Friday, September 30, 2011


My face has rested on directly His feet and I can do nothing but pray and cry. I'm praying for the ability to heal and forgive. A recent series of events has brought me to a place where I can feel nothing but my pain. All I can do is be faithful that He will bring me through this storm because there is no way I can do this alone. I don't know where to start. I don't even know how I'm going to move past this, in this very moment. My emotions are in high gear and my insecurities are on red alert.

The truth is, my pain is all I can focus on. And I ask myself, "Is it wrong to focus to intently on my pain and on my feelings?" I wonder if I'm missing an important part of Christianity here, and I'm sure that I am.

The truth is, I cannot forgive this on my own, but His strength allows me to -- if I'll choose it. But do I want to? I know I need to. I have to. I have to resolve this thing within myself and at some point move on. The sooner the better. But maybe I'm rushing it. Maybe I need to allow myself the time to absorb it all and take it to God. But maybe I just need to make the choice to move on...

Regardless of who is wrong or right, we're each held responsible for our own junk. Holding grudges only hurts the person who holds them, so why is it so hard to let go? I heard Joyce Meyer say that although feelings are God-given and we shouldn't let them manipulate us because that wasn't His intent. She said, that we should ask,"What am I feeling?" and  "What do I want that I'm not getting?"

She suggested that we first take our feelings to the Lord, quoting 1 Peter 5:7:
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.(NIV) (KJV version says: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.)
She related the words "worries" and "cares" to feelings and says that we should ask Him to help us sort out our part of the equation. I know I'm guilty of speaking how I feel without talking to Him about it first. But the times where I have done so given me so much insight, wisdom and understanding.

I'm reminded of my previous blog "Be Courageous". Lately, I'm reminded to be brave, in order to honor Him. I want this to be over, and I want to do the right thing. I need to choose to move on, but putting my own pain aside to do so can be so hard-- especially when the wound caused bleeding (figuratively speaking). But I must press on.

The thing is people are always going to hurt us, and we've all been scarred by someone's words or actions before. I'm quite sure I've dished out a lot of hurt myself. It's just the very nature of us humans, being that we're so flawed and dysfunctional.

Most importantly, we can't have a real relationship with Him if we're holding grudges of our own, which brings forgiveness right to the top of my list. I can't bear distance from my Lord after having been so close to Him. And I can't even hear Him if I let my emotions run rampant. It's a continual process that never ends--control my emotions, listen to Him, pray-- over and over. But the results are all worth the effort. This isn't over yet and I refuse to be so quick to call it that.

I encourage you also, in your moments of pain, to be faithful and press onward. If He was wounded, we can't expect any better treatment.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Be Courageous

Jesus responded, "Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!" Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. (Matthew 8:26 NIV)
I can't count the number of times that fear has held me back. I know I should reach out to this person, or speak what's on my heart to someone close to me-- but I don't. I fear their rejection, I fear judgment and most of all I fear making a mess of things. Fear keeps me from doing so many things that I know I should do. It's leaves weakness in my bones and paralysis in my soul. I often stand very still, knowing what I should do and wanting desperately to move--but I don't, and in that moment I don't think I can. It's all because I've been dwelling on Satan's lies and lost sight of the truths of my Lord and consequently, I've been weakened.  
Lately, it's in those moments that I hear, "Oh ye of little faith..."

Anyone who knows me, knows that when I speak there's a 90% chance of storms because I'm pretty good at making a mess of things. Either I will say something entirely all wrong, or the other person's belief in Satan's lies will cause some contention. There's danger in being transparent, that's why most people aren't. But the whole Christian walk is, by nature, rocky. Anytime you put yourself out there, you make yourself more vulnerable and our fleshly natures don't like to be vulnerable. It's human nature to self protect. But part of the Christian walk requires that we not walk in the flesh, and that we be courageous. His truths promise us that if we take that step out there, He has our back.
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
Isn't that worth rejoicing over? The Lord tells Joshua to be courageous many times in the book of Joshua. I strongly believe that being courageous is far more encompassing than fighting a battle. It's the way we're supposed to live our lives. 

I see so many things in myself that are the result of fear. I've never seen myself as a fearful person but lately I realize that I am. I am afraid of SO many things deep down. And those fears have held me back for far too long. I want to obey Him, but I can't even do that if I let my fears rule over everything else. It seems to me that the "little" fears can be the most dangerous fears because we don't even know they're there until they have snuck into every aspect of our lives.

I heard this song titled "Courageous" by Casting Crowns. You can view the lyrics and video here. The lyrics were too long to post but they're definitely worth reading-- and how oh-so-true the really are. The words, "We were meant to be courageous" spoke to me deep in my heart.

It's a simple choice--which do you believe, Satan's lies or God's truths? Many times, I'm forced to ask myself: Do you believe that your weaknesses are stronger than His mighty strength? Do you believe that other people's thoughts of you make you who you are? Or do you believe that He loves you no matter what and that He sees the finished you long before you ever do? He reminds me that I must combat Satan's lies with the truths of Jesus Christ.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
He doesn't judge us or "look down" at us in the way men do. He doesn't condemn every little flaw we have, nor does He go looking for reasons to bring harm to us. He loves us in such a way that we humans can only imagine. He wants the best for us, as we do for our kids. And he can handle every single one of our issues without leaving the side of anyone else.

A few days ago, while my heart was heavy, He spoke these words to my heart, "No matter what, I'm still in control."

I'm having to purposefully work to remember His truths in the midst of my storms. His truths tell me that He will walk with me and if I stub my toe He is there to hold me up and help me to press on. He will heal my wounds and make me stronger than before. The more I try, the more I honor Him and the more He blesses my heart for it. This is something you'll never know until you do it.
So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. (Acts 27:25)
His word doesn't weaken, or confuse. If we feel confused we're to focus on His written word, and know that He never changes. I'm having to learn that my brain needs retraining. I hope you'll pray for me regarding this, and I encourage you to be courageous as well. Courage is the result of intent, it's not accidental. It comes from choosing to believe the truth.

Be courageous and be who he called you to be.
Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it. (Ezra 10:4)

Friday, September 23, 2011


Proverbs 10: 12 says Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.
As a storm was brewing, I sat on the concrete in the breezeway of my carport and cried my eyes out. The force of the wind pushed my hair to one side of my face as I sat, praying for God to speak to my heart about this pain I was feeling. I begged Him to heal this situation. I just couldn't stop crying because all I could think about was the hurt I was feeling. I felt a presence near me, and I knew it was God. I looked up at the sky and I felt these words so deep in me.
"It's all going to be okay."
I had previously shared something about my spiritual struggles with my husband and didn't get the response I had expected. I struggled for days beforehand thinking I had to keep this thing to myself--afraid that my best friend would judge me. I recognized the ugliness in me and I really wanted to keep it between me and God. But the more I struggled with it, the more I've been convicted to share that part of myself with the person I feared would judge me. I feel that shame is something the devil puts in our minds. It's meant to isolate us from others and the way to combat shame is to expose it. So that's what I did.

Have you ever done this? Am I alone here? Have you ever told someone something about yourself and come away feeling disappointed and hurt because they didn't respond as you'd expected, leaving you feeling rejected and stupid? Maybe it's pride, maybe it's the shame itself at play here. I'm not sure. But I did walk away with a few lessons.

First, I realized that this was an opportunity for me to practice forgiveness. And in doing so, I had to make my mind up to set all my hurt and ill feelings aside. Honestly, this is easier said than done, but those of us who believe that Jesus Christ is Lord already have His spirit in us. In that, we are able to do anything He requires us to do if we set our fleshly natures aside and recognize that it's not about us--it's about glorifying Him.

Forgiveness, like anything else in the Christian walk, is done with intent. It doesn't come easily and it's unnatural to our fleshly natures--it's work. As Christians, we have a choice: Will we follow the desires of the flesh or His Holy Spirit. The other point in forgiveness is that if we want a relationship with Him, we have to forgive. I'm convinced that unforgiveness is a growth stunter.

I also realized that I was putting my hurt feelings before my desire to serve God. Frankly, I was offended and I let that offense take over completely. Someone recently shared with me something they heard about offense.
"Each time we pick up an offense, it's like we drink poison. We need to learn to just love people & think the best of them...therefore we won't get so easily get offended. Ever since then, every time somebody makes me mad, I think about that. Because honestly it's true, I'm like you, if I allow myself, it will boil into a big huge mess that shouldn't even be." Kerry McDaniel
The words she so recently said came to mind as I calmed down. And as I sought God's word about offense, I found this. 
 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10: 12
As I read that verse, my heart stung a bit. I kept wondering, "Why is this so hard to let go?" As I thought about this and sought His word, it became more obvious that I was putting my feelings before obedience and love by hanging on to this offense.

This leads me to my third lesson.
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV
We're supposed to be in control of our minds. What we think of and how we think are things that we Christians are supposed to be intentional about. Our minds don't just immediately change once we're saved. As we seek Him and He shows us new things, we are supposed to replace what's already in our minds with whatever He shows us. It's critical to our growth that we not only be willing to change our minds but also that we gain and retain complete control of every single thought we have. Otherwise, our flesh wins and we continue to be nothing but mere baby's in Christ--unable to handle the bigger chunks. 

Our broken moments are never any fun. They hurt. They're gut-wrenching at times. But He wants to use those very things to improve upon us-- to bless us. He says so.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rotten Me

This past week has been respecially rough in some aspects. I'm seeing things in me that I wish weren't there. Each time I see these things lately, I find myself becoming more and more embarrassed and ashamed. This weekend, I found myself wanting to hide from everyone--even from my very own husband. I couldn't vocalize these things that hurt so much, and I've felt so much shame. I fear that you'll judge me, and I'm sad that I'm not better than I am. But it's time to face reality-- I have some things in me that desperately need His cleansing.

I'm learning that if we want any shot at getting over our issues, we must expose those things to light-- and there are different ways of doing just that. There are somethings that my soul begs to speak of--to someone who can relate, but then there are other things that are best given only to Him (and left right there). We must move past our fear of being judged in order to be healed.

Stupid things get to me at times. It's as if something that I've made big (by way of not letting it go), tests whether I've really learned anything at all. At times, I grow frustrated over the very perception of not getting what I "think" I deserve. I find myself looking for things to be angry about. Lately, I've also found myself dwelling on the past when others have wronged me. Sometimes I get so deep into those thoughts that by the time I realize where I've gone, I've already surrounded myself with a mess.

The more I look into myself, I realize that we're all like fruit. Parts of us start to rot due to our dysfunctional tendencies. In referring to rot, I mean things like pride, jealousy, selfishness, lust, hate, and other sinful mindsets that can very well lead to sinful actions.

When we expose the rotten spots to Him, he cuts it out and rebuilds that place in us to make us stronger and better than before. That rot can spread fast if we don't consistently acknowlodge our weaknesses and ask Him to clean our hearts. The rotten spots always hurt, when we realize they're there. When you finally see the rot, it hurts to look at yourself and it hurts to be you. The pain should serve as a warning sign that something is wrong. It should make you cry out for His help. He wants to clean out the rot and make us more pure, more like Him. He wants us to be prepared for life, for battles and to be the "light" of the world. But if we won't acknowledge the rot and ask Him to cleanse us, how will we stand? Rotten things will only crumble in a battle.

Lysa TerKeurst, in her book "Made to Crave said something quite significant. 
I’m not saying that eating is a sinful desire. What I am saying is, if you have a script like this (“I’m fat, I’m ugly, and I’m not capable of getting it together”) playing in your mind, then something is waging war against your soul. First Peter 2:11 reminds us, “Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and strangers in the world to abstain from sinful desires which wage war against your soul.” In other words, if something is waging war against your soul, it is a sinful desire.
We all have a wars waging against us. It's important that we be in tune to who we are to know exactly what issues we have threatening to keep us from growing. If we see problems in ourselves, it's a blessing. He's giving us an opportunity to be changed, and true changing must happen in the core.

As we mature we learn that no matter how far we come, we will always have road in front of us. And it's important that we remember this so that the road in front of us never discourages us. Not a soul in this world is free of dysfunction, regardless of how you were raised, how much money you have or how old you are.

In a sense, our rotting condition is a blessing. It only means we get to be remade--stronger, more functional, more pure. It hurts but sometimes it takes a little hurt to get our attention. And nothing worth having ever comes too easy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

For My Husband

Today is my husband's 34th birthday. In honor of him, I want to share some things I love about him. This is the short list. There are MANY more.

He is a traditional kinda guy, in many ways. He is strong, both mentally and physically, but he is also human which helps us to relate. He believes in being responsible, and takes pride in taking care of us. He has old values, which almost no one has anymore. He believes in being the kind of man that you just don't see much of anymore.

He loves and values me and he makes an effort to show it regularly. He loves my strengths, and even some of my flaws. The rest--he just accepts.

He loves our baby girl, and my two kids too. He treats them all as equal and shows them love in various ways. He counts it a good thing to be able to take part in raising them. He takes that "job" quite seriously. And he makes them respect me.

He makes effort everyday to be what each of us need. Even though he is human and is far from perfect, he makes consistent efforts that show us his love quite abundantly, even in ways that don't come naturally to him. More important than getting it right are his efforts, which speak volumes.

He is the touchy-feely type, which balances me out. I'm not that way but him being that way has opened me up to him more than I ever imagined.

He is willing to do whatever it takes--for any of us, at any time.

He isn't a complainer, unlike me at times.

He makes me feel safe. His strength, and his willingness all come together to allow me to be a woman (for a change in my previous experiences).

He lets me "in" more each day. And I know him like no one else does.

He loves The Lord Jesus Christ, and seeks Him through His word. I can see how the Lord has "grown" him in so many ways. His decision to "do it right" by seeking the one true God tells us how important we are that he wants to do right by us AND that his priorities are straight. What better way to honor your family than to seek God in it?

Happy Birthday to the love of my life, Chris Travis. He truly is my Mr. Incredible.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

About a Year Ago --a Testimony

Once upon a time. my life was an absolute disaster. I was a statistic.

I was born to unwed parents, both of them were young and made plenty of their own bad choices. I was raised by a single mother, who worked hard everyday of her life to make sure we ate, and sometimes we barely did. I've seen my mom beaten more times than I can count. I saw my dad for two months out of the summer. I had one set of grandparents, unlike most kids, but I rarely saw them either--although they were wonderful enough to make up for the other two I never knew.

I was a statistic...waiting to happen.

I was saved by the blood of my Lord and Savior at 19 years old. I had a good pastor who directed  me my walk, encouraging me to serve the Lord with all my heart and soul. Still, there was so much I didn't grasp. I knew I couldn't live life my way but I still had this strong-willed flesh to contend with. That pastor later moved after having losing his precious wife.

I married young-- to my first husband. We thought we wanted the same things but looking back, we were never on the same page although we both were Christians. Because I grew up unsheltered to many things, I wanted protection for my kids--from instability, from the abuse I've seen, from the poor life I'd seen enough of. Because my young husband and I never fully put God first, the marriage feel apart just after my son was born. I then struggled to raise two kids (8 years old and 6 months old) on my own.  I went about the seperation the wrong way, and perhaps someday God will have me tell that story.

I knew Chris, my current husband, since he had previously worked with my first husband and later helped him find a job with my employer. Chris had never been married, nor had any children of his own at the time. We had so many issues of our own that together our issues had the potential for an atomic bomb. He and I fought terribly, worse than I did with my first husband. But ultimately we agreed that neither of us never loved anyone else the way we loved each other. We grew closer, and married a couple years later when he was 31 and I was 32.

Just before we married, God spoke to me one day as I was driving alone. He pointed to the issues we had using some then recent circumstances and said to me,
"Knowing all this, do you really think you can make this marriage work on your own?"
Although all the pieces didn't come together in that moment, I knew that if I could not make my first marriage work, I could not make this one work without putting Him first. I can honestly say, I've never truly had that realization before that moment--not even in my first marriage.

The first year was hard, just as to be expected. But we had more junk than a "normal" couple. We had blended families, insecurities and a level of selfishness I'm embarrassed to admit. I had junk from my childhood and my first marriage and then of course he had his own. Things were bad. There wasn't a weekend that went by where we didn't fight. The more we fought, the more urgently and frequently we began to seek Him. Although the realization had been made that I couldn't do this without the Lord, it was sinking in faster than I could manage keep up.

I don't think I've ever before had that much of a sense of urgency over any other situation. It's amazing how many times we humans will try to do things on our own, knowing our ways do not work and knowing just how limited we really are. In marriage, two people bring their junk, and then God brings them together in a way they never could have done on their own, if they let Him. If they don't it's all a gamble.

Tempers, selfishness, insecurities--we have them, but things are nothing like they were. Add a blended family to the mix and POW, what a concoction. We've had things to contend with that normal families never face. And on top of it all, we've both had family members from one side or the other threatening to force us over the edge at some point. Things got really bad...

About a year ago, after Juliette was born, we started coming together on some things. Then, just as the seasons change, God started making changes in each of us so subtly that neither of us noticed for a while. I think I speak for the both of us when I say this: When we looked up to see what God had done for our marriage, it seemed nothing shy of a miracle. And it it continues to be.

The things He continues to do in me and my husband continue to humble me. Neither of us could have survived this marriage with our old ways in place. True changes that come from within, MUST involve Him, or our old natures will always threaten come back up.We don't argue near about as often, and when we do those arguments are rather mild in comparison. We're both more willing to put ourselves aside for the other, and in turn our love has grown a thousand times more. We've struggled through a lot of things, both my issues and Chris', seeking the Lord and His way.

Looking back, I had no idea what I was doing or even how to seek Him, I was just reaching because I just knew I needed Him. But that's just where He starts his work. Before this point in my life, I've never had so many answered prayers.  He renews me and my life everyday, as though none of the past counts against me. Because of Him, I am not a statistic, and neither is my marriage.

Once upon a time. my life was an absolute disaster. I was a statistic. But God (renews broken hearts and lives.)