Called Forth – Out of the Tomb – Shame and Finland – My Testimony

As roots are ripped up in our lives, the lies that attach to these roots are shaken off, losing their power. Nothing is left to sustain the lies. The root is up and out. So, glorious freedom in grace flows in.

Here goes. I have hesitated writing this because of shame but Holy Spirit drew me upstairs, wooed me to write because it is time to come out of the tomb.

I truly do feel that my time in Finland was, for me, like living in a tomb – encased in the mundane and shadows. This is not meant to offend anyone. It is what I experienced. My life.

I let it happen – I would not let freedom truly arise in me. Over time, I locked myself in a prison, shackled to shadows of what I believed others thought of me or I perceived others thought of me. In any case, the clouds and the darkness descended on my life and have not moved in this season…….until today.

I feel that I was initially sent into Finland to give what was in me – freedom, creativity, and identity in Christ. I was called to walk in Holy Spirit to set people free to be whom God created them to be. Yet, I allowed discouragement, disillusionment, and anger to encase me in a tomb the longer I stayed in Finland.

So today, I forgive Finland. Can I forgive a nation? Yes. Now, this is not written towards those whom I knew closely. This is not about them. It is about others who judged me without knowing me. Rather than come alongside, they stayed their distance and perhaps my anger and their inner silence would not allow them to come closer. There is no blame. There is no shame in this. In any case, I forgive all who hurt me – devastatingly hurt me. God’s grace is for all of us – we need it! All of us.

I have avoided saying this because I wanted to be clear. Finland brought me into its own shame – a feeling somehow I was wrong – not my actions, but ME. I was wrong. It beat me down and left me for dead but very few knew it. I am speaking it forth today just for me. As Lazarus in the tomb, God is calling me forth, out of it all.

I have always had the opportunity to come ‘out’ but I could not because shame rooted a lie in me that I was wrong – my substance, how God created me. That is a lie for all of us. I may have done many things wrong in lashing out in inappropriate ways due to my pain, but Debra is good, perfectly and wonderfully, beautifully made. In all this pain, aside from certain people, no one seemed to care, notice or even call. I forgive you Finland.

The Holy Spirit called me, wooed me upstairs to write this simply because Holy Spirit knew that I needed to put it out there whether anyone understood or not. My qualifying statement is this – I do love Finland, with God’s love.

I have hesitated writing this until today. I know it will set others free who have undergone what I have gone through – not being accepted in nations into which God has called you to go and undergoing silent pain, while standing firm in God because He is faithful to work out in you what He has planned for your life. God is all together glorious and wonderful!

What did shame do? It spoke to me subtly but persistently, “You are not good enough.” I heard it so long while I was there that I believed it. Inevitably, I, myself, then started asking people and situations this question, “Can I be me?’ I did not openly ask this but it was a question that circulated inside of me as I encountered many situations and people. I outsourced my life to external situations rather than trusting God. What was I thinking? It is all good – so very very good. God turns it all around and we are better for it. So selah……….I am now giving myself permission to BE whom God has designed me to BE, in His love, grace, mercy but in radical truth. I will continue to challenge people, risk relationships, step out in faith and be accepted and rejected, be misunderstood and more but I will never outsource needed affirmation to anyone but Jesus Christ. If I get it from others, great. If not, great. It is all good. Christ in me, the hope of glory.

In Christ
Debra

 

 

 

Authenticity, Vulnerability, Journey – Finland and So Much More

Finland Water Lone Tree‘Vulnerability leads to connection and connection is what gives purpose to our lives – we are hardwired to connect. In order to be seen, really seen, we have to be vulnerable.” Brene Brown

I am a Christian, stretching outside a box of confined Christianity that can limit me in many ways. My God is bigger than the box most people try to put Him in and me beside Him.  Way before Brene, Jesus said some beautiful words.  

John 8:32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. NKJV

Jesus is saying to follow in the way of truth. Truth is not a path of isolation and theory. Truth is the person of Jesus Christ. We are called into relationship, first with Him, and then with others. This is the currency of the Kingdom – relationship that births trust, honesty, transparency, acceptance and a lot of love. He valued and loved people, the outcasts, the down and outs, the misfits. He laid Himself out for all to see. So should we.

While here in Helsinki, my blog displays my humanity, vulnerability and transparency. It is me. I am happy about that. For the past 10 years in Finland, Marvin and I have tried to have relationship with people here but to date; we have very few friends that are even remotely interested in us being here. Now, for those reading this that may know me let me say that I realize I was ‘going through’ some crap years ago and perhaps was not always a nice person. But, hey, times have changed. We have changed. Yet, there are a few things going on in this nation. Many people won’t let you change. Many people will let you change but don’t forgive and forget and move on. Many people don’t know how to truly have relationship. I could give more reasons but I will stop at just three. There are many more reasons.

I am writing this to be free and stay free, moving in creativity and purpose in a nation to which God has called me into. Over the years, we have tried to reach out and even in 2012 when we lived here, we tried often but to no avail. So we have come to the conclusion, based upon our experience alone, many Finns we have met are not always open to ‘letting you into their lives”. Whew…it feels great to say that. It feels great to be honest. It just feels great.

What’s the deal with that? I believe freedom is a lot to handle for some people, especially people who are wounded, rejected, feeling unworthy, hiding behind alcohol or drugs, and on and on and on. We have met and continue to meet many different types here. For the most part, Finns like to stick to themselves, or relationships that make them comfortable. Well, if I truly want to spend more time here, then perhaps I have to make the first move for those who are called to know me, truly know me, and enter into relationship with me for the purpose of life in God’s kingdom. Remember, we believe the past is the past, not just towards seeing me, BUT ALSO in me seeing each of you. Don’t hide reading this blog okay? It’s time to talk. So why don’t you make a comment below? Be vulnerable. Be open. Be real. Be transparent and honest. I will accept you. You accept me, okay. Be gracious though, okay?

I know many Finns are reading this because……….the stats show that to be true. Without going into great details, it is time to shift the paradigm of isolation, leaning into religion, and stripping away the façade of pain and depression. I want YOU……………respond, comment, and be free. I can only do this for so long. My life in Finland depends on each of you. Why else am I here? I am not on an island living in isolation. Relationship, moving in Jesus Christ, in creativity depends a lot on whether I stay or leave.

So please leave the past behind – for me and for yourself. Or perhaps you don’t even know me and perhaps you are not even from Finland but reading this from another country…WELCOME…can you find yourself anywhere in this blog? I sure hope so. Let’s talk. For me, just a comment would birth wonderful things in this nation. 

Ah………..Finland………..Life Lessons Learned and Learning

Finland White Cathedral Can I settle into silence? How does one adjust to silence when it is saturating the atmosphere around you? Being an American, I am used to the intrusion of sound into my life, wherever I am throughout my day. America is noisy. I am surrounded by voices seeking to be heard day in and day out through radio and television – news shows, reality shows, talk shows. Music plays in restaurants so loud that any thought of me having a conversation with anyone is difficult if not impossible. People are around me on cell phones, constantly talking, or texting, invading my space with incessant drama in coffee shops, retail stores, or any number of places. What’s a woman to do? I have the answer…………..come to Finland.

I am writing this from Helsinki. Finland is my second home. It’s where I have a residence visa. I split my time between California and here.

Finland is not noisy. I have been visiting here since 2002 and living here off and on for the past 5 years. This nation is silent and it has taught me a lot over the years. Yes, I will admit that sometimes the silence drives me crazy. I have often felt the urge to stand up on a metro and simply shout something absolutely insane just to get people’s attention. I have not done it yet but there is coming a day where that is a valid possibility.

I remember one time being under stress, leaving a particular situation on a Sunday night in Helsinki. Walking to the car with my friends, I was so sick of Finland that I yelled at the top of my lungs, “Noooooooo more!” They were speechless as I tried to justify why I had to do that. Hahaha! I have a strange relationship with this nation. I truly love it. I am called to be here and minister here.  But there are those days when the silence is deafening and relationships are hard to come by and you text a friend in California and ask them, “So tell me? Why am I in Finland again?”

No one forced me to come here.  I came here because I wanted to. I stay because I want to. My love for Finland is not forced. I choose to love Finland. It’s time for me to write about it over the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy this part of my creative life.

Finland Park BenchLet me qualify a bit right now. I am going to be very upfront with what I have experienced and learned here. I hope you join me during these weeks that I am here visiting again.I have been in Finland a long time. There are some things I can say about it simply because I have stuck it out and weathered many storms while living here. There are good things to say, many many good things. Yet, there are also some honest things to say that I have noticed while being here. If you decided to live in America for any length of time, you may also have a love hate relationship with it. You would see things that you like and also experience things that you don’t like. That is the name of the game. Yet, it is what makes life interesting. So, let’s get back to silence and Finland. Yes, let’s get back to it…but not today…………tomorrow or the next day for sure. I am lovin’ this already.

Our Quirky Finland Adventure In Christ

Finland Snow

Finland Snow

I am a bit behind in the Blog Challenge for October, but I will finish well. I have been writing a lot about Creativity and about the direction our ministry, Rivers of Eden, is going in 2014. I don’t want to go deeper into my thoughts on creativity yet, because I want to focus on that in November. So for the rest of this challenge, until October 31,  I am going to write spontaneously about things I have learned while living and traveling abroad for the past 10 years.

Let’s start with Finland. My husband and I  have a residence visa there – a second home to us. It is beautiful, but not always easy to live there.  As darkness encroaches in the winter, you have to have a strong temperament not to suffer some sort of cabin fever. If you are a transplant from California, which we are, I often found myself  looking for the sun. At times, I felt paralyzed by the heavy cloud cover which seemed to press down upon my life day by day.

So people ask us many many many times “Why Finland? Why are you in Finland?” They often look at us as if we are a bit quirky ourselves to choose a nation like Finland. But, they usually do not know,  until we tell them, that we did not choose Finland. God chose Finland for us. Whoa!!! Please stay with me here. I hope I don’t lose you. Let me explain.

IMG_0408In 2002, three of us were praying in our living room and we heard God speak “Go to Helsinki.”  (Christians do hear the voice of God which can lead one on glorious adventures. This is normal Christianity and for those of you who think that is a bit strange, well, it’s true. God does speak to His people) Keep following me okay? I never wanted normal mundane Christianity and believed that if walking in the supernatural was normal in the New Testament, it is normal for me in my life. Anyway, back to the living room.

In prayer, we heard the Holy Spirit say, “Go to Helsinki.” I did not know anything about Helsinki at the time. We were excited to believe God would take us on a wonderful journey, so we continued to pray for the next three months about the trip. Were we complete crazies?  Yes and no. I mean, it was a stretch but I am a bit of an extravagant Charismatic at times. I go wholeheartedly into anything I do for God, so I just jumped in faith at this trip. Nothing deterred me, not even the funny looks we got from so many people in California when we told there we were going to Helsinki. You can’t even imagine how many Americans did not even know where Finland was in the world. Scary thought guys.

God was gracious to us, being our first time and all. He assured us over and over that this was Him speaking to us about Finland. When we were assured that this was a ‘go’, we bought our tickets and flew to Helsinki, Finland, for 2 weeks. During that time, all we did was pray, walk the streets, talk with people, and experience the nation. We got on a train from Helsinki to Oulu (almost the top of the world folks) and prayed all the way up and all the way back. I loved the adventure. Yet, prayers just shot up to God without a response is a bit boring to me. So I expected God to speak to us. He did not fail to disappoint. He talked to us in visions, dreams and revelation for our whole trip. I was hooked. Finland became a part of my life, and still is. What next?

Snow Forest FinlandThrough a series of events over the past 11 years, too numerous to mention here, Marvin and I took one step at a time. Doors opened, doors shut. We rented a total of three different apartments. We obtained our Finnish ID number. They placed us in the system with healthcare. And here we stand today – called to this nation, loving this nation, and looking with great excitement to what the future holds. (I have traveled throughout a lot of the world and have many stories of God taking us into places to pray and meet people. More will be coming.)

Walking in the SnowAnyway, after years of ups and downs, learning and making mistakes, I know that when God puts a nation on your heart, you love the nation and its people no matter what they do to you, think of you or say about you. So I am heading back in one week to spend time in prayer with our small team for Rivers of Eden to figure out our next step in Finland. This past year has been spent in California but God has always promised us we would live in both places. Good stuff, guys. The face of the church is changing and I don’t want the same old boring stuff, churchy stuff, religious stuff. I want the creative out of the box stuff that fills me with passion. So off we go. It looks to be a good year. God’s in it all the way. It is a shift, a dramatic shift for us, incorporating our travels ministry and out of the box Christianity. But, I have been trained all these years for this. It’s time to walk.