What does it mean to be an imitator of God?

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

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Message translation helped me with this verse.

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

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

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

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

Love like that.”

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

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

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

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

But I want to!

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

So where do I start?

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Skip Moen website

 

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

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

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

I want to seek to know Him more,

to be content with the place He has me,

to learn from the past and let it go,

to look to the future with hope and thanksgiving,

knowing that as I continue this walk with Him,

He will reveal more and more of Himself

to me.

So I might mimic my perfect Father,

And even though His steps mammoth

compared to mine,

He will lovingly slow down His pace

so that my tiny feet can keep up.

 

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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!

Relationships, Guys have their “lists” too!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He always loves us where we are.

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

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

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

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

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

According to C.S. Lewis,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When you can’t find God

When you can’t find God in a situation…

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

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

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

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

He can’t lie so why would he say in…

Romans 8:38

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

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

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

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

According to scripture it says something completely different!

Psalm 34:18

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

Isaiah 61:1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It says in Psalms 139:7-12

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

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

He will meet you where you are because

He loves you that much!

When what you have based your beliefs on isn’t working for you…

A dear friend and mentor recently told me that there is a flaw some where in my foundation thus the reason I sought to fill my God shaped hole with everything but Him for so long and struggled with truly trusting Him with everything in my life. I used to pride myself that I would trust God to go over to India, that I would trust Him to provide for my every need while I was there. Yet as it is written in:  Proverbs 16:18

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
I wasn’t intentionally walking with pride however it was there none the less. God has been trying to gently show me the many areas that I haven’t trusted him, with my time, with relationships, and with my body. When I got sick as a child some people came from the church that we were attending and prayed for me. I wasn’t instantly healed nor did I heal over time so their way of justifying the lack of healing was to tell a small child that she did not have enough faith. To have that crack in my foundation for so long left me struggling when others would ask me to lay hands on them and pray for healing or a specific thing they were struggling in their life. I would internally question my prayer and wonder how I could pray for healing for them and have the amount of faith necessary when I didn’t have the correct amount as a child. The awesome thing that I am learning is that this was a lie that I believed for way to long! It was a way that the devil could keep me bound and ineffective in a gifting that God has potentially given to me. If the devil can cause things in our lives that keeps us ineffective for a time he, in his mind, has won and if we allow him to keep us there because of bitterness and anger, he does win.
God has other plans for his children though! God wants to make you better not bitter! During this season in my life I am learning that God has already won the battle but it is time for me and his other children to get on the same page and declare our freedom, independence and triumph over the devil.
I recently saw a saying that said,
The devil knows your name but he calls you by your sin.
God knows your sin but He calls you by your name!
(Author unknown)
It is so true! So often we let the devil keep us paralyzed pointing out all of the things that we have done wrong in our lives even when we have turned our lives over to Jesus. Y’all the devil has already been disarmed! We just have to remember that and then in turn remind the devil when he comes at us!
In Colossians 2:13-15 it says:
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh,
God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 
14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.
This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame,
by triumphing over them in him.
Because Jesus has already paid the price I can walk boldly into the presence of the Almighty God without any guilt, condemnation or expectation of punishment because of the cross, the price Jesus paid for my sins. Now I can have an intimacy with the all powerful, all knowing infinite creator of the whole universe.
I have lived my life too long in the past, constantly recalling the things that I have done, the things done to me and how that should separate me from this amazing God who sent His son for me while I was still walking in my own sin. Who am I to keep myself there when the God of the universe says that He remembers them no more!!
“Our God came, died a cruel death on the cross
and paid the full debt of sin with His own life
so that you and I can reign in life today!”
“Destined to Reign” by Joseph Prince
So what do you do when you have cracks in your foundation?
Do you apply the caulk of just self-help books and what others say you should or shouldn’t believe?
Or do you run to the word of God and to the foot of the cross?
I want to learn who I am in God through studying His word, spending time in His presence, worshiping my Savior for the work He has already finished. I want to rest easy knowing He has won the battle, I will stop depending on my self-efforts to make me “good enough” or worthy to be called His daughter”. I am already good enough and a worthy beloved heir to His throne. This knowledge sets me free to minister to others because I am not doing it for them or their approval, or even for God’s acceptance and approval.
” God’s grace does not make you lazy and unproductive. On the contrary, it makes you labor more abundantly for His glory. Apostle Paul, a preacher of God’s grace and the finished work of Jesus, said that he, “labored more abundantly than they all”. In the new covenant, God’s way is to bless you first, and the knowledge of His blessing gives you the power to labor more abundantly. In other words… we do not labor to BE BLESSED, but rather, we have the power to labor BECAUSE we are already blessed!”
Destined to Reign
Joseph Prince