Grave Clothes

IMG_1467Today at church, on Mother’s Day, I shared how Jesus removed my “Grave Clothes.”  The Pastor’s sermon was on the power of Jesus to raise Lazarus from the dead.  At the end of the sermon, I shared my personal testimony of how Jesus removed my grave clothes.

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”  John 11:43-44

Run towards HOPE

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When I sat on my counselor’s couch for the first time in 2012, I told her I did not want anyone to ever know my story. I just wanted to heal as quickly as possible. She assured me that I was safe to share with her and that healing would take time and hard work.

I could hardly say the words – childhood sexual abuse. I certainly couldn’t see myself ever sharing my story with anyone, especially my husband and children.

No way. No how. No never.

But God.

Fast forward to 2019… I went to Leland, NC for the Hope Run with Journey to Heal Ministries with my mom and daughter.  My brother and his family joined us as virtual participants.

HOPE RUN

It made my heart swell to have them with me. I was no longer hiding in the shadows of shame and darkness. Over time, God helped me to step into the light.

I can’t describe to you what it was like to get to the run, step out of my car and see the people.  It was surreal.

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In the sea of people, there were survivors and others were supporters, but you couldn’t tell them apart. Everyone gathered together in this one place and it demonstrated: “Your story matters, and we care. This is a big deal and we want to do something. It has to end!”

I truly felt seen and loved.

Childhood Sexual Abuse completely isolates you. The secrets are all yours to hold and manage. It is an incredibly lonely way to exist. But on this day, it was clear: survivors did not walk alone. They were surrounded by other survivors and supporters.

It was a beautiful sight.

It was time for the race to start and they were giving instructions.  My daughter was running in the 5K and I felt a slight panic rise in my chest as I thought of her running alone.  All the “what if’s” flooded my ‘I need to be in control’ mind.  Even as those thoughts pounded, I recognized how far God had brought me and it helped the panic to subside.  I used to be THE helicopter Mom, and never wanted her out of my sight. He’s taught me how to let go and to trust Him with my daughter. 

Journey To Heal Ministries

When I was no longer able to see her blond ponytail bouncing in the wind, we started our 1-mile walk. As I walked, I was so overwhelmed thinking back to that sofa in my counselor’s office in 2012. I was a frazzled mess, and finally desperate enough to run towards hope. It was painful, messy, hard and scary. I had no idea what healing would look like or where it would take me. I just knew I could no longer stay covered in the muck and mire of shame. I longed to be free.

I ran towards HOPE and He met me in my mess. He washed away my shame. He set me free. 

Do you long to be free? Does shame keep you hidden and afraid? Do you feel like you are all alone?

Run towards HOPE.

You are not alone. There is hope and freedom for you.

Step into the light of His love and His hope for you.

Running towards Hope is not always easy, but it is always worth it.

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go.  Hebrews 6:18 MSG

We left after the race and spent the afternoon on the beach. I thanked God for all He has done in my life and He gently revealed the next layers of healing ahead for me. These layers deal with food, health and my body.

I took a walk on the beach with my daughter and shared with her how next year, I wanted to come back and run with her. It will be painful, hard, messy and scary. But, it will be worth it.

She said, “Mom, we have 364 days ahead of us. You can do it! One day at a time.”

She inspires me, in more ways than one to keep running towards Hope.

 

The Music Box

I took a break from reading and pressed my head against the glass taking in the views along the country roads.  I longed to be at home taking a nice Sunday afternoon nap, but my ten-year old wanted to go back to the place where “you can eat a big banana split and jump the bump in the road.”  As we were getting ready to leave the church parking lot, he grinned as he said, “Mom, it’s the last day of spring break and you promised!”

So, instead of heading home for a nap, we were on our way to Milton, NC to eat a banana split with 9 scoops of ice cream for lunch.  

When we arrived an hour later, we didn’t stop because we had the green light and the big bump in the road was straight ahead. We hit the bump and as our stomachs did flips, the kids yelled, “Again! Again!”

Bump Milton, NC

As we made the u-turn to do it again, my stomach did an extra flip as I remembered yelling, “Again! Again!” when I was a little girl on Sunday visits to Great Granny’s house. Hitting that bump in the road was the highlight of our drive and it let us know we were only minutes away from enjoying her homemade coconut cake.  

I held my child’s hand and we carefully crossed the street. As we waited for our food, I looked up and saw a line of glass soda bottles on a shelf.  I pointed and said, “Do you see that green bottle? That was my favorite! There is nothing in this world like an ice-cold Mountain Dew in a glass bottle.” 

I could taste it.

My youngest turned to me and asked, “Mom, if you could have anything back from your childhood what would you have?” 

The question startled me, and the first thing that came to my mind rolled off of my tongue. “My childhood.”

He didn’t skip a beat and said, “No, Mom. I mean, if you could have a toy or anything back from your childhood what would you want? What else besides Mountain Dew in a glass bottle?” 

I started to tell him about my strawberry shortcake doll and how her hair smelled like strawberries but then our huge banana split arrived, with plenty of spoons to share. 

 

As we were leaving, we decided to look around the antique store next door. I lingered by the music boxes and I kept going back to one particular box. I picked it up and gently turned the bottom and started humming along to “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” 

I remembered it. 

I sat it back down on the shelf and as I was leaving the manager said, “If you want one of those music boxes, I will give you a great deal.”

I had to get it!

I handed her $9 as she wrapped it for me.  Once we were back in the car, I snapped a photo and sent it to my aunt, and asked, “Do you remember?” 

Music Box

She replied, “I don’t remember at all.” 

I remembered it.

I continued to slowly turn the bottom and hum along on the way home.  A few minutes later, I texted the picture to my mom.  She replied, “Aww…… yours? You had that!!!”

I remembered and it did look just like the music box I had when I was a little girl.  

I smiled, and a happy tear slid down my cheek as I gazed out the window giving thanks.

The Music Box felt like a hand-delivered gift from heaven. I don’t have any toys from my childhood, so it was special to bring it home especially for the little girl in me.  

It also made me realize once again that my memories are real and God is faithful. At the beginning of my healing journey, the painful memories were so strong and I desperately wanted to believe they were not true. God was with me and He gave me the courage to face the memories and process them, one by one. The memories are still there, but they no longer have power over me like they had before.

I was so thankful to spend an afternoon making beautiful new memories with my family. It was also a blessing to recall good memories and fun moments from my own childhood.

Out of everything in that antique store, I don’t think it is a coincidence that I left with the music box. It was a gift to remind me that He is with me. God was with me then, and He is with me now as I remember. He is tender, kind, gentle and personal. I am thankful for the many ways He brings His love, His hope, and His perspective to my heart.

For now, the Music Box is on my nightstand. It reminds me of hope and makes me smile as I hum along, “because I’m free…. nothing’s worrying me.”

Wow.  Thank you, Jesus.

 

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
 Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
 who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
 who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.  

Psalm 103:1-5 NIV

 

ENCOUNTERING GOD BY NAME: MY PROVIDER

I remember bringing her home from the hospital and holding her in my arms crying. As I sat on my bed nursing her, the very real dangers she would face as a little girl hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to keep her safe. I had to do everything in my power to protect her. I didn’t want anyone to hurt her. I knew how scary it was to be a little girl.

As I sat there gazing at her beauty and innocence, a fierceness rose up in me and I vowed to keep her safe. I had to keep her close. I did not trust anyone.  

As she grew, the memories from my own childhood would suddenly pop up and overwhelm me. I went to counseling to begin healing from the devastation of the sexual abuse and trauma I experienced as a child.  

I had not shared these secrets with anyone. I didn’t want to ever talk about them, but memory after memory continued to roll in like waves on the shore. I was at the end of my rope and all I could do was trust Him. It took everything in me to place this sealed away part of me in God’s hands…

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Join me over at Hidden Treasures and Riches for my dear friend Tope’s series: Encountering God by Name.  She asked me to share my story of how I have experienced God as “Jehovah Jireh, My Provider”.  Click here to read the rest of “ENCOUNTERING GOD BY NAME: MY PROVIDER.”