July 21, 2017

I Have Seen

I'm now coming upon about a year since my husband violently attacked me, me waking up out of co-dependence, and forcing a separation from him through a court-ordered Protection Order.  

It was the thing of nightmares for me.  

However, in the awakening - in the honest look and admittance of the truth of my life and the masterfully manipulating abuser I was married to, there were other things I've seen that I want to document.

The Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible actually resonates at an entire different level to me now... the listings of what he has observed.  Likewise, I have seen many things with fresh eyes over the past year, and I'd love to share a few of those with you.




I have seen...


I have seen ears - shut
I have seen eyes - blinded
I have seen the compassionate become the oppressed
I have seen love abused
I have seen institutions crumble from the cancer they bred
I have seen scriptures twisted to fit needs
I have seen whole families suffer at the hands of a trusted one 
I have seen otherwise good men adopt lies 
I have seen evil slither through a community like a serpent on the hunt - consuming
I have seen perversion quietly put aside - too appalling for leaders to address
I have seen entrusted men intoxicate themselves with the control it gives
I have seen true ugliness from those the community looks to for beauty
I have seen once meaningful friends betray the sacredness of the mothers' circle of trust
I have seen friends twist trust into lies and aim to injure
I have seen the gossip confronted and cry out in anger 
    - only to evolve more cruel than before
I have seen wicked men speak with such effluence, even Shakespeare himself would be wooed 
I have seen evil shed innocent blood without a hint of remorse - only great satisfaction
I have seen wickedness actively recruit the complacent and non discerning
I have seen insurmountable armies mount up from every side and engage the innocent - 
    - with one aim - to destroy
I have seen bullies in every shape, size, age, gender, and race fight each other for ranking
I have seen the influence the wicked have over the weak
I have seen systems intended to help the needy- exploited
I have seen children made fatherless
I have seen fear root itself deeply into the hearts of people
I have seen darkness overcome the Light
I have seen betrayal
I have seen thieves prosper
I have seen criminals lauded and idolized

I have seen the waves of the high tide destroy 
... and cleanse ...
... I know for certain, the high tide will not last forever...

I have seen the Lord give the weak strength - and they stand
I have seen the Lord give the silent breath - and they speak
I have seen the Lord give the dead and complacent life - and they live
I have seen blind eyes - SEE
I have seen deaf ears - HEAR
I have seen the godly embrace one another in fellowship and love
I have seen the Body of Christ in every color, gender, social background and form
I have seen the Lord preserve the oppressed
I have felt the Lord's wings cover and provide refuge
I have seen paths made where there were none before
I have seen rest given to the pure in heart
I have seen love stand in the face of fear
I have seen the value of true friendship
I have seen the Lord comfort the hurting
I have seen the Lord step in and hold the fatherless
I have seen the Lord heal - to the core of a being
I have seen the sunrise in the darkest of seasons
I have seen the awesome recreations the Lord can bring from ashes
I have seen the power wielded in the name of Jesus Christ
I have seen the Armor of God be used in real battle 
I have seen the power of prayer
I have seen the very miracle that was begged for - found in the querier themselves
I have seen the power of obeying and trusting in a Living God
I have seen as never before - the love of sisters
I have tasted the waters of God's promises found in His Word
I have seen the power of a community focused on love, friendship and Jesus Christ
I have seen the oppressed in unexplainable peace and joy - despite pain
I have seen beauty in the broken
I have seen the wounded tended to and cared for by the unexpected
I have seen honesty in deep pain bring healing
I have seen the joy of witnessing the Lord heal the wounded
I have seen the lost and hurting learn of the Eternal Hope - Jesus Christ

...I have seen the very tide that destroys, the very wave that comes as a destructive squall
      - suddenly come to a complete stop when voice of Jesus Christ commands.



June 23, 2017

Her Tree

This past year, my daughter was introduced to poetry.
She wrote a poem based on my tree painting 
(I wrote about here)  
For me, it was a self portrait of sorts... 
and, without me even knowing, she wrote this poem to go with it.  
This was her interpretation of my painting...
 I think it's pretty amazing. 
(I think SHE'S pretty amazing!) 
She gave me permission to share it with you here.  💓




                    Her Forest

Her forest was gone
Her world was destroyed 
She didn’t know what to do

Her friends were all lies 
Her friends ware all spies
To make sure she followed the rules

Those who she thought cared left her
Those who she thought wrong embraced her
Her world had burned up before her

But the rain fell as it always did 
To wash the ash away
To wash the fear away
To wash the doubt away

Her forest was gone
Her world was destroyed
But she was not confused
She now knew what to do

She may be burnt
But she’s not destroyed
No matter what they might think
No matter what they might say
She will stand for another day


June 05, 2017

What Lazarus, Plato and I Have in Common

For most of my life - actually, probably ALL my life, I have heard the story of Lazarus.

As a child, the focus was on the foundational truth of Jesus bringing a man - completely dead and buried - to life.  The power and love of Jesus which has the ability to bridge life and death was the highlight.  I would look to that story in my childlike innocence and sit in awe that my Friend, Jesus, had control over life - and death.  
Power.

As a teen and young adult, I found myself looking at the perspective of the sisters, Mary and Martha, and family.  Jesus was intimate family friends with this family.  The sisters got word to Jesus of Lazarus' illness knowing that not only is Jesus able to heal the sick - after all, they had seen it themselves! - but Jesus was a close personal friend.  (I like to imagine, at the very least Lazarus would have liked to see his good friend before he died - I can only speculate to this end, but I know that is something I would desire, too).  The sorrow of the family at Jesus' late arrival is what struck me.  The confusions at the seemingly pointless waiting time - death - and burial of their brother and friend.  I didn't understand Jesus' timing.  It seemed like pointless sorrow to me.  Regardless,  I accepted it.  
Surrender.

As a young mother, it was the tears and the emotion that caught my attention.  The relationships.  The intimacy.  The deep hurt and compassion.
Love and Comfort.

As I grew a bit older, my perspective on this story continued to evolve and mature.  I learned that the timing of Jesus' "late" arrival was actually done intentionally by my Lord to fulfill the Pharisee's list of miracles the Messiah would do to prove he was who he said He was.  I learned this from a fabulous teach of mine, Dawn Morris.  The Pharisees had a list (in addition to the prophesies of the old testament) for which they would send observers/spies to watch the men who claimed to be the Messiah in an effort to witness and check off the items from their list (the Messianic Miracles).  On that list, the Messiah would be able to bring a person back from the dead - who had been dead for 4 days.  It's true!  In the Jewish belief, the spirit stayed with the body for 3 days.  Bringing a body back to life after 3 days (on the 4th),  fulfilled this Fulfilling the Pharisees list of Messianic miracles, Jesus had to be declared the Messiah.  
(The whole thing is so fascinating to me... so I want to stay focused on my thought here ... but I encourage you to check this out!!)
Perfect Timing.  
Undeniably Lord, Messiah, Savior.
AWE.

▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔

It wasn't until recently, then next plain of understanding came into focus for me.  

What is that?  You ask.  😉

I now see that I am not completely dissimilar to Lazarus.  He and I ... we have a lot in common.

We do!  OK... stay with me here ...
☛... Here is where Plato comes in. ☚

I KNOW you were thinking to yourself, 
"How, on earth, will this strange woman connect Lazarus, herself AND Plato?!"
Well, here I go.

Coming out of a very abusive marriage, I have had counselors explain, and articles read to me on how Plato's cave is a lot like coming out of abuse. 
(check out these links for more information on Plato's cave:  1, 2 )
I had to think about that long and hard.  
Long because I had to wrap my mind around the (false) reality I had been living.  
Hard because it takes humility and an immeasurable amount of inner strength to admit the truth ... and, in turn, stand and walk into the light - the True reality.

It was true.  I had lived nearly the entirety of my adult life in the dark.  
In another person's reality ... well, the reality they created for me to exist in
... the shadows on the wall.
And I had been trapped ... some by my own doing ... some by the doing of others.
To realize what I was living - what I saw - was not what was True or even real ... hurt.
To admit Truth, and act on that realization ... felt like death.

(And, in a way, it was a death of sorts.  A death to the mirage - the shadows.  And painful to walk into the Light)

It felt like I had been sitting watching and waiting forever - and I had been.
My body/spirit had atrophied.
I breathed the air supplied to me in that cave 
... nothing as life-giving as FRESH air - but more in line with the air breathed out in lies and deceit. 
And, I actually lived and was sustained by that.

I had to learn to walk again ... maybe even for the first time.
I had to discipline myself to breathe again ... as the clean air burned and filled my lungs.
I had to learn to look to the true LIGHT, and set it in it's proper place ... and my eyes teared up in pain.
(and by "true light", I mean the Lord God Almighty ... I had looked to my abuser/husband as my light source...  a place God Himself only was to ever occupy)

The connections to living under and leaving (or the decision to leave abuse) and Plato's cave are many.

☛  OK, so HOW does Plato's cave connect with Lazarus?! ... and me??  ☚

I began to think about Lazarus.  
The poor man was DEAD for 4 days.  
Wrapped up in burial clothes.  
The tomb was closed up and he was DEAD.

Before his death, he had been very sick - sick enough to die from what ailed him! 
The funeral had come and gone.  
His things were probably even being separated out.  
That first flush of mourners had come.  
And all the sympathy wishes (or whatever they do in the Jewish culture - please educate me if you know!) had come.  
Things had begun to slow down.  People were still around, but beginning to think about getting back to life - their jobs - their families.

Lazarus was in the cave - his tomb.

And then it happened....

"LAZARUS!  COME OUT!"

And out he came - still bound in the burial cloths.  
Lazarus had to fight just to stand and move forward to the opening of the cave.
Feet and hands bound - face covered.

Friends, Lazarus didn't come hippity hopping out of the grave.
It wasn't a leap or a dance.
He struggled.
He was bound.
It hurt.

Help a brother (or, in my case, sister) out!

I can imagine the sun - the bright and heat of the sun hurt.
I can imagine the air burned his lungs.
I can imagine every muscle in his body ached.
I can imagine he wished he was able to stay "asleep"... it was easier.
The illness had been so painful and hard - and, he wanted to go "home."

Lazarus FOUGHT to leave that tomb.
Lazarus FOUGHT to obey the words of his Lord and Savior, Jesus.
Lazarus FOUGHT to look at the people around him ....

Of course, all of this is how I would imagine it played out.  I think, I do believe,
that if you really thought about it, you would also see how HARD it was for Lazarus to get up. 

Why?  
Because it would be hard for YOU!

As I reflected on Lazarus, I felt a whole new connection - a kinship of sorts - with him.
And then I was reminded of Plato's cave - and both Lazarus and I relate to that analogy.

You see, it was nothing short of a miracle that I was able to stand and move forward out of my "cave."
I did not turn to the light and move forward because of curiosity.
I turned and moved because I chose to obey the Lord.
I chose to serve and obey God over man... 
It was hard.
I hurt - and still do.
It's taken awhile for the binding around me to come off.
And, like, Lazarus, it wasn't the people who formerly feigned friendship who stepped in to help me.
To be completely honest with you -- they are still being removed.
I didn't immediately see the light - my face was covered.
But, little by little, as the binding has been removed - and the cloth over my face as well - I have begun to see the Truth.
The actual reality.
The true source of Light.

It wasn't a dance or a run out of the cave - though I'd like to think it was.
No.

It was a clumsy, fear-filled stumble.
I couldn't breathe.
I couldn't see.
I couldn't even feel anything but pain.

Yet, for some reason, the voice of Jesus compelled me forward.

Jesus has a way of doing that.

That is one thing Plato missed... the voice of Jesus calling the cave dwellers out to Light - to Life!

▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔

Oh, there's more to Lazarus' story.  SO much more.  To begin with, not everybody was happy to see him alive!

Can you imagine?!  There's Lazarus with his family... celebrating and (later) enjoying a meal with the Messiah, Jesus... all the while the leaders of the "religious" organization - dare I say it? ... and "friends" ... plotting to KILL him (again!).

This is another point I can give a nod to.  
Lazarus and I ... there were some (and potentially many) people who did not (and do not) wish for us to begin to breathe again... to speak... to live.
I'm certain beyond certain that people started strange and bizarre rumors about poor Lazarus and his illness, death and resurrection.
And, I'm certain some ate it up... while others held to the truth of Jesus' miracle.
Likewise, many were not (and are still not) happy that I stepped out of the cave.
They have started rumors and strange stories....
Which, as with Lazarus' experience, some have consumed... 
Yet, there are others who see the miracle Jesus is doing.

I only pray that the Lord's pattern follows and many come to know Jesus personally because of the miracle He has done in my life!!!

I love the story of Lazarus (and his sisters, Mary and Martha)!
With each step of Lazarus' story - growing, maturing and steeping inside me over the years - I find myself more and more in awe of Jesus.  
The things He did - span age, culture, status and position.  
But more than even just SPAN those ... they meet you exactly where you are.. right NOW.

I pray that you are able to reflect on what I've shared.
And my prayer is, if you are in your own cave... 
struggling to stand and turn ... 
or fighting to look at the true Light ... 
or even standing free now and regenerated ...
That you see and know Jesus has called you.
Not just that, but Jesus has called you by NAME to come out.

Come and sit with Him.
Come and talk with Him.
The Bible is FULL of the Lord's promises to you - us!.. and He cannot go against His word.
What God says is true... and He will never waiver from it.

God says ... I have come so you can have LIFE and live it FULL! (John 10:10)
... call to me and I will answer you!
(Jer. 33:3, and all throughout Psalms! 17:6, 38:15, 86:7... to name a few)
... I will give you LIVING water - and you will not thirst again (John 4:14)
All you need to do is listen - and obey.

.... then move toward the light.  
Even if it is mere inches at a time.
Move.  

May 10, 2017

The Interlude

I have to say, I'm relieved the Fallout Series is finished!
 (well, I still have to do a video interview/testimonial with my friend)

I have a few things that have bumping around my head to write on.  
It's super fun - I find I'm seeing things differently now, and it's fun to get to communicate those things with you all!!


But, this week I took a break and painted another picture. 

This painting will be a gift.  

The Lord has planted me in a home on a lake.  
It's nice!  
But what is my favorite thing is the sunrises.   
I face due East and am treated often to the beauty of the sun rising over Mount Rainier. 
It is breath-taking.


Thing is, we don't see them very often.  In the summer, the sun is rising around 4/5am- ish ... and I am asleep.  In the winter (where the most colorful sunrises are), we rarely even SEE the sun.  


I live in the Pacific Northwest ... this year in particular has been DARK.  And It's not just ME!  We've actually broken all sorts of records for rainfall and gray skies.  

I chose to paint one of the sunrises we had here a little while back... well at least my take on it.

For years, the Lord would send beautiful sunrises to me.  They would lift my spirits early in the mornings as I got the children ready for school, prayed with them and read the Bible with them.  Often, my nights were long -- caring for a child with nightmares or a sick child.  For many years, the Lord would also wake me up in the middle of the night to pray.  I would sit, pray, read my Bible, and watch the night sky.  So, mornings came FAST -- and the Lord knew just how to give me a big hug ... and a little push to my mornings!💓 

....Gorgeous sunrises.  
...Keeping it simple with the signature  

In those days (and still today), I loved to spend my days thinking about sections of scripture.  Here are a couple of my favorites.  Please add some of yours in the comments below!




Isaiah 42:16
I will lead the blind (me) by ways they have not known, 
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;  
I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. 
 These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.


Isaiah 43:1b-3a
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;  I have summoned you by name;  you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;  and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;  the flames will not set you ablaze. 
 For I am the Lord, your God. the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;"






May 07, 2017

Refining Walk - Now What?

As you may have noticed, in the past posts, I have interchanged you/us/they/we.

Why?

Because this applies to ALL of us.  What my friend and I have endured --- what countless others have endured and even more so --- has been, at some time, inflicted by all  of us.

ALL -- OF -- US



♙♟♙♟♙♟♙♟♙♟♙♟

....So... What NOW?!

Well, to begin with, I need to address the need for and resistance to true Biblical teaching, and correction....I have gotten many comments on how these posts are judgemental - or seem angry.  I beg to differ.  To begin with, there is no anger here. 

Sorrow, yes.

And, not sorrow over what has been done to me.  

But, sorrow realizing that I have been on the other side.  I have been the one in the gossip circles.  I have been the teacher teaching with the very best of intentions and convictions -- but, wrongly.  I have been the pew warmer.  I have been the one who excused not just my abuser -- but those around clearly encouraging each other to deception and idolatry. ... in stark contrast to what we are told in Hebrews 10:23-27.  To consider how to encourage each other to love and to do good deeds, to meet together and encourage each other --- the Lord's return is coming soon.  

I have been the "church girl" of Church Girls.  If Paul were the Jew of Jews ... I was the Fundamentalist/Legalist in flawless pedigree.  Now, through that, I learned how to sit and listen.  How to obey.  How to take good notes.  How to read and study my Bible.  However, I never learned to question.  I never learned how FREE the Lord was. Turns out, you DON'T have to wear Sunday best every week to church (actually you don't even have to go to church on Sundays!).  You DON'T have to stand when told to stand... and feel bad if you have a medical condition which keeps you sitting.  You DON'T have to repeat "Amen" when the false teachers in front of you finish a pharisee's prayer and wishes for acknowledgement over the words.  Jesus taught SO much on this.... Read the Gospels and you will see... this is not the way of Christ.   This is not.  

There used to be so many rules -- rules I  labelled "courtesy" and "respect".  But I was trained.  So many rules... and, I have to admit, it was very comfortable for me to live in the lines.  To be able to check boxes so to be able somehow to measure myself -- assess myself.  Being a stay at home mom, I missed that.  My abuser offered no consolation or affirmation.  I found it in the lines.  
In the rules.  
In the bulletpoints ... stand (clap if you're gutsy), sit, sing, sit, shake hands, sit, amen-amen, sit, stand, now leave.

As I have maintained... I ... have ...been ...there.  Oh! How I was there.

But I see things differently now.  The Lord woke me up from my complacency and idolatry -- and He removed the log from my eyes on this subject.

Anger - no.
Sorrow -- absolutely.

I've had to repent.  Repent of the idolatry - shown in my interactions and through the emphasis and identity I held to in my worlds.  Granted, I see very clearly the world I was in was/is sick.  Actually, it is a mirage.  But that's an entirely different subject.  To me, at that time, it was real -- it was my life.  I, though pure in heart, allowed myself to be mislead and to turn and mislead myself.  I DID judge - and did not use discernment in who I gave authority to.  I trusted in my understanding -- and the understanding of man.  And when I say "trusted" I mean over the Lord God Almighty -- that is clearly idolatry.

I have experienced  .... everything posted in the past posts.  And, so have you.

But the Lord is so, so, so merciful!!!!  Isn't He?

The Lord began burning out these rotten areas in my life about 6 years ago.... and absolutely turned up the heat summer 2016.  Turning the heat up SO much that there was never, ever to be any going back to what I used to know.  Everything changed.

So, yeah.  There is sorrow for what I have been party to.  But there is also sorrow for what may/could/should have been -- and definitely a mourning process we all much experience in repentance.

Though it's odd ... even though that sorrow exists ... with true repentance ... so does peace ... joy ... and all the fruits we are told come through God's Spirit.  It seems like a paradox.  But I suppose, that, again, is leaning on my own understanding.  And the Lord is clear about that.  
His ways will not (always/usually) make sense to me.


So, I argued with the Lord.  I could see how my fellow bullet-pointers ... the line keepers and line makers would shout "Don't Judge ME!!!...ONLY GOD can judge ME!:

I do understand.  But, our most gracious and loving God took me back both HIS infallible and living Word... back to the scripture that is so often wrongly used. (and, this was not - and will not - be an isolated thing in my life... MUCH of my foundations are now being gone back over ... with the fresh eyes.  And the hunger to know -- REALLY KNOW -- the TRUTH)

The Lord took me back to Matthew 7.
Let's read it together, shall we?

As the Lord's Spirit began to teach me, I was shown that, in this particular area, the Lord HAD removed the log from my eyes.  So that, in obedience to Him, I would be able to help my bothers and sisters with the speck/sawdust in their eyes.  You see, in this little corner of life - I now see clearly.  I certainly do not declare that this is in everything I am -- I AM completely fallible, after all -- a sinner saved by grace.  But here -- in this -- with the corruption of my former church and community, the abuse of the Lord's testimony in a person's life, misunderstanding about abuse  - coupled with the exposure of my abuser, with the curtain pulled and my glass house shattered around my life of rules, and many other things.... I am clear.

Through this -- through the sorrow and the repentance -- the regeneration -- and now the obedience ... I PRAISE the LORD for the judgment and revelation of His Truth to me.  It gave me the opportunity to repent and turn to the Lord -- and experience the Lord -- while here on earth.  I am SO very thankful for that opportunity... to allow the Lord to use my life and all it's flaws here on earth  - before I stand before the Throne of God.

Without repentance - that is impossible.  Without either the Lord showing you - or a person here on this planet ... it will likely never happen.  If a person is "judging" me here on earth -- and it turns me to the Lord in repentance --- THANK YOU!!!  May the Lord bless you.  You have spared me shame and more sorrow .... instead, you gave me the opportunity to see the movement of the Lord here in my life - and others!


♙♟♙♟♙♟♙♟♙♟♙♟


SO....WHAT NOW?

Well, to begin with -- SEEK THE LORD!
REPENT in the areas He shows you.  
Then OBEY.

Let the Lord use YOUR testimony.  After all it is HIS...  😊  
And, yes, like in my situation, it may be used to anchor the enemy's accusations and lies ... to mislead the sheep.  After all, Satan is called the "Accuser" in scripture!!  It will happen.  But, you need to know WHO you are -- to WHOM you belong.  
Expect Satan and his demons to desire and to try and destroy you.  Accuse you.  Nullify you. And bring you back into bondage.

But do not let it happen.

Instead, stand with all confidence in the LORD of ALL.  Obey.  Use wisdom and discernment.  And Join with us, your other sisters and brothers ... we know all too well.

Reject gossip.  Question it.  Expose it.


Seek Godly wisdom - not man's counsel.

Protect the oppressed, the innocent.  The orphans and widows -- the abused and the children with wayward parents.  

Stand for TRUTH.  

Expose and send the False Teachers and False Prophets away from you.  Send those who are unrepentant -- even after you've followed Matthew 18 -- send those away from the others.  They are there to destroy... to consume.

And TRUST THE LORD.


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Fallout Series Posts:
The Refining Walk of Consequence -1,  2 3,  4