The Mothers who mothered me….

So we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

1 Thessalonians 2:8

Today on this Mother’s Day, I want to celebrate the women who mothered me. I have three that come to mind. I am so very grateful for these spiritual mothers; I would not be the woman I am today without these women.

The first, DiAnna, didn’t give me life, but she helped keep me alive….she’s my first long term example of unconditional love. I often say that she is the human reason that I’m still alive. DiAnna showed me that I could be loved. I never felt “really” loved before that. She first began loving me when I was in the early stages of my addictions in my teen years…..her home was the first place I ever felt safe. A place I knew I would always be nurtured and loved.

Before the Word became my plumb line; DiAnna was my plumb line. It’s a fact that knowing she’d be disappointed kept me from making some really bad choices….not that I didn’t make plenty as it was. Thirty years this woman has prayed for me. Thirty years this woman has loved me like Jesus does. She has never turned her back on me. Not in my drunkenness, not in my sin, not in my pain. Not once did she not answer the phone or the door….never knowing what shape I would be in, but I was always welcome. She taught me things I would never have learned otherwise….probably the one I’m most grateful for….how to be a godly wife. DiAnna is an amazing wife. She taught me that it’s important to make my husband a priority. She taught me that it’s important to greet my husband when he walks in the door. She taught me that respect is important, a good meal, a tidy home and clean clothes neatly folded and put away. She taught me grace and forgiveness is needed. I don’t know if we ever talked about those things but she has modeled them for me for 30 years. She has modeled other things too, studying the Word, wisdom, reverence, humility and serving her church while faithfully attending. Basically she taught me how to be a good human….how to be a godly woman.

My long time recovery sponsor, Sally, also mothered me. She gave me a safe place to heal from the pain. She loved me and reassured me that I was ok even though I didn’t know it yet. She opened her home to me and it too was a safe haven. She taught me how to demonstrate grace in really difficult circumstances. She taught me what true recovery meant, not just talking the talk, but walking the walk. She taught me that prayer was always the first course of action. She taught me how to have sober fun, to laugh and have a good time.

She taught me how to mentor women in pain, to come alongside and be present and available. She enveloped me in love the night I chose to forgive my dad as I allowed her to cradle me like a child and hold me as I sobbed. That’s as vulnerable as I had ever allowed myself to be and she had made it safe for me to do that. She made it safe to begin my transparency journey.

The other woman who comes to mind is Joy. She too has impacted my life in an amazing way. Joy was one of the ladies who gave me the gift of loving me knowing all….even the ugliest of my sin. Jesus used this love to help bring me tremendous freedom from shame. She’s been my accountability partner for the past several years. She knows my struggles, my current sin and she loves me through it all. Joy isn’t afraid to get into the messy. When my husband and I were going through an extremely painful season simultaneously as my momma’ s heart was breaking for my son, Joy came alongside me and held my arms up like they did for Moses back in Exodus.

She has helped me learn how to be a godly wife too. She’s spent hours providing wise counsel and teaching me about healthy marriages. She counsels, she prays, she comforts. Joy was there last year when I had surgery. I’m not sure I ever told her how much that meant to me that she would take off work for me.

The picture I chose for this blog is called “The rescue”, these women were who Jesus used to rescue me. These women helped pull me out of the pit. These women have mothered me. They’ve parented me in godliness. They have helped Jesus mold me into the woman I am today. These women….they chose me to love…so I know I’m special to them. I just hope they know how important they are to me. I am so grateful God knew I needed them to love me. That He sent these women to be Jesus with skin on. Thank you beautiful mothers; I love you. đź’ś

Guide older women into lives of reverence…so they end up as models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. Titus 2 Msg

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Free Indeed….

Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. Psalm 34:5

Until a few years ago, I lived my life in shame. It surrounded me like a thick ugly cloud. Shame over my past….my sin….the shame left from sins of others. Full of shame….full of self loathing. I constantly beat myself up emotionally over everything I perceived as wrong or bad within me. Every mistake was a committee meeting in my head over how awful I was and how I was never going to change. When I think of those years….my stomach gets quesy because I remember the pain of shame and self hatred like it was five minutes ago. When I met Jesus and began to clear away the wreckage of my past…..started to share my secrets, the shame got less and healing began to take place through His Truth. It was such a process.

Two weeks ago, I shared my testimony as transparently as I ever had while at the local Christian high school. Admitting for the first time, in a large group my struggle with sexual addiction and my recovery through Jesus. As I shared….I didn’t feel ashamed. I was able to stand on the Truth of God’s Word and share in freedom and truth.

About ten years ago. I started to really focus on Jesus, and He brought healing to me through His Word and by deliberately practicing James 5:16, “Confess your sins to one another, pray for one another so that you may be healed”….I made the comment to my friend Kristie this past week that, the healing I have experienced these past several years has come on the backs of the women from my “old” church. They loved me….even when I shared about past sin in my life that would make some people cringe. They demonstrated the grace of Jesus in a way I had never experienced and through confession to them, the Lord brought more healing and more freedom from shame.

Today I experienced more freedom from shame, I fell into old behavior last night. I said something to a friend regarding sex that wasn’t God honoring. It just kind of fell out of my mouth…..I quickly recognized the sin for what it was. I asked my friend for forgiveness and immediately in front of her, I went to prayer audibly and asked for forgiveness. And I asked God to help me not fall into shame. It has been a long time since I’ve committed a sin like that…. I had such godly sorrow for what I said and knowing what I said was hurtful to my friend’s walk with Christ and could be a stumbling block for her.

I practiced James 5:16 with a mentor….and though my heart is broken for my sin….and that the enemy briefly got a victory…..I have not allowed him any more ground by allowing his sneering accusations to take hold. I have not fallen into shame and condemnation. Praise Jesus! That is a huge victory!! “There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) That is Truth and today I am standing on the Truth of God’s Word. No….means no….there is no shame when we are in Jesus….He took that to the cross so we can be free. And…we are free….free indeed.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:36

How long Lord?

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.  (King David) Psalm 13

Have you ever asked God “How long?”  Have you buried your face in the side of your bed as you knelt before the Lord and prayed earnestly over and over for change?  Have you felt forgotten by God?  Have you looked  at those who have what you desperately want and need and felt a stab of envy plunge through your stomach?
The comparison trap is so easy to fall into. When the pain never goes away because the situation never changes it’s even easier.   My marriage is not happy…..it’s a struggle each and every day.  I pray for my marriage; I pray for my husband.  I am well aware of 1 Peter 3….. I love; I forgive. I pray some more. But….we struggle…..a lot. He married a woman who could tell an off-color joke as well as any man…..who used the “F” word as an adjective in almost every sentence. Who watched filth on the TV and movies…..and praise the Lord, I am not the woman he married. But, I’m sure he misses the woman he married….the woman who complimented him so well. Now…..we are so different and it creates a lot of friction.   He responds in anger and his words cut like a knife.
This morning I shared in Sunday School about my first marriage and how I ran to a man thinking he would solve all my problems, the marriage ended in divorce due to abuse and infidelity.  Two other women shared similar situations and then shared how God had redeemed their life and brought them godly husbands.  They were full of gratitude for what the Lord has done in their life.   I didn’t want to feel it…..that twinge of envy……quickly followed by “How long Lord……have you really forgotten me in this painful season?”  And those old feelings of not being good enough for Him began to well up inside.  I know where those feelings come from…..I know the enemy wants to convince me that I am not loved as much as “Sally” or “Jane”…….that I am less lovable…..that God has forgotten me…..
It’s such a messy, mixed bag of emotions.  On one hand I am grateful, oh so grateful for where the Lord has brought me….brought me out of a pit of despair and has set me on solid ground.   My heart is full of praise and adoration to my Jesus!   But there is that small part of me….that part of me who cries foul………who sees the worldly unfairness of it all and feels just a little bit sorry for myself.   That part of me who feels abandoned.    I know that feelings aren’t facts….and feelings like that are lies from the pit of hell.   And I try to take the thoughts captive and focus on Truth.
Most of the time…..most of the moments of my life are spent with praise in my heart choosing as David did to worship:  “I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.”  The Lord HAS been good to me.  I don’t deserve what He has freely given me.  I don’t want to be envious of my sister’s in Christ.  I want to have a glad heart for the way God has worked everything together for good in their life.  I want to trust that He will also fulfill that promise in my life as well.   I want to have a glad heart and rejoice in the Lord always!  He is worthy of praise even in painful circumstances!   I know He loves me with an everlasting love and chose me before the beginning of the world.   I know He is good.  He is love.  He never leaves me.  He never forsakes me, in fact, right now He is interceding for me.   I love Jeremiah 29:11-12 in the Message:  I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.  “When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.”

Give me faith to trust what you say
That you’re good and your love is great
Elevation Worship

 

 

 

 

 

It is FINISHED!

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

I have been reflecting on this verse for several days. What hope there is for me in the last words Jesus spoke. It. Is. Finished!

The feelings of unworthiness that go back as early as I can remember……It is FINISHED! The drunkenness that almost took my life…..It is FINISHED! The lies I told and secrets I hid……It is FINISHED! The adultery I committed in my drunkeness……It is FINISHED! The things I stole and the people I hurt……It is FINISHED! The things people did to hurt me……It is FINISHED! The lust and perverse thoughts that started in childhood……It is FINISHED! Everything the enemy meant for harm…..It is FINISHED! FINISHED!! FORGIVEN!!

All of that sin and so much more…..every single sin….my shame as heavy as a mountain….but that day on the cross….He moved that mountain. He took my shame upon His shoulders that day. My sin and the darkness I walked in engulfed Him as He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)  Forgiveness…..Finished once and for all….Salvation complete by the shedding of blood.

“And He gave up His spirit”…..His physical death……made the way for my death……made the way for me as a new creation. He made the way…..the question is…..am I going to give up my spirit? Am I going to surrender my desires, my “rights” and my selfishness?

Salvation is a one time decision….surrendering my flesh…..is a day by day…..minute by minute choice. Sometimes I choose poorly, I make a decision based on self…..sometimes my flesh chooses for me before I even realize sin was an option….I’m oblivious to the scheme or the lie or I react in old ways. Sometimes I fall face first in a pile of manure. There have been times I’ve jumped in over my head willing drowning in stench for pleasure’s sake. As I reflect on this passage of scripture… it’s my prayer “Jesus finish me!! Take away my selfish desires, my stubbornness and need to control. Help me choose You. Help me to jump head first into Your grace. Help me Jesus to fall face first at the foot of the cross…..surrendered to the completeness of the work You did on the cross for me. Cover me with the blood that shouts triumphantly ‘It is FINISHED!'”
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

The key to obedience….

To everything there is a season….          Ecclesiastes 3:1 

After weeks of prayer….I turned in my key yesterday. Not the key to my work…..not the key to an old home after moving to another. Although it is a home of sorts. It’s the place where my family lives. The place where I know I am loved without judgement. The place where I became a part of….where healing of old hurts took place because of love. I turned my key in to my old church home….and it was difficult to know this chapter was closing…but I’ve walked this road long enough to know sometimes we are called to the hard things.

A few months ago, I began the role in leadership of Celebrate Recovery in another church in my community. It has been an amazing experience. As we started meeting weekly two of my friends that attend my church asked within a week’s time if I felt like I was being drawn to that other church….if I felt like I was being led to attend there with my CR people…..and I hadn’t really thought about it….I was convinced God needed me at my church as He has used my transparency to foster change among the women there.

Shortly after….it came….a stirring of conviction……keenly aware of a prompt to visit there the following Sunday….and I prayed all week….trying to make sure. Sunday morning came and I almost stayed in bed as it would have been the easiest decision to just do nothing….but I knew in that the enemy gets a victory so I prayerfully got ready….no idea where I was headed in my Sunday clothes…..only knowing I was going to church….but still unsure of which until I got in my van, backed out into the street, at the stop sign, I prayed again….then felt compelled to turn left. I sat with another CR leader in sea of mostly unfamiliar faces….but felt peace about being there. After, I felt like I needed to be open to changing my church home. I felt that we, my husband and I needed to really pray about this decision.

I prayed about that discussion….talking to my hubby. I had an uneasiness about his reaction and I tried to put it off…but feeling conviction….I bit the bullet. I prayed and asked God that if He wanted us to consider this change that He would make it clear by my hubby’s agreement to at least consider it. My husband’s reaction was totally not what I expected. My hubby agreed….wholeheartedly agreed….and we had the most spiritually encouraging conversation….and it seemed  not only like confirmation but I began to recognize this change, this change of homes…..may not be about me. Celebrate Recovery may simply be the vehicle God used to drive me to the stop sign….to be willing to choose left. This past month every Sunday we’ve gone left. My husband’s mind made up after a couple of weeks….and although I had peace while I was there…and even through the week…..I drug my feet…..I didnt want to say it with finality….didn’t want to yield to permanently leaving the safety of His flock of my people…the family I had grown to love. Don’t get me wrong this new church is a good church……I feel welcome and it too is an awesome church with good leadership, solidly grounded in the Word of God. The only problem…..it isn’t home. Yet I knew in my heart of hearts my resistance to this change was disobedient.

So I made an appointment with the Pastor who had been spiritually challenging me weekly for the past five years…..a man I respect tremendously. As I explained what brought me in…..and even though during the conversation, I tried to keep the finality of this decision at bay…..I knew. I knew this was the last time I would walk in as a member…..I knew that I needed to walk out surrendered to that fact. It became clear what I needed to do…..I dug in my pocket for my key….my symbol of belonging to this home of God’s family at the corner of 6th and Lincoln…..and gently layed it in Pastor’s hand.

And I grieved the loss of my home the second I walked out the door….yielding is painful sometimes…..

…..but I know there is a room full of women in my Friday CR group who need to find their church home too….who need to find the healing that I have found through the unconditional love and acceptance of those church ladies at my old home church. That this new home of mine was slowly becoming their home….every Friday night……and that home is the easiest door to walk through. I recognize that the other CR members and I can be the bridge for those women and others to walk in the door on Sunday morning. Likewise, maybe because of our obedience, the new church home can be a bridge for my husband and I to a new level of commitment to God in our lives and our marriage.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own underatanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct  your path.                 Proverbs 3:5-6

Oh God, how I need You…..

​He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Psalm 107:20

We all need healing…we are all broken people….broken from sin….sometimes broken from addictions….hurts from abuse…..broken humans in desperate need of healing.   When we accept Christ as our Savior….healing begins….our sins are forgiven….we are reconciled.   As we cry out….His blood….His amazing grace flowing red….warm….splashes over us…..covers every sin….covering the ugliness….with His beauty. Salvation is an amazing gift!  

Salvation started my healing….but my healing has been and continues to be….a journey.   When I spend time with Him…seek Him….study His word….I experience my Healer reaching down to bring more healing….this healing, unlike my salvation is a process.  

I know His word is powerful….spending time with Him brings healing….peace….joy.  Lately spending time in the Word is a bit of a struggle….my desire to study….my hunger for the Word….surpressed.  I am still in the Word…..but mainly out of obedience….because I know I need to stay close to my Healer….stay in His Word….armour up every day.   This season of lack of hunger for His word has gone on awhile.  One of my friends mentioned John 15 yesterday….and Jesus wanting an intimate, abiding relationship with us.  I recognize the intimacy I had with my Jesus slipping further away….if this were any other relationship….the likely cause of decreased intimacy is my wall building…..and I need to examine my heart….am I stiff arming Jesus…in some warped method of self protection….  I know I need Him….I desperately need Him…..but I’m not desperate for Him…..I want my hunger to be for Him….not for things of this world.   Usually by the end of my blog….He helps me tie up the loose ends into a conclusion of truth…..today this song is where my mind keeps going…..I sometimes use songs as prayers as I kneel before the Lord…..I sing to Him…..words that my heart longs to express….Lord…I NEED You….Oh I need You…..Oh, God how I need You.  

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

To teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
When I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus,…

-Matt Maher

Dear Daughter Who Feels Forsaken…..

Another Hallmark holiday at the door…..for those of us who haven’t had greeting  card sentiment relationships….it can be a difficult time.   Perhaps your relationship with your father was strained….difficult…abusive.  If that is you…..picture these words on the prettiest card you’ve ever seen.

Dear Daughter Who Feels Forsaken,

I know It hurts when one of the most foundational relationships in our lives….isn’t picture perfect.   We longed for a dad….a daddy.  That big strong man….arms open wide to scoop us up to his shoulder.  A daddy who’s love for us we could always count on…..a daddy who protected us and kept us safe.  A daddy who wanted us….encouraged us…cherished us.

Oh my fellow sojourner…..we do!  “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Psalm 27:10). God loves us so much, He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16)    Our loving Heavenly Father can be the Dad we’ve always longed for….when we believe in Christ for salvation….we become children of God. “you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.  Now we call him, “‘Abba Father'” (Romans 8:15).  We can call God our Abba Father!  We can have the intimate relationship we have longed for….in our Heavenly Father.   He is a Father who wants us……not only did He adopt us, the Bible says He predestined us for adoption (Ephesians 1:5).  So before we even knew we needed a Daddy…..He had already adopted us!

He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).   Nothing we have done or will ever do….can separate us from the everlasting love of God.    Let me say that again, “there is nothing in all creation,  that will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus” (Roman’s 8:39).  We have the Daddy we longed for…..He is our Big, Strong Daddy,  He scoops us up and sets us on wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31).  He is not only strong Dad, He is our strength….our refuge (Psalm 46:1).    With our Everlasting Father…not only do we feel safe….He IS our safe place!  “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.” (Psalm 18:2).  We are safe….protected…..loved!

God will never abuse us.  He calls us precious….and He honors us (Isaiah 43)……He doesn’t just treat us respectfully…..He honors us….cherishes us.  Oh daughter, we are not forsaken, because our  Heavenly Father will never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

He is always with us.  “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness;he will quiet you by his love;he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Just think….right now, our Heavenly Father is singing over us….He’s singing the song our heart longed to hear..the jovial birthday chorus…..the Sunshine song when our feelings were hurt…..Butterly Kisses.…the lullabye in the dark of the night….He sings for you….with you….about you.

For you……He sings!