great conversations (mostly tales about fishing and coyote whispering).

I love and miss them all now that the project is complete, especially Roy. Have you ever felt someone’s energy before you actually laid eyes on them? That’s how my connection with Roy went. I felt him coming up the driveway before I ever turned around to physically see him. Roy ended up being one the most genuine and solid souled guys I’ve ever had the honor of making sick with my cooking. He is the real deal; what you see is what you get and he makes no apologies or excuses about any of it. I admire that. I learned a great deal from Roy.

After the guys finished up, our newly renovated empty nest got really quiet. I knew it was time to address the ignored suitcase and toss out all the junk I’d been lugging around. Jesus promised that if I would stop procrastinating and tend to it, He would give me new things. What woman doesn’t love new things?! So I found myself somewhat inspired to let it all go….in order to be able to start over.

Listen, we all have heavy baggage we tend to lug around. Some of it comes from prior trips that we keep adding more stuff on top of. Things like regret and shame get shoved to the bottom, waiting for the day when we are able to get home and with great intention, unpack and address.

But we are always in such a rush that sometimes we throw things on top of those dirty clothes. Things we are comfortable in, like t-shirts and yoga pants that are full of snags and hang ups but are still somewhat good enough and presentable for the day. I would even venture to guess many of us have thrown in a few extra items for future trips–like worry and stress–just in case there might be unforeseen bad weather.

We each have a bag but we all pack so differently. Some of us pack light and others are secret hoarders. Either way, the spirit of God never asks you to bear the weight of the load alone. So don’t ever beat yourself up for growing weary. Is there a battle? Of course there’s a battle. Are you surprised? The good news is that there is also victory, and it is certain.

It’s the promise of the gospel. You can completely start over–every day if you have to! The gospel gives you full permission to toss out the heaviness of guilt, regrets, frustrations, unfulfilled hopes, and more. In their place, you can pick up the new and start living in that identity.

The new is not just an improvement on the old. It’s an exchange. It’s Jesus within you. Sit down in the fog with all of your things and ask Him what He wants you to take with you and what He wants you to leave behind.

I have found that in laying down the weightiness of life, taking the time to truly communicate with the one who knows the number of hairs on your head, will wake you up in the day break of beautiful break throughs. Things can and will be new, different, and better, and you’ll find yourself living in the lightness of resurrection—where every day is new.

This is our surrender to the seasons of life, storms and all. Where we proclaim it like the sunrise speaking to the fog. This is where the sunshine shakes you awake again. Where we learn to reach out for love and let it in to a room that is filled with moonlight and where the walls are as warm as our skin.

Where we are content to just listen for the music by the water, creating space as we pull ourselves up. Where the memories of singing and dancing fill the air like fireflies living for the only forest floor left. Where our burn returns our fire and the cold can have our worn out clothing. Where the wind is our direction and the waves invite you in. Where we raise a hallelujah to the soul-comforting awareness that we are never alone and that there is always a symphony being sung above our heads.

This is where the fog starts to lift from the soft side of the heart because the faces of our friends and family will forever live on. This is the lightness of being. This is peace.