Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Over the past twelve months I have been on what I thought was a focused journey.  this week I was listening to a sermon and the preacher asked his congregation how many  had parts of their testimony they don't share.  It immediately resonated, because although I have shared a lot of my testimony, there are part that I have not shared or do not share regularly.

I have used the excuse that it is not my story to tell.  Often times in my life, I have been greatly impacted by situations that did not involve me directly.  For example abuse in my family.  I was not a victim of the abuse or the perpetrator, but as a child those events shaped a lot of my life.  Or as I got older, the illegal drugs, events impacted my life.  The death of my two best friends, I wasn't there but each of their life's and deaths dramatically impacted my life. 

I have been asked to share those stories, and at times I have shared parts in a small setting as I felt that the journey that I took and how those situations impacted mine could certainly help someone else who was in a similar situation. 

But as I listened to that preacher, I was reminded that I do not always know what journey people are on, and that sometimes I have to step out of the comfortable and share to help others.  I have to be willing to share the journey because it is freeing for me, and it is helpful for others.

The praise of comfort

I love praise and worship, individually, in small groups, as a corporate body, and in large crowds.  There is freedom in worship.  Tonight there was also revelation.

Over the past year I have learned a lot about myself and about my view of God.  I identified that I have the hardest time accepting the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, especially as a comforter  because I did not have a lot of nurturing in my life.  Emotions were not expressed and comfort was not received. 

Tonight as we sang, I was a little distracted by the little peeps that joined me.  I was enjoying the presence of the Lord, but also trying to keep an eye on them to make sure they weren't doing something they shouldn't.  My eyes were opened so I noticed, as I was turning around to look at them, I could see those around me with arms wide opening praising the Lord.  The universal sign of surrender, a stance I often have in praise, but not tonight.  Not at that moment in time.

My hands were, as they often are, over each other on my heart, like the sign for Love.  I have no idea where I learned to worship like that.  For a moment I felt guilty that I wasn't "surrendered."  But He gently reminded me I learned to trust Him and surrender (not that it is not a daily process) at an early age.  I lifted my hands to Him because He was the one I could trust always.  I surrendered before I knew what surrender was because I knew I couldn't deal with things without Him.  Even when I walked away from Him, He was there, and I knew it.

I needed to held Him close in worship, because I need to learn that He can comfort me.  For a few years now, I have found the freedom of emotions in worship.  Tears that have been bottled up for years flow freely before the Lord in worship.  I have poured out my soul in song and praise and prayers of groaning when words wouldn't come. 

Then I realized, I have been holding Him closer.  Initially if my hands were not raised, they were in front of me like a child praying.  I don't know why I did this.  But the past few months, it has been more of an embrace at times. 

God has been comforting me.  He has been guiding me through months of especially vulnerable times.  He has been drawing me close, but I have also been drawing Him closer.  Letting Him comfort me, nurture me, guard me.  I was focused on allowing people in to comfort me, but all the while He was drawing me in to let Him be my comforter.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Miracle of Friends

Mark 2:1-12 And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.
 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic,  “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”  Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Wednesday night one of my pastors shared this story during praise and worship.  He was talking about those who carried the paralytic, when he couldn't do it himself.  It was in reference to the church needing to help each other, and carry those who are down trodden.  As he spoke my mind went to a discussion with a friend who is trying to quit smoking.  She had started to ask a group of us for prayer, but decided against it because she didn't want to be a bother.  We quickly let her know, that we want to be there to support her.

As I went back and read this story, there are several things that I learn from this:
  1. It is important to seek out God for others' needs
  2.  Don't be discouraged by the obstacles
  3. Be willing to be inconvenienced when someone else has a need
  4. Lives must be lived in close proximity to others, with people that would press past pride or pain to help
  5. Some problems take the help of more than one person
  6. Be honest with others about the need
  7. Don't assume others know what you need - the crowd didn't move when they saw the paralytic
  8. Faith is seen in action
  9. Don't let the grumbling of others stop the miracle
  10. God is glorified when people see the need and the miracle
  11. Don't delay your miracle because you don't want people to carry you

Friday, December 12, 2014


It's Christmas season, and while I should be preparing for the holidays, I just can not seem to get in the mood.  I think a lot has to do with the fact that there seems to be a falling away from the true meaning of Christmas.  There were lights in my neighborhood the week of Halloween.  Every time I drove past them, I had to make an excuse in my mind to not be infuriated with my neighbor for this craziness.  I would tell myself that sadly, this was the last holiday a loved one would see and they were trying to bring joy to loved one who would soon be with the Lord.   I realize it is a little morbid, but I was really angry driving by every single day for TWO months before Christmas seeing those lights. 

Then came Thanksgiving, which was completely overshadowed by retailers that were preparing to rake in the $$$ with ads on the television, billboards, radio ads and flyers.  This has continued. Thanksgiving morning when I made it to work and looked out from the 6th floor window towards the mall, I though that maybe the day would be celebrated by the community with gratitude and family.  There was not a car on the lot.  By 10:30 the parking lot was full, and my dream of a holiday completely focused on thankfulness was gone.  

Today I went through the steps of preparing for Christmas.  It used to be one of my favorite times of the year.  I anticipated December 6th every year so that we could set the tree up (my daughter's birthday is the 5th and I wouldn't start celebrating Christmas until we celebrated her day while she was still in the house).  I loved the Christmas music, the lights, the excitement.  I loved to buy gifts for the kids and my family.  I liked to draw it out with my own version of the twelve days of Christmas.  

But this year, I am missing the Spirit of Christmas.  I am physically prepared.  Today at the urging of my friends and family I went and bought a new tree.  I hung the wreath on the door.  I listened to Christmas music and shopped for the kids and my husband.  I bought for those less fortunate.  I came home and set up the tree and wrapped the presents.  Instead of getting in to the Christmas Spirit, I have a headache!

In eight days we will start the festivities with my family get together, again this is something that I look forward to usually.  I like to prepare the food and bake cookies with the children.  I like shopping for the perfect dirty Santa gift.  None of that seems to even spark my interest this year.  People keep asking what I want.  Although  I did come up with two things and I know that I am hard to shop for anyway, I really can't think of anything I really, really want.

Instead I am preparing to fake it in a few days and drum up excitement that I don't feel, to put on a show. 

This post is part of the link up for the Five Minute Friday over at Kate Motaung’s Blog , where you write for Five Minutes on a specific word and the goal is to just write & no editing. (It is supposed to be a free write) 

Thursday, December 11, 2014


James 1:2-8 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

For about the past six and a half months, it seems that I have fallen in to various trials. Although at times it feels like the trials keep coming, I have learned about patience during this time.  I have learned to wait on God, with a peace that surpasses my understanding.   My faith has been tested in almost every area.  

Like a puzzle with small tiny pieces, this lengthy process of the working of my faith has been a true test of patience.   Up until the past six months, I have always looked at patience as waiting.  I have learned to wait on God over the years.  What I have learned is that patience isn't just about waiting, patience has to be worked out, and really the work, in my opinion is in the attitude.  I can't through impatience make things happen any faster,   However, in waiting, my attitude has been less than God honoring over the years. Over the past six months I have allowed God to deal with my attitude in the waiting.

It easy to think that I trust  Him in everything when things are going good, but when my world is rocked to the core, I realize just how much I depended on myself and others.  It is in the trials, I have been called to depend on God for finances, for my children, for health, my reputation, and ultimately to trust Him in everything.

I know that my faith is still being tested, and that the work is producing patience in my life.  It is not perfect yet, but in some areas God has dealt with my attitude and that work is complete.  Since He has produced the work before, I have the faith to know that He will do it again.   I know with God's wisdom that when those times come that I have the ability to just allow God to work the situation out, in His time, and without a bad attitude. 

 This blog is prompted from  Tuesday at Ten! The Tuesday blog Link up where you have 1 full week to use the prompt word to your liking!  Whether it be just writing a story behind the prompt word, or being as creative as you wish using photos, poems, art, or graphics – whichever creative way you choose. You have 1 week to write and link up your blog at the bottom of the page so that others can link up with you. Be sure to visit your “link up” neighbor and spread the joy of connection!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Emotional memories

The past week has been an emotional one.  It started with my son moving almost 1,000 miles away.  He is my first child to move away, and although I have peace about him going and am excited to see what adventures he will live out, it doesn't make the hurt in my heart less.  He has been preparing me for two years, with summers where he was gone.  The reality has not really set in that Sunday dinners will be missing one, since they were hit and miss anyway lately with work schedules and other activities.  But him moving, just intensified the next loss.

Sunday, my heart fell more.  I was sitting hearing the words, but my heart was sitting in the floor of my house in Beaver Shores where I was five years old, hearing that my daddy had failed.  The circumstances are very different.  Yet, very much the same as far as reactions and emotions and even how I am feeling.  Emotions that have been shut down, eventually like a balloon held under water come quickly to the surface. 

My father committed a crime, which would rock my families world.  I was five years old, I didn't understand what sexual abuse was.  It would be many years before I would understand what that meant and the magnitude of what he had done.  The events of the next few weeks, months, and even years shaped my life in ways that I am still unraveling.

What my five year old heart knew what that something had been going on for longer than that moment.  I remember sitting outside the closed door, while abuse went on in my house.  I didn't know what was happening behind the closed door, only that I was left out.  It was one of many closed doors I would be left outside over the next few months and years.  I would sit outside therapists doors weekly while my parents, and my sister went to therapy.    I would sit outside the pastor's door as my parents met with him.

No one thought about how this impacted my life.  No one thought about how I saw these events that I didn't understand.  There wasn't someone to talk to me about how I was processing these events.  Once I answered no to the first set of questions, it was outside the door I went and stayed for weeks and months.  My world was coming down around me, but the only thing I saw was  a wood door with wood paneling all around.  I hate wood paneling and wood doors.

What my five year old heart knew was that my family was being broken apart.  My dad would be out of the home while he was in jail, and for some time after.  I have no concept of time, even now as an adult.  I just know he was gone.  We visited at church, over ice cream, and at the park. We would meet at the Sunnyside Church, get in one vehicle and go.  Like clockwork.  Yet there was nothing normal about it, clocks don't just run on Sundays and Wednesdays.  It wasn't the whole family, just me and my older sister, mom and dad.  I guess my brother was out of the house by then.  I don't know where my sister was.  My family was broken.  I wish I could say I hate the food that our lives began to center around, but really, that was a place a comfort.  I knew emotions could be released before God, and that food brought joy.  It was a recipe for bottled up emotions and a food addiction.
What my five year old heart knew was that the people I loved and cared about were angry, hurt, broken. and there was nothing I could do to help.  I could see the anger at my sister, even when confronted with the truth, by his own words.  The pedestal that he had been placed on would not be taken away.  My father didn't ask for the pedestal, and he didn't belong on one.  My sister, the true victim, I don't remember where she was in all of it.  I only know that even now, she is hurt and broken over the responses that she received after the truth came out.  My mom, she was angry and hurt.  Every member of my family was impacted, but the only ones that got to express it were mom, dad and sister.

What my five year old heart wanted was to understand what was going on.  I sought out every possible way to gain information.  I became very good at listening.  To quiet this young child, all I needed to hear was a whisper from the next room, and I would quiet to hear the information I so desperately needed.  I didn't need details of what happened, the past was over.  Although I didn't understand then, my five year old mind knew what was going on before my family was torn apart.  Some of the things I heard, I didn't need to, but I needed to hear something.

I needed reassurance.  I needed safety.  I needed security.  I needed love.  I needed compassion.  I needed to know that how I was feeling was okay and normal.  I needed to know that even though everything was not all right, that eventually it would be right. 

As an adult now, faced with a situation where the reactions of my family are similar with anger, sadness, brokenness.  With my family that is now broken and fractured, with important members not around, I have peace in the situation - I know that God's forgiveness, grace and mercy cover.  That just as God forgave my father and there was restoration to the family, I know that God will cover this.  His love covers a multitude of sins.  He forgives us when we repent.  He restores.  I know that He is in control and I don't have to worry about all that.

That peace doesn't cover the brokenness of my family, for that I grieve uncontrollably at times.  I understand the hurt, the pain, the confusion, even the anger.   I still can't understand a family turning on each other. When I look and see the missing people, I find myself in tears.  I don't understand, even though I do understand that they might not need to be there right now because it would only be a source of division.  I understand more than most that healing has to take place first.  I understand that healing can't necessarily happen all together as we process things differently. I understand that premature reconciliation can be more destructive to the family than the events that tore them apart.

I don't understand pretending, that is not transparent, it is not real, it is not honest.   I need love and compassion, understanding.  I need to process, because this brings up so much more inside of me.  I need to hear truths, not rumors, negative comments, or nothing.  My place of safety and security is shaken, pretending that it isn't doesn't reassure me.

Perfect Love

Think about the child afraid of the dark.  The child is tormented in his/her mind about what might be out there in the unseen vastness that surrounds him/her.   The presence of someone else there with the child in the darkness does not make the fear go away, although it may appear better.  The turning on of a light, makes the fear subside, but only while it is on, and only because it dispels the darkness.  The fear is still there.

Fear is a powerful thing, it often immobilizes us from taking action.  It comes in many forms - fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of disappointment, fear of judgement and other's opinions, fear of  intimacy, commitment, abandonment, change....  The list can go on and on.  Fear torments our very being.  Even when the fear is grounded in past experience, it becomes much larger in the mind than it was in reality. 

I John 4:18 NKJV  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

Perfect love casts out fear.  It doesn't mask it, it doesn't just make it subside for a while.  It casts it out.  Why?  Because God is love.  God is bigger than anything that comes against us. His Word is a truth we can stand on in times of fear.  He is Love.  Love casts out fear when we have the revelation of His Word.

His perfect love casts out fear of failure....I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
His perfect love casts out fear of Disappointment...Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5
His perfect love casts out fear of rejection/judgement/others opinions...No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the Lord. Isaiah 54:17

His perfect love casts out fear of intimacy....Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8

His perfect love casts out fear of commitment...Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
Psalm 37:5

His perfect love casts out fear of Abandonment...Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.  Deuteronomy 31:6
His perfect love casts out fear of change.... Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Hebrews 13:8

 This blog is prompted from  Tuesday at Ten! The Tuesday blog Link up where you have 1 full week to use the prompt word to your liking!  Whether it be just writing a story behind the prompt word, or being as creative as you wish using photos, poems, art, or graphics – whichever creative way you choose. You have 1 week to write and link up your blog at the bottom of the page so that others can link up with you. Be sure to visit your “link up” neighbor and spread the joy of connection!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Broken Path to Grace

Romans 5:1-2  (NKJV) Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

My kid's are not perfect.  They never have been, a
nd I am not one of those delusional parents that thinks they were.  They are almost 22, 19 and 17 , and I can honestly say "I have great kids."  Yes, they have their moments.  Yes, there is room for improvements, but overall they are great.  I remember my parents always said "Wait until you have kids, they will be just like you. Then you will know."  I was not a great teenager, and neither were my husband, nor my daughter's dad. 

What does all this have to do with grace?  I have heard grace defined in two ways 1) Unmerited favor 2) God's bestowed ability to do what His truth demands.  

Romans 5:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.  Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

About a year ago or so,  I had a true revelation of God's grace.  I honestly don't know why I was overcome with the revelation.  I was driving in the car with my husband, and suddenly became very aware of God's grace.  I cried in His presence knowing that God's grace had covered my children and ultimately me as a parent.

As a sinner, I didn't deserve God's grace.  I suppose none of us do.  I am a product of a dysfunctional family.  I rebelled against my parents and walked away from God from ages 12-17, even though I knew I was His child.  I lied.  I lived an immoral life. I found out I was pregnant three days after my 16th birthday, although  in the back of my mind I knew even as I continued partying.  I am a divorcee.  I am often controlled by my selfish desire and emotions.  I am opinionated and strong-willed.  I like to be right, sometimes not taking in to account how that impacts others.

Yet, I have seen His unmerited favor in my life, even in times of trouble.  I have seen doors open, that should have remained closed.  I have seen doors closed that I really wanted open, but that would ultimately cause me more harm than good.  I have seen God's favor time and time again.  And I admit, each time I am blown away at His grace.  I am blown away that the God that created the universe, favors me.  He doesn't favor me because I am more special than others, but He favors me because He is special.  I see my children as an extension of His grace for me.

As Jackie, I can't begin to live the life His truth demands.  I fail even still, but it is because I get in the "I can do it mode" instead of remembering that "I can't.  He can.  I will let Him."  I forget to allow His grace to flow though me to do the things that He has called me to do.  I forget that I can rise above the past circumstances and live a Godly life.  

Yet, I can because His grace empowers me to do everything He has called me to do.  I  can look back on my life and know for certain that God's grace is the reason that my life is transformed.  Yes, there are areas that I still have a lot of work for Him to do, but most people would never believe the things that God has brought me through.  Never believe where God has brought me from.  But it is the broken path that I have walked, that makes me so appreciate God's grace. 

This blog is prompted from  Tuesday at Ten! The Tuesday blog Link up where you have 1 full week to use the prompt word to your liking!  Whether it be just writing a story behind the prompt word, or being as creative as you wish using photos, poems, art, or graphics – whichever creative way you choose. You have 1 week to write and link up your blog at the bottom of the page so that others can link up with you. Be sure to visit your “link up” neighbor and spread the joy of connection!

Friday, November 21, 2014


As a child and teenager that felt like no one noticed me, I sought attention in any form.  I lived for the shock factor.  I have some crazy stories of things I did for attention.  I was good at getting others to notice me, except the ones that I wanted attention from.  However, through all my shenanigans, there was one person who took notice, my Heavenly Father.

As an adult I realize how important it is to take notice of those around us, to see behind the exterior masks and look at what is really going on.  We are a society that takes notice of symptoms, but never wants to address the underlying issues that the symptoms are trying to get us to notice.There are so many instances I could talk about where people are crying out for help, wanting someone to take notice, but we walk on by. 

I think of the teenagers that I have worked with that were cutters.  They were giving exterior signs for someone to take notice.  Crying out for help about something that was going on in the inner world that they didn't know how to discuss.    People were so focused on the outward expression of the hurt that they didn't want to discuss the underlying cause, the thing that when addressed could stop the behavior. 

I think about the lonely elderly that I visit with in the hospital.  The ones that with deep sadness in their eyes tell me they have no one.  That explain their children are too busy.  People are so busy they fail to notice the desire of someone for a human connection.
Yesterday at work I was watching a video during a training that really drove this home.  the video is old, but is applicable to most any situation, I wasn't expecting a God lesson out of it though.  Mr. Ferrel said "You are the face of your company to every customer you come in contact with."  What God spoke was "As a Christian, you are the face of Christ to every person you come in contact with."

As I read this scripture, I knew that God was calling me to take notice. Every day I walk past people that He is calling me to take notice of.  If He notices them, and I am His face, I am called to notice them.  I don't think that it is just me that God is calling, but all Christians.  He is calling every believer that is part of the body of Christ to take notice.  We all want someone to notice us, what if we all start taking time to notice each other.  What if we make a choice to move past the busyness and start to think about others as God does?  What if we start to take notice of those who are hurting around us, and start ministering to that need?  Will you take time to notice?

This post is part of the link up for the Five Minute Friday over at Kate Motaung’s Blog , where you write for Five Minutes on a specific word and the goal is to just write & no editing. (It is supposed to be a free write)

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Growing up in a home where secrets were a way of life, I value the truth more than anything.  I would rather hear and speak the ugly truth than hear or tell a colorful, well formed lie.  I realize that much of my life was shaped by lies.  Not ones that were necessarily spoken but unspoken truths that shaped the way I thought, shared, and felt. 

Although I grew up in a home that pointed me to Christ (See Grateful), I did not grow up in a home that was nurturing.  I did not grow up in a home where expression of feelings was appreciated, acknowledged, or affirmed.  This led to me feeling that sharing my emotions was unimportant.  Couple it with the truth that most people ask "How are you doing?" but don't really care to hear the answer, and growing up hearing "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all.", one can imagine the unexplored emotions that are pent up inside.

I did not plan to share this, but it is the truth, and I know the Word says "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."  As I mentioned before, I am seeking freedom.  I know that God has more for me, and hiding from my childhood emotions and how that has shaped my life is not helping me.  Over the past week, I have been working on lesson three of Making Peace with your Past by Tim Sledge.  It is about shame.

As I worked through the week's lessons, I really did not feel like shame was part of my identity.  I was young enough when my father went to jail that I did not understand what he did.  I wasn't ashamed of it, because I didn't do anything.  I had no problem talking about the situation, because I really did not understand it.  It was not something I broadcast, I was taught good boundaries, but I didn't identify with it.  But that didn't mean I didn't feel shame.

What I did feel shame about was that I was not involved in the things my friends were, normal things for kids like Girl Scouts, cheer leading, sports.  I was active in church, and for a while I played the flute in the band and was in color guard with flags in early junior high.  I also didn't have the designer clothes that my friends wore.  I didn't do a lot of the extras that my friends did like movies, skating, bowling, etc.

The more I identified with this shame growing up, the more I developed a rebellious attitude.  I was kicked out of band in 8th grade.  I was told if I forget my instrument one more time I would not be in the class. I intentionally left it in my locker. Almost overnight I went from hanging out with the good kids, to hanging out with mostly people my parents would never lay eyes on, ever.

I started doing things that were not okay.  I can remember telling my friends "I would never smoke," even as they were doing it.  Then I started smoking.  I would lie to the cashiers at the store and say that my mom couldn't come in to the store, that I would never smoke.  They always sold them to me even though I was barely even a teenager.  Then I started drinking.  I was twelve the first time I got drunk.   I started running around town on weekends.  I would again lie, telling people that I was much older, just under the legal age to get them to buy alcohol for me. Soon I was drinking daily at school.  I was a bully.  I took advantage of my weaker friends making them bring me alcohol, because we didn't have that at my house.

Then I got introduced to pot.  Again, for a long time I was like 'I am never doing that'.  I had a lot of contact highs as people would do their best to get me to smoke it or try to get me high, but I refused.  For over a year, I said "no."  Then one day, in a truck with a friend and her cousin, it was dark and I thought 'what the heck.'  I lost one of my best friends that day.  She thought I did something that I had not.  I ended up at my sister's house with a black eye, completely intoxicated, and high.

I developed a very bad reputation.  I acted like I didn't care, but I did.  People said atrocious things about me that were not even true.  Since they were going to talk, I just fueled the fire with rebellious words.  Even teachers joined in the comments. I eventually put myself in a situation that I couldn't get out of, I was raped.  His threats kept me quiet for a little bit. I remember him driving me home, and how dirty I felt in my jeans and over-sized pink button down paisley shirt.  It took me a long time to piece together why I hated paisley and the color pink.  I felt shame knowing I should not have put myself in the situation.  Shame that I could not tell my parents.

I confronted him on more than one occasion in public.  Eventually I had the courage to tell some of my male friends.  He was beat up pretty bad.  Then within a couple weeks, I told my school counselor.  She told me "It was my fault."  More shame.  Eventually I decided that if classmates and teachers were going to think it about me,  I might as well live it out.  I loved the attention I could get from guys, especially older ones.  Not to mention, they would also buy the alcohol, and eventually supply the pot and pills. 

I lived that life for over four years.  I knew that it was wrong.  Every part of my spirit cried out for me to stop.  I came home at all hours of the morning.  I went to work, with my mother, having a hang over almost ever weekend.    I would skip school and write my own note.  I missed 42 days of school in my freshman year. I found out I was pregnant the last month of my sophomore year.  Even my father's response "Is it Tom, Dick or Harry's" when I told him was shameful.  There wasn't a doubt in my mind who my daughter's father was.  She was for all intentional purposes planned, even if things didn't end up as planned.

I was just a distraction in my family, never once did anyone in my family try to see what the heck was going on with me.  The truth is, I was crying out for attention.  I felt rejected and like a distraction at home.  I used to say my parents were too wore out from my siblings by the time I came along. The truth is they were too busy working and doing their own thing to be bothered with me.  Their coping mechanism for the problems in our family helped me feed my shame.

My life calmed a little when I had my daughter.  I would never put her in danger, and although my parents would watch her, it limited my partying behaviors.  Then my attention, stayed between two guys - her father and my now husband.  I got back in to church, where I had avoided from twelve or thirteen to seventeen.  I lived a double life for several years, one way in church, another on the weekends.  Just another habit to add to my feelings of shame.

Honestly, it wasn't until I saw the hurt in my now husband's eyes that I could see how hurtful my destructive patterns were.  Of course, that did lead to more shame.  However, it was the first time I was ashamed of my actions.  I can still see that hurt look in his eyes.  But now, when I think about it, I see the compassion of Christ.  Yes, I hurt him with my actions, be he still loved me.  Just as Christ still loves me.  He loved me.  He wanted something better for me.  He hated seeing what I was doing to myself.

At that point, I didn't know how to change.  I loved attention.  I loved more attention than just one person could give me.  So I turned to the one thing that my family always could gather on as I was growing up, Food.  I stopped my destructive tendencies, and I replaced it with food.  Food was always there for me.  The more I ate, the less active I became, and the less people paid attention to me. 

I traded everything I did for food.  When I wanted to smoke, I ate.  When I would have been drinking or getting high, I ate.  My life centered around the next meal, the next snack.  When I was eating I would plan for the next thing I would eat. If I was happy I celebrated with food.  If I was mad, sad, or scared, I let food comfort me.  I found my control in food.

Then one day I woke up, several years later, no longer recognizing the girl in the picture.  I was no longer the girl who couldn't control herself.  God had taught me about healthy relationships and real love.  He filled the void.  He healed my heart.  He wanted to comfort me.  But now I was the girl who couldn't control food.  I found that what I had allowed to control me had taken the freedom that I was eating to have.

I know that the God that lives in me is greater.  He is able to carry me through.  I don't need to turn to food, men, alcohol or drugs.  I need to turn to Him.  He loves me.  He wants me to succeed.  He wants my marriage to succeed.  He wants me to be healthy - body, soul, mind, and spirit.  He died, not so that I could eat freely, but so that I could live freely.  

I know that I do not have to allow the enemy to use things spoke over me, thoughts I had, or even things I did to stop me.  I am covered in the blood of Christ, and Satan is overcome.  I do not have to be disgraced, or put to shame.  God has forgiven me.   I know that the unhealthy lifestyle I have lived can be overcome, because through Christ I can do all things.  It is not just my journey, it is His journey through me.  This is just one truth of my testimony.

Revelations 12:10-11 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.
Isaiah 54:4 Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame;For you will forget the shame of your youth

Philippians 4:13  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

This blog is prompted from  Tuesday at Ten! The Tuesday blog Link up where you have 1 full week to use the prompt word to your liking!  Whether it be just writing a story behind the prompt word, or being as creative as you wish using photos, poems, art, or graphics – whichever creative way you choose. You have 1 week to write and link up your blog at the bottom of the page so that others can link up with you. Be sure to visit your “link up” neighbor and spread the joy of connection!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tearing down idols

I have a distorted image of what an idol is.  I think of the Budah with the belly that you rub for good luck.  I think of teenage girls swarming some popular singer or actor that is the next big thing.  I think of people praying to images, the sun, the moon, etc.  I think or people offering sacrifices to objects they call god.  I think of the golden cow made by the children of Israel while they were at the foot of Mount Sinai and God was speaking with Moses.  In the Bible there are eleven Hebrew words and one Greek word for idol.

As I read II Kings 23, I realize how the idols had become such a part of their every days lives.  Kings before Josiah had removed things, but they had never gotten rid of all the things that were idols in the people's lives.  People had given them the sacred that belonged to God.   Individual families had idols for their homes.  Idols had infiltrated the government.  They had started giving their children to the idols.  They had given their belongings to the idols.  There were shrines set up in honor of the gods.  In a world with so many outside influences, they had substituted a relationship with God for a worship of things, many created by their own hands. defines Idol as follows:

IDOL (noun) image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed.2. an image of a deity other than God. the deity itself.3. any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion:4. a mere image or semblance of something, visible but without substance, as a phantom.5. a figment of the mind; fantasy.6.a false conception or notion; fallacy. 

Our nation has come to worship many things other than God.  We have allowed idols to become such a part of out every day lives that we fail to see the sin in our action.   We no longer create carved images to which we bow and worship.  But we easily have blind admiration, adoration and devotion to people and things.  We hang posters of people we don't know, images of movies that we love.  We create figments in our mind based on things we read or hear.  We hold false conceptions about others, holding them to be greater than they are or less than they are.  These are idols.

How many of us take the time to watch the sermon we missed because of of work or because the kids were sick, or carve out time to read God's Word.  Yet we DVR television episodes that we don't want to miss.  We are placing a television's show importance on a higher level than God.  This is an idol.

We live connected to our electronic devices, responding quickly to every call, text, social media app, and email.  This is an idol.  When God asks us to speak to someone about Him or do something for His kingdom we are too busy.

We live in a world of fantasy, where television shows, movies and books fill our imagination with images of vampires, demons, or even just seemingly perfect people.  It is not real, it is an idol.  Yet, there is a God who created us that is Real that wants to fill us with REAL things, Eternal things.

We listen to the lies of the enemy about how we can't do things, how we are not worthy of things, how what we believe God says applies to everyone else besides me.  This is an idol.God's Word is for everyone.  It says "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  It talks of our value to God, who sent His only son to die and become our sin so that we could be in relationship with Him.  It says God is looking for the willing to use.

We even lift people that we know up to a higher level.  We have a false conception that others do not face the same struggles that we do.  We have a notion that God loves and wants to use someone else more.

It is time that we tear down the idols in our nation, in our churches, in our communities, in our homes and in our lives.  Not some of the idols, as many of the kings in days of old did, but all of the idols.  We must purify our lives, repent and sanctify ourselves for God.

You lead me

I woke Saturday morning still thinking about the prompt from #fmfparty yesterday "still."  This verse came to mind, and then my mind started turning.

Psalms 23:2 NKJV He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

I am very much someone who likes to stay busy.  In the name of productivity, I could start my day at 6 am and go until 1:00 am.  Well, I used to do that day in and day out.  For fifteen years I was on call 24/7, 356 days a year.  I didn't realize that I was tired.  I didn't realize that I had forgotten how to be still.  I mean, I was a girl with a mission, a God given passion, I must complete.  In the midst of working on my mission, there were times that it was only I trying to complete it.  I had forgotten the most important part of my mission, God.  We can not leave God on the sidelines of His work.

In May, I was fired from my job.  It was a shock to my system.  For the second time only, since I was fourteen years old, I was not working.  And this time around I wasn't in school either.  I did not know what to do with myself.  My second day "off" it really hit me.  I joined the pity party wagon, and started to allow the things spoken over me to take root. I didn't really get out of bed that day. God took all the tasks away from this task oriented person. 

The next day God woke me up to the purpose of this time.   I started getting a fresh perspective.  I was having a Psalms 23:2 moment.  It was time for me to lie down in green pastures.  God was leading me beside the still waters. 

I find it interesting that David said "He makes me". That has never really stuck out to me, but as I have experienced for myself and heard from so many, it is so hard to just relax.  I realized sometimes God really does have to make us slow down and just be in His  presence. God wanted me to lie down, to rest in Him.  God knew how important it would be for me to relax in Him.   He and my family became my only focus, and with the family at work, school and AIT, I had plenty of time for Him.

I admit, those two and a half months felt a lot longer, but at the same time, I miss them.  I miss spending eight hours a day with God.  Listening to messages, reading His Word, praying, listening.  I now enjoy the green pasture times.  Just soaking in all that He has created.  I love me days off now, as I just want to (figuratively) crawl up in my Father's lap and just spend time with Him.

The second part of Psalms 23:2 says "He leads me to the still waters." So many times we are only focused on the storms and having God get us through the tough times.  God also wants to lead us during the still times too. It is easy to turn to God in hard times, or at least it is for me.  It is when I am in routine mode that I tend to go through the motions and do it on my own instead of trusting Him.  When things are just going along, I have a tendency to leave Him at the end of my last problem.  God wants to lead me even when things are still. It is a much easier journey to the still waters,  it is there that if I will allow Him to lead me that my soul can be refreshed.  It is at the still waters that I can drink and be refreshed by the living waters.

The very next line of that scripture passage is "He restores my soul."  If I am not taking time to lie down in green pastures and be led to the still waters, my soul can not be restored.  My soul needs to be restored often.  Helping people can be draining, because I am not meant to do it on my own.  I am only to be His tool, it is suppose to be Him working though me that ministers to people.  He can't let the living waters flow from me to help others if I am not restored.  In order to be restored I must lie down and be led to the still waters.

I am thankful that God loves me enough to make me lie down and to lead me, even when I thought all was well.  I am thankful that I can at any time, choose to be in His presence, to draw from Him and to just be with Him.  I am thankful that He cares so much about me that for two and a half months, He solely met my needs, because He was there for me to depend on fully.  

We don't have to wait until we are dry to be restored.  We don't have to wait until we are weary to lie down.  We don't have to be in the storm to be led.  God is there saying "Come."  Sheep don't rest once in a while.  They don't drink once in a while.  It is a daily thing that the Shepard has the sheep lie down in the pastures.  It is a daily thing that they are led to the still waters.  So it should be with us.  We must daily take time to rest and drink from the living waters.  We must daily have our soul restored.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Still You

I was an enemy
Still You died for me
Romans 5:8 (NKJV) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I was a sinner
Still You forgave me

Psalm 32:5 (NKJV) I acknowledged my sin to You,And my iniquity I have not hidden.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.

 I walked away
Still You remain faithful

2 Timothy 2:13(NKJV) If we are faithless, He remains faithful;He cannot deny Himself.

I make myself busy
Still You wait patiently

 Isaiah 30:18 (NKJV) Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him.

I let go
Still You hold on

Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV) Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.

I am imperfect
Still You see me as righteous

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

I act selfish at times
Still You bless me.
1 Corinthians 2:9  But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

This post is part of the link up for the Five Minute Friday over at Kate Motaung’s Blog , where you write for Five Minutes on a specific word and the goal is to just write & no editing. (It is supposed to be a free write)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Grateful, the word always reminds me of Thanksgiving, only a more common, everyday kind of thanks.  I have so many things in my life to give thanks for.  However, the thing that I am most deeply appreciative and thankful for is being raised in a home where I was given a solid foundation in the God despite my family's dysfunction.  I was in Sunday school when I was two years old. Most of my early memories center on God, and truth be told, I just don't have a lot of early memories. 
I remember my imperfect father, reading to me out of the blue books you see at the doctors office "The Bible Story."   I would sit on his lap and we would read a story.  I am grateful for those stories about the hero's of faith. They remind me ordinary people did extraordinary things for God.  I am grateful that my father tried to teach me about the Father, even if he didn't always live like the Father wanted him too.
Deuteronomy 11:19  Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.
I remember backyard vacation bible study.  I really don't remember a lot about it.  I don't remember what we did or why we gathered.  what I remembered is that God's people came to my imperfect house for fellowship.  I am grateful that even though we didn't open our house often, I was taught the importance of fellowship.
Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)   And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
I remember in the darkest moments in my family, and we had a few, that we sought help through the church.  Granted many days that meant I was sitting outside the pastor's office while other family members were talking with him, but I knew that is where you went  - to the man of God when you had problems.  I also remember that when I lost my best friend, that even though the preacher didn't know that day, he preached about dying. I am grateful I was taught to seek Godly counsel and that He knows what is going on even when we haven't shared.
Colossians 3:16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
I remember attending church as a family.  Even when we were broken on the inside, we still went to church when I was a young child.  Every time the doors were open, we were there.  Not just to fill a pew, but active participants.  I was taught from age two, and my mother was the Sunday school teacher.  We sang in the choirs and children's programs.  When my parents were working, we went on the church bus.  I would lead the kids in worship songs, those songs were ones I would sing to my kids when they were growing up and I would teach to other kids I taught.   I learned to sign the alphabet from Mendi and Jennifer - they later became my daughter's stepmother and aunt.  I learned God doesn't make junk from Jimmie.  I learned to serve.  I am grateful that I was taught the value of service, faithfulness, and my value.

Matthew 25:21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
John 12:26  Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.
I remember being in Sunday school, children's church and Awanas and being challenged to spread the gospel (By inviting my friends to church), to give (By bringing offering), to meditate on the Word (By memorizing scriptures), the importance of the Bible (By bringing the Bible) until it became a habit.  Whether it was to earn a badge for Awanas, to earn stars in Sunday School - where I was rewarded with Godly things like books about God, or earning Love Bucks in Children's Church to buy presents for my family members for the holidays.  I am grateful that I was taught the importance of sharing the Word, reading the Word, and giving from an early age.

Psalm 119:11 (NLT) I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

I remember the lives that touched mine.  People who today may not remember me, but then meant the world to me.  Some have went on to be with the Lord, like Ms. Linda.  Others God has allowed to cross my path even recently like Ms. Cunningham, Mr. Drewry, Ms. Rosie, Mr. Earl, Mr. Bryant, Mr. Boozman, Mr. Nolan.  I am grateful that I was in a place where people truly poured in to the lives of others.  Where correction came with love, but obedience was still expected.  I am grateful that even though I didn't appreciate it at the time, the lessons they were trying to teach me stuck with me.

Hebrews 12:6 For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
Hebrews 12:11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
I am grateful that my mother shared with me a lesson in forgiveness and unconditional love.  I never understood why she stayed, even after the abuse came out.  Why when faced with the atrocities of what was done, she still stayed.  I admit forgiveness was never in my mind and unconditional love was not what I called it.   I admit, I always struggled with why she would chose a man over her daughter.  It wasn't until recently that I found the courage to ask.  When I asked, it was a story of forgiveness and God's love, the gift that God had given to her, she freely extended to my father.

Matthew 5:44  But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
Matthew 6:15  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

And so today I am grateful for my imperfect family, that ministered Christ in so many ways.  The family that pointed me to Christ and to Godly counsel.  That in their imperfections, modeled God's love and forgiveness.  The family that through their faults, taught me the value of service and faithfulness.  The family that introduced me to amazing examples of faith and fellowship, that loved enough to let others correct me and love me.  I am grateful for the opportunity to learn of sharing Christ with others, giving, and reading and memorizing the Word.  God is amazing.  I know a lot of families that this is just taken for granted, but I am thankful for the imperfect family that allowed me to appreciate the amazing God I serve.

This blog is prompted from  Tuesday at Ten! The Tuesday blog Link up where you have 1 full week to use the prompt word to your liking!  Whether it be just writing a story behind the prompt word, or being as creative as you wish using photos, poems, art, or graphics – whichever creative way you choose. You have 1 week to write and link up your blog at the bottom of the page so that others can link up with you. Be sure to visit your “link up” neighbor and spread the joy of connection!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

David & Jonathan - A true measure of friendship

This week in Life Kid's I was preparing to teach the kids about the friendship of Jonathan and David.  I know the story.  It is about their deep friendship, how Jonathan was Saul's son and they became best friends.  How Jonathan helped David escape from death. And how when Jonathan died David mourned, then went and found Jonathan's disabled son and provided for Him.  And yet this story that I have heard since childhood, provided a deep insight to me this time around.

Jonathan was by all earthly rights the prince of Israel.   He would be in line for the throne of King Saul upon his death.  Davis was a little Shepard boy, who tending sheep for his family, spending time with God out in the fields.  However, David was anointed by Samuel to be the next king of Israel.

The chapter before there was nothing that indicated that David and Jonathan even knew each other.  David came to provide food to his brothers, saw Goliath, and went up in the power of the Lord to face Goliath, defeating him in battle.  After which he was brought before King Saul, and Saul is like "who are you?"

I Samuel 18: 1-4  Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.  Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore.  Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.  And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.

Their friendship was a work of God, and quickly tested.  When they returned back to the cities in Israel, the people were cheering and singing praise for David. This made Saul mad.
I Samuel 18:6-8  Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments.  So the women sang as they danced, and said:
                                                  “Saul has slain his thousands,
                                                    And David his ten thousands.”
Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” 
King Saul was really mad.  Then his anger turned to fear. 

I Samuel 18:11-15  And Saul cast the spear, for he said, “I will pin David to the wall!” But David escaped his presence twice. Now Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, but had departed from Saul.  Therefore Saul removed him from his presence, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people.  And David behaved wisely in all his ways, and the Lord was with him.  Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him. 
David marries in to the family, part of the promise for killing Goliath.  Over the next chapter and a half David, Jonathan and Saul engage in this is scenario where King Saul is angry.  Jonathan talks up his friend, aka now brother-in-law to King Saul.  Jonathan gets David in good graces with King Saul.  David comes around, with the favor of God and the people all over him, and then King Saul gets mad again.

I Samuel Chapter 20, is a full test of their friendship as King Saul makes it clear that he does not like David.  David and Jonathan had sworn loyalty to each other.  And Jonathan being the loyal friend, betrayed his father to protect David.  This further enraged King Saul who made it his mission to kill David. 

There are so many lessons in friendship here.  
1) Jonathan was a loyal friend.  He stood up for his friend, not just to his father, but the King.  David had done nothing but be obedient to God and to King Saul.  Jonathan wasn't disrespectful.  He was just loyal.  The promise he made, was thicker than the blood in his veins.  

I Samuel 19:4-5 Thus Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father, and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant, against David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his works have been very good toward you. For he took his life in his hands and killed the Philistine, and the Lord brought about a great deliverance for all Israel. You saw it and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood, to kill David without a cause?”
2) Jonathan had to have a deep reverence for God to be able to set aside his earthly right for his friend's God given call.  He wasn't giving up his favorite shirt, he was giving up the throne.  Knowing his friend would take his place, he still protected David. 
I Samuel 23:16-18 Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God.  And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that.” So the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. And David stayed in the woods, and Jonathan went to his own house.

3) Their friendship surpassed death. David remained loyal to Jonathan even in death, even after taking his place as King.  His promise to Jonathan remained. 

II Samuel 9:6-7 Now when Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, had come to David, he fell on his face and prostrated himself. Then David said, “Mephibosheth?”And he answered, “Here is your servant!”
 So David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.”

4) They stuck beside each other, even when things were tough.  Even when they were not physically together they were seeking the other's best interests.  

5) Their love ran deep.
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
You have been very pleasant to me;
Your love to me was wonderful,
Surpassing the love of women.
I have been honored in my life to have two friends that I loved unto death.   My thoughts are of both often, but I have not held up to this true measure of friendship.