My Beautiful Story

Music triggers me.

I was leaving work and the song “Against All Odds” came on by Phil Collins.

As I sat waiting in traffic, I remembered…

Sitting on the riding lawn mower listening to this song on my Walkman and crying my eyeballs out. I think I was in the 4th or 5th grade and a girl in high school had committed suicide in our town. They said she did it because her dad had died and she missed him so much. I remember imagining her laying still on the ground with pictures of him all around her.

With the music playing in my car, I could almost smell the freshly cut grass and I felt the emotion like it was yesterday. What would I do if he died? What if he killed himself? I would feel so guilty and be so sad. It would just be awful.

I didn’t want him to die, and if I ever told anyone our secret, then he would die. And, it would be all my fault.
I knew I could never tell a soul.
It would be too risky, and besides, “he’s the only one who really knew me at all.”

“So take a look at me now…”

As I pulled out of the parking lot my eyes filled with tears. The emotional part of the abuse is so painful. The burden. The shame. The heavy responsibility.

I was just a child in elementary school thinking and believing that I would be responsible if he died. My fault. My problem.

I was still crying when I got home because I couldn’t imagine or fathom how anyone could put that on a child.

Worry was my normal.
Will he kill himself?
Will it be my fault?
Will anyone find out?
What will happen to me?
Will I die?
Should I die?

Eventually my tears stopped. My sadness turned to anger and then later turned to sadness again.

This memory has been triggered before, but this time it was as if the heaviness of it crashed onto me in a new way. A deeper way.

It just seemed so overwhelmingly cruel to threaten a child with suicide – but it certainly kept me quiet for a very long time.

But not forever… because “he wasn’t the only one who really knew me at all.”

That’s one of the many lies that shaped my identity.

Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse has helped me to untangle those lies, one lie at a time.

On this journey, I discovered the truth. I was intricately known and loved by my Creator. He did not create me to be abused. He did not design me as His masterpiece to be violated.

I’ve had to lay down the lies, surrender the worry and cling to the Truth daily, sometimes hourly.

I am seen.
I am known.
I am loved.

He’s writing my beautiful story.

It’s beautiful because Jesus has personally delivered His light into the darkest parts of me. He’s given me the Courage to take every step and He’s never let go of my hand. His Truth breathed fresh Hope into my soul. He’s gracefully torn down my walls, he’s broken the chain of lies that bound me and through Him I’ve experienced true Freedom.

I’ve given Him the paper and the pen. This beautiful story is His story.

It may not always look beautiful or feel beautiful, but it is because He’s taken the messiest parts of my life and created purpose.

Nothing makes my heart pound so wildly in my chest than when I’m taking the next step of faith with Him.

I don’t know what lies were whispered in your ears in the darkness or what freezes you in fear. I don’t know if you struggle with anxiety or what all you deal with, but I do know His grace is sufficient.

Where do you start? I didn’t pray eloquent prayers. Sometimes I just sobbed, “Help me. Help.”

That’s still my go to prayer, and He’s still faithful. Every single time.

He’s a good Father.
He is faithful.
He rescues, redeems and restores.

He knows everything about you and He’s writing your beautiful story too.

Will you let His strength give you courage when it seems so impossible?
Will you be still and let Him breathe wild, fresh Hope into your soul?
Will you let His Truth chip away the walls and lies that have held you back?

This story… His story is going to be beautiful.

I can’t wait to read it.

Ephesians 2:10

We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works  we would do to fulfill it!

Pause in His Presence

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I took a break from social media.  It was not planned. I just stumbled across a post by Pastor Laura Lee that said “Social Media Sabbatical – 21 Day challenge”.  

Just reading the word Sabbatical sounded like a vacation on a shoreline to me.  I scrolled on to the next post, but I kept coming back to hers. I am a big fan of social media. I love it and I use it personally, professionally, and in ministry so stepping away would be a big deal for me. 

Reluctantly, I took the plunge and removed all of the apps from my phone except the Bible App.

Besides the obvious benefits of having more time and being fully present and engaged, the one thing that shocked me the most was feeling my anxiety levels decrease.  

Who knew?

I felt lighter, slept better and was able to breathe easier.  

I had no idea how much being on social media caused me to worry. 

I worry about you.  

I genuinely care about your crisis, your online business, your milestones, and I especially worry about what you think of me. 

None of this is bad, but when it all piles on in 30 minutes (which easily becomes two hours), it makes my heart feel a lot heavier when I finally x out. 

The tape in my mind starts playing on repeat, “People are hurting. They are offended.  They need to sell just a little bit more. There is a birthday, an anniversary and more.”  As the tape continues to play, I worry did I miss someone’s birthday? Did I say enough? Should I comment? I don’t even know which emoji to add because I am not even sure how I feel.  The pressure builds and it is overwhelming at times.  

I worry about myself. 

I wonder if I said enough, or did I say too much.  Now that I have teenagers, they read what I post and they don’t always like the pictures I share of them so I am more sensitive to their eyes and hearts. I start to doubt my calling and it slows me down. I see others celebrating huge victories and I am thrilled for them!  It encourages me at first, but then comparison creeps in, followed by insecurity and ultimately I am filled with doubt. I worry about what I think of myself.  

The tape in my mind starts taunting, “Did God really say? It will never happen for you. Why bother? Who do you think you are?” Am I saying enough? Am I doing enough? It is too much? 

But there is One… 

When I was able to escape the awkward high school halls of social media for a bit, I was able to pause in His Presence. It was there that I discovered this truth: 

There is only One whose opinion of me matters. Just one:  Jesus

My word for the year is Joy, and the verse is Psalm 16:11:

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” 

Taking a break from Social Media helped me to see the Bigger Truth in that verse.  

Joy will come in His Presence.  He will make known to me the path of life in His Presence.  

When I am in His Presence I am fully aware of who He says I am, and what He has called me to do. I am fully aware of His strength, His power and His healing.

When I am in His Presence, it is not about me.  

In His Presence, I believe all things are possible. Doubt, panic, worry and anxiety wither away in the fullness of His Glory.  

When I reached day 21, I put my little toe back in the waters of social media and I quickly retreated. I wasn’t ready. So I took a few more days and I waited a bit longer.  When I went in, I stayed in the shallow end for a bit but it didn’t take long for the waters to rise and the tapes to start playing.  

So, I am stepping away again. 

I have tasted.  I have seen.  I believe.  

He will show me MY path and fill ME with joy in His Presence.  

I want to be intentional to meet Him there.  Join me? 

For he alone is my safe place.
    His wrap-around presence always protects me
    as my champion defender.
    There’s no risk of failure with God!
    So why would I let worry paralyze me,
    even when troubles multiply around me?
God’s glory is all around me!
    His wrap-around presence is all I need,
    for the Lord is my Savior, my hero, and my life-giving strength.
 Join me, everyone! Trust only in God every moment!
    Tell him all your troubles and pour out your heart-longings to him.
    Believe me when I tell you—he will help you!
Pause in his presence 

Psalm 62:6-8 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Fullness of JOY

adobe-spark-postYou will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11

They say healing from childhood sexual abuse comes in layers.

A new layer has peeled back for me.  My word for 2018 is JOY, and what keeps rolling around in my mind is “fullness of joy.”

In your presence is fullness of Joy.

How do you truly experience the fullness of joy when you have spent much of your life avoiding, ignoring and hiding emotions?

I stuffed the pain away deep inside so that I would no longer feel it.
I glossed over it, excused it, and tried to find the silver lining in the trash heap.
It was hard for me to cry sometimes when I should, and other times the tears rolled off my cheeks when I tried to lock them in.
Smiling was like a habit.  It was normal to pretend like everything was fine.
I slowly constructed walls a mile high to protect heart from any intrusion.

When the ache started to rumble, I would use food or anything I could to stuff the pain deep inside so I would no longer feel.

A way of numbing.
A way of coping.
A way of hiding.
A way of surviving.

And then, I met Jesus in my pain.

As each wall crumbled, He helped me to peel back the layers.

Layers and layers of memories poured out like a fire hydrant.

I thought when I sat in my counselors office and cried every Thursday for three years, I had let it all out.

And then, there was “fullness of joy” and a whole new layer has peeled back.

Those three words, “fullness of joy”… made me think of three other words – “fullness of pain.”

A memory still pops up out of nowhere.
Something seemingly simple can trigger me.
That will likely never stop.

In this fullness of joy season with Jesus… I am sitting with Him and “feeling” the fullness of that pain.

Stuffing is no longer an option.
Donuts are not the solution.
I cry and I don’t have to explain it away, even when it is awkward.

In it all, I sense His presence.

It’s as if He is whispering to the little girl inside of me,

“I’m here and it is okay to cry.
It is okay to grieve all that was lost.
I want you to let it out, safely in my arms.
I am showing you how to feel with me.
Feel it for what it truly was, and let it go.

It’s time.

Emotions are a gift from me.
We will untangle yours, together.
You don’t have to hide anymore.
You don’t have to stuff anymore.
No barriers, no walls.

You are safe.

This fullness of pain is emptying out the deep recesses in your heart.
I will not leave you empty… I am replenishing you with the fullness of joy.

Joy in my presence. Joy with me.”

If I am not able to truly feel the fullness of the pain, how will I ever truly feel the fullness of His joy?

The pain may never completely go away, but there will always be HOPE.

Hope doesn’t require a carb overload.
Hope is not denial or minimizing the reality of the horrific experiences and the aftermath.
Hope is not pretending it wasn’t that bad, and maybe the good outweighed the awful.
Hope is not isolation.
Hope is not forgetting about it and moving on.

Hope is when the light shines in the darkest places.

Those places can be incredibly painful, but there is always hope. Hope is when His light shines in the darkness. His hope brings the light, and with the light comes the fullness of joy.

Psalm 30:10-12 VOICE

Hear me, Eternal Lord—please help me,
    Eternal One—be merciful!

You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing;
    You stripped off my dark clothing
    and covered me with joyful light.
You have restored my honor. My heart is ready to explode, erupt in new songs!
    It’s impossible to keep quiet!
    Eternal One, my God, my Life-Giver, I will thank You forever.

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Overcoming Fear by Trusting in Jesus

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3 NIV

Fear has always been my constant companion. It doesn’t take much to trigger fear in me. I’m often afraid of something. In fact when I’m not afraid, I worry about what will happen next and the cycle of fear continues.

When I finally realized why I was so scared and that I didn’t have to live afraid anymore, then fear lost its grip on me.

Fear still visits me more than I’d like to admit, but when it shows up now, I’m armed and ready.

Are you ready to say, #ByeByeFear?

Click below to watch as I share my story of “Overcoming Fear by Trusting in Jesus” at the Hope Restored Women’s Conference.

Additional Resources:

Fight F. E. A. R. by…

F – Fixing your eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2-3)
E – Engaging with safe community (Hebrews 10:23-25)
A – Admitting you’re struggling with fear (Psalm 34:17-18)
R – Releasing it, and replacing it with God’s promises (Psalm 56:3)

Questions for Personal Reflection:  

  1. What fears are holding you back?
  2. What lies were whispered to you that make you feel unworthy, unloved and insecure?
  3. Have you given Him full access to your story?

Key Verses:  

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