from chains to freedom…

FBEC8D0F-3EB7-42FD-AD87-592CB7B20EB9For years, I was in bondage and didn’t even know it.

I struggled with feelings of shame, unworthiness, ugliness, failure, dirtiness, self-loathing, inadequacy, and the list goes on…..

the thing is, I knew I was struggling with so many areas of my life, yet I didn’t know the root or cause of my struggles.

i had been this way for so long that it became my identity—- the definition of who I was.

A3FDC414-B13A-4C6C-8A15-96779525C536It wasn’t until i opened up and shared these feelings with a dear friend and pastor that my eyes were opened to the truth.

he helped me to see that certain events from my past had left me filled with shame, and that even as a young kid, I unknowingly allowed that shame to define me.

Not only did it define me, but it held me in a bondage that i felt sure I’d never be free from.

360A19FE-E0E7-4AEC-A5B1-67C3344EBE5BGod, in his kindness, orchestrated a series of changes in my life that would eventually lead me to the freedom I so longed for.

after thirteen years in our former church that we had loved dearly, God led us to a different church.  Believe me, this was not a decision that we made lightly; God made it very clear that he was leading us to make this move.

God was so kind to reaffirm to us time and time again in those first few months that it was indeed his will for us to be at this church.  I would sit in church services and literally cry through them because the messages or the songs would speak of God wanting to give us freedom from the chains that bind us, and it was during those first few months that God spoke to my heart and told me that He was going to lead me to a place of freedom that only he can give.

E77CF80A-5A3B-4101-A1FE-C4294605B6C5Last fall, I became aware that our church offers an intense counseling program for members.  I asked my pastor about it and he hooked me up with the gal who leads that ministry at our campus.

after meeting with her and sharing my story, she submitted my application to the church, and within a month my counseling started.

And can I just say that this counseling has literally changed my heart as well as my life?  Not. Even. Kidding.

I could spend all day telling you all the things i learned, but I’m guessing you have better things to do than read my blog all night!

AF212BD9-FEC8-43A0-A185-5F910B76F0CFBasically, through my months of counseling (did i mentioned that this was Bible-based, Bible-saturated counseling?!), God used his Word as well as the curriculum we went through, to totally change the way I think.

He showed me that my past does NOT define who I am now, and that with God’s help, I can take my thoughts captive and not fall prey to the enemie’s constant lies.

God totally took me through the Ephesians 4 process of putting off my old self, and to be renewed in the spirit of my mind, putting on the new self.

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.  Ephesians 4:22-24

Through much time in the Word, I also began to really see the depths of God’s amazing love for me.  I was able to finally see past the shame, and actually see thatI am a beautiful, precious child of God.

I learned all that and SO much more!  But the bottom line is this: I AM FREE!

having this new knowledge and understanding of God made this Easter my most amazing Easter ever.

I only have one counseling session left, which is bittersweet for me, but I am so thankful to God for using this precious ministry to change my life.

Christmas meanderings…

0D22482A-5A30-4742-896E-C8D5B71E5F3EEvery year, Christmas seems to come and go, leaving me breathless and wondering how the time went by so quickly.

and no matter how hard i try to plan ahead, i still find myself scrambling a few days before Christmas, allowing anxiety to slip in just enough that it threatens to rob me of the sweet joys of Christmas.

i feel like i handled things a bit better this year—when i felt the old familiar anxieties  start to flair up, I simply reminded myself to relax and do what i can, accepting the reality that the most important things will get done and the rest can be let go.

it’s actually quite crazy the things that I allow myself to get worried about; i mean, quite frankly, who really cares if we have five different types of Christmas goodies rather than eight?

5BDB62B4-B991-4988-8B3E-5F60B43BEAF3All in all, we had a wonderful, relaxing Christmas, and thankfully, we were all healthy!

i messed up on both the breakfast and lunch menus, but my family was very gracious and no one went without eating.

we ended the day by going to see the movie, The Greatest Showman.  I’m telling you, if you haven’t seen this movie, you have to go see it!  It’s phenominal!  And to be honest, when my seventeen year-old daughter told me about it, I didn’t expect to like it.  But it made me smile and it made me cry, and i can’t recommend it highly enough.

BFBAD609-DA52-449B-A80D-B5AC10D0ECFFOf course, the day didn’t go by without me thinking about our oldest daughter.  It’s hard to think that she’s out there somewhere, and i have no idea if she’s ok.  I find myself wondering if she’s safe, or if she’s even alive, for that matter.  And i cant help but remember the years when she was an innocent, sweet child who made us smile just by entering the room.

i’ve come to accept that this is our reality.  And i realize that there’s a possibility that we may never see her again.  Or that she may die as a result of the dangerous choices that she makes.

Sometimes i think i’d give anything just to hug her and pretend that our lives didn’t turn out the way they did.  But the reality is that she made her choice,and i can’t do anything about it.

and as painful as these past six years have been, I wouldn’t trade what God has done in my life, as well as in my husband and  four younger kids.

He truly has made beauty out of the ashes.

 

brokenness redefined….

E4B94B24-DD4D-413C-AEE7-62CD8BFCAAE7This is my third blog.

I started my first blog almost ten years ago, and it quickly became a journal of my nine-year journey through Early-onset Alzheimer’s with my dad.

it was a safe haven, a place where I could be real and write from my heart.

so often during those painful years, readers would leave comments on my blog, thanking me for being real and sharing with me their own struggles.

God used those comments to bring healing to me, showing me that there was a purpose for my pain.

After my dad’s death just over six years ago, I started my second blog.

I was ready for something new, and I had planned to talk about every day life, and moving on through grief.

little did i know, my life was about to be turned upside down, and shaken to the very core.

three months after my dad died, our oldest daughter—18 years old at the time—walked out on our family.

her leaving took us completely by surprise, especially since she was only halfway through her senior year; she had no job, no car, and nowhere to live.

That decision was only the first of many devastating decisions that she made in the months and years following.

I’m not kidding when I say that we’ve been to hell and back with her; her making one bad choice after another, and us cleaning up after her as well as trying to deal with our grief over all that was happening.

At this point and time, we haven’t heard from her in almost a year and a half, and we haven’t actually seen her in over three years.

not exactly the relationship I had dreamed of having with any of my kids, but God has been faithful and kind to grow me through this, and I’m stronger because of it.

so that brings me to this blog….

as you can imagine, walking through these past six years has been devastating, and I’ve known brokenness in ways I never imagined.

but through the brokenness, I have also experienced a love so fierce that I’ve never once doubted God’s faithfulness along the way.

God has shown up for me each and every time a new crisis has arose.

just this past week as i was reflecting on God’s faithfulness to me and my family over the years, it occurred to me that though i am broken, I have come to see my brokenness as a sweet gift from God.

before you think I’m too crazy—which maybe you already do—hear me out.

you see, it’s in this place of brokenness where I’ve learned to lean on Jesus and not on my own strength to get through the hard.

it’s also in this place of brokenness where I’ve been able to surrender control over to God and not feel as though it’s MY job to fix my kids.

Brokenness has also brought me to a place where I’m filled with compassion for parents with troubled teens.  I’m ashamed to say that before we walked this road with our daughter, i was one of those moms who would look at rebellious teens and shake my head and think to myself,  “ those people really need to get a grip on their kids.”  I’m sure i judged even more harshly than that at times, but not anymore.  We parents need each other, and there’s absolutely no room for judgment.

Webster’s dictionary describes brokenness in this way: Violently separated into parts; shattered, damaged, or altered by or as if by breaking.

my definition would be:  brokenness – God’s tender way of stripping away the layers in order to make me more like Him.

thus the name of this blog…Brokenness Redefined.