Tuesday, December 29, 2009

God's Healing

The house is completely quiet tonight. The girls are with their Dad for a week and I’m alone and actually enjoying the peace a bit. What a difference a year makes. Last year was my first Christmas by myself and it was difficult to say the least. I cried a lot twelve months ago, longing for my past life and wishing things had never changed. I felt like I had been robbed…my life was stolen from me and I was bereft and lonely.

Circumstantially my life is pretty much the same as last year, I’m still a single mom spending part of the holidays alone, but it’s different – God has healed my broken places in ways that I could have only hoped for. I can’t really say exactly when the changes occurred, only that during times praying, reading, journaling and time being still or talking with friends, I began seeing myself the way that God sees me. For some time I had viewed myself as boring and average and somewhere along the way I started believing that I was somehow less than everyone around me. As God has peeled back layer upon layer of insecurity and lies, I have started seeing the beginning of a strong character. It was there all along, but I needed some help uncovering it.

I remember some time last year, one of my friends asked me what my dreams were for the future. I didn’t have an answer; I was still in survival mode at that point. Dreams? Dreams were for other women whose lives were more conventional than mine. I was 45 and starting over but with no dreams.

This past week I got to spend time with my family and I was able to have a couple of very good conversations. I was talking to my brother about some things I had hopes for – possible career goals that I’m considering and the dream of possibly writing a book. A year earlier I had cried as he held me because my children weren’t with me and I was completely at a loss as to how to survive the holidays, let alone the future. Now I’m seeing dreams beginning to form.

Psalm 30:1-3
1 I will exalt you, O LORD,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
2 O LORD my God, I called to you for help
and you healed me.
3 O LORD, you brought me up from the grave [b] ;
you spared me from going down into the pit.

I can only attribute this change to God. He is healing me – sparing me from the pit and desiring to lift me up out of the depths of my life circumstance and view. So on this quiet night, I am grateful for a Father full of compassion and power that can redeem a life and a heart and fill them with dreams and hope.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I had a rough day with one of my children yesterday. She has become very disrespectful to me over a period of time and because I am busy and so often overwhelmed already, I have not dealt with this behavior in her. To my shame, I have not taken the time to teach her how important it is to respect people that God has put in authority over us. Yesterday it became apparent how badly I need to take care of this issue. We argued, I became frustrated, we yelled at each other and the day was shot. There were lots of tears and at the end of a long conversation I apologized to my daughter for not being a better parent and allowing her to continue in this behavior. And we talked about how I forgave her, but there would be consequences as a result of her lack of respect (as there will be on my end too, I suspect).

We have been talking about David in a series at church. Last week and today the focus of the sermon was on David’s sin with Bathsheba and the fall-out from that choice. The pastor spoke about the difference between forgiveness and consequence. So many times we sin, realize that we were wrong and then repent and are forgiven. The problem is that we think that the situation is then over. It could well be, or we could be forgiven and yet to experience the consequences of our sin. I believe this to be a bigger issue in our lives than we realize. Our sin, does in fact, breed consequences, even when we are completely broken and stand in a right relationship with God.

David’s life is such an example of this concept. After he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had Uriah her husband murdered he was confronted by the prophet Nathan. (This takes place in 2 Samuel chapters 11-12) After David’s conversation with Nathan he is obviously repentant and broken of his sin. If you read in Psalms 51, his prayer of repentance after this talk, he begs God for mercy, realizes his sinfulness and desires a renewed sprit and heart. David understood the depth of his sin, but he also suffered the consequences for that sin in the years to follow.

In 2 Samuel 12:13-14 the Bible says, “Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD."
Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die."

The prophet Nathan, sent by God to have this conversation with David tells David the cost of his sin – his son will die. In fact, over the years David buries four of his own children. The consequences for him were huge even though he was forgiven.

There is something in our finite brain that struggles with this concept of consequence. We try to teach it to our children by disciplining them for their poor behavior, and yet I wonder if we really understand it ourselves as it relates to our Father. God forgives us (given we are truly repentant) and loves us deeply, but allows our sinful actions to play out in our lives. David was still used by God, loved by God and honored in the Bible as a man whose heart was like that of God, even while he suffered the penalty of the sinful choices he made. It will be the same for me, for my daughter and for all of us as we strive to be righteous and yet realize that part of the lessons we learn in this life will involve learning to deal with the fall-out from poor choices we have made along the way. I’m thankful that my Father loves me regardless, as I do my daughter, and will give me the strength to deal with even the consequences of my own poor decisions.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

God's Answer To Locusts

I recently sat down with someone who shared with me how she felt after living in an abusive marriage for many, many years. She’s never been physically bruised, but emotionally she is a battered woman – and has the emotional scars to prove it. She began telling me about Joel 2:25-26 and how this verse gave her hope about a future full of promise and hope. I hadn’t read this verse before but it spoke to me as well. This verse is about loss – and then the blessings poured out by God to redeem those losses.

Joel 2:25-26 (New International Version)
25 "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm —
my great army that I sent among you.
26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.

Living in an abusive relationship or even living through a time of great loss is like an attack of locusts. Your heart is decimated until there is nothing left and you feel as barren and lifeless as land pillaged by locusts. But, God being a compassionate Father, longs to comfort us and redeem our loss. I’ve seen this in my own life as he has poured our blessing upon blessing after what was a time marked by loss in many areas. I particularly love the last line in verse 26 which says, “never again will my people be shamed.” I felt shame for a long time, but as God kept pouring gifts into my life, I felt less and less shame and began feeling protected and cared for.

As I spoke with my friend she began describing life after leaving that abusive relationship. She described it as being in black and white and stepping into a gradual technicolor display of beauty or being set free from prison – and appreciating the world and everything in it so much more. Because of God’s grace shown to her through the support of her friends and family, she is blossoming into the person God has always intended for her to be. I’m glad I get to witness this transformation and am so grateful to be able to serve a God who desires to see us fulfilled and take away our shame.

The day after my conversation with her, I thought a lot about all that she had said –the heartache of the abuse and the freedom that she is now experiencing, and I wrote this poem for her. She asked me to share it on my blog in the hopes that someone may read it who is in an abusive relationship and they will be freed from bondage too.

The devastation complete
My soul stripped bare and naked
Coming to my senses
At this late stage
I am but a shell of who I should be
My heart has been
Invaded and pillaged,
Leaving desolation and grief
But all that has been stolen from me
is not my undoing

Your offering of freedom
Stirs my soul
And I grasp at the gift
With my whole heart
Desperate for the liberation
Which you freely offer
My heart, once held captive
By the heavy chains of emotional bondage
Chose to escape
And hope embraces me

Today I stand in the midst of beauty
With tear filled eyes
Astonished by your gracious display of
Unconditional love
The sounds, sights and feelings
Of sweet redemption
Are overwhelming to my sated heart
I raise my hands and eyes
To praise you
As I stand transformed