Category Archives: What Do You Think?

Where Freedom Is Given, There Is Much Responsibility

Let freedom ring. We live in a free country, right? It’s our body so we have the right to choose. The Land of the
Free and the Home of the Brave. Whom the sun sets free is free indeed. I have the right to live in peace. I have the right to protect myself. One of my personal favorites is, “I have the right to come into my own home and find peace in the midst of chaos, strife and unrest in the world around us.” These statements and more I grew up hearing. I’m reminded of the song, “This land is my land, this land is your land, from California to the New York Island, From the Redwood Forrest, to the gulf stream waters, this land was made for you and me.” This land was made for you and me.

So many people. So many opinions. So many beliefs. So many backgrounds. So many interpretations. With justice and liberty for all. Yes, indeed. I remember a time not too long ago when my son became very interested in the world around him. He would listen to every news feed he could get his hands on. Unfortunately, he was basing his opinion on other’s beliefs without weighing these beliefs on any standard measurement of truth. This, I believe, is why we have so many different thinkologies today. At one point, my son’s view of this great nation we live in became so tainted, he wanted us to move to another country. (Yes, even with all the problems we may have, I still believe we live in the greatest nation in the world today.) He has since grown past this. It took him being willing to listen to all sides and weighing against the common thread of what is right versus wrong in God’s eyes. But I must say, I am so very proud of him for taking the time to see past himself to learn about the world around him.

Perhaps, there are lessons for us all to learn about the world around us. Learning and seeking understanding does not have to mean we must subscribe to each other’s beliefs or standard of living. I do believe it is a necessary step in bringing unity and peace into our nation and the nations around the world.

Our Declaration states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This one statement has been the backdrop of seemingly every human rights argument and protest around the world. Human rights are the moral principles or norms that describe certain standards of human behavior that are protected as legal rights in municipal and international law. I am not going to get into a political debate here. My ministry and message is of love. Rights…life…liberty…pursuit of happiness.

I believe we are responsible for our choices. I believe it does matter that we do not force our beliefs on someone else. At the same time, I do believe we have the right to voice our opinion without fear of retribution. I believe that is a freedom given to us in this great nation we live in. Without it, we are certain to be diminished into a nation of control by a few instead of a democratic government, a nation governed for the people, by the people. What so many people seem to be unaware of is how much of a prison we each live in, really, without God’s love that sets our souls free.

I’ve pondered many things in the last 20 or so years of my life. I come from a long heritage of men and women who were willing to work hard and fight for what they believed in and they gave to us a strong sense of never giving up and keep on keepin’ on to overcome setbacks. I remember putting a self-made picture of “Thou shalt not whine” on a wall in my house, and made it a point to refer to it anytime my children decided they didn’t like the results of appropriate action taken against inappropriate choices and behaviors. I’ve heard, “Does everything have to be about God?” My response is of course, “Yes! Me and my house will serve the Lord!” I’ve heard “I feel like I’m living in a prison. You won’t let me go anywhere!” I hope they never know what living in a prison in your home, in your mind, or in your circumstance can really be like.

Storms of oppression can take a person unawares. But of course, that’s the plan of the oppressor. It makes my head swim sometimes wondering what happens to a person to take them from seemingly a normal, ordinary thought process to one of paranoia and sense of being without the ability to have any control in a situation to the point a person takes excessive measures trying to ensure they are protected.

I grew up in a family full of military servicemen and women and avid hunters. We come from the south where it is common for people to hunt and fish for their food. So, growing up around guns never bothered me. I understood their intended purpose. At one point while in college several years ago, I myself was in ROTC with the intention of becoming an officer in the United States Army. We grew up with a sense of being safe and protected, because my family stood strong and proud on the principals that were established for us to live a life of peace in our home and our surroundings.

So, when I got married, I expected these same principals would be in place for me and my new family. I’m really not sure what happened, exactly. I can’t put my finger on a decisive moment or event that took place to trigger what caused things to go so very wrong.

It was over 20 years ago when a new law came forth that required background checks on firearms—the Brady Bill. The next thing I knew, letters were written and plans to protect what was his began to surface. Statements such as “We’re going to have a racial civil war next year and the police are only good for drinking coffee and eating donuts.” “I’m going to protect my property, and that includes the two of you.” You heard me right. In that moment, what he said only confirmed what we already felt—my daughter and I had become like property in his mind. Suddenly, a mission ensued that catapulted our personal firearm inventory to 20 weapons, three of which were assault weapons with all the accessories to make them fully automatic, including two laser sites with over 10,000 rounds of live ammunition and enough reloading equipment and supplies to make over 10,000 rounds more. He was going to hide them in the walls and dig a hole under our home and hide them so if we were invaded our weapons would not be confiscated. He wanted to put up a 10-foot fence with razor wire across the top of it around our property and put video surveillance equipment at the end of the driveway to monitor who came and who left. How do I know there were that many rounds of ammo in our supply of stock? Because I inventoried them. Every. Single. One. I had possession of the house, and when he was forced to leave, he could only take personal items. So, for the property settlement, I had to inventory everything we possessed to show him that I had not “taken” anything he thought belonged solely to him. Even so, he still accused me of withholding items of value. Good. Grief.

At one point, we even looked at property that sat high on a mountain that required a code for passage. Now, I might interject here that this in and of itself did not alarm me. He became obsessed and the more time that went on, the darker the atmosphere at our house became. It was everything else added to it that was sending signals of “You’d better get out and get out soon.” It got to the point I had to let him know my itinerary for the day. He would give me what he thought was enough time to get where I said I was going and he would call to make sure I was there. If he felt I strayed any at all, the inquisition started. Paranoia loomed and I felt I was running out of time to bring me and my daughter to a place of safety. But God…

God put the right people in the right place at the right time and we were able to get out with a protective order. After he was removed from the home, we were eventually able to come back until such a time we were able to finish the property settlement and move for good.

I took everything firearm-related we had accumulated to local law enforcement. They were stunned. He called the judge and ultimately, the judge had no choice but to return them to him because he never actually “did” anything to show cause for concern. Such as was the case for us. Without broken bones, bruises, and DNA, abuse and paranoia is very, very hard to prove and at that moment in time, I lived in such a state of fear and brokenness I could not verbalize everything we had gone through. I now know it was God and only God who carried me through that time. And God…

God knew long before we would find ourselves in this place how he would get us out of it. Two years prior to this, by God’s divine intervention, my daughter and I found our way to a local church. After a while, I was finally able to confide in our pastors “something wasn’t good” in our home. At that time, I was not able to be specific and they offered to talk to him, but I knew if they did, it would only make things worse for us. So…they prayed. They prayed for us regularly. Me and my daughter found solace and safety in this new home environment God provided for us. This became our safe place and I made sure we spent as much time there as we could.

At one point, I was given a glimmer of hope. Even though he resisted at first, he finally began to attend with us. His exact words were, “Are you sure the walls aren’t going to fall in on top of me?” This was short-lived. Something changed—quickly and it seemed the more we went to church, the worse things got at home. It would take all the faith and courage I could muster just to call an attorney and start the process of leaving this prison we called home. Fear had gripped every part of my being to the point I could not keep my body from shaking, nor could I keep a strong tone of voice. The fear was real. And it had its clutches in me deep.

It would seem my life has the makings of a Lifetime movie. I suppose it does. So, why have I even bothered to tell my story after 23 years? Simple. This is my story. My redemption story. My story of how great God is. My story of how God will move heaven and earth for his children and judge righteously in favor of his children when his children cry out to him night and day. My story of God’s power working in our lives for our salvation to fulfill his plan and purpose. My story of how miraculously God worked everything together in our favor for our good. My. God. Is. Real. And. My. God. Is. Good. And…Satan is defeated by the blood of the lamb and the word of my testimony. We no longer live in the dark. We walk in His light.

God intervened. From that point in time, it would be two years before I realized how close to irreversible disaster we were. As I was praying and interceding for him and our church one morning, the Lord spoke to me. He said, “If it wasn’t for the prayers of the people in this church, paranoia would have taken him over and you (me and my daughter) would have been killed.” Wow. I found myself without the ability to comprehend how purposefully and precisely God will reach down from heaven and rescue us out of every pit of destruction. Never. Underestimate. The. Power. Of. Prayer. Had it not been for the prayers of the people in that church, my daughter and I would have become a statistic. Humble silence.

Now for the million dollar question. Am I an advocate for gun control? No. Without a doubt, no. I believe very strongly in our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. I am, however, of the very firm belief with freedom comes great responsibility. Do I have a problem with anyone obtaining and owning many firearms and ammunition? No. Not really. Again, it is the person that makes the weapon injure and kill. I have never seen a gun fire one round while hanging on a wall, or sitting on a shelf or table. Not one. Responsibility lies with the one whose finger rests on the trigger. Is there an epidemic in our world today of control through the use of force due to the lack of self-control of an individual? Yes. However, I maintain, getting rid of our guns and right to protect ourselves is NOT answer.

I will give him this much, some of his perceptions had some validity into our future. However, it is the innocent who gets caught in the cross-fire and a person’s state of mind and heart reveals the true root of the problems we face in the world today. In our case, that was at the root of our demise. So, what’s the answer? To be bluntly honest, I believe God is the only one who really has the answer to our dilemma, and we live in a society where many people simply do not want to listen. I don’t have the answers. I have only what I know we lived through–what God brought us through. Even so, having lived through all we have lived through, I have what I know God is able to do and wants to do for everyone.

We must become a people who are willing to love one another and pray without ceasing. While doing so, keep your eyes wide open and be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Some would say, this is only euphoria and we will never see this happen for us. Perhaps, but we have a choice. We can join together and listen to the one who made all of creation or we can simply keep doing what has gotten us into such a mess to begin with. As long as evil exists in this world, evil will happen—even to good people who have done absolutely nothing to bring it to their doorstep and into their lives. Again, the innocent are caught in the cross-fire. With justice and liberty for all. Indeed. I rather believe we need to cry out for justice and mercy for all.

There are many battles to be fought and won to see unity and peace in our land. I choose to believe God is the one who is able to make grace abound and bring us into wholeness. Only God is able. And only if we allow him to do so. My prayer is that my ex will truly find cleansing and healing for his soul through a real relationship with God. In truth, only God knows our heart.

In my opinion, we do not need more gun control and more censorship of public opinion, even when we may disagree. We need more people to stand up make a positive difference in the area of influence God has given them. Do I believe we have the right to defend ourselves? Yes. Do I believe we have the right to live in peace? Yes. Your opinion may likely differ from mine. That’s okay. We don’t have to agree on everything to get along with each other. I firmly believe that. I’ll pray for you. You pray for me. With God, all things are possible.

This is my story. This is my song. Praising my Savior, all the day long. Peace.

©2018 Katrina Stanley
On information found in this blog, Every New Beginning by Katrina Stanley, is copyrighted material, all rights reserved. Any production of this information in any form is strictly prohibited

If I Love You More, Will You Love Me Less?

“Do you love me?” I was asked. “Yes,” I answered. “How much?” was the reply. Without hesitation, the response might be, “Okay, what do you want now??” I heard this often as my kids were growing up. A common colloquialism indeed. Can love by measured? Or, is love simply the act of being?

Paul makes the statement “If I love you more, will you love me less?” in 2 Corinthians 12:15. He was preparing to visit the church at Corinth for the third time after false apostles criticized him for not having supernatural experiences and doing miracles as they did. He did not want to have to defend his apostleship and position of authority with the church, but he did so by recalling the miracles he had performed in their presence and also noted that during each of his stays, he was not a burden to the church at Corinth because he always found a way to support himself. He goes on to say he would gladly spend all he has for them, including expending himself completely for their growth, understanding and steadfast devotion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Can love be measured? Or, is love simply the act of being? Spending time, space, money, words, deeds or perhaps even in our silence love can be shown. Love is a testament to our faith in God and in our service to him. Love is seen in how much we do, in what we spend and extend of ourselves, and this is not always shown in the amount of money we spend.

However, just as the church at Corinth was young at that time, our kids too tend to measure love in dollars and cents, especially if they are involved in extra curricular activities at school or in the community. Life can become a real juggling act, especially when you have more than one child, all going different directions. My children were at one time both involved in soccer, my daughter for three years. Then she advanced to cheerleading and my son to Taekwondo. Then there was my daughter’s first high school prom—all while being in band and choir. Oh my. All of which were expensive and time consuming. Even as much as we struggled and with the very little support I received to help raise them, we always found a way—even when it meant me working two jobs. But I never complained and I never saw it as a burden. We don’t mind going the extra mile for those we love. Sometimes, when we give more, more is expected and the great wealth of what we expended on them gets lost in their desire to have more. Sometimes, unfortunately our giving can be taken for granted and entitlement can set in.

This is what Paul was talking about. Even though there were those who tried to discredit him for not “performing” like others or as others thought he should, he proved himself to be diligent in raising up this church in Corinth in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord Jesus Christ, founded on his truth and doing so without being a financial burden to them. He gave all he had and asked only their obedience to Christ’s teachings in return.

If I love you more, will you love me less? What is in your heart? Do you measure love by how much a person spends on you? Or by how much a person spends with you, doing life and going through the ups and downs with you? May we all love one another without reproach or expecting something in return. Love isn’t love until you give it away. Peace.

©2018 Katrina Stanley
On information found in this blog, Every New Beginning by Katrina Stanley, is copyrighted material, all rights reserved. Any production of this information in any form is strictly prohibited

Serve One Another As Unto The Lord

Serve one another. The very act of service that leads some to believe it is in it truest form living as an indentured servant—enslaved to the very act of giving to others without receiving in kind. In fact, we all serve to some extent. What always boggles my mind is the thinking that those who serve are beneath those who do not, or in most cases will not. Unfortunately, we often times cannot see the forest for the trees.

Teachers, for example, serve every day. They give and give and receive little in return. At least as far as monetary compensation. They have the greatest influence on our future society and world and receive the least amount of pay for this great investment in our future.

There are many who work in the area of waste management. For those who work in this field, the title has evolved today from what was once referred to as the neighborhood “trash man.” This work holds a great risk to one’s health and proves a definite challenge to those in risk management to ensure the health and well-being of those who are willing to work at all hours of the night so we can have the pleasure of a clutter-free, smell-free and waste-free home. Again, not a glamorous position to hold, yet one of a great service to our communities around the world.

When I was going through college several years ago, I worked in a school cafeteria where my daughter attended school. There in-lies some of the most caring and wisest people I’ve ever met with all the glamour of a star in the making. You know what I’m talking about—sporting the unique fashion trend of a wearing a hairnet. Talk about the “bedhead” look. Yep. We had it goin’ on! Good food, service with a smile and kind encouraging words were expected and required with very low pay, hot steam in the face, skin cracking and sore backs from leaning over the sink scrubbing pots and pans. All so our children, the bright stars of our future and their instructional caretakers and staff would be properly nourished each day. Along with our custodians, I do believe these are some of the most overlooked and under appreciated people in our schools today. But each one carries the level of servanthood perhaps we should not underestimate.

Although I continue ongoing education so I may better myself in all seasons of life and so me and my family will not live in poverty, I’ve never thought of myself as too good to do the seemingly worst job. I was born to a blue-collar family. We worked and we worked hard. From farming, to serving in the military, to working in a garden to literally provide the food we ate—and yes this was only about 30 years ago, and owning and operating our own businesses. We have a strong work ethic. We have also had more than our share of ups and downs with losses that were devastating. However, I’m so very thankful to have been born into a family who has a strong moral compass and was taught early to trust God for who we are and all we need. All in all—God gave me a servant’s heart. A heart to help others.

I remember after my divorce and God’s love broke through my broken soul and skeleton of the person I was and began to fashion me into who I’ve ultimately become today, I told God, “I want you to heal me and heal me as soon as possible, because I do not want to spend the next 30 years trying to get over this.” God is faithful. God will move, change us and grow us all in love, mercy and grace as much and as fast as we allow him to do. God has used many people in my life to help me along the way, for all of whom I am eternally grateful.

I remember many years ago I was watching TBN. I saw Jan Crouch walking on the banks of Jordan. She was talking about the darkness of depression and how debilitating it was for her but how God delivered her and healed her. I sat and listened intentionality and with stark, profound clarity, I realized she was describing what I was feeling but never knew how to put into words. She talked about the Lord telling her to go to church one day. Even though she didn’t feel up to it, she went anyway. At the end of the service, the Lord prompted her to go to the altar to pray for a young woman there. She described how she felt so displaced and inadequate to help her, but she went anyway. She then described how the Holy Spirit lifted her up and she began to experience breakthrough like she had never experienced before. She then said, she never understood it before, but you have to give what you need. Indeed, a clear presentation of the law of sowing and reaping—all from a servant’s heart.

I believe it is most commendable when someone will take time out of their busy life to mentor a child who is not their own. Far too often those who have only one parent is looked upon as somewhat of an outcast. Blame is all too readily and blindly sometimes cast on the parents for bringing a child into the world without both parents, without fully knowing the circumstances. Sometimes, this is valid and a necessary situation to address in an effort to stop the ongoing epidemic of children being brought into the world without committed parents. I was once chided with “How could you bring a child into this world without a father?” (Referring to my son.) It is easier to see the splinter in someone else’s eye rather than see the log in your own eye sometimes. I do realize there are many who expect someone, anyone to step in and take over their responsibility in caring for a child. This was certainly not the case for me. Even so, the child is not to blame. A child still needs guidance and nurturing from a mother and a father figure. I prayed and sought earnestly for mentors, role models in my community and church for my son to no avail. Even so, God is faithful. Do we serve only when it is convenient? Do we serve only when we think someone is worthy of receiving it? And yes, to answer perhaps an obvious question, I mentored a teenager for almost three years. So you could say I sowed seeds into my son’s needs by serving another with similar needs.

Blessed are those who will be God’s hands and feet and build up the wall of righteousness, helping to bear the burden and load of others in order to raise up righteous oaks for our future and furthering the kingdom of heaven on this earth.

It wasn’t too many years ago. I moved me and my son to Oklahoma with new, great expectations of the new beginning to a great adventure the Lord was taking us on. Had I known just how hard it was going to be, I likely would have told the Lord “No.” I came with great faith but only just enough money to support us for a few months. I stood on the scripture found in Jeremiah 17:7-8 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” I called in the great harvest of all the good seeds I had sown. I stood on my knowledge and understanding of my relationship with God that he would never leave me or forsake me and in fact, he spoke to me and added to it, “To the end of the age.” So, I knew I was on another challenging but great journey with the Lord. Within days, the Lord provided me with a job.

That would go on for about three years. Then, my job began to phase out. This was 2013. I had just started school of ministry. I finally took that step of fulfilling God’s promise to me of making me an ordained minister. My faith was strong as I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. At the beginning of that year, I had a terrible car wreck that totaled my car and injured my neck and right shoulder. I had to resort to transcribing with my keyboard in my lap, yet my faith continued strong. I was determined not to allow anything to be taken from me. One July 1, 2013, I was laid off. Electronic medical record keeping had taken many of the accounts and there was no longer enough work to justify my employment.

Wow. I moved me and my son to a land I did not know, people I did not know with no family I could reach out to for support of any kind. This was hard. I must have sent 50 resumes for work, but nothing. Absolutely nothing. I was to the point I had to have a break or I was going to be evicted. By this time, I had exhausted all provision I had.

Through a neighbor, I was introduced to the pastor of the local Salvation Army church. She asked me if I would be willing to teach piano for their youth. I was excited! I finally had a break—even as small as it seemed. Doors even opened for me to clean a few houses. What is always amazing about God is that in all things God works all things together for our good. It was at this very church I had my first opportunity to tell my story to the women’s group. This ultimately opened doors for me to tell my story at their headquarters homeless shelter chapel, and eventually allowed me the opportunity to stand behind their pulpit and preach. In all things, God is good. All. The. Time.

Eventually, I was offered a full-time position managing their bell ringing ministry for the holidays. Have you ever seen someone standing outside a store ringing a bell with a kettle you put money in that is hanging on a stand during the Christmas season? Yep. That’s what I did in Broken Arrow. For three years I operated this ministry for them. I absolutely loved it! It was not only full-time work, I was able to work with people from all different backgrounds. The common thread in everyone—we were all willing to work—we had a mind and a heart to work. If you’ve never done it, this job is not for the faint-hearted. It requires standing on your feet for hours at a time, and remaining cheerful and pleasant while the cold wind and even rain beats on you making you feel as if a thousand knives are cutting away at you. At the end of the day, you feel as if you had been run over by a bus—back hurting, hips aching, wrists tired—and all you did was stand and ring a bell.

My day would start at 7 am and end at 10 pm for six days a week. If I wasn’t working in the field, I was in the office answering the dozens of phone calls of the organizations who wanted to be scheduled to help ring the bells for this fine organization. We would rally together each morning for a few encouraging moments to motivate the servant’s heart in remembrance of “It’s not about us.” It was at times exhausting, but I loved it. I saw the spirit of man at its strongest. I saw the love of the season shown in the simplest expressions of Hi! Merry Christmas! Peace to you! All from people who I know had very little to give—except the heart of a servant

©2018 Katrina Stanley
On information found in this blog, Every New Beginning by Katrina Stanley, is copyrighted material, all rights reserved. Any production of this information in any form is strictly prohibited

From The Darkness Into The Light–Life After Sexual Abuse

In the night she cried out “No. No.” She was pushing something away from her. With her hands, she tried to be freed. I listened and watched her struggle, afraid to wake her for fear of her not coming back to me.

These are just some of the things a person who has been sexually assaulted goes through, whether they are a child or an adult. Nightmares, PTSD, depression, low self-esteem, constantly wondering if you are worthy to be loved, constantly wondering what you did wrong to cause this “thing” to happen to you, knowing deep down inside what has been done to you was a true act of violence and not of your doing, but the question always remains, “Why? What if?”

In my search for significance to be a woman who was loosed from the darkness that surrounded me, I had to allow God to take me on the journey of recovery—a very long, painful and humiliating journey of recovery. I had to allow him to take me back through the memories of every act of molestation and sexual abuse. Very painful. But despite my best efforts, I found it was the only way I was going to be free. So, I allowed him to do it. What I learned was this time, I was able to control the end result.

I was raised in a good home with loving parents who always told me to “Shoot for the stars. You can do anything you set your mind to do.” That is what I was taught from a very young age. That is something that still holds true for me today. Today, I am no longer afraid. But despite my upbringing, it would take years before I really understood why I always felt “different” from other girls my age. I always felt older, set apart, just different and never understood why.

It would take going through recovery from my abusive marriage for me to understand how life travesties can take a toll on a person’s life and set them up for defeat long before they ever arrive at the chance to try. There is a truth about those who are sexually assaulted. The outcome either way is devastating. There are those who become sexually promiscuous—they take the attitude of “What does it matter anymore?” There are those who completely withdrawal. Then, there are those who remain angry and bitter. At each pass, every relationship this person has at some point becomes directly affected because of the insane injustice levied against them. Each outcome holds its own set of mountains and valleys, twists and turns and one never really knows what the outcome will be, but one always hopes for full recovery. Only time and a really great, loving support system can one overcome the devastating effects of being sexually assaulted. You have two choices, either give up or move on.

For me, I never really knew what happened. I was so young, I couldn’t have understood what took place. In my innocence, I managed to “tell.” Without a doubt, my mother understood what took place and she did everything within her power to see to it that never happened again. At any rate, it opened the door to much worse. There would be four attacks against me of this nature before I would be married. Here’s where a history of deception and confusion has come into play. If your husband wants sex and you do not, and he insists on doing it anyway, is it assault? Or, is she just refusing to submit to her wifely duty?? I am here to set the record straight. No means No. Period. Whether you are married or not. Period. You have no idea the power of the destructive nature of taking what has not been offered to you can be and how it can take a toll on a person’s mind, heart and soul. If you put a gun to someone’s head and said, “Give me all your money or I’ll kill you,” don’t you think that would shake you up? The same is true when a woman says No and her request is not respected.

How can a man who says he loves his wife roll her over and take what she does not want to give on that particular occasion? Love does not demand its own way. For the record, that’s not love. So, why does a woman stay? Peculiar question to which there is no firm answer to. She is his wife. To have and to hold, to love, honor and cherish. Maybe he wasn’t really trying to hurt her? Maybe she misinterpreted it? Maybe not. But she’s his wife. She has made a commitment to their marriage. The methodical way of an abuser slowly tears down her defenses of resistance. At the same time, she knows this is not right, but somehow she knows she just can’t leave—that would make things worse. Instead, she builds a wall of defense and protection to what is in her that is still hers—her dignity, her honor, her soul. Leaving is sometimes not an option. I tried to leave when my daughter was eight months old. He took her out of my arms and I was told I could leave, but if I did, I would never see my child again. Whether this would have truly been the outcome or not, I believed him. For many months after that, I had to ask permission to take her to see my mother who lived out of town. Perhaps unbelievable, but it was reality for us.

I was always told, “You’re my wife. You’re supposed to do what I tell you to do.” Well, well, well. Hmph. There is a scripture in Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. That’s a two-way street. It goes for men as well as women. Another in 1 Peter 3:7 In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. All too often, the woman is expected to submit to her husband. And yes, she should, unto Christ. Unto Salvation. Unto Righteousness. Not unto selfishness that is destructive—especially from your husband. I was raised, God hates divorce. You should simply not divorce—work it out. This is not always possible. This is not always healthy. This is not always safe. Hear my heart—I am not an advocate for divorce. But, I believe God loves us and expects us to do things in order—all of us. When disorder and chaos abound, he does give you forgiveness for leaving. We need to understand God does not expect us to stay and be a whipping post for someone who does not love him or care for us.

What took me years to understand is how I could have married someone like this—especially, having been raised in a well-adjusted home with loving parents and a great extended family. As I continued in recovery, I learned that the stage for this was set long ago. It started in that first act of sexual abuse when I was three years old. It set me up for insecurities that would lie dormant until such a time the enemy would come in like the snake that he is to destroy who I was so I would become crippled in my ability to be who God says I am and to accomplish God’s plan and purpose in my life.

Getting to the root of any issue is absolutely key in getting rid of strongholds, hang-ups, incorrect thinking and behavior patterns. It was devastating to me to learn the “rest of the story” regarding our situation. My act of disobedience of marrying this man who I knew was not equally yoked to me, opened the door for my daughter to suffer at the hands of her father. Was I responsible for her demise? No. He was in fact the sole beneficiary of occupancy of the acts of injustice against her. However, I received a real education about how my lack of being whole before I married allowed open doors for evil to all too readily come against her—and me.

There is a scripture in Exodus 20:5-6 that says, “I am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” What exactly does this mean?

In short, it means whatever the sins of the parents are, whether sins of commission or omission, lay the groundwork for the children to follow in suit. Sources say, if a parent is an alcoholic, the chances of the kids becoming alcoholics are three to four times greater than their peers. The same is true for kids who have had abusive parents. Without proper intervention and healing, they are at a greater risk of becoming abusive themselves or marrying someone who is abusive towards them. They can say they will not let it happen to them, but when they are in the midst of it, they find it is really not that simple. This was indeed the case for my daughter.

Before I divorced, I asked God specifically what was wrong with my family. God is very much interested in every part of your life and most assuredly wants to be an active part of making you whole. So, he told me. He showed me how the line of dysfunction went about four generations deep, as far as I could calculate. I vowed right then and there the generation curse and cycle of abuse would end with my daughter. What I did not understand and was powerless to change for us until much later was understanding just what God means when he says he will “show love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” This is key. Love God with all your heart. Keep his commandments. One of his commandments is love they neighbor as thyself. Be kind. Love one another. Get this—love does not beat you down by someone who says they you love, whether physically, mentally, emotionally or verbally or even financially. That is not love. For those who love God, God will move heaven and earth to show you his love. But, we must be willing to let him love us. He will not force himself on us. He is the perfect gentleman.

The other key factor in recovering into wholeness is understanding how powerful our words are and how God’s spoken word is taken by God’s angels and immediately knocks down the attacks of the enemy who is the constant menace of our minds which is directly related to our behaviors and our emotions. There are so many people who struggle and some outright refuse to believe this, but just as we all have a guardian angel who is assigned to watch over and protect us, there are also demons who are assigned to our destruction. Where they can be stopped is through prayer and words of affirmation—not words of destruction.

When I was divorced, I was so broken I didn’t know who I was anymore. I stood in front of a mirror so my eyes could see my mouth say the words my ears heard so it could get into my heart so I could be made whole. I would say, “You’re not worthless. You’re not a pacifist. You’re not ugly. You’re not a waste of time. You’re not stupid. God loves you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are the apple of God’s eye. You are the center of God’s heart. You are God’s beloved and his heartbeat.” I did this for months so I could finally hear something good about myself instead of the continuous onslaught of insults that were so often hurled at me. The incredible thing is—it worked. It was after this, I was finally able to trust God just enough to allow him to start loving me. And yes, his love is like a banner that will completely cover you and saturate you into wholeness.

I’ve fought many battles deep into the night—for myself and for others. It has become a part of who I am as an intercessory prayer warrior. Here’s where we must come together and bring awareness to how powerful loving others and building each other up with our words and prayer really is. What so many people do not understand is who we are in Christ. We have been given the authority that Christ had on this earth. We have the authority to call things that are not as though they are. We have the authority with our prayers to pull down the lies told about us and others. It’s amazing to see those devils scatter when God’s word is invoked against them. At the risk of sounding ridiculous, they are indeed real. But God is greater and his power and love is so much stronger.

Is there life after divorce? Absolutely. Through Christ into wholeness. Is there life after abuse? Yes. Absolutely. Through Christ’s love making us whole. So, what about the little girl who never had a chance to be a little girl who was thrust into one destructive relationship into another? How does she become whole again? Only when she allows a loving father, ABBA father, to lavish her with pure love will she once again have her hopes and dreams restored. The truth is, most people are very well aware something is wrong. Most people are simply at a loss as to how to be relieved from it. Some recover swiftly. Others do not. There is no discernable time table. However, there will not be full recovery unless we understand, accept and receive who God says we are and allow him to love us. That’s where it must start. Then, allow God to finish the work he started in us.

About every two minutes an American is sexually assaulted. Every eight minutes, that victim is a child. On average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States.

If you are someone who has been a victim of sexual abuse, do not allow this to identify who you are. Identitfy yourself with the beautifully adorned princess God says you are. Many years ago, my aunt told me to never leave the house without looking like a million bucks. I understood it. It works. I pass this great advice on to you.

The pain is real. The devastation is real. The devil is a liar. God is greater. This is why I say, never assume you know what someone has gone through, especially if you won’t take the time to talk to them to find out. But even so, we can all be prepared to help in a person’s recovery by being armed and ready to fight—through prayer and speaking positive words of encouragement. Love one another. Be kind. That’s my message. I hope this helps someone along the way know there are those out there who understands how precious you are to God and how sexual abuse is not your fault. And no, God didn’t allow this to happen to punish you for something you did or didn’t do. It is an act of evil. Period.

Live. Love. Laugh. Never give up. God has a plan for you, for good and not harm for a future with a hope. Remember, God uses ordinary people, just like me and you. Love Always.

©2018 Katrina Stanley
On information found in this blog, Every New Beginning by Katrina Stanley, is copyrighted material, all rights reserved. Any production of this information in any form is strictly prohibited.

Here’s to Good Health!–Chapter 2 (Part 2)

Ten years after I was first diagnosed with RA, everything shifted again. The RA came back with a vengeance. This time, three fingers, not just one became swollen and pain was extending into my wrists. My hips and knees hurt so bad, climbing the stairs in my apartment became a chore. My hands became so weak, I could barely turn a door knob and I learned to carry grocery bags hanging on my arms instead of in my hands. Getting up in the morning was slow. Once I got up and around, it seemed to ease, but those first moments were tough. I couldn’t lift my legs to the side more than 30 percent and I was in constant pain. I was eating over the counter NSAIDs like they were candy. I felt drained all the time. It got so bad at one point, I ended up in the emergency room because I could not open or close my hands. They were frozen in a relaxed curve position. They couldn’t find anything wrong with the structure of my hands and gave no real answers. I was given pain meds and told to see my doctor. I couldn’t process it and I was scared.

I had prayed. I had fasted. I had enlisted every prayer warrior I knew and anyone who would pick up a phone through prayer ministries. I trusted God. I moved when he said move. I studied every day to show myself approved. I spoke healing into myself daily. I was sowing seed. I had changed. According to what I understood of scripture, I was doing it. So many questions. With every level of understanding came even more endless questions and lack of understanding. Why??? And with no family history. Why???

I went to a naturopathic/Internal Medicine doctor. In his most valiant attempt to help me, I was placed on methotrexate, in addition to supplements that were deemed necessary to bring my body into balance. What happened next sent me spirally into depression. My hair started falling out. Every time I combed it. Every time I washed it. Hair fell out by the handfuls. I was ready to go off the grid. I know, I know. Bald is beautiful and some people pull it off just fine. I was not one of those people. A woman’s hair is her crown and I demanded mine be given back to me. On top of that, all the tests results showed I was malnourished and deficient in many vital nutrients my body needed to heal and be healthy—my body was not absorbing the extra supplementation I was taking. Trips to the doctors and question after question brought no discernable breakthroughs. Was I really willing to risk my health for the sake of hair?? My heart sank and I stayed in the throne room seeking answers and cure. I was more than overwhelmed.

I looked into wigs, hair toppers and clip-on extensions and gained a real education regarding the world of hair, but everything I looked into didn’t look natural to me—it wasn’t my hair. Through friends, I was referred to an angel who told me about natural hair extensions. I took a deep breath and took the plunge. After about five hours, and a lot of pain, she was done. I looked in the mirror and couldn’t believe my eyes. I had hair—full, thick hair. I also had a lot of metal brads all over my head that hurt like heck, but I had hair! Joyful jubilation does not describe how I felt. I was told I could keep them about six months and then I would have to have them taken out. The hope was that my hair would grow back during this time and no one would be the wiser.

Zeal. That’s what I needed. Zeal in my life. I’m not talking about the need of passion for living, I’m talking about a powder you mix with your favorite drink. It provides all your daily vitamins plus loaded with antioxidants and is absorbed in your body 100 percent. The best part—it is made from all whole foods. No chemicals. The Lord told me, “Do it.” I quickly responded to the Lord with, “No. I don’t want to do it.” I was working on my third year of school of ministry, the ordination level, and I walked through my living room explaining to the Lord how I realized how long it took for me to get to this point and I wasn’t going to allow anything to hinder my accomplishing this that he had called me to do. Besides, I had been in other self-employment marketing adventures and I knew how much work was involved in making it work, and I simply didn’t have much extra time. So, I stood on my “No,” being sure I was making the right choice. Sigh…

The Lord didn’t give up. He said, “Try it.” So, I ordered a month’s supply. Wow. It actually tasted good. For the first time in almost two years, I could actually get through my day without feeling like I would fall out. So, I did it. You know, the thing the Lord told me to do when he said “Do it.” I signed up.

A few months later, right after I finished the school of ministry, I awoke to an amazing discovery. I was able to get out of bed with ease of movement. I could stand up without having to push myself out of bed. I was walking around without pain. I had begun to open doors without any hindrance and just to make sure I was actually experiencing the miracle my mind wanted so desperately to believe, I lay down on the floor and started to do leg lifts. I could actually do it. I was finally able to lift my legs with full range of motion. I began dancing before the Lord. I had indeed experienced a miracle and I wanted the world to know just how much zeal this Zeal gave me. I was also finally able to shed a few extra pounds that had accumulated due to my inability to exercise. Prior to this, my body would not absorb everything I had tried in order to obtain good health. But my body absorbed the Zeal and with amazing results. In addition to that, I met some really great people too. I’m so glad I listened to the Lord and “did it.”

Then the Lord spoke to me again and told me leave the course of treatment I was on and go to a different doctor, a rheumatologist, who came highly recommended. I stayed on the methotrexate for a little while longer, while some of the other medications were discontinued. My hair was still not growing. Then, there was another shift. My hands and knees started aching again. The methotrexate wasn’t working. But, this time I knew I was where I needed to be. My doctor recommended Humira. As it was presented to me, it would not only stop the progression, it was showing evidence of reversing the disease process. But, it was yet another very strong immunosuppressant. So many variables. So many unknowns, but I was ready.

Gradually, I could tell a major difference in my symptoms. The flareups had slowed greatly. The more I talked with this doctor, the more he confirmed what my journey of discovery had revealed to me. He confirmed medical science had proven celiac disease can cause RA. I told him I had been on a strict gluten free diet for about five years at that point. (For those who are sensitive, gluten becomes undigestable and causes an erosion in the lining of the gut. After some time, this can lead to what is called leaky gut. When this happens, the body does not absorb nutrients and the doors are wide open for disease. Interestingly, as in my case, your body knows you’re sensitive before you do.) I was sure I was on my way to the cure. I was able to discuss each symptom with him and he didn’t brush it off or make me feel as if I was unable to grasp the vastness of the disease process or the necessity for compliance with the proper treatment suggestions. After two years of struggling, the lab tests were coming back with better values and my hair actually started growing back some. It is not yet fully restored, but at least now I don’t have to wear extensions to look like I have a full covering of hair.

There was still one thing I had not fully grasped. Why did the knuckles on my hands become inflamed every time I ate something with moderate carbs or every time I ate a few nuts?? Every. Time.

The search continued. I had tweaked my diet to mostly vegan, only some meat occasionally, and vegetables. I had even stopped eating bread for the most part and if I indulged in a “treat” I made sure it was sugar free and gluten free. Okay, I’d be lying if I said I never ate anything with sugar, but it was rare. Then it happened. Everything seemed to fall in line with clarity and understanding.

I ate one fruit juice gummy bear. I do mean only one. Not two or three, just one single yummy gummy. Immediately, my wrists and the palm of my right hand began to itch. Too incredible for words. This also happened when I drank my organic whole foods vegan protein powder with rice protein base. Something was very wrong. “What’s going on now, Lord?” I knew I had developed a wheat allergy due to the instant swelling of my tongue, tingling in my lips and nasal congestion. Had I now become allergic to everything I eat?? I was not a happy camper and being on this rollercoaster was making my heart sick.

I did what I learned to do. I began to fast and pray. I had to get to the bottom of what was going on. No matter the questions I asked or the research I was doing, I was not coming to the end of this.

The Lord, so lovingly, reminded me of the years that have gone by and how he told me not to eat corn, white starches, wheat, sugar and with precise clarity told me not to eat more than the equivalent of two pieces of fruit in sugar containing foods on a daily basis. Any more than this would not be healthy for me. These all represent carbohydrates. (Watch out! Sugar free does not always mean carb free. Even though you may not be diabetic, carbs still count. Read and understand food labels.) All of which cause inflammation in the body (increased inflammation can set the stage for disease.) The Lord then led me to look back through my medical records. I finally found it. I had allergy testing done about 17 years earlier (four years before I was diagnosed with RA) and low and behold, it showed I was highly allergic to candida. Candida. Unreal. I didn’t even know what candida was until a few years ago. The sugar effect that carbohydrates produce in your body feed the gut fungus called candida. Wow.

Basically, by God’s grand design, my body is allergic to the effects of every sugar-causing food known to mankind. I know God has a great sense of humor, but come on now. Seriously?? This is crazy. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Case and point.

Thank you, Lord. Yep.

Autoimmune disease. A compromised immune system. I reasoned, with over 70 percent of our immune system in our gut, there has to be a connection with autoimmune diseases and gut health. The vastness of medical science and God’s knowledge and wisdom is inexhaustible. Thank God for advancements in medical science. I thank God more because of his great love for his children. I thank God even more because of the intimate way he is so personal with each of us. God never leaves us in the dark…if we are willing to listen to him. Choose you this day who you will trust and obey.

Scripture says, “Know that wisdom is for your life and soul; if you find wisdom, then there will be a future and a reward, and your hope and your expectation will not be cut off.” Proverbs 24:14 (AMP). Everything is possible for those willing to believe.

Today, I’ve adopted the Paleo way of eating, and have added a good probiotic and digestive enzymes. In fact, I ate a Paleo diet for the most part before I knew what Paleo was. Imagine that–the intimacy of the Lord with his creation. For me, it works. No more itching all over.

I think back so long ago when I was first diagnosed. I still refuse to accept a life sentence of debilitation. My journey of discovery with knowledge and understanding will continue until the day I am face to face with my God in heaven. But this I know, no matter what twist or turn may come to me or try to come against me, I know I will never travel the road alone. My God, my father, my confidant, my savior, my redeemer, my healer, my peace, my joy, my righteousness and my best friend who will never leave me or forsake me, even until the end of the age. As long as there is breath in my body, I will serve the Lord. I will go where he tells me to go, when he tells me to go, and to the best of my ability and with great humility serve those to whom he leads me.

Be alert. Be aware. Never give in. Never give up. I’m learning that trust does not always mean we will have a clear explanation given to us. That really wouldn’t be trust, would it? God is my creator, and he knows me best, every cell in my body—best. I will follow him. He is indeed the light and the life in me.

My prayer is that you glean hope from my story. Hope in that God is not distant. God is not complacent. God is not sitting up in heaven waiting for just the right moment to whack you upside the head with his scepter of justice for every little mistake you make. God is good and he does care about us and for us. God does heal us. Sometimes, it is miraculous. Sometimes, it is a process. Either way, God has made provision for us at each pass, connection and interchange. Through it all, God is good. I look forward to the day I will wake up and the tests say “No more RA!” One day there will be a reckoning. I choose to take up arms and take back what has been stolen from me and I do so on behalf of others as well. I choose to hold on to God’s promises for us. I choose to see myself as God sees me, and that is healed of the Lord. I choose to hope and never give up.

May God bless you on your journey.

©2017 Katrina Stanley
On information found in this blog, Every New Beginning by Katrina Stanley, is copyrighted material, all rights reserved. Any production of this information in any form is strictly prohibited.

Here’s To Good Health!–Chapter 2 (Part 1)

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Autoimmune disease. After hours and hours of research over the years, I think I’m only a little closer to understanding autoimmune diseases. An autoimmune disease occurs when something goes wrong in a person’s body and the immune system get its wires crossed and attacks the person’s good cells, thinking they are bad cells. For those who may not know, there is no known cure for an autoimmune disease, and no one knows how it comes to exist. At best, it’s a rollercoaster ride of shifts and uncertainties that can leave a person wondering “What’s next?” There are many autoimmune diseases known today. In my case, “it” (the RA) attacks my joints, mainly in my hands and some in my knees. How do I cope? I’ll start at the beginning.

“It” first came to visit in April of 2004. I woke up one day and found the index finger on my right hand swollen almost double, like a link of sausage. Curious to say the least. I was working at a medical clinic at the time and after a simple blood test, off to a rheumatologist I go. I refused to accept it. I was in a state of denial and I never called it by its name. After a very painful injection and very strong medications, I was set up on quarterly monitoring. And that was it. I was given no hope of a cure. Only treatment in an effort to keep it from advancing and according to my medical records, my identity took on a “new look.”

I kept telling myself, “This can’t be right. Why would God give me the gift of music through my hands and then just take them away?” I searched the Lord deeply for answers and understanding. Eventually, I learned that there is a real spiritual connection to sickness and disease and I didn’t have to accept this disease in my body. But…what was it that caused this “thing” to happen to me? What did I do? What did I not do? Stress is a major contributing factor to the breakdown of good health. Okay. I get it. I went through a lot during the marriage and even afterwards. Get rid of the stress. Yeah. Finding that peace that passed all understanding is not always as easy as saying you walk in peace. It turns out, it has to become a mindset in order to achieve it. At any moment, “things” can happen to get a person stirred up. Peace comes from knowing we do not have to overcome it on our own.

At any rate, I began the process of learning how to rest in the Lord. The Lord said to me, “I have healed you.” I must admit, I grabbed hold of that word for dear life and fully expected to wake up the next morning and it would be gone! After all, I had heard testimony after testimony of how God miraculously healed others, and God does not show favoritism. Right?? Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for me. Not that way.

I sought answers through health forums on the Internet. Information overload does not adequately describe the information floating through the digital world. I finally found a small group who didn’t discuss far-fetched notions but talked in simple to understand terms. “God made our body to heal itself” was the common theme. When what’s in the world attacks, God has made provision for healing and overcoming it. Knowledge is power and I was feeling very strong about now. Quite honestly, my diet was terrible. Oh, and by the way, did I tell you I used to smoke? Yep. That was me. Like a freight train. I was finally able to walk away from them over eight years ago at the time of this writing. That was hard. Nicorette worked like a champ. Looking back, I don’t know how I was able to breathe before! It is true what they say, once you quit, you can’t stand the smell of it. Choking. So grateful to God and for those who prayed me through that journey to becoming smoke-free.

Whole foods. Eating the way Jesus ate when he walked on this earth. In fact, a woman I talked with on the on-line health forum lived by the rule of “If I can’t eat it, it doesn’t go on or in my body.” It sounded magnificent and overwhelming to me. I understood a good, healthy diet. I understood processed foods have had the life processed right out of them. But then came the flood of information about mycotoxins, starchy foods, carbs, good sugar, bad sugar and then the toxicity of gluten. The learning curve was definitely increasing. It seemed simple enough to understand. Bad stuff goes in, bad stuff begins to happen.

The years went by and “it” (the RA) seemed to have disappeared. I had started walking and at one point was walking three miles a day. After about a year, in addition to eating well and no longer smoking, I managed to lose over 100 pounds. I was literally transformed into a new person. I felt better than I had felt in 20 years. I was thrilled! The doctors were wrong, I reasoned within myself. It was a false-positive. The Lord had indeed healed me! Now, on to living life to the fullest!

(To Be Continued)

Here’s to Good Health! Chapter 1

We tend to take so much for granted. Don’t we? When we’re young, we give little thought to what our health will become after time goes by. Youth usually grants us the privilege of freedom of movement, adequate lung capacity, and a strong, regular heartbeat. Seldom do we stop to think we might wake up one day and find everything has changed. What we once thought would last forever—at least until we are well on in our golden years, suddenly proves to be a force to be reckoned with. What went wrong? How did this happen? Why? These are questions we ask, with usually no real answers to satisfy the long rocky road one now faces. My journey to earnestly seeking good health started about 20 years ago.

My daughter and I were adjusting to our new lives unmarried. I was growing in my walk with the Lord and loving our new home with almost 7 acres of undeveloped land. I felt as if it were heaven on earth. At least for the moment.

I loved working on the land. The land was covered with large, tall pine trees and some hardwood. I decided to sell the about 20 tall pine trees, whose height towered to 65 – 70 feet tall, to make a little extra money off the land. I called a man who came highly recommended who used a horse-drawn wagon so as not to tear up the land while cutting down and removing the trees. My contentment was short-lived after being given $5.68 for one tree. I was told the price for trees just wasn’t very high. (I was previously told a tree of that size would sell for about $100.00 a tree for the lumber, after the cost of removal). Oh. No. Uh Uh. Not me. Not on my watch.

Hmmm…well…I guess you could say I got a little twisted. With undaunting resolve, I determined I wasn’t going to stand for profiteering on my land. I decided I’d cut down the trees and burn them myself before I let someone take advantage of me like that. I hired a teenage boy to cut down the unwanted trees and I used a chainsaw to cut the tree into manageable pieces. Then with a lawn tractor and chain, I pulled them to a burn pile. I cut them up into smaller pieces and put them on the fire. This went on for a few weeks. No sweat. My daughter and I had a great time roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. Yum. Yum. Hmph.

I loved working on the land. It was great therapy for me. I don’t think I’ve ever before appreciated my dad as much as I did during that time of my life for teaching me how to take care of the land I had been blessed with. Over the course of our first year there, I not only cleared the trees, cleared underbrush, I managed to underpin my doublewide and even built a small deck on the back side of the house (with a little help getting it squared up). Yep. I had a lot of anger issues to work on after the divorce, and the sledge hammer, drill and saw became my battering rams to the future with a hope I was striving to obtain. With every foul reminder of our past life, I applied the necessary equal and opposite force to forge the positive road of our new beginning–one section of land at a time. My next project was to clear out a section in the back woods close to the back yard and make a prayer garden full of blooming flowers and trees and a soft water fall. Sweet hour of prayer. In The Garden. Oh, how sweet the sound.

In the meantime, I put in a large above ground swimming pool for our first summer on the property, with some pleasant side effects for my daughter. My daughter soon found she was pretty popular in the neighborhood, as she was the only kid with a swimming pool and what kid doesn’t like to go swimming in the summertime? Life was looking better all the time.

Winter came and after working so hard, I had achieved fairly good physical condition. I even managed to lose a few unwanted pounds. Since I didn’t want to lose momentum, I sought to start an inside work-out. My daughter was in gymnastics at the time and I bought her a thick, folding gymnastics mat. Our living room was long, so we moved the furniture to one side and began tumbling, cartwheels, jumping jacks and whatever else we could think to do within our new “gym.” We had a lot of fun. It was hardly noticeable we were actually “working out.” Then overnight, life as I knew it would never be the same.

I’ve always led a fairly active lifestyle, although I’ve never trained, or aspired to train as a serious athlete. Nevertheless, I stayed pretty mobile. I enjoyed stretching. It felt great and my body always let me know what needed to move to stay conditioned. Although I’ve never been one to study or explore the art of Yoga, I did love how some of the movements made my body feel—strong and agile. One day, I tried to do a stretch I had regularly done some years before. You lie on your back and lift your legs over your body, as if you are going to touch your head with your toes, only you curl your back and rest your feet on the floor above your head. It stretches almost every muscle in your body and opens up your spine, stretching and relaxing the muscles. Sadly, on this particular day, my body let me know it had been a little too long since I had regularly stretched in this manner and it put too much pressure on my neck. I felt a pop in my neck. There was no instant pain, only a little feeling of stiffness.

I woke up the next morning and I could hardly move. I couldn’t sit up. I had to literally roll out of bed. Upon moving, I felt pain like I had never felt before. I couldn’t lift my left arm and the ring and pinky fingers on my right hand were numb with a lot of tingling going down my arm. What on earth happened? I went to my chiropractor who did everything he could but nothing seemed to help. I had two slipped discs in my neck. The pain was excruciating. I couldn’t find relief with anything I tried. I couldn’t sit—the pain got worse. Standing was difficult, although it was more bearable than sitting. I couldn’t eat much—it was difficult to feed myself, which was actually okay to some extent, as I had lost my appetite. When I went to bed, I had to lie flat of my back and I used a heating pad. In this way, I was at least able to get a few hours of sleep.

The pain and discomfort went on for months. At one point, the muscle spasms got so bad I felt as if my chest wall was caving in. And Oh! How I hated taking medicine! I couldn’t stay doped up on pain meds because I had to drive and go to work, and at home, I had to be alert for my young daughter. I tried every natural approach I could find and solicited every prayer warrior in the area. We are told by the stripes of Jesus we are healed. And yes, we are. I did give in and graciously accepted the relief from the severe pain through mild pain medicines and muscle relaxers at night. Looking back, I wish I would have sought a neurosurgeon immediately. God definitely sustained me on my sick bed.

After four months and continued treatment, my neck finally began to heal enough the pain was not so sharp and eventually I did regain feeling in my hands. Good chiropractors are a God-send. However, my life would never again be the same. I became unable to work on the land I so dearly loved. I was careful with every step I took and prayed more earnestly than ever before that nothing would slip out of place again and praising God for my healing—without the need of surgery.

It seemed this was the beginning of another great era of life crumbling around me. It was soon after this I became engaged to a man by whom I got pregnant. And, you know the rest of that story.

Time went on and I learned to adjust to life being not quite so active. I finally finished school and was looking forward to the bright future ahead of me. A new job at a multi-specialty clinic with good salary and benefits, all the while doing what I trained to do in medical transcription, as well as doing what I love the most—serving as the church pianist and working with the worship pastor in the music department.

With no explanation and no warning, I woke up on a Sunday morning seven years after the accident that caused two slipped discs in my neck and once again, I could hardly move. My left arm felt like I was swinging dead weight at my side. My right arm was tingling with numbness in my fingers again. Flashbacks of seven years earlier flooded my memories. I went to church and barely made it through the song service with the piano.

The next day, I was at my doctor’s office. With one x-ray, she immediately set me up with an appointment with a top neurosurgeon and highly recommended by her. Next stop—an MRI. When the MRI was completed, the technician asked me, “What happened to your neck?” I explained to her my story and she simply shook her head. I asked her to tell me what she saw, but of course, she was not allowed to do so. So, I awaited my neurosurgeon’s appointment.

My doctor took me into the viewing room and showed me my neck on the MRI. It looked as if there were two rubberbands wound tightly around my spinal cord in two places. In both places, I could see gross narrowing of my spinal cord. He said, “It’s not good.” Ankylosing spondylosis is what it was called. Basically, arthritis set up in two of the vertebrae and my spinal cord was severely impinged. I know God is my healer. I considered it a miracle I was walking. I was scheduled for surgery, but it would be two months before there was an opening in his schedule. Since he was rated one of the best, I trusted God and waited—with caution and an assortment of muscle relaxers and mild pain meds, I waited.

The year was 2004. That year proved to be a challenging year to say the least. Soon after neck surgery was scheduled, I developed another abnormal symptom. The index finger on my right hand became swollen like a sausage. I could hardly bend my finger and it was difficult to type. Yet, I was determined nothing else was going to go wrong with me. Again, I saw my doctor, who immediately referred me to a rheumatologist. Indeed, I was learning a great deal about disease processes and the human body, but perhaps I was in denial. Why did I need to see a rheumatologist?? One look at my finger and a couple of blood tests, and the doctor said, “You have rheumatoid arthritis (RA).” I was only 40 years old. I was in shock. The only thing I knew about this disease is that a person with it would become crippled. You can’t walk. You can’t use your hands. You end up in a wheelchair for the rest of your life and I wasn’t going to have any part of it! I immediately began declaring healing scriptures and let the devil know in short order that God gave me my hands to bring him glory playing the piano and I was going to continue to do just that. I would not give in to this! I refused to have “rheumatism” as old timers would say. It wasn’t mine and I demanded it leave me. That devil done been tryin’ to kill me!!

I had what would be my first injection to my finger (very painful), after which I vowed I would get to the bottom of why this decided to invade my body. I searched genetic reasons. There is no family history of this disease in my family—as far back as four generations that I know of. We might get some osteoarthritis when we get older but we do not have rheumatoid! In the meantime, I was placed on very strong medications that would diminish the effects of RA but would not provide a cure. Plus, it could adversely affect your eyesight. Ugh. And on top of that, I would be having neck surgery in a matter of only a few weeks. All of this on the back of me struggling with digestive issues for almost three years. Ugh. Umph. I was determined I was not giving in to any of this.

Finally, the day had come. June 28, 2004. Time for neck surgery. They would replace the two vertebrae in my neck with cadaver bones and fuse them in place. Thank God I would not become prey for a metal magnet! Healing was slow and painful. At least I was able to go to my mother’s home to recover. There, we had plenty of room for the kids to play and we were close to family for the help we needed. The quietness of the country was what I needed to relax so my body could heal.

God is good and does not withhold good from us. Even so, the choices we make leave a footprint on our lives and the lives of those around us. I have since learned that in our best efforts, we can, by no real fault of our own, really miss the right way to go. I was so fortunate. I was so blessed and protected by God to not have suffered anything worse than I did. I still exercise and stretch regularly. I still have to be cautious with my choice activities and use wisdom. I refuse to give in to defeat, but I will always know God kept me, sustained me and healed me. Now, I go forward using more guided wisdom. God is truly, my best friend.

One down. One to go. Now…about the RA? That’s a story that begins another chapter of my journey of grace, healing and recovery.

©2017 Katrina Stanley
On information found in this blog, Every New Beginning by Katrina Stanley, is copyrighted material, all rights reserved. Any production of this information in any form is strictly prohibited.

He’s Just a Boy!

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. James 1:12.

I’ve always encouraged my kids to always try as hard as they could to achieve their dreams and goals. I never put limitations on them or allowed excuses for anything to keep them from working towards what they wanted. My son was no exception.

My son, although unique in so many, many ways, was always a predominantly obedient little boy. When he was six years old, I had to leave for a few hours so I could visit a sick family member who was in ICU. So, I left him in the care of my daughter, who truthfully would have much rather been hanging out with her friends. In an attempt to keep peace between the two, I gave my son strict instructions to stay in his room and play with his toys or watch his videos until I got back, unless he needed a drink or use the bathroom and do not harass his sister.

Much to my surprise, when I got home, my son was still in his room. I opened up to the door to his smiling face and “Hi mom!” Confirmed by my daughter, he did exactly what I asked him to do. Amazing. This is pretty much the way he was most of the time, with rare exception. What I asked him to do, he would do. We were truly buddies.

When my son was eight years old, we moved in with my mother to help care for her and her property after she experienced health issues related to having heart trouble. He was so excited. He now had two acres of uncharted territory to explore and conquer.

Living in the country in Arkansas, most people were involved in hunting to some degree, whether it be gun, bow or muzzle loading season, hunting squirrel, rabbit, or deer, among others. When my son turned 10 years old, his uncle (my brother-in-law) thought it was time for my son to move into the ranks of being a “hunter.” So, unbeknownst to me, my son was presented with his first BB gun. Yep. A Red Rider, just like Ralphie in A Christmas Story. My son’s eyes almost bugged out of his head and he couldn’t stop jumping with excitement. His first gun! Of course, my first thought was “He’s not old enough.” My opinion was quickly outnumbered, even by my mother who cited my brother got his first BB gun when he was 8. Oh my.

Of course, he wasn’t allowed to be outside with it by himself. He had to be taught how to shoot it safely. I would take him behind the old shed and we would line up coke cans as targets. Actually, he became a pretty good shot. I was impressed. When we were finished, he had to put it up properly, neatly in the closet, until the next time he was allowed to take it out again. Strict rules were given that he was never to come outside with this gun without supervision, to which he agreed.

The next Sunday, after we got home from church, my mother and I left my son in the living room to watch TV while we went to take our regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon nap. After an hour, I got up to find my son watching TV. A few hours later, my mother walked through the room and said she was going to town to pick up something for supper. A few minutes later I heard my mother shouting and went out into the carport to see what was going on.

I was shocked. Speechless. The back glass of her PT Cruiser was gone. Shattered. She shouted at my son to “Get out here!” You gotta understand something about my mother. She is generally a pretty calm person. It really takes a lot to get her upset to the point she’s yelling. So, when she begins to shout obscenities, you know she’s just plain MAD! I must admit, I had lived with my mom long enough to see the pattern of whenever something went wrong, she naturally assumed my son had something to do with it. And so…

My son slowly opened the door and stood on the steps. I asked him if he broke the window. To my grief, hesitantly, he admitted to it but insisted it was an accident. I asked him what he did. He said he was trying to kill the bird sitting on the edge of the carport roof. I must admit. He had to miss pretty big to kill the back glass of my mother’s car. I was boiling. My mother at this point was spit-sputtering. I asked him what he threw trying to kill the bird. He said he didn’t throw anything. By now, I was losing patience. “Then what were you doing??” Sheepishly, my son answered, “I was trying to shoot him.” “Shoot him??” I asked. Then it all came together. “Never mind,” I said. I went to the closet to look at the gun and saw he had not put away properly. Guilty as charged.

My mother didn’t say another word. She walked past us and went to her room. Where she stayed for three days. Not saying a word. Not coming out when we were at home. Nothing. I must admit this was a lot. It was much worse than the time my son ran a knife across the felt on her pool table “just to see what would happen.” No. She handled that much better. She didn’t even get this mad when my daughter (17 at the time) thought she would sit my son in her lap and teach him to steer a car down my mother’s long driveway but then couldn’t navigate the foot pedals to stop before she ran into the back of my mother’s car, breaking the taillight lens. Uh-uh. No.

What was my son thinking?? I gave my son the same instructions I had always given him when I got ready to take my Sunday afternoon nap. I expected the same obedient response he had consistently given me. But not this day. The temptation was just too great for him to resist. I taped the back of my mother’s car until we could get it fixed. I called my brother-in-law and insisted he come pick up the BB gun. My son was in tears. He said he was so sorry and promised it wouldn’t happen again. I agreed. It would NEVER happen again. My brother-in-law said, “He’s just a boy.” True. But not much consolation at this point.

Eventually, things settled and now my mother can even smile when she recalls the story, but she’s quit to add she wanted to “ring his neck.” But as love would have it, she still calls him “brat,” and he still calls her “old coot.” Yep. All is well once again.

Temptation will always give us an opportunity to walk to the right or left of the center line of obedience. God’s desire is that we obey his commands, for our own good—even when we think the rules are too strict, ridiculous or otherwise not necessary. I’m so glad the back glass on my mother’s car was the only thing that was damaged that day. My son certainly was not trying to hurt anything or do harm (glad the bird got away.) Even so, as my son learned, the rules were put into place for his own good and for the good of others. There is no temptation too great God does not give us the ability to overcome it. We do, however, have to be willing to stand against the temptation when it comes.

©2017 Katrina Stanley
On information found in this blog, Every New Beginning by Katrina Stanley, is copyrighted material, all rights reserved. Any production of this information in any form is strictly prohibited.

God says….”The battle is mine!”

The Holy Spirit spoke to me so clearly today, “Pray, even when it seems like you’re out numbered.”

Could something so simple make a difference?

That word was so profound and so timely. He reminded me of the story of Jehoshaphat who was the king of Judah. He made unhealthy alliances, which was not God’s choice for him. He thought he was doing a good thing, but it turns out it wasn’t. He thought those alliances could help protect him from enemy attack, but he instead ended up going through great attacks from the enemy because of it.

Jehoshaphat turned away from this alliance and began once again to rely completely on God and trust him with the decisions and choices he made.

Sometime later, a vast army set out to attack the nation of Judah. Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord. Through a prophet, The Lord told Jehoshaphat, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but belongs to God.” Jehoshaphat was given further instructions to go out and face the enemy and that the Lord would be with him.

The next morning Jehoshaphat encouraged his people and said, “have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” They began to sing praises to God. As they began to sing in praise, the Lord sent ambushes against the army and the army was defeated–all without Jehoshaphat or his army having to fight.

This is what the Lord is telling us all. Pray. Talk to God. Rely on him to give you the answers, directions you need. Don’t listen to the voice of doubt or fear. TRUST GOD that HIS WORD will do what He sends it to do–even if it seems like the enemy is gaining ground or if you don’t see the answer right away–and watch God defeat the enemy sent to attack you.

Don’t give up. Don’t give in. The devil is a liar and he’s working overtime on the minds of his people trying to steal your faith and trust in the Lord God Almighty, the one who is all powerful and able to turn things around for good for you!!!

©2017 Katrina Stanley
On information found in this blog, Every New Beginning by Katrina Stanley, is copyrighted material, all rights reserved. Any production of this information in any form is strictly prohibited.