One Size Fits… Um No

I confess– I have a tendency to be a serial unasked-for advice giver. I can’t help it. I know others can glean from my experience-gained wisdom. Right?

Except that’s never how it’s taken.

If I’m honest, it’s also not how I take it from others, either, even though I try to be polite and respectful.

The old cliche’ about judging a book by its cover fits here well. How often do we hear or read something someone says and opine that we know the solution to their problem? After all– it worked for us, so it will work 1000000% for all– right?

Well, no. It won’t.

Nothing about me or my life is ever a one-size-fits-all fit.

Even Scripture is not a one-size-fits-all life application. I mean– it is– but it applies in endless ways. Some Scripture is the same for everyone. Like John 3:16-17. And most Scripture will help us achieve the same outcome as others, but it applies individually and uniquely over every life it touches.

Because it’s the Living Word of God.

It’s not a one-size-fits-most bandaid or covering. It’s the healing/repair balm uniquely designed to fit our specific needs.

God’s Word is not reactionary to us, it’s designed for us to respond to it.

Unlike our random acts of unasked-for advice-giving.

I have so much more to learn about letting God love others through me.

His ways are so much better than mine.

Your Discomfort Is Not My Responsibility

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When we started dating, my husband, bless his heart, listened to so many stories from my past. He was my true friend– still is. He didn’t live through the same kinds of pain, and maybe he didn’t really want to hear what I was telling him about– but he did. I know he did, because he can still tell me things I told him about back then. He listened, and he remembers.

There are moments when I’m reminded just how separated from most people my experiences have shaped me to be. While I no longer hold onto anger, grudges or the pain of most, those experiences are still very important parts of who I am and why I am the way I am. But– why have I had to have so many of them? I have too much to add to some conversations, and nothing to add to most. Small talk is easier now, but it used to be impossible.

How I wish I didn’t have so much to say about some very difficult things. Most people have one or two, maybe three tough life experiences. If I stopped to count, I could name at least 8– ranging from spirit-breaking to devastating to near-death.

I’ve met very few that could honestly say the same, to the same degree as my own.

This causes me to realize just how alone I really am.

Certain songwriters’ lyrics speak to issues and express feelings I haven’t been able to give my own words to. I was surprised to hear Plumb’s story recently. I thought for sure she must have lived through similar devastating life circumstances to my own, because her words reach down into depths I had forgotten existed in my own past. What she has experienced are not light matters, it just wasn’t what I expected because of the impact her music has had on me. NF is another one that has a few songs that reach the depths of my spirit and my painful past, sometimes so deeply I have to stop listening to it. Through his music, I would guess he’s at a place in his healing that I’ve already passed through in much of mine, so sometimes his lyrics cause me to go back to the negative view of things God has already visited and healed in me.

My point in writing this is– I know I will never “fit in”.¬† I’m ok with that, now, I just recognize it for what it is. I recognize and I now just accept that if I mention or blog about something that nearly broke me in my past, a rare few stop to listen/read.

They don’t hear what God claims as victory in me.

I think some would rather I stay silent about those uncomfortable things because they don’t have to acknowledge them. Some think I haven’t moved past things if I bring them up. Some feel uncomfortable if others hear.

It happened to me.

It happened. To me.

Don’t they think I feel uncomfortable having to live with those memories, and the shame attached to them?

But– as long as I go out of my way to make everyone else feel comfortable by never mentioning publicly what has been constantly uncomfortable for me– it’s ok. Because they aren’t uncomfortable, and it’s got to be all about me making sure no one feels any discomfort around me because of circumstances outside of my control. That happened. To me.

I try very hard to be gentle in what I share. But to remain silent about it because of the expectations of others feels like I’m being shoved into that box I’m not meant to go into.

The comfort of others is not my responsibility, and it never should have been something anyone has expected me to go out of my way to ensure for others.

The subjects that were the main theme of my past are more than anyone was meant to carry. I’m not carrying that burden of protecting everyone from knowing what happened to me, anymore. That is not my calling. Because to not be upfront about what God has had to do in my life to help me be a normal, functioning woman, is to suppress the glory and praise God alone deserves. The discomfort or embarrassment others experience at hearing about what I have had to survive is not my responsibility.

I’m not going to be silenced by silent or verbal disapproval.

If they care at all about me, they will instead rejoice at what God has done and is still doing in my life– every time I mention it. They would praise and thank God for working unseen from most so that I am still alive, instead of them wishing, maybe, that I weren’t. If someone is embarrassed by something that happened to me because I mention it, the problem is with them, not with me.

People have to know what happened to me so they can praise and thank God for what He did when He rescued me.

And, He has rescued me. More than once.

If you have a broken limb, everyone sees the cast, and most will ask what happened. I’ve had a broken life, and if people were paying attention, they would have seen that. Since the things that broke my spirit are hidden, people want them to remain hidden so they don’t have to be inconvenienced by knowing.

I see that as a problem, never a solution.

That whole #MeToo campaign gave me hope that finally victims would be able to speak out, and be received with hearts of compassion. How disappointing that it’s become a mockery to victims, and I do not mean the fake ones paid to lie to ruin reputations! That needs to be exposed! Where is justice for the real victims of sexual assault? Not the “He said I look pretty.” garbage!

I am a survivor of real sexual abuse, who can claim victory. #MeToo #VictimToVictor #TheTruthHasSetMeFree

Those who don’t want me to speak out can #GetOverIt.

 

 

 

 

 

Suppression

With all the recent scandals from Hollywood and politicians, I’m again thinking about my own past of sexual abuse, and different reactions I’ve experienced about how I do/don’t do things.

First, I’ll share some of my background.

I was molested by my dad as a young girl. That in and of itself is still a humiliating experience for me. I’m still emotionally sensitive at times and in different situations. It’s just the first abusive situation I experienced, but it’s the foundation of abuse in my history, so it’s my focus today.

Bringing it up now and admitting my emotions can still be affected by the memories– at times, the nightmares– does not mean I’m not healed, that I haven’t forgiven him or that I am stuck in the past. These are some of the reactions I can count on getting nearly every time I mention it.

No matter the reasoning behind my dad’s actions against me– it still happened.

So, when I see and hear things people say to others, it frustrates me. Things like– “Pick up the broken pieces, and move on.”

Well– start where in picking them up? To me, this is like telling a person with 2 broken legs to just stand up and walk away.

Everything about me was broken. I say was, because God picked up my broken pieces, and He helped me move forward– towards Him.

But, you know who didn’t? People. The Body of Christ didn’t. Once when I asked for special counseling from a Pastor’s wife, she blamed me for causing problems with my reactions to having been hurt!

Much of my life I have fought to be heard. Most of my childhood I struggled with being seen and learning how to fit in. All of my victim-hood I’ve fought to survive.

You won’t believe the attacks of my mind, my heart and my body that I experienced as a result of what was done TO me. I fought to get away. I tried to run away. I tried to make it stop by taking my own life away from it– physically– forever. Thankfully God intervened and had Compassion for me.

These were my wrong reactions and thought-processes growing up– I cut because I was numb and that made me feel something. I starved myself because I deserved to be punished because I must have been an awful person for that to have happened to me. I clung too tightly to guys I just wanted to love me– I just wanted to be loved and valued. I thought if I removed myself, I would no longer cause problems for my dad– because he told me that.

My mom did all she could to protect me and handle an impossibly difficult situation. She sent me where she knew I would be safe during the summer years of my childhood– to her parents. I don’t know what they knew, I only know I was told to never ever talk to anyone about things. You see– I didn’t even know that my mom knew. I thought I was completely alone, and had to fend for myself all alone. But, she was looking out for me.

Pick up the pieces and move on…

When you’re self-perception has been damaged through the mental abuse of someone else that should be trusted to protect and build you up– how do you move forward? Where is forward? Which way is up? Because everything I knew was filtered through that experience and how others reacted to me.

It’s by the Grace of God and my mom that I survived my childhood years.

I am not hanging onto what happened. Talking about it doesn’t mean I’m hanging on to it. Hopefully talking about it will extend a lifeline to someone else who may need someone to look out for and reach out to them.

God has brought me through it, to the other side. I don’t need pity of the stuff of feeling sorry for me, or counseling.

My purpose for writing this is– those “encouraging” sayings do not help real people with real needs.

Picking up the broken pieces for me, at that time, meant the equivalent of picking them up and then walking barefoot through more broken, sharp pieces. I saw no clear path, until God in His Mercy reached out to me and pulled me out of it.

He had to carry me, because I was far too broken to walk on my own.

For those who are broken– you can Trust God. I promise! His ways are gentle and kind– and always perfect.

For those who are unbroken observers– Please– Allow God to work through you to reach out and help the broken with more than cute sayings that often feel more like salt poured into open wounds than healing balm.

Pray at all times, without ceasing, giving thanks to God above for one another. Especially those that you just don’t understand. Don’t turn a cold shoulder, don’t be short or abrupt– that helps no one, but instead often feels like condemnation poured-out on those who might be crushed under the weight of it. God is not in that.

Love is Patient. Love is Kind. Love does not dishonor others. Love is not self-seeking– Love does not prefer its own opinion over the needs of others.

My Open Letter To Pastors Everywhere– You Need To Get This


Dear Pastors,

Over the past 20 years I have been moved from place to place, sometimes by God, sometimes for personal reasons. 

That is why I’m writing this.
I am no one special. I have no title, no grand purpose or calling. I am like many within your flock, under your care– part of your Divine calling and purpose.

I am a member of the Body of Christ, and that means something more to me than merely being a member of a local church.

I have been given talents by God, and I strive to use them to help further His Kingdom purpose.  I have been given a heart of flesh that longs to please God. I love people, I love Jesus, and I love serving God as He calls me to.

I have seen where church leadership has some blindspots. I am asking you, humbly, as one who loves God and people–  please– drop all defensiveness and listen.

I believe that God has called Pastors and all church leaders to love His people as He loves His people, not to just instruct us about the Word of God. Not one of us is in the same part of the narrow road, nor have we walked with the same steps or strides. In fact, there are some who are crawling, there are some who are stopped– waiting on God to give them clear direction– direction that oftentimes comes through you.

Every Pastor wants the congregants who are running the race perfectly, with all the energy necessary to carry out the plans and purposes of the ministries churches offer. There are people who are called and able to fulfill those Pastoral dreams. 

I want to tell you, many simply are not. Many are trying to work out their Salvation with fear and trembling. Some want to please church leadership, but they are burnt out by doing so. Some feel weighted down by life. Some have been crippled by life’s circumstances, and they can’t “perform” as is often necessary. These are the people you are leaving behind. These are the ones you are hurting. Some of these equate how you treat them with how God wants them to be treated– and that is breaking God’s heart.

I want to encourage you to look at every person as the individual that God has created them to be.

We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and God has entrusted you with the loving care to help nurture and grow even the most unloveable Christian.

I believe God wants to release His healing within His Body. Hurts caused by our own family in Christ. Reconciliations. Letting go of offenses. Repentance for how we all treat one another.

I believe He wants to begin from the top of the leadership down through the entire congregation.

What does this look like? More ministries for congregants, not just opportunities to serve. Listening more carefully. Being approachable, a healthy relationship attainable outside of jumping through specific hoops to prove worthiness of your time, attention and appreciation. 

Removal of any “hierarchy” mindset that in any way belittles your congregants in your eyes.

There are millions of Pastors, and every one of you is a unique individual created by God, just like all of your congregants are. 

I pray you will read this, that you will seek God concerning this. Not because I am asking, but because God’s Judgment begins in the House of The Lord. We all need to be far more sensitive to God’s Spirit than we are to the opinions of ourselves and others.

God’s love is not tough, it’s full of compassion, patience and deep understanding.

So should we all be towards one another.

Sincerely,

Your Sister In Christ

He Watches Me

ūüéĶ”I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free. His eye is on the sparrow, I know He watches me.”ūüéĶ


This song is a comforting reminder– Jesus sees what no one else sees concerning me.

And then, there is the realization– Jesus sees what no one else sees concerning me… He looks over the walls I have built. He sees when I cry, when I binge eat, what I watch on tv. He sees what affects me, what bothers me, what tempts me or distracts me– what pulls me away from Him.

He watches me. 

What does that look like? 

I probably couldn’t identify all the ways my heart, mind and consciousness react when I think about Jesus watching me. I mean– seriously– He’s watching me. 

Not in a creepy way.  Not to inspire fear of harm. Not in a mocking way. 

His plans aren’t to harm me, or make fun of me. He doesn’t elbow God the Father in the ribs and say, “Whoa! Did you see that?? What an idiot!”

He’s not plotting my demise. He’s not shouting at me, like I do at my tv, when He doesn’t agree with what I say or do.

He is nothing like me. I need to just let that sink in.

He doesn’t conform to my ways– no matter how good I think my ways are. 

He doesn’t reject me for not doing things the way that He would.

He is full of abundant life.

If we tapped our understanding into the reality of Who He is, we would be walking in His power. Miracles would not be the exception, they would become the standard.

Peace would permeate every space our feet touched, spreading His Word.

Demons, which we’ve been convinced don’t really bother us anymore, would flee in terror because they would recognize not us– Jesus living through us.

Our bodies would be purged of all infirmities and all desire for unrighteousness. We would be transformed in our minds, in our hearts and in word and deed.

We are new creations through Christ Jesus– the problem is, we have no idea how powerful that transformation really is when we fully embrace it.

That is why Christians are persecuted. Because of the potential, transforming power of Christ surging through us, coursing through our veins, into all of the earth. 

We see these movies and tv shows about people and super heroes with super powers. Jesus is more powerful than every one of them combined. And WE know Him!!! He lives inside of us!

Think about that.

If we trade in all of our earthly valuables for Him fully– what would that look like?

We have the potential to demonstrate the most powerful abilities– far more powerful than Hollywood could ever make up. Love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, healing, wisdom, compassion… Discerning where God is at work, and not falling into the critical-of-everything trap…

The thing is, I think we don’t often explore that because,  really– how does that benefit us? How does it make us look cool, or appear sexy? How does it multiply our bank accounts and possessions? How does it help our reputations– seriously– who wants to leave everything, to lay down their life– for real? Does Jesus really expect us to do any of that? I mean– He knows our hearts, right?

Right. He knows our hearts. He’s known our hearts since before we were even formed within our mother’s womb. 

He sees it all, He sees our hearts all the time, not just the times we want Him to.

He died for us, in our place, despite our hearts.

Our hearts should experience a massive change once we allow Him to be our Lord and our Savior. Our hearts should be redeemed by Him.

There is another aspect, though. Jesus knows because He is also human. He has both– God’s heart and a human heart. He understands our limitations from within and without.

And still, His thoughts towards each one of us outnumber the grains of sand– on every beach, every ocean floor, collected as souvenirs, combined throughout all of the earth’s history.

It’s overwhelming to think on and to appreciate the fullness of Who and all He is.

Is Church Membership A Two-Way Street? 

Over the past few years, my husband and I have gotten involved with several ministries. We’ve gone to churches or chapels. We’ve gone through membership classes, fulfilled membership requirements– jumped through those expected hoops…

Then we moved, as is the military way. We’ve lived Stateside twice, for a combined 3 1/2 year total of our 19 years of marriage and military life together. 

Church membership, in my understanding, is different than any other membership. We are already members of The Body of Christ. Does moving just dissolve the local church membership? It doesn’t for me.

I carry some deep-seated disappointment and hurt, I’ll be honest, from our last church membership. More than just moving unexpectedly.

I hoped to be embraced by the church community when we joined with them. It’s such a large community, I don’t even think people knew, or cared, that we decided to make that committment. No one outside of our small class of people welcomed us. We were allowed to go to the business meetings where they were transparent about using the tithes and offerings– but there was also the expectation for us to give– sometimes until it hurt as we trusted God– to support their ministries. 

To be fair, our first Christmas there, they gave us gift cards that added up to $200 for Walmart. We needed coats and winter clothing, coming from a tropical climate. We needed groceries, dealing with less money. It was humbling, and appreciated. But, there was no conversations with us, just someone handing us a card, and maybe a gift basket– I wish I could remember it better. I think it was outer appearance they judged our need on, because no one ever asked us anything, no one took time to hear what we all had going on.

While we were there, I got very sick. There were doctors visits, blood tests, exams, other tests– some very painful or uncomfortable. I had blood tests done over several years past that had problems revealed and recorded, but no one had ever told me or did tests to diagnose the causes. 

I wasn’t able to serve as my heart really wanted. I tried to communicate to leadership a couple times about my limitations and my need for prayer, but honestly– I never felt heard, and I did feel judged because of my lack of involvement, or needing to sit down when I tried to serve with the Thanksgiving ministry. 

On top of health concerns, we had one vehicle, new to us but on it’s last legs. Having spent the majority of our marriage living overseas, we had to start our household all over again. Taking that assignment also meant taking a pay-cut for my husband, and we owned nothing in the states. We had so many obstacles to overcome.

I went from driving on the left side of the car and road, to the right, slow speeds to fast, terrifying highways… Driving anywhere was an enormous stress, scared I’d wreck our only car, nervous I’d drive on the wrong side of the road or get confused… I was a wreck!! 

The church environment was one unlike I had ever really experienced. Instead of any type of an outreach for people new to the area, there was this expectation that we just “jump in.” 

I was overwhelmed– entirely.

I was scared about my health– at one point I honestly thought I might be dying. 

I was drowning just trying to stay afloat and maneuver this new, kind of cold, environment.

Thank God I have a healthy marriage!! 

My husband and I were quick to try to jump into music ministry, as we have everywhere we are, as much as we could. Even that was a new experience– from having to audition, to figuring how to fit my music skill into a completely new dynamic– it started on a high note, but faltered completely by the time God decided to surprise us and move us on. We were actually looking into buying a home and settling there, but God had different plans for us.

I’m not a very social face-to-face person, and I found it incredibly difficult to find even one close friend.  I tried over and over. I met so many nice people at that church, and I did find friends through our writing group outside of the church we were at. But, in the church I felt like I was held an arm’s length away by most people. They were polite, and extremely helpful in so many ways– I love the people. But no one asked about me. No one asked how I was adjusting. No one was interested at all in things I had experienced living in another nation, or as a military spouse, or even as a Veteran.

I was surrounded by so much activity, so much joy– I don’t think I’ve ever felt lonelier.

Overwhelmed, I tried to give all I could, but the more I didn’t get back, the more my attitude about having to jump through hoops that I honestly wasn’t able to jump through soured.

After months of medical tests, including 2 different MRI’s, a full body x-ray, some horrible test of my nerves that I couldn’t even finish– my main doctor gave me a partial diagnosis– some rare, unnamed immune disease I was born with but didn’t know I had. 

My whole life I’ve fought to overcome this tiredness that I learned was actually a physical fatigue. Daily life wears me out. Interacting with people, especially in groups, often leaves me feeling overwhelmed and exhausted– sometimes to the point of tears.

I remember, over 20 years ago, crying out to God during a time I was dealing with fatigue, He spoke into my spirit– “I will bring friends to you. I will bring ministry opportunities to you. You can rest in Me.”

So, I waited on the Lord, and He has been so wonderful to me!

He brought my husband *to* me. He brought a new career and love of teaching violin *to* me. He brought me ministry opportunities and friends who really know me *to* me through various online avenues.

The church we left was a place I had to go to to exert myself in ways that left me not just depleted of energy, but empty emotionally. It wasn’t a refuge– not for me, anyway. 

The small group setting was really nice and friendly, but when it was over, most people there moved on and forgot about me. Not everyone, but most.

The church is there for ministry– even for its own members. I needed to be ministered to, I needed what the people weren’t equipped to provide. I felt no one cared. Even when I asked for prayer. Since we moved nearly 2 years ago, not one of the leaders has kept in real contact with us or inquired after us in anyway. There is no interaction over Facebook at all, no messages– nothing. 

We became members, but they never joined with us. 

I will say, 3 or 4 of the members still interact with us, and I am so thankful we’ve stayed in contact. They are truly amazing people.

There is an expectation that as Christians we should just be able to stand on our own, to fit into those premade “molds” everyone *has* to fit in. But, I don’t. So then– what? I’m just on my own because I don’t meet the expected standards? 

Will church leaders ever stop to assess the damage caused to members through expectations and standards? Will they begin to look for each individual’s best interest here on earth, as we participate and join together to be about our Father’s business?

One can only hope. 

 

Excitement with the Familiar

When my husband asked me to marry him, I was so excited I did cartwheels! I couldn’t wait to tell everyone, to show them my ring!

Compare that to the day I was baptized, as an adult at 22. Excited– because I was following after Jesus. In my spirit I felt the love of God as though the sunlight were shining on my face. But I didn’t do cartwheels, or run to tell everyone and show them my certificate of Baptism.

I believe each Christian denomination gets some things right. 

With Charismatics, I see the passion they get at excitement with familiarity with God, as a strength. They embrace the outward expression of God answering prayers and helping in times of trouble by dancing, raising their hands, even thanking God out loud. 

I believe God wants us to demonstrate unreserved excitement sometimes when He responds to our prayers. That He wants us to reach up outwardly, surrendering pride of appearance to Him. Like a child, unable to contain their joy over something they love, I think there are times He wants us to worship Him with that complete abandonment of everything that restrains us.

What would that look like for you?

Simple Gospel


John 3:17– “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
And yet–

We constantly see judgement coming from those of us who claim we belong to Him.

We have redefined judgement as love, giving ourselves excuses to do exactly what God did not send Jesus into the earth to do.

God alone is judge. We are not equal to Him, we serve Him. If He made it clear in His preserved Word for us that He didn’t send His Son here to judge the world– why do we believe that’s what He’s calling us to do? 

God has bound Himself to His Word. His Word tells us to love one another.

Love does not include our well-meaning criticism. It does not look like what we define it to be, at all.

Love endures all things.

Love looks past what we opine as being flaws.

Love encourages.

Love is gentle.

Love is kind.

Love leaves evidence of Grace everywhere it touches.

Love gives.

Love forgives.

Love is impossible without God. 

I believe we can often be so focused on the speck in someone’s eye, we miss the log in our own.

Though we are individuals in Christ, God is unchanging. Just as He is bound to His Word, we are also bound to His Word– Jesus is the Word, and we have been given the written Word to help keep us grounded in Him firmly. There is a danger when we stop measuring everything against what is found in Scripture.

God has chosen love as the vehicle to give us Hope, He has chosen Jesus, His nonjudgemental Son, as the Savior of the world.

He has called us to be wise as serpents, yet gentle as doves, as we wear the sandals of peace to spread the Good News.

He has called us to fast for Him to remove unbelief. 

He has told us through His Word that the battle belongs to Him, that vengeance belongs to Him. We must be so careful to make sure our actions and words are lined-up accurately with His written Word.

He speaks to His people, today. But He never strays from His written Word.

Who are we listening to? 

The more complicated we make things, the more exhausted we become. 

The Gospel message is simple. Always.

Luke 2:11″For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes upon Him shall have everlasting life.”

Fighting An Invisible Enemy

girl-blowing-glitter

 

I have an invisible enemy. I’ve fought against it for as long as I can remember. This enemy does not fight fair. It hides in the shadows. I have exhausted myself many times throughout my lifetime trying to fight back, but it dodges every retaliatory jab.

My enemy catches me off-guard, though less often now. It strikes with the intention of crippling my efforts. It dismantles my credibility. Mocks my accomplishments, experience and concerns, rendering them invaluable– useless. It attempts to define me as “too emotional”, “uneducated”, “ridiculous” or “ignorant”. It laughs at me, or rolls its eyes with a sarcastic dismissal of my importance.

It steals my confidence– tries to steal my joy.

I’ve learned to stand back and just observe how this enemy attacks and come to recognize that part of its victory over me has been through the use of decoys. It’s as though I am blindfolded, and I think I know its location through a sound or a movement. But, when I attempt to retaliate, I punch through thin air, exhausting– even injuring– myself in the process.

It’s impossible to fight this enemy.

In an effort of self-protection, I surround myself with people who have proven their trustworthiness to me over time. People who value me and don’t laugh at my creativity, experience, or blow off my concerns. Sometimes those people disappoint me.

I have begun to realize, the best way to defeat this enemy is to guard myself during its assailment and then assess the damage.

The damage hardest to overcome or heal from is the friendly fire. I know my visible enemies will not care about or recognize the truth over their opinion of me, so their words no longer hurt me. But, those closest to me– their opinion becomes the fiery darts my enemy uses to go straight to my heart.

When I remember to hide in the shadow of God’s wings, the damage is minimal, often non-existent.  Psalm 63:7 reminds me: “For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy”. Hosea 14:7 encourages me that:  “Those who live in his shadow Will again raise grain, And they will blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon”.

Then I know, the only thing that ever matters is God. He sees all, knows all, and He’s with me every step of the way, guiding me with the light of His Word, working through me regardless of how useless or unimportant any person believes me to be.

God is my strength, and He helps me defeat the intentions of my invisible enemy, by praying and believing God’s Word– His promises. Every time.

The Spiritual Damage Of Anorexia

I’m a former anorexic and bulimic, reformed through Christ. This post has been a long time coming.

To look at me now you can’t tell I was near death at one point from practicing anorexia.

The Spiritual consequence is what I want to get into with this post. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about that before.

Fasting is an important part of our growing relationship with God. When we fast unto God, we deny our flesh to set aside our physical wants and needs temporarily to focus on seeking God. We fast to repent, seek God, grow in our faith and understanding, and to actively put Him completely first. The focus is God, not our body, not the avoidance of food.

Anorexia is a tool the devil uses to corrupt that. Fasting not only becomes an obsessive practice of focus on ourselves. Opportunities open for the demonic to gain footholds in our lives, choices, beliefs, vision, perspective and practices. The devil sells us the idea we can obtain perfection.

When Jesus is our Lord and Savior, God sees us as perfect because Christ is in us.

Through the practice of Anorexia, the devil causes deformity within our spirits and our understanding. The devil clouds our vision, and converts our perception to a distorted view and belief system– the belief that our body is the enemy we need to fight against.

The Bible is clear that our battle is not against flesh and blood. We are transformed through the renewing of our minds, new creations through Christ Jesus.

Striving for perfection, we work hard for acceptance and approval of the world. But like a small kid in a game of Keep Away, or Monkey In The Middle, we never lay hold of it. The constant effort steals focus, energy, confidence– reality. The bar gets raised higher. It’s always just… out of…

Reach

God accepts and approves of us because of Jesus. We don’t have to prove our worth to Him because Jesus showed us how much He values us by dying on the cross, and rising up again. We are wanted, welcomed by God.

Jesus made it possible to have acceptance from our Creator. We can have a relationship with Perfection Himself, and He is working to make us the best version of ourselvesРfor His glory.

We have a choice: We can work really hard for a distorted version of perfection that’s never within reach. Or we can rest in God’s approval and meet Him in the changes He makes as He perfects us His way.

I have experienced both. I prefer God’s way.

Scars– Survivor’s Thick Skin

I have scars.

Some are easily seen. Like the one on my hand where I got stitches from grabbing a knife out of a distressed friend’s hand. He was threatening self-harm.

Tonka The Mountain Lion

Some are hidden. I have scars in my scalp from an attack by a playful young mountain lion my aunt kept and adopted from a hunting trip. When my fingers locate the indented bite marks my hair now hides, it seems as though the scars remember the trauma– the pain. All that blood… I can still almost taste the metallic flavor as it as¬† gushed out of the fresh wounds, covering my face. The rush of fear– I had no idea how to get away from Tonka cougar’s implanted teeth in my scalp. The tears. The shock as my aunt just stood there, watching, with what I remember as being a curious and possibly slightly amused look on her face. Her husband grabbed a towel and somehow got my head out of Tonka’s clenched jaw. I don’t remember being separated from my new “friend’s” grasp. I vaguely remember being in the ER, having my head bandaged. The rest is hidden in my memory, deep beneath those still sensitive-to-touch scars.

There is a Proverb that says– “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” (Proverbs 27:6) I’m not sure I can apply this one to what happened with Tonka.

Then there are inner scars that no one person see. The ones that form over our emotions. The ones that guard our hearts. They cover our memories, stretching over wounds as a protective layer. They remind us to avoid people and situations that cause us pain. They encourage research into preventative measures. They might even be what makes us want to build up protective walls– to keep similar pain out.

Maybe they are the walls…

I have hidden scars. From an abusive childhood. From people who called themselves my friends, but never really followed through. From a devastating first marriage.

I have other scars I call regrets. Wow did I do stupid things! I had no self worth. I was beat down by the words of my dad on a regular basis, convinced what he said about me was how everyone saw me. Worthless. Good for nothing. In the way. Why was I even born?

I am thankful that God swooped down and rescued me the times I almost gave in and gave up.

He was my Comforter. He was my  Rescuer. My Protector. In later years He also became my Shield.

He brought people, one at a time, into my life. He worked through them to help me. He helped me find the path to trust and healing.

My list of traumatic life experiences is longer than many people’s. I hate that so much! Not because I would ever want anyone to experience more. Because each situation where the scars have sealed-off painful memories, is horrible.

I have fought a tremendous uphill battle just to be normal. I fought to have a healthy mind. I’m fighting to have a healthy body.

I have hated my life for most of my existence. Except where God made the changes that delivered me from being bitter, hate-filled and angry. I love that He has healed and transformed me to the me I am now. Believe meРI was beyond  repair. Consumed by anger for my dad. Filled with hatred for my neglectful, abusive, rapist-coward of an ex-husband.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real. I look at who I was before I allowed Him to walk with me, and I feel a sense of shock that He didn’t just have me removed from the face of the earth.

He healed me. He revealed a deeper love for me than anyone had ever shown to me.

All I ever really wanted was to be loved, to be welcomed– to be wanted.

God has given that to me.

The scars remind me.

One of my scars is sadness. You can’t walk through all I have and not still be affected in some ways by it all. God healing me does not erase those circumstances or all of the emotions still attached. I was still robbed of a healthy relationship with my dad. I remember the horrible words he said to me, how he hurt me in so many ways– physically, emotionally, mentally, even spiritually.

It all still happened.

It all no longer defines who I am.

Jesus has scars. Crucified on a cross. Nails the size of small railroad stakes pounded into His wrists and feet. Scars on His scalp from the crown of thorns. Scars on His back as His flesh was ripped apart by a whip called the “cat of nine tails.” He endured that for me. His scars remind me that His love and compassion are so deep, He willingly went through everything He did for me. I couldn’t have done that. I wouldn’t have been able to look at my abusers and say to God the Father, “Father. Forgive them, for they know not what they have done.”
Jesus did that.

His scars remind me.

Dark Reflection: Looking At The Painful Past

I hate looking at my past. I hate remembering. I have set out so many times to write “my story”, but something always blocks me.

I think it might be “this” me hating the “old” me.

I don’t want to look at it through my memories.

Why would you?

Today my youngest was playing with a rubber band, joking about shooting it at me. Even something as silly and simple as that reminds me, like a scar reminds us of a painful wound.

What is the big deal about shooting a rubber band, right? If you could look into my memory, and “feel” with my emotions, you’d know. You might even hate it, too.

You’d see the man who molested me, aiming then shooting a rubber band at my butt as I laid on the couch watching tv. You’d feel the sudden surge of rage consume what might have been a semi-peaceful moment. You’d watch my leg shoot out, my foot connect to the back of his knee as he walked by. Full rage force. Knocking him off his balance.

The rest of that day is a black hole.

One thing I really want people to understand is that I don’t live in my past. I don’t need advice on how to forgive or heal. I have overcome tremendous odds, and I only have God to thank. My experience has often been that those who hear what I’ve been through assume I need their help, that I’m asking for help or advice.

I share my story because it’s God’s testimony of Him transforming an ugly duckling into a swan– the traumatically-challenged, nearly bitter woman into a trusting Christian.

If this encourages you, I’ve accomplished what I never used to believe I could. If it hits home, I am deeply sorry.

Please feel free to use the comments section to tell how God helped you heal or overcome a troubled, painful past. We all need to hear more about what God is doing to heal the broken-hearted; to set the captive free, transforming us into the likeness of Christ.

Why My Defensiveness Is A Reflex Reaction For Me With Some

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Last night, I had the most wonderful time having dinner, talking, then just listening to a dear friend. I learned so much about her, things I never would have guessed! It’s even easier to see why she is such a beautiful, loving, sincerely kind woman of God.

As is the usual case with me, it’s also hard to not also see that deep contrast between her life and my own.

Again I come face-to-face with why I have often felt a type of rejection from some I’ve hoped to get to know. I’m no Miss Congeniality or Miss Anything.

Often in my lifetime I’ve been left feeling as though I’m not worth people’s time. Some of that is cultural, sure. Some of it is personality-clash. I can be abrasive. I’ve even been described as a “bull in a China shop”.

There aren’t many “boxes” I allow myself to be put in. I tend to fail under heavy-handed expectations. I am as God designed me, also molded from my unique life experiences, which also at times have borne the weight of heavy-handed expectations.

I have learned that not everyone is alike, not everyone does things the same, or reacts to expectation the same way.

I probably will never meet any human’s expectation.

I can only try to meet God’s. And, I fail… All. The. Time.

One of the toughest things to put into practice is listening when it feels like you are not heard by others– that’s where my reaction of defensiveness tries to overtake me.

My life is full of many amazing, even some miraculous testimonies of God’s work.

It’s easy to focus on things that happened because God was not in the circumstances. It’s best to focus on contrasts caused by God’s healing, intervention, love, kindness, miracles and His Mercy.

While the contrast between our lives is somewhat vast, my friend and I have one very important thing that is similar– the knowledge of Who God Is in contrast to who we are and how amazing it is that He loves us.

Don’t Talk About It

There is an unhealthy attitude. Within the Church. You may not want to hear about it. You may not want to listen. But, that will not make it go away. Confronting it will. Confronting it is the first step to healing.

And, the church needs some major healing and repairs.

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So, the attitude is this: if something about a church congregation hurts, disappoints, offends, or puts you off– don’t talk about it. Don’t talk to anyone if your feelings are hurt. Don’t mention that the lesson might not be quite Scripturally accurate. Do not show your true feelings, because the attitude is– “that’s unGodly“.

But that attitude is wrong.

Jesus never said “Blessed are those who pretend everything is fine when it’s not.” No, He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”

Who are the poor in spirit? It includes those who have been hurt within the Body of Christ, sometimes from the Body of Christ.

We need to pour healing into our own.

I am going to talk about it, and we all should.

Because this pretending like everything is fine, it’s not worshiping God in spirit and in truth. It’s lying.

Everything is not fine.

And, it’s not ministering to the ones who need ministry the most– those that have been hurt. Often hurt by people within their own congregation.

I have been to several churches regularly since I turned my life over to Jesus, because I move around with the military, and sometimes God just moves me on to another church.

I have been hurt. I have been devastated.

By a church split. By a Pastor I respected like he was my own dad. By a pastor’s wife I hoped would be like a mom for me. Then I wised-up. I stopped trying to fill a need I sincerely believe God wants church leaders to help fill in their congregants lives.

But, it hurts.

Because that is a realistic, honest need. Maybe not for everyone. But it is for a lot.

How many people can actually talk about this disappointment, this failure in ministering to our own?

Most won’t because they feel shamed. They feel their needs are unimportant. They don’t know who they can talk with and be real with.

They get blind-sided with remarks about lack of faith, or about not trusting God enough.

It has NOTHING to do with not trusting God or lacking faith.

It has everything to do with not making oneself vulnerable to and not trusting Church leadership. Those God has put in place to represent Jesus. Many times, they are the ones who are not trusted. And, by every account, they should be the most trustworthy.

The most approachable.

God made people to need other people. God uses His people as His vessels to speak through, to pour His healing through, to help draw others nearer to Him.

I know, I know, God calls humans… so human weakness and faults… I get that. But, it goes way beyond that, into a seeming hardheartedness.

Why is there such an attitude of busyness, but not a deep healing ministry for everyone who walks through the doors?

God does not want Christianity to be a religion of individuality. I don’t believe He ever meant it to be such a hands-off thing.

God’s heart is for the hurting within the Body of Christ, not just without.

Who are the hurting within the congregations? Widows. New moms. New members. People moving from different communities, states or even countries. Divorcee’s. Military spouses and kids. Singles, of all ages. Teenagers. Homeless. Those untrusting of people.

The Body of Christ often can’t see beyond Its nose.

It’s time to wake up. Judgement comes to the House of The Lord first, and I do believe this is the 11th hour– perhaps even the 11:30th hour. Do we think God will “see our hearts” and just have His Judgement pass over His Body?

Lord, please pour out Your healing in all those who are hurting, who are lonely, or who just don’t know who they can trust. Please reach out to the broken-hearted, and minister to their every need. Soften the hardened hearts towards the weak, the hurting, and the ones who don’t seem to measure up or step up under the heavy weight of human expectation.

Lord, please help Your Church to walk in Unity, as well as to walk like You did as You prepared the way for us.

Please help us to make ourselves ready, to clothes ourselves with Your love and compassion for all. Remind us of our own weaknesses that You strengthen, and help us to be encouragers and extensions of Your healing Grace. In Jesus Name, Amen– So be it.

I Once Was Not A Christian

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I have had a lot of experiences in my lifetime. Way too many to write about here. I’ll break it down into two parts: Before Christ and After Christ. I’ll even throw in some Why I CHOSE Christ, for added tangibility.

So, BC:

I was born into a family that loved me, but that love didn’t create a safe, warm, snugly, nurturing environment. We are often hurt the worst by those that love us, and that was certainly the case for me. Do I need to go into details of abuse? Goodness, I hope not, but I’ll touch on a few of the “highlights” of my BC life:

I was sexually, emotionally and mentally abused by my dad. Maybe he treated me better than his dad treated him, but I HIGHLY doubt it because my dad was mentally ill. I don’t mean the catch-phrased quirky kind that seems acceptable, or even coveted by some in our modern society. He was severely mentally ill. I think I can honestly say I’m one of very few who watched their dad try to beat their mom to death as she laid huddled in a fetal-ball beneath him, his fist pounding into her temple. On Mother’s Day. Then there was my dad escaping the mental hospital hundreds of miles away, hitchhiking to try to come back and finish killing her. There was lots of yelling in my house, sometimes my dad even acknowledged I existed and he yelled at me. Once he punched me in the jaw, which made it painful for me to hold my violin for a few weeks.

As a result, I was a pretty screwed-up kid and I nearly died when I was 16 because of my own stupidity.

Let me just say this: I lived in a house of horror because of mental illness as a child. There is NOTHING in Christianity that comes even close to actual mental illness.

Thankfully I got to spend the summers with my grandparents, who were Christians. Things weren’t perfect there, but they were better.

I hated myself for bad decisions I made.

So at 20 I made another decision future me would hate: I married¬† someone I had convinced myself was “my best friend”. The problem was, I only knew him a short time before we married. The other problem I didn’t realize yet was: we were not equally yoked. He was not a Believer.

Trust me when I tell you that, yes, that absolutely does make a tremendous difference. Not only could I not share my faith with him and grow with him in that, he did not value me as God would help him if he were a Christian.

My ex-husband was abusive to me. Much like my dad, though not exactly to the same degree. But, there was also more aspects to the abuse from him. I was cut off from my family. I was locked-down at home, he had to know where I was and who I was with or talking to at every moment. I had to work and it had to be the graveyard shift.¬† My earnings had to pay all the bills while he kept his earnings in a separate account and he bought anything he wanted for him. Never for me. He convinced me to get life insurance, but was angry when I was refused because of extensive damage caused by an eating disorder. When I was sick he treated me like I was faking it, wouldn’t let me call in sick to work or go to the doctor until it became emergencies. Once the car he made me drive nearly got me killed, the lug nuts on the tires he had just worked on weren’t tight.

I wasn’t safe with him. He actually saved my life by divorcing me.

Now I’m thankful he decided he didn’t love me anymore. Not only am I still alive, I am married to a man I am equally yoked with, who really is my best friend and who does value me.

But my divorce was the beginning of my personal rock bottom.

After Christ:

It was at that point I finally began to “own” my relationship with God through Jesus. (Thank God Jesus didn’t return while I self-focused, because after that “blink of an eye”, I would more than likely have been left here.) I got baptized. I began making changes and reading the Bible on my own.

Because I wanted to.

I could feel God healing my life and my heart as I read His Promises.

I went through a tremendous time of grieving the death of my old self. Regret, unforgiveness, shame… God helped me work through each one of those at my own pace. He never gives me more than I can handle as He works His healing, often one-on-one with me, through His Holy Spirit.

My “conversion” did not happen because someone preached a sermon and “guilted” me in to following Jesus and obeying God’s Word.

My life changed as a result of God working in my life. Often without people.

God illuminates His Word.

He teaches me how to be a better human being. He helps me look at people as individuals, not through my own preconceived opinions.

Why I Chose Christ:

Had I continued on my own path, my life would look like the night version of how I am now. It’s like Jesus called out to me through the darkness and despair, and He whispered to me, “I have a better way for you”.

His ways are higher than mine, so much better and healthier. His way is practical. It’s loving and kind. It’s rational. It’s peaceful.

Jesus is the best way. He is the truth. He is the light with no darkness in Him, nothing evil or hateful.

I wish the naysayers would pay attention to the positives Christians demonstrate, because I lived as a non-Christian and was surrounded by non-Christians. It was destructive, mean, harsh, even deadly.

My job as a Christian isn’t to try to convince others that Jesus is the Savior of the world. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job, to do all the hard work of preparing the way of the Lord for people’s hearts and minds to be ready.

My job is to love the Lord my God, and to love my neighbor like I love me. Give them the same benefit of the doubt I give myself. Show the same grace I believe I should be shown.

Some call that cutting people slack…

I just know– I’d personally rather have Jesus than anything this world could ever hold. I have known both– life without Jesus and life with Jesus.

He makes the difference. Not me. Not my choices.

Only Jesus.

God Loves Divorcées

I get it. God hates divorce.

Divorced people also hate divorce. It’s ugly. It’s destructive. It tears apart what God put together. It turns a peaceful union into a war zone.

Moses gave permission for divorce because mens hearts had hardened against their wives. A hardened heart makes way for cruelty and abuse. Moses was protecting the wives by allowing it.

As one who went through a Scriptural divorce– it sucks! It hurt!

Divorce rips apart lives, hearts and families. It destroys reputations, confidence and dreams.

Divorce is Hell on earth. It separates two people who were once bonded together by love and agreement.

Every divorce is different, it happens for different reasons. It’s a deeply personal experience that cuts through the one-flesh union down into the marrow of our spirit. If you have ever had to have a bone marrow biopsy done, then you know how much that cutting hurts the spirit of those split apart by divorce.

Divorce is more destructive and devastating than losing of a loved one to death. It’s cancer to marriage.

Going through a divorce is pain-filled dying yet still living. 

Can we as the Church, the Body of Christ, just stop? Stop judging our wounded family. Stop throwing stones. Stop rejecting. Stop pouring on our salt… Just stop.

Can we just love one another?

Can we just reach out and encourage each other, especially those in our church memberships that we haven’t taken the time to really get to know?

Let’s trade rejecting for compassion. Hatefulness for love. “Tough love” for gentleness, kindness. Anger for patient listening. Judgment for hugs and healing words.

We can do this. We need to do this. We’ve got to stop wounding our wounded.

I hope to see more teaching to couples and congregations about the difficulties of marriage and the solutions God provides through His Word and through praying together. I hope to see less rejecting of divorcées, and more kind and gentle ministries offered compassionately towards them.

Come on, Church. We are better than this ugly, hate-filled rejection of those who are hurting and struggling to get the pieces of their lives together, alone.

What Would Jesus Do? What does He expect us to do in His Name?

Exposed

I hate my past.

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I hate the parts of my personal story that involve my past. I don’t like who I was, I don’t like what I lived through. I abhor my reactions and choices. I despise where I had no choice or that I had no one to help me, to comfort me, or just talk with.

Yeah, I hate my past.

Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to get my book written. I hate reliving it. I hate thinking about it. I hate how when I am in a group of people and I just want to fit into the conversation, I feel compelled to share my experiences so I can identify with others. And I hate how vulnerable and

exposed

I often feel when I tell something deeply personal.

Who really wants to hear about the horror experiences of my childhood and teens, and for what reasons do they want to hear about them?

Who cares? About me?

I loathe feeling like other people think I’m competing in storytelling. I hate how it just feels normal to me that I have gone through so many things, and then I see that look of shock on the face of someone I’ve opened up to- then I realize, my life has been anything but normal.

It’s like a thorn in my side.

The parts I don’t hate about my past are when God shines through, as a warm, magnanimous Light, as if He has given my heart the most loving hug.

Healing me, bringing completeness to my injured, abused soul.

Exposure reveals the miracles and even the heart of God throughout my life.

Hating my past has helped me to love and appreciate God. Living my life, I’ve learned there is no one more trustworthy and faithful than God.

Embracing Pain and Fear

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It’s on my heart to share this, and given recent events in the Middle East, I can see that in some respects, it could be a timely message for some.

As an American, I’d say–in our modern American culture, there seems to be a strong growing trend to avoid pain and suffering. We’re a first world nation, we should expect to have comfort and some luxuries, isn’t that the mindset we have all just accepted as normal, healthy living?

We tell ourselves we deserve it.

I think this has, in some ways, weakened some of our resolve and even work ethics.

In today’s America we often expect to be well paid for a job we put minimal effort into doing well. We complain about working, about customers, about our bosses, about not getting paid enough–so little contentment with so much expectation and even an overreaching of an attitude of entitlement of money, healthcare, cell phones or the latest electronic device, of getting everything we want and having every convenience possible, with as little effort as possible.

Us moms, we often give in to the temptation of having a pain-free birth. I gave in with our 4th baby, but I felt like I had somehow cheated. I’m not saying I think that’s wrong, but it seems like it could be a symptom of pain avoidance.

My first 3 births were natural, no pain killers at all. Our second child came so quickly, there was no time to even have an IV put in.

Through childbirth, I learned how to embrace the pain of the contractions, to use that pain to know when to help my baby come out into the world. I bonded with my babies, I struggled and strove to help them. The pain wasn’t something I feared, but something I embraced, I used it to accomplish purpose.

During the labor of my 3rd baby, God spoke to me through the pain.

He told me no one could touch my soul because it’s safe with Him. No matter what happens to my body, my soul can never be touched, harmed, or stolen.

With the recent growing number of killings of Christians, this is something He has reminded me of, to share and have others meditate on.

Pain is fleeting. Salvation is Eternal. Our soul is safe when we give it to God through belief on Christ Jesus. As a result, I know deep within, I Never have to be afraid of any pain. I know that God will avenge me for anyone who hurts me, because I belong to Him.

I know that God will avenge every Christian murdered by those who have set themselves up as enemies of The Most High God. We may not see how He does it, but their souls will never have the comfort, peace, rest or safety that the souls of those they murdered will have for ALL of Eternity.

God’s judgment is coming for those who dare to touch the ones He has claimed as His own.

I have no fear, because I know Who I belong to. And, if I stumble into fearfulness, God reminds me that it’s His perfect love that casts that out. I don’t have to succumb to it, to let it take over my reactions, my emotions or my actions and words. I don’t have to let it take control, I am not helpless because I have Help.

I have read and heard quite a few interpretations of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo–from prosperity encouragements, to commitment, to God’s faithfulness to us. But, what I get out of that account is that no matter what–no matter the pain, no matter if God chose not to intervene or help them–No Matter What, they would remain faithful to God. Because they knew Who they belonged to. No amount of pain, or manipulation, or fear-inducing circumstances could make them turn their backs to God.

He chose to help them. I have no doubt if He hadn’t, they would have died in that furnace still completely faithful to God. Because they knew He knows the end from the beginning. He knows the reasons He does, or does not do things.

Do you know Who you belong to? Do you believe on Him so deeply, that no amount of pain or suffering will manipulate you into relenting and turning away?

We need to pray that those being killed for belonging to Him through Jesus know Who they belong to. We need to pray that God will intervene, that Jesus will return, and that this persecution will be stopped. Only the return of Jesus is going to stop it.

When we obey the command to pray for peace in Jerusalem, we are praying for Jesus to come back and intervene on behalf of those who are suffering because of His Name.

Return, Lord Jesus, return quickly!

When we Christians unite, the power of God is manifest through our agreement in prayer, through our worship of God, and that is what causes fear in our enemies. That is why they kill, because Satan knows and wants to stop God’s power from flowing through His body–The Church, The Bride of Christ.

We are part of something so much greater than we are just in ourselves.

Satan is using people who believe his lies to try to stop God from working through us. He will not succeed, we know that from The Revelation of John.

But, where 2 or 3 are gathered, He is in our midst. When we have faith, we can tell a mountain to move, and it will.

Do we ever challenge our own faith?

Paul had a thorn in his side that God chose not to remove. There is debate of what that thorn was, but what I understand is–Paul chose to continue to faithfully serve God with that thorn unremoved. He didn’t complain. He didn’t yell at God. He didn’t quit. He didn’t rebuke it.

Paul focused on God, not on the thorn.

Our faith and our commitment need to grow up. We need to put off the American part of ourselves and embrace the Eternal, like putting off our old selves to put on the new. Ephesians 4:22-32 Colossians 3:1-4

We can’t, after all, take America with us, and America can’t keep our souls safe Eternally.

Only the One True God can do that.

Individually One Flesh

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Mark 10:8 “and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (NASB)

Marriage is the most unique relationship between humans. When a man and woman marry, it takes time to learn how to live together.  How to agree and disagree. Whether or not to even have children.

Then, if having kids, how to raise them and discipline them. How to encourage them in the midst of parents coming from 2 different perspectives, backgrounds, and maybe even world  views.

There are many outside forces to consider. The husband and wife learn they have to set boundaries for outside forces so they can follow the path together that they set out on when they said, “I do”. There are things to compromise on, things to agree on, and times where tongues may or may not be held, when one does things the other doesn’t like.

I learned a lot from my first marriage that failed. I was rejected by a husband who was far from the image he sold me before we married. I was shoved out of the way to make room for another woman. As I struggled with my hurt, I also learned how to become an individual again. I lost “me” completely within that marriage.

When God brought His choice for me into my life, I remembered my previous marriage experience. How bad things were with a man who would have nothing to do with God or church. I realized it would be best to focus on what is right with my second-chance marriage. I chose to not adopt society’s way of focusing on what I see as being wrong, and telling others about my irritations, getting people to be on my side.

We are one flesh. There are no sides.

What I say reflects back on both of us. It points to my character as much as his character.

But although we are one flesh, we are still both individual people. One of the hardest lessons I have gleaned from is: I can’t take his failures personal. Not everything is about me. Sure, his decisions and actions affect me more than any other person besides him. Sure, I am in it with him, and when he makes bad decisions they affect me like they affect him. I am part of the fall-out. My feelings are entangled with his choices. And, no, he doesn’t often remember to think about that.

God gave him to me. To love me, to provide for me, to protect me.

Sometimes I forget: God also gave me to him.

God gave me to him to be his help mate. He may not want my help. He may not recognize what I am trying to do as being helpful.

But, God has given me a mission as his wife: help him.

How am I supposed to help him? The first thing is to let him be the individual God created him to be.

I have to disengage my feelings when he falls off the pedestal I tend to put him on. He is not immune from making sinful decisions. So, how can I help him look to God more? How can I help him be a man of prayer and response, rather than human reactions? How can I help him make decisions best for the whole family, that please God, rather than just decisions for himself?

I need to remind myself at times that God will work out the details for what He sees as faults.

How can I help him be his best for God? Without being manipulative. Without trying to be his Holy Spirit. Without putting my opinion and expectations in place as the standard I try to push on him. How can I just let him be him, treat him with respect and loving-kindness, regardless of what I see as being wrong?

How can I submit to his leadership, in a sense, without losing my own individuality in the process? How can I help him consider my needs and instincts, while balancing myself against things I recognize as not being God’s best for him, us, or our family?

My husband needs me. Whether he acknowledges it or even recognizes it, or not.

He needs me to be encouraging when he feels overwhelmed. He needs me to pray for him. He needs me to help carry his burdens, when possible, and let him handle them his way when I can’t.

He needs me to love and accept him, unconditionally. He needs me to not harden my heart when he doesn’t do things “perfect”, or even when what he does and says hurts me.

The hardest part of being his helpmate is focusing on my mission from God to respect him and be the helpmate God gave me to him to be. Through prayer, fasting, encouraging, silence, sharing Scripture, and being nonjudgmental when he does not do things the way I would.

Individually, we are one flesh. He does not have anyone else like me in his life.

God has given me an important mission on earth. To help one of His children in ways no other person can, with God’s help through my life.

We are 2 individuals that are also one-flesh. Even when my other half messes up, or strays from God. I still have my purpose given to me from the Divine. That does not get cancelled out. If anything, it becomes a more urgent focus.

My feelings and expectations are not the standard I live by. God’s standard is what I am striving to live by.

I can’t just give up and walk away, even if it ever felt like it was killing me.

Jesus didn’t give up and walk away when it was killing Him.

What Will Greater Things Look and Sound Like?

John 14:12 NASV “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5_TOOXRpn8w#t=247

As my soul drinks in this song linked above, some questions come to mind. What will the greater things Jesus said we would do, look like and sound like? Can you even imagine what it will be like for God’s Kingdom to come down to earth?

The first time the human race experienced God’s Kingdom coming to earth, most did not recognize it.

Most weren’t even aware. Only those whose hearts were linked with The Creator of all, knew. Only those who had a relationship with the Living God appreciated what God had given to all humanity. Only those who studied the prophecies of the coming Messiah recognized Him and loved Him.

72084292455What does it look and sound like when God’s Kingdom touches earth? Have we ever experienced even a taste of that? I think it looks like Praising and Worshiping in one accord. I think it’s supernatural abilities of demonstrating kindness, love, and forgiveness. Like those times when we are aware of God’s heart for other people, and we seek Him on behalf of them. Or, when telling the truth, even in the hardest of situations, becomes more important than saving face or being right. When the needs of others being met overshadows our worries and fears about our own needs being met, and those who are hurting can rely on those who have hurt in similar way to walk with them, listen and pray for them. That’s what it looks like, sounds like, and feels like, to me.

We look like and act like Jesus.

What will His return look like? What will it sound like?

We know from Scripture, there will be a trumpet sounded from Heaven.  Will everyone be able to hear it, or just those who have been called and chosen by Him? Will there be a rushing sound as there was when the Holy Spirit first was released? Will there be a choir of Angels singing His Praise as He rushes to the aid of His people being persecuted, or about to be persecuted?

He IS returning. Signs He mentioned tell me that it will be soon, and most of us will not even realize it… I pray we do everything we can to make ourselves ready and aware of His return. That we all don’t remain complacent, burdened and buried by the concerns of this life, which tug at our hearts and minds, draining our energy, warring with our focus. That we don’t get, or remain, so consumed in all the things we say we are doing for Him, that we don’t pay attention to Him. That we will be ready for Him. Would we be ready if He returned tonight?

What do you think will greater things look and sound like?

Bondage Gospel: Good News?

1048428-Royalty-Free-RF-Clip-Art-Illustration-Of-A-Cartoon-Happy-Springy-Man-Running-BarefootMark16:14-15 (NLT)
Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead.¬† “And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone…”
Recently in the news, many rejoiced that 3 young women who had been held captive by a man for a decade, were suddenly found and freed. They were alive! Though not unharmed, and changed in ways most of us will never comprehend. They were finally allowed the freedom to return to their loved ones, robbed of a decade of memories and experiences with them.
 I think we can all agree, their new freedom was good news!!! And, it was spread, far and wide.
Also, recently in the news, the government has enforced a new law that is popular with some, and unpopular with others.  For years, many have been shouting the good news about free government healthcare. For others, they recognized a new bondage they have been forced to embrace.
The Gospel can come across that way. When we Christians quote the 10 Commandments of God to the world, many look at it as a new bondage. One that locks them into a box of condemnation and away from the freedom to live as they choose to. Many hear the clanging of gongs whose noise level is deafening, and it makes them run away from what they think of as a type of ancient imprisonment. It makes them strike out in anger at the ones making the noise.
Sadly, we have been ineffective messengers. We’ve caused many to equate the Good News of Jesus conquering eternal death, and being raised up from the grave, as an agreement to surrender to a bondage. One they cannot live up to, and don’t even want to try.
Do we hear how we sound?
Is what we say, and the attitude in which we say it, how we ourselves were drawn to Jesus?
When we say to someone, “You will die a forever death that will keep you eternally separated from the love of God, from the goodness of God, from God Himself”, what reaction does that invoke?
How can we communicate the Gospel message effectively?
Do we even want to communicate effectively?
See, it seems like sometimes we prejudge people and we tailor our message to fit the perception we have created with our opinion. Then, we leave God out of the message. Oh, we talk about Him, we try to thump it into people’s guilt and consciences. God is probably not in that.
Many have come to equate the Gospel message with a message of condemnation and criticism for how they are, who they are, and how they want to live.
When did Jesus ever talk to an unbeliever like that?
How many people actually ask us what they have to do to be Saved? Most often, it’s an unwilling listener who gets a barrage of what a horrible person they are.
When my husband asked me to marry him, if he had told me what a horrible person I was and how he could make me be a better person if I would marry him, I would have never spoken to him again.
That’s what we do when we walk in condemnation of the people God loves and wants to draw near to Him. They aren’t going near God with a 10 foot pole, when we approach them like that.
Are we like Jonah? Deep down inside, do we feel like they don’t deserve our loving God’s arms wrapped around their lives, or His promises fulfilled for them?
Is it really a Gospel of repelling and condemnation we are wanting to pass on, so they will instead reject the wonderful things we have been given in Christ Jesus?
Or, is it a manipulative way we embrace because of how we view our own inadequacies in sharing Jesus with a world full of hostile critics? Is it our own lack of faith in God working through us to draw others to Himself through us?
Are we willing to be vessels filled with His love and grace?
Whatever our definition of love is, I do not believe, most often, it is God’s definition of love. Where is the kindness, the gentleness, the peacefulness that God Himself demonstrates to us constantly? Is God like the slave master who whips us into submission to Him?
NO!
He is gentle, and loving, and Kind, giving us everything we need. Why is it, then, that often we take on a harsh, mean attitude, and shout about Sodom and Gomorrah, the 10 Commandments, and how the unbeliever needs to repent?
Perhaps there is a time and a place for that. But, most often – I think not.
I believe these are some hard questions we need to be asking ourselves. This is a mirror for us to look into, and do a heart and motivation check.
Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 5:9-12 (NASB)
9¬†I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10¬†I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11¬†But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler‚ÄĒnot even to eat with such a one. 12¬†For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church?¬†

United We Stand

glass broken  heartGod has sure been stirring up a lot of things in my heart and thoughts lately.

One of the recurring issues I deal with is that I am still missing out on a father figure for my life. I understand that Scripture teaches us that God is our Heavenly Father, and He has never disappointed me.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but I am 40-something, and I still wish I could just have a normal conversation with my daddy. I have never had that. I have missed that, and struggled not to envy what others have been given.

There are so many people, of all ages, who have not had real, or healthy  relationships with their parents.  Where are the Godly men who will step up, and allow God to use them to replace what has been stolen from so many?

“When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing heart-photo-by-Carien-of-sxc.hu_nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”¬†Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household. (John 19:26-27 NASV)

He understood that those relationships are of utmost importance.

We are missing so much with our individualistic approach to Christianity. We are missing out on so much.

To Know Me Is To ______ Me

1Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (NASB)

I have a jumble of thoughts built up. Hopefully I can get them all out and place them in good order.

I’m thinking about God’s continuous cycle of revealing and healing. He shows us something about ourselves or our past that we haven’t seen through His understanding, He illuminates it, then He begins the process of healing.

The thing about God’s way of healing: it’s not always our way. We don’t even understand that that’s what He is up to, sometimes.

A root biggie in my life is enveloped by the Scripture I shared. To be known. A branch off of that would be to be seen, and another branch would be to be heard. The fruit that I want to grow on this particular crop in my life is: to be valued.

This probably shapes pretty much every thought, action, and even inaction I do, all the time.

There are so many things we place value on concerning people. What they do (job, talent, skill), what they say, where they have been. We value degrees, titles, clothing, monetary worth, status, and career choices.

I think we often forget to place value on the most valuable part of a person: them.

When my husband and I discipline our children, we often remind them that it’s the dangerous, unacceptable, or just all around bad behavior we are wanting them to change and correct, not them as individuals. Their worth is not tied into behaving perfectly. No matter what, we will love them, they will always be our child, though their choice in behavior may disappoint and frustrate us. Their behavior does not define them.

God defines them. He began the definition of each one of us as He knit us in our mother’s womb.

There are roots in my history that have become tied to how I perceive being valued. My parents weren’t the sort to hold conversations with me, or listen to what I had to say. They were focused on their own lives for various reasons, and the very best thing I could ever do was try to just stay out of their way as much as possible.

There were times I ran away, and they didn’t even know I wasn’t there. There were times I ran away, and they did know I wasn’t there, but I never heard a conversation about how I might have been in danger, or how I had or would be missed. I heard about how it made things look, or how things weren’t so bad for me, or how next time they’d¬† put me in Juvie. I had no self worth, because I never saw my parents reflect that back to me. Except when I did something that reflected on them in a good way, like doing well at a concert. My worth became tied into playing my violin well.

I remember times when I shard things with my mom that seemed super important to me, things I didn’t have anyone else to share them with, and she would roll her eyes, sigh irritatedly, and tell me how stupid it was, or something to that effect. She still does that, and it still tries to affect my perception of my worth.

I feel like I was robbed of a healthy mom-daughter relationship. Because of that, I purposely go out of my way to tell my kids how important they are to me. I don’t ever want them to believe they are not valued just for who they are, because I know what that feels like. (Of course, a clean room would also give an added pleasant bonus…)

I think that’s why God carefully took me under the shelter of His wings when I was pretty young. I always remember His being there, going out of His way to give me something I needed to help me want to carry on. He made me aware of a deeper purpose that He has given to me, deeper than any person ever could. He reflected my own heart back to me when I was heart-broken at trying to help a friend who tried to commit suicide, then told me they never wanted to speak to me again. He fixed that, and He worked, and I didn’t have to lose that friend to suicide or hatred. He made Himself known to me before I knew myself at all. He showed Himself to be real. Nothing can ever convince me God is not real, because He simply IS. There is no unbelief that is more powerful than God’s reality. It doesn’t take much to find Him, either. One just has to sincerely want to know Him for themselves.

God is at work healing some pretty deep hurts in my life. After all the healing and work He has done, sometimes it’s tempting to want to ask Him, “Are You ever going to be finished in me?”

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

I do know that answer: Yes. When Jesus returns.

Anyway, I got the jumble of thoughts out, and here I am at the end of this blog entry. You’ve now had a glimpse into my head, heart and life. I hope something good will come out of that for you.

Thanks for reading.

What Does Living Water Look Like, Feel Like, Taste Like?

I have noticed that women within the Church are sometimes, many times even, deficient in living water because of a lack of Spiritually fulfilling resources. Especially single women, divorced women, and widowed women. As a teenager I experienced this firsthand, and then later as a divorced adult. Maybe that’s why I feel sensitive to it even now.

This deficiency in the living water, it’s not from a lack of interaction with God, or even a failure to be filled by God’s Holy Spirit. Not at all, not all of the time. In fact, it’s easier to spend time with God in those instances of a woman’s life, because her heart isn’t so divided, her attention isn’t so fractured and distracted, or demanded.

Then, what do I think it’s caused from, some may ask?

God created women with an ingrained designed need for fellowship, a meeting of the heart and mind, a desire to be heard and cherished. That need becomes deprived when women are separated from healthy interactions. That’s why the devil has worked overtime in the Middle Eastern and Asian cultures, because he has been at war with women through the men in their lives, creating an environment where they cannot thrive well, cannot grow to their full potential without the proper nurturing, cherishing ,valuing of them, or the allowance of them to reach their full potential as healthy individuals. The devil has waged a full on war against women, with very little opposition. Because those outside of that particular part of the war have been hesitant to “interfere” (really it’s hesitant to help, withholding the needed love and compassion from them to reach out and help them rise up above this twisted mindset, effectively putting Satan under their feet), it has been allowed to continue and just accepted as “That’s just the way it is over there”. The perception that America is “the great satan” is a lie that has effectively been intertwined into cultures where women have become undervalued, abused, neglected and not at all cherished as God has created them to be. Satan lives, thrives within that mindset, not within any specific nation.

In our Western Christian mindset, there are denominations who also do not value women or allow them to become all God intends for them to be. In the church mindset (and, not every church, not every church in any one denomination, and not any one denomination overall), women are limited in the roles they can serve in. Why is this? Different interpretations and applications of Scripture create specific “doctrines” that lock churches into mindsets that are not always accurately Scriptural-based. In Galatians 3:28 it specifically states “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

So, often, there is a distance already placed and understood between single, divorced and widowed women within the church. They aren’t often given the special considerations they need, that God desires for them to have. The fellowship that provides that refreshing living water is not always available for them. It forces a deeper reliance on God, but it also can place a wedge in their heart keeping them from effectively being ministered to. It creates a wall that blocks them from the resources that God desires for them to have.

The Church desperately needs to seek God to begin learning and teaching how to help women in various stages of life, to be helped and encouraged to grow to their full potential. There has to be a culture within the Church of both humble submission to Church leadership and then a healthy trust relationship and covering for women in all stages to reach the full potential that God has placed within their lives and hearts.

We have yet to see many women reach the full potential, but I believe that God wants to supersede that, and make some deep adjustments in mindsets and attitudes.

The well of living water within the Church should always be readily available through fellowship and healthy interactions with others. Then we will experience an even greater outpouring of the living water from Heaven that God will continually pour out upon us all.

If anything scares the devil, it’s the stronghold over women being broken.

When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan women at the well, He broke the strongholds over her life, her mindset, and the mindset of those in her city. He did that by speaking the truth to her, by knowing her, by interacting with her. We can do the same, just by getting to really know the women in our own lives, by listening to their stories, by helping to foster an environment that allows them to reach that full potential God has for them. ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+4&version=NASB )

Christians: we are the Church. It’s not a building that enforces doctrine and teachings, or creates environments. We can make all the difference that God wants us to.