Friday, April 18, 2014

The Wings of Love

Where am I?
I am surrounded by sky
I pushed my feet off the ground
Pursuing my dream to fly

I am here
In this place without fear
Where hope and love reign
And my path is oh, so clear!

Come to this place
Of freedom and grace
It would do you well
I can tell by the dispair on your face

And I'll speak love to you
And I'll speak kindness too
To heal your hurting heart
And let the "living" start

And we will fly so free
With nothing beyond reach
For love can conquer all
And catch all those who fall

©Danielle Alyse Stephan,  2014

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Running Ahead...

Rushing. I am always rushing. Not in the sense that I find myself speeding through everything I do on a day to day basis... not always, at least. Rather, I've found myself running ahead of God again! I'm like a toddler who is so overjoyed with the fact that I can run and the pleasure I find in the speed that I don't pay attention to where I'm going! I find myself running about, trying to find loop holes to get what I want when I know full well that the Lord will provide in his own time. And, while I tend to do this with many things, I am specifically trying to put the brakes on again mid-sprint in regards to dating. Don't get me wrong. I don't think that I'm supposed to go back to my dating sabbatical. I just needn't preoccupy myself with finding romantic companionship. A dating site I was using quotes Psalm 37: 4 as it's motto: "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." I love that verse, but I think for my purposes, it doesn't apply to on-line dating. I took it for granted at first that being a Christian automatically meant I was delighting myself in the Lord and, therefore, if I sought after what I wanted in a godly way (aka via a Christian dating site), it would be given to me this time. The problem was that I had no idea what "delight in the Lord" actually meant. I found this in the Barnes' Bible commentary:
The meaning here is, that we should seek our happiness in God - in his being, his perfections, his friendship, his love.And he shall give thee the desires of thine heart - literally, the "askings," or the "requests" of thy heart. What you really "desire" will be granted to you. That is,
(a) the fact that you seek your happiness in him will regulate your desires, so that you will be "disposed" to ask only those things which it will be proper for him to grant; and
(b) the fact that you do find your happiness in him will be a reason why he will grant your desires.
See, the trouble with using just this one verse it that it totally leaves out the greater meaning of that text... 
4Delight yourself in the LORD;
         And He will give you the desires of your heart.
5Commit your way to the LORD,
         Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
6He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
         And your judgment as the noonday.
7Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him;

What I get out of this text is completely different than that dating website's interpretation.  The while text in context suggests patience and trusting that God has perfect timing. Is it the easy answer most people want?  Nope.  Is it the easy answer little impatient me wants?  Not right now!  But I know that if I just wait on my Father in Heaven,  that His timing is perfect.  And,  honestly , I'm willing to wait to experience a "match made in heaven." :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hatred and Healing...

I've recently come to a realization: I hate someone. A very specific someone. A man who hurt me several years ago in many ways--hurt me so badly that I am still healing (and perhaps now just starting to deal with a considerably larger portion of the pain than before). I'm not going to talk about him and what he did to hurt me so deeply, but I have been struggling with this idea that I hate someone. As a Christian (and a person who desires to be an emotionally healthy being in general), I understand that hating someone is damaging to myself emotionally and mentally in the long term. Hate is something scripture tells us not to do.  There are no advantages spiritually,  emotionally,  or psychology to my hating of this man…  I just do. There is no logic that can talk me out of it. Where do I go with that as a person who wants to be able to share the message of hope and freedom that love brings?  How can I be such a hypocrite?  This is something I am struggling with and I don't really have an answer.  I guess I just hope that my desire to end the hate (though not necessarily all the anger,  for some of that anger could be termed a "righteous anger!") is a step in the right direction toward healing and letting go…

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Upon a Night I Couldn't Sleep...

I'm exhausted, but my mind is busy thinking and won't "wind down" for the night yet, so I've decided to put this to good use and blog.
In September, I wrote about my desires to be in a romantic relationship. In December, I finally got fed up with chasing after a relationship that I thought I wanted and realized wasn't what God wanted for me. So I asked God to take away my "need" (or, rather, my nagging desire) to be in a romantic relationship. I asked Him to help me be happy with where HE has me right now.
Photo by Dani Stephan
Last week I realized something when I was writing to a friend... God DID it! I'm there in that satisfied place in life. While society has no problem trying to shove the idea down my throat that I need to be coupled up with someone to be happy, I am truly happy and single! Even better than being happy, I am full of JOY and contentment. I know that I am completely where God wants me to be and doing what He has planned for me right now. I am so excited about that! I can't even begin to describe how at peace I am about it. Oh, I'm still stressed with school and my crazy schedule and such, but I'm not worried about my relationships or where God is going to take me later in life.
Also, remember what I wrote in July? I felt I had entered a time of "wandering" through a personal "wilderness." My heart was hurting, I was lonely, and I lacked a connection to community. In less than 6 months, because I listened to the Lord and got involved in my communities (scholastic, spiritual, and local), my life is SO incredibly full! I am now in a situation where I regularly get to give God's and my love to people AND I get love back. I have found true friendships and had time to create new ones. I am fully trusting Him with both my short and long term future and enjoying the people He has put in my life right now. It feels amazing to be able to give everything to Him and take (and enjoy!) each day as it comes.
God has truly transformed my wilderness! All I can say is "wow, God... Wow." :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

All These Stars...

Going through some of my old poetry today, I stumbled upon a poem I wrote back in November of 2004 titled "Dark Side of the Moon." I being 19 at the time, most of my poetry was written about one of two things--struggling with clinical depression and/or a guy. This one poem was bit about both and I ended the last verse with the idea that I was "living on the dark side of the moon." It isn't a very good poem, but there are three lines that stick with me and occasionally pop into my head.
"In my heart there's plenty of room
For all the pain you've started
To sprout up and begin to bloom"

I like those lines--not the thought behind them, but the flow of the lines themselves. Because of how much I like them, I revised them today into something I like even more.
"In my heart there's plenty of room
For all the love you've planted
To sprout up and begin to bloom"

Today I shared on Facebook that I have been revisiting and processing some of the painful and lonely things I've been through in the past few years. I can do this because I'm in a stable place of love and joy now. I have learned how to love on people and let them love me back. I've learned to focus on what I am blessed with in life rather than what I lack. I've learned that laughter and the deliberate decision to focus on things that bring me joy rather than on dwelling in my pain can be the best medicine to heal my heart and mind. I've learned that joyfulness is a chosen state of being.

If I could go back and share these things with 19 year old me, I would. I would tell 19 year old me that, even if I feel like I'm "living on the dark side of the moon," I'm not living in pitch blackness--I'm living beneath a gorgeous sky full of stars. In other words, even if I'm in pain and struggle with depression, the love and blessings that surround me far out number the things that hurt. Knowing how I was at 19 (and how stubborn I am in general!), I would probably just wave it off and do things my way, and that's okay. What matters is that I'm here now. And I'm definitely soaking up the light and beauty of all these stars. :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Heart Tantrums and Brain Conundrums...

There are times when I long for what I can't have. I'm not referring to the type of longing I have for my dream car--which, by the way, is a 2012 Dodge Challenger R/T model, satin black paint exterior with custom wine colored velvet interior seating... yeah, its super hot... okay, back to what I was talking about to begin with. This longing is a matter specifically of the heart. Lately, I've been finding my heart throwing little tantrums now and then because it can't--for multiple reasons--be in a romantic relationship with someone else's heart. I don't know if I'm the only one with this problem (though I doubt that I am), but I am getting pretty tired of this tug-o-war process between my logic and sentiment. I am generally a "heart over head" person (meaning that I usually make decisions based on my emotions over my logic). Because of this, I am having a particularly difficult time convincing my silly heart that it is in the wrong due to the facts that using reason to override emotion doesn't work very often for me and it can be an emotionally taxing process.
All these various feelings have stirred up some questions I've had going through my head the past couple of years. As a graduate student, a photographer-business woman, a community volunteer, and a person with responsibilities to friends and family, how am I ever going to have the time for a real "love life?"  I know people say "when it is supposed to happen, it will just happen," but what if I'm too busy to notice it happening? LOL. I laugh at that worry, but I'm being serious too. Knowing me (this is my heart talking now, ignore any sudden hissy fits!), I could just completely talk myself out of pursuing a romantic connection with someone with the logic that I (or that other person) don't have time--that focusing on school and career is the priority right now. What if I talk myself out of taking a risk that could lead to a really joyful, loving relationship? And why on earth do I see romance and grad school/career as mutually exclusive? There has to be a happy medium somewhere. There really does. And I really do need to find it. If I was a person who could just focus solely on my scholastic or entrepreneurial endeavors, I would do it in a heart beat! But clearly that isn't working for me... My brain desires my full attention to be directed toward these efforts, but I'm a "heart over head" person, right? While I am admittedly a history nerd and bibliophile, my books aren't going to love me back (haha!). I need affection... and love... and SNUGGLES! (Brain: OK, Heart... you can shut up now!) All and all, I think I feel like this:

Hahahaha! Anyway, this blog post, as with my conundrum, has no official conclusion--no thesis that has been proven. I haven't answered my questions and I don't think I will anytime soon. I just needed to write it all out of my system, I guess.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

In Times of Change: The Wilderness

Sometimes God takes me through a wilderness. I find myself in a wilderness now. It isn't a terribly painful wilderness like previous trips have been, but it is a lonely one. I started thinking about how many people I know who are going through their own wildernesses spiritually and emotionally. Suddenly, I realized that, while the wilderness can be lonely, I am far from alone. Aside from Christ walking beside me, I have many brothers and sisters in Him who are walking through this wilderness too. We're not necessarily walking together all the time, but sometimes we stop and lean on each other or yell an encouragement to each other when we come across each other in the Desert of Change and Healing.
Two summers ago I went through a wilderness much more severe than this one. I was leaving APU and striking out on my own in the O.C. On top of that, my family was going through some very tough times and I was healing from a romance that ended painfully. That summer was stressful. That summer was lonely. But that summer, God gave me a gift. One day after work, I walked into the prayer chapel at Azusa Pacific to pray and listen for God's voice. In the big bible that was left open for students to use and write notes in, I turned to Isaiah 55. I didn't know what was in that chapter, so I feel that God directed me there. Verses 8 through 13 really stood out to me. This is what it says:

Isaiah 55:8-13
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
12 “For you will go out with joy
And be led forth with peace;
The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
13 “Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up,
And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up,
And [a] it will be a [b] memorial to the LORD,
For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.”

  1. Isaiah 55:13 I.e. the transformation of the desert
  2. Isaiah 55:13 Lit name
WOW! Did you get that? There is SO much packed in there! First, God reminded me that HE was in control and that HE had a plan. He very clearly told me, just as He told Israel, that He did not send things out without letting them prosper! There is NO sowing without a harvest when it comes to His work and His plan for us! On top of that, God EXCLAIMED that He would send me where He wanted me with joy and peace in my heart! It was a promise. Lastly, when I re-examined this verse tonight, I learned something new. Did you see footnote a? "And [the transformation of the desert] will be [named] a memorial to the Lord!" The transformation of my desert? Of my wilderness? You can use that for your glory, God?
YES! He can. He does. And He will. Praise the LORD!