Tag Archives: Christian ministry

Happy Hour: Celebrating 20+ years following Beth as she follows Christ

HAPPY HOUR: Fridays AT 5:00 P.M.—Kick back after a hard week’s work and enjoy the intoxicating goodness of true love and wisdom without putting a dent in your wallet.    It’s like free fast food for your soul. ~Enjoy!

 

I want to encourage one of my closest friends; whom I’ve never met, Beth Moore. 

I advocate for women who are in, or are leaving, destructive marriages. What I’m seeing take place on the internet in recent months is nothing short of destructive theology and it’s targeted at women. It’s abuse. As I minister I tell the woman I’m meeting with and praying with, “You’re not crazy. You didn’t do anything to bring this on yourself.  You’re strong. You will survive this and come out stronger on the other side. I know you have moments when you feel like you can’t take any more but remember; Jesus lives to intercede for you so, don’t listen to or fear those who come against you. The distance makes no difference to Jesus; He is praying for you!”

“It is because of Jesus that anyone is set free. And remember, it is only in him that women gain true equality. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28.)” -Tim Fall

Twenty five years ago I had done the Bible studies Experiencing God by Blackaby and King and The Mind of Christ by Hunt and King. They left me hungry for more in-depth studies but I couldn’t find any.

Enter Beth Moore. For 20+ years she has been a godly influence in my life by encouraging me to read my Bible, pray God’s word, ask God questions while reading his word, spend time in praise and worship, disciple others, minister to others, be mission minded, pass on a spiritual heritage to my children, and be involved in my local church.Beth

I thank her for being real and transparent, being a humble servant, keeping her eyes focused completely on Jesus, not throwing in the towel when nay-sayers came against her, for knowing she isn’t perfect and sharing with her readers how God is growing her and working in her life, and for helping eager students dig into the word and find how God has carefully and purposefully woven a beautiful tapestry of His story throughout history while finding hidden treasures in His word.

I’ve followed Beth as she’s followed Christ. I’ve read and studied almost all of her books and studies. I checked for accuracy. I understand her heart for Jesus, and for women.  I feel like I know her and her family, and I’m a better woman because of it. I can’t imagine I would be as in love with Jesus had Beth not shown me the depth of relationship possible with God the Father, Jesus the son, and our comforter; the Holy Spirit.

I was so pleased, and changed, from spending time with God that I had a burning desire to pass on the love of studying the Bible to my children. My daughter had watched me do these studies for years and I often found her peeking over my shoulder to see what all the tears, laughter, and amazement were about, or to watch a video on-line with me when I was too sick from pregnancy to regularly attend a study at our church. By age 8, my daughter was asking when she could do the studies. If my memory serves me correctly, I lead 7 studies, written by Beth, during my daughter’s high school years. We hosted a mother-daughter study in our home and had between 14-18 moms and daughters every-other Wednesday night. It was some of the most beautiful treasure a mom’s heart could uncover. I’ll never regret the time, heart, tears, laughter, and ministry poured out during those studies. Everyone grew from participating in the studies!

Then my boys (currently ages 14 & 15) wanted to do the studies. I offered to take them to the bookstore to pick out something geared toward them, but they said, “No, we like Beth.” This week we finished our fourteenth in-depth study together; ten of which were written by Beth Moore, two by Lysa Terkeurst, one by Blackaby and King, one by Hunt and King, and the next two are by Priscilla Shirer.  After each study I give them the option to buy something written by a man but they have been pleased with their own personal growth in knowledge, prayer, relationship with the Lord, and zeal for the Lord that Beth’s studies offer.

Beth, you’ve made my life so much happier, joyful, purposeful, and loving as I’ve grown in love with Jesus through your hours of studying, praying, writing, and passing on your passion. I know Jesus loves you, delights in you, speaks to your heart, soul, mind and strength, and will continue to use you.

Happy weekend! Happy Hour!

Cheers! To Beth Moore and her contagious love for our Savior Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

Toxic Tuesday: Lysa TerKeurst’s Betrayal

My heart aches for Lysa.Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard small

I suspected this for several months. The  times I listened to Lysa in Bible studies or on pod casts over the last year I wondered if this was the difficult circumstance she was living in of which she couldn’t speak. There are some things so profoundly deep and traumatic that when you hear someone else speaking with such words…your betrayed heart reaches through multi-media and feels their secret soul-hurt.

I realize publication dates precede the release of her letter. I don’t know when it happened or when she made it public, but I’m grateful she was obedient in her calling to write a book and Bible study that would help her, and help others who would go through similar circumstances.

Rejection, Heartache, and a Faithful God

No person’s rejection of me can ever exempt me from God’s love for me.

“A Gut-Honest Look at Love.” That was the title of my first blog post of this year. Based on 1 Corinthians 13, I wrote, “Love isn’t what I have the opportunity to get from this world, love is what I have the opportunity to give.

This perspective on love has been a lifeline during the most painful season and decision of my adult life. I so wish we were sitting face-to-face so you could see my tears and hear the deep grief in my voice as I share this with you. My husband, life partner and father of my children, Art TerKeurst, has been repeatedly unfaithful to me with a woman he met online, bringing an end to our marriage of almost 25 years. For the past couple of years, his life has sadly been defined by his affection for this other woman and substance abuse. I don’t share this to harm or embarrass him, but to help explain why I have decided to separate from him and pursue a divorce. God has now revealed to me that I have done all I can do and I must release him to the Savior.

Continue reading the continuation of Lisa’s letter here….

 

If you find yourself in a season traveling the same road as Lysa you may find her book “Uninvited” at Amazon or Christian Book Distributors (Book, study guide, DVD study, or Audio book)

Uninvited…

The enemy wants us to feel rejected . . . left out, lonely, and less than. When we allow him to speak lies through our rejection, he pickpockets our purpose. Cripples our courage. Dismantles our dreams. And blinds us to the beauty of Christ’s powerful love.

In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences with rejection—from the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father to the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over.

With biblical depth, gut-honest vulnerability, and refreshing wit, Lysa helps readers:

    • Release the desire to fall apart or control the actions of others by embracing God-honoring ways to process their hurt.
    • Know exactly what to pray for the next ten days to steady their soul and restore their confidence.
    • Overcome the two core fears that feed our insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging.
    • Stop feeling left out and start believing that “set apart” does not mean “set aside.”
  • End the cycle of perceived rejection by refusing to turn a small incident into a full blown issue.

 

Continue reading the continuation of Lisa’s letter here….

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 3

Naghmeh Abedini photo
Naghmeh Abedini’s Facebook Profile pic

In How Do We Respond: Part 2 I worked off the premise that, “Domestic violence and abuse of any type is not a marital issue; it is an abuse issue.”

“The abuser needs healing.”

Now on to my reasoning for having the abuser obtain counseling without the presence or help of the spouse: The victim shares no responsibility in the abuser’s character, attitude or actions.

There is scriptural precedence for blame not being split down the middle.

Let’s consider Nabal and Abigail from I Samuel 25. Abagail was living in an abusive nightmare. And let’s make one thing clear: No woman deserves to be abused. Education, social standing, beauty, or lack thereof…nothing gives cause for a human to be treated with abuse yet we read of Nabal, an abusive husband to, Abigail, “an intelligent and beautiful woman.” The Bible describes Nabal as harsh and evil in his dealings. I Samuel 25:3. I understand a good deal about narcissistic personality disorder and will restate what I have read numerous times from Christian psychologists; Nabal was a narcissist.  He was utterly selfish, ungrateful, mean, sarcastic, arrogant, and lacked any amount of empathy.

An extremely wealthy Nabal refused David’s request to feed David’s 600 men. That was the hospitable custom of the day for travelers; especially since David and his men had been protecting Nabal’s workers from theft and harm during their stay in the desert. Thereafter, when David went to kill Nabal and the males who belonged to Nabal, he met Abigail riding her donkey on the road. She was a wise woman and was on her way to intercede with food and drinks, and to ask for forgiveness. I imagine she was thinking of her innocent family members; not Nabal. Abigail, “got off her donkey” and pleaded, “Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent.” After David listened to Abigail’s appeal, he was impressed by her and thanked her for keeping him from bloodshed that day.

Abigail showed immense courage; plus she was sensible, capable and persuasive. Being an abused woman DOES NOT mean you are weak, incapable, stupid, unattractive, boring in the bedroom, or insensible. Most likely you are strong. How else could you survive the abuse?  Nabal could have severely punished Abigail for her independent actions that went against the rules of marriage in those days. David and his men could have taken her life and continued on to massacre Nabal’s household. Yes, Abigail, was strong and courageous.

David was wise. He listened. He took extra time and effort to understand Abigail’s predicament. He did not hold Abigail responsible for her husband’s actions or tell her she held a portion of responsibility for his actions.  Neither did the Lord; in fact, when Abigail told Nabal what she had done, “He became like a stone.” Possibly he became so worked up that, “His heart failed him.” Ten days later the Lord took Nabal.

I can’t tell you how many abused women have hoped for such an ending. I would like to take a poll and find out for myself. That may sound terrible but I’m just being honest. The flip side of this is the numerous women who were in total despair, saw no hope, and imagined there was no way out; choosing instead to end their lives with suicide.

 

Now let us take a look at Lot and his wife in Genesis 19.  This is the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; the city which archaeologists claim to have found in the last few years.

Sodom and Gomorrah is a stern, wise warning that indulgence, not restrained by the Holy Spirit in us, arouses lust and can leave us continually wanting more. Lot, his wife and their family were told to, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back.” Lot’s wife disobeyed the urgent command and looking back, turned into a pillar of salt. Did the Lord judge Lot by his wife’s actions? No. Lot’s wife made an independent decision and received the foretold consequence for her actions.

Now we will look at Joseph in Genesis 39. He acted honorably with truth yet Potiphar’s wife persuasively lied resulting in Joseph’s imprisonment.  I believe Potiphar probably knew his wife was lying and that is why he, “Burned with anger” when he heard the accusation. Because Potiphar’s entire household, including slaves and servants, heard the charge; he was forced to take swift action.  Potiphar chose not to have Joseph executed; in fact, Potiphar (Captain of the guard a.k.a.; prison warden) still trusted and respected Joseph and saw fit to place Joseph in charge of everyone, and responsible for everything done in the prison.

This is often what women go through in joint counseling when the husband spins a different story. They play the role of victim and the wife gets scolded; leaving  her isolated, in despair and in an emotional prison because the professional they trusted to see through the grand acting is blind, deaf and dumb to his antics. Her husband looks great to others around them, and she hurts and grieves horrifically behind closed doors in her home. It is common for the wife to be disbelieved; leaving her beaten down.  The wife may feel like the counselor just dug her grave so her husband could bury her alive.

Another problem women tend to have is that some male counselors refuse to call the husband on the carpet over his abuse in front of the wife due to the patriarchal system to which some Christians adhere. In such cases the counselor will reprimand the wife for her desperation or for showing emotional responses to her deep marital wounds. A patriarchal social system can be defined as a system where men are in authority over women in all aspects of society; a false sense of male entitlement. This system employed by an abuser can lead to further verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse in the home; silencing the victim. We need people who will hear and,

 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:8-9.

Many in our own American culture seem to hold a view of women as substandard beings. Case in point: Google all the revolting, insensitive, demeaning statements presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, says about women. We don’t need him standing at the top of that slippery slope encouraging other men to join him for the ride.

 “Women, our gender will not flourish in a political climate where we are objectified OR deified.” –Beth Moore

The church needs to educate itself on domestic abuse. There are women you see in church every Sunday who are sitting next to their abuser. She has done nothing wrong and yet most counselors would give her at least a gentle rebuke for saying anything negative about her husband when she desperately needs someone to hold the abuser accountable. A gentle rebuke for the abuser serves no purpose; in fact it is a nauseating jest for the woman, as nothing changes. Only strong accountability by the church and a counselor who specializes in rehabilitating abusers will help.

To read a chilling account of a husband and wife who both lacked integrity and who were equally paired in their deceptive ways, duly receiving the same consequence, read Acts 5:1-11. This lesson is not about marital abuse but rather marital co-conspiracy. Peter exposed their fraud of lying to the Holy Spirit and embezzlement.  The punishment was proportionate to both; death.

Isaiah 1:17 reads, “Learn to do good; seek justice; reprove the ruthless; defend the orphan; plead for the widow.” Women in this situation are widows; sometimes they are married widows because their husbands have emotionally and spiritually divorced them.

When abuse revelations come forth from a woman in ministry, or she is married to a spouse in ministry, or is publicly well-known—few are interested in hearing the truth of her suffering, and fewer are willing to risk supporting her. It’s uncomfortable to hear. Unless you are living it, it is difficult to imagine such behavior is possible from someone who has been held in such high regard. Although the husband has emotionally and spiritually left the wife he pours on the charisma, charming smiles, spiritual talk, and engaging conversation to outsiders.

“I fear many of us have confused Christendom with Christ. We equate Christian institutions and organizations with the Son of God. They are not the same. Christendom is not even the same as the true body of Christ. Jesus Himself told us that. He said there are tares among the wheat, wolves among the sheep, and whitewashed humans posing as believers — sometimes in leadership. We long to be comfortable somewhere, to fit in, to feel at home, and so we let ourselves think Christendom is safe and fail to see and assess and discern. Instead we listen and follow, or we remain silent. Many poor sheep have unknowingly followed a blind guide and landed in a pit. Christendom, like all institutions or organizations, tries to protect itself. If you doubt that, just expose a case of child sexual abuse by a leader and watch what happens.  Christendom has used Scripture to support or hide slavery, racism, domestic violence, and other cruelties our God hates. I fear Christendom today has become less interested in truth and more interested in power and protecting that power. Many have acquired fame, money, status, reputation, and kingdoms. At the same time we are steeped in pornography, marriages are failing in large numbers, the next generation is turning away, and we tolerate leaders in our organizations and pulpits who feed off the sheep. We have had a lot of recent headlines about Christian leaders and Christian systems that look nothing like our Lord. Christendom is not Christ.”¹   – Diane Langberg  

 

This reminds me of when leaders were waiting to see if Jesus would challenge Sabbath teachings by healing a man, (Mark 3) and a woman (Luke 13) on that day. Jesus did heal the needy man and woman, and he told the leaders that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. I believe the same applies to marriage.

The church must choose to love people more than they love things such as the institution of marriage. My commitment to my marriage covenant, and my false belief that divorce was wrong in all cases, kept me in a very sick and dangerous marriage for too long. You cannot make your husband love you, or reason with him to stop the abuse.

Wives in abusive relationships long for their abuser to be reasonable.  This will not happen. He’ll justify every offensive word and action. His refusal is the headquarters of his control. Nothing is more frustrating, or more difficult, than living with an unfair, unreasonable, and self-centered abuser.

I have learned that the percentage of abusive men who actually change is close to nil. It usually only escalates. This is a sad fact. It isn’t hopeless if the husband wants to work through the dysfunction because he, “Can do all things through Christ who strengthens” him. We know our God is the God who makes impossibilities possible.

Regardless of an abuser’s cruelty, selfishness, deceit, unfaithfulness, addiction, and/or weakness,—it can’t trump God’s strength.

Prayer for Naghmeh is essential during this time. I hope many more choose to cover her in prayer.

Naghmeh is handling the marital separation with strength that comes only from God, and I admire how she is taking her stand quietly, working hopefully, not bashing her husband, and yet preserving her own dignity.

 

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¹ http://byfaithonline.com/suffering-and-the-heart-of-god/?platform=hootsuite

 

MORE ARTICLES ON NAGHMEH ABEDINI:

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 1 March 1, 2016

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 2 March 3, 2106

Naghmeh Abedini’s Leaked Letter December 8, 2015

She Said He Said: Naghmeh and Saeed Abedini February 2, 2016

 

 

 

 

Toxic Tuesday: Dangerous and Difficult to Identify

toxic-people-warning-keep-calm

 

What does Narcissistic Personality Disorder look like in the Christian Community?

Today I will share about the most dangerous and difficult narcissist to identify: The Covert Narcissist.

You cannot walk into a room and spot someone with N.P.D.—not at a party, not at school, not in your neighborhood and most likely not in your own family. You would never expect it at church so you will not know if your pastor, teacher or leader has N.P. D. by the way they teach; not at first anyway.

When a friend, spouse, colleague or therapist realizes a person has N.P.D., the narcissist will usually let the personality disorder all hang out while in private with these people. In public they keep the ‘normal’ charade up very well and NO ONE would ever believe they have a personality disorder.

To the outside world a narcissistic personality can appear to be an island of stability but in their hidden reality they are surrounded by an ocean of unpredictability, chaos and often sexual addictions. Those with N.P.D. believe they are special, superior and entitled making them above the law, social norms, moral law and scriptural teachings. Please understand they believe all of these to be true, good and beneficial for common people; just not for themselves due to their specialness.

“Covert narcissists are masters of disguise — successful actors, humanitarians, politicians, clergy members, and even psychotherapists who are beloved and appreciated, but are secretly selfish, calculating, controlling, angry and vindictive. Covert narcissists create an illusion of selflessness while gaining from their elevated status. Although they share similar basic traits with the overt narcissist, i.e., the need for attention, affirmation, approval and recognition, they are stealthier about hiding their selfish and egocentric motives. Unlike the overt narcissist who parades his narcissism for all to see, the covert narcissist furtively hides his real motives and identity. These narcissists are able to trick others into believing they are honest, altruistic and empathetic individuals. They are successful at pretending to be a more likable version of themselves, knowing that if their true identity was uncovered, they would not be able to maintain the respect, status and prestige that they have so furtively garnered.” Ross Rosenberg 

 

Watch, listen and learn.

For more on Narcissistic Personality Disorder, toxic people and how to pray your way through such relationships; see earlier Toxic Tuesday posts.

You are not alone and God cares about what you are enduring; so do I.

Toxic Tuesday: Moms’ Night Out—You Need to Laugh

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No More Frumpy Mommy ‘Moms’ Night Out’ Challenge Day 5 with Tricia Goyer

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This post is another encouragement to those of you living in a toxic relationship.

I had a mom’s night out last Thursday with my friends, Kim and Michelle. We all needed out of the house; I desperately needed out of the house! No kids, no responsibilities, no house work, no refereeing conflicts among siblings, no endless questions and no meal to cook. We ate dinner out, saw the movie Moms’ Night Out, and afterward went out for yogurt to enjoy a long conversation. Ahhh… *Smile*

It was refreshing! I needed to laugh and Moms’ Night Out provided the source.

I know some mothers who take a moms’ night out once a week, some who take one occasionally and some who rarely if ever take one. Do you have a friend to enjoy a moms’ night out with?

After the movie, Kim reflected on the fact that the husband in this movie was a good sweet husband and was so understanding of his wife’s need to make a break from the house, and from the  kids, for some fun girl time, good food, adult conversation and relaxation.  What about people living in toxic relationships, she asked? They especially need a night out with friends and seeing this movie would definitely provide laughter and encouragement. Kim told me I should write about this on my next Toxic Tuesday blog post.

I agreed!

The mom in the movie had a wonderful husband who treated her with kindness, tenderness, understanding, moral support, love and encouragement. Yet she needed an opportunity to recharge her heart, soul, mind and strength so she could pour positive life into her family members.

What about those of you living in a negative environment where the only thing you might be receiving is love from your children?

What if you have a spouse who criticizes you, often gives you the silent treatment, physically withholds from you, and plays crazymaking games with you?

Do you find you cannot please them even though you are biblically solid and in a daily relationship with the Lord, you are FUN in the bedroom, you are a terrific mom, housekeeper, cook and friend? You do what the Bible teaches regarding being a good spouse. You have implemented applications you read about in Christian marriage books, learned from marriage conferences, gleaned from older godly mentors and read on Christian blogs? Are you still treated as unworthy?

If this is you then please take time to care for yourself. You must pray, asking God for a friend or Bible study group who could be your prayer support and a listening ear when you need it. 

You need time alone with God each day and you also need time to de-stress. You need some simple pleasures specifically for you; even if you have to provide them for yourself.

Here are some examples:

  • A new book to read; for fun (Bought, borrowed, or on loan from the library)
  • A movie to watch after the kids are in bed
  • A new decoration for the house; this can be free by bringing nature inside
  • An aromatic candle to enjoy burning
  • A new piece of jewelry if finances allow
  • A special treat/dessert
  • A cup of your favorite coffee or tea
  • A lunch date with a dear friend
  • A new outfit; try thrift stores if finances are tight—you won’t have to worry about shrinkage because the clothes have already been laundered (Makes me wish all clothes were washed and dried before hitting the store racks)
  • A new CD or time alone to listen to favorite music on the internet
  • A relaxing drive in the country
  • A few moments alone to sit on the back deck/porch uninterrupted
  • A trip to the gym to work off stress
  • An appointment at an upscale salon for a relaxing massage. If you lack physical touch a massage will relieve stress and bring much of your body back in to balance. A massage is an effective way to alleviate depression, anxiety and tension while improving sleep quality. The state of calmness you achieve allows you better coping skills for interacting with your toxic person. Staying calm is essential. The connection between touch and feelings of emotion seem to occur in the limbic brain. The limbic system controls mood and attitude. It sets the emotional tone of the mind and modulates motivation, controls appetite and sleep cycles and promotes bonding. Problems with the system lead to moodiness, irritability and clinical depression. Amen DG. Brain Function and Physiology. Limbic System (controls mood and attitude). Internet. 2003.
  • A relaxing bath
  • Make a grateful list—yes there are things to be grateful for, even in your circumstances
  • A nature walk or walk around your neighborhood
  • Take a nap or enjoy a 5-15 minute rest
  • Go to the library, alone, to sit and read a book or enjoy browsing through magazines
  • Do not over schedule
  • Journal your thoughts, allow God to be your audience when  you journal
  • Call a trusted friend or family member
  • Plant a new flower, bush or plant; or ask a friend/neighbor for leftovers next time they thin their flower beds or garden
  • Make an appointment with a Christian counselor or church staff member
  • Get a dose of outdoor sunlight every day
  • Provide an act of service for someone else
  • Take a walk through an art gallery or history museum; many are free or offer a free day/time
  • Window shop at your favorite shopping destination
  • Visit a local botanical garden or nursery/greenhouse

If you are feeling mentally, physically or spiritually drained it is never too late to make changes that will improve your situation. Begin making simple pleasures a part of your daily routine for the next thirty days and see if it helps you manage your stress factors. Ask a friend to check in on you at the end of each week and inquire about your simple pleasures experiment.

Start with seeing Moms’ Night Out in a theatre near you with a friend or group of friends; or rent it when it when it comes out on DVD or through video streaming to enjoy with a friend over a hot cup of tea or favorite drink.

You need encouragement and you need to laugh!

Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Seeing Moms’ Night Out guarantees good medicine.

I had not experienced such unbridled laughter since reading the Pioneer Woman’s, All I Wanted Was a Doughnut.

The thing that made the movie better was the longevity of it.  It was an extra-large jumbo size dose of good medicine and a timely lesson from Bones. (You will have to see the movie to find out about Bones.)

I thought the movie would strictly be a ‘Chick-Flick’ but no; I heard and saw men laughing as uncontrollably as me.

I have never laughed so much, so hard, so loud in any movie. Hysterical laughter, tears from hysterical laughter, snorting from not being able to catch my breath due to hysterical laughter. Side splitting I tell ya!

There you have it. My encouragement for the day: Laugh. Funny movies, funny books, comedians or funny friends; find your funny and take a full measure of it.

word filled linkup

Toxic Tuesday: A Path Through the Forest

 

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Today’s post is an encouragement to those of you living in a toxic relationship.

It’s easy to allow the issues to take over your thought life so today I want to give you food for your thoughts; good, healthy, life giving food. I am not saying to ignore the difficult relationship but I am recommending that you put on a different pair of glasses from which to view the situation. Maybe even better than glasses is a different set of eyes with which to observe. Let’s consider it through the gaze of God’s eyes.

If God has placed you in this relationship, or you have placed yourself in it through a marriage covenant, ask God to show you His plan; tell Him you need Him. He might not show you the map or details but He will not leave you alone to sink in your difficulties. He is a God of relationship so to not answer would not be in His nature. God loves you.

God loves your difficult person too and it would be a safe bet to assume He wants to love this person through you. And guess what? If He has called you to love them, His word tells you that He has armed you for the purpose.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Love undeniably qualifies as a good work.

There are  exceptions, times, when this is not possible or times when safety is an issue. See previous  Toxic Tuesday posts: TO LIVE BUT NOT EXIST

Read: TOXIC INTERVENTION

Read: A TOXIC RELATIONSHIP AND A THERAPEUTIC SEPARATION

Read: THE THERAPEUTIC SEPARATION AND CHILD PROTECTION

Read: BIBLICAL PERMISSION TO LEAVE A TOXIC SPOUSE

Read: DEAD END

For today’s purpose I am working off the assumption God has called you to this relationship, place and time. It may be a holy calling on your life. It may be that God will use your pain for a Kingdom purpose if you invite Him to do so.

This may be the toughest responsibility God has ever placed upon you.

Compare your toxic person with the characteristics of a Badger, Porcupine, Raccoon, Skunk and Grizzly Bear. Is this person diffused with similar animal’s qualities, making a healthy interactive relationship difficult if not impossible?

  • Badger: They are persistent when they are after something. Once provoked they become ill-natured and intimidating.
  • Porcupine: The quills keep you from getting close enough to know them and if you do get close, even though you have good intentions, they shoot a barbed quill into you. Body heat (love) makes the barbs expand and they become even more deeply embedded in your heart and mind. If an animal is hit in a vital place it may die; much like a piece of your heart dies every time your Porcupine shoots another barb at you.
  • Raccoon: Sneaky and constantly looking for a way into the chicken coop. They innately know the law of averages will swing to their advantage a future night leaving a weak point of entry. If it doesn’t, they lift a piece of metal on the back side of the coop night by night and eat a hole through the wood. The coon replaces the metal panel over the wood at the end of the night; keeping the farmer blind to their thieving ways. Raccoons will do their best to keep you blind to their sin life or possibly to the betrayal of the marriage covenant.
  • Skunk: The odor of their attack will never be forgotten and you do not have to be told twice to stay away.
  • Grizzly Bear: They are on the prowl to feed their ravenous appetite yet their hunger is never satisfied. Do not feed the bears is another way to say do not become Narcissistic supply.  See previous Toxic Tuesday: Boundaries post on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Supply. https://chocolateorelse.wordpress.com/2013/11/19/boundaries/

Yet God called us to agape; a Greek word for sacrificial love pertaining to: Unconditional love that is always giving and impossible to take or be a taker. It devotes total commitment to seek your highest best no matter how anyone may respond.

God’s love is demonstrative and since Christ taught us to love as He loves we can be assured that our love is to also be demonstrative.

Romans 5:8 

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 4:19 

We love because he first loved us.  

John 14:21 suggests we may see, experience and enjoy evidences of God’s love when we obey and love God.

John 14:21

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.

I John 3:18-20

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.

1 John 3:18-20

The Message (MSG) My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. Agape is demonstrative; love without action does not feel good.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Next: Tying your happiness to this toxic relationship is an emotional sinking ship but tying your identity to God, claiming His love and being resolved to spend time with Him is an anchor that will hold you in place no matter the next despairing storm coming your way.

Put away the, “I’ll be happy when…” thoughts and instead fill your mind with God’s truth.

I recently made a list of verses to help you remember that God wants you to have peace, know you are loved and know that your life has purpose. I got a bit carried away and now I have six pages of scriptures to pray over peace, love and purpose. Here is a sampling:

Peace

Psalm 29:11 The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 Love

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 5:5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

1 John 3:1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

Purpose

Psalm 138:8   The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Philippians 4:13  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Jeremiah 1:5  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Mark 12:30-31  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Psaml 57:2 I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.

Deep within you what is the nagging question, the fear, the belief that is not from God’s heart that fills your inmost being’s empty spaces? Do you have a fear or a lie  zapping your heart, soul, mind and strength?

Satan starts these lies and feeds these fears knowing the more the fears/lies grow the less room there is for the filling of the Holy Spirit. Satan does not want you to know who you are or what you are capable of doing. Satan does not want you to live in power, love, clarity of mind and service. Satan does not want you to feel the wholeness God offers you.

Satan’s plan for your life is one more reason a daily quiet time with the Lord is so important. Be deliberate about it even when you do not feel like it. When the messiness of life keeps you from seeing anything from God, hearing anything from God or feeling anything from God GO—TO—HIS—WORD; the Bible. Read the truth until you feel it, remember it—know it! Confess the fear, the lie, to God and ask Him to shine His light of truth in your heart; invite God to heal you and fill the empty space with good gifts , with truth, from Him.

2 Timothy 1:7 

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

 Psalm 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love

Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Romans 3:23 …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

The more we love God and allow Him to love us, the more His love, power and wisdom will flow through us.

Be resolved: Love is nonnegotiable.; it’s always there no matter how they treat you. Journal and dialogue with God about it.

One reason I enjoy journaling is so I can follow my transformation. When I journal God is my audience; no one else. This is about your journey; not theirs. What you learn and what you do has huge ripple effects. Ask God who He wants you to be. Ask God to show you what He is doing so you can join Him in His work. Who do you want to be? What kind of legacy do you want to be known for?

God is interested in relationships; His relationship with you and your relationships with others.

Luke 10:27 “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Lord I find You in the seeking 
Lord I find You in the doubt 
And to know You is to love You 
And to know so little else 
I need You 
Oh how I need You (3) 

Lord I find You in the seeking 
Lord I find You in the doubt 
And to know You is to love you 
And to know so little else 
I need You 
Oh how I need You (x3) 

Lord I find You in the morning 
Lord I seek You everyday 
Let my life be for Your glory 
Woven in your threads of grace 
I need You 
Oh how I need You (x3) 

Light glorious light 
I will go where You shine 
Break the dawn , crack the skies 
Make the wave right before me 
In Your light I will find 
All I need, all I need is You 

Light glorious light 
I will go where You shine 
Break the dawn , crack the skies 
Make the wave right before me 
In Your light I will find 
All I need, all I need is You 

Oh how I need You (x8)

Toxic Tuesday: DEAD END

toxic-people-warning-keep-calm

In past posts I shared my insight and experience regarding being in a toxic relationship. My heart truly did not want to revisit the toxic experience but the Lord had firmly prompted me to share, as minimally as possible, of circumstances I had prayed through, lived through and grown through.

The experience was long, difficult—more like impossible, heart-breaking, life-changing, traumatic and it left permanent scars along with multiple wrinkles. Life is hard and sometimes it shows.

For many years, while in this relationship, I did not know what to do so I continued doing what I knew to do; believe, support, love, nurture, cover for and forgive but the time came when I realized I could not keep doing life the same way and expect better relational results.

I kept placing my hope in God and I kept trying over and over again. I felt it was possible to beat the odds, to help bring the person to repentance, restore the relationship and provide emotional healing.  I prayed, I fasted, I sought counsel and I loved when I did not feel like loving. Most importantly I continued to pray scripture out loud over the situation. I was alone before God with nowhere to go and as I prostrated myself before Him with tears flooding my face, floor and open Bible He met me there. Just the two of us and God loved me with all His heart, great emotion that I could feel, and I was immensely thankful He never tired of the enormity and intensity of my need. I was constantly overcome by His love and speechless at His holiness.

Psalm 18:35 “Your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.”

For this relationship multiple doctors, tests and results; specialists, multiple counselors, mentors, friends, church family, intervention and relational separation were employed but nothing worked.

The enemy wanted to render me powerless through fear of the unknown, fear of making a wrong decision, fear that God would allow me to suffer in my misery if I did make the wrong decision, fear that all the problems were actually my fault, and fear of losing my dignity.

I asked Jesus to remove the fear, to forgive me for fearing and I asked the Holy Spirit to speak to me and make known the will of my Heavenly Father. I reminded God of my state: Made from dust.

“For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:14

I confessed that I was totally capable of missing the boat on any given situation and this was not a time to error and have to live with the consequences of a poor decision. I wanted to look back and know I had done everything possible to save this relationship; no regrets of stopping short of victory. I wanted to know that I was living by faith; the evidence of the unseen and the hope that a beneficial alternative existed. Logic and society said to run as fast and far away from this person as possible but faith…

I wanted to plug my name in at the end of Hebrews 11; by faith, Carolyn…

Every time I came to a road block, while attempting to help this person, I looked for a detour and took it. The possible outcome of this circumstance defied my spiritual convictions, resolve and long-term goals. I was confident erring on the side of faith would turn out better than erring on the side of easy. I knew God had made provision for me to leave this relationship but I wanted to find healing for this person for multiple reasons.

Eventually I realized the Holy Spirit was in me to guide me and empower me; not to help me fulfill my goals. And despite getting myself into this mess, by not following God’s word and not praying before entering this relationship, God was ever gracious to provide the Holy Spirit’s gentle leading and Jesus’ faithful intercession for deliverance.

In this case obeying God was the hardest thing I had ever done.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8

In the end I found moving a mountain was nothing compared to motivating a selfish, toxic, destructive heart to desire healing and restoration.

People have free choice and no amount of intercessory prayer for a loved one can change their free will.

Our human love does not conquer all.

There was no middle ground on which to meet a fool.

Psalm 92:6 Senseless people do not know, fools do not understand,

 Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

 Proverbs 10:14 The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.

Proverbs 12:15 The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

 Proverbs 13:19 A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil.

 I was blind to the betrayals taking place on multiple levels in many directions.

In the end I deserted the detours and took the route God had shown me multiple times; a one way street to a dead end. It was over.

Over did not mean easier. It was not easy! A terrible situation became worse, more difficult, more unsafe but I knew God had led me here and would, in His time, bring healing, safety and closure.

I have since asked Jesus to come and perform a healing; taking every broken place, cleaning it, inspecting it , and writing His name on every piece of me. It has been a process and just when I think all the places are healed Jesus finds another closed up room in my heart, shows it to me and I invite Him to clean and heal it too. He does. Every—single—time!

The foolish toxic person I refer to is presently sitting in jail awaiting a trial for which they continue to request delays. The reality of spending the next fifty years in prison without the possibility of parole exists. A conviction means they will die in prison before parole is achievable.

For the above reason I keep details to a minimum and wait.

During the wait God has brought eagles to my attention more times than I can remember to count. I have seen Bald Eagles while driving on the highways and interstates, driving around the suburbs of St. Louis, taking walks and standing in my yard. I have even heard their screams while sitting in my house during early and mid-morning weekdays. A few weeks ago on a Sunday morning ,while eating breakfast before leaving for church, I heard an eagle scream and walked outside to find two young eagles had landed and perched in our front trees.

Every time I see an eagle a scripture speaks to my heart, soul, mind and strength.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

 How cool is that?

There have been multiple times I have written details I was uncertain of revealing so I inquired of God and guess what He did?

He showed me another eagle within hours, sometimes within minutes, of praying.

Since I do not believe there are coincidences with God; I’ll wait!

If you’ll step inside this great glass elevator
It’ll take us up above the city lights
To where the planet curves away to the equator
I want to show you something fine

You can see the roads that we all traveled just to get here
A million minuscule decisions in a line
Why they brought us to this moment isn’t clear
But that’s all right, we’ve got all night

Could it be that the many roads
You took to get here
Were just for me to tell this story
And for you to hear this song
And your many hopes
And your many fears
Were meant to bring you here all along

So if you’ll trust me with your time I’ll spend it wisely
I will sing to you with all I have to give
If you traveled all this way, then I will do my best to play
My biggest hits (that don’t exist)

And if you’ll lend to me your ear I’ll sing ’em pretty
I will never, ever sing ’em out of tune
And I will not forget the words,
of any chorus, bridge, or verse
I promise you

CHORUS

We’ve got Benjamin to play the grand piano
If we’re lucky it’s a little out of tune
We’ve got Andy on the guitar ’cause I promised him
Some Texas barbecue

How I love to watch you listen to the music
‘Cause you sing to me a music of your own
As I cast out all these lines, so afraid that I will find
I am alone, all alone

Could it be that the many roads
I took to get here
Were just for you to tell that story
And for me to hear that song
And my many hopes
And my many fears
Were meant to bring me here all along
We were meant to be right here all along

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Johnson Family Miracle: Our Story Goes On

On January 18, 2014 I posted “Prayer and a Massage:  Widowhood and Practical Ministry”

In the post I referred to, Kristen, who is my dear friend and great prayer warrior partner from Colorado. She met me in Stillwater, Oklahoma, so we could shower our sweet friend, Lavern, with love after the death of her beloved, Tom.

Kristen sincerely desires for her life lessons and pain to be greatly used for the Lord’s purpose. She told me months ago she and her family were creating a video for the purpose of passing on their spiritual heritage in the Lord and to declare God’s goodness, faithfulness, provision and protection.

The below video shares the story of the accident Kristen and her family survived months after our visit with Lavern.

Kristen practices thriving despite difficult circumstances. This isn’t the first time, but this is the most profound time.

Do you love hearing stories of God’s hand at work in people’s lives? Me too!

Toxic Tuesday: Boundaries

Boundaries

TOXIC TUESDAY warning

Last week I shared a sampling of scriptures teaching about fools—common day toxic people. I’m not referring to nuisances or dealing with someone who appears to be in a bad mood today. I’m referring to the very character of a person who shows no regard for you, your heart, your needs or your boundaries. You know something is wrong; you just don’t know what.

First I need to acknowledge that I have been a fool of Biblical proportions on many occasions; especially as a youth. Without Christ, I cannot imagine where I would be emotionally, spiritually or even logistically. I know for certain I would be a toxic mess in every way; including contaminating those around me.

Second I need to acknowledge my gratefulness to my Savior, Jesus Christ, for living to intercede for me. For His sacrifice. His grace. His mercy. He saw me, a foolish—toxic person, who loved Him and wanted to be used by Him as redeemable and usable.

That being said, in my adult life, I have encountered numerous unhealthy people who were users, manipulators and who were abusive in nature.

How I easily fall prey…

I naturally trust people even though life experiences have taught me multiple times over that I should use caution.

I assume I am wrong when someone tells me I am wrong, that I am misinformed or that I am not remembering correctly. My insecurities leave me feeling wrong in almost any circumstance. This drives me crazy.

I want to be a peacemaker. I do not want to make someone angry or mad at me and I want to avoid problems at all cost.

I have to stay close to the Lord in prayer and in His word or I have the potential to continually make mistakes. I am capable of messing up even when staying close to Lord through prayer and through His word but I would rather make a mistake acting in faith than make a mistake because I did nothing at all.

You can understand how the above plays into my thought life when interacting with an abusive person.

Here are some controlling mechanisms I have encountered: If you want specific signs to look for and responses to use for the below topics; they may be found in: The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond By: Patricia Evans.

  • Withholding companionship and/or conversation
  • Not allowing you to have a different opinion which ends all possibility of a discussion
  • Your experiences and feelings mean nothing
  • Making jokes about you that actually cut to the bone but are disguised as ‘funny’
  • Withholds information from you so there cannot be a discussion, purposefully changes the subject or gives multiple answers to a question but never the answer to the original question
  • Diverts all accusations back at you (think of a mirror being held in front of the person reflecting all your comments back onto yourself)
  • Judgmental or condescending tones that criticize you; even when you are complimenting them it may not be a grand enough compliment and is therefore received with anger or resentment
  • Makes light of your significant words or actions as having little significance. This can be as matter-of-fact or subtle
  • Undermines you, your ideas, your experiences or your needs
  • Threatens  you emotionally or verbally
  • Calls you sarcastic, condescending or mean names
  • Everyone forgets once in a while; this forgetting is denial and manipulation to avoid taking responsibility or apologizing for something they have said or done; or regularly forgetting important commitments to the other person
  • A drill sergeant who orders you around instead of respectfully asking
  • Denies your reality – “I never said that.” “You are making that all up.” “We never had that conversation.” “I don’t know where you got that.”
  • Abusive anger

You can imagine how off balance I become when dealing with an abusive person.  Even when I begin to understand something is intrinsically wrong with the person, their ideas or perceptions it can be difficult for me to decide the healthy way to deal with it. My first concerns are usually, “Did I do something to cause this issue?” “I don’t want to make the situation worse than it all ready is.” “I want to reach them for Christ so how can I handle this in a positive way?”

Do not explain yourself or defend yourself. Do not get emotional. A word of caution when interacting with an abusive person: They often feed off of your reactions. Do not feed the monsters! And if you are in relationship with a narcissistic person; they feed off of positive or negative emotions. They may be nice to you, hoping for praise and accolades to feed their ego but when it does not work they will turn to negative behavior hoping for a negative reaction out of you; again, to feed their ego. This is called Narcissistic Supply. DO NOT BE THEIR SUPPLIER. Indifference is the key to keeping your sanity when dealing with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Keep your emotions to yourself.

“Don’t spend a second trying to explain that you weren’t doing what you were accused of doing or guilty of what you were blamed for. Just say, ‘Stop it.’ Abusive statements are lies about you which are told to you. They violate your boundaries. The abuser in effect invades your mind, makes up a ‘story’ about your motives, and then tells it to you. No human being has the right to do that to another.

 Generally, accusing and blaming involve lies about the other person’s intentions, attitudes, and motives. They leave you feeling frustrated and misunderstood and, therefore, especially desirous of explaining yourself. If you do try to explain yourself, the abuse is perpetuated.

 One more word about ‘explaining.’ If you are encountering abuse and feel that if you could explain things the other person would understand, remember this: If someone started throwing rocks through your windows, you would be more inclined to tell them to stop than you would be to explain to them why they shouldn’t throw rocks. Verbal abuse is like a rock thrown through your window.” Patricia Evans (2010) The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond. Massachusetts: Adams Media. p. 141

Simplicity: “Stop it.”

Say it. “Stop it.” Keep practicing.

If you wonder, or know, that you may be dealing with a foolish, toxic, abusive person I highly recommend keeping a dated journal. Depending on the type of abuse; this may require keeping your journal in a safe place, password protecting your electronic journal or typing your journal as an email and sending it to yourself at your password protected email address.

Why journal? To show yourself that you are not the crazy person you are constantly told you are or feel like you are. This will help you decide how to set healthy boundaries for yourself or your family. You may even find that the traits or problems you are dealing with in the other person are listed as mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This is available at your local library and you can find criteria for specific mental illnesses online.

If you are in a physically or sexually abusive relationship you need to report it to the police and/or seek help at your local Domestic Abuse Shelter. You need to begin a paper trail that could later be used for seeking help not only for you, but for the abuser, and a paper trail that would stand up in a court of law. In the right margin of my blog you will find a link under ‘Resources’ for Domestic Abuse/Domestic Violence with hotline numbers for abused women and men.

I am not saying we can avoid all difficult people or all difficult circumstances. Placing our faith in Christ  is not an insurance policy for avoiding pain and suffering. We need look no farther than Christ on the cross to put away that argument.

In Romans 8:35 Paul asks whether, “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword” can separate us from the love of Christ. Since this was included in scripture we can be certain Paul knew of what he wrote. We will experience hardships.

So stay close to the Lord, nothing can separate us from His love. Pain, suffering and difficult relationships should not drive us away from God, but rather allow us to identify with Him and allow Him access to our hurts. Only then can He give us the complete healing we need.

Pray about it. If you need help on how to pray specifically for a difficult relationship, take a look at my blog post: DIY Prayer Box. It will give you numerous ideas for spending time with God.