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 words fail… Part 1

When words fail…

Its been so long since I have written on here because I still am at a loss for words to say concerning the last couple weeks and months of my life.

An amazing woman of God suggested out of love that my circle of people who know the full details of my life are to board and that this could be causing more heartache than healing.

I do believe in some way she is correct.

Some people just want the dirty details of your life so that they can have the inside scoop to share with others. A gossip session that neither helps or lifts up the body of believers.

I have learned that

a small group of people deserve to speak truth

into your life and that comes with wisdom in knowing who to trust.

That seeking God above all is the most important.

And that sharing the things I am learning will help others to grow in their walk and learn from my mistakes.

When you have a life altering thing happen such as I have had in the past month often times you want to share your grief so that you can find some sort of understanding of what happened, what was your part in it and how you can avoid the pain of it again. It is easy to get lost in the need to feel justified, consoled with false statements and not seek God’s hand or heart in the whole process. As people pour out their indignation at the injustice it is easy to get lost as the victim but that is not what I want nor where I want to stay.

I have spent much of my life starting over and could easily fall into the despair that each time I failed.

And I have walked that uncharted trail many times, with my mind replaying each and every moment to see where I went wrong.

I have pleaded with God for clarity, understanding and wisdom into what happened. I have taken his advice through my devotion time to just wait, to just be still and that even through the silence He is still very much there.

He sometimes loves us more in His silence. It’s in His silence that He is truly listening to His child, bearing the weight of their hearts cry and waiting for the child to calm long enough to just be held.

I was transparent in my struggles.

I was reaching out for help and

thought I had found a place that would be a refuge from the storms of my life.

I had found what I thought would be a dream job.

I was sure that life would finally begin to look up.

And then the other shoe dropped.

I was left feeling raw, naked in my pain.

I once again hit a place in my life that I had vowed I would never visit again. A dark, cold, lonely place where like Elijah all you wish for, pray for and plead for is death.

1 Kings 19:4

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and

came and sat down under a droom tree. And he asked that he

might die, saying, “It is enough; now, Oh Lord, take away my life,

for I am no better than my fathers.”

That seems better than to look into the faces of the people who love you and see the pity they wear so plainly.

It’s not that they mean to wear it so freely.

They love so much that it pains them to see me go through the trials that life brings.

They long to speak life yet their words fall short from making things better.

When someone is grieving…

Whether it be the loss  of a loved on,

the loss of a dream,

or the loss of a friendship…

No platitudes will do!

Please do not be so quick to give your two cents

and expect the person grieving to just pick up

and move on in the time frame that you deem for them.

It says in Proverbs 25:20

Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart

is like taking someones coat in cold weather

or like pouring vinegar in a wound.”

When you don’t know what to say admit it to the person grieving, be willing to be vulnerable in your inability to fix the situation and just be there for the brokenhearted friend.

If you have never been in that place then you are one lucky person, however I am willing to bet that if anyone does read this there will be more people who can relate than not. Sadly trials, heartache and difficulties do not pick a certain type of person but at some point in all of our lives we will experience a life altering trauma that will shake our foundation.

Saying to someone, God allowed it to happen

or

that God never gives more than you can handle

are both dangerous things to say!

It can possibly, not only form a bitterness in the grieving person towards a God that they may still be seeking and searching to understand but it also is inaccurate.

People use the saying…

photo not mine. Found via pinterest

photo not mine. Found via pinterest

Did you know that verse is actually NOT in the bible??

Anywhere!

People refer to 1 Corinthians 10:13 when offering this platitude however if you look at the context of this verse it was talking about not being like the Israelite’s and their struggle to remain totally devoted to God and not stray to pagan gods, indulge in sexual promiscuity, test God or continually grumble as they did. Verse 13 states that temptations NOT TRIALS can be avoided because God will give you a way out. The temptations that are being spoken of in this verse are based on the temptations of the devil not of God.

It says in James 1:13:

And remember, when you are being tempted do not say,

God is tempting me.”

God cannot be tempted with evil, nor does He tempt anyone.”

So when you try to console someone in their grief be sure that you are speaking truth and life into their hearts instead of incorrectly attempting to fix things in your own strength.

So what is truth?

We want the truth so it can set us free, right?

I am going to break this up into 2 blogs because of the amount of information.

As I studied and wrote it became larger than expected.

I will leave you with one suggestion from a blog that I read today on

the best way to comfort a friend going through grief and trials.

 

Henri Nouwen writes,

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. 

Used via blog linked to.

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!

9 months down… 3 months to go!

Today during my quiet time with God I was reminded how it had been a long time since I have written an update letter to the people who have diligently prayed for and supported me through this season in my life. As I sat down to write this I looked at the date in the bottom right hand corner of my computer and chuckled at God’s sense of humor as today marks exactly 9 months here in Missoula, MT interning for Teen Challenge Montana Outreach Women’s Center!
Boy oh boy what I ride!! This has been the best and the hardest 9 months of my life thus far! I am learning that when you start a prayer like I did so very long ago asking God for more than just a basic Christian life that I would have to strap in for this ride and hold on tight to His love, grace and provision. He has a way of working, the twists and turns can sometimes cause butterflies in your stomach that won’t go away until His peace fills you and reminds you that its never in your strength but His alone!
So that is what He has been teaching me these past 9 months. First He has taken me on a healing journey that has helped me to identify the ways that I had misjudged His love, grace and hand in my life for that of a strong angry judge based on the Old Testament God that I had learned so much about growing up. What He so lovingly has been showing me is that when we go through the fires of life that He is there, it wasn’t necessarily Him that put me through the fire but usually my own rebellion and sin, that He never wastes any experience but instead uses it to purify us, cleanse us and make us extremely effective for His Kingdom work through it all!
I know I had arrived in Missoula thinking that I was going to spend all my time ministering to others and demonstrating God’s love but as I ran headlong into the walls of my own building, I learned that before I could effectively minister to others I had to let God truly minister to my broken and mangled heart. When I arrived I had been told to set up boundaries so that I wouldn’t get burnt out working in ministry (especially when living on site) however I had never been taught how to set up boundaries or what that looked like. So instead of a gate that would allow others to come and go as I deemed, a deep mote with a broken draw bridge went around the walls I had already erected unknowingly to protect my bruised and battered heart. As God lovingly wooed me with his grace, mercy and tenderly ministering to the one who so desperately wanted to be used, I could feel that brick by brick I was dismantling the protective shell I had placed around myself. God has shown me what unconditional love is and through 1 Corinthians 13 I am learning to effectively walk this out each day. Im definitely not perfect at it, nor will I ever attain perfection however I no longer fear that. I no longer have the attitude that there is no use trying if I can not be perfect in my actions, thoughts and deeds. Instead God is showing me that it is in my weakness that He is strong and uses me for His good and glory!
As my internship comes to a close, with only 3 ½ months remaining it is with anticipation and a tiny bit of trepidation that I look to the future and wonder what God has for me next. A normal life is definitely not what I prayed for so long ago, which can be both an adventure and a challenge all at the same time. At age 34, I know that I have done more than some and yet there are many things that I desire that I have not done like be a Godly wife and mother. I know that as I remain focused on furthering His kingdom that he will one day honor the desires of my heart so I will not rush ahead of Him or lag behind dragging my feet in the feeling of defeat of the what might have beens. I will know that as my Heavenly Father who loves to give good gifts, He will in His time bless His faithful daughter with a life better than she could ask or imagine! While living in South Carolina I had started writing a book of my life and all of its twists and turns. My adorable loving Momma keeps asking me if I have wrote anything in it since then and I would continually tell her no. She would ask why and I couldn’t always answer her but now I know… Its not the end yet! I know it will never be then end until I pass away but with this book I want to show people and be an example of how God can take a messed up, mixed up felon of a person and redeem their life story to one that honors and glorifies Him. The story is unfolding and I can’t wait to see where He is taking me! Maybe I will pick the proverbial pen back up again as this season has taught me many things!
As a prayer warrior for me during this time in my life I can offer up several specific ways that you can direct your prayer time.
  • I may have a couple opportunities with different Teen Challenges in several different states and I am praying that God will guide and direct whichever is the one that I need to be at, if that’s the direction that He is sending me.
  • I also ask for prayer as long repressed dreams of having a coffee shop/art studio/ transitional housing place keeps surfacing but nothing tangible is presenting itself. It may be God is bringing it to the forefront of my mind and dreams as a vision for the future down the road so I am praying for contentment with that and give it to God knowing in His timing He will work wonders!
  • As some of you may know I don’t have a vehicle right now as it just wasn’t workable to have here during the beginning of my internship. I know God can provide above and beyond what we can ask or imagine so please pray that God, in His perfect timing, will provide the perfect vehicle for me that will be a beautifully dependable, low maintenance, good in adverse weather, good on gas and last me for a long time!
  • As I finish that God will give me the strength and stamina to run the race well and give Him the glory through it all!
I know I am horrible at writing snail mail letters, or these update letters for that matter =) but I do love to get an occasional note or letter of how others lives are and how I can pray for you as well.
If you want to correspond my address is 3815 S. 7th St. W. Missoula, MT 59804
I would love to hear from everyone but I also know how crazy busy people’s lives are now a days!
An email or facebook post would be just as good too! =)

 

Letter to my babies in Heaven

Kierra Mae and  Kolten John

Kierra Mae and Kolten John

I just finished an amazing bible study called Forgiven and Set Free which helps people who still struggle emotionally, spiritually and physically with the aftermath of an abortion or miscarriage. Tonight we had our memorial service for our babies that are now in heaven being loved and taken care of by our Perfect Heavenly Father. This memorial service did not mark the beginning of mourning someone’s death like most service would portray , no this is actually an end to the mourning process and celebration of the life that was inside each women in the room at one point. It was a beautiful service with music, lighting of candles for each babies life, each lady explained their babies names, a bible verse that spoke to them and either read their letter or a poem.

At first I fought this whole process! Who wants to remember all of this???

What I was kidding myself on was how much I did remember and how it was affecting my life still.

There was so many things I had not let go of that was affecting not only me but others as well and my relationship with God. By going through this study it has helped me to find the truth and let go of the lies. I am renewing my mind with God’s promises and learning to forgive everyone involved.

It says in Psalms 139:13-18

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God.
They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!

I am so thankful that God loves us that much that he knows every detail and thinks of us so very much that they are as numerous as the sand!

So in this process I named my babies and wrote them a letter…

Dear Kierra Mae and Kolten John,

I have missed you every single moment since the first time I heard your heartbeat, could see you on the ultrasound screen but not hold you. I had anticipated that moment since I was a little girl and I was so very happy!

One of the things I never got to say to you was how much I loved you from the first second and how very much you still hold and have my love. In some ways a part of me, my heart and ability to love and receive love died that day they took you from my body. Your daddy and I tried so very hard to make it past the sadness and stick together through it all. He protected me from myself when all I wanted to do was be with you in Heaven. He just never knew it was in Jesus alone we would be able to find wholeness and healing. I still pray that some day God will open his eyes to that and free him from his sadness.

Some of the things I was never able to do with you was to hold you, to cuddle you closely as you slept contentedly in my arms. I never got to count your fingers and toes. I never got to rub your cheek with my finger and thank God for the beautiful gifts in my arms. I never got to see your face and find what characteristics were mine and which was from your daddy. I never got to bond with you or feel your mouth against my breast as it gave you nourishment and life. I never got to loose sleep as you would have surely needed me at night. I never got to lay with you as you slept on my chest. I never got to rock you to sleep or sing lullabies to you. I never had the privilege of hearing you cry for me or giggle with delight. I didn’t get to see all of those momentous occasions like you rolling over, sitting up, crawling or walking.

Instead of your first birthday being a joyous occasion filled with happy people celebrating your lives, flashes of cameras while you dove into your very own cake your birthday brings the pang of loss. I never get to laugh as you make a mess of your very first experience with cake and get that first sugar sweet taste of the frosting on your fingers. That day has been filled with a sadness and ache that I had feared would never go away. An intense longing to go and be with you. You were scheduled to arrive on October 31st and though I was never a big celebrator of Halloween, people just don’t understand the cloud that settles in each time around that time of year. I begin to reminisce how old you would be and what we would be doing based on how old you would be that year. This year you would have been turning 6 in just a month and a half.

It hurts the most when I think about how my life could have been so very different with you two by my side. I know people mean well and just try and help when they talk about the things that I have done since loosing you and how I wouldn’t have been able to do them all if you had been here. They say I have done so many amazing things like going to India and working at the orphanage. How torn I feel that part of my mind wouldn’t give that experience up for the world but that felt like I was saying I was thankful you weren’t born. That was so not the case as I yearn for you each and every day. If I had had you two in my life I wouldn’t have had the opportunity or desire to travel to India when I did and hold those precious babies that would have been the same ages as you two. Its hard to reconcile those two emotions and feelings. Even being in Montana has a bittersweet taste though I know God is working in my life, restoring, rebuilding, reconciling and renewing me!

For many years I have been mad at God, people, your daddy, the Dr.’s, our families, and myself for the paths, roads and highways that my life has traveled down instead of where it could have been.  Again part of my mind yearns and wishes that I had been able to be content with a life with your daddy, striving to live out the love for him that he thought he needed most. I was too broken to extend this love at the time as everything in me was draining to empty. Instead I held myself captive with the thought that when he needed me most I bailed. Part of me regretted not being strong enough to take the abuse, to stay and be submissive and prayerfully, lovingly draw him to the God that he snubbed his nose at. I held myself to the standard that I could have loved him enough to bring him back to the Lord. Part of me will always love your daddy. He had amazing moments of loving me however I know that most of our relationship was very dysfunctional and not healthy. Our love was not built on a strong foundation of God but on a shaky, fleeting sandy foundation of lust and desire. I know now there is a love that is so much better ad longer lasting than the intense but short fused bomb that was our relationship. How it exploded causing so much wreckage physically, emotionally leaving me a baron wasteland in so many ways for so many years.

Your father and I lovingly named you Kierra Mae and Kolten John Lough. You were lovingly placed in a wooden carved box that your daddy had made when he was younger. We put a mix of little mementos in the box with you. Some knit booties that a co-worker had lovingly made for you both and a little token of both your daddy and I. We buried you behind your grandparents house in the beautiful wooded area. We stole a large rock from the rock quarry not far from their house and I lovingly painted out your names on the rock and a saying that sadly, I don’t remember. I do remember that I cried the whole time I painted it out as my tears mingled with the paint.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t have gone to visit the place where we buried you more than I did. The fear of encountering your daddy kept me away for so long and then it just felt weird wanting to go after a few years had past. People felt I should have gotten over it by then, but I never had… Till now. I am going through the process and becoming free from all the sadness, depression, fear, anger, and I am learning to forgive.  It is so freeing when I truly walk in forgiveness. I still miss you with all my heart but I no longer blame myself, your daddy, the Dr.’s or God for not allowing you to be with me.

I know you are in heaven and though my time here on earth isn’t done yet I know I will get to hold you someday! And I can’t wait to see you face to face! Until then I will learn to remember you with fond memories instead of sad regret for what I don’t have. I will dream of the day with anticipation instead of holding myself in the prison of unforgiveness or longing and achingly desiring to end it all to be with you. Instead I will use this to help other women who have hurt like myself. I will be a display of a woman God let make her whole through his cleansing blood on the cross.

Thank you so much for your love and guidance! Have fun in heaven and I will see you someday!

Love you more than MOSTEST!!

Always and FOREVER!

Your Momma