Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

Torn Between Two Lovers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ummm, what? 

Wait, it gets better. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ummm, what? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How else could words like these be justified:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But God! 

Proverbs 19:21 says:

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

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 43:19 says:

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

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

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What’s In Your Treasure Chest?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And yet, there’s still an emptiness. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 6:19-21 says: 

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

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

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The Choice You Choose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But that’s my choice, what’s yours?

Peace and much love to you my friends.

 

 

 

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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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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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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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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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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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Losing My Religion

Maybe it’s not a blog post I need to write.  Maybe it’s just putting down all the various thoughts running through my head.  I prayed….maybe not the right prayers…I sought…but didn’t really know what I was seeking or who for that matter I was asking these things of.  People I was surrounded with called him God.  I was a catholic, I didn’t know this God, I knew a religion.  Growing up, I knew how to go to a Priest and report my sins as if a human was truly able to absolve me of my actions or remove any guilt I may have had.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to crap on religion, I’m just saying, this is what I knew.  It was very regimented, being a Catholic.  You had rules, you said prayers, you knew about such things as mortal sins and how you never wanted to be guilty of committing a mortal sin.  Don’t take communion until you go to confession if you have one of those mortal sins you’re guilty of.  Divorce?  Are you crazy?  Birth control?  I don’t think so.  Turn the other cheek, confess, pray, sit, kneel, stand, the signs of the cross, the rosary, the apostle’s creed, Hail Mary’s, Our Father’s…I mean you just knew, like a lemming what came next.  Steps to your salvation almost as easy as 1,2,3 as long as you played by their legalistic rules.

Doesn’t sound very personal does it?  Sounds more like God took a big cookie cutter and just cut us out of the same mold and then plopped us down for amusement.  But, that’s not God.  God is not a religion, He never was, nor will He ever be a religion.  He’s not Catholic, He’s not Muslim, He’s not Mormon, He’s not Episcopal, or Baptist….but what He is, in all those religions…is there.  He is the great I am in the great right now, wherever you are, whatever you’re a part of, whatever you’re thinking, feeling, trying to run from, trying to hide behind, wishing for, praying about, stuffing down, celebrating…there is nowhere that He is not.  He is everywhere and He made you and placed you, right where you are for His purposes.

And He promises…He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Right now, He’s holding His hand out to you, giving you the choice to either take hold or walk away.

Looking back I can see the people He placed around me trying to get me to notice Him, but I didn’t know to notice, and I was too hardened to even care.  But, it was easier for me to reflect on my religion over thinking of a relational God who cared. There are many things your religion can tell you about the way you should live your life according to their rules but there is only one Bible, the very Word of God that shows you, the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No religion can ever grab a hold of your heart the way knowing God can.  No religion can change you, because religion didn’t make you. God made you.  He’s the reason or should be the reason for every single step you make, because He is in every single breath you take.

I don’t know what your path looks like.  I don’t know why your life doesn’t look how you think it ought to look.  Maybe it’s because of the choices you’ve made, maybe it’s because you need to walk in obedience, or take a step of faith or maybe it’s just simply because you’ve taken your hand out of His.  Maybe you think God left you, or is angry with you, or you’re angry with Him for taking things or loved ones from your life.  Maybe you think you’re too broken, too far gone, too unworthy, too dirty, too (insert your word here), but I can assure you, you are none of those condemning thoughts because Jesus already took that nail for you.  Why? Because it is written, “For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~~John 3:16 (NIV)  It is not written, For God so loved the world He sent His religion…..because He’s not a religion.  God is so much more than a religion.  He is the very essence of your being, your beating heart, your breath, your life.  And He has such plans for you.

How do I know?  Because it is written: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~~ Jeremiah 29:11

Religion can’t make promises, but God, oh yes my friends…God makes promises.  His Word is living and active and just as relevant today as it ever was, so yea, I’m all about losing my religion and holding onto His promises, His hand, and walking into His vision because He promises it will not harm me, but indeed gives me hope and a future.

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