Lover of My Soul

Looking back at my life, I see now that I spent so much of it looking for love.

As a little girl I wanted so desperately to earn my daddy’s approval, but he never seemed to be pleased with me. In my preteen and teenage years I wanted a boyfriend, because I thought I would finally feel fully loved and accepted. It didn’t.

In my twenties love seemed to be unreliable. Men said they loved me and yet never called again. People around me were getting married, but there never seemed to be someone right for me. People started getting divorced. I wondered if true love even existed anymore.

Once I had children I felt loved, a love that only moms can feel from their children! It’s also a love that requires more giving than receiving. It’s wonderful, but it won’t fulfill your soul–especially once they hit 12 years old, suddenly seeing you as uncool and completely incorrect about everything!

Getting married held the allure of love. It’s like a mirage that promises this wonderland, but once you reach it you realize the sand is still burning your feet and you are still thirsty. I wish I could say that marriage brought unconditional love and happiness to my life, but no. The first one left me broken from watching him destroy himself from substance abuse. The second left me fearing for my safety and that of my kids as his anger turned to violent rage. My current marriage is a daily struggle, like living with chronic pain. We are working on a cure, although love requires constant sacrifice on both sides.

Love has never been easy, never been like a Disney movie. Family has never been as happy as the Cosby Show. No matter what situation or whom we are with, we will never feel our souls are completed by human love. There are wonderful moments of romance. There are, “Mommy, I love you!” hugs that fill you to the brim with warm fuzzies. But none of it lasts forever. No one can love us completely: all our scars and secrets, our mistakes and regrets. No human can put up with everything, especially when our selfishness causes us to lash out at them or ignore them or not return their phone call because our favorite show is on.

But God can.

He is the only one that knows everything (yes, even that secret) about us and still loves us. He is the only one who doesn’t resent us when we act passive aggressive or hate the way our breath smells in the morning or get annoyed when we mess up and do that same thing AGAIN.

He is the only one who loves our very souls.

In Psalms 139 it says:

“You made my whole being. You formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:13-16‬ ‭

God designed you and me before we were born. He had all of our lives planned out. He cared from the beginning.

To make it even better, Romans 8:35-39 tells us that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Nothing. Not even us.

He delights in me.

I’m the past several years I have been on a quest to understand God’s love for me. As a child I sang “Jesus Loves Me” in church, but I never really believed He could love ME. Other people were lovable–me, not so much. But in the last several years I have been learning that His love is higher and wider and more overflowing than anything I can imagine. Here are some places in the Bible I’ve found that have opened my eyes:

Psalm 103 says He heals me, blesses me, forgives me, has compassion on me, and more.

Isaiah 43 says He chose me, calls me by name, and never abandons me when life gets hard.

Zephaniah 3:17 says He delights in me!

John 8 tells about a woman caught in adultery. The religious leaders want to kill her, but Jesus stands up for her. He loves women and treats us kindly. (Read more about Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to see how He was kind to every woman He encountered).

The Bible is full of messages to us about how He loves our souls.

He is the lover of my soul. Of your soul. He created you, designed you, and delights in you. You have a unique beauty to give to this world that no one else can give. Your creator put it in you, and He is waiting for you to turn to Him and let Him fill you to overflowing. He wants you to shine with a reflection of His love.

He is the Lover of your soul. Let Him love you.

💗If you would like to receive a free copy of my printable 7 day Bible Study “Lover of My Soul” click on the link below. 💗

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Romance is the ultimate happy ending…right?

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Oh, how I love fairy tales…Disney movies…the happy “I said yes!” posts proudly smothered with “likes” on Facebook. I love to see two people find each other and feel that feeling our culture holds above all others: the euphoria of finding your “soulmate” (hear the music playing and the crowds cheering?). 

I once subscribed to this euphoria. Oh, I had bought the t-shirt and signed my life away to the theory that “there is just one soulmate out there for you and they will make you happy” And in my mind, that unknown person held the key to my happy ending. All of my life story would come together. I would find meaning, purpose, and a joy that would keep me buzzing on life until my true love and I passed into death in each others’ arms…(are you tearing up yet?)

So, some of you may be following me closely. You’ve been in the #soulmatesearchclub and followed every romance story online. (Or if you’re from my generation you actually read those rectangular things with all the pages, called romance novels.) If this is you, luv, like me years ago, you are what I call a Wedding Gown Diva.

Some of you gals, like my teenage daughter, follow strong, independent females on Twitter and spout the motto “I don’t need a man!” You may have promised to never get married, or at least to wait until you’re “old” so no man can ruin your life goals. You might click Like on a comment, “All men are pigs–just look in the White House!” Cynicism is your middle name and you are not going to fall for something as old school as marriage. Girl, you are what I call a Wall Building Woman.

I think that both the Wedding Gown Divas and the Wall Building Women are hoping for the same thing: their happy endings. I think both groups want to love and to be loved. The first group is seeking a man to fulfill all their dreams and the second group pretends they don’t even believe love can bring anything real or good to the table. Wedding Gown Divas put all their eggs into the basket of romance, trusting that someone kind and oh-so-handsome can give them the life of their dreams. Wall Building Women go to the other extreme and deny their desires for love, erecting a forcefield of strength that no man can break through. The first group gives their heart away too freely and the second hides their heart in a cell of self-protection.

Which one of these groups is right?

I say neither one.

 

You see, finding your soulmate (even if he’s kinder than Captain America and hotter than Thor) will never guarantee a happy ending. No matter how wonderful that man is, he can never fulfill you. He can never give you life-long happiness.

Happiness can only come from inside you, from your soul.

Ok, I heard someone in the Wedding Gown group protesting, “But he’s my soulmate! He is connected to my soul!” I once thought that way too.

But I was wrong. No human being, no relationship, no kiss, no marriage can ever make you live “happily ever after.”

Now if you are a Wall Building Woman you might be thinking, “Yep! Say it! That’s why I don’t subscribe to all that romance B.S.!” But here’s where you’re off course. You, darling girl, are also looking for happiness. You also want to be loved. You may pull up your big girl pants, turn your back on Pinterest wedding posts and roll your eyes at cheesy Instagram quotes. But, deep inside, you wouldn’t mind being worshipped by someone whose adoration of you makes Ed Sheeran songs sound boring. Your problem, chica, is that you build up walls around your heart and act like you don’t care. You play tough so that the chance for rejection is slim to none–mostly because you don’t let anyone close enough to get to know your heart.

To you, untouchable lady, I have to say “Stop!” Stop and look honestly at your heart. Have you built a fence around it? Are you sure loneliness hasn’t staked a claim in your soul? You are not so much better than the romance-addicted other group. The path you’ve been following, away from love, is not taking you towards true fulfillment either.

Ladies, my goal in writing this is to help you see that nothing can satisfy you but the true Lover of your Soul. Jesus.

There is not a man alive (or dead for that matter) that can give you lasting happiness. No career nor self-promoting Twitter profile can replace the happiness you long for.

Don’t you see? You both want the same thing. You both want the happily ending. And that’s ok. As long as you find it in the One who created you and designed you, from your beautiful eyes to your pedicured feet.

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I love this quote!

Jesus is the only one that can fulfill you. He is the only one who can give you the happily ever after you desire. He planned you from before the earth was created and you will not feel truly fulfilled until you let Him be your soulmate.

The Bible says, “You, Lord, are forgiving and good; abounding in love to all who call to you.” (Psalm 86:5)

In the book of Zephaniah (yep that’s in the Bible) God says that He loves us so much that He sings songs about us (take that, John Legend) and in the book of Isaiah (chapter 62) it says, “As a bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you.” God loves us SO much that he sees us the way a groom looks at a bride when she’s walking toward him down the aisle! That’s some hardcore adoration right there!

And, here’s the clincher: God doesn’t change. He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” He will always love us. Always. No divorce contract. No rejecting us because we have morning breath. He always loves us. And He will be there for you and me through the good times and the bad. He won’t walk out the door and leave us with screaming kids or turn off his phone and ignore our text messages. (I think it would be pretty cool if we could actually text him though!) 

Ok, you wanna know how I know this stuff? How do I even have the right to preach all this Jesus stuff?

Wait for it.

I’ve been you. Both of you. I’ve been the one wandering through Target hoping I’d bump into a handsome stranger, AND I’ve been the one marching shiny high heels down a New York City street with an invisible “Don’t even talk to me” sign on my forehead. Neither one lead to happiness. New York me ended up lonely and bitter. Target me ended up married and divorced twice. (Which, ironically, also left me lonely and bitter.)

I’ve come to learn that Jesus is the only “man” I can entrust my heart to. He is the only one who will handle it with gentleness and absolute love. He will always be here for me. He will never leave me.

Jesus is my happily ever after. And He wants to be that for you too.

 

(Note: If you’d like to know more about this Lover of your Soul, send me an email at lnewsom77@protonmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can! ❤ )

Bills, cows, and ice cream cones

“What the…”

That was all I heard my husband say this afternoon as he walked in the door from the mailbox, a torn envelope in his hand.

He spread its contents on the counter. It was a bill for a medical visit I had a month ago, one that we thought our insurance had paid for.

The bill was for almost $600.

I lost my job several weeks ago. And we are just barely able to pay our regular bills right now. Not to mention I have $80K in school loans and we have six kids to feed. My husband’s car just got out of the shop. Mine is sounding like it will be next. Oh, and Uncle Sam has decided we owe him several hundred dollars by mid April.

This was not a pleasant surprise. We looked at each other in shock.

I’m sure you’ve had those moments before. Moments where your next thought is panic. Fear jumps up and puts its filthy hands around your throat. You try to breathe and think normally, but it seems impossible.

As humans, we tend to panic because we think small. We see the situation and from our limited view and all we see is hopelessness.

But God has a different viewpoint. Not only does he know the future, but he controls all the money in the world. In Psalms 50:10 God says, “The cattle on a thousand hills are mine.” He created and owns everything on this earth. Cows. Money. It’s all just stuff to him.

You know what that means?

You have the exact amount of money you are supposed to have right now.

If you needed more–if it was what was best for you right now–you would have it. He gives us exactly what we need when we need it.

Yes, I’m preachin’ to myself here.

After we gawked at the bill my husband didn’t say much. He left to go pick up his daughter, and I prayed he wouldn’t give in to the same panic that was trying to cloud my brain.

I got out my Bible and came across a verse:

““I am the LORD your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”

‭‭PSALM‬ ‭81:10‬ ‭AMP‬‬

Not only is God reminding his listeners that he brought his people out of captivity in Egypt, he’s going way beyond that. Did you notice that?

He didn’t just say, “I brought you out of Egypt and I’ll provide food for you.” Or “Don’t worry, we’ll make it somehow.”

He says, “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”

Thats no meager statement. That’s a huge promise. That’s like as a kid when your dad took you for ice cream; instead of getting the smallest scoop there, he let you get a triple scoop of whatever you want. With sprinkles! (My earthy father never did this, but my Heavenly Father longs to give me even more than I need!)

God gives good gifts. And he is happy to provide for our needs. We just have to trust his timing.

Sometimes I think he likes to wait till the last minute to come through. It’s like he’s just showing off.

I can’t wait to see how he’ll provide the money for this bill. I’m trusting it will be just in time.

Messy

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Clean. Ironed. Pretty. Perfect.

That was always how we were supposed to dress on Sunday mornings.

Going to church was a big part of my childhood, and I’m so thankful for that. But sometimes I tended to think that “Sunday best” is how I’m supposed to approach God.

That I’m supposed to be perfect. Supposed to have washed behind my ears all the thoughts I struggle with, to have ironed away all my desires that aren’t in line with the Bible, to have cleaned under my fingernails to the point that there is no attraction to sin and I am prim and proper and ready to meet His approval.

But that’s not how it is.

He wants me to bring my messiness to Him. My imperfection. My struggles. My failures. My flaws.

Recently I put myself in a situation that I shouldn’t have been in. I should have run far away from this situation, but instead I stood there with the tip of my toe barely touching the water. Thinking that I could stay right there with no consequences and no temptations dragging me into the deep.

Oh, so risky.

Thankfully, the Lord prevented me getting dragged under. But just allowing my toe to come into the vicinity of that water brought a storm of repercussions.

Those around me misunderstood the situation. Fingers were pointed. Rumors were whispered. Those closest to me were confused. I was humiliated and my explanations didn’t go too far. Although I was 99% innocent, I had put myself on a canoe headed for the rapids. And the rapids tore my canoe to shreds.

I made a mess. Lost my job. Lost friendships. Lost respect of so many people I cared about.

Lost my pride…Oh, but that is a good thing. The pride had led me there. Thinking I could get so close to the darkness but not get scarred by it. Thinking I had become so good at my job and so well-respected that nothing could touch me. Ugly. Stinking. Pride.

I made a mess. How could I bring that to God?

But that is what He wants. He wants our messes. He wants the true, raw me. The me that I don’t want anyone to see. No pretense. No perfection.

 

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In 2 Corinthians 4:7 the Bible says, “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” He wants to use us. Messy, basic jars of clay. Nothing fancy on the outside. Probably cracked or chipped. Dusty from the long walk bringing water from the well. Back then clay jars held oil or water mostly. They were useful but not usually pretty. The treasure, the life-giving substance, was inside.

Just like He lives inside me.

This treasure He’s put inside me makes me beautiful. He sees my messy and he makes beauty. He makes beauty from ashes. He redeems everything He touches. That’s the business God is in now. He started out in the Creating business, but now He’s in the Redeeming business.

I’m so thankful.

And now…do I still have a mess to clean up? Yep. It’s not fun. It’s a bit lonely and a lot embarrassing. I’ve got a lot of work to do and I don’t know where God is taking me next. But that’s ok. I know wherever it is, whatever happens, He will be there with me…taking my messy and making it beautiful.  

Before a fall

IMG_5474My pride, my pain

“Pride goeth before a fall.” I used to think this verse, Proverbs 16:8, was just a saying. Or maybe a warning that if you become arrogant something bad might happen to you. Like karma will get you if you’re not nice to the little people. But lately I have come to understand it from quite a different perspective.

You see, that phrase is not a warning. It’s a fact. Like a law of nature. Just like, “What goes up must come down.” Like 2+2=4. Like  the fact that humans must have air to breathe and fish, water to…breathe? I don’t know what fish do with their gills exactly…

The point is that when I hold myself in a place of importance and think I’m better than someone else–or when I think I can ignore God’s laws and do my own thing, because I tell myself I know better–I am actually setting myself up for a fall. It’s not an “if”–if I fall–it’s a “when”–when will it come? It will come. There is no doubt. I will hit a wall and it will be painful.

This is what I realized after spending weeks thinking I could avoid a fall. Feeling indestructible. Getting a high on temporary admiration of other people. Letting the praise of man become more to me than the opinion of my God.

And just like gravity, I fell. And just like a scrapes I got as a kid, this fall was painful.

I knew this would happen. I almost expected it, but hoped it wouldn’t. My pride wounded me more than anyone else could.

But, just like parent there to help up the bruised child, my Father was there. It didn’t take the pain away at first, but his love made it bearable.

My heart still aches a little, and I still have consequences to face–but I know he is with me. He forgave me and he loves me faithfully.

Tonight this old song came to mind, and I believe it was from the Lover of my Soul. He is still with me. He’s still lifting my head. Not wanting me to live in shame

“Thou, O Lord, are a shield about me; You’re my glory, You’re the Lifter of my head…Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, you’re the lifter of my head.”

 

my dreams

I am a dreamer. Not really in the sense of dreaming up lofty or romantic plans for the future. No, I’m actually talking about dreams. Nightly dreams. I dream every night and almost always remember my dreams.

And the weird thing about my dreams, since my divorce, is that almost every single one of them is about a man in love with me. Different men almost every time–sometimes a celebrity, sometimes a stranger–but they are always pursuing a love relationship with me.

These dreams are always pure and sweet. The men, almost always strong and attractive, are always treating me kindly and making me feel cherished. I feel safe and loved when I wake. We go out to eat or take a walk or dance together.

(My favorite dream man is Chris Evans as Captain America–he’s kind, good, gentle, oh so nice to look at!)

For the first few months of having these dreams I thought I was just going through withdrawal from having a husband. Or, I thought, it could be hormones.

However, the dreams continued, and I started to remember a prayer I prayed a while back: “Jesus, help me to understand how much you love me.” I remembered asking Him to reveal how He is the lover of my soul and how His love is greater than any human love.

Then I started to notice verses:

“As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so your God rejoices over you…”       Isaiah 62:5

“Your maker is your husband.”   Isaiah 54:5

There’s also chapter 2 of the book of Hosea where God is showing His unconditional love for us by the story of a man name Hosea who lovingly pursues his wife over and over, even when she cheats on him repeatedly. The story represents how God lovingly pursues our hearts even though we often pursue other things, trying to fill our hearts with hollow pleasures.

All of these things started to fit together, along with my dreams, and I started to realize something: God is pursuing me. He is pursuing my heart, working hard to show me that He is the lover of my soul. He loves me more than any human ever could. He is more faithful than the best husband. He is more wonderful than the best romantic relationship with a man I could ever have. Jesus is the perfect man. He is all I need. He has been reaching out to me through these dreams, making me feel loved and held and protected and cherished. He cares. He really cares. He wants me to feel loved, and He’s been doing it through the little, nightly movies in my head.

Once I realized what was going on I felt special. What an honor that I am getting love messages from the God of the universe–and in the form of superheroes and handsome gentlemen. I feel privileged.

It reminds me of one of my favorite verses: “He brought me to his banquet table; His banner over me is love…” (Song of Solomon 2:4). I just picture a groom standing up at his wedding reception and proclaiming loudly, “I LOVE THIS WOMAN!!” (kind of a verbal banner.) He so cherishes his bride that he wants to proclaim it to the world!

I’ve always wanted someone to feel that way about me…and now I realize Someone does. Jesus has a banner over me that reads “Love.” I am His cherished one. He loves me even more than any husband could.

I am His Beloved.

I’ll end this with a picture of my one and only tattoo. See if you can figure out why I got this word…I needed a daily reminder, and there it is on my wrist. The Lover of my soul calls me His beloved.

facing myself

I don’t know if I’ve endured anything worse than regret. Today I faced regret this bitter as I realized that mistakes I made brought harmful effects on my daughter. 

My selfishness, denial, lying to myself and God; all of these things led to her pain. 

I once endured a five hour taxi ride through the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The driver was taking the steep curves at top speeds while blaring his Arabic music louder than any teenager I’ve ever heard. On top of that, I was sick as a dog. I’d caught the flu-like bacterial souvenir sickness that most Westerners get when visiting North Africa. Between stopping the taxi for me to vomit, I lay on my friend’s lap and passed in and out of consciousness from pain. I remember asking God to take my life. I was so sick that when we arrived in the next city I got out and lay face down on the ground until we found someplace to stay (on the GROUND outside–in AFRICA! I don’t like lying down on the ground in suburban America!). The Moroccans even told my friend I looked bad. 

I’d go through that ride all over again if it would prevent this pain my daughter now faces. 

You see, I now realize something: I wasn’t there for my daughter in one of the hardest times of her life. When I was going through the divorce from her father I was so lonely and hurt. Instead of taking all my pain to God I leaned on a tall, handsome friend (who became my boyfriend after some time). At the time he was there for me, and I felt so much loss that I let him fill that void in me. My mom, being the super grandmother she is, stepped in and spent time with my daughter because I wasn’t. I just stepped back and let her do it. Now, I was around her daily; I took her to school, fed her, put her to bed most nights. But, emotionally I wasn’t available to her. 

Now I see that my selfishness hurt my daughter. As I ran to a person, instead of to God, I abandoned my little girl emotionally, and now she’s unable to trust anyone–even me. Now she and I feel miles apart, despite my best efforts and apologies. 

I think we all tend to run toward someone or something in our pain. For comfort, for distraction, for hope that life will get better. 

“This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.”    Psalm 91:2

Now I want to run to God as my hope, my help, my safe place. When I lean on Him I not only receive hope and comfort, I receive His supernatural strength to still be the mom (woman, employee, friend, etc.) that I need to be. He is the only true hope. The only one I want to run to. 

As far as my daughter goes, I have asked her forgiveness and forgiven myself, and,thankfully, God is able to use my mistakes and weaknesses for good(2 Corinthians 12:9-10). He will turn my mess into something beautiful. And He will be there to heal my daughter’s hurts as she opens her heart to Him.  He is big enough for all of us, His love is unconditional, and He doesn’t give up.