Open Heart Season: Broken Pieces

 “He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow].”

Psalm 147:3 (AMP)

Broken Pieces of the Past

I am so glad you’ve decided to join me again this week. Last week we talked about currents that are found underneath the surface and how important it is for us to trust God in order to have an open heart. I briefly explained how these currents feel as if they are pulling us under and how frustration can creep up on us during those intense seasons, often making us feel like giving up. For this week I want to encourage you by sharing with you how seasons of brokenness can come together to create a beautiful story.

Growing up I had a really tough time believing in God, not because I didn’t believe he existed, but because I wasn’t convinced he was particularly interested in me. My life seemed to be composed of a million broken pieces.

Brokenness seemed to be a way of life for my family. My father suffered from alcoholism. When my father was not intoxicated, he was a very peaceful man; though not very affectionate, he was a brilliant man of few words who learned many trades and provided for our family. Yet, every couple of years his addiction would get the best of him and he would begin to drink incessantly.

When he was under the influence he was very violent towards my mother, his few words turned into a flurry of destructive punches both emotionally and physically, and he often wiped us clean of any earnings he and my mother had accumulated. The older I got, the more my dreams of having a normal family and life shattered.

Shattered Dreams

Eventually, my father’s addiction got to the point where he lost all control. He drank non-stop for over a decade, when I was 17 years old my mother could no longer withstand the abuse and he became homeless. Six months later he was deported back to his home country, and when I was 21 he passed away.

I felt as if my father didn’t love me and as if my mother loved him more than she loved us and even herself at times. As a child it was hard for me to completely grasp what this meant for me.

I translated these feelings of “unloved” and “unworthy” from my father to God. I prayed every night for God to do something and every day I would wake up to the same situation, in retrospect at least I woke up. I interpreted God’s silence as his lack of love for me and I became calloused. My heart was closed to anything related to God or to relationships for a very long time.

I always prayed though… I felt as if I didn’t have anywhere else to turn so I prayed. Ironically, I would talk to a God I didn’t trust, which is how this was tied to my inability to open up my heart to Him. I talked to him, but deep down inside I didn’t believe that he cared enough to do something about my situation. It was an erroneous view of God because God is love (1 John 4:8). It pains him to see his children suffer, but as a child, if my earthly father hurt me though he said he loved me, God couldn’t have been any different.

For years I lived in fear. I feared that my father would harm us. I remember hiding under the bed, not for a game of hide-and-seek, but trying to protect my mom. I would hope that my father wouldn’t find me under the bed or my sisters hiding in the closet because then he’d force us to tell him where my mom was hiding.

As you can imagine, these types of experiences left many broken pieces in my life. Trust was hard because I never knew who could turn on me at any moment, building relationships was difficult because what would people think if they found out about my broken family? And though I desperately longed to make intimate relationships with friends and family… it just wasn’t easy.

My dreams of having a normal family were shattered. My dreams for healthy relationships seemed almost impossible. My dreams of having a normal life seemed so fragmented that I didn’t even know where to begin. For instance, how would I attend college and make something of myself when my parent’s didn’t have any money? My mother made it out of that abusive relationship alive, but it really took a toll on her health (she suffered 5 strokes and lived to tell the story!), but that meant that I assumed the role of “provider” for my family. What would this mean for my future?

God the Artist

Today, I am 27 years old. I am still dealing with some of the broken fragments of the past, but I am seeing how God is taking those broken pieces and turning them into a piece of art.

I live near the Wynwood area, which is Miami’s Art district, and I often see some pretty cool abstract art from artists that use broken pieces, scraps, and things you would find in the trash to make some extraordinary works of art.

I’ve learned to see God as an artist because where we see broken pieces God sees a masterpiece.

I’ve learned to see God as an artist because where we see broken pieces God sees a masterpiece.

King David said, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow].” I am not going to lie to you and tell you that this happens overnight. Healing doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve shed many tears, screamed, fought, given up and picked right up again.

You might be wondering how God turned my broken pieces into a masterpiece. First, he’s done this be turning real pain, into real hope (Psalm 103:2-4; Psalm 107:19-21; Isaiah 40:31). I’ve felt his love fill in the emptiness left behind by the absence of a father figure (John 3:16; Romans 8:15-16; Romans 8:37-39). I’ve seen him use people to help me learn to love again. People who’ve encouraged me and helped me overcome my fears of pain and disappointment. He’s restored some of my broken relationships, primarily with my mother. We had some tough years, but God’s love reached us and helped us forgive and move past our mistakes. We have a beautiful relationship now. I’ve also seen him open doors for me to pursue my dreams for an education (Jeremiah 29:11). With no money for college due to my father’s addiction and my mother’s health issues HE has opened doors for me. I now have two degree’s (a B.A. in Psychology and an M.S.Ed. in Higher Education Administration). I know that with all the odds stacked up against me, only a miracle could make these dreams come true and I am sure there’s more to come. He’s given me the strength when I thought I had none (Isaiah 40:29-31; Matthew 11:28). All of these are promises in his word and I’ve seen him keep his promises.

I am sharing these dark moments with you because I believe that part of God turning my broken pieces into a masterpiece is by allowing me to encourage other people. I am not superhuman. I am a simple girl with a simple heart. I am still dealing with some of these broken pieces and from time to time I get cut when trying to pick one up. I’ve made many mistakes with relationships and I am sure I will continue to make mistakes. But, as I continue to learn to cope and deal with my past, I want to share hope with you. In spite of the pain from my past I know that God loves me and that truth has kept me alive, he has protected me and if I am alive today it is to make every day count. I want to share that love with you. I don’t want you to give up. I don’t want you to let your past dictate your future, I want you find the courage to keep fighting past the pain and to trust that God still loves you.

I am not sure what your broken pieces look like, but whatever the state or condition of the mess, God can turn those broken pieces into a masterpiece if we open up our hearts to Him and let him in.

This Weeks Prayer

Father God, it’s me again. I am hurting. There is pain in my heart. It seems as if all of the broken pieces are just scattered all over and I can’t see how you will turn this mess into a masterpiece, but I trust that you can and you will. I give you my brokenness. I give you the things that I am too ashamed to confront. I give you my heart. Take it and turn it into a masterpiece. I thank you for your love for me. I thank you for keeping me alive all this time and I look forward to what the future will look like for us. Amen.

Special Upcoming Post

On a later post I will talk about the cycle of domestic violence from a psychological perspective and what you can do to help someone break out of that cycle or break that cycle in your life. I will also talk about how domestic violence survivors often require grace, not just to forgive their abusers, but also themselves. Society tends to blame victims for staying in these situations, but this is a multi-layered situation that is often misunderstood. I hope my experiences can bring light to some of the reasons why the domestic violence cycle is so pervasive to break out off, but not impossible.

This Weeks Blooming Heart Journal Questions

  1. Identify some of the broken pieces in your life and write them down. Do you feel that you’ve healed from these experiences? If you haven’t there’s hope. Present these broken pieces to God through prayer.
  2. Think about the little works of art that God has already created in your life, write them down, and thank God for them.
  3. Do you believe that God heals the brokenhearted? How have you experienced His healing in your life?

 This Weeks “Blooming Heart” Challenge

This week I challenge you to identify the masterpieces in your life and share that with someone. You never know who will be inspired by your story. Pray so that God can guide you to the right person or people who may need to hear your story. Your story itself may encourage them to believe in a brighter tomorrow.

For the busy bees here is the audio for this weeks message. Enjoy!

Open Heart Season: Underneath the Surface

 “Answer me quickly, O Lord, my spirit fails; Do not hide Your face from me, Or I will become like those who go down into the pit (grave). Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For I trust in You. Teach me the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.”

Psalm 143:7-8 (AMP)

Stuck in a Moment

Hey there! I am so glad you’ve decided to join me again this week. Last week we talked about springs in the valley and how important it is for us to have an open heart in order to allow God to produce springs of life for us. I briefly explained how I dealt with depression and how I believe God’s mercy reached me in that valley.

I think at some point in life we all have to cross a valley. We are struck with some really difficult moments, but have you ever felt as if you are just stuck in that moment. It’s like when you are streaming a movie with poor WiFi connection and the frame freezes on the worse possible scene. You want to see what’s next, if the protagonist will make it. But, no, the frame is frozen.

I am not sure what your valley looks like. If it is the valley of frustration, stress, discouragement, doubt, uncertainty, fear… whatever that valley is, it just seems like a never-ending struggle.

Let’s say you are blessed enough that at this exact moment you aren’t going through a valley personally, but when you look at the world around you with rumors of war, mass shootings (Vegas), and natural catastrophes (earthquakes in Mexico or Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the other Caribbean Islands)… it just seems as if we are surrounded by crisis. How do we not panic? How do we not become desensitized by the human condition?

How can we have an open heart to what God is doing when it seems as if He isn’t doing anything? The frame is frozen.

One of the ways that I usually deal with these intense moments is by going to the beach. I don’t know how to explain it, but it usually is a place where I can get away from the noisy city and have some alone time with God. That’s the place where I pour out my heart and my many questions, but as much as I love the beach, I don’t usually get in the water. I have some serious respect for the ocean.

See, for as long as I can remember my mom has been fearful of the water. That is because when she was a child she almost drowned in a river. She says the scariest part for her was the fact that on the surface the waters looked still and that she was only in waste deep when a strong current took a hold of her and she couldn’t fight it. Underneath the surface there was a raging current that dragged her and almost took her life. My mom was fortunate enough to survive, but there are plenty of victims who frantically attempt to swim to safety, they sometimes overestimate their swimming ability and underestimate the river currents. Sadly, these unsuspecting victims did not expect for tragedy to strike them.

The Current Can’t Pull You Under

It got me to thinking, how many of us we look still on the surface? How many of us manage to put a bold face for all to see? Yet, underneath the surface we are experiencing raging currents that are dragging us away from the shore, away from safety, away from the Lord.

King David wrote, “Answer me quickly, O Lord, my spirit fails; Do not hide Your face from me, Or I will become like those who go down into the pit (grave). Let me hear Your loving kindness in the morning, For I trust in You. Teach me the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.”

He was facing an intense situation and he was calling on God, he was opening his heart to God by confessing to Him, “If you don’t answer me I am going to die, but I trust that you are good.” It seems that underneath the surface, David was experiencing a ranging current. He knew he needed God desperately, and he knew that only God could save him.

Let me tell you a “not-so-secret” secret. I can’t swim. I know this is not ideal for me considering that I live in a peninsula that is below sea level, but my mother’s fear of the water meant that she would never let me get near the water. She was adamant that I could not, and would not, be allowed to go in the water because of fear that one day a current would get a hold of me. And in case you didn’t know… you never contradict a Honduran mother. Just an FYI. Yes, I know pools don’t have currents, but I still haven’t managed to stay afloat without one of those floating devices (OK, it’s a $1 floating noodle, but device just had a nicer ring to it, please don’t judge me).

How many of us are living in constant fear because we are scared that underneath the surface there is a rip current waiting to pull us under? How many of us stopped dreaming, stopped believing, stopped fighting against the current? Because what’s the point? You tried before and failed. You kept fighting and now you are just tired. Tired and frustrated.

You know something I learned about rip currents, there is no current that can actually pull you under. People start going down because they panic and they feel as if the current is pulling them under, but in actuality there is no current that can do this. Don’t believe me? Check out this link.

King David understood that the key to not drowning was trust. He says, “Let me hear Your loving kindness in the morning, For I trust in You.” But, first he opened up to God about his condition, he told him “my spirit fails”. During this Open Heart Season, I want you to put your trust on the Lord. Trust that he is good. Trust that he loves you, doesn’t matter what you’ve done or what you can’t do. My friend, I understand that this life is difficult, that’s because we are living in a broken system dealing with the incurable condition of being human. Our system may be broken, we may be broken, but God isn’t.

My friend, I understand that this life is difficult, that’s because we living in a broken system dealing with the incurable condition of being human. Our system may be broken, we may be broken, but God isn’t.

I know that sometimes we will face disappointments that seem almost impossible to recover from, but God loves you. He has good plans for you.

I encourage you to open up your heart to God. I know it’s scary. I know it seems like the currents are nipping at our feet and that the frame is frozen right there, but in him we find a hope and a future simply because he loves us. In upcoming weeks I will continue to share with you more and let you in on some of my darkest moments from dealing with an alcoholic parent, depression, thoughts of suicide, heartbreaks, addictions, and so many currents that have tried to pull me under and away from my purpose, but also on how God showed himself to me in ways that I never imagined. I want to share with you the God of love, peace, and hope. And I hope that you are encouraged in knowing that God is concerned with your well-being and He will not let you get dragged away by the currents that lie underneath the surface. Let me give you a spoiler alert, at the end of the movie, you live!

This Week’s Prayer

Father, I come before you with an open heart. Sometimes, I feel like giving up. Sometimes, I feel like I just can’t do this. Sometimes, the current is so strong that I feel like I am only seconds away from my last breath, but Father I call on you right now. Come to my rescue. My heart is open to you for you to be my salvation. I choose to trust you and your plans over my life. I choose to believe that there is no current that can or will pull me under because you are my hope and my salvation. I will not give up, I will not give into the fear, but I renounce all fear in the name of Jesus. My mind and heart is in your hands, align my thoughts according to your will. Amen.

The Blooming Heart Journal Questions

  1. In Psalm 143, David says, “Answer me quickly, O Lord, my spirit fails; Do not hide Your face from me…” Identify a time where your spirit failed? Did you feel as if God hid his face from you? How has this message encouraged you?
  2. The key to not being pulled under by the currents is to not panic, but to trust. Do you feel as if you trust God? If you don’t, why do you think that is?
  3. How do you think trusting God with an open heart will change the way that you live?

This Week’s “A Blooming Heart” Challenge

For this weeks “Blooming Heart” challenge I want you to identify the currents underneath the surface. Don’t be afraid to open up your heart to God and tell him what you are going through. I challenge you to trust God and know that He will not let the currents pull you down. “A Blooming Heart” will not panic, but places it’s trust in God.

*Note: If you are currently going through a really tough season and feel alone, please feel free to reach out to me. I will pray with you and for you. You are not alone. This is a supportive community where everyone is welcome no matter the circumstance.

For the busy bees who don’t have time to read, here is the audio for this weeks message. Enjoy!

Open Heart Season: Springs in the Valley

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.”

Proverbs 4:23(AMP)

The Unattended Heart

Recently, I’ve had the revelation that majority of my “issues” are deeply rooted heart issues. That addictive behavior which left me feeling guilty and full of shame, those ideas or notions that I knew didn’t please God, but I didn’t have enough self-control to stop, those feelings of self-loathing… all of it came from (you guessed it) – the heart. I became so preoccupied with my actions, so distracted by external and internal chatter, that I left the most important thing unattended, my heart. I didn’t understand why I was still dealing with the same issues, the same temptations, the same struggles, and why I kept failing miserably. I would try to white-knuckle past bad behaviors and instead I ended up feeling tired, alone, and defeated. It wasn’t until I told God, “OK, I give up. I am done trying. I can’t do this anymore,” that he whispered ever so softly into my heart, “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. I’ve already paid the price for your sins on the cross. I’ve already fought your battles and won. I’ve already handed you the victory, but you have to hand over your heart.” But, why was God so persistent after my heart? Why was He not asking for my mind or my life? What was so special about my heart that He wanted me to hand it over?


The Springs of Life

 I think the opening verse, Proverbs 4:23, has part of the answer to these questions. God created us, He knows how we operate and He knows that a heart left unattended reeks of decay. When I read the Bible, I don’t just like to read it like a textbook, but rather like a love letter. What message did God place in the author’s heart for him to scribble down on those ancient scrolls and why did God preserve it for so many years? See sometime around 900 B.C. King Solomon penned the words, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life”. Almost 3,000+ years later I am here pondering on why King Solomon used this type of association when he talks about the heart? What’s the significance behind this seemingly poetic piece of scripture? What message was King Solomon able to interpret when he observed the world around him? What was God whispering to his heart? And now 3,000+ years later, what is He whispering to me?

As you can see, I have a lot of questions. And when I have a lot questions (after God) my next source of truth is Google. For those who don’t know me personally I am a Miami girl, born and raised! So, as you can imagine, many of these rural life connections fly over my head, but thank God for Google. A little Google search led me to some pretty neat (and yes nerdy) information about springs and wells. So, it seems that springs were, and still are, very important. They were particularly important during bible times, people would even go to the extent of starting quarrels over wells that they believed belonged to them (check out the story of Isaac and his well digging endeavors in Genesis 26:18-25).  I believe that God is intentional in everything He does, so let’s fast forward to 2017. I am currently sipping off a Zephyrhills water bottle and I don’t think it is a coincidence. In case you didn’t know, Zephyrhills water is obtained from five spring sources — one near the town of Zephyrhills, FL and four other Florida springs. This water that I need to make sure my organs continue to function and operate to full capacity to ensure my vitality originated from, drum roll please, SPRINGS! King Solomon was speaking of these types of springs, not the ones bulging out from your old mattress that led to that unbearable back-pain, but the natural, life producing springs.

I vaguely remember learning about springs sometime in elementary school. These are natural openings in the ground where water flows directly from the aquifer to the earth’s surface. This freshwater is available after a season of rain. Yes, you will need seasons of rain for springs to produce fresh water, so don’t worry about the rain, its producing springs.

Yes, you will need seasons of rain for springs to produce fresh water, so don’t worry about the rain, its producing springs.

And springs are a source of vitality. Springs supply water to rivers and other bodies of water, their ecological value is tremendous because, as we all know, without water there is no life. Plants cannot grow, animals begin to die of starvation, and well this isn’t a science class, but you catch my drift. No rain, no water, no springs, no life.  “For from it flow the springs of life” – King Solomon, understood that the heart served as a spring of life, and as we just learned, in order for springs to flow they need rain to fall. So don’t despise the rainy seasons in your life, every season serves a purpose. I have full faith and confidence that once this season of rain ceases, your heart will flow with springs of life and seeds of love will bloom beautifully for all to see the great works that God is doing in your life.

Springs in the Valley

Here’s another important thing about springs – there needs to be an opening on the ground. If you are anything like me, God probably had to remind you on multiple occasions to open your heart. I never really understood what that meant. I thought I was doing that every time I prayed? I had so many questions. Perhaps, during this season, so do you. I don’t assume to have found all of the answers, but I do welcome you to join me on this journey as we draw near to the Lord and receive his revelation through the word, interactions with others, and in whatever ways he chooses to reveal his sweet expressions of love.

Sometime, earlier this year (mostly the month of May) I had a total emotional breakdown. Seriously, it was bad. Thank God for my support system because the tears would not stop flowing. Something inside me broke and I didn’t know how to fix it. To make matters worse, I not only had an emotional breakdown, but spiritually spiraled as well. I didn’t know what on earth was going on. My heart literally wilted. Little did I know that during this season of intense rain (in the form of depression), God was creating an opening in my heart for water to spring out and create new life within me in the form of a blog titled “A Blooming Heart”. King David wrote in Psalm 104:10 (AMP), “You send springs into the valleys; their waters flow among the mountains.” We usually see the valley as our down season, King David is saying that even in our down season God will send springs (new life). I am a living, walking testament that this is true.

In upcoming posts, I will dive deep into heart issues that I’ve grappled with and the pruning seasons that I have endured and continue to endure. But, for the purpose of this first post I just want to emphasize the importance of making sure our hearts are opened to God and trust that even if we are currently in a valley, God will send springs of life. I also welcome you to join me on this beautiful and remarkable journey in pursuit of God. I am excited to see where this journey will take us and the healing and restoration that will take place as we pray and encourage each other.

 

This Week’s Prayer

Lord, I pray that I may open my heart to you. Reveal to me what that means for me personally. Guide me in my pursuit of you. I entrust my heart to you and know that it is safe in your hands. Lord, as an act of my will I open my heart to you and allow you to reveal the things within me that need to be pruned and removed. During this season of rain I accept your victory over my life. I know that even though I may be in a seemingly dark and desolate place, you will make springs flow with new life. I receive your promises over my life. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

 

The Blooming Heart Journal Questions

  1. Has God ever asked you to open your heart to him? Is this an area that you struggle with and why do you think that is?
  2. In Psalm 104:10, King David writes about valleys. What types of valleys are you going through or have gone through?
  3. Can you identify the springs of life in your life? (For example, an encouraging word from God, friends who encouraged you, your favorite place to seek one-on-one time with God.) Take a minute to thank God for those springs. If you weren’t able to identify one, don’t fret, ask God right now to send the springs and open your eyes to see his great works.

 

This Week’s “A Blooming Heart” Challenge

How can you be a spring of life for someone else? Pray for God to reveal what ways you can serve as a source of life for someone else. It might be an encouraging text to a friend, a token of appreciation for a loved one, a small act of kindness towards a complete stranger. Share your “Blooming Heart” moment with us. I am excited to see how you will blossom this week.

For the busy bees who don’t have time to read, here is the audio for this weeks message. Enjoy!