Thursday, December 30, 2010

Trauma Part 2: When everyone does NOT make it out alive

We were not like other people who go about their business day after day and feel safe and secure when they lay down to sleep at night. No… we were fighting for our lives.

I remember the day I realized that there was something out there that wanted to claim my life. I remember waking up the next morning, feeling the pain in my broken ankles and realizing that this was serious… that this is a matter of life and death.

Recovery for me was not optional. I had no desire to drag my children through the same roller coaster I went on with my own parents.

The other women I met in recovery had the same issues I had. The things that tripped us up were different but the reason why we stumbled through this life was the same. We all believed that we were worthless. There were days when we grabbed hold of the truth but most of the time, we suffered under lies. All of us knew Christ. That was the easy part… it was discovering what our value is as a follower of Christ that was hard.

Everyone of us operated under this lie differently. One would put on airs and tried and display her value as being better than others, in an effort to convince herself that she had worth. She put others down to try and feel valuable. But at her CORE she felt worthless.

Another would try to be invisible. She never felt herself worthy of anyone’s attention. She would work tirelessly to help others, never expecting to receive even a word in return. No amount of work felt good enough for her, she felt she always had to do more. At her core she felt worthless.

Yet another would timidly try and assert herself. There was a tiny, birthday candle of hope that she had something to offer the world and yet it seemed each time she wanted to do something… something meaningful, it seemed someone was trying to douse the flame… snuff out her light. She wondered why she even tried. At her core she felt worthless.

What does this lie do to a person in the dark of night… when the lights go out and the house is still? It wears away at the soul… When there is no truth going in, the lies just multiply. Every mistake, every criticism seems to just confirm the idea that we are not valuable. When I mess up again the lie whispers: “See you messed up again… you can’t do anything right… you’re never going to amount to anything”

We fought the battle together. We told each other truths. Some days we screamed it at each other. Some days we screamed at the enemy. Some days we screamed at God. Some days we cried together.

It was the day they cried alone that claimed their lives.

Each one of these beautiful women believed the lie and took their own lives. They euthanized themselves like a mangy ole stray that no one wants is put down at the local pound. Like garbage that is incinerated they torched their flesh in the flames of self-harm. They were the ones that fell in this gruesome battle. This battle that rages inside our heads… inside our souls…

The battle goes on in our homes, our schools, our workplaces… our churches.

They are the victims of the enemy’s evil plot to snuff out the lives of the people who have so much to offer the world. They are the ones who did not make it out alive.

My mom didn’t make it.

My mother was a pianist. It is her music I miss the most. I crave her song. Not just the songs she used to play… but the way she played them. She played them soft and meditative. She sang softly along.

She sang, “You are my hiding place… you are the one who fills my heart with songs of deliverance… Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in you. I will trust in you… Let the weak say I am strong, in the strength of the Lord…”

I wonder…

Did she believe those words… or were they just something she sang? Or did she believe it one day and forget it the next?

Yes… I grieve. Yes I weep.

I cry to the Lord, “Why?”

“I have battled the SAME lie. Why was I the one to make it out alive? Why did I survive and not her?”

I know the answers and yet I still ask. So I ask, “Where is your glory Lord? Where are you in all this?”

The still small voice answers my why:

“Because you are going to walk through this with me and there are those who are not. They are walking through this alone and you are going to show them the way… the way to me.”

OK Lord… There is a RAY of hope in this valley of death.

First, I have to state the harsh truth: A person can be saved eternally and yet not know how to truly rest in the Lord. A person can believe in Christ and yet not believe Christ. A person can call themselves a Christian and have hope for their eternal soul and yet not have any hope for their life on earth.

That is not what Christ called us to.

Here is another truth: I made it out alive, not because I’m “better” or “stronger” or anything like that. I made it to this spot on the trail solely because I allowed the Lord to carry me through.

That is where God’s glory shines. It is truth that shines through the gaping holes in my soul… the jagged edges of pain and heartache that have the warmth of God’s peace shining through.

How can I have swallowed so much loss and grief and not be simply a shell of a person or drowning my pain in substance abuse? Because God is the master healer. Because God is my provider. Because God is not afraid to be my Wonderful Counselor and hear all my heartache and grief.

Everyday I pour out my cares on him and he carries them. When I go to my Mom’s house and see her night gown STILL hanging behind the door, when I read her words on paper… the words of a tortured soul…. I cry out to the Lord.

But this is not just about surviving. No. Don’t you go there… dear reader. This is about all those painful places in which you and I choose to press into the Lord and find that he has something more for us in life than just surviving. He has a fountain of joy and peace for us in this place.

I look at my children through different eyes. I look at the world through different eyes. I see people in a whole new light.

When someone snaps at me at the grocery store, I don’t get offended or hurt. I try to imagine the pain that they push down, that erupts in angry words to a perfect stranger. When I see a woman who is callously hurting her family to follow her own path, I try to imagine the damage that brought her soul to this place where she is blinded to her family’s pain.

I try to remind myself that we are all in the painful place of having to circumcise our own veiled hearts of the sin that besets us. AND it is a painful place. A place where we have to admit that we cannot achieve perfection and can only hope to walk in the strength of the perfect ONE… the only ONE who never sinned… and came to free us from our own sin.

I see the world through his eyes now. I see the world with GRACE in my heart and LOVE on my arm.

Because you see there is another in my life who didn’t make it out alive.

He never hurt anyone. All he ever did was bring healing to those around him. He even brought a man BACK from the grave and yet he went to the grave scorned and hated… battered and bruised.

Jesus Christ didn't make it out of this world without first tasting death.

And yet the grave could not hold him, because the grave had no power over him. He walked into glory on his own two feet with nail scarred hands.

He gave his life willingly, so that we would not have to surrender our souls to hell. We do not have to surrender our souls to torture either. He has conquered death and the GRAVE and that’s the TRUTH.

I stand on this side of the trauma of losing my mother and other beautiful women to suicide to tell you that this EPIC tale DOES have a happy ending, when you are standing hand in hand with the resurrected Christ. You may feel you are standing alone… a survivor of suicide but if you are standing with Christ, you are NOT alone.

If you are tempted to succumb to the same lie that tells you, you are worthless let me talk to you more on the topic. Read about it here… I have more to say…

and here:

and here:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Why are we drawn to epic tales of people battling in scenarios of life and death; people who are fighting for their lives, fighting to bring criminals to justice, fighting to bring peace to their wounded hearts?
Life is precious. Truth is worth seeking out.
I recently read a post from the blog of a person who has experienced life-altering trauma. I have always felt this woman’s words deeply and related to her view of God and the world. Now, after hearing her story, I understand why. It seems to be the same for many kindred spirits in my life. I find out that the person has experienced trauma and have pressed hard into the Lord.
There are others who experience the same kind of things and have allowed their hearts to go cold. They have separated themselves from the pain and from God.
Not me.
I have the raw edge in my soul that always threatens to capsize my peace. No smooth edges here. Oh, I think, wouldn’t that be nice… nice to know that all this suffering has produced a happy ending. Nice to know that the epic tale ended where everyone made it out alive and well.
Everyone did NOT make it out alive.
We have had many casualties along the way. That truth keeps the jagged edge in my spirit. Today I wear armor. Other days I lay on my bed and weep. My reading today produced a funny quote from a woman named Jennifer Rothschild, “underneath the warrior’s armor, you’ll find a chicken…”
Yep that’s me. I’d like to think my internal constitution is worthy of the armor… that the person behind the shield has the heart of a warrior, rather than the heart of a chicken. But I don’t. It took me years to want to even walk through this life with hope, much less engage the enemy in battle.
But I remember the ones we have lost along the way.
And so I take up arms.
So many days I think, what am I doing? Why do I think I am worthy to take up arms? I know exactly what I am made of… exactly how IMPERFECT and flawed I am. I know all my own weaknesses.
But I do know my source of strength.
It is easy to sit here in the quiet place and pound out words that I hope will impact you in your own quiet place. It is easy (now) to find a quiet moment in my day and listen for the voice of the Lord… seek it out in his WORD. That part of the trail is packed and hard from my footsteps. I know it well.
But to put myself out there… face to face with those women I so long to impact, that is a little harder. It’s a bit more real… it makes me feel my raw edges more. It takes a lot more faith.
I have had the opportunity to do this only a handful of times… and I love it. I love speaking a message of hope to women. I do. I love the women that seek me out after I speak… the ones that have tears in their eyes… the ones that timidly share a tid-bit of their own story. They are the ones that make it worth it to put my heart on the line… to be raw and real in front of perfect strangers.
If my story impacts one person… if my life inspires one woman to press in harder toward the Lord, than it is all worth it…. It is worth the pain I have endured.
I was filling up the car a few weeks ago and I heard an ambulance go by. I immediately began to tear up. This is something I have noticed that I tend to do when I see or hear and ambulance and for the first time in my life I realized why.
Some of the most traumatizing experiences of my life involved the ambulance in our drive-way. After all these years, my soul remembers.
And here is where I pause…
This is the challenge about what I have been called to do. I need to write about those experiences, because people need to know that God can bring healing to the broken places in our life. The fact that I HAVE received healing there makes me resistant to even bring it up again. I have this amazing sense of PEACE around the most painful memories I have.
There was a time when I resisted drudging up the memories because the pain was too great for me to bear. The fact that it was too great to bear was the reason why it had to be brought into the light. I could carry it no longer. I needed my mentor and more importantly my Lord to help me through that pain.
That is why I tell my story to you. Because you need to know that God can take a person who is battered and bruised… scuffed and scarred… and turn their story into a glimpse of glory.
The Lord’s glory is revealed to us at the point where he interacts with his people. When he comes down to me and you, it is ALWAYS good. It may not be pretty or happy and it probably will not be clean. It will most likely be messy and raw and real, but it will be GOOD.
I am reminded that when God made the way for me, it was messy and raw and real. I mean, what is messier than a barn? If you think that barn Jesus was born in is cute and cozy and warm, you’ve never been in a barn. The only reason I can think that the woman allowed herself to duck into the barn to deliver our Lord is that she didn’t want to drop that baby on the STREET. She didn’t want the WORLD to see her back side. At the very least she could shut the door and let her husband be the only one to see what’s under her dress.
Even if the inn keeper kept the barn clean, he probably only did that once a day. Let me tell you, even if the stalls had been cleaned and laid with fresh bedding, the smell of animal dung still remains. The environment is anything but sanitary. People in that day didn’t know about germs but no midwife would have ever dreamed of delivering a child where animals were kept. The only place I can think of that would be WORSE than a barn might be an outhouse.
The birth of Christ took place in real messy, raw place. He came to real people in difficult circumstances. Jesus’ parent’s marriage was not tied up nicely with a bow, thanks to him. They took a lot of slack, no doubt. Who knows how many people turned their noses up at this family, when they went to worship at the temple? I imagine, Mary’s circumstances didn’t feel too glorious when she was changing diapers and cooking over a hot fire. Jesus didn’t grow up on ambrosia and angel dust. He grew into adult hood on real food and momma’s love.
God has a habit of picking the most unlikely candidates. I used to not really understand why. Why would God pick someone who has no formal training past high school and who has the constitution of a chicken to tell people about him? Why not pick someone who has taken college level theology classes? Why not pick the courageous… the person with little or no scars? Why?
The reason God picks the most unlikely candidates is that he wants his glory revealed. If I could do it on my own, no one would see him. They would see me and my credentials. They merit my skill to the training I received.
I, however, didn’t make it to college. I barely made it through high school. I had seen things I should have never seen by the time I was 8. Although I have a supernatural peace around the events, the memories still sting when they come to mind…
I heard my Mom banging on the bathroom door. “Russell! Russell, open the door!”
My bedroom was across from the bathroom. I opened my door to see what was going on. Mom shooed me back into my room. I heard her talking to my Dad through the bathroom door. I heard a bump against the door. I didn’t understand what was happening. I tried to deduce what I thought it was. I had heard my parents argue a lot but this was different. Mom sounded panicked.
Then I heard my mom on the phone with the emergency operator. She told them that she thought he was passed out. I was scared. My heart was racing. Was Dad having a heart attack? I heard Mom yelling at him. She kept asking him what he took. Then I heard the sirens. I heard Mom talking to the paramedics. I heard the paramedics trying to talk to my Dad. I never heard my Dad’s voice… Was he dead? Was he dying?
Then I peeked out of my door again. They were wheeling the stretcher out the door. I remember that my Dad was in his underwear. No pajamas… no robe… just going out the door, undignified. I remember thinking that was what it looks like when you die and about the thing people say about wearing clean underwear…
I don’t remember anyone talking to me about it but I know they did. I don’t remember relatives or church people being there. I’m sure they were. I just remember me and my brother and my mom. I remember discovering that my Dad was not who I thought he was. My Dad was very withdrawn and I didn’t really know much at all about him. I remember at this age assuming that he was like Dads on TV and then realizing that he was nothing like that.
Over the next few years there were other suicide attempts... other times when the ambulance was in the drive way. One time I remember that mom rode with the ambulance to the hospital and left me and my brother standing in the drive-way as it drove off. ALONE. I remember a neighbor, who had been standing in her driveway, walking over to ask what happened. Could she do anything? No, we were fine.
I see it in my mind’s eye. My brother probably reached a hand over to touch my shoulder to reassure me. He was always so strong. I wasn’t crying but I did not FEEL strong. I thought: this is pretty embarrassing. The ambulance came to our house WAY too often. The neighbors must think this is really bad.
I didn’t know then that it WAS pretty bad. It occurs to me now that me and my brother really were alone. My parents were both mentally unstable. We had other people in our life who cared for us and nurtured us but we didn’t have the ones that really mattered. The people who were supposed to be helping guide us through life, couldn’t manage to live their own lives.
How is it that the trauma stays in our bones, even when our hearts have found peace? Will I ever stop crying when I hear sirens? I know my personality helps me empathize with hurting people. I wonder how much of the trauma I endured helped shape my personality.
Would I be stronger if I had not been scared? Would I be empathetic? Well my brother endured the same trauma and yet he is not an empathetic person… He is a hardworking, driven person who doesn’t seem to be affected by much at all. On the outside, he seems to be a very strong person.
I am NOT strong. I stand on the foundation of the rock but I am a puddle. I am as all my sculptures are, on the rock… but I am not fired. I remain soft, pliable… crushable. I remain vulnerable.
Behind the armor I am still a little girl, terrified the enemy will claim the lives of the ones I love.
I am terrified I will scar my own children, just as I was scared. And so I press into the HOLY ONE, pleading for redemption… for transformation. EVERYDAY. Everyday I ask him to fired me, to make me strong.
And the answer comes again today as it has all the days I have asked for this: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2Co 12:9)
1Co 1:27-28 says: But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (28) He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are…
How can I argue with HIS plan? How can I continue to mourn the things I lost when God’s purpose, all along, was to make me into who I am today?
Someone who is STRONG will not rely on the strength of the Lord. Someone who has all the answers will not go to the Lord for answers.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2Co 12:9)
Lord if, in my weakness, I may glorify you. Let it be so… If the trauma I endured served to make me who I am today, then I praise you for it… I praise you for the sirens and the hospitals and my parents who could not cope with life. I praise you for their bad decision and my bad decisions. I praise you for the time I spent wandering in the desert. If just ONE person finds their way back to you, through my story… If just ONE person breaks free from the slavery of their sin to follow you… If just ONE person’s life is touched… one person mind can grasp ONE of the truths you have shown me… it was all worth it…. All the heartache and sadness was worth your glory and your truth being revealed through this VERY humble vessel. Through this real, messy, raw wounded girl, comes the truth that God is good despite what your limited sight can see.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Identity Project

There is a crisis in our world. It is not far away in a third world country. It’s right here in our community. It’s in our schools. It’s in our homes and yes it’s even in our churches. It’s in our children… It’s in our hearts.

It is an identity crisis.

We do not know who we are. The world struggles to find it. People, everywhere, scurry around trying to find the answer. They try to find out what defines them. People seek to find meaning in their life… It’s what we all want: purpose.

Even in the church, we struggle. We know our identity is in Christ… in our minds. But this is a truth that is battling to penetrate our hearts. What does that mean exactly? What does it look like to find our identity in Christ? How do we walk in that truth?

I have found this battle raging in the hearts of many people but there is a segment of society where this struggle is most evident: teenagers. These young adults have their identity wrapped up in what boy they are dating, who their friends are, what kind of clothes they wear…

What happens if the person they are dating breaks up with them? What happens if their friends are unhappy with them or if they do not have name-brand clothes? They find themselves flailing around trying to secure a new identity. These young people grasp for the next thing… the next person to hold their hand so they can have a new identity. If they do not find a hand to hold, they are lost in despair.

Is this something we should be concerned about? Won’t these teens just “get over it.” Many do not. According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death of young people ages 15-24. Apparently this identity crisis is a little more serious than we like to think.

Our children are seeking to define who they are in a society where even the adults are confused… in a society that gives them very little guidance. We seem to think they are best to discover it for themselves.

I disagree.

We are the church. We must give these teens a hand to hold. This is a battle of life and death. Even if our teens are not despairing to the point of taking their own life, what kind of life is it to go from relationship to relationship seeking to find the right one… the one that will define who they are? When the answer is already there… right at our finger tips.

I do not believe most young people will discover this truth for themselves. We must show them.

The Identity Project is a weekend to discover our identity… a weekend where we will take hold of our teen’s hands and embark on the journey to discover who we are. I know that we, as grown ups are a little confused on the topic. That’s OK. We will discover these truths together… Moms and daughters… mentors and friends… one on one.

We will use music and drama, paper and clay, fellowship, food, and friends. We will open our bibles and open our hearts. We will begin a journey of the heart. A journey that I hope we will all continue long after the weekend has ended.

But we have to start somewhere…

This is a starting point… the head of the trail… It will open a conversation with our teens we are afraid to have. Do you know what defines you? Do you want to discover? Many times our teens are more willing than we are. You just have to open the door. I know you need help.

Here is your help.

We will talk about dreams, goals, choices, friends, and yes… boys! We will give the girls successful ways to guard their purity and we will give comfort and hope to those who have already surrendered theirs. We will not just tell the girls what not to do. We will show them what to do. They will hear testimonies of young people who are walking in victory and the testimonies of those who have reclaimed the things they thought were lost…. testimonies of those who know exactly where their identity lies.

The Identity Project Weekend

Where: Winshape Wilderness Retreat

When: February 25-27 2011

Who: Moms and teen-daughters Mentors and teen girls

Recommended for girls 14 to 18 (Younger girls will be permitted in special circumstances)

Details: Arrive 7pm Friday Depart 11:30pm Sunday Bring a pillow, sleeping bag or bed linens, and towel(s) as these are not provided

Cost: $175 per pair Includes meals on Saturday and Breakfast on Sunday.

Deposit of $75 is due January 15th and the rest ($100) is due February 15th

Extending a Hand to the Open Door Home

Special Chicken Ministries and West Rome Baptist Church have decided to reach out to the Open Door Home, a children’s home in Rome Georgia, and invite these young people to participate in The Identity Project. We need your help. The teenagers need scholarship money to attend the full weekend. They will also need a mentor.

The mentor will give one on one attention to these girls for the weekend. No extensive training is required, just an open heart and a desire to give some of your time. All we are asking is that you commit your time for the weekend and two one-hour leadership meetings in the weeks before the event.

Would you consider donating scholarship money for a girl? Would you consider being a mentor? We need Christian women who are willing to give just a little bit of themselves for such a significant spot on these girls’ journey.

Christmas Newsletter

Allow me to tell you the happenings at Special Chicken Ministries. First of all, I have finished writing “Ebenezer” and have piloted the study at my church, West Rome Baptist. Special thanks to my discipleship pastor, Chris Lodge, for letting me get my feet wet there. The pilot group was small but I believe that was the perfect environment for a study that was being handed out weekly. Thanks to Jane, Cyndi, Heather, Tara, and April for encouraging me. Thanks to Dana, Mandi, and Melandie for sticking with me to the end of the study. My most heart-felt thanks goes to my friend Sarah who has encouraged me tremendously and spent hours editing for me.

Over the summer I spoke at a Ladies Retreat hosted by Battlefield Ministries. It is such a privilege to share my heart with women. I spent so many years suffering under lies that the truth that was poured out on me fell on grateful ground. I am honored to pour those truths out on other women. Is that not how the gospel is spread?One person shares truth to another person who shares truth with others. I find that even women who know Christ and have eternal life are suffering under the most dreadful lies.

Someone must tell them the good news. The news that not only does God was them to spend eternity in heaven with him but that he wants to TRANSFORM their lives right here on this earth. We are the BODY of Christ. We should be preaching a message of HOPE, not cowering in the corner of fear and condemnation.

Yet that is exactly the way the enemy keeps us from spreading the gospel.

Hebrews 10:39 says: We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed but of those who believe and are saved.

So we press on!

This past summer, I had already decided that Special Chicken was going to be hosting its own ladies retreat but, at that time, I was also asked to host a retreat for teen-aged girls. Thus, The Identity Project was born.

Please read about the Identity Project here

Even if you are not a mom of a teen-age daughter, I invite you to be involved by praying for the event, spreading the word about the event, and there are also other ways to be involved. We need mentors and volunteers to work the event and we need scholarship money for the under-privileged.

Thank you for rejoicing with us as we continue to grow our ministry to uplift the disheartened body and reach the lost for Christ.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Why Special Chicken?

In April of 2009 the Dempsey family was grieving the loss of Elizabeth’s mother who had taken her own life. Elizabeth found herself crying out to God (as she always does) for the answers. The Dempseys were also trying their hand at chicken farming by raising six chicks. One of the chickens in the Dempsey’s flock was different from the others. The “special chicken” struggled to live. She had apparently been injured and was suffering from a neurological disorder. In God’s perfect timing, the life of this chicken and the round the clock nurturing that was needed to keep it alive was used as an illustration for Elizabeth to understand how much direct care the Lord gives his own flock. Elizabeth began to realize that the extra care she was giving her special chicken was the same kind of critical care God had been giving her mother and most importantly the kind of care He was now giving her.

God had gifted Elizabeth with the ability to visualize spiritual concepts and he used her chickens as an illustration to reveal lessons about who He is to Elizabeth. Also, the Lord revealed that all of us have our areas in which we are a little “special” and need acute care from Him. Some may operate in their own strength but God uses greatly those who instead of leaning on their own understanding, fully rely on the Lord. Thus the phrase, “I am a Special Chicken” was born.

“I am a Special Chicken” means that I recognize that I have broken places in my life and that I am unable to stand in my own strength and I am fully relying on the Lord to sustain me.

Whilst discussing the illustration of the special chicken Elizabeth’s husband, Scott, decided to purchase the web domain with that name in order to give her a forum to convey the message of hope to other Special Chickens out there. Elizabeth posts pictures of the Ebenezers, links articles she has written, and announces upcoming ministry events through the website. Supporters of Special Chicken Ministries can sow into the ministry through financial contributions and by purchasing items from the Ebenezer catalogue. To see the catalogue click here:

Read more about The Special Chicken at:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


It’s a funny trait for an extrovert… or maybe it is because I am an extrovert that it is crucial that I get hours of quiet each day… hours of the waking part of my day in which there is no one around, no one talking to me or even needing me… If my children are at home and awake, my mother’s heart knows that they need me. My mind is always so cluttered. It seems I am always preparing to birth some truth the Lord has given me or chewing on something deep within my soul as I go about the task of cooking, cleaning, teaching, accounting… mothering.

It is like my husband says: I am never where I appear to be.

I wrestle with that, ya know. I go from being resentful that my life circumstance does not allow me to operate at the deep all throughout my day, to rejoicing that I have a full life with many beautiful people to discover the world with. I wonder just how much of the deep is good for me. If I am always at the Well… always on the mountain top where will I impact anyone for Christ? Where is the access point of influence? The influence I asked the Lord to give me over the lost and despairing.

I know I am like a spoiled child most of the time. If people really knew what went through my head day in and day out, they would undoubtedly be disappointed in me. I want the people in my life to care about what I care about. I want them to care what is in my head. Ask about it… desire to extract it.

But alas, I am not the center of the universe.

So begins my season of learning to be selfless.

I am really a selfish person. I have tried to discover why, but that is truly a pointless venture. It is the carnal, the veil of sin over my good heart that I seek to circumcise. I am the most selfish with the ones that are closest to me, especially my husband.

I have said for years that media sets us up for failure in this department. According to what we are taught, we are supposed to seek out the perfect mate for ourselves. That means the person who gives us exactly what we desire. I believe God gives us the person we need.

I heard once that love is most evident when it is sacrificial. If you think about it, love is not a feeling, it is an action. Love is a verb. If we are loving someone, we are looking out for that person’s interests above our own. True love requires that we sacrifice our own desires to give the object of our love what they desire.

That is not what I do most of the time.

At first I gave my husband a list of everything he wasn’t doing for me. Then I decided to stop asking for what I want and I started pouting because he didn’t seem to have a desire to please me. Boy I can be a champion pouter. I can sit and sulk with record breaking endurance. I am not a pleasant person to be around during this season.

Self awareness helps me recognize what I am doing. Spiritual maturity warrants that I make some changes. This is not like my other mile markers that were confessed publically. This one is not a coming-out. This is a going-in.

I have chased after my husband and asked him to hear my heart. I have cried and manipulated and pouted and thrown tantrums. I have not been graceful. I did work in that wretched season and he participated. He held my hand, held my head, comforted me, consoled me… he also yelled at me, ignored me, withdrew from me, forced me to maintain the role he wanted me in… He was not always a saint, but he stayed with me. In his unwavering devotion to me, he remains true.

And I am woefully undeserving of his devotion, just as I am undeserving of the gift of eternal life my savior bestowed on me at the cross. I know my husband would lay down his life for me and yet I suppose that may be where I get hung up.

My husband is not Christ. He will never anticipate my heart’s desire because he was never meant to be my sufficiency. He will never sit on the edge of the bed in the morning waiting to hear what is on my heart because it is not solely his responsibility to care for my heart. Sure there are things that have been entrusted to him as my husband but Keeper of my Heart is a job too big for any mortal man to hold.

It may be my personality, my gender, or maybe my gifting, but I seem to have an unusually large amount of words to share each day. I want to share them with my husband, but after ten years of marriage, I think he is a little tired. I feel the Lord impressing upon me that I still tend to set my husband up as lord of my life. I want to pour my cares out on him, rather than my God. So I am reluctantly trudging up this part of the path… the path to pour my cares out on my God alone. It is tempting pour my cares out on my girlfriends instead but I strangely find myself in a season without friends really close to me. They have moved away or are in a season of tireless business.

I suppose it is not a coincidence.

My Lord desires that I put my trust in him alone.

I pour my heart out to the Lord through my journal. Some times I flip back a few pages to see where I have been recently. Yesterday in church I flipped back and noticed it has been almost a week since I have surrendered my cares to the Lord. Is it because I have not had cares? No. It is because I have been pouting. I have been waiting at my husband’s feet for him to ask me to speak to him.

I have not been sitting at my Lord’s feet.

And so I have suffered.

I have agonized and grumped that my husband seemingly cares nothing for my heart, when my Lord sits on the edge of my bed every morning, waiting for me to talk to him. I have cried that my girlfriends are too busy or too far away to hear me when my Lord is closer to me than any human being will ever be.

I have been in seasons before where I cried out to the Lord and there was deafening silence. This is not that season. This is the season where I have forsaken the still small voice and hopelessly yearned for the mortal voice. I have sought my own interests and forgotten to love. Love is not self-seeking.

It’s funny how I can give my obedience to the Lord and do it with such a rotten attitude. I don’t think that is what the Lord wants.

Lord help me to follow you… to listen for your voice….knowing that you long to hear mine… to commune with me… to hold me… to hold me close to your side.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Quiet Time

I woke up late today. Just enough time to feed the teenagers and get them off to school. Then the dilemma: go meet with God or NOT. The two little ones (they are 8 and 11) are waiting for our homeschool day to begin. So I reflect. When I had all of them at home, I took my quiet time on the couch first thing after breakfast everyday, regardless the hour. They knew to leave me alone until I was done. Everyone was happier for it. Mom is a better person once she has met with the Lord. Now if I get up at the usual hour I have my time in the living room, but if it is late like today, I retreat to the bedroom for my time. It’s difficult though… I can get lost in this place and not come down till lunch time.

There are always distractions calling. The computer that is my partner and ally for communication, has distractions. Months ago I vowed to not open my email or Facebook page until the important stuff is taken care of. It is a struggle. There are so many things to be taken care of. Many times I take a peak at lunch time or while the boys are doing math sheets.

But my Lord made one thing VERY clear. “ME first,” he said.

God before stories... God before husband... God before kids… My Lord is before my to do list and all my friends. When I surrender just a few moments of my time, I live fully in who he wants me to be. I don’t scream at my kids (as much.) I don’t really even melt down anymore. I thought about that the other day when I was overwhelmed with emotion. That would have been a prime time for a melt-down. But I didn’t. I went to my journal and poured my cares out on my God.

So I sit at his feet. This is the place I never want to leave some times… hearing his sweet voice whispering through his word…. Wrapped in the blanket of his presence.

Psa 5:1-12 Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing. (2) Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. (3) In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. (7) But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple. (11) Let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. (12) For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

When God Speaks

This week marks a significant spot on my path. I finished my book. Well, I mean to say that I have all the content written in my book. There will be significant editting done before it is published. I have to say that it would have been nice to sleep in today but alas I woke at what some consider to be an “unglodly” hour. Three or four am is not an uncommon time for me to get up in the morning. It is a common time for me to get quality time with my laptop.

I have four children who need me throughout the day and I find that the most peaceful time of day is in the hours before day break. I wish I had a room with large windows faceing east so that I could see the sun slip over the horizon each day. All I see out my windows is houses.

The girls in my pilot class for the study asked me if I was on cloud nine.

Not really… no.

That was how I felt when I got permission from my pastor to pilot my bible study at my church. At the time I felt pregnant. The Lord had been pouring so much into me through his word over the last five years that I felt pregnant with the message he gave me. It was about this time last year that I was asking God why he gave me the desire to write and sculpt and he told me that this gift was not just for me. It is for others. The purpose for this gift is to help lift others up and draw them closer to the Lord’s side.

I really cannot describe the urgency of having a message to give to others better than: pregnant. It is something that starts small and continues to grow. Once I placed myself in the position to hear from God in his word, the message grew fat within me.

I told my serogate moms, my mentors, “I’m pregnant with a message of hope.” They celebrated the eminent birthday with me. I said I didn’t know when or how or even if I should deliver it. They said I must… this child has something to give the world.

That is probably where I falter.

I doubt my skills as a writer… not the message. I know the message comes straight from the WORD. But I wonder if I convey the message adequately.

Having the pilot group was the key to making sure this message came out. Like the group of friends and family in the waiting room of the hospital, they eagerly awaited the pages. I HAD to deliver. They were expecting me to.

For the past four months I labored to extract the message God gave me from my heart and the Word. The heart is the womb of the soul. It is where the most miraculous things occur. It is where music and art and light come from. The creator’s very image is reflected in the human heart. Once the savior has purified it, the heart is free to create.

Even people who’s hearts have not been purified rejoice in the creation. When a person sees the artwork I do, that comes straight from my heart, they rejoice.

Like a woman who has carried a child within her for the better part of a year and labored for hours, if not days, I feel… exhausted. I anxiously count fingers and toes. I wait for the nurses and the doctor’s assessment of my child. I long to hear the approval of family and friends. They may look over this child of my soul and nod their heads. No one ever tells a new mother that her baby is ugly, even if they think it.

I think my creation looks rumpled… squeezed and pushed through the most awkward of places. It is gooey and pink and somewhat bruised. And the new mother is conflicted… If it had been born in a back alley somewhere I might have tossed it in the trash. But this one was born with witnesses… lovely ladies who trod to our meeting place each week with open hands and open hearts to receive this child of mine… awesome women who watched from the sidelines. Like a team of nurses they assisted me. Even the ones who did not remain to the end served their purpose. They are the ones I most want my child to reach. They are the ones who NEED the hope the Lord has to offer, no matter the venue in which they find it.

Sarah anticipated this child before it was conceived…

she was first in the labor room

Dana was first in the delivery room…

Jane and Cyndi were first to hear of the eminent birthday

Mandi cried. She’s been waiting for this one…

Melandie arrived at just the right moment

Heather and Tara and April rejoiced at the news

They all cheered me on… told me it was worth it… All the tears and fears… joys and sadness… ups and downs… confidence and insecurities… all the time and effort to birth a work of the heart.

The irony of it… Well I suppose irony is not the right word (not sure what is…)

I am “pregnant” again.

This new one is still very small. The urgency to deliver is not yet upon me but I feel it growing. Little seeds were being planted while birthing the first one. As I took in the seed, I thought, “That’s going to grow…”

I am more anxious about the next one. I think it may make me a little more vulnerable than the last… Challenge my constitution a bit more. Like a new mother who suddeny realizes she is going to have two in diapers at the same time, I am not as confident about birthing something else while the first has just come home…

“A little break?” I call out to the heavens…

Blissful, I am not.

Have you ever read the prophets?

You know? Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel… Jonah… All those people in the bible who had a message from the Lord to give to his people… Well, many times they had a hard time of it. I mean, people don’t always want to hear what the Lord has to say. Sometimes the message is hard to swallow.

Isa 30:10 says: They say to the seers, "See no more visions!" and to the prophets, "Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions.

People want to hear things that make them feel good about doing what they want to do, rather than what God wants them to do. I have many times lamented that I seem to be blessed with things to say to people that they do not want to hear. Many times, when I am right here at my computer I argue with God.

I say, “God they don’t want to hear this… They don’t want to be confronted with their own sin, their own personal idols… They don’t want to hear how they come very near to you with their lips but their hearts are far from you!”

Some days I handle this message just fine… The reality is that I have yet to speak a truth that I have not had to experience the heavy end of. When I go to write about it, it seems that the Lord gives me the privilege of tasting, no, eating it all over again. I battle… struggle… fight… surrender on my knees in this place… face to ground, me and God, darkness and light, truth verses lies.

Truth is hard. Truth is brutal some times. It takes courage to face. It takes a gentle hand.

Lord, give me the discernment to have a gentle hand with the truth.

They say, “Be careful what you ask for.”

I asked to hear from God. I stuck my nose in his word for hours each day. In my desperation, I sought his face. At first it was easy… a blessing. No more wandering aimlessly in the dark. Now there is clear direction from the Lord. But what happens when you realize that where the Lord wants you to go is probably not going to be a picnic in the park.

God doesn’t stop talking just because you don’t want to hear anymore.

I have been awakened in the wee hours of the morning going on seven months now and I think to myself, “This is what I asked for…”

I asked to know God’s will for my life… to be a vessel, a conduit through which he can work… I asked God to use me. I asked to be allowed to influence people for Him.

Funny how the very teaching I have been working so hard to pen over the last four months comes back to greet me. The part that sticks out to me is the one where the children of Israel look into the Promised Land and see that it is inhabited with giants. They realized that the land God had for them was not available for them to just walk up and start building their homes in. They were going to have to FIGHT to take it. God wanted the prime real-estate to belong to the people who were doing HIS will. But the people were scared of the fight. Only a few men believed they could do it.

(Joshua and Caleb said) “do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them." (Num 14:9)

The Lord is with us… do not be afraid… I spent some time making sure the Lord was with me in this. Too many times have I set out on a fool’s errand of my own choosing. My zeal has led me out without discernment and kept me wandering around without direction. I believe that is something that many people fail to determine before jumping in with both feet. They have no idea if the Lord’s hand is truly in it because they spend little, if any, time at the Lord’s feet… listening to his voice.

This time was different. I had very clear direction from the Lord and yet my fear was holding me back. I joked with a friend that I was ready to hop a boat to Tarshish. My husband was serious, though. You know how that went for Jonah… Yes Lord, I don’t want to spend time in the belly of the whale.

This leg of the trail requires faith

More faith than I have ever given

Faith that God will provide

I know he will provide for me. This is something we have done together for a long time. But this is different. This is: trusting him to provide for other people… people who might not want to hear the truth… people who would rather have a teacher who tells them what they want to hear… to tickle their ears with pleasant stories.

My stories are not fairy tales. They are stories of real things that live in the lives of real people. They are more like war stories. Yet this battle is not with flesh and blood. This battle is with things that cannot be seen… truth and lies that dwell in the heart… darkness and light in the lives of people who have been bloodied and bruised.

I say the things people are afraid to say. I touch the people others are unwilling to touch… the modern-day lepers of our society… the unsightly spots on the white robes of our churches… They are the ones who need the hope the most. They are the ones who need a touch.

Maybe my struggle is even more like Jonah’s tale than I think. Maybe my purpose is to be obedient, arrive in Nineveh, and be surprised at the result. Maybe the people of this town DO want to hear. Maybe they are poised on the brink of redemption and I just cannot see it. Maybe they are just waiting for a LONE soul who is willing to go where others won’t.

Oh Lord, forgive me for presuming to know what is in another’s heart. Make me an obedient vessel. I submit to your will for my life. I know that there will be a fight to take enemy territory but the land there is good.

Friday, November 26, 2010


I have been at the “bottom of my lap top” since August, doggedly hacking away at the keys to birth these words I have been pregnant with for years. Really I have been at the bottom of my heart. The deep called to deep and I have labored to push it out. Wanting it to be beautiful but also knowing it has to be real. It has to be real or my readers know it’s white washed and refuse to allow it to call to their deep. The depths of their hearts are longing for something raw. They live in the ugly, messy world and long to be rescued into beauty… refusing to see the beauty that is their scattered, unorganized life.

I have never really liked asymmetry. I am a symmetry-craving person. Balance. Not even the slightest imperfection on one side of the painting or the other… that’s what I crave.

My kids used to “butcher” art projects. We would string up beads and my son would just start putting them on randomly. I slow the kids down and carefully explain how to make a pattern with the beads. The boys would never heed my instructions. I let it go… not wanting to crush their pioneer spirits. But I would despise their art projects. I would secretly plot how to get rid of them after the kids had forgotten them.

Why do I do that? Why is it so important to me that what is around me is balanced… symmetrical… perfect? Who is “perfect” anyway? And why do I crave it so? When did symmetry and beauty become synonymous?

I thought about this when I was at a jewelry party once. So much of the costume jewelry that is popular now is well... messy looking. A tangle of beads… a lopsided pendant… a curvy line on one side and a square block on the other… Mixed up, tangled up, messy pile of worthless metal and plastic. Nothing symmetrical… Not an ounce of precious metal… just junk.

I examine my heart.

These women around me are delighted. Their eyes sparkle and shine like the shiny beads under lamp light. They want a little beauty in their harried, messy life.

Is this the truth I have so desperately needed? Life is not symmetrical. We walk this path with very little to balance us out… certainly without perfection. Even if we get our house to be spotless, the next day there will be disorder. Even if we walk through most of our life close to the Lord’s side, we invariably will go through a season of spiritual drought.

Is life just a mixed up, tangled up, messy pile of worthless junk? Is there no beauty there?

Maybe our worth is just a matter of perspective. Maybe beauty is in how we perceive it. When we are scrubbing soap scum to reveal the beauty in the bathroom, we do not feel poetic and inspired. When we are exchanging harsh words and slamming doors, we do not see any jewel to be gleaned there.

But maybe life IS just a tangled messy, pile of seemingly worthless junk. All we see is plastic and steel but there is ONE who values it as diamonds and gold. We see the things that are RARE as the most precious but maybe the things that are common place have the most beauty of all.

Crumbs on the floor after the family gathered together to share food and hearts

Ten pairs of muddy shoes by the back door

Half empty bottles of paint and one ruined shirt-

A lopsided window to the heart of an eight year old boy

Worn wooden planks of a floor who has seen miles of sojourners here

The smudged wall around the light switch

The plant that remembers a loved one gone glory

No forks in the silverware drawer

Maybe this tangled messy life IS beautiful. We cannot see it because we are so close to it. We cannot place the true value on things because we don’t have the right. Only God can do that. Maybe God doesn’t want life to be symmetrical. Maybe his plan is a little imbalanced.

I mean look at the cross… There is a tragic imbalance there. ONE man taking on the sins of the entire WORLD… Maybe God’s economy is asymmetrical.

I remember critiquing a pendant once with my son. I commented that I didn’t like things that are asymmetrical and at first he agreed with me (he so longs to please me) and then he said he didn’t know. Although the pendant was not symmetrical it did seem to be balanced. After some reflection I did agree with him…

We are all on a journey and maybe we will not ever be able to see the balance until we are at the end of the road. God sees our beginning and our end… he knows what the master piece looks like from afar. As my life becomes entangled with the beads of other’s lives… as I lose a couple of pieces off the edge of the table (never to recover them)… as a chunky jewel or wide gap weaves its way into my life: I am trying to stop looking for symmetry.

Life is asymmetrical. Life is messy and not uniform and… beautiful.

We paint our lopsided houses and plant our flowers in crooked rows.

We mow one half of the yard and let the other side grow

We wipe little noses and cry a river of tears

We go to the altar and lay down our fears

We hide in the corner and set out on the trail

We climb to the summit and hold tight to the rail

We push and we pull and break the mold

We step out in faith and try to be bold

We say the truths the world will not hear

We set our jaw and choke back our fears

We grab hold of dirty hands

We till up miles of tainted land

We plant our seeds where cities grow

Hoping to see little lights glow

Into a forest fire of faith

What we do is never safe

It is NOT easy, nor is it fun

We trod the race we are to run

We believe there is value there

Lurking somewhere beneath the stair

We call and coax it in to the light

We ask you to surrender night

Exchange your ashes for what is right

Take your rightful place, my dear

To destination we draw near

Pearls that once were grain of sand

Now have beauty in eyes of man

The world sees us and agrees

From blinded eyes we have been freed