Hope, Encouragement, Love, and Direction for Women and marriages wounded by sexual sin.

I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will uphold you with My victorious right hand.~ Isaiah 41:10

Monday, October 20, 2014

Go for the Porcupine By: Jackie

Something really struck me as I sat listening to a speaker.  He said, 'would you rather get rid of the quill, or the whole porcupine'?  Now, that's taken out of context, so let me enlighten you.  What he was talking about, at least the way I took it, was dealing with the surface issue or the root.  

So, let's say someone hurts you, in a big way.  If you're like me, you have to wrestle with not taking offense.  It's painful.  Do you want to deal with the quill or the whole porcupine? Ok, let's take it to an extreme - let's say someone violates you sexually. Now, that's a tough one - it not only messes with you physically, but mentally & spiritually, and, as in my case, it messed with me for many years to come and on into my marriage.  Now, that's pretty painful - the quill, or the whole porcupine?  Do you see it?  The enemy is so intentional about wanting to mess us up!  Our knee-jerk reaction is to put a bandaid on the pain (quill) and not to deal with the root (the porcupine).  We just want to do whatever it takes to give us relief from our pain.

Sometimes dealing with the whole porcupine can take time - its a process, but its so much better than putting a bandage on the wound and ignoring the infection underneath. Jesus know's our wounds intimately and He alone will help us navigate our way through the pain.  He never meant for us to deal with it alone - no matter what it is.

Another thing that I believe the enemy throws at us is distraction. Distraction keeps us from dealing with the 'real' junk inside, which, when dealt with, leads to freedom in Christ and awesome spiritual growth.  The enemy knows exactly what he's doing when he's distracting us - it's something he uses more than we realize.  

Let's be bold and not fight the painful things that come into our lives. Let's not allow them to be distractions either - getting our focus off of Christ.  But rather, let's allow God to use them in our lives as a tool of self-acceptance & recovery in us as followers of a loving God.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

{Keys to Unlocking God's Power in your Circumstance} Key 2: Trust

Have you ever had a relationship with a person where real trust was present? Where even when something seemed, off, your relationship was what you leaned on, more than the circumstances surrounding it? I have someone like that in my life. A dear friend, who is constantly moving forward with the Lord in ways that I don't always understand. The faith leaps she takes make no sense in the physical realm, but in the spiritual- they are profound on a world changing level.  Even in the times where she is jumping off a cliff and I think she is crazy- I will go forward with her simply because of our history together. I trust her heart and have seen over and over that the things God tells her ARE from him and do bring breakthrough. We have established a pattern of trust from doing life together. We have established a pattern of trust, because we know each other's hearts and gifts and we can testify that they are aligned with the heart of God.
It isn't always easy to trust, especially when we have been wounded. Our natural response after wounding is almost always self protection. When someone lets me down, the natural would be to build up a wall so it doesn't happen again. When someone misleads or mis-commuicates, the natural response would be for me to get offended and not trust them ever again. Or how about when a particular group has let you down more than once? So many women that I work with, have a grudge against all men, because they have had a pattern of being let down by them.
It is the human response to put up a wall and protect ourselves, and so often, we subconciously project those things onto the Lord. We put up walls with him and even feel the need to protect ourselves from his sovereignty. When man lets us down, we too often jump to the assumption that "God let it happen, therefore he let me down too".
In order for God to do a powerful transforming work in our lives, we have to Trust him. If we don't trust someone, we don't let them close, and if the Lord can't come close to us, we will not see the fullness of his goodness in our lives.
So I ask this question. Have you established a pattern of trust with the Lord? Even when people let you down and hard things happen in your life, has he ever abandoned you? So why do we assume he will THIS time?
Has he ever let you totally fall on your face for no purpose? Than why do we assume that this time, our crisis is meaningless and no good could possibly come out of it?
God uses the hard circumstances in our lives, to build history. I look over my years of trauma, and see that even though people let me down, I have a history that was build with the Lord, where he proved himself to be trustworthy. And now, just like with my friend, I can take leaps with him, because we are close. We have a history that tells me I can walk these difficult things out in PERFECT PEACE, because he has never let me down.
One of my favorite verses of all time is Deuteronomy 31:8 "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

No matter what you are going through presently, reflect on your history with the Lord. And lean on that in the moments you find it hard to trust. He won't let you go, he will fight for you, you don't have to be afraid. And as you trust him, watch and see your heart change. The fear and discouragement gets replaced with faith, hope, and peace. It isn't always easy, the enemy will fight to take those things away again, but keep your focus on The Lord, and the truth of who he has always been for you, and let him restore your trust.

Seasons~ A message from Jackie

As our 'seasons' are changing from summer to fall, it makes me think about life and how it seems to be made up of 'seasons', one that leads into another. It isn't until we look back that we see how they fit.  Often, at the time, they seem to make no sense. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us that, 'There is a time for everything, and a 'season' for every activity under heaven;' and it goes on the list several things that there are 'seasons' for. You can even look at a life, from birth to death, in 'seasons' - spring, summer, fall & winter. To break it down even more, within the 'seasons', are 'phases'. - shorter than a 'season', but no less meaningful - sometimes even more so.  

All this to say, all of us go through trials, hardships, difficulties, flat out really hard and unwanted things in our lives.  We may shake our fists at God, and ask why?  I think,more specifically, but not limited to, those that have endured the hardship of sexual abuse.  I have endured this one myself, and I have had to deal with the fallout.  I have asked God why?!!!!  Now that I am older, looking back I see that God has revealed Himself in many ways through the sexual abuse. I see that this was a 'season', and even a phase in my life that God used for good - His good. You couldn't have convinced me that God would bring good out of it at the time, but our God is always faithful.  The journey of restoration - I won't sugarcoat it - it was difficult. But it's the difficulties that God uses to mold & shape us.  I guess I feel that I wouldn't jump at the chance to go through it all again, but I wouldn't trade what God has done in my life for anything.  

These 'seasons' in our lives God will use to make us into who He wants us to be, if we will let Him.  Otherwise, it's all for nothing, and what a tragedy that would be.  Make the 'seasons' in your life count for Christ.  Yield everything - the sweet, the ugly, all of the 'seasons and phases' that make up your life, yield it all to the Lord Jesus Christ. He will make your life something beautiful!  I promise.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

All In~ A message from Jackie

As I sit down to write this blog for the month of July, the words ‘All In’ come to my mind.  As usual, I really don’t know why, but also, as usual, I know that those words mean something in someone’s life!  I know they mean something in my life.  

I have been examining my life lately, mostly in the spiritual realm. I have felt the Holy Spirit also looking at the things in my life, right along with me - helping me to sort out what is necessary and what needs to go - what can be useful for the Kingdom, and what isn’t.  After some examination, I think to myself, ‘am I ‘All In’’?  What I mean by asking myself that question is, ‘is part of me in relationship with the world and part of me trying to be in relationship with the Lord’?  I’m being very transparent here because I had an experience over these past 2 weeks that I don’t really want to have again.  Let me explain....

I’ve received a wonderful deliverance & healing from sexual abuse and promiscuity in my past just not too long ago thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ!  Now, this healing didn’t just drop in my lap. For me it was a process - and once this healing took root down inside of me, I needed to start living it & walking it out in faith. Well, over the course of the previous 2 weeks, the enemy began to get a foothold. By that I mean, I began to take my eyes off God and look at the things around me, etc. It was so subtle, I didn’t even realize it was happening until - BOOM - I found myself slipping back to where I was before receiving my healing.  It was an ugly place to be and I don’t want to go back there.  God taught me some things - namely, about being ‘All In’. God showed me that I need to be ‘All In’ with Him in order to maintain this healing or I am done for.  His grace and mercy are always mine, but when I take my eyes off the promise of that grace and mercy, I lose out on a lot!!!  I need to keep it before me at all times - that’s what it is to walk it and live it out.  I learned a lesson. I need my Savior every moment of every day. I am a needy person and I don’t have a problem admitting that.  I need God’s grace & mercy flowing in and through me at all times.  I thank God for His goodness and longsuffering.  He has these things for us all.  Are you ‘All In’?  If not, do some examining of your own. Ask for the help of the Holy Spirit in sorting out what needs to go in your life and what God can use for the Kingdom.  The Holy Spirit will gently help you in this process.  Maybe you’re like me & you’ve allowed the enemy to gain some ground into a place where he has no right to. Go to God & ask for forgiveness & His help in taking back what is rightfully yours.  Most of all, keep your eyes on Jesus. That’s the only way to be ‘All In’.

Thank you,
Jackie

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Believe - By Jackie H.

My blog this month is entitled simply, ‘Believe’. As I was praying about what to write this month, this is what the Lord tucked in my heart. It begs the question, ‘do you believe’? That can be a loaded question, but I will be more specific - do you believe that God can heal your brokenness? You might be believing that you’re not worthy more than you might be believing that God can't heal your brokenness. I have been there, and quite honestly, can still struggle with that same lie sometimes. 

If you are a victim of sexual abuse, you feel that brokenness and know what I’m talking about. The thing is, we are all broken and need God’s touch - the healing that only the Savior can give.  

In Hebrews 11:6 it states that, ‘without faith it is impossible to please God...’, but the good news is that we all have at least a tiny bit of faith to offer! Matthew 17:20 says that,’...if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it WILL move. Nothing will be impossible for you’. (emphasis mine)  God is saying that all you have to have is a little bit of faith in order to believe and it releases His power to do whatever is needed in your circumstances.  

If you have been a victim of sexual abuse of some kind, low self-esteem (unworthiness), is often times an unwanted traveling companion on this journey of healing. So, once again, I ask - ‘do you believe’??
God believes in you and He alone has all the healing you need. You’re not too far gone, your sin is not too great to be forgiven, you are not unworthy. I would encourage you to believe with that mustard seed of faith that’s inside of you. God will meet you where you’re at. Let the healing begin!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

{Keys to Unlocking God's Power in your Circumstance} Key 1: Prayer

When faced with the question "What is your heart for this ministry in one sentence?" I had to sit and think for a minute. How do you express a heart that is burning for freedom and revival in one sentence?? My answer was so true, but almost shocked me, "For people to understand their role in their own story, no matter how big the hurts, that they would understand that the Lord wants to transform every trauma into a story of a life consumed, and redeemed by the power of our savior." 
I am not going to lie, I am seriously considering changing the mission statement of Held Ministries after I heard that answer come out of my mouth! It really expresses the heart of the Father in heaven and what he has asked of this ministry.
So, what does that mean for you, his precious child? How do you come to understand your role in your own story. The first step is for you to understand this...
God did NOT create ANYONE to be a victim. 
I love this verse, where the Lord tells us so clearly, that because of his love, we can do anything....
In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37
The Lord didn't carry you through that trial so that you could sit around feeling depressed or hopeless for the rest of your life.
I wanted to do that for a long time, I pushed everyone away because there was no way they could understand my pain, I sat and waited for my life to get better, but guess what...it never did. It wasn't until I decided to be an active participant in my own life change, that I saw the truth in that scripture... "I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)
That looks different for everyone but there are a couple keys that you need to have during this process and today we will talk about the first one...

Prayer changes anything and everything
As christians we are really, really good at saying that, but not so good at believing it. So often I would pray from a hopeless place, where the words were coming out of my mouth, but I didn't really believe that God would do anything. How that lie robs God's children. It breaks my heart that satan constantly convinces us that we are powerless and that we pray to a distant God who may or may not care about our plea....WE NEED to grasp the truth about God's heart toward his children.

" This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him." 1st John 5:14-15
We are his precious children, and not only does he long to answer our prayers, but there is so much power in bringing the things that weigh on our heart to the Lord. Whether it has been my marriage, my kids behavior, my hurts from churches letting me down, my family drama, WHATEVER, God has shown me that when I become an active participant in prayer, I get to take a front row seat to what God is about to do. Every time, EVERY TIME, I have seen God answer my prayers, it's not always the way I wanted, but it has always been BETTER than what I could ask for, because it was his will, which is best for me. 
I will leave you with one example, that is probably close to the hearts of many of you who struggle with changes or hurts in your church...

There was a change coming in my church, and I didn't like it. I was angry, and grieving because someone I loved very much was leaving. Now yes, they were following God's call on their life, but I was still selfishly angry and hurt. I was mostly angry at God. In my mind, my church was going to go down the tubes now. Where was God's protection? Why hadn't he been answering my prayers for my church, this was in fact the opposite to what I had been praying for!! 
Well, without going into a million details, I went home and cried out to God in my anger, but because I immediately went to my heavenly father, he rewarded me with an answer. "Lauren, Trust me. You have prayed far to long for my will in this church, and you need to trust that I am working out my will right now, even though it hurts." 
Amazing, anger instantly melted, a heart of trust began to wait expectantly for the goodness of God to show up in my church. And let me tell you, it has. I miss my friend, pastor, mentor, family...but I have seen God move my church forward in ways I never, ever imagined possible. I sit in awe on almost a daily basis at the Good things God has done in this church, even through the pain of loss. 
Now- do you see the key? There are so many who have not asked for God's perspective in their situation, and so they sit in anger, hurt, disillusionment, and shaken trust. They are victims to their own lack of perspective. We need God's perspective for the hard situations we are walking through. If we don't ask for it, how will we get his heart? How will we have his peace without his perspective?? Ask Him...Ask him for his heart toward that thing that you are walking through, be willing to listen for his answer and TRUST him even if the answer isn't what you wanted to hear. My next post will talk about the 2nd key which is that TRUST relationship that we need to have with Jesus to be able to walk free from the seat of a victim, but today, practice the first key to your freedom. PRAY. Ask the Lord to do amazing things through the painful situation you are in. Keep praying, don't give up, the answer often comes more quickly than we expect. 
When we pray, what we are doing is letting God do all the leg work in our circumstance and letting him change our hearts in the process. :)










Friday, April 18, 2014

A message from Jackie~Ask for help!


The after effects of a negative sexual experience are long-reaching.  However, at the time of the abuse, we give no thought to how it may affect our future - either as the victim or of the perpetrator.   For many, even after several years go by, it can be difficult to put two-and-two together and realize why you feel or react certain ways that you know are not “normal”.  That’s how it was for me.  It can also be difficult, if some time has passed, to get some console, simply because so much time hapassed. 
 When I first seriously began reaching out for help, I had no idea what I really was asking help for.  I just knew I was “stuck” - meaning I had gone around and around this mountain so many times, in my own flesh, and it brought me back to the same old place I was before.  It was like banging my head against a wall - very frustrating!  God know’s our heart and His timing is always perfect.  I have learned to trust that about Him.  He is always faithful. 
 I called on someone who was wise, knowledgeable and had “been in my shoes” so to speak.  I came across this person in the oddest way!  When this person learned about me, my history and where I was at today, she used the same word to describe my situation: stuck!  She is my mentor and because of the odd way way God brought her into my life, I know she is God’s chosen way to help me on this journey of healing. 
 Healing is a journey that is both painful and joyful at the same time.  It is work, but God will be in total control, if we let Him.  He leads us into unexpected places that we never knew needed healing, but are so glad God decided He needed to touch that area of our lives. If my story sounds like yours, I urge you, if you haven’t already, to get some sound, Christian help.  You have a spiritual problem that only God can fix.  Your symptoms may be anger, withdrawal, low self-esteem, keeping your spouse at arm’s length, not trusting men in general, insecurity, and so on.  These symptoms can be wide ranging.  My healing is not complete yet.  It comes in pieces.  But as I have learned to look to God and trust Him, He meets me at every baby step I take.  This idea of trust in this area of my life is new to me, and I sense that God’s plan is calling for me to take it slow.  His plan for me many not be the same as it is for you or someone else.  He tailors it for each person.  He know’s your needs better than you do!
 If you need assistance in finding help, feel free to contact me.  I will do my best to help you.  If you just need someone you can relate to, please get in touch with me.  I will be happy to email with you.  Most of all, don’t keep it to yourself.  I remember someone once sharing with me a quote - and I’ve never forgotten it: “A secret exposed loses its power”.  Take that step, and (appropriately) expose your secret and let God set you on the path to freedom!
~Jackie

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The power of Prayer- LINK

A friend, emailed me this article/devotional entry from world challenge, and I want to share it with all of you. This entry speaks to the spiritual attack that is at the root of so many failing marriages and it reminds us that our real weapon is PRAYER!
Let us take this seriously and begin to pray. But not just once or twice....Let us begin to wield the ONE AND ONLY weapon that will actually help us defeat the things coming against our marriages and fast, pray-fervently, and never cease going to the LORD for the answers we need!

http://sermons.worldchallenge.org/en/node/27040?src=devo-email

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Self Fulfilling Prophecy

How many people do you have in your life that speak life, encouragement, and belief over you? I have a few and I am so thankful that God has given me those people...But there were years and years when I honestly needed them the most, that I had none. And my husband had no one either. To this day, I am not really sure who those people are for my husband, but I know that he has one....
That one is intentional, that one does it on purpose, that one believes in the power of speaking life over him...that one is ME. 
Some of you might think that it is irrelevant to you to speak life over your husband because he isn't worthy of your kind words or affirmation, or because he has hurt you too much. It is relevant...and I am living proof that it is possible for a person to humble themselves to the point of encouraging the very person who hurts them the most. 
See, I would pray things for myself and my husband all the time..."God, make him love me" 
"God, help him become the leader of our home"
"God, help him to be a better man and run after you"
"God, make or marriage strong"
Unfortunately, because of the pain that had been mounting for years, even when Ray did make small steps forward into the things I prayed for, it was never good enough...I didn't see it as the answer to prayer that it was, and I certainly never praised him or affirmed him. 
Have you ever heard of self fulfilling prophecy? The urban dictionary defines it as this...

Positive or negative expectations about circumstances, events, or people that may affect a persons behavior toward them in a manner that he or she (unknowingly) creates situations in which those expectations are fulfilled. 
In other words, causing something to happen by believing it will come true
When I began to realize the power of the words I speak, I began to change how I spoke to my husband. See, the longer I spoke failure, frustration, and disappointment over Ray, the longer I saw him live a life of a frustrated, disappointed, Failure. He believed he was those things, thus he acted as one of those people. 
But when the Lord got ahold of my heart, showed me the power of my tongue, and challenged me to not only pray for the man I wanted Ray to become, but speak that over and about him, I began to see change in the way my husband acted. 
Am I asking you to lie? No!
Am I asking you to speak things that are manipulative? NO, I think your husband will see through that anyway!
Here is what I did...Remember some of those prayers I was praying? 
That Ray would love me...Even when it was the tiniest thing..If it spoke love on any level, I would thank him and tell him that it made me feel loved. 
That Ray would be the leader of our home...This one makes me laugh, because of how wrong I got it for so long. I am embarrassed to say that while I prayed for this, I would never let Ray do it, I was too busy being in control. But, as the Lord began to convict me for this, I began to let Ray make more decisions for our family, I began to ask his opinion more often, and when he did take leadership roles on, not only would I get out of the way, I would praise him for the great job he did do. Now...another embarrassing confession....I still have to work REALLY hard on this one, because of the natural born leader I am, it takes a lot of work for me to let my husband lead, but with God's help. I am getting better one step at a time...
That Ray would be a better man and run after God...When I see Ray spending time with the Lord, I feel safe, and it is the most attractive thing to me...SO I TELL HIM! 
When ray does things that are full of integrity, are thoughtful, or generous, I praise the living daylights out of him. Now ladies, don't tell me your husbands never do these things!! They are not pure evil, and most likely you are married to a good man, who just has some real struggles. So find those things, you won't have to dig as hard as you think, as long as you are asking the Lord to help you see them. It is all about letting Jesus open your eyes to the good things about your husband. 
If you are thinking...I am not going to do this, he doesn't deserve it!! 
Let me tell you the results I saw..I saw a man who was covered in shame and felt like a failure, begin to gain confidence again. He began to think that the traits I pointed out, were part of who he really was. The more I believed in him, the more he believed in himself. The more I loved him...The more he began to truly love me. I know it will take some dying to yourself, and it won't always feel natural, but I promise you the results are worth it. The prayers you pray, and the man you dream of will start to become reality if you speak those things over and to him. The more negativity you speak, the more negative results you will have, but as you speak life, you will see the Lord bring life back into your marriage. The things you speak...have power. Self fulfilling prophecy is not a joke, it even biblical. The things you speak over your spouse will be the things you reap in your marriage. Here are some verses to help you along the way! 


The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. ~Proverbs 18:21


And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. ~Mark 11:2-24




Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. ~Matthew 10:39












For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak. ~Matthew 12:35-36

















Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A New Story of Transformation

I am so excited and honored when God uses this ministry to touch the lives of others. THOSE stories are what often push me forward on the days when the calling God has placed on my life seems overwhelming. Recently I not only learned of one particular transformation, but was so honored to have this life-long friend offer to partner with Held Ministries. She has an abundance of wisdom to share in an area that I have less experience in, and she is a gifted communicator. 
We have had the joy to meet many women whose wounds are different from mine, but follow a similar theme….women who have been raped. I am so excited that Jackie is going to be blogging once a month, specifially with the goal of ministering to these individuals-although we will all glean great wisdom and hopefully be inspired in our own journeys. 

Here is the first part of her journey……

My name is Jackie. I am 53 years old. I have been a Christian for 33 of those years.  God has changed my life in ways I never imagined He would. 33 years ago I was at rock bottom. I had tried to fill the void in my life through many things that this world had to offer and nothing satisfied.  Honestly, many of the things that God has set me free from since that time had no real lasting effect except for the promiscuity that I was involved in and……..being raped. I was raped two times – both by people I knew.

After all of the things – alcohol, drugs, etc., on the 'outside' were gone, you couldn't really tell I had lived the life that I had before God set me free. But there still was all of the 'junk' on the inside of me....
self-loathing, insecurity, body image issues, bad feelings towards men, etc., that would not go away quite as easily as the 'outward' things. I ignored them for such a long time. They led to things like eatings disorders, both anorexia & bulimia. Ever so slowly would I touch on one or another of these issues, only to, many times, shrink back from the enormity of it all.

Then I met the man I wanted to marry. He was so accepting of the way I was, and who I was. Little did we know the difficulty my past promiscuity and rape experience would present in our marriage. Sex had become an enemy of mine. I found I couldn't let even my husband go to that intimate place – even within the bounds of marriage. I didn't know how to relate in any different way to my husband other than the negativity that I had experienced in my past. Try as I might, over several years, through counseling, prayer, etc., I could not get free from my past. Through 28 years of marriage, this has been an issue – a difficult, frustrating issue. For my husband, who wants to relate to me sexually as any normal husband would, and me, who had constantly felt like a failure, like I'd let my husband down.

Then I read Lauren's testimony on her 'Held Ministries' blog of how God had done such a work in her marriage and the sexually-related issues her & her husband dealt with. I realized there was hope! I began to see the lies I had been believing for far too long. I felt hopeful. I felt compelled to share my story with Lauren, and I did! That is why 'Held Ministries' means so much to me. What the enemy meant for his gain, God took and used for His glory!

God has since linked me to a wonderful mentor that has been leading me through some steps to help me achieve permanent freedom in Christ over the bondage of my promiscuous past and the rape experiences.

See, I had always believed the rapes were my fault. I felt responsible & ashamed. Jesus Christ has set me free from that lie and I am learning to walk in the freedom!



I am so excited to be writing for 'Held Ministries' and pray God will use me to minister to any who may have been in a rape situation. There is hope and freedom available for you too – through the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and pursuing a relationship with Him. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

edit

The last entry seemed to cut off the ending, so if you read it and wondered why it abruptly ended in a weird place, be sure to read the end...it all comes together!! Lauren

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Rescued


13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. (James 4:13&15)

4 years into my marriage, I experienced such an upheaval of my plans. It was the beginning of 2008 and Ray had recently come home from an 8 week trip to Ohio to get counseling and to seek the Lord for freedom from addiction, and healing for our marriage. When he came home, it was very clear that God had done an amazing thing in his life while out in Ohio, and it was also very clear that we were not going to get healthy staying where we were at. So, I reluctantly opened my heart to the idea of moving out to Wooster, Ohio where Ray had found so much help from a life-giving church, good counseling, and amazing new friends. God began to open up every door and short of hanging a glowing arrow pointing east, he made it very obvious that Ohio was where we needed to go. But I have to tell you...I was ANGRY!! And almost talked myself out of going on a daily basis. Why would God take me away from the only support system I had to give RAY a support system that I had no part of...yet:)

Why would he take me from the safety of my family to go be alone with a man who had torn my heart in half and stomped on it??!!
I think that this move was probably the biggest leap of faith I had ever had to take. I will never forget the day we pulled out of my parents driveway to move to the basement of a friend's home in Ohio. My brand new house, which I had finally finished decorating and landscaping was now in the hands of people I barely knew, my amazing job was a thing of the past, and we had no idea if we would even be able to get jobs when we got there. My mom stood in the door sobbing as I moved away for the first time in my whole life, and I lost it... Why was God punishing me for what Ray had done?? Why did God keep telling me to trust...God was clearly ruining my life. 
Haha if I only knew the things he had in store...
Have you heard the story of the man whose house was sinking in a flood and he prayed for God to save him?? A boat came and offered a ride, but the man declined stating that he was waiting for God to come save him. Then a helicopter came and offered a rescue, but he was waiting for God and declined their help as well. Well needless to say, the man drowned and when he got to heaven, he furiously asked God why he didn't come!! God's response was "I sent you a boat and a helicopter!! Why didn't you take the way out!!??"
I think that this scenario plays out in real life more often than we realize. And for me, our move to Ohio was the rescue I had been begging for. I can't imagine what my life would be like if I had decided I didn't like the format in which God chose to rescue me. I clearly remember 3 months to the date after moving to Wooster, I was at the altar at church, crying my eyes out in pure gratitude. "Thank you God, I was so angry at you, but you knew all along, that this was the BEST for me. You rescued me, I will remember next time to trust you more." 
So, if you are waiting for a rescue, have hope, and keep your eyes open. Your rescue is close, sometimes we are already in the middle of it. I see so many women who were like me, they are angry at God because their life isn't going as they planned, but what they can't see from their perspective, is that he is rescuing them from the very things they have been praying about! I would move for more times after that move to Ohio, each move holding more blessing than the last. And through it I have learned that God is so faithful and to hold to my plans loosely, because like the verse says, I want my response to God to be that "I will go where you want me to go, and do what you want me to do". When people ask me about our future plans, I laugh. Because I have learned to expect the unexpected. Because God's plans are wild, and fun, and take us out of our comfort zone, but EVERY leap of faith is worth it. So, learn to hold loosely to life, Jesus reminds us that when we lose our life, that is when we actually find it. (Matthew 10:39) Expect the unexpected in your life and be watching, it may be God rescuing you

Thursday, January 2, 2014

How will your wounds define you?

Every woman  has experienced the battlefield that is called…Life. 
We all have wounds that we have gotten along that path…
What has happened to us doesn't necessarily make us unique, so often I walked around grasping onto my wounds thinking that I was the only one who had experienced that kind of pain, I would actually scoff at others who would express pain that they were experiencing….I considered them weak because their wounds were nothing compared to mine. 
Your TYPE of wound doesn't define you. It is what you do with that wound that defines you. 
Some of you have wounds that have had a bandaid applied, You have almost forgotten it is even there, until someone or something bumps up against it too hard. 
A few of you have experienced the loving hand of the Father as he has healed your wound and all you have left is a scar to remind you of his perfect love and healing power in your life. 
While others of you have gaping seeping wounds….They are bleeding, they are painful all the time, and no matter what you do, that wound haunts you every day. This was me for so many years and to you I say, I am sorry...And I promise that it can get better. There is a really GOOD father who happens to be a wonderful spiritual surgeon. He has a track record that is filled with success story after success story. Mine is one of them. 
And what do we do with these wounds??? How do they define who we are??
Some of us hunch over and keep everyone at arms length because we don't want them to even know we have a wound, after all,  then they would know that we don't have the perfect life that we portray so well…
Some of us build up walls to the sky to keep anyone from hurting us further…Oh how often I see this one. We forget that we have a father who really does want to protect us, so we walk around trying to protect ourselves. I did this for years, I shut my own husband out because I was not gonna be vulnerable and experience pain induced by his sin ever again!
Some of us show off our wounds and use our constant victim status to bring scorn to the ones who have hurt us…How many times have you made sure people know WHO hurt you and how wrong they were for doing it? I feel like for a while this was a daily ritual in my life.
Lastly there are a very few that wear their wound openly but humbly wanting the one who healed them to get credit for his incredible surgical skills. 
I want to be the last one on that list…Oh I haven't always been sucessful, I have been in every stage of this list at one point or another, but I realized that what I wanted more than anything was to be whole, to be free, and I didn't want my wounds to hold me back anymore…I didn't want my wounds to chain up the ones who had wounded me either, because real love needs to drive us to want freedom and healing for the ones who have hurt us. Just look at Jesus when he hung on that cross...He forgave those people as he died for all the beating and torture that they had just acted out minutes before. I  want God to use my wounds to make me stronger, to push me forward, and to help those around me who have been wounded too. How about you?? How will you let your wounds define the kind of person you will become?
He heals the brokenhearted, And binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

Let him heal your wounds....