Category Archives: Story Behind the Songs

You Alone Are Worthy–The Story Behind The Song

(Originally Posted 3-11-2018)

It was nine years ago at the time of this writing that I experienced things that for a long time was unable to talk about, much less did I feel I could adequately put them into words to describe what God showed me—what God was preparing me for.  But out of that experience came one of the greatest revelations and deliverance of strongholds that had competed within me seeking to keep me from realizing God greatest blessings and His destiny for my life.  As scripture says, in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (NIV), “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”  And even as much as I had sought God and allowed him to work in my soul and life, there was still some work that needed to be done.  This work is, in fact, an ongoing work as long as we are on this earth.  From this experience, came this song which I sing to God every day—“You alone are worthy to be praised!”  So…here goes.

It was the beginning of the year of 2009.  As it is common with each new year, I seek the Lord for scripture and his plan for the upcoming season of my life.  In this year, he reminded me of a time I came into the New Year of 2002 with “Delight yourself with the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” and reminded me of what he called me to do.  The Lord then spoke to me and said, “It’s time. Get ready.”  The Lord led me to begin to fast and pray during a season he was preparing me for the beginning of a new phase of my life and ministry.  I counseled with my pastor’s wife and told her what God was speaking to me.  It was in this season God gave me a new, fresh anointing that came upon me that I had never walked in before.  God’s words were pouring out of me like a river—like the time I experienced being on the mountaintop with God, talking face to face with him and walking side by side with him for what seemed like lasted for months several years ago.  It was supernatural.  It was incredible.  It was life changing.  It was glorious and so vividly real.

I learned many things during this season.  One of which is of utmost importance.  Seek a prayer covering when you are fasting. You absolutely need a person(s) to keep you covered in the protective covering of prayer while you are emptying yourself and interceding on the behalf of others and/or yourself. You need this covering to stave off the unforeseen (but should be expected) attacks and devises of the enemy to thwart off the work of the Father and extinguish the fiery missiles that will be aimed at you in a mission to render you unable to see, hear and discern clearly what the Lord will show you during this season of fasting and prayer.  We war against the power and principalities of the unseen world. We succeed in pulling down these strongholds through the word of God and as Matthew 17:21 says, some of these only come by prayer and fasting (KJV).

It became an intense season.  I was drawn deeply into the spirit realm. At one point, I was awakened by a demonic presence that was swirling about me. I jumped out of bed and began quoting 2 Peter 2:1-22, realizing it God was showing me how Satan had sent forth many false prophets and in this passage of scripture, God painstakingly describes their characteristics and for us to be aware and discern their destructive nature. It was pointed out to me in verse 19 that these false prophets “promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.”  I prayed for what seemed like half the night against the powers and principalities who have send these agents of lies, confusion and deception assigned to keep people from coming to know the true love and grace of God.

I found myself praying for several different people during this time. One of which was a young woman who was hurting and convinced God was not real, did not care, so why should she.  I saw this woman in the spirit and I saw three demons rise up from within her—one came up from her right side, one from her left side and one from the middle. They had names, which I will not mention in this writing, but they were sent to literally suck the life and hope out of her.  I did not know her personally. All I could do was pray. But this I did. I prayed.

Have you ever felt like something was making fun of you? Laughing at you? Have you ever felt as if you were being taunted mentally or emotionally?  It was revealed to me the source from which it comes.  You got it!  They are little imps—little evil spirits that literally cause you to feel as if you are the biggest loser, low life or jerk that exists on the planet. They are the ones who are responsible for making you feel as if you are the laughing stock of your peers for having an as sundry of shortcomings—you name it, they are responsible for its presence in your mind and emotions.  The only way to overcome it is to combat the lies with positive truths. And you need to speak them out loud so your mind can engage in their existence and so it will get into your heart so you know your worth and that you are valued and worthy of good things and worthy of love.

At one point, I was taken deep into the spirit of darkness.  I felt as if I was being pulled down and down.  There was no light. The darkness was so dark, it was suffocating.  I could smell a stench so disgusting it made my stomach turn and took my breath, although I continued to breathe.  I could hear screams and shrieks so shrill it pierced your ears with striking pain and it made the hair on your head hurt at the roots.  There was no bottom.  There were no walls or anything to assimilate with familiarity. There was only torment and endless pain. I could hear a what I perceived as rushing presence, rushing to overtake me.

I suddenly woke up and was terrified.  I didn’t know what was coming against me. I couldn’t see anything. I could only feel the presence of evil. Even awake, I felt as if it was still coming after me. In a split second I cried out, “What is it? Jesus!” In that instant, I literally saw the shadow of Jesus rise up from my side and surround me and instantly, the fear was gone and I felt peace and comfort as I rested in the shadow of his presence.  Psalm 91:1, 2 says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  I knew in that moment, my safety, protection and well being was provided through being covered in the presence of the Almighty.  I was safe in the arms of Jesus.  It was an incredibly real, visible display of the darkness as described in Matthew 25:30 and Matthew 22:13 “Then the king said to the servants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Separation from God renders you into utter darkness.  There are many scriptures that speak about darkness. Many believe there is no hell, and the hell that Bible speaks of is the earth we live in today.  I would have to disagree.  I’ve seen it.  I’ve heard the cries of torment of those who have refused to accept that Jesus gave his life as the atoning sacrifice for their sin.  It’s so simple.  As 1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” Well then. If God is light and there is no darkness, doesn’t it stand to reason that if we experience darkness, it is not from God—since God is light and in Him there is no darkness?  I believe so. Of course, there are perhaps at least a million different definitions of what darkness is.  My purpose in this writing, however, is to describe those things God showed me during this time.

It was during this time I realized God was not holding me back and keeping me from realizing His promises in my life because of the mistakes I made. It was indeed strongholds of doubt, fear, misunderstanding his word, and (as he most recently showed me again) Matthew 23, which I have referred to as a “Pharisee spirit.”  I challenge you to read it.  We’ve all been subjected to this in some form or fashion.  The Lord has been very diligent in teaching me through this that “sword of truth” cuts both ways. Be sure your house is in check before you start trying to get someone else’s house in order. There are a plethora of little evil spirits and demons at work in this arena. I’ve seen them.  I’ve heard them.  You have too.  Satan puts thoughts in our minds to either play against the truth or cast a shadow of doubt on the sender of God’s truth. Unfortunately, much of the time, we fail to recognize that sometimes subtle yet intrusive voice and wake up one day wondering why the very thing we did not want to happen has happened.  Good grief.  As Jesus said in Luke 9:41 “O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?”  One can say they do not believe there are actual demons and evil spirits at work against us, but then again, perhaps those are the same that says there is no God and no Satan.  This would be a great deception given by a great false prophet.  One of which we all should be aware and on the lookout for.

I would also caution you to remember, we all filter through a different lens. I’ve learned when God’s word is being given, there are many things at play against an effective delivery and an effective reception. We MUST be aware of all these things.  Just as God show no favoritism, neither does Satan.

Hell is real.  On the flip side.  Heaven is real.  I’ve seen shown this too.  I’ve seen the river of life that flows through heaven.  I’ve seen tall, lush green meadows and colors that breathe life that so vivid and bright it exudes peace and joy. I’ve seen Jesus standing in the presence of the 24 thrones in heaven as described in the book of Revelation. I’ve heard children laughing and singing. I’ve seen some in my family who have gone before me.  You might think this is hard to believe—in fact, rather unbelievable.  Sounds like something out of a movie or a good book. Right?  Believe me when I say, I don’t know why God chose to show me these things, but I can honestly say seeing my children in heaven who have gone before me breathed life into me and allowed me to forgive myself for what I did.  Heaven is perfect.  Heaven is perfect peace. And in that perfection, we are all made completely whole.

It has been said to me many times, “I’m not religious.” That’s great!  Neither am I!  And neither is God!  He is in fact about love, grace, forgiveness and relationship. It is in his presence we live in his grace. This grace comes only through Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the light and the life that develops us—if we choose to believe.

We are in the end times.  Jesus is coming back soon.  My message is simple.  Hell is real.  Heaven is real. God is love.  So much he sent his only son, Jesus, to give his life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins and when we accept that, we can know and be assured we will spend all eternity with him in heaven.  If a person chooses not to accept Jesus’ sacrifice for their life, then they instead choose to live an eternity separated from God in utter darkness.

The Lord revealed to me during that season of the time when I was saved at nine years old. I knew at that time God would use me in music. I started playing piano when I was nine years old.  I started playing Beethoven a few months after I started playing. I learned to play Fur Elise and Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.  My teacher called me “the next Liberace.” I wasn’t so moved with what she said, I simply loved playing the piano. Making music took me to a place no one else could invade. It was my secret place of peace, contentment and fulfillment.  I continued to study as time and my parent’s ability to pay for lessons allowed. By the time I was in college, I had developed my own style.  Without going into the many times my hands and desire to play were attacked, and I can assure you they were many, it is by God’s grace, I still play and I still love to play. I can’t say I continued to study like I did in the beginning and for a time after that, but I am thankful I never stopped playing. I’ll never really know where piano might have taken me had I not stopped studying, but I can say those strongholds that once threatened to take the fulfillment of playing my beloved instrument are gone. They were overcome during this season.

There are many reasons we struggle while we are on this earth.  Jesus came so we would have life and have it abundantly.  As long as we are living on this earth, there will always be that force that tries to take away the gifts and promises God made to you. When we realize the war we are up against and learn to use the weapons of effective warfare, we will then realize God’s power working on our behalf and will be able to shut down the attacks of Satan that comes against us.  It was during this season of my life God took me through the refiner’s fire and delivered me from mental and emotional bondage that had perpetuated me smoking cigarettes for years and empowered me to take control over my health.  It was also after this season, I made my Abrahamic journey into a foreign land far away from family and the life I had known, into the new life God prepared for me.  A journey I am still fully engaged in.

I learned many things through that season in 2009. Some things come only through fasting and prayer.  From this experience, I’ve learned to make fasting and prayer a continued part of my life.

God tells us that when we say the Name of Jesus, demons have to flee.  It is in our praise that God is exalted and lifted high. It is through our praise we receive miracles. It is through our praise that the enemy in our life is defeated.  It is through God’s gift to us we are saved and delivered from the works of evil. His name is Jesus. And it is through that season in 2009 God gave me this song.

Jesus…You alone are worthy of our praise.

 

Jesus Always Cares–The Story Behind The Song

(Originally Posted 1-2-2018)

When we’re young, people ask us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  It seems so easy.  “I want to be a nurse, or a doctor, a policeman or fireman” are common responses.  Along with “I want to be Spiderman, or Superman,” or in my daughter’s case when she graduated from preschool said, “I want to be Belle” from Beauty and the Beast.  I especially loved her response.  She deeply desired to feel loved, cherished and adored.  We all do. For me, from the age of 9 I knew music was in me and somehow I always knew music would never leave me.  Some kids grow up and do exactly what they’ve always dreamed of doing.  Some don’t.  Some are still searching.  Little did we know the twists and turns on the journey to adulthood do not always leave us high on the mountaintop.  Sometimes the slips and falls forge a crevice so deep it makes the valley of defeat seem uncomplicated.

From the time I was very young, I always had my heart set on accomplishing great things, and no one told me I couldn’t achieve them. My parents, aunts, uncles, and even my grandparents always encouraged us to shoot for the stars.  “You can do anything if you set your mind to it” was commonly spoken to us. We were strategically disciplined and doing less than our best was unacceptable with consequences that were swift and sure.  Yet, something deep inside me kept nagging at me and made me feel as if I was not up to par.

The separation was hard.  It was especially difficult because I was made to prove my case for divorce.  There was a time when I was young, as the teacher asked our class questions I always raised my hand first in class, so excited I knew the correct answer. Something happened to me from the time I married until the time I divorced. I went from a person who was positive and could see the best in everyone to a person who was so broken I didn’t know who I was anymore. I couldn’t remember who I was before I married. I couldn’t remember the last time I cried—it had been at least two years. I wasn’t able to feel that emotion. I was surviving. Literally. I’m sure now I was held up by God’s own hand and not of my own. I know this, because there was no more strength within me.

Although I was very aware of the darkness we were living in, I found it very difficult to describe with clarity what it was like living with a man who literally sucked the life out of me.  We know our spouses, don’t we.  We know things about them no one else knows.  That’s true for any marriage.  I was not the type of person who aired my dirty laundry for the whole world to see.  I was very accomplished in keeping “dark little secrets.”  However, my survival would require me to disclose those things once hidden in darkness and the light was calling them into accountability once and for all. I knew God was with me and for all those who once called me “friend” this divorce would clearly draw the lines of truth, lies and the measure of a person’s heart.  Those who once appreciated me, were now vehemently against me.  What changed?  I couldn’t grasp this complexity and wondered for a long time.  I was still the same person.  The shift came when truth had its say and truth was a voice to be reckoned with. I understood little at that time of the vastness of God’s sovereignty and how not one moment in time escapes his grasp.

Even so, I protected him, and in essence, I protected his family too.  There were things that happened during our marriage that were so dreadful, so despicable and I could, in advance, feel the weight of souls who would never be able to come to terms with that reality. So, I said nothing. Only we know that truth. But we know it.  Besides, I didn’t want to destroy him.  I just wanted out.  I wanted peace.  I was so nervous. I prayed and fasted that God would show himself faithful in this on my behalf.  Indeed, God was there and his glory shown brightly in the courtroom that day.  After only 2-1/2 hours, I was granted a full divorce based on his ill-conduct and awarded full custody of our daughter.  Surreal.  Numb.  Break.  Silence.  Reserved. There is a supernatural break with divorce and the rippling effects can last generations to come if we do not allow God to make us whole. The aftereffects of the divorce were harder to some degree than living amidst the silence of suffering.  Now, it was out in the open and there were many views being voiced, many schemes, plots, plans and devices connived and schemed against us. But God…

Now that the divorce was final, we had to settle the property.  God had indeed blessed us with many things—enough furnishings to fill two households.  We bought the property from his uncle.  We had the house placed on concrete piers we had poured so it set on a firm foundation, and we had cinderblocks under-skirting the house.  Unless a person knew, anyone who looked at our home could not tell it was a doublewide manufactured home.  Here in lies the quandary.  The house was in my name. The dirt was in our name.  I considered leaving the house, but I was told I could not require him to refinance the house and put it into his name.  I was told I should fight for it, especially having a child.  But, again, the dirt had been in his family for years.  I looked at every angle, but I knew from the beginning, I wasn’t even going to try to take the land.  My life here was over and God was more than able to give me a clean, fresh start.  So, I decided I would move the house, and the above ground pool and the deck that surrounded the pool.  No sweat.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Yes.  My faith was strong.

I was given exactly one month, only 30 days, to move all that which was mine off the property and was warned I had better not destroy the property in the process of doing so.  If I was not able to accomplish this almost impossible task, I would lose the house and everything left on the property.  Now, I must interject here.  I thought I was being extraordinarily gracious by not even trying to maintain ownership of the land. And I was.  To a fault.  Lesson #infinity, not all hearts come to terms to grace and release as quickly as others. It became just another vivid display of his controlling, arrogant nature abounding in the light of day, for all to see.  And what made him smirk with elation even more so, it was legal.  He had become drunk with pride.  Even so, I was determined I would not be defeated!

I called in every friend I had to help.  The task was enormous but not impossible. First, we had to release the house to be moved.  With two sledge hammers, a dear friend of mine and I began busting up the cinderblocks at the base of the house.  We pounded away and to my surprise, this wall was crumbling faster than I had anticipated. Nevertheless, after about two hours, I felt like it was me being beaten with the sledge hammer, and not the cinderblocks.  What was I thinking??  Had the longings of my soul for freedom taken me completely out of my right mind?  Did my desire to walk undefeated outweigh my sense of common sense and drive me into the land of stupidity??  Perhaps, all of the above.  Oh my.  I was so tired I could hardly walk. My legs felt like they were carrying the weight of an elephant. I’m so glad my friend was a strong man. With my endless apologies, even though it took him the better part of the day, he was able to complete the job without my help. Now…the rest of the story.

I woke up the next morning and I declared with distinct certainty I had found every muscle in my body—even every strand of muscle tissue that was hidden from touch or imaging capabilities.  I was sure I would never recover.  Jesus!  It was all I could say.  I was down for four days.  And…the clock was ticking.

I devised a precise day-by-day, step-by-step plan to remove all that was mine—on time.  I lined up the helpers and secured the transport truck that would move the house. Now that the cinderblocks were loosed, we began work dismantling the deck around the swimming pool—an 18’ x 36’ above ground pool, with decking along three sides of the pool. The first attack on my hands came when I found out just how heavy a sand filter is after it slipped off its base while I was trying to remove it from the pool.  I was forthright in my assertion that my hands were to bring God glory.  In retrospect, I guess all of this might sound like an oxymoronic statement considering all the work my hands were actually doing.  But, I was determined. After all, I was always taught a little hard work never hurt anyone.  Yep!

Things were clicking along and finally everything was falling into place. There were 12’ 4 x 4’s along the outside of the pool on three sides.  I had them placed there so we could eventually put a cover on it to block some of the sun.  Being of Irish decent, my fair skin beamed brightly after a few minutes in the sun. I enlisted the help of my mother and my sister to take down the 12’ beams.  There is truth in the saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn.”  With the brute force of three healthy women who, with unparalleled determination for victory, one by one, down came those beams. It was an added blessing that the ground had softened from rain. At this point, dismantling the pool, in fact, was a snap, comparatively speaking.

Finally, we were down to the last week.  A couple from my church who had become very good friends of mine, brought their dump truck and we proceeded to pick up all the busted pieces of cinderblock to clear the way for the house to be moved. While I was picking up the pieces of cinderblock, the Lord spoke to me. He reminded me of the day I was swinging that sledge hammer and how exhausted and sore I became after doing so.  Then he showed me the scattered debris of all the pieces (big, small and splinters) of cinderblock laying all over the ground and the painstaking work it was to pick them all up.  His words to me were profound.  “With great destructive force, your life isn’t the same. Wouldn’t it be easier to let me pick up the broken pieces of your life and put everything back together for you rather than you trying to do it yourself?”  I knew God was right.  As I looked at all the broken pieces of cinderblock laying around, I knew my life had been broken into a million pieces.  I knew I would never be the same. Furthermore, I was at a loss of how to start the process of recovery.

This all happened in the month of October.  It was the rainy season for us and we were down to the last five days before the 30-day deadline.  The rain poured for three days. I pleaded with my attorney to appeal on my behalf for more time, as there was so much rain, the transport truck said they wouldn’t move the house until the rain stopped and the ground dried out some for fear of getting stuck in the front of the property.

I was betwixed and between.  I had come too far to quit now.  I was so exhausted I could hardly think straight.  Had I worked so hard and accomplished so much just to lose everything now?  Everything was ready and in place on my new property to receive my house.  Surely this was not happening!  But God…

God led me to the book of Joshua.  I felt as if I had been like Joshua, charged with leading me and my daughter out of captivity and into the promised land. We were facing our Jericho.  In the downpour of rain, I took anointed oil and walked the perimeter of the land and prayed that the rain would stop and that the ground would not soak up so much water the house could not be moved. I did this seven times as instructed by the Holy Spirit.  To my utter astonishment, the rain started easing up and by nightfall, it had stopped raining! Talk about seeing the glory of God!  I felt his strength rise up within me that could conquer any obstacle.  I called the transport truck company and to my relief, they said they would send a man the next day to look at the property and let me know if he thought they would be able to move the house.  Yes.  God did it. They determined the ground was hard enough they would come the next day and move the house.  Amazing.  God of Infinite Power and Glory!

The house was moved with two days to spare.  We made it to the promised land.  We were free at last.  And at the same time…we had only just begun.  Never before in my life had I seen and realized just how personal, caring and powerful God really is.  He tells us we are engraved on the palm of his hand and oh, how he rescues us out of every pit!  I’ve been asked many times, how can a God who is so loving, allow so many bad things to happen to people? I can honestly say, I cannot with completeness answer that question. I do know, God is love.  God does not want bad things to happen to us. God does not cause bad things happen to people.  God gives us a will and freedom to choose, and as long as there is evil in this world, sadly, bad things will happen to people. Most assuredly, God will always be there for you to pick up those pieces and make your life whole once again, if you will let him.

The lesson God taught me that day with the broken pieces of cinderblock built the foundation of the song Picking Up The Pieces, with the rest of the song being written based on my son’s struggles.

One of the greatest lessons I learned was through the process of moving my house.  In retrospect, and hindsight always being 20/20, I should have walked away from everything and let God deal with the aftermath of the destructive ploys against us in the way God does best.  Had I allowed God to move me and my daughter into a life completely new and sever any attachment to the past, no matter how hard the labor to obtain what we acquired, our journey would have taken a much different direction. Even so, I proved to myself the strength and determination I once knew about myself was still there.  It was a monstrous undertaking, but God being God, we have become more than conquerors through Christ and have grown to walk in his wisdom as he has taught us to do.  Why?  Because that’s what God wants for us.  And, because that’s what I purposed in my heart to do.  Overcome.  Release.  Grow.  Abound in my calling and walking in my destiny whole in Jesus Christ. All in all, I always knew God would see us through.  I always knew that what I couldn’t achieve, God could and would do for me.  I never look to a person for what I hope to achieve. God is my source.  I am blessed he chooses to use someone like me.  God asks, “Who will go for me?”  I say, “I will go.  Send me.”

There is an old saying, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”  Our life is only half complete when we try to do things on our own. When we strive to achieve our future on our terms and not through the guidance and strength of God, it is as Ecclesiastes says, vanity.  It’s all vanity.  God told me not too many years ago, “I am moved with compassion for my people.”  No matter what the journey we travel and the pitfalls along the way, Jesus Always Cares.

Love Always–The Story Behind The Song

(Originally Posted 9-17-2017)

There is a day in all our lives, after we’ve spent years being told what to do and when to do it, we want to live our lives that way WE want.  Sometimes, we grow into it gracefully.  Sometimes, it requires making a bold stand.  The latter was the case with my daughter–or so she thought.

The year was 2008.  My daughter was in her senior year of high school.  I was so proud of her. There was a time when she didn’t know if she would survive her struggles to make it this far. I never lost faith that she would indeed overcome the incredible odds set against her from years of abuse that led to self-abuse and a plethora of bad choices.

It was about 10:00 p.m. one cold night in early January, when came a knock on the door of my mother’s home (where we were living at the time and for whom I was caring for) by two deputy sheriff officers.  My first thought was of near panic to think what might be wrong and with whom. Those fears were quickly settled into sheer disbelief when it was announced that my daughter had brought her boyfriend, dad and dad’s girlfriend to collect her things.  She announced she was moving in with her dad.  With only four months left of high school before graduation.  Unbelievable.  On top of that, my mother was no less shaken by this impudent and downright rudely executed intrusion of her home.

As soon as I could finally collect myself, I asked my daughter.  “Why didn’t you just tell me you wanted to move out?  Why did you have to do this?”  Her answer was simple and short.  “Because you wouldn’t have let me.”  My response, “You’re 18.  I couldn’t have stopped you.”

Needless to say, that was a long night.  The next few days were a blur.  All I could think about was why?  And why now?  She was going to a place she said she never really wanted to go.  Was he promising her something she didn’t think I would or could give her?  So many questioned plagued my mind and my breaking heart. It took a couple of weeks before I could finally process enough to simply accept the fact, my baby girl wasn’t a baby anymore.  She was old enough to make her own decisions, and our relationship would never be the same. I must admit, that realization is what hurt the most. It seemed the tears wouldn’t stop.

Then time stood still. It was February 14th.  Valentine’s Day.  It was a day I always made special for my kids. A day I purposed in my heart to set apart to let them know they were loved, more deeply than I could possibly ever express, but I sure tried. And this year, my baby girl wasn’t with me to share it. I heart was aching deeply.  But God…

God always knows what we need and when we need him the most. I had so many concerns. I found myself wondering if I taught her enough, would she remember what she needed to get her through, or would she even care to remember those lessons, some of which came through many tears. Ugh. Even so, I knew that as much as I loved my daughter, God loved her more.

I had to stop and think about what love really means. I read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, and thought about each word. I realized that part of loving someone is being willing to let them go. I picked up my pen to write and the words began to flow. Before I knew it, I had written a poem. A long poem. Reading through it made me see life is full of ups and downs, twists and turns, but love is the force that keeps us moving forward.

That poem became a song a few years later, one of which is my favorites.  Oh…and here’s the rest of the story.

It turns out, my daughter (who had her own thoughts and ideals of what moving out would be like) called me one afternoon, after being away for only six weeks. She realized she was not where she really wanted to be and asked if she could come home. Could she come home?  My answer?  Well, needless to say, we may not always see eye to eye, but I made a promise to myself that my home would always be a place my kids could come home to.  My daughter graduated high school from her mother’s alma mater 10 weeks later. I love my family.

I had the honor of performing Love Always at a suicide awareness event organized, sponsored and hosted by my cousin and featuring Kay Warren.  We need to talk about suicide more “out loud.”  Suicide is preventable. With each of us making just a little bit of effort, we can turn this around. Let us love one another. But that’s a blog for another day.

Be Still My Child–The Story Behind The Song

(Originally Posted 10-23-2017)

It seems there is a moment in everyone’s life they encounter “that defining moment.” That moment when we thought we were in tune with our lives and circumstances and understood at least enough to handle situations as they arose.  One might think…

At this point in my life, it was just me and my daughter, who was at that time five years old. We had just survived a very difficult separation and divorce from a man who, let’s just say, had a lot of issues of his own that desperately needed tending to. My daughter and I were learning how to live life day to day on our own, and I was determined we would live with peace in our home.  Peace.  Peace and quiet.  Peace and sense of well-being.  Peace in our little, miniscule piece of the world.  Peace, which neither of us had known for a very long time and we were on the journey of learning how to achieve it.

Then it happened. That one moment in time that changes everything. It changes time as we would always remember it.  It marks the realization of what I wondered for quite some time, and in retrospect, God was trying to reveal to me. That one moment that compounds my already over-burdened sense of failing as a mother to protect her child.

It didn’t start out bad. There was actually a moment in time I believe we really loved each other. At least for a moment in the beginning. After a period of time, I found myself searching for me. As a wife, finding myself nurturing and supporting my husband, I found more and more there was little time for me. He was committed to his views and desires and I learned quickly mine were not as important. If I disagreed, I was sure to be shown how I was wrong. If I chose not to comment, I was a pacifist. If I chose to accept the invitation to spend time with him on an outing with a friend, instead of staying home to clean house and do the laundry, then my moment of enjoyment quickly faded after being verbally thrashed for being lazy and not keeping our home tidy.  Never mind the fact he was unemployed half of our marriage and I was working more than full-time hours at the business (that I began as a manager before we were married and ultimately became sole owner) trying to make ends meet. And, if I my daughter acted up, it was because she wasn’t whipped enough. This, compounded with my daughter sitting on the side of her bed at bedtime asking me, “Why does daddy always hurt me?” And my feeble, inexcusable answer of “I don’t know.”  I understood he had issues and needed help, but he refused to do so, even at my pleading. You get the picture.

The day started good. It was a Sunday in the Spring, not long before Easter. The sun was shining and the weather was warming up, enough to keep the windows open.  The breeze flowed through the house and the air was crisp with life. It was beautiful. My daughter had been at her dad’s regularly scheduled weekend visit and I resolved I was going to finally shampoo my carpets before she got home. I almost made it too!

As always, when she came home, I met her at his vehicle to receive her and her things. When I went out to meet her, I saw her dad lifting her up with her feet on the arm rest of the open door, and he was talking very softly to her. I didn’t think a whole lot of it at the time, just that it was “different.” As I walked her to the house, she was unusually quiet and somber. I told her to go ahead and get into the bath while I finished up the carpets. She got out of the bath and I gave her a bag of candy that had been put up for her, while she waited for me to get her clothes. What I saw next would change our lives forever and would map out some of the most difficult months we had faced since the divorce—my daughter revealed how her dad had been inappropriate with her.

I was in shock. I acted like everything was okay, but I was certainly not okay. I called the ER and was advised to wait and take her to her pediatrician the next day, since I had already given her a bath.  After I put my daughter to bed, I sat down at my kitchen table and began crying out to God. I was grieved beyond description and felt an array of emotions beyond comprehension. I asked, “Where was I?  As hard as I tried to protect her, how could this have happened?” Then I turned my anger towards God and said, “And where were you?  You’re everywhere we are!  Why did you let this happen!!” I tossed the memories back and forth, trying to make sense of anything. I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. Finally, well after midnight, when everything was dark and everything was still and quiet, I heard the Lord speak.  All He said was, “Be still and know that I am God. I will never leave you or forsake you.”

The next day, I did as I was advised and took my daughter to her pediatrician who confirmed my suspicion. We were sent to Children’s Hospital for my daughter to be completely evaluated. She even told the social worker the same thing she told me. It seemed time stood still. Phone calls were made and over the next weeks, and even months came the flood of phone calls of “You’re a liar.” “How dare you get us involved in something like this.” “It’s just a yeast infection.”

After meeting with my attorney and paying fees that wiped out all the money I had, we were able to get restricted supervision, within the parameters of his normal weekend visitations—even so, he was NEVER to be alone with her, he couldn’t spend the night in the same house with her, and the “supervisor” is supposed to monitor every conversation. And one more thing—we were all on gag order.  Hmmm—at least I know I won’t have to face not abiding to the law that required this.  Yep.  At any rate, the entity that handles this through the courts were too short-handed to help us (or so I was told) and it was insisted that a family member is used. Turns out, the only family member willing and able was one of HIS family members.  No surprise there. “Why did she have to go at all,” I asked! There was no concrete evidence. The DNA was washed away in the bath. Or so I was told. Nevertheless, my faith was in God, not anyone else.

Next, came the barrage of “My daughter is a psych major. There’s no way he abused her. If he abused her, she wouldn’t want to be around him.” Oh my. Maybe a psych major but with no clinical experience. This is too often the case. I’ve found that kids have an incredible ability to “do” what they have to do in order to get through something. Kids naturally want to please. They naturally want to be loved and accepted as well. All of this played into his family’s unwillingness to accept that their “family” was capable to doing this. Then there was the confirmation that brought another mighty blow. He sought out a former employee of mine who interacted with us when we were married and said, “I know I had an affair on Katrina, but I didn’t do what she accused me of.” Wow. Like a ton of bricks fell on me.  If it wasn’t one thing, it was another.

Not only did I have to hold myself together for my daughter, I had to process what I deep down inside knew was true as well. He was unfaithful in keeping his marital vows to me. I thought back to a time when my daughter was still in a high chair. My sister-in-law had just had her son and was having medical issues and needed help. I packed up me and my daughter to go help. I invited my husband, but he refused to go. When we came home, the house was spotless and the bed sheets were changed. My first thought was wow, he has had a change of heart.  He has finally realized I need help and has turned over a new leaf.  Good times were finally on their way. I quickly realized my romantic notions were, let’s just say—<em>wrong,</em> when I went into the back bathroom to find my daughter’s high chair sitting in the tub from when I was cleaning it—exactly the way I left it when I went to help my sister-in-law. I questioned him about it, he just shrugged his shoulder’s. In my gut, I knew. I knew our marriage bed was no longer ours. But I didn’t have the courage to ask. I lived in fear of him and I had learned how to walk on those eggshells without cutting my feet. What would happen to me if I confronted him?  Another day.  Anyway…now it was out. I was right after all, and he finally admitted it.

I was literally a woman who had to be re-made. All while caring for my daughter and running my business. The DHS investigator smugly admitted to me he didn’t think my ex did what he was accused of and said he would file the appropriate report saying as much. He added he would forward his report to the local law enforcement of the county where the supposed incident of occurrence happened and “see what they come up with.” (It happened in another county from where we lived.) We were supposed to be interviewed by the sheriff’s office of that county and the DHS worker was supposed to set this up.  Months went by.  Somehow, (what a surprise) our case got lost in the shuffle and by the time it was straightened out, we lost restricted supervised visitation.  That’s when my daughter stopped talking.  We did have that interview with law enforcement, but without my daughter’s testimony, even though it had been given to people in authority at Children’s Hospital, there was nothing law enforcement could do. Too much time had gone by and my daughter had been put through the ringer—without ever going to court.

My daughter progressively became more angry after every weekend she had to see her dad.  And I became more frustrated with a system that did not work for us–my ability to trust was more than shattered by this time. Then everything came to a head. My daughter came home one Sunday evening so angry she was out of control, yelling, crying, throwing things. I had to physically restrain her. Once I finally got her settled enough to stand still, I made her stand in front of me and told her to tell me what was wrong. Crying very hard she said, “Daddy lied to me. Daddy didn’t rub with me a pencil because I didn’t see it. Daddy lied to me.”  Five. Years. Old. There was nothing else I could do. We went to counseling. I was asked to come into session with her one day. The counselor said my daughter wanted to ask me something.  My daughter looked at me with cold, dark brown eyes and said, “Why did you let him hurt me?” All I could say was, “I tried to stop him. I tried. I’m so sorry.” There’s something in a mother’s heart that breaks and never really mends when they know their efforts to protect their child was not enough to rescue them from the forces of nature around them. It’s indescribable and oftentimes unbearable. But God…

Through the many years and seasons that have come and gone since that time, I’ve learned to depend on God more than I ever thought I could. Through every season, every change and every new beginning, the Lord reminds me, “Be still and know I am God. I will never leave you or forsake you.” During that season, that’s all I had to hold on to.  With everything and everyone who was against me, it was God, my family and the few who stood by me during that season that got us through it. My daughter weathered the storm and has had many storms to overcome as a result of the insecurities besetting her due to the abuse she was subjected to. But through the grace of God and the love we share in the bond of mother and daughter, I know we will overcome.  I learned to trust that God will always work things out for our good, and so He does without fail.  I also learned to pray for my ex.  Even through it all, he is also God’s child.  I leave the details to God to work out.  I truly do want him set free for himself and for others.

Peace. Peace. Wonderful peace. I have peace now. Every day. I live in His peace knowing He will never leave me or forsake me. I have proven God to be faithful over and over and over again. From those very words God gave me that dark, weary night so long ago, came this song. I hope you feel God’s presence and hear His voice say to you, “Be still and know I am God. I will never leave you or forsake you.”  Hope you enjoy.

One Day My Love–The Story Behind The Song

(Originally Posted 10-23-2017)

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 yard 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 gun, bow or muzzle loading season hunting squirrel, rabbit, and 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 was 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 that I had lived with my mom long enough to see the patter 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, 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 that it wouldn’t happen again. I decided it wasn’t worth taking another chance. My brother-in-law said, “He’s just a boy.” True. But not much consolation at this point.

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.

Picking Up The Pieces–The Story Behind The Song

(Originally Posted 10-5-2017)

There are no guarantees in life.  There are surprises tucked within the curve of every turn.  He was such a good baby.  He hardly ever cried, except of course when he was hungry or cold.  He set his own time clock and he held firmly to it as a baby.  He was a night owl from early on.  I knew something was very different about him, although I wasn’t too concerned. Every child develops differently, and the doctors voiced no concern.  He was so bright, so full of life, and he could communicate in every nonverbal way…and I understood him.

He was growing to be a normal male in every sense of the word, even down to the part where he got easily frustrated when he “couldn’t make things work” the way he wanted them to. J  He brought so much joy, even to his sister who quickly saw herself as “second mama” and the only natural choice to be his “teacher.” He loved his sister and would stand at the door and cry every time she went outside to play with her friends if he wasn’t allowed to go with her.  Every day set a new level of achievement in the learning curve.  Even so, I thought it strange that even at 18 months old, he was still not verbal.  He made sounds, grunts, sat down in the floor and cried out of frustration but he would not speak. At two and a half years old, he finally started repeating words and by the time he was three, it became apparent he had listened intently and was learning everything he was being taught, because once he finally started talking, it seemed he would never stop.  But I didn’t mind. At least he was finally talking.

Although my heart’s desire was to work at home, I had to spend time working away from home in order to get experience.  During this time, I had to depend on childcare. I knew something wasn’t quite right, but after my son being kicked out of two childcares for erroneous reasons, I had more on my plate to deal with trying to find childcare so I could continue working, rather than exhaust every idiosyncrasy to see what was “wrong” with my son.  By God’s grace and divine provision, I found a woman who kept kids in her home, and she didn’t mind if my son was a little “busy” and tended to be “easily frustrated.”  She felt sure she could work with him.  And work with him well, she did.  My son responded well to her too.  He was growing, adjusting and showing signs of high intelligence.  By the time my son was four, I was able to teach him how to use a computer and play simple computer games. He was able to identify colors, shapes, numbers, the alphabet and even simple counting games on the computer.

Finally, Kindergarten was here. I was so excited about how he was growing and learning.  I was sure he had learned enough to be ready for this new beginning.  My son would be in school all day and since his sister’s school was next door to his, she would walk him home and stay with him until I got home from work.  Life was good. Everything was coming together for us, again.  At least, I thought so.

It wouldn’t be long until my first meeting with the teacher.  I had become used to getting calls about my daughter, but now I would get calls about my 5-year-old son.  “He had a stick in his hand and was turning and turning and turning around in circles and he hit a little girl upside the head with the stick. She went home with a pump knot on her forehead.  I assured the girl’s parents this would be handled and would not happen again.” To which I assured her it would not happen again.  Although no one else endured injury as a result of my son’s inability to understand how what he was doing was affecting those around him, the phone calls and insistence that I take him to a doctor and have him put on medicine to make him sit still in class continued.  There was only one problem.  The doctor refused until all testing was done. This would take months. Finally, the summer before 1st grade, he received a diagnosis that would permit medication. Unfortunately, time would prove that the diagnosis of ADHD was incorrect.

Even with medication, 1st grade would prove to be too stimulating for my son to adhere to strict classroom rules and I was called by the alternative school officer. He quickly surmised my son’s current condition of disruptive behavior was due to my being a single parent, “I mean no offense,” he said.  He simply went on to imply that my son was “the type” who needed the firm hand (of a dad) to disciple him.  I was told that if my son’s disruptive behavior did not stop, my son would be sent to the school’s Alternative Learning Class.  First grade. Six. Years. Old.  Incredible.

We moved to a different town, changing to a new school.  At the very same time, the Lord opened the doors for me to come home to work.  Talk about perfect timing.  Yes…look at God go!  My son did well.  He grew, learned and developed.  He had his quirks, but don’t we all.  It was when we moved back to my hometown to get my daughter into a safe environment after run-ins with the law due to drugs and alcohol that would prove more challenging than before.

He did okay until the fourth grade.  He just couldn’t keep up with the homework assignments.  I mean he literally could not keep up with keeping them organized in a folder. He also couldn’t cope with changing classes.  It was more than he could handle.  Talking with the school was of no help.  In my plea for help and trying to explain my son to them, they saw me as “making excuses” once again. We changed schools again, this time to a small, private school. There were only five in his class. Perfect. My son was flourishing. Then God….

When I moved back to my hometown, God told me it would only be for a few years and then he would move me forward into the “plans” he has for me.  After a few years, the time came for me and my son to move…again.  By this time, my daughter had graduated high school and was starting a life of her own with her husband and new baby.  So, at the appointed time, I packed up me and my son, and we moved onward…forward…another new beginning. This time, it would be to a new state where we knew no one. Absolutely no one.  But I knew since I knew it was God, and God had more than once confirmed this move was directed by him, I knew God would provide for everything.  I stood firm and confident in my faith in him.

New beginning.  That’s an understatement.  My son left a school of total population of about 40 to a school of total population of about 1500. I was concerned about culture shock.  But not him.  He was so excited!  He had calculated all the new friends and new adventures he would encounter at a school this size.  It started out great too.  His grades stayed high. As and Bs.  His teachers were elated. He was essentially ahead of the class as far as the information being taught at the time on that grade level. Then things changed.  My son became more withdrawn.  He wasn’t completing all of his assignments and his grades started dropping. Something was very wrong. I took him to the doctor.  They tried different medications but the situation was not improving. They tried raising the dose, but it was clear my son was spiraling into depressive/anxiety episodes at a rate faster than anyone could manage. The fact my son was becoming a teenager only served to complicate matters.

I knew socially, he didn’t easily fit in.  He just couldn’t seem to connect with and understand basic social cues and his insistence of voicing his opinion of expertise was not always well received by others, but he was learning to take his differences in stride.  His growth and development was progressing each year, but he was always about two years younger than his age group emotionally.  At the same time, he was always about two years ahead of them intellectually.  It was most definitely hard to find balance.  Even as a child, my son never met a stranger, but after most of the kids in the neighborhood met him, they began to run the other way when they saw him coming.

My son reached out for help among friends at school. Suddenly, I didn’t recognize the names of the people he referred to as friends. A meeting with a teacher would expose his demeanor in class had changed drastically when he started involving himself with kids who did not have his best interest at heart.  He desperately wanted friends and he didn’t care what kind. When I began redirecting him, his aggression became more directed at me.  He adamantly defended his new friends, of whom he had no understanding. I tried to fit the pieces together.

He finally got old enough to fulfill his life-long ambition of playing football. I thought this would be the answer for his woes.  He worked and worked and was allowed on the team. He was even made one of the captains because the coach said he “had heart.” Even as hard as he tried, he simply couldn’t get the hang of the plays and there were, of course, plenty of negative backlash from diehard fans who could not resist the opportunity to voice their grievances.  This only served to drive my son into further despair.  He found another outlet that he enjoyed.  And this he was really good at!  Acting.  That boy could play a drunk better than anyone I’ve ever seen on TV.  And, I’m not saying that just because I’m his biggest fan. He is really gifted.  He could easily displace himself into whatever character he chose.  His foreign accents were quite realistic as well. I was beaming and more than encouraging.  I was even trying to get him involved in community theater.  However, time would prove the joy he received through this would be short-lived.

When my son was 13 he started cutting himself. The doctors tried different medications but none seemed to work. I tried to talk to my son but every time he felt cornered, he became more aggressive.  All my efforts to help my son were failing.  When my son turned 14, he tried to hang himself.  Later, he told me he had tried to commit suicide more than once.  Thank God, his attempts failed. By God’s amazing grace, my son tried one last time to reach out. He texted a friend who immediately told a teacher, who then immediately called me.  She gave me intervention information and after a phone call, two women were knocking on my door to talk to my son.  That fast.  They were able to convince my son there was hope, that people really do care and there was help available for him. He agreed to go.  After immediate stabilization, my son was admitted to long-term hospitalization.

With the many trials, tribulations, ups and downs I’ve been through, I would have never imagined that just 15 years earlier I would be facing this—and essentially facing this alone.  I know I’m never alone really.  God is always walking with me—through it all! But with this, I had no family close by.  I had not yet made any close friends.  Working at home can keep a person isolated.  We attended church each week and made a few friends there, and I know they were praying for us, but I didn’t have any friends I could “hang out with.”  But God…

I had volunteered with the mobile medical unit at our church a couple of months earlier.  During that time, I met a woman who was going to school to become a psychologist. She told me about her son, whom she found she had to be his advocate because of the unique nature of his disability.  She also told me of a therapist who was her “God send” and had been so helpful to her and her son.  I listened intently and didn’t think much more about it. Until my son’s hospitalization that is. The Lord told me to “call her,” which I did. I asked for her therapist’s information. After one meeting with this woman and her non-stop series of questions, we both knew what was going on with my son.  My son was born autistic.

I spoke with my son’s hospital therapist and he immediately responded with, I agree, there is something deeper going on here. I began to write memories of his behavior from the time he was born.  Memories started flooding my mind almost faster than I could write them down. Pages and pages of memories.  After a few weeks of in-hospital treatment where my son could be observed on a daily basis in every conceivable irritating, frustrating circumstance of his stay there, his therapist confirmed what I deep inside knew all along.  He told me he was convinced my son had Asperger’s disorder. My son’s psychiatrist confirmed this diagnosis and my son was finally properly diagnosed. My son did not have “the worst case of ADHD I’ve ever seen” after all.  He was autistic.

At our next family session, my son’s therapist and I met and informed Aaron of the newly discovered diagnosis.  We went to great lengths to explain to my son what Asperger’s disorder is and what exactly it looks like.  I wish I could have bottled my son’s expression of relief.  “Now it makes sense.  All this time I thought I was a —-.”  No.  My son was by no means a loser.  Yes, he was different, but I had always been able to see the greatness inside of him.

I wish I could say the road to recovery was that simple, but it was not.  My son underwent a few more years of therapy and two more in-patient stays due to major depression and anxiety. But there is a light at the end of this tunnel.  God is so concerned about every detail of our lives.  Especially when our hurt is so dark we can hardly breathe.  By his unique and divine intervention, God hand-picked the therapists, caregivers and friends who loved my son right where he was, even when my son showed every sign of being unlovable.  They helped my son obtain the courage to step out of his fear, out of feeling abandoned and out of his loneliness to embrace the beauty of the uniqueness God made in him.  Through this, my son stepped out in faith to allow God to love him too.  Once my son made that enormous step, his life has never been the same.

My son will tell you, his relationship with God is unique.  It doesn’t look the same as anyone else’s.  But, that’s how it’s supposed to be, because that’s how God is.  He meets us where we are—in the beauty of our uniqueness, in the beauty of who he has created us to be.  God will do that with you too.  He will do that with all who are willing to give him a chance.

I look back on my life and at many points in my life, my life could have ended, as it could have for each of my children.  But God….   The Lord showed me once how much easier it is when we cease striving and allow God to pick up the broken pieces of our lives.  I look back at the brokenness of my son and look at him now and can see God’s handiwork each step of the way.  God truly hears the cries of our spirits, and it is God who is able to pick up the broken pieces of our lives and make us whole.  Today, my son actually smiles.  He knows God loves him just the way he is. He knows it is God who has picked up the broken pieces of his life and is working his plan in and through my son.

Now, you know the rest of the story.  Hold on to hope.  New strength will come.  See the dawn break with the rising sun.  Your best days are soon to come. Reach for the hand of His perfect love.

Life…..And Then There’s Two–Part Two

(Originally Posted 10-2-2017)

It was a day like any other day.  I remember it as if it were yesterday.  I was changing out the pump signs with our new specials and making sure our gassing stations were clean and tidy.  I had committed to the Lord to use my business as a lighthouse in the community for his glory, which we did every day.  People began to seek out our convenience store for a place to shop, noting that the scrolling sign on the pump telling them that “Jesus Loves You” brought them great encouragement. I offered customers hope through a smile, word of encouragement and a gospel tract anyone could pick up free of charge. I also offered local ministries and churches the opportunity to make extra money by having a car wash on my lot. I was cautioned against doing this due to the cost, since we were already experiencing financial difficulties, but I knew the cost was low compared to the change in the atmosphere of our community that was bearing the existence of four active gangs.  I knew I was where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to be doing and for as long as God allowed me to be there, I would continue forward.

One of the men in a local ministry I was helping came up to me and asked me a question.  It was as if he had been painted on from head to toe.  I mean, the man loved tattoos.  But who was I to judge. Then the man added, “When God saved me, I looked in the mirror and I had doubts.”  He went on to say, “God told me he saw my heart and change would start there.”  I knew what he meant.  God’s grace.  Then I heard it.  “The Voice.”  You know—that soft voice.  That whisper.  It said, “Will you consider him?”  In my heart, I knew what it meant.  God already told me he was preparing to bring me a husband and together we would spread the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world.  At first, I didn’t think much of it. But it was persistent.

As the days and weeks went on, me and this man would have more conversations. Before you know it, we began to pray for one another.  Even though there were obvious differences, I knew what God was able to do—after all, I knew what God did for me. I was cautioned by those who knew me.  I was cautioned by those who knew him.  This is what is called being surrounded by Godly counsel, as God says there is safety in the counsel of many.  Here’s where a person is supposed to “heed to Godly counsel.”  I might add, this is not a time for the righteousness of God to become prideful.  After all, I knew it was God’s voice I heard. Right??   Time went on and we eventually became engaged to be married.  The rings were bought.  The date was set.   Now, here’s where many people may have their own opinions, but I’ve learned, there is a reason God sets certain boundaries for us to follow—not so we can have a boring life, but for our own good, safety and well being.

What happened next shook me to the core on the foundation God had so painstakingly built for me to be planted on.  A person’s true character is seen not when things are good or events are running smoothly.  A person’s true character is seen when the fire is the hottest, and the fire that was set ablaze against us was burning hotter and hotter.  It was only weeks before we were to be married.  Plans were being made and it seemed things were coming together as planned. I had not been feeling well but was at a loss to understand why—probably just because I was making another one of the biggest life-changing decisions of my life.  Then the final straw was placed on what became known as the pile of sinking sand.  I found out I was pregnant.

In an instant, I felt myself spiral into a place of utter aloneness.  One could best describe it as a place of complete darkness.  Thoughts of myself as the minister God called me to be were suddenly thrown into a heap of “you failed” and “you’re worthless” all over again.  To add fuel to the fire, I remembered him growing anxious because I kept putting off the wedding.  I had that “stinging feeling within me” and I voiced my concerns to him.  I said, “What’s wrong with waiting?  If its meant to be, it will be.”  He agreed, so we waited—a little while longer.  My mind began racing from thoughts of his voicing his restlessness for waiting to get married to “what is everyone going to think.”  I didn’t have the feelings of security of “Well, we’re almost married. It’s going to be all right.”  There was nothing all right about what I was going through, what I was feeling and what I was thinking.  My barometer of grace seemed to be sucked dry and I was at a loss to process it all.

Truth came in a matter of days.  I met with him and told him I was pregnant.  Quite frankly, his reaction came of no complete surprise to me, however, I was hopeful this was all just a bad dream, we would get married and everything would be okay.  Not.  He became angry and threw the papers in his hand and said, “This is just great. How far along are you?”  The conversation ended with, “I need to be alone for a while.” We met only a few more times after that.  I finally accepted the fact he simply was not ready to be married, nor was he ready to be a father.  He became quite relieved to hear me admit to it and with that, he left.  He tucked himself away in the company of those who provided for all his needs.  A place for him to become a stronger man to deal with his life.

As for me, I was left alone to handle everything.  I had been down the road of taking responsibility before. I took responsibility for myself and my daughter after the abusive marriage.  I would take responsibility for this too—even though it was certainly not all of my own doing.  I was silent for a time.  My secret was still my own for a while.  I tried to sit down to the piano and find solace.  It didn’t work.  I tried to read God’s word. I couldn’t take it in.  I tried to pray.  I felt as if I was talking to the walls.  Thoughts of losing all God promised me once again plagued my thoughts. My heart was broken.  My soul was vexed.  All I could hear was “you’re no good.”   I finally stormed through the house crying and yelling at the top of my lungs, “Is this it?  Have it done it now?  Have I gone too far this time?  Have I exhausted my grace account?” After what seems like forever, the Lord spoke, “It’s just going to be harder.”

The next day, I was standing at my kitchen sink looking into the front yard.  I heard it again.  The Voice.  That whisper.  “You know how to take care of this problem.  It doesn’t have to be a problem for you.”  Instantly, I felt the power of God come upon me and I said out loud, “Satan!  You’re a liar! And you’re defeated by the blood of the lamb and the word of my testimony!  I will have this baby!”

I was finally able to gather the courage to speak to the pastor of the church who had supported us until the time I became engaged.  As difficult as all of this had been to process, he said something that set me free, at least enough to see it with a little clearer perspective.  He said, “Having a baby out of wedlock is not the sin.  It’s what you did to get pregnant that’s the sin.”  We had a good conversation.  In a stately manner, he said “You know abortion is out of the question.”  I was then able to tell him “the rest of the story” about that morning he read from Jeremiah—that morning God chose to meet with me by divine intervention and face having had two abortions while I was previously married.  It was also in that conversation with him I was able to tell him how Satan had tried to tempt me to do just that—abort another precious gift from God—the child I was pregnant with.  No.  Satan would not win this time.  Not again.

I made a vow to God that day. I told God I wanted his best for my life and if I needed to stay single in order to get it, that was okay for me—and I meant it. The years ahead would prove to be very challenging to say the least.  Some of our greatest challenges can become some of our greatest losses.  Sometimes, those losses can bring some of our greatest blessings.  The Lord prepared me though.  He knows I remind him often enough that he tells us he will not keep us in the dark, J.  He told me to prepare to go back to school and that if I would pursue a career in medical transcription, I would be able to work and provide for my kids all while being able to stay at home with them and not have to depend on someone else to care for them.  This is something I longed for.  God knows the desires of our hearts and whatever those may be, he will work things together to get us where we need to be to receive them.  He certainly did for me.

God also knows the plans he has for us and in that he will also work all things together for our own good.  I knew my business was struggling financially but I always reminded God that his word said I should owe no one anything but to walk in his love, so I expected a miracle.  I was not opposed to leaving the business—I just didn’t want to leave it while being in debt.  Sometimes, the Lord’s grace will deliver us so we do not have to walk through the fire.  Sometimes, the Lord’s grace will carry us so we are not overtaken by the floods.  Sometimes, God’s grace will rise within us and make us stronger than we could ever imagine, enough to walk through the fire and the flood.  I knew God was faithful and I knew he had always been good to me.  So, I knew he would see me and my two children through the yet another devastating season when I would be forced to close my business (by reason of inability to become financially soluble).

I started at the business as manager with low sales and increased a small kiosk business to more zeros per year than I had ever seen with my own eyes in my life.  It was my livelihood.  It was my baby.  It was my identity.  I felt lost and the rejection I encountered was more than I could bear.  I had been trying to sell my home so I could downgrade, but time would prove it was not on my side.  I lost everything.  I withdrew.  I couldn’t fathom what was next for us.  Unknowns.  Uncertainties.  But all eyes were on me to provide and “fix it.”

But God…  and Only God…   His plan is perfect.  His timing is perfect.  When I finally conceded to that, I was finally able to breath.  Through my family’s suggestion, I found my way into school. Amazingly, I remembered the word God spoke to me a year earlier.  Indeed, this school had a medical transcription course.  My heart was overjoyed!  My daughter was eight years old and my son was four months old. Talk about a new beginning.  It would take three years, but I did it.  I made it through school—not with just one, but with two degrees. And, I made it through with honors, a 4.0 GPA.  I achieved the highest honor as the overall outstanding student and was the keynote speaker of my class.  I saw the glory of the Lord pierce through the darkness of every negative word I had ever heard about myself.  God never ceases to amaze me with what he can do with willingness and effort.  Amazing Grace—God’s love for us.

I’ve known for quite some time that my life is not my own.  God has called me to something greater than I can fathom and through it all, he has never changed his mind with what that will be.

We all meet at the crossroads of “life” and “convenience,” “trust and obey” and “do it my own way.”  Each choice brings its own set of circumstances, ups and downs, goods and bads.  No, life is not a crapshoot.  God has a plan.  He has a perfect plan, a perfect will.  God also gives us a choice.  God tells us to choose life.  Not because he a “stick in the mud” with a bunch of rules and regulations to make our lives boring, and deem our lives insignificant.  And, no.  God does not sit on his throne with a scepter in his hand ready and waiting to knock us over the head when we make a mistake.  God loves us.  All of us.  Is life hard?  Yes.  Is life fair?  No.  But even so, God is good and He wants his best for us.  I was eventually able to forgive him for walking out on us. Just like I was able to forgive my ex-husband for all he did to us.  I was also able to forgive myself for what I had done.   Because of God’s grace.  Choose life.  Choose his way.  Choose his plan.  His way is not always the easiest, but it is always the best.  He wants us to have his best along the way.  Seek him and you will find him. And, wherever life may find you today, just know, God loves you even when you make mistakes.  I know his love is what keeps me going.  Yes, Lord, I know “You Love Even Me.”

The Lord’s Lullaby–The Story Behind The Song

(Originally Posted 10-1-2017)

I’ve grown to the point in my life, I realize everything we go through in this life is an opportunity to give up and say “I’m done” or choose life and say “I’ll take one more step.” This is the story behind the song The Lord’s Lullaby.

In November 2009, I witnessed one of the greatest possible experiences I believe I’ve ever encountered. I was invited to witness my oldest grandson’s birth. Well…I was allowed to be in the room, anyway. Too exciting for words. To hold a tiny person who was not from you but still a part of you was more to take in than I have the ability or words to express. I was filled with awe and wonder. When he was a few weeks ago, I was holding him while I was in my mother’s kitchen and I heard this tune playing over and over in my head. I found myself singing it to him over and over as a lullaby, which was soothing to him, and me.

It would be about two years later I would embark on one of the most difficult seasons of my life. A season ordained in time for me to face my own need for full disclosure. It was time for me to face what I had done 20 years earlier. I didn’t realize how much a choice I made 20 years ago not only affected me, but everyone in my family as well.

The year was 1991, August. I was married. Not a good marriage either. I found myself surviving, not thriving. My daughter was two years old and life was difficult. I found out I was pregnant again, eight weeks pregnant. I reasoned within myself it was not fair to bring a child into a situation like we were in, so I had an abortion. In December of the same year, I found out I was six weeks pregnant. Our situation was not better, so I had another abortion.

In February of the next year, I found myself unable to cope and I planned suicide. I cried out to God and said, “Just take me home, I can’t handle anything anymore.”  He showed me a picture of my daughter’s face in my mind and told me if I couldn’t find the strength to go on for myself, I’d better find it for her because she needed me. So I tightened up the bootstraps and went forward. I buried everything.

Five years later I was at church and the first words out of my pastor’s mouth was, “I knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb.”  I did not realize it was Sanctity of Life Sunday morning. I grabbed my Bible and my keys and said to myself, “When every head is bowed and every eye is closed, I’m outta hear. I can’t handle this.”  The Lord spoke to me and said “No, I want you to stay.  You need to hear this.” So I stayed. I can’t remember anything that was said. I never raised my head. I never stopped crying.

I then remembered each visit to the abortion clinic. I remembered seeing other women sitting in the waiting room.  I remembered being taken into a counseling room and a woman asked me, “Are you sure this is what you want to do?” I remembered being on the table in the procedure room. I remembered seeing the doctor and the nurse.  I remembered hearing the sounds of the suction of the machine used to perform the abortion. I remembered the pain.

I left the church that morning as fast as I could. I got home and I cried for hours until I had no strength. I didn’t know I could cry so many tears. I couldn’t comprehend how I could have done such a thing, not only once, but twice. I said to God, “I should die for what I’ve done.” The Lord spoke to me, and He said “Just as I am here with you now, I was with you then and I still love you.” I knew by the end of the day that God had forgiven me.

But it wouldn’t be until the summer of 2011 that I could forgive myself. By divine connections, I began volunteering at a pregnancy resource center who also sponsored an abortion recovery and healing program.  For several weeks, we went through layers and layers of reasons, ill-effects and processes of how to overcome knowing you are personally responsible for ending your own child’s life. Incomprehensible.

I went through memory after memory of that time in my life while I was married, of how I felt like I was dying inside and knowing my daughter was affected by my inability to give more of me. I thought of how much I loved her but struggled to show her more of the love I had for her. I realized for the first time that as my daughter got older and would tell me she felt I was smothering her and not allowing her to go to places her friends could attend was deeply rooted in my fear of something bad happening to her–a form of PTSD, a very real after effect of having an abortion. I remembered if I saw a baby, I would smile but I did not want to be anywhere close to one, not realizing it was because of the loss I experienced but never grieved and an emptiness for which I never shed a tear.

Having the abortions caused depression and inability to trust others.  It affected my relationships and ability to get close to anyone.  Having the abortions caused me to doubt my ability to accomplish anything good, my ability to be a good mother to my daughter and moreover, I felt like I was a complete failure. I never spoke about having an abortion, even after that Sunday morning on Sanctity for Life. I couldn’t. I was sure I would be shunned as an outcast. It wasn’t that I didn’t have support at the church where I went. I was simply too broken to take a chance on being rejected by those who at the time where the only source of stability I had.

Through a series of divine appointments and TBN, the Lord, very patiently and lovingly took me by the hand and let me know he loved me and he would never let me go. It wouldn’t be until I saw a late night talk show on TBN who took phone calls on the topic of the night that I was finally able to briefly tell my story–but only anonymously.

That summer of 2011 marked a new beginning in my life. My children now bear their rightful names and they were properly memorialized for the lives God gave them. And, I was able to put a voice to my grief in a poem, which continues to bring healing and strength to me. I not only faced my own brokenness and was able to finally place it in the hands of Jesus to heal me and restore my soul, I was able to tell my children, my mother, my brother and my sister there are two little ones they never met who they will one day meet when they get to heaven. I didn’t know how it would turn out. Would they get mad and disown me? Would they yell and scream? There was mixed emotions. But as my family has proven over and over, love endures all things.

Through the course of my ministry, I have encountered those who have had abortions and tell of the difficulties they too have endured as a result of making their choice to abort their pregnancies. I have met those who are determined we have a choice and I should just accept that fact and “get over it!” And of course, there are those who are complacent and indifferent. Complacent and indifferent I can never be. There are simply too many lives at stake.

I owe my life to Jesus Christ and the many people who have prayed for me and pray for those who have gone through abortions. Abortion is something we can stop. Not only does abortion end a human life, when a woman gets pregnant, her body and brain is forever imprinted with the physiological changes her body makes after conception. This cannot be denied and needs to be realized by all, before more damage is done to those left behind. Denial does not make this go away. Although having an abortion may seem to solve an immediate “problem,” the after effects will last for a lifetime.

I now have three beautiful grandchildren who I have the great delight in hearing them call me “granny.” “Children are a heritage from the Lord. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”

Know that if you or someone you know has had an abortion, God loves you and wants you to come to him so he can heal you. Healing can be found through God’s forgiveness and love.

The poem I wrote for the memorial service of my two children in heaven became a song soon after. I remembered the tune that popped in my head when I held my infant grandson in my mother’s kitchen that evening in 2009. I placed it at the beginning and the end of the song, as it were, like a music box playing The Lord’s Lullaby. Take a minute to listen and let me know what you think.