Monday, July 30, 2012

Voicing A Difficult Truth

What I am sharing today may be uncomfortable for some of you, and you may wonder why I would share something so personal, but for me it is important for a couple of reasons which I will try to explain. 

Some of you know that I have been using homeopathy for the past year to help heal my body. It is hard to explain how it works, I just know it does. Throughout the process old physical symptoms, emotions and even events that are held in the body or remembered by your cells (there is a lot of info on cellular memory that you can find online) come to the surface.  This gives your body an opportunity to heal itself, and it has worked wonders for me.  Several months ago I started using a more intense level of the remedy I have been taking for the past year. In a short period of time my physical symptoms increased greatly and I started having memories that had been buried deep inside. Since I do not have many childhood memories at all, it was quite surprising to suddenly be remembering being sexually abused several times by my uncle's stepson when I was around six years old.  For many years I knew I did not have good feelings when I thought about this boy, who was 12 at the time, but I did not know why.  About a year ago I began to sense that I had been abused by him, but there were no clear memories.  Then a few months ago I began having flashbacks of the abuse.The reasons that these memories have been buried for nearly 58 years are some of the same reasons that I am speaking out about it now to a world beyond my own family.

At the time of the abuse, I was told by this boy not to tell anyone, or else I would be hurt even worse. Even though I was threatened, I eventually did tell my mother and was told by her to never talk about it again. She was very upset and as a small child I took this to mean it was my fault.. I remember feeling ashamed, embarrassed, and afraid. Evidently I buried it deep inside.  Talking with my homeopathic doctor and of course Joel, who has done extensive counseling over the years, has helped me as I work through this and also understand my mom's typical response for her generation~ "Don't talk about it!" I believe the abuse ended when we moved from there or after I told my mom. I am not sure, but thankfully it did end.

I am speaking out about this now because I was told not to so long ago. I did not feel I had a voice and I did not feel listened to. That carried over into adulthood, and those feelings and others have shaped portions of my whole life. Feeling unsafe has always been at the top of that list! Taking back my power, letting go of the "lie" I believed about myself,  and using my voice to hopefully help others is also going to help me on my own healing journey. It takes a lot of energy to keep something so significant buried for so many years. I believe healing our inner wounds is very helpful for giving our body what it needs to heal. We are more than just our body~ we are spirit, soul and body interconnected.  I have also prayed about putting something so personal out into the world, and I believe God has given me encouragement to do so. 

This past month I have been having pretty intense flashbacks, which has been very challenging at times. These events can be triggered for many different reasons.  In many ways this is a blessing because it seems the body is ready to heal from this after so many years! I have turned to the Lord in prayer over and over and He has supplied my needs, bringing healing as I acknowledge and work through the physical and emotional reactions to the memories.

I like to watch Rick Warrens church service live on Sundays, and when the recent memories first began to surface,  his sermon for that week just "happened" to be about abuse! (Thank you Lord for supplying what I needed)   He named several steps to help break free from the affects of abuse and number 1 was~ DON"T keep it a secret. This was not very easy for me. When I shared it with some members of my family, I would shake and sweat profusely, but I knew that getting it out in the open was giving me back my power. Rick Warren also spoke of naming the abuse, which I have done. Step 3 was, "Don't minimize it!" I had been unknowingly doing that and my doctor told me the same thing. She named it for what it was and said, it was horrible, it caused you great pain, and it affected your whole life.  I needed to hear and accept that.  There were other steps too, including doing what you can to begin the healing process and letting God settle the score.

I am also sharing my personal story in case there are others who are in need of healing. With 1 out of very 4 women going through some form of abuse, I am sure I am not alone. I pray if you have not found help, you will have the strength to take back your own life and be set free from the damage this does. God wants to heal you. I am standing on the promise given to me in a scripture God brought to my attention at just the right time.

"I will give you back your health and heal your wounds, says the Lord."
Jeremiah 30: 17

Let me speak briefly to how my mom handled this~ Truly, as best she knew how at the time. The boy who molested me? I agree with what Rick Warren says, "Hurt people..........hurt people." An excuse? No way. Without going into detail, he knew it was wrong and he knew what he was doing. It may be difficult to forget now that it has surfaced, but forgiveness will help me to heal and I am working on that. The fears and anxiety that have saturated parts of my life? That is just not working for me anymore! And that little six year old girl? She did nothing wrong. She was not to blame. And "she" is healing by speaking out now and breaking the silence. She now has a voice.. I have a voice. You have a voice.

"Don't panic.  I am with you.  There is no need to fear. I am with you.0
I'll give you strength.  I will help you.
I'll hold you steady, keeping a firm grip on you.
Isaiah 41:10
The Message

Some might ask, where is God when bad things happen to people?  Recently I listened to a story of a woman who had shared about a horrible event in her life.  She should have died, but she lived!  She said God took care of her.  Her dad asked her, "Where was God when you were raped and shot three times! Her reply?  "He was with me, holding my hand."   I cannot imagine what she endured, but her trust in God has sustained her.  In all the things that have happened throughout my life, I have felt the same way, but today I speak of the abuse.  God was with me holding my hand.  When I hurt He hurt.  When you are hurting He is with you too, holding your hand and weeping with you.

As I said at the beginning, some of you may wonder why I would share something so personal. I do so as a way of helping others, and as a way of healing myself.  I am determined to overcome this. And for me that means being open and honest, and making it my story to tell.

"You are a product of your past, but you are not a prisoner of it."
Rick Warren

 I am changing the ending of this part of my life story by shifting the power back to me and focusing on my future.  With God's guidance I am healing one day at a time. Courage? Yes, I have courage. And if I have courage, we ALL have courage to be overcomers in whatever threatens to take away our best life.

"For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord,
plans for good and not for evil,
plans to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, July 27, 2012

Conversations In The Garden: Forgiveness

About two years ago, during my quiet time with the Lord, I started visualizing going into a garden to meet with Jesus.   At first it was a garden of healing, and eventually I realized I was going into the garden of my heart.  These conversations really help guide me on my daily walk.  As you know, I have been sharing some of those conversations here. 

Recently, after asking the Holy Spirit to calm my mind and block out all voices except those of God, I "went into" the garden of my heart and spoke to God about the subject of forgiveness.  Immediately I saw two chalkboards.  On one board was a list of people, but before I could even read the names Jesus had erased them all!  How quickly He forgives our sins!  On the other chalkboard were names that I recognized......people I felt had hurt me and who I needed to forgive.  As I erased each name I prayed for strength to forgive and also repented for any part I had played in the situation.  There were two names that were listed at the I will share about next week, and the other was myself.  I prayed over the last name and then moved on to myself.  As I tried to erase my name it kept coming back.  I would erase it and it would pop back up on the chalkboard!  It did not take me long to recognize a truth I have known about the person I see in the mirror ~ I have a hard time forgiving myself.  I am sure you all can relate, and yet God tells us to love ourselves as we love others.  Part of love is forgiveness. 

The conversation on forgiveness really resonated with me.  I know how important it is to let go of past hurts, even though it often takes great effort to do so.  Yesterday this particular conversation came back to me when I was visiting my dear friend, Linny's, blog, A Place Called Simplicity.  I have the privilege of leading Linny's prayer group, The Knee Team, and have come to cherish her friendship. Linny has written a post sharing photos of some of her children with their grandfather.  Not so out of the ordinary unless you know Linny's story which you can find on her blog.  She had a pretty tough childhood and yet, she has forgiven her father and those who brought her harm.  In obedience to God she has forgiven and forged ahead to maintain some kind of relationship with the man who made her childhood more than a little challenging.  In obedience, in forgiveness, in love she has reached out. It would be difficult to do the same, but in fact, I am in the process of forgiving someone who also made my childhood and my adult life challenging at times.  More than she will ever know, Linny has blessed my life as a mentor and a friend during this time. 

The Bible speaks clearly on forgiveness in ways that can seem a bit harsh.  Jesus says,
If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will  forgive you.
But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 6: 14,15

Sometimes forgiveness seems unfair or impossible, but we are not left on our own in this task.  The Holy Spirit helps us to forgive.  The same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives within us and that power gives us the strength to do all things, including letting go of hurts and anger. 
This has come to mind for me during the past week as the stories behind the Aurora, CO shootings come to light.  I pondered how those who lost loved ones will put their lives back together.  I pondered how they will make sense of such madness.  How will they forgive and move forward?  I believe only with God's help will they put their lives in order.  He waits for us to ask.  There are other verses in the book of Matthew that give us guidance. 

Keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for. 
Keep on seeking and you will find. 
Keep on knocking and the door will be opened for you.
Matthew 7:7
As I shared in the beginning of this post, forgiveness is not only for others, but for ourselves. In more ways than one.  Whether it is against ourselves or others, holding unforgiveness in our hearts is harmful in so many ways. God loves us so much that He has given us a strong command with consequences if we do not follow through.  Forgive and be forgiven.  Forgive and be free of hurts. Forgive and have peace. Forgive and be free.  Free in Christ.  I think it is time to go back to that chalkboard and get out the eraser!!

I am linking up with Spiritual Sundays

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stepping Out In Faith: Part 2

"I speak to you continually : through sights, sounds, thoughts, impressions, scriptures.  There is no limit to the ways I can communicate with you."
Jesus Calling
by Sarah Young
One of the ways I know God is speaking to me, is when I receive the same message from more than one source.  It may be through the scriptures, a devotional, an email, nature, or the words of others.  When I feel God is "speaking to me" I look for confirmation to make sure it is a Word of Knowledge and not a word from Renee!
Last week I went to a family reunion at my daughter and son-in-law's in NW Minnesota, about a six hour drive from here.  For most people that is not a big deal, but for me it was huge.  Major.  You see, I had been very ill for several years with Lyme and coinfections, and CFS and my reactions to chemicals, gas, etc. was so strong that I seldom left home except to go to the doctor.  Traveling that far was major, going into someone's house was major, being exposed to the fragrances of 37 people was major.  Having the strength and energy to make this trip? Major!  I had not been gone overnight from my home only once in 8 years and that was for surgery.  I had not traveled that far in 10 years, and I had not been back in this area for 16 years.  This was big.
But the Lyme and its buddies were dead now, and I have been improving and healing and I wanted to go on this trip.  We made plans, stepping out in faith.  I told mys sister Jan on last Wednesday, "I am stepping out in faith and going!"  Immediately I felt overwhelmed with fear.  What if??????  What if?????   I asked my hubby Joel to pray and I did the same.  We were both a bit apprehensive. 
God, speak to us! 
We need to KNOW if this is YOUR will.
I opened my email and read a devotional by Rick spoke about STEPPING OUT IN FAITH, the same words I had spoken to my sister.   As I read on Rick spoke about Joshua and I remembered that I had read Joshua 1:9 3 times that week.....

"This is my command, Do not be afraid or discouraged,
for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9


I immediately felt the fear leave and an excitement take it's place.  I knew I was to go.  Joel told me later that while he was meditating he felt in his heart these words, "She needs to go.  I will be her place of safety."
That brought to mind a verse that I hold close to my heart:

"I will lie down and sleep without anxiety,
for You alone, Oh Lord, will be my place of safety."
Proverbs 4:8
So, I went.  I had a great time!  I did better than we expected and I have many memories to cherish from those days.  In obedience I listened to God and let Him be my place of safety.  Stepping out in faith, just like I shared HERE last Wednesday, can look so scary, but always remember, God will be our place of safety.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stepping Out In Faith

I don't know if you have seen the Indiana Jones movie where he is trying to get across a chasm that looks to have an endless drop below.  He has been told that if he just takes one step out into the air, the path will appear and there will be support underneath him.  In the natural it looks like he will fall to his death, but in the unseen is a hidden walkway across the chasm.  He needs to trust that it is there, and take that first step of faith.

We sometimes find ourselves in the same kind of circumstances.  We come to a place in our lives where we know that if we are going to be obedient to God and makes those changes in our lives that He is urging us to do, we must step out in faith.  In the natural it looks bad.  Fear or doubt grips us and what we experience with our five senses can hold us tightly in a grip that feels safe.  But God's promises, His Word, tell us a different story.  They require us to step out in faith believing that God will provide the foundation and support we need to walk forward on our path.  He alone is our place of safety.  His promises are always kept.  He alone we can trust. 

That first step of faith can look so big, but God is bigger than all our problems, all our circumstances. He walks with us, providing all we need, including those unseen pathways across the chasms in our lives.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Conversations In The Garden: The Tug of War

"My child, pay attention to what I say.  Listen to my words.  Don't lose sight of them. 
 Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them,
 and healing to their whole body."
Proverbs 4:20-23
I wrote a post a few weeks ago that described my meditation time where I visualize going into a garden to have conversations with Jesus.  You can read about them HERE.  I always pray that the Holy Spirit will quiet and control my busy mind, and that I will hear only the God's voice.

Recently I went into the garden with an agenda.  I immediately started talking about the allergies I was experiencing and went on to say,  "AND what is with the other symptoms that are coming up.  I know that I am healed......Isaiah 54 tells me that, but I continually need to bind and declare the symptoms be gone.  What else do I need to do, Jesus?"

Immediately I saw a tug of war going on over a small creek.  When I looked to the right I saw myself pulling at the front with others behind me, and when I looked to the left I saw people I did not recognize pulling against me.  I could not see, but felt Satan encouraging them, ordering them on in their quest.

Then I heard Jesus say, "Let go of the rope and lift up your hands in praise" and I did so before he was even finished speaking.  Immediately, when I let go of the rope, the people pulling against me fell to the ground!

Of course!  As long as I was in a tug of war with Satan our enemy and his buddies,  they had the power to resist and keep me exhausted and in a state of confusion and worry.  But when I let go, raising my face and my hands to God in praise, my focus shifted and they lost their power. They run from the name of Jesus!

Yes, the Bible tells us that Satan has to flee when we speak the name of Jesus, and that there is POWER in the Word.  I already shared one of my favorite verses concerning God's promise of this that is found in Proverbs 4.  There is so much power and wisdom found in these few verses that they are worth repeating.

"My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen to my words. Don't lose sight of them.
Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them,
and healing to their whole body."
Proverbs 4:20-23

I am linking up with Spiritual Sundays

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Beacon of Light

Yesterday Joel and I were able to watch an Internet premiere of  the movie, "Father of Lights" by Darren Wilson.   It was the last in a series~ the first being "The Fingers of God", and the second, "Furious Love".  The film was good, but one segment stood out for us~ that which involved a man namedTodd White who is empowerd with the gift of healing and knows what to pray for before people tell him what is wrong.  He was shown in Old Jerusalem praying for people of all religions.  You could see how God's love is the focus of his ministry and he shared how he believed we ALL need to reach out to others from a place of love.  I think people could "feel" Christ's love through him, as they seemed to be drawn to him.  You could see the God of Light in this young man's face.  He just glowed with God's love and grace. 

Today when I opened my devotional book, "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young, I heard God speaking as I read, "The Light of My presence is brilliant and everlasting.  Walk in the light with me.  Thus you become a beacon through whom others are drawn to Me."  Todd's face came to mind.  In the movie I noticed Todd's funky way of dressing and his dreadlocks, but what made a lasting impression was the joy of Jesus that came through.
When Christ lives in us we cannot help but let that love flow out to others. As I think about this movie and this man who made such an impression on Joel and myself,  I find myself asking if God's Light radiates in me?  Is the love of Jesus in my eyes, my smile~ in the words I speak?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Memorial Box Monday: The Family Trip

Memorial Box Monday was created by Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity.  She keeps a memorial box filled with mementos reminding her of God's love and faithfulness. Each object in her box has a story to go with it. These stories of God's faithfulness support and carry us through life. The idea came from Joshua 4:1-9. You can read more about it at Linny's blog. Please go there and link up to share your own MBM posts, or read those of others.

Today I am going to repost a story about the time our family went on a 4 week vacation from Minnesota to Washington and back. We took 6 kids, ages 17- 7, and our dog, along with our pop-up camper, our clothes and food, and an extra tent. Our nine passenger station wagon carried us and pulled our camper.
It was so unusual for us to have the funds or go anywhere but to visit family on vacation, that our children call this adventure "The Trip", and it stuck.  Those two words immediately identify and bring fond memories to mind for us. We sold one of our vehicles to be able to go. We had $1200 to spend for the whole month and knew it would be a challenge, but we also believed this trip was important and we could do it.
We visited friends and family, and a former 3 point parish we had served 3 years before. Sometimes we stayed in campgrounds, and other times we parked our camper in the driveway of those we were visiting! We toured a couple of colleges,too, as our oldest was going to be a Senior and was thinking about where she wanted to go.

We only dined "out" 3 times in the whole month, other wise buying our food at local grocery stores and cooking on our camper stove. Between those meals and the meals our friends graciously served us, we ate well!
This trip included wonderful fellowship and seeing several sights including Mount Rushmore, Devil's Tower, the Pacific ocean, and Seattle's Space Needle. We were able to see where I was born in Pasco Washington, and visit the Black Hills and Deadwood where I lived as a young child. The Trip was wonderful and having 6 kids of various ages did not seem to create a lot of sibling rivalry. We even came home without spending the whole $1200.
Where is God's faithfulness is this story? Certainly the whole trip was a blessing, but the amazing abundance of God came when we returned home, and through another unexpected source, we ended up receiving a check for $1200. The exact amount we took on the trip! Thank you Lord!

I think I will put the small travel journal I kept on this journey we took in 1985 in our Memorial Box to remind me not only of all the blessings The Trip brought our family, but of how God provided the money we needed for the trip, and then replaced it when we came home! Amazing Grace!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Lime Green Tennis Balls And God!

I had a dream last week....I was in my home church sanctuary, which is quite large, with a big balcony.  I was sitting in a pew and I kept getting hit with tennis balls.  Yes, tennis balls!  The lime green ones.  I kept looking around to see where they were coming from and finally I asked aloud, "WHERE are these tennis balls coming from??"  A voice answered, "Satan".  I looking up as another one came down and hit me and I could see that many of the  tennis balls never made it down to me, but were stuck in mid air!

I immediately woke up and thought, "I really need to change this dream" as the tennis balls were reigning down on me,  I had myself say, "Satan, in the name of Jesus and by the authority given to me as a believer who is 1/3 wall to wall Holy Ghost, I command you leave this sanctuary!  You cannot stay here!"  Of course he left.  He has to!

As I lay in bed trying to go back to sleep, I started pondering the meaning of the dream, and very quickly I heard a voice inside me saying, "YOU are the temple of God, YOU are the sanctuary of God and Satan has no authority over you.  The sanctuary in the dream was actually me!  God lives IN me.

You realize, don't you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you?
 No one will get by with vandalizing God's temple, you can be sure of that.
God's temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple.
I Corth 3: 16,17

I then pondered those tennis balls.  Satan was hitting me with tennis balls....hmmmmmm  First of all, tennis balls are not rocks! They can hurt but not really harm me.  They certainly cannot kill me!  Even death has no lasting power because we have eternal life!!!   AND all those balls stuck in the air??  I soon realized that they were the ones that God kept from reaching me.  I was protected from Satan's "fiery arrows" that came in the form of lime geen tennis balls!! 

Thank you Lord for taking care of me even when I do not know I need it!  God is always watching over us.  I fell back to sleep thanking the Lord for his protection.  Thanking Him for giving us the Holy Spirit within and the believer's authority to tell Satan to take a hike.  Thanking Him that Satan has NO authority and runs from the name of Jesus.  Thanking God that I am being pelted by tennis balls and not rocks.

Lime green tennis balls?  Who would have thought I would find comfort in such a thing....but I did.  God can use all things for our good, even a dream about tennis balls!

I am linking up to Spiritual Sundays