Beyond The Fallout

If Not for Love 

 

Hi Everyone! 

My last blog was about finding revelation this year.  As I was driving to church with my family, I reflected on how God had answered my prayer last year to become more passionate.  Yet, with all this passion for music and for trying to tell the story, I feel like I am missing one thing. 

If I do all these things but have not love, it is all for nothing.  It makes me think of 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 

I need to seek out my motives this year and make sure that it is from a heart of love.  I want faith that can move mountains, I want to serve God with everything in me, and I want to continue to follow my passions.  I know God has put a passionate desire in me to write music and worship.  Yet, I need to find love.  I feel like I need to fall in love with God all over again, and I need to fall in love with serving.  I do not want the things I do to be for nothing.  I believe in God’s greater purpose and plan.  I believe in His love. 

It’s a challenge I believe for all of us, to seek God and discover what is actually our motivation for the things we pursue. 

May you have a great week full of self-discovery! 

Andrea Vestby

Revelation Not Resolution 

Hi Everyone! 

I hope you all had a beautiful New Years! 

Last January, the leaders of our church held a servant leaders night and shared with us what God had put on their hearts.  Our Pastor explained how he really felt God directing us to focus our attention and our hearts on a single word God put in our minds.  Some of our Pastors shared what God was showing them as their focus for the year. 

I fell in love with the idea.  We broke off into groups and told each other the one word God was putting in our hearts and then we prayed for each other.  The word that popped into my mind was passion.  I felt I needed to become more passionate about God, about my faith and my purpose. 

As I prayed over the next months for passion, I felt so inspired by God.  I wrote more songs on faith, and became very passionate about this message.  I could see how faith in God had shaped my life and my story;  how faith had shaped the songs I’d written and the ones I was writing.  I got excited by the testimony God had given me.  It had been a tough journey, but the story of God’s redeeming love is so powerful. 

I found God bringing His word to life and reminding me of stories of faith in the Bible, of passionate people like Simon.  I wrote a song called Walk on Water.  His excitement of seeing Jesus on the water and asking him to call him out.  He was brave enough to step off that boat and walk on the water.  Of course, we learn our lesson from him about keeping our eyes on Jesus, no matter how big the waves that come at us.  To be so full of passion, zeal and excitement that you’d pursue God and plunge in, that’s what I was wanting. 

Same with the woman who knew if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, she’d be healed.  Such faith and passion.  She put all of her hope and trust in him to heal her,  which he did. 

In saying all this, I’ve come to realize how instead of making New year’s resolutions, which I never keep, I want a New Year’s revelation.  I want to look to God this year again for what He’s putting on my heart.  What can I learn from God this year, as I live my life for him? What is God saying to you this year, as you pursue Him? 

For me, it’s to fall in love with him all over again.  To love His word and spending time with him, not because I feel like I “have” to do devotions, but simply to spend time with him like I would my husband or my children.  To invest more of my time with him, to really get to know His heart more. 

Happy New Year’s Revelations!!! 

Andrea Vestby

Joseph 

Hi Everyone! 

Last Christmas, my eyes were opened to a part of the Christmas story that is not emphasized; and yet such a beautiful act of love. 

Christmas is a beautiful celebration of the birth of Christ, our Saviour and the love of God come down.  Mary is an example of a servant heart, fully surrendered to God’s will, when she said, “I am the Lord’s servant…May your word to me be fulfilled.” Luke 1:38 (NIV) We often focus on Jesus and Mary’s role in fulfilling God’s plan for us. 

What caught my attention, was Joseph.  I listened to the Christmas songs and how they rang out the story of Jesus.  The songs singing about Mary’s love, like Mary Did You Know.  I thought to myself, where is Joseph’s song.  Here is a noble man, who was faithful to the law, the Bible says; and when he found out she was pregnant, he did not want her disgraced.  He loved her enough that he was going to divorce her quietly. 

It says, “But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’” Matthew 1:20-21 (NIV) 

As the story goes,  Joseph took Mary as his wife.  When I thought of writing a song about Joseph, I thought of how God saw him.  Here is a noble man that God was entrusting to be His son’s Dad.  He knew Joseph would love Jesus as his own.  He knew Joseph would teach Jesus of his Father’s love and would care for him.  God knew that Joseph had an obedient heart and each time He came to him in a dream,  Joseph obeyed.  He kept Jesus safe from Herod and he protected the Son of God until the day Jesus knew His real Father.  He is the greatest example of the beautiful love of a step-Dad. 

This means a lot to me as my husband is a step-Dad.  My husband has such a beautiful love for his children, and has chosen to extend that same love to my children.  It is an amazing part of the Christmas story, the love God entrusted to both Mary and to Joseph.  He knew they were the right people to care for His son; God’s son who was “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14.  He knew Joseph would show him the love of his Father.  Joseph believed. 

It also says in John 1:9-13, “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and though the world was made though him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or husband’s will, but born of God.” 

We are accepted as his family.  To all who believe, we are family. 

Merry Christmas family! 

Many blessings, 

Andrea Vestby

God with Us  

Hi Everyone! 

Thank you for your patience, it’s been a few weeks since I posted.  I wanted to keep consistent with the blog, however, life gets in the way occasionally.  I know this time of the year is busy for everyone, not just me. 

My husband and I have been attending a course called Family Connections put on Sashbear Foundation.  This week was our last session.  It has been an amazing course, that I highly recommend for anyone who has a family member with emotional dysregulation.  Our family has suffered from PTSD, anxiety, depression and mental illness.  I went seeking a way to connect with my one son who has Bipolar, and I walked away with so much more.   The course was jam-packed with so much good information and filled with  practical application.  One of the concepts they taught, that resonated with me, was the idea of Radical Acceptance. 

I know this time of the year can be a hard time for some.  I remember all to well the first Christmas I was alone with six children.  I was trying hard to make it a good holiday and fun for the kids, yet all along I knew we were all hurting.  Their Dad was not home and there was no hope for restoration. 

I feel for all those who have lost loved ones and are facing Christmas with a loneliness that can’t be filled.  My heart cries out for all those who are suffering from illness, are distant from family, who are suffering financial hardships, who feel alone, and for those suffering with mental illness. Let’s be reminded to care for those in our lives who find Christmas to be the hardest time of year. 

As I walk a difficult road right now with a family member struggling with mental illness, I am reminded this season that Jesus is Emmanuel.  He is God with us.  He came as a baby and grew into a man, humbled himself and walked among us.  He came down from Heaven to be among us  to show us his love in the most tangible way that we would understand,  When the angel said Jesus is to be called Emmanuel… God wanted us to know that Jesus is God with us.  He saw the suffering of humanity, felt as we feel, and showed us His love. 

I want to encourage you as I have been encouraged.  With God on this journey with me,  I am embracing what the Family Connections course has taught me on Radical Acceptance.  It is similar to the Serenity Prayer, which my one daughter loves.  “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  We don’t have to like the reality we live in, but in order to reduce our suffering, we accept it. 

In accepting our reality, it enables us to truly trust in God for what we cannot handle on our own. 

The verse God brought to my attention this week was Psalm 46: 1-3 

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (NIV) 

Sometimes it feels like life is falling apart, like the earth has given way under the weight of our problems.  Yet, God is our refuge and strength, our ever-present help in times of trouble.  In the midst of the chaos of our lives, God is with us…ever-present.  So, as David said in Psalm 25:1, “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.” (NIV).  He is close to the broken-hearted, and I know He is God with us. 

May God bring you peace this Christmas!  May you feel His presence and know He is with you. 

Blessings, 

Andrea Vestby

 

Hardest Time of Year - Lyric Video

All You Need is a Little 

Hi Everyone! 

My husband challenged me this past week about my attitude.  I was really defensive at first, you know how that goes.  Yet, the more I reflected on what he said,  the more I realized he was right. 

I have caught myself this week thinking negatively and critically about my life’s circumstances, instead of focusing on what God can do and what I can do to make it better.  So in my husband’s words, I am living with a “defeat-est” attitude. 

What I feel God challenging me this week to remember is that all it takes is a little faith.  Often what I’ve worked up in my mind is not really what happens even 10% of the time.  And, if the worst case scenario comes true, what am I going to do about it? 

I am going to have faith in God. 

In Matthew 17:14-21, the disciples were faced with a situation they were not ready for.  There was a large crowd waiting for Jesus and a man came to him with his son.  He thought his son had a demon inflicting him, because he was suffering from seizures sometimes causing him to fall into the cooking fire or into the river.  “I brought him to your followers, but they weren’t able to heal him.” (v.16) 

I can only imagine what the disciples were feeling.  They were still growing in their faith and they were seeing Jesus perform miracles;  and now people were expecting them to do the same thing.  I’m sure they felt inadequate. 

Jesus healed the young man.  And, it says, “Later the disciples came to him privately and asked, ‘Why couldn’t we cast out the demon?’” (V.19) 

“He told them, ‘It was because of your lack of faith.  I promise you, if you have faith inside of you no bigger than the size of a small mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move away from here and go over there,’ and you will see it move!  There is nothing you couldn’t do!  But this kind of demon is cast out only through prayer and fasting.’”  Matthew 17:20-21 (The Passion Translation) 

He didn’t judge his disciples, but he used this “worst case” scenario that was overwhelming them, to teach them more about faith.  God is not asking for more than we are capable of;  he’s asking for faith as small as a mustard seed.  He’s not asking for powerful, perfect strong faith; instead all you need is a little. 

So, when I am confronted with overwhelming circumstances, I need to remember to have a little faith.  Instead of jumping to an attitude of defeat or the worst case scenarios,  I need to remember that all it takes is a little. 

Today, may you have faith no matter your circumstances and may God be with you this week in everything you do.  Remember, all you need is a little. 

Blessings! 

Andrea Vestby

Everyone Sees Mountains 

Hi Everyone! 

One important lesson I’ve learned, with everything I’ve gone through, is not belittling other people’s problems when mine feel so huge.  Everyone see mountains.  Each challenge, each circumstance that happens in our lives that is out of our control, feels huge. 

I’ve had to learn not to judge other people’s struggles with the weight of my own.  Learning to be compassionate to others in the middle of my own pain is important. It is not a test of whose problems are bigger than whose.  It’s never been about comparison.  Yet, sometimes it is human nature to compare and minimize what others are feeling, based on our own feelings. 

I’ll give you an example of where I’m going with this.  I was at a soccer game one night and my boys were playing.  I enjoyed sitting on the sidelines chatting with the other Moms.  I was a new single Mom of six children;  it was still fresh, it was the first year after my ex left.  We were forming new routines, getting used to life on our own, and I was lonely.  Especially at night, when the kids all went to bed and the house got quiet…I had no one to talk to.  Silence can be deafening! 

A Mom on the sidelines of the soccer game started to complain about her struggles when her husband worked out of town.  She said she felt like a single Mom when he was away. 

It took a lot of energy inside me not to compare.  In my mind, I wanted to say that you “feel” like a single Mom but you are not.  In a defined period of time, your husband will return and you will have love, you will have a break, you will feel supported, and you won’t feel alone. I bit my tongue.  For her, these periods of loneliness were overwhelming.  For this Mom, being on her own was a mountain she had to face regularly as his shifts ebbed and flowed. I could not say to her that she didn’t understand what a single Mom “really” feels like.  For a single Mom, there is no love from a husband ever;  no breaks other than what friends and family can give you, and it’s lonely. As much as others try to help, at the end of the day, you are alone.  The mountain I faced was different. 

I was challenged that day, not to belittle how someone else feels, no matter how I am feeling.  Everyone faces a different mountain and each mountain feels like a really big climb.  There are no comparisons, and each one deserves compassion for the struggles they face.  Each one of us seeks validation for how facing the mountain feels, and each one of us deserves the encouragement needed to climb that mountain. 

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.  Each one should test their own actions.  Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.”  Galatians 6: 2-5 (NIV) 

If I thought for a moment and put myself in the other soccer Mom’s shoes, I could understand how she felt.  Without my own problems clouding my judgement, I could see her loneliness too those weeks he was gone.  I could see the burden she carried of having to take care of her children all by herself and getting them to all of their activities alone.  I could see her weariness.  It didn’t really matter that she had a husband who would be home soon.  What she was feeling that day and those weeks was real.  We all carry the weight of our own struggles and we should learn to be kind to one another with no judgement.  No comparisons. 

Everyone sees mountains, and each mountain is different. May God bless you with all the strength you need today to climb your mountain!  May you be able to encourage others who face their mountains. 

Blessings friends, 

Andrea Vestby

The Bitter Weed 

Hi Everyone! 

One of the greatest challenges we face in this life, no matter what the circumstances inspiring it, is not letting bitterness take root.  I have struggled with the bitter weed.  I feel like bitterness is a terrible weed, that if unchecked, and left to take root it spreads in our souls like quack grass. 

I don’t know about your experiences with quack grass, but my flower beds have had their fair share and when I try to pull them, I always miss some of the roots.  I’ve tried different ways of getting rid of it, but it’s tenacious.  Winter is coming, but as soon as the snow melts and things start to grow again, the weed will come back, as some of the roots run deep. 

As hard as things were, and still are, with my ex, the one thing I wanted most was to protect my soul from the bitterness that could take root.  I prayed and struggled with it.  It was, and still is, a daily surrender to God.  I had to talk to God often about how I was feeling and give it to him over and over.  I had to ask God to forgive me when I was feeling resentful and bitter.  I had to forgive my ex each time he said or did something that upset me. 

As hard as it was, with the things my family faced, I could have felt like it was my right to be the victim.  I could have felt justified in being bitter and angry, and no one really would have held that against me.  However, I knew that for me bitterness and anger were like a weed that would spread and poison my soul.  I feel like, with unchecked bitterness, I would have lost more of myself to my circumstances.  I would have lost the part of me that I like. 

The one thing I didn’t want either, was to pass on any bitterness or resentment to my children.  I wanted to show them what grace and compassion look like, what forgiveness looks like and what it looks like to take the high road. 

Ephesians 4:31 & 32 says, “ Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (NIV) 

This is so much easier said than done, yet, it is so worth the struggle to keep the heart weeded and free from the bitter weed.  So, when I say that bitterness is like quack grass and when I pull the weed, sometimes I don’t always get the root; I say this because, I still struggle at times.  There are times, when I thought I had pulled all of the weed and I was doing good.  Then I realize, something grew again in me that I needed to weed once more.  There are no quick and easy fixes for our hearts.  We have to be vigilant and diligent to weed them when needed. 

One of my favourite verses is Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV) 

Don’t let bitterness, the bitter weed, grow you into something you don’t want to be. If you need to, do a bit of weeding, and by that I mean praying. Whatever you do, be the best you! 

Blessing, 

Andrea Vestby

Roses and Thorns 

Hi everyone! 

I had a thought this week about roses and thorns.  It is a reflection of the years and all the struggles I have faced.  Roses are a beautiful flower. So delicate and pretty.  However, you have to hold them just right.  As beautiful as they are, they have a sharpness.  I am a rose.  I know God sees beauty in me, as He sees beauty in all of us. 

However, I sport some good thorns.  I know that I have hurt those who’ve gotten close to me at times. I know that there have been times where in my desperation to deal with my situation, I have hurt people and I have offended others.  They see the rose, but when they get too close to help they get pricked by the thorns.  Some people give up right away and don’t feel like this rose is worth the pain.  Some people push past the initial pain of the thorns and find a way to still see the beauty and how to hold the rose. 

For all those who have held this rose despite my thorns, I want to thank you. 

Please be encouraged, do not avoid the roses.  I am not the only rose.  There are many who need us to see the beauty of who God created them to be.  The circumstances we have weathered have created a few thorns, yet each one of us is worth knowing despite the thorns.  Don’t give up on those in your life who are struggling with painful circumstances and are sharp at times.  Hurt people often hurt people.  Please see the beauty in each person, and find a way around the thorns to love them and nurture them. 

Love the Roses and the thorns. 

Blessings! 

Andrea Vestby

Every Little Blessing 

 

Hi Everyone! 

In every tough circumstance I have walked through, there is one thing that has been so important to me and that is reflecting on every little blessing.  No matter how little the blessing.  There is always at least one thing to be thankful for. 

I try every day to list a few things to thank God for, no matter how small or big.  I believe it is important to guard my heart against bitter thoughts, against being negative and against thinking critically.  I have tried my best to remain an optimist, which is challenging some days. 

I believe strongly in what it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 & 18: 

“Make your life a prayer.  And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus.”  The Passion Translation 

In my darkest days, I could thank God for those in my life who surrounded me with love and  helped me where they could. I could give thanks for the little things my kids would do that would put a smile on my face in the middle of my sadness and brokenness.  For the many pictures the kids would draw, the jokes they would tell, the little hugs they would give, and their boundless energy that kept me busy. Too busy during the day to stew over how I was feeling.  Sometimes that felt like a good thing. 

One of my favourite memories during this time of my life, was two little fingerprints.  My daughter was only three and by accident she left two little fingerprints on my windshield, directly above my steering wheel.  It created a perfect heart.  When I would drive at night, the lights from the oncoming traffic would light up her heart-shaped prints and it would always put a smile on my face.  It would remind me of how in the hard times, I had the beautiful love of a child. 

I wrote a song about her little fingerprints. It was one of those little blessings that meant the world to me.  I called it Fingerprints. I knew she would grow older one day and I wouldn’t have that van anymore.  Believe me, I left her fingerprints on my windshield for more than three years, I wouldn’t let anyone clean them away.  I wanted to forever remember counting every little blessing. 

I believe a shift happens in our souls when we start giving thanks for the good things, no matter how small, and refuse to focus on only the bad things.  The bad things don’t go away and we need to process them and heal, however, there is a time for that and a time for focusing on the good.  It doesn’t do us any good emotionally and physically to only focus on those things that weigh us down. 

I want to encourage each of you to think of one or two things each day to be thankful for.  Count every little blessing.  See how it changes your heart and your perspective.  The hardest things we have to walk through can sometimes become a little more bearable, when we have noticed the things that have made us feel thankful. 

May God reveal to you today and this week every little blessing! 

Blessings, 

Andrea Vestby

You are Not the Only One 

Hi Everyone! 

I started attending a course called Family Connections to learn more about emotional dysregulation.  The first class was an overview and all about getting to know the Instructors and the fellow attendees.  It reminded me that no matter what we are going through in life, we are not the only ones and we are definitely not alone. 

So many of their stories resonated with events in my life that I had gone through in one way or another, as my children and I journeyed through healing from abuse and divorce.  We have had our share of struggles with mental illness; depression, anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar to name a few. 

I remember when the tough times hit, my first impulse was to isolate myself from others.  I didn’t want to have to explain what was happening in my life and I didn’t want any judgement either.  Life was hard enough to get through without anyone adding to it. 

However, what I fail to realize is that we all have a story and things we’ve had to walk through.  All too often we put up a false front, so that others think things are great. How sad that we can’t just be real with each other and tell the truth.  How important it is to share our burdens with one another and not feel like we carry the weight of it alone.  It is so invaluable to learn that you are not the only one who has gone through something. 

Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” 

There is nothing new.  It’s only new to us when something happens that we are completely unprepared for, ashamed of, or struggling with.  For example, this past month when my son went into the hospital due to mental illness, I was struggling with my emotions over the situation.  I was overwhelmed.  The moment I phoned my cousin, who’s own son had struggled with mental illness, I felt relief.  She listened, let me cry and she prayed with me.  She offered the understanding I needed so that I didn’t feel like I was alone in my struggles. I was not the only one. 

I want to encourage you, it is refreshing to the soul to speak to someone who knows your struggles and can share in your journey with you.  I recommend you use wisdom; not everyone is understanding and non-judgemental.  However, look for the right person who shows understanding and kindness.  Look for the person who is a good listener or who you know has faced tough times in their past, or is facing something similar presently. 

I want to encourage all who have found healing to look for those who need encouragement, who need someone to talk to, who need someone who’s willing to be real with them.  It says in Ephesians 4:2, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”  I believe we can love others by being truthful and honest, being real about our lives and helping each other understand that in this life we are not the only ones. 

Help someone today to realize they are not alone and not the only one.  Please share this encouragement with others.  If you have no one to talk to, please email me at info@andreavestby.com.  I would love to support you on your journey.  Let’s shake it up a little and be real with each other! 

Blessings! 

Andrea Vestby