Pray Even When It Seems You’re Outnumbered

(Originally Posted 9-29-2017)

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!!!

Prophecy 9-11-2017–Wake Up!

(Originally Posted 9-17-2017)

On September 5, 2017, God gave me several dreams. In one of the dreams, there was a woman in a home praying. Outside her home there were two women walking back-and-forth in the yard with their Bibles open, praying. I met with a woman inside the home, and she spoke of being reminded of someone whose actions made her angry because their behaviors were insistent on being against God, and the injustices this was bringing against her and others. Then God showed me the date August 21.

Then God gave me an open vision, wherein there was much unrest in the spirit realm. I saw the activities of the spirit realm, the unseen world. I saw demons going from one group of people to the next, inciting riots and strife and discord among the people. Then I saw Satan, sitting and leaning forward looking back and forth to see what was going on in the world. I called him out and he lifted his foot as if to stomp on something. I rebuked him commanded him to leave, and the vision ended. I saw the date October 2.

God is moving for a great breakthrough and the enemy is working overtime causing destruction and chaos in the lives of people with ranting and ravings of lawlessness.

God is trying to get the attention of this nation and the nations around the world. God is bringing a great breakthrough, renewal and revival, and restoration of hopes, dreams, restored ministries, restored relationships, and fulfillment of God’s promises in our lives. Hear Him calling–Oh, how sweet the sound. Listen and seek God will he may still be found. Watch and pray always.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a People that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith. 1 Peter 4:8, 9

Submit to God, resist the devil and he will leave. James 4:7.

And this gospel of the kingdom (of God) will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14

August 21 was when the solar eclipse happened. September 20 begins Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. This also begins the Days of Awe, a period of introspection and repentance before God. September 30 is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a day of fasting to cleanse one’s soul before God.

October 2 is three days before Sukkot, October 5, the fall Feast of the Tabernacles. The feast of Tabernacle’s is a feast for all people. It is unique in that the Gentile nations were invited to come to Jerusalem along with the Jewish people to worship The Lord at this “appointed time.” The Lord told Moses to father all men, women, and children along with the foreigners in their land, so they can learn to fear the Lord. (Deuteronomy31:12)

The number 2 is significant for difference or division. There is much division in the church, in this nation and in the nations around the world–division and separation from God. I believe it is significant God showed me October 2 in relation to the upcoming feasts that call out for joining together, humbling ourselves and worshipping God. God is calling for unity and peace among his people in the midst of our many differences, humbling ourselves before Him, our creator. God has sent His word time and time again, and even warning us that time as we know it will soon come to an end. He who has ears let him hear.

God wants to bless this land. God desires to bless his people. The Lord calls out to all men, “Seek me while I may still be found.”

We continue to pray for all humanity in the midst of all the storms, winds, waves, fires and earthquakes. May the love, kindness and help shown to people from around the world continue long after the restoration after the storms.

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.

God Never Forgets!

(Originally Posted 10-28-2017)

I love this:   God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. Hebrews 6:10

I woke up early this morning. I didn’t sleep much last night. The Lord continues to bring people to me that need prayer and encouragement.

I was going through my pictures recently. So many, many memories. From when I was growing up, to when I was raising my children. I came across certificates of achievements for work, college, school of ministry, even when I was in high school and achieved placement in the state band and choir competition, after which I was offered a band and vocal scholarship to two different universities.  It seemed every where I turned, doors were flying open for me with opportunities to go further than I could have imagined.

Sometimes, the choices can be overwhelming and we simply do the best we can when choosing what seems to be the best choice for us.  There is a future with a hope for us.  I realize there are times God seems to be the only one in agreement with this.  However, because he says it is so, and he cannot lie, it’s important we continue to persevere, push through the setbacks and disappointments, press on and not give up.

I remember when my daughter was in middle school and she wanted to be in band. She wanted to play the flute, and nothing else was acceptable to her.  The band director, on the other hand, encouraged her to play the clarinet. They needed more clarinet players, not flute players. My daughter seemed to struggle with mouth placement and the band director once again encouraged her to consider clarinet. I told her to never give up but stay focused and keep trying. She persevered and indeed, she developed the proper flute embouchure and was allowed to play the flute.  Hence forth, any time she struggled to achieve something difficult, I reminded her how she overcame before because she pushed through and persevered.

When my son was going into 8th grade, they started the school sponsored football teams.  My son had dreamed of playing football since he was seven years old.  However, in order to be considered for the team, he would have to successfully complete all his classes. Although he is a good student, he was in a class he would have rather not had to encounter—-and needless to say, he was beginning to see that his dream of playing football might not be realized. I encouraged him to focus on “the prize” of getting on the team, to which my son buckled down, and after a lot of hard work raised his grades.  The deciding moment came when his grades came in the mail.  He sat with anticipation.  As I read the report, I couldn’t contain myself and with excitement I said, “You passed.”  You could see the relief come over him.  During football practice, my son would do whatever the coach asked him to do, and he would do so with so much enthusiasm, the coach made my son one of the team captains–not because he was so gifted playing the sport, but because he had such a heart for the team and working hard to accomplish the goals. Even after all his hard work, we found my son simply could not coordinate his mind with his body to keep up with the movement of the plays.  Even with extra help from the coaches, it became obvious my son’s dream of playing football would not be realized.  My son was heartbroken. But in time, my son could see how, even so, God was faithful in helping my son get on the football team.

In looking back on my life, I realize God has been so good to me.  Even during the most tragic life events, God was still faithful. Through the good times when, without seemingly any effort from me, good things and good opportunities were coming to me in overtly blessed abundance, God was there with grace and mercy navigating me. During the most tragic events and difficult seasons, when choices were so overwhelming I could barely see the steps before me that I should walk in, God was there with his abounding loving kindness to carry me and say, “It’s okay. I got this.”

There were so many times I wondered if I would make it through. There were times that were so dark I couldn’t see any light of hope and wondered if I would ever be able to breath again. I’ve gone from having much to having almost nothing.  But God…  Through every season God always showed himself faithful.

Be encouraged. Even when life takes a sudden unexpected turn and it seems everything is unraveling around you, it does not take God by surprise.  Continue to love him, and in that love help his people. God’s got your back.  He’s working things out for you, even when you can’t see what he’s doing at the moment.

Blessings…

God Says…..The Battle Is Mine

(Originally Posted 10-23-2017)

 

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!!!

He’s Just A Boy

(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.

 

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.

It’s A Sticky Situation

(Originally Posted 10-16-2017)

“This you know, my beloved, but let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” James 1:19, 20

One Saturday morning, when my daughter was 7 years old, I was doing my normal schedule of house cleaning chores. I promised my daughter I would take her to the store to get her a video she wanted, so I was trying to get everything done as quickly as possible. I was finishing up when my daughter asked if she could help me clean the kitchen floor. I said yes, of course (who doesn’t want help from their children, especially when they offer?) As I was getting everything ready for us to get started, I heard a knock on the door and went to see who was there. When I came back, my daughter was standing at the edge of the kitchen floor looking at her masterpiece. Her face was beaming showing that her heart was about to explode with the anticipation of how I was certainly going to praise her good job and willingness to help clean the floor, knowing we would soon be on our way to get her the “prize” that awaited her.

My heart sank. I looked at the floor in utter disbelief. An entire bottle of blue Dawn dishwashing liquid was squirted out all over the kitchen floor. She looked up at me and smiled. I was beside myself. I couldn’t speak. Finally, I was able to eek out as joyfully as possible, “Oh my. I see.” My first thought was how am I going to get this blue, sticky, gummy mass of mess off of my kitchen floor. My second thought was are we going to get this mess cleaned up store closed?? Ugh!! I didn’t want to say or do anything that would crush her spirit and did not want this to keep her from wanting to help again. So, I took a deep breath, looked at her, smiled and said, “Okay. Let’s get started.” It took over an hour to get the soap off of the floor. It was then we were finally able to actually clean the floor. Smooth sailing again!

What started out looking like a disaster, ended up being a great time spent together laughing and working together, even as we went “slip sliding away” on the floor. During this experience, I learned how cold water is good for cutting soapy suds. Then it occurred to me, although the cold water was what I needed to clean up the soap on the floor, the whole experience would have been a disaster if I had let the cold water of my emotions be quick to respond and over react to my daughter’s effort to help.

As children of God, we are to pursue God’s righteousness in all things. In this scripture, God tells us to listen, be slow to speak and slow to anger. In our lives, if we do not become hasty in our reactions or allow how we feel about a situation decide how we respond, then even through the times of dismay, we can still overcome and walk in the righteousness of God.

 

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.