Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

Not The Glue

“Honor your father and mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” ~ Exodus 20:12

This post won’t be pretty because I’ve struggled with this commandment. I’ve wrestled. I’ve beat myself up with it. I’ve laid awake over not being loving enough. I’ve tried time and again to stuff the ugly feelings down, but they kept rising back to the top. Why wasn’t the forgiveness working? Was there something wrong with me? I went back to the relationship time and again, only to feel like a failure because, truth be told, I don’t like her. I feel sorry for her. I try to put myself in her shoes, but they don’t fit. Whatever she went through at the hands of my father made its way down to all of her children. Not just at his hands, but hers too. When you try to appease an abusive man, and you have kids, the kids suffer too. I guess it’s hard to protect your kids when you can’t even protect yourself.

I used to think, I was the glue that held our “family” together. That’s a lot for one person to take on. I don’t know why I have such a strong desire for family. Lord knows I’ve done my part in screwing things up, yet, it’s still there. Maybe it’s because when your family is so messed up, you desire something stable. Something that hugs and loves you. Something that lifts you up, and encourages you to keep going. That’s not what we got in the family I grew up in.

I’ve accepted that. I can’t change any of it. It’s in the past. But that doesn’t mean the past doesn’t try to seep in and take up space. I don’t recommend ignoring those thoughts. I do recommend giving pause and asking God why it’s coming up. Healing is trying to happen here and it’s a chance to grow bitter or get better. Journaling helps. Like, if you can’t talk about it, you can get it out of you by writing it out.

Forgiveness comes in all shapes and sizes. Crocodile tears, gulps of air in between heartwrenching sobs, whispers, shouting, faces etched in pain and anger, and in surrender. Surrender means you’ve placed the broken relationship in God’s hands where it belongs.

Broken people can commiserate together, but I don’t believe they can heal together. Battle wounds suffered on each person is separate. They may look similar on the outside, but the toll they took looks very different on the inside.

I kept returning to the scene of the crime expecting a different result. After all, she’s my mother. The title invokes respect, right? People innocently remind you, “she’s the only mom you’ll ever have,” and they base it off their experience with their mom.

You should be careful trying to guilt a wounded person to accept an abuser back in their life. It may not be what you mean to do, but sometimes good intentions do harm that you can’t see.

There’s an episode of the tv show “Mom” where the daughter has a podcast called, “The mother of all problems” where she speaks about her experiences growing up with an alcoholic mom. Her mother hears the show and wants to confront her daughter. The mom goes to her daughters apartment and the daughter pulls out her podcast equipment and the mom explains her side and how she’s doing so much better now and helping others. When the podcast is over, and they’re wrapping up the visit, the mom desperately wants to reconnect with her estranged daughter but the daughter tells her no, that she’s better without her mom in her life for now. The mom leaves devastated. I used to wonder how the daughter could be so harsh. I don’t wonder anymore.

In this scenario, it’s not that forgiveness didn’t happen. It did. But, healing takes time. It’s totally possible to forgive someone and not have a direct, hands-on relationship with them.

Even though the mom was now doing better, the daughter was working through her trauma and the experiences that brought her pain. She didn’t wish her mom ill, she just wasn’t ready to jump back into a full on relationship with her. In this case her mom was her abuser. Why would anyone encourage a relationship with their abuser, just because of their title?

It’s totally possible to forgive someone while you’re healing. I may not like my mom, but I love her. I have empathy for what she went through at the hands of my father. I have compassion for her pain. I also understand, that it wasn’t just my father who wreaked havoc in our lives.

I have forgiven her. I want nothing but the best for her. But in this season, the best I can do for her, is love and pray for her from a distance. The Lord knows my heart.

Do you remember when I said I thought I was the glue responsible for holding my family together? I was wrong. That was never my place. God reminded me, He’s the Savior, not me.

My responsibility is love. In this tender place, while I learn about love from my Heavenly Father, I get out of His way, because it’s never been about me. It’s always been about Jesus. But, don’t take my word for it, take His!

““Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~ John 14:6

Honor can happen from a distance. In that distance, make no mistake, Heavenly work is being done. And from all my experiences, that’s the work that matters most. The best part, the burden is lifted from me, and placed in the very hands of the One knows far more than I ever will, the Creator of all.

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Alcohol’s Dark Side

Don’t you love Facebook memories? It’s crazy to think how long Facebook has been around. The other day this particular memory popped up from 11 years ago:

“What an irritating, make me wanna do unspeakable things to people I don’t even know kind of day!!!! Good thing there’s wine in the world =)”

You can tell it’s older because there were no fun emoji’s back then.

11 years ago wine was my go to comforter. What I wrote in the post made me giggle. I have no recollection what happened that day. But I no doubt consumed more wine than I should have that day. More wine than any person should drink in a day.

By the grace of God, I was rescued from the grip alcohol had on my life. Since that Facebook post, two of my loved ones died from the clutches of alcoholism, and another is back in the boxing ring, laid out on the floor, passed out. He would later wake up in the emergency room. Please pray! God knows.

There are people who can recreationally consume alcohol and go on their merry way. Others, become addicted. For those who have never been addicted your opinion about what alcoholics should do is just that, your opinion. Your experience is not the same. Your knowledge comes from what you think, based on your own experience with the substance. Thank God, you never became addicted. Have mercy on those that do.

It’s not an easy thing to talk about. No one starts their day thinking, “I can’t wait to be an addict”. It creeps up on you and by the time you realize it, you’re in its clutches. You deny the addiction. You hide the evidence. You sneak sips or gulp the drink of choice down and I daresay, hate yourself in the process. Yet, you drink it down anyway. You think you’re being clever, yet, your loved ones know, and they pay the price alongside you.

The addiction comes with the high cost of shame, guilt, self-loathing, and thoughts like, “nothing matters, no one cares, my life is over.” Truth is, you’re exhausted from the pain that’s consumed your life. You cry out to God, “kill me” and “I can’t do this anymore”. Your cry is a death song.

But God! The second you cry out to Him, He moves. Make no mistake, God is not in the business of killing, He’s in the business of saving. He’s a Savior! He’s the Alpha and Omega! He’s the Way, the Truth and the LIGHT! He knitted YOU together in your mother’s womb, and He made you with precision and loving kindness.

It’s your enemy, Satan who comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He’s the one whispering in your ear you’re worthless and nobody cares. He will do anything he can to bring you low and crawling around like a serpent in the darkness.

When you cry out, at God’s command, people move. He already set in place who would help and fight in the gap for, and with you. They are His people, putting themselves on the front lines of faith, knowing that God has a plan, a good plan, and in tandem they fight on their knees, and worship the goodness and might of God and their battle cry is “Not one more lost to this disease, Abba Father” and they ask the Good Shepherd to bring His lost sheep home into His embrace. Why? They’ve experienced first hand what God can do/has done in their own lives.

Do you know the parable of the prodigal son? The Father didn’t stand there waiting for his son to return home. No, instead, as soon as he saw his son, he RAN to meet him and embraced him in a hug, despite his son’s running off and squandering his fortune away.

You can read the parable here.

Your cry may be a death song, but God’s action is saving grace. What you do with that, is your choice. The struggle to get where you are, has already been won. Not by anything you do, but by everything He does. You simply can’t out do or out run the goodness of God.

If you know someone in the thick of the battle of addiction, please know, they already know how sad their life has become. No one keeps drinking themselves into oblivion because everything is sunshine and rainbows. Because let’s face it, life is challenging. How you walk through it, is made up of your daily choices.

Everyone talks about the fun and glamour of alcohol. No one talks about its catastrophic effects on your body and the ruination of your life. Maybe it’s time to talk about the ugly truth and bring the LIGHT into the darkness.

If you’re addicted to alcohol and reading this, know I’ve prayed for you and for God to make Himself known to you. I’ve prayed for the saving of your soul and for you to know the great love He has for you. I have faith, it’s why you’re here. It’s why you’re still reading this post. So, this is where I let His Truth speak into your soul:

““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.“. ~ Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)

For those addicted, cry out to Jesus! Invite Him into the battle, because ultimately, the battle belongs to the Lord. The burden is too much for us on our own. Just remember, He’s your Savior, not your destroyer.

For my brothers and sisters in Christ, armor up, the front lines are calling.

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Walk The Walk

If you know me, you know I love the movie Top Gun and it’s sequel. I really liked how they merged the two movies together. One of the lines that carried over to the sequel was Maverick saying that up in the air, in a combat situation, there was no time to think or you’d be dead. (Paraphrasing) Pretty much he was saying in the situation, he acted on the knowledge and skills he’d learned through living and honing those skills.

In the original movie, in what I’ll call the simulation room, they played out his encounter with a mig on the screen and broke down and critiqued his maneuvers. The civilian liaison said that while the outcome was a success, he did it wrong and then they showed what it should’ve looked like via the “text book” instructions.

I don’t know who wrote the text book, but I know the book wasn’t in the air. How could a text book give every possible scenario to any situation? Pretty much when it comes to technology, the minute the book is printed, it’s already older than the current day technology. Is that to say the book is now irrelevant? Hard to say. I’ve not ever flown a plane.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, experience is key to the knowledge Maverick used to fly his plane. It was by practical performance and living through the experience that gave him the wisdom he needed.

Yet, there will always be someone who thinks they know how to do things better by telling what they think over having the actual experience. Where is the knowledge garnered from if you’ve not experienced it?

I had a friend who said that everyday he got behind the wheel of a car, he played out scenarios of how he’d handle a traffic incident should it happen. Have you ever been in an accident? It happens in seconds. What you do is based on so many variants, and in those moments, what you know to do, based on your experience can be crucial. But, not everything is controllable.

And that’s the scary part. The uncontrollable. It’s in those moments we try to control the variants by pushing our opinion around. All that is, is a desperate attempt to control a situation that feels out of our control. We hold on so tightly to what we think should happen, we’re willing to cause a verbal or even physical confrontation. Despite not having any practical experience in the matter.

The phrase “talk the talk” is just that. You’re talking about something you really know nothing about. “Walk the walk”, means you’ve put in the work, you’ve experienced the work, and you know first hand the battle you walked through.

When we try to define or box up another’s persons life through our opinion, we belittle what they’ve walked through. We talk about things we have no knowledge about and we try to make our opinion their new accepted reality, because it’s what we selfishly want. We get frustrated because they aren’t listening. But, who’s really the one, not listening?

Trying to control a situation with your opinion is a fool’s folly. Just take a look around social media and you’ll see it.
Proverbs 10:11-14 reminds us,

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.
Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.
The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.”

Imparting wisdom is not opinion. It’s a telling of what a person actually walked through and came out the other side. Maybe, just maybe if we stopped talking long enough and quit trying to manipulate things for our gain we’d live a way more peaceful life.

Eventually, and practically speaking from experience, trying to control something that’s not in your wheelhouse will exhaust you. If you’re always putting your best interest first and what you want ahead of others, you’re already behind.

Living selfishly means the only person you look out for is yourself. And don’t be fooled. They know how to cleverly disguise manipulation through doing things “for” you, but later using those very same things against you. And when they see they can’t control you, they’ll go after someone close to you. Be vigilant, my friends! Those red flags, don’t ignore them.

Living unselfishly means, you look for ways to help someone else succeed, to make their day better, so in turn, your day is better. Easier said than done, but so much more rewarding.

Ok, I’ve rambled on long enough. If you made it this far, I hope you have a beautiful day. It’s new. It’s filled with possibility and all kinds of gifts from your Heavenly Father. ❤️

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Where Are You?

Where are you? That was the message I received last night when I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I started to type a humorous response but then I looked at the question again. It didn’t fit the narrative of our conversation.

That proverbial light bulb went off over my head, my eyes widened, and I said….”no, it’s not tonight.” I ferverishly searched my emails for the event ticket and there it was, plain as the nose on my face. The event was happening and I was late.

Thankfully, I had most everything ready. It was a birthday wine and design for a friend. Like a madman I jumped off the couch and started gathering all the things. I quick put Moose in his crate and headed to the event.

When I arrived, I said, “Why is everyone so early”? Ba-da-bum Truth be told I was 40 minutes late. Ay, caramba!

The instructor came to my station and got me started on the painting. Despite my being late, it was really a fun night.

You know you’re making progress when something that used to bother you, doesn’t seem as important as it once was. Back in the day, my being THAT late would’ve caused a melt down. I would’ve been sullen and overly apologetic and beat myself up the rest of the night.

But, this night wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about my being late. It was about celebrating a friend’s birthday. So, I brushed off any bad feelings and had a great time.

This might not seem like a big deal, but this is what celebrating the small victories in our life looks like. While I painted away in an effort to catch up, mistakes were made. BUT, those mistakes can still be part of the overall prettier picture in progress.

The point being, don’t discount your mistakes. Instead use them as stepping stones to rise above what seems to be catastrophic. We all tend to make small mistakes into bigger ones by over thinking the mistake instead of seeing the outcome.

Yes, I was late. It wasn’t intentional. There’s no reason to stay stuck in “beat myself up” mode.

So, when my friend asked “Where are you?”, she had no idea how that simple question would effect how I’d process the rest of the evening. It kept me present, and in the moment, so I could enjoy the gifts in front of me.

Stay present my friends, it absolutely matters where you are! ❤️

Pumpkins! I’m ready for Fall & all things Pumpkin Spice. Painted at Wine and Design in Corning, NY
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Keep Paddling

For a couple weeks God laid a person on my heart to pray for. Last night I had a dream about this person. This morning when I woke up, I checked my text messages. A friend sent me pictures from an event she attended plus another pic she was given. In the pic she’d been given was the person who I had been praying for and dreamt about last night.

I stared at the pic. Past memories collided with my present. I cried. For many different reasons. If I only knew then what I know now. Garth Brooks sang a song called “The Dance”. The lyrics say:

“And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end
The way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance”

I wrote in my journal that it’s hard living with one foot in the past and the other foot in an unknown future while straddling the fence of the present. The past is both a blessing and a curse. It’s easy to get stuck floating in a river of disappointment, despair and lost dreams. Floating isn’t the same as paddling. Floating to me represents contentment while paddling means momentum.

Where are you? Are you floating or paddling? Are you straddling the fence? Friend, if you’re still here, you still have purpose. That means there’s more to be done. Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is put one foot in front of the other and keep that forward momentum going. Remembering the past is different than reliving it. It’s so much more important that you stay present.

Today is a gift. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is yet to come. Right here, right now, is all that’s promised. Make plans but keep an open hand on them. Seriously, how many times can you count the plans that didn’t go as you planned?

Whatever the reason you’re still here, trust that it’s part of a bigger plan and a greater purpose. Remember, it’s the small things that make up that bigger plan and greater purpose. So keep on paddling my friend, because each stroke counts.

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The Favorite

You were their favorite. The baby of our dysfunctional family. It came at a cost. It sucks when parents single out a child as their favorite. Everyone suffers. Including the favored child.

How ironic that you would be the first to leave this earth. You found solace in the mired depths of alcohol attempting to silence the demons that daily hunted and chased you down. You were sad, angry, and misunderstood. Also, loving, compassionate, and beautiful.

You never asked to be the favorite. But you had special needs that required more attention than your older siblings. We’ll never know what it felt like for you. We were too focused on what it felt like for us.

Today is your birthday. I’ve been thinking about you a lot. I sang “happy birthday“ to you. It’s what I do. Eleven years ago, I called to sing to you. I was shocked to hear your actual voice. Back then you hardly ever answered the phone. I was so shocked I forgot to sing. We had a nice conversation and you ended it with ”goodbye sister of my loins.” Ummm, what? You said it was from a movie. You thought it was hysterical.

After we hung up, I realized I forgot to sing to you. I waited about an hour and then called you back. Imagine my shock and surprise when you answered again. You were supposed to be running your errand. So we talked a bit more.

I was nearing my retirement from the military. You said you wished I lived closer so we could have face to face conversations. You told me about a town you loved in New York called Skaneateles. Pronounced skinny-atlas. You said I should check into it. The fact that I was even considering coming back to the NY area was confounding since I swore I’d never move back that way.

Next thing I know, I’m looking up the chamber of commerce website for Skaneateles. The picture that first appears is beautiful gazebo on a lake. I see another picture of town folks dressed up in costumes for the annual Charles Dickens festival. I’m enthralled. I knew in my knower I had to get there. Not sure what it is about gazebo’s, but I love them.

Months later, I would move to Auburn, begin working at a bed-and-breakfast as an innkeepers assistant and my beloved employer would be a part of my Jesus story. Buckle up, because I’m about to tell you how God chose a proclaimed atheist to save my life.

My brother said he believed in science and facts, not God. But God, despite my brothers belief still created him and still knew him. He even loved my brother. Loved him so much he knew his heart, his desires and answered a prayer to have his sister move closer, so they could have more face to face conversations.

I don’t believe for a second it was a coincidence my brother answered that second phone call and told me about Skaneateles. My brother loved this town, I loved gazebos’s and lakes and I had a dream to own a bed-and-breakfast. That is until I worked at one. But, that’s a story for another day.

The bed-and-breakfast where I worked, was located in Auburn, NY. My employer attended church in Skaneateles at Grace chapel. Eventually, I would join her and her family and we’d attend church together after we served breakfast and got the guests checked out. Sunday was my favorite workday.

After attending this church for several months, they began talking about their next baptismal ceremony. I felt called to take this next step in my faith journey. This is the best part.

My baptismal took place at Skaneateles lake, at the very spot that I once viewed from a computer screen, some 4,360 miles away. And yes, the gazebo was there.

God in all His glory and sovereignty can use anything and anyone. He’s not limited by what you believe. He used my brother and a gazebo to get me right where He needed me to be. His good plan included an “atheist”. Don’t worry about my brother. His salvation story was written long before life things happened.

I love and miss my brother. God loves him more. I have no doubt my brother is God’s favorite. I’m ok with that, because I’m His favorite too. Guess what? So are you.

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Rain

I sat trapped in my car. No, not really. I actually chose to sit and wait out the dump of rain from the heaven’s above. Lord knew we needed the rain. My once green lawn was smattered with brown patches of dry, brown, crunchy grass. No bare foot wants to walk on that mess.

As I sat there watching the rain, I saw it run off the ground, and down the road in a steady, stream like flow. The ground couldn’t soak up the water as fast as it was coming down. It had been too many days since the last rainfall, and the ground was as hard as a rock.

Listening to worship music while waiting out the storm, I started to cry. Yep, I’m that girl. But, I’m ok, with being weepy over rain. I cried because I was reminded of the times my heart was like the hard ground.

Having a hard heart doesn’t typically happen over night. It usually comes from defending it in the only way we know how. That’s what happens when we put up a shield to shut “things” out. Truth be told, it’s easier to stuff it down than work through whatever made us put the shield up in the first place. In this moment, we think we’ve conquered the “enemy” that threatens to steal our peace. In actuality, we gave into the enemy and a root of bitterness started to grow.

I need to add that in abusive situations, protecting yourself is vital but it’s different from hardening yourself. Protecting yourself means you know your attacker and you have defense mechanisms in place to thwart the enemy and still be who you are. Hardening yourself changes who you are to your core.

I attended a nurse pinning ceremony in 2021. One of the nursing faculty gave a speech to the student’s on the “heart-brain”. Say what? She had my full attention. I wanted to know more about this “heart-brain.”

Since I haven’t studied or majored in this area of expertise and I don’t want to misrepresent this, I’m including the link from Science of the Heart so you can dig deeper if you’d like. It’s titled Heart-Brain Communication and it’s fascinating.

Now let’s get a little nerdy, shall we? I’m going to quote straight from the website.

“The heart-brain, as it is commonly called, or intrinsic cardiac nervous system, is an intricate network of complex ganglia, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells, the same as those of the brain in the head. The heart-brain’s neural circuitry enables it to act independently of the cranial brain to learn, remember, make decisions and even feel and sense. Descending activity from the brain in the head via the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the ANS is integrated into the heart’s intrinsic nervous system along with signals arising from sensory neurons in the heart that detect pressure, heart rate, heart rhythm and hormones.” (bold emphasis added)

Wait, it gets better!

“The anatomy and functions of the intrinsic cardiac nervous system and its connections with the brain have been explored extensively by neurocardiologists.[13, 14] In terms of heart-brain communication, it is generally well-known that the efferent (descending) pathways in the autonomic nervous system are involved in the regulation of the heart. However, it is less appreciated that the majority of fibers in the vagus nerves are afferent (ascending) in nature. Furthermore, more of these ascending neural pathways are related to the heart (and cardiovascular system) than to any other organ.[15] This means the heart sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart.” (bold emphasis added)

Is that not the coolest thing you learned today? Our bodies are so complex and intricate. Is it any wonder the author of Proverbs says:

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” ~ Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

In addition to that, from Ephesians 6:14 we are to daily ensure the “breastplate of righteousness” is in place. Notice it says righteousness not hardness.

Back to my rain lesson. As the rain slowed down, the ground was more open to soak up the water. The downpour was too much for it and the water flowed off it instead of down in it.

When we take time to sit with Jesus, the constant deluge of the world’s chaotic pace takes a back seat. We can breathe easier and our heart opens up to what Jesus has for us. And now that we know our heart sends more information to the brain than vice versa, how much more important is it, that we allow Jesus full access so He can remove our hearts of stone in exchange for a heart of flesh? (Ezekiel 36:26)

Lord, thank you for showing me your ways are not my ways and your ways are higher than my ways. Thank you for never giving up on me and being the good Shepherd who gently leads and guides me through all areas of this life. Thank you for your love, guidance, grace, and mercy. How can I not praise You when every where I look, there You are! Bless my friends, family and enemies with a heart of flesh and remove the stony hearts so they may see Your glory. In Jesus name I pray, amen!

Have a heart-brain day my friends!

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Identity Thieves

I started watching a new series on Netflix. It’s a hot mess. I could tell you what the name is, but I figure if it’s meant for you, you’ll find it. The typical 45 minute show gives you glimpses of how the characters got to be where and how they are in the present.

I find shows like this fascinating. I mean, haven’t we all heard something to the effect of how we’re modern day versions of the collective experiences of our past? Reflecting on how the past factors into who we are is a good thing. Staying stuck in the past…that can cripple us.

In this new to me show are two main female characters. I’m gonna focus on the one who seems to be a present day hot mess. But before I get into that, I want to share a short personal story. I feel it relates to our hot mess gal heroine.

Back in my drinking days when my glass would get empty, I would raise my glass and sing a little ditty with my own high pitched flair at the end. It was for anyone in the house who happened to be up and about while I sat in my queen’s chaise lounge. The song went. “Running low, running on empty, running low, running drrrrrr-hiiii.” And voila, my glass would be refilled.

Running low.
Running on empty.
Running dry.

I never even knew singing that song was about so much more than an empty glass.

Ok, back to our heroine.

This gal grew up in a couple of homes. When she was a young girl she grew up in here grandmother’s loving, safe home. As an adolescent and teenager she grew up in her mothers drug addled, chaotic home.

All years in my opinion are formative years. I believe every second since we were formed and knitted in our mother’s womb, matters. What you believe is on you. No need to get defensive or divisive on the matter.

It mattered the way this gal was shown love and affection. We don’t really get to see the love she was shown in her grandmother’s home. But, we see a lot of the love and affection she desperately craved, but didn’t get in her mother’s home.

As our heroine steps into her grown-up life, she appears, happy. She drinks, does drugs, sleeps with whoever she wants and becomes a high-profile, successful talk-show host. That’s what you plainly see on the outside.

On the inside, she’s the scared, insecure girl who only wants her mother’s approval. Flash to a scene where our heroine thinks it’s safe to go see her mother and share that she’s successful. She’s hopeful her mother will be proud of her accomplishments to date.

Imagine her heartbreak and disappointment once again when she doesn’t get it, but instead hands her mother, money for “rent”. She hides her hurt well. She stuffs it way down inside and covers the punch in the gut with a false sense of bravado.

She then struts her stuff with her head tilted high, shoulders squared, and chest puffed out, seeking approval from all the wrong places. She keeps everyone at arm’s length so they can’t get close enough to ignite the deep raw anguish ravishing her soul. To her, that would be a crime against the core of everything she’s built.

That’s the problem with building your house on materialistic things. Eventually, it all tumbles down. The control you think you have over your trauma is misconceived and misplaced and it needs a place to go. Trust me when I say, it will find a place, and it won’t be pretty.

Our heroine only wanted her mother’s approval. She even said something to the effect of “I keep going back for more, hoping this time it will be different and it never is.” She’s shattered from not getting love from a mother who in this stage of her life is an empty well. Yet, our heroine wants what the empty well can’t provide. Why?

Why do we constantly seek approval for who we are and what we’ve accomplished from others who are just as flawed as we are? I can’t answer that question. It’s truly just a hypothetical question.

I do know that when we desperately seek approval from others and don’t get it in the way we want, we turn to our identity thieves.

Others
Sex
Drugs/Alcohol
Success
Fame
Money
Social Media
TV
Cutting
Food
Shopping
Working out (make our outward appearance an idol)
Unwarranted plastic surgery

I could go on and on. Almost everything on the list above, I could raise my hand and say without out a doubt I did that. To be honest, I still do some of that. Just not the ones I deem detrimental to my being. Or are they?

The truth is, when we’re running on empty, low, or dry, unless we look to God’s Truth to fill us, we’re looking in the wrong places.

I can relate to our heroine. I grew up in the drug/alcohol addicted, devoid of love home. I saw what being desperate for love looked like. I lived what looking for love looks like. It made real love in action look like somebody wanted something from me. I lived my life suspicious of almost everything. The trauma I experienced took away what “safe” felt like and put my nervous system in a constant state of high alert and panic.

I can’t even begin to describe what my body does in response to certain stimuli. The funny thing is, it’s just when I think I’ve conquered something that yet another “alarm” goes off. This is not living. It’s surviving. My body was never built for this kind of trauma. Neither was yours. There’s a difference between learning to live with your pain, and healing from your pain.

It takes great courage to move past your hurt into healing. Facing the giants of your past will no doubt cause lots of tears and lots more snot. Always make sure you have plenty of tissues close by. Seriously, where does all the snot come from?

I’m still working through a lot of my “issues” but each day, I’m one step closer to becoming all God created me to be. I used to dread meeting “her” but now I can’t wait. I bet she’s going to be phenomenal.

The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He’ll take all he can get from you. He laughs at your pain and constantly tries to get you to sit and wallow in what hurt you. Just what you’d seek in a friend, right? NOT!

Friends, God sent His one and only Son so you could live an abundant life. He cares greatly for you. But, like I always say, don’t take my word for it, take His!

“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” ~ John 10:9-11 (ESV)

Now that’s some good news.

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Cover-Up

You know that moment everything is going really well and the next thing you know, tears are streaming down your face? Yeah, me too. It’s kinda important to pay attention to what’s happening in that moment. Then again, it’s way easier to ignore the inner turmoil and just “keep swimming” as Dory, the Pacific blue tang fish from Finding Nemo would say.

I recently visited Santa Rosa beach in Florida. It was beautiful. I’m not your typical beach- goer. I love to watch the ocean and all its majesty, but I neither care for sand or the things that live and breathe in those waters. Literally, shiver me timbers mate, at the thought of all the creepy, crawly, wiggly tentacle and sharp teeth having creatures that could come alongside me.

This particular beach had the softest sand and the prettiest shades of blue water. It was peaceful and just what my soul needed. What I didn’t appreciate were the translucent looking crabs. These camera shy claw pinchers would burrow under the sand to get away from any and all prying eyes. This didn’t stop my friend and I from trying to get the ones we saw to smile for the camera. And, it didn’t stop people from trying to catch them. It’s no wonder they took to burrowing under the sand.

One evening I was walking along the beach, getting my feet wet and decided to take a few pictures. Little did I know I was standing on one of them buried crabs. The crab had enough of me and scooted out from under my foot. I jumped up like a crazy arm and legs flailing ninja and quickly backed away from the water. Done! I wanted no more crab encounters.

Let’s talk about those crabs for a second, shall we? As I thought about the crabs I thought they had a good lesson about hiding. These crabs just wanted to do crabby things. Whatever that may be. They hid when they didn’t want to be seen, and they revealed their hiding place if too much pressure was put on them. I‘m guessing they hid because they automatically considered us a foe and it’s a good defense mechanism.

What the crabs may not know is what’s under where they’re trying to hide. Is it possible for an even bigger danger to be found? Only the crab knows.

We’re not too far off from the crabs. When someone hurts us, we tend to hide and cover-up the wounds with false words like ”I’m fine.” When too much pressure is applied we use learned defense mechanisms to ward off potential foes. I say foes because it gets harder to make friends when pain and hurt do the leading under the false bravado of ”I’m fine”.

I don’t know how deep those crabs can dig down, but, I know how deep wounds can go. That’s where I found myself the other day. Thinking everything was fine. I said I had forgiven this person. I appropriately and messily walked through the hurt with Jesus and declared myself healed.

Imagine my surprise when something out of the blue nudged that ”healed” place. I exclaimed, ”Lord, I thought we were done with this?” Now, this is a great place for the enemy to try and convince you what a failure you are because you’re still dealing what seems to be the same hurt. Don’t you dare buy a ticket to that condemnation show.

God wants to fully heal and restore you. If something you thought was healed comes back to “haunt” you, take this opportunity to go deeper with Jesus into healing. As I processed this familiar hurt once again, God showed me I had merely covered up the remainder because I thought it to be inconsequential to my journey.

Apparently, God didn’t think it was inconsequential. Friends, God loves you. He wants to fully heal and restore all the areas we try to hide. He knows all the bad and sad things that covering up and storing our hurts away does to our mind and body.

Feeling shame or guilt from not being where you think you ought to be on your healing/forgiving journey only hinders moving forward. It doesn’t stop it, but it adds undue pressure on top of it. Remember, condemnation is not from God.

I had to remind myself that I was years in the making of where I am today. Why would I think it would take mere seconds for the undoing? There’s beauty to be found in the ashes and my pile of ashes is pretty hefty. But that just means even more beauty to be discovered. That’s good news!

Wherever you are in your journey, let God walk with you. He knows how slow or fast that healing will take. And if you think its done and something nudges your heart to go deeper, trust that on the other side of deeper, is everything God intends for your good. Heal on my friends!

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Unexpected

I was sill in my pajama’s enjoying the stillness of the morning. I finished my cup of coffee and was still reading my morning devotionals. Moose was sleeping in my lap.

We were both jolted out of our comfort by a knock on the door. I thought, ”Who can it be knocking on my door?” Totally sang that, by the way. I yelled out, ”Just a minute.” Moose sprinted to the door, barking his fool head off. I quickly went to my room to grab a robe.

I threw the robe on, put Moose in his crate and opened the door. There stood a nicely dressed woman whom I didn’t know. She apologized for interrupting me, and jumped into the reason she was there.

She had a black and white feral cat escape her pet carrier. She was taking the cat to be spayed at the vets across the street. Somehow, when she lifted the carrier the door opened and the cat ran onto my property. She wanted to know if she could set up a trap for the cat. She was concerned because the cat wasn’t familiar with the area. It was from another town. She mentioned another woman whose voice the cat recognized might be stopping over.

Of course, I said it was ok to set the trap and for them to search the area. Again, she apologized for disturbing me. I told her it was no bother at all, I was just reading my devotionals. She told me she was a woman of faith as well, and her name was also Faith. I introduced myself and she started walking to her car to get the trap. I told her “good luck” in catching the cat.

I don’t believe in ”luck”, so not sure why those words popped out of my mouth. She thanked me and went on about doing what she needed to do.

I let Moose out of his crate and he insisted on going outside. I decided I ought to get ready for the day and as I was brushing my teeth, I heard another knock on my door.

It was Faith, and a young girl. She looked to be a teenager. They were both crying. The girl was distraught and unashamedly weeping. Unfortunately, the cat met its demise and had gotten run over. Faith wanted to let me know, there was no need for a trap now.

I expressed my condolences and we all stood there not knowing what to do next. Faith turned to the young girl and they slowly started moving toward the car. I watched them with a heaviness on my heart for their pain.

This wasn’t their cat. They were just trying to do the responsible thing. Yet they grieved for this tiny fur baby like it was their own.

I prayed for their peace and comfort. I wondered if I should’ve invited them in. But, that didn’t really matter now, because, I didn’t.

That’s how quickly life can change. We both said we had faith the cat would be found. And it was, just not in the way we wanted. In these type moments, when things don’t turn out like we want, ”faith” is either lost or embraced. We either trust that God is who He says He is, or we decide that a god who lets bad things happen, can’t possibly be good or loving.

Ditching God for our perceived control over things doesn’t stop bad things from happening. You just have to find something else to blame it on. You usually start blaming yourself. You begin the ”I should’ve done” tracks in your brain. Thoughts start spinning out of control because somewhere along the line we think we’re responsible for everything and everyone.

As if their very existence relies on our knowing what’s best for them. Totally forgetting we don’t even have a handle on our own life.

Recently, I’ve found myself battling a familiar yet unrealistic fear. It directly ties into my thinking that I have any say over the length of time anyone in my family has left here on earth. It reminds me where I’m placing my trust. It reminds me what or who I’ve made into an idol.

I either trust God with my loved ones, or I don’t. It’s both simple and complicated. So what’s the best thing I can do? Confess my fears, repent my unbelief, and pray. Praying is my heart speaking to my Heavenly Father. He’s not ignoring what I want. He just knows better what I need. Trusting that His will be done, knowing it’s His best, releases me from the bondage of worry.

Yet, I still worry. But amidst that worry, there’s a peace. I believe it to be His peace beyond understanding, which is a gift from our Heavenly Father. It’s in that gift of peace I keep moving forward.

I don’t know what hard thing your facing today. But maybe, just maybe, try giving it to God. Seek the Father’s heart and allow Him to get all up in it. It may not turn out how you want, it may take longer than you want, but however it goes, please know, it’s part of a bigger plan for a bigger purpose. And you, my friend, are a part of it.

God’s always working. Even in the unexpected.

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