Mirrors and Chains

My head hangs a little as I look down at the dark ground. The first thing I notice is fog curling at the edges of a mirror in front of me, reflecting my old faux-leather combat boots. Behind that small one sitting on the ground, is a floor length mirror reflecting all of me. Beside those mirrors are rows and rows of mirrors encircling me. As I slowly turn around, utterly bewildered, I can see every angle of myself. It’s dark all around what I assume is a room, but I can’t really see where walls would be. It’s all just…darkness? Something like a spot light is shining directly down on me, as if I’m in some teenage clothing store’s dressing room. In fact, that thought brings a flashback to when I was fourteen standing before a mirror not so different from the one in front of me.

In the memory, I was at a local mall with my aunt shopping for new, trendy clothes for my first day at a public high school. I was transferring from a Christian private school, and I was terrified. This was my first time to even try on clothes at a store like this. A dimly lit teenage clothing store with paper thin models in swim suits, loud music, tight-fitting clothes and perfume clouds seeping out of the main entrance. I knew this wasn’t me, but I also knew this was the type of style the kids had at my new school. So here I stood with a size small covering me like a second skin. I refused to go up a size because the thought of wearing a size ‘Medium’ formed a knot in my throat and an onslaught of hot tears. I stared at my reflection and hated everything I saw looking back at me. Two years before that I stood in front of another mirror in a bathroom and thought for the first time that I was fat. This night I was at a twelve year old’s Halloween birthday party in which I made my own cute witch costume. I loved being creative, and honestly we couldn’t afford to buy one if I wanted to. My hair had gotten so long and curly. This was a time in my life where I first felt my body changing, maturing, and thought to myself that I was becoming a beautiful young girl. At the party there was a ton of pizza and I was trying all the different types of it because, I mean-do I even need an explanation? Come on, it’s pizza! But this young boy whom I had a crush on sat across from me, and laughed with a friend of mine while I ate. I smiled thinking he was just saying something funny to me, but then my friend yelled across the table, “he’s laughing because of how fast you’re eating!” It doesn’t sound that sinister, but the thought that food consumption could be something that made others look at you funny hooked a twisted self-image into me that grew into a mental prison over time. That night, at twelve, for the first time in my life I went into the bathroom crying. I looked at my reflection, turned to one side, and sucked my stomach in. I remember wondering if I could manage to stay focused on breathing ,in a way that wouldn’t make my stomach extend in and out while also continuing to clench my abs together, for the rest of the night. No more care-free eating, Lacey, for the next seven years of your life. I was caged inside the self-image nightmare with the name “Eating Disorder” branded on my sticking out collar bones.

So there you have it. Mirrors. And here I was again, standing before hundreds of them, big and small, and all around me. Unsettling. Yet this, I knew, was merely a vision. Honestly mirrors hadn’t bothered me much in a long while. Not since, Jesus crouched down and set me free from my eating-disorder prison at age nineteen. That was almost seven years ago now. Having two babies, gaining the weight, and dropping it in a healthy way was so healing for my soul on top of that radical deliverance as well. Now at age twenty six, food is normal, food is necessary, food is healthy, food is down right delicious- most of it anyways. Truthfully, sometimes I eat too much chocolate after my kids go to bed. Nonetheless the thought of running to the bathroom to purge what I just binged does not ding into my mind like an unwelcome fruit fly. No more starving myself or binging/purging. No, you see, that stronghold of fear of man and self-image has no authority over my life any more. As a matter of fact in this vision right now, the woman looking back at me looks rather ticked off. Hair, a blonde curly mess. Eyes, squinted in frustration. Lips curled in a snarl. Yeah. Okay. I see you.

This entire mirror worshipping, self-image enslavement culture, has been breathing down our necks for too long.

In this vision I am surrounded by every angle of myself, with mirrors yelling at me to criticize myself and step into the psychotic appearance mantra. Whether it’s an eating disorder or the deceivingly simple “just worrying what other people will think” continuous mindset, self-image is a consuming god that wants all of your worship. The only problem with it is, you were never meant to be afraid of man. Engraved self-image is what the media vomits over us every second of every day, but it is a deception. And thankfully there is light in this darkness. If you want to see your true reflection, look into Papa God’s eyes. In the vision as I look at my many reflections, I am filled with a holy anger at the familiar lies coming to choke out the freedom Christ intended for every person to have. I sense Holy Spirit here with me. He puts a baseball bat in my hand and tells me, “Have at it.” I’m filled with anger at that the thought of the countless girls and boys riddled with so much anxiety and fear that they can’t even see reality when they look at theirselves anymore. So many young people afraid to dream big and do what they are passionate about, what they were actually created to do, because it doesn’t fit into the duct-taped success box society stuffed them inside. So many people living every day completely consumed with fear of what others will say or think about them if they make one move that goes outside of the cultural norm. Enough is enough. With Holy Spirit’s words I give it a go. I begin smashing every single one of those self-image mirrors until there’s nothing but dust and fog. No more. The war on inaction has begun. No more sitting idly by while the walking dead roam the earth. I used to be a zombie, until the Cure found me. Jesus. Searching for temporary satisfaction, but now I found the real thing. Jesus. Whether it’s freedom to eat a salad or freedom to eat dessert. Whether it’s preaching the gospel on a stage, or praying for a crippled man to walk on the streets. I’m done worshipping my image and being afraid of man. I’m out here smashing mirrors. And it’s so not about me. It’s about God. And what He created us to have. Perfect relationship with Papa God through Jesus. That’s what you call, life, and life abundant. It’s not about me. It’s about you. God so loved..you. Don’t waste another thought in your mind thinking otherwise. Grab that lie and take it by the neck to kneel before the King on the throne of your heart. Jesus. Watch Him crush that slithering snake’s head before your eyes.

As I stand in this place with a baseball bat still hanging from my right hand, something tightens around my neck. It’s a thick chain that you may have seen a dog tied up with. The mirrors are gone, but now this is closing around my neck and pulling me back. I can’t yell and am losing the ability to even breathe. My nails dig into my skin as I try to loosen the hold on me, but I’m not strong enough. Suddenly I see Jesus standing before me. His eyes are wide and looking into mine. As if talking to a spooked child he gently steps toward me and says, “Put your hands down and let me take it off you.” I relent, and He pulls the chain up and over my head with ease. I can breathe again and I have my voice back. Jesus says, “This chain was shame.”

Shame. It chokes the life out of us. It keeps us silent. Shame holds back confession and stagnates change. It quiets a song and extinguishes a warrior’s battle cry. We were created for open fields with hair flowing in the wind. We were created to dance, laugh, love, scream just because we’re happy, run, skip, climb mountains, do the things, enjoy life with God, enjoy life with people, follow God’s wildest dreams, walk in His power and love. This is the garden that we can return to with Papa God through Christ.

I believe the Lord gave me this vision to identify some strongholds hindering the church in this season. Self-image and the fear of man, along with shame. It could look really glittery and religious. In fact it typically is. Jesus called them a “brood of vipers” when they tried to tape good fruit on their rotten trees. He’s after that heart transformation, that freedom from the inside out. But religion also institutes self-image and fear of man as well. It could look like a really bright and fine thing to quench the Spirit and trade in just an inch of your freedom in Christ to submit to the religious norms around you. Like conforming your appearance, your behavior, your words, and dreams to the degree of what’s acceptable by those around you, to the patterns of this world, is really the ‘right’ thing to do. Maybe it is. But maybe it isn’t. And maybe God is wanting you to let Him break through with freedom and release you into a greater revelation of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. No need to fear whatever mirrors surround you. Holy Spirit is with us, empowering us to walk out the fulness of intimacy with God. Maybe He’s offering you a baseball bat today and releasing you to smash some mirrors or empower someone else to smash theirs. Ask Him. Jesus is so present, so willing to take your shame and give you His inheritance. The First born inheritance is no joke, ya’ll! Let’s press in to God and go after walking out the full inheritance package Christ died for us to have. We don’t worship a dead god, no! Jesus is ALIVE. The tomb was empty. We need to quit looking for Jesus at the grave. He’s not there. Life. Life. He came for life. Let’s embrace it. Let’s embrace Papa God, Jesus, Holy Spirit- three in one. Talk to Him about all things. There’s so much He has for you, you only need to look up.


“No more livin’ for the culture, we nobody’s slave”

Forward We Go

I think it would be an injustice to write on as if two months without any words written from me hadn’t just drifted by like a snowless winter wind. I’ve had the worst kind of writer’s block. And not simply just the sort that keeps you from writing blogs, but even the small tasks of responding to text messages and social media posts have all felt so taxing. Writer’s block is such a mind thing. Which is exactly what I’ve been experiencing. My brain has been so overwhelmed with todo’s and present jobs, opportunities and future ‘need done’s’. And don’t get me started on the heart hauntings of the past. Overwhelmed is an understatement. I have had my artwork to help me process through it all, but my words and my speech lacked the outlet. Outward communication, other than art, has been difficult if not nonexistent. Yet still the Lord has been at work internally-mending and breaking. Mending the old and new soul tears, and breaking off the fears and lies crippling within. The process of sanctification goes on without the standard of outward success one might think. Christ never stopped moving in me just because I felt like I was at a stalemate outwardly. So here and now, I am able to continue on at a spot that isn’t just picking up where I left off but is fully a forward place of newness and mystery. I was never stagnant though I felt it. And that my friends is the beauty of the walk of faith. With Christ, we are not subject to our feelings; we are not prisoners to our own emotions. We are free to feel, free to be still. We are free. And how amazing is it that the times of being still are not even still at all, but are moving us forward with leaps and bounds in every sense. Every breath, every step is progress. It’s all forward movement walking with Christ.

Yesterday an old friend sent my husband and I a picture of us six years ago. Our outward change is clearly evident, but the inward progress from then to now is what would really take your breath away. In the passed six fleeting years, we have been set free from drug abuse, addictions, and immoral living. We have experienced much death and yet also seen new life born. We’ve moved to new cities and moved into new places. We entered into a covenant of marriage with us and the Lord, had children, and started our family ministry as a party of four. All has been progressive, but the heart change has been the most miraculous of all. Christ made His home in our hearts and so much remodeling has occurred. To me, that is to be celebrated above all. The truth of resurrection. The truth of being a co-heir with Christ. The truth that Jesus meant what He said when He promised He would leave us with a helper,His Holy Spirit. That is the evidence of our faith- that Christ would complete the good work He began in us. This is our hope, this is our confidence-Christ in us, the hope of glory! My number one goal for this new year is to remember and stand tall on top of that basic foundation of my faith, Christ’s resurrection power in me.

And so, here we have arrived at yet another year. 2019, the year of our Lord Jesus Christ. And won’t it truly be the year of our Lord? Across the board people are saying, “yes”, to the commission from Christ. Chains are breaking off, relationships are being restored- Salvation is here. Will you jump? Will you take the plunge into the mystery? This year will be a switching from the defense to the offense, a rising up from the timid to the bold in Christ. We, the saints, are stepping into a fearlessness like never before. We are taking new ground and crushing the serpent’s head with a new fierceness, new authority in Christ. Therefore surrender your will, surrender your self, and be willing to be uncomfortable. I sense that 2019 will be a year of miracles and divine power revealed through the saints like this generation has never seen with their own eyes. And through the saints’ obedience of stepping out in faith, there will be a heatwave that rolls across the planet and thaws the cold hearts of man. Open your eyes to see the Spirit move and open your ears to hear His call.

“For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said:
Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion
.’”

Hebrews 3:14-15 NKJV

A Wretch Like Me

Failure.

That seems to be the most recent lie fighting to claim the forefront of my mind. Failure as a mom. Failure as a friend. Failure as a human. Failure as a follower of Christ. The standard I have for myself gradually creeps up so high, whether by my own expectations or by the words I have warped from the people around me. Despite the intentions of criticism and advice, it doesn’t always feel constructive. Especially when you are an overcoming shame puppet. I used to feed off my own mental self-destruction prior to surrendering to Jesus. Shortly after true salvation and marrying Brenner, I decided to read and then destroy all of my old journals from middle school to college. The common theme throughout each journal was hopelessness. Yet a small glimmer of the light of Christ still shined through the dark cracks. Back in those times in my life, depression and anxiety ate me alive. After a time I didn’t really want to leave that pit. It became comforting to never hope for anything, to never be let down. But see I was missing one small whisper, one massive truth..my hope was in the wrong things.

In the present, my flesh still constantly fights to place myself on the throne of my life. Though I wouldn’t say this at first glance, when I dig to the root of my shame and fear, the root of feeling hopeless or feeling like a failure is this: I can easily idolize myself and other people. Though I should have no other gods before the One True God, I can easily place other things before Him and sugar coat the sin by calling it a ‘prioritization issue’ . It’s a sin nonetheless, and confession and repentance are needed for real change.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV)

Now I’m sure by now you’ve just had several sharp intakes of breath and you’re either relating one hundred percent or your trying not to judge me. That’s okay, I’m just sharing my heart and it is a broken thing. But it’s being made whole by the God who rebuilds the ancient ruins (Isaiah 61:4). He is creating in me a pure heart. I started praying that consistently over myself  two years ago. In the beginning it sounded sweet, it sounded like I would feel pure and righteous as God was doing it, pink skies and fluffy white clouds. I’m sure there was an angel baby floating somewhere playing a harp in that imagination.  But as He has truly began to shine truth and love into my innermost being, I have never felt more dirty. I have never felt more small than as the sheer weight of the glory of God has entered into my hovel of a soul. Not because God’s judgement has pierced me and minimized me due to my sin. No quite the contrary, I recognize my own faultiness, my own finite humanity because it is only in these broken weaknesses that I am seeing the depths of God’s love for me and the extreme heights of His strength. He is creating in me a pure heart. With every speck of dirt removed He is telling me I am loved, that I am worthy of this love. He is reaching the deepest, lonely glaciers of my soul. I see the speck in my own eye, first. This is helping me to love God, myself, my family, my friends, strangers, and my enemies more genuinely. Love is coming out of the destruction, a temple for the living God is being made out of the ancient ruins. Again, I will confess that my mundane mind can not make sense of it. Still His grace is sufficient for even that. Jesus tells me that I’m not a failure, that He has chosen me (Ephesians 1). That He has made me righteous. (Romans 3:22) I can’t be both a failure and also righteous. I chose Jesus.

Every time I let God in a little deeper, every time I release clenched fists over all He’s given me to gain a posture of open palms, every time I surrender myself to His plan, every time I say yes to Him, I am transformed. The journey can feel like a back and forth emotional/physical/spiritual roller coaster. And it is when we look horizontally, as Paul said,

 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15 NIV)

Which is why a few lines down, Romans 8, tells us there is no condemnation for those of us who live in Christ! We must keep our eyes fixed on the vertical, on Jesus. We are dying to our flesh and living by the spirit. That is what this roller coaster is. And God doesn’t just throw us to the wolves, He chips away the dirt and grime over time. He takes away the shame of our sins completely. Like the white shirt I wore in hopes of my toddlers staying tidy, but they’re kids and tidy just isn’t happening realistically yet. Lazarus came up from behind me, jumped up and “Hulk squished” me. That white shirt was soon marred with whatever substance was on his hands. God tells us that even then, He makes us white as snow.

I am becoming more like Jesus. I am learning to trust Him, to love..truly love. He is faithful to complete the good work He has begun. So now I face the chaos with hope, I tell the wind to “Be still.” And when I don’t have the strength to sing the words, when praise takes everything in me to conjure up a note, still there He hears my silent rock of a heart’s cry and He responds with a melody that He sings over me. He is love. He is better than we know, His love, deeper than we realize. It feels intense, because it is.

Amazing Grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
but now I’m found
was blind
but now I see.

Thank you, Lord, for Your love. It is enough. You are enough. Be my compass today, Be my peace. You are Jehovah Shalom (The Lord my Peace). Make me whole with, Your shalom peace. I pray this in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.


This song “P E A C E” covered by Amanda Cook has been renewing my mind daily over the past week. Check it out!