Category Archives: journey to healing

God Is Not Threatened When We Leave the Church

{An Abstraction on Lipstick}

 

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It happened standing in Wal-Mart with my daughters. I was buying a lipstick and rubbed the pretty coral color that I fell in love with onto my lips. I didn’t notice the brand–that smell. That’s when the memories came flooding in. Memories of being the focus of ridicule at a school in a whole new state, the memories of the poems left on my desk that said “She wears socks with her clogs in winter. She’s in a bubble and thinks no one can reach her, because her Daddy’s a preacher,” and they giggled at me as I turned red and crumbled up the loose-leaf paper taken from one of their cute binders. But there are darker ones.

Dark memories of a 21 year old youth pastor, who came into the sanctuary when I was playing piano and put his lips on me, held me from behind. He befriended my father, came over to the house, and when we went downstairs to play ping-pong, he forced me to sit on his lap.

And the hits seemed to keep coming. I became chronically ill after having my fourth child. And there were people in the church who wanted to pray for me one Sunday. I made it known that I didn’t want it, that I felt uncomfortable with such a spotlight on me. They assured me it was fine, and it was in the midst of this prayer circle that I was told there wasn’t grace for this sickness, this depression, this anxiety, and that God was asking me to please come back home, to come back to where grace abounded for me.

I recoiled at this. Because I knew that God had not left me and I had not left him and the last thing I needed was for someone in the church to tell me that my illness was because I had done something wrong. The insinuation was that it was a direct result of my having left God. But I knew then, and I know now– that none can pluck me from His hand. It’s not possible.

I did feel very far away from God, and what I needed at that moment in my life was for someone to gently remind me that God was still with me and loved me beyond imagination.

That day left me aching, a hole wide-open in my soul, cold bitter wind blowing through. It left me confused about prayer, and unable to utter any words toward heaven. Prayer had been a means, as far as I could see, to hurt others. And I became bitter and maybe I let my words sting, too, because all I could see was people who wanted to hurt me.

I could tell you more stories–I have lots of them. I could tell you about a time my husband and I were asked by the pastor to be elders  because he was leaving and the church needed someone to help run things in his absence. We hesitated, but we loved our pastor, so we agreed. A short time later, we found out that the leadership of the church had sorely treated our pastor, and was the cause of him leaving. Our hearts were broken. We resigned, left the church, and never looked back. But we won’t talk more of that.

What I want to tell you is that because of a lifetime of those memories, my husband and I have chosen to take a time for healing……

{to read the rest of this post, please come on over to Outside the City Gate— I’m over there today, and I have more to share with you….}

{concrete words link-up is below}

 

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Photo credit: Church and steeple: Cindee Snider Re 

Holding hands: Kelli Woodford

Okay, time for #concretewords! ***Will you do this with me, friends? Let’s explore the practice of Awakening to God–this still ties into listening–writing out our story with words that show, not just tell. We’ll connect on twitter and facebook with the hashtag, #concretewords,  #listeningtoyourlife and also #awakeningtoGod if you like. Do me a favor and use these on social media and share with friends–invite them? Writing alone is no fun–but writing in community? Well, THAT is the stuff!

What this link-up is about: We “write out spirit” by practicing writing about the invisible using concrete words. In case you are going “what in the world is a concrete word?!“–this just means (using the prompt to inspire) write out what’s around us–concrete words make the senses come alive, gives place. In every story, there is always an above and beneath, a beside, something tucked away, aromas in the air, something calling in the trees or from the street, notes in our pocket, rocks in our shoes, sand between our toes. Go here to see Amber’s take on this. It was very helpful to me–I think it will be beneficial for you, too.


                                                         A few simple guidelines:

1. Be sure you link up the  URL to your                                                                       Concrete Words post and not just your                                                                      blog home page URL.
2. Put a link to this post on your blog so                                                                    that others can find their way back here.
3. Try to visit one or two others and                                                                               encourage their efforts.
4. If you don’t know how to do these steps,

please email me for help.

 

Today’s prompt is lipstick. GO!


{**Since I’m posting this mid-week, this link-up will run until next Monday afternoon 2 pm CST, giving you plenty of time to write and link up. Sometime between now and then, I will read your stories and try to highlight one of them on social media! Next week, the prompt will be balloon .}

 

 

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Concrete Words: New Beginnings {An Abstraction on Soil}

Standing right there in the middle of the cold vegetables and fruits come right up out of the soft ground, he sent the text.

Tons of spider lilies in back like Jesus sprinkled his blood over our new beginnings. I know we have a long road but I liked the scene.



I cried on my Granny’s soft shoulder, a pillow for many sorrows over seventy-seven years, and then wiped my eyes and picked out some salad for an easy supper.

Sometimes marriage is like that, a long road to healing. Sometimes when we clasp hands and slide on matching shiny rings, crying for the hope that is to come, we don’t know we are broken and depraved and that there is darkness lurking in our hearts–darkness that Jesus means to overcome in us.

We don’t see how the hard ground must be tilled and tilled and rained on and battered by storms until seeds begin to take root and grow, the weeds plucked out.

We had argued about directions on the way there, and arrived so late that we thought we would not be able to even get into our cabin. The old guy waiting up for us by one small oil lamp light amongst a foresty-dark farm, said the cabin was a 30 minute drive away. Oh. We were thinking a little walk down the old pine boards and we could lie down on the antique frame together, fluffy old quilts a welcoming respite after a 7 hour drive, and fire crackling bedside.

We stood on the hard wooden floors, and waited as the bearded man retrieved his go-to direction sheet, the lamp’s light dancing a glow across handmade chairs and tables made only the way mountain-men can craft, their wood carved, not flattened through a planer, their edges left as nature intended. They were rough and beautiful. Hard and appealing, needing a sanding but still catching the beholder’s gaze with their uniqueness.

Old trinkets were scattered around, a wooden clock with a coo-coo bird, soft cushions, and beautiful pine. Already I felt a little at home.

But we were not home–not yet. After saying goodbye to the old man, we drove 30 more minutes, which turned into an hour, winding through dark, country mountain roads with poorly written directions and too tired to keep our tempers in check.

We finally found the drive, and the tires slowly creaked over gravel like even they were tired. The mountain trees we wound our way through, they beckoned and bowed over us, angels bowed before His glory and all of creation, even they in awe of His created beings.

A fire was kindled and started in that hearth and in that bed, and that heart-shaped tub.

My husband, he surprised me by getting up before me the next morning with the camera and capturing the light splayed in across a stunning display of antique tea pots, china and oil lamp placed so delicately and thoughtfully by someone on pine. God’s light shown through the small breakfast nook, the windows almost blinding and my feet shod in his peace, the path set before me with his illuminated word.

I had laid under the heavy quilts, a weight keeping me sleepy, while he brought coffee up the pocket sized winding stairs. They were handwrought, sharply-cusped and we had joked that there was no way any elderly person should rent this cabin and there should be a disclaimer. He walked over to the hem of me, fire thoughtfully hovering and fading a few feet away, laid the cup in my weary, heavy-lidded boned self, and I drank in the warm hazelnut deep like I’d never get another drop.

I can’t quite remember, but I think maybe he walked away with a contented sigh.

We had breakfast in a gloriously lit room, more pine than I’ve ever seen in one place in my entire life, and I could not help myself but take shots of everything, with people all around–the piano, the light underneath on gleaming gold petals, and the morning sun smiling in on couples murmuring perhaps little sweet nothings to one another.

We walked up the mountain together, started out on a hike too great for us, and my husband, he grabbed a stick for bears, but in my mind, nothing was too big for me to handle.

I guess I’m naively stubborn like that.

There is a fire in my bones, something that drives me, a passion, like a warrior Indian princess. There is Cherokee blood in me after all, my daddy says, coming down from his grandmother’s long raven hair, even in her old age.

Something about that mountain dared me to climb it, and my soul cried out You’re nothing! I want to be up there with you on the top, to shrink back from nothing and to see everything and to feel the icy-cold wind of freedom on my face!  

We trekked through bountiful fallen gold and orange, and then we slushed through snow, and it came to a point where he asked me to turn around because we were having to jump tiny creeks that only had rocks to leap onto. But in my heart, I could not turn back–I so loved jumping the rocks, the tiny waterfalls, and I dragged him along with me, squeezing through large boulders and snow, almost getting our feet trapped, feet that were not shod and prepared for this mission.

Every hiker that came down from the mountain looked at us like we were loony, but I truly believe I could have climbed to the top with only my Indian princess animal skins on (and fur boots made of buffalo of course).

We argued some of the way, and he nearly lost it for me pulling him so high up the mountain.

He said, honey, it is getting dark soon; all the hikers are coming down–the bears will be out and there will be no one to call to for help. The snow will only get worse from here and we are already drenched. Let’s head on back, please?

I looked up at the top of the mountain and it called to me. But so did my husband.

So I made the right choice.

And through great courage and discipline and solidarity of mind, I turned around and listened to the wisdom of reason, though my spirit wanted to soar free.

Courage can take many different forms. Sometimes it means just listening to reason when I don’t want to, and giving into something and compromising when everything inside is screaming NO!

Sometimes it is allowing God to prick the hard ground of our hearts and till up soil, to call up a friend when it’s been a while and say I’ve been thinking of you, and though things have happened, my love for you has never changed.

It may be confronting that great, big mountain of fear in our lives and trekking up the steep, smashing boulders when all we want to do is turn around and go back down.

Or it could be going around a mountain that’s not meant for us to tackle, and God says there’s a better way, perhaps a harder way, in the deep places where the evil things lurk and we must get our swords out, fight and pray.

Maybe it’s as simple as plucking up some of that hard ground of our hearts with His truth, and asking a friend for forgiveness, or going over to a neighbor to help or ask for help when we’ve been wounded.

Maybe it’s in admitting we need help to someone we trust. And healing comes. And when those we trust betray us, we release it to Him who was broken completely and totally into and is our Comforter, and we just keep loving, and healing comes.

There are always new beginnings for our woundedness and there is nothing God can’t tackle, but we have to let Him give us the grace to allow Him to do it in that hard soil.

Then, maybe we will look out and see the red burst into bloom, scattered bloody all around shooting forth, up and out toward the sky, grace, forgiveness, freedom, joy, peace, righteousness, goodness, love, forbearance, kindness, gentleness and self-control.

There are always new beginnings…in Him. And we are saturated in it.

 Now let’s have some fun with Concrete Words! (Please keep writing centered around the prompt:SOIL Thanks!)

Because That’s What I Taught Them…{& In Which I Announce Concrete Words Writer & Give Link-Love}



When the leaves start to lose their chlorophyll as the sun gets less bright, my girls will get on that huge orange bus that always comes like a freight train and grass blowing and tossed in it’s wake. They’ll travel to new places unknown, take on new adventures. Things might look scary to them, from way down there where they are, looking up at adults with sticks and rulers and older, teenage girls kissing a boyfriend in the hallway.

I had my chance to teach them and in a bittersweet turn, it’s come to an end. I hope I taught them well. I hope that respect and quietness and reverence they have about them stays with them always. I don’t plan to give up my role as teacher. I hope the lessons I’ve placed deep in their hearts makes them rise tall and blossom and I want to see them fly.

I know if my little one gets shoved down into the dirt on the playground, she’ll cry, dust herself off, and yell at them to “STOP!”. I’m not afraid, because I know my girl. She’s tough. The stuff she’s made of is what has made me go to bed crying some nights.

I know if my nine year old gets held back a grade, or made fun of for her smallness if she moves on ahead, that she’ll laugh that contagious giggle, and tell them it just makes her quicker and cuter. I know she’ll have an endless amount of comebacks, because she’s dealt them out at home often. She has no problem making her mind known, and letting her confidence shine.

I know if my oldest girl walks shakily onto the high school campus and is overwhelmed by all the classes and work, and has nightmares about not being able to find her classroom, that the strength and solidity I see in her will see her through. She will navigate tough, unknown waters with sureness and capability.

I know, I just know that if they fall, they will get back up, dust themselves off, and try again.

Because that’s what I’ve taught them.

Honestly, I think this was more like 8 minutes–schooling the girls so intensely has my brain literally running at the speed of a sloth. At 5 minutes, I think I had, like, a total of 3 words.

**On Fridays I join Lisa-Jo and the #FiveMinuteFriday Community. We write for five minutes flat, with no extreme editing, no worrying about perfect grammar, no worrying if our words sound just right.

“Unscripted. Unedited. Real.”–Lisa-Jo Baker

The one-word prompt this week: FALL.

 Five Minute Friday

Now for #concretewords highlight of the week! The writer I’m highlighting this week for #concretewords is:

Janel Andrews at Pour Cette Temps for the Afternoon–absolute stunning write. Janel hit the Concrete word nail on the head!

***Don’t forget that lovely Ashley Larkin will be guest-posting here, this Monday, June 10th at sixinthesticks for our prompt, the Morning! Give it your best shot and show me what ya got! Ashley will be picking her favorite post linked-up and will announce it on social media and possibly also on her blog next Friday!! Don’t miss this–Y’all please come by and give Ashley some lovin’! {Also, Ruth Povey will be taking Concrete Words on July 1st–mark your calendars!}

Here, y’all, just some randomness for your weekend, some laughter and link-love to inspire that I wanted to share with you and which I’ve been compiling over the last couple weeks…. {Have a lovely weekend, friends…}

Thought it’d be fun to share..what I wore Monday…my favorite necklace, a “Faith” necklace {And I’m not a faith-necklace-wearing-girl, but Kashoan made me into one} made by Kraftykash –GO! Check out her cool stuff.

A very funny Southern woman that had me chuckling–laughter is medicine to the mind, body, and soul….

This 1,000 gifts video and this article about a 14 year old boy with an amazing talent, shared by Ann Voskamp–well. worth. taking a look. It’s these kinds of creations of beauty, of pulsing life that keep me going when I only see darkness on this fallen earth…

This blog post by Preston Yancey–I see a new trend amongst writers, and it’s refreshing. Makes me sigh relief–that we could just keep the one thing the most important thing–the gospel, not a different or new one that we’ve heard, but the true one…

This one is amazing by Ann Voskamp…women need this one–then scroll down to the free print-outs–I’m printing these out, folding them with love, thinking of those I’ll send them to, with a sigh of contentment in my heart…maybe reaching out to someone is what you need to heal those broken places, too?

This one by Duane Scott–I’m A Christian and I Drink Starbucks–so do I , Duane, so do I. Love his heart.

Amazing write by Amanda Hill–Be Still, My Soul  –“And the silks, oh the silks. Without a harness at all, these incredible species of human beings climbed and bowed and swayed and made love to dangling ribbons from the sky…”

This Five Minute Friday write by Alia Hagenbach that made tears well up, because we’ve all been there, in some way or form…

This blog post by Jen Hatmaker–one of the absolute best blog posts I’ve ever read, possibly. Definitely on my top ten. You will laugh. Hard. And it will be good for the soul in so many beautiful ways. I promise that–especially if you’re a mom.

This good one by Lisa-Jo Baker–this one hit me in the gut–I’ve done this, and I know love isn’t about me, how good (or bad) my home looks, I’d love to throw my arms open wide and welcome friends into the chaos….

An important article on drowning as we all take our families to the pools and beaches this season…Your kids will not make a sound if they drown; read this to know what to look for…