Tell Your Heart To Beat Again

Begin Again

2015 is about to end.  So many emotions come to surface as I reflect on the past 12 months.  It was, indeed, a roller coaster ride – emotionally and spiritually.  There were times of depression and bitterness. There were times of spiritual testing and emptiness.  But there were also times of joy, peace, comfort and hope.

God is truly faithful, even if and especially when I was faithless and unfaithful. And because of His unfailing love, I choose to be thankful rather than dwell on all the “what could have beens.”

This morning, as I sat and poured out my heart to Him, He brings this song to me  by Danny Gokey entitled, Tell Your Heart To Beat Again.  The lyrics sprang to life and spoke to my heart to remind me to keep trusting, to keep hoping, to keep surrendering.  After all, HE is our heart’s beat.

Danny Gokey says,

“I dedicate this song to all those who need 2016 to be a better year than the years before. Disappointments, past failures and broken relationships may have left you feeling hopelessly stuck, but God has a plan for your life in spite of it all. Allow God in the dark hidden parts of your heart to heal past wounds so you don’t have to walk with a limp anymore. Let Him remove the pain of the past once and for all. Come in agreement with your Heavenly Father and tell your heart to beat again, to hope again, to dream again and to believe again. It’s time for you to get back up again because it’s never too late to become all that God has destined you to be.”

Here are the lyrics of the song:

You’re shattered
Like you’ve never been before
The life you knew
In a thousand pieces on the floor
And words fall short in times like these
When this world drives you to your knees
You think you’re never gonna get back
To the you that used to be

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday’s a closing door
You don’t live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you’ve been
And tell your heart to beat again

Beginning
Just let that word wash over you
It’s alright now
Love’s healing hands have pulled you through
So get back up, take step one
Leave the darkness, feel the sun
Cause your story’s far from over
And your journey’s just begun

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday’s a closing door
You don’t live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you’ve been
And tell your heart to beat again

Let every heartbreak
And every scar
Be a picture that reminds you
Who has carried you this far
‘Cause love sees farther than you ever could
In this moment heaven’s working
Everything for your good

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday’s a closing door
You don’t live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you’ve been
And tell your heart to beat again
Your heart to beat again
Beat again

Oh, so tell your heart to beat again

Sing it out as you listen or watch the video:  Tell Your Heart To Beat Again

Advertisements

Be Still And Know He Is God

Stigmas will always be attached to a single mom.  There will always be prejudices.  There will always be a wonderment, spoken or silent, on how one came to be.  In the society and culture I grew up in (a somewhat conservative one), single moms have to work extra hard to earn back the trust they once betrayed.

Battles will always have to be fought – whether it be emotional, social, financial, or physical.  Emotionally, we need to be reassured and accepted after having been rejected or left out in the cold.  Socially, we need a place where we can belong and let out steam.  Financially, we need to be able to provide for our kids while wearing both hats of dad and mom.  Physically, we do need that extra rest from working doubly hard.

It is heartbreaking to know that there are very few Christian churches where I live that has an established ministry for single moms.  More than anything, we need the guidance and strength to keep ourselves grounded in the faith and walking forward.

Personally, I forget that I am weak.  Many times, I depend on my own strength to get through each day.  But God would always remind me of King Hezekiah’s story behind Psalm 46:

King Hezekiah of Judah was surrounded by the army of Sennacherib, King of Assyria. Forty‑six towns and villages in Judah had been sacked. Over 200,000 residents had been taken captive, along with much spoil. At least 185,000 troops surrounded Jerusalem, and it looked like only a matter of time before the city fell.

But proud Sennacherib did not reckon with the fact that Hezekiah’s God is the living God who will not be mocked. Hezekiah prayed, God spoke, and in one night the angel of the Lord defeated Sennacherib by killing 185,000 of his soldiers (2 Kings 18‑19; 2 Chronicles 32Isaiah 36‑37). 

– (bible.org)

Psalm 46 was written out of that situation.  God provided deliverance.

In most cases like mine, single moms are in the situation we’re at because of reckless acts of rebellion in the past.  And while our sins have been forgiven and paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ at the time of our salvation; while we must bear the consequences of our actions, God promises that He will provide deliverance for us.  Just as He has done so for every one of His children, God is faithful and sufficient to see us through.

No problem, whether emotional, physical, or spiritual, is too big for our God. If we will learn to take refuge in Him and lean on Him alone for strength, then with the psalmist we can face the most extreme crises with quiet confidence, because God is with us and He is sufficient. But we would be in error if we thought that God insulates us from problems.

(bible.org)

And that’s the pillow on which I sleep each night. I pray that you, my fellow single moms would, too.

12119129_10206685813398298_7820442911587994407_n

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10)

In The Meantime

I did not dare open my heart again,

I did not dare to care.

I did not dare to let myself dream of a once-upon-a-time dream that I though was never going to come true.

I did not dare go there.

But he came along.

He awakened love.

He broke my stupor, so I dared once again.

I dared to open my heart.

I dared to care.

I dared to dream the dream and go to a place I promised I would never tread on again.

I dared…and this time, I prayed.

Oh, but how I got it all wrong!

For this was not The Father’s will.

And much as I try to hide behind the mask of friendship, it will never be so.

For God is not glorified.

So now I will stop.

So now I will let go.

So now I will let the dream leave my heart once again.

So now I will close the door behind him.

In the meantime, I will trust.

In the meantime, I will hope.

In the meantime, I will pray.

 

Not Just Another Birthday

birthday

Father’s Day and Birthdays. How bittersweet is it that for someone like me, both occasions fall in the same month, and this year, within the same week, driving me to reflect once again on “what ifs.” You see, my dad was absent for the most part of my life.

A birthday is that special day each year when one is surrounded by family and friends to celebrate the day you came into this world. But as the years have come and gone, birthdays had become just another day for me. Nothing special—nothing worth celebrating.

As a child, I remember waiting in anticipation for each birthday, praying that each year would be different—special. I wanted it to be special because my parents and siblings would be home to sit around the dinner table together; special because friends would remember to greet me. But growing up in a highly dysfunctional home, where both parents—especially my dad—were scarcely present, my expectations turned to doubts, and later on became indifference which eventually turned to dread.

Doubts came into my mind whether I mattered to people I looked up to. My indifference grew knowing the fact that I was turning another year older and dread because classmates in school (and later on co-workers) were actually looking forward to the treat rather than being with me.

What affected me most was the fact that I grew up without a father’s guidance. Without a father’s love, assurance, and protection, I realize makes a great deal of difference for anyone, because without him, I tried to look for assurance and love outside the home.

It would be so easy for me to look back with blame and regret, and say: “How different would my life be right now had my dad been present in my life? How different would my life be right now had there been a godly man at home that I could approach for counsel and advise. How different would my life be right now had I grown up with someone who led me with the Word of God.”

Looking at my current situation now as a single parent, I could definitely say my life would have been different had my dad been present. In the first few years, I had strong fears that my child will suffer the same predicament.

But now that I have been saved and understand God’s love as a Father, I know more than to question what had been and what will be. I am thankful for what I now have.

Just as God provided Moses with Jethro as a father-in-law (Exodus 18), who fulfilled his role as a father, my child and I have both also been blessed with godly “dads” and leaders in church and in the Christian family whom I can turn and look to for counsel and advise.

I now enjoy the love, assurance and fellowship of my new and bigger family, and I’m sure God does the same for all who come into His family. With God’s Word planted securely in both our hearts, with prayer and the pursuit of the things of God, I know that we will be okay.

Today, as I count the days to my next birthday, it won’t be just another day. It’s the day that I will always look forward to especially thank God for His abounding goodness and graces, for His faithfulness in the year that ended and for the promises He holds in the year to come.

Casting Crowns wrote a song (“Just Another Birthday”) especially for people in my same situation. It ends with these lines:

Now I know, I know

It’s not just another birthday

‘Cause I’m here, she’s here

And look how far we’ve come

Since you’ve called me, saw me

Held me and freed me

Thank you, Lord, for another birthday

And we’ll be fine

We’ll be fine

For all those who, like me and my child, don’t have an involved dad here on earth, I assure you that we have the best Father in heaven. He is Father to the fatherless.

“A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows,  Is God in His holy habitation. God makes a home for the lonely;  He leads out the prisoners into prosperity,  Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.” (Psalm 68:5-6)

 

 

 

A Beautiful Revelation

9410826173_f2b3771209_b

There comes a time in everyone’s life when circumstances bring about a revelation.  This is my revelation.

Every girl dreams of having her own “happily ever after” – I was no exception for I am an idealist by heart. The problem was, I harbored so many insecurities as a child, which I carried on to adulthood.  I never thought I was pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, rich enough, or good enough for anyone.  Hard as I try, efforts were always short of any reassurance from the people around me. I went to an all-girls school where the pressure was to fit in was tough.  More so, there was that proverbial girl who was perfect in every way. Boys were naturally drawn to her and her group, casting a shadow on people like me.

I’ve always had a chubby frame, yet I managed to be invisible. My insecurities eventually led to a full blown case of anorexia and bulimia combined, which I battled with for many years, resulting to a yo-yo weight pattern.  I wanted to be and stay thin so badly that I substituted healthy food with cigarettes and diet pills.   When I did binge, I would expel the food by forcing myself to throw up or take laxatives and diuretics. Still, no one noticed. As far as family and close friends were concerned, I was just finally losing my baby fat.  When I invited my brother’s friend to be my prom date, he said that he was scheduled to have surgery that same week – which I later on found out was just an excuse to not go with me.

The insecurities led to the deterioration of my health, which resulted to bad grades in school and eventually having to repeat junior year in high school, and then later on failing my entrance exam to the only University I applied for. But thanks to my family’s connections with the school, I got in.

Moving from an all-girls’ school to a co-ed University made the desire to be beautiful and accepted become like an obsession to me.  Academics were my last priority.  And because being with the popular crowd meant more to me than anything else, not only did I smoke even more, I also learned to drink, cut class, lie to and steal from my parents.

My struggle with my weight continued, and after a long period of abusing on pills, I found myself in the hospital emergency room in 1992 due to the total depletion of my potassium. It was a very close call, but I did not learn my lesson.

After an extended stay in College, I eventually graduated and landed a job in a multi-national company.  This time, I was surrounded with new faces from different walks of life; a new and different set of rules. The desire to please others and to be accepted remained but this time, not by peers, but by management. I worked really hard to deliver what was expected of me and went 10 extra miles if needed. After a couple of years, the hard work paid off and I started climbing the corporate ladder.

In spite of the growth in my career, there was always that hollow feeling inside.  I was searching for something. I kept searching and tried to find answers in so many places – I even consulted fortune tellers and Buddhist monks. I was convinced that the emptiness would only be filled by a husband. Each time a man came along I hoped for him to be “the one” but they all turned out to just want to “have fun.”

A few years later, I fell in love for the first time. I wanted the relationship to work that it became my one and only focus. We were together for 2 years and then got engaged. But because of my insecurities, I made things up about my past. And once I confessed the truth to him, the dishonesty and my messed up emotions caused the relationship to end.

The lies of ugliness and unworthiness continued to fill my head, and so continued the vices and the eating disorder, creating havoc on my thyroid, which was taken out through surgery in 2003. My doctor said it would be next to impossible for me conceive come the time I decide to have children. Desperate to feel loved and accepted, I got into one relationship after another, clinging on to the hope that I would find love again.

A couple of years and several relationships later, I was far from healing completely but met someone and believed he was the one I’ve been waiting for.  It was a whirlwind romance. He swept me off my feet and proposed after 3 months. I was so desperate that I believed. Wedding preparations were underway immediately after that but when we were required to obtain a Certificate of Non-Marriage from the Census office.  His civil status read:  MARRIED!  That botched my second engagement.

My world was shattered!  There was no way we could get married, much less continue the relationship!  It was too late, though.  I was 6 weeks pregnant.

At 34, I found myself face to face with a blank wall.  I felt trapped.  I had no where to go.  I was with child and unmarried. I was also unemployed having recently resigned from my job, as we had talked of residing abroad after the wedding.

The months I carried my child went by like a blur. I couldn’t even cry for fear of affecting my child’s emotional health. I was clueless as to what tomorrow would bring.

I gave birth to my son and went through a lot of trials with his health, going back and forth to the emergency room. I was living each day with hopeless despair, which resulted to the worst post-partum depression. There was so much pain and bitterness bottled up inside that I went back to smoking and drinking.

Shortly after my son turned 7 months old, as I quietly put him down for his nap, I burst into tears.  My life’s savings was almost gone because of all the expenses and I still had no plans or direction. But there was this whisper in my head assuring me that God is there – that everything will be alright.   I desperately needed someone to talk to, but I had  already exhausted all my friends with the weight of my problems.  Something urged me to talk to my younger brother, who was the only Christian in the family at that time.  I needed someone to help me figure things out and find peace in my situation.  He asked me if I was willing to talk to his Pastor.  I was desperate so I agreed.

The Pastor and his wife met with me and talked to me about God. But I was too preoccupied with my problems that I did not listen to a single word he said. The only thing I remembered was his invitation to join their weekly bible studies.

And so I did, although not really understanding anything. I felt better, because I felt more “religious” by making an effort. It was a few weeks later when as I listened to everyone’s sharing, someone mentioned this verse:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Then it hit me. Nothing I can ever do will earn my salvation. I went home that night and read the bible, and searched and prayed, and read some more.  Until I understood.

What I read in the bible, however, contradicted everything I was taught at home and in school. I am wretched! I rebelled against God in my heart and in the way I violated my body. Regardless of my “good deeds,” all I deserved was death.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)

He loves me! Regardless of my past; regardless of how I saw myself! To this day, I am still amazed by this unconditional and all-encompassing love and mercy.

And then, by His grace and the faith He has given me, I surrendered and repented.  I still do everyday.  And He has been faithfully teaching me and molding me into the person He wants me to be.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Immediately after my surrender to Jesus, I developed a bitter taste towards cigarettes and alcohol. I threw all my stash away and by God’s grace, I haven’t had the desire to pick up the habits again. After a few months, I was baptized and publicly declared who Jesus is in my life.

As I am still living in my earthly temple, there are struggles and times of weakness. There are still days when the enemy reminds me of my past to try and convince me that I’m not good enough.

But God has been faithful to pick me up each time and show me His mercies and grace. He gives me hope by reminding me to fix my eyes on Him who gave me a new life – a life that I have committed to live for Him.  I am reminded of this in Galatians 2:20,

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

He has given me the kind of hope and fulfillment that doesn’t come from earthly desires. A hope that I will be with Him one day, and see Him face to face. He will wipe the tears from my eyes and the scars in my heart. I will be with my Savior for eternity.

I am a single mom to a boy who has been a tremendous blessing. His birth in itself is a miracle and a demonstration of God’s love.  All these years, God has been faithful to His promise to be a Father to my fatherless son and has continuously been using my son to encourage me and make His presence felt in my life.

My life did not turn out to have a fairy tale ending, but with Jesus always leading my path, I know it will have a “happy ever after.” My insecurities and rebellion brought me to a dark situation. A darkness that had to come to break me and reveal something beautiful – a revelation that my life is not mine to fulfill my desires, but to fulfill HIS will.