Anger Denatured into Gratitude

A once ridiculing, anxious soul is metamorphosing into unconditional gentleness. Where once was fear now is filled with peace and where once was guilt is now filled with hope.

My mother.

Unfortunately, in comparison to me- the steps I’d thought I’d taken to overcome bitterness and anger are now so clear against her grace filled love. My mom is transforming and I stopped somewhere a long the way. Or maybe I took a pause to clean out some old dusty cupboards of pain.


Being a child with divorced parents isn’t a whole ton of fun. It creates some sort of childhood trauma that manages to covertly infect most neural pathways to your mind and heart. Oh, memories! I sigh- and the purposely forgotten memories! And holidays- what a wonderful time to remember how broken your family is! This is not a rant, I promise. 

Through one recent conversation or another I found myself angry. It was something to do with plans and what dinner was at who’s house and why it was so unfair the kids had to go the other parents instead of coming to some Aunt’s house. Some sort of blame was exchanged…blah, blah, blah. I ended up angry towards my mom and then sort of stopped communicating, and really, what led up to that isn’t the important part, but I was angry and I left angry back to Iowa.

Along the 5 hour drive I meditated long and hard on my anger. At first I didn’t understand why, I just was, you know? So I just let myself be angry and sooner or later a cry for justice was to be found.

“It’s not fair!” I found myself exclaiming. There was a huge injustice done to me with my parents separating: I didn’t ask for it, I couldn’t do anything to stop it, and yet somehow I was in the middle of broken promises and lonely relationships. “What about justice?”

I let myself call out the injustice that had happened. It’s like there’s this imaginary pressure to not be impacted by divorce, like, it happens all the time or it’s not so bad or something. So all along the way of the last 10 years I’m bottling up this anger and sense of injustice inside, wanting to expressing it, but not knowing really what it is that I wanted to express. Yet I was letting it seep out every time my mom asked me when my dad is having thanksgiving or when I’m going over to his house.

Kind of ridiculous if you ask me now. Especially since she’s like this sweet lady who asks so prudently. Then I’m this ravenous wolf who just got punched on a wound.

So here I am in the car, “What about justice?” I say (seemingly to God) Of course, being God, he could almost laugh. Who could have a better understanding of unfair suffering than God? Jesus on the cross, anyone?

He doesn’t though- laugh, I mean. He comforts me by reminding me He knows about the injustice. It’s not fair. It’s not right. It’s not acceptable. He hates divorce! (Malachi 2:16)

Who could have a better understanding of unfair suffering than God?

And then of course, people kept sharing verses and articles on Facebook about unjust suffering and forgiveness…etc….. you know how that happens…

Verses like 1 Peter 2:19-25

For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.

and 1 Peter 3:9

 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Genesis 50:19-20

But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

And then I almost felt the Spirit asking me “What kind of justice would you like?”

Well… I don’t know I guess, I thought, it’s not like I want them punished (they believe in Jesus and his forgiveness and are in enough of their own pain) and in all actuality having them back together probably wouldn’t make anything much better either…. I guess I just wanted someone to hear me say it wasn’t fair. 

So I emailed my mom and apologized and helped her understand why I was so angry all the time. She apologized for her part, I apologized for mine and we both agreed to work towards forgiveness. I thanked her profusely for her grace as she is always so kind to me when I am unkind. She doesn’t mind the hits because she loves me so much and that’s pretty amazing.

That was all a month ago. On the drive back home for Thanksgiving today I asked myself what kind of attitude I was going to have this time. I prayed for a gentle one and I realized anything other than that would be a cry for justice. Then I asked myself, “How long will you cry out? How many do you need to hear you say it? Will it ever be enough?”

You’ve said it. It’s been heard. By God, by your mom, and by a lot of others. It’s been taken care of and it’s time to move on now. It’s time to be grateful for what you do have (believing parents, a home, food, people who love you, clothes, a job, income, school, air to breathe) and to be content with the portion God has given you. It’s time to stop looking at your circumstances with a microscope….

It’s time to be thankful. And so I shall!

Happy Thanksgiving! May God help you understand what good He is doing through your unjust suffering and unfortunate circumstances.

“Understanding unjust suffering is about not getting God to change your circumstances but beginning to understand how your circumstances are a part of His divine plan and you responding to that plan.”              Overcoming Unjust Suffering, Living on The Edge

 

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Diary of the Abused

Between the ages of 10-12, I experienced a variety of sexual abuse. While I used to think this was a huge statement of who I am, a big secret to unveil, it’s no longer defining me and instead I’m finding peace. Washed clean by the purity of another child, I didn’t realize what bondage I was under until this last summer.


You might not take compassion on me if you saw me on the street. I walk up rightly and I can run with speed. There are no scars from what I’ve seen or what’s been done to me.

But if you might have examined what is in me – these are the things I’m convinced only Jesus can love me in spite of.

I used to think my innocence was stolen from me, but as I consider who I was becoming at that time, I can see that I was offering an invitation. While that’s not everyone’s story, its part of mine. And while that doesn’t make me responsible I know I cannot blame just one person. I would have liked to, however. I’m haunted often by guilty memories of my letters of vengeance and words of unforgiving hatred; once heavily burdened by the weight of responsibility for the discouraging direction their life went after. Those are things Jesus has helped me let go for many years now.

But, there were a lot of other consequences, a lot of other scars I wore and carried. A lot of distortions of who I saw myself as, my sexuality, my relationships with other people, and the intertwining of all of those things. I think as I started following Jesus in college, I tried covering up those distortions with my convictions I was building only as an effort to silence a few demon hounds. They sounded a lot like temptations I indulged in the past, but as soon as my convictions began to be challenged, those temptations met me right in the face by the small hands of purity and innocence.


After crossing the finish line of high school, possibly on my hands and knees, I was convinced of a few things: I decided I’d probably never get married, never have kids, and that I was asexual. It was very complicated. At the same time I also desired those things a lot, but convinced I was too dangerous to ever take part in them.

I’m not entirely sure how to communicate this next part except to just be blunt.

It was like every time I experienced pleasure from touch, I was convinced it was sexual. It had to be. That’s all I ever knew it as. Every pleasure was lust. Slowly I convinced myself I was a monster. A twisted sickness that I couldn’t escape. I was stuck with myself. Too afraid of what I might become, I put up walls; marinading in solitude. Stuck in a push and pull of curiosity and fear.

Coming to college, I was hit upside the head with a 2×4 to follow Jesus, to find healing and forgiveness. Not only that, but I found this place where brothers and sisters just hugged each other. People held hands and cried on each others’ lap.

But of course, those old temptations followed so I built convictions about not touching that protected me; probably hurting my brothers and sisters a long the way.

About a year ago, it became time to face it when I was babysitting. We were reading a book when the child began to pet my arm. It was so sweet and nice, but my blood pressure raised as I considered that I’d been enjoying this moment in all the wrong ways. I remember thinking, “Is this who I am?”.

A prison of shame.

I’d read verses that Paul wrote to Timothy like “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst” and nod in empathy. I’d pray things like “create in me a pure heart and renew a right spirit within me,” utterly convinced nothing could ever make me pure in the inmost places of my heart and mind-too ashamed of these temptations.

At some point during the beginning of 2014 I had a revelation about temptation and sin. Romans 6 says specifically “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin, because anyone who was died has been freed from sin”.

Temptation became just that. Temptation. A mere, weasily word that can be resisted and is rewarded when done so (James 1:12). I suddenly squelched every opportunity for the tempter to have any power over me, and so put to death the power sin held in my life. The mortification of sin, as John Owen calls it. As I think of that time, I can see this was a good foundation God was laying for what lie ahead.


Fast forward to this past summer: same home, same child, same lap; a lonely heart and a courage to change. He laid there with his back up to me and I asked if could draw a picture with my finger for him to guess. This was exactly how it happened the first time for me, when I was abused all those years ago. But, I felt compelled to re-live this memory. He said yes, and so I began to draw letters; he giggled and guessed. As he laid there, this little boy of 4 years, in all enjoyment and peace, gave to me an example of pleasure in perfect purity.

The next morning as I was waking in my bed, he came in to lay down with me. I sat up and started humming and drumming on his back gently. As he lay there, eyes closed, it was the purity in his face came up and washed over me as I witnessed such pleasure of a touch. It was possible. It was pure, and it was good. Not all touch had to be sexualized. It was like opening a door from a world of brokenness to a world of hope.

After that I remember thinking… I’ve been missing this part of human connection my whole life???????? No wonder I was swallowed by doubt and loneliness; I’d been missing one of the main forms of human connection! And so, somehow, my heart is healed by Jesus working through a child. And so we are the hands and feet, eh?


As I reflect on 2014 and think about the things I’ve learned this year, that was by far the most impacting. And why share all these considerably intimate details in a public domain? Well, first to glorify God and to show his healing work, secondly to confess my own sin and prove God’s great grace in forgiveness, and thirdly that maybe someone out there might feel burdened by the same thing looking for compassion or empathy. Or maybe that you might have a friend or a sibling, a wife or a daughter or son who was or will be here. That maybe you are burdened by your guilt of sin and need a reminder that our Lord Jesus is mighty to save.

Zephaniah 3:14-20
Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm.

On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

The sorrows for the appointed feasts I will remove from you; they are a burden and a reproach to you. At that time I will deal with all who opressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame.

At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,”  says the Lord.

My Mother’s Story

My mom became a member of the our church back in Wisconsin and apart of that was sharing your testimony with the pastor and elders last week. My mom didn’t know quite what to say, so she wrote a prayer poem to the Lord… so I thought I’d share. To know how far my mom has come and all that she has been through… this is only a tiny peek, but I’m so blessed and amazed to have been in her life and apart of this story that it really makes all that I’ve been through worth it. Hope you enjoy my mother’s story.

Lord Jesus when I was little,
I knew just who you were.
Great almighty and powerful,
always willing to hear your word.

I believe you guided my parents,
as they taught me wrong from right.
Sending me to Sunday school,
and praying with me each and every night.

I attended Catholic Church,
I attended Catholic school.
There I learned about you Lord,
and the 12 most important rules.

Often when I attended school and Church,
I was not the happiest there.
I felt like I was being judged,
Like they were not being fair.

So it was then I fell from my Church,
That I attended regularly.
Tried to make it on my own,
and now its no surprise to me.

Yes Lord, I have stumbled,
Struggling through the years.
Looking hard to find you,
knowing you were always near.

Lord I come to you a sinner,
Lord I have made the most terrible mistakes.
Before you Lord I ask forgiveness,
please keep me in your grace.

When asked once how I found you,
the words seemed hard to find.
And then with thought, how it occurred,
the very place and time…

Yes it was in a car ride,
you know going from here to there.
Through the words of my little girl,
she asked me just to share…

When at first she asked me…
Mom, how are you and God today?
Was Christ my Lord and Savior?
Was it clear I knew the way?

I was caught a bit off guard,
Not sure of exactly what to say.
Patiently she heard the explanation,
that I thought of right away.

I assured her, Christ is my Lord,
he has always been in my heart.
That I have always looked to him,
confident that he guided my heart.

It was just then that I began to realize,
that there was so much more that I needed to do,
to make my peace with God,
and my Lord and Savior too.

I needed to make a commitment,
with all my strength and might.
To live each day with the Love of God,
and Christ as my guiding light.

I know that I am human,
and my temptations can be strong.
There will be times I need to pray,
to stay the path I am on.

Lord you are my savior,
its you I want to serve.
Make me your disciple,
help me to learn and teach your word.

Help me to learn your holy book,
search the words each and every day.
Help me to hear the sermon,
and understand this is the only way.

Now I stand before you,
God in the house you have built.
Please let this be my home,
now free from my past sins and guilt.

Lord I give myself to you,
I know you will guide the way.
Lord, each day know that I will seek you,
and give you all the glory each and every day.

Carry on in faith and love,
Teresa

Captain’s log, stardate 1264.93

Our destination is still working full time, but in the meantime we’ve been witnessing some supernatural activity amongst the family members. Sister’s new boss turns out to be a Christian and is taking her to a bible believing, Jesus loving church, the entire deck is singing Hallelujah. Unfortunately, in attempts to bring the nephews- the spouse is strangely apposed. More prayer is necessary for softening his heart. But the oldest nephew is interested which was of greatest shock. Mom has found a fellow Christian at her work location who is on fire for God. Together they will do a bible study twice a month. Brother was in a tragic car accident, but survived. Recently he’s communicated and expressed guilt and regret for absence from our lives for the last 5+ years. We are corresponding back and forth, praying for gospel opportunities. He’s also healing very quickly. Praying God keeps his heart soft. Other brother has attended church with sister-in-law and family. Praying the church is a church that preaches the gospel and that they grow closer together as a family. Save log for future acknowledgement of the mighty work the Lord does and the prayers He answers in baby steps a long the way.

Psalm 65:5 (NLT)
You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior.
You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas.”

I’ve been waiting so long that I forgot I was even waiting.

Tonight I was laying in bed thinking about all the things God could do in my life or teach me in the future as I grow up. I was thinking about the relationships he could restore with my siblings and me, the qualities of Christ and sanctification I could go through. Those are tough processes, I’m sure; and I’m glad they don’t happen all at once.

I was driving back from my part time internship today with the warm sunshine beaming into my skin and just rejoicing at how I feel at ease lately. Not too trial filled right now. It’s kind of nice… A little weird… Not very normal, but nice. Later as I was mentioning that to someone else, after I mentioned my lack of trials I remembered… Actually I am going through a trial right now… I lost my full time job a month and a half ago and I’m still not sure exactly when it’s going to pick back up and I’m commuting to a part time job that sucks up $45 on gas each week.

The thing is, God has blessed me so much through this time with opportunities to work (my boss is paying me to pet sit, mow his lawn, paint his house, weed and garden ect.), serve, and God has provided financially with some extra graduation monetary gifts and also having my job not realize my contract was up for 40 days(!!) after it was supposed to be over and allowing me to make a dent on my student loans and establish an emergency account to pay for this layoff (and my car breaking down… $320 later >.<) not only that but we sold a bunch of sheep to Canada (my mom and I have a sheep farm back in WI).

God has provided me an internship too that has turned out to be a great fit.

God's provided so much that I forgot that I was even in this trial. I've been waiting for so long to start working again (I'm waiting yet for more paperwork to get processed) that I really haven't seen it as waiting at all because I know in all of my heart and soul that God is in control and, as my perfect Heavenly Father, provides for all my needs. He is faithful and I'm thankful that he's been opening my eyes to see that. 2 months ago that was my prayer: "Lord, help me to see you provide." I was going through a rough time then understanding God as my Heavenly Father comparing him to my blood dad. So that was my prayer and God answered and is answering still. His preparation and timing of all of this is amazing!

Reminds me of Matthew 6:31-33
Jesus says, after remarking on the great care of the lilies God gives to them and how we certainly are of greater value then they, "So do not worry saying "What shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear? For the pagans run after these things and your Heavenly Father knows you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well."

Carry on in faith and love,
Teresa

The view of my ceiling when this post was conceived:

IMG_0930-1.JPG

Could this be love?

Your embrace felt like roses; your touch as warm rain
Your smile like sunshine
and if friendship could sing.

Like dew drops collecting, as when laughing begins
is this care that I’m carrying for you,
my dear.

Between sunsets and memories, there begins something to stir.
Between poets and melodies, a new life has emerged.

Like sweetness, aromas; like heartbeats and cheers
A heart of forgiveness now brings me,
so near.

I dare, can I taste it? Can I hear it begin?
Can I feel its sweet delicacy? Can I see it take wing?
Not, I could mock, to a lover I sing.

But one mother will do.

My mother, my heart.
I think I too love, though you’ve loved from my start.

Song of Deliverance

As goodness seeps into the air, like dew and morning fog
A deeper longing starts to grow and settle on my heart.
A whisper from a distant dream, no- memories; they’ve all been mine.
Not the yet unachieved, but past is this constant dream
Speaking to me of deliverance.

In tiny fears, no instead tiny hands where fears first started to grow
as trials mended, spoiled, and tempted, where desperation I started to know.

In my mind and soul, as the world taught me to see, trust was given to nobody
it was You who helped me breathe.
Every last, though I resisted and painted a different kind of dream
one that schemed of endless bleeding brought forth from suffering.

Thankfully, you had a sweeter dream.

Even yet before that time, your dream was coming fully alive.
Though penitence may have been mine, it was your drawing and love:
I became Thine. You had still, greater deliverance in mind.

Within that suffering when I despaired, regretting every sense of hope
Abandoning truth, power, and strength… I stretched forth to find my own.
Yet your hand still beside me though I refused to pay any kind of attention to your love.
I thought I’d be better off.
My eyes wide shut.

Though a calloused stone, once called my heart, occupied this cavity
with time and distance you gently melted me
in time to remember why I’d left so long ago
only to be met by a God with might, His love that he loves to show.
Any reason can you guess to make this sinner whole?

And then from there, if there’s a yet to go, freedom began to fill this soul!
From mountains and valleys, building bridges again.
You’ve taken me back to the world I was first delivered in.
With bitterness, malice flowing away. Instead in its place- fountains of grace!

Oh and you see this isn’t even the end. The greatest deliverance has yet to begin!
From this old world to the eternal next, from Jesus’s blood- the first, the last.
I did taste and see, in my heart when I believed.
And then when mighty waters rise, I will not be reached.
You are my hiding place, my protection, my peace.
He surrounded me with songs
Of deliverance!

 

A Letter to my Mother.

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Kido immediately jumps on my shoulders whenever I come home.

At home in Wisconsin for Spring Break! Feels a little more like winter break though. When I got home, I was happily greeted by my cat and an otherwise empty house. My room was ice cold because its been closed off since I left home last in January and the fridge was surprisingly empty. (These details are important because it leads to me walking aimlessly around the living room for a few minutes)

Then I stumbled upon a letter my mom had stored in a picture frame on our mantle. I remembered writing it, but I hadn’t remembered what it was really about so I took it out. I wanted to share it because I remember God convicting me to write this to show my mom gratitude and to focus on thinking about “what is pure, what is true”: what is good. It was good for my heart to do. Not to boast in my self, but to give God glory because He is the perfecter of our faith and the reconciler of our relationship with Him through Jesus that overflows into our relationships with others. Mother’s Day is coming up in a couple of months, maybe consider writing your mom a letter to tell her how special she is to God and to you regardless of your past experiences! Whatever is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things! (Philippians 4:8)

To my beautiful mom, “Walk beside me and be my friend”-Albert Camas
Love. If I can say anything first, its that I love you! Even in all ways I fail to express it, I do. I’m so glad to call you my mom because I see so much of God’s love through you. You always sacrifice for me and you’re willing to do pretty much anything for me. I really appreciate it and I thank God for you. He guides us on a great journey through life and I’m so glad that we are on that journey together.
The failings and trials along the way: I can’t count them, but only to attest that God is far greater than ourselves and that He can overcome anything. Besides, there are too many things to be grateful for to waste time thinking on the things that are harder to be thankful for. Thanks for always providing for me even when it was hard, thanks for always being there for me, teaching me things, and making me work hard, even when I didn’t want to. I see how hard you work and how you made so much out of so little. I’m proud of you. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without you.
I love my beautiful mom because she taught me how to serve people and how to have joy in life. She continually teaches me through her life that God loves us a lot, has made the greatest sacrifice: himself; and shows me that we can have life and have it abundantly. Though we are far apart, like with God sometimes, she loves me still, unconditionally.
So thank you mom! I want to honor, respect, and serve you that the world may see God’s restoring power and love through our relationship which is always being transformed into something greater than ourselves.
Loving and humbly, Teresa
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” 2/21/13

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My mom and I at the west coast in May 2012

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that is may benefit those who listen….Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Eph 4:29,32)

Carry on in faith AND love! (1 Cor 13:2b)
-Teresa

Pizza and learning to play without the queen.

(This is a long one, but a long time coming! God has done some great work!)

First I think I need to describe my grandfather. Yes. This is a good idea.

He was average height and dark skinned. Polish. I remember him best seeing him growing his giant, tall tomato plants in the garden; always shirtless, his skin was tight but also wrinkly. When he spoke his polish accent shaped every word, it was a low grumbly voice. Inside the house, he would always offer us (the grandkids) gum. My favorite was finding really old Big Red in a drawer because it would snap when you bent it. My grandpa was a hard worker and spent time in a concentration camp as a POW during WWII, but he never talked about it because somethings in life “were best left in the past”. He coined the catchphrase in our family “you can do it like a lion or you can do it like a lamb, but you still gotta do it” and that was the mentality my mom passed on to us kids. My grandpa didn’t have a mother figure in his life, apparently she had died when he was five so his dad raised him and taught him to play chess. When my great grandfather taught my grandpa and his siblings to play, they learned to play without the queen: to teach them that the other players had very important roles and could win the game without her and then also to show them that as they depended on each other (the knights and rookies, pawns and bishops) they would work wonderfully together and if the queen came back into the game, the rest of the pieces knew how to function to their ability and could compliment the queen. This my grandpa passed down to my mother as well, as her mother was diagnosed with delusional schizophrenia and was placed into an institution so my mom too had to learn to play without the queen.

chess-shutterstock

My mom was telling me this story tonight as we sat at a local pizza place (its much too classy to be called a ‘joint’) in my hometown.  I want to share with you an amazing story that unfolds to show God redeeming love and power! Last Thanksgiving break I remember my mom telling me that I couldn’t understand disappointment because I had such an easy life; I remember responding with tears and shouting as I confessed to her that I had been suicidal and stuck in depression for most of my childhood. Before coming back she had blamed me for the riff in her relationship with my dad, words that stabbed far deeper than any knife could and I cried myself to sleep listening to Hold My Heart by Tenth Avenue North praying and waiting for the pain to stop. Coming back to school, surrounded by believers I sought to allow God to change my circumstances and to change my heart. Exodus 20:12 says “Honor your father and mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” and Ephesians 6:2-3 quotes Deuteronomy by saying “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” I went to a conference over Christmas break that year on the same topic. I knew regardless of how I felt about it or how much I thought she earned or deserved honor, I was going to honor because of the promise God made if I obeyed. It’s been a roller coaster of humbleness since.

Now that I’ve caught you up on the mess (and you can read plenty of previous posts on the matter) I’d like to tell you where we are now.

My mom and I sat at the restaurant for an hour talking about the magnificent work Jesus has done in our lives and the brokenness it has come through. Both of us. Mainly her. Oh Frabjous Day! Cahloo! Callay! How I chortled in my joy!Better yet, we wept beside one another in a church in my hometown yesterday when singing From The Inside Out by Hillsong. What is the cause for this change?

God is at the end of your rope. A couple times a week I pass a sign outside of a church on the west side of Ames and that’s what its said for the last week. God is at the end of your rope.

I mentioned in my post Lord the Healer and Redeemer that my mom’s boyfriend Jeff was diagnosed with cancer and only had a limited time (3-9 months) left to live. 3-9 months turned out to be three weeks. I received a call one night from my mom that Jeff wouldn’t make it through the night. God put it on my heart to share the gospel with him so I left everything and a beloved sister (my kindred spirit) drove 6 hours with me. In the span of 22 hours, we drove there, met his wife and kids, and paced and prayed for 7 hours (well, my friend slept somewhere). I had no idea what I was doing- but I knew that as the hour grew later (or earlier I should say) my time was coming as his time was ending. 6 am I asked to speak to him alone. His body was frail and almost non existent on the hospital bed. His eyes yellow. He reached out often to grab things that weren’t there, but when I called his attention he would look at me. As I shared I asked if he wanted to accept Jesus as his payment for his sins, but no answer. I left it in God’s hands. 5 hours later I gave him a hug and said goodbye, I whispered into his ear to watch for Jesus and lifted up the rest to God. I left and couldn’t hold in the tears. The sadness was too real. I hugged my mom tightly and we talked of Gods love. My friend and I drove back to Ames. 22 hours. The next morning was a friday and my mom had called to tell me he had passed. It’s been God’s healing work ever since.

I had been praying recently in the last month for my mom, that she would find a church to get plugged into and another believer to come a long side of her. Last week (or so) my mom called me on a Sunday to tell me about her time at church for the 3rd week in a row and how she wanted to make it her highest commitment. No excuses. She just ordered glasses and as soon as they came in she was going to start reading two pages of the Bible everyday. I’ve been sending her messages on CDs about topics I think will help bring healing to her heart and songs about God’s love to bring comfort. She’s been going to church with a woman named Judy, who I was able to lift my hands of praise next to at church. I couldn’t wipe away the tears fast enough.

Its like- in the depths of ALL of this brokenness that just thrives all around me, knitting my family together, God is working powerfully. Theres still more work to do. But if you are encouraged by anything out of this, let it be that God can and will change your life and your family’s life if you seek to obey His words. It may take a long time, but let it be worth it. It makes take hours of tears and heart wrenching pain, but get through it. Keep fighting the good fight of faith. Keep thanking God for the hard stuff even when nothing in you wants to. Look your self in the mirror and say “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits- who forgives all your sins, and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfied your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:1-5) And don’t let your self forget it.

This thanksgiving I’m thankful for everything above written. Even the messy stuff. It was worth it just to experience the glory of God within my family.

What are you thankful for?

Grin and Bear it…. or not: The Heart of Unity

Sometimes it seems in life we are told to put on a happy face even though life is going… well… quite the opposite. If you fall… rub some dirt on it.

While that logic is really good for a wuss in a soccer game, when your wound is gaping hole in your heart, rubbing dirt on it does as much as trying to walk on a broken foot.

There was one week this past semester when I remembered a really sore memory from my past that showed a lot of mistrust in my family. I went to them for help and their inability to do so broke my trust faster than a nerve impulse makes its way from the tip of your finger to your spine. Thinking of how they’d hurt me and my desire to be fully known and loved by them was like this big wide open canyon in my soul. For three days I did nothing but weep and nobody knew. I walked back to my room after class, too afraid to open my door that my roommates would be home, I stood at the end of the hall, motionless, staring out the white framed window, sobbing. My pain was my own and the longer I went without anyone knowing, the easier it came to believe that nobody cared. In pain at night, I tossed and turned praying that there would someone to talk to, someone to care. Yet, it seemed it all went on deaf ears.

As I rustled in my heart with wanting someone to comfort me in my pain, God began to move and speak to my wounds. “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you” 

God was calling me to cast my cares on Him. To be satisfied by him knowing me like in talks about in Psalm 139.

As He and I cut out the idol of wanting other people to fill that emotional hole, God gave me a sister to comfort me in a really beautiful way as I shared my heart with her. She held me and we cried together over the sadness of my pain.

I had reached a point where I no longer had the ability to grin and bear it. In the past my conviction was that we shouldn’t share things if we haven’t come to conclusions with God alone. We should depend on God a lone. I found myself confused on why we needed fellowship, why we needed one another if we had God to share with.

Why share with others if we are full by sharing with God?

I started to find this answer when I came across a verse in 1 Peter that says “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.”  When I read this verse I was like: What does is mean to love one another deeply?

I was reminded of the verse in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 that says “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well because you had become so dear to us.”

Loving our brothers and sisters is not only the sharing of the gospel itself, but also in sharing our lives. When I think of what it means to share our lives with one another, I think about this desire that I often want filled. The desire for people to know me, to share in my life. A godly desire that is a reflection of being made in the image of God.

There is a lot of greatness in sharing in our trials, in the midst of them. I think of 2 Corinthians. This is a very important verse.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed. It is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”

This is what I think it means to be in true fellowship with one another and with God.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his son, purifies us from all sin. 

You see, we can’t share together truly unless we are sharing with God; but if we don’t share how do we have unity?!

I was going to add a verse about unity, but the whole Bible is ALL about unity. I was reading in Ephesians and was struck by the truth that marriage is a prophetic picture of what was going to happen to the Gentiles and Israelites through Christ. To be joined together and unified by blood. Two become one. Us joining with God. Husband and Wife. Growing together. The Bible is about unity, it’s about unity with God and growing together to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. 

How will we have unity if we are not sharing in our suffering and our comfort?

I see now where my logic before fell short. It is good and Godly and amazing to go to God before anyone else, and we should, we should pray before we even speak. But, as we withhold our lives from one another, we also withhold something very dear, we withhold unity. As we struggle to share our lives, out of fear, we withhold the one thing that God desires for us to have. UNITY. A body cannot be unified if it is not sharing together. Does a hand use its own blood? No, it takes from the heart and the bone where it grows; nor can it live on its own. We should seek to reach places with our stories and in our hearts that we can boldly share our struggles with one another that we may have unity.

Proverbs 10:19 says Where words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds the tongue is wise.

We should be going before God with our lives and coming our with a peace to share with one another. So why don’t we? Well it seems obvious. Trust. Sharing too much. Leading people on. Rejection. =Fear.

But, perfect love casts out fear, a sincere, deep, pure love.

If we are forgiven before God, why would we hold our brothers and sisters to any other account. Why is there judgement, lest they’ve forgotten who we all are? What are your motives for sharing, or listening? To gain a higher standing in the person’s life, or to share in their comfort and suffering? What about avoiding stirring feelings: this inhibits true unity. Protecting your heart… if you are withholding your life to avoid stirring feelings, what benefit are those feelings at all. We should discern, but I question what benefit you gain by avoiding sharing your life to avoid “too deep” of connections. If we have a sincere love, based out of purity, by obeying truth we can have a deep love without stirring un-nesseccary feelings. Avoid misinterpreting people sharing their heart and allow for room for biblical unity to grow.

To hear a person share their life has become my glory. “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” 1 Thessalonians 2:20

As I’ve thought about what it is to see the glory of God, I’ve come to see this: to see other people opening up and following God. The other day I was able to ride in car with a dear friend who once told me she would never talk about a trial we both shared, and as she opened up to me then a year and a half later I thought “This is glory, her life is my glory” My prayer for my life and my trials as I share in Christ’s sufferings and also in his comfort that I may comfort those who too share in my sufferings. As I hear my brothers and sisters open up about their hurts and sufferings, God is glorified by our unity. As I worship beside my brothers and sisters who gain enough courage to lift their hands to the Lord, God is glorified and I too just being apart of their lives.

Find a body and glorify God by sharing your heart with your brothers and sisters around you and get to the heart of unity. Get unity with God.

Also, if this is your wound… rubbing dirt on it is probably ineffective. Good luck. Happy New Year. soccer