Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

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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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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