Sunday, September 23, 2018

Unforgivable?

Look at what you has done. And there be no forgiveness for.   ~BFG (Big Friendly Giant)


Feeling one man's hands wander over me
when I was just a little girl of three;
Accepting what evil that men did
as right and good, sins that others would forbid;
Welcoming whisky's burn to aid forgetfulness,
to quiet tears of sorrow and bring rest,
are these among the unforgivable?

Believing what one man said of me
that I was worthless, unlovable, somehow dirty;
Wishing that wishes could stop my beating heart
so no other selfish men could again tear me apart;
Shooting poison, forgetfulness into my veins;
to quiet memories that accuse and reign
are these among the unforgivable?

"Look at what you has done. And there be no forgiveness for."
Accusing voices in my head, as memories I struggle to forget, ignore
This, this is the nightmare that I live,
longing to know a God who is able to forgive
the worst of sinners, wash me clean
give me hope and joy, promises of love thus far unseen.

Or are the things I've done
and that have been done to me
among the nightmare
of the unforgivable?

But then His love washes over me,
whispering that I from guilt and shame am free
from wicked that was done and that I did,
evil someone should have forbid.
His grace fails to forge forgetfulness,
but comforts tears and solicits quiet rest
Jesus's death marks every sin forgivable.

Believing what this One man says of me,
Confident I have worth and love and dignity.
Jesus speaks healing to my aching heart
promises that He cares and has set me apart.
His life now pulses through my veins
and to Him I surrender, grant full reign.
Jesus's death marks every sin forgivable.

"Look at what you has done. And there be no forgiveness for."
is the lie I'm learning still to forget, ignore,
Jesus gives not only life, but the will to live,
whispering to my aching heart that yes, indeed, He does forgive.
Me, worst of sinners, He washes clean,
fills me with joy, with love, promises previously unseen.

He marks all the things I've done,
FORGIVEN...
all that has been done to me,
through His death He marks forgivable.



















Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Blessed


Blessed are the poor in spirit
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Matthew 5:3 


I don't belong, that is the song that my brokenness tries to sing. I am broken and worthless, the worst of sinners, it constantly hums to my heart. I walk into a perfect little church on Sundays with all the beautiful people who seemingly have it all together, and I am ever reminded of my daddy's words: "No one could ever love you. You are a worthless whore." Or his reminder on other drunken days, "Girls are made for two things - dishes and sex." And I feel his hands on me again. And the panic comes, fear that someone will know my dirty little secrets and discover not only that I have been used, but even worse, that my faith faltered and I chose to use drugs to deal with the pain. I know who I am. I stand with the apostle Paul. I am the worst of sinners. 

The battle for freedom is constant, a constant taking every thought captive to Christ and speaking truth to the memories. Worst of sinners, poor in spirit, these are truths that have brought me to the most important truth: Jesus died for such as me. When I surrendered my life to Him thirty years ago, He made me holy and blameless, redeemed me. I am His beloved, and He is the worth of my life. To my desperate poverty, Jesus's death has whispered that I am His Father's great treasure.Truths that take constant rehearsing for a girl who was rejected and abused, constantly accused of being a waste of space, told she could have been loved if she had only been pretty or smart or born a boy. The girl whose mama used to tell her, "Your daddy never took a drink until he had you." 

Facing the hurts and horrors of my past has brought me to a space of healing. It is daily imperfect progress. Some days the past slithers in to remind me of my own faults and failings. And drugs knock on the door, promising relief from the accusations. In those moments, I am learning, constantly learning that the only answer to such accusations is the very words of my Heavenly Father. His Word is the truth that I need my heart to cling to. His Words are the ones that replace the lies and heal the hurt. His words are the ones that proclaim who I am. I was chosen before God laid the foundation of the earth. He has adopted me as His child (that means I am wanted!!). And so much more. 

If you are struggling with who you are and what you have done, read slowly through Ephesians 1. Make a list in the margin of what God has done for you and who you are to him in Christ.  I began reading it daily over two years ago and God just continues to remind me of who I am in Jesus, of his all-consuming love for me. He is a good, good Father. Today, may He give us each the faith to believe that His Word is true for us, that His grace is sufficient for all of our weakness and poverty. 





Sunday, September 9, 2018

Five Hundred Fifty-One

Victory counted in minutes, hours, finally days
Until my mind, my body no longer caves
to the drugs it daily, hourly craves.

Five hundred and fifty-one
Days of victory have been won
through the power of Jesus Christ the Son.

May counting not end this day
As I trust Jesus to light the way
to freedom from the guilt and blame,
as for my sins He bears the shame.


Written in response to Poetic Bloomings Prompt #214 - Your Number's Up



Wednesday, September 5, 2018

His Light in My Darkness

Every morning I have the radio playing as I step into the shower. This morning was no different. As Worn by Tenth Avenue North belted out of the speaker, I let tears of joy stream down my face. There was a day when those words were all that I could pray. I had no words of my own, just this plea before God that I needed to know that He could win the battle going on in my life, that He could take the ashes and the mess I had made and redeem it. On my own, I felt helpless and hopeless and trapped. 

In those moments of hopelessness, what I needed-what all of us need -is more than a song or prayer. I needed the Light of Jesus to shine into the darkness of my past and my pain, my present and my circumstances. I needed God to turn my eyes from the shadows and the lies of defeat to the Son and the truth of His victory. Oh, others could tell me His promises (hadn't I memorized so many of them?) and recite His goodness (hadn't I lived His goodness?), but the pain was too deep and the darkness so bleak that I stumbled to believe. Nothing anyone else said was able to penetrate the grief and sorrow, the flashbacks and terrors. What I needed, as I still need and have always needed every single moment of every single day, was for Jesus to turn my eyes to Him, to strengthen my faith and enable me to believe that all the promises in His heart and His Word were for me - that He was and is for  me. I needed God to open my heart and shine His light, to fix my eyes on Jesus. I was incapable of doing it myself. 

Most days, I am on the other side of the darkness of my past. I can boldly proclaim that His redemption wins. He can and does make a song rise "...from the ashes of a broken life." He has healed my heart, once "frail and torn."  In the midst of the battle and darkness, though, I could never have believed there was any hope for me or for a future on the other side of this darkness.

So for you, friend, if you are struggling with pain and sorrow, with grief that keeps you from believing that there is any good in your tomorrow, I pray Jesus will enable you to look up, that He will redeem what the enemy is trying to destroy. I pray that God will give you the faith to believe that He is good and He is for you. His promises were written for you and for me. It's okay if you doubt. We are incapable of believing on our own.  It's okay. "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." (Mark 9:24) That was the cry of my heart so many days. 

And if you aren't struggling, but know someone who is, might I just ask that you love them through prayer, asking God to give them eyes to see and ears to hear, and a heart to believe that He is with them, that He loves them, and that He will work even this horrible, rotten darkness out for their own good? And maybe, listen to the song Worn, pray it for them. Pray that they will see redemption win, that they will see God heal their heart and mind. And really? Just be present. Love them not with words or advice or quoting Scripture, but by being present, non-judgmental. When using Scripture, do it in a way that encourages, not in a way that demeans or reminds them what a mess up they are - chances are, if they are like me, they already know.

Romans 8:26-27




Monday, September 3, 2018

The Heart Set on Christ

"The believer can each day be pleasing to God only in that which he does through the power of Christ dwelling in him."   ~ Andrew Murray
I am in a near constant battle with my flesh. But my heart, set on Christ, refuses the flesh its sinful pleasure. Christ is my strength and the joy of my heart. How I came to fall to the sin of addiction is so hard to explain. And others don't often understand - how can they understand what I can't understand myself? How did my faith fail when I thought it was so strong? How did the love I have for Jesus not hold steady? More importantly, how did I fail to remember His incredible love for me?

In these moments, as the accusations assault me and the panic begins to swell in my chest, I am always tempted to run back to the one thing that could make me forget the shame of my failure. But it is in these same moments God gives me what I need to set my heart on Christ. He who gave me all that I need for "life and godliness" will not fail me now. I may fail, but He will not. It takes purposeful effort to fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, to lean in to Him and rely on His strength, but it is in doing this that I find Jesus enough. He strengthens me. Where my faith once failed, He has shored me up. I seek Him in the storm and He whispers "Peace, be still" to the waves of accusations and the cravings for drugs.

I, who once tried to be pleasing to God, am now confident that He is most pleased when I am resting in Jesus, relying on His strength. Even as I battle the need for the poison that once drew my heart, God is pleased with me. Through the power of Christ dwelling in me, I am an overcomer of addiction and past memories. Leaning into the power of Christ, I am victorious over the anxiety and panic that have tried to consume me. These are the things that I am learning and coming to understand.

In Jesus, the accusations of my past fall silent. He is the Advocate who goes before the Father and willingly takes the burden and punishment of my guilt and shame. Remembering that He has already set me free from the weight of my guilt and shame silences the accuser and puts an end to the accusations. Reading His word and being reminded that He has already paid for that which is trying to claim me sets me free to live without the shame of my past mistakes and failures. I am free, redeemed.

And for you today, whatever you battle - anxiety, panic, addiction, rejection, self-doubt, broken relationships, memories of abuse, wrongs you've done or wrongs done to you - the truth is the same. God is pleased with you, not because of your successes or failures, but because you are in Christ. May you today rely on the strength found only and always in Jesus. May today you dwell in His sufficiency and grace, lean in to His strength and find Jesus enough. May you be freed from the accusations and shame of your sin, ever aware that Jesus went to the cross to redeem you!

"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness."    ~ 2 Peter 1:3

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:1-2



Thursday, August 30, 2018

Peace in the Storm

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.                                              ~Isaiah 26:3
Last night was sleepless as round after round of thunderstorms passed over us. My youngest ended up between me and my husband in bed after a brilliant zap of lightening and a wall shaking kaboom of thunder. As he snuggled in tight to me, I whispered God's truths to him in prayer. From my heart flowed words of gratitude to the God who created the heavens and the earth, who commanded them even through the storm. This God that loves us controlled every bolt of lightening and every boom of thunder. Because He was with us in the storm, we could be strong and courageous. (Matthew 8:23-27, Joshua 1:9)

Praying these truths out loud changed my son, as he calmed and fell into a peaceful sleep. Nothing outside had changed. The wind continued whipping the tree limbs against our little shack while the rain pelted. The lightening still illuminated the sky, followed by roaring thunder. Yet by turning his eyes to God, His love and protection, His strength and presence, my son was transformed. Truth silenced fears and shored up faith. With eyes fixed on God instead of the storm, my little guy settled in peace and could sleep.

The same is true for me, as I struggle and battle. The storms of life too often claim my attention and begin to drown me in a sea of fear and doubt. But, as I recite the truths of God's Word and His true and precious promises, as I remember who He is and what He has done, I am transformed by His Word. I, who was once ruled by fear and uncertainty, become confident in the God who made me and delivered me from sin,death, and darkness. The fears are silenced and peace guards my heart.

And for you today, the same is true. The storms of life may continue to rage around you, but even in the midst of them, God never leaves you alone. He is your strength and your courage. He is your safety and peace. He deeply loves you and is with you in the storm. Today, may you know the peace and love of God. May He enable you to fix your eyes on Him, no matter the size of storm you are walking through!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

By My Side

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you."~Isaiah 43:2 (emphasis mine)

My youngest son struggles with fear. His fears have kept him from really great experiences. We took him to a climbing wall not long ago at a local park and he stood in tears afraid to climb. His brother bought him a bike for his birthday that he refuses to ride because fear has kept him from learning how. My husband and I have prayed with him and reasoned  with him and tried to help him overcome his fears.

Today, I stood next to this youngest boy of mine, encouraging him not to give into his fear. His dad and I reminded him that we  love him and would not ask anything of him that would cause him harm. Still, he stood on the edge of the pool, terrified to jump in. Multiple times he attempted to overcome the overwhelming fear, only to climb back into the pool by the ladder. Finally, I jumped in. Then, I got out of the pool, stood next to him, walked every step with him and jumped with him. There, with me an arm's reach away, he was able to step out of his fear and jump into the pool. And once he did, we couldn't stop him. He kept doing it over and over again, amazed at how fun something as simple as cannonballing into the pool could be.

As I watched him jump over and over into deeper and deeper waters, I saw my fears in him. I have kept myself from so many experiences because of fear. I have let the panic attacks control me because I did not know how to stop them. But the truth is, I do know how to control them. My therapist gave me all kinds of tools to use to get me through the panic, but I stumble and forget. Not only do I forget the techniques, but I forget the even more important things, like God is with me. As He leads me into deeper and deeper waters, He is taking every step with me. Just like I was waiting in the water for my son, just in case he couldn't make it to the edge, God is in the depths with me, catching me when my fear becomes too much and I lose sight of him. Event then, He is upholding me with his righteous right hand.

And today, I am praying that when the panic comes His Word and promises speak louder than the fear, that His presence and love are the truths that I cling to. When the fears and memories of the past taunt and accuse my soul, I pray the God who created me enables me to remember His promises and the truth of His Words.

"A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, the comfort me."        ~Psalm 23:1-3 (emphasis mine)

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."    ~Joshua 1:9 (emphasis mine)




Escaping Egypt

“…the land of the free and the home of the brave…” we sing before every sporting event, but for me, freedom has been elusive. And bravery?...