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!

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My grief cycle- Part 2

Kutless Promise of a Lifetime w/ lyrics

The beginning lyrics of this song say…

“I have fallen to my knees,

As I sing a lullaby of pain

I’m feeling broken in my melody

As I sing to help the tears go away”

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

That was the emotions and feelings that emerged as I opened my eyes on Wednesday. It had been a long night of tossing and turning as my mind endeavored to keep the night terrors at bay. I felt like my body had just been put through a triathlon instead of slumbering in my little cocoon of a bedroom. As I lay there trying to assess what today’s emotions would bring I felt the heaviness of the anger seeking a comfortable spot to snuggle in for a long winter’s interlude.

People always tell you that grief is a process and that it is always different for each person however I am learning more and more that I am the type of person that just wants a road map or guide to the A+B= C with C equaling freedom from the emotional pain of the process.  I told myself that I wasn’t going to stuff the emotions and that I was wanting to learn to effectively grieve yet I had no idea what that really looked like or whether I was truly letting myself be free to do it. I did know that I was attempting to rush something that may take weeks and months to actually walk through. And I knew that I was starting to buy into the lie that I didn’t have a right to grieve for Phillip. It wasn’t anything anyone said in particular… more the underlying things that people don’t say that speak into the wounds of unworthiness and  ineligibility to feel the things that are flowing through you.

As I went through the day I would constantly have worship music playing so that I could try and create the peace, joy that I so desperately desired.  A song would come on that would speak to my grief or an emotion and I would find myself through tears crying out to God through the lyrics exactly what my heart was screaming, searching for just the right words to express the pain it was feeling. The words of encouragement from those around me, friends and family far and near, it helped to get others view on Heaven, Hell, end of life experiences, and  undertaking the task of putting my mind to ease.Through it all I was fighting with God on why he would allow this to happen, why my prayers for Phillip to come to a knowledge of his need for help and how these men could act out in such a hateful way. My mind, in its human-ness could not even imagine the big picture or how God had really been at work the whole time.

The reality of this came during a conversation with my mother in law again as I tried to stay connected as best I could from 2200 miles away. As we started our conversation I could tell something was a little different in her voice from when I had last talked to her on Sunday.  It’s all kinda blurred together what the exact conversation however the most important part  of the exchange was that a Pastor had called her, explained that he needed to talk with her about Phil and shared that just the day before Phillip had been killed he had come in to talk to the pastor. He shared that Phil had found forgiveness and release of the past things that had haunted him his whole life. He shared that Phillip was in heaven.

I remember the emotion of intense happiness and joy as I came to the realization that I would one day see my husband again and that though I could continue to walk through the grief process this knowledge helped immensely! It was as if a huge weight had been lifted off of my chest and a peace settled in. I knew I had to share this amazing news with everyone that I could! It was an answer to my prayers whether I knew it or not. It wouldn’t have been the way that I wanted my prayer to be answered however I know that its not always about the way that we want or desire things to work out. I can not see the big picture as of yet however I know that God works all things for good. What the devil thought as a victory and another life taken in the battle, God redeemed for His glorious purpose.

As I was sharing the account with my director and how Phillip had died on October 30th and our babies would have been born on October 31st and be 6  yrs old this year, she got the biggest smile on her face and exclaimed, Oh Amanda! He got to heaven just in time to celebrate their birthday with them! I hadn’t even had the chance to think of this however the remark my mother in law had told me the week before came to mind, about how Phillip loved to take anyone who came up to their house to the wooded area that we had so lovingly placed out babies little bodies, with a hand painted stone to mark their existence.  How he had loved them and the healing that did to my heart was so significant.  Phillip was free to dance and rejoice with our little ones! Joyful tears escaped throughout the night as I would think about this new revelation in the whole big picture. It was still hard to imagine I would never see his face here on earth but I could smile knowing I will be able to run into his arms in the next life.

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Was my day off and I had plans with a friend to have lunch while sharing with her all that had unfolded in the week before Phil’s death but by the afternoon, all the phone calls and talking with another friend I was so exhausted with talking about it all I began to feel numb. I know it is out of my best interest that people want me to know all of my options and what I should do next. In my fix-it and do- it mentality it is so overwhelming for me to just get through the day with the things I have to do, plus add on the emotions that come and go at the drop of a hat in the most inopportune times and tack on the things that I should do… Let’s just say that by the time 5pm rolled around I was so ready to crawl into the warmth and seclusion of my bed but I knew that I had to keep myself moving so I could sit in on a class I needed. Then I rushed to my room to begin the hibernation process!

Friday, November 8th, 2013

All the events of the week were beginning to take their toll on my emotions. I could feel the nerve endings of pain starting to surface and as the oxygen began to tickle each nerve the pain of the week brought about the feeling to just throw in the towel! How much easier would it be to just be in heaven with the man I love and my precious little ones! My raw, sensitive state was bringing those feelings of just wanting to be free from this heartache and pain that was called life. It seemed at every turn there had been something else that was constantly making my heart break. I am learning that is the curse of this life here on earth though. You will always have the possibility of being hurt when you open up your heart to another human being. I have learned also though over the last year that to not love is almost a worse prison than the pain associated with loss.

C.S. Lewis states in his book, “The Four Loves” that

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

 

I am so thankful that I am in a safe place with my sisters God has placed in my life because they remind me when I start to loose sight or just need someone to listen to my rants. When I want to give up and just live a “normal” life like I think the person in the car next to me might have, they are there to help me to know that God has incredible plans for me, not to harm me but to give me a hope and future… Even if I don’t see it right that minute. And they help me to see that its ok that I don’t see it right now in this grieving process, its ok that one minute I am smiling and the next I am scream crying, and that in this process of truly feeling the pain that I will come out on the other side stronger and more able to help others through the pains of this life.

As the realization that I was missing Phillips funeral and how badly I had truly wanted the closer of being there, I knew that I had to work through these emotions and know that God had his reason, purpose and plan for me to be 2200 miles away with no way to get home. I know that being here and spending the time in my room grieving was probably what was best, spending time with the ladies and staff who have come along side  helping me through the process and coffee chats with friends sharing life stories have made all the difference. I know that taking time the beginning of next year to go home and have that closer will be the best option. It was a constant thought I had to remind myself of throughout the night.

 Its a choice to allow myself to feel the pain. We are conditioned in our lives that pain is bad and we should do everything in our power to not feel it or avoid it at all cost. And that is why we have a generation that is self-harming more than any generation alive. If instead we taught to allow yourself to feel, to truly give yourself permission to go through the process and then to come out the other side telling yourself the truth that God so lovingly tries to show is in his word, that we are loved, we are worthy, we are precious, we are one of a kind, we are important, we are needed, we are esteemed, we are thought of, and when we renew our minds to God’s truth then we can truly rest in the pain of what He is bringing us through then it helps us to allow ourselves to rest in that. It helps us to not fear the pain or avoid it at all cost but to embrace the pain of grief with the intent that in doing so it will bring you out on the other side of the Valley of the Shadow of Death to the green pastures that He has prepared for each and every person. 

In the process I had gone through grieving the loss of my babies with the miscarriage class, our teacher spoke of the Israelites when Moses had died. She explained that they were about to cross the Jordan to the Promise Land but they took a selected amount of time to grieve the loss of their leader Moses. After the time they crossed over and entered the land that was promised to them. We have a land that is promised to us. We have to be willing to leave the comfort of the camp we have created during our grieving process. We have to be willing to wade into the unknown waters of the Jordan and we have to be willing to accept and take the Promise land that He has set up for us.

I have to remember the song that is at the beginning and what the rest of the lyrics say…

“Then I remember the pledge you gave to me,

I know your always there

To hear my every prayer inside

I’m clinging to the Promise of a lifetime

I hear the words you say

To never walk away and leave behind the promise of a lifetime”

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!

When life gets messy

I have felt pretty messy lately emotionally and spiritually

so in a lot of ways I have steered clear of writing about it

because its hard to do, right?

Its easier NOT to share the messy-ness with others,

instead we hide out and lick our battle wounds by ourselves.

We wonder…

What if the wrong person reads this post and the real you is revealed but not understood?

What if people who don’t understand all that you have been through read it and

jump to conclusions?

Or worse yet what if the one you have learned to open up to and care about so much

learns more than what they are willing to deal with and they walk away?

I grew up in a family where it was NOT acceptable to share anything negative or any struggles you were having with anyone outside of the family or let anyone know that you were sinking emotionally or physically. You were expected to put a smile on your face, and long sleeves on ,if necessary, so that for appearance sake everything looked perfect to anyone from the outside looking in.

I have lived with all of this “fear” in writing this process out and today I realized that everyone has some sort of fear or thing that they are hoping won’t happen. If we live our life in that fear or hope then unfortunately we miss out on so much of life and that kind of negative hope some how ends up coming to pass because it was the thing we feared, pondered and clutched the most.It is not what God wants for us because He says “Perfect Love casts out ALL fear!” and His hope does not disappoint according to Romans 5.

But the worlds fear and “hope” it can be…

Kinda like a self- fulfilling prophesy. I love the definition of this phrase!

Definition: becoming real or true by virtue of having been predicted or expected; a prediction of something to come

I am realizing just how much I did this in my life due to growing up in dysfunction but not knowing it was a malfunctioning environment. You begin to fear these things happening but have a hard time putting your finger on why this is a fear or where it came from. It may be a distant memory that triggers a response you never thought you would have, a scent that takes you back to a place and time or even a fleeting thought in your mind that ignites the fear in you.

So now you know its a fear and you know it comes from somewhere in the past…

What do you do to break the cycle that is in you that you have now identified as being completely unhealthy and dysfunctional?

I am still learning this process so please do not think that I am a professional in any of this or that I in some ways have all of the answers. I am looking to God and Him alone to help me learn how to break this cycle so that I do not take it into this next season of my life or a new relationship.

I am learning that I grew up in a very legalistic family even though it was the last thing that my mom would have wanted for us if she had truly known what law produces. She was radically saved when she was going in the opposite direction. For my mother, hearing from a pastor that she was going to hell based on the fact that she was an adulteress and pointing out scripture to show her where she would go should she die right that minute worked for my mom to turn her life over to God. My mom is very black and white and I believe that God created her that way for a reason, purpose and plan. I love my mom with all my heart and God has restored our relationship beyond what I could ask or imagine! She is my cheerleader and love me so very much!

The thing I never understood growing up was why I shouldn’t do things. Just the fact that adults said what the do’s and don’ts were and I should obey them because they said was how I grew up. There was no talk of an authentic relationship with God before the rules were laid out but first the rules and then an attempt at relationship with this scary God that may get mad if you did something wrong, which always ended up failing because we are humans and prone to wander from the constants in our lives.

In the book Wild Goose Chase, Mark Batterson says “We take constants for granted. And that is the “problem” with God, if I may say it that way, God is the ultimate constant. He is unconditionally loving. He is omnipotently powerful. And He is eternally faithful. God is so good at what God does that we tend to take Him for granted.”

Not only did I take God for granted for so long but I didn’t truly know who God was based on childhood perceptions that were flawed. If your first baby steps as a baby christian and child is based on the law you are prone to get to the point where you learn that performance based on law is impossible to live by! You will either spend a life time trying to be good enough working for your salvation or just throw your hands up after so long and give up even trying because you think He is a God that can never be pleased and just wants obedient servants. You know that in your own strength you will never be able to measure up. Look at what living a life by the law did for the Pharisees and tell me that’s how its supposed to be? Jesus came and called them white washed tombs! He tried telling his people that He came to abolish the law but we still want to live by it… why?

Matthew 23:27

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.

I viewed God as this Big scary Guy in the Sky that was happy with me when I did right and mad at me when I did bad. When things would happen to me that were bad and it was when I was living a rebellious life I truly believed that it was because God was angry with me and taking away my husband because I “chose” him over God and worse I truly believed that God had taken away my babies in my womb because He wanted to show me who was in charge! All of this because I had taken my life in my own hands for a short time. Did someone in your life teach you that as well? You better not do anything bad this week or you may loose God’s presence in your life or be separated from the love of God! How flawed is this thinking!

It says in Romans 8:38 that:

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.”

And I have learned in this process of learning who God really is, that he is not this schizophrenic God that is sometimes angry and sometimes happy with you based on your performance. If the last statement is true and God has moments of anger when you are doing wrong and happiness when you are doing right… then it is by works alone and not the blood of Jesus Christ that saves us. Yes in the Old Testament it talks repeatedly about God being the Mighty  Judge whose wrath was stirred by the Israelite disobedience. That God, however, poured out His wrath on His Sons body on the cross.

In the book Destined to Reign by Joseph Prince he states,

Many Christians have been robbed of fellowship and intimacy with God because they believe

the lie that God is still angry with them because of their sins. They avoid contact with God,

thinking that He gets angry with them whenever they fail. So instead of going to God when

they fail, they run in the opposite direction. Instead of running to the solution, they run

away from it. The truth is: God is no longer angry with you! His wrath towards ALL your

sins has already been exhausted completely on the body of your Savior Jesus Christ. ALL

your sins have been judged and punished in the body of another. God IS (PRESENT TENSE)

LOVE (Emphasis mine) Stop being robbed of true intimacy and a relationship with your

gracious and forgiving Savior Jesus Christ. His grace is greater than all of your failures.

He loves you perfectly, so go to Him with all your imperfections.”

I truly believe that if you want to heal the present and future you have to take the time to look back at the past long enough to identify those lies and inaccuracies that you have built your foundation on, process them effectively and any attachment you may have with the lies and inaccuracies, then allow God to heal them through renewing your mind with God’s truth in your life. Many people don’t want to go back so that they can go forward. They are told you can’t blame what happened to you on others but only deal with where you are at now. The misconception there is that those ties are still holding you back from living a life set free and whole whether you want to admit it or not.

I agree that you can not stay in the past or cast blame on others in your past. You have to understand that people did the best they could with the information, knowledge and upbringing they had available to them and release it. It is walking through the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” that God wants to bring us into a life of healing, wholeness and breaking those cycles you have gone through over and over in your life.

Sometimes I feel that I should be further along than I am but I have to remind myself that

I am having to sift through 30 years of information and place it in one of 3 bins:

Truth= Keep

Inaccuracies= find the faulty belief and replace it with truth

Lies= throw it away and break the tie!

This process takes time to rummage through and find the nuggets of truth that you want

to build your new foundation on.

The cornerstone of your foundation has to be the one that the builders rejected!

(Psalms 118:22 and Matthew 21:42)

It is chaotic and messy to others around you.

It is tiring and taxing to you emotionally.

It is inconvenient and disorganized to those who crave order.

It is uncomfortable and agonizing to our flesh.

In the end though….

It will be so worth it!

Based on 2 Corinthians 5:21

(NASB)

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,

so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

I have been made righteous through His blood on the cross,

Now I just have to learn to live that life out,

Not letting the devil take me back,

But pressing on to the prize!

I want my self- fulfilling prophecies to be that of-

love, grace, joy, peace and an abundance in God’s blessings

because I have spent the time to seek Him and find Him.

I have learned to rest in the shadow and comfort of His wing.

I trust that He is a good God that wants to pour out more and more on His precious Beloved!

God’s perfect team includes you!

Intern Intensive- What I learned

God made us for teams- His team Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Devil tries isolating us from others to reduce our effectiveness.

God has invited us to join His perfect team!

As a child in gym class there was such an anxiety that came with gym class let alone when it was a class that involved the choosing of teams! Due to a sickness and Dr.’s error when I was little my body took a hit in many ways. One of them being physically and the gaining of quite a bit of weight in a very short amount of time. I spent most of 5-6 years very sick and attempted to find out the reasons by going to pretty much every Doctor in the Waterloo area. In 4th and 5th grade I can vividly remember my gym teacher making comments that broke my child-like heart. He would say that I was going to end up pregnant by the time that I was 16 years old, that I was worthless, fat, lazy and not worth being on any team because I would just mess up, hold them back and make them loose.

Imagine as a child being told these things! Then one experience after another happening where I messed up, or held a team back, or as I gained more weight how those words just solidified in my mind as truth.

What were you told as a child?

It may have not even been someone super influential in your life but for some reason their opinion of you stuck out in your mind way more than any positive affirmations and shaped what you thought of yourself.

How did this lie that was believed shape your view of team work?

For me I didn’t even realize that it had shaped my view of teams and how much I hated teamwork because I didn’t want to be the reason a team failed. I truly believed if failure happened it was all my fault, no matter how much I had done to avoid it or how hard I had worked. In my mind it was better to be a lone ranger, independent, self-sufficient, self-reliant and disconnected to anything group related. If I did this then it really was no bodies fault but my own if I failed and I wouldn’t have to see the disapproving looks of a team who wanted to point out how I had failed them.

I see how this also affected many areas in my life currently. As an intern in the Teen Challenge program there are many aspects and teams that I am a part of. As an intern I am a part of the Staff team. It has been a challenge for me to effectively be a solid part of this team completely because of my childhood fears and lies believed coming back in the corners of my mind.

What if I fail them, or do something wrong?

What if I disappoint a staff by saying I can’t do something they ask me to do?

How can I possibly trust them with every aspect of my life when it was my “leader” who said such horrible mean things to me as a child?

So for some time, as I learned that I needed to learn to trust I fought that internal voice and attempted to reach out in faith and work as a team. An assignment we had to complete for the schooling part of this internship was the book 17 Principles of a Team Player and it was an amazing book! I really did learn so much from it however not having this insight to my childhood memory soon made it easy for me to point fingers at how other team members didn’t appear to me as being team players. I never realized I was becoming resentful that I had to be the good team player while everyone else continued in their “dysfunction” as I saw it.

During the Intern Intensive I was told that I have to be the change that I want to see and that hit me square between the eyes! At first I was offended and began to write the comment off, however God spoke to my heart before I could completely disregard the comment. God said to me that it is only my responsibility to do my best, to be the best team player that I can, to trust Him and leave the rest up to Him! It is when we get our eyes off of our self and start comparing that the devil gets a foot hold in to make us ineffective. We are so focused on what others are or are not doing correctly and usually undermine them because of our superior belief that we have it all together! How far from the truth we are! Every individual is growing and at different places spiritually than we are. Every person has their own thorn in the flesh that they are dealing with and striving to overcome. In such a close knit setting as Teen Challenge these thorns or struggles are magnified a hundred times over because of the bubble affect we are in.

As an individual I need to be willing to open my hands and say God, “ Use me each and every day for your glory! Teach me to keep my eyes trained on my own faults, hang ups and insecurities, not pointing fingers at other team members but instead lifting them up in prayer, interceding on their behalf. Lord help me to be the change that I want to see!”

As a team member of the most amazing team alive, I need to seek to know this team intimately. I need to understand that Team God wants the best for me, even when His best is painful, lonely and refining. When I seek to know this team to the best of my ability then I am able to work best with all of the other teams that God has placed in my life. I have to learn that Team God is all powerful, perfect in all ways and He resides in me!That though I have those memories of always being chosen last in gym class that God first chose me! While I was imperfect, a dirty mess and unlovely, He saw my true potential because He made me.

God has given us more power than we even know or are willing to admit. All He requires is that we ask, seek Him and He will give us the desires of our heart because those desires become His desires when we learn to abide in Him.

Oh… and the other thing that He wants is for us to ask and not doubt or waver in our asking. What child do you know that when coming to their loving parent hemmed and hawed when asking for something, fearful that their parent wouldn’t provide their request? If the child is truly loved and abides in their parents home they are not going to ask for something that a parent wouldn’t gladly accommodate if they could! How much more would a perfect heavenly father desire and anticipate His children to ask?

girl

Lost source link (Copy righted- Rights and picture not mine.

He wants to show his love, lavish it upon us yet sometimes we coldly keep him at the door of our life. He has knocked and you have opened the door to him, however you stand there talking to him with your hand on the door handle, feet right at the threshold, fearful if you let God in the home called your heart that He may see something that He doesn’t like and reject you.

Or you don’t want Him to see the former you, which in our heads we know he already knows about, yet we still cling to the past self saying, “But God take the new me, I’m all cleaned up now just for you!” He sweetly and tenderly is asking to come in an have supper with you, or tea time and tell you that it doesn’t matter that the room is cluttered with the trash of the former life. He wants to clean house but only if you are willing. Thank God I am finally willing, I have thrown open the door and said thank you God for taking me as I am!

Prone to Wander Lord I feel it…

Here I raise my Ebenezer, Hither by thy help I’m come
And I hope, by thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home,
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love,
Here’s my heart. O take and seal it; Seal it for thy courts above.

Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wand’ring from the fold of God,
He, to rescue me from danger, Interposed his precious blood,
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.
O to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let they goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to thee

Hymn Come Thou Fount

Tuesday was a difficult day as it was my first day that one of the ladies chose to leave the center before their year was complete. I had heard stories of others before I arrived leaving but this was my first encounter and all I can say is it floored me! The emotions that I encountered today were pretty much every emotion God has every created all wrapped up in an emotional basket with a bow of sadness wrapped around the handle.

I wasn’t even aware that she left until another student divulged the information as I came out of my room. It was like a sucker punch in the gut!

I had gotten pretty close to this student in the beginning of my time here however in the last month or so I had noticed this student pull away from me. After several times of asking the student if there was something wrong or if I had done anything to cause tension in the relationship and her telling me there was nothing wrong I stopped asking. Of course my first thought when I heard the news was to belittle and condemn myself in that I should have known, done something more or pushed harder to find out what was going on in her heart and mind. In the process of my self-condemnation God spoke through to me several things and those I want to share with you.

Our hearts are prone to wander… By nature we as humans want to find the easiest, safest and quickest way through a trying circumstance and then find ways to justify our desire and attempts to get out of that circumstance as quick as possible. I see this process that the women go through in the first couple months of arriving.

At first they may be angry they are in the program.

They don’t need to be here.

There is nothing wrong with them.

Denial.

Then they accept that there may be something that they need to work on.

They have a breakthrough

An encounter with God, if you will.

Then they feel they have gotten what they need from the program to be able to continue on successfully. Maybe because they had been to other rehab centers and never had that encounter with God so they feel that is the key to it all. Since they have the key, to lets say the storage closet,  they feel they don’t need the people that God has set up who have the master keys.  However God wants to give them the keys to the whole mansion he has prepared for them in His timing.

The disheartening part is they only have the key to the storage closet where all of their baggage exists.

The only reason I can identify the above is because I did it for so many years! I would have a breakthrough with God and then think that I knew it all. I would continue down the path of life with out God as the pilot and get off track because my walk wasn’t an intimate walk with the King of Kings! I let my heart wander. I didn’t continue in the revelation to let it unfold completely in my life and with that I was easily swayed, led a astray or just plan chose what was bad for myself.

The other thing that God taught me is that we as people with having had addictions have a crack in our foundation that we need to identify and correct. If we don’t go through the hard process of examining each and every nook and cranny to find the hairline fracture we will continue to let the water seep in of going back to those addictions that have controlled our lives continually!

God is continually working with me in my time here showing me where my foundation was cracked and how  the elements of dysfunction found their way into my thinking and life.  An example of a crack in my foundation was that leadership was untrustworthy in general and didn’t always hold up their end of promises because they were in the leadership position and didn’t have to. Through a series of events here God has shown me how my distrust created and began to breed the same environment that I was fearful of. As I got to know the ladies and heard the rumors of the staff it was easy for me to be swayed in this way. God in his loving kindness showed me this crack and I was able to earnestly seek to submit to authority God has placed me under and to seek ways to lift up and support the staff. In doing so I have began to build relationships with the staff, learn their hearts and see how they love and seek to do God’s will! Does that mean they do everything correct?? By all means, NO! They are still sinners saved by grace and will let others down, however it teaches us to lean on God ultimately and not put leaders above or on the same level as God.

The last thing that God taught me today is that I am here to help the women but God is the ONLY one that can change a heart, heal a heart and transform a life. I can only be a willing vessel to be used by God to minister love and support to the ladies here. I can be a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold and a sister to pray with. I was never meant to be a savior or redeemer! That job was filled when Jesus came to die for me and each and every women that is here and will come through the doors. There will be more that will come and go before its time and all I can do is continue to intercede to God on their behalf.

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart. O take and seal it; Seal it for thy courts above.

Third Month in Missoula Montana

3 months!
How time flies when you are doing God’s work!

I don’t even know where to begin as so much has happened in the month that I have written. I completed my second course through the TCMI training that I am taking and finished with an A+! I started a new course doing the workbook Experiencing God and am working on my orientation course work that every intern must complete. That alone has kept me pretty busy.

God is really teaching me so many things! I am unearthing the authentic meaning of love according to 1 Corinthians 13 and boy is it a challenging verse to learn. People in our society throw the words “I love you” around so flippantly however few can truly say that they live out the majority of the characteristics of love that are mentioned in that verse. I know I haven’t been able to! I am a runner! When love gets hard I flee!

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.
Love never fails.
How many times have I quoted this verse? A hundred.. maybe more!
How many times have I thought that I am loving others like this yet in my heart I am jealous of where God has them in their life?

Or wished something upon someone that did something to me that hurt?

This world views an enemy as someone that we no longer have to love however it says in Luke 6: 27-28

But to you who are listening I say
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

I don’t know what I expected coming out here but God opened my eyes to the fact that these women, myself included, are broken, hurt, scared, and scarred individuals who don’t know what it means to give or receive true love. Many of us have not been shown authentic love by anyone in our lives or only by one or two others and the bad has out weighed the good.

This season of my life I am learning to love women who don’t trust, who struggle with wondering what others intentions are every time someone does something and who quite frankly have a hard time loving me back. Which is a challenge for me as being loved and accepted has been a life long pursuit that I am learning has to be filled with God first before anyone else can be let in to fill the rest of our heart. The God shaped hole has to be filled first before we can truly love others authentically and completely!

Another lesson that God is teaching me is in light of the devastating bombing that happened in Boston yesterday. The women at the center that I am interning for can not watch anything on TV other than the news and a few other center approved things. Though I had seen it plastered all over Facebook I didn’t want to tell them what was going on partly due to wanting to protect them from heart wrenching news like that and also I didn’t want to voice what happened. I could feel my emotions going on auto-pilot and this feeling of apathy coming back. One of the ladies came and said she heard about the bombings on the radio and wanted to watch the news. I cringed at the thought and didn’t want to watch knowing that my heart was hurting with the little amount that I did know. The ironic and sad thing is that we turned on the news and the story allotment the local news gave it was about a minute but no more than two minutes! They assured Montana residents that no person from Montana was hurt at the race and all were accounted for. Then moved on to Grizzly football…

As I lay in bed last night and prayed about my response to all that had happened God prompted my heart that I should have hit my knees with the ladies that were in the house and we should have interceded for the families that were affected! How quickly I am to try and sweep my emotional hurts under the rug, not wanting to break down and feel the pain of what happened.

Romans 12:15 says

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

God wants us to experience life with each other and share in those emotional things that touch those around us or even affect a nation. It is healthy to mourn the loss of a young child that was waiting for his father at the finish line! That child’s life was cut short due to an evil person doing a heinous act. The light at the end of the tunnel is to know that there are more good people in the world than the few bad people. The amount of people that rushed to aid others was awe inspiring! These people know some form of love and I want to be more like that!

Those lessons are some pretty big things! On top of all that is my daily responsibilities or what the ladies hate to refer it to but what others would know as my job. We had our annual banquet this last Friday which was my 3 month “anniversary” here in Montana. Our annual Banquet is the main event that helps us to raise as much money as possible to continue the ministry through out the coming year. It is a stress packed time making sure we have as many items, donations and package getaways as possible to make the silent auction and live auction the most successful it can be. At fifty dollars per seat we have to make it as much as possible worth someone paying that much and showing them how we are using their hard earned money for the good of each and every women that comes to our Center. The weeks preceding the Banquet were jam packed with tasks and assisting where needed. It also marked the end of the other interns time here and the start of God teaching me what it looks like to be the only intern. All in all you can say it was a challenging couple weeks!

Through it all God was faithful to show up! Even down to the night of the event and the hotel calling the house to tell me, the measly intern, as all the staff were home getting ready themselves, that the power was out at the hotel and they didn’t know when it would come back on!! Oh Lord! Boy did the girls start praying and reminding the devil that he had no place not only at the house but also at the hotel where the banquet was being held. It was so awesome to see the women praying as they were getting all dressed up, putting on makeup and getting their hair done! I am so blessed to be able to see awesome moments like that and so many more. It makes it all worth while when I see the ladies who are new creations in Christ exerting their God given rights to tell the devil where to go!! =)
I am honored to be learning all of these awesome lessons God is teaching me right along side these women who remind me so much of the way that I was and in some areas still struggle. I am learning though that God is not finished with us yet and together we will run the race set before us!