Saturday, August 30, 2008

Nothing... What's in a name #9

It’s really hard to write when I am not feeling good. Not only have I been knocked down and out by this cold, but I have been knocked down and out by this past counseling session.

To say it was difficult or even brutal is an understatement!

I came away from there so shaken and sickened. Only today am I starting to feel like myself again. Maybe part of that had to do with my being sick and low energy reserves from that, I don’t know. But I have been definitely hurting ever since Wednesday.

That’s why it’s been so quiet over here.

During my counseling, Tricia had to stop me a couple of times to give me a chance to calm down, to get a drink of water, and recover a bit. I didn’t “re-live” a lot of the incident, but did get probably a bit more into the memory, and got it into first person. Which meant that I did relive a lot of that pain. Which was what I think I was dealing with the end of this week. The fall out.

As we talked, there was one point where I was about to identify a lie that I was believing, or at least a thought that was there. But I forgot it before I could tell Tricia. I don’t know that I have remembered it yet, but once I got home, and was trying to nap with my daughter, a lie surfaced that has never been there before, at least never acknowledged consciously by me.

“I am nothing.”

I know. Very obviously, a lie. But I think this whole issue was another “proof” of that lie for me.

This is what I wrote in my journal:

I feel deep down inside that I am nothing. Maybe that is part of what all this is about, as I am working through the rape and sodomy that I endured at the hands of that guy. Even all the stuff I have done, the things I push myself to do now, even if (and when) I’m uncomfortable, seem like a shout out into the darkness… a scream to prove that I exist… because I feel that I really don’t sometimes. I do all these things to try to dispel the fear that it might be true that I am nothing.

Deeper than “I am a mistake” or “I am not wanted.”
Deeper than “I am only good enough for sex or to be used.”

“I am nothing” means it doesn’t matter what happens to me because I, literally, am nothing. People can do whatever they want and it doesn’t matter.

I know this is not true. I know this is just another negative name the enemy has called me, that other people have called me through their actions, that I have taken on and accepted as my own.

I even know that saying this about myself flies in the face of all God has said about me. I know that it is me calling Him a liar, by disbelieving the Truth about who I am in Him. I know that is a sin. After my pastor’s sermon last week talking about God’s faithfulness, how can I possibly doubt that the promises He gives me, and the good names He calls me?
God’s part is to be faithful, my part is to trust Him.

I feel that I have not been doing a good job holding up my end of that. I find myself constantly praying, “Lord, help my unbelief!” But, I suppose, that is part of this struggle too.

I have found myself doubting God’s promises to redeem. To redeem me (or that I am already). To redeem the years the locusts have eaten. That He would make me glad for as many days as I have been afflicted, for as many years as I have seen trouble. (Ps. 90:15)

I mean, if I am nothing, then what is there to redeem? Tricia said, and I agree, that the roots of this incident run very deep. And maybe this lie is getting closer to the root. To the very bottom. To the core lie, or maybe is the core lie, that I have been acting on for so long. I have been living with it for so long.

If I am nothing, then anyone can do anything to me and it doesn’t matter. I can even walk into a situation with my eyes wide open, but if I am nothing, and have no value, what does it really matter what I do. I die another little death each time. And if a little bit more of me dies each time something happens, well, then is there anything left at all?

How can you redeem something that isn’t there? If the roots of this run deep, and they get uprooted… Uprooted from what? Maybe the roots are all there are to me. Maybe the lie is all there is left. All the things that I do, all the things that others see me as, even the writing I do here… is that just a way to try to prove that I exist even? (Oh, I know how crazy all this sounds… I know it is wrong… but this is where my thoughts have been going… I am just being honest) All the things I do, are outer trappings.

One of the most frustrating verses, or things that someone can tell me is to “Be still, and know that I am God.” I get told to stop doing and just be. Still? What is that? Be? Be what? Who am I supposed to be? Who am I? When I am not “doing” something? I don’t really know. AM I nothing?

I could list all the truths of who I am. I know them in my head. But that hasn’t made it all the way to my heart yet.

Yet, some of them have.
As the smaller lies have been chipped away,
the truth has replaced them.

I am going to have to hang on somehow till the end of all of this. Because somewhere in me there is a spot, a small, little bit that must be clinging and struggling to survive… a little bit that still trusts. Still trusts God.

He has been faithful as I have asked Him in the past to replace the lies, to help my unbelief. He has given me truth instead about myself. So when the lies are uprooted… there isn’t nothing left. There is truth left.

This just occurred to me (forgive me, I have been processing as I have been writing it). There are two lies at work. One is “I am nothing.” The other is, “When the lies are gone, there is nothing to replace them.”

The Truth is that I am God’s daughter. I am His. I am redeemed. I am loved. I am worthy. I am forgiven. I am cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.

He created me.
From nothing.
So, once I was nothing.
Now I am something.

If I could get a handle on that, now, wouldn’t that be something?!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

That night. A dark room, once locked...

How do I write about the pain in my heart?

The ache in my gut?

The thick feeling of tears, stuck in my throat?

I don’t know if I can share what caused it.
I don’t know if I can explain.
Or even if I should.

What I can say is what I have been feeling this past week.


Feeling like there is a weight on me holding, pushing me down.

Feeling like no matter what I do, no matter how much I distract myself, no matter how much I try to clean myself… it’s not good enough to clean away the memories of what happened to me.

I will be honest here. I hope and pray it doesn’t hurt or recall bad memories for anyone else. I will share what caused these feelings, thoughts, emotions. Hoping that it might help someone else, give someone else the courage to face their past, encourage someone else to know they are not alone… hoping that God will redeem this, too, in my life.

One beautiful summer afternoon, at the end of a college year, I drove to my boyfriend’s house, about a half hour away, anticipating a quiet evening of dinner and a movie. And, what I remembered until about 2 years ago, was just that. A quiet evening of dinner and a movie. However, one day, after God had gotten me to the point of being able to deal with at least some of the memories, something else started to surface.

I realized the evening started a different way. It started, not in the kitchen, but in the bedroom. This in and of itself was not out of the ordinary, even in our short 3 weeks or so of dating. However, what took place there, was anything but the ordinary. It wasn’t loving. It didn’t make me feel loved. It was twisted. Violent. Abusive. It left me dazed at the suddenness; shaking from the pain.

I remember him later, acting like I should have enjoyed it. I was so shocked in the midst of it, I couldn’t tell him “no,” much less respond or fight to get away. He left me, going into the kitchen to make dinner. I pulled myself together enough to get past him and into the bathroom. I cleaned myself up, unable to bear looking in the mirror, put on the mask as I came back out into the kitchen, and acted “appropriately affectionate,” eating dinner with him and watching a movie.

There are more details, but they wouldn’t be edifying or needful to understand what I am going through now. Essentially though, I repressed the memories of the terrible things that happened, and never remembered, acknowledged, or even guessed that they existed. I locked them away in a deep, dark room, hoping to leave them there forever.

Now that the locked room has been opened, I can really remember what happened that night.

Before Tricia and I started working through it in counseling, I could see that night in 3rd person. Now, having gone through a couple of sessions, I can see bits and pieces of it in 1st person, where I am actually seeing/feeling it through my own eyes.

As awful as it is, I think this whole process is about getting me to the point where I am actually able to experience it again, at least to the point of feeling the emotions of it, so that I can work through them… or rather, let God heal me through them. So that I am not carrying them around with me anymore.

When I was at counseling this week, I told Tricia that I felt our previous session had not done what normally happens. Up to this point, usually the EMDR therapy helps parts of the memories or all of it fade into the background.

I guess the best way to explain it is when a memory is all charged up with the emotions from it that aren’t resolved, it is in bright living color. Once the emotions from it have been worked through, and I have come to terms with it to a certain extent, the color starts to bleed out of the picture… it goes to black and white. Yes, it happened, and it affected me, but the hold it had on me is gone, the lies that attached to it have been addressed and are starting to be replaced by the Truth.

The previous session almost seemed to enhance the memory of that night. The colors got brighter, I remembered more detail. But the emotions that I know are there… the fear, pain, anger, loathing, self-hate, grief… are buried.

Tricia and I started to get into it, but had to stop due to time constraints. She wanted to make sure that I was in a place where she could help me return to “normal” and be able to get through the next couple of weeks, even leave her office, feeling more emotionally stable.

As we were talking, she asked me how I was feeling. I told her that I could almost physically feel what had happened to me, so she said that we should go there if I was willing. We did, and though I didn’t tell her then, I got so frustrated. I could physically feel some of the pain, could feel the tears welling up, could feel from a distance, the anguish that wanted to surface. But it never came out.

All I could see was darkness, feeling smothered. I remember crying a little bit. I remember gasping, either in pain, or for air, I don’t know which. Tricia stopped the therapy at that point, had me take some deep breaths, and helped remind me that I was still safe in her office, not having it happen to me again.

Looking back now, I see that the dark room I’d locked these memories away in had opened, but all I could see was that darkness, and knowing the emotional pain lurking in there somewhere, I honestly was afraid to explore that room or go more than a few steps from the door, based on the pain I was already feeling.

After Tricia helped me calm down and relax some, she asked me how I was doing. I told her that I didn’t know. I didn’t know how I was going to be able to make it through the two weeks until we saw each other again. I said that I honestly didn’t know if I could get through with all this hanging over me.

It’s like the images of what happened that night are super-imposed over everything I am doing. It doesn’t matter what I’m involved in. I am aware of it almost all the time. And if I am not directly aware of the images, the resulting feelings of shame and worthlessness, guilt and fear are there, and affect how I act in every situation.

We decided to put in an extra session this coming week. Tricia said that it is a safety net for me, if I need it, use it. If I am feeling better, skip it and wait until the next scheduled appointment. I looked at her and said that I felt like I hit such a road block, that putting in an extra session made me feel like I was going backwards, after feeling so good about going out to every other week. She told me that she had many clients who needed to have a bit of extra time to get through something, and then were able to continue on past it.

Tricia related it to road construction. She said that sometimes the planned road ahead is blocked, and even though it takes extra time, there is nothing you can do but follow the detour signs. It might take a bit longer to get to where you are going, but you are still moving forwards, not backwards.

She reminded me that we may just have to come at this from a different angle, a different direction.

So, for now I am trying to hang on.

I am raw. I am hurting. I am scared. I don’t know where else to turn, but to God.

I can’t do much more on my own. I don’t have much more to give. I have no reserves. I need filling. I have started to memorize Psalm 34. I just need some solid truth to cling to right now. There is no better way to cling to the truth, than to already have it in your head, able to meditate on it in the night watches… those lovely times when I am lying awake on my bed, unable to sleep or rest or anything… when disturbing images and thoughts are plaguing me.

Please pray for me as I look at this busy weekend, as I look at the things I want to do, versus the things I need to do, for me and for others. Pray as I look ahead to this week’s counseling, and try to determine if I need it or not. Pray that I would get the chance for some alone time, some time to process and work through things. Pray that God would be my strength. I can’t do this alone, I can’t do this myself.

I want to get through that darkness, have God’s Light flood that room and clear out the shadows. I want God to show me the truth about me and about that night, so that I can finally let go of it. Another thing to lay down and walk away from, never to turn back and dredge up again. I want to get out of the chains that have bound me for so long to that night.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Beautiful?!? What's in a name #8

The other day I was writing about value in Christ. Specifically that He values each and every one of us so much more than we could ever imagine.

That I can accept. I am accepting that. I am actually finding that I believe that.

But there is one problem…

Though I can see that He loves me and accepts me, I can’t look in the mirror. I mean I do when I have to, but I KNOW I am not seeing what God sees.

I see me. I see my past. I see my hurt. I see my pain. I see my shame. I see my mistakes. I see the things done to me. I see the things I have done.

And I know that God sees all that too…

When I look at all that, I see each one of them like a “black mark” against me. I see each thing as something that made me a bit more ugly each time. I don’t like looking at myself in the mirror, because outwardly many times I don’t like what I see. What I see there isn’t beautiful. I find it very hard to find something I can honestly say I like, about how I physically look.

So for a long time, I have thought, well, focus on the inner beauty God talks about.

“You beauty should not come from outward adornment. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
1 Peter 3:3-4

Reading those verses again, I feel like I am reading them for the first time, and starting to see how they got twisted in my mind.

I heard the part about beauty not being about outward adornment. And I even heard the part of about it being it should be that of your inner self… but stopped listening to the rest. I have looked at myself in the mirror for so long and discounted anything there that might be considered outward beauty… because God doesn’t look at the outside (the things that man sees) He looks at what is on the inside.

That scares me. Honestly. It really does. Because I know what is in my heart. I know what I have seen in there… and know that God sees that too… so how in the world could that be beautiful to him?

So if my beauty is to come from inside, then my reasoning has been… “well, then I really am ugly, cause there is nothing nice in there…”

Now I know that is wrong. I know that God is the judge of what real beauty is. Someone who has physical beauty by worldly standards may be ugly because of what is in them, their character. And someone who is not considered beautiful by worldly standards may be breathtaking because of who they are inside. I have looked at my outside, and by worldly standards, felt myself lacking. But then I have looked inside and thought I was lacking there as well… because of what I have done, and what has been done to me.

All this week I have been struggling with a huge sense of shame, feeling covered with it, feeling ugly because of it, feeling that there was nothing about me that God or anyone else could like about me, much less find beautiful. I have allowed the enemy to really play mind games with me. I have allowed him to fill my head with lies. Lies that I will never be clean. That God will never really love me all the way, because look at what I did… even if it wasn’t my fault, even if it was something done to me…

The enemy has been taking a situation in my life that I am trying to deal with through counseling right now, and is blowing it up bigger and bigger in my face. I can’t seem to escape it. I can’t seem to make sense of it. I can’t seem to let the images go, and let God’s word overtake what happened and heal me.

Earlier this week was a lot worse than now. On Thursday I spent a long time on the phone with Cindy, and spent a good half of that time in tears (sobbing) with her. I couldn’t control my emotions. I couldn’t control my pain. I couldn’t control my thoughts, and couldn’t (or was having a hard time) take the words of truth that Cindy was speaking to me, and accept them, believe them, internalize them. It was like I was listening, but discounting what she said right away. (Sorry Cindy, but it’s true…)

I woke up Friday and was doing better. I know part of it was because I stopped stuffing the emotions and let them out some on Thursday. I also know that part of it was prayer and God working in me to change my attitude. And part of it was, as soon as I got up on Friday, I spent time with God immediately. I read His word, I prayed, I journaled, and it made a big difference.

Today, my pastor talked about God’s sovereignty. How God has made us, all things, and can do with us and everything He has created as He wills. He doesn’t have to answer to us. We can pour out our hearts to Him about how we feel about what He allows or does… but to question what He does, or the reason behind it, is a problem.

“But who are you, oh man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, Why did you make me like this? Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” Romans 9:20-21

I realize this morning, just from the sermon and this scripture, that my problem with seeing the beauty in myself physically, outwardly and the beauty inside of me was questioning God. I have been questioning God that He really did make me as anything of worth or beauty. I have been telling God that the things He allowed into my life to refine me and mold me and make me into the creation He wants me to be, for the use He wants me to have… is bad, or is wrong. I have been telling Him that part of His creation, that He loves and has made beautiful, is ugly and has no value.

I have been telling my God and Creator that the pain inflicted on me through someone in college, and all the other things I did or were done to me, made me damaged and ugly. To the point that God couldn’t fix me.

I have been basically telling God that I deserved what I got, that I am ugly and unworthy, damaged and useless. I have told Him that there is no way He could fix this. I have told Him that I hate what I see in the mirror (hate His creation) and that I hate what is inside of me. I have told Him that I am lower than dirt. A broken pot, whose pieces weren’t even worth enough to be used by Job to scrap his skin.

But who am I to tell the Potter that He made me wrong, that I am not usable for whatever purpose He made me, whether noble or common?

In my family group this week, I shared with them that I was really struggling to deal with a situation of another date rape (different than the one I have mentioned here before). That it has been invading my thoughts all week, and really overwhelming me. As they prayed for me, my group leader prayed that God would help me to be able to refocus my thoughts on Christ, and that I would be assured of my worth in Him. He also prayed that I would know how much they all saw Christ’s beauty in me, and that I would see His beauty shining in me myself. That I would recognize the beauty of Christ in me, and that He was showing me beautiful to others. I NEVER SAID A THING about my struggle with beauty and ugliness this week or how this situation was affecting that so directly!

Thank you God for another way You have shown me how You are working. Even in directing people’s prayers for me. I am sorry Lord for saying that something You created is not good. I am sorry for believing the lies. Help me in my unbelief and heal me. Help me to cling to your truth. Help me to not entertain the thoughts and memories of what happened to me, or even my part in them. Help me instead to meditate on Your word, to fill my head and heart with Your truth. Help both Tricia and I to be open to Your Spirit and guidance tomorrow evening, and give me the willingness to let this go, let it be in the past, and move forward with You. Amen.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The better country...

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country - a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16

The land that I have lived in for so long has been dark and gray and filled with anxiety and fear. I haven’t felt like I would ever receive the gifts of the kingdom, of freedom and promise. I was afraid that I didn’t have a hope and a future, because my past, and the things I have experienced there.

But I have tried to live by faith. Faith in the God of the bible who has shown again and again in the scriptures that He is a God of deliverance. He delivered the Israelites from Egypt, into their promised land. He delivered them again and again from their enemies when they turned to Him. He sent His Son, Jesus, to deliver all of us, if we turn to Him, and admit we need help. I have to believe that He will deliver me.

And I have seen evidence of it. Again and again He has delivered me a little at a time from different things in my past that have been holding me back. He has taken me little by little out of the old country and has pointed me towards the better country. The one promised to me, the one I have hoped and longed for.

Even when I didn’t see the evidence of changes or that God was starting to work, others around me could. I had to take their word for it at first. But then I started to see the promises from a distance. I can see the hope and future. I can see how much God is working. And I do have hope.

The phrase that really caught my attention, from the verse above, was the following.
“If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead they were longing for a better country…”

My past is the country that I have been trying to come out of. When I look back at it, I find that I can dwell on the things that have hurt me or held me back. I end up thinking of those so much, they cause me more pain and hurt.

My past has been an idol, or the pain of my past, I should say. I have focused on that for so long. I have looked at those things and held them up for all to see… held them up in my focus and in front of me for so long, that they have distracted my gaze from God. The country I have come from lures me back again and again to focus on it… to make myself go back there, and be trapped there.

Despite the fear of facing up to, and dealing with some of the last outstanding issues of my past, I know I need to. I need to face them and get them out of the way. Then I can look forward to the promises of the future. And as I am working through those issues, I have learned that I need to keep my focus on God, on the future that He promises me… because that gives me hope. Hope that I will get through and be able to keep on going. Hope that as I leave these things behind, dealt with and in the past… though I might feel empty for a time, God is coming in behind to fill all the gaps. He will fill me to overflowing with hope by the power of His Holy Spirit.

Saying goodbye to the past, to the things that have held me captive for so long, and say hello to the future promises, to the good things that God has in store for me.
That is my goal. That is my focus.

I will not stay stuck here anymore. No matter how much the enemy tries to intimidate me into staying where I am. I am moving on.

I am leaving the old behind, the new is coming. It may be lonely for a while. It may be hard. I may find myself longing for the garlic and leeks of Egypt (forget the Pharaoh and oppressive slavery there) rather than the manna of the desert that is between slavery and the promised land flowing with milk and honey.

I just want to encourage anyone else who is struggling with leaving things behind. There are idols in all of us that block us from God. We turn to them rather than the safe and loving arms of our Savior, because those other things are familiar and comfortable. It is so easy to stay where we are, because we know it.

Moving on, letting those things go, is scary, because we don’t know where we are going. We don’t know where we will end up. We don’t know what this promised land is, or what it looks like. We have heard it is good, but there seem to be so many obstacles and giants in the way. We doubt. We fear.

But God has so much more planned for us. So many things He wants to show us. If only we would follow Him. He is calling to us, calling us to follow Him… to drop everything and follow Him. For what we lose in this life we will receive back more than we had before. (Mark 10:29-30) He will give us more than we could have ever asked or imagined… because He loves us and wants the best for us. He wants us to give Him the chance to show us what He can bless us with.

We just need to drop everything and follow Him.

It sounds so easy in words, I know. In the actual doing it is hard. It is tearing things out of us that have become part of us. But if we ask God to help us separate from those idols and other things holding us back, He will. And, after we have walked away from them for a while, we will wonder why we ever held onto those things in the first place.

God will give us blessings beyond belief. He will fill us, and hold us, even when everything seems like it is falling apart. Because He is the God who creates and sustains, fills and loves.

“For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
Colossians 1:16-17

He holds us together, even when we feel we are falling apart. When we let go of our idols, tear down the high places in our lives, and feel like we are crumbling and falling and empty… HE IS HOLDING US TOGETHER! He is holding me together.

I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy of all praise. So shall I be saved from my enemies. I will trust Him with everything I am, everything I have. He is my Lord. He knows what is best for me. That is my prayer and my focus this week. Despite how I am feeling, despite the pressure to conform and go back to old ways of life and coping with it.

I choose to put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes (and it will come), I will be able to stand my ground, and after I have done everything, to stand.
Will you focus your gaze on the better country? Will you stand with me? Firm in the promises of God? In Faith?

Friday, August 8, 2008

My One Dollar's worth? What's in a name #7

I have a visual aide for you today…

It’s something that is a lot more effective if it were shown in person… at least the way it hit me today, it really hit me.

In counseling today with Tricia, we were working through something that hit me and beat down to the point of not feeling any value at all. Because of the situation, what happened to me, I was feeling like I was:


As Tricia and I talked, and as we were processing through the therapy, there was a point where I felt like I hit up against a stone wall of fear. I started to panic. I could see the situation happening to me in third person, and then suddenly I was in it. It wasn’t something “out there” anymore. It was “here” and “now” and because I have never processed through these emotions, but instead, stuffed them, all of them were flooding through me at once.

I jumped, my heart was racing, I was sweating and shaking, and opened my eyes, but hardly realized it because all I could see was what was happening to me. Tricia started talking to me when she realized that I wasn’t all there and couldn’t calm down. She started reminding me where I was, that it was only a memory, not actually happening to me now. She kept talking to me, trying to get me to make eye contact with her. Telling me that I was safe, I was with her, safe in her office, not in that place or situation anymore.

As I calmed down some and could focus again, she said that she wasn’t sure where I stood on the issue of Christians being oppressed especially in areas like the one we were dealing with right then, but she felt very pressed on by God to pray right then and there. Specifically against the enemy, in this particular situation. Through my shaking and tears, I agreed and she prayed out loud for protection, guidance, and that the enemy be bound right then and there.

After that, I was able to verbalize some of the lies above, about how I felt… basically used like a piece of meat, that my desires and wants and needs weren’t important. I felt I had to meet others wants and needs over my own, no matter how degrading or demoralizing or twisted they were.

Tricia said to me something about my feeling that I had no value since this had happened to me. I agreed with her.

She looked at me and said, “Just a minute,” and went out of her office. When she came back in she was carrying a dollar bill.

We commented that it was a rather new bill, and she asked me, “How much is it’s value?”

I said, “One dollar.”

Then she started to fold it and bend it. As she did, she said, “So if things were to happen to this dollar as it is used, it gets folded and bent, messed up a bit, when you unfold it, how much is it’s value?”

I said, “One dollar.”

Then she crumpled it up in her hands, really roughing it up. She said, “So as this gets used more, it maybe gets balled up, crumpled, stepped on, dirt rubbed into it, really used up and trampled on, when you straighten it out, even after all of that, how much is it’s value?”

I said, “One dollar.”

Then looking right into my eyes, she took that crumpled up bill in her hands and said, “And what if, in the process of life, this bill gets torn apart?” She ripped the bill, and I felt that tear deep inside of me, so much so that I think I might have gasped… She asked, “How much is this bill’s value? If someone comes along and tapes it together, and uses it, after all of this, how much is it’s value now?”

I looked at her, and then the bill, tears streaming down my face as I got the point. I said, “One dollar.”


The lesson I learned today, the reminder I got, the truth that Tricia reminded me of in light of the situation I am processing through…

NOTHING can change the value I have in God. He bought me with His precious blood. He has covered me with His righteousness. He has filled me with His Spirit. He loves me beyond understanding.

I am valuable and precious in His sight. He has honored me. He loves me.

Mat 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

God provides for all His creations. The birds of the air, the animals in the fields… He provides for me, He cares for me. He loves me. I am so valuable in and because of Him.
This has reminded me of part of a song:

And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

“In Christ Alone”
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

Did you read what I just wrote there?

For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

I have value. I am valuable, I am lovable. I am worth something. He went to the cross. For me. For you. I can’t deny it. I can’t explain it. I can only accept it.

In spite of the things that have happened to me, GOD IS BIGGER. His opinion of me counts more than anything that might have been said to me or about me, or anything that has been done to me, or that I have done myself.

My inherent value, worth, hasn’t changed because of my circumstances.

I am who God created me to be. He is using EVERYTHING in my life to mold me. I don’t know what the final product will be.

God does. God knows. God cares. God values me. God loves me.

He tells me to not be afraid. He has redeemed me. He has called me by my name. I am His.
If the God of the Universe tells me that, what more do I need to know my incredible value and worth?

It’s starting to sink in. I am slow. But it is starting to really sink in and take root in the fabric of my life. It’s been a long journey. A long time. But He is patient. He is walking at the pace I am able to maintain. He is with me every step of the way… even when it is painful… and always when it is joyful!


At the end of my counseling today, Tricia gave me a big hug and then pressed something into my hand. I looked down and it was the crumpled, torn dollar bill.

She said, “I’d like you to take this. Keep it. Keep it in your wallet as a reminder.”

If you come up to me, any time, and ask,
I will show it to you.
I will always keep it.
I will always treasure it.

That one little piece of paper is priceless to me;
That one little piece of paper reminds me;
I am priceless to Him.

Beth Moore Simulcast... WOW!!!

On Friday, August 1st, I walked into an unfamiliar church, alone, and not sure of what to expect.

Any one of these three normally would have me running for the hills. But I was bound and determined that I was not going to miss this chance to see Beth Moore speak, even if it was via an Internet connection, not live.

I have been reading the Living Proof Ministries blog and I came across something about her being in Louisville, KY on Aug. 1 and 2 for a Living Proof Live event. Then I found out that it was being simulcast to churches all over that were being host sites for people to come to watch the event.

There was a church about 30 minutes away from me, and this is the one I walked into that Friday evening. I REALLY wanted to see Beth Moore. I have read a bunch of her books, and love her style and the way she just puts things out there and is so real. Whether I had someone with me or not, I couldn’t deny the tug in my heart to go.

I didn’t expect this weekend.

I came to hear Beth Moore speak, figuring I would learn something, but not sure what.

I left having heard God speak, and learned immeasurably more than I could have ever asked or imagined.

…Beth just happened to be the vessel He used to get through to me.

One thing that Beth spoke about the first night, was that each one of us has a call on our life from God. He has called each one of us to something. He has given us each a purpose.
I have a purpose. I have a calling of God on my life. He has something for me to do. AND He has made me complete and thoroughly equipped to do it. I am equipped through His word. If I stay in His word, and study it, and ask Him to reveal Himself to me, He will. And I will have all the tools I need to do what He asks me to do. I will be competently competent.

I think that really hit me because Beth never said what that call was. She never specified. But all the things that people have been telling me all along suddenly fell into place. People in my small group, my friend Cindy, my counselor Tricia… all of them have pointed to areas that I have a calling in. First and foremost, my family, and raising my kids. Then in singing on worship team. Writing here on my blog, in my journals, emails to friends, notes and letters. Being a good friend to the people God has placed in my life. Any and all of these are areas I feel called to.

God has given me all the tools I need to do those things. He has called me, He will equip me. Strike that. He will equip me, then He will call me. Hmm.. or does it all happen at once? What ever way it works, I have the tools I need to do the job I have to do… (and sometimes those skills are learned in the trenches, now that I look back at some of my experiences!!!)

Also, a good reminder to me was that if I feel sometime that God has called me to something, I need to hide that in my heart… the visual she gave us: If we feel that God has given us a word, through a pastor, sermon, reading the bible, whatever, put your hand over it, cover your heart, protect your heart so the enemy doesn’t steal that word away. It is so easy to say, “Oh, that wasn’t really for me. I could never do that. That was for someone else…” and in a few days you have yourself talked out of doing it, or trying it.

So, the first big thing was that God has a call on my life, and I do have a purpose given to me by Him, and He has thoroughly equipped me to fulfill that call, and I need to believe Him and trust Him and take Him at His word, rather than try to talk myself out of it.

The second big thing that really hit me… Beth talked about how we are rooted and established in love. Do we really know how big God’s love is for us? Do I know that I know that I know that God loves me? Is it really become a deep belief that God loves me?

Even after all the junk, even after all the pain, He still loves me?

Beth shared some of her testimony. It wasn’t to glorify herself. It was to show how God can use the absolute worst things in life, things that have been forced upon you, and things that you have chosen to do… to the praise of His glory.

One phrase that really stuck with me…

God is going to use our pain to birth our passion.

The pain that Beth experienced gave her a passion to reach out to other women and show them the power of God’s Word to heal them, to pick up their pieces and put them back together again, the way the Word did for her. She is a student of the word, and when she learns something new, she has to tell everyone… it is her passion.

The things in my counselor’s past propelled her into her profession, because she has a passion to help others deal with their pasts to come into freedom. She has a passion and compassion for those who are hurting and lost, to lead them and guide them through their pain so that they too can learn from it and grow closer to God, and become the people He wants them to be.
I can see that God is starting to give me a passion out of the pain in my past. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what it all encompasses. But I am getting glimpses.

Part of it involves being a good mom to my kids, and helping them through things that I know they are going to face that will be hard and painful, but help guide them through those times so they come out the other side stronger, closer to God.

Part of it could be leading others in worship, because worship has been such a big part of healing for me. God has used it to show me that even when I don’t feel like it, and my “heart” isn’t really into it, I need to make the choice to worship Him in obedience. To lead others to that place in their pain, that place of “Ok, God here it goes, I am going to sing these words, even though I am not sure I believe them. I am going to cling to Your word with the tips of my fingernails if I have to. I hate what I am feeling, what is happening to me. But I will praise you…” It’s not a fun place… but to show others the way through worship… that is something close to my heart.

Part of it could be in writing. Just trying to get people to read my story, see what I have gone through. Know that there are others out there experiencing the same things they have. If I hadn’t had people on the road ahead of me who had gone through the things I have, I don’t know if I would have made it. If I would have had the courage to keep going. To have someone there to point the way, to encourage and cheer you on is powerful. And if I can do that through writing or any other way… Only God knows.

But even as I am still in process, I can see that God is using my pain to birth a passion in me. A passion for Him. For His word. For His people. For His church. For His world.
And I am giving myself to Him. He has made me a woman of substance, of means. He has taken me, no matter what my background was, and loves me completely. So I am giving myself to Him, to use me as He will. Whatever that looks like.

I will end here with a prayer that I wrote in my journal after the conference.

Lord, help me to discern your voice speaking to me and calling me to something. Help me to step out in the NOW rather than wait and worry it to death. I want to hear your call on my life and realize that what you call me to, you have made me competently competent to do all you ask of me. I am complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

I can’t thank you enough, God for this feeling of having a purpose for my life, that you have a purpose for me. I know Tricia and I have talked about that some and I have talked about it with Cindy. But today it became real. The future is wide open and I am not afraid of it. Not with You by my side, not with the promise that you will thoroughly equip me to do what you want me to do. I have just a real settling in my spirit that the hard work I am doing now - dealing with my past - will reap a harvest, sheaves of joy, and that you will bless up to a 1,000 generations if I am faithful to you. Oh Lord, speak clearly to me and help me hear your word and hide it in my heart!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Idols and lies... and the one, true God

“Just watched… Just another confirmation from God… Just amazing grace… Just you ask? Sometimes I think of how God looks at me now… just as if I’d never sinned… sometimes I think of how God answers prayer… just at the right time… yes it’s our JUST GOD at work again as He always is…”

This was the response I got from a dear friend of mine after she had watched part of a video I linked to her.

How true is that? Our God is so just, so wonderful, so mighty, so loving, so powerful, so gentle with us. Through my friend and some difficult things she is working on in her own life with God, He spoke into my life in a powerful way.

He showed me the ways He has been guiding me up to this point, this summer. He placed me in a bible study through Living Proof Ministries, organized by Beth Moore. It is a study based on identifying your idols… functional idols in your life that give you something that only God can fill. They function for a time, but never fully satisfy, and so leave you hungry… for more. But God is the only one who can fill us to the full.

Isaiah 46 talks about how our man made idols weigh us down and become burdens to us. We end up carrying the idols that we have made. I wrote the following in my journal after reading the first part of Isaiah 46.

“I didn’t get it at first, (when I read the passage) but we are the weary beasts. I am. Anything that I am holding in my life above You, it is something I physically have to hold up above me to block out the view of You. And holding up these things, carrying them is so hard and weighs me down and makes me even more exhausted.”

Isaiah 46:3-4 says, “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been upheld by Me from birth, Who have been carried from the womb: Even to your old age I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you."

I don’t need to carry those burdens any longer. I can lay them down. Instead of carrying my idols, and keeping them as gods in my life, God is carrying me. Maybe this is what God is referring to when He said in Matthew 11:28-30.

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Once I let go of the things I think I need, I can take up Jesus, and find that in my everything, He is carrying me. He has been carrying me. He will carry me. I need to confess the things that I have been carrying and lay them at the foot of the cross.

I have a choice, and so do you…

Like me, you may be thinking, “But they are such big things in my life. How do I lay them down?”

I know I will try to pick them up again and again. They are comfortable and familiar. Some of the things are good things, like singing and playing piano for worship team, writing here and in my journal, my husband… oh, so many more… too many to name. But when they are taken to extremes, and in the deepest part of my heart I become proud of them or possessive of them, then they veer off course and I end up carrying them, holding them above my head in aching arms, but afraid to let them down and see the Son shining in my eyes, and reveal me for who I truly am.

Yet who I truly am really isn’t bad, because I am a daughter of the King. How bad is that? I can have everything given to me, I have only to ask. So why is it so hard to lay the things down that I cling to so much?

Maybe it is because many times we can’t see that we are holding onto a lie. That it is deceptive, wrong and painful to us. I can’t see that I am feeding on ashes at the foot of an idol that cannot deliver me and can only burden me more and beat me into the ground.

God so longs to give me good spiritual food and drink. Healthy and wholesome. He wants me to come and lay my burdens down, and take up His because only then will I find rest for my soul.
This bible study has been confirming all along that is what He wants to have me do. It has been His amazing grace to me that has opened my eyes and let me see. He has confirmed gifts in me, with the warning to not grow prideful and twist something that is good, and depend on it so much that it becomes an idol.

God sees the things in my past, but forgives me all the same, just as if they had never been. He answers prayers that have been prayed over me for the past 3+ years… not when I wanted, not when the people praying for me wanted, but slowly, gradually in His own time… at the perfect time. He is always working whether I see it or not.

And it’s when I don’t see it that I tend to make idols, hoping they will give me the quick answer I want, fill the need I want. Numb the pain, get rid of the hurt, keep more painful things from happening. But that isn’t how God works, and I have had to learn patience. Hard when you are in the midst of a trial.

So many of these things several main idols that I can see, have been a part of me for so long, they look so huge and intimidating, and I wonder if I can really lay them down. Am I even willing to?

Tonight I made a choice to lay them down and ask God to help me root them out of my life. I made a verbal, out loud choice of my will to lay down my idols. My heart isn’t fully there yet, because I know it is going to be a painful process. But what isn’t? Cleansing and purifying our lives can be painful, and can take time. I have been cleansing my life this year through counseling, and it has been very painful… but oh, so rewarding.

I have grown so much closer to God. Even through my mistakes He has continues to call to me. Our just God has been endlessly, unchangeably wanting me to come to Him. When I realize that my way isn’t working, He wants me to fall to my knees, exhausted from all my posturing, manipulating, scheming, and finally lay down all that I have been carrying in hopes that it would fill me.

When I have done that before, sometimes I have expected punishment for leaving him and turning to something else. But each time He has gently taken those things from me and covered me, poured His life and love and comfort into my soul. I have just had to let go and let Him minister to my soul.


“[We have to] let go of the life we have planned in order to accept the Life we have waiting for us.”

Our God is our life. Our part is to surrender everything, even our dreams to Him and allow Him to fill every space we have left after letting things go. He will then fill us with His Spirit and HIS dreams for us.