What is a “sinner’s prayer”?

It is not a mechanical memorized verse. It is the utterance of repentance, an acknowledgement of sin, and a confession of your need for a savior and that Jesus Christ alone is the Savior. Only He can remove our sin and reconcile us back to God the Father.

His sacrifice through His death on the cross atoned for our sins, though He was without sin. His resurrection secured our new life in Him, an eternal life.

We can never pay the penalty for our sins, but we can confess, repent, and receive His pardon.

This is a personal choice we each must make. No one else can choose for us. It is not personal in the sense that it is private or secret, because true repentance and salvation brings a renewing, a re-birth, and cannot, will not, should not be hidden in a closet. It is personal in that it is a choice by free will to turn to Jesus for the saving of your soul, with a broken, yet thankful heart.

For what is prayer but an open, honest, unhindered conversation with God the Father. And what is conversation but speaking AND listening. Prayer is purposely coming before the Father and acknowledging His presence with a reverent and pure heart. It is being honest, not pretentious.

To be close to the One you love, to be near Him, does not always require words. In the quietness, when your words do not come, God is able to listen to your hearts joy or sorrow, and He is able to speak to you in a way that you will understand. Tears have a language of their own and God can understand them.

How great is it that God should desire a relationship with us that He should call us sons and daughters and friend!

Think on that.

Be Free & Stay Free

The Threshing, The Crushing, Gideon, and Me

I used to travel a lot for work. I spent many hours in airports and planes. Inevitably, there would be times when upon arrival to the airport the plane could not land – just yet – or had to taxi and wait for the receiving gate to become available. For those of us who have spent hours on a plane, there is an excitement, anticipation, of landing and finally being able to stretch your legs and exit the confines of an airplane. When you must stay seated and WAIT, your back starts to scream to be stretched and your cramped legs want to move.

The Holding Pattern

Argh! We don’t want to circle around the airport or sit on the plane a minute longer than we have to. “Please, just open the door and let us walk to the gate!” Of course, we can’t just walk across the tarmac, it’s not safe. So, we sit and wait. Patiently, or impatiently, we must wait.

This is life sometimes.

We see the goal, but we can’t reach it. The timing of reaching our destination is beyond our control.

I can be a headstrong woman sometimes. I am a “doer.” I see something and I will work for it. I strategize and make contingency plans. Patience is a fruit that is still being cultivated in me. I have also formed an armor of independence; I’d rather do it myself than wait on someone else.

My reasoning was that I didn’t trust people to follow through. I didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment. I didn’t like the feeling of not being in control of if, and when, something was going to be done. Are there any other control freaks reading this?

I have come to the realization that “control” and “perfectionism” are the products of fear.

Stay with me, I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.

“Sometimes we create our own troubles, and sometimes it comes from the outside beyond our control, but more important than what led us in, is the lesson we learn when we come out.”

Let’s Look at Gideon. You can find his story in the Bible starting at Judges 6:11.

Are you still with me? Good, hang in there.

What is threshing?

Threshing is the process of separating the grain from the stalk and from the chaff that covers it. The grains are trod (or beaten) from the stalk, then the straw is removed, and the grains are winnowed to remove the debris. During the winnowing, an air current blows away the light weighted waste and leaves behind the heavy grain particles.

Threshing is usually done on a plot of land called the threshing floor (a flattened or paved surface). This was before modern technology. Winnowing happens after the threshing process. It requires ventilation; a gentle wind blows away the chaff, and the grain is left in place.

We first meet Gideon when he is threshing wheat in a winepress. A winepress was a square or circular pit carved into rock in which grapes were crushed.

You might be wondering why he was threshing wheat in a winepress instead of on a threshing floor. Certainly, it would have been easier on a threshing floor. At the time we meet Gideon, Israel was in a desperate state of affairs. Because of their disobedience, God gave them into the hands of Midianites, and the Midianites would destroy Israel’s crops, take all their sustenance, and their livestock. So, Gideon had to thresh the wheat on the D.L. (Down Low).

Here is Gideon, the least of the least, no doubt that he was frustrated and tired, and in the middle of circumstance that he had no control over. He was working with what he had to work with and probably feeling like he was getting nowhere. Have you ever felt that way?

Have you ever felt like you should be out there in the open threshing floor, doing what you want to do, moving forward, setting and reaching goals, enjoying life, and instead of everything falling in place you are in a place of crushing? You don’t feel the gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit blowing away the debris of troubles (you know, the surface stuff). Instead you feel the crushing, the pressing, because it’s not the light surface stuff anymore; it’s what you are holding on to, what you fear to let go of, that is being extracted.

It’s difficult to be transparent in my writing sometimes. It’s much easier to write about the struggle after the victory, but we are living in hard times and if I want to remain true to my calling then I must be honest when I write. I wish I could say I have no struggles because I am “so spiritual, don’t ya know” and my every step is of faith and I never struggle, stumble, or question. But that would be a lie. We ALL have our struggles. The good news is if we stop fighting and quiet ourselves, then His Holy Spirit will gently blow on us and soothe the crushing, because the crushing must happen.

As I was reading this morning, a verse jumped right out at me.

Please do not depart from here until I come back to You, and bring my offering and place it before You.” And He said, “I will wait until you return.” -Judges 8:18

(Click HERE to read the back story.)

Dear Reader, God knows the end from the beginning. He was not in a panic. He didn’t tell Gideon, “No, I can’t wait. Sorry, got no time for that.” He waited.

We are the ones who panic. We are the ones who get impatient.

“What, Jesus, You want to take me to the winepress and press off the “mind-set” and the “stuff” I have accumulated? Nah, I ain’t got time for that! Can’t You see me shadowboxing here in the corner? Can’t we just bypass this crushing business until I am comfortable and where I want to be? Then we can deal with this “stuff” inside me.”

No, my friend, it’s not God who gets in a panic. It’s us.

What if when we say we are “waiting on the Lord,” it is really Him waiting on us?

What if our doubts and fears are the chaff?

Sure, the wind can blow the chaff away, but if I’m being honest, until He places me in the winepress and allows the crushing, perhaps I could be blown away with the chaff. The Bible has something to say about this, it’s called double-mindedness.

Gideon was right where he needed to be, and so are you, my friend.

Let the chaff of your doubt and fear be thrown out. May the crushing reveal the faith buried inside of you so when you step out of the press you will be strong in His strength and on a firm foundation of believing His promise. Remember, our Lord knows the end from the beginning. He is not in a panic. He waits.

If you feel you are at the end of yourself, and no matter what you do it’s not getting easier or better, and if your family and friends have deserted you, and if your safety nets are no longer there, and it’s a do or die kind of season, then rejoice! Because you are perfectly positioned for God to do a miraculous work in you. Stop resisting and fighting Him.

If you read Gideon’s story, then you know God took a fearful man who was the least of the least and made him a fearless warrior.

I have felt like Gideon, the least of the least, and so small and insignificant. There have been times when I have been so filled with fear and doubt that I was frozen in place. All hell was breaking out around me and no matter what I did it only made matters worse. I based my decisions on fear, afraid of losing what little remained. It took the stripping away of everything to finally see that everything I have need of is with me and can only be found through a God who loves me and calls me His. I understand why Gideon was hiding. I understand why Gideon set the fleeces out. I understand the fear that causes us to doubt ourselves and what we are hearing. God didn’t get impatient with Gideon and He wont get impatient with us.

Are you experiencing the crushing? Won’t you leave a comment below and let’s join our prayers together so when you come through to the other side you will come forth as gold.

“But He knows the way that I take [and He pays attention to it]. When He has tried me, I will come forth as [refined] gold [pure and luminous]. Job 23:10

Be Free & Stay Free

The Rumination Mind Trap

Psst… I am about to reveal my age. Back in the day we use to have these things called record players and they played these round disks called records. (By the way, I hear that vinyl records are making a huge comeback!) Before the compact discs (CD’s) came out, we would listen to our music on records.

I would spend hours listening to my records. I had an eclectic taste in music, so I had records from many different groups. The thing about records was you had to handle them with care because if you scratched them…well, the song would get stuck then you would have to lift the needle and place it in a groove past the scratch, which was really an inconvenience if you wanted to sing along with the song.

As a kid, I had a record player that kind of looked like a suitcase. I could close it up and carry it with me. It wasn’t like the “boom boxes” we carried on our shoulder and listened to as we walked down the street, you know, because we were so cool and all. Oy! Oh, the good ol’ days!

No, I’m not writing about records and record players, but there is something we do that is very similar to a record player, only the music is not as good. It’s called rumination.

Anyone who has experienced emotional or physical trauma knows all about ruminating, even if they don’t know there is an actual word for what their mind is doing.

What is Ruminating?

Ruminating is when your mind goes over something again and again and again. It’s like a record with a scratch, you get stuck, stuck, stuck, stuck, stuck… and stuck again. You get the picture. Over and over you think about someone or something, you replay it over in your mind as if you were still there in that moment, trapped, and you imagine every scenario that you could have done to change it. You dissect everything, to try to understand why it happened.

Ruminating can be dangerous to your mental health. It prolongs the pain you experienced from trauma, and it delays the healing and freedom from the bondage of the injury and the person who inflicted it. It’s kind of like hell on repeat. You see, here’s the thing, no matter how much you replay something in your mind, it will never change what happened.

Reflection is a good thing. It is helpful to reflect if the intent is to learn from it so you can move on and hopefully never repeat the same mistakes. But ruminating is not reflecting, it is a pit, and you are in the center of it and digging the hole bigger and bigger. I know because I was stuck in that pit before. Grief! I was so far in that pit I couldn’t see the light of day. My morning thoughts and my night thoughts and my every thought in between was stuck, stuck, stuck, stuck!

Sometimes things happen in our life that is beyond our control. You’re cruising along and all of a sudden you hit a speed bump, then another, and another. Maybe you swerve to avoid the bump only to crash into a wall. Ruminating is like backing up and crashing into the wall again, to back up and crash into it again, to back up and crash into the wall again… you get the picture?

You are more prone to ruminating if you have a history of emotional or physical trauma. The negative and painful thoughts become repetitive until you can think on little else. You become consumed by your thoughts, trapped in a memory, trying to re-write a past instead of moving forward in your future. Most everything in the present is overshadowed by the memory and you are stuck, stuck, stuck!

I have been there. Let me tell ya, I know the pain of a mind twisted in a knot of yesterdays sorrow. You can think about yesterday until a thousand todays have passed you by and it will not change yesterday. But you can change your tomorrows, by changing the way you think today before your yesterday’s change you.

We all have a story, and I don’t assume to know yours. I am not a one size fits all kind of person. What works for one, may not work for another, but there is a starting point you can launch from to help you move past the place that has you stuck.

How to Stop the Ruminating

My story started as child with an abusive father. This set the stage for me to be susceptible to unhealthy relationships and bad decision making. With each bad decision I would suffer the fall out and get stuck in my mind. I would beat myself up thinking there was something wrong with me and I would replay everything over and over again in my mind. I was a functioning emotionally unhealthy person until I could not function anymore. Maybe you are there now? There is hope, dear Reader, and here are some steps you can take to start your journey to wholeness.

1.Seek Help. If after an extended period of time you can not break the pattern of being locked in your mind, then seek help with a counselor/therapist that can help you weed through the dark thoughts that are preventing you from moving forward. Extended periods of trauma and stress can wreak havoc and cause chemical imbalances; sometimes medication can help you to get back on track, but don’t rely on medication alone, do the work required through counseling to get yourself healthy again. It is not a sign of weakness to seek help. Actually, it’s quite brave to reach out for help. A drowning person would be foolish to not grab a life preserver.

As a Christian, I can testify that counsel combined with faith and action will yield positive results, which brings me to the next step…

2.Take Control of Your Thoughts. Ruminating causes us to be glued to the pain, negativity, and trauma. Are you willing to let go of the past and move forward? There will be a time to look back and learn from the experience, but this might not be the time, just yet. First you must get grounded so you will not be swallowed up in your own mind. It is hard to see things for what they are when you are looking through a lens mired with pain.

The Bible tells us that the peace of God, that peace that reassures the heart and transcends all understanding will stand guard over your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. Whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things, center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart.

I know it is hard to think on the positives, especially when you are in the throes of pain, but it is possible with God and your determination to take action. Retraining your mind how to think does not invalidate the pain (or the source of it), but it does help you to take your control back. You are stronger than you think. You can do this! When I could not think on the positives, because I was stuck in darkness and trying to fight my way out with both arms tied, I turned to the Psalms. David wrote a lot of Psalms that were raw, and he did not try to hide his feelings from God. We can learn a lot from the Psalms, it is encouraging, and it helps to know we are not alone.

Recognize when your thoughts are starting to go south and take them captive. You are not a passenger on the crazy train, you are the driver, and you are on your way to better days.

3.Take Action. You can’t just sit around and wait for things to get better. You can’t hope your mind will stay blank, numbing and ignoring a problem NEVER made it better. Surround yourself with trusted friends who will help speak life into you. Avoid people who want to rehash and agree with the negativity. Misery loves company, so stay away from miserable people! Yes, your close circle must be exclusive.

Choose a friend or two to help you refocus. When you feel the dark thoughts coming call them up, meet them for lunch, and be honest with them. Allow them to hold you accountable when you start going south. For me, it was helpful to have Christian friends who have a personal relationship with Christ and know His word and what He says about me to speak life to me and help me to see my thoughts were not in line with His thoughts. A word of caution though, you must take responsibility for your thought life and healing, do not wear your friends out. Your friends are there as a bumper to nudge you back on the right path, they are not your healer. Only God heals, let Him be the first friend you turn to.

4.Dig In. Now that you have laid some groundwork and started making progress, it is time to get to the root. It is human to want to change other people and to even wonder what was wrong with us that they could hurt us so. But dear Reader, this is not about them, it is about and for you.

Speaking of Psalms, one of my favorites is Psalm 139 and I have prayed it often. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” When you are ready to roll up your sleeves and do the work and allow God to fully heal your heart and your mind, then the prayer of Psalms is a good place to start.

You see, we all have patterns, coping mechanisms, and we learn them young in life. Sometimes what helped us survive when we were younger becomes our downfall later. As children, if we were in a dysfunctional and abusive environment, we learned how to protect ourselves. At the time it was a gift and necessary. When we become adults, these mechanisms are not healthy.

Maybe what others would view as dysfunctional became your norm and anything else felt uncomfortable to you, so you avoided it, hence the cycle of poor decisions and toxic relationships. You believed the lie that you did not deserve to be loved and accepted for who you are. You believed the lie that you are not worthy.

When I say dig in, I do NOT mean to focus on what caused you pain, though it does need to be addressed, but you can’t stay there. You must learn what God says about you. You must learn what your true identity is. You must learn AND believe that God created you with a HOPE and a FUTURE.

Friend, I pray this is the day you choose to take the first step to your healing. If the record is scratched, it’s OK to change the song, you don’t have to be stuck there. You were created for so much more. When you can’t, God can.

Be Free & Stay Free

When Emotional Triggers are too…

Emotional triggers can send you on a rollercoaster ride you didn’t want to take. Try as you may, sometimes they just can’t be avoided. You can try to avoid situations that you know will trigger you, but is that realistic? You can’t avoid every difficult situation, and unless you seclude yourself under your bed and away from people (which isn’t healthy or recommended) then it is certain there will be times that unpleasant, and sometimes strong, emotions will surface.

What is an emotional trigger?

An emotional trigger is something that causes you to have an intense emotional reaction and often it appears out of nowhere. An emotional trigger will pull you back to the emotions of the original cause of pain, even if you are not consciously aware of what the genesis of the injury is. A trigger is an emotional memory of a painful traumatic experience or event and causes anxiety and flashbacks.  

For this post, I am going to talk about the emotional triggers that stem from childhood trauma.

Now you may think an adult should be over the traumatic experiences during childhood, but that is not entirely true. A child learns coping mechanisms to survive an abusive environment. They are too young and small to defend themselves and are unable to stop the abuse without the help of another adult intervening for them. Later in life, though the memories may have been stuffed deep inside, the coping mechanisms they learned follow them into their adulthood.

Emotional triggers are associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental health condition that occurs when someone witnesses or experiences a traumatic event.

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) is a condition where you experience symptoms of PTSD along with some additional symptoms, such as:

  • Difficulty controlling your emotions
  • Feelings of anger or frustration
  • Dissociation
  • Headaches, dizziness, chest pains, stomach aches…
  • Isolation
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Feelings of shame or guilt
  • Destructive or risky behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Disruptive sleep patterns, nightmares
  • Lapse in memories

The difference between C-PTSD and PTSD is that PTSD usually occurs after a single traumatic event, while C-PTSD is associated with repeated trauma.

As an adult survivor of childhood trauma from an abusive parent, I can attest that C-PTSD is a real thing.

I am going to be transparent and share a little bit about me, which is a huge step, and a sure sign of healing, because I no longer carry the shame or fear.  Dear reader, if you are a survivor, please know the shame and fear is NOT yours to carry.

When we are in a dangerous situation, mentally or physically, we respond with fight or flight. As children we can’t always do either, we are too little to fight and too young to run. So we find other ways to cope. Maybe we tip-toe around to not upset anything, like walking on eggshells. Or we withdraw into ourselves and avoid the person we are afraid of. Children learn quickly when things are about to escalate and will try to either hide from the situation or appease the person (parent) to divert their attention to approval rather than retribution.

When I entered adolescents, I fought back with rebellion and then I took flight as a runaway.  As a runaway I basically raised myself and I learned to mimic what I thought “normal” was like, by watching other people. I became a chameleon of sorts. The abuse I ran from I kept stuffed and hidden. I put as many miles as I could between me and my father.

The symptoms mentioned above… I experienced them all.

You see, we can naively think if we put the miles between what we ran from, and if we miraculously avoid all similarities of the past where we experienced the greatest injury, then somehow, we will be completely healed and never have to deal with those ugly memories again. It’s almost like a feeling of “it happened to someone else in another lifetime.” Can you relate?

But as sure as the sun will come up tomorrow, so will those triggers. Then you find yourself in an emotional tailspin, lashing out like a drowning person in the middle of an ocean. The nightmares come back, the feelings and emotions crash in like waves, you will see something, or hear something, a certain tone of voice, or smell; and then Bam!

You function until you don’t.

I share my personal experiences when I believe the hell I went through and the hell I defeated (with help) can help someone else. I pray this is one of those times and even if only one reader can be encouraged, then to me, it was all worth it.

Healing is a process. I don’t know why people think we reach a magical age where everything is OK and it all makes sense. I do believe God can heal us instantaneously, but there is a path we must follow, a healing we must walk out. Emotional healing doesn’t happen overnight, especially when the wounds are from long ago and have scabbed over into a callous and then been buried deep into the back of our minds. We may not even realize we are still carrying an injury until that trigger pulls the first layer of the scab back and the infection hits us like a brick. But even then, we may not realize what’s going on or why, we just know we have suddenly plummeted into depression, anger, despair, self-doubt, insecurity, fear, shame, withdraw, and possibly all-out feelings of crazy. The instability of the emotions cause us to doubt our own judgement and make decisions that are not in our best interest.

Whew! It’s an exhausting cycle, isn’t it? So destabilizing. Everything and everyone around us suffer. We are suddenly faced with the reality of lifelong patterns of bad decisions in relationships, work, and life.   Intellectually we may see a pattern and our insides are screaming… NO! But there we are, in a rut, a very dark place, and wishing someone could just save us from ourselves and the situation(s).

Let me tell ya, I’ve been there. It was like living in a personal hell, not trusting anyone, wanting to talk it out and feeling crazier with each word I spoke because what was bottled up wanted to pour out. I felt misunderstood, judged, and alone. Then I was alone, I stopped going around people. I isolated myself because it was just too darn exhausting to fake a smile and an upbeat personality that most expected from me, because that is the persona I developed; the always optimistic, happy go-lucky, faith-filled Christian woman.

I would beat myself up with berating thoughts of “I’m a Christian, I shouldn’t be feeling or acting this way!” I wanted to forgive someone who was not even sorry, but I was so stinkin’ angry and hurt. The feelings of betrayal magnified every emotion I was feeling.

If you are experiencing this, not everyone will understand. But let me encourage you with some good news, there is ONE who does understand, and He cares so much for you and He is strong enough to carry you through, even if you are kicking, screaming, crying, and snotting it up. You may isolate yourself, others may run, but He will NEVER abandon or reject you.

I was in ministry. I mentored and coached many women. My relationship with Christ was/is solid. So when God allowed the season of my undoing so He could build me back up, there was no one but Him that I could turn to. Sure, there were well-meaning Christian friends who I confided in (though the number is small) who had the Bible verse to give me, the prayer to offer for me, and the “just have faith” accolades, but they were of very little help and caused me to withdraw even more.

Heed my warning, alone is not where you should be when you are fighting this battle.

Who do the wolves attack? The little gazelles on the edge, by their self.

Dear Reader, there is another side and you can make it through if you are willing. Don’t give up. You are not defeated. You survived, now it’s time for you to thrive!

The emotional triggers are a signal to you that there is some inner healing that needs to happen. When you can no longer run, or avoid situations, then it may very well be a signal that now is the time.

Here are some practical steps you can take now to start your journey of healing.
  1. Get help! There are many counselors/therapists that are trained in the area of C-PTSD & childhood trauma. I wish I could say go to your pastor, but in honesty, not all pastors are equip to help you heal. If you do go to your pastor, be sure they are filled with His Holy Spirit and are able to hear God’s voice concerning you. This is not the time for a generic well-meaning pep talk. This is war, an inner war, a spiritual war, and you need someone who is partnered with Christ to fight with you and for you. There are many well-meaning, educated, and successful therapist out there, I encourage you to find a Christian counselor, because only God’s truth can bring complete healing and wholeness. Which brings me to the next step…
  2. Draw close to God. Don’t let your bad day(s) or attitude keep you from going to Him. Many days I would wake up and ask Him to help me get through the day without blowing it with an emotional outburst, only to end my day with repenting and apologizing for my emotional outbursts. Guess what? He never once rejected me. The healing process can be ugly at times. The Bible says He gives us beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3). Where do ashes come from? They come from things that have been set to fire and burned away. Allow and trust the hand of God to burn away the uglies so He can apply soothing oil of healing. Pray OFTEN and read your Bible DAILY and listen to worship songs that glorify Jesus; worship does wonders!
  3. Don’t deny your pain. It’s OK to feel it. Don’t stuff it or hide it or medicate it with alcohol, drugs, or whatever you are tempted to turn to to numb your feelings. Face it and deal with it and give it to Jesus.
  4. Be kind to yourself. Pay attention to your self-talk. Our words are powerful! The Bible says we are to take every thought captive and to cast down any thought or imagination that exalts itself over the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:4-6). Obviously, you can’t just empty your mind, you have to think on something, so think on what God’s word say about you. You may be surprised to know that what He says about you is different than what you, the world, and the people of your past, have to say about you.
  5. Have realistic expectations. You may never reconcile with the person who injured you and that’s OK. You may have to draw some firm boundaries and boundaries are a good thing. Sadly, not all abusers will come to a place of repentance. These type of people you must cut ties with. And here is a truth that is going to sting a little, you must come to a place of forgiveness. I know, it doesn’t seem fair to have to forgive someone who isn’t even sorry. But God can AND will help you do this…if you are willing. Unforgiveness will nurture the seed of bitterness and that will cause friction in your relationship with God. God knows what happened, He is not blind or oblivious. Forgive and stay close to God and trust God to deal with that person. You know you have arrived when the anxiety attacks stops, the nightmares leave, your joy comes back, and you no longer fear the person. You will especially know you have been fully healed when you can pray for that person to encounter God and come to a repentance so they can be saved. Healing is never based or dependent on injuring someone else.
  6. Take care of yourself. Eat healthy, what we put in our body matters. You may be surprised what foods do to and for us. Keep a schedule, rest when your tired, but don’t sleep all day. Get out, fresh air and sunshine is good for you. Do something you enjoy. Be around people who uplift you, not weigh you down.
  7. For more tips and/or help and/or prayer, please contact me by clicking here.

Most importantly, remember you are loved by a God who sees. Life can be hard this side of eternity, but you are not alone. You do have purpose. And everything that was stolen from you as a child will be restored and you will have a beautiful testimony to share with others who so desperately need to hear it. You matter!

Be Free & Stay Free

Look Up for Your Promised Land

It’s a MAD WORLD!

The world is changing fast, isn’t it? It seems everywhere we look is filled with darkness. News broadcasts doom and gloom. The pandemic, the economy, homelessness, joblessness, sickness, anger, anxiety, depression, fear… the list goes on and we are all feeling it.

It seems living in isolation has become the social norm, and I’m not just talking about quarantine. Some people live life on social media, then at home, in their private world, they are dying from loneliness and anxieties.

People have become cold and distant, freezing in place from the uncertainties, and so many relationship problems.

This is happening in the world AND in the church.

The world keeps pushing the envelope. No one knows who they are anymore (and I could write a thousand word post on this).

But we keep acting like this will blow over and we will all get back to normal…any day now. But it won’t and we won’t.

How do I know? Because the Bible say’s so.

Everything that is happening around us has been foretold and forewarned in the Bible.

These are treacherous days we are living in. BUT there is hope, dear reader. God is still on His throne and He is calling each and everyone of us to Him.

I don’t know what situation you are in. But God knows. Don’t give up. Don’t let the world turn your heart cold. God made a promise to His children and He is a promise keeper.

Jesus did tell us that because of sin, lawlessness (and don’t we see that every day on the news?) the love of many will grow cold. BUT He also said, he who endures to the end will be saved. AND the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations (we see this happening on the streets around the world. Hallelujah!) and THEN the end will come.

One of my favorite verses is Romans 8:28. Years ago I was going through a particularly rough time. One night the Lord woke me up with this verse, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” We often hear people quote part of this verse and leave out the other half. The promise is that all things will work together for good to THOSE who love God and are the called according to HIS purpose. I find this very encouraging. Why? Because I love Him and I know no matter what happens, it will work together for good and according to His purpose. Did ya hear that? His purpose, not mine, not yours, but His. Our good, His purpose!

So, Beloved, keep looking up. Let God do and finish His work in you. Let us be the light in this dark world. We are never alone.

How can I pray for you today? Comment below or contact me.

Be Free & Stay Free

Preparing to Say Goodbye to Mom

I don’t know what to write. It’s surreal. I held my mom’s hand and like a slap, without a knock, reality kicked the door down and entered. We knew the day was coming when my siblings and I would say goodbye to our Mom, but can one ever be ready?

We are down to the final days. Two days ago the doctor said it could be hours, but she made it through the night. When the doctor gave the news to my sister, she rose like the daughter and sister she is and demanded that all of her children be allowed to be with her or we were taking her home. We were allowed to be there and spend the night with her, tearfully saying our goodbyes as our Mom lay in that bed, her chest rising and falling slowly with each struggled breath. It was a long night, keeping watch as though waiting for Death to tap on the door.

Morning came and Mom was still with us. She was released from the hospital and is home surrounded by her children. My mind is still trying to wrap around the word “hospice.”

I sat beside my mom today, I held her hand, and watched her eyes looking around the room. “Mom, what do you see?” I ask. “What are you looking at?”

“Everything,” she answered. “I want to remember everything when I go to heaven.”

My mom may not remember everyone’s name anymore. She may not even know where she is. But she knows Jesus and that gives me comfort.

“Mom, Jesus loves you.” I remind her. “You don’t have to be afraid.”

“Who loves you?” I ask her.

“Jesus loves me.” She answers. “And I love Him.”

I am the oldest of five children; her second-born went home to Jesus when he was only a couple of hours old. She was practically a child herself when she had me. At 17 she was a young wife and mother.

As children, we believe our Mothers will always be here. We leave home, start our own lives, and never really consider there will be a day when Mom won’t be there. Until the day comes, and you have so much you wish you would have said, and even more that you wish you didn’t.

I don’t know what to write. It’s surreal.

As I write this the clock just turned from 2021 to 2022.

Every new year at midnight, I would call my mom and say Happy New Year! But not this year. In God’s mercy she is sleeping, peacefully I hope. We will all gather again tomorrow and take turns sitting beside her and holding her hand.

I cry.

My Mom didn’t know what a blessing she was, and is, to so many people. She was always the caretaker, even in her professional life, she chose to be a caretaker.

I cry.

My mom is/was a woman who had dreams and heartbreaks, yet she carried them silently. What I judged as chaos, she found meaning in. She was lonely and wanted to be needed.

I cry for my brother and sisters because they knew her in a way I never did, and they are losing their mom, too.

I was the run-away. Mom called me her gypsy child. I was the child of a child. The daughter of a young mother married to an abusive man, who was practically a child himself until he became a soldier in Vietnam; then he brought that war home with him.

In God’s mercy, my mom was kissed with love in her second marriage, to a man who loved her and treated her with gentleness, until she became a widow.

Although the last couple of years has been a struggle on different levels, I am thankful God brought me home. It was during the struggles and in the darkest hours of screaming, “WHY?!” that He showed me He is turning the page to a new chapter, and I am blessed to be here as my mom’s story is coming to an end.

“Hey, Mom, who loves you?”

“Jesus loves me and I love Him, too.”

Yes, Mama, Jesus loves you, and soon you will see Him face to face, and you will hear Him say, “Welcome home, My Beloved. You are Mine.”

Tomorrow I will hold her hand, and when she looks at me with recognition, I will tell her I love her, and I will thank her for being my mom. And we will again reassure her that we will be alright because even in facing death she is still a caretaker.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? John 11:25-26

Be Free & Stay Free

The Pity of Prayerlessness

Do prayers matter?

I saw an article headline about the prayerlessness of Christians. Strange that we should be a prayerless people. I am sometimes a prayerless person, too. I am being honest, and I think we should all be honest with ourselves. After all, denial is not just some river in Egypt.

My mind can wallow away on stress and worries, until it works its way into depression and/or anger. My imagination can carry me any place I direct it, and I can imagine every worse case, or best case, scenario. Yet, to pray, my mind can instantly want to take a nap. This alone should be proof enough how important prayer is. Resistance is evidence.

Why do we view prayer as a chore, instead of desiring and appreciating it as an opportunity and blessing to commune with our Creator, the God of the universe who made heaven and earth? Sometimes I can spend more time thinking about prayer (I ought to pray, why don’t I pray, I’ll pray later, wallowing in conviction and self-condemnation, guilt) than actually praying.

Jesus set the example with His prayer habits. Early in the morning, while it was still dark, He would arise. He prayed before raising the dead, breaking bread, sweating blood, giving thanks, and dying.

The disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.”  Could it be they, too, felt like prayer is a chore when it shouldn’t be? Like it was powerless petitions? Thoughtless mumblings?

Father, I thank You for Your Holy Spirit who prays for and through me and nudges me to come away to the secret place and meet You there.

I have said prayer is having a conversation with God, like when we talk to someone we love, a spouse or a friend. But its not as cavalier as that, and perhaps that’s why I (we) struggle with prayer, because it is divine, touching His throne, grabbing the hem of His garment; it takes effort, a humbling, a posturing. To sanctify our heart to Him is an undoing of self, admitting our weakness, repenting of our sins, and trusting the One who we can not see. After all, isn’t that what faith is? But without faith it is just lip service. Is it any wonder why our prayers go unanswered?

While there are seasons when we don’t know what to pray, our faith is battered, our mind is weak; it is then that the Holy Spirit carries us and interceded for us. Aren’t you thankful?

Lord, let us find the true strength of raising our arms and bending our knee in reverence, knowing You, but not treating You as common, with thanksgiving, because we can lift our head to the King of kings, knowing You hear us, and we call You Father.

Be Free & Stay Free

What Are You Looking For?

Always looking, yet coming up empty?

Not everything that comes easy is worth having. Nothing of value is cheap.

The GREATEST, Most VALUABLE , and PRECIOUS gift can not be bought with money.

It cost you nothing, but it will cost you EVERYTHING!

In the pouring out of yourself, He will fill you with Himself.

Whatever you are trying to fill yourself with, your well will run dry… BUT! HE can and will fill you to overflow and His well never runs dry.

When everything is falling around you, people are leaving you, you have lost everything, and your knees are shaking because you are at the end of yourself, and you don’t know how you are going to get out of this one… LOOK UP!

Father says He has got this, but you got to let go.

There is ONE who will NEVER leave you, NEVER forsake you, NEVER abandon you, NEVER reject you.

Salvation is in His name, and His name alone…

JESUS!

It cost you nothing, but it will cost you EVERYTHING!

Man’s math will never add up, give it all, yet gain everything?

Taste and see! The Lord is good!

Be Free & Stay Free

Finding Heaven, Living in Hell

For Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma

OK, so here you are, an adult, and you’re supposed to have your life together, you should be settled down, have a steady income, have savings, a home, and a healthy marriage. You should be physically and financially fit. Every day (or at least most of the days) should be a good day. Look around you, especially on social media, everyone else has their life together and is happy… so why aren’t you?

Have you ever thought that? Has your self-talk ever been like a beating behind a woodshed?

Are you feeling lower and lower, like you’re sinking deeper and deeper into the dark pit of despair and hopelessness, and there is no sign of light? Are you being tossed around in the waves of anxiety, fear, and depression and you wish someone would throw you a life preserver and pull you out? Are you hiding from people because it takes so much energy to fake pleasantries anymore and you quit answering your phone, lock the door, pull the shades, then pull the covers back over your head and wish to sleep until life gets better?

Friend, you are not alone. Believe me, I know how hard it is to sort your thoughts when you can’t even speak complete coherent sentences. I know what it feels like to have 5 minutes of hope and then 72 hours of hopelessness. I know what it’s like to want to have a “normal” life of stability, and to feel utterly alone even when you are surrounded by people and feel like a complete failure because no matter what you do it always ends the same.

“If I could just…”

“If only they…”

“But what about…”

Trauma is not something you “just get over.”

Through the years you may learn how to bury it, but it affects the rest of your life if you have not faced it and been healed.

Our earliest relationships are within our family.

We are born with a clean slate; our hearts and minds are like brand new chalkboards not yet written on. The function (or dysfunction) of family sets our expectations for future relationships and sets the standard of what we accept or do not accept. This is where we shape our identity and our worldview. This is where we learn what is safe and what is unsafe. Sadly, if we grow up in abuse (physical, mental, verbal, neglect) then what should be rightly judged as unsafe will be familiar and in adulthood, we will choose unsafe because it is what we know. (Be sure to follow me for more on generational curses)

The Effects of Childhood Trauma

(Note: I use the word “you” in general terms.)

Attachment Issues: You may have trouble with relationships, respecting/setting/maintaining boundaries, empathy, and social isolation. You want to be close to someone, but you struggle with true intimacy and inevitably you push people away from you, or you are attracted to people who will reject you. You have a hard time connecting with someone fully and for the long term.

Physical Health: You have increased medical problems and somatic symptoms; extreme focus on physical symptoms, such as pain or fatigue, and this causes great emotional distress. Prolonged depression, anxiety, and fear can and will wreak havoc on your physical health.

Emotional Regulation: You have difficulty identifying, labeling, and communicating your needs. You may feel like you are always on the “verge.”

Dissociation: You may have altered states of consciousness, amnesia, impaired memory, gaps in memory. No, you’re not “crazy,” this is a coping mechanism.

Cognitive Ability: You may have problems focusing, learning, and processing new information. No, you’re not stupid, your mind is just on overdrive.

Self-Concept: Lack of sense of self, body image issues, low self-esteem, shame, and guilt. Who could blame you? You were set up for this since childhood.

Behavioral Control: You may have difficulty controlling impulses, oppositional behavior, aggression, disrupted sleep and eating patterns, trauma reenactment (rumination), addictions… maybe it’s not Behavioral Control, but Uncontrolled Behavior.

In other words, you don’t do what you want to do, but what you don’t want to do you do.

Yea, I get it. As an adult survivor of childhood trauma, I learned all kinds of coping skills, limping through life on a series of ups and downs, not always making wise choices, failed relationships, pulling up my big girl pants, and leaving the past in the past (or so I thought). But can I tell ya, anything you may think you have buried so deep will eventually show its ugly head and I pray God grants you the wisdom and strength to uproot the toxic lies and abuse, and you allow His Holy Spirit to turn the soil in your soul and replace the childhood wounds with peace, hope, love, and forgiveness. And I hope it doesn’t take until you are in your 50’s like it did me, but even if it does, God is still able.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” -Winston Churchill

Some well-meaning, but misinformed Christians will tell you, “You gotta forgive, and then everything will be better.” Sigh, if only it were that easy, huh.

Of course, you want to come to a place of forgiveness, the Bible has a lot to say about forgiveness. I will add some verses at the end of this post for you to click on to see for yourself what God has to say about forgiveness. Forgiveness is a process and it’s not based on feelings or emotions, rather it is a choice to release them into the hands of a loving and just God. Forgiveness enables you to take responsibility for your healing and growth. It is recognizing that a wrong, an injustice, has been done against you, but with God’s help you choose to let go and move forward into the hope and future God has for you.

The words “I forgive” are not a magical formula, it does not automatically erase the wrongs, and ‘poof!’ it’s as if you have never been wounded. It’s taking the first step to healing, you may have to remind yourself you forgive several times a day, but God the Father is right there extending His hand, grab hold of Him, and trust Him when He says, “Ok, my child, now is the time to throw that rug back and let’s take care of what has been buried under there.”

It is possible to dethrone the triggers that cause you to react in fear, upset, or anger. You may not be able to change the past, but you can control its grip on your future. This can happen by bringing truth to the lies, light to the darkness, acceptance from rejection, and love in the uglies.

Friend, you are no longer the helpless child. You can wave goodbye to pain and embrace life.

Do you want to know how to heal from your past? Do you want to know how to live a life of no regrets? Do you want to know how to hold your head up and walk with dignity, without shame, fear, and anxiety?

There is only one way for lasting healing and wholeness, and the one way is through the One, Jesus the Christ, by His Holy Spirit who is Healer, Comforter, and Deliverer.

If you are ready to step off the merry-go-round of failed relationships, emotional chaos, and unfulfillment, and you want some help (because we all need help sometimes), you can contact me HERE.

Remember, God is for you, He is not against you. He sees and He knows and He cares.

Be Free & Stay Free

What does the Bible say about forgiveness? Ephesians 4:32, Matthew 6:14, Luke 6:37, Deuteronomy 32:35, Luke 17:2

Is Anger Destroying Your Life?

Have you ever been so angry you thought your head was about to explode? You could feel the heat rise up your neck and the minute you opened your mouth it was like incoherent babbling of *#@##*!!!

Yes?

I think if we are honest, we can admit we have all been there at least one time in our life.

But what about if its not just one time? What if it is almost a daily occurrence? What if the rage inside of you is destroying your inner peace, relationships, health, and job? Are you tossing and turning at night, unable to have a good night’s sleep and you wake up to a day that is just like yesterday and the day before that? Does nothing ever change, and you feel like you are at your breaking point? Have you found yourself apologizing to recipients of your outburst so many times that you quit apologizing because what’s the point… you can’t control yourself and it will probably happen again, even though you don’t want it to?

I am going to go out on a limb with this one and suggest that maybe, just maybe, anger is not the only emotion you are dealing with. Your anger, which became wrath, is the overflow, the manifestation of what is lying beneath the surface.

Have you ever used a pressure cooker?

A pressure cooker is a sealed chamber that traps the stream generated as its contents are heated. As steam builds, pressure increases, driving the boiling point of water. You may notice the lid has a vent (nozzle) to release steam. Without adequate venting, releasing of the pressure/steam, the pressure cooker could explode. (a lil’ F.Y.I. you don’t want to remove the lid before you have released the steam)

The heat needs to be turned up to create such pressure, right. And when you remove the pot from the heat then the contents will stop boiling and the steam will evaporate.

But what if you can’t control the heat?

I used the pressure cooker as an example of what it feels like when the line to rage is about to be crossed. In the kitchen, you can control the burners, but in life… you have no control over anything (or anyone) outside of yourself and sometimes the heat will be turned up. You will have a bad day, you will run into those triggers that are like a stick poking a bear, something will inevitably happen.

Sometimes anger is justified. The emotion of anger warns us something is not right. I like how the Amplified Bible puts it; be angry at sin, at immorality, injustice, at ungodly behavior, yet do not sin; do not let your anger cause you shame, nor allow it to last until the sun goes down.

But I’m not talking about this kind of anger. I am talking about the kind of anger that is destroying your life! Even if you never allow it to pour over into outward wrath, you feel the anger that is eating away the inside of you, causing you to make poor choices, push people away, and beat you with the self-condemnation stick because you know inside that something is not right. You want to change, but you don’t know how. You have a couple good days, but they never last. Those old dark feelings keep resurfacing.

My friend, if you are dealing with this kind of anger, then you are not dealing with just a human emotion, you are dealing with a demonic spirit.

The Bible says we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

What causes the spirit of anger?

You did not just wake up one day full of blind rage. It didn’t just happen. This kind of rage (demonic spirit) has friends that pave the way for him to enter. The door is opened through an injury (most likely during childhood), through rejection, fear, physical/verbal/emotional abuse, generational, unrepentant sin…

Now, if you want to learn how to “deal” with anger, learn some grounding techniques to talk you back off the ledge, there is a lot out there. But wouldn’t it be much better to just evict that demon from your life? Maybe you have been angry for so long you can’t even imagine what a day would feel like if you aren’t angry. This kind of anger and bitterness is like living with a roommate who you hate, but can’t escape from. It’s like, well… it’s like living in hell.

Deliverance from anger…

If you have clicked on this post, and read it this far, then that is good news, because it means you are recognizing that there is a dark force at operation behind your outburst and you want to change. This is called conviction, and it means His Holy Spirit wants to deliver you from this hellish bondage.

Have you noticed an increase in angry people? Does it seem like the world is full of people who are easily offended and want to offend? Unless you shut the television, internet, newspapers off, and move to some remote island of “Population One” there is no way of escaping the obvious fact that there is something very sinister going on, and I’m not talking about politics, I’m talking about spiritual forces that are having their day in the minds and hearts of people. The Bible talks about this in depth in 2 Timothy 3.

I don’t know what caused you to be so angry. I have an idea, but I don’t know your personal situation. For me, it came through a childhood of rejection and fear, then it carried over into my adult life, that ugly spirit followed me and taunted me. Through every disappointment and rejection, I would think, eh…maybe it be better next time. I always tried to remain optimistic, hopeful…

But try as I may, my attempts were met with more rejection, disappointments, and failure. I was being swallowed up in fear! As the clock ticked and I was getting older the fear got bigger. Then I got angry! So very angry! Like the gif on the top of this post. The angrier I got, the more condemned and ashamed I felt, because I am a Christian and I’m not suppose to be feeling this way or acting this way. Isn’t this what the church teaches us? “Don’t be angry, be like Jesus”. But that’s not what the Bible teaches us. It’s OK to be angry. Sometimes we ought to be angry. But when the anger turns to rage and pushes out every bit of love we have and causes us to hide from the very One who can heal us and rescue us, then it is definitely time to examine ourselves.

Search me thoroughly, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. -Psalm 139:23-24

There are things that happen and we have no control over it. We cannot control other people, we can only take responsibility for ourself. The wrong that was done against you, the injustice, the injury… you didn’t deserve that. You deserve(d) to be loved, cared for, and safe.

Take some time to get alone with God, He will never turn you away, and with His help you can find the door that anger entered through, close it and seal it, and let Holy Spirit heal you and restore you. Allow Him to lead your focus to Him, and when you have grabbed hold of the revelation that He has you in the palm of His hand, and you can trust Him, then fear will vanish, anger/rage will have no place in you, and it will be like someone turned the lights on because the dark cloud that followed you will have to leave.

You are precious and you are loved. You can be delivered from the control of anger and healed from the inside out of every wound. You can step into a new life of freedom.

If you would like prayer and/or coaching, you can contact me HERE.

In my search for help with anger, I came across this video on YouTube. Maybe some of what he says doesn’t apply to you, but the prayer at the end is quite powerful.

Be Free & Stay Free