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

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Secret Society

Lately every Sunday is the same for me…

I spend a couple of days before talking myself into going to church on Sunday.

Being raised in the church, my “christian-ese” mind-set tells me how I need to not forsake the gathering of the brethren,

how going to church will help me get through the week, and worse of all my mind plays the trick that I might be missing out on something.

All of these are true in a sense…

But what if right now for me the church is not the safe place I always wanted it to be…

What if instead of forcing myself to go to a building that is not safe, I instead rested at Jesus’ feet like Mary?

What if in the quiet of my own room I poured out my alabaster box and with my tears washed the feet of Jesus and found peace, healing and wholeness there?

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Like I mentioned I grew up in the church and any time the doors were open our family was expected to go. To be real and honest right now I know that my family thought that best for us for many reasons but I can see where many painful events happened for me in the church.

In my personal growing up years the church has wounded more than it has healed.

I need to process through those things, wrestle with it all if I am going to find true healing in this area.

This has always been my place to wrestle.

Most of the time I avoid it because I feel too raw to wrestle through the painful things

but on days like today I know that I need to write.

So Sunday morning dawns,

 and I find I hit the snooze button one to many times.

Then I jump out of bed, get some breakfast, take my vitamins and take a cup of coffee out on the front steps so I can enjoy and calm my nerves with my first cigarette of the day.

(That fact may cause people to stop reading now and that’s ok… this is my real place and

I am tired of hiding from people because I think they won’t approve me which is what I sought after for so many years)

As I am sitting outside dialog-ing with myself on why Sunday is so hard for me right now,

and why all the self-talk in the world can’t work to get me ready in time to go to church,

why my prayer for a will and want too has still gone unanswered in my mind.

And the words start flooding in my mind for this blog post.

I get frustrated with myself

because I want to get them down right away knowing I will forget them

if I logically say I will wait until after church to write.

Again all the “reasons” flood in my mind about why I shouldn’t write instead of go to church

but then…

It’s as if a tiny small voice says… those are the law sweet child.

And its true!

~I should go to church because I need to for my salvation

~I should go to church because what are they going to think if I’m not their for the 3rd week in a row

~I should go to church because what would my mother say

~I should go to church because it’s what the bible tells me to do

And in that moment the still small voice reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha.

Mary was sitting at Jesus feet in a day when men and women did not sit or even eat together.

For Mary to be welcomed and encouraged to remain at His feet went against all cultural norms!

How out of character that must have been!

How our minds want to go with the things taught to us because it’s what has been done for years and years,

But what if we stop and ask ourselves if that is working for us?

I would have to answer a very loud and resounding NO!

The list below is what my church going years have consisted of mostly:

(Again understand that there has been many good times in church and a lot I have learned)

I have been in multiple churches ever since I was 3-4 years old.

My parents allowed the church to raise us when it came to biblical teaching.

A Sunday school teacher told me when I was little that God lets everything happen in our lives.

I was touched inappropriately by several boys growing up while at “church functions”

When I got sick as a child, people came to pray for me, because there was no healing I was told I didn’t have enough faith.

My extended family did not approve of, understand or like our church going practices.

At 16 my parents felt led to leave the church we had grown up at and attend another church.

People who had been like family to us told my parents if they left they would no longer speak to them again.

I was told many confusing things by several youth pastors thus continuing my misunderstandings of God.

Boys at the christian school I attended were cruel, joked about my size and picked on me if I ever liked someone.

When I was rebelling growing up, Pastors basically washed their hands of me because I couldn’t put a finger on why I was so angry

I would search for ways to serve, through youth groups, worship team etc. because I was told that’s what good Christians do.

When I was in need of help, direction, mentoring or anything I was told that wasn’t a possibility

I have been told over and over to be the change I want to see.

I wanted to share my testimony at a church about what God had done for me and the pastor told me that it was just too much for the congregation to handle.

A youth pastor that I liked accepted my help with the youth, flirted with me and then lead mine and many other women’s hearts on until he found his “sugar mama”

I would seek help and healing from all of the above things over and over again through out the years.

And sadly this cycle continued to play out for me over and over again.

Even the ministries I worked at told me that I didn’t have a servant’s heart.

Life fell apart when I found out about Phillip’s death, when I went to the staff vulnerable asking for help to get through the trauma I was advised that I wasn’t there to get help I was there to serve and if I didn’t think I could do that then I needed to go.

When I transferred to a different ministry center and asked questions about pay, living expenses and what my original job description was supposed to be and how it changed once I arrived, I was dismissed and told I wasn’t the one for the job.

So how do I heal from all of this pain and trauma????

I definitely don’t think it’s by making myself go to a church that has not reached out so much as a pinky finger for me to grasp on to as I drown in all that I am going through.

I don’t write all of this out to bash churches, pastors or the people in the church.

I write it to help people to see that the church is supposed to be for…

Original photo not mine. Edited via picmonkey

Original photo not mine. Edited via picmonkey

Yet we are wounding the very ones that Jesus is instructing us to love.

We tell people that they have to get involved in the church and serve if they are to get help

but how can we expect someone to give what they don’t have or haven’t been shown?!

We sit in our fancy padded seats and raise our hands to worship

but are scared to abandon all and do what our heart is prompting us to do for fear of what people will think of us.

There have been more Sundays than not

that I could have just sat at the altar and wept,

times of worship that I could have knelt down, arms lifted in abandon and worshiped,

yet my fear of expectations and what people would say robbed me of the pure joy my heart was yearning for.

The law and the whisper of the rules  kept me in line like the good little christian I was playing to be.

I can’t keep doing that any more

I don’t want to live that way any more!

We sing songs like:

 You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Or

Shane & Shane – Yearn [Lyrics]

 

How can you listen to these songs and not want to kneel down in holy abandon

crying out to God for the desire to yearn for Him and more of who He truly is?

We can’t expect people who are emotionally, spiritually or physically sick

to walk into a church and instantly have it all together

or to know how to insert themselves in what they feel is a

SECRET SOCIETY

that they will always be on the outskirts of.

Life makes no promises

Life makes no promises

As I was crying my way to the end of the movie The Book Thief, her words resonated in my soul.

All I have learned is that life makes no promises.

So I better get started.

I have always tried to ignore it, but I know this all started

with a train, and some snow and my brother.

Outside the car the world was thrown into a snow shaker.

Onto a place called Heavens St., a man with an accordion heart

and a woman cloaked in thunder waited for their new daughter.

He lived under our stairs like a quiet owl with no wings until the

sun forgot what his face was…

~Painted on the wall is the word WRITE~

For Max who gave me eyes”

(Exert from the movie~ No rights are mine simply quoting)

Photo from the movie The Book Thief.

Photo from the movie The Book Thief.

This movie has inspired me to write again.

I look at Liesl’s life and the strength in her character. I look at the pain that her tender heart had to endure from such a young age. Loosing her brother, her mother, and so many more in her life during a time in history when everything was tenuous, fear laden and impossible for a child to understand, yet through it all she grew stronger from the pain, heart ache and sadness. She learned the value of standing up for what she believed, how to love even when it is scary and how to understand that nothing is promised in this life, not even life itself.

How easily I have forgotten this and am thankful for this reminder today.

I grew up in a generation that has the mind-set that the world owes them something.

Happiness

Freedom

Wealth

And all the things that we take for granted.

This generation has known war

but never like the World Wars that generations before us have witnessed and seen,

most right at their door steps like young Liesl.

We do know some pain, heart ache and sadness, I will not discount that, however the majority of us do not know anything of a constant fear wondering if our home is going to be bombed, raided or where we are going to get our next meal.

We have grown soft in standing up for whats right, good, moral and just,

because we want to just fit in, not draw attention to ourselves or offend.

I have always been told since a young age that I was rebellious to authority.

I truly don’t think it has ever been my heart to be so.

I have always wanted to have someone to look up to, mentor me and inspire me to be better

however

when I question things

I am chastised for not conforming to the norm.

I am told to be the “Change I want to see in the world”

yet when I voice something that may be contrary to someone’s belief and stand

I am knocked down

by the bully’s that are trying to control things.

I have let people dictate and push me down for so long, afraid that I would rock the boat

or cause adverse reactions on myself, my family and friends.

I understand Liesl’s fears in wanting to stand up to things but being fearful harm would come to the ones she has grown to love so very much.

I want to be as Liesl, not afraid to walk through the Jews being paraded down the street and passionately look for Max and voice that she will never forget him.

I want to read, grow and better myself just as she did when it was anything but acceptable to do, not to mention illegal.

I want to love someone so much that even though fear may come at the thought of loosing them I do not allow bitterness and a hardness to creep in and steal the ability to love again.

And I want to write just like she did, not fearful of how people will respond but to know that there is a story locked inside that must get out!

For too many years I have let fears control my life in relationships, in everyday events,

in leadership and in my walk with Jesus.

I don’t want to live that way any longer.

I want to live as Liesl and understand that life promises nothing

so I better get started!

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.

 

What does it mean to be an imitator of God?

I have been struggling with this phrase for some time now… It says in Ephesians 5:1-

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.”

In my mind I always looked at imitation as a negative thing…

No one really loves imitation cheese, imitation sugar, imitation leather

or any other imitation thing but we all want the real thing!

So when I would read this passage I would always look at it in an incorrect or negative light.

I still don’t know if I have it right but what God is showing me

is that I have not been walking my life out as an imitator or mimicking Him through my life and walk.

The Message translation helped me with this verse.

” Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents.

Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love.

Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant.

He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us.

Love like that.”

How can you imitate someone that you don’t really know?

I can’t truly say that I understand or know who God is because I have spent so much of my time hiding from Him, scared that my thoughts, feelings or wants would make him unhappy. I have spent so much time trying to DO what I thought He would want that I have not sought out what and who He truly is so that I can emulate the love and life that He is calling me to.

Since my view of my earthly father has not been positive I still have a hard time understanding what proper behavior is that I was supposed to be learning from my parent. I learned manipulation, anger, fear, unforgiveness and loving someone only to get your needs met.

Yet at the end of verse 1 in the Message translation it says that He loved us, not so that He could get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. I don’t know or understand that kind of love.

But I want to!

And I want to learn to imitate that kind of love instead!

So where do I start?

“Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery – it’s the sincerest form of learning.”
― George Bernard Shaw

When doing a word study on the word “imitator” I found an awesome study on the word and it helped me to understand it better.

“In order to add the background to Paul’s requirement, we must go back to chapter 4 and look at his previous argument.  Notice what he says:

Walk worthily of  the calling (4:1), be humble and meek (4:2), be long-suffering and bear with one another (4:2), chase unity (4:3), exercise your ability to provide for the body (4:11), seek perfect completion (4:12), be fully grown in faith (4:13), speak the truth in love (4:15), assist each other (4:16), be distinctively different from the world (4:17), put off the old man (4:22), be renewed in the Spirit (4:23), put on the new man (4:24), be a good neighbor (4:25), do not sin (4:26), give no opportunity for the Accuser (4:27), do not steal (4:28), domesticate your tongue (4:29), do not grieve the Spirit (4:30), turn away from unholy attitudes (4:31), be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving (4:32).

After all this, “then” imitate God.  Like most of Paul’s rabbinic instruction, we are not left in the dark about what to do.  If you want to imitate God, just do those things listed in chapter 4.”

Source: Skip Moen website

 

If you look at it closely it really does match up well with the well quoted 1 Corinthians 13 chapter in the bible, known by most as the love chapter.

I think so many times in my life when I find disunity in myself that it makes it hard to be unified with anyone else.

When I am struggling and wrestling with thoughts, feelings, emotions or life events that have unfolded, it keeps me distracted from walking this out. It keeps me from walking in unity with others and therefore keeps me from being an imitator of God to others around me.

I want to seek to know Him more,

to be content with the place He has me,

to learn from the past and let it go,

to look to the future with hope and thanksgiving,

knowing that as I continue this walk with Him,

He will reveal more and more of Himself

to me.

So I might mimic my perfect Father,

And even though His steps mammoth

compared to mine,

He will lovingly slow down His pace

so that my tiny feet can keep up.

 

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.

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!