Hope, Not Shame: A Cherished Promise from God.

So far in these posts, I have not yet shared about the deepest hurt and sharpest pain that I have endured due to my being molested as a child. This particular wound has been the hardest one for me to face and discuss. It has to do with the subject of sex. Just writing that last sentence was painful for me. In today’s society, sex is commonplace, but for me it is hard even just to say the word sex.

But it hasn’t always been that way. When my husband and I were newlyweds, we seemed to have a normal marriage, healthy in all aspects. I cannot really tell you when the changes in our intimate life began, except that I remember starting to have problems at about the time that our son reached puberty. The timing makes sense to me now, since my molestation had come at the hands of teenage boys. Back then, though, when those memories were still stuffed away in my subconscious, I did not know why our sex life had suddenly become a problem.

In counseling, I have learned that women who are molested as children generally follow one of two paths as a result. Some victims become sexually promiscuous. Others go in the opposite direction and hate sex. Of course, this is an oversimplification, but you get the picture.

I chose the latter path. When I heard other married women talk about their husbands in glowing terms, I only thought about how much I hated to be touched. Going away on a romantic weekend was not my idea of a good time. These irrational feelings only made me believe even more that I was weird or that something was wrong with me. I hated to watch love scenes in movies, explicit or implied. I especially could not watch a movie that involved rape or the sexual degradation of women. I began to dress inside my closet so that my husband would not see me without clothes. Sex became torture for me. I gritted my teeth and felt actual physical pain. I cried out to God, but continued to spiral into deeper and deeper depression.

When my husband and I tried to talk about this issue I always came away feeling worse about myself than ever before. All the things he shared with me were true. He said I “should” want to be with him. I “ought” to feel the way a wife is supposed to feel. I knew all those things in my mind, but my body just would not cooperate. It really is a miracle that my husband stayed with me through all those years—a miracle, but also a great testimony of his love for me and his commitment to our marriage.

I began to derive my love and acceptance from my children instead of my husband, because my children didn’t demand any physical love from me. I turned the love that I should have had for my husband toward them. I knew that this was wrong and that I should love my husband first, but the sexual issues were too hard to overcome. My sexual problems multiplied ten times over when our daughter first started dating. I felt that I was in a pit of despair and found myself with no hope.

Then I found a counselor who helped me believe that there was hope for me. Oh, how I wanted to believe that I could be “normal” when it comes to sex. And the journey to wholeness began. Little did I know that I would have to confront dumb, stupid, ugly, unforgiveness, bitterness, and all the other pains and heartaches that I encountered along the way before I could actually start dealing with the issue of sex. Each victory over those other problems gave me strength and courage to believe that this struggle, too, would have a good outcome, and gave me hope in my future with my husband. I really could be the woman God created me to be.

Joel 2:12-13 says, ‘Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and […] return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil” (NASB).

I knew that now was the time to give myself wholly to my healing, because it involved more than just me. Only then could I claim the promise found in verses 23-25:

     So rejoice, O sons of Zion, and be glad in the LORD you God for He has given you the              early rain for your vindication. And He has poured down for you the rain, the early and        latter rain as before. The threshing floors will be full of grain, and the vats will overflow      with the new wine and oil. Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming          locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust, and gnawing locust.

But the most cherished promise of all is given in verse 26: “Then My people (including me!) will never be put to shame.” I have hope that all the years that were stripped from me will be made new and I will never again have shame!

I am ready to face this new challenge. Come with me, Friend, and He can do it for you, too.

Blessings – Lisa

Precious Gifts

Most of these blogs have been very difficult for me to write and have involved great upheaval of body, soul, and spirit. There have been a few happy thoughts sprinkled here and there among them, but the majority of these posts have dealt with me and my struggle as God worked in my life. Last week I wrote about how God worked on removing a black speck from my heart, directing me to do a difficult job which I accomplished with great love and peace. God used me to provide comfort for one in need, and then He surprised me.

Driving home that day, I reflected on how great God is and enjoyed the knowledge that I had been obedient. Feeling very tired and very happy, I pulled under my carport and discovered a gift there for me. It was my cat, the one that had been missing for two months. She sat there, looking at me as if she had never left, never disappeared from my life. She looked exactly the same—no ribs poking out, no scars or wounds—as if someone had just picked her up one day, cared for her for two months, and then gently deposited her back under my carport.

In my heart, I heard God say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Here is your reward.” What joy filled my heart! I know that this sounds crazy to some of you, but I cannot describe the love I felt at that moment flowing from my heavenly Father. I was humbled by His gift, and excited to work even harder toward my goal of a spotless heart.

Soon, I received another reward for my efforts to remove that black speck from my heart. God gave me the opportunity to minister to someone else, someone who was going through exactly the same cleansing that I had just experienced. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (NAS).

With this other struggling woman, I described my personal challenges and my depression, and explained to her about the black speck in my heart and what God had called me to do. I encouraged her to follow my example so that we could be free together. I prayed for her, and told her that I loved her, and promised to be available to her any time she felt the need to talk.

So many people had ministered to me throughout the past year. I knew that I would not have come so far in my journey without their help—without their encouragement, without their taking me to the grocery store or counseling sessions, without their believing in me when I had lost hope. They continued to be my friends even when I could not be much of a friend myself. And now God was giving me the chance to comfort someone else with the comfort He had given to me.

This was huge. Finally, I began to see that there WAS light at the end of my journey. Oh, what joy! I was finally able to look around and see the needs of others and to have words to share with them because I had been there myself.

God wants to give you precious gifts because He loves you so much. Sometimes He gives us gifts for no particular reason, and then other times He rewards us for some work we have done for His glory. And then, as we are comforted by God Himself, we are able to comfort those around us. Is there someone God wants you to comfort today? All around us are men and women who have been hurt, molested, used and abused, and who struggle with the same woes as we do. Perhaps they are traveling along journeys toward healing and need our words of encouragement. Allow God to show you today. Comfort those who need comforting. Let us do that today, because I am here to tell you that there is light at the end of this journey to healing. I can see it, just around the next bend.

Blessings – Lisa

Bam! I made the choice to love.

I spent months of my life diligently working to clean out the black spots in my heart. I dealt with forgiving others, had a few relapses, and then strove to forgive them again. That’s when I began to enjoy the benefits of the freedom that forgiveness brings. My heart was so light. I even resumed some of the activities and obligations that I had had to give up, and other people started to notice the changes in my life. I knew I was getting closer and closer to the end of my journey toward wellness. My victories were preparing me to face a big hurdle yet to come, but the end was in sight. I felt great!

Of course, that’s when God decided to work on a black speck in my heart. It was just a tiny speck, but it had to be erased like all the other black spots if I were to finish my journey. I had to deal with it face-on before I could move on. Isn’t that just like God? He cares so much for me that He doesn’t want even a speck to come between me and the freedom that He has to offer.

At this point of my healing, I thought that I had already forgiven all the people in my life who had caused me pain and against whom I had harbored ill feelings. I thought I was past that point. Unfortunately, however, there was one more relationship in my life that needed attention, and God was calling me to do more than just forgive this woman. She needed my help. Before, when I had dealt with other damaged relationships, I had been able to release the offending person to God privately, without direct confrontation. But this time, God wanted me to handle the situation in a completely different manner. He wanted me to take care of this person in her hour of need.

Wait a minute, God.

I did not love this woman, so how was I supposed to minister to her physical and emotional needs? I did not love her? This realization sparked a heart-wrenching battle.

Oh, God, You alone can help me out of this dilemma.

The situation was very painful. I had come so far, but now this new battle was threatening to send me back into the pit of despair. In fact, I went into a deep depression, so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed or get dressed. I was barely functioning. God commanded me to care for this person physically and emotionally, but my heart just wouldn’t cooperate. I wanted to be a godly woman. I wanted to be obedient. My head knew the Truth, but it hadn’t moved to my soul yet.

How can I do this? How, God? Change me!

In the fourth chapter of I John, John uses the word love in almost every line. Verse 7: “[Let] us love one another…, love is from God…, everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” Verse 8: “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” Verse 11: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Verse 12: “[I]f we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us” (NASB). On and on, John writes about love. Verse 17: “Love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence.”

Confidence: that is the word that makes the difference. I have come so far and been obedient to God for so long, and I can do it again because I have confidence that God is Faithful. By emotionally and physically ministering to this person, I can rid my heart of that troublesome black speck. Oh, what joy, what victory, what excitement!

Remarkably, this particular setback lasted only one day. That in itself was part of the victory. One day of struggling and weeping and depression, and then—bam!—I gained the confidence to love someone who, for me, was unlovable. I knew that I could follow God’s command and do it with real love. I could, and I did.

Is there some black speck in your life that God wants to work on? Give it to Him. Has He called you to do something that seems impossible? Do it. Remember your past victories and use the confidence from those victories to move forward today. Today! Don’t take another year, another month, even another week, but do it today. This is my testimony to you, Oh Friend. We can have the victory today. We may wake up defeated, but at the end of the day we can go to bed victorious. Believe it. With God’s help, we can live a victorious life.

Blessings – Lisa

From A Black Maze to A Place of Contentment

At a certain point in my counseling, I realized that I had “hit a wall” in my healing process. There was a blackness in my mind that I could not penetrate, and I felt as if some hidden thing lurking inside me was holding me in bondage. I was right on the edge of working through this obstacle, but I just could not get through the black maze. Memories were trapped there in the blackness.

My counselor advised me to create a “safe place” to which I could retreat when the time finally came that I did penetrate that blackness and begin to drive it away, a place in my mind where I could rest whenever my emotions or thoughts became too upsetting or too hard to handle. This exercise also included choosing a name for my safe place. I chose the name Contentment. According to the dictionary, contentment is the state of being contented, and contented means feeling satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation. Contentment is a feeling of calm satisfaction.

On the very day that I created my place of Contentment, after I left my counseling session, my new feeling of calm satisfaction was put to the test. When I got home, I realized that one of my pet cats was missing. You may remember that God had sent me two cats that had become sources of real joy to me, so to find that one of them was gone made me very sad. As I sat and meditated about the situation, I realized that my accustomed response to this type of challenge would have been extreme sadness accompanied by weeping and deep depression.

However, this time I felt different. I felt sad, but there was also a calmness about me. I felt contentment in the situation because my sadness was not controlling my life. I knew that I could move on and not be defeated by my extreme emotions. Some people may not consider this to be a very important thing, but to me it was a huge accomplishment. It was a great victory in my life. And I knew that my winning these battles in the small things would prepare me for the larger battles along my path to healing.

As the week progressed, I used my new place of Contentment to deal with other stressful situations, including a confrontational encounter with a difficult person. God used these opportunities to build my confidence.

In Psalm 27:1-4 He says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident” (NIV).

I may have that blackness in my mind for now, but God is the light that will shine through it. I will not fear. The Lord will be my stronghold and help me advance toward healing and wholeness. I will not be afraid. Even though emotions and bad memories try to ruin my life, attack me, and beat me down, I will be confident. God has helped me with the small battles so that I can win the big ones.

Verses 5-6 tell me, “For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in his dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” Oh what joy to be safe in His dwelling and to be on a rock, not hidden in a cave somewhere cowering from the enemy! I can declare with the Psalmist what is written in verses 13-14: “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Yes! I am confident that goodness will come out of all that I have experienced and all that I will experience in the future. But for now I must wait. I will be strong and I will wait.

Is there some difficult thing in your future that holds the key to your healing? Do you, too, need to find a safe place? What is the word that God has just for you? Rest in this assurance: God wants to keep you safe in your day of trouble. You are a victor, and God wants to set you high on a rock for all to see. Have confidence and wait on Him. Wait, and be strong.

Blessings – Lisa

Moving From My Head to My Heart

God has revealed to me that I am not a disappointment to Him, and that He loves me dearly. He has shown me that, through His Son, I can have real understanding of what is true. But these revelations came at great cost, through intense personal struggling. As I meditated on these great truths, I asked God to show me something good that has come out of all my pain and suffering.

God whispered to me to think about my prayer life and what it has become because of this adversity. He wanted me to look through my journal, paying close attention to what I had written during times of hardship, to see what had happened to my prayer life over the past few months and years. What I saw in my journal entries opened my eyes. I realized that there had indeed been times when I had lost hope, but then, somewhere along the way, I saw a change.

I have always believed in the power of prayer. I am involved with the prayer committee at my church and have helped plan prayer-emphasis services. I have been active with Moms in Prayer International (formerly Moms in Touch International) for over twenty years. For over fifteen years, I have met with the same friend to pray for our children and their schools. On many mornings, I have sat at the front window of my house and watched my daughter’s friends drive by on their way to school; they would honk their car horns at me, and I would pray for them. I strongly believe that prayer changes things.

Prayer is a form of protection against the evil forces that want to kill, steal, and destroy the world around me. But, honestly, at times my prayer life has lacked a little something. When I started my journey of deep depression, I even stopped praying altogether, apart from my regular meetings with my Moms in Prayer friend. She was so faithful and always there to keep me going. Without her, I probably would have given up that prayer time, too.

But all that had changed. It changed when prayer became not a daily habit but a daily need. I had to pray to make it through the day. I had to pray to forgive others. I had to pray against bitterness. I had to pray for the removal of my obsessive thoughts. Prayer became more personal to me, a part of my very being.

But just as I was praying for myself, I had to pray for others, especially for those who were my “enemies.” God was calling me to pray daily for those people who had hurt me and even betrayed me. Then as my healing progressed, I realized that other people around me also needed to be free from the very things that had held me captive. I began to feel a burden to pray for others who did not know God and who were facing sorrow and uncertainty. I grieved that so many people were heading down the road to doom and destruction. So I cried out to God for direction in my praying. For whom should I pray? There are so many.

First, God told me to be more diligent in praying for my family. So I started praying specific prayers for the individual, personal needs of my husband and my children and my grandchildren. I especially prayed for their character growth and their walks with the Lord.

Okay, God, who’s next? Who else needs to be lifted up?

God gave me a mission. He told me to pray for a particular group of people with whom I was indirectly involved but did not know well. I collected their names and added them to my prayer list. These were people that I knew were not saved or, if they were, were living far from their faith. I began to pray for them diligently, understanding all along that I may never know the answer to those prayers. And, this time, my heart was different.

My prayers had moved from my head to my heart. And if my prayers could help even one person find freedom in Christ then I wanted to stand in the gap for that one person. In Nehemiah 4:7 we find these words: “[A]nd the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry” (NIV). I want to be able to write in my journal one day that the gaps of unbelief are being closed and that the enemy is very angry. I want to see these young people that God has laid on my heart turn toward God and away from bondage. I want to see my family walking whole-heartedly with the Lord, too.

Friend, to what specific mission is God calling you, what task has come out of your troubled journey? Do not resist Him any longer, but ask Him what He would have you do, and then do it! Only you can fulfill the purpose that has been designed just for you. Oh, that your trials would lead you to a deeper walk with Christ. Ask Him today.

Blessings – Lisa

Caught Between a Steak and an Ear of Corn

Four days after my raging meltdown—the one caused by my belief that I was a disappointment to my husband—Satan attacked me again, trying to defeat me. He has had years of practice to perfect his insidious methods against those of us who want to change our lives and become more Christ-like. We had battled just four days earlier, and my victory was not yet complete. This time, his assault came with a twist.

At that season of my life, making menus and shopping for groceries were still very challenging for me. My husband had decided to lose some weight, and he had chosen a particular diet that required a rather specialized menu, heavy on protein and light on carbohydrates. At the same time, my daughter and I had become involved in a different program that advocated a diet full of fruits and vegetables. I had a dilemma. I felt caught between a steak and an ear of corn! Should I commit to the program I was already undertaking, or should I support my husband in his chosen path? I could not do both.

I decided to participate in the program that I was already following. But after just three days, I slipped up and started having meltdowns. The pressure of preparing, weighing, and measuring my husband’s special meals and then having to prepare my own meals overwhelmed me. I felt very disappointed with myself, and I felt that I must be disappointing my family also since I could not keep from having meltdowns. I started shutting down emotionally, giving in to the belief that my life was spinning out of my control. So I did what I had done many times before: I gave up on my diet and binged. I figured that, if I couldn’t stay on either of the diets, I would keep neither of them.

How did I go from Point A (trying to be faithful to a diet) to Point B (binge-eating) in such a short period of time? It was because I was trying to do it on my own strength. Thankfully, I realized that, instead, I needed to stop and rest in the Truth that God wanted me to see. He used this situation—this failure—to let me know that I am not a disappointment to Him. Jeremiah 17:5 says, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD” (NIV). I had been trying to start this new season in my own flesh. I later discovered that, during those days of agony, there were many “I” statements in my journal. I had taken my eyes off God and was feeling helpless and invisible, and that made me vulnerable to Satan’s attack.

Jeremiah continues in verses 7-8, “But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (NIV).

So God wants me to trust in Him fully and for my confidence to remain wholly in His love for me. He knows my heart, and whether or not I binge never causes Him to love me any more or any less. There may be a day when God requires me to fast and pray, but this particular season was not my personal time to do so. This was my time to be strengthened, to re-learn the lesson that I am not a disappointment to God. His Truth needed to be embedded more deeply into my soul and my mind.

Today in my journal, I will write I John 5:20, “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (NIV). This season in my life will be focused on the one who is true. He will give me understanding as I walk this new path of freedom. I am not a disappointment. He who is true loves me and gave His Son so that I might have eternal life.

Is there some lesson that has not yet been ingrained in your heart and mind? Let God work on your life until you fully believe all that He wants you to know. I want to be that tree that is planted firmly and bearing fruit whether there is drought or rain. What about you? Trust in the Lord. Believe. Have confidence. Know the One who is true.

Blessings – Lisa

The Truth About Me

When I first started counseling, my counselor warned me that I might experience fits of rage at times during the healing process. For years, I had repressed my anger about what had been done to me as a child, trapping it deep inside me, and it was bound to come out sooner or later. Finally, one day, my anger did come out, all because of one little word: disappointed.

Someone dear to me told me he was disappointed about something, and I felt responsible for that disappointment. But then I subconsciously twisted his words and interpreted them to mean that I was a disappointment to him. Not that I had caused disappointment, but that I was a disappointment. I took that word disappointed to heart: beyond reason, I believed that I was a disappointment to this one whom I loved.

I just went to pieces. My rage surfaced, and I reacted as I had never reacted to anything before. I screamed. I threw pillows and tore the sheets off the bed. I wept and cried loudly. My husband—the one whom I had disappointed—was there in the room with me. I had always done my crying alone, in private, but not this time. It was horrible. The rage had come because I did not want to be a disappointment, especially to my beloved husband.

I did not want to be stuck in the mire of my past. I had worked so hard at my counseling sessions and overcome so many obstacles, but here I was allowing a word like disappointed to defeat me. Oh God, will I ever measure up? Will I ever be someone worthy? My mind kept telling me that, no, I would never be anything but a disappointment. So I just curled up on the couch and tried to disappear. Thankfully, my husband found me and assured me that I was not a disappointment and that everything would be okay.

I went to the dictionary and looked up antonyms for the word disappointment and found the words boost, comfort, happiness, help, miracle, pleasure, relief, success, and wonder. And I remembered what I had learned in counseling, about asking myself, “What is the truth? What is the truth about me?” The Truth in God’s Word tells me that, yes, I will make mistakes and, yes, I will disappoint others but, to my God, I am never a disappointment.

I am not a disappointment! I am the opposite of a disappointment because I can boost other people around me, comfort those who are hurting and sad, bring happiness into the life of my family, help those who are needy, bring pleasure to God, bring relief to one who is distraught, succeed as a person of worth, and of course I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am a miracle. I may disappoint, but I am not a disappointment.

Psalms 147:3-5, 10-11 says,

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our LORD and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love (NIV).

That’s me! He heals my broken heart. He knows each star by name, so surely He cares deeply about me. He is mighty in power. I put my hope in His unfailing love, so He delights in me. Oh, how I needed to hear that, to claim the comfort of His Word as I rejected the idea that I was a disappointment.

What about you? Do you feel like a disappointment? If you are a child of God, and put your trust in Him, then the truth is just the opposite. You are not a disappointment to God. He delights in you, and He wants to heal your broken heart and bind up your wounds. So put your trust in His unfailing love today. Remember, we may disappoint, but we are never disappointments. We are precious and loved. Dwell on that truth today. Believe it and walk in victory!

Blessings – Lisa

Someone To Run To In Times Of Stress

In times of stress, I used to run away from reality, to a place in my mind where a certain imaginary person lived. This imaginary person was smart and pretty and talented, the kind of woman I wanted to be. She had exciting adventures and the freedom and self-confidence to come and go as she pleased. She was a version of “me” that I had created as an escape from my fears and troubles.

The problem with this woman, though, was that she was never the hero but always a victim. Whenever I visited her in my mind, she suffered some terrible physical trauma, a different pain-filled scenario each time. How strange that this person would get hurt over and over again, never finding peace and rest. She was my creation, but I had made her vulnerable and victimized rather than strong and victorious. Why would I continually run to this person and dwell on hurtful things? Was this “me” the embodiment of how I pictured myself, as a woman who deserved evil instead of good?

Before I started counseling, during my most depressing days, I often longed to go to bed early or to stretch out on the couch just so that I could go to the place in my mind where I could find this woman, this woman who was so real to me. With counseling, though, I retreated to this place in my mind less and less, almost to the point of forgetfulness. I no longer needed this place, so it was no longer real to me.

Then one day something happened to upset me, and in reaction I fled to this place and this person in my mind. And it was almost as if I were seeing them for the first time. I had forgotten about them, but here I was returning to them in my time of despair. What a shock! I knew that this was not what I wanted in my life. I was alarmed to think that what I had been experiencing might not even be normal. I was so confused.

Then God in His awesomeness gave me a clear picture of my predicament. He used one of my favorite movies, The Two Towers from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the character Sméagol/Gollum to illustrate what had been going on in my life. As Sméagol/Gollum waged war with himself, battling to determine whether the good personality or the evil personality would prevail, I recognized that the same sort of battle had been going on inside of me for years. It was a vivid image. In one scene, “good” Sméagol triumphed over his bitter nemesis, and his freedom was joyous. But in a later scene, when Sméagol/Gollum perceived that he had been hurt by a friend, the “evil” Gollum supplanted tender Sméagol. According to Gollum, he—and not Sméagol—had been right all along.

That had happened to me! I had been doing so well with counseling, having victories left and right until—Bam!—a bump in the road. I had experienced an emotional trauma, and I had gone running back to that other “me” in my mind. I had gone running back to bondage and hurt, where there was no peace and no rest. Why would I do that? Perhaps I did it because it was what I had always done. But finally, I saw that this was not good and not right for my life. But what was I to do? Oh, God, help me!

Once again God came to my rescue. He spoke to me through the words of a song on the radio. The song talked about how the very air I breathe is what it feels like to have God’s presence living inside of me, and how desperate and lost I would be without this presence. I realized that the other “me” was not who really lived inside of me.

Now, the other, very real person living in my life is the Holy Spirit, and He wants only good things for me. And I am lost without Him. Now, when bad things happen, I can run to Him.

How about you? People have hurt us and violated our lives, but we can run to the One Who loves us so much. Let’s do that today. Come with me. Let us find rest and peace in Him alone.

2 Corinthians 3:17 says it best: “Now the LORD is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom)” (Amplified). Only after we realize and believe that the Spirit is within us will we be truly free. Then, our freedom will be joyous!

Blessings – Lisa

From Despair to Hope

My word for the day: despair. I still battle with despair—weeping and sorrowing because sometimes it seems that I will never be able to change who I am inside. And today I am so very tired. I have shut down, and I cannot feel any real emotions. I walk around, doing what needs to be done, but I know that I should be enjoying the people around me—the people I love and cherish so much. I am doing what I usually love to do. I am cooking for and serving those who mean the most to me. But on the inside I am numb. I do not understand feeling this way, and I do not like it. Even as I write this, tears are in my eyes for the despair that I feel. I want to be alive inside and not numb!

I plead with God to give me a sign, to give me some hope, to give me the strength to continue my walk on the path to wholeness. But the tears are falling and falling as despair washes over me again. Oh, God, what is there for me now, in this moment? And now my tears are slowing to a stop. God has brought me a glimmer of hope. He reminds me of a recent road trip through the Southwest.

On that drive through the desert, I saw myself in the terrain around me. I saw desolation in the barren rocks, thorny cactus, and general nothingness all around me. My heart felt just like that desert. I felt hard like the rocks and prickly like the cactus. I felt empty. The relentless desert wind made driving difficult. The wind blew and blew. It reminded me of all the things in my life that were beyond my control. Circumstances in my life were blowing me from here to there, making it hard to navigate. There were situations that made me feel sad and helpless, situations that I didn’t want to face or even to think about. These things were like the wind that just kept blowing.

Then there were the road signs along the highway, signs I had never seen before in my life. One of the signs read, “Zero Visibility Possible.” Really? I’m supposed to keep driving even when I cannot see? Yet that’s what the signs instructed me to do, to drive and not to stop even with zero visibility. And that’s exactly what I felt was going on in my life. I was traveling down a road I had never been on before, and sometimes I could not see where I was going, but I had to keep moving. Keep getting up, keep getting dressed, keep cooking, keep cleaning, keep loving the precious ones around me, keep living.

On this same road trip I saw an ominous black cloud that appeared to touch the ground right beside my car. It was heavy and oppressive, and I felt as if I could get lost in it. It was an amazing sight. I had never seen a cloud so black and so close. To me, it represented the storm that was going on in my life. I feared that the black cloud in my personal desert might cover me up or take me away. I cried out to God as despair threatened to crush me again.

But then, in the distance—down the road, past the cloud—I saw it. I couldn’t believe it. I saw a rainbow, but not just any rainbow. This rainbow that God had sent me was huge, enormous, the biggest rainbow I had ever seen! On the flat desert landscape, the rainbow stretched from horizon to horizon, filling up the entire sky with huge, bright bands of vivid color. I was amazed. I was awestruck. It was a rainbow for me.

So I looked again at the desert terrain, this time with different eyes. God showed me His truths using the cactus. I saw some cacti blooming and others standing firm against the relentless wind. I saw strength and beauty, even in the desolate desert, and I was reassured that I would find strength and beauty even in this difficult, stormy time of my life. I knew that I must remember the rainbow and cling to the belief that new life would once again fill my heart.

What about you? Are you going through a season of despair and sorrow as you read this? Let us look at Isaiah 35:1: “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom: it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy” (NIV). I have been allowing the enemy to taunt me and oppress me, but today I am going to remember that rainbow and praise my God. I put my hope in God, that one day I will be able to stand firm like the cactus and bloom beautifully in the desert. I will not allow the winds to blow away my hope.

Hey, let’s go through the desert together. Let’s keep going, even when there’s zero visibility. Let’s bloom where God has placed us. And always, let us keep our eyes on the rainbow. It fills the whole sky. Look at how beautiful it is! And it’s for us.

Blessings – Lisa

It’s a Team Effort: No One Has to Journey Alone

As you may have noticed, I have not posted any blogs for the past few weeks. That is because my life has been so very busy, so busy that I have not even had time to think. I have been writing reminders to myself that I need to sit down and blog, but the notes just kept getting pushed to the next day, then the next day, and so on and on, and now it has turned into three weeks of no writing. Finally, after hearing a sermon and a Sunday school lesson about recognizing what God has called me to do and then actually doing it, I have finally made the time to sit and think about what I want to share.
Stress. This is my word for today. Last week when I got my hair cut, my hairdresser noticed that I had become quite a bit more white-headed since my last visit. Really? I first started getting white hairs years ago while potty-training one of my children, and my hairdresser at that time noticed and asked me what was going on in my life. I guess that when I get super stressed, white hairs start popping out of my frazzled head where my brain is living on overload. For years after discovering those first white hairs, I colored my hair. I wasn’t really aware of how stress affected my hair until I stopped coloring it, and then I found that the white was just there, coming along steadily. But apparently the stress of the past few months has made those white hairs start multiplying quickly again.
That stress has affected my life in other ways as well. Not only have I not blogged during the last few weeks, but I have had no time for counseling either, and that is not good for me right now in this time of my life. Without my regular counseling, I had lost the boundaries that were meant to protect me from exploitation, and as a result I felt as if I were losing myself. It is amazing how quickly I can go downhill. So exhausted, allowing myself to run ragged meeting the needs of others, I realized I needed to stop the running around. I needed to go to counseling, and I needed to get back to a normal life (whatever “normal” really means).
So, one of the first things I wanted and needed to do was to blog. Writing has helped me so much. While I have not really been able to talk with others about what is going on in my life, for some reason I can write about it. And my counselor has taught me that sharing my journey on my blog will help others like me, others who may feel weird or afraid or alone.
In Sunday school we studied about Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem. Two things spoke to me. The first thing is found in Nehemiah 4:2b: “Can they bring these burnt stones back to life from the mounds of rubble?” (CSB). Sometimes I feel as if my insides are full of burnt stones that can never be more than just mounds of rubble. Can I ever be healed? Will I ever go back to an ordinary life again?
The second revelation was how often the word we is used in Chapter 4 of Nehemiah. The rebuilding of the city wall was a group effort; it was not something that could be done by any one person alone. As I keep on this white-haired, stressful journey to wholeness, I am thankful that I do not have to do it alone. I have a counselor, a loving and supportive family, a church family, and friends. They are willing to help me restore my life, pray with me, and stand by me as I rebuild the wholeness that I am working toward.
What about you? I hope and pray that you also have a support group that will help you on your journey to freedom and wholeness. If you don’t, please find some safe people who will stand by you and help you as the enemy comes against you. For there is an enemy who wants to burn up your life. But as believers we have the resources to rebuild our lives from the rubble that he has strewn all around inside us. Friend, I am on your side, I understand what you are going through, and I am praying for you right now.
Blessings – Lisa