The Healing Mile
Day 32 Trustworthy October 31, 2019 13:38
It never ceases to amaze me that I can trek down the exact same path every single day and still discover fresh perspective, new and beautiful subjects to photograph and then come home to write about.
Although one of my nagging concerns regarding this 365 journey has been just that- 3 6 5- twelve months, fifty-two weeks, three hundred sixty five days- one entire year of committed daily walks and documentation.
This million dollar question runs through my mind often- what if I run out of things to discover and what if this healing mile becomes flat, uninspired and God goes quiet? For a million dollars-then what!?!
And then I sense a sizable God giggle in my Spirit and the familiar and reassuring voice of my faithful maker who always shows up at the perfect time.
"Dana, my precious daughter!", I believe I hear Him chuckle.
"You limit me! You have a strong tendency to keep me very small and in a box that's even smaller, tiny in fact. I have SO much to show you and teach you! You've become quite susceptible to doubting my mighty presence and miraculous power, which puts you in dangerous alignment to the enemies attacks on your heart."
And I remember a verse from the Bible that says,
'When you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."
And I think to myself...
As hard as it is to admit, I really have made the choice to carry this heavy duffle of doubt and it truly does slather me with the burden of a boatload of instability blown and tossed by the wind. We'll give it a name and call it Mr. Doubtduffle. Ugh.
"Why, why WHY do I continue to lug this cumbersome annoyance around with me?
Why do I?"
And even more importantly,
"How do I lay it down once and for all?" I beg for response to these questions.
And of course He answers me.
"Why? Because you've been taught to rely on yourself. The people you thought you could trust have failed you. And they're still failing you and they will continue to fail you, not because they want to or mean to but because that's what the broken human sinful spirit is prone to do.
That's why you need Me. I will not fail you. I am not prone to anything other than a spirit of love."
This is the soul salve He continues to bathe me in.
"The how? When you sense doubt creeping in, keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking and keep your eyes open to all of the things I will continue to teach you.
I am trustworthy. This healing mile mission was my idea. Remember?
Continue putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.
Depend on me. Count on me. Lean in to me. Learn from me. Trust me."
Aaaaah, yes God. You are faithful. I'm laying down Mr. Doubtduffle, the bag of bondage that's busting with the burden of doubt and I'm exchanging it for the newfound freedom that the healing mile will continue to show me the way every last mile for the next 333 days. At least I will do my very best.
As I pray those words I realize that this is a mandatory step to my heart healing. I'm also privy to the fact that this new behavior may not happen over night- dropping the duffle that is. But as any new habit, what I've recently read in this fascinating article about habits (click here to read) is that on average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic- 66 days to be exact, which means that by day 98 of the healing mile I should be healed. Wink. I think I like the sound of that.
And suddenly a new favorite song I recently downloaded to my Apple Music 'faves' playlist- the lyrics go ringing in my ears.
And it's a fight just to keep it together
I know you think that you are too far gone
But hope is never lost
Hope is never lost
Hold on, don't let go
Put one foot in front of the other
You'll get through this
Just follow the light in the darkness
You're gonna be ok
But just remember that you are a fighter
You never know just what tomorrow holds
And you're stronger than you know
You're stronger than you know
Hold on, don't let go
Put one foot in front of the other
You'll get through this
Just follow the light in the darkness
You're gonna be ok
Day 31 Surrendered October 26, 2019 09:39
Some mornings I see it, a crystal clear message laid out in an exemplary outline with picture perfect visuals to support it. Other days all is calm inside my noggin and I just enjoy what's in front of me. And then there are the those days that any anticipated hope filled message is drown out by the chatter in my head. Today was the latter.
Not sure if I'm down about something specific, if it's my infamous mid life hormonal imbalance or if I'm simply overwhelmed with the demands of my beautiful life- the ones I put on myself- sigh.
Perhaps the answer is simple. Balance; the strategic act of finding it and grand challenge of maintaining it, which has always remained in persistant opposition in my life. One that I revisit often but just can't seem to level out. The tipping of the scales in one direction or another usually plays out in one or all of these scenarios: too much of this, not enough of that- said yes to this, now I don't have time for that- want to start this, but need to finish that!
The dictionary defines balance as an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. Yes.That's the part I'm searching for-the upright and steady.
Maybe it's just time for a vacation, I think to myself.
But instead of adding one more thing to my already neverending to do list and beating myself up, I sit on the end of the pier and stare out across the serene water that offers me authentic peace, with high hopes that this brain babble subsides and works itself out.
And I pray, the most essential endeavor of the day- spirit surrender. I ask God to help me prioritize. I ask Him to replace my frustrations with a newfound zeal to get it all done. I invite Him to show me what is most important. And I trust Him to direct my life one day at a time. I also get real about what is expected of me and suddenly realize that if I'm doing my best, I'm doing enough.
Day 30 Fallen Branches October 17, 2019 09:38
Every day I do my humanly best to stay in step with the spirit and depend on him to give me clarity for the next step and the next and the one after that and... With that simple act of surrender I've also realized there is a fairly consistent and nagging tendency to try and get ahead of him- i.e. do things my way.
His voice today calms me.
"Dana, just keep my pace. Cast your eyes on me. You will know true satisfaction when you do things within my will. It's quite normal for you to want to figure things out on your own. You were taught by your experiences that people were not dependable nor interested in your ideas. But I am both; reliable and captivated by you."
"Really?" I respond, wondering how I will ever be able to get those words from my head to my longing heart.
So I start to take an inventory of the things I'm anxious about. And the list is long not to mention messy as I become aware of the fallen branches laying lifeless everywhere around me.
I think to myself, "This place needs a cleanup crew!" And then I realize that this mess of stick stacks has a disturbing resemblance to the way I'm feeling inside. There's a paralleled hunch that I perhaps need my own cleanup crew.
"How did all of these branches accumulate into such chaos?" I wonder.
And like an involuntary reflex, I answer my own question.
The chaos doesn't just arrive one day on the doorstep. It accumulates over time. As in the wild, the storms come, the winds rush in and the daily routine of nature appropriately responds. Seasons change, leaves drop, and the detached branches loose their life source and and eventually break off. The harshness of the elements can prove to be too much for this healing mile to bare.
What a metaphor of life. My life. The life long accumulation of chaos- the hurts, disappointments, failures, misunderstandings, and mistakes made piling up and overwhelming my soul.
And then I imagine a transformation. What might it take for this beautiful road to find order again? Yes a cleanup crew but more importantly the wisdom that this is what life does- no, this is what life IS. It must be willing to adapt to it's circumstances and respond appropriately to its experiences. Yes! This life shakes me and then either breaks me or shapes me and makes me who I am today.
My eyes begin to open and my perspective begins to shift. The disarray of broken and lying limbs start to resemble a renewed beauty, a redefined symbol of a life well experienced in spite of a countless number of adversities. And in comparison to many, my troubles are few. The branches may be broken and blown down but the tree still stands; rooted deeply in a foundation that cannot be shaken or denied.
And then I go back to the words I heard when I started my walk today, 'keep my pace, cast your eyes on me'. And I expectantly put one foot in front of the other and continue to journey on into the next season of change and fallen branches.
Those glorious fallen branches.
'We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.'
2 Corinthians 4: 8-9 The Message
Day 29 Prepare October 10, 2019 12:41
The air is thick today on the healing mile. Nuts are falling from the trees like raindrops and the thought of being prepared keeps coming to the forefront of my mind. It seems pretty straight forward, as the squirrels prepare for winter, so should I.
"But prepare for what?" I ask.
"The next season." He responds.
Simply stated yet intriguing.
Fast forward a quarter mile. I can't ignore how unusually quiet it is this morning, like all God's creatures are in serious work mode, deep preparation and less interactive than usual. Everybody just hard at work, getting on with their own business. There’s an exceptional amount of movement just not much sound, other than the katydids and crickets. It's almost a bit eerie-Jurassic Park like.
Suddenly I hear the welcoming sound of a bird chirping and then I spot him in the majestic tree. It's a wonder such a strident sound can come from something so small. It's piecing yet lovely-chirp chirp chirp.
As I walk past and head away the chirping gets dimmer yet continues relentlessly without reprieve. I approach the mile marker, the turnaround point, and head back toward the tree where the chirping bird resides. I've now grown quite attached to this persistent little chickadee and have decided to name him "Peep".
"Sing your song Peep!" I say out loud.
Murph looks up at me like I've lost my mind, which I myself wonder as well.
Peep continues to chirp for another five minutes as if he's trying to convey some important message..."We interrupt this healing mile for an important message." If only I knew how to speak 'Tweet'. My best interpretation would suggest that Peep, communicating with a sense of urgency, was telling me this...
"Dana, today is a new day! Get yourself prepared as winter is on its way. Sing your song today like I sing mine, with everything you've got, with all your heart and high from your treetop. Chirp, Chirp, Chirp! Can you hear me? Can you hear me?"
" I hear you Peep!" I respond.
Murph again looks concerned as I continue to talk to the birds and quite frankly so am I.
I think to myself... hmmm seems like a fairly simple message, one of which I will take to heart and trust might make more sense and unveil its perfect application moving forward. I am learning to pay great attention to the sights and sounds on this healing journey trusting that they are all purposefully placed and have supernatural power in preparing me for what's yet to come.
Ears open, eyes open and most importantly heart open in hopes of His healing.
Day 28 Only He October 6, 2019 09:51
The one morning I forget my sunglasses and the sun beams shine brighter than ever. The sun feels warm and bright. This simple phrase repeats in my head. The sun feels warm and bright- over and over- the sun feels warm and bright. And it’s true. The warm and bright sun oddly yet deeply satisfies my soul.
On this sun drenched, shiny, bright 28th healing mile morning I'm talking to God about satisfaction. I'm wondering why, even during the most contented moments, my heart and my head still wonder aimlessly into the land of, only if. Only if I had this...only if I was doing that...only if I could...my life would be better and surely look like... fill in blank.
And then it hits me. It really is true! Not the part about life being better only if but the evidence shown in this world that no man’s eyes are ever satisfied, without the relentless lure to wish or want for more. Oh sure, I have moments, but so often fleeting upon which the daunting desire to have or be or do creeps back into it's deceiving and distorted focus.
"Why God?" I ask.
”Because I am your true satisfaction. Only in me and through me will you be authentically content.” He responds.
Hmmmmm- in Him and through Him. I ponder. I think hard about the times I sense the most contentment. Walking in nature, on the water floating in my kayak, creating, listening to the music I love, hearing the birds sing, as I write these words sitting in front of a crackling fire. I am content- truly satisfied. He is here, in these places.
Upon returning home from the healing 56th mile, the 28th day, times 2 miles per day, equaling 56 total miles so far, I dig a little deeper as my soul longs for more understanding and truth about satisfaction. I find this.
"Satisfy me in the morning with your unfailing love that I may sing for joy and be glad all my days."
"For he satisfies the longing soul and the hungry soul he fills with good things."
Dissatisfied, longing and hungry. I would say that describes me many days. The good news is that I’ve always recognized the joy I do have because of His love and the supernatural ability that joy has to make me strong.
So I conclude if He is my strength then I can wholeheartedly trust that He is also the life force to my longing and discontented soul. And I can be fully confident that when my spirit needs filling, He is more than capable, (he's God for Heaven's sake!) and will do the filling with the things He's claimed for my life as good.
I'm replacing the lifeless phrase, only if with the victorious phrase of true satisfaction, only HE.
And that's a wrap.
'Surprise us with love at daybreak;
then we’ll skip and dance all the day long.'
Day 27 Obstacles September 30, 2019 08:31
I missed my walk this morning. This was only the second healing mile miss. The first because there were not enough hours in my day which I will claim as a lame yet valid excuse. And today the obstacle is a bad ankle.
I'm frustrated with an issue I've been having since my fourth week of the healing mile. Actually it's an issue I've had since I was born. I have flat feet-freakishly flat feet-flapjack flat feet- the feet of a duck flat feet. You get the idea. And quite often if I've been on them too much or in the wrong shoes I have issues. I must be doing one or the other or both consecutively because oh dear- I have issues.
And the discouragement is setting in.
So the obvious next step would be to allow fear and anxiety to settle in. But not this time. Instead I'm going to go to the maker of the Heavens and the Earth- and my feet- and ask Him some concerning and pending questions.
I cry out,
"God! How am I supposed to stay true to the mission I am on with an injured ankle?! Why would you call me to an assignment that you knew I couldn't follow through with and finish?! Why would you do that only to know I wouldn't be able to stay consistent and ultimately I would fail." Sad face.
At the present I'm working in a position where being on my feet is an essential part of my day. The right shoes are critical. It's been a battle finding the perfect combination of treatments to survive so many hours on my tootsies. The collaboration of an expensive brand of shoes paired with the perfect concoction of essential oils and consistent foot rubs from my willing man seemed to be the perfect regimen and healing answer for these aching piggies. But as time goes on and I include these walks into my daily routine, I realize it's taking a painful toll.
I think and remember to pray,
"God, what should I do? Am I suppose to keep walking? On this bum ankle? I'm so frustrated. I'm sure you've called me to this and now what? I know you want me to put my hope and trust in you and I'm committed to it but I feel stuck. Really discouraged. Surely I must complete the mission. I have 338 days left!"
I have to trust that if I am true to the mission and remember what He has taught me so far then I can be confident there is good in it all. Even this. I look back on the healing mile and cannot recall which day it was that I was encouraged to look at the obstacles that come at me and ask what was 'good' about them, trusting that the challenges in my life were there to teach me and bring good into my life some way, some how. So I will take a bit of my own advise and desperately ask the question,
"God, what in the world is good about this?!"
And I will trust with all my hesitating heart that he has a reason and will answer me today or on my next healing mile, or whenever He chooses to and I will continue to walk when my ankle is up to it.
I open my Bible and just by chance I land on this page that says,
'So do not fear I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.'
The heaviness from my heart lifts. And I realize this hinderence is a pivotal part of my journey. And God didn't name it the Healing Mile for nothing.
Day 26 Ash September 27, 2019 10:15
This was the most treasured walk of all walks so far, accompanied by my youngest son Ashton, who happened to be home from college for the weekend.
I asked him casually doubting my marathon runner would have much interest walking two measly miles with his ol' mamma but I thought I'd give it the old college try-after all he was in college right?! Ba dum bump.
Reluctantly I asked, "Hey Ash do you want to go on my healing walk with me?"
Much to my surprise, he enthusiastically responded with, "Yeah! Let’s go get healed!", which not only made me giggle but filled my heart to overflowing.
I can't explain the joy in my mending heart having the opportunity to share my new journey with Ash. It was a 'show and tell' of sorts, getting to share what God has been telling me, pointing out the profound landmarks and surprising discoveries of these healing steps. We walked and talked about the lessons I've learned and the miracles I've experienced along the way. It was a feast for my spirit and I savored every last second.
We went deep in our conversation. We talked about how the spiritual and the natural are so connected. And that what happens in our human spirits and souls can be discovered and seen through what we experience in our natural, physical state, through our senses and circumstances of our lives. We spent some time pondering the topic of opening our eyes to God and allowing him to show us things. And when we pay attention and are open and intentional to hearing it, He comes to us with answers and guides us through it all.
Ashton encouraged me.
"Mom, you just have no idea who might be reading your blog. It's possible that something you write could change somebody’s life or history forever." Whoa.
And he continued,
"It just takes one person reading just the words they need to hear to be encouraged. After reading them, they decide to do something because of what they've read and it changes not only their own life but the course of history!" Double Whoa.
It's always been my hope that this blog would help others. But after today my refined hope is that it changes the course of history for the better. I've never put myself in the category of history maker but thanks to Ash I do now and so should he. I've really never thought about the connectedness of actions and how they apply to me.
Thank you God for Ashton. Thank you for his wisdom. And for the gift of creativity and connectedness he has to his Creator. Thank you mostly for his willingness to spend an hour and two healing miles with his mamma today in a sacred place that means so much to me- even more today than yesterday.
Day 25 My Best September 22, 2019 11:17
I started out this morning, overwhelmed with a feeling in my gut that I may need a rest day from the healing mile. Not sure if this means an off day from the walking or from the writing but I have a hunch it may be both. But for confirmation, I talk it out with God.
Murph and I begin every walk, usually early in the morning with the daily ritual of inviting God to join us, as if he needs an invitation.
"Good Morning God." I say as Murph just looks up at me.
Some days I walk without thinking or saying much so I can be receptive to the things He wants to say to me. And then there are the other days, most days, that I have questions and concerns, lots of them, and the hopeful intent to extract them from my inners before they morph into full blown anxieties. Today was that day.
"I'm having a hard time keeping up with my blogging." I said without beating around the bush. I continued to explain, as if the God of the Universe needs clarification of my heart.
I cried out.
"God! When I began the healing mile, I wrote with such a sense of urgency and intensity to get my blogs done every day but I am struggling lately to post with the consistency I had when I started! I'm struggling keep up! There's so much to say! I can't seem to find the time to post them every day! Is this disappointing you? Because it's disappointing me." Sigh.
In addition to an unanticipated awareness I suddenly had of my reliance on Him to help me with my daily shortcomings and insecurities, I also experienced a grand sense of gratification that my intentional calling out to him was becoming a familiar, healthy habit. And I instantly understood the vital importance that spilling my struggles, in spite of how small or insignificant they may seem, allows those nasty, little, potentially damaging emotions to exit my body and not manifest themselves inside of me- namely my heart.
Up to this point it has been difficult, close to impossible actually, for me to seek or ask for help. Especially for those things that could potentially expose my inadequacies. Looks like this new lifestyle along with some humble admissions may be changing me from the inside out.
Then I heard Him.
"Dana, the original purpose of this mission was to heal that broken heart of yours through a new understanding of me and renewed trust in Me. I know you perfectly because I created you-psalm 139:13. I see your heart and I know it's desires-psalm 37:4. I watch what you do everyday and I'm well aware of your limitations-genesis 28:15. I am committed to helping you- isaiah 41:13. Let me encourage you by reminding you to continue to revisit the original purpose of the healing mile. Stay true to it's grace filled requirements the best you can- not perfectly, just the best you can. I am pleased with you my daughter. You have been consistent and committed. And that delights me and encourages others. As you have been doing, walk everyday, make mental and palpable notes about what I'm showing you and post as consistently as you can. Do your best. Okay?"
"Yes! Okay!" I responded
Eager to reread Day 1, I was reminded of the healing mile's purpose- the Mission. I took a deep breath and reminisced about what has transpired in the past couple of months. I remembered that I was called to embark on this anointed undertaking of commitment, consistency, vulnerability and complete honesty. The 365 day assignment entailed a daily walk with my sweet Murph, that would prove to be of great, healing benefit to my heart, full of creative opportunities, and beautiful visuals. And all of these elements would be paired with the persistent writings of what I had experienced in hopes of encouraging those who read it.
I have to say after all this pondering I am truly convinced that the physical act of walking the healing mile is of equal importance to the writing part. The experience is twofold. One cannot survive without the companionship and support of the other. The frustration is that it takes the words a little longer to catch up to their counterpart, the walk.
So I will take the daunting pressure off myself. I'll continue to put the leash on my precious companion and unleash myself from the matters in question, allow the Holy Spirit to guide me by listening to what He tells me, write it all down and post when it's ready. But most importantly, I will continue to do my best.
Simple as that.
Day 24 Resist September 18, 2019 07:25
I'm doing my best to train Murphy to stay close to my side as his anxiety often causes him to pull ahead. I'll give a subtle tug on his collar and calmly call his name, "Murphy." and he naturally draws back and near to me.
I sense a similar tug when I’m getting ahead of myself and start to fret the future-wondering what might (key word:might) be on the horizon or when I allow myself to marinade in senseless insecurities. It's reassuring that I have a faithful God that lovingly reminds me to resist the temptation of pulling ahead of Him. "Dana", He calls out. It's a beautiful thing- when I catch it.
I approached the canopy, the shelter I discovered several days ago- the one I wrote about the day God assured me it would always be over me. To my dismay the beautiful lush green vine had been transfigured into a lifeless creeper displaying brown, withered, and brittle foliage. What?
Suddenly we were startled by an irksome sound to our left. We stopped dead in our tracks and looked over to witness three monstrous, tattered vultures sneering at us perched eye level from a low branch in the very dead tree. They were so close we actually made eye contact. We could almost reach out and touch them- much too close for our comfort. We must have startled them too because they began forcefully flapping their humongous wings and frantically hopping from limb to limb. I've never gotten quite that close to any bird ever and hope in heaven's name I never do again.
"That wasn’t very nice!" I shouted out loud to whoever might be listening. Murph looked at me in full agreement.
Expectedly, I felt a message incoming, yet another grim reminder of the enemy's determination to strike fear in me. The relentless lurking in hopes of the perfect opportunity to get close enough to stop me in my tracks and scare me out of my purposes and overall mission of this life. "Haven't I been through this one a million times?" I say to myself. Yes, a lesson I seem to revisit over and over again.
I think I'm finally getting it.
The vital action of this repeated offense is my conscious awareness and full surrender to The God man. In order for me to overcome paralyzation by his craftiness (as I have been so much of my life) I'm learning to take stake in His mercies, strength, and instruction, all of which align perfectly with the purposes He's created me for. While the opposer says the opposite,"You cannot trust that God will always be your shelter, your strength, your refuge or your guide." -enter in fear, anxiety, hesitation, discouragement and the like. But as I stand with confidence against those insentient falsehoods and look up to the beautiful and vast blue skies; the ones created by the same God who created me, I see vines- new, rich, lush beautiful vines stretching out above me everywhere.
Except on this day they bear fruit.
Day 23 Hearts Desire September 15, 2019 10:26
Thankful for an overwhelming sense of peace this morning. We left the house about 15 minutes earlier than our usual trek time and there is a calm and serene stillness that fills the air.
As Murph and I approach the two lakeshores I recollect the familiar yet distant memory of morning walks around the lake at our cottage in Northern Wisconsin. I remember the callings of the loons that made the lake their home every summer. At one time, when the boys were very young, we educated ourselves to the meaning of their myriad of melodies and would wait with great expectation to hear them. I long for that sound again. Perhaps a pair of loons would be willing to move in to these parts? The lake seems to be a perfect habitat for them as we learned they prefer a lakeshore full of naturally toppled deadfall trees which are not in lack here.
"What other things do I hope for? What are the deepest desires of my broken heart?" I ask myself as my mind reels with my own good ideas. As I walk daily, I'm starting to feel a consistent prompting from the Spirit to ask for those things.
I recall one of my favorite verses, Delight in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Or as another version says in more simpleton terms, Keep company with God, get in on the best. I love that. I want to get in on the best, His best.
A half century into my life and I am finally convinced that the mere act of asking for what I desire can bring about the things my heart longs for. And that I have a Father in heaven that wants to give them to me. And He will stop at nothing to deliver. I would be elated but not shocked to see these lakeshores welcoming a pair of loons next summer. Until then I will continue to ask.
Maybe they'll show up sooner.
Day 22 Reminder September 10, 2019 13:47
A picture perfect morning- sunny, clear sky, low 70s, and my very favorite part, dry air, which makes for a perfect hair day!
Murphy's demeanor however did not reflect the delightful weather pattern. He must've picked up the scent of another canine or some wild animal, which put him into an absolute tailspin, literally.
I kept asking him, "Murph, what's the matter? What are you so upset about?"
I started to connect to his angst.
Oddly I began to sense an uneasiness in my spirit, like something was off. I felt an urgency to pick up the pace and get moving. It was a strange instinct, one that I couldn't shake. What was it? Was I forgetting something? And Murphy sensed it!? How in tuned we are to one another. How weird.
And then my phone did the reminder ding and it hit me like a two by four. Oh no! That was it! How could I forget?! I had planned a coffee date with one of my besties. We were scheduled to meet in less than 30 minutes. Immediate panic set in knowing it would be close to impossible for me to make it on time. Our plans, although clearly noted in my phone calendar with a coffee cup and heart face emoji, had completely slipped my mind until this very minute. Ugh. Sorry my friend!
So I ran the scenarios in my head and decided to text my good friend the truth-well ok, the half truth. I was running behind, which now that I think of it, probably wasn't a huge surprise to her as 'running late' is a good friend of mine too.
Leave it to her, overflowing with grace and understanding, she not only immediately let me off the hook but she reassured me this was perfect! It was actually working in her favor."So am I!" she texted back. Love your neighbor (or your girlfriend) as yourself.
As I write about today's healing mile, I'm uncertain, as I am most days about how this post will encourage those reading it. Maybe today the message is, be that friend. Or the other possibility, the bigger one, check your calendar lady!
But seriously, I'm blessed to have so many of those friends in my life. Maybe it's because they're all so used to me standing them up (ha) or perhaps it's because so many of my friends have the radiant light of the spirit running through their veins.
I want to be like them, like her, in every way I really do. But not because I'm jealous of her, as she has taught me by example to celebrate the strengths and gifts of others-I want to be like her because her life is a true reflection of full surrender and zealous commitment to the God Man. She walks the talk, talks the walk and inspires me to do the same.
Which leads to me to my next epiphany of the day- most likely the real lesson here. So often I let life take me out with simple things that disguise themselves as monumental catastrophes. Things like, traffic, inconsiderate people, slow lines, weeds (weeds- really??), exceeded phone storage, a bad hair day, or even forgetting a much anticipated coffee date and the list goes on for months and maybe even years, so I'll quit before I'm gray.
In order to stand against this subtle yet chronic little virus that creeps in and tries it's best to ruin me, I think I'll put a daily reminder on my phone to do my best to extend grace, take deep breaths, find joy, practice patience and let love reign. Yes.
Alert set: 7am. Repeat: daily. End date: Never
Day 21 The Gift September 9, 2019 09:00
TGIF-and not just because it's the weekend, but because today is the healing mile's first deer sighting! I was ecstatic to finally have right in front of me this beautiful creature. Everyday I've been walking and waiting with great anticipation for this amazing animal to make it's graceful and grand appearance. And even better than one showing up for the party there were three- a mamma and her two precious fawns.
I looked up to the sky, "Thank you!" I said.
And the Spirit inquired,
"Dana, tell me what you love so much about the deer?"
And without a second of hesitation I responded,
"They’re so graceful! They host the most beautiful color, especially this time of year. I also love the memories I have when I see them. They remind me of my boys and being in the woods Up North. And because I don't see them everyday it feels like I'm being granted this rare and special gift when I do."
I had no idea that this was just the beginning of an abundantly blessed and epic healing mile that would be marked with another great surprise and faith building milestone. Looking back I have a hunch God was gearing up to reward me for trusting the voice of His spirit in me and for answering His questions-the voice that kept proving and confirming that He could be trusted. I pictured him chuckling about the grand prize just ahead and knowing I had no idea what I was about to see.
I saw a runner, which has been a daily healing mile occurrence. I had this conversation with myself every time. "Big deal- he's running, you're walking. What's so good about running anyway?" I whispered under my breath. It made me a bit jealous I'll admit. I also approached an older woman, wearing a sun hat who I'd only seen walking one other time.
Oddly, for the first time during all my walks, the vultures were gone. Like really gone, no where in sight, disappeared. which was so strange as they always seem to be lurking somewhere, usually on the lifeless limbs of any dead tree they could find. But not today. Enter in big smile.
I approached the woman the second time as we were both headed home in opposite directions. I noticed her pointing her phone upward toward the dead tree. All I could think of as I watched her was, ugh, the vultures and why in the world would she care to take pictures of vultures- such unsightly creatures. And as I got closer I noticed there were still no vultures and was intrigued. What was she taking a picture of?
I stopped in front of her and looked up as she pointed out the majestic bird perched on the uninhabited limb that the vultures posses daily. An eagle. A magnificent, dignified and confident eagle perched unruffled right there in front of us. A rare sighting in my neck of the woods and one I was certain was a gift for me from above.
"Do you like it?" I heard in my heart.
I stood there without words, awestruck-goosebumps running up and down my body, hardly believing my eyes, grateful, and tempted to fall on my knees. I told the woman that I was overwhelmed by the significance of that eagle. I tried to briefly explain that I always dread the sight of the vultures sitting in that dead tree. However I chose not to expound on why or what they represented to me. I continued to explain that the Eagle was the representation of something very good today. She smiled as I tried to assess wether she understood my heart completely or thought I was an absolute lunatic.
Maybe someday I will be able to articulate to her why it meant so much to me. But until that day I am encouraged and reminded of the strength and supremacy of the eagle. It was a marker to me this day that I was beginning to consistantly recognize my fear, call out the lies and choose to allow the truth to take their rightful place in my head and my heart.
I'm going with the Eagle- not the Vulture.
I'm reminded today of a verse I had written on the walls of our first home we built ourselves over 20 years ago. It was an encouraging reminder for me to continue to hope during the midst of feeling defeated. The eagle has always held great significance to me.
But more on that later. Here's the verse.
Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall but those who hope in the Lord will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.
Day 20 The Rain September 7, 2019 13:09
I checked my weather app as the dark skies in the West reflected a thunderstorm approaching. The radar showed no rain for sometime but without a doubt it was on the way. So out we went, not that the rain could ever have stopped us.
I love a good rainfall. What's better? Unsure of why but I've always welcomed a good ol' soggy day with open arms. Everything sways differently when a storm is approaching- the wind whispers- the lake water exudes it's ripples and ridges, the leaves flicker like flames in the trees, the branches sway back and forth, and even little Murph struts with a bit more swagger.
After several unexpected yet somewhat anticipated raindrops fell upon us I start to recall my recent uncovering of the value of rain and the significant benefits of even walking in it.
Amongst the obvious, rain nurtures the Earth. Rain clears the air, fills the lakes, rivers, streams and ponds. It's a mandatory element of survival for all mankind, creatures of the earth and the ecosystem. And then the less obvious- the smell of rain calms the mind and regulates mood. Bring on the rain! It's good for your skin and great for your hair. A spa for your senses. And my most recent discovery- you burn more calories when you walk in the rain. Who knew? And the list continues.
It's doubtful that Murph is sold on it's benefits. I asked him if he wanted to take a dip into the lake water as this is always his favorite pitstop and the healing mile's halfway mark.
"Ready to jump in the lake Murph?!", I say with great anticipation.
He peered at me with wet dog aggravation, "Are you kidding me?! Would you get a good look at me?! I'm soaked! It's pouring lady! What in the world would I want to do that for?!!"
I respond, "I'm sorry Murph, I don't blame you buddy, that was a dumb question." Rain has never been Murphy's favorite or most desired accessory but it sure looks cute on him. Just sayin.
As Murph and I continue, a wave (literally) of awareness pours over me. I recognize two thirds of the way into our walk, during the heaviest downfall that Murph and I are protected, walking under the thickest canopy of trees the healing mile has to offer. And I put these thoughts together...
I wonder how many times I've been protected from the rainfall- or trials in my life that I never saw due to God's intervention, under a shelter I did not recognize or had eyes to see. I'm starting to see them now because I'm choosing to. He's always got my back.
In leu of the benefits and exhilaration of the falling drops, I'm also realizing that the rain can challenge me. If I'm being honest with myself, there is a somewhat uncomfortable yet freeing sensation in my body and spirit when plummeted with raindrops. A renewed sense of dependence on God fills me and I open up to the idea that just like raindrops the dreary drops of trial in my life can be used to encourage growth in me-cultivating fruits of perseverance, commitment, courage and faith to name a few.
When the downpours come I'm learning to look for His protection, call out to Him if I can't see it and also trust they are being used to nourish me, make me strong and help me grow. Yes.
And then, I say to the Heavens,
"Rain pour down, God protect me. I will trust You. I will persevere even when it's uncomfortable, knowing that you've got me. Thank you for the rain that nourishes my body, refreshes my spirit and ultimately heals my broken heart."
The Spirit responds,
"Thank you my daughter, for trusting me and being obedient to what I’ve called you to- even in the rain. The fruits of that obedience are growing, with the help of the raindrops, and the healing, radiant power of the Son, teaching you to trust me more every day."
We got home in the nick of Murphy time as it literally started down pouring cats, dogs, pitchforks and hammer handles as we approached the backyard. Sheets of rain fell from the sky- so powerful- so beautiful. I oddly wished it had started sooner.
Murph- not so much.
Day 19 Act in Love September 3, 2019 13:46
I’m becoming mindful of how much time I fritter away focussed on feeling bad about stuff. And the energy I squander pondering such negative yet temporary, fixable conditions.
These common things I actively obsess over listed here: an untidy home, disorganized closet, weeds in the garden, the lack of time I have to prepare meals for the week, the never-ending mound of laundry, my disheveled office, and the list could go on for another 30 minutes. But I'll spare you.
It started this morning with the awful incident of clipping Murph's nail too short which snowballed into a horrible, self sabotaging guilt for not calling the groomer sooner.
"Just feel bad and get over it already.", I thought to myself. "Murph isn't holding a grudge!"
Fast forward about six hours that led to yet another thing to feel bad about.
I had hoped for an authentic and grace filled heart to heart with somebody I care for deeply. I was prayerful that it would be received with love and grace but a minute or so into it I began to realize there was no chance the outcome would be what I had hoped. I had an arduous time expressing myself without feeling awful. It seemed impossible to spit the words out of my defeated heart. I hardly remember the words spoken. I shut down- like somebody pulled the plug out of the socket, cutting off the power source.
Many times, especially challenging ones, I have a difficult time expressing the pains of my heart and I end up with a sick sense I've been misunderstood and overall bad feeling. It's like there's a force inside of me just waiting to latch on to the negative energy at hand, a bad fire that undoubtably affects the beautifully orchestrated rhythm of my heartbeat. It's frustrating, discouraging and disheartening.
...So the following morning on day 19 of my healing mile I told God all about it. I cried Him a river. The Mississippi.
And the Spirit kindly and quickly responded,
"Dana, the best way to express your heart is not by the words that you say. I agree that the things we say are extremely beneficial and quite effective at certain times. My truth says, 'Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth does speak'. But when your actions reflect your heart, which I see, people will see with their own eyes and know your heart without you having to say a word.
"But what if they don't see my heart through my actions?" I ask him.
"If they don’t see it then they don’t really know you or perhaps don't want to know you. I see you and I know you. That concern that gets stuck in the core of your beautiful heart, the heart that I created. That is not your concern. Let it be mine."
With great humility and gratitude I respond with a deep breath of release and huge sigh of relief.
"Yes God. Yesssss." I respond with confidence.
The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good and the evil person out of the evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. Luke 6:45
Day 18 Joybird September 1, 2019 14:17
No vultures today, which is no coincidence.
Another glorious morning walk on day 18 trekking healing miles 35 and 36.
I believe I hear the Spirit tell me he’s pleased, "I'm proud of you, Dana."
I exhale a huge sigh of gratitude paired with a dose of confidence. It feels good. Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines good as- to be desired or approved of. A great relief as doubt can creep in and cause me to second guess the mission of the healing mile.
As we continued our walk, we began to notice an overwhelming presence of birds. But not in a bad way rather a good way, a glorious way! They were cheerfully chirping, wit-fully whistling, taking furious flight from limb to limb in front of us, behind us and all around us. We had one tiny feathered friend land directly in front of us. And then another actually skipping along with us. He'd flap his precious little wings just enough to take flight for a split second, then land, skip a few steps and repeat. I found it interesting that Murph was so amazingly entertained by the little specimens- any other creature he would have lost his mind. I think he was feeling the same joy I was.
We return home from the bird parade, go inside and partake in our daily ritual- rehydrating, feeding Murph and finding a quiet place to document my day's discoveries. I decide today that instead of heading out to my usual spot, the screen porch, I would perch myself in the living room in front of my picture window that looks out over my flower garden and back yard. I approach the window, stop dead in my tracks and can hardly believe my eyeballs.
Every species of bird you could think of were flying in-like they were all showing up for the party of the year. Every single one of them arrived at the same time. I've never witnessed anything like this before. EVER, in my life. Maybe my eyes were never open to it? But it was glorious!
The guest list included:
A trio of cardinals- rarely do I see them so when I do it's epic and this morning I witnessed three!
A pair of yellow finches- precious.
A matching set of lovely little bluebirds- no joke.
A sparrow- but his name not Jack. :)
Barn swallows- which are quite common and plentiful in our back yard as we have several barns in close proximity.
A robin- quite regal and well upholstered.
And a partridge in a pear tree- wink.
I stood there in awe, hardly able to breathe. It was breathtaking. A bird lover's paradise. I tried to capture them in a photo but by the time I lifted my phone, entered my password and clicked open my camera app they all began to fly away.
"NOOOOO!!!!", I screamed out loud, "Don't go!!!"
Murph looked at me in bewilderment, as he was also overwhelmed by this joybird invasion. I was stunned. Like seriously, I could not believe it. I still can't! believe it. It was like I was on a grade school field trip, visiting the most awesome aviary exhibit named 'Birds from Wisconsin'.
And I heard the Spirit say,
"I know you would have loved to share that but that was all for you. I see you baby girl. Do you see me? Did you like it? Wasn't it amazing?! Hear me when I tell you..."
And I heard it again- the same thing I heard at the start of my walk repeated again in this moment.
"I'm proud of you, Dana."
And the loving, encouraging, uplifting and inspired words continued.
"I love you. I am always around you. I am here for you- always and forever. The love I have for you is unconditional-not subject to any conditions, no matter what, you plus nothing. I love you when you do well and I love you when you fail- when you are perfectly put together or undoubtably disheveled- wether you do it flawlessly with great poise or screw it up royally. I just plain and simply love you."
I keep recalling this profound moment that for me felt like a love letter. This is confirmation that my Maker sees all that I do, knows every thought I have, understands my aching heart and rmostly loves me- really loves me.
I am forever changed because of the grand display that manifested into great joy today. Will keep it in my back pocket.
Day 17 Uprooted August 31, 2019 11:17
After the confirmation that my heart is in great shape, I face the reality that there is some manifested ugliness stuck in my body that needs to come out. On my walk this morning I begin the conversation of how to attack it.
A bestie of mine suggested I have a scream session.
"A scream session?", I ask.
"Yes." She continues, "Scream it out, at the top of your lungs. Go to a place where you feel free to unleash the monster- in order to extract the unresolved burden of hurt and bitterness from your bones."
I'm investigating this suggested exercise and hopeful it could be a beneficial yet uncomfortable undertaking. But I'm open.
And I hear the Spirit say,
"Keep your eyes on me baby girl. The enemy will do all he can to dupe you. His desire is that you stay stuck in fear but you’re becoming quite aware of him and his pathetic presence and learning to decipher his lies from my truth. YES, girl!"
Unresolved anger and bitterness has manifested itself inside of my body and made me sick with palpitations. It will go wherever it choses and come out in the body as it wills. It can disguise itself as panic attacks, stomach issues, headaches, back problems, and the list relentlessly continues. Disease equals DIS- EASE in the body.
And the Spirit responds, "We’re ripping it out but by the roots this time. Nice work baby."
As I walk past the vultures that have attached themselves to the lifeless limbs in the dead trees, I'm reminded that the enemy will attach himself to the barren places in my life and he’ll linger there, reminding me of how hopeless I should be and how sick I should feel. So in order to get rid of him, the dead trees need to come down- pulled out by the roots. And in doing so, the enemy has no where to land. He's resistant to anything that offers me life, purpose, faith, hope, grace and love. He won't hang out there. He much prefers the darkness.
Bye bye vultures. No dead trees here.
Day 16 Heart Hope August 29, 2019 18:12
Had my appointment with my cardiologist today. The nicest man. I could not of hand picked anyone better to help me uncover the mysteries of my cardiac state- a kind, down to earth, fun loving, doctor.
The moment of truth-all tests back: EKG, echocardiogram, blood tests, stress test, holter monitor- done, finito, down the hatch, fat lady singing, signed, sealed and soon to be delivered.
Drumroll please?! drdrdrdrdrdrdrdrdrdrdrdrdrdrdrdrdrd- or in my case "Give me the bad news Doc..."
"You're all good Dana." he exclaims.
"Wait- what did you say? Really? All good? Are you sure?" I ask.
He has a little chuckle.
My heart healthy as a horse-no valve issues- no structural problems, strong heart beat-perfect blood pressure. He called it super- no- superhero super. He said I was good- no-great! No need for medication, follow up, nothing.
Although he did see the blips on the monitor results he assured me they were benign usually caused by sensitivity to things such as coffee (who needs it- oh dear), alcohol (is wine alcohol?!), but mostly brought on by stress and anxiety, which I had no idea what he could be implying... wink, wink.
Cue in...audience applause, fireworks erupting, streamers flying, an overwhelming sigh of relief and a HUGE, "Thank you Lord!"
He chuckles again.
I thanked him up and down and told him how awesome he was. I did everything I could do to resist jumping out of my seat and licking his face. Happiness set in to my deepest places and I felt the weight of my heavy palpitating heart come off my shoulders.
The results of my tests could have been different causing a much altered outcome. But something shifted in my spirit today.
Today I had affirmation that the only thing I have to be afraid of is walking without the hope and help of my faithful God that shows up for all of it- the good, the bad and the ugly, which is great news because getting the diagnosis that my heart issues are stress and anxiety related, I've got some ugly to work through.
Day 15 Unresolved Good August 27, 2019 11:50
My healing mile was consumed this morning with thoughts about reaching out to some very close family members that have been literally out of my life for several years now. No contact- whatsoever.
Just writing those words pierce my heart deeply. I've always considered myself a fully devoted and committed family girl. The happiest of times in my life is and always will be when my entire immediate and extended family is gathered together in one place- especially in our place.
But because of some very complicated and circumstances, which to me seem to have a very simple solution, it's not probable that this will work itself out any time soon- so many hurt people, unwilling people and emotionally and mentally unwell people.
After walking and talking through what this conversation might produce, I'm realizing there may be some deeply manifested, unresolved bitterness and anger. Perhaps the cause of some heart rhythm dysfunction- seems and obvious diagnosis? The thought of unncovering these ugly emotions feels much like digging up an ol' bag of dried bones.
And the Spirit says, "gospel', it’s all about the gospel".
And I pray, "How does that pertain to this?"
And the Spirit responds, "It pertains to everything."
What I know about the gospel is represented in four words: unconditional, sacrifice, truth, and love.
The Webster's 1828 Dictionary describes it as 'a good or joyful message'. And how does can this 'gospel' help my situation at hand?
There's a nagging, longing in my broken heart to rescue in order to fix the problems with the highest of hopes that we can all move forward to a new utopia- call it 'Destination L O V E'. But I've also learned enough to know, I've taken this dysfunctional approach so many times and change comes for a moment only to transition back to an unhealthy family.
I have worked tirelessly alongside my amazing husband to break the chains of our past and teach our sons what love really is. Not what it says it is or looks to be but what it truly is. We've always told them that love has to 'cost' you something. It's an action, not just a word, not to guilt or shame them but to spur them toward good deeds and significant sacrifices that encourage, inspire and fill the hearts of the recievers.
Unconditional, sacrifice, truth and love. Oh yes- gospel.
As painful as this separation from family has been I continue to see and trust the good in it too. I am learning to face the pain of my past and get the appropriate help necessary to transition to a healthy emotional, mental and physical state, all of which I'm working on as I write this today.
And when the emotions come that want to take me out I will muster up the courage to address them so they don't settle in to my already aching heart. And I will trust that God knows that my ultimate heart's desire is for our family to find 'gospel' resolution.
Day 14 Joyful heart August 26, 2019 08:16
Today was a special day.
I was asked several weeks back, by a dear friend of mine if she could interview me for a podcast she recently launched called 'The Real Deal'. This anointed platform has given her the opportunity to use her incredible gift of communication, her encouraging spirit and her deep commitment to her faith to showcase those she interviews. Her tagline is 'celebrating people's significance and the genius of God in them'. She's adorable, disciplined, wise, committed, creative and hilarious. She tells the best stories...like ever. And her ability to teach, using her stellar communication skills is a privilege to receive and to witness.
Today was the day my interview for the podcast aired and it blessed me more than I could have ever expected. I kept making a joke, (which to me really was no joke) about what in the world she wanted to interview me for. I kept asking her, "Rache, now really, why am I here?!" And she would just laugh and laugh and so would I. I even made a comment to a mutual friend of ours to encourage her to skip the airing altogether! And that if there wasn't enough good 'content' in the interview I totally understood! And she laughed too. But I wasn't laughing.
During the interview we talked about creativity- how we are all created in God's image so we all have creativity inside of us even if we're resistant to the idea. We talked about surroundings and how important they are to to the soul. We hashed through the subject of buying into lies and I shared my passion to inspire and encourage women to walk in truth. We talked about comparison and how easy it is to feel like you don't quite measure up with the rest of the world. We laughed, cried a little and had the best time.
I left her house that day feeling joy, encouraged, celebrated yet a little insecure about the effectiveness of my words. I shared with my whole heart but had this nagging insecurity it wasn't enough. Until today.
The podcast launched and I hesitantly and excitedly listened with reserved expectation. Surprisingly I felt an overwhelming joy in my heart- skipped beats and all. I walked the healing mile today on the phone with another treasured- sister friend, telling her about the satisfaction of the day, the relief that I didn't make a total fool out of myself and the faithfulness of God in me. She celebrated with me.
Today I'm trading in my insecurity, fear, anxiety, and doubt with focussed creativity, the desire to inspire, encourage, and cast confidence in others through the stories of my life, trusting that it matters and has a grand purpose. It may sound boastful but that's okay as Rache reminded me- because the gifts I've been given come from the giver. I'm just bragging on Him. And I will offer back what he's so lavishly slathered on me.
We all have incredible God given gifts. Recognize them, use them, celebrate them and be grateful for them. And then offer them back to the most generous giver of all mankind. The world will be blessed and so will you.
Day 13 No fear August 24, 2019 10:58
Fear. Just the mere mention makes me afraid.
Perhaps fear in of itself is not always so bad. Fear can prompt our bodies to respond to the necessary action of moving us out of danger and into safety. Fear can even be a little exhilarating sometimes.
I recall the zip line excursion on the Big Island in Hawaii. I was buckled in to a small swing like seat that seemed hardly attached to a simple cable that extended 2000 feet from end to end and 450 feet above the earth below where I sped past a 250 ft. waterfall. Exhilarating but SCARY! Or the time I rode the raging rollercoaster and plummeted 147 feet to the bottom. A scary movie can conjure up some exciting terror -if you're into that kind of thing- no thank you.
But there's another fear that can paralyze me, keep my head and heart spinning with anticipation of something terrible- the kind of fear that is initially hardly noticeable and then eventually settles into my body and starts to take over- a toxic slow drip tonic who's purpose is to play havoc in my body, mind and spirit.
Here’s the conversation in action,
Me: "I'm afraid there's something wrong with me. My heart is skipping beats! What is going on? This feels bad!"
Fear : "Oh no! this is not good! This is bad Dana. You're right. There is something wrong with you! Terribly wrong! You should be afraid. You will end up being a huge burden to others just like you were when you were young...amongst other unbearable aftereffects ! What if... "
When I choose to allow to dialogue with fear it disguises itself as the truth that directs my life and I make the decision to surpass the loving, sacrificial guarantee that God is using all things in my life for good. Even the things that rattle me to my core. It really is my choice to make.
Then I hear the Spirit say, which is refreshing:
The Spirit: “I understand you are afraid. I'm sorry you feel bad. Thank you for telling me. I already knew you felt this way but now that you've admitted it to yourself and to me I can help you. I am so happy you're coming to me for help. Now you can hear me respond to you because you are intentionally seeking me with grand expectation that I will answer you. Yes. I'm on it. Let me help you. I've got this. We've got this. You are never a burden to me. You're a treasure. These problems in your life, the fears that you asses as scary and bad, I use as opportunities for you to learn, to see good and bring growth and purpose to your life. I use them to show you that you can trust me. I use all things for good remember?"
Me: "Yes, I know you say that! But what if it's really bad?!"
Fear: "Of course it's really bad! You can't believe that. You're doomed!"
The Spirit counters the offer.
The Spirit: "And what if it's not? And if it is? This is your life just the way it was meant to be. I will help you. I will be with you. It's my promise to you. Even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, fear no evil Dana, for I am with you sweet daughter.
Me: "Because whatever I am facing you have it all? and this is my life..."
The Spirit responds: "Always. You are my creation. My beautiful daughter whom I am pleased with and love with all of my heart- so much that I sacrificed everything I ever had for you and would do again and again and again to prove it to you."
Fear: “I'm outa here."
Let our faith be bigger than our fear.
Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.
Day 12 Companion August 22, 2019 11:12
This is the second walk I've had without Murphy and I miss him!
Yes, I can walk faster and get home quicker without all of his little discovery stops but I miss his companionship- our teamwork. The combined efforts of our walks together seem so much more fulfilling to my soul. It brings me joy when we accomplish our daily walk together. There's always a grand celebration when we get to the back yard, our finish line. I let him off his leash and he takes off running full throttle, as fast as his four little legs will go, around the yard for his victory lap.
It's easy for me to assess the affects of feeling like God has left me behind. Those days I feel empty, joyless, lost and a little wilted but then it hits me...
Does God ever really leave me behind? If I'm going to believe what He's teaching me then the answer is no. He does not ever leave me. How does He feel when I leave Him behind? Yes of course He can get his work accomplished and his desires met with or without me- He's God for goodness sake! And it would be undeniably easier for Him to accomplish His enormous 'to do' list on His own but the companionship with his child is gone. When I think about the loss of relationship with my own two children my heart skips a beat. Literally.
As I walk my healing mile every day with my dearest Murph Man, my mind is refreshed knowing that life without God's companionship is just a 'walk' but with his friendship and heart to hearts, it's a grand adventure that opens my eyes to his goodness, teaches me how to trust Him, ultimately mending my broken heart strings.
Everyday looking forward to my walk with Him- and with Murph.
How Can You Mend a Broken Heart -Al Green
Was everything a man could want to do
I could never see tomorrow, but I was never told about the sorrow
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
How can you mend a this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again
And misty memories of days gone by
We could never see tomorrow, no one said a word about the sorrow
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again
Day 11 This Way August 21, 2019 08:29
Murphy usually wants to continue down the road instead of making the turn at the trail that leads home. I’m anticipating he will eventually remember the way- that we turn left and continue to the path through the field and down the trail that leads to our back yard.
I think I've discovered why it's so important to me that he eventually remembers that.
It makes sense that the daily healing mile is keeping me in consistent relationship with my Maker, training me to take the most well advised turns in my life, leading me to the most advantageous outcome. My healing hearts desire is that ultimately these surrendered steps will lead me to safety, security and satisfaction. A place I'd like to call home.
"This way, Murph", I say and a second later I hear the Spirit say, “This is the way, daughter.”
I am hopeful and confident that following Him, allowing Him to lead and direct will become common routine. Even after day ten it's not only feeling much more familiar but necessary.
And then again, that gentle, still, small yet powerful voice I hear in my heart...
"Dana, I'm always leading you the right way. You can trust me. Keep following me. Keep surrendered to my direction. I got you. You got me. You've got this".
Just like Sonny and Cher say, "I've got you babe."
Day 10 His Pleasure August 20, 2019 10:52
Awe- inspiring sounds this morning. An earlier walk than most mornings which brings about some new sights, scents and sounds. Who knew just thirty minutes earlier in the day could present such a different backdrop. Even the early morning fragrance was more intense and amazing.
A gazillion vultures this morning like they're multiplying daily. Ugly buzzards but who's looking at them? My focus is on the beautiful, picture perfect morning. It's the ideal temperature, high beams of sunshine are just peaking through the wispy thin cirrus clouds and a magical mist hovers over the lake water.
I love nature so much. Recalling the line from Chariots of Fire when Eric Liddell says: "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure." Such a stirring and inspiring declaration, to actually feel the pleasure of God. I feel like my line could be," I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me love the outdoors. And when I'm in nature I feel his pleasure." Goosebumps.
Some days I believe are to teach us, some are to challenge and grow us and then there are those special days I think God just wants us to feel His pleasure, to bless us in a way that we know he's speaking right to us, to our inner souls. Sometimes- likely most times, I'm too preoccupied with the busyness and challenges of the day that I miss the treasures. Thankfully today, day 10 of the healing mile was not that day. Today I saw his treasure and I felt His pleasure.
Hoping I feel it tomorrow too.
Day 9 In Sync August 19, 2019 08:04
The daily practice of walking with Murph has really helped him to walk closer to me and become more in sync with me. He used to pull and spin and try to get ahead of me. There is uncontainable joy in my spirit knowing that the daily commitment of walking together has helped Murph calm down.
I find an interesting parallel with my daily spiritual walk. I wonder how often God feels me pull ahead of him, walking out of sync, spinning with anxiety. No wonder my heart is out of rhythm.
There is such peace in my heart today knowing I am walking daily with my Maker- the one who knows me and loves me more than anyone else. It feels so good to be in step with Him, walking closer to him, side by side, somewhat of a divine harmony for me and for Murph.
And then enter vultures. Sadly, they seem to be a consistent through line in my story and I would guess in yours too. Suddenly four of these spine chilling creatures came flying over us, wings flapping, out of nowhere, scaring us out of our wits!
And then I heard the tag line, “relentless enemy always on the prowl”. A spiritual force of the opposer who's mission it is to strike fear in us. Who really does prowl, looking for an opportunity to pounce on us and deter us from fulfilling the grand purposes that give our lives deep meaning, full gratification and most importantly, glory to the Giver. He's the villain in our story who lies to us and steals from us, with hopes he will leave us feeling useless, lifeless and ultimately defeated.
But thank you God it doesn’t end there! In every great story, good shows up. Just in perfect time the strong, fearless, honorable and trustworthy hero saves the day. Good always finds us, pursues us, fights for us and prevails, e v e n w h e n we can’t see it right away.
And the vultures flee. Yes.
The healing mile, the ninth day of my daily and disciplined commitment to walking with Him, not out of duty but out of a deep desire and hope to draw closer to Him and stay in sync with him. There is so much He has to lavish on me!
And much to lavish on you.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. -Galatians 5:25
Day 8 Easy like Sunday Morning August 18, 2019 10:07
Taking a rest day from blog posting on Sundays. :) Have a lovely day resting in Gods greatness. See you tomorrow!
Day 7 Believe August 17, 2019 10:30 3 Comments
The first part in believing- like really believing is saying you believe.Try saying it out loud,
The next step in believing is the action part- living it out- the do. I'm starting to believe, like really believe.
I hear the Spirit say,
"I am making you strong baby girl. Look at my little creatures that run around trusting me. The one's I've shown you this morning, the rabbits, chipmunks, the fish you just saw swimming under the bridge. The birds of the air and the fish of the sea; I created them all. You can be confident that I can take care of you too. Do you believe that?"
My reply, my honest reply,
"I guess not. It's easy to say I do, and mostly they're just words. BUT I'm learning to and I trust I'm getting there. My heart is getting there."
We walked past the dead tree I've now officially named 'the vulture tree'. It's officially been declared in my head and my heart that the vulture represents the enemy. Sorry vulture lovers.
This morning there were only three perched- three too many. As soon as we approached one flew off which confirmed the spineless strength the enemy has in our lives. The enemy is a coward. He will flee from us when we proclaim and walk in truth and when we stop buying into the lies. Truth vs. lies. The two can not coexist. What a relief.
Murphy's favorite part of our walk is getting to the water where he goes in knee deep, takes a few sips and occasionally sits down for a refreshing rest. Today when we got there, I looked down at the water's sandy edge and a pair of feathers, the most beautiful little white feathers I have ever laid my eyes on, were floating together in perfect sync. That's where I want to live. In perfect sink with my Maker who is teaching me every day that I can believe that he is taking care of me.
He's taking care of you too.
Day 6 Reassured August 16, 2019 09:00
Most days I feel so certain about this journey- the blog- laying it all out there, and then there are the other days...
I asked Him, rather I told Him,
"I'm not sure I understand this mission."
He said with love and gentlest tone,
"The mission is to make you well, the writing is to encourage others. You don't have to know all I am doing right now you just have to trust me. I am a God who works when you ask. I will not leave you like your earthly father left you. You can trust me. You can count on me because I am always working and doing things for your greatest possible benefit."
Long sigh of relief, "Aaaaahhhhhhh".
Someone that I love more than life recently told me she felt like a closed up butterfly. My heart ached with her wondering how such a beautiful human could feel such suppression but also knowing that so many days I stand in a similar stance- closed up, unable to express my deepest emotions, open my wings and fly in full freedom.
As my walk continued, fluttering around me was a majestic monarch- go figure. It wouldn't leave me alone. It whirled and twirled this way and that and finally made a pit stop next to the water on the Purple Loosestrife. It's wings began to flap gently, back and forth, open and close, in and out, like it was clapping with hopeful reassurance for me- and for her. Wings wide open.
I'm reassured now, after walk number six that this mission is consistently drawing me to connect with my Maker, trust what he tells me in my spirit, encourage me to act on those truths, savor the treasures he lavishes on me along the way and celebrate the fruits of a newfound trusting heart.
Connect, trust, savor, and celebrate-the name of this anointed game.
Hoping it all will encourage you to know and trust him too.
"Just when the caterpillar thought it was over, she became a butterfly."
Day 5 Covering August 15, 2019 08:27
My fifth day of the healing journey began with a light mist and a few raindrops and continued throughout the duration of my walk- the weather reflecting my emotional state. Feeling a bit defeated, misty and a little sick in my stomach- led to get my stomach healed. Sensing this may be another contributing factor to my heart palpitations and praying for direction. Maybe too much information but learning that having low stomach acid makes the body resistant to absorbing minerals- which leads to electrolyte imbalance- low calcium, magnesium, potassium. So I'm getting back on digestive enzymes, will trust I'm on the right path and see what happens. After all I am walking the healing mile.
Hearing in my spirit that my Maker's got me.
"I am protecting you Dana. I am your mighty shelter. You're covering. I've always been covering you, I'm covering you today and I will cover you tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the day after that and..."
The message was confirmed as I approached a thick, lush, green canopy of vines, the same wild trellis I've been walking under every day of the healing mile but never noticed until this day. I will never miss it again.
The vultures are gone this morning-maybe it's the rain but it's comforting.
"God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him." Psalm 46:1
"Suddenly I turned around and she was standin' there
With silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair
She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns
Come in, she said
I'll give ya shelter from the storm"
Day 4 Distractions August 14, 2019 08:54 2 Comments
That first breath of outdoor air is like salve to my soul.
Got halfway down the driveway and Murph stopped dead in his tracks. "I don't want to go, he said to me with his eyes. So we turned around and I put him in the house. "I know the feeling some days Murph, I told him. I think he regretted it because Burly told me he cried for ten minutes after I left. A walk with your master always a good thing but the memory fades of it's benefit so easily. So much to distract us from it's greatness and power.
So much to distract me on my healing mile this morning -a zealous farmer on his rickety tractor harvesting the wheat- small airplanes- the loud ones overhead, chipmunks screeching-a Harley Davidson convoy- all good sounds of summer but so distracting nonetheless.
Distractions are inevitable but learning to allow the voice of the Spirit to be louder in my life than those things that take me away from Him is where I want to live.
No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this,
Never so much as imagined anything quite like it—
What God has arranged for those who love him.
But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you.
1 Corinthians 2:9
"Make time for the quiet moments, as God whispers and the world is loud."
- author unknown
Day 3 Pep Talk August 13, 2019 11:44
Feeling a tad defeated as I begin today's healing mile. The first words out of my mouth...
" G o d I n e e d a p e p t a l k . "
Palpitations not getting better- maybe actually a little worse- a bit more relentless- a tiny bit more consistent. I now have an appointment with a cardiologist that I am hopeful will explain to me what is wrong with me and what I'm to do about it.
"I'm afraid. What is this all for? Will I get better? Is this healing mile going to help me? are you going to help me God?" This is my inner voice of doubt, of fear, of anxiety.
And then I hear it-
"The voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
The voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth."
Of course my built in body barometer would be to gauge the worse case scenario. This is where I usually- scratch that- always go. Most people don't know this about me as I am an encourager at heart, at least certainly try to be. If only I was able to believe what I tell others they should believe.
Encouragement was not a common practice in my home growing up unless it was me doing it. I was so consumed trying to encourage those that needed it that I never felt validated or justified to ask for it let alone receive it myself. That would have made me weak, a burden, which was the last thing anybody needed- another problem. Which conjured up another even bigger problem, officially labeled, ANXIETY- issue numero uno.
But as I have been told-and I now am starting to believe with all of my heart and soul and bones, it's time to change the patterns of the past and learn to trust that encouragement and hope is for me too.
And for you.
Day 2 Vultures August 12, 2019 15:30 1 Comment
My walk this morning began with a most beautiful visual of a lush, green, life filled perfect plot of land that sits on the corner of the healing mile's start line. I notice it often but today, for some reason, I took special interest and thought of the abundant life and the good it so clearly stood for.
Fast forward about 50 steps and my attention was distracted by a large black feather laying in the road. Any opportunity I might get to pick up a feather and add it to my collection would normally be like an involuntary reflex. I'm convinced God sends them to remind me of his presence. I seem to find them at the perfect moments when I need his reassurance the most. But this feather was different. As I bent down to pick it up, I immediately pulled back, turned my chin toward the sky only to realize perched above me upon a very dead tree, vultures- awful looking creatures with red faces, dark ruffled feathers and an overall creepy presence.
I remembered a couple years ago that I had another encounter with vultures which made me want to find out more about them. This is what I learned. The Vulture is one of very few birds able to use it's sense of smell to locate food- dead food. They don't have a voicebox. They can't sing or call. They are scavengers. They sit and wait to feast on the carcasses of dead animals.Their vocalizations are limited to hisses and grunts. No wonder I'm not a lover.
As I continued to walk and peer into the next wooded area on my left I discovered, just steps from the lush and green, life giving corner, another place that felt dark- it's branches gnarly, intertwined, and visually confusing- trap like-a scary place where the wild things roam.
I heard the Spirit say to me, "Dana, don’t allow your mind to go into those places that are scary, dark and lifeless. The enemy (I saw vultures in my head) waits and watches you hoping to entice you to enter in to those places of fear and doubt. Don't spend any time in these desolate places. Rather put yourself into the lush, green woods of abundance- the safe, beautiful and faithful forest of the life giver."
I realized the theme of my walk today. The message my Maker had for me this second day of the healing mile was to work on REtraining my mind to think about his goodness, his abundance, his grace, wisdom and love for me and to remind and assure me that He is trustworthy and good and wise and reliable and for me to continue to grow in those places, I must resist the enemy’s temptation of looking to anything other than that.
It's going to take practice as I have been naturally trained by my life experiences to do the opposite. But as I stay steadfast and committed to the healing mile, this will become my new and familiar solid ground.
I just know it.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phillippians 4:8
Day 1 The Mission August 11, 2019 14:42 4 Comments
Began my day today with a beautiful walk in the perfect setting on a gorgeous day with my anxiety ridden but very excited four legged Murphman.
This walk was different than all my other walks- in fact to be honest I rarely walk- like ever. Running has always been more my speed and now even writing those words has new meaning to me.
Today I was gifted a mission- a one year challenge- a glorious and exciting charge by my Maker. He told me in a voice I heard in my heart that I couldn’t ignore, he said, “Dana, beautiful girl, I want you to do this walk every day for one year.” And I immediately asked, “every day?!” And he responded, “Every day. This is your new assigned life mission. Walk this one mile every day for one year and I will teach you new things- every day. I will show you who I am and reveal myself to you. I want you to share what you see, hear, learn and experience. Write it all down, share it and call it 'The Healing Mile'.”
I can’t tell you what ran through my veins- excitement, anticipation, relief?, doubt (but only for a second), hope, a hearty dose of joy and did I mention... joy?!
And then the questions started to surface-I asked Him...
”Only one mile?”
And the Spirit responded, “Well you can do more but the one mile is what you will benefit from.”
And the spirit responded, “Yes, every single day. Sun, rain, snow, sleet, everyday.”
”Only walking, not running?”
And the Spirit responded, “Yes, you can run if you want but running can’t help you. You've been running your whole life. Walking with me will heal you. Running will not.”
”Will this heal my heart?”
And the Spirit responded, “Yes, eventually, not right away but that’s what this is for. I’m retraining (not reprogramming like robots) but retraining (like a loving parent) your mind to believe the truth and not the lies about who I am, how much I love you and what I can do and accomplish through you.”
”With my anxious Murphy? He can be such a pain sometimes!”.
And the Spirit responded, “Yes- as much as you can. He is a reflection of you. He shows his anxiety by spinning in circles, pulling ahead, jumping, crying, being afraid of everything from flies to thunder. You and him have so much in common. You just hide yours. Can you see it? You tell him, “It’s ok Murph and desire he trust you yet he still has so much fear. As I show you how to 'be still and know', you will show Murph the same. You can learn to trust together.”
”Do I share my journey?”
And the Spirit responded, “Yes, you share it. Instagram it, write it down, document all of it. Photograph all I show you. And most importantly talk with me, keep your eyes open to what I show you each day.
He continued to tell me, “ You have the most beautiful heart baby girl, I see it. I know how much you love me and seek me. I know you want to do my will and follow me and love me and you are ready for the next mission. The time is now. I have been preparing you for this. Welcome to my will, where nature and love and grace and wisdom dissect and become alive and transforming in your life.”
He also said, “You have done an amazing job raising your boys”, but before that He said, “I love you Dana Ann McNamee” and I thought it a little odd he did not include my maiden name to which he responded, “You are a McNamee now, you became a McNamee when you and Shaun became one. I put you together. That was my plan from the start. You belong together. I made you for each other. There were a lot of things that needed to happen in order to put the two of you together and you are perfect and meant to be. And look what came from you both...
Your beautiful boys who I plan to prosper who are deeply rooted in me because of your example, who will do great things. They will come to know me and love me and serve me with their lives and they will raise families that love me as their foundation will be built on love. And I responded, “WHOA.”
And I proceeded to walk the path that led me home and along the way I saw monarchs. Lots and lots of monarchs and I love monarchs. And then I saw a cardinal which someone recently told me represents a past loved one that comes to visit. I sensed my Uncle Bruce looking over me, perched on a Spruce tree top telling me he was so proud of me and he watches over me and to keep trusting God because he is real and good and Heaven is wonderful. And to write and do this mission God has called me to.
I agreed and blew the bird a kiss and told Uncle Bruce I loved him.