My Mom

I am a writer. It’s kind of an outlet for me. Sometimes the things I feel come out better written in a journal with pen or pecked out on a laptop keyboard. I woke up this morning, 4:36 am to be exact, thinking about my mom. My mom has suffered for 22 years with poor health and chronic pain. A couple of weeks ago she took a turn for the worse and has now been released to hospice care at home. I spent the past couple of days at my parent’s house helping out as our family has begun to navigate what hospice has indicated are the last one to two weeks, she is with us here on earth. So, forgive me as I sort through it all in this Blog entry today.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen this picture of us until this week. Mom and me camping. She made camping look like fun when I’m sure she had to work hard. Thanks mom!

Mom probably doesn’t know this, but some of my best parenting hacks I could attribute to her. When I was little, she made me and my brothers and my Dad the center of her world, with the exception that God truly was first. My earliest memories are hot summer days sitting on the concrete back porch of our home eating homemade popsicles she had in abundant supply. (I got the recipe and made them for my kids.) They were always soooo good especially my favorite, the grape. Summers were spent going to the Current River to play, Sinking Creek to be exact. Mom took us there frequently during the hottest of the summer days. She wanted to make sure I could swim. If we didn’t go to the river, she would set up a sprinkler for us to run through in our back yard. While I played outside, she canned fresh vegetables and made the best homemade jellies ever. I was so spoiled with the taste of them, I struggled when I moved out and went to college to eat store bought jelly. It wasn’t the same as my mom’s.

During the winter, on snow days, Mom let my brothers, my cousin Ted and I build forts out of blankets between our rooms so we could have rubber band gun wars. As a kid they seemed to go on forever. She didn’t seem to mind us sliding down the hallway in our socks on the hard wood floor of our little 1200 sq ft home. We loved to pretend to ice skate. I’m sure we were loud, rambunctious, and a little crazy, but she let us play.

Birthday party for my daughter with my Mom and Mom in love

Mom took us to the public library frequently and would read us book after book. She also, sat us down and read us Bible stories from the Egermeier’s Bible Story Book, which is one of my personal favorites. Her mom read it to her, she read it to me, I repeated this with my kids and hope to pass this tradition to my grandkids as they grow up too. Thanks, Mom, for giving me the idea.

Mom, my son, grandson, and me

Mom was the church pianist, so she made sure piano lessons were available to each of us kids. She loved music. It was always playing in our home. She passed this love on to me, my kids, and now to my grandkids. What a heritage!

Mom playing at church

My mom was a seamstress. She spent hours sewing me the most complicated of dresses that I would request. They fit perfectly and were beautiful. Although occasionally she would forget a sewing pin in them, and I would find it while trying it on. i teased her a lot about that. She made several quilts for wedding gifts or baby blankets as well. She painted paintings, worked on cabinets and other projects with my grandma in Grandma’s woodshop. She was brave enough to take us kids to that woodshop and let us make Christmas Ornaments with the bandsaw one year. That instilled in me a love for woodworking inspiring me to take shop in High School so I could make a cedar chest as a project. Maybe someday I’ll take up woodworking again it sure sounds fun.

Mom and me at my wedding. Mom did all the flowers.

Fishing trip to Texas she went with my dad on

Probably one of my favorite things my mom passed down to me is the love of fishing. My favorite summer memories are of her and my dad taking us fishing at Grandma’s pond. It was such a happy and peaceful place to go. Mom loved to fish. If she got a big one on the line, she would get so excited making my dad and the rest of us laugh as she reeled in her catch.

A not so successful trout fishing trip

Mom tried to pass down her skills to me working with me to learn to crochet, embroidery, sew, cook (I was pretty resistant when it came to that), and even tried to get me to learn to bake pies. When I was around five, she would be making dough for her own pies, but give me a little of hers, put it in my little toy pie tin, let me dip a spoonful or two of her pie filling in the crust and help me to seal it up with a small piece of dough on top. She would bake my little pie right next to hers so I could give it to my dad when he got home from his long day of work at the mines. I would “work” right next to her wearing a little apron she had made for me. to wear. This is one of my happiest memories growing up.

When I was nine, Mom and Dad felt like God was leading our family to become a foster family and help children who were in need. The second child my parents fostered was a special needs child that they adopted almost 9 years later. Mom tried very hard to help my sister, and keep our home what it should be, but those years proved to be very hard years for us all. Things were not easy at home as they once were. When I graduated high school, I left home a day or two after graduation. I let a lot of hurt and bitterness fester for several years in my heart. Things were not what Mom and I had wanted between us.

A couple of years ago, I took a trip home to talk to Mom about it all, for years she had been trying to talk to me, but I couldn’t, and I wouldn’t. We laid it all out there and forgiveness came. We talked about how we did not have what we both had wanted all those years, but we had what we had now, and we would try to go forward from there. But her illness, kept us from really getting to do the things we wanted to and to be what we wanted to be.

While I was at home the past couple of days, mom told me how much she had always wanted me. I was a “pleasant surprise” to my parents when I was born. She hadn’t planned another baby, and she never dreamed she would get a little girl. She proceded to tell me how she wished things had been different.

Things may not have been all we wanted here, but we have a hope, His name is Jesus. I know very soon she will leave behind the pain she has walked through and step into the beauty of His glory! Although by earth’s years, (I hope to have at least another 40 years left in me), it may seem to be a long time. In heaven, time is no more. It will only be a short time for her, and we will be back together once again. Everything that kept us apart will be no more. What we missed here will be there. Yes, we have this Hope. I told Mom as I kissed her goodbye, “If Jesus comes to get you, go ahead and go. I will see you again very soon. We will all be together again, and it will be beautiful.”

I love you Mom, don’t worry about me. As we talked about in the hospital a week ago, “God has worked all things out for the good of us (me and her) who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) If I don’t get to see you before Jesus comes to call you on, I will see you again when my race is done.

Christmas in Luke (Day14)

Today’s reading is Luke 14.

The setting in today’s chapter is a meal at the house of a prominent Pharisee, a religious leader of Jesus time. Jesus sat and watched as the guest came in looking for seating in prominent places. They wanted recognition and positions of power with the affluent in the room. It is at this point Jesus tells a parable about a “Great Feast, “ a feast much like the kingdom of God.

A man sent out invitations to a great feast he was giving, but everyone he asked had excuses for why they could not come. So the man told his servant to go and invite the “rejects”, “the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.” (Verse 21) He also instructs the servant to go “to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in…” (verse 23) The man throwing the feast wanted his house to be full.
Our loving Heavenly Father is like this man. The invitation to His Heavenly banquet was sent years ago, on a dark night, in a Bethlehem Stable. Jesus came inviting the ones rejected- the poor in spirit; those crippled by fear and pain; those blinded by sin; those lame, unable to stand in His presence. He calls to the “roads and country lanes” ,the out of the way, lonely places, “Come!” He longs for His house to be full!

For this I am so grateful. I am all of the people Jesus invited- I am the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. I am the one who could not come to the banquet had it not been for Jesus inviting sinners to come!

The first Christmas shows us a glimpse of the God who would go to great lengths to see His house full of guests delighted and fulfilled at His banquet. Our God came to be His invitation, with us- Emmanuel. He prepared the way for us to the banquet by His sacrificially dying on the cross, and victoriously rising from the grave. May we hear the invitation declared to us so many years ago at His birth, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” Luke 2:14.
His favor is upon us! His invitation has been sent! May we drop any excuse for not attending His feast and RSVP with Him replying “Yes! I come!”

Chapel Prayer

I went to college at Mizzou. That seems like the appropriate thing to do for a Missouri Girl. Back in the 80’s MU was known as a party campus to the kids in my high school. As a young lover of Jesus, my motivation to go there was definitely not to party, I wanted to be a light and witness to my generation.

A.P. Green Chapel

One thing I loved about the campus at Mizzou was the A.P. Green Chapel, next to Memorial Union. It was like a small candle flickering light on a campus with so much darkness in it. I would go there frequently to pray and read my Bible. It was in that chapel during one of my times of prayer that I wrote this poem.

Chapel Prayer 

Let me see the world as You see it.
With the compassion of the Cross
That's a heart of Love that breaks
For the dying of the lost.
Let me cry as You cried and
Break me as You were broke
Make my heart like Your heart
And let me wear Your yoke.

Let me be as You are Full of love and kind,
Gentle and compassionate,
Sweet as the New Wine.

Let me see the world as You see it,
Through the eyes of the cross.
Willing to give my all for You
So others won't be lost.
(originally written January 21,1990)
Inside the Chapel

This morning as I started my time in prayer memories of that chapel and a young, wholly devoted heart that I had started to flow through my mind. I know that at that time if God would have told me to pack up my bags and head to the corners of the earth, I would have. I wanted to do whatever He wanted no matter what the cost. Over 30 years have went by since I sat in that chapel writing those words. I’ve had my times of living a life for God that I felt like I was red hot on fire and then lukewarm since then. I have often wondered If I heard God say, ” Pack up everything and go,” would I be willing to obey like my younger heart would have? Then I thought of the poem above that my younger heart wrote during a time of prayer.

Things haven’t really changed much since that day. The world I live in is still dark and full of death and destruction. Just this week two shootings have occurred in my country for no real reason except evil in the hearts of mankind. However, I know the remedy, Jesus. It seems like all that I can do is like a tiny band aid on a gaping wound.

In Isaiah 6 the prophet Isaiah saw a vision of the Lord. His way of going about life was wrecked by what He saw. He saw a God who was so holy, glorious, and awesome in power, that all he could think of is how sinfully human he was. But he also heard the voice of God asking, “Who will go for Us?” Sitting there realizing how unqualified he was he replied, “Here am I. Send me!” Sitting in the presence of Jesus has that effect on a person. Seeing what Isaiah saw, a God who is so much bigger than us and yet so loving and so kind, I also can hear His voice calling to me. “Who will go for Us?” Although I have no idea what that will mean for me, may my heart say as Isaiah’s did, “Here am I. Send me!”

As it usually does during my times of contemplation, I come across a song that stirs within me. The lyrics of this song are so powerful. May it be my prayer. May it be the prayer of all of us.

God has given us so much to be thankful for this season. Let us purpose in our hearts to not only give thanks, but give ourselves to Him fully! Taking the remedy to our brokenness to the world around us! Come Lord Jesus!

“If it’s bandaging the broken
Or washing filthy feet
Here I am, Lord, send me
If it’s loving one another
Even when we don’t agree
Here I am, Lord, send me
If I’m poor or if I’m wealthy I’ll serve You just the same
Here I am, Lord, send me
On the mountain or the valley
I will choose to praise
Here I am, Lord, send me
If I’m known by how I love
Let my life reflect how much I love You I love You
And before You even ask
Oh, my answer will be yes ‘
cause I love You I love You
If the truth cuts like an arrow
I will say it anyway
‘Cause here I am, Lord, send me
And if it’s means that they’ll reject me Lord, I will still obey
‘Cause here I am, Lord, send me
And if I’m known by how I love
Let my life reflect how much I love You I love You
And before You even ask Oh, my answer will be yes
’cause I love You Oh, I love You
When I’m standing in Your glory
I’ll be glad I chose to say
“Here I am, Lord, send me”
“Well done, good and faithful” I live to hear You say
Here I am, Lord, send me”

“Send Me” – Bethel Music

“I Will Rise”

Every once in a while, a memory of hard, traumatic, unexplainable events of the past will raise its ugly head inside of me. It tends to rock me to the core. Sometimes taking a while to get my mind off of it.

Today I was reading in Luke 24:1-12. It is the account of Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary Mother of James going to the tomb of Jesus to put burial spices on His body. They find He isn’t there. Suddenly, Angels appear and one says “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” This phrase resounds in my heart today. The women had seen some of the most traumatic events of a brutal death of a loved one. They surely were processing what had happened trying to make sense. But they were instructed that there wasn’t anything there for them in the dead things of the past. Jesus was living! He wasn’t in the past He has risen!

Whatever we have walked through that was hard, painful, and death to us is not where Jesus is. He has risen!! He is not in the dead things of the past. He is alive now and forever more!

The song “I Will Rise” by Bethel has been on my play list this week. This morning has been a morning that I have it on repeat. It speaks of what I read in Luke.

“Beyond the burial, there's a resurrection
Your will be done in me
Oh-oh, Let my roots go deep
And I will rise, I will rise
He holds the time that I will rise”

Jesus calls us out of our graves of the past to stand in the present with Him! “I will Rise! God through my life be lifted high!” We have no time to be looking intently into the graves of our lives! Jesus is not there! The living life of Christ cannot be found in the graves of failure and pain! He is risen and we are seated with Him in the heavenly places of His victorious Kingdom! I will rise! Let Jesus rise in me!

Desperation for Jesus (Poem- originally written 7/20/2010)

This morning I was thinking about desperation for God. How I lack it. I am the queen of trying to do things in my life all by myself and leaving all the “Big Stuff” to God.

The story of the woman with the issue of blood in the Bible came to my heart. How she saw her desperate situation and knew if she could only reach out to Jesus and just touch His robe she would be whole.

She could of just lived her life with the problem she had and tried to work things out to the best of her ability (i.e. coped). Life never would have been what it was meant to be for her. She had the desperation for more, for more of Jesus. I need that kind of desperation. The kind that will press through a crowd of life’s busy circumstances, and will reach out a hand just to grab hold of Jesus. It’s the only way I’ll ever be what I was created to be: Whole In Jesus.

Desperation for Jesus (7/20/2010) 

So much crowds around me
That keeps You and me apart.
So many thoughts and feelings
Deep inside my heart.

I know if I can just reach out.
Your healing touch is there.
If I can only grasp your robe.
You will meet me here.

I take my heart and I reach out.
I'm crying out for grace.
My heart desires more of You.
Please look upon my face.

I'm tired of doing things my way.
Because my way doesn't work.
I stretch my hand towards you.
You're there. You heal all that hurts.

Unhooked- Freedom from Painful Memories

I grew up in a small southern Missouri town near Montauk State Park, a state park known for trout fishing. Opening day of Trout Season, March 1st was almost like a holiday in our area. Kids were known to skip school so they could be on the river, pole in hand, listening for the early morning whistle blow that signaled the day of trout fishing had begun. I didn’t go much, but some in my family did. Then I met my husband and we married. He took to the whole trout fishing scene and became pretty proficient in catching his limit of trout, almost every time. That is not easy. I could fish for hours and catch none….. Years went by, camping at another state park for trout fishing became a yearly, if not more occurrence. It was nice. We had a pull behind camper. I would sleep in with the kids, he would go fishing. I would hang out, relax, do some school work with them, since we tended to camp during the school year, perks of Homeschooling… Then the camper was sold, the kids grew up, and my husband needed a fishing buddy. So my love for trout fishing began.

A small hook can do a lot of damage in a trout’s life.

One of the things about catching trout that still stumps me to this day, is they are incredibly smart. They can see the line, if too thick, the hook if too big, and they will NOT bite on it. You use a very light weight line and a very small hook considering the size of fish you will reel in.

This morning the image of a large trout being reeled in on a small hook has been floating around in my mind. I’ve seen it lots of times as I’ve stood with waders on, in the stream. Fish in one hand, my other hand free to remove the tiny hook from its mouth. How I ever got it into my net on such a small device eludes me. It probably amazes the trout as well. One chomp at an alluring fly and it’s a done deal, with the right skills, he becomes mine.

There is a parallel between the trout on a hook and the thought life I have struggled with for years. But finally, something has clicked inside of me that has “unhooked me” in my mind, and all I can do is praise the God who sets me free.

I’m pretty sure any person who struggles with trauma-based anxiety will identify with this pattern in your mind. A thought of an event or situation of the past comes to mind, a trauma. Then the thought, “uh oh… I thought the thought. I remembered the event. I prayed about that memory. I asked God to take it away, but here it is. I must not have experienced the healing God promises. What can I do to set myself free?” So, YOU fight to not think about it anymore: Distract, medicate, meditate, self-help techniques galore, the list goes on… That is the equivalent to a large trout hooked on a tiny hook. That trout will FIGHT to not be reeled in. All the while digging the hook deeper into its lip.

Yesterday, the Bible study group I go to, “Women on Wednesdays” had a workshop on Emotional Woundedness. They invited the Reginal director for Center for Women’s Ministries to lead it. There was something talked about during the workshop that has “unhooked” me, “Holy Forgetfulness”. God must have been trying to get my attention, because not only did it come up during the workshop, the topic was brought up in church on Sunday by a guest speaker for Spring Revival, and it also came up on a teaching I watched online by Robert Morris. In fact, a quote from Robert Morris’ teaching was posted in my Facebook feed. “Holy forgetfulness doesn’t mean we won’t have the memory anymore; it means we won’t have the stress and pain associated with the memory.” I would venture to say God has been trying to get my attention. It hit me… Memories of painful events don’t just vanish. They happened. But fighting the memory by trying to forget will only “set the hook” worse. God has “unhooked” me! Satan wants to drag up the chains, the handcuffs, the prison cell bars, from the recesses of my mind and say, “Yep, they are still there…” But the fact of the matter is NOT that all those things have existed as a part of my story. The FACT is I am not in them anymore! The pain they caused me has been healed. I am free! Jesus, the healer and the source of freedom, has unhooked me! That memory that I have tried so hard to forget needs to only be filed away under the label, “YOU ARE FREE!” and each time it may come up, the label clearly displayed. Because that memory has no hold on me!

“Too Good to Not Believe- Mental Health Restored”

“At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.” Daniel 4:34 NIV

The madness of King Nebuchadnezzar – Self centered/ the King restored- God centered. Daniel 4

Me Centered:

“God, I hate my mind!” – my prayer after another day drowning in anxiety. 8/31/2021

Emotions and feeling can take us on the wildest roller coaster rides of our minds. Sometimes the feeling goes beyond a little extra stress. Having lived with an anxiety disorder for years, I have felt like the crazy inside would never end. But I’ve had what I would call my “Nebuchadnezzar experience”. After raising my eyes toward heaven, my sanity has been restored.

I have known the torment of hideous nightmares, sleepless nights with my mind running 100 mph and no sign of stopping. I have known the fear of going to sleep because of not being to control what was going on around me while my eyes were closed and I slept. I’ve known what it is like to not be able to stay present in a situation. The whole Fight, Flight, Flee, or Freeze. I would freeze under extreme stress of fear. It was fairly unnoticeable unless you knew what you were looking for. Zoning out, feeling like you’re sinking into a tunnel inside your head, everything around you becomes just noise. Then there’s the tightness of your throat and chest that would go on for days. Before the meds- crying and not really sure why, after the meds- not crying a drop, numb. Going over and over and over again inside your head trying to make sense of the memories you would like to shut out, but can’t. I would have them hit when I was about to fall asleep and then feeling the tension of my shoulders as they tighten and I would find myself holding my breath like I was waiting for a shot to hit me.

All this going on while I have been a Christian- loved Jesus, a wife, homeschool mom, served on boards for different groups, lead ministries at my church, and tried to keep busy so it wouldn’t hit as much or I would hopefully forget. The problem is it would calm down on occasion, but all it took was a trigger and I would be back into the torment of my mind.

After 3 years of knowing me, my best friend suggested that I would go and see a counselor. So I did. I also began taking Prozac, which then had Hydroxizine added to it, then Buspar as the MG of Prozac grew too. I would make sure I took the pills as soon as I got out of bed and most days I couldn’t wait for my next dose in the evening. But after awhile, even the medicines weren’t working.

Four years of counseling… CBT- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, ACT- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, EMDR- Eye Movement Desensitization Reprogramming were some of the things I tried. There were things that definitely helped in some areas, but nothing stopped the anxiety. In fact, it seemed to get worse.

I tried doing everything the counselors I went to recommended. I began reading self-help book after self-help book trying to figure out how to get the feelings to stop. I tried the suggestion of “making room” for your anxiety. Imagining it being able to grow and not be resisted so that if I didn’t struggle it might stop. Then I tried Meditation. I downloaded the “HeadSpace” app. Which was started by a Buddhist Monk. I tried to blend their beliefs in with the Bible. Thinking that maybe I could make them fit and then justify my willingness to embrace things that went against what the Bible said. I wanted to believe that my problems had absolutely nothing to do with a spiritual world. That anxiety was my cross in life to bear/ thorn in my flesh/ in my DNA. That I might have the power within myself to fix myself If I tried to faithfully work through all the coping mechanisms that I was learning about that I had developed. I was starting to believe that the best I could do was to try to be my best me and live my out my truth, whatever that was and manage “my anxiety” (like it was my new lifelong pet). Then there was trying to let out pent up emotions as recommended to me, by getting alone in my car, finding the most angry/depressing music I could think of, usually Metalica or Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, then screaming as loudly as I could. Again, all this while attending church regularly, but not necessarily willingly (as time went on), also reading my Bible after trying to calm my mind by meditating. Every night ending with a tight throat and chest and not so restful sleep.

I tried everything I read and all that was recommended to me. Yet I was still drowning in anxiety and getting to the point that thoughts of suicide were entering my mind more frequently. I would find myself driving my Jeep and praying to God, begging Him to heal my mind and telling Him how much I hated my mind, then having my mind have this weird sensation and thinking, “I have to stay present! I see a red stop sign. White car, my steering wheel is black. I feel it’s rough yet smooth touch. My seat feels like fabric. I smell…”. “The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 method” for grounding, all this while driving. My mind was tortured and there seemed to be no end on the horizon.

Jesus Centered:

Finally, I had to come to the end of myself. I found myself sitting in a counseling session talking about the past and these words rolled off my tongue, “If there really are any demons…” In searching to figure out “my truth” (as is a common theme in today’s culture), I had started to doubt “God’s truth”. When the words came out, I immediately thought, “I am in trouble. Am I going to Believe Jesus, the Bible, what my whole life had been built around since childhood, or am I going to turn away? God HELP me I am in trouble, and I can’t get out of this.”

W.O.W.’s illustration of the characteristics of Wilderness Living

In January of 2021, I had started attending a Bible study in our area called W.O.W. (Women on Wednesdays). One of the sessions talked about how as Christians we choose to wander in the Wilderness, following after fleshly things and this will leave you empty and unfulfilled. Sins were specifically mentioned, among them was “Anxiety”. This offended me. My mind ran like a hamster on a wheel uncontrollably, how could they say that struggle was a sin, something I chose to live in? But for some reason, I knew I needed whatever they had, so I kept going until the Spring session was over. Then, during the summer, I felt like I needed to get to know these people who were saying this, so I would not struggle with anxiety about going to the Bible study so much. I texted one of the leaders and offered to just help- set up or tear down, nothing more. You would have thought that I had shaken a jar of yellow jackets and set them loose inside my chest. I couldn’t do it, not even help. So, I texted her back, and told her that I was rushing things, it would be better for me to just attend for a while. I was too anxious to help even just a little. She urged me to pray about that and not make any quick decisions. I told her, “I struggle with anxiety, but I will pray.” God helped me to say that I would serve as a door greeter. If you knew my history of serving in church, this should be a piece of cake. (I like people, most of them ha ha) But it wasn’t. Not because I didn’t want to tell women “Good morning” when they arrived. It was because, just walking in the building was hard for me. I would arrive in the morning, on time, and sit there for a few minutes in my Jeep, asking myself, “Why did you say you would do this? Now you have to come all the time… They don’t like you. You’re a bother…” the session of lies would go on and on, then I would think, “I have to go in.” and I would make myself get out of my Jeep and walk into the church. After a while of being there, I would somewhat calm down, but the struggle went on and on.
I would occasionally mention the anxiety I suffered with to the leader I was kind of getting to know. She mentioned the Co-founder of the organization had struggled with Anxiety and that she might be good to talk to. She was the one who mentioned Anxiety being a part of the wilderness experience the semester I attended before, it intimidated me to talk to her about it, but I was desperate. So, I texted her and asked her if I could talk to her about anxiety. She made time and we talked. It was then that she told me I was going to have to fight. That I could be free. That I was believing lies. That I had lost my first love, my passion for knowing Jesus. Everything she said hit home. She gave me a paper and told me to take it home and write out what I want, what I want with my relationship with Jesus, my life to be, etc. I took it home that afternoon and this is what I wrote:

“This is what I want… to walk in freedom from anxiety, but more than that I want to be close to Jesus. I want to drop the Buspar- Pop my eyes to you Jesus instead of pop a pill. I want for the very things that the enemy intends to tear me away from Jesus to be the very things that cause me to run to Jesus and my response to be one who falls at His feet close to HIm. I want Peace. I want You to be my peace…”

The Demoniac of Gardenes “When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind…”
‭‭Mark‬ ‭5:15‬ ‭NIV‬‬
An Encounter with Jesus leaves a tormented man free and in his right mind. It was nothing he did. It was ALL Jesus
!

This is the beginning of freedom. I’m not sure of the timing but shortly after I wrote that, I woke up one morning with the words, “Anxiety is not a part of my inheritance. I do not have walk in anxiety anymore.” running through my head. The whole day when anxiety would come to me, I would say, “NOPE, you are not my inheritance. My inheritance in is peace, love, joy, patience, kindness in Jesus.” One day would go by… Not too bad of a struggle, two days, three days, etc. Then I woke up one morning and thought. You don’t need the Buspar. Skip the morning dose. Did that for a week, felt good. Skip the evening dose. Did that for a week, felt good. I think I’ll drop them both. Quit the Buspar. Thank you, Jesus! Feeling less and less numb inside. Then, I started to believe that I can be free from the Prozac. I talked to my doctor and told her I was feeling better, and I wanted to go off it. She was all for it. Drop 10 mg. A much slower tapering off, 10 mg at a time, for weeks and weeks until I am finally Free! And feeling Soooo much better!!

Now when Anxiety comes to rattle my cage, I have a battle plan: I pray. I pop my eyes to Jesus. Speaking who God is and how He is worthy of praise. Worship music. Quoting Psalm 18. If it’s real strong, engage my praying friends. I’ve not lived in this kind of peace ever. God has set me free!

I have not needed the oftentimes-weekly counseling sessions I was going to for 6 months. Spending time in Bible Study and Prayer has been more than enough. Praying with my husband if I’m struggling and having friends pray have helped so much.

Do I battle? Yes, Satan knows where to hit me at, but God has shown me how to let Him hit back. It’s not by anything I do. It’s by me Looking to Jesus. Calling to Him for help. Thinking about How GOOD He is. Doing this over and over and over and then it Goes!

W.O.W. ‘S illustration of Kingdom Living

All the ME Centered living: my effort, my wants, my plans, my truth, etc. Only led me further and further away from peace and further and further into a pit. Repentance, and running to Jesus, hiding away in Him, relying totally on Him, trusting Him, surrendering to Him by submittance and obedience. It is the only thing that works because it is how He designed me to live. It is the only way out of the wilderness living to the abundance of Jesus’ Kingdom living.

The song “Too good to Not Believe” has a line in it that brings tears to my eyes on occasion. “Cause I’ve seen real life resurrection. I’ve seen mental health restored. Don’t you tell me He can’t do it… I believe You’re the Wonderworking God… The miracles I’ve seen. You’re too Good to not believe.”

“Cause I’ve seen real life resurrection
I’ve seen mental health restored
Don’t you tell me He can’t do it!”

God truly is too good to not believe! He can do anything. A little over a year ago, I was struggling to believe that there was any way to get free from the anxiety inside of me. Fear of needing to take more meds, try more self-help techniques and knowing what I had already done was not cutting it shouted its lies to me over and over. But Jesus heard my cries for help, and He came to my rescue! If you only knew the difference I feel, you would see, God is “Too Good to Not Believe”.

Dropping My Stone (Originally written 7/24/2013)

“You know, it’s very strange. I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.”-Inigo Montoya “The Princess Bride”.

Offense- a crime,sin; act of wickedness … an injury… Attack; assault

Living life on planet earth opens everyone up to an Offense within their life. Someone, somewhere will commit a crime against us, a sin, an injury, an attack. Some offenses are purely intentional by the offending party. Some are not. Other offenses are taken, just because there is a hurt already in place that the perceived offense bumps up against.
Offenses in life can cause a person to find themselves in a stone throwing war. They have a tendency to make a person feel justified in “picking up a stone” for later use. Holding onto that stone and watching for an opportunity then becomes the focus. You threw something at me, I wish to get you back. It may take me awhile, but when I will appear to be justified in my actions, my time will come, and whammo my stone will fly. I may throw my stone subtly or I may throw it with the desire for all to see. It all depends on the occasion for the stone throwing. The offender then responds in same and thus the stones fly and no peace is ever found.
There’s a story in the Bible of a woman who found herself in a literal stone war. She had been caught in her offense of adultery, and by what was considered justice at that time she should be stoned. All those offended by her sin were prepared and carrying their stones ready to let them fly. I have often related to the woman caught in her sin. How often in my life have I found myself trapped by a sin and deserving of punishment? More times than I would want to count. I have felt indignation towards the crowd of “stone carriers” ready to launch their offensive. How dare they?! What a group of self-righteous, religious men eager to trap Jesus and hungry to show just how right they are by taking care of that sinful woman in a manner that follows all the rules. Commit adultery…get stoned. It’s the old eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth thing.
This morning as I look into the mirror of the word, I see things a little differently. There are times that I am just like the men in the crowd. I have been self-righteous and religious. I have wanted my vindication for the wrongs committed against me. I want an eye for an eye, and I want a tooth for a tooth. I want to grip onto my stone and wait for the green light to let it fly, but I can picture Jesus looking directly into me saying, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
What Jesus said as a rebuke to all the potential stone throwers is actually a very freeing statement if you let it be. He had opened the door to the concept of forgiveness and letting the stones drop. Being set free from the weight of carrying a stone and letting go of spending all our energies looking for the right time to let the stone fly sets you free.
It may be uncomfortable at first to let the stone drop, but it is freedom and life. The very thing that Jesus intends to give to anyone who will receive.

Daddy, Abba Father

Although I have been present during the birth of all four of my kids (It would have been hard not to not be), I have never watched a baby be born in person. My husband did. He cut the cord for three of our four. (One needed immediate medical care.) Each one of the births was a moment like no other. For lack of a better word, I would call it magical. Those first few moments holding your newborn, listening to the first cry, pretty special.

Today is my birthday… for reasons not altogether known to me, it’s a day I don’t always eagerly anticipate. Not for the lack of celebration. My mom always made me my favorite cake, angel food with icing, when I was growing up. In recent years my husband and kids have made it a point to make the day special too: Surprise parties, dinners out at restaurants, etc. Each year I end up feeling loved and appreciated by them. It’s just getting there and getting through it that seems to be hard.

Years ago, my husband and I took our stab at song writing. I wrote quite a bit of poetry and he put a song or two to music on his guitar. I wrote a couple of songs as well that I came up with music for on the piano. This song is one of the songs I wrote. While sitting here this morning with my Bible and cup of coffee, I was praying about my birthday aversion, and I remembered this song. It’s been almost 15 years ago that I wrote it. I felt that still small voice say, “You know, I was there when you were born, and the way Rich felt for each one of your kids was born, I felt for you.”

Probably the reason I’ve not made too much hoopla over this song is the lyrics can be a bit uncomfortable. Especially if you’ve not always had an accurate perspective of God being a Good, good Father. Religion (not relationship with Jesus) has often left me and I’m sure others viewing Him as the God of lightning bolts for the ones who don’t uphold a very strict standard. But Jesus, Himself presented God as Abba (Papa) Father. Galatians 4:6-7 says, ” Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” The God that so many think is a God of punishment, lightning bolts, and tolerance of us, is actually a God of Tender love toward us. Tender love that watched with eager anticipation as we were born, but not only that, He intimately knit us together in our mother’s womb. He is the God that longingly desires for us to run to Him so He can show us just how great HIs lovingkindness towards us is. And even when we feel like our imperfections are glaring and disqualifying, He is known to be the Heavenly Father/ Daddy that Zephaniah 3:17 “Takes great delight in us” and “Rejoices over us with singing”.

So even when we feel like our birthday marks ANOTHER trip around the sun for us (ho hum). Our Heavenly Father sees it as a day special to Him, because He was there, and it was one of the beginnings of Him waiting for the time we would turn to Him and allow Him to show us just how much He loves and wants us to be in a close loving Father/ Daughter (son) relationship. He is just that Good!

Daddy, Abba Father (originally written March 25, 2007)

You were there when I was formed
There when I was born
You held me close when I breathed my first breath of life. 

You have drawn me to your side.
In Your Safety I abide.
I am deeply loved and cherished I know.

You are Daddy, Abba Father
The arms that hold me tight. 
I am Yours I know you never let me go. 

I am loved
I am your child. 
You are always there for me.
I can safely rest in You, my God. 

You are Daddy, Abba Father
The giver of my life. 
I am deeply loved, and I love you. 

You are Daddy, Abba Father
The arms that hold me tight. 
I am deeply loved and God, I love you. 

The God of a Billion Snowflakes

View off my front porch this morning.

The summer before my 8th grade year my mom talked me into going to church camp. She must have known it was exactly what I needed. Things weren’t easy for me my 7th grade year. There were the typical things: becoming a teenager, first year of junior high, trying to navigate all the changes of growing up. There were the hard things I went through too. The kind of stuff that sent me out for long bike rides on the regular each day after school. Blasting rock music into my ears as loud as I could to try to shut off my brain and deaden the feelings inside. I wanted to wear black all the time leaning toward going “Goth” when I didn’t even know Goth was a thing. Anyway, Mom convinced me to go to camp, though I protested much.

Camp Sharon held its evening worship services in what they called a tabernacle. It was a large open sided building with sawdust floors and rustic wooden pews for seats. I remember sitting through the first night of service feeling like God wanted me to come forward and pray during the altar call/ prayer time, but I was determined I would not go. The second night I sat there determined not to yield again, until they said service was over. Then I could take it no more. I went up to the front knelt in the saw dust and cried so hard I could not talk. The only thing I can remember thinking is, “God, IF you want me, you can have me.”

“IF”, I don’t know if you have ever approached God with the feeling of “If you want me” before, but I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that have. I believe one of satan’s biggest lies he spews to try to get us to not turn to God in our time of need is the lie of, “God does not want you.” “You’ve fallen too far. You’re not good enough. God tolerates your existence. God doesn’t see you or care about you. etc. ” If satan can get you thinking about God in “if you want me…” terms, he has succeeded in propagating one of his biggest lies. Thankfully, God has His way of tearing down that lie and breaking through.

As I sit here this morning with my heated throw blanket, cup of coffee, and laptop on my lap, I am watching it snow. We’re getting quite a lot of it for my neck of the woods. It is beautiful. A few days ago, when the forecast started talking snow, I started thinking about snowflakes. When my kids were little, we would take a black piece of construction paper out on a snowy day and catch snowflakes so we could see the individual detail of each one. Each one was unique. I remember us talking about the God of details. Then it hit me, this current snowstorm has millions, maybe billions of flakes, much more than I can count. And God has given each tiny flake an individual identity. He knows their shape. He knows their size. He knows the moment they will form and the moment they will melt. God cares that much about detail, and all this fuss over a tiny snowflake. Yet He never took the time to send His one and only Son, Jesus to earth so the snowflake could experience Him and His goodness. Not so with us, You and I are exactly the reason Jesus came. How much more then does this God of a billion snowflakes, actually care about me. To say He wants me is an understatement. The God of that much detail, took the time to zero in on a 13 year old Missouri girl out of the billions of people on this planet, to draw me to a place that I could say, “If You want me, You can have me.” It was there at that point that the layers of lies began to peel off. Some of them still slowly being removed some 38 years later. The God of a billion snowflakes wanted the heart of this one Missouri Girl. That is good news! He not only wanted me, but He wanted to have me, to hold me, and to show me what a Good, Good Heavenly Father He is to me. You and I can both be assured if the God who takes the time to design a billion snowflakes can step into my, one in the billions of people, world, He can take the time to step into yours. He’s just that Big and yet He comes to us individually in just that small of a way! He not only Loves us, He wants us! He is good!

The God of a Billion Snowflakes, made me.