Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

Everything I Ever Did

Can I be totally vulnerable and honest about something? Before I was a mom, I was woman, and before I was a woman, I was a child. Shocking, I know. During my formative years I saw a lot of things I shouldn’t have seen. I carried those things into every single relationship I had.

I didn’t know what love looked like.

I knew what damaged, fractured love looked like. Love in action in my home was ugly, hurtful, and once in a while, you got a glimpse of good and hope. But those moments were few and far between.

As I grew, I made vows to myself that I would never have “those” kind of relationships. If relationships stopped being fun, then color me gone.

In my effort to keep those promises to myself, I put on selfish love and thought that would make for a better kind of relationship. It was gonna be all about me, what I wanted and needed. I would do what I wanted and thought someone else needed. But, it was still to my satisfaction and the accolades I would get from them.

I would be that person who treated someone like dirt under my feet in a effort have them break up with me so I wouldn’t be the one at blame for the break up. Then I could say, look at what so and so did to me. And with a gasp of shock add, can you believe it?

After all, I only wanted a break, I only wanted to find myself, and I totally need you to understand that I need this in order to be better….for you. Can you say narcissistic behavior?

In all honesty, I didn’t want or need anything from them any longer, they had served their purpose as far as I was concerned. These were all excuses because I wasn’t brave enough to just say I was done.

I dunno, maybe I got some sort of sick, twisted satisfaction over having someone hang on for me while I got right with myself. But, I never did get right with myself, I just kept on keeping on. How sad that makes my heart now. If I ever did that to you, I’m so very sorry.

I know all the games, because I played all the games. We talk about things like worth, respect and honor. But those things are not one sided. When done out of love, these things are a beautiful back and forth dance done with humility and hope that loving one another is more than just empty words and actions.

When someone shows you their true colors, please believe them but don’t forget to look and accept your part in it. There are two sides to every story. We can all agree that the people and things in your life that you love, will change you. But you cannot deny your part. After all, you were there. And you can either let that change make you bitter, or grow you in wisdom.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about the woman at the well. If you’ve never read it, please go read John 4. Seriously, do it now.

As this unnamed woman sat at the well with Jesus, He spoke to her and she learned so much about who He was and who she was. So much so that she dropped everything and went into her town telling her story. John 4:28-29 depicts it like this:

“Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.”….

Did you see that, “He told me everything I ever did.” Not what the other people in her life did, but what she did.

I believe this woman whose name we don’t know, can be any one of us. I know, she was me. That woman at the well is my sister, my friend and mentor. She sat with Jesus, she listened to Him, she questioned Him, she received what He had to say, and then went out unabashed and shameless into a town declaring that she had been with a man who had told her everything she ever did. Crazy, right?

The chains we carry, or that carry us, will not be broken until we face them, question them, and then make a choice to break them.

It wasn’t until I stared myself in the mirror and accepted that I was also to blame, that I could begin again. As long as I was blaming others for my misery, I was never going to accept, forgive, and then conquer the learned behavior that broken love taught me.

Was this an overnight process? Umm, no. I had a lot to unlearn, a lot to forgive, and a lot to confess. But in this process, I was, and I am never alone.

Just as Jesus was with the woman at the well, He is with you too. It’s not Him who moves, it’s us. How do I know? Because His word says,

“…he will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

So are you ready to face you? Are you ready to let Jesus in and show you everything you ever did so you can truly be free? Get ready then, because I guarantee it’s a ride like no other, but it will be so worth it.

Freedom isn’t free my friends, it comes with a cost. Just ask Jesus, because He knows all about it, and He can tell you everything He ever did for you. But, don’t take my word for it, take His.

I’ll leave you with this, if you’re reading this, Jesus is calling. Will you answer?

 

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Torn Between Two Lovers

Now, if you know me, you know I love to sing. I once had a friend tell me that when I was going in for a CT scan, they would find a jukebox in my brain. HA! 

Songs pop in and out of my head constantly. From the moment I wake up, till I go to sleep. Maybe you too? Today, I wanna talk about a song that was all about having your cake and eating it too and asking others to accept it. 

“Torn Between Two Lovers” was a song recorded by Mary McGregor back in 1976. That’s right, I still remember the lyrics from a song from 1976. I would say this song would have been classified as a love song. 

There’s just something about a good, sappy love song,right?  But, this wasn’t really sappy, and I wouldn’t really classify it as a love song all these years later. It was more of a selfish, all about me and my wants song. 

The song lyrics and melody played over and over in my head and sprung forth from my mouth, as I sang, oh so beautifully – ahem, from the sound stage that was my bedroom. I would totally ignoring the rude audience that were my brothers who would scream for me to shut up. Rude, right? La, la, la, I can’t hear you! Ha ha ha

Let’s take a peek at some of the lyrics, this song shall we? Go ahead, sing along if you remember the tune. You already know I’ll be singing.  🙂 

There are times when a woman has to say what’s on her mind
Even though she knows how much it’s gonna hurt
Before I say another word, let me tell you, I love you
Let me hold you close and say these words as gently as I can

There’s been another man that I’ve needed and I’ve loved
But that doesn’t mean I love you less
And he knows he can’t possess me and he knows he never will
There’s just this empty place inside of me that only he can fill”

Ummm, what? 

Wait, it gets better. 

Torn between two lovers, feelin’ like a fool
Lovin’ both of you is breakin’ all the rules
Torn between two lovers, feelin’ like a fool
Lovin’ you both is breakin’ all the rules”

Soooo, you know what you’re doing is wrong, but yet, you keep choosing to do it anyways. Ok, got it. Continue.

“You mustn’t think you’ve failed me
Just because there’s someone else
You were the first real love I ever had
And all the things I ever said
I swear they still are true
For no one else can have the part of me I gave to you” 

This is where that famous saying, “it’s not you, it’s me” comes into play. And it’s true here. It really is her and what she felt she lacked. Her answer, let’s get another guy to fill the gaps the first guy was clearly lacking. 

Ok, let’s wrap this up, because once the chorus gets sung again the pièce de résistance (she said in her best French accent) of this song comes into full focus. Are you ready for it? 

“I couldn’t really blame you if you turned and walked away
But with everything I feel inside, I’m asking you to stay”

Ummm, what? 

Notice she didn’t say she was gonna kick the other guy to the curb. She didn’t ask for forgiveness. She never even apologizes. She simply explains herself and her actions and asks him to be ok with the third wheel being in the mix. 

Sadly, we never get to hear his answer. Or if she told the other guy about the first guy. We’re just left with, here’s a girl, loving 2 guys, explaining why she needs two guys and for the two guys to be okay with it. 

Spoiler alert! Anyone who has ever been in a monogamous relationship, who thought they were truly in a monogamous relationship, is not okay with this cavalier attitude towards relationship. 

This is why it’s so very important what you allow to speak into your life. I’m not saying in any way, shape or form, this song is the reason I felt it was ok to ever cheat in my relationships, but it was definitely one of the seeds that gave me the illusion it was acceptable. 

Inevitably, ultimately and irrevocably, I made the selfish choices to do what I did. 

If you’ve ever been cheated on, I’m so sorry. It was a choice you didn’t make, but had thrust upon you and it no doubt turned your world upside down. I know, I’ve been there.  

If you’ve ever been the cheater, I’m so sorry for whatever happened in your life that you felt the answer was more of what you already had over addressing the true matter of your heart. I know, I’ve been there. 

Please know that if a person cheats on you, it’s not about you. I can’t say that enough. So, I’ll say it again. It’s not about you. It’s 100% about what’s going on in their heart. 

They may try to pin it on you, they may twist the words to justify it, but rarely, when they’re in the thick of it, will they take responsibility for their actions and claim it’s an issue with them. Because they won’t see or refuse to see it’s an issue with them. That’s how they justify what’s going on. I know, I’ve been there. 

How else could words like these be justified:

“I couldn’t really blame you if you turned and walked away
But with everything I feel inside, I’m asking you to stay”

They can’t. Those lyrics, are all about self, twisted to make it seem like they’re the victim. 

It’s a matter of the condition of the heart. Proverbs 4:23 warns us:

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  (NIV)

Did you see that, EV-ER-Y-THING you do, flows from your heart. 

Here’s a few examples. If you’ve ever had a broken heart, you cry, you grieve and your countenance is usually sad. If you’re excited, your heart beats a bit faster, your eyes glisten, and maybe your palms sweat. If your adrenaline is really kicking, from something good or bad (like being afraid), your heart beats to the rhythm of what’s going on, your breathing gets a bit more labored and you feel like you want to bust right out of your skin. And in its’ final curtain call, if your heart stops beating, well, you know that ending. 

Every choice we make, every decision we act on has a consequence. It’s never just about one single person. When it comes to cheating I daresay it’s all about how much worth you place on yourself and where you get it from. 

I wrote about that in this post What’s In Your Treasure Chest

But, no matter what the excuse is for cheating, it will always come back to it being a matter of your heart, your choice, your decision. It’s all about you. 

So choose wisely because I can say the consequences of the thing that makes you feel temporarily awesome will inevitably rip your guts out. I know, because I was there. 

There’s a saying, “once a cheater, always a cheater.” It’s what someone or society labels you when you cheat. But they don’t just call you a cheater, they wrap you in an “always a cheater”  blanket and stop looking at who you really are. 

If said aloud or enough to yourself, it will take root, and if you’re not secure in who God says you are, you’ll believe the lie and start acting out what those believe say you are, forgetting whose you are. 

How many times have your heard someone say, “I’m such a _________. It must be true or they wouldn’t say it.” You can fill in the blank with any number of things. Failure. Loser. Mistake. Cheater. 

It was in this place, where I piled guilt upon shame upon disgrace upon self-loathing, upon disgust, upon regret, upon hate on myself. It’s no wonder I didn’t want to be around myself or think I had anything good to offer this world. How could I? 

But God! 

Proverbs 19:21 says:

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”  (NIV) 

In my heart, I wanted to take away my pain by ending my life. As you can see, I’m still here, my plans failed and His purpose is prevailing. Yay! Thank you Jesus!  

Your lot in this life is not found in your failures. It’s about getting up after the fall. Jesus didn’t remain dead after being crucified. I mean, you can’t fall much harder than that. 

No, He rose up and kicked death square in the face so that we could know victory. But before we know what victory looks like, we will fail. We will have trials. We will face persecution. We will come up against opposition. But, those things are not the end. 

Today, let’s grab hold of some serious truth. This is one of my favorite truths to hold onto when I think things can “never” change. 

Isaiah 43:19 says:

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (ESV)

Friends, don’t give up. It’s not over yet. This is absolutely the first day of the rest of your life. Everything else is the past, and you are not your past. You are very much here, and in the present and God is most assuredly making a way in the wilderness. I know, because I’m there. 

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What’s In Your Treasure Chest?

When I was a little girl, I adored peeking into my grandmother’s jewelry box and playing with the baubles inside. I can still “see” and “smell” what I considered to be my personal treasure chest. 

The black leather box had a top that flipped open as well as several drawers that had delicate silver knobs on either side. Each drawer was lined with red velvet and the smell was like no other. 

Since my grandmother didn’t have pierced ears, she had those clip on style earrings.  When no one was looking I would take them out and carefully clip them on my ear lobes and pretend that their very existence on my ears made me oh so glamorous.

I’m not so sure she appreciated me trying on her troves of treasure or that pieces would come up missing from time to time. But, if she did mind, she never said. Or maybe she did say, and I don’t remember. Either way, the memory of her jewelry box brings a smile to my face. 

As I was driving to work today, a song by Mercy Me called “Dear Younger Me,” came on the radio. I’ve heard it many times before but today a line from the song stood out to me:

“My joy, my pain, would’ve never been my worth”

So here’s a peek inside my brain. As I sang along to those words, “my joy, my pain, would’ve never been my worth,” my soul was arrested with the thought, where are you placing your worth?  

As I dug a little deeper into that question, a visual of a treasure chest popped into my brain. This brought me to a paper I had written for a college class about topics I’d like to write about.  One of those topics was a story about my grandmother’s jewelry box. And voila! Here we are.

I remember lifting the lid to that jewelry box. I remember the jewels inside that garnered my full attention. I remember the anticipation I felt even though I already knew what was in there. I’m sure my eyes sparkled with the reflection of the treasure I held in my little hands.

But, I grew up. I stopped going to the jewelry box. I was no longer captivated by its contents. The things in there were familiar, dull, and lifeless. Yet it sat there, year after year, unappreciated.

The treasure trove once my place of temporary joy and wonder is now long gone with the passing of my grandmother years ago.  

It’s kind of like life, isn’t it? We find things that bring us joy and happiness for a moment and for a while we’re enamored with it.  We get the “thing” we wanted or lose the weight, or have the big wedding. We study hard and get the job we wanted so we can buy all the things we think we’d be missing out on if we didn’t have it in our lives. 

And yet, there’s still an emptiness. 

Once again, things become familiar, dull, and lifeless. So we search for the next shiny treasure that will bring us temporary happiness. It’s easy to kick things and people to the curb when they’ve served their purpose and we have so many other options available. 

So the question of where are you putting your worth is not a surface question. It’s a let’s get real with ourselves question of the heart. 

Is your worth found in people’s approval? The way you look? The amount of money you make? The material things you’ve collected? You’re job title? Maybe you’re basing your worth on societal standards. Only you know the absolute truth. 

There are so many things of this world we consider treasure. But they are all things that will one day fade away. I’m not saying it’s bad to have those things. It’s really only when we put our faith, trust, and worth in them that we can get in trouble. 

The harsh reality is, houses burn down, people steal your stuff, companies fold, things and bodies quit working, loved ones die, and accidents happen. 

When those unexpected things happen a hard downward spiral begins and you’re faced with the question, “what do I do now“? Sadly, some never make it to the other side of that question because they tied their existence to a thing or a person and their hope was lost. 

Having been at the brink of that dark precipice, many times, I get it.  

After retiring from a career I held 29 years, it was tough trying to figure out what to do next. My treasure was found in seriously numbing my senses with alcohol. 

After years of singleness and dating my treasure was to find the perfect mate. 

When marriage got too hard and I felt unloved, unwanted, and not enough. My treasure was found in men who made me feel “loved,” “wanted,” and “enough”. 

When menopause hit and I couldn’t lose weight the way I used to, I was beside myself. My treasure was self-loathing and disgust. 

When my body betrayed me and I couldn’t work out the way I used to, my treasure became excuses. 

When the reflection in the mirror started showing my age in years, my treasure became longings of days gone by. 

As if any of this was all there was to life on this earth. In all of that, I was so wrapped up in self, I couldn’t get past myself. I was always in my own way. It mattered not what any good thing anyone said because I bought into the lies that I was not enough based on unattainable societal standards. 

I was the picture of smiling on the outside, while slowly dying inside. 

I literally could not accept myself because everyone and their life looked better, shinier, happier, healthier, and more complete. My treasure was in the wanting. Have you ever been there? Maybe you’re there now. 

Can I just say, if you’re still reading this, you’re story is not over, it’s just a new chapter. It’s not going to look like the rest of your life for a reason. Times change and time most assuredly doesn’t stand still. We’ll either get stuck in what was, or we grab onto what is, and hope for what could be. 

I’m not gonna say some of the things that brought me down don’t come back and haunt me, because they do. But now I know better than to latch onto the lies that tell me I’m not enough and sit in my woe is me pot for days on end. 

These lies stole years from my well-being. Maybe you as well. If that’s true, I’m so very sorry for all you’ve been through. 

But today is a brand new day my friend. It’s full of God’s faithful love, faithfulness, and mercy. (Lamentations 3:22-23) When God says you the apple of His eye, (Psalm 17:8), then you’re the apple of His eye. When He says He takes great delight and is singing over you (Zephaniah 3:20) then take hold of that truth and run with it. When God says He’s got a plan for you (Jeremiah 29:11) then believe it. 

Can we just agree that God’s Truth should never be harder to believe than the enemies lies? And yet, here we are, letting the thoughts of the one who only comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) take our thoughts captive. Let me just say he’s not the boss of you, unless you allow it. 

The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galations 5:22-23)

Did you see that…self-control. We have that. Plus all those other attributes. But, it’s up to us to exercise them. One last thing on this treasure topic and where we place our worth and then I’m off to seize the day. 

Matthew 6:19-21 says: 

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (bold emphasis added)

So, let me ask, what’s in your treasure chest? 

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The Choice You Choose

The hard fact of the matter is, you may not like it, you may not agree with it, but it is their body and it is their choice. Please, hear me out. Your right to believe in something does not give you the right to stomp all over someone else’s choice and make them feel less than because you believe your choice is better.

Screaming louder does not make your choice superior. Nasty quotes and making fun of things you wouldn’t choose, or name-calling is a form of bullying, allowing for division and pompous “knowledge” to rule over compassion.

From choosing whether or not to go to college, choosing a career path, getting tattooed or pierced, who to vote for, pro-life or pro-choice, having sex before marriage or not, to eat the donut or not, and so many more, are all choices an individual makes. You and I both know that choice conviction comes from God, not man.

Need an example? Read John, chapter 4 or 8. Let’s look at John, chapter 8. Here we learn the penalty for adultery is death by stoning. Could you imagine being hit full force, over and over with stones laced with hatred and “righteous” indignation, until you died? Umm, no, thank you. I’ll take a hard pass on that one!

But, that was not the case in this story. Two people decided to commit adultery anyways. They both made the choice and agreed that the act of committing adultery was worth dying for.

No matter the law, or what anyone else may have said, in the end, despite knowing the severe penalty it was their choice. They wanted what they wanted and they went for it.

Maybe like them, and dare I say me, you’ve made dangerous choices that weren’t in your best interest. Choices, no doubt others didn’t agree with or wouldn’t do. Choices others warned you about. Choices deep down you knew were wrong. So.Very.Wrong.

But if someone made the “wrong” decision in your eyes, what was your choice? Did you fight fire with fire or did your words/actions help put out the flames? Ugh, let me just say, I’ve fought fire with fire. But, I’ve learned that tactic only causes division, heartache, and regret.

Friends, God didn’t call us to shame and condemn one another. When did any of that ever make a relationship better? You could actually push the person to do exactly what you’d rather have them not do by being so crazy zealous over what you think they should do.

All you have to do is look back over your life and I bet you find a decision you made was because someone “forbade” you to do it. And you got all puffed up and under your breath, you muttered: “I’ll show them.”

Just so you know, that’s probably proof you shouldn’t make that decision. Nothing good ever really comes from, “I’ll show them.” Oy to the vey!

When did we get so wrapped up in trying to live other people’s lives, we forgot how to live our own because we knew in our knower, we “knew” what was best for them?

Why would I think I’m so good at telling others how to live their lives when my life can be such a mess? Maybe because it’s easier to put our focus on others instead of cleaning our own house?

In all honesty, I think we truly have the best of intentions when we want our loved ones and others to learn from our mistakes. I mean, experience must count for something, right? Seeing others fail must make a positive impact on our choices, right? That would be awesome, but it’s just not always the case.

A lot of my family members were alcoholics. I witnessed the devastation from it. I knew my chances of becoming an alcoholic were higher than others. I was educated on the effects alcohol has on the body and brain. However, despite being armed with all that knowledge, I still drank copious amounts of alcohol for years. That’s right, years. So.Many.Years.

No one made me do it. I chose it and many suffered from those choices. I can’t change it. It’s part of my story. But, it doesn’t define me. And no one can make me feel worse about my choices than myself.

The result of condemnation from myself is bad enough, but pile on condemnation from others and my little “woe is me” pit, will quickly escalate into a cavernous pit of self worthlessness and defeat. It’s the perfect place for the enemy to come in and keep talking me down.

Is that what we want? To help the enemy kick a person when they’re already so down on life they might not find their way back? What proverbial stone are you picking up and launching via your mouth, just because someone made a choice you wouldn’t? And don’t think that disapproving scowl goes unnoticed. That’s just adding insult to injury.

If we truly trust God, then can we have faith that while we “know best”, He actually knows better? That in fact, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:16) and not you. That what we should choose instead of slapping people with our churlish tongues is to pray for them while we love them through it? Not berate them through it?

And since we trust that God knows better than our best, maybe we should ask Him how we can help, not further hurt another.  Actually, pray for God to show you, your part in this process. Psalm 51:10 is an awesome prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.” (bold emphasis added) Notice, you put the focus back on you in this instance and off of them. Lord, how can I help and not hurt?

Y’all, hate, bitterness, and rage are harsh taskmasters. All kinds of unhealthy emotions and physical and mental unwellness are tied to it.

In a world of “what have they done for me lately” (Totally just sang that Janet Jackson style) maybe start asking “what can I do for them?” Because in the end, all the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s and what-ifs, will never change the choice of what is. And when someone leaves this earth, you won’t worry or regret that you coulda, shoulda, woulda done something more.

We’re really only a choice away from what someone else chose. Every choice has a ripple effect. They’ll touch more than just our own life and we may never know how what we chose to do, say or act will impact another. But whatever they choose to do from what they’ve seen, learned or heard will be their choice.

So, share your stories. Share your failures and your wins. Share love, hope, and give great encouragement. Share your faith and your fears, and do unto others as you would have done to you. Share your gifts and give abundantly and don’t worry about the outcome. God’s got that part. Just do what you know to do with love and I guarantee you won’t regret it!

But that’s my choice, what’s yours?

Peace and much love to you my friends.

 

 

 

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Every Good and Perfect Gift

This past Sunday morning pretty much started out like every other morning. I let Gabby out to do her thing, fed her, made coffee, and then I sat down and prepared to spend some time with my Heavenly Father. I opened up my Bible to the daily writing scripture from a monthly plan scripted by Sharon from Sweet Blessings. The verse was from James 1:16-17:

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” ~ CSB

Typically after I write out the verse, I’ll write out a prayer or my thoughts to God and listen for what He’s trying to tell me. Keyword…“trying.” Truth be told, I don’t always hear because I can get distracted by the stuff that lies ahead. To me it’s an intimate time where I tell my Father what’s going on, to be connected to the one who created me and knows my heart best. To confront what might be hiding in the shadows that keeps me from being all He created me to be.

As I wrote to Him that morning, I recalled memories from the past and my heart smiled, but my eyes wept. You ever been there? Good thing I always have kleenex nearby. Crying was not part of my plan that morning. But isn’t it just like God to take what I think will be a typical day and turn it into something I never saw coming?

I still get a bit exasperated at myself for crying so easily these days. I mean, I had places to go, things to do, and having the telltale signs of tear-stained remnants on my face was not part of the plan. I was actually thisclose to not going to church because I knew I would cry.

And if crying home alone is exasperating, crying in public, thinking everyone is looking at me is even worse. Because it’s all about me, right? Merrrrt, wrong!

Growing up in a chaotic home means you never knew what to expect. It was a constant state of being on your toes and knowing at any minute something not awesome was about to happen.

You didn’t go with the flow, you fought against it, in a constant defensive battle of negativity and pure hatred of living a life you didn’t ask for. To lose control of your emotions in front of the attacker meant they won, and you lost. Seething inside while firing laser shots with your eyes all the while screaming silently with your brain at the attacker or shutting down altogether was the only way to make it through the battle.

My mom once explained it to someone like this, “you wouldn’t survive a day the way we’ve survived for years.” So I guess it’s no wonder that all those years of pent up emotions so easily come forward now. Still, I find myself stuffing those feelings down when I don’t want to deal with them. Which is really dumb, because they bubble up to the surface through so many ways and I inevitably have to deal with them anyway.

Back to this past Sunday. I got ready for church and told myself, the crying was over. No more tears, sister! I gave myself a good talking to and though I may have felt weepy, I was not going to let weepy win. Convinced I was ready, makeup in place, I set out to Sunday worship.

Cue the worship team. I walked in on the second song, “God is always good.” As I listened to the song and watched the words on the screen I settled in and made my joyful noise to the Lord as I sang. Then these words come:

“You alone freely give
So that all can truly live
Every good and perfect gift
Comes from Heaven”

Did you see that? “Every good and perfect gift comes from heaven.” If you didn’t get that, go back up to the verse I referenced at the beginning. I look up to the ceiling and nod my head and smile at God as I continue singing:

“God is always good
Yes, God is always good
What I sing on the mountain, I’ll sing in the valley
That God is always good”

So much for controlling my emotions. My eyes betray me as tears stream down my face. I lift my hands in praise and try not to worry about anyone who I think might be looking at me. And I realize tears are a good and perfect gift from God. They are not shameful, they are not a sign of weakness, and they most assuredly don’t diminish who I think I am.

At this moment, I realize He’s showing me a new way to see my tears. Romans 12:2 was the very first verse I memorized and when you allow His Word to take root you will see it at work. 

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” ~ Romans 12:2 (NIV)

I don’t need to be embarrassed by my tears, I only need to embrace the gift God so freely gave me. There are many reasons I cry, but the hurting tears are the heart cries of my soul, a grieving process that helps heal the pain. Why would I ever want to shut that down knowing it’s good for me?

It matters not what anyone thinks of my tears. They’ve not been on my journey, they’re only seeing a snippet of a moment in time. And maybe, just maybe, the shedding of my tears will allow someone else to be set free from the chains that so easily bind us up.

And I’ll leave you with these infamous words sung by Lesley Gore:

“It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to
cry if I want to, cry if I want to
you would cry too if it happened to you”

Have an amazing day, friends! Thanks, for stopping by 🙂 

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Building A Relationship

Hmmm….I went in search of a pic I saw this morning of that Hollywood Met gala but I couldn’t find it, so, I’ll just tell ya about it. It was a picture of Sarah Jessica Parker holding hands with someone other than her husband. It caught my attention for 2 reasons. The tartan outfits and the fact she wasn’t holding hands with her hubby. My first thought was…OMGosh, when did she split up with her hubby?! They’ve been together for a really long time! I actually had to click on the article and find that particular pic…it was from 2006. She was married to her hubby at that time but from the picture alone, I had immediately made an assumption that just because she was holding hands with another guy that must mean her marriage had fallen apart. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? In this case, apparently, wrong!

Every single day, we see these types of articles on social media. We make assumptions and comment without knowing the actual details. Headlines are misleading, they want to draw you in and have you read what they have to say. Most times they don’t care that their headlines are misleading. They don’t even care the comments are only based on reading the “highlight”. They don’t care if what they posted instills fear or causes comment mayhem or if you jump to conclusions. I will not typically comment on something I haven’t read. Reacting to things instead of rationally thinking them through or doing a bit of research is worth more to me than joining in on the frenzy of inaccuracy.

Where are you going with this, Trish? I’m so glad you asked. Haha I’ve been on an intentional relationship journey for about 7 years. Previous to those 7 years, I dabbled, I sat out the outskirts, I could be swayed from one side to another based on what sounded more logical and I finally found the only way I was going to figure it out, was to actually experience it for myself. I mean, after all, isn’t that how you build a relationship? Taking time to get to know someone? As an example, my mom is 76 and there’s still things I’m finding out about her. This relationship is still ongoing. Just like spending some time digging for the facts on that picture of Sarah Jessica Parker, I’ve had to spend time with my mom, asking, watching, and listening.

But the 7 year journey I’m talking about has been all about getting to know Jesus. This is what I know. I can read all the quotes/Bible verses on social media, I can read all the devotionals, I can go to all the worship services and conferences, and I can even warm a seat at church. BUT, no matter who I listen to, unless I’m searching for Jesus, unless I’m hungry to know what He wants to tell me, unless I immerse myself in His word, then I’m just building a phony, superficial relationship. And who wants that kind of relationship with anyone?

My question is…how do you build a relationship with someone? Only you can answer what building a meaningful relationship looks like to you. For me, I needed to go right to the source and that’s the Bible. Whatever you believe or think about the Bible is your business and you can say what you will and I’m not trying to convince you otherwise. But for me, I’m saying, until I see Jesus face to face, getting to know Him through reading, and studying His word and letting God reveal to me what I’m ready to handle has been life changing.

Not only am I getting to know my Creator, I’m getting to know me and who I was made to be. But even more than that, I’m learning that I’m not in charge of how anyone else turns out. Just as I’m free to be who God made me, so is the person I used to think needed to be made to my specs. We are all created equal in God’s eyes. Not only am I His favorite, but you are too. He loves you, just as much as He loves me. And, this too, is an ongoing journey.

In a world where favorites, elites, royalty, power, money, and all kinds of award winners are praised, sought after, glitzed and glamorized, it’s nice to know I matter, no matter what the world says about me. You may have a different job, get paid more, have a dozen cars, or a bazillion dollars, but that doesn’t make you better than me, it just makes you different from me.

Basically saying, your wants don’t have to be my wants, and all your needs, will most assuredly, not be mine. I’m free to be me, so I shall sing, “who the Son sets free, is free indeed.” And yes, if you know me, you know I totally sang that! Have a beautiful day, keep learning, and remember you’re already thoroughly loved and totally accepted by your Heavenly Father!

Here’s the video to the song lyrics I quoted:

“Who You Say I Am” – Hillsong Worship

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKw6uqtGFfo

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I Know Your Name

I love me a good Disney movie. Don’t you? They make me laugh, hold me in suspense, and inevitably…cry. If it’s a really good movie, it’ll have my brain going in a thousand directions of how the story plot really moved me and how it applies to life.

A couple of years ago my bestie gave me the movie Moana as a birthday gift. I watched it and thought it was really good. But, it wasn’t until about a month ago when it was on tv, that it truly touched my heart. I know, I know, it’s just a movie and the characters aren’t real. But even though it’s an animated movie, there’s still lessons to be learned.

But, that’s kind of my thing. I’m always looking to learn something new. It’s kind of like finding hidden treasure when you have that “aha” moment. Or in my case, that crying moment. Ha! 

I could probably write a really long post about the entire movie, but I’m gonna get to the heart of it. Moana, is the heroine of the movie and Te Fiti, is the reason we needed a heroine. Time for my personal spin on it. First, I would ask you to click the link and watch the video clip:

Moana vs Te Fiti

Ok, what did you just watch? You saw this angry, enraged, lava creature named Te Ka. You saw Moana who was fearful of the angry lava monster named Te Ka. And you saw Moana realizing the stone she was holding belonged to “Te Ka”.  And really, that’s what I want to focus on here.

Te Ka was full of anger and anyone that came near her was subject to her venomous rage. But no one knew why Te Ka was so hateful. But then Moana saw the beautiful stone she was holding matched the design in the molten lava creatures chest. Having had that stone stolen from her made Te Ka into something she was not designed to be.  

As soon as Moana held up the stone and it cast its beautiful light, Te Ka was drawn to it. She knew it belonged to her but Te Ka couldn’t cross the barrier of water. A path needed to be made in order for Te Ka to get to Moana. Dun, dun, dun.

Moana no longer fearing the enraged Te Ka, tells the water to let Te Ka come to her because she now knows that Te Ka is really Te Fiti. A path is made and Te Ka starts to cross the ocean floor as Moana walks to meet her as she sings:

I have crossed the horizon to find you
I know your name
They may have stolen the heart from inside you,
BUT this does not define you,
This is not who you are
You know who you are
Who you TRULY are

Te Ka’s anger subsides at the gentle words Moana sings to her. She’s seen, maybe for the first time since her “heart” had been stolen. Her demeanor softens as she allows a simple gesture of love in. Moana places the beautiful gem back where it belongs, the blackened molten lava falls away and the beautiful design of Te Fiti is revealed. Te Fiti is restored.

This is where I reach for all the Kleenex. Why? I’m so glad you asked. Let me ‘splain, she said in her best Ricky Ricardo voice.

You see, this may be a fictional story, but there is one who is shining His light for you to see. Now, don’t think I’m trying to compare Moana to Jesus. But since I’m a visual gal, let me try to show you what I saw.

Te Ka, angry, bitter, and lost without her source.
Me, as I would say, before Christ, angry, bitter, and lost without my Source

Te Ka, hungry to be seen, to be restored to who she was made to be
Me, again, before Christ, hungry to be seen, to be restored to who I was made to be

Moana said, “Let her come to me” and a path was made through the water
Jesus says, “Come to me,…” Matthew 11:28, the path was made when He sacrificed himself on the cross for all

Moana said: “I know your name”
Jesus says:  “I have called you by name…” – Isaiah 43:1  

I think you may see my point. Once Te Ka’s source was restored she was made whole. Te Fiti’s beauty once again shone through just as intended. But, she had to let go of the anger and the rage so that Moana could get close enough to do what needed to be done.

When I was drowning in sin, I couldn’t see my Source. All I saw was the mess I’d made. But, just like Moana saw through the mess of Te Ka, Jesus saw through the mess of me.

However, unlike Moana not knowing Ta Ka was really Te Fiti under all that mess, Jesus always knew who I was. He was with me through it all. I know because His Word is true and Deuteronomy 31:6 says “…for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

He was there before I was born, He was there in all the mess, He was there in the good times, the bad times, and every other time in between.  But I was too blind by my own sinful consumption that I couldn’t see past me. I truly had no clue I was missing my Source.

And then He found me at the end of myself, ready to end it all. I was tired, lonely, guilt-ridden and full of shame, but He didn’t see that all He saw was His child in pain, in need of rescue. But notice how it took over 2 years for me to see Jesus as Moana in that movie. During those years we’ve been building our relationship. My thoughts of who God was before I knew Him, needed to fall away so He could show me who He really is so I could know who I truly am. Who I TRULY am.

Beautiful friend, I don’t know where you are, but I know Jesus does. Just like He saw me, He sees you. Just like He’s with me, He’s with you. Maybe you’re not ready to see yourself through your Heavenly Father’s eyes. But, when you are, He’ll be there waiting with open arms. He will keep calling, will you answer?

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There’s More To Your Story

He wanted to die. For whatever reason, life on this side of Heaven is not what he wanted. Maybe it was too big a disappointment. Maybe it was too hard. Maybe it was too painful or maybe, just maybe, it was the separation of his earthly vessel from His Heavenly Creator that caused a cavernous emptiness so encompassing that he felt only death could fix it.

So he set a course of action in play, one he was sure would take him out of this world, out of his pain, out of his misery, out of his suffering, BUT…God.

“You can make many plans, but the LORD’S purpose will prevail.” – Proverbs 19:21 (NLT)

This day was not like any other day. His body screamed “enough” and told him in more ways than one that he couldn’t keep going at the rate he was going. Many pieces and parts of his inner frame started to shut down from the years of abuse. He was on a mission, but so was God.

He would find himself in the ICU, hooked up to numerous medications. Each day during his stay I watched his body fight back from the brink of death. I witnessed glimpses of hope. I saw his body get the rest it so desperately needed to repair the damage from the choices he made.

I was very much aware of God’s mercies being new every morning and each second as recovery took over destruction. I watched the hands and feet of Jesus at work in those who claimed not to believe in Him. And I marveled as I watched God wooing those who are wandering.  How could I not be amazed at His beautiful and amazing grace?

I was reminded of this verse: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  – Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)

I don’t know the reason he set out on his own path away from God. But his plans did not prevail, and he’s still here. Whatever caused that broken relationship with himself, the one that told him, his life was not worth living, is as personal as the love Jesus has for him. And just as I saw miracles happen over the course of that hospital stay, I know God won’t stop reaching, fighting for His son, His child, His beautiful creation.

I know, because I also found myself wanting to quit this world when it got too hard and the pain seemed unbearable many years ago. It was in this place of  desolation and the belief that no one cared that I thrashed about like a fish out of water screaming: “God, where are you?” And He whispered, “I’m right here, where are you?”

Indeed, where was I? Sin had pulled me far from God, but not so far that His love couldn’t save me. So, if you feel the lack of God’s mighty presence, I wonder, where are you? Because God, He’s right here.  I know, because His promise in Deuteronomy  31:6 says: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Never…that’s a long time.

Sweet friend, if you’re still here, please don’t give up, there’s more to your story than just this moment. Whatever piece of this journey you’re on, it’s nothing that will last forever…it’s just a season. Please remember, you’re life is precious and you have a purpose and there is no one exactly like you that can do all you were created to do.

Your story’s not over, it’s just beginning.

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He’s In The Scribbles

As a child, I grew up in a tumultuous household fueled by addiction. Years later, I know there’s still healing to be done. Could God take the pain away all at once? Absolutely! But, I believe He wants to take His time and show me where He was at that time of emotional abuse and chaos when I am most able and ready to handle it.

A heart that’s hardened cannot receive what God wants to do. It’s too clogged up with all the unanswered questions. Why me? Why did you put me in such a dysfunctional family?  Why did you allow them to abuse us? Didn’t you know how it would affect us? And by us, I mean my brothers and me. But, I believe these are the wrong questions.

In asking those type questions, I take away from who God says He is. Let me show you what I mean. I ask the question “Why did you allow them to abuse us?” God didn’t put the alcohol and pills in their hands. They chose it. The effects of that choice made them less of who God created them to be. It made them a substance abuse version of themselves. That did not come from God. Genesis 1:27 says:

“So God created man in his own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

You see, God didn’t create alcoholics, we choose it. His Word doesn’t say, so God created them to be addicts. In a sinful world, when we turn to things we believe will comfort us, and we overindulge, they can do just the opposite. They will consume us and devour the very person we wish we were.

Today a childhood memory came back full force. There were many times when it was just my dad and me in a room. But this memory was about the times we’d sit across the kitchen table from one another. He was doing what he did best, telling me all the things I wasn’t. And I did what I did to “escape.” I scribbled.

I scribbled so that I wouldn’t have to look at him or really listen to what he had to say. I scribbled so he wouldn’t see the venom in my eyes. I scribbled so I wouldn’t scream. I scribbled to hold myself together. I scribbled to tune out the ugly lies being spoken over my life. It was one of my coping mechanisms.

IMG_1861

Example of my scribbles

As my dad watched me scribble he would eventually tell me he wanted to take my scribblings to a psychologist to see what was wrong with me. To see what they had to say about me. Rather funny, don’t you think? He wanted to know what was wrong with me? He pushed his abuse on me and wanted to know what was wrong with me. I do believe he was asking the wrong question. Ha!

But you know what? I was not alone with my dad in that room. Jesus was there. He was in the scribblings. I didn’t know that back then. I couldn’t see Jesus because all I could see was the dysfunction. It’s what I knew, it’s what I saw, and it’s what was tangible in my life.

I didn’t know for most of my life that I could have a profoundly deep personal relationship with Jesus. I thought He placed me in this mess of a “family” because it’s what I deserved. And that’s so far from the truth.

It’s not what I deserved, but because of my parent’s choices, it’s what I got. But how do I know Jesus was with me in that mess? Because Deuteronomy 31:6 says:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

That tells me that when I was with my dad, Jesus was there too, because He never leaves me. In those moments of being emotionally abused, I was strong and courageous the only way I knew to be, in my scribblings.

And I’ll end on this, my scribblings may not have made any sense to my earthly father, but to my Heavenly Father, they made perfect sense.

Thank you, Jesus, for being in the details and for showing up in ways I could never imagine. Today is a new day, full of Your mercies and great grace. May I live to bring You honor and glory all the days of my life ~ Love, Trish

 

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Passed Out Beauty

You never know when you pray for God to use you as His hands and feet how He will answer. On this brand new day a couple months ago, I was about to find out. Warning: long post alert!

The alarm went off and it was time to rise and shine. I reluctantly tossed the covers off me, because let’s be real, sometimes you just wanna stay under the blankets and remain comfy, cozy!  I swung my legs over the side of the bed and gingerly placed my feet on the floor. It was early, still dark out and this girl wanted her c.o.f.f.e.e. Coffee and Jesus in the morning are 2 of my most favorites things. Gabby gurl sprung off the bed because unlike me, she was all about the getting up and going outside and doing her thing. Gabby gurl is my beloved dog. Half toy poodle, half Bichon, and all energy.

Last night’s sleep wasn’t totally restful. I woke up hearing what I believed to be my son getting ready for work. Key word…believed. You see he gets up in the wee hours of the morning to hit the road in his big rig. Mostly he’s pretty quiet. He still recalls the days I used to get super upset when I got woken up. I’m talking that Greek mythical creature Medusa had nothing on me, upset. Don’t judge, you know, you know.

As I opened the door to my bedroom to head to the coffee pot, I immediately noticed something amiss in the living room, just off to the left. Because my eyes were still adjusting to the darkness I couldn’t quite make out why the blanket that was normally folded neatly in place was all askew. Gabby in the meantime, runs over to the couch and jumps up and starts doing her Gabby gurl happy dance.

I take a few steps over and flick the light switch on. What on earth is that? Is that a person? I squint so I can try to make the object come into focus. Meanwhile, Gabby is still going back and forth around the object wagging her tail like it’s about to fall off and said object is not moving…not even a little bit.

I whisper to Gabby, under my breath style, to “get over here” (to me) because I have indeed deduced this was a person. A slight of a girl to be a little more exact. Apparently, Goldilocks does exist. I turn the light back off. I don’t feel as if there’s any danger so, I decide to walk about to survey this lower level of the house. The front door was unlocked which makes me think…how did that happen? Oh yeah, pizza delivery the evening prior, and I forgot to lock the door afterward. Oy vey!

The closet door across from the front door was ajar. Over in the dining room, I spy a purse and a beer can. I can smell the stale stench of the beer. Lord knows I’ve been around alcohol more of my life than I have not been around it and I know this smell all too well. #Blech

Noticing nothing else was amiss, I walk over to open the side door off the kitchen area so Gabby can go outside.  I then go back into my bedroom to grab my cell phone, and I call my son. Upon his “Yes, Mom, what is it?” I said in a hushed tone with teeth clenched and lips not moving… “there is a girl on the couch.” He’s like, “what?”

If you’re a fan of the show Friends, picture the episode where NYC is having a blackout and Chandler is stuck in an ATM vestibule with Jill Goodacre and he’s trying to explain that to Monica. That’s how once again, I tried telling my son, “there is a girl on the couch.” Again, he says, “what?” This time I say it faster and with a little irritation in my voice, because how does he not understand what I’m saying as I say, “there is a girl on the couch.” Finally, he got it! He proceeds to tell me to go back into my bedroom, lock the door and call the cops and call him back after I’m done.

I get Gabby back in the house, I pick her up so she doesn’t go bounding back into the living room and we head into the bedroom where I lock the door and call the cops. I stay on the line with the awesome 9-1-1 operator until the police arrive. Once they’re in the house I end the call with the 9-1-1 operator and I go out to meet them. I tell them I have no clue who she is or why she’s on my couch.

I’ve done a lot of stupid things when I’ve been drunk. A Lot! Some I remember, a lot more I don’t. But, this was new for me. Someone in my house passed out, and about to have her world rocked awake by police officers. My heart went out to her. This was no fairy tale of a Sleeping Beauty this was the reality of a passed out beauty.

She was disoriented and thought she was in someone else’s house. A friend had dropped her off, and she thought I was that friend. She didn’t even know what happened to her brown sandals. As we locked eyes for a moment, I could see she was not a girl but a woman and still very much “out of it.” I left the room so the police could do their job. They grabbed her purse and beer spilled from under it and they escorted her out of the house. I would find out later on, they called her a cab.

I don’t know the woman who slept on my couch that night, but Jesus does. I have no doubt as she “slept” there, she slept peacefully. She was in a safe place. She was surrounded by the Word of God and He was with us. I’m so thankful He led her to my home. Proverbs 20:24 says: “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?” (NIV)

I don’t know if this incident was a “wake up call” for her, but it was for me.

A few years back, I had laid my enemy – alcohol down. But, for whatever reason, about a year ago, I thought it would be safe to dabble in having a glass of wine here or a glass of wine there. I was wrong. Funny thing is, this enemy named alcohol has been ruining my family for YEARS. Its devious clutches are still wreaking havoc in my family. And yet, despite what we know, we still invite it into our lives.

Why, would anyone who has experienced the dark side of alcoholism ever take another drink? Why would anyone who “lived” through the trauma and abuse of alcoholic family members ever choose to follow in their footsteps? I wish I could say there was a “pat” answer to those questions, but I can’t. It’s different for everyone. And even as I type this, some days, I still think it would be ok to have that glass of wine. It’s a weakness for me. But God, when I choose to lean on His strength, will help me battle through.

Society jokes about it, TV shows and movies glamorize it, and commercials make it seem like it’s the thing to do. Yet no one really talks about how alcohol changes you, destroys families, and steals pieces of your mind. No one talks about that. Why would they? Where’s the fun in that? Whatever would we do with our time if we didn’t get to play drinking games? It’s all just harmless fun, right?

Please hear me when I say, I’m in no way saying that everyone who takes a drink becomes an alcoholic. But if you need to drink in order to have a good time, to make you forget something, to dull the pain, or to give yourself “liquid courage”, I would dare say, be very careful, for I believe you’re stepping on thin ice.

Alcoholism is sneaky. You won’t even know you’re in the throes of it until it’s got you. When it takes you down to rock bottom, it doesn’t apologize, it says, take another drink. When you’re hungover, it says, you’ll feel better if you just, take a drink. “Hair of the dog” is what they call that.

John 10:10 says; “The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy…” (The Voice), and that’s exactly what alcohol addiction will do.

I’ve witnessed the destruction of my family due to addiction. Far too many of my family have died from its effects. It’s time for this enemy to flee! I can keep letting the weight of its destruction take me down, or I can pick up my cross and fight this battle with the One who is victorious over all.

I was made for more and friend, you are too! Speak Truth over and into your life. If you weren’t worth it, God would not have sent His only son to die for you. If the God of the universe loves you that much, maybe it’s time you chose to love you too. Here’s some Truth to get you started.

The one who is in me is greater than the one who is in the world – 1 John 4:4

No weapon formed against me will prosper – Isaiah 54:17

I am God’s masterpiece – Ephesians 2:10

I am the apple of God’s eye – Zechariah 2:8

I am loved with an everlasting love – Jeremiah 31:3

I am a new creation – 2 Corinthians 5:17

You are never too far from God that He can’t reach you. I’ll say it again, YOU are NEVER too far from GOD that HE can’t reach YOU! He loves you with an everlasting love – Jeremiah 31:3

Never give up on you, you were worth dying for!  And to the woman who found her way to my couch…I hope you know your steps were ordered by God. By His grace, He made sure you had a safe place to rest your beautiful head. Yes, He loves you that much!

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Clothes and Curves

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