When the phrase “Jesus holds my babies in His loving arms” finally brings comfort

The grieving process is so multi-faceted!

Grief,

if not walked through to the other side can cause a person to shut down all emotions completely thus causing a person to become calloused, cold, and numb to not only the emotions that cause the pain but also the emotions that cause good feelings to bloom as well. I have struggled with this for many years. I have in the past year or so really released my grieve to God through several different ways.

I went to a class a couple of years back called Forgiven and Set Free led by my sweet loving friend Jodi Handran where she helped me through the process of my miscarriage and loss. I have also gone to a Grief Share group for the past year and I am so thankful for the people God has placed in my life to walk me through this season. Without them I would have stayed stuck in my hurt.

I am learning that grief can come to call even when we think that we are past all the pain and that this is normal and ok. It is a reminder that we have loved deeply, even when we never saw a face to go with the names we so lovingly picked out.

Dates can still cause a pain in our hearts months and even many years after.

God is so lovingly showing me that it is ok.

That I am safe in His arms to wade through the pain.

Growing up in a Christian home Easter has always been a happy celebration.

It was a time to get a pretty new dress and celebrate our savior not only dying on the cross…

But

Conquering death and sin on our behalf by rising again.

So when my world stopped 8 years ago on the blackest of Black Fridays when I miscarried my twin babies, part of me never wanted to celebrate another Easter again.

In this process of healing though,

Jesus has reminded me some very amazing things and I hope they will touch someone helping them to enter into their own understanding and rejoicing.

I am entering a new season that part of me has yearned for and part of me has feared. It’s a season of new love, new beginnings, new promises and hope.

Yet these past couple days I have felt so torn.

I can envision part of me reaching back to the memory of my babies while my other hand reaches out to the man who is winning my heart each and every day.

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My mind wars with the thought that if I truly live I am in some way forgetting the memories of my babies, yet I know that life is made to live and love.

My heart kept beating on this earth even when theirs stopped.

I couldn’t help but think back in the bible times where this internal war could have been waging in those amazing people that we have come to know through His word.

I thought of the Israelite’s as they were entering the promise land without Moses their beloved leader that put up with their moaning, rebellion and fear for 40 years! I could feel the mixed emotions they must have felt as a whole generation of their loved ones perished because of their disobedience yet the longing for the land and life that had been promised to them. I totally get it now!

Then God brought to mind the often misquoted verse in Isaiah…

Isaiah 29 is a Letter to those in Exile.

People want to jump to the verse that says..

For I know the plans I have for you, saith the Lord,

Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future.”

29:11

People want to pull that verse out of context and offer it up to someone during a trying time in their lives, during a time of grief or loss.

In studying this chapter I have learned some very interesting things and they have offered me hope in this process and start to a new season in my life.

1) These words were spoken in the BEGINNING of the 70 years of exile! That used to bring dread to my heart because I looked at that as an un-fulfillment of the promise from verse 11 for those people who had to endure the exile. Yet God gave them hope even in the exile! I have found that true in my life as well!

2)  Even though God promised them a hope and a future I am sure that in the eyes of the Israelite’s it wasn’t what they imagined. Anyone that knows about the Israelites and their ways knows that they were called to separate living. Yet in verses 5-9 the prophet was saying that God was telling them to build houses and settle, to make gardens which would have taken time to produce crops, to marry and have sons and daughters, to increase and seek peace, prosperity to the enemies that carried them far from their home! The hearts of those being told this must have been so troubled and torn by this!

3) The last thing that really hit me was that God was not taking away the pain or “punishment” but offering them hope and a new life, not necessarily where the Israelites wanted or planned but a life none the less. Also a promise for abundant life if they would learn to be content in their circumstances, if they would seek the Maker with all their hearts. He promised them that He would be found and He promised restoration.

So in this process of grieving the loss of my babies I am learning that it is ok to have moments or days of struggle but when I do I have to look to God’s word and have him speak truth to my heart so that healing can continue. I have to seek Him with all my heart and know that He promises that He will be found.

On this Easter I am finally ready to be ok and even mournfully, reverently joyful in the phrase that He holds my babies in His loving embrace.

I have to remind my vacant arms that long to be the one to hold them that His promise and sacrifice this Easter is just as real as it was 2000 years ago.

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He died for me.

For my sins.

Past, Present and Future.

He died for my doubt, for my fear and for my insecurities,

He didn’t stay in the grave though!

He rose again defeating death and sin!

So that now I can stand up tall, royalty in His loving gaze.

He can take my imperfections and short comings,

Not to leave me there but by His work,

not my own so that I may not boast,

He lovingly heals.

He lovingly reminds me that it’s not forgetting to move on,

It’s not irreverence to look to this new love in my life.

That when I stumble and fall,

His grace is sufficient!

And finally…

I am content that my babies are safe in His loving embrace!

I am holding to the promise that they know how much I love them,

And I look to this Easter with a new perspective!

Will next Easter be hard?

Maybe

But with each passing year and each thing I lay into God’s patient hands for healing, the aching pain and searing loss grows less and less intense, making room for love in my heart.

I am so ready for this new season!

To unfold like the strong leaves of a

vibrant yellow daffodil,

struggling through the hard frozen ground,

waiting for that moment it breaks through the unyielding soil,

to the wonderous light of sun streaking down,

nourishing it to life,

bending its face to the sweet gentle spring rain,

knowing that this new season will be glorious!

Nature Photography

When you want to trade in a blessing

 

When you want to trade in a blessing

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The anticipation had been building for almost a month as I tried to patiently wait for the “new” car I was being blessed with.

Friday was finally the day that I was to meet my new car and as I pulled around and took the first look at it my heart dropped as I read the bumper stickers that were plastered on the back. The “BUZZO” sticker stood out like a sore thumb and though I didn’t know who this Buzzo guy was I could feel the weight of it all crashing down on my shoulders.

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My mom tried to make light of the situation as we moved the young college kids stuff from the car that would now be called mine to the beautiful Impala I was saying good-bye to after driving it for a couple of days until he could meet up with us.

As I got into the driver’s seat of my new car I could feel the sour taste of reality coming up in my throat and I thought I might be sick. I looked to my mom with a petrified look on my face and said I didn’t want to touch the steering wheel. What was supposed to be a gold color when it came off of the showroom floor in 2002, was now black with leftover grime from a college student who clearly had never washed his hands a day in his life.

With a smile my steady mom said “this is a college area so there must be a dollar store close by, let’s go get some antibacterial wipes and get her cleaned up.” Her calm demeanor was keeping my passionately over the top personality in check for the moment.

I wish we had taken before pictures…

Most people I know wouldn’t have set foot in the car let alone wanted to call it theirs!

And while all of this was transpiring I could feel my ungratefulness and ugliness shine through,

I could feel it starting to steal my blessing,

I could feel the anger rise as I silently yelled to God…

I trusted you

And once again I got the raw end of the deal!

Our human nature leans to, yearns for beauty.

For a blessing that is pretty, new and well taken care of.

So what happens when the blessing that we think we wanted is less than what we get?

The past three days I have spent warring with myself and the emotions that this event brought out in me.

As I drove home in silence last night..

(due to the stereo’s non-existent ability to producing music even with the duct tape holding it in to place)

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I carried on a dialog with God that looked something like this..

This may not be pretty to most, could be considered rude by others to talk to God this way… but here is the honest truth of my struggle and talk with God.

God, I trusted you to provide for and bless me above all that I could ask or imagine,

and this is what you give me?

Is this a joke?

What sort of lesson is this?

Why in my life do I always seem to strive to trust you to show the world that you are a

good God and will provide for me only to have them laugh at your provision?

Why is it that others get brand new cars given to them, others who believe in the

prosperity gospel seem to get the best blessings but don’t even see the value of those

blessings yet I am yearning to trust your promises,

to hold your hand through these trials

in life and I get this car!?

And as my rantings calmed and I took the time to listen…

His still small voice said to me…

I did bless you.

No it was not what you thought it would be.

It’s not a shiny new or even taken care of car but I want you to see the value in this!

Will you trust me?

My little girl mind cried out, how?

How do I trust you and what am I supposed to learn?

He calmly held me in His arms and said my child, this car runs unlike the last car that people you trusted tried getting you to buy for 4 times the price. And this car is 20 years newer too dear one.

The other thing He pointed out to me was how He wanted my ministry and business to be taking things that are ugly, used, abused or mistreated and make them of value. Yet, He asked, how can you truly have eyes for that if you can’t even see the value in my most important blessing of transportation.

He reminded me of the story of the faithful servant in Matthew 25. He asked if I was willing to be faithful with just a little or whether I was going to let my natural tendency to continue to use and abuse that which had not been cared for in a good way. Was I willing to clean up “Goldie”, to peel off the crazy bumper stickers, show her some love, TLC and be proud to have transportation or was I going to continue to be ungrateful and angry?

He also reminded me of the verses in Philippians 4 about learning to be content. Am I willing to be in this state where He is the only thing of real value that I have and find contentment in that?

Am I willing to learn to be content with little?

Another sweet truth He wanted me to learn if I would listen, is that if I am really wanting others to love me through my brokenness, mess and weaknesses then I truly need to learn to love others when they are at their worst. Yet if I can’t even learn to value a thing that is messy, in need of care and TLC then how was I ever going to learn to see these things in people that God brings into my life and offer that love, acceptance and grace?

 I say that I want to minister to those who have been through the same heart ache, pain and background that I have yet how quickly I steer clear from someone who is needy because I feel that I am to emotionally drained to offer anything at this time. How quickly do I seek friendships right now that will help me during this season instead of laying my grief down and helping someone through their grief. Its our human nature to gravitate and want to connect with people who can offer something to us in return, but how often do I seek out friendships where the person has nothing to offer me in return and how often am I ok with that?

I said about 6 months ago that I wanted to learn the true meaning of what love is, God reminded me that if I am wanting to truly learn this then I will have to go through the training ground to learn this.

That is not learning the hard way but that its learning God’s way.

Its being willing to truly live out that love does not insist on its own way but rejoices in the truth!

How quickly did I want to stomp my feet in a tantrum with God and say that this was not what I asked for.

How many times have you heard people say, “Never pray for patience! God will give you instances in your life where you cultivate and learn patience!”

We should be wanting to learn things God’s way.

We shouldn’t look at hard times as though we did something wrong, didn’t pray hard enough or trust God enough for the right thing. If that were the case then it would be based on what we can do the best instead of what God has already done for us on the cross.

Its learning that His blessings come in some of the craziest ways…

Even a BUZZO bumper sticker, non-working radio car that is less than perfect!

And being willing to be content and thankful in the unexpected or less than perfect.

 

When words fail… Part 2

When words fail… Part 2

I don’t want this blog to discourage anyone from comforting a friend in need or feel that their words are pointless. I just want people to be able to see that when we speak God’s word as intended, to lift up the broken-hearted, to bind their wounds instead of laying them bare and adding a few more for good measure thinking that God will use it for His good. Our purpose in this life is not to wound each other. It is to encourage and edify each other through each trial that life brings… So with that being said I want to speak truth…

The truth is

that in this life there will be

trials, heartaches, sadness, grief and losses.

The truth is that it is in those trials and grief that God wants to

and will do His best work if we allow Him to.

It says in James 1:2

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”

This coming from Paul who knew more than almost any other person about trials and a rough life. He had been shipwrecked, many assassination attempts on his life, beaten multiple times, exiled from so many places, abandoned by others, imprisoned, stoned, and eventually killed.

And why you ask?

Why would a person be willing to go through so much

heartache, trauma and pain?

Through all of this how did he find the strength to count it all joy?

How did he find the strength to lift up the body of Christ through His letters? What gave him the ability to still find hope, contentment, and a reason to continue on?

1) He kept the perspective that it wasn’t personal.

I know that sounds crazy, as soon as I typed it out I wanted to delete it however I believe that was straight from God and I will tell you why…

I know my whole life I have just wanted to find others love, acceptance and a place of belonging. So much so that many times I compromised on who I was, did what I thought others wanted me to do and sought the approval of others above anything else. This past year was a challenge because no matter what I did there really weren’t many who showed any approval or many who felt I never did a good enough job. Those people who speak those things affect us so much more don’t they?

We take to heart those negative things spoken over us instead

of listening to the people who encourage, accept and love us.

Yet because of that season, it pushed me towards God, who I didn’t understand and felt was unhappy with me. He was gently trying to speak truth to me, to remind me that even when I didn’t see Him as good, faithful and an ally it didn’t change His character or the truth that He was all of those things and more. It kept me on my knees and in the word so that I could learn who this God was that would make everything yet want to be personal and intimate with me. I am learning that He has never wanted my service, He wants me!

Can you believe that?

He wants the messy, emotional, all over the place,

caring, heartbroken shell of a person that I am.

He wants to know me and

He wants to know you intimately.

Paul knew something that I still need to learn.

He knew how much the world hated Jesus.

He knew that they were bound to hate him as well

because he was speaking truth.

He was speaking of the grace and truth that set people free.

I am definitely not putting myself up there with Paul! Trust me I have so much more to learn and grow in. I don’t think I will ever reach where Paul was yet like Paul I want to share where I am at even though I know I haven’t arrived. I need to get to the point where I know that people may not like what I have to say because it is truth and be ok with that. I want to get to the point in my life where I want to proclaim what God is doing and not worry or fear what man thinks.

2) Paul knew that He was not alone.

God had not abandoned Paul nor was it punishment from God

when Paul experienced trials, heartaches and grief.

We have to quit telling people who it is something that they are doing wrong

in their lives or sin that is causing the trial, pain or sickness.

It says in Romans 8:38

photo not mine. found via pinterest.

photo not mine. found via pinterest.

It is so easy to listen to the murmurings of others that something in your life is causing these problems.

It is easy to start believing that something you say or do can separate you from God.

It is easy to think that you have just messed up again and again which makes Him so angry with you that He would turn His back on you.

My friend those are all lies and those are the people and thoughts that we have to avoid.

Don’t get me wrong… there are times in my life when I was blatantly walking away from a God that died to know me. I was walking in my selfish ways with only a desire to get my needs met. I was choosing sin as a temporary fix to make my flesh feel better.

I am not talking about that.

I am talking about a life that is truly seeking to live a life that shines His light. I am talking about a person that has identified their need for a savior because they know that in themselves they do not have what it takes to enter Heaven. I am talking about a relationship with a God that loves you so very much that while we were still His enemies He sent His son for us.

Paul knew that when he was on the road to Damascus getting ready to go and murder more christians in the name of the high priest that God appeared to him and totally and radically transformed his life.

That is the only thing that got Paul through the trials that would play out in his life.

3) Paul knew that trials would create things in him that he wouldn’t be able to do in his own strength.

In Romans 5 it says:

Photo not mine. Found via Pinterest.

Photo not mine. Found via Pinterest.

As humans we want an easy, stress-free, trial free life.

And when trials come into people’s lives some are quick to point a finger that it must be them sinning and God punishing them.

This is a prime example of where our words and spiritual alcaldes can wound instead

of lift up, mend and offer life.

Paul reminds us that it’s those trying times when our faith is built. It is the foundation that we can build a life that is confident in the hope that we have. Not in any person because we are all just humans.

We will disappoint, fall short and say the wrong things.

But God never will.

He wants to be our hope and stay.

He wants us to come to the realization and understanding that He is not only good, BUT…

He is good to me!

 

Audrey Assad- Good to me

Last but definitely not least,

4) Paul knew that to live was Christ.

Paul knew that he had a God-given purpose for his life. He knew it would be hard, he knew there would be major trials in his life, he knew that his life was not his own. He knew that you and I would need to hear of his pain thousands of years later so that we would not lose heart or quit running the race.

Pain is a megaphone to a hurting world,

It lets us know that we are not alone in this life.

Paul’s chains were for the furtherance of the gospel, He knew it was worth it all in the end.

Paul knew that through it all he would run the race set before him and know that to live was Christ but to die for Him was gain!

Philippians 1:21-24 says:

“For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.

But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.

I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ,

which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.”

Can I really say that?

I want to be able to.

Top 12 things I want to do this Year!

I am once again relocating this year to a new place. It is definitely a mix of emotions as I start life over again in a new place! I always love the anticipation of it  until the newness wears off and the struggle of feeling connected begins. It really is such a challenge to relocate and establish your heart into another place. I definitely know this feeling. As I write I am sitting at one of my dearest friends house in Columbia, South Carolina. How I have missed South Carolina and I didn’t even really realize it until I came here for my visit. I found a saying on pinterest that speaks this so well…

Rights not mine. Found on Pinterest.

Rights not mine. Found on Pinterest.

For me my heart is in so many places that I have been… Iowa where I was born (Not so much but I do love a few people from there) Upstate New York, India, South Carolina, Montana, and now Washington!

This doesn’t even count the people that I love that have moved on to other locations themselves! Places like Dallas, Louisiana, Vegas, California, England and so many other wonderful places!

We also have a heart longing for places that we have never been either! This world is not our home and I have so many people waiting for me in Heaven that sometimes I find my heart ache more and more for this place I have never been yet heard so much about. I know that my time here is not done yet so I resolve to live it to the fullest this year and as long as God has for me on this earth!

I guess thats part of loving… At least I am learning that about love. Sadly you can’t take everyone with you when you are being called to a new place! How I wish I could though!

So the whole point of this post is this new year will come along with its own set of trials, joys and wonderful moments. When I find myself struggling through the hard times I want to create for myself a Top 12 things to do so that I can go do something fun, awe-inspiring and help lift my spirits as to why I am where I am.

My friend just text me and said that she wished I could be here in SC all the time and how she has missed me being around all the time.  She said she wished that God would give her the memo on  when He gets these Grand plans for us and why He is doing it… Wouldn’t that be wonderful?!

I spent much of my life in a holding pattern with God because I insisted on controlling and knowing the when, what, why and how before I would move. People would call that disobedience, sin or a million other things that were never in my heart to be… I just wanted to be clued in on the plan. I have since learned through building the relationship that God so desired more than my obedience.  That when you truly learn who God is…

then obedience comes naturally!

It comes out of a love for the one that first loved me, who sacrificed His life and will so that I may be free and do as I desire. He gives us our free will not so that we can walk away and go do it ourselves but instead He wants it to be our choice to return to His feet and lay down our hearts and lives to be used by Him. He rejoices when just one person gets this revelation that He wants the relationship more than any other thing in the world!

So this year I want to do 12 things that will remind me each month of how our relationship has grown. I want to celebrate with my first love and rejoice in the life that we are building together!

1) January~

 I figure I only have a couple weeks when I get back to Washington so I am going to keep this one close to home! With the winter I am not sure what there is to do outside so I am going to pretend that I am somewhere else by going to India! At least for their food anyway! Gonna see if the Karma Indian Cuisine is as good as it sounds!

photo not mine. found via google search

photo not mine. found via google search

2) February~

I may miss New York by this time and need a reminder of the good times there so I will celebrate that season of my life by trying to go to this place in Tacoma!

http://www.tacomaglassblowing.com/

3)I have never been to Ireland however it is a dream of mine to go. My husbands heritage was Irish so I am going to honor the good times that we had and say goodbye to him by going to this festival. May sound crazy but I am pretty much at the point in my life where its ok to be crazy! =)

Irish Festival of Seattle

Saturday, Mar 15 10:00aMore dates & times (1)
Seattle CenterSeattle, WA

Non-stop Irish music, singing & dancing, with traditional Irish musicians & champion Irish Stepdancers from around the Pacific Northwest & from Ireland. There are genealogy & Irish language workshops, lectures, cultural displays, an Irish Reels Film Festival with contemporary Irish short films, children’s contests and activities (‘Smilingest Irish Eyes Contest’ & ‘Most Irish-Looking Face Contest’), booths selling Irish and Celtic products, etc.

 http://events.seattlepi.com/seattle_wa/events/show/337799323-irish-festival-of-seattle

4) April~

I think since I have already traveled to India and Ireland in the past months activities  it would only be fitting to go to Japan! I have had some friends that have been there and a friend from highschool that is currently a missionary over there so it would hold a special place in my heart!

Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival
Festal - Cherry Blossom - Child Dancing
Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival
Explore and experience the cultural roots and contemporary influences of Japan through live performances, visual arts, hands-on activities, foods and games. This feast for the senses features Taiko drumming and artisan demonstrations.
The Festival was founded 39 Years ago in appreciation of 1,000 cherry trees gifted to Seattle by Prime Minister Takeo Miki on behalf of the Japanese government in commemoration of the nation’s bicentennial. It is the first ethnic festival to be held at Seattle Center annually and the oldest in the Seattle Center Festál series.

5) May~

May was Phillip’s birth months so  I think it only fitting that I should go to Paradise!

Picture found via google photo search

Picture found via google photo search

6) June~

The birth month of my favoritest brother in the whole world! We have had some great times together and I selfishly want him out here closer to me! Lord willing some day that will happen!

Seems like the perfect month to go to the ocean and watch a sunset!

picture taken by Andrea Tappero

picture taken by Andrea Tappero

7) July~

Is the birth month of my sweet Momma! I will definitely be missing her by this time so I think I will go some place that her and I would go if she was here… Shopping and coffee!

photo not mine found via google photo search

photo not mine
found via google photo search

8) August~

Sounds like a perfect month to take a ferry ride to an island! I chose Blake Island for the possibility of having this view to be refreshed and reminded of God’s promises!

photo not mine. Found via google photo search.

photo not mine. Found via google photo search.

9) September~

Is the best month around because its the month I was born in! haha!

I want this birthday to be super special and memorable so I want to plan something awesome for this month! Im going to dream big and try to save up for a couple nights stay in this absolutely gorgeous B&B! I think out of all the rooms this one is my favorite!

10) October~

Will mark one year that Phillip was killed and 7 years that our babies have been in Heaven so I think maybe another trip up to Paradise would be nice! Its close by and after a splurge like my birthday wish just a day trip would be perfect! Who would not want to see this beauty?! God is amazing!

photo not mine. found via google photo search

photo not mine. found via google photo search

11) November~

I made a promise to one of my dearest friends to try and come to Vegas to help with one of the greatest ministry opportunities! That is my hope and plan for this month! Last year Calvary Chapel Spring Valley had this thing called Bless Fest and it is life changing! I want to be there to serve and give back in thankfulness of all God has done in my life!

Blessfest

12) December~

Well what to do in December?? Hmmm… I think going to see lights sounds like a fun tradition to start!

It may take me a little while to actually complete this list and it may change over the months however I have learned while living in so many different places that if you don’t plan something than the odds that you will get to experience anything are slim to none!

So what about you? Do you have dreams for this next year?

Have a vision and a hope for this new year that God has blessed you with! Look for all of the possibilities right around the corner! Experience life to the fullest!

photo found on pinterest

photo found on pinterest

My grief cycle- Part 1

Cycle of Grief—

Sunday morning,  November 3rd, 2013,

 at 6:41am I got a phone call that would change my life forever. My mother in law was on the other end with news that I had feared and dreaded since June 18th, 2007 when I last saw my husband Phillip. We legally separated due to many circumstances that I now believe were out of our hands. Phillip had been incarcerated from age 17-21 and I truly believe that what he experienced and saw in there lead him down this path of trying to cope with life through drugs and alcohol. I hate saying that people don’t have a choice because all my life I have been taught that you do. However I am starting to see that when mental illness, post traumatic stress is partnered with drugs and alcohol and the societal stigma that men are supposed to be strong and not need help it makes for disaster! Phil knew that there was a beast inside of him, he knew that his mind was not always well yet he always thought it was something that he should be able to control.

I want to write about my cycle of grief since I found out the news that the man I’ve loved for the last 7 years was never going to come back to me and be restored like I had so earnestly yet silently hoped and prayed because they had found him beaten to death in an house in Corning, NY. You know you hear all of those amazing stories of how the wife waited for the wayward husband for year and years then one day he wakes up and realizes how much he was loved, comes running back and sweeps the wife off of her feet again?! No…?? Well that’s what I wanted my story to be. And I have heard a few stories of families being restored during this time as an intern for Teen Challenge, however I am learning that it is usually the exception and not the rule.

Please understand that on all  outward appearances I had attempted to move on with my life including going to India and volunteering at an orphanage for 6 months, moving down to South Carolina to get away from all things familiar in a town where every place screamed with memories of “us”. And ending up back up in New York with the intent to go back to India for a year. I knew that I had to “keep myself busy” and focused on God while everything in me screamed to want to be back in the arms of a man that had his own ghosts and demons to fight.

I shut myself down to pretty much all men or any opportunity to become close to a guy because of the pain and hurt that I still carried around with me like a wounded bird needing love and affection. I coddled that fear until it had built a fortress around me so tall that no “Prince Charming” could have ever gotten around it or scaled the walls of my self-imposed prison. I had finally identified that I grew up in an abusive home and that played a part into the men that I found myself gravitating towards yet I didn’t know what part I played in the dysfunction so it was just easier to avoid revealing my heart to anyone dreading I would find myself in the same situation or worse. I did attempt to let one guy in only to be hurt again with his silence and games which once again in my mind confirmed that the problem was me. I was the common denominator so I was the one broken.

I found the opportunity to do an internship with Teen Challenge, a faith based 12 month residential drug and alcohol alternative discipleship program, located in Montana and I jumped at the opportunity to learn how to help people with life controlling addictions. The thing that I’ve learned since I arrived though… no one can change anyone. It was my biggest frustration to find out that I could not love someone enough, support someone enough or say enough to instill that need for a change… the only thing that eased my frustrations was the knowledge that only God could. This came with mixed emotions as anyone that has read my blog can attest to God and I have had a pretty rocky relationship! My views of Him were skewed by many childhood traumas and faulty doctrines taught to me growing up. These 10 months have been spent learning what His real nature is for myself and not based on what everyone around me feels that God is or is not. My foundation is becoming stronger because I am seeking His truth first hand for my life. This fact is the only thing that is getting me through these painful days. That along with an amazing support system of people here that allow me to just be, to feel what I need to feel that day, and love me through the process of finding out who I really am and the woman that I aspire to be.

I am going to share more of what each days emotions have consisted of so that I can look back and see how I grieved. Also I hope it will help someone to see the process and to know that each person needs to experience the whole process to find lasting freedom, though each persons process looks different based on things that they know and believe… If you find yourself camped out in a certain step like anger for instance it will wreck many areas in your life including relationships with other, your well being and happiness. In Psalms 23:4 it says…

“Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear or dread no evil,

for You are with me; Your rod [to protect]

and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.”

God wants to bring you THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death.. not let you camp out there for the rest of your life.

Sunday- November 3, 2013

I found out that Phillip was found in an abandoned house beaten to death.

My mother-in-law shared what details that she could with me, we talked, cried and grieved over the phone..

The initial emotions I felt:

 Shock, sadness, emptiness, loss, continuous crying,  a setting in of depression, wanting to be held and comforted but in the same moment not wanting to be touched by anyone.

An intense desire to just crumple to the floor and never get up again, yet an intense fire inside of myself that wouldn’t give myself permission to do so. As these first emotions swept over me a lie started to take shape in my mind that

I didn’t deserve to mourn the loss of Phillip because…

we had been separated for so long,

I had spent so many years mourning him already,

I had spent so many nights the last 6 years hurting because of the choices made,

I had shown anger at him for hurting me.

I still loved him,

I still needed him,

I wanted it to be untrue

and most of all,

If it was true then all hope of restoration was dead.

As I went through the motions of getting ready for church I knew that it was going to be one of the hardest days. I knew that I couldn’t just go home and crawl in bed letting the depression wash over me, and I knew that I couldn’t go home to New York and be comforted by the friends and family that I wanted.

As I walked in church with my friend the worship team began practicing the song that held so many memories for Phillip and I. I rushed out of the church so that I didn’t have to hear the words. I sat behind the wheel of the car and let the tears flow freely down my face, I yelled at God that I didn’t understand and I asked why over and over again. I regained composer enough to get from the church to the center where I knew 16 women would potentially see me and know that something was wrong. I made it to my room to drop off my luggage from spending the night at my friends and was able to compose myself again. As I looked in the mirror my eyes took on that glassy lifelessness that I remembered from when I had miscarried, I knew I was on the edge, I knew I was about to break.

As I came out of my room and up the hallway I was relieved that the rest of the ladies had already left to go to church somewhere else. As my friend Liz saw my face she asked what was wrong and once again as the news spilled from my lips the tears flowed freely. She took me in her arms and held me until the sobs subsided. I made it through church, barely. I only had to leave for the ladies room once to compose myself and when I saw the blotchy red skin around my eyes in the mirror I knew it was a bad idea to even try to hide the grief. I let myself be raw, I went back to my seat and cried through the video sermon that Billy Graham made for his 95th birthday and final farewell hope for the world. I cried through the last worship song as I sang out through my tears. I cried as my dear friend Mercury came up and hugged me asking if he could pray for me. And I cried waiting for my ride to take me home. Once to the house I knew I could not take much more so I attempted to get some rest from all the emotions and thoughts flowing through my mind.

Later that day I was reminded of a verse that I had once learned about God being close to the brokenhearted so I searched the reference and read it again.

Psalm 34:18

                     The Lord is close to the

brokenhearted

    ; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Flyleaf – All Around Me [Lyrics]

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Monday dawned, and though I have never been a morning person as my eyes opened, I knew I just wanted to roll over, throw the pillow up over my head and drown out the thoughts that came flooding back as it all became more real with each passing moment. I knew I had to do something, I couldn’t just sit still and let my mind wander for fear that I would let the lies in and sink deeper into the hole of depression that used to be just a toes length away from me for so very long. I had to find out the process I needed to go through to stop the court proceedings I had started for the divorce.

Before this all happened, a friend of mine had asked me if I was even ready to start the divorce proceedings again and suggested if I was still uncertain of my feelings that maybe I should wait a little longer. I know that in my heart of hearts I didn’t want to be divorced however I knew that I couldn’t stay stuck in the cycle I had been in for the last 6 years. As I was beginning the process of renewing my mind to God’s truth, I knew looking and living in the past was a dangerous and hard place to be. As I walked up the steps of the beautiful marble stairs at the courthouse, the inside of me felt as cold and lonely as the empty marble staircase must have felt. As I entered the office and disclosed my reason for coming a gasp escaped the ladies body as the shock of my reality hit her like a cold wet rag slapping her face. I didn’t know how to make it less of a shock to people as I stated my reality so I just said the facts of it, which seemed to have the reverse affect of what I was trying to come across. The lady was so very helpful and she made the process as painless as possible as I numbly tried to follow along with all of the legal lingo and mumbo-jumbo. Finally I was finished filling out the dismissal, it was signed, notarized, photocopied and I was off to the door right around the corner labeled Clerk of Courts. The gentleman that helped me did a little better job hiding his shock at my news of why I needed to dismiss the divorce proceedings that I had just a few short weeks before started. The gentleman stated that I would get an email from the judge when it was officially dismissed and that was it. I remember shuffling one foot in front of the other as I walked back down the pristine marble stairs to my metered parking spot. As the tears started to flow I remember telling myself I needed to pull myself together because I was out of meter time and was afraid an ill willed meter maid would give me a ticket and add to my already cumbersome day.

It should probably be illegal to drive right after a death because as I went through the motions of driving back to the center I would find my mind wandering to memories of Phillip, a song on the radio would bring me to tears and I would quickly wipe them out of my eyes so I could see the road. Thank God I made it back safely and into my room without to much of a break down.

 As the day unfolded I was actually going through the Denial process in my mind and kept thinking, maybe it wasn’t really him that they had found. I tried to trick myself into all kinds of ways to cope with the news however nothing could really take away the grief of it all or make the pain lessen in any way.

Tuesday- November 5th, 2013

Today I woke up ANGRY!

Mad at myself, Phillip, God, the boys that took his life. I was angry with myself because shortly after I had arrived here in January I had recieved a facebook message that was just a few short words from Phillip…

They said ” Babe I miss u n love u” and “Sweetie ur needed”…

I let my anger, hurt, sadness, fear and stubbornness to cloud my vision and cause me to react out of the hurt and unhealed spot. It didn’t show him unconditional love. People want to say to me now that there was nothing that I could have done and I will accept that I could not have done anything to change him. But I will take responsibility and say that in that moment in time my love was not kind, it only kept record of the wrongs done to me and it was demanding my own way. For that I will always be sorry. I will not carry a burden that I could have saved him from himself because like I mentioned above… I have learned that saving people is not my job, its Jesus’!

I was mad at Phillip for leaving me when I needed him the most. I was mad at him for choosing something over me and I was mad that he couldn’t be what I needed most at that time. It had been 7 years of anger, bitterness, fear, sadness, hurt, feelings of abandonment coming out in one morning and I did not know what to do with it all other than allow myself to feel it… to cry when my body wanted to cry (though I did attempt to stop myself from crying in the middle of Wal-Mart!)

I was angry at God for all the lies that I believed that He had taken Phillip away from me because it had been an unhealthy relationship, that He was punishing me because I had put Phil on a pedestal in my life and mind, angry with God because in my mind he was taking everything I ever loved when I had just cried out to him a few days prior to save Phillip.

When I initially started taking notes about this process I had put a side note in about verses talking about it being ok to be angry and to sin not and one about not letting the sun go down upon your anger… Well I was so far past all that. I had let so many suns and so much time create this anger in me. I know that it is going to be a process, I know it is going to once again be a renewing my mind to the truth that God was none of those things, that God is only good, He is always love and what we learn from the bible about love…Well only the always quoted but hardly ever lived out 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

“Love is patient, love is kind.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,

it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

God is not a mean God that sits on his thrown shaking his head or even his fist at you.

He is slow to anger, He is compassionate, He is keeping no records of my wrongs because of one reason alone,

The shed blood of JESUS!

I did also realize Tuesday night as I attempted to get out of my mind and watch a show I have always loved to try to relax from the days events and my minds wanderings, I can’t watch shows I would have  before like Bones, CSI, SVU or pretty much any crime cases right now. Its just to fresh with just the little details I know and makes me think of what the scene may have looked like. I could feel the anxiety of it all creeping in like so long ago when I needed anxiety meds to help control the pain. I knew that this may be a thing that I have to abstain from for just a time or for my own well being it may be a change I need to make indefinitely. It took me hours to be able to calm and soothe myself into a semi- peaceful sleep and that was only with the help of worship music and speaking truth in my mind of different scriptures.

Forever Reign~One Sonic Society (with lyrics)

I am going to do this in a two part because this is really where the turning point is for me and the news that I received the next day!

It is amazing to me how even through all of this God has been found. He has intricately woven His love, grace, mercy into this story and I can’t wait to share this next part with you!

Relationships, Guys have their “lists” too!

As I sit listening to my sweet dear friend tell me how this amazing Christian guy broke the news to her that he just sees them as “friends” and how he went about breaking the news, a sadness and let me be honest, an anger entered my heart. After months of them hanging out and the awkwardness of trying to figure out if they liked each other more than friends his response to her question was both out of character and upsetting. They had been on several “outings” and hang out times, so it was NOT like her question of “Do you want to go out for coffee?” was out of line. Honestly I think that his blundering response saying that he just saw her as a friend was totally out of line. Not only that but the timing, way it was handled and his ineptness at respecting her is what can hurt a heart and ruin what could have still be a great friendship.

I just finished the book Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris.  Though there are many things I liked and agreed with in the book having it written only from a male point of view was challenging to read for me. I do think he did an ok job at telling the girls how they need to let the man take the lead and to wait for a good christian guy to approach them or their parents in request to court them.

The problem however from my point of view is I think he lost sight of and really didn’t address the audience of “good christian guys” and how they need to step up and be the man.  Not in a conquer the world, rude way but in a gentle, humble way seeking God for the right time and way to speak to a lady about where things are going… or not going in this case.

My friend lamented that if he had just given her the respect and honor of  having coffee with her and during that time had a conversation about how he was feeling that it was just staying at friendship level then it wouldn’t have been so hard as the awkward, almost disrespectful way he blurted out over the phone that he didn’t like her THAT way! It hurt my heart to hear the way he flipantly communicates with her even still and talks down to her. She not only does not deserve that, it is not how a christian man of God should treat a sister in christ at all.

Men of God have this unrealistic list of what their future wife should look like, act like and be. I swear in their mind they are combining the Proverbs 31 women with their sunday school teacher, add in the Victoria Secret model into the list of physical attributes on the list, with someone that can cook like Martha Stewart and serve like Mother Theresa, be good in bed like the greatest porn star and you might just begin to touch on what a christian guys expectations begin to look like. UNREALISTIC!

To shorten the phrase “good christian fella” I am just going to use the acronym

“GCF” and in the same respect I will use will use “GCG” for good christian girl….

It has been talked about and made fun of in movies over and over again about how women have this “list” of what she wants in a man and how this list is not only the majority of the time very unrealistic but can be hurtful to others in her life and potential dates.  I would like to argue, however that GCF’s have way more ideals and expectations of what they want, the  must have’s in a christian women or they will not even consider getting to know her. In doing that men are not only hurting their christian sisters but also forming the belief in these beautiful women of God that there is something ultimately wrong with them.

They not only allow these ideals to enter their attitudes towards their christian sisters but they also use the bible as a weapon against them to support their reasonings for having these specifications. The bible is NEVER to be used as a weapon against our fellow flesh and blood but to fight the war against the evils and principalities of this present darkness. I do believe that there is a need to be spiritually equally yoked however I have seen so many GCFs with there expectations so exponentially high that not only could no women be all that they expect but they themselves are not willing to be the man that a women that amazing would want to be with!

A Proverbs 31 women is a great ideal to want to work towards as a christian women but for men to use that as their checklist on what these young christian women should be like is not only wishful thinking but impossible to accomplish. We are all in the process of growing into men and women of God but if we are expecting each other to have already reached perfection  before we will date or marry someone, this is not only so totally flawed but hurting others.

Jesus didn’t tell the women caught in adultery or the women at the well that they had to clean themselves up before they could come to him for healing, rest, love and acceptance. He loved them in spite of their imperfections and saw the beautiful creations that God had formed with his own hands. He did tell them to go and sin no longer which I believe he made possible through divine intervention in their lives, not just by saying the words and expecting them to accomplish that themselves.

He isn’t a God that just leaves us where we are,

He always loves us where we are.

He  transforms a willing heart and works through others to allow us to become better and more than we could ever ask or imagine. Honestly in the based on the times these stories were written and  the society they lived in, those women COULD NOT have “cleaned” themselves up by themselves. Maybe that is what is so beautifully messy about these women’s stories! In and of themselves there was nothing they could do to change their circumstances. Jesus provided them an alternative and the early church provided a safe place for these women so that they might not have to go back to their life. What if men in the church had refused to help these women based on their stereotype or the women of the early church had shunned these women for the life they had seen as their only means of survival?

I am seeing more and more men in the church becoming complacent, wanting a women to take the lead, then allow animosity to grow when women do that because men are truly built to lead.

 God designed us with specific roles and traits so that we would compliment each other, join together in a marriage and make a difference for His kingdom. GCF’s say that they want a women that will stand behind them and help them with the ministry that they are called to, however I do not think that was ever God’s desire for how relationship should be. He made women to be man’s helpmate side by side with himhaving the same vision and calling. Even when it is in separate areas of ministry I believe that they should complement each other enough that together they are doing more good for God’s kingdom than they could do being single.

I see GCF’s seeking out women they think their ideal wife should look like and shallowly discounting amazing christian women who do not fit in their mindset of what their “perfect” is. Don’t get me wrong I am not discrediting attraction and the need for it however when that is the top priority on their list they are allowing the worldliness of unrealistic body images to form how they react, interact and treat their sisters in Christ. If she is not the correct height, weight, hair color or body shape then they automatically discount her a possible candidate. That is not only hurtful but also not biblical. In fact if men truly read all the way through Proverbs 31 would find out that in verse 30 that it says, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting but a women that fears the Lord is to be praised and esteemed as a reward.

This attitude of worldly attraction creates issues in your fellow sisters lives that cause them to fall into the worlds issues of body image problems like bulimia, anorexia, and a hurt that is not easily remedied. In our country alone over 7 million women have an eating disorder and they estimate at least 2 million more that have never been diagnosed. You can bet that it is NOT just something outside of the church that people struggle with. I am not putting the blame fully on christian men so please understand that. A mixture of society expectations, self- expectations placed on herself mingled with rejection from men equals a recipe for disaster in a woman’s life.

According to C.S. Lewis,

Image not mine. Image found via Time Warp-wife on FB.

Image not mine. Image found via Time Warp-wife on FB.

So what am I suggesting or what is my point, you ask?

I would ask that if you are a true man of God reading this that you will prayerfully consider and examine where you may have placed high, unattainable expectations on christian sisters in your life.

If you have hurt one based on those unrealistic expectations then I would encourage you to man up and apologize to your sister because guarenteed you have left a scar on her heart whether you intended to or not.

And lastly, when in a pre-courtship friendship with a girl don’t lead her astray with extra words of affection or compliments. Especially more attention and affection than you would show to any other sister in Christ.  Women are wired to accept compliments, words of the future or anything more than you would offer a sister as a form of affection and when her heart hears those words then she begins to open her heart up to the possibilities of something more than just friendship. Guard your sisters heart and truly learn to live out 1 Corinthians where you learn that love does not insist on its own way, it rejoices in the truth that we are all intricately made, fashioned and loved by the creator of the whole world! If you view each sister as such instead of in the categories of haves and have nots then you will begin to see the beauty that God elaborately instilled in each and every sister you come into contact with.

Who knows you just might find your compatible and have an attraction towards someone you never thought you might!

I know this post may seem that I am bashing on men and godly men at that but I would tell my sisters to guard themselves on these things also. Your “lists” should only be a guide and reminder of the Godly traits you desire, be willing to strive to grow into the women of God that would attract a man that has those traits and be willing to give each and every person you meet grace, love and acceptance knowing that we are all works in progress!

When you can’t find God

When you can’t find God in a situation…

What do you do when you can’t find God in a certain time in your life?

You know it states in the bible that God will never leave you or forsake you…

So when you look back and can’t see Him what do you do?

I believe that sadly the church I grew up in would have said that when I was walking in sin and living the lifestyle that I was that God had walked away from me because He can’t stand sin or be in the presense of sin. However I beg to differ that opinion! Even when the Israelites where in the wilderness and bickering about what there was to eat or how they were going to get water God kept His presense there in the form of a cloud of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night.

He can’t lie so why would he say in…

Romans 8:38

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

I am struggling to find God in the part of my life when I was married to a non-christian abusive highly addicitve personality type man because in my “churched” mind I chose Phillip over God so in doing that God must have left me. In my mind He washed His hands of me basically saying, “Ok this is what you want? You’ve made your bed now you sleep in it.”

My mind still viewed God as the old, mean judge in the sky that pounded his gavel and sentenced me to misery at the hand of the man I gave everything to and then took my babies as icing on the cake to show me that He was serious in punishing those who disobey Him so I better never do that again!

So if that was the view I am just walking through and identifying as inaccurate… then what is truth?

According to scripture it says something completely different!

Psalm 34:18

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Isaiah 61:1

[Good News for the Oppressed] The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.

If God would send His son to die for us while we were yet sinners and enemies to Him how much more would He leave the 99 to search for the one lost lamb?

So when I look at that season in my life with Phillip I have to see that God protected me and loved me right were I was at. He was close to me when I was in such despair that I didn’t even care whether I woke up the next morning or whether Philip made good on his promise that I would not be alive by morning. I have to believe that His angels were surrounding me when I was at my lowest, when I wanted to die and just be with my babies. He worked out the successful escape plan that got me out of the abuse, anger, drugs, alcohol and dysfunction.

As I renew my mind I can truly see how God’s hand was in the whole situation in a true and real way.

Not the legalistic scary fear induced way that I had been seeing it previously.

The legitimate way that my Heavenly Father grieved for my babies as they left earth and came to be with Him. The way that He rushed to wrap me in His loving and protective wings. The way that He sings over me and rejoices when one is returned to Him.

You see He didn’t go anywhere… He was right there waiting for me to see Him for what and who He really is and was. And He has not left you either. Where ever this finds you as you read these words please know that you are never to far gone for Jesus!

It says in Psalms 139:7-12

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You
are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You
are there.

If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall
on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light
are both alike to You.

He will meet you where you are because

He loves you that much!