Day 19 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

I have always loved trees.  I liked to climb them, lie down under them and watch the leaves moving, the birds jumping from branch to branch, the limbs swaying, and the sky and clouds beyond.  I loved the varying colours of green, the cool shade that was provided.  The grounds of the first school I went to was full of old trees, mainly mahogany ones, with thick trunks and roots spreading all over the play area,  and beyond, ready to trip you up if you did not look where you were going.  I loved the art days when we were allowed to go outside and sketch, or the fine days when we could take our books outside and have a class in the open air.  I also loved when my teacher would take us on walks ‘to the Casuarina Trees’ on the outskirts of the school.  The sound of the breeze blowing through the huge cluster of trees was rather like the sound of the sea echoing in the distance and it was a very peaceful sound.   The trees had been there a very long time.  They looked old, but comfortable and comforting.  Tree trunks thick with rough, peeling grey bark, and upwards the long pine needles of the Casuarina shaking gently in the wind.  I longed to climb one, but I only ever climbed the almond tree in my own garden.  It was a large almond tree, and over my growing up years I would often climb through its limbs and relish in the freedom of being among the birds and creatures of the tree tops.  I sometimes swung upside down on a branch, or just sat upright and enjoyed the birds eye view.  I liked being alone with my thoughts and my active imagination.

I love nature, helped, I’m sure by my early school days.  the vibrant colours, sounds and sights, everything intricately designed for a specific purpose.  I love to see the trees change colour in autumn, although it doesn’t happen here.  Where I live there is one main season, but being surrounded by ocean, we get the benefit of the changing tides, and all that comes with the warmth year round.   God, our amazing creator, responsible for all of it.

Sometimes I long for those innocent, carefree Casuarina tree days.

Today is Day 19 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release, that I am writing for #write31days challenge.

Day 18 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

A few years ago I embarked on a 6 month journey with members of my church.  In safe groups we shared our stories, our hearts, and learnt the truth about what Jesus thinks of us.  It was amazing. My group’s theme was titled ‘Free to be Me’, so appropriate for me.

One of our assignments was to write a letter to our “Poser”.  So this is excerpts of mine:

Dear Faker

You’ve made yourself very comfortable, but now it is time to get out of your comfort zone and to be ready for exposure.  There have been too many perfect pictures of smiling satisfaction and feeling good, when deep down you are ashamed and fearful, unworthy.  You have reached the point of no return.  No more lies and fake bravado, shirking from decision-making – it’s the truth or nothing.  I’m tired of you hiding away, lurking in the shadows, refusing to take a stand.  I am tired of going along, conforming to whoever I am with, in order to fit in with whichever group I happen to be with.  I want to shout from the rooftops, ‘I am God’s masterpiece, and he is everything to me!’ No more hiding and shrinking from saying the words to others, having Jesus in my conversation.

Stop with the analysing and deep thoughts… stop with your doubting and fearfulness, don’t bother going down that road… Pride is all stripped away, and none of that junk matters.  So no more playing games with my head anymore, you have been exposed…. There’s no need to make things complicated, I know I am free to be me at last!  

It was very freeing and healing to do this and to read it out loud to the group.  It doesn’t mean that I am completely free of my poser, he does still creep in from time to time.  But with God’s help I can usually recognise it and bring it to light, or someone who knows me well will show me the truth.  I am also full of joy that this Prison Break series I am writing right now, only by his loving grace, is exactly timed, and it’s where God wants me to be.

Today is Day 18 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release 

Day 17 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

I used to talk to God when I was swimming, often when I was under water.  It was quiet there,  It was totally relaxing, I could just ‘be’ with total abandon.  That was when I would thank him, for creating the beautiful ocean, nature and everything in it, all the many other blessings I have, and when I would just enjoy being with him.  I was a new creation, slipping through the water, stretching, pulling the water with my arms and legs, diving, resurfacing, observing the fish, coral, everything, loving just ‘being’.

The sea is still my most relaxing place to soak in, and I am very fortunate to live on an island surrounded by it.  I love walking in the sand and feeling it course through my toes.  If I choose the west coast I can be assured of calm waters to swim in, snorkel with fish and the odd turtle.  If I choose the east coast at low tide I can walk on the reefs and step into some rock pools to soak, otherwise watch the waves forming and crashing; on the south I can be assured of waves to jump over or swim under. The north is where the waves crash over the cliffs, and feeling the sea spray and admiring from afar is enough.  This is what I have at my finger tips, and so much more.

I don’t always make time for this passion of the sea, but when I do it counts.  I think about it, taking short trips to the ocean with just a towel and a mask, but somehow life obstructs my salty pathway.  I would be better for having done it and I should obey my inner voice, prompting me, inviting me to join him for the swim of my life.

Today is Day 17 of the series Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

Day 16 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

When I am asked, “What is your passion?”  How do I respond.  You got it,  It depends on who is doing the asking. Also, it depends on what stage I am in my life.  Unfortunately, I don’t often mention the one who takes up many of my daily thoughts.

When I started gymnastics at school, that was it.  When I started to water ski well, play tennis, those were passions.  When I had my first boyfriend, he was my passion.  When I got an exciting job, that was my passion.  My husband, my kids, of course, are my passion.  My writing, once lying dormant but now fully awakened, is my passion.

When I first began a relationship with Jesus, he was my passion.  I was excited to learn about him, to read the latest recommended book, to read through the Bible, trying to fathom his very existence when he was here on earth all those years ago, imagining being there and watching his miracles, eating some of the multiplied bread and fish, the full charge of excitement and joy when he ascended into heaven, leaving us with everything we needed to keep things going and carry on his work.  I loved to hear people talking about him, to hear their dramatic stories of changed lives.  I loved the community of church.  I still love those things, but the freshness, the excitement has dwindled away somewhat.  I long to get it back.  But the truth is I have it, I have him inside of me, and no matter how I feel, I can rest in the truth of knowing that.  I don’t have to be excited every day, I know the truth, and it sets me free.

If I could only express this mystery more clearly to others.  If I could only get a few of my tears out, which are waiting to be caught by Jesus, I think I would be able to talk more freely about him.

But right now, I am okay where I am, and he is more than okay with me.

Today is Day 16 of the series Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release, that I am writing for #write31days challenge.

Day 15 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

Half way through this write 31 days series!  The posts have sometimes been off the beaten track, but I understand this happens with writers as new ideas emerge and need to be voiced.

I wrote the following almost exactly 2 years ago in one of my journals:  “I’ve realised that I have been living through someone else.  I have been reveling in their glory.  I have been spending too much time waiting, not on God, but waiting to hear more, to satisfy my craving, my idol: Facebook / electronic recognition.  There, I have admitted it – I crave recognition, I crave encouragement, and I get it this way, through someone else’s success – my son, my daughter’s achievements, my Moms in Prayer Ministry  …     What am I really afraid of?  Failure, rejection, not pleasing people close to me?  Just do it – do that desire of my heart.  Don’t just dream and adopt a defeatist attitude.  Do what you’ve wanted to do ever since you were a teenager. It’s not too late.  Do what you’ve been called to do …. Get it done!”

Was that a spectacular, headline prison break that we were all waiting for? Not quite, I’m afraid.  More likely, after 2 years I was being released on my own recognizance, on the condition I write every day. And since 2 weeks ago I am a fully fledged joy Writer.

I used to be glued to Facebook.  Somehow it provided that safety, that ‘good’ procastination, that partial connectivity, that acceptability, satisfying that deepest longing to be known. But Facebook was my time stealer, and I was able to get unstuck eventually.  I still go on it every few days for a few minutes to check messages and see if the kids have posted anything, or to wish a friend a happy birthday or to ‘like’ something spectacular.  And my heart still skips a beat hearing from the kids, both overseas, they communicate well and often with us.   And I am still in other mini-prisons, a bit like holding cells, for chocoholics and nail biters.

I am not too bothered.  I am doing what I love.

Today is Day 15 of the series Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 days of Inner Release that I am writing for #write31days challenge.

Day 14 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

I want to take you back to a time very early on in my new found faith, the summer of 2008.

My son was 5 years old and my daughter was close to 18 months.  He was complaining of abdominal pain and he had an upset stomach.  Over the next few days he was to become very lethargic, and after seeing the doctor and it was discovered that his blood count was 5, we were sent directly to the hospital.  He would spend 2 weeks there.  Blood transfusions and many tests later, days stretching  to a week, before it was finally discovered that he had Meckel’s Diverticulum, bleeding of the tip of his intestine.  It was a very anxious time, when everything was uncertain, and to see his little frame connected to a drip and lying in the hospital bed was heartbreaking.  He hated injections and he was stuck many times, each time screaming louder than the last.

He had the operation he needed, it was a success and he would leave hospital a few days later.  We even got to travel to the UK for our planned holiday shortly afterwards.

What I remember during that entire ordeal is the peace I felt. I was not afraid.  I was told later that there were many people I didn’t even know praying for us, for our son to recover fully, and for him to go on to great things.  The peace I felt was beyond understanding, except I knew it came from God.  I knew he would be alright.  That scared, pale little boy has grown into a 6 foot tall, 180 pound delightful young man, full of compassion and adventure.

I’ve seen God answer so many prayers in his life, as well as in the lives of my daughter, husband and countless others that I have had the privilege to pray for.  There is massive power unleashed in prayer, and great rejoicing and excitement in seeing the answers come.  And prayer brings you peace.           Keep going!

Today is day 14 of my series Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release that I am writing for #write31days challenge

Day 13 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

My daughter asked me today why do I often have hesitation in my voice when I pray for her.  I love her. She always is so honest!  I need that!  I answered her that it’s because I think she doesn’t always want to hear what I am saying. Maybe she sighs inwardly, yet she never says, ‘Mum, Stop, don’t pray for me’.

Are there any people that refuse offers to pray for them?  I doubt it.  Yet those fears, feelings of rejection, condemnation, people-pleasing linger …  tough ones.  They have stopped me from doing or saying a lot. Especially a sensitive person like me, who often gives up too soon.  I have wrestled for a long time.  But I am breaking out of the prison.

What I write, what I say, is not going to sit well with everyone, but that’s okay.  In fact, I have probably lost readers since I have subtly been writing more ‘spiritual words’ .  I have spent too much of my life conforming to what is expected of me, saying what people expect to hear, agreeing when I don’t really, because I don’t have the confidence to express myself properly, or I am too afraid of getting people upset, going against the norm.  It must be so difficult for young people in these times, when every expression, thought, image is instantly analysed and assessed.  But if they can just get to the place beyond all of that, and they are free to be who they really are, without fear, knowing their true value, believing it and living it.

What I have found is that when I broke past the fear, it was really never as bad as I imagined.  Fear was my foothold for too long.  Fear of speaking up in class in case I stammered, at boarding school fear of not having anyone to sit with in the dining hall and feeling that every eye is on me because I am alone. Thoughts of failing as a wife, mother …  I have overcome, thanks to safe places where I could share, good Bible teaching, my prayer groups, my affirming family.  And I am more than thankful.

Today is Day 13 of my series Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release that I am writing for #write31days challenge.

Day 12 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

My grandmother knew.  She gave me a beautiful gold pendant of praying hands when I was young.  She left me her Bible when she died.  The same Bible that I hardly used until I was in hospital at age 32.  Then it went with me everywhere, even though the words were blurry and I could not read them then.

She knew that I would be the one to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.  She must have been praying for me a lot.  She probably knew I would end up writing.  I used to write letters to her, as she lived in Canada and I was in Barbados.  I remember as children we would visit over the Christmas holidays.  There was a play room in the basement which we loved, toys there that we never had at home, and everywhere carpeting, cozy.   And there was another room also, Grandad’s Hobby Room and we could never enter. Grandad collected stamps, created beautiful woollen rugs, did the hardest jigsaw puzzles and I can’t remember what else.  He was gifted in many ways.  We were afraid of him sometimes, very tall, straight backed, strict, but kindly and he liked a good laugh.  He and Grannie took us on a trip to Disney World when I was 8, driving all the way from Canada.  When Grandad was diagnosed with bone cancer, and it went into remission for many years, they took the opportunity to travel extensively, overcoming his fear of flying in the process. Grannie must have been praying through that time too.

Christmas in Canada at our grandparents house when we were little was full of excitement.  There would be a huge decorated box that contained the gifts and when we were all dressed in our Christmas frocks, we would get to pull our gifts out of the box in the beautiful drawing room that was only used on very special occasions.   I remember there was music too, but I don’t remember from what source.  We would have delicious meals at the long kitchen table, with the adults in the drawing room behind us.  Our uncle, who lived with them, would ensure we only used our own glass, and they had our initials on them.  We shared the television with him, his ball games and our cartoons, and were thrilled with the extra channels – at home there was only one channel.  It would take a very long time to get each of us dressed in our outdoor gear, to go in the snow and play.  We never stayed out long, but how I loved the snow.  So white and soft and silent, I would lie in it and make snow angels.

I will be a praying grannie too one day.  I can’t wait!  I hope they will have some vivid memories too as I did, unexpected jolts to times long past, taking us back to the simplest of family times.  My main prayer is that my children, grands and beyond will know and experience God’s love and faithfulness.  It is readily available to all.

Today is Day 12 of the series Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 days of Inner Release that I am writing for #write31days challenge.

Day 11 Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

It has only been 11 days, but in that time words are being released, my words, and I am enjoying a true taste of freedom.  Words have been dormant for many years, not superficial words, ones that are expected, like a thank you note or a Christmas letter to a relative, but words that mean more, that have been held captive.  I will be delving in more to the interwoven, complexity of me, and in so doing the tension and pain held in will flow out like a stream of living water.  A voice low and hard to hear will become clear and understood, at last.  The body, held stiff and correct, maintaining ‘rightness’ and what’s expected will give way to ease of movement, freedom. The self-protection gestures, holding my arms to my stomach or chest will be replaced by a straight posture, arms hanging.  Sleep at night will be a fully stretched out body, arms out to the side, taking up at least half the bed, rather than clutching my body in a self protective, timid position.  A good friend told me ‘Speak forth! No more locking away that inner voice that God has given each of us,  He will speak to us as we release ourselves from this man made vice that seeks to stifle and make us ill’.  It is scary but it is TIME.  I am reaping the benefits already.  I feel more alive, joyful, and that hope that has always been there is at the forefront again.  And I love it.

It is how God intended us to be. Free to be who he has created us to be.  Not held back, not afraid, but knowing we are complete.  Living in the midst of expectancy, in true rest, loving God, ourselves and each other, knowing that this moment is enough.  It is time we all defined ourselves radically as being loved by God.

I had always thought that being a Christian was believing in God, praying and going to church.  It was not until my early thirties that I discovered there was so much more.  That I could actually enjoy a close relationship with Jesus, that he actually LONGED for us, welcomed us, wanted to enjoy chit chat with us, wept with us and rejoiced with us.  Accepting his free gift was the best thing I would ever do.

Today is day 11 of the series Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 days of Inner Release that I am writing for #write31days challenge.

Day 10 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

I can remember vividly the first time she laughed, I mean really laughed.  It was the day of her Christening and we were staying in a beach house on the east coast.  She was lying on her back in her pink and purple playpen and her crazy Auntie Bucket came over and put her face down near her, and began a series of weird faces and noises, pulling away every few seconds.  The sweet, unmistakable sound of gurgling and baby laughter rang out and I ran to see.  Each time her auntie put her face down the tiny baby would chuckle uncontrollably.  Why couldn’t I do that?  I guess my use was to comfort, provide the food and be the mother.

Making people laugh has never been my forte, but my husband makes up for it in the family, with some help from the kids. God knew me from the beginning of time and so he sent me a funny husband.  We’re a good balance.  I have never been able to tell a joke well, but occasionally I will do or say something that causes some laughter, and that will make me content, till the next time.

I remember the days as children when my sister closest in age to me would make me laugh and I would do the same for her.  The little jokes only we understood, the foolish things we did.  We sometimes laughed so hard that our stomachs hurt.  The times with our childhood friends, very little was able to prompt that sweet sound of many different versions of chuckle, chortle, giggling with glee.

I would like to go back to the times when laughter came easily, before cynicism and some numbness crept in, before doing life became harder, before the comedian had to work so hard for a laugh.  To be spontaneous in my guffaws.

Help me to laugh till the tears stream down my face.  What a release that is going to be!

Today is day 10 of the series Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release that I am writing for #write31days challenge.