My life has been a journey full of twists & turns, highs & lows. Honestly, I'm not sure I could really define where I'm headed. But one thing I'm learning, the journey isn't all about the final destination but more about how we travel. And fulfillment is found in all that we learn & experience as we journey, not just getting to the end of it. I can't even imagine making mine without Christ before me, behind me, and beside me...

Sunday, July 24, 2011


      It's been one of "those" weeks. You know... When the week holds more interruptions and trials than any week should hold... When I feel the impact of Paul's words concerning the Body of Christ: "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it." My own heart breaks for those I care about as they face harsh realities of life: sickness, death, damaged relationships, threatening and hateful words, abuse, broken hearts, overwhelming fears and pressures, and very ugly truths coming to light. Add to that, the frustration of the mundane--plumbing, electrical, and a/c problems, overtaxed schedule, and everyday busyness; and I was slowly unraveling. Most of the battles and struggles had not been my own but in loving and serving others, I had reached my limit. I'm not complaining--If I had to do it all over again, I would still be right where I am doing what I do simply because God has called me and I CHOOSE to follow. It's just that sometimes the load of responsibility looms large and there's nowhere to hide from it. So yeah--it's been one of those unrelenting weeks, leaving little or r no time for meditation. God's presence seemed so very far away...
     But in simple small ways, God shows up just when I need Him and reminds me where He is. And this week, He granted a brief and blessed respite from the stresses that seemed to surround me. I had the honor of spending some time with a sweet and very tiny friend as Mom sat at the bedside of a fading life and Dad took a much needed pause from the watch. My role was simply to keep this little one happy and calm in the in-between times so they could be where God needed them to be. So to entertain her, we strolled the halls of the hospital watching people pass and enjoying each other's company. Though we've only shared a few scattered hours together before, she has already learned that we have a common passion--the love of melody and song. To keep this tiny tot calm and collected outside of Mom's presence, I simply sing. I can't explain why it works--it just does.
      I'm sure the sight and sound of it must have been comical to others...this unlikely duo. Remembering the last time together I suppose, she began to sing and I was so blessed at that sweet small baby voice that I just listened. This tender moment was one to be treasured, but she soon let me know quite loudly and rambunctiously that she had no intention of singing a solo! This was to be a duet performance!  And so we wandered the hospital hallways--she in her stroller singing and waving at the doctors, staff, and patients who passed by and me singing and pushing behind her as if it were the most natural thing in the world--albeit with an occasional pause to allow these same stranger/friends ooh and ah over her cuteness. Maybe it was the most natural thing...
     My young songbird especially seemed to like one particular song best, one I also used to sing with my own daughter many years ago. So we serenaded each other down one corridor after another. If I stopped singing with her, she protested... So I would sing with her again. Her baby voice can't form the words yet, but I can't help but wonder if, in some innate sense, the certainty of them had somehow already settled in her baby heart...

They're all above me, beneath me, before me. They're all around me.
My Father's Angels all protect me everywhere.
I could never stray so far my Father would lose sight of where I am.
Angels go before me holding tightly to my hand...

     At first the words were more for her benefit than mine. Admittedly, when I arrived at the hospital to watch over this little girl, I was feeling a little lost and alone in the burdens of the week. But in the intimacy of these tender moments, those child-like words washed over me and I began to find my way again. No matter how great the burden, how high the hurdle, how deep the hurt, or how lost I may become in the process of living and serving, He never loses sight of me. Just as He never loses sight of this precious little one who so stirs my heart or for her great great uncle whose life faded away in the hours that followed. As my Father's promise began to soothe my weary spirit, the eyes of my heart saw His many angels surround each and every heartbreaking circumstance that grieved my soul. And suddenly, as my special little "angel" continued her sweet wordless melody in the quietness of the hallway, she reminded me so sweetly: He never abandons or forsakes us. He is always as near as the mention of His name. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011


"I would rather have 1% of 100 people's efforts
than 100% of my own." - Andrew Carnegie

     In desperation she said, "I don't know what to do. I can't do this...I need some help..." The invitation to be VILLAGE begins. I am just one and her need was greater than my strength. Circumstance has knocked this tender young life down one too many times and the wounds run deep...
     It's ironic... I detest asking for help for myself--I don't want to "need" anyone. But when the asking is for the sake of helping someone I care about so deeply, I can't even hesitate--this opportunity to show another how God blesses. We aren't meant to trudge through this life alone. God knows that this beautiful young lady is a champion in the making, filled with possibility. She's just in need of an encouraging and supportive community.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith." - Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT

     Sometimes the only thing between God's purpose and where we are is the UN-knowing of that "huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith."  So I began recruiting--I needed help to help her. In all honesty, I wasn't expecting too much. My request was last minute; the air was more than 100 degrees; and the circumstances we would enter crackled with tension, drama, and confrontation. Who would even consider going with me into this "business" that was not their own? 
    But this girl's well-being and faith depended on it, so God prompted hearts. This task was more than just moving someone from place to place--it was showing her that faith can move mountains. So I began texting... First my son. He was easy--he can hardly say no to his own Mom! And he's a big-hearted guy to boot! But even though I see him as my own personal Superman sometimes, I knew that his strength was still not enough. So one by one, I texted the "faithful" who are so often willing to help if they are able. And finally, my fellow staff members. I'm not sure why I waited till last to ask those who walk beside me in ministry every week. Why would I even hesitate wondering if they would stand with me now? But you know what? They answered the call--all these whom God had chosen for this particular task. These who will continue to be witnesses with her and for her. I am humbled in my doubt and reminded that races are meant to run together. As this "village" gathered around my sweet friend in her need, they gathered around me and around each other. And as God works miracle upon miracle, one other unsuspecting new recruit with stories yet untold discovered this brand new truth for herself too. I am so blessed to be a part of a "village." 
    As God would have it, the work of many made light the work of one. You see, a "village" adds strength in numbers that we couldn't possible have if we run a race solo. One ant can't move a slice of bread on his own but a colony can work together and move it even if crumb by crumb. This arduous and grueling task was accomplished in a fraction of the time it would have taken had I tried to be the Lone Ranger. But there was so much more blessing than just the addition of brawn and brains...
    Because of the circumstances, this was a tense and unpleasant task, crackling with confrontation. In her fear, my young friend may have backed down or run away, but our "village" came together in the spirit of Christ with love, fellowship, "can do" attitude, and most of all smiles--an encouragement that she desperately needed. Because of their presence and positive spirit, confrontation was avoided and this young woman walked through these moments with courage rather than fear. She FACED FEAR; and that "great big wolf" suddenly became not much more than a chihuahua. She can now move forward into her NEW LIFE WITH CONFIDENCE... She has a village behind her.
     Just a few days ago, this precious girl was at wit's end not knowing which way to turn. She knew she had a couple of friends who would do what they could regardless how meager it might be, but today SHE HAS A VILLAGE--each member offering their 1%, 10%, or whatever God calls them to offer. Added together, even 1% can far exceed 100%; and we are all reminded, just as this now-hopeful young woman is discovering, that each one of us has a wider circle of love and support that we ever knew existed. That alone is well worth the effort to "ask for help."

 "There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service,
but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways,
but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. . .
The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. . .
All of you together are Christ’s body,
and each of you is a part of it."
- From 1 Corinthians 12 NLT 

Monday, July 18, 2011


     There's no denying that the struggles in my past have impacted my life--have directed my passions and priorities in many ways. No doubt, had it not been for violence in my own life, I probably wouldn't have such a passion for women who have been through unspeakable circumstances. Had I not made regrettable mistakes, I wouldn't now be such a proponent in this fight to silence the silence that enables violence to shake and thunder through the lives of innocent people like an avalanche. No doubt, if I hadn't known the struggles of being a mom of five and being poor, I wouldn't have such compassion for new young moms struggling to be more "mom" than they've ever known themselves. Had I not known the heartbreak of caring for my father-in-law and a precious friend in their last months and hours, I wouldn't know now that there is more to this life than THIS life... If I had not lost them, I wouldn't understand that there is life after loss when I need now to know it best so that I may encourage my kids and friends who lose those they love.
     I often hear that our pasts make us who we are, but that just doesn't settle well with me. I understand that my life is influenced by my experience but my past did NOT make me who I am today. If I was a product of my past, I wouldn't be here today.
     Many of us have pasts that we are not proud of--we all have those parts of our lives we would rather forget or keep hidden... Those secrets that we are so ashamed of or traumatized by that they become our undoing. And in honesty, I have to admit that there was a time that those struggles and tragedies burrowed so deeply in every part of my heart that I couldn't--I wouldn't--see anything beyond the circumstances that defined me. Raped--I'm ruined. Abused--I'm worthless. Guilty--I'm condemned. Rejected--I'm unwanted. Forgotten--I'm unneeded. There was a time that my past became my own undoing--dismantling my life piece by piece. I was so trapped in the pain and scars of my past and lost in the hurt that I withdrew from life itself and gave up everything, even the good. I wished my life away and prayed to a God I didn't really understand for the strength and the release to make that wish true. 
       There was a day when the decision had been made, the plan had been laid out, my goodbyes had been written with pleas for those I loved most to be stronger than I... I had tried before but this time I knew what I was doing--it would be the time that I was successful. One last pause to look behind me before I went out the door....and something happened. 
      God stood in my way and whispered, "I am here." And He began the process of undoing my past rather than letting my past undo me. If my past had "made" me, my life would have turned out very differently--not in a good way. If my past had "made" me, I would be someone else entirely, incapable of giving and receiving love or of even knowing love. But I am NOT a product of my past... I am a product of GRACE.
     God stood in my way and GRACE happened. He began writing a brand new story. If not for GRACE, my past would have left me in shambles, incapable of repair. If not for GRACE, I would still be hiding in the shadows and memories of my past, shattered by them. If not for GRACE, I would be an empty, lonely shell, void of love and life. If not for GRACE, I would be drowning in guilt, consumed with bitterness and hatefulness, seeking vengeance that was not mine to gain. If not for GRACE, I would still be looking backward with regret rather than forward with hope. If not for GRACE, I would be dead by my own hand...
    GRACE made me who I am today. My past left me completely "undone" but GRACE transformed me, re-created me, and made me brand new. GRACE took the broken pieces left by my past and made something good and beautiful from them. If not for God's AMAZING GRACE, I would never have discovered that life begins again each day I let my past go... GRACE ALONE is the "undoing" of my past.
I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and gall. I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have HOPE:
Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him."
Lamentations 3:19-24 NIV

Saturday, July 2, 2011


    "If only I had..." Oh, how often those words have tumbled through my guilt-ridden brain. If only I had been brave enough, strong enough, bold enough... If only I had defended myself...If only I had told someone...If only...if only..if only..., then my life would have been different. I would have been a better mother, a better wife, a better woman... I wouldn't have hurt the ones I love the most...maybe. If only I had known what I know now... 
     Back then, I let my circumstances determine that I was shameful, ugly, worthless, and hopeless. The silence of shame does that, and we believe the lies. Then shame makes us liars and cowards. If I tell, then I will be hurt again...or killed. If I tell, then everyone will know and I won't ever be able to get over it... Better to pretend it didn't happen. If I tell, my marriage will fall apart, my children won't trust me to care for them, and people will think I'm crazy. If I tell, my offender will deny and lie, no one will believe me, my offender will make good on his promise to hurt another... Isn't it ironic that often the things we may fear in our silence are the reality of our "if only's" now? At least they became so for me... If only I had told, we would have gotten past it and my marriage would have survived. I would be closer to my children and they would be stronger and more secure. If only I had told, maybe he would have been stopped and others wouldn't have become victims too. But would it really? Can I be certain that if only...then none of things would have come to pass. Do you see it? Silence makes us victims and sometimes even creates new victims. The guilt of it can still consume if I allow it.
     Rape, domestic violence, molestation and abuse, gang violence, hate crimes....people become unwilling slaves to hurts that are bigger than life. Little do we know the freedom that comes from telling someone. Our fear and shame enables the hurt to continue--not just within us but for those other victims who may lie in wake of the violence that continues in our silence. 
     If only I had...but I didn't. For a long time, my silence caused my circumstances to determine who and what I was. Honestly, there are times I still struggle with that self-image. Back then, I didn't stand up or fight back. I lived in so much shame and fear of those secrets being revealed that I was suicidal and a harm to myself. My family was destroyed. I was less the woman, the wife, and the mother I could have been...should have been...back then.
     I couldn't tell a living soul but every once in a moment of despair, I cried out to God before I crawled back in my cave of hopelessness and shame. And that was enough. NOTHING REMAINS IN THE DARK when put into the hands of a God who turns darkness into light...even when I try to hide in it. 

I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night--but even in darkness I cannot hide from You. To You the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to You.
 Psalm 139:11-13

Today is a different story--a new day. I can't live my life in "if only's," just wishing for what might have or should have been. That same God who seemed so far in the distance when I cried out to Him in despair heard me. He shone a light in the middle of my darkness. Today, I can't fix my "if only's," but I can move forward. No, I didn't shout my shame from the rooftops or expose every detail to the world. And no, offenders haven't found their just dues in a criminal court--God's justice is a work in progress. And no, my pain and ordeal has not been erased from memory... God doesn't "undo" our past--He brings light into it.

In Him was Life, and that Life was the light of all mankind. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 
John 1:4-5

     His Light blazed the day I told someone. The darkness was overcome. I didn't tell the whole world--I told one single person who listened, and Light became Life. I'm not sure how the kinetics of it works--that's a God-thing, no doubt--but in telling one person, I began to want more for my life. I could see the light at the end of this tunnel of fear and shame. I began to fight back. In time, I began to realize that my circumstances do not make me...they may be used to shape me but they are only tools in the hands of the Potter. He didn't will for harm to come to me--evil is the choice of evil men. (Our God is a God that loves us enough to let us choose to love Him back. Some don't choose to love...) But I have a God who is so much bigger than my circumstances and the choices of men. God alone created me and He has worked "all things together"--every circumstance--for my good because I love Him. He shines His light on those rough and damaged places. He smooths those scars and faults with His gentle hands and makes something beautiful. 
    There are times in the shadows, that it appears evil wins a battle, but Light reveals that it can't win the war. In the Light, I am made stronger in my weak places. The evil that once sought to destroy my life is now the loser as I begin to tell some of my story and to share what God has done. Silence didn't win. Though my telling won't necessarily bring my assailants to justice in a courtroom, other victims can find hope, courage, and strength as I encourage them to tell their stories--to fight back. hey can find peace and healing in telling at least one person and maybe their offenders won't go free.And I can find peace in knowing that maybe their offenders won't go free. I can't rewind my "if only's" but I can look forward to the future.
     Who really knows what may have changed--or not--if only I had raised my voice years ago? But the important thing to remember is that one day, I finally did. If by sharing my journey now, one victim ends his or her silence one day sooner, my hope is secure. One day can make all the difference. It did for me.
As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me and my God will certainly hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. I will be patient as the Lord punishes me, for I have sinned against him. But after that, He will take up my case and give me justice for all I have suffered from my enemies. The Lord will bring me into the Light, and I will see His righteousness.
Micah 7:7-9