Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

499 Days

One of my favorite things to do in a pool is simply…float. Not much effort required except to stay afloat. Lying somewhat submerged with my ears covered by the water, eyes closed without a care in the world, body relaxed…I float. I don’t have to think, I don’t have to fix anything, I don’t have to meet anyone’s expectations, no need to perform, just float and aimlessly drift.

Word to the wise…this aimless drifting may cause you to bonk your head on the side of the pool if you’re too caught up in the bliss of floating. Eventually, the floating needs to stop and you need to get out of the pool, step back on solid ground, and get back to all things not floating related; I know, I know…bummer.

I have drifted from my blog for 499 days. I have to say, seeing that number was a bit of a shocker. It’s not to say I haven’t done any writing since then, because I have. Just not here. It’s not to say I haven’t visited this space either, because, I have. So what happened? Why did I drift and float off in the horizon? I’m so glad you asked.

As I watched the ending of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, I found myself arrested by the words Der spoke to Mer in an elevator. He said:

“If there’s a crisis, you don’t freeze, you move forward. You get the rest of us to move forward because you’ve seen worse and you know we’ll survive too. You say you’re all dark and twisty. It’s not a flaw, it’s a strength. It makes you who you are.”

For whatever reason, it felt like someone reached in and grabbed the breath right out of my lungs and then I sat there and sobbed. Y’all wounded heart healing is HARD. Letting God in, letting the walls down, feeling the excruciating pain, crying a bazillion tears, going through boxes of Kleenex and then seeing my mountainous  Kleenex pile, wore this girl out.

So, I did what I’ve done countless times before when things get too hard. I hid from healing. I stopped writing and I put those familiar walls back into place. I was tired of crying, and feeling the pain. It made me feel weak. I didn’t want to “own” the murky feelings of my reality.

I understood all too well the “dark and twisty” version of Meredith Grey and I didn’t want to dive into the “where it all began” pool anymore. Instead, I put on my brave girl face and told God “no.” I’m done crying and I’m done processing. I’m good now, that is until I wasn’t. Sigh.

More than once during those 499 days, I found myself in that place where someone reached in and pulled the breath right out of me. More than once the tears started and more than once I shut them off. You know what I learned? It takes more guts to face the things that tried to break you than to stuff them away and pretend you’re “okay.”

Y’all, I am not okay! I’m a living, breathing, hot mess child of God! Every single day I need Him. Every single day He shows up, and every single day I either let Him in, or I push Him away. But, even when I push, He never leaves me. He’s there breathing the breath back in that life tries to steal. I may be a hot mess, but God…He loves this hot mess. And He loves you too!

The Truth of the matter is this, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

And that includes Hot Messes! Can a sister get an Amen?!

His Word never fails! He is good and He is for you..always.

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Defining Moments

We all have those defining moments that can push us forward or take us back.  Sometimes those moments are caused by our own insecurities. Sometimes they’re inflicted by others who for whatever reason feel the necessity to break you. Sometimes they are victories won from within the strength we never thought we had. Sometimes they are encouraged on by those who believe in you when you forgot to believe in yourself. Some will help you rise higher and some will drag you down and hold you hostage without your conscious awareness. Whatever it may be, I can guarantee it will impact your life in a way you didn’t see coming.

When I was in the eighth grade, my favorite album, yes, album, the vinyl kind that you played on a stereo with a needle you could drop down on a single groove and listen away, was a soundtrack from the movie, A Star is Born, starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. I about wore that album out playing songs like, Evergreen, Watch Closely Now, The Woman in the Moon, and Queen Bee.  Seriously, there was not a single song on that album I didn’t love. And as you know, that’s pretty rare to like every single track on an album.

I don’t remember the reason I was grounded from listening to my music, but whatever the reason, I had been grounded from it. I loved music. It was my escape; it was where my imagination led me on stage, hairbrush in hand, pretending to be the next music star. Problem with that is, you need to be able to sing, and while I can carry a tune, I knew my limitations. But, that didn’t stop me from making a joyful noise. Can I get an amen?

When I got carried away with my lyrical dissertations, my brothers were very quick to remind me that I found their annoy zone as their shouts of “shut up Sis,” roared above my hair brush microphone.  Harumph!  I sang louder.

In an effort to learn songs as fast as I could, I would furiously write lyrics down, and if you had a record player, you know this was no easy task. I would play the same songs over and over again until I thought I’d wear that track out. I would record songs from the radio and get ever so peeved when that DJ talked over the intro.  It’s like they knew I was recording and no amount of my screaming at the radio would shut their blabber mouths up.

Being grounded from my music was truly one of the worst things you could do to me.

In the eighth grade, I went to my first school dance. I never considered myself pretty but I didn’t consider myself ugly either. I liked boys, but I had never had a boyfriend. I talked to boys all the time and found myself quite funny and usually in any given classroom due to my talkative nature, in the corner of the room the teacher would inevitably place me. Rude!

At this, my very first dance, at the very end of the dance, a boy asked me to dance. Me!! He asked me to dance. I felt like Rudolph when Clarice told him, she thought he was cuuuuute. As we walked onto the dance floor, I could hardly contain my smile. I’m smiling as I write this. We slow danced to “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me” by Elton John. It was magical!  Well, as magical as a Catholic school dance located in a gymnasium can be, and I was the happiest I think I had ever been. When the song stopped, we awkwardly parted ways, the lights came on, and the dance was over. Then I heard it….a song from that soundtrack I loved and I summed this up as the perfect evening.

I couldn’t contain my giddiness the whole car ride home. If this is what happy felt like, I wanted to feel like this forever.

I went to my room and my adrenaline was still pumping “happy” through my being and I decided I would sneak and play just one song from that beloved soundtrack. I played it so low I had to put my ear to the speaker. And then it happened.

My parents burst in my room and accused me of smoking pot. I was floored. I hated everything about smoking so how could they accuse me of such a thing.  How could they confuse happiness with being wasted? It was their rationale for my non-stop talking, for my playing a record when I was grounded, and for the “happy” I displayed. There was no defending myself. I was judged, juried and condemned for displaying an emotion seldom seen in the house I grew up in. My own parents had no clue how “happy” looked on me. In an instant, my “happy” was stolen and immense sorrow and anger took its’ place. Silently my hot tears slid onto my pillow as I cried myself to sleep.

It was a defining moment for me. The next day at school, the boy had told others we danced together. Maybe he thought it was going to turn into something more. Maybe he had been as excited and happy as I had been. I’ll never know because we never spoke again after that day.

You see, in an effort to put that night behind me, I told anyone who mentioned it, I didn’t dance with him. I lied and said mean things about him and reasoned why I would never dance with someone like him. I covered my magical school dance with a shield of protective covering and stuffed it into the dark abyss of my “don’t go there places.”

I learned that night that happy wasn’t meant for me. It gave them too much power, too much to destroy. Unfortunately, that’s what happens when you grow up in survival mode. You place a layer over your heart where “they” can’t get to you. But, they can’t take what you won’t give them. So you wear an armor of deceit and cry in silence as you harden your heart from their barb wired tongues.

It’s a horrible thing to crush the spirit of another human being. You take their light, and you bring them down to a level that was never meant for them. You can change the course of their life in an instant to gratify your own dark misunderstandings. You don’t win…you lose, yet, for a time, you get to feel smug in self-righteousness.

As a child, you don’t understand the why, so you shut down and you try “someone” else on for size. Maybe this person will make them happy. Maybe this person won’t get accused of doing something they didn’t do. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll like this person better. Be careful though, because you just might get a person that acts out in ways you never saw coming and one you were never equipped to handle.

When it’s in you, to find fault, you’ll find it. It’s easy isn’t it; to find fault and point it out? Makes you feel a little superior. A little taller. A little smarter because you don’t have to think about your own mess. Pride, it’s ugly and our Heavenly Father has lots to say about it.

I don’t know how that evening would have turned out had I not be robbed of my happy. I only know what happened after it was plucked and put in their punishment basket. But, I do know that God can bring good from anything and while, for a time, my life may have been darkened, the light He put inside of me fought to get out.

Guess what? It only takes the tiniest of lights to snuff out the darkness. The tiniest of lights can make a HUGE difference in a dark place. In that light, is hope. In that light, is truth. In that light, is life.

John 14:6 says this about Jesus, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to me except through the Father,” and in John 8:12 it says “Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

I didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus back in the eighth grade, but I do now. And there is no darkness that has been cast upon your life that He cannot penetrate. There is no lie, that His Truth cannot annihilate, and there is no sin greater than His great grace. No one can steal your happy when your happy is found at the foot of the Cross. At the foot of the Cross where love laid His life down for you, is where your life begins.

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Gimme a “K”…Gimme an “E”….

cheerleaderI couldn’t for the life of me figure out what my beautiful niece was starting to cheer spell.  So I listened as she kept going.  Gimme a “T” and another “T” and then it dawned on me.  She’s cheer spelling her last name.  Kettell.  Pronounced (Kah-tell) I have to admit, I was taken back as she cheer spelled our family name and then gave the final cheer out; “what’s that spell?” “Keeeeeee-tellllll.”

When she was done, she jumped up in the air, clapped her little hands and then bounced off to her next adventure in a whirlwind of giggles. I, on the other hand, stood there perplexed that she chose to cheer spell that name.

Growing up with the name Kettell wasn’t a horrible thing per se.  But it sure never made me want to jump up and down for joy and give accolades through cheer praise.  I could in no way be proud of a name associated with such family dysfunction and tied to generations of alcoholism and abuse.

It boggled my pea brain this untainted little girl was cheering for all her worth because she was proud of her last name.  But she didn’t know what I knew.  She didn’t grow up with my family, and she will never be afforded the opportunity to meet her grandfather and be privy to his style of abuse. She only knew the life she has. Anything else she might learn about her grandfather will be passed down from those who knew him.

You see, when my parents got divorced, my father went out into the world and had another baby.  For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why God would allow this abusive man to have another baby.  But, it was permitted and my half-brother was born.  By the time he was born, I was in the military and other than having a baby picture of him with his name and date of birth, I would not have contact with him for 16 of his years.

I had already had several conversations with God about all this, but I never stopped to hear what God had to say, only what I wanted to tell Him.  That’s what our “relationship” was back then; me telling God what was wrong with His plans and thinking I knew it all.

I grew up with 2 brothers. I was the middle child and growing up we learned to survive life.  Ask us to share stories about growing up and you’ll hear different versions.  Not sure why that is, but when you survive life, your brain does things to protect you. Or so I’ve heard.   So when our half brother finally learned about his half siblings, he reached out.  My brothers freaked out a bit.  They didn’t know what our half-brother wanted and they for sure didn’t want to re-hash the past, so they chose not to speak with him.  Eek-gads, let the fear of the unknown take root.

I, on the other hand, wanted very much to talk with him.  Hello, I’m a girl, and I’m nosey, plus he was family.  So we spoke on the phone. I now had a link to a brother I often wondered about.  For years that one conversation was all I knew of him.  It would be many years later before we met face to face through circumstances only God could have arranged. Talk about mind boggling awesomeness!

So here we are, 14 years later and I’m watching my niece cheer our family name and I stand in awe as God no doubt smiles down of a piece of this family.  A piece only He knew about all those many years ago when I was telling Him what was wrong with His plan.  This puzzle piece that He made and knew would fit together for such a time as this has been one of the best, most awesome blessings in my life and I can’t thank God enough for His love and grace.

While my family as a whole still suffers from dysfunction and separation, I hold out hope for reunification and healing.  With faith as small as a mustard seed, I pray and lay our wounded family at the foot of the cross and hold onto God’s promises and know there is nothing too hard for Him.  Where there is no way, I know, God can make a way!  To God be the glory my friends.

To be continued….

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Internal Bleeding

I was watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy yesterday.  It was an older episode and since I’m no doctor or any other type of medical professional, I have no clue how medically correct it is.  I just really like the show.  In this episode, there had been a train wreck.  A woman was in the ER, but not as a patient, though she had been a part of the accident.

She was walking around the ER, talking on her cell phone, yipping at the doctors; she appeared perfectly fine…on the outside. But inside was another story…though outwardly she had no symptoms, or obvious signs she was hurt, inwardly she was bleeding to death. One minute she was “fine,” the next, falling to the floor…dead.  Though the ER docs attempted to resuscitate her, she was gone.  The internal bleeding had been happening for hours and she bled to death.

I remember the first time I put make-up on.  I stole my mom’s Cover Girl foundation and a handful of other make-up items.  I went in the school’s bathroom and pulled out the make-up, all kinds of excited to be a cover girl. I shook the bottle of foundation, unscrewed the lid, and swiped the liquid lovely all over my face having no clue how to really apply it. Didn’t matter, I knew when I was done, I was going to be cover girl pretty that day.

My plan was to remove the make-up before I was caught wearing it by my parents.  My plan failed.  Not only did I get caught and berated severely by my father, I also got a good moccasin butt beating. If you’ve ever been beaten with a leather soled moccasin, then you know when I say, I wore the imprint of that moccasin on my behind for weeks, it’s a true story.

Sometimes discipline can have the opposite effect. I was more determined than ever to wear make-up.  I liked the way it made me feel pretty.  I liked being part of the girls who wore make-up “club.”  Who were my parents to keep me from feeling pretty?  Clearly, they didn’t understand the pressure I was facing by not being allowed to wear make-up.    I wanted to feel pretty and make-up was just the palette of color I needed to do the job! Putting “my face” on, became my art. Who needed super powers, when you could wear make-up?!

Years later, I was running late for work.  My boots looked horrible.  Dull, no shine and dull boots in the military was a bad thing back in the 80s.  Boots shined, I ran out of the house to work neglecting to put “my face” on.   I didn’t wear a lot of make-up, so really, who would care if “my face” was left behind?  Apparently, my co-worker cared because he said, “what’s different about you?”  I explained I was running late and had to shine my boots so I didn’t have time to put my make-up on.  Simple truth.  He replied, “next time, put your make-up on.”  Ouch! I had become a walking banner for make-up–“don’t leave home without it.”   American Express touted that motto for their credit card…I applied it to my make-up since I didn’t have an American Express card.

More years later, still in the military, in a new state and career field, for whatever reason, I had become allergic to something and when I went to the doctor, his prescription to my itchy eyes and red eye lids was no make-up for 2 weeks.  Excuse me? What? Flashback–“next time, put your make-up on.”  This doctor was asking me to put my hideous, naked face out into the world for all to see!

Do you see what happened? My co-worker back in the day never said I looked hideous, but I internalized it, added it to the wounds he never saw, and now, in my  mind, I was a walking mutation of a human being who without make-up was less of a person.  Words matter my friends!

The next day leaving for work, playing in my head over and over again was, “next time, put your make-up on.”  Instead, I put my shield up and prepared for the worst.  No one could hurt me anymore than I was already hurting.  No way was anyone going to see how vulnerable I felt.  So, shields up, I was mentally prepared for snide remarks.  To be honest, I was the one who brought it up.  I was the one who pointed out the obvious before anyone else could.  Weird way of protecting myself, by being my own worst enemy, but it worked and things went pretty well that first week.  Whew!!

The next week, I was getting somewhat used to the no make-up thing and so I let my guard down a bit.  One more week…I can do this.  And then it happened…a co-worker said, “how much longer before you can put your make-up on?”  I explained I had a week left.  He said, “thank God.”  And not in the get on your knees and thank the good Lord way.

I didn’t wait the week out, I put “my face” on the very next day.  I let make-up and snarky comments define me.  I let them define my comings and goings.  Everything revolved around “my face” being on.  Make-up had become a chain in my life. I trace it back to the day those many years ago, I first put make-up on.  The day after a boy at school told me I had a better mustache than he did.  Ouch!  Already wounded by a dysfunctional home life, this is the moment, “my face,” became victim to internal bleeding.

Make-up can cover up flaws on the outside.  But no amount of make-up will fix the wounds on the inside.  Just like the train wreck victim who appeared fine on the outside, no one knew the internal battle she was facing inside.  She was dying on the inside for hours.  What you say, can leave a person dying or dead on the inside for years.

I’ll say it again.  Words matter.  “Words kill, words give life; they either poison, or fruit–you choose”~~Proverbs 18:21 (The Message)

It’s funny how God will drop something into your brain so He can get closer to you.  You just never know when He’s going to use something and then in your quiet time with Him reveal things you locked up.

And then He shows you things that hurt you. Things that separate you from the love He wants to give you.  You realize once again how amazing He is and after the tears flow,  you give the hurts, and the snarky comments to Him.  Forgiveness begins and now He can bind up those wounds from the inside out.

The things the enemy tried to use against you are now weapons to help someone else.  I don’t know who this is for…but if you’re reading this…know that Jesus loves you and He’s pursuing you and He’s waiting for you.

 

 

 

 

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Will You Love Me?

Have you ever tried to “win” someone’s love? You went out of your way to show them you love them by being there, by paying attention to what they like and surprising them with those things? Have you ever dropped everything to go and help them and yet, you get nothing in return? Your pay back is harsh words and lip service in the way of gratitude. You feel empty and depleted because you realize that nothing you do….nothing you say….can make them love you. You don’t understand because you’ve done “everything” right…they should totally love you, yet, they don’t.

It’s not your fault they don’t love you. You’re not a horrible person but they’ve made you think you are through their actions and their words. There’s several problems in this….you’re desperate for their love so you try to people please your way into their heart. They can’t receive your love because they are broken and can’t see past their own hurts so they only know how to hurt….they actually expect you to give up on them and are fully prepared when you do and they will make you feel bad for it. It will be your fault because they can’t, or they won’t accept the responsibility for it. To do that, would mean they would have to accept they are damaged and in need of help.

No doubt you’ve heard them tout they don’t need anyone and will even say, they’re a good person.  Self-affirmation is the balm on top of their oozing wounds they think they’re hiding from the world.  So before you can hurt them, they will hurt you. It’s a sad state of affairs when you try to pour your love into an empty vessel.  They are depleted because of what ever has transpired in their life.  They know how to assault you and are quite proud of how they can knock you down with those negative verbal punches to your brain and more importantly, your heart.

If you should happen to try and defend yourself, they will lash out harder and then smear your name to anyone who will listen to them.  After all, they need that proverbial pat on the back to let them know they did the right thing.  It’s you who were out of line because how horrible were you by trying to let them know how they made you feel.  Clearly you lost your mind because only they are allowed to dump but don’t you dare dump on them.

Truth be told, they’re not equipped to handle what you have to say.  They are not equipped to deal with your strength.  They are not equipped to deal with your truth…I can hear Jack Nicholson  screaming, “you can’t handle the truth.”  And, they can’t.  So it’s useless, your trying to let them know how you feel, because it’s not about you for them…it’s about them and what you should be doing for them.

And if you don’t know what you should be doing, they will be more than happy to tell you how you.  They will tell you how to you’re allowed to speak to them, how to behave around them and they will tell you how horrible and awful you are when you don’t do things their way.

You’re not allowed to be yourself, so you slap on a mask and pretend to be who they think you ought to be only, you can’t do this for long because being told how to be, how to act, how to talk will bog your soul down and eventually you will erupt in some way.

You were never meant to have someone else tell you how to be you.   It fights against your inner being that just wants to be loved simply for being you…not some version of you that someone thinks you ought to be.

But they won’t give up.  As long as you stay, they will find some way to “beat” you into submission.  Yet, all you wanted was for them to love you.  So, they put you down, rob you of your joy, your confidence and your worth.  They grab onto those things that make you, uniquely you and stuff them in a bag and take pride that they stripped you down so they could dress you up in the chains of their adversity.

I don’t have the answer why this happens.  I just know when it does, at some point you have to make a choice…let go and let God or keep the insanity going.  The pattern will continue to repeat until someone breaks the cycle.  They say people don’t change…I beg to differ.  When God meets you where you are, and you open your heart to Him, change is inevitable, healing begins, and hope is restored.  His Word promises “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” ~~Psalm 147:3 (NIV )  His Word is truth and when you dare to believe in Him, than you can bet your bottom dollar, miracles will happen. Lives will change and glory will be His and His alone.

So, for now, I stand in the gap.  I let go and I’m keeping my eyes on the only one who can resurrecte dead things. I pray for healing, for restoration and things that have been temporarily torn asunder to be healed and made whole.  Because nothing my friends is too hard for God!!  He is King of all Kings and no one, that’s right, no one will love you more than He does.  Dare to Believe ❤

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I gave him permission…

I saw the signs…friends pointed out the signs…I ignored the signs.  I wanted him more than those things I thought could be overlooked or in my mind…fixed.  Surely he loves me enough to want to change those things, why he even asked me to help him overcome his jealousy.

Awww!! How sweet, see, he wants to change.  No, not how sweet.  He asked me to fix what was never mine to take on.  I allowed him to use me as a scapegoat in the moments he knew he would lose control.  I wasn’t helping; I was giving him license to let the monster loose.

The problem here is, I didn’t create his inferior complex.  I didn’t create his insane jealous tendencies.  They came with him; baggage from previous relationships that he hadn’t dealt with but instead brought with him into a brand new relationship.  Of course, they were going to leak into us and I did nothing to stop it, I fed it by complying with his wishes.  But, I was helping him, that’s how I justified the outrageous requests.

It started out small.  He gained my trust by being the “perfect” boyfriend.  I was broken from my previous relationship and so what better way to get over it than by diving head first into another.  Isn’t that what it’s all about these days? Jump from person to person, dragging all your stuff along with you?  Why would you want to take time to deal with things and recover when you can jump onto the next train? Who’s got time for that nonsense?  All aboard the “don’t deal with things” train and let’s see how many bodies I can drag behind me.

Within 6 months we were living together in an awesome house secluded away from just about everyone we knew.  He watched every move I made.  Everything I did he wanted to be a part of.  Awwww!! How sweet was that?!  I mean, after all, I finally had someone who wanted to do all the things I liked.  But after we moved in, he said my friends weren’t so great…those people at my job didn’t really appreciate me for who I was and I should look into getting another one.  All signs.

Friends at worked noticed the jealousy, made comments about them. Oh, I would say, I know, I’m helping him deal with that.  All of a sudden the things I wore were up for scrutiny..where or who gave you that?  I learned to lie.  When I wanted to go home for lunch, he asked me to call him when I left work, call him when I got to the house…you know to ensure I got there safely, call when I left to go back to work and yes, call him when I actually arrived at work.  This was all to “help him.”  Once he knew he could trust me, this type of insanity would stop.

It didn’t stop.  It kept getting worse.  The more I played into his game, the more controlling he got.  He started showing up unexpectedly at the house to see if I was really there.  His anger would flare up over the tiniest of things and I found myself over compensating with every move so as to not anger him.  I was walking around on those proverbial egg shells trying to be “perfect” but it didn’t matter. There was always something.  And yet I stayed…after all, I was helping, right?

He started blocking my path when I would go to leave the room during arguments.  It was a power play.  Sometimes it worked, but mostly, I didn’t tolerate that.  I never had any space to myself.  He was always there.  If I tried doing my crafting hobby, he would eventually call out to me to quit and come sit next to him and watch his shows.  Remember, when I said how cute it was that he liked everything I did?  It was a lie.  After we moved in, all bets were off.

I’d like to say the first time he shoved me down and pulled some of my hair out, I left.  I’d like to say that when the police were called I was told they would arrest him, but I can’t.  See, I pushed him back and now it became a “he said, she said” story.  He could just as easily press charges against me as I could him.  Sad, dontcha think?  So my choice I learned that night, was to let him abuse me and not push back.

To my shock and horror and even embarrassment, I let him come back.  It was pretty good for awhile but my guard was on high alert now.  It was the night he told me I was the worst mistake he ever made after I asked him “what happened to the guy I moved in with?” that I had enough.  I gave him 11 months of my life and I was told I was the biggest mistake he ever made.  That sat with me a long time.  It didn’t matter I had friends who loved me and cared for me and told me otherwise.  I found myself repeating that over and over and over.  But you know what?  That man did not make me.  That man does not define me.  That man did not defeat me.

I don’t know where you are, how far you’ve let him or her beat you down.  I don’t know how much more you’re willing to take.  Only you can decide that.  I don’t know why you think you deserve a love that treats you with such disrespect.  It’s different for each of us that allow “the love” of someone to beat us into the person they think we need to be.  A footstool for them step on.

Funny, he even told me once that when he first met me, he knew I would need to be taken down a peg or two.  And yet, I moved in with him.  I swept all the warning signs under the rug because I didn’t want to be alone.  Because being with him was so much better?  Please, let me live alone as I never want that mess back in my life.  I was made for more.  You are made for more.

That abuser did not make you. That abuser does not define you.  That abuser will not defeat you.  You are not alone.  You are not helpless.  You are a beautiful human being whose light has been snuffed out because your abuser is a coward of the worst kind. A bully who has no self control and only feels empowered by your weakness.  It’s a shame really, because they aren’t happy people.  They’re twisted up in knots and though they might want to change, they choose not to.

And why should they?  They can blame you for their inadequacies.  You become their scapegoat, their enabler and the reason they don’t need to change. Scoff at that if you will, but it’s true.

It takes more strength to leave than to stay.  You have to make a choice and know that you are worthy of so much more.  God didn’t create you for this.  He created you to do the good works he planned for you; not to succumb to a coward who wants to beat you into submission. How do I know?  Because God doesn’t lie and His word says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” ~~Ephesians 2:10   You can’t do those good works, bound up in chains of oppression.  You have to take your life back.  You have to make a choice.  What are you waiting for?

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A gift to bring

drummerAs a child growing up in a dysfunctional home, I found various things and places to fill the absence of love, to find my happy, to make the world go away.  Television became an escape from the reality of all the yuck.

I especially loved the Christmas shows that came on once a year.  Unlike today where they are readily available, if you missed a show back then, you didn’t get to see it for another year, so you can imagine how upsetting it could be to miss even one.  Seriously, devastating!

I’m happy to see the cartoons of old are still loved by many today.  Most of them have a wonderful message to share, why even the mean ol’ Grinch came around from his grinchiness and  concluded “Maybe Christmas, he thought…doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps…means a little bit more!”  Ummm, ya think?

I’m sure you have your favorite and even those you despise. Of all the Christmas cartoons, growing up and most of my adult life, I have to say The Little Drummer Boy was my least favorite, and yet to fill that void, I would still watch it.  The story always made me cry. Always.  I watched it just recently and sure enough, it made me all weepy.  Doesn’t seem to matter I know what’s going to happen, and even knowing the ending..there I am, grabbing my Kleenex.

The Little Drummer Boy animated claymation version of which I’m referring to first aired on December 19, 1968.

For years I watched this show and it held no significant meaning for me.  It was just a sad stroy, with a fairly happy ending.  To me, it was all about the lamb.  Aaron’s lamb.

In the beginning of the story, the narrator spoke of a decree from Caesar Augustus stating that the world should be taxed.  In order for this to happen, the people would need to travel back to their own land.  Growing up, that type information fell under the subject “History” and quite frankly, I didn’t care for history.

We find in Luke, Chapter 2:1-3 (KJV):

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.”  Means they had to all go back where they came from.

So in Verses 4-6 it states:

 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.”

Now that I have a relationship with God, I think..that’s pretty cool…it’s biblical.  Just in a condensed version.

The story goes on to tell of a little boy who was the son of a Sheppard who loved his life.  From the outside looking in, Aaron had an idyllic childhood. Parents who loved him, roof over his head and presents for his birthday.  On his birthday his father gives him a drum.  And instantly he’s a rock star, plays the drum so well, his animals dance to the beat.

Then one night, bandits decide to attack their home and everything that is near and dear to Aaron is taken from him.  All he has left is his drum and his friends….Samson, his donkey; Joshua, his camel and Baba his lamb. The devastation of this night causes Aaron to hate all people.  Not just those who killed his family….but ALL people.  He is filled with anger, unforgiveness, and bitterness and wants nothing to do with people.  He judges them all alike…through the eyes of hatred.

Next poor Aaron’s just going along and boom he’s being kidnapped by the oh so greedy Ben Haramed and his goofy side kick Ali (ahli).  Haramed wants to use Aaron and his dancing crew to make money so he can pay the taxes that have been levied.  So the band of misfits head into Jerusalem to the town square where they fail miserably with their performances.  Aaron lashes out irrationally at the townspeople because he thinks everyone should be as miserable as he is and the motley crew are run out of town.

So, the little band of misfits retreat and eventually happen upon the Three Wise Men’s caravan. What they fail to notice is the very bright star and its glory in the sky.  Haramed can’t see past his greed and Aaron can’t see past his hatred and anger.  The wise men have no time to be entertained as they need to follow the star and they shoo the misfits away.  However, one of the camels in the King’s caravan is too worn out to complete the journey so Haramed sells Aaron’s beloved camel Joshua to the royal caravan.

Now that Haramed has his beloved gold, he lets Aaron leave.  So off Aaron, Samson and baba go in search of Joshua.  They follow the star as they knew that’s what the wise men were doing and that inevitably leads them to Bethlehem where they see….exactly what they were looking for…the kings’ caravan and Joshua.  In their excitement and haste to get to reunited with Joshua, little baba gets run over by a chariot.

Aaron is heartbroken and he just knows the wisemen can help him because after all, they are Kings.  The wiseman  Aaron approaches, tells him that he cannot help him and indeed his lamb is close to death.  Aaron responds “but you are a king.” To which the king says, he is a king, but a mortal king.  He tells Aaron to go to the babe to which Aaron replies, “I have no gift to bring.”  But, he tenderly lays baba down and he approaches the babe lying in the manager.

As he fixes his eyes on the newborn, Aaron is caught up in the beauty of this baby and since he has nothing of material value to place before the babe, he picks up his drum and he plays for him.

In that moment, Aaron is playing only for the baby Jesus.  He is giving the gift of his drum playing back to the one who gave him the gift in the first place.  So you see, he did have a gift to bring.  He didn’t have to wrap in up in paper and bows and make it all sparkly and pretty.  He went just as he was.  Heartbroken and full of hate.

But as he played for Jesus and his focus was on worshipping Jesus through his drum playing instead of his problems what happened?  God saw Aaron’s act of “simple desperation stemmed out of pure love” and He healed baba.  Aaron’s heart is filled with love and his spirit with joy. He was then convicted of his hatred and knew it was wrong…the narrator said so.

I guess the simple lesson learned here is that we all have a gift to bring.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be big or showy, it just needs to come from the heart.  Jesus has everything.  Everything that He’s given us was well thought out and to be used for the glory and honor of His Kingdom.  He’s placed different gifts in each of us…how we use them is our gift back to Him.  I’ll end with the verse the show used…”Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  Matthew 5:8

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I love you more than my phone…

Texting-and-driving

I saw you today.  But you didn’t see me.  As you passed by me in your truck you couldn’t have seen me because you weren’t looking head and eyes up, you were staring head and eyes down.  You don’t know me and clearly you don’t care about me or else your eyes would have been on the road, not in your lap.  You must not care too much about you either but you sure do care about what’s on that phone.

We aren’t taught to drive with a phone in our hands.  We’re taught do drive with 2 hands on the wheel.  If you took your mobile phone to your driver’s test and tried to read your phone while testing to get your license, you would fail.  Because texting and driving…is a fail. It’s also against the law in the state of NY.  But you already know that and have made a conscious decision that you don’t care about the law, you don’t care about you, and you don’t care about me…you care about the phone.  The phone is not a person.  But you treat it like it is.  The phone can’t hug you, kiss you, care for you; all it can do is distract you.  It’s your master.  It dings, you drop everything to see what it has to say.

I don’t care what you do with your phone when you’re not operating a piece of machinery. I care very much that you choose to use it when you’re driving.  Your attention to your phone while you’re driving tells me 2 things right off the bat about you. You’re full of pride and you think you can totally text and drive and be in total control.  This self-deluded thinking no doubt is from having done it multiple times and getting away with it.  You’re also selfish. Yes, selfish.  You care more for what’s on that phone than you do human life to include your own, otherwise you would be looking at the road, not your phone.

I wonder what it will take for you to put your phone down while you’re driving.  Clearly it’s not the law, you break that every day.  Clearly it’s not me.  Clearly it’s not you.  Clearly, if you have a family, it’s not them.  So I’m guessing it would no doubt have to be a tragedy of some sort to get your attention.  Maybe you’ll run over someone’s dog or cat.  Maybe you’ll hit another vehicle and cause a multiple vehicle wreck. Maybe you’ll kill someone..maybe that someone killed will be you.  Maybe when you’re in court listening to the family members of the person you killed sobbing, saying how much they miss their loved one, you’ll care.  For now, I guess we’ll never know.

What you do with your phone is none of my business until you get in your car and decide that the life of me, my loved ones and countless others are nothing compared to what’s on your phone.  I don’t know you, but I care about you more than I care about my phone…because in the end….it’s just a phone….it’s replaceable. YOU are not.  So today, even though I don’t know you, I love you enough to not text and drive.  Who do you love more than your phone?  If you text and drive, the answer is clear…you choose your phone.  You love your phone more than you love life.  Period.  I pray someday, sooner rather than later, you’ll do the same.  Please don’t text and drive.

Please watch the PSA….and if you’re first thought is..”that would never happen to me,” you might want to consider, Proverbs 16:18~~”Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (NIV)   You are not in control, you are not exempt from the consequences of your actions. Playing with fire gets you burned…don’t let texting and driving, get you or someone else dead.

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Broken Bird

Prayer between my Heavenly Father is sometimes frustrating.  Some days I feel like…am I asking the right thing, is this too petty, is this too much, is this too little?  Other days I just shake my head as I let Him hear my heart and then I go about my day.  Then, there’s this prayer…open the eyes of my heart Lord and break my heart for what breaks yours.  Weird when you think that type of prayer will be about something huge and then it turns out it can be something small.

About a week ago, I walked over to a building where I worked.  There was this bird on the steps, it was injured and couldn’t fly.  Taking survey of the bird, there were no feathers on its head or neck and it looked to have some red sores on the neck area.

As I got closer the bird was hobbling off in fear while making bird noises, so I thought it best to stop advancing as I just kept looking at the bird, wondering what I could do for the poor thing.  I didn’t know what type of bird it was, but I did know it wasn’t a baby or an adult.  I guess it could have been a crow or maybe a vulture, but I truly didn’t know.  All I knew for certain is, it was injured, it couldn’t fly, and I felt really bad for it. I wanted to do something for it, I wanted to protect it, but I really didn’t know how.

So I went inside and asked the maintenance guy what we do for injured birds.  He came outside with me and while his supervisor went and got the net they use to catch bats, I made some phone calls.  SPCA does not handle wildlife so they gave me another number and I left a message and no one ever called me back.  We called another office and they said they would send someone over.  The bird was now in the net, but I can only imagine how scared it must have been.  I left the bird with the man who had the net.

As my day went along, I kept thinking about that poor bird.  It truly just broke my heart.  For pity sakes it was a bird.  And this injured bird broke my heart.

Later in the day I went to ask about the bird and I found out it had been taken over by the railroad tracks.  No one hurt the bird but in case it had a disease or something, it was decided to move it away from people.  I didn’t want to know anymore so I tried to put the bird out of my mind.

On the way home, I had to drive over the tracks which lay under the viaduct.  I could not believe my eyes, but there was that bird again.  Not under the bridge, but on the top, on the sidewalk next to where the all the traffic was. So it was not like I could get out of my car and go get it.  I didn’t have a net or a box of any kind to put it in if I did manage to catch it.  So what’s a girl to do?  I pray for that injured bird and I cry.

Yup, I cried for that injured bird on the side of the road all alone with no one to help it.  It seemed so lost and displaced.  I felt helpless to help and I felt horrible that it had been moved from a pretty good place to a place of danger and now all I could think of was…what’s going to happen to that stupid bird that I couldn’t stop crying over!

So here I sit, telling you this story about my broken bird and I’m crying all over again.  And you know what I know about that bird?  I know it was an answer to prayer.  First, I had been worrying over something for days and I asked God to break my heart for what breaks his.  And He showed me a broken bird and that broken bird brought me back to His Word.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”~~Matthew 6:25-34

I was worried about things in my life.  I know, I know..do not worry. I’m human, I don’t always get life right.  Go figure.  Say what you will, but in that moment, as I cried over that broken bird, I knew that broken bird was me and God’s heart was breaking over my own brokenness.  And then I’m reminded that Jesus loves me.  He…LOVES…me.  I’d let the enemy in the door with my worry and God brought a broken bird to remind me I need not worry and He will heal my broken parts. Unfortunately, just like the injured bird, hobbling off in fear, I too hobble off, muttering under my breath while trying to take care of things the only way I know how; relying on me, myself, and I.  Why on earth would I do that, when I have the Trinity? God, His Son, and His Holy Spirit.  Now, that’s a force to be reckoned with, dontcha think?

John, 15:5 states, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  Why do I forget just how close He is?  Why do I forget just how much He cares?  Why do I forget that He loves me with an everlasting love?  Worrying bears no fruit.  It causes so much stress on our bodies.  We were never meant to carry that kind of stress, is it any wonder we can worry ourselves sick?  Our worry hurts our Father in so many ways.  Truly, I know, it breaks His heart.

He is a good God.  He does not like to see us hurting, alone, detached from Him wondering what’s going to happen.  He wants for us to trust Him, to stay close to Him and hear Him breathe and speak life into the very being He created.  For you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  He creates all that is good and light and lovely. He didn’t create a mess. Man creates mess. So if you’re life is a mess, then look for the One, who is good and He will show you the light, the truth and the way.  Aren’t you tired of hobbling?

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One

It took one God to create the entire earth into being and everything in it.

It took one serpent to entice one woman to eat one fruit from one tree and pass that one fruit to one man to create sin.

It took one brother to kill another brother to create murder.

It took one Savior to come down from Heaven to touch the earth with His grace and glory.

It took one virgin to give birth to one Savior.

Throughout the Bible there are many stories of what just one can do with the One.

It took one shepherd boy to take down one Goliath with one stone.

It took one queen to save the Jewish people from perishing under the edict of one man.

It took one man to build an ark.

It took one man to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

It took one woman at the well to spread the good news.

It took one man to betray Jesus.

It took one death to break the veil.

It took one resurrection to overcome death.

It took this one death….one sacrifice to take away ALL the sins of the world.

Jesus Christ is the truth, the way, and the life.  He is the Alpha, and the Omega. The beginning and the end.  The first and the last.  He is I Am.

For such a time as this….we are now the one He’s called.  We have a purpose, we have a mission, we have a calling, and we only have right now.  Don’t let one second, turn one minute, into one day, that never happens.

Right now, this is your life. Right now, He’s in control. Right now, He knows what you’re doing, what you’ve done, what you’re going to do and not going to do.

He’s placed you here, where you are, in the midst of His purpose. Straight up, your life is not your own, you only have one life to live, and let’s throw in you only live once…shout it out…YOLO.   So what are you waiting for…..yes, you…. You. Are. That. One.

So, what’s your one?

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