Tag Archive | Healing

Where Redemption Happens ~ Guest Post

Let me introduce you to Laurie Coombs.  I met Laurie at She Speaks for the first time.  While at lunch with a group of ladies, she shared her story with us.  I was held captive by what Jesus redeemed through an unspeakable crime.  I sat in complete stillness, unable to say a word (and for those who know me, THAT in itself is a miracle.)  I saw the radiant peace wash over Laurie as described her journey and knew without a doubt it was not faked, it was not a show, it was the real deal, found only through Jesus.  Welcome Laurie and let her story show you that no matter where you are, Jesus can always redeem ANYTHING. 

I knew something happened. Shaking my head, I adamantly whispered, “No. no. no. no…” But with tear-filled eyes they told me. “Laurie, your dad was murdered last night. He’s dead.”  Startled, my eyes began to dart around the room, not knowing what to do with I had been told.  As my new reality began closing in around me, I felt the shackles of a heavy burden weighing me down, but there was no escape. I wanted to run away. I wanted to scream. I wanted to hit something, throw something. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening, I thought.  But it did happen. And in that moment, my life was forever changed.

Nine years later, Jesus called me to embark on a journey to forgive the man who murdered my dad. But then, He took it a step further: love your enemy, He said. Honestly, the word “love” in the same sentence as “enemy” didn’t seem to make sense to me. What’s more, the word “love” in reference to the man who murdered my dad was repulsive.

I cried out to the Lord and said, OK, God I get the whole forgiveness thing, but love my enemy?  How am I to do THAT?!? Immediately, His response came, bring him a bible. And this is how it  all began.

What began with a call to follow Jesus into my unknown, scary places resulted in the redemption and healing of not only of myself, but of the man who murdered my dad as well.

I have seen the unimaginable happen. And I know first hand that it is God’s intention to take the horrible chapters of our past and create beauty out of our darkness. Toward the end of this journey, I felt God saying to me, Laurie, this is what your journey has been all about. Changing lives. Bringing good out of evil. Beauty out of ashes. This is where it’s at. Not in your past. But what I will do with your past if you will continue to follow me wherever I lead.

God is good! It is His desire to lift us out of our despair and our pain and bring us to a new place.  A place that is rich in beauty and blessing. Yet, God has shown me that in order to get there, we must choose, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, to say yes. To say yes, my Lord, I will follow You. Yes, my Lord, I will obey Your commands. For, it is when we lay down our fear, our pride, and our resistance that we are able to experience life as He intended. The life that Jesus died for us to have.

This is where redemption happens.

And I pray that you are encouraged to say yes to Jesus to whatever He may be calling you to and to embark on your own Jesus-led journey.

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Thank you so much Laurie for sharing your story with me at lunch that day and for sharing with the readers here today.  You are a picture of grace and beauty.

Laurie is a writer who encourages others to draw closer to the heart of Jesus. She lives in Reno, Nevada with her husband, Travis. They have two little girls and are in the process of adopting one or two more children from Ethiopia. Read more on her Blog, and visit her on Twitter and Facebook.

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Script Changes

How has the script of your life changed?

As soon as I read that question I laughed, seriously!  Why laugh because it would be easier to answer what part of your script is still intact?

The script of my life changed at 5 years old when I was first abused.  However I endured childhood and my teen years by imaging how wonderful my life would be once I got married and had children ~ THEN my real life would begin, my life was going to be everything I dreamed it would be, what my childhood should have been, it was going to be Brady Bunch perfect!

Needless to say that didn’t happen ~ not even close!  My life is nothing like I imagined it would be and most days I can look around and say “it doesn’t matter” but at times and seasons it hurts and I want to yell at God and say “haven’t I endured enough?  Really?  Don’t I deserve some peace and carefree days?  I endured a childhood filled with abuse, violence, chaos and nightmare filled sleep and now I have endured 22 years of stress, chaos, tantrums and violent rages from my son.  When will it end?”

And right now I am in that season, I have been in this season for almost 18 months and it’s hard to see the goodness of God, it’s hard to remember He is working, it’s hard to know that He has a purpose, it’s hard to see another one of my dreams die.  I thought by this point I would no longer be a full-time 24/7 parent.  I thought at this point my husband and I would get to be a married couple without children for the first time in 20 years of marriage.  Instead we are full-time parents to a very angry, very emotional, high maintenance autistic son who also has a life threatening illness.

Our nights are not filled with rediscovering each and doing the things we dreamed.  Our nights are filled with tension, our son screaming and yelling at us, throwing things, combative arguing and out right disrespect.  Our nights are about how to just get through one more night.  To be honest there are nights when I want to walk out the door and never look back.

The script changed.  When our son was little I could endure it because there seemed to be meaning and purpose – to raise him to adulthood and give him a better life.  But now my spirit is broke.  I can find no meaning or purpose in living this way for 22 years with no end in sight.  All the life has been sucked out of me and my role as his mother seems meaningless and pointless.

At times and seasons I want to question God “how is this being good?  How is this your best for me?”  And then I am reminded of the Israelite who wandered for 40 years because they couldn’t trust God completely when life didn’t go their way.  I need to change my category of thinking.  I need to allow my pain and suffering to press me deeper into God.  I need to be like Abraham and Sarah who believed God was working in their life….all the time, even when they couldn’t see it.  They had hearts of hope even through their circumstances.

I also need to change my praying and remember the purpose of prayer is not to get our prayers answered but to grow into a deeper relationship with God.  Instead of praying for my dreams to be restored I need to pray for eyes of faith so that I can fully trust God and welcome all the script changes in my life.  I don’t want to be like the Pharisees who closed the mind to Jesus because it wasn’t going how they planned.  I want to open my mind and heart to a new way of thinking.  I want to turn to Jesus and turn away from my circumstances.

I read this and knew that this was a balm for my aching heart:

Like a skillful potter, God can remold my identity into the grace-filled shape He has intended for all eternity.  Best of all, He will give me new life that isn’t based on getting my prayers answered or having life go the way I think it should but on my relationship with Him.

A Confident Heart ~ Chapter 6

Finished Chapter 6.  This Chapter really hit home to me more than the others for 2 reasons:

  • It was part of the talk Renee gave at the RefresHER conference; and
  • Within 2 pages something jumped out at me and I knew then that THAT is where my hurt and my low self-esteem comes from and what I have felt all my life and fear more than anything

REJECTION

I have had a fear of rejection as long back as I can remember-even now I fight that fear.  And that fear has always had control over me and has always determined my moods, my happiness, my self-worth, my value – my everything!  It has determined every action I ever had!

Rejection – the act of rejection.  Reject:  1A~To refuse to accept, consider, to use.  2~Obsolete, to cast off.  3~Repulse.

To refuse to accept or consider – that pretty much sums it up.  I have always felt I wasn’t good enough to be accepted as I was for who I was.  I felt this way at 4 years old.  To cast off/repulse – yep that’s what I thought would happen if I didn’t live up to other people’s standards.

Rejection ~ As a little girl of 4-6 I felt I was a disappointment because I wasn’t a boy.  Even my nickname was a boy name.  Growing up my parents NEVER called me by my birth name.  I remember being insecure even at the age of 4.  I was very shy and clingy.  I was afraid of a lot of things.  I was afraid of the dark, storms, noises I couldn’t identify. I was afraid of screaming, yelling and crying.  I was afraid of making my dad mad or my mom cry.  I was afraid I wouldn’t be loved when the new baby came along.  I was afraid of being alone.

Rejection:  As a girl of 7-10 I felt in order to be liked, loved and accepted I had to do what others expected of me.  I wanted to be a girly girl ~ I loved princesses and everything girly girl (the more frilly the better) but my mom as so not a girly girl and neither was my little sister.  They liked climbing trees & monkey bars; they liked football & baseball; they didn’t cry when burning themselves getting off the Harley.  My sister she no fear of anything and rarely cried.  I was afraid of being hurt, afraid of heights, afraid of many things. 

My sister made people laugh and was the cute one.  I remember when my mom died several people told me “your sister was always the cute and fun one – you were always the pain in the a$$…so dang needy for attention.  You wanted attention so much you would throw up.”  I couldn’t tell them even then that I didn’t make myself throw up for attention….I threw up b/c I was always so unsure of myself and always wondering when the yelling would start that would lead to lots of yelling, walls being hit and my mom and dad hitting each other.

I wasn’t good at anything:  never picked for any teams at school, had no artistic talent – my dad was an exceptional artist. I wasn’t creative – wasn’t even allowed to help with the Christmas tree decorations. I wondered if I would grow up to be pretty like the girls in the “magazines” dad and his friends liked. 

Rejection:  Pre-teen years.  My parents divorced.  I was very shy, a misfit when it came to social situations, compared myself to everyone, realized I would never be pretty, was very jealous of my sister who was absolutely beautiful, fashionable and very social. Had two friends but always felt left out but I wanted to be liked and included so I allowed them to treat me horribly.  I was desperate to feel wanted, valued, included, important – I did whatever it took. And yet I was always excluded.  I turned into a perfectionist – I did whatever I could to feel less invisible.

My mom often told me I was loved – as a matter of fact I was told probably 100 times a day ever since I was little. But I still never felt that unless I was being praised and I found by being the “perfect” one I got praise and in my mind love.  It had a huge consequence – my sister and I became rivals and my sister grew to never like me.

Rejection:  Motherhood and Adulthood.  I have always felt inadequate as a wife and mother.  I have always believed my husband deserves a better wife ~ someone better, prettier, talented, socially skilled, someone who wasn’t abused…everything I am not.  I never would discipline my kids as much as I should for fear they would grow to hate me.  I looked to my possessions, my job, my kids, my husband to determine my value and worth.  I formed friendships that weren’t the best for me and made excuses for their treatment of me.  I bought lavish gifts for everyone so they would like me.  I compared myself to everyone!  I sought position and importance.  I was tired of being invisible.  I wanted to be somebody! and the more I tried the more worthless I felt.

And today?  I still feel invisible, not pretty enough, not good enough.  I still compare myself to others, I still want to be liked and included. I still let other people’s determine my value. I still want my friends to like me, need me and include me.  I still wish I was a better wife and mother.  I am still in my mind, a social misfit, I worry about what I say, how I look and needing that pat on the back and yes at times attention. 

So how am I any better?  I am not – I AM  a mess, but today I am God’s beautiful mess.  When I think about ME those are my thoughts and don’t get me wrong I have some of them each and everyday but b/c of God’s love, mercy and grace I don’t allow ALL of those to control me each and everyday.  And when the majority of them do — then I know as I discovered 2 weekends ago it’s because I have put myself and my wants before God.  It’s a reminder to stop and get my priorities in order. 

For several weeks now I have felt overwhelmed, resentful, alone, lost and invisible.  2 weeks ago God spoke to my heart loud and clear:  I was focusing on ME.  I quit looking to Him for my value, my worth, my importance.  I was looking at the world for those things and the more I chased after th world’s approval the more distraught and unhappy I became.  the weekend of the RefresHER I had a favorite verse come to me in different ways 33 times in 3 days!  And some things Renee spoke about were things in my heart that I told no one! And then Leah’s testimony on the conference call spoke to me as if it was God on the phone – just the two of us.

Rejection is a powerful thing and I now have a word for what I have feared all my life.  but my story doesn’t end with Rejection.  Why?  Because I have a more powerful word to replace rejection — my REDEEMER!!!  And my Redeemer tells me:

‘I know the plans I have for you’ declares the LORD ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future’ ~ Jeremiah 29:11

8 years ago this was the first verse I ever memorized and it’s one I will turn to all the time. It will replace my current life verse as of today.

Oh, and guess what?  I have always been a princess, I have been His Princess!!!!

A Confident Heart ~ Week 3, Day 2

Tuesday (10/4) Answer questions 1 – 4, or so I am guessing.  Melissa is a bit behind but I won’t be around too much tomorrow so need to get mine posted now.

  1. What is the craziest thing you have ever done for love?
    1. Not sure it’s too crazy but I tried to make myself into someone I wasn’t.  Buying clothes I didn’t like but felt like I had to buy those clothes, wearing tons of makeup, tried to earn love.
  2. Think about your desire to find a relationship, a job, a calling, or someone else that would satisfy the longings of your heart.  Like Sam and Renee, have you ever looked to something or someone to fill or fulfill you?  Describe how that might have shaped the pattern of your thoughts, decisions and pursuits.
    1. My whole life I have look to things and people to fill me, do make me feel loved, secure, valued….
    2. I couldn’t make any decisions for fear of making the wrong choice, upsetting or disappointing someone.  I didn’t think I could function without them.  I took their viewpoints as my own because I was afraid of hurting their feeling and because I assumed if I didn’t think like them than my own viewpoints were wrong, silly or stupid.  I felt lost, afraid and lonely when that person wasn’t around.  I never attempted anything in the way of hobbies or interests.  I stayed to “safe” pursuits like reading, although I did love to read thanks to my mom, but I always read the same things she liked to read – I never found my own interest until I was in my late 20’s.  I never told anyone of my deep hopes and dreams and over time I lost all of those. 
  3. Are your closet, your schedule, your mind, and your life full?  How about your heart?  Are there empty places that you need and want to trust God to fill?  If so, list them:
    1. My schedule isn’t as full as my closet and mind only b/c I don’t have the energy to do most things I want to do.
    2. My closet is filled but all with stuff I rarely if ever wear and I need to take time to clean it out.
    3. My mind is so full, too full it won’t shut off and I am often very forgetful b/c of it.  I get irritable and I am soooo tired all the time b/c it just never shuts off!
    4. My heart is better, back in May it was completely empty but not so much now. 
    5. I am trusting God to fill:  my heart with love and confidence in Him – no matter the circumstances, deeper relationship with Him, decluttering my heart, mind and life.
  4. “The origin of the word worship comes from blending two words to form “worth-ship”.  when we worship something or someone, we give them great worth in our lives and oftentimes we find our worth in them.  Where are you most tempted to find your worth?  In what area is it hardest to let God define you – and not the world’s standards?
    1. My husband, my children, my friends, my accomplishments, my job and myself.  Ironically those are also the things that can make me feel the most worthless too when I give too much worship to them.

This week’s Scripture:

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!  People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.  ~ Psalm 36:7

A Confident Heart ~ Week 1 Recap

Melissa posted on her blog today and there is a vlog 🙂 click here to visit today’s post

Several parts of Chapter 1 stood out to me – okay pretty much the whole chapter, but it also got me excited too!  Excited not only to become confident and remove the doubting messages from my head but excited to know Jesus even better,more deeply.

I have been a Christian all my life – actually I am a “Cradle Catholic” but I have never known Jesus more personally and intimately before this year.  Even in my favorite Scripture verses – I see Him differently now.  Is it because I am different, well maybe a little.  Take a look back at a year ago:

I was lonely, depressed, sick of my job, sick of my responsibilities, comparing myself to all the “great and wonderful” mothers, wondering why I was always overlooked, why couldn’t I find any friends, true friends – those friends who would support me, encourage me, pick me up when I fell, let me vent knowing I didn’t really mean any of what I said, friends that would accept me just as I was, who would inspire me to be a better wife, mother and Christian?  Why was my life so filled with sadness and despair?  When did all my hopes and dreams die – and why didn’t I notice?  Most of my FB friends would put how they couldn’t wait to go home and spend time with their family and how their family was their everything – I would think what is wrong with me?  Most days I dread going home and trying to take care of my family – when did I lose my joy in the two roles I have wanted all my life:  wife and mother?  Why was I so tired each and everyday – getting out of bed seemed to take too much energy.  I wasn’t living – I was barely surviving.  I felt pulled in a million directions with everyone needing/wanting something from me but I had nothing to give.  I was empty inside, completely and utterly empty.

That was me, one year ago!  This is the first time I ever admitted how bad it actually was, even to myself.  What changed in just a year?  Well I finally realized and admitted to myself that I was living a lie and had been for most of my life…..

See ever since I was a little girl I figured if I was perfect and succeeded at things I could be happy and loved.  So I became an overachiever.  I got straight A’s (even though my schoolwork took every spare minute of my time), took honor classes, etc. but I never pushed myself to try stuff I knew I could fail at, because I had to be perfect.  I tried to impress my friends and family with being a scholar.  For me perfection equalled love and acceptance.  Well that didn’t work as well as I had hoped, I still felt lost and lonely.

So when I was 15 years old I decided I knew exactly what I could to do to not only feel loved but be loved!  Yep, you guessed it – I got pregnant!  So here I am 16 and pregnant, still getting straight A’s and now getting attention – just not the kind I hoped – my mom was not only furious but she told me she was very disappointed in me.  Of course at that point that couldn’t hurt me anymore – I was going to have a baby and I would feel happy and loved now!  Well I am sure everyone can guess THAT didn’t work as well as I had hoped.

I had my son 6 hours after my high school graduation.  By the end of my first week of motherhood I was a wreck – I don’t know who cried more my son or me!  I do know that he never, ever slept through the night, therefore neither did I – it’s been 22 years and seriously he has NEVER slept more than 1 1/2 to 2 hours at a time!

Fast forward a couple of years, I am 18 engaged and wanting my fairy tale wedding because THEN I will be happy and feel loved and accepted!  Check back tomorrow to see how THAT worked out…….

In the storms…

A family member is going through a rough season, this of course affects all family members.  Especially when their broken heart makes you want to cry out in pain with them.  I am trying not to let it steal my joy and yet be there for them, guide them through and be compassionate.  You would think that was fairly easy to do, but it’s not ~ at least not for me.  When one of my children hurt, I hurt too.  I tend to not be as compassionate with them as I want to be or as they need me to be.  Not because I don’t care but because I care so much and I hate seeing them in pain. 

I realize though that this is not something I can fix and God is at work.  As hard as it is to see my child in pain, I trust the LORD and I am praising His Name – even through this storm.  This is a chance for me to practice what I preach and to gain an even closer relationship with Jesus.  I pray my child will come to know Jesus better through this storm as well. 

Last night I turned over all my cares and worries to the LORD and in His faithfulness, He granted me a full night’s sleep that was very restful.  That was a first for me, usually I worry and fret, losing sleep and making myself feel even worse but last night I slept peacefully.  This morning as I got up and began my quiet time, this was the message the LORD gave me through my devotion “Jesus Calling”

Find Me in the midst of the maelstrom.  Sometimes events whirl around you so quickly that they become a blur.  Whisper My Name in recognition that I am still with you.  Without skipping a beat in the activities that occupy you, you find strength and Peace through praying My Name.  Later, when the happenings have run their course, you can talk with Me more fully. 

Accept each day just as it comes to you.  Do not waste your time and energy wishing for a different set of circumstances.  Instead, trust Me enough to yield to My design and purposes.  Remember that nothing can separate you from My loving Presence; you are Mine.

How awesome is HE!!!!  Yesterday when I was made aware of the issues my child is going through, my very first response was to wish for a different set of circumstances.  I thought “why, why now…why are we always going through rough waters?”  The poor me pity party didn’t last longer than it took me to utter the words but I say them and the LORD showed me this morning, don’t even waste time and energy, instead keep looking to Me and my strength, my power, my love!!! 

This is one of those times we are going through the fires to test our strength but it’s not just my child who is going through, it’s me too ~ my journey, my faith and my beliefs are going through the fires as well.  And so today, just for today, I will be joyful even in the presence of the storm.  I will praise His Name.  I will give glory to Him by the way I act, talk, behave and think today.  I will keep my eyes focused on Him, instead of looking down at the rushing waters, I will look up ~ up into His Face:  my hand in His, my eyes on His.  Knowing the whole time not only does He carry me, He is carrying my child as well! 

So for today, my prayer is Psalm 34 and when the day gets too hard, the issues keep mounting and I find myself unsure, I will simply pray “Jesus”

I will praise the LORD at all times.

The LORD hears His people when they call to Him for help.  He rescues them from all their troubles.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those who are crushed in spirit. ~ Psalm 34:1, 17-18

Bible Study ~ Hidden Joy ~ Day 41

Today is ending week 6 (hard to believe) and Stephanie’s last day of leading us through the study.  A wonderful post from her this morning at Melissa Taylor’s Blog.

I want to end the week with something Stephanie mentioned at the beginning, it’s worth remembering today and everyday: 

What would happen if you got up tomorrow, and promised yourself NO MATTER WHAT, you would refuse to harbor bitterness and/or anger towards ANYONE? I wonder how things would change? Try it? What have you got to lose?

Was I able to completely forgive just from reading Chapter 6 and answering the questions?  No, 30+ years of hurts and unforgiveness doesn’t go away in 6 short days HOWEVER…..I do feel my heart softening and yes, I will be able to forgive those who hurt me and probably today.  That’s not the hard part, the hard part is forgiving myself ~ I will be able to forgive myself what is harder is forgiving and then letting it go.  But I will because this isn’t the life I want for myself or my family anymore and I know it’s not the life God destined me to have.  I want to walk in His light, love and joy no matter the circumstances.  So will I be able to forgive by the time Chapter 7 comes around on Sunday ~ Yes, I just did!!!!  So I was wrong 30+ years of hurts and unforgiveness can go away in an instant….when you give it to God and let Him to His work.

Dear LORD thank you for moving within my heart, body and soul as I was writing this entry.  Thank You for whispering those words “why carry it around anymore, give it to ME.  I am willing and ready to take it, I have been waiting years for you to give all this to Me. ”  Thank You for opening my heart and for changing me.  Please LORD keep renewing me and strengthing me in You.  I know without a doubt that I will be tested shortly by the devil but help me to remember I gave it all to You and that’s all that matters, because I am now remade in You.  Thank You LORD for the tears that fell this morning finally!!!!  Who knew that in order to feel, be able to cry and feel my sorry all I had to do was forgive and give it over to You.  You are amazing and I love you more each day LORD.  Please be with each of my Hidden Joy sisters LORD as they work on their healing and relationship with You ~ strengthen them, remain in them, give them Your peace and comfort.  Bless and protect today and always Wendy, Melissa and Stephanie.  Thank You LORD for each one of them and for this study.  And as I say In Jesus’ Name ~ Amen!!!!  You have brought to mind words to one of my favorite songs:  

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.