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Friday, June 1, 2007

May You Find Rest / while I'm on vacation

Yes, this is me.. well, in my dreams.... getting ready for vacation tomorrow!!!!

Here is an annotation I had to do at the end of my internship at Grace Ministries, Inc in Atlanta, Ga for Christian Counseling. It is very intimate and I can now hear my husband say, I can't believe you are sharing that. But it is my testimony and I believe God meant for me to share it if it would minister to someone else... I broke it down into days so it doesn't overwhelm you ... unless you are one of those that likes to read the end of the book first,, smile.. then I know you'll read it all.. but that is up to you....

and then omg.. I will be without a computer for a week... my husband thinks I will probably go through DT's... and I think he might be right... but I think it will be good for me to reconnect in all of God's beauty....

Be back in one week...May God bless you and keep you safe...




I remember the time, the place, the temperature and even what I was wearing the morning I prayed with all my heart and soul to grow closer to God. For sometime I had felt I had drawn as close as I could to God. There was a barrier that I could feel but did not know why or what it was. So that cool spring morning, I told God I was ready for a closer relationship with Him at any cost. I cringed as I said it because I knew God would answer me, I just did not know how or at what cost. I felt like God would probably ask me to sacrifice one of the most precious things in my life--my family. What I would later learn though, is that
God loves me and wants only the best for me--His child.

For months I waited for the hammer to drop. I kept striving to draw closer to God. I kept trying to be what I thought God wanted me to be. I grew more and more tired. Six months after my prayer, I was invited to a three day seminar at Grace Ministries. Out of frustration in my spiritual growth, I went. I really have to say I had a hard time grasping the exchanged life concept but something (or Someone- capital S) nudged me to sign up for the five day seminar. And that is when I was hooked. Barry taught our class. He had (has) the most precious spirit. He glows. I wanted what Barry has. Feeling the excitement to what God had in store for me, I pursued the eighteen month internship.

It was cold the week we started the internship or was I nervous? I do not know as I shivered the first three days. Satan had been telling me all week that I would not fit in, I did not have time and that I would be neglecting my family if I did this. When I arrived to the land, I did feel out of place (“see”, said Satan). I knew a few of the people that had been in my three and five day seminars Carol, KC and Jeff. I would learn later that in the beginning Brian thought I was "unapproachable". I did not realize when at the retreat, we would share the most intimate details of our lives. Good thing, because I would not have gone. As a matter of fact, my husband offered to come and get me. He said he could tell in my voice I was panicked and that this time it was really different.

Thanks be to God and to Bruce for intervening and calming my spirit. I remember Bruce asked me if I wanted to go back. I was too tired to turn back. So I said, no I cannot go back. I went back in and joined the others. Once we started, I realized God had sent me an angel. Carmen Meadows shared her history first and we had some similarities in our past. I secretly thanked God. I knew it was of His doing.

So what happened during the retreat? This letter was taken from my journal.

January 2001

I had a divine appointment with God during this retreat. I just did not know ahead of time that God had scheduled this appointment long ago. Thank God, in His faithfulness and patience that I allowed myself this special time to have an intimate relationship with God. WOW!

I had no idea what to expect of the weekend retreat. All I had heard was that it will be the experience of my life. Then, when the retreat started, someone compared the experience to drinking water out of a fire hydrant. Well, AMEN to that!

We all have reasons for coming to Grace and the DTI program. Some start out for one reason and find out God has a completely different plan. Sometimes there is an unrest within our spirits and we can not pinpoint it, but God will show us if we allow Him. And during this weekend retreat, God did just
that for me. He gave me the first symptom. No, He did not tell me what to do about it but He said, this is a start, now we can go somewhere.

I cannot put it into words the experience of bonding with this group of people during the retreat. But if you ask me now, they are some of my best friends. Not only with the group in DTI but also the counselors. The unconditional love from this group is only a taste of God's love for me and for all of us.
And just think, this weekend at the land is only the beginning of my (our) spiritual formation. Hallelujah!!!!!!!!!

Personally, the weekend retreat experience is pretty much revealed in my letter to God. So here it goes.....


Dear God,

Last week, I challenged You. Maybe I even doubted that You could make a difference or even reveal to me why I am stuck in my relationship with You. Yea, even a rut. Ruts are not good. I lost sight of our purpose together.

However, being the God that You are, the Gentleman that You are, You waited! You stood right next to me. And Saturday evening when I said I do NOT trust You--God---look what You have allowed to happen, You just held me and let me cry for the first time. OK, I have said it.... It's out....You are not trustworthy. Are you happy now? I said it.

I am happy because that is exactly why I have been at unrest and unable to be closer to You. I said I give You my life but only under my terms. You can not do this and you can not do that. If you stay away from those areas of my life, then I'll trust you, then I'll follow You.

So, now what do I do? How can I trust You to everything in my life? How? I"m really scared. I want to God but... I don't know.....

I do want to thank You for this past weekend. You were everywhere. I saw Jesus in everyone there. It was the unconditional love, the incredible peace. I was actually special. No one wanted anything from me.

Father, I love you, I love you, I love you. I am excited to have begun this journey with You and all my new friends in Christ. What a gift!!!
I'm leaving the mountain now to go into the "unreal" world but it is ok. I have my sword for battle. Your Son, Jesus Christ.

Your daughter,


The "unreal" world? Most days I feel like my head is swimming. I am overwhelmed with trying to get it right. [1] "I was trusting myself, in my own heart, in my own faith. I was asking the Lord to do something for me because of something in me, not because of something in Him. So the Lord allowed the devil to try my faith, and the devil devoured it like a roaring lion. I found myself so broken down that I did not think I had any faith. God allowed it to be taken away until I felt I had none". That is what was happening. I questioned my faith. I was so worn out and utterly exhausted. My heart knew but my head still got in the way. I found that God whispers to me. I strain to hear His words. He says the same thing to me but I still do not get it. God whispers, "rest in me--My child". Rest? God does not get it or understand. I cannot rest. I have so much to do. But wow God, I am really tired. I sleep but I do not rest. Rest does sound good. But you know God, I am like the [2] "anxious Christian where it is easier to do something for God than to wait for God to do something through us". I am learning though, it takes so much effort on my part and my ways. I am really growing so tired.

Did I tell you? God wrote me the other day.


Dear Child,

Yes, you are a child. You are My child! I realize you have never been or felt like a child. You have been grown up for a long time and in control of your own life. But child, I want you to be that little child and for you to just "rest". I know you do not trust me or anyone for that matter. You have many whys to the hurts you have to yet be revealed. I want you to know that I am right here. Even when you feel alone, I am here. I will always be here.

I know your heart little one. I know you love Me and wish to please Me. But I wish to please you too. You can come to Me and tell Me of your hearts desires. It's ok. Yes, you are worthy. Yes, you do deserve the abundant life I have to offer you.

I know that you are still struggling with resting in Me. I know that you struggle with being at peace. I see how you pace the floors. And how you withdraw from those who love you. It hurts Me to see you hurt. The other day you called to Me and asked me to take over and help you. But you got up and left the room trying to run from Me. You got scared. You called Me again but again you ran before I could comfort you. How I long for you to sit with Me and let Me embrace you with all My love.

I promise one day this will all make sense. But for now, I do love you and in time, you will come to know that love. You will come to trust me and know how precious you are to Me.

Come to Me, My child and rest......just rest.....

I love you,


What is up with all this rest thing? Oh, I see, You don't mean rest like sit around and do nothing. Is this like what Jesus said? (Matt 11:28-30)"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light". The rest is like love, healing, and peace with God. I think I am beginning to understand.

As I am learning to rest 3”the rumors of angels" (God's voice) tells me that I must renew my mind with the truth. My bondage has always been the feeling that I was not good enough. But watch me, I am tough. I can do whatever you want me to and I will give it my everything. It's ok. If you hurt my feelings, I am resilient. I can bury the hurt quickly. I will not bring it back up, see, I forgave you. Peace at all cost. And that, is what it has cost----All----everything!

Bruce via the Holy Spirit would take me where I had never dared to go before. I had spent so much time and effort running from---it. Now, You say I have to go back? It--- is ugly. It--is horrible. I am afraid it will devour me, again. I do not know if I can survive --it--- again.

It--- touches every sense and every emotion. My eyes cannot bear to look at it. It does not look like anything you can imagine. It's odor burns my nose and makes my eyes water. The worst part is when it talks to me. It shouts---things like "you are such a pitiful worthless horrible person. No one loves you, they don't even like you". It makes me cry, seethe with anger and want to run away. I guess
that is how I survived, I ran away.

I ask You, God, where were You? Why did I not feel your love? Should I have prayed harder to feel Your love? Where was it? Oh, I see.....You say.. My love has always been poured onto you abundantly. It is you that did not receive my love.

I think about it... It has hurt me all through my life. It tore holes into my body and soul. The core of my being. But I did not allow You, God to heal these wounds. I did it for you. Unfortunately, I used the only materials I knew of, withdrawal, overindulgence, anger, resentment, distrust and many other
coping mechanisms.

Now God, you want to remove the covering that I used to patch up these wounds, my only protection. These patches really stick. As I am growing in You, the patches pull and are very painful. These patches are of the stickiest substance I have ever known. When I try to remove them, the patches really hurt. I want to cry but the tears cannot make it through the sticky covering. What will protect me if these patches come off?

I want to feel God's love. He has poured it over me but I do not receive it. The patches not only keep out the pain, but also keeps God's love from me. And I cannot grow. The pain has become unbearable.
So now, I am to go back to ---it. Bruce reminds me that God is right with me. I tell him in unspoken words to prove it. So Bruce does or should I say, The Holy Spirit accepts the task. We go back. This time, My father holds my hand. I shake. I try to close my eyes, maybe it will go away. But we walk forward, towards it. The Father says, open your eyes. I do. It isn't like I remembered. It is not as big and ugly as I remember. It actually would not look at me this time. It said nothing to me. I look at the Father, my Father, and He smiles.

Something is taking place. I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted from me. (...My burden is light—God whispers), This trip was when the first patch was removed. One edge of the covering came loose. How painful, I cried. The tears poured out over the patches. There were so many tears. Tears like never before. And the tears softened the patches. It made the patches easier to remove. As the first patch was removed, the most beautiful, softest skin was exposed. I touched the place where the patch had been, how precious, like that of a newborn baby. God whispers, "this is how I see you".


In Preston and Anabel Gillhams book, [4] "In His Grace, I rest. Many times I go through the first steps but never experience victory because I do not feel victorious. I must walk in the complete assurance--the firm conviction- that He has taken care of the situation ... whether I feel any different or not".

I can truly say that most of the time (as opposed to never) I do "rest" in knowing God is in control. I can now tell God thank you for the trials in my life because I know that He trust me with the challenge. And yes, I can say thank you for the blessings, because I am worthy to be blessed.

The other night I had a dream. I was next to a dam and the dam broke. The waters were fast and furious. I was washed away with the waters. I rode along the top of the waters for a long ways, and then I came to the end to a still pool. The water was crystal clear, it was so calm, so beautiful, and so peaceful. There were all these beautiful seashells everywhere. Too many for me to gather. For days I thought of this dream. God has whispered , "peace and rest, My beloved child."

Seashells have always been like treasures from heaven. I recently took a trip to the beach. I have always found peace and rest there, maybe because it is God in His purest form.

There is a new season here and the waters are no longer tame. Nature seems to know and obeys God’s commands. There are storms this time of year. The waves crash, they seem to know something. The skies are dark as they too, appear to have a secret.

Even in nature’s wrath, I see God’s beauty, the seashells. I can get lost for hours collecting shells. We are like the seashells, no two alike. Many carry their own uniqueness just as we do. Some are plain but carried a special purpose. Some are big, some are small but all are beautiful. Many of the shells I find are broken. Am I not broken?

I see a seashell radiant in color. I pick it up. It is broke but its’ color is breath taking. I put it in my pocket. God is like that. Even in our non-perfect state, He gathers us up in His hand, puts us in His pocket and takes us home.

As I continue my search of shells, I do not even notice the man of war (the father of lies-John 8:44). There it was hidden in the beauty. I had stepped on it but its sting is gone. And furthermore, God has used it for the good. I notice a little crab has come to take home his food. The sudden threat replaced with assurance of God’s plan.

As I continue my walk, I notice I am no longer focused on myself but those things around me. Was that not God’s plan all along, that I would be fruitful; pour myself out to others and wanting nothing for myself? My journey has only just begun in serving God and serving others in His love. And in ten years from now, if I see you, I will tell you, I have only just begun my journey.

As I walk back home, the black clouds pour out their tears. The winds whisper and the ocean mist brushes my face. And there it is, a light shining through the darkness, it is the “Son”. I smile and say, thanks Dad!

Connie Barris
June, 2003

[1] Simpson, A.B. Himself, a Timeless Testimony
[2] McVey, Steve, Grace Walk
[3] Manning, Brennan, Abba’s Child
[4] Gillham, Preston & Anabel, A Study of the Mind

5 little hearts from you...:

Nise' said...

Enjoy your vacation. I am going to read 1 entry a day so I won't miss you too much!

Denise said...

Enjoy your time away, refresh your beautiful self. I love you, will be keeping you in my prayers.

Denise said...

Such a beautiful, powerful testimony.

TammieFay said...

Hope you had a great time away and you are refreshed mind, body and soul! Have missed you. Your testimony is such a blessing. Thanks for sharing it!

Gretchen said...

Thank you for sharing this, Connie. I am so blessed.