Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

Not The Glue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Alcohol’s Dark Side

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the parable here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Walk The Walk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cover-Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Closure

I don’t know what closure means for you. I’ve heard people say they can’t move forward until they get “closure” from a life situation.

What happens if the closure you so desperately want never happens? Do you stay stuck where you are forever in wait mode? Never moving forward?

Do we always wonder about the “one that got away”? Or the bully that changed the way we see a certain aspect of life? How long do we fumble around in the darkness of non-closure? How many days, weeks, months or even years have you waited to get things “settled” the way you want?

I had a friend who told me on the heels of my last divorce that she wasted years of her life after her divorce. She was sad. She didn’t want to be divorced. She wanted things the way they were before the divorce. She warned me, sternly, not to do the same.

When my brother died, my mother told me not to waste my life like she had done. When I asked her what she would’ve done differently, she said she didn’t know.

From what I can tell, the only person in charge of closure is ourselves. We have the power to close the chapter, without the apology, without being paid back, and without anyone’s permission.

It may be easier, said than done, but don’t you think your life moving forward is worth it?

Frank Sinatra sang these lyrics from the song “My Way“;

Regrets, I’ve had a few“.

What happens when regret takes over our present day living? I daresay regret turns into resentment, which turns into bitterness and finally anger. It’s a slippery slope down to the pit of depression.

Life is seldom the way we plan. When people get married, do you think on their wedding day they’re already planning on getting divorced?

What about your dreams as a child? Did you become what you dreamt you’d be? Seldom does a person take their first sip of alcohol think they’ll become an alcoholic.

What about remorse? It’s a kissing cousin to regret.

All of these things are a road block to moving forward. When we stay stuck in them for too long, we forget how to enjoy life. Not only that, we forget what it’s like to take the small forward steps. Somehow life got too big. Suddenly, everything became overwhelming and the next step became the whole staircase.

Staring at the whole staircase is daunting. We forget each step represents moving forward. Trying to jump from the bottom to the top, will no doubt cause a fall.

This is as much for me as is it for anyone you who happen upon this blog. I know the pain of all the things I’ve mentioned here.

I guess for me it’s a longing for an easier time. But, those easier times, had their share of trouble too. It’s like I’ve carried them all with me and without them, I don’t know who I am. As if my identity is wrapped up in all the things I did wrong, over the things I did right.

Truth of the matter is, my identity is not tied to any of them. That’s the performer in me still seeking worth. But, my worth doesn’t come from my performance. I know all this in my head…but how do I get it into my heart?

I stay the course and stick with Jesus. He’s the giver. I’m the receiver. He’s the Vine. I’m the branch. He tells me to forget the former things; He’s doing a new thing. But, I have to open my closed fist, let go of what I’m clutching onto, which threatens to kill, steal and destroy me, and release the former things.

You all know I love me some claymation Christmas shows. Do you remember “Santa Claus is Coming To Town“?

I love the part where Kris Kringle teaches the evil warlock to “put one foot in front of the other” in an effort to change from evil to good. When the evil warlock goes to take his first steps, he’s really shaky. But, then he takes another step and another, and with each step he becomes less shaky. With each resounding step he was leaving his past behind.

Maybe that’s the key. Sing your way through it. Sounds a lot like praise Him through it. The “it” being whatever’s not right in your life. I love to sing. I love to give praise to Jesus. It settles my heart. It allows for God to move and replenish my weary heart.

No, we may not always get the closure we want, but Jesus always makes sure we get what we need. In His time, in ways we can’t even begin to imagine.

Ephesians 3:20 says:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” (NIV)

That’s the beauty about God being a creator, He never runs out of ways to show us His glory.

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Pedestals

I’m over it.

If you blame Chris Rock, for Will Smith’s actions then you’ll start to understand why Adam blamed Eve because he ate the forbidden fruit and why Eden blamed the serpent for the choice she made. Each one had a choice. Each is equally responsible for their own actions. The blame game is nothing new. Sin is sin.

If Will Smith can see he did wrong and apologize, why is the public still looking to blame Chris for what Will did or for that matter blame Jada for an eye roll?

Chris made a tasteless joke.
Jada rolled her eyes.
Will deliberately walked on the stage and slapped Chris.

It’s doesn’t matter why and the why in this instance is nobody’s business.

Public opinion is dangerous and careless. Having all the facts you think you have doesn’t make you right. Just ask Jesus. Crucify a sinless man and let a criminal go.

Putting celebrities on pedestals is something that’s easy to do. But, it’s also nothing new. Satan himself once an angel in heaven named Lucifer attempted to be higher than God. He put himself on a pedestal and was thrown to earth.

“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.” ~ Isaiah 14:12-15 (NIV)

Did you notice how God knew what the angel Lucifer was thinking? When God says He looks at the heart and for you to protect it, He’s not kidding. Lucifer’s plans were in his heart and God saw it. You don’t even have to commit the actual sin before God knows it’s going to happen. Blows my mind how intimately God knows us.

Moving on. The fact of the matter is, Will Smith is human and he had a public melt down. How many celebrities do we need to watch fall from grace before we understand, they’re no better than us? That they’re flawed humans with raw emotions just like the rest of us? Did all his wealth keep him from falling? Nope, it sure didn’t.

But, what intrigues me is how quickly the public opinion that raised him up, so easily tore him down.

He’s supposed to be a model for others to follow. He’s the Prince of Bel-Air. He should’ve know better. Really?

When our hand-picked idols fall off their pedestals, it hurts. We put our trust in who we think they actually are, knowing nothing except what we’re fed about them.

The fact that we think we need to follow another human being is a deeper calling from Jesus to follow Him. People are flawed. Jesus has never changed. He is exactly who He says He is. He knows we need to follow and believe in something. And every single time we put our faith, trust, or hope in anything but Him, we’ll be disappointed and scurrying to find something to replace what’s disappointed us.

Will Smith doesn’t deserve the stones thrown by hands that sin daily. Our smugness alone throws the pile of condemnation upon him. And no matter what anyone else does to Will, there will be no one harder on Will, than Will himself. We’ve all been our own worst enemy at some point in our lives. Who does anyone think they are when their celebrity fails to live up to their expectation?

The hard truth of the matter, is no one is perfect, and that goes for celebrities and any other person, place or thing we’ve elevated.

The best thing we can do for Will is to surround him in prayer. Prayer is powerful. Prayer changes us. Prayer reminds us, God is still on the throne, still doing what He does best; being God.

May we all be so fortunate to have God fearing, praying people in our lives.

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Cinderella

There are lots of different movie versions of Cinderella. My favorite version of this beloved fairy tale romance is Ever After. If you’ve not watched it, go do that! Seriously.

You might think my favorite part is when Cinderella winds up with her Prince Charming, but you’d be way off. In this version of the movie it’s about the elderly couple, Louise and Maurice who are servants in the mansion.

The evil stepmother has sold Maurice into slavery to pay off her debt. His punishment for her debt? He will be shipped off to “The America’s”. Apparently that was quite the punishment. Who knew?

Instead, Cinderella or in this instance Danielle de Barbarac, our heroine, is able to save Maurice, her elderly friend from his horrible fate. She does this by throwing all caution and pretense to the wind. She borrows one of her evil step sisters dresses and heads into town to pay off the ransom for the man she considers family while pretending to be a courtier. Gasp!

She knows what she’s doing is wrong. She knows if she gets caught she could suffer the same fate as her elderly friend, Maurice, but she decided the risks were worth it. More so, his life was worth more than hers.

Now comes my favorite part.

Louise is out in the gardens working with her other servant friend, Paulette. Paulette spies Maurice, drops her bucket and does this little happy dance trot towards him and Danielle. Maurice and Louise lock eyes from across the field and with arms stretched out in front of themselves, they limp, run to one another until they fall into a loving embrace. I can totally hear the music in my head and see this scene. I tear up every time. It’s the absolute sweetest thing.

My beautiful friends, this is what love in action looks like. Laying down your life for another. It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s risky. But, it’s always worth it. Even if it doesn’t play out the way we intend, it will always matter.

I’m so thankful, there were no cell phones back then. I’m so thankful that once upon a time, people took action, throwing caution to the wind to help their fellow man.

Whipping out a phone and making a video is great for entertainment, but who is it actually helping when someone is in crisis? We’re so afraid of doing the right thing for fear of being sued, we’d rather “help” by watching.

Don’t even get me started on people and their get rich tactics and manipulation. Ain’t nobody got time to give that nonsense attention.

Smart phones can be an awesome thing, but more often than not, they’re a hinderance to doing life the way we were meant to…together, in community, helping one another.

It’s called humanity. It’s being there when it really matters. It’s being there even for a mom you don’t always get along with.

Lord knows I have my own issues. How’s that song go? “Nobody knows the trouble, I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorrow.”

That’s not true. The Lord knows. He’s always looking for those He can send to those He knows have sorrow or a need. We can’t hear Him if we’re too busy feeding our brains by watching other people live their lives through a screen.

The generation we live in, has made great progress in technological advancement, but we use it more to harm ourselves and others more than help. It grieves my heart.

We are self-sufficient, self-deluded, and self-serving. When was the last time you were self-sacrificing?

Believe me when I say, I’m right in the mix with you. It takes a lot to get out of my house some days and interact with people. It takes a lot for me to get in my car to drive and see my mom. But, it hurts me more to stay inside. It hurts me more to not go see my mom.

A hardened heart will always find an excuse to hold tight onto their life. Fear will always hold that hardened heart back from doing what’s right. It’s easier to allow someone else to take a risk than step into something that you’ve been given access to and an opportunity to step up.

I don’t have the answers. I wish I did. What I do know is God is still God. He’s still looking for His helpers. It’s hard to lend a helping hand when the hands are full with a phone we’re afraid of dropping.

All I know is if there’s a need in front on you, you can fill, but you wait for someone else to do it, you may very well miss out on the most precious gift God wants to give you. What He has for His children will far outweigh what the world can ever give.

Life is always moving. People still need help. Are we willing to sacrifice for another? Only time will tell. I sure hope when the opportunity arises, I’ll do my part to help and not harm. The choice is always ours to make.

I’m ever so grateful, Jesus chose to sacrifice His life for mine. I can’t even begin to imagine what that truly cost Him.

Is it any wonder, He tells us to count the cost to follow Him? He knows more than we’ll ever know what that really means.

Be wise, count the cost and if given the chance, help one another.

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Search Me

“Investigate my life, O God,
    find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
    get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
    then guide me on the road to eternal life.”

Psalm 139:23-24 (MSG)

The past two days I’ve been attending our local 2022 If: Gathering event. It was phenomenal. If you’ve never attended a Christian women’s conference, I highly recommend this one. So good!

The church was filled with women from all over the local area hungry to learn more about their relationship with Jesus. The friends that attended with me, well, it would take more than one blog to tell you about how they’ve each touched and enriched my life. I will say, I hope you have a tribe of friends who support, encourage and love you, the way these women do for me.

Before I even attended the conference I had prayed Psalm 139:23-24. This is never an easy prayer. You’re asking God to search you. You’re asking God to show you what is going on in your life that’s not in line with His will for you. It’s an intimate prayer for God to come in to your life and see what’s going on.

Now, let me say, I thought for sure I already knew. I mean, I live with me 24/7 so, I got this, right? Insert loud buzzer noise for…wrong!

The very first speaker of the night was local. She spoke about God’s Holiness. It was really good. Until she got to a part that made my heart “freeze” and body turn hot.

She spoke about getting advice from someone concerning her marriage. That person told her, she’d find her a good attorney. Then she said, that advice giving person had been married four times. I heard the tone in her voice. I know she was just trying to make a good point on being careful who you seek advice from, but it still hurt. In the context of the message she said the divorced person was the wrong person to ask. I suppose in her case that was correct.

The negative thoughts came rushing at me like a raging river. Wait. I’m divorced. Not once, but 3 times. Does that mean I’m not a person of wise counsel? Does that exclude me from sharing with others how divorce affects me to this day? What was happening inside me, was deeper than all my negative thoughts.

God, through this woman had just answered my prayer. He searched my heart and He found the shame I still carry from those divorces. Sure, I talk about them. I “laugh” it off, but it appears I still care more deeply about what others and even I, think of my past, over embracing being made a new creation when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

Divorce does not define who I am, unless I allow it. But wait! It gets better. Remember, I said that was the first speaker of the first night. I tucked that shame down and kept on keeping on.

But God, wasn’t done yet. He will finish the work He begins in you.

During the morning of the second day of the event, we had more worship, more phenomenal speakers and then it was time for lunch.

As I sat at the table with my friends, my heart started to beat a bit faster and knew I needed to get this confession of shame off me.

I almost forgot something. Days before this conference, after watching that episode of 9-1-1, I wrote about, I didn’t mention I had cried like a baby. I cried because for the first time I realized the type of running I was doing in my own life. God led me to say, “I’m safe”. I haven’t felt “safe,” in I can’t tell you how long.

Back to lunch with my friends. I knew I was “safe,” with them, but how would they feel when I’d share what God showed me the first day of the conference?

There was only one way to find out. I told them I wanted to confess something to them and then, immediately started to cry. Through my tears, I told them exactly how I was feeling and how I came to be in the vulnerable place I was in.

These women listened. I mean, really listened. It’s not that they didn’t know I’d been divorced, because they did. They just didn’t know the degree of shame I felt over it. Surprise, neither had I until yesterday. These godly women and friends had tears in their eyes and when I was done with my confession, they immediately began lifting me up out of my pit.

One woman reminded me with conviction in her voice, “there’s NO condemnation for those in Jesus Christ.” (Romans 8:1)

Another spoke God’s Truth over me.

Yet another, hugged me and spoke words of godly affirmation over me.

All of these amazing women, heard my hurt, embraced what I had to say, and immediately took what the devil meant to destroy me with, and flipped his accusations upside down and back into hell where the lies belong.

These type of women, are the ones you want in your corner. These loving, precious daughters of God, spoke life back into a weary heart.

Yes, I could’ve kept that shame all to myself. As hard as it was to confess, the damage it was causing inside me was worse. I’m so thankful God surrounded me in love and knew exactly who to place around me. He’s a good God.

Even when He asks you to confess.

Confession is not a punishment. Confession takes any power you’ve given to the enemy and gives God room to those ashes into something beautiful. Because God is a creator, He will always, bring about good from evil. Always!

So now I have to apply this truth in my life. Every time the enemy tries to creepy crawl his way back in, I have to take my stance and say, “NO SHAME,” however many times it takes for it to be thrown out as far as the east is to the west.

Maybe there’s something in your life where you have shame. I’m so sorry for whatever happened to cause that in your life. Let me be the one through Jesus, to speak beauty into your life, just as my friend did for me.

You are a child of God. You are God’s masterpiece. You are the apple of God’s eye. You’re precious. You are loved, chosen, and highly favored. God’s not mad at you. God’s not surprised by what you’ve done and He will use whatever was meant to destroy you, for His good and glory. And He will finish the good work He’s begun in you.

Your mission. Trust Him with your story. Ultimately, it belongs to Him, because you belong to Him.

Much peace and love to you my friends. And to my friends who walked out that tough road with me today, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You’re all amazing in ways, you may never know this side of Heaven.

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Outshine

Last night I watched an episode of 9-1-1. A lot of the show resonated deeply with me. It was mainly about the character Maddie. She fell into what was initially thought of as postpartum depression. Turns out it was a thyroid thing. She was so depressed and convinced she wasn’t worthy to live, she attempted suicide. Thoughts of her hubby and newborn baby made her seek help instead.

She wanted to get healed before she went back to her hubby and baby whom she left months previously. She left because she was so exhausted from her medical condition she drifted off when the baby was in the tub and the baby slipped under the water for a few seconds. She felt on top of her condition she was a danger to her family.

There’s nothing worse than knowing there’s something medically wrong and no one will listen. Maddie ran from her family and her husband with baby in tow decided to find her. He felt responsible. She asked and pleaded with him not to follow, to give her the time she needed to heal. He didn’t listen.

Eventually after months they were in the same city. He daily sat outside a hospital where he thought she’d magically come walking out of one day, until a friend told him to get back in the game called life. That friend also told him that maybe, since he hadn’t found his wife, it was time to let go of what he so desperately wanted and let the “universe” do the work for him. As in, give back to the “universe,” and maybe the universe will give back to you. (Because you know, it’s all about what the universe can do for us.)

Eventually, Maddie and her hubby find each other and after the shock of the meeting, they finally get to talk. What it came down to is Maddie left because she knew her husband didn’t grasp the severity of her mental illness. He thought he could fix it by simply loving her through it. He had a good heart, but she needed so much more than he was gonna be able to give her.

Maddie had been through a lot of trauma. It hadn’t been respectfully dealt with, so the trauma dealt with her. Sometimes space is the best gift you can give someone who needs proper time to heal.

Maddie wasn’t able to heal while focusing on her family, job and all the life things. She didn’t leave to hurt them, she left to help them. She left to seek a deeper inner healing than they could provide. She knew in her knower it’s what was best. The fixers in this workd mean well, but people don’t need to be fixed. They need compassion and a safe place to land. We also don’t need our trauma to be trumped by another’s.

Listening is hard. Being vulnerable is hard. Fixing is nothing more than slapping a bandaid on a hemorrhaging wound. It takes guts to really listen with a compassionate ear. It takes guts to stop “running” from your pain and dealing with it. In reality, you truly can’t outrun your pain.

Maddie tried outrunning her pain by doing the daily grind and stuffing it down. But it came on her full force and it tried to take her out of this world. She succeeded in getting the help she needed. Sadly, many don’t.

I guess the point to all of this is, in a world where people are constantly trying to outshine one another in an effort to become noticed, we’ve forgotten what true compassion looks like. This “look at me and what I can do” world is a harsh place to exist. It’s even more harsh on those who feel they don’t have a place.

I’ll wrap this up with the new commandment Jesus gave us:

“And so I am giving a new commandment to you now—love each other just as much as I love you. Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”” ~ John 13:34-35 (TLB)

Notice it didn’t say to outshine one another. Because that’s not love, that’s selfish.

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Breaking-Up

“Breaking up is hard to do” is the name of a song sung by Neil Sedaka back in the 70’s. No truer words have ever been spoken.

As I journey towards emotional and mental well being I’ve learned it’s hard, excruciatingly hard, to unlearn and break up with things that no longer, and in truth, have not ever served me well.

In a group friend session today we were asked what’s one thing you’d like prayer towards in your healing journey?

I said I’m in the process of letting go of the guilt of others. Let me explain.

As a sensitive child growing up in a dysfunctional home, I wanted peace for everyone. I seldom tended to my own emotions because I was so concerned on ways to help others feel better. It’s another reason why I didn’t want others to see me cry. I felt like I was placing another burden on top of an already toxic situation.

It didn’t help that when I brought up how I was feeling, it was pretty much dismissed. To include the time I broke my arm and I was sent to school anyway. It took a school nurses’ voice of concern to get my parents to hear “me’.

In essence these type of dismissals led me to feel unworthy of having feelings.

On the flip side, I was also the one who acted out. So much so, the doctor told my parents to tranquilize me. All she needs is a “little blue heart pill” as it was referred to and she’ll be calm. No one ever addressed the toxic home or the neglect.

I learned, I was the problem. Awesome, right?

As I grew older, in an effort not to be the one my Father would single out to verbally abuse, I’d stay holed up in my room. But, toxic has a way of getting past your boundaries and taking up residence where it doesn’t belong.

My role models were from those wholesome tv shows, that depicted perfect families. I know, I know, there are no perfect families…now.

When I ventured into the world and was considered a grown-up, I had all that mess inside I knew nothing about. When my own grown-up relationships failed to be “perfect” I’d mentally check out before I ever left physically.

Control, or that of perceived control was paramount to my well-being. So, when things didn’t look or feel “picture perfect” I took that as, I was failing. Then I’d lash out with anger to try and reign in the messy, uncontrolled parts of “my” life. Which included taking things out on my loved ones. Ugh!!

I’ve been several years under construction. Each day, I learn a bit more as God helps me towards healing.

Emotional neglect is something I’m learning now. Stuffing down any emotion is neglecting to honor what I’m feeling. Feelings are important to understand why something is happening inside.

What I’m learning is that I feel guilty for having my own feelings. It goes back to when I shoved my own feelings down as a child.

Not only do I feel guilty for my stuff, I feel guilty for those loved ones who may have made poor choices due to my own inability to function well.

Please understand, I know we all make mistakes and I will no doubt continue to make mistakes. Learning to heal is a process.

I know I’m not responsible for the choices others make, but in my thought process, if I could’ve done something better or differently, maybe the outcome would’ve been better. It’s only now, I realize it could’ve been worse.

No one else needs to validate how I’m feeling. No one else can tell me I shouldn’t feel a certain way.

When my nephew hurt my niece while playing, she cried. Not wanting to get in trouble, he told her to stop crying, because what he didn’t couldn’t have hurt her.

In essence he was telling her to shove the hurt down so he wouldn’t have to apologize and possibly get in trouble for roughhousing. Needless to say, since I was there, we talked it out and he apologized.

Kids don’t know how to process feelings. They need to be taught. They need to be allowed to express what’s happening. But, when grown-ups didn’t have a good example, they pass what they learned on, or they over compensate to the other side.

That’s what I did with my son. I overcompensated. I tried to make up for him not having his dad in his life. Some would say I “spoiled” him. I truly dislike that term by the way. But, that’s for another day. But, I would argue, I did the best I knew how to do with the information I had.

I felt guilty for what I thought he lacked. But, was the toxicity of our relationship any better for our son? No, it sure wasn’t. But that didn’t make me feel any less guilty for what I thought I did by getting divorced.

Guilt, my friends, is a hard task master. It’s not from God, and it’s a burden our tender frames were ever meant to bear. And yet, I’ve not ever met a person who has said they’ve never experienced guilt.

Guilt has been one the hardest things to break up with. Guilt stands in the way of my receiving God’s forgiveness. God’s grace is so much more than I know. God’s love is so much more than I know. And I will not experience all He has for me with the yoke of guilt around my neck.

Freedom from guilt is my prize. How do I get there? Not on my own. I need God to help me. I need Him to help me understand where my worth comes from. My worth, your worth, is not in guilt.

Our worth comes from knowing we are loved and created by a loving God. We’ve been set free to live an abundant life. Not a life wracked in emotional pain from past trauma. It’s up to us to do our part. We are worth the effort. We are worthy of love. We are worthy of being here. We are worthy to be healed and whole. Not because of who we are, but because of the love sacrifice made by Jesus.

Jesus thought we were worth dying for, why is it so hard for us to believe that truth? Maybe today, like me, you can take that step towards deeper healing and simply receive His love.

You don’t have to prove anything to God. That’s already been taken care of by the shed blood of Jesus.

Today is my break up day with guilt. It’s way overdue. I’m sure I’ll stumble, but I will persevere to freedom, because guilt is not my story’s ending. I’m praying for you to know it’s not your story’s ending either.

Breaking up is hard to do, but with God, ALL things are possible.

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