Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Refining Walk of True Friendship

This is actually a difficult subject for me to write on.  
Honestly, I wrote this out previously, but my account was accessed - without permission - and it was erased.  
So, here I go again!

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  I've had many good - and many GREAT - friends over the years.  
But, as I have gone through the trial and fight of/for my life, there is one friend (besides Jesus) who stood out above the others.

I, in NO WAY, wish to hurt or dismiss my other friends.  I could not have made it this far without you -- and I would not be able to move forward without you as well.  I love you all so much.  So, please don't mistake this post for a slight on our friendship -- rather, let it be an encouragement for that person in your life who you stand in the flames with!

I have never had a best friend ... that has been able to stick around for long. 

In Elementary school, I had a posse of friends... a core group of three whom I would do everything with... then, I moved out of the state just before starting Jr. high. 

In Jr. High and High School, the Lord blessed me with many friends - and a best friend, Dina.  She was literally a God-send.  And then, the Lord moved her away ... and our lives took differing paths (though we have kept in touch over the years!). 

Through college, I had many good friends - roommates and ministry partners.  We would graduate and move on, as we found spouses and followed careers. 

I have sisters whom I love and care for and a mother.  But even then, we live in separate towns - if not separate states.  
The distance does truly limit.

Once out of college, I asked the Lord to give me a friend... through the different seasons of my life, the Lord DID provided friends.  Single friends, married friends, work friends, mom friends, church friends, school friends and neighborhood friends.  But still, I asked the Lord for ONE close friend whom I could really trust.  It's not that the friends the Lord sent were not seen as friends - I just am very reserved and the deep parts of my heart are not entrusted to many.

I was told that my spouse was my best friend.... and that was that.  I tried to believe it - and tried to create it.  But, when push came to shove, he did both and I rolled over.  It was not a healthy relationship - and not a healthy friendship.  It was one of fear and control .... one dying to uphold vows and the other living to break them.

I knew this ... and it hurt.  

My prayers continued. 

 "Lord, I can make it if you give me just ONE friend"... this had been my lifelong prayer.

I had read over and over in the Bible about friendship the Lord had set out before the world was even created.... friends like David and Jonathan, Paul and Timothy... friends whom the Lord had created in such a unique giftedness to minister for Him.  I longed for that sort of friendship... 

This friendship started out ... slowly.  HAHA!  My neighbor's sister and young son moved in with them... helping them out and working for the family business.  Funny enough they are identical twins - though they argue they are NOT - it took a good year (or more) for me to realize it was two different women.

We first met as my preschool daughter would sneak out of our yard/house and into theirs to play with her infant son.  I would catch her carrying the baby around the yards.  

Then we began to talk as we would supervise the kids playing in the street and yards.  

And we became friends.

As time went on, she and her son would join us at church.  She even prayed to receive Christ with my husband and myself.  (That was pretty amazing)  She and I began meeting weekly to pray for our spouses and families.  We began studying books of the Bible together... and, as she would study, she would have SO many questions -- she kept me on my toes ... and in the Word!

My world was pretty well scripted for me - as were my relationships.  
There was a "type" of person I was to be ... and a "type" of person I was to befriend.  

This was successfully enforced by my spouse and the community around us.

She did not fit that mold;  she was a single mother, working full time, living in community with her family, a newer Jesus Christ Follower, didn't care much to dress or act the "church" role, and carried a beautiful testimony of Jesus Christ's great work and love in her life.

She became my greatest cheerleader, encourager, challenger and exhorter... she became my friend.

At this point, she was a GOOD friend... even FANTASTIC.  But I had other friends -- and they never stuck around for long... for whatever reason.  So I was hesitant to put any "best friend" label on her.

Then my life began to go a bit sideways.  She was aware of the storm inside me... the wrestling with God -- to serve Him or man... and would pray with me a lot.  She would meet me out by the mailboxes to cry with me and pray with me.

I was wrestling with God ... yet she stood firm.  Praying for me and my marriage - and encouraging me in obedience to Christ.

As the storm inside me grew -- it seemed to spread outside of me.  I now see that the storm on the outside had always been there.... it was just that I excused it.  I folded to it.  I denied it's existence.  
I covered the lies  ⟹ I had chosen to serve man... kneel to social pressures and bow to fear.

Yet there she was.  Praying for me and encouraging me.

Neither of us could have ever seen what would come next.  I know I didn't

I was now compelled by Christ to serve Him... and Him alone.  
Not just in word -- not even just in deed -- but in heart... in spirit.  

I truly did believe that my spouse would support me.  
And, support was what was falsely given to me at first.  
A head pat - verbal accolades ..... coupled with soon to be discovered stabs in the back and fierce social and verbal pressure to succumb.

I was told not to speak to ANYBODY about my need to obey the Lord. (see post: Little Did I Know ) But I did speak to my friend ... after all, it was the reason I came down with shingles.  πŸ˜₯  I stayed silent to everybody else out of respect to my spouse.  However, little did I know that the "silent" edict ONLY applied to me.  My spouse ... as I was silent ... began a heartbreaking and very confusing smear campaign against me and my best friend -- whom he would thank and give words of appreciation to her face --- and turn around only to declared his growing hatred for her.

I didn't even realize this was happening until the rot he created was so prevalent.  I tried to confront the main female gossip ... and even my spouse.  To no avail... malicious lies... they were just too juicy for the bored church moms and many family members to pass up.  
No need to check or listen to the truth -- the story was just... too... UNBELIEVABLE. 
Even my own parents fell for the lies in spite of my pleas and warnings ...

When everything had unraveled... the church had turned me out and denied it all, my husband had violently attacked me - yet he stood on stage every weekend to help lead "worship,"  the "friends" my spouse had groomed were actively cultivating and nurturing him and his lies... 
I remember vividly walking toward that furnace... knowing that I only had a distant sister urgently being reminded to pray for me ... and one... ONE ... friend - my neighbor, my best friend.  

And I entered that fiery furnace.  One friend... But the Lord was/is with us.

She has endured persecutions of ALL kinds.  

Why?  What is the crime?  

Being my friend.  That is the crime.

I know church lingo .. and I understand some of you may be thinking 
...Oh, Hope, persecution? ... you mean like people making fun of her?

No... Well, yes ... but that's not it.

What she has endured because of her love and friendship to me -- is far beyond what ANYBODY would ever endure on my behalf... not even my husband.  
"Husbands, love your wife just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her? ... that was never his goal.  Control... possess.  

My spouse now saw my friend ... as the entire reason for me walking into that furnace.  

I had never stood vigilantly compelled to obey the Lord in anything like I had in the build-up of this furnace.  My spouse had been so out of touch with me - my heart - over the span of our marriage, he never even noticed me change... grow... So he could not imagine WHY the change?  
It HAD to be this friend --- the one he did not choose, let alone approve of.

My friend had shared a small portion of her testimony at our church.  
(I will be writing more on this soon- and even, at the end of this series, some of her testimony).  
But my spouse saw his window... and used the testimony to anchor his lies.

The church turned on her.  Friends she had made, denied her and scorned her.  My family threw vile and horrifically graphic insults at her.  She was physically attacked at work - hit from behind and cut... and has since then been repeatedly threatened.  They all bought the lies.   
And they all adopted the anger and evil.

At the beginning .... all but my fervently praying sister from afar  ... and my best friend beside me ... were left.  

A TRUE friend.

Tested by fire.

Willing to sacrifice her own reputation, acceptance and even life ... to help me... to be my friend.

I have a best friend.

The best friend I have prayed for since I was little.

She happens to live next door... and we plan on always living close to each other.

I would have never survived this fire with out her... I was never made to stand in the furnace alone. 
 I was made to move forward in a team.

She has taught me what a TRUE friend is.  ... She has shown me what Scripture speaks of:

"A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."  Proverbs 18:24
"A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity."  Proverbs 17:7
"Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another."   Proverbs 27:17
"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
"Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. Saul took him that day and did not let him return to his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself."  1Samuel 18:1-3
"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up."  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
"Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor."  1Corinthians 10:24  πŸ˜Š

I pray that you all may experience a friendship... that would test true and pure in whatever "7-times hotter" furnace the Lord would have you walk into.  
It doesn't take the pain of the losses and the betrayals away ... but the Lord knows how to heal the brokenhearted... and friends are key to that.

So, the timing of this seems pretty perfect ... with Valentines Day this week.  
This is not a romantic love or some torrid twist of friendship... it is pure and true.

Thank you for being my Best Friend - a True Friend.
Thank you for not just standing in the furnace with me -- but even before and as you saw it coming - thank you for walking into it with me.

I would never have survived without my Best Friend.
Thank you, Lord for knowing this... 
And Thank You for her.


Intro to the Next Series!

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In my last post, I wrote about one moment in my life - actually a very defining moment - I stood up for a deep conviction the Lord had placed in my spirit (way deeper than in my heart ... I don't know how to even explain that one).  
I referenced Daniel 3.


When I was writing, I realized something amazing.  Yet another deeper meaning to the story

the Lord gave me in regards to my life ... the men were not alone.  There are plenty of instances where men and women of God were persecuted and even put to death .... alone.  But this is not one of them.  In the story of Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego  ... they had each other.


I realized that, though the furnace I'm in has refined friendships, I didn't enter this furnace alone.  The Lord gave me a best friend.  

One who was there from the very beginning -- believing me, and standing beside me at GREAT cost to herself. 


 I am excited to write about that friendship - a true gift from the Lord!!



Over the next several weeks, I will be writing a series of posts.  This is a series that the Lord has asked me to write on.... true friendships... and the slander - and consequences of the specific slander we have/are enduring - of the Lord's glorious testimony in our lives, specifically my friend's.



I understand many may be angry - angry that I spoke up about the church's abuse.  I know I will be accused of bitterness and anger --- all of which is untrue.  

I will likely (again) be threatened and and ostracized ... par for the course anymore.  


But this is important for everybody.  



True friendships - correctly handling Truth - stewarding the Lord's testimonies ...



 I know that, though many will not want to hear, their ears will be closed -- SOME will hear ... so this is for YOU! ♡



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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Little Did I Know...

Have you ever had that moment where an answer the Lord had given you actually had a much deeper - and truer meaning than you could have ever imagined?

I have.  I was thinking about it today, and felt strongly I should share.  

Not for much else than to simply document the richness - and mercy  - of the Lord.  
His Words stood for me then, but also, unbeknownst to me, were a sobering prophesy of what was to come.  

I had NO idea.

But I do see it now.

If you were to ask me a year ago... I had a tough marriage.  But not "bad."  
And certainly not terrible. 

I was blind.  
I was blind to what I had become and I was blind to how I had been conditioned.  

Not all change is good.

I see now the clear signs and symptoms that had fully manifested 
in my being... clear ... crystal ... of all sorts of abuse - psychological, spiritual, mental to say the least.

I had been stripped of my opinion. 
 Sure!  I could "share" - in the privacy of our home ... so not to embarrass, show disrespect, or dishonor my spouse.

I had been stripped of my being.  
I had been put on a shelf - like a possession ... given attention and care when the dust got too sickeningly thick, or guests were expected to arrive.  
I was there to be shown.  
Owned.  
It was not a partnership - and far from a friendship.

I was stripped of the things that made me -- me.  
Others, who are familiar with domestic abuse, and who may have been given the chance to see a before/after ... would have noticed right away.  

My love and desire for art and gardens -  my passion for the outdoors and the Lord's beautiful creation - had all but disappeared.  
I lived for the return ... for the scraps of moments given to me by the person who had self-titled as my "best friend."  
No longer did I pursue those things the Lord had planted deeply in my spirit.  
No longer did I even desire them.  
I was lost.

Despite all that was taken - rather, given - I still loved deeply.
I counted the cost worth it - because I loved so much.

 I was told this was exactly where I was always created to be.  This was my purpose.  
...interesting.

But, like the good Christian girl (and wife) I am, I adapted.  
I folded, and accepted this martyr role as my purpose... as the greatest walk of love.

However, the day came that I did have a vastly differing opinion... conviction ... than my spouse.

Surely, other days of the like had come and went ... 
and I slunk back onto my shelf... waiting ... waiting ... 
hoping that serving and pouring myself out in hopes that a glance - a smile - or maybe, better yet, a crumb of affection(!) would be tossed my way.  
It rarely came.  But I still lived for it.

But this was different.  Why?  I have wondered the same, trust me!

There are a few things I can spot - and one giant one.

To begin with, the Lord had begun several years earlier to wake up my inner spirit.  He had renewed my heart for prayer -- and showed me His movement in that manner.  He would wake me in the middle of the night - I would read His word and pray... pray for myself, my husband, and the family.

The little light that had been reduced to a flicker of a candle's flame began to grown ... BURN.

The Lord would ask me to be obedient in little things ... leading prayer groups, befriending neighbors, helping other moms, participation in our church with the after-service prayer, and speaking openly - unashamedly - about my walk and love for Jesus.  
With each tiny step in obedience, the light grew brighter.... my faith grew ... and my love for Jesus burned.

So, the day came that I had a differing conviction.  
I say "conviction,"  because for me it was.  For the other parties, I believe there was no conviction - rather, opinion.

I sought the Lord ... WHY?  WHY would I feel a differing call than my spouse?  
Surely, the Lord would NEVER call spouses to different ministries! (FALSE)  
At least that's what I had been told since I was a very young girl... partners ... teammates... best friends ... that is what spouses were to be.

Yet, here I was.  At an impasse.  

And then the final stone -- or, rather, the FIRST stone ... the CORNERSTONE -- came into clear view.

The Lord was asking me to obey Him.  

I didn't want to... it would be hard... I argued... I wrestled.  

My spouse would get mad ... ohhhhh... I don't like the anger... my spouse being mad meant I was a bad wife... right?  

Besides that, our social circle - his best friends 
(wait... wasn't *I* supposed to be the best friend?) 
...would frown deeply upon my absence.  

It would look bad.  

And that was it, wasn't it?!  
... what would it "look"like? 

-- was I, somehow, responsible for his emotions and lack of self control?

(See, at that time -- I DID feel like those things mattered... like I could influence, or should try to hit some sort of phantom socially acceptable line of appropriateness.)

Truth is - it doesn't matter what obedience to the Lord looks like --- it's not for man -- it's for GOD.  
Moreover, I cannot control -- ever -- anybody's reaction, thoughts or choices -- ever --.... that's simply a mirage.

However the day came I was told if I could show in the Bible WHY I must hold to the conviction I was standing firm with ... the family would join up with me.

Hopeful, I immediately began fasting and praying.  There were many Bible sections I could use - but the Lord told me to stop... be still ... and wait.

I did... I waited.   I prayed.

Then it happened..... like a downloading into my head.  I ran to my car and madly began to scribble down all my thoughts.

The Lord decided to use a story from the 3rd chapter in the book of Daniel -- Shadrack, Mechack and Abednigo.   
Incidentally, this was one of my spouse's favorite stories.  

I fought a little... I knew there would be anger over this particular scripture text.

But I wrote it all down.

And I couldn't believe what I read. 
 I had never seen this section of scripture in this light... It was perfect --- perfectly describing WHY the decision I had made must be upheld by me.  
The Lord used that Bible story to connect my obedience to those three men.... and my spouses' behavior to the king's.

I was scared - there will be great rage over this ...  or maybe not!  
Maybe it will be received and embraced.  
Surely, the perfectness of what the Lord had me write would be seen and appreciated.

I stood before my spouse and explained how it all came about.  
Then I read (I had to read it ... I was shaking too badly) what I had written down.

It boiled down to one thing .... Obeying the Lord.  
Obedience.

Shadrack, Mechack and Abednigo were thrown in a furnace because they would not bow to an idol  -- and more specifically to the king.   
They chose obedience ... understanding the cost... being thrown into a furnace... to die.

It was this that I saw I was walking toward.  At the time, I saw it as a social metaphor for this one decision.  
But now, I see the intricate similarities span so much more.

You see, the king was SO angry, he instructed for the furnace to be heated up SEVEN times hotter than normal.

He questioned them - gave them a chance to bow to him... 

They defied him and told him, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

The king was FURIOUS.

The fire was SO hot, the guards taking the men to their fate -- met theirs.  
The heat alone killed them. 
Yet, the men of God continued on.  

The kept walking toward the fire ... into the furnace ... despite the fact that the guards were dropping like flies.  
They were obedient.  
They trusted and knew that their Lord God was with them.   
And, obedience was more important than sacrifice - even their lives. 

Then it happened ... as the three friends should have been incinerated, the king looked into the fire and instead saw FOUR figures.

The men were not alone.  
The Lord had given them each other as friends .... and then stood among them

Ultimately, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were taken out once the fire died down -- they weren't burned -- and didn't even smell like smoke.  
The king issued an edict that read: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”  Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 3:29-30)

The analogy the Lord gave me ended at the fire... and I now see why.  
Here I am in the furnace... and I DO smell a little of the smoke - and feel a bit singed by the fire.  
I certainly have not been promoted.... HAHA!  

But my future is still being written....

I now see the lesson in this for me.  
The courage to walk toward the fire in obedience to God -- even as you see death all around you. 

Courage.

Faith.

Obedience.

I had hoped this word would shed light on my thoughts and convictions to my spouse.  

I was wrong.

It incensed him.  I was called a liar and manipulator.  I was neither -- and AM neither.

But I stood.  

Was I to choose to serve God.... or was I to choose to bow to man?

I chose God.






♡♡

And... know what?  The Lord didn't send me alone into the furnace, either!
He gave me a friend...

I will write on true friendship soon... 

♡♡







Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Greatest of Offenses

Lately I've been thinking a lot of "offenses."

It seems everybody is offended at something these days.  

They march for it.  They riot for it.  They write for it.  They boycott for it.  

It's not that this is necessarily "bad" 
... of course rioting and hurting people because you feel owed or whatever, is wrong 
... it is not bad to voice your thoughts and opinions.  

It's not bad to have those conversations.  That's not what I'm saying.

Let me try and put this another way -- and then bring my point better forward.

Forgiveness.  Grace.  Dignity.  
These are things our world needs.  

Nearly everybody will find something that offends them -- everything from a trivial food item to a more serious tyrannical leader.  
It just is.  
That's the way sin is.  
That's our world.

But let me get to my point.  
As I've been thinking about "offensive" things in this world, it hit me -- abruptly 
... like the screech of your alarm clock on Monday morning,
 or that snowball my kid threw at my head (and unexpectedly hit her target).  

The greatest offense of all.  
What would you define as the greatest offense to you as a person?...  To your family?...  Your country?...  The world? 
---  Is it a thing? ... an act? ... a person?

That's an interesting thought.  
But it hit me this week... the greatest offense.  
MY greatest offense.  

Curious?

The fact that just about 2000 years ago, God came down to earth in the form of a human - Jesus Christ.  
He was perfect, sinless ... loving, kind, forgiving ... He was God.  
Now, sure many found that HE was offensive to them - to their way of living and the religious institutions they had meticulously created and upheld - were shattered, destroyed.

But even more than that.  
What do I, Hope, see as the GREATEST offense?  That this man, Jesus Christ, God incarnate ... was sentenced to a horrific death ... betrayed ... denied ... slandered ... murdered... because of me.

Some of you may be thinking -- because of YOU, Hope 😟 ?  
YES.  
HE could have, at any time .... stopped the madness.  
Jesus could have - at any time - called it all off.  

After all, He is God!  Jesus commands the angelic armies.  
With a word - he could have destroyed those set on destroying Him.  
With a word - He could have called all the forces of heaven to come and set things straight.  
With a word, Jesus could have made it stop.  

But He didn't.

You see, my sinful state.  I was born with it - there is not avoiding it... it just is. 
 I can't undo it on my own.  I can't try and do so much "good" in this world to counteract the "bad."  
I am hopelessly lost to sin.  

And Jesus -- even WAY back then -- knew that about me.... about US.

And he LOVED/S us... so very much 

Jesus suffered.... in unimaginable ways .... for me.  
For you.  
If I were the ONLY person on earth who was a sinner needing a Savior, He would still have taken the penalty for my sinful state.

THAT is the greatest of offense.  

That a PERFECT man ... GOD ... Jesus Christ ... died for ME.  

A weak, sinful woman.  

And, guess what?

He died for YOU, too.  

You may be stronger than I.  You may be a better person than I.  
Gender doesn't matter.  
Age doesn't matter.  
Ethnic background doesn't matter.  
Religious background doesn't matter.  
Political convictions don't matter.

NONE OF THAT MATTERS.

The Bible tells us that we ALL have sinned.  And, because of that, the penalty is ETERNAL death.

There is no reincarnation.
There is no heaven ranking... or "levels."
There is no special number of chosen people.
There is no elite class or culture.
There is no "bad person" party in hell.
There is no prayer or proxy for the dead - they are DEAD.
There is no "lights out" - that's it - at death.

The cost for my-our sin is eternal suffering and death.

Because of this, Jesus came and paid the price for us to be able to have forgiveness of those sins.   
He hung on that cross ... suffered the most inexplainable mental, emotional, psychological, physical - and spiritual - torment... for ME.... for YOU.
He took my punishment -- so that I could have the freedom to CHOOSE.

I - we are, because of Jesus's most offensive death, are now able to choose from eternal death 
... or forgiveness through Jesus 
... delivering us from eternal death TO eternal LIFE with Him.

THAT ... THAT is the GREATEST offense of all .... that GOD died for ME.

... and YOU.


πŸ”ΆπŸ”ΆπŸ”ΆπŸ”ΆπŸ”ΆπŸ”ΆπŸ”ΆπŸ”ΆπŸ”ΆπŸ”Ά


So, the next time you find yourself getting your panties all in a bunch.
... offended... 

REMEMBER...
The GREATEST offense. 
Is YOURS... is MINE.

It was carried out on a cross some 2000 years ago.
God's Son, Jesus Christ, paid the debt of our sin.

Next time you are in church (if you go to church) and participate in communion,
remember that.
We have literally been commanded by Jesus to remember
... remember
... remember
... the greatest offense was carried out because of me
... because of you
...because of US.



πŸ”ΆπŸ”ΆπŸ”ΆπŸ”ΆπŸ”ΆπŸ”ΆπŸ”ΆπŸ”ΆπŸ”ΆπŸ”Ά



If you have any questions or would like to learn more about this great offense -- and what this choice is that we have.... please contact me!  
My greatest offense ... is the Lord's greatest Victory in my life ... and can be in your's too.
πŸ’›πŸ’›πŸ’›

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

6 Months

Today marks 6 months.

I never thought I'd be the kind of person to reflect on - I wouldn't call this a celebration - dates with MONTHS attached to them.  

I mean, there were the babies ... where I would answer the questions "How old is she/he...it ??"...
(usually they couldn't tell the gender - HA!)
... with a month count.  But I never thought there would be a count in MY life.  

I was never the one to count and remember first date, first kisses, etc... but this date 
... 6 months ago 
... will forever be burned in my memory.

Why?

It was the day the Lord woke me up.  At least that's the best way I can explain it.  
I didn't, at the time, realize how "asleep" and ...lifeless ... I had become.  
It didn't happen overnight.  
It was gradual ... the path of emotional and mental subjugation.  
And, healing from it also (still taking place - probably will be a lifetime process).

6 months ago today was the day the line was forever crossed.  

June 27, 2016 was the day I was attacked by my most trusted.  
The one professing to be my best friend.  
The one covenanting to protect me and be faithful to me.  
That one, in an impulsive display of control, power and anger... violently attacked me ... leaving me confused, depressed, and very hurt - emotionally, spiritually and physically.

It took what seemed like a long time for me to breath in deep the new air to my lungs -- to look at the landscape of my life with open eyes and honest admittance.  

Sure, I went through all the "normal" phases of abuse ... 
guilt → justification/excusing/denying → honeymoon/attempt to recompense (for me it was by household projects getting done) → ..... and then the tension began to build again....
 I noticed fear that had always been there -- but SO cleverly hidden -- now taking front stage.  

It was no joke, and I knew it.  I cringed and tried not to have to admit it - but I did.  
I knew the truth.  
My eyes had been opened - I was awakened... there was no turning back. 

I finally LISTENED to the counsel I was now receiving and had denied for years.  
I knew that there would be very harsh penalties for my speaking up... standing up ... breathing.  

Even with this post, I will receive more.  
But it's no joke if you've been there ... or are there.  
The cost of life ... of breath ... is hard and real.
(and worth it)

But the Lord didn't want me to be that person.  I was never created to live that way, or live in fear of man.  
I was never created to be treated in as "colorful" of ways as I was.  
Nobody is. You aren't either.  
Not even the one I love - who hurt me ... not even he was created to live as was being lived.

6 months ago -- the Lord woke me up.  
What the Enemy wished to use to enslave me more -- to destroy me with -- the Lord used to WAKE ME UP and free me from.  
And I am ETERNALLY thankful.
It's been the hardest thing in my life.
But I can see the horizon.  And know that - slow or fast - I will get there.
The Lord is with me.

6 months ago.  I never thought I'd be a "month" girl.  
But, here I am...  6 months.
6 months.
Breathing. 
Grateful.
Thankful.









John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Ezekiel 37:5, 10
This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones:  I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.... So I prophesied as HE commanded me, and breath entered them;  They came to life and stood up on their feet - a vast army





Saturday, December 24, 2016

LIGHT

I'm not certain how to even start this post.  But I want to share some of my thoughts on LIGHT this Christmas.

However, the Lord has been speaking to me so much lately about LIGHT   Obviously, He has been speaking to many others on the topic - there are fantastic books out and some of my favorite songs speak of LIGHT.

It may have something to do with the dark valley I am currently going through - with facing and being honest about abuse, the rejection that has come from that - and, thus, becoming target of many different things.  It may have to do with the global evils of mankind -- the darkness.

After all, you cannot talk of LIGHT without acknowledging the very darkness that makes a little flicker of LIGHT beyond precious.

There is the darkness that surrounds me.  

I'm not even talking about the unknown.  I'm talking about the known evil.  I'm talking about the spiritual realm... As described in Ephesians 6:12 - the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world... mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  

THAT  darkness... the darkness I can feel sometimes closing in - and definitely targeting.  The darkness that wants NOTHING more than for me to skulk back to the lies and abuse.  The darkness that wishes to silence me and even my children.  The darkness that studies us and uses us ... that one... the one that wishes only for our death (physical and spiritual) ... for us and as many around us as possible.

LIGHT!  Being Christmas season, I have noticed many songs about LIGHT ... The Lord's been speaking to me on LIGHT for awhile now, so these songs are so meaningful to me.

In Luke 1:78, Jesus is called the SUNRISE, the DAYSPRING, the DAYBREAK, the DAWN, the LIGHT.  I love watching the sunrise... I love seeing the darkness submit and retreat from the coming Sun's rays!  I love to watch the unfolding... as colors begin to paint the sky and push the dark ... overtaking it.  Darkness simply cannot exist in the face of LIGHT... it has to hide.

I love this.  

I love that this season is celebrating the birth of Jesus ... the LIGHT of the world ... the Dayspring from on high!  

It is truly amazing that the God of the universe came down to bring LIGHT to us.  This is the Lord I serve ... Jesus Christ... this is the God who came for you and me ... and the God who died to pay our debt... giving us the hope and choice to choose LIGHT or Darkness.

Well, I choose LIGHT!  And I love that the Lord is the LIGHT on the other side of this valley I'm in currently.  No idea what's over there, but I know the Lord is there, so that's where I'm headed... to the horizon... to the LIGHT ... forward.



But there's another Darkness that weighs heavily on me and the Lord has been speaking to me about. ....  the Dark of realizing that my marriage and husband was not - and is not - what I hoped and believed they were... and the cycle of mourning that comes with that realization.  

It may be the thought of a COMPLETELY unknown future for myself and children.

I know that, statistically, women in my position find it very hard to move forward out of abusive situations...   

I mean, think about it... I have been married for over 16 years... enduring, excusing, forgetting for that long as well.  I have been a stay at home mom for over 13 of those!  While I do have a college degree, all my training and experience has been very specific for an industry in a complete different climate, and reliant on experience... which means back to the drawing board for me.  My husband has been managing all the finances, bills, etc. (with the exception of anything pertaining to the children) for the majority of our marriage --- as I navigate these new waters -- I have to learn everything new.  

There was no "back-up" plan. 

I had a complete trust in him - one that was misplaced and no longer exists.  I only explain that to paint the background for you... MOST women in my situation simply do not - cannot - make any sort of life change out of the abuse.  They stay (or find themselves back in) and slip into depression and slowly (though some not so slowly) wick away --  the going ons behind the closed doors of their home ultimately finishes them off either spiritually, emotionally and ultimately physically - but more commonly all the above.  Most women simply cannot see past the situation to step out of it.  Darkness.  And, I must admit, it doesn't feel like I've stepped out of "it"... I feel like I - while wanting to RUN - have actually barely pulled my mostly dead self out of my very dangerous situation... and, still, I wait and pray.

I've always been accused of being stubborn.  Well, I praise the Lord for that resilience ... it is why I am writing today.  It is why there is hope for my children's future - and even hope for my husband!  LIGHT.  You see, things were obviously at a point where nothing would change unless I did. 

So, maybe now you can imagine better the Darkness ... maybe you are in it or have experienced it.  The unknown.  The COMPLETE unknown... A place you have nothing left but to place all that trust in the God of the Universe... there's honestly nothing else to lose.

Keep tracking with me here... so that it the inner darkness I sense.  But there's more.  Because in that scene, there is STILL LIGHT!  I don't always see it (actually, while in the valley, often don't.... ) I have begged and asked the Lord to make my path clear -- to LIGHT it up for me.

While, there have been some key moments the Lord DID do this, He's had a lot to speak to me about this lighting up I've asked for.

You see, I have talked about the LIGHT of the WORLD - the DAYSPRING - JESUS.  Jesus died for me - for you - so we can be forgiven.  When we ask Jesus to be Lord of our lives (* Romans 10:9,10 - it's that simple!), something wonderful happens... The Holy Spirit fills us.  The very presence of GOD enters our spirit.  And, you know what come with God???  .... LIGHT!

When you give your life to Jesus, LIGHT enters YOU.  There is, in the spiritual realm a Light that manifests in your being because of the presence of the Lord God Almighty!

I have that LIGHT!  Do you?... 
(if not, I will tell you how at the end of this post .. or please message me!)

That realization was a big one for the Lord to point out to me.  All this time I was begging and praying for LIGHT and direction, I HAD LIGHT! ↔  I HAVE LIGHT!  Not only that but Jesus tells us HE is the Light of the World ... that if we follow HIM, we will not walk in darkness. (John 8:12)  

[This brings up more thoughts on how darkness is so deceptive... we may be in a mere SHADOW, but the dark would like us to think this is how everything is.  Darkness wishes for us to think there is no LIGHT... that it has been snuffed out.  But, I've never seen darkness push out LIGHT -- I HAVE seen LIGHT push darkness... oh.. I can go on, but I'm really trying to stay focussed... HAHA!]

Now, the effects of Jesus being LIGHT ... and that Light is in US ....  are MANY, but there are two that stand out to me in the place I am right now.

One... though darkness surrounds me ... I am not IN darkness.  The Lord tells me His Word is a lamp unto my feet (Ps 119:105), that I am a child of LIGHT (John 12:36) ... and SOOO much more!  I can trust the Lord's direction.  I may not be able to see past a footstep (sometimes if even that), but isn't that where the Lord wants us to be with Faith, anyway??? ... In full trust of Him for each step?  

This was big for me to really see and understand.  The very fact that, though darkness may (and will) surround me, the very LIGHT in and with me - JESUS - is faithful.  It is sure in it's direction and will not be overcome.  

That's not to say the physical hurts of the world will never touch you/me ... As a matter of fact ... that's a post for another day.  But take my word for it .... we need to keep out eyes on the ETERNAL - not this temporal world.  Our physical being will pass away - how that goes down, I can't say - but the hope for eternity is set on Jesus.

Really learning this, I realized that I don't need (thought it would be nice) a giant miracle of torches to light up the darkness -- expose ALL the lies and evil.  I have everything I need in Jesus - and the promises of the the Lord through His Word.  All LIGHT comes from Him!

The second thing that has stuck with me this season as I have reflected on LIGHT ... goes tandem with the knowledge that I carry the LIGHT of the LORD.  If that is true ... then others, looking for LIGHT, may just come to me.  The LIGHT I have ... the submission and obedience to the Lord and His direction ... may very well be the LIGHT others have asked God for.  I may actually be used in this valley as a beacon -- a LIGHT house -- a source of hope for those asking the Lord for it.  

I know others have been that for me as I've moved forward.  But, even, then, I have realized I don't even have to be in a "good place" to shine the holy LIGHT of Jesus to the world.  MAYBE, the Lord has placed me here because there are so many asking for LIGHT and need it.  MAYBE, the Lord is calling you to shine where you are -- valley, pit, mountaintop ... doesn't matter. 

Actually HE is!! (Mt 5:16)  
Maybe you have been begging God for a sign - for some glimmer of hope - for LIGHT in this dark place you find yourself in.  I pray my thoughts have been an encouragement to you if that is true.


If you'd like to know more about this LIGHT I'm speaking about ...
please, please keep reading ... or contact me through my google account!


May the glorious LIGHT of the Lord Jesus shine on you this Christmas!




☀☀☀☀☀☀☀☀☀☀☀☀☀☀☀☀☀

*Romans 10:9-10
"9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."

Jesus Loves you.  He doesn't care for you to be perfect, cleaned up, whatever - for you to come to him.  He wants you as you are now.  No matter what you're in - or have been in.  The promises of the Bible from God are ALL as much true for you as for the "good church" people who you see in their minivans picking their perfect kids up from school.  That doesn't matter to Jesus.  Pierced?  Jesus was too.  Scarred and Marked?  Well, Jesus was also!  Boatload of baggage?? Jesus would love to shine some light on that, too.

Truly... all the things you fell you need to clean up or break to have Jesus -- that's bogus.  Nobody ever gets to that place.  
It's as simple as Romans 10:9-10...

Dear Jesus, 
I know you say it doesn't matter where I am or where I've been... and I choose to believe that.  I believe YOU are Lord... Lord of everything! ... even my past - even my present - and, yes,  my future also.  I believe, Jesus, that you died for me -- and that you were raised from the dead.  No longer are you dead -- but you are the Living God.  You died so I can be forgiven -- forgive me -- Be MY God!  Bring your Light to me -- fill me.  No excuses, no more procrastination.  
Thank you, Jesus, I love you!