Many years ago, I sat across from my pastor as he pulled out a sheet of paper. “What is your goal in life, Carolyn? What do you dream of becoming one day?” As a young married woman with little clue, I stammered.
“We want to help families be healthy,” I paused. “I always dreamed of having a healthy family, but also to help others. We want to have a place where families have resources to help them.”
Sincerely, he looked at me with tenderness as he picked a pen. He drew one dot. “This is where you are.” Across the page, he placed another dot. “This is where you want to be.”
Then, he did the unexpected.
He drew a crazy, curving line all over the page, until one dot finally connected to the other.
“You expect point A to be a straight line to point B.” He raised his eyes to meet mine, smiling mischievously. “Carolyn, God always has different plans. He has to take you on a journey with him to reach point B, and it will curve, twisting and turning, doing loop de loops sometimes. Yet, it is always His kindness in leading the way He does, because it’s what we learn on the journey from point A to point B that prepares you to walk in that new place.”
This has played out in my life so many times that I could never have imagined then all the many twists and turns there would be.
This blog is about one of those journeys – a new bed of roses from a burial plot.
Last summer, I published my new book, “The Invitation”. It’s a compilation of some very hard twists and turns – life lessons learned from my healing journey – in a story form, with artwork that goes along with the stories, along with letters from the Lord. It’s personal. It’s vulnerable glimpses into my heart from various encounters with the Lord on my healing journey.
The letters from the Lord included are very precious to me, because He gave them to me at an extremely tender turning point in my journey, a point when I was finally beginning to trust Him, finally able to begin to feel His love and experience His joy.
At that time, several beautiful friends came along side me, and were Jesus to me. Some of them held me, cried with me, were true sisters to me as I processed out the pain of broken family relationships, extreme trauma, and pain.
Previous friends promised they’d be family, and never leave, but when the path had gotten rough, they left me and my husband to walk it alone. Yet, this time… this time it felt different. For the first time, I had a family of sisters, of friends who would stay by my side. They wouldn’t bolt. They had shared my pain. They knew my story.
Shortly after the writing of those letters out – after finally reaching a place of trust again, things changed. Leadership became abusive. Out of obedience to the Lord, I spoke out to the leadership about the things that were careening out of control. Instead of being received, I and my family were ostracized from our “Christian family”.
The very ones who I had trusted, now would not speak to me. My phone number was blocked, and I was unfriended on social media. My family and I were “blessed” to leave. Other close friends were hurting as well from the fall out, so they chose to run. Only two friends stayed along side me. (I’m not saying this to gossip. You can check out my friend, Rebecca Davis’s new book for help with. “Untwisting Scriptures: Book 3 – Your Words, Your Emotions”.) Those are just facts of what happened. It hurt deeply, like a knife digging at my heart.
Shortly after God had given the letters to me, the Lord instructed me to publish them and the stories. Though it was painful, and I didn’t understand why, I choose to trust that God knew what was best and obey despite how I felt. Truly, all I saw was a freshly dug pile of dirt and a tombstone.
The day came for the proof copy to arrive on my door step. As I anxiously ripped open the yellow envelope and held the book in my hand, I felt the pang of gut wrenching grief again. Hot tears welled up in my eyes. “This isn’t the way this was supposed to be,” I lamented.
“I’m proud of you for obeying me,” I heard the still small voice. “Place it in my hands, child. You’ll see why I asked this of you.”
A few weeks later, I found myself chatting with a friend who had just read the book. “Carolyn,” she said. “I loved your book and the encounters you had with the Lord. I really feel you should make this into a class. Do a class combining art with the concepts in your book.”
My mind raced back to the beginning of this year when the Lord told me that I was transitioning out of what I had been doing with my painting classes into something new.
My whole business is based on a dream and vision He gave me on combining the things I’ve learned on my own healing journey, encounters with Him, and art. Yet, the classes I had done before fell short of what burned in me to do.
All of a sudden everything became crystal clear. “Lord, is this what you’ve been trying to tell me? Is this the new direction?”
I decided to reread my own book, pouring through the pages with a new lens. Sure enough, it made perfect sense. Each chapter was a different heart healing principle that I had learned, and the length of the book was perfect for the length of the class. I could even see each art project in conjunction with the healing encounter the Lord desired to do.
He inspired me with a new logo, tag line, and brought together wonderful participants for a beta class to help me work out the details. He even met each of them in our times together with significant, life changing encounters of His love and identity in Him.
Now, where there was once intense pain, there is a dawn of hope. Excitement is beginning to grow over what is to come as I step out into this new direction.
The path has held twists, turns, some loop de loops, deep grief, tears, forgiveness, encounters of love, and moments of joy. At each turn, I’ve learned to release the process into the hands of my loving Heavenly Father trusting Him to help to learn and growing through the journey.
I don’t even think I care much about where point B is anymore. I just want to learn to love well, and receive love daily. Cheek to cheek. Face to face. Heart to heart.
Where just a few months ago all I saw was a burial plot, now I see the first signs of verdant, strong stems popping up from the fertile ground and tender, little rose buds forming on the tips.
Jesus transforms burial plots into rose beds. I’ve seen Him do it again and again. He loves creating beautiful masterpieces out of broken pieces of our of lives, breathing resurrection life into dead bones. Trust Him.
To find out more about “The Invitation” or my new class called “Encounter Art Classes”, check out our website at http://www.blossomingheartsstudio.com.