Friday, January 29, 2010

Joy, boundaries, and brokenness

I have made a friend in the course of the past couple of months. She is a new believer and gone through some things in her life that have been very difficult. God is slowly changing her thought patterns, and freeing her from her past.

It has been amazing to see the growth in her in just the past couple of months. And that in nothing compared to the changes that have happened in the past couple of years.

To top it all off, she is a single mom of a 16yr old boy. Up to this point, this young man has seen that his mother is "light" and he was "dark" (as he put it in the words he knew).

Very perceptive.

He has had a friend that goes to our church... that he goes to school with. He slowly over the last 4 months or so, would occasionally ask his mom about God. He was willing to listen sometimes, and was glad for her, but it wasn't for him.

The friend that he goes to school with - well, they just became really good friends this year. My friends son, well, just thinks he is awesome, and finally found out that his friend went to our church.

This friend invited him to our youth group 3 weeks ago. He loved it! Then he came to church with his mom and his friend and friend's family. He stayed for the community group/sunday school time after church. He loved it!

He got his first bible from his friend. He started reading it right away!

Last week, he went to youth group again with his friend. Our associate pastor, who helps lead the youth group, spoke very strongly about the importance of making a decision for Christ, especially in the light of Haiti - and you never know when.

Pastor strongly urged the youth to not leave the building that night without knowing where they were going.

My friend's son grabbed Pastor Brad a bit later, and said he wanted to know more about this salvation thing. Pastor Brad grabbed his friend, and the two of them led this young man to the Lord.

Now my friend and her son are both "light." She has her son back, knowing he is Christ's now, and they are learning and growing together. He even came to church this past week, when his mom was working.

God is SO good. What an amazing change! We are still celebrating how God has worked in their lives.


God gave me and my new friend the chance to talk this week... I wasn't too busy at work, and the phone didn't ring too much while we were talking.

He has been helping her draw some boundaries in her life, because she hasn't really known how to do that before. Slowly God is maturing her, not only in relationship with Him, but also growing her emotionally out of where she was stuck for so long.

We have gotten to know each other pretty well in the past couple of months. Especially in the last 4 weeks or so, we have spent some good time together, and shared quite openly.

I had been aware her boundary issues, so it was in the back of my mind, as we grew to know each other... and I was aware of it because I too used to have boundary issues. I still do in some ways, and there are old tapes that play in my head, and I am having to learn new boundaries with my job now.

As we talked this week, she shared how over the past week she had really been struggling and didn't know why. But God finally revealed why to her. She said that she really needed to draw some boundaries for herself. She was realizing that she was starting to slide down a "slippery slope" as she called it. She needed to back off and start over in our friendship. More slowly, instead of jumping in so quickly to getting to know each other. There is much more there, but that is all I am free to share here.

I apologized for calling so much and kind of pushing myself on her - offering to go for coffee or a meal two weeks in a row besides seeing her at church and our small group.

It was a good conversation. I came away from it really feeling ok about it.

After my long weekend at the church, I left a bit early from work on Tuesday. I headed home and was able to spend some time with God. Our senior Pastor had talked about the benefits of self-examination this past Sunday. Without realizing it, that is exactly what I did that afternoon. I spent time before God and sought His guidance and light to shine on anything that I might have done wrong, so that I wouldn't do it again.

Finally, I slept for a bit. Had a rough night's sleep that night, and went to work the next day. Just over the course of the day, through our women's retreat meeting that afternoon, I just became so aware of what the enemy was trying to do, among the leaders, among the women attending, to keep them from coming, to hinder their time at the retreat.

At about 4pm, Wednesday I got the church to myself. Everyone had left early to eat and rest up for the night of youth, AWANA, etc. I wandered my way into the sanctuary.

There I kind of had a melt down. I am ashamed to say that God revealed pride in my heart towards my relationship with my friend. What arrogance! And what childishness too, in the way I was reacting within myself to our conversation from the day before.

I can "defend" myself by saying it seemed to tap into some old insecurities and rejections, and that was part of what I was reacting to. But God just took the time to reveal areas that I hadn't been honoring Him in.

I repented and spent significant time at the foot of the cross in there. Seeking forgiveness. Interceding for the women coming on the retreat. Interceding for my friend. Seeking wholeness and healing for myself. Asking God to fill the emptiness and help lift my depression, rather than me seeking relief in other people, other things, etc.

I spent a great deal of time in tears before God. Broken. Again. And how fitting considering that our retreat has that theme!

Yesterday really was a pretty good day, but the closer I got to the evening, and to small group where I would see my friend, I got more nervous.

It was silly really. I mean, we would see each other, but there would be others around, and it would be easier for us to step back from each other within that context.

As I got there, we talked around the table during our meal, and I was able to share how much I felt the retreat really was under attack, and that each of us involved or going were under attack too.

I found it hard to look at my friend when I was talking, at least when she was looking back - I don't know, I just was so unbalanced feeling. Not because of anything she did, not because of anything really that we had talked about.

The more I look back on it, it just really felt like my emotions and thoughts weren't clear. I feel now, looking back that it was all a haze last night. I hardly remember the beginning part of the evening... at least not the details.

I feel like I didn't handle anything well at all, and am afraid that I made my friend even more uncomfortable, and that I need to apologize to her. Anything that I did last night had nothing to do with her, or how she treated me, or that she had spoken with me. It had everything to do with me.

I hope and pray that it doesn't affect her coming to small group, coming to the retreat - anything.

I mean, I suppose that I should expect all this unsettledness, prior to the retreat. I got some good work done on the worship for the weekend yesterday morning. I feel more ready. I also get this coming Tuesday off so that I can spend more time in preparation.

As you can see - I still really need prayers.
I need balance in relationships.
I need clear guidance from God.
I need wisdom in speaking with my friend, to apologize to her.

I need that broken, contrite, and humble heart that God will not despise.

I need my thoughts and emotions to line up with God's truth, not the lies the enemy is throwing at me.

I also need to trust that my pouring out my heart here won't be misinterpreted... or hurtful to anyone else.

So, today is a mix of joy for my friend and her son, who gets to tell his story, and his testimony this Sunday in front of church, as a God at work... and a mix of sadness, depression, and brokenness.

So this post ends up being that mix as well. I am praying that even in the midst of the turmoil that I can find God's joy and God's peace.

And some heat in this house! (It is -6 outside right now, and our infloor heating can't keep up with the leaky windows we have here!!!!! Shiver... but I'm so grateful for the heat that we do have!!)

May you also find that joy and peace.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

...attacks coming, learning and growth... prayer needed

On of the things I learned last week is that God will use anyone and anything to speak to you.

Duh, right?

I have learned this before.

I got to meet with the speaker for our women's retreat (coming up at the beginning of February) this past week.

We met to talk about the music that I will be preparing. I wanted to make sure that it dovetailed with her talks. I didn't want to move from upbeat praise to a real introspective talk, etc.

We talked about all sorts of things, getting to know each other. Let me tell you, from right off, I really liked her. I just felt we "clicked," if that makes sense on a first meeting of someone. (For most of you out there, you will get this!!)

Anyway, I felt very comfortable sharing part of my story with her, of depression. I honestly don't remember HOW much I shared, but some of my counseling with Tricia, and some of how I have been recently dealing with depression.

As we talked more, I also shared with how 2 women have had to drop off the team in the course of planning (one of them being my dear friend, Cindy).

She looked at me, at one point in our conversation and said something to the effect of:

Sometimes when we face the most oppression (referencing Cindy and the other gal dropping off, my depression, and some things she is dealing with) is just when God is going to do something really big.

That hit me like a ton of bricks.

It got a bit of fire in my belly... making me think that I am not going to go down under this. I am not going to let the enemy get the best of me, or take me out and interfere with whatever God wants to do.

So, God already used her to teach me something, to remind me of something... to get me up and fighting again.

Please pray, because I really think our team, our speaker, and the women coming to the retreat are really being hit hard.

Another person off our team is not going to the retreat. She will help finish organizing us and help set up, but is not attending. We are down to 3 on the team now for the weekend.

Another woman came to me and because of something that God has made her aware of in there life, she almost decided not to come. She has signed up and paid her money, but expressed some reservations. I am thankful that she talked to me, because I was able to (hopefully) help her to not be concerned.

I need prayer as I prepare in the next week and a half. I am worn out from this past weekend of work on the Annual Celebration at our church. It was a wonderful time, but the extra hours have caught up with me today.

And God used that conversation with the woman who almost didn't sign up for the retreat to point some things out in my heart.... but more on that later I think. That's another post.

Here are a few things I could use help with.

  1. Prayer as I prepare the worship, as I pray for each of the women coming.
  2. Prayer for me as well, that I don't get so caught up in planning, leading, and my responsibilities that I miss out on hearing what God has to say to me through this weekend.
  3. Prayer for our speaker as she prepares her talks and how to communicate on the theme of Brokenness.
  4. Prayer for our team as we seek Him, and try to make sure we have everything covered.
  5. Prayer for all of us attending that God would speak to our very hearts, in very personal ways.
  6. Prayer that we would respond to Him, and surrender all to Him.
  7. Prayer for protection from the enemies attacks.

These are my major requests. As God leads you to other prayers for us, please do. He knows what we all need. I just hope and pray that we will feel the unity of His Spirit moving there, and that the enemy would have no ground, no way of interfering with any of the retreat.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Choices. Decisions.


It seems it is all about choices we make.

Who do we choose?
What do we choose to do?


There are so many decisions that seem so necessary.

How are we going to handle that?
What is going to be our next move, response, word?

Right now, I am faced with choices and decisions.

I am trying to figure out what is this depression that I find myself struggling with on more than a once a week basis.

Is it seasonal?
Is it hormonal?
Is it chemical?
Is it a stronghold or lie?

If it is any or all of the above, what am I going to do about it?

As stress is building up in my job right now, the depression is something that I really need to keep tabs on.

I remember when I first started seeing my psychiatrist over 2 years ago, he asked me to stop rating my depression on a scale of 1-10. He wanted me to stop focusing on that totally. He wanted me to start focusing on how many "joy" moments I had during the day.

He said we would know when the depression was lifting, and the medication was working for me, when I was at the point where I had the "number" or "level" of joy moments in my daily life that I wanted.

I stopped keeping track, because it was hard to keep a "chart" and because it got to the point where, though things were tough, and there were some days I really had to look for the joy moments to keep going... most of the time, I really had quite a few.

Right now, the stress of my job could be the thing that's taking such a toll on me emotionally. I just am in a stretch of really stressful weeks. By the end of this weekend, I will be done with one part.

But then, I will be preparing for a women's retreat that I am part of the planning committee... and that comes at the beginning of February.

So, part of the depression could be a reaction to the stress I am under.

But I find that I am having to look hard for, and remind myself of, the "joy moments" more and more.

It keeps coming down to choices and decisions I am having to make.

Am I going to try to fit in more things to my already crushed schedule?
Am I going to make healthy choices in the amount and quality of food and sleep I am getting?
Am I going to do the easiest thing, even if it isn't the best thing?
Am I going to try to fight the lies and strongholds, even when I am exhausted?

Will I choose to do what God is calling me to do, or am I going to succumb and knuckle under and give up in defeat.... when the victory is already mine in Christ?

I think we all face these choices. Yearly, monthly, weekly, daily... hourly.....

We face choices.
We make decisions.

We can't "not" make choices and decisions. By not making a choice or decision, we are letting someone else decide for us, and by default we are choosing something.

I don't want to make a decision, by not making a decision about what to do.

I see my psychiatrist in about 2 weeks. I can ask him then what his recommendation would be. I have been doing really pretty well up until about the last month or so. But who knows, maybe my body is still adjusting to not being on an anti-depressant. I don't know. He can only guess.

I guess all of this is to say, we are all facing our own choices, decisions and struggles. Mine is depression, and how to handle it in a safe way.

I know some of my warning signs.

I know too that God is working on me in some areas as I wrote about previously... and further just through this past Sunday at church.

I also know that the enemy knows my weaknesses. He would love to prevent me from being able to minister encouragement to others this weekend during our church celebration. He would love to keep me from being able to serve and minister at the women's retreat. He would love to stress me out, hype me up, and get me to worry myself into panic attacks.

Please pray for me, because I KNOW that God has make me for more than this. I am the apple of His eye and so are you.

Pray that you and I would stand up and make the right choices and decisions... beginning with one declaration.

"Get behind me Satan."

And moving forward from there. Towards God. Towards peace. Into the loving arms of our Savior, safe and sound. The best decision we could ever make.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In the grip of lies...

So I believe that I am loved, flaws and all, past and all, by God. By my heavenly Father. There is no doubt in my mind......

....but somewhere in my heart, deeper than I have gone before, God is opening something else up to the light....

So, that is where I left you in my last post.... Now, if you haven't read that post, you do need to go back and read it HERE because this one hinges on that one.

Go on. I'll wait for you...

Ok, read it now?


Now where to go from here....

Oh yes, I was talking about living in an intimate relationship with Christ as our husband - that being the reconciliation that begins at forgiveness.

My next thoughts in my journal were:

Can I trust Him as my Husband? Is this where I am getting stuck? Trusting Him to love me and not leave me, not abandon me?

Talk about a loaded question!

I mean, I have traveled a long way in these two years of blogging. I have gone through a lot of healing, and a lot of it very transparent here. There are somethings, that for the sake of others I have kept off of the public forum. God has healed those as well.

God has taught me, over and over, how much He loves me. I know He does, and believe it with all my heart...

So I thought, until those words above came flowing out.

I think God is leading me deeper... to a deeper love. I have needed the love of Him as my Father... but now I need to know His deeper, more intimate love.... and trust it too. Know and believe it.

At the end of the sermon, our pastor gave us a time of reflection.

I wrote:

Oh Lord, can You possibly love this? This person that I am when I turn away from Your promptings?

The impression of His answer that I got and wrote down....

Who are you to tell me what to do with My love. I give it to whom I choose. I choose you and will not take it back. I do not love as men love.

How do you even respond to that, except with tears.


Later a question was asked in our community group time that I am going to ask here.

What keeps you from living with the awareness of God's passionate love for you?

What keeps me from living with that awareness?

  • I believe things that are not true.

  • I feel that God is going to do to me what others have - betray me and hurt me in the same ways, reject me and leave me alone in despair.

  • I believe the lies, wondering if I can really trust Him. Can I really believe, dare I believe what He says? That He is who He says He is, that He will do what He says He will do, that I am who He says that I am?
I need to believe the truth. I need to believe God's truth. I need to trust Him. I know it, but I need it to sink down deeper into my heart.

I am only now really starting to explore all of this. I am only now letting God crack open that door in my heart where I am broken and can't fix me. Where I have been running from.

I don't want to run.
I don't want to just cope.
I don't want to hide from God by doing other things.

I want to trust Him when I am anxious to calm me.
I want to trust Him when I am depressed to save me.
I want to trust Him when I feel empty to fill me.

I want to trust Him to satisfy my every hunger and thirst with Himself, rather than trying to fill myself with worldly pleasures that lead to pain and bondage... even if they are "harmless."

I don't want find myself waking up with regret in the morning because I indulged the night before.

The enemy is trying to rob me of the joy of the Lord which is my strength. He wants me to believe the lie that I can't trust God to keep loving me when I do wrong and hurt His heart.

That's really what it is. I have done some things that I know God is asking me not to. And guess what? I feel guilty. I will be doing them and even say out loud, "God I know you don't want me to do this, and I'm sorry. I already feel guilty." But in my pride and arrogance, stubbornness and willfulness, I keep on doing whatever it is.

Then I question myself later, and wonder how He could still possibly love me, when I totally stiff arm Him like that?

So I continue to run, because I don't want to see the dying embers of a Husband's love for me, flicker and go out.

I thought I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that God loved me, flaws and all, past and present and future. I really did.

But it seems that there is more deep down, a hurt deep down that I haven't let God's love fully invade.

Here is my final prayer from my journal, from Sunday.

I need Your unconditional, passionate, crazy love to touch my heart in a deeper way than before. To loosen the grip of the lie.

The lie that I am not worth anything - that I am an object to be betrayed - that You will withdraw Your love from me - that You will take your hand off me.

Oh Lord, this hurts to look at. Yet there it is. There I am. It's ugly. The lie is ugly... and knowing its there, after all this time.... that I still believe that somewhere inside..... after all the hard work I have done.... after all the healing God has done.....

When God has proven Himself over and over to me, that He will never leave me nor forsake me, why do I still doubt Him? How can I allow the enemy in there so easily? Why is it so easy for me to surrender sacred ground, rather than stand and fight for it?!

I feel like such a fool when all God is doing is asking for another piece of my heart to heal back into the whole... and I am clenching it, while my hands are being cut to ribbons by it. I'm bleeding all over the place, and am trying to pretend that there is nothing wrong, when it's very obvious that something is terribly wrong.

I need to spend these last few minutes I have alone for the night with my Jesus, who wants me to come sit in His lap.

If you didn't read the link just above, about my heart, read it HERE. Because I need to remember that healing, and the truth in that, rather than the lie that is beating me down and holding me back.

If I can just let go and surrender to God.
Be broken before him.

I am broken inside.
Broken before Him is the only way I will be healed.

I am broken inside, and I can't fix me...

As was obvious from my last post, I have been struggling with some times of darkness.

I have been trying to figure out what is causing it. I have asked God to reveal it to me. I know there is a cause. I know there is something that I am running from, and something that God is trying to work on me and in me.

He is trying to break me. I am broken inside, and I can't fix me, though I try. So I cover up. I cope. I run.

What He wants is for me to stop running.
What He wants is to break me... the right way.

When I woke up Saturday morning, I started to listen to God, at least a little bit. I just laid there and said to Him, "I can't do this day. I can't do the fighting and outbursts from my son and the anger and tension that has been there since Thursday night."

I felt like He said to me, "pray."

"Um, God. I am"

"No. Really pray about it."

And so I did.

I got the distinct impression that I really needed to take a spiritual stand in our house, that morning, that moment. I prayed and took my stand against the enemy of our souls. I know now without a doubt that the angry elephant in the room (courtesy of my friend, Elaine) was trying to get me to concede to him ground that wasn't his in the first place. I needed to take my stand and say that this house, this family, my heart and mind were not Satan's, but God's.

The day got better.

Though I didn't get much more time with Jesus that day, the whole day had a different flavor than the one before.

In the morning, on Sunday, I got up and had a small amount of time to myself before church. I specifically asked God to anoint the worship, and our Pastor's sermon, to fill the church with His Spirit, and to cover us all with His blood, so that our ears would be unstopped and hearts open to hear His word, receive it, and do something with it.

Finally at church, God broke through the barriers I had set up against Him.

Our pastor spoke out of the book of Hosea - speaking of Hosea's marriage as a parallel to Israel's life, but also to our own, and how God has taken everything He had, His very Son, to buy us back from slavery and reconcile His Bride to Himself.

These were a few things that I wrote in my journal.

(figuratively speaking - NOT literal)

How many times God have I danced with other men? How many times have I loved others? How many times have I prostituted myself to others, to other gods, sold myself out, committed adultery against you?

Yet you still pursue me. Why? You still want me. ME. You still love me. You allowed me today to feel you as I clung to you in faith today, in worship... You turned around my thoughts - helped me to have someone to confess to, clearly and honestly what was going on in my life, yesterday. You awoke today my need for You, my desperateness for You - my depravity without You. You love ME.

Again, in the middle of the sermon:

In the midst of my faithlessness and adultery, His love for me has come, covered me like a mighty flood - smooths out my rough edges - like a jagged rock under a waterfall - until I am beautiful and pure before Him.

These thoughts were the preparation for what God revealed next to me. For the most part, for the record, I believe that I am loved by God, fully forgiven and fully loved. I know that in my heart.

But how deeply?

Pastor Kim shared that reconciliation begins with forgiveness, but doesn't end there. Reconciliation is living in a relationship with a God who is our Husband.

That my friends is an intimate relationship. That is a scary relationship. Knowing and being fully known. Being willing to open yourself up to the other, trusting your heart to them, trusting they won't hurt you.

But so many times, here on earth we do hurt our spouses. I know I have. Hurt him, and been hurt.

Our relationships with our spouses are an imperfect reflection of our marriage relationship with Christ. Jesus will never hurt us. He will never walk away from us if we hurt His heart. By dancing with other "men" - other "gods."

So I believe that I am loved, flaws and all, past and all, by God. By my heavenly Father. there is no doubt in my mind......

....but somewhere in my heart, deeper than I have gone before, God is opening something else up to the light....

(sorry, but this is getting long... so, yes... to be continued)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Darkness creeping in....

This week I would say has "been a week."

You know those.
Best explanation would be LONG.

I have been very busy for work, getting ready for our church's annual celebration. It is going to be really fun, but a lot of work up front for me.

I have met with a new friend through our bible study... we have enveloped two new women, and one of the women's daughter. It has taken some minor adjustments to our group, where we meet, how we fit all of us around a table, and just getting to know and trust each other enough to be pretty real with each other.

One of the women I have really clicked with. We have some things in common, and we got together this week for dinner. We had such a good time, and a great time of sharing.

I knew God was in the conversation and in our sharing and how we related. I was completely at peace about it. Since then, I have found myself wondering how much to trust, how much to reveal, concerned about so many things that really God is in control of. As He demonstrated just in our first getting together.

I think the enemy has been working me over pretty good though since then. This whole week has had good things, and great things, and though there were stresses, it was really, really good to see how God worked through it all.

So why do I only see the things that haven't happened? The things that I have been hit by?

I was feeling sick, mid-week, to the point that I really couldn't eat very much. I just wasn't feeling good. I slept a lot.

However, there is something bothering to me.

What, you ask?

I have no idea.

But it feels like I am trying to medicate, anesthetize myself so that I don't feel something, or think about something... or maybe even to keep myself from drawing close to God.

But what would I be so afraid of? Afraid enough that I want to block anything out, stop thinking? Why would I not want to be close to God? Close to Him is the safest place to be... why fear that?

I suppose part of it, is the world, my flesh, and the devil working against me to keep me from really pursuing God.

I want so much of God, I want to be free of some things that have been plaguing me. I don't know how to do that and am at sort of a loss. Its more than "doing" something to refocus myself, though bible studies and stuff are good.

It's really about being.

I was going along so well this summer, practicing the presence of God, really being with Him, still with Him. Now I have found that it is very hard to do again. I have lost the consistency of it that I had.

.... and I find this depression creeping in on me....

It darkens the edges of my day, of my thoughts, my perceptions of everything around me.

It is starting to take more and more effort to do things needing doing. To get out and run errands, to do tasks around the house, to even have the motivation to go outside and play with the kids.

I have just wanted to curl up and hide. Sleep. Disengage my mind. I fought against it so hard last night at our bible study, that I was so anxious by the end that I could hardly sit still.

I am so very tired.

I had been doing so much better for such a long time, that even when I hit a road block, that I know is gonna happen at one point or another as God works on me at a new level, I don't want to write.

I think that is why it has been so silent here. I have tried to be upbeat when I have written, but I don't have that in me today.

So this is what you get.

This girlfriend.
Struggling, hurting, confused, depressed and wanting to run.