Dear Shame, I'm Playin' Offense Now

"Breathe Janae…just breathe." 

"You can do this.  It’ll be so worth it.  It’ll all be over in a moment and you’ll never have to look back." 

(My inner pep-talk as I did the unthinkable last night…

Rewind to a few months ago…  

The same exact day that I woke up and realized I had been struggling with a low-grade depression for quite some time (see previous blog post), was the same day God also revealed something in me that I was blissfully unaware of —shame.

For those of you who know me, I pride myself in being vulnerable and honest.  How could I (a girl who aspires to call people into living completely exposed and open before people) still be carrying so much shame?!?   

Well thanks to the Enneagram and the voice of the Holy Spirit, I officially became aware that my deepest fear is exposing my weakness.  And because of that, there was still a weighty amount of shame within me from things I had done in the past that had not yet been brought to the light.   I mean sure...I have told different people (at some point) everything I have done.  But I told individuals who were outside perspectives; people that wouldn’t be hurt by my actions.

I think this is what kept shame hidden within me; especially in the midst of the people I am closest with.   

That day when the Lord revealed this within me, I felt Him call me to action.  And lets just say...I fought HARD (for at least a solid month) to pretend like I did not hear what He said.  

“Janae, I want you to go towards shame —offensively." 

"I want you to expose every possible area within your life that the enemy could cause you to feel shameful and get it out once and for all.”

Immediately I knew God was calling me to do the unthinkable…

I didn’t even have to ask Him what he meant by this —my spirit just knew.

Although I am 27 years old (and have zero obligation to report to my parents on everything that I have done), I knew in my heart what God meant when He told me to completely demolish my shame.  

God was calling me to expose myself to the very people that I’d feel most ashamed to. 

And that my friends…was my parents.

So after pleading with God and trying to negotiate the timeline, God in all his graciousness kept going after me.    

Last week I hit my tipping point when I was out at Bethel.  

Abi Stumvoll spoke on Sunday night about taking back what the enemy has stolen and making him wish he had never messed with you!  At the end of her message, Abi had everyone in the audience stand up and declare "I WENT TO THE ENEMY'S CAMP AND I TOOK BACK WHAT HE STOLE FROM ME.  NOW SATANS UNDER MY FEET."  

How could anyone wrestle with that?!? 

I knew what I had to do.  

So back to last night… 

You guys, I have no words for what actually went down.  I sat on my parents porch, nervous as heck, with knots in my stomach, and I completely exposed anything and everything I have done that has caused me to feel shame throughout my life; the stuff I used to find myself thinking "if they only knew." The kind of sin when you're in the middle of it you think to yourself, "yea...definitely not telling anyone about this." 

But I did.  And it was emotional.  It was beautiful.  And by far the most vulnerable and courageous thing I believe I've done in my life yet.  

After all was said and done, my parents looked at me with sheer love in their eyes and said, “Janae, we love you.  We’re not mad at you.  We still see you as pure."  

Then we cried, we laughed, and my parents boldly prayed prayers of healing and protection over me as they declared my unshakeable worth in the Lord.  

Folks...I'm undone.  

Completely and utterly...undone.  

Goodbye Shame.  I'm playin' offense now.  

“Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.”  -Psalm 34: 5

NOW PLEASE DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND BLAST THIS SONG IN YOUR CAR.  YELL IT AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS.  DECLARE IT IN YOUR HOUSE.  SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS.  

AMEN.  

Choosing to Live Again

Ever had a moment in your life when you realize that all is not right in the world?  

Specifically….YOUR world?

A couple of months ago I woke up in the morning to an overwhelming feeling of sadness —without having any idea why.  In fact, I had every reason to wake up excited that day (it was the long awaited day we were going to record the drums on my second album).  And though my circumstances screamed “YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED” —my inner world screamed “DON’T GET OUT OF BED!”  

Yet again —just another constant reminder that you can have all the success and excitement in your external world and still be living in deep depression.  That’s because your inner world often dictates the level you experience joy from your external circumstances.    

It didn’t take long for me to realize there was a whirlwind of emotions I had been blissfully ignoring in my heart for quite sometime.  And unbeknownst to me, I would subconsciously grab whatever was within my reach; doing anything I could to numb myself from what I was actually feeling.  

These avoidance behaviors were robbing me of the life God has for me to live —leading me straight into apathy.    

So after an explosion of weeping and asking God what was going on within me, the Lord quickly illuminated a great amount of suppressed disappointment in my heart that I had yet to acknowledge; mainly because my head knew one thing...but my heart knew another.  My head knew that God’s promises are faithful and He will restore all that has been lost.  However in my “knowing” that God is faithful, I never gave my heart permission to grieve the loss and disappointment I had been experiencing in my life.  Which is why I kept subconsciously engaging in unhealthy coping and avoidance behaviors and wondering “where the heck did this come from?!?”

So that day…I let my emotions out. 

I mean REALLY let them out. 

I told God all I was disappointed in.  I yelled.  I screamed.  And I called it all out for what it really was —and how it actually made me feel.  It was like hitting the refresh button for my soul.  Even when I couldn’t change my circumstances or change the loss I had experienced, simply giving myself permission to feel (instead of suppressing and numbing) felt like I was permitting my soul to be alive again.  

Additionally —something in my heart knew that this reconnection with my soul could not be sustained if I were to keep living the way I was living. 

I knew there was a responsibility God was calling me into in regards to seeking connection with my heart on a daily basis again.  I needed to not only acknowledge what was going on within me, but I needed to fill my soul back up with life-giving things; and dispute the behaviors that were only causing me internal suppression and chaos.  

At that point, there was loss in my soul that needed to be filled back up again.    

And though I could not change my circumstances, God was reminding me that I have a decision on a daily basis of whether or not I’m going to choose to FULLY LIVE…or coast my way through life.  

That day I decided I was going to fully live again.  

So I got out of bed…and in all of my Type-A/Go-Getter kind of personality, I made my way to my massive chalk board wall to brain storm what this looks like on a daily basis…   

I wrote at the top of the wall “THINGS THAT GIVE ME LIFE” in all caps and began to jot down whatever came to mind.  Whether it was people, places, or things…anything that has made me feel fully alive in the past I wrote down (i.e. riding my bike, laying in silence and talking to God, hanging out with specific people who truly KNOW me and call me higher, listening to specific worship sessions on youtube, blasting my music and dancing in my room, immersing myself in scripture, going to the beach and spending time in the sun, etc.).

Once I wrote these things down, I made a deliberate decision to go towards these activities and behaviors on a daily basis again.  

And let me tell you...it has been liberating.  

These are the things that not only bring me into connection with my purpose and destiny, but they bring me into connection with my heart. And though I have to consistently choose to no longer suppress my emotions (and some days it is a major battle), I cannot tell you how empowering it is to fight for your life...to fight for your purpose and destiny that the enemy will do everything in his power to sabotage. He wants to cripple you and steal your joy.  And the quickest way for him to do that is to introduce you to unhealthy coping and avoidance behaviors.  

He wants to introduce you to things that help you numb out your hearts reality...and in essence...forget to live the life God has for you.  

Friends, you were made for a life beyond your wildest dreams. And part of stepping into this destiny is CHOOSING to go towards life...not death.

So I must ask you....what are the things in your life that truly give you life?  And what are the things in your life that ultimately bring death?  

Jesus I pray you not only expose to people whats going on within their hearts, but I pray you show them how to take care of their souls and choose the life you have for them.  Jesus come and expose their coping and avoidance behaviors and show them how to truly live again!  

Amen so be it.  

Bring On the Wilderness

The other day I found myself telling the Lord…

“Alright Lord….the only way I’m gonna actually make it through this season of "unknown" is if you take me into your genuine satisfaction.”  

Real talk translation...

God I'm sick of talking about your satisfaction.  Like...if you don't take me into the real deal this ain't gonna work.  

I realized yet again that God loves when we contend for His promises.  He has promised full satisfaction in Him. And we talk a lot of talk, but yet how many of us have actually experienced this?  I know for me I’ve experienced moments —beautiful moments that have marked me forever.  But I know in this current season those intimate memories with Him will not sustain what I actually need to make it to the other side of this.  I need more.  I need the fullness of His presence on a daily basis.  Without it I will not have what I’m actually yearning for.

I know myself too well...Janae [apart from the presence of God] will grab everything thats near to try to satisfy.  However, I've tried that. And it doesn't work.  

The truth is being fully satisfied can only be found within the person of Jesus (His presence).  

Not when we talk about Him. 

Not when we sing about Him. 

And not when we work for Him.  

Assuming you can have satisfaction with God through those things is like thinking you can be fully satisfied in a romantic relationship by talking about the person you love...or working for them; but yet never spending intimate time and experiencing connection with the person. 

It's honestly hilarious when looking at it from that standpoint.  

Why do humans continue to live as though satisfaction with God can genuninely be found through talking about Him?  Or working for Him?  

If you are in a season of the unknown (much like myself), or if you are in a time of waiting for God to intervene and you feel like you’re in the wilderness, I’d encourage you to go read the story of the Israelites awaiting the promised land.  It was in the season of the wilderness that God lured His people into the desert because He wanted to romance them and satisfy them beyond their wildest dreams.  He longed to reveal Himself to them and make them His bride.  But yet, they were afraid of Him.  And they could not stand the uncomfortable feeling of learning to rely on Him in total dependence —so they sabotaged what God was longing to do.  

God wanted to truly satisfy them in His presence.  And then out of the deep place of connection and intimacy, He would lead them into the promised land.  

The truth is the promised land SUCKS apart from His presence.  

You’ll get there and you'll find yourself just as dissatisfied and just as depressed as you were back in the desert.   

Friends, don’t sabotage the purpose of the wilderness.   

Don’t resent it and do everything in your power to escape it like the Israelites did.  

Intimacy and satisfaction start with a surrendered heart.  

God is longing to lure you into His inner chambers and romance you.  He yearns to become one with you, and teach you how to feast off His every word —and feast off His presence.  And out of that deep place of connection and love He wants to lead you into your true promised land.  

Personally, I refuse to miss out on the treasure thats found in this season of the unknown.

If satisfaction is what the wilderness brings...yes Lord bring it on. 

Hosea 2: 14-20

But then I will win her back once again.  

I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.

I will return her vineyards to her

    and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.

She will give herself to me there,

    as she did long ago when she was young,

    when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.

When that day comes,” says the Lord,

    “you will call me ‘my husband’

    instead of ‘my master.’

O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips,

    and you will never mention them again.

 On that day I will make a covenant

    with all the wild animals and the birds of the sky

and the animals that scurry along the ground

    so they will not harm you.

I will remove all weapons of war from the land,

    all swords and bows,

so you can live unafraid

    in peace and safety. 

I will make you my wife forever,

    showing you righteousness and justice,

    unfailing love and compassion. 

I will be faithful to you and make you mine,

    and you will finally know me as the Lord.

Childlikeness

A couple weeks ago I had a friend call something out in me I didn’t exactly know was there.  She looked at me dead in the eyes and said, “Janae, you’re the most childlike person I know.”

It honestly threw me for a loop...

I couldn't quite figure out what she was referencing.   

That night as I was driving home I began to ask the Lord what she meant (especially considering I find myself to be a bit “up-tight” and too mature for my age at times). It didn't take long before I felt the Lord illuminate what she was acknowledging.  I felt Him say, 

Janae, you genuinely live your life like you have nothing to prove to Me —you just know that I love you because you are My daughter.  And out of that revelation, you’re able to completely be yourself.” 

It occurred in that moment that the childlikeness this girl was calling out in me (whether or not she knew it) had everything to do with my ability to live from a place of knowing I belong.  And knowing I am wildly accepted and loved —not just by God but by others as well.   

When I realized this, I found myself asking "how?" How is it that my life is so different than the majority of human beings who cannot shake the “I need to perform for love” mentality? What is it that influenced me to live from a deep conviction that I am loved simply because of who I am —not by what I do?

As these questions flooded my mind, my childhood experiences began to replay in my head.     

Growing up I had a father who was fully convinced that I was the “coolest” girl in all the world (and he’d tell me just about every day).  He would tell me I was awesome, beautiful, powerful, etc; so did my mother.  My parents were unwavering in how they saw me —because I was THEIR daughter.  I belonged to them.  And they carried the full revelation that I was worthy of love no matter what I did or didn’t do.  There were so many times that I disappointed them, or let them down with my rebellious behavior —but they loved me without conditions.  

Their love was immovable.  

They were fully certain about me...and they couldn’t have been convinced of otherwise.  

Why?

Because their love was based upon my identity.  Not my behavior.  

As I recalled this seemly "too good to be true" kind of environment I grew up in, I began to get a bit emotional.  Who am I that God would deal with me so favorably?  I mean let's be honest here...it's not exactly everyday that a child is born into a family that is actually representing His love well.

In fact...it's rare!  

Over the past few weeks I have realized that growing up in a family like this comes with a high responsibility.  Though most people would think “you gotta go through the opposite and come out the other side” in order to teach this kind of stuff —I believe the Lord has told me quite the contrary. 

Love and protection are much better teachers than trauma and neglect could ever be.  

So out of the deep nurturing love that I have been raised in, I feel the high calling and responsiblity to teach people about what it is to be God's child; and learning to live from the conviction that we are loved without conditions!  It's out of this deep revelation that God's children will finally break free from the "I need to perform for love" mentality, and actually start to be themselves.  

You guys...God is wild about His children.  He is fully convinced about who they ACTUALLY are, and He cannot be convinced of otherwise.  They are worthy of love no matter what they've done.  They are breathtakingly beautiful even when they fall short of the world's expectations of beauty.  They are AWESOME.  And have been created to do extravagant and Heavenly things on this earth.  

You cannot escape it.  You cannot sabotage it.  

HE’s wild about you. 

Point blank.  The end.  So be it.

Amen. 

I recorded this video for my work on childlikeness and decided it'd be sweet to share with everyone on my blog as well.  Blessings =)

Inner Peace

Recently I have found myself in a fairly abnormal season

In the past, I would have probably called it “a funk.” Maybe I would have called it isolation…or borderline depression.  Either way from the outside looking in, it doesn’t exactly look healthy.  

Most nights I find myself alone in my room while sitting in silence, or playing piano, or writing.  And if I’m not in my room, I’m typically curled up in a ball on my parents porch after a long day of work; which isn’t exactly my norm.  Coming from a girl whose parents used to say “everywhere our daughter goes there’s a trail of people following behind her” (a.k.a…extreme extrovert), I would dare to say my current season has been a contradiction to my God-given personality. 

Its definitely a new experience for me [to say the least].  

I’ve found myself watching most of my closest friends get married, have babies, and step into the fulfillment of the promises God has spoken over their lives.  And me over here...well...yeah about that (insert gritting teeth emoji).  I’ve been watching my community one-by-one get smaller and smaller, and my options for “hang-outs” be far less than they’ve ever been.  I’ve become increasingly aware of the fact that I’m getting older and finding community doesn’t exactly get easier. Additionally, God has been leading me to say “yes” to Him even when my “yes” is still vague and unknown. I’ve been stepping out with no clear direction of where to step in. 

And needless to say,  it has not been easy.     

But heres the thing…

Even when my circumstances try to create fear in me, and there are often days when I feel the lure to sulk in my loneliness, I've been experiencing a peace that is unexplainable. Though there are many nights I spend alone and my life seems like God has pressed pause as I wait for Him to lead, my heart is deeply confident that this is just a season.  The occasions that I have to remind myself “this will not be forever” have surprisingly been few and far between.  

Although this word pales in comparison to what I'm actually experiencing within my heart, if I could sum it up in one word it would be "confidence."  I'm confident to the point that it doesn't make sense.  Though all my circumstances scream “MISSING OUT” or yell whatever lie the enemy wants to throw my way, my heart has not wavered from the truth (most of the time).  

God really is in the waiting.  

There is so much I get to encounter of Him in this season.  When my entire life feels like it's at a standstill and there is nothing tangible I can hold onto in order to trust that His promises will come to fruition, I get the opportunity to truly believe Him without seeing.  

And I'm convinced that this kind of faith is actually what moves mountains.  

For those of you who are in a similar season, I just thought I'd encourage you with this word today.  The promises He has spoken over your life are NOT void.  He will pull through…He ALWAYS does.  So just know that He sees you.  He knows what your heart needs.  He knows your dreams and what you are deeply longing for.  And even when it seems like the season of waiting might stay on pause forever,  trust Him!

The other day I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to look up the specific word used for "acknowledge" within scripture when it says to "acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight" (Proverbs 3:6). I couldn't believe the revelation I found.  It was the word "yada." This is the same word used in the Hebrew language when it references intimacy and sexual relations.  Its means "to know."  I realized this verse is not just calling me to acknowledge Him.  NO...its calling me to KNOW him...intimately (as one would know their lover).  And out of the depths of my communion with Him, He will lead me.

So with that….heres a little excerpt of a spontaneous song I’ve been singing to Jesus. Its always been a dream of mine to post excerpts of my morning songs with Jesus. So here ya go....

Open fields

For those of you who are anything like me, when I first heard about the concept of "encountering the Lord through the imagination" it seemed quite dangerous.  I know for me, I was afraid of the counterfeit. I was afraid of what the power of the mind could create and the danger of creating a false reality. 

I never really let that door open between me and God; that is, until about 2 and a half years ago.  

I didn't let the door open until I found myself in a place of desperation.  I was desperate for more of the Lord, but didn't know how to get there.  Little did I know that my walls of religion, conditions, and self protection kept me from believing and experiencing what he had for me.  I remember the first time I ever let myself go there (into the imagination, fully believing God wanted to speak to me this way).  I was at a conference, and there was a session called "The Power of the Imagination." I listened to a woman talk about how God brought her through overcoming an eating disorder through seeking him in this way.  I then listened to her husband tell a story of how in the middle of worship at a conference one day, he closed his eyes and said "Holy Spirit, take me where you want me to go."  As he followed what he was seeing he ended up in a garden...though this was not just any garden...it was a garden full of body parts.  The Lord then looked at him before he could even ask why he was there, as the Lord picked up a left ear and placed it in this man's hands.  The Lord said, "there is someone in this conference I want to heal of deafness in their left ear.  I want you to go give them this new ear."  The man telling this story stressed that he was by no means a leader at the conference and did not know how to even go about telling the leadership.  Thankfully the Holy Spirit is the best leader there is and gave the main speaker a word of knowledge.

The main speaker got up on stage and sure enough he announced, "God wants to heal deafness tonight."

The man telling the story said he instantly watched an older lady stand up, whom had been deaf in her left ear for 60 years. The man said he could barely fit his hand through the crowd of people, but the moment he touched her ear she heard a loud pop. The woman's hearing was supernaturally restored. 

I remember hearing this story, and beginning to ball my eyes out.  I wanted so badly to hear from God like that, and I began to tell the Lord my desperate desire for it. 

As I could barely have time to process or cry, I heard the speaker say "Now its time to practice. We all can hear from God this way and I want you all to believe that before we walk out of here."

To give you a quick side note......on my way to this conference I told the Lord two things I wanted breakthrough from.  I wanted to come home believing I 100% hear from God, and I wanted to be free from double-mindedness.  I don't want to expand too much on double-mindedness because its not what this blog post is focused on, but I will say that I felt I sometimes had a switch I could turn off impulsively, and choose to do whatever I wanted for a day.

So back to the story...

The man prompted us to close our eyes and let our minds wander.  He then said "Now picture something being put into your hands, and yell out what you see."

"I see a beach ball" someone yelled.

"I see a hat." 

"I see (fill in the blank)." 

He took us through surface level prompts to begin building our faith, but it quickly led to things more in depth as he prompted us to practice picturing Jesus.  He challenged us to look at him face to face and begin dialoguing with him.  He encouraged us to practice awakening all our senses to where we actually were in our imagination.

This is about the part that it gets good for me.

I'm sitting there in my imagination in a field.  But it wasn't just any field, it was a field full of 20 feet tall sunflower trees.  It was the most magical thing I had ever experienced, and then....... I saw Jesus.  The first thing he did was give me a hug.  I didn't even know I needed it, but the second he touched me, I could feel it in my bones cutting straight to my core. 

I began to dialogue with him as we walked through the field.  I'll spare you all the little details of this moment, solely because some of this will remain just between me and Jesus =) but there was something that happened that I cannot keep quiet about.  Jesus kept looking at me saying "You will have no other lovers.  I will be your lover." 

The man leading the class prompted us to ask one more thing.  He said "Ask Jesus your life verse." 

As if it was already hard enough to believe all that was happening in my imagination was not just the power of my mind, it became extremely vulnerable to think about asking Jesus my life verse and hearing something that could potentially make zero sense ( i.e. hearing it wrong, therefore the temptation of negating the whole experience). 

But I did.

And he answered me wildly beyond my expectations.

I looked at Jesus in this field full of 20 feet sunflower trees and with every ounce of my being, I said "Jesus tell me my life verse."  Instantly I heard Matthew 6:24.

For those of you who don't remember, I'll remind you of two quick things.  Something I asked Jesus for was breakthrough with double mindedness.  As we were in the field he kept saying "You will have no other lovers, I will be your lover."

Then I looked up Matthew 6:24, and this is what it said........

"No one can serve two masters.  Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon." 

The second I read this I was on the floor crying.  He gave me a double whammy.  In one single moment, he was speaking to me about my genuine ability to hear from him, and at the same time cutting me free from double mindedness once and for all.

I will never forget this moment.  It was the day I learned I actually do hear from God, and I learned about a practical avenue to begin doing so. 

The place that he took me on that day has been a place I frequently return to.  Its a place that no one will ever fully comprehend, nor be able to experience with me. Its a place he tenderly speaks to me no matter my mess. He teaches me to dance before him.  Its a place where all my walls come down and I'm completely free from shame or the temptations of this world.  Its here I can be completely me.

And this is where this song was birthed from.  Singing of the place that I often return to, where I am limitless and the veil has been completely torn between me and Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

I pray this song will awaken a new realm with you and God.