Tag Archives: prayer

Motorcycle/Camry Accident and the ICU: Part 2

Last week I described the time I witnessed seeing a motorcycle rear ended by a car.

Although I was at the scene of the accident from beginning to end, I somehow missed seeing if the patient was placed in the life flight helicopter or in the ambulance. Did he die and; therefore, not need the helicopter?

When the fire truck, which had been blocking the road, pulled away I was able to continue on in the left land. I attempted to drive away but found I was extremely emotionally distraught and not ready to safely operate my van. I pulled over at the next intersection in a gas station parking lot.

“Why,” I asked, “Why is this so profoundly disturbing me?

All these thoughts went through my mind:

  • He’s human just like me.
  • He was created by the Creator and his life has value.
  • Surely he has family. Someone loves him.
  • He needs the Lord!
  • He may die in this condition or may have already died and have no possibility of eternity with Jesus.
  • Maybe he isn’t as injured as I think he is.
  • Why don’t I take the Great Commission more seriously? This man is not the only one living in denial of, or rebellion to, the Lord. I should be this concerned about all of humanity’s eternal destinations.
  • I hope my children never drive motorcycles.

I continued in prayer, asking God to not allow my thought life to be taken over by the images and sounds of this accident.

When I finished praying I called my sister, Chasady, to tell her about the accident. I hoped talking about it would help me stop shaking; perhaps be able to change the subject and move along in my day.

I get giddy when I’m upset and when I am retelling serious or traumatic events. It is a weird quirk, I know, but it is exactly what happens to me. I wish I could explain why I sound giddy when I am truly distressed.

While my sweet sister listened to me, in all my afflicted giddiness, the ambulance pulled away leaving a view to the two flatbed tow trucks called to the scene. One of the flat beds had the motor cycle and the other had the car.

The car! I saw the car involved in the accident and realized it was a new Toyota Camry and I had heard in the news about Toyota vehicles that were accelerating suddenly without warning and causing accidents and injuries. There was an investigation going on at the time due to law suits which had been filed against Toyota. Could that be the reason the driver did not remember or know what had happened? Did the car accelerate on its own or did the driver indeed have a seizure?

Talking on the phone was not helping me to calm down so I said goodbye to my sister and sat with my eyes closed while taking deep breaths and praying. After about ten minutes my shaking had subsided enough that I thought I could safely drive to Kim’s house to reclaim my children.

My plan was to retrieve my kids and go straight home; however, my nurturing friend thought it best for me to sit down, put my feet up and receive the warmed neck-roll she had heated up for me. She had also prepared a  hot cup of calming Chamomile tea for me to sip. Then she listened to me tell some of what happened, minus the details of the injury, which were  too troubling for me to think about. Kim prayed for me then I gathered my children and drove home, taking a different route.

I spent the next few days looking for the accident information: I turned on the five o’clock news hoping to hear about the accident and the fate of the cyclist; however, it never made it to television or radio news outlets. I looked online but could not find any report or article about the accident.

I continued praying for the man every time I thought of him which was obsessively often.

Knowing that in the St. Louis region St. Johns’ Mercy Hospital receives the highest level trauma victims I called the St. Johns’ emergency room. I explained to the person who answered who I was, what I had witnessed, the time and location of the accident and that the Life Flight helicopter had come for the patient. I clarified that I just wanted to know if he had lived. I was told that the helicopter happened to be cancelled after it arrived and that the ambulance delivered the man who, at this time, remains listed as a patient. “At this time,” was emphasized. I thanked the staff person for answering the question for me. After hanging up the phone I cried over the implication of, “At this time.”

Did the helicopter get cancelled because they knew it was too late to save him? Reviewing the accident in my mind was at least an hourly reoccurrence. I really wanted to get the images, sounds and thoughts out of my mind. Why was it affecting me this way? I kept praying for the man, his buddy and family members. Family. Did he have family? I wept and wondered why this mattered to me so much?  I did not even know this man whom the Lord required me to go pray over. I did what was asked of me. It was over. Why could I not let it go? Why could I not stop praying for him?

I checked local newspapers online and finally found a small report about the accident which listed the man’s name. He was retired from his job and lived in a small town about an hour from St. Louis. The article did not mention family, did not have the accident accurately detailed, did not mention if there were any new findings regarding the driver of the car nor did the article mention anything about the ongoing investigation of Toyota vehicles that were accelerating suddenly without warning and causing accidents and injuries. The article did give me a name and with a name I could call the hospital to see if the man was still a patient. He was! Hospital information had him listed in ICU. No one answered in the ICU waiting room but the nurses’ station confirmed he was a patient and he was still alive.

My preoccupation did not stop with one telephone call. I called again that night and the next morning to find he was still in the ICU; however, late the next afternoon he was no longer a patient in the hospital. I rang the nurses’ station and told them I was a witness to his accident which was why I was interested in knowing if the man was moved to a different room or or if he had died. They informed me he was deceased and that he had never regained consciousness.

I cried again. I wanted to know, was he loved? Will he be missed? What kind of legacy did he leave?

I continued searching his name on the internet in hopes of an obituary or an update to the accident report. I found a brief notice of his death which placed his passing a day later than his last day in the hospital. I wondered, “Why was the date off by a day?” Next of kin was not listed in the obituary nor was a service or burial date.

I asked my brother-in-law, who happens to be a physician, about the discrepancy in the date of death. He told me it was possible the patient was discharged from the room and moved to an operating room to harvest organs if he was an organ donor; thus, making his death a day later.

I assumed death would be the end of my thought life fixating on the accident but it continued to consume me and I wanted to close this chapter of life and move on. Why did this bother me so deeply? I cried every time it came to mind. I felt so traumatized by something that had nothing to do with me.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Little did I know God was going to renew a steadfast spirit within me. He had a tender moment in store for me.

God had also taught me a lesson that I would have to draw from; instantly, with no advance preparation in a mere six more months.

I had no idea what was coming—but God did.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Until next time…

“One reason a morning prayer time is so critical

is because we never know when a matter is going to arise

that needs attention ‘at once.’ We don’t get to deliberate

about it for several weeks and study our options.

If we’re not surrendered to God already that day

with our hearts and minds guarded by scripture, we’ll

more likely react by impulse than by the Holy Spirit.”

Beth Moore

Toxic Tuesday:  Protecting Children from Predators—Part 2 

TOXIC TUESDAY warning

First let us clear up misconceptions I have heard from people regarding how to identify a child predator:

Myth: “You’ll know because the hair will stand up on the back of your neck when you see or hear them.”

Truth: Most predators are someone the you know; and most often, someone you trust.

Myth: “They give off vibes; you’ll know!”

Truth: Most predators are someone you know; and most often, someone you trust.

Myth: “I’ve taught my kids about ‘Stranger Danger,’ we are prepared.”

Truth: Most predators are someone the child knows; and most often, someone the child trusts.

Myth: “I know my child and I know my child would tell me if anyone tried to do something to them.”

Truth: Estimates suggest that only 3% of all cases of child sexual abuse (Finkelhor & Dziuba-Leatherman, 1994; Timnick, 1985) and only 12% of rapes involving children are ever reported to police (Hanson et al., 1999). 

Boys tend to have a more difficult time with abuse than girls and are less likely to report sexual abuse than girls. Lyon, T.D. (2002). Scientific Support for Expert Testimony on Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation. In J.R. Conte (Ed.), Critical issues in child sexual abuse (pp. 107-138). Newbury Park, CA: Sage. (on-line:http://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?65+Law+&+Contemp.+Probs.+97+(Winter+2002 )

Myth: “If they are normal looking, well-educated and/or a well-known leader they do not fit the description of a predator.”

Truth: Predators love the general public’s assumptions. This makes their attack all the easier. Child abusers come from all classes, racial and religious backgrounds and may be homosexual or heterosexual.

 Myth: “I can’t believe he is a molester, after all, he has been alone with my children several times and never touched them or made them uncomfortable.”

Truth: Predators are very careful in their selection so as not to get caught. They do not molest all children they come in contact with; contrary, they select few and the victimization is a gradual process.

Here is an admission from a convicted molester: When a person like myself wants to obtain access to a child, you don’t just go up and get the child and sexually molest the child. There’s a process of obtaining the child’s friendship and, in my case, also obtaining the family’s friendship and their trust.  When you get their trust, that’s when the child becomes vulnerable and you can molest the child.” (Salter, 2003, p. 42)

Myth: “Once an abuser is arrested everyone will know their guilt.”

Truth: People are too quick to believe that the accused is innocent, even if there is plenty of supporting evidence. According to Dr. Salter, “Normal, healthy people distort reality to create a kinder, gentler world than actually exists” (p. 177). Salter, A. C. (2003). Predators: Pedophiles, rapists and other sex offenders: Who they are, how they operate, and how we can protect ourselves and our children. New York: Basic Books.

Myth: Molesters are usually unmarried men in need of sexual release.

Truth: They are often married; sometimes for the purpose of throwing people off their tracks. Sexual gratification is not necessarily the primary motivation for victimizing children.  Power, control and anger are often the primary motivators. Again, studies show that most predators are married or in consenting relationships.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The signs that an adult is using their relationship with a child for sexual reasons may not be obvious. We may feel uncomfortable about the way they play with the child, or seem always to be favoring them and creating reasons for them to be alone. There may be cause for concern about the behavior of an adult or young person if they:

  • Refuse to allow a child sufficient privacy or to make their own decisions on personal matters.
  • Insist on physical affection such as kissing, hugging or wrestling even when the child clearly does not want it.
  • Are overly interested in the sexual development of a child or teenager.
  • Insist on time alone with a child with no interruptions.
  • Spend most of their spare time with children and have little interest in spending time with people their own age.
  • Regularly offer to babysit children for free or take children on overnight outings alone.
  • Buy children expensive gifts or give them money for no apparent reason.
  • Frequently walk in on children/teenagers in the bathroom.
  • Treat a particular child as a favorite, making them feel ‘special’ compared with others in the family.
  • Pick on a particular child.

*From: Parents Protect! http://www.parentsprotect.co.uk/warning_signs.htm

 

Other warning signs:

  • They enjoy watching their children play naked.
  • They bathe with their children of the opposite sex past age two.
  • Play seemingly ‘innocent’ games involving bondage where the children become frightened and have to beg to be released.
  • Takes pictures of children who are not their own; at the park, at parties, in the neighborhood.
  • View child pornography. Child pornography viewing/possession is punishable by law. TURN THEM IN TO THE AUTHORITIES.

Be Alert:

  • Be alert to people, especially men, who work with youth but do not themselves have youth in the activity. If they have a strong desire to be with youth and you notice they seek affection from the youth; there is great reason for concern.
  • Watch who your children hang out with in the neighborhood, park, church or youth club. Get to know the leaders. Offer to assist with the activities.
  • Internet safety is paramount. Consider a ‘No technology’ policy in your home when guests are visiting; or keeping all technology in the kitchen within everyone’s sight. Just like a coat rack, shoe rack or bench; you could have a tech bench where all guests’ electronics are placed.
  • Consider having an ‘Open door’ policy when your children’s friends are visiting. Bedroom, office, family room doors stay open for safety purposes. You should never assume you know what goes on in another person’s home. You never know what has been said or done by a family member, relative or neighbor that a child may unknowingly act out or repeat.

Most Importantly:

Pray for and with your children. Keep avenues of discussion open and let them know how much you love them. We cannot protect them from everything by micromanaging their lives, but we can watch, listen and be proactive.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Child abuse is not a private matter and we as a society need to stop treating it as such. By doing so we protect the guilty and further damage the victim. We tend to be so, ‘hush, hush’ about it. Yes, it is ugly. Yes, it is destructive. IT IS REAL! Talk about it. Seek counseling for it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Trust your instincts. Suspected abuse is enough of a reason to contact the authorities.

If you suspect abuse; do not ask your child questions. Allow a trained professional to interview them. Asking questions is considered leading the witness and the issue will most likely be thrown out in a court of law.

If your child tells you of abuse inflicted on them…

  • Keep calm.
  • Tell the child you believe them.
  • Show interest, care, and concern.
  • Reassure and support the child.

Take action – it could save a child’s life. Report child abuse to your local or state child protective service agency AND to your local police/sheriff. Also seek professional help from a pediatrician and a licensed child psychologist.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 What does an online predator “look like”?

1) Blends into society

2) Is typically clean cut and outwardly law abiding

3) Is usually white, middle-aged or younger, and male

4) Uses position in society to throw off suspicion

5) Can rise to be a pillar of society while actively pursuing children

6) Often engages in activities involving children

7) Appears trusting to both parents and child

 “One of the devices that predators use in the interactions with kids is sending them explicit photos of themselves.  What they’re trying to do is sort of deaden the nerve endings.  They’re trying to beat down the resistance.  It’s part of the grooming process to normalize what they’re trying to do.  And it’s pretty insidious.”

— Ernie Allen, President & CEO, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

 Grooming:

Remember: The ultimate goal of the “groomer” is to arrange an in-person meeting to engage in sexual relations with the child or teen!

For more internet safety tips go to: http://www.internetsafety101.org/profileofapredator.htm

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Predators are in all professions.  Unfortunately, we have seen doctors, lawyers, law enforcement and clergy.  There is really no common trait.  In fact, many of them are drawn to those particular professions which give them access to children.”

 —Mary Beth Buchanan, U.S. District Attorney, Western Pennsylvania. Enough IS Enough

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

All of this information is magnified when a mentally ill predator enters in to the scenario.

For the difference between a molester and a pedophile see a previous post:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Psalm 5 – A prayer for the children. A petition for child abusers/molesters/pedophiles to be found guilty in a court of law.

Listen to my words, Lord,
consider my lament.
Hear my (the children’s) cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.
For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
with you, evil people are not welcome.
The arrogant cannot stand
in your presence.
You hate all who do wrong;
    you destroy those who tell lies.
The bloodthirsty and deceitful
you, Lord, detest.
But I, by your great love,
can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down
toward your holy temple.

Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies—
make your way straight before me.
Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
their heart is filled with malice.
Their throat is an open grave;
with their tongues they tell lies.
10 Declare them guilty, O God!
Let their intrigues be their downfall.
Banish them for their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you.
11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

images

MORE RESOURCES:

EIGHT COMMON MYTHS ABOUT CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE (#7 & #8 are must reads if you have doubt about a child’s accusation of child molestation.) http://leadershipcouncil.org/1/res/csa_myths.html

CHILD MOLESTER MYTHS:  http://www.child-safety-for-parents.com/child-molester.html

http://www.parentsprotect.co.uk/ is a top notch resource for parents who want to protect and/or help an abused child.

I also have Christian resources listed in the right margin of my blog. Hover over each entry to see the details for each link.

Toxic Tuesday:  Protecting Children from Predators—Part 2 

TOXIC TUESDAY warning

First let us clear up misconceptions I have heard from people regarding how to identify a child predator:

Myth: “You’ll know because the hair will stand up on the back of your neck when you see or hear them.”

Truth: Most predators are someone the you know; and most often, someone you trust.

Myth: “They give off vibes; you’ll know!”

Truth: Most predators are someone you know; and most often, someone you trust.

Myth: “I’ve taught my kids about ‘Stranger Danger,’ we are prepared.”

Truth: Most predators are someone the child knows; and most often, someone the child trusts.

Myth: “I know my child and I know my child would tell me if anyone tried to do something to them.”

Truth: Estimates suggest that only 3% of all cases of child sexual abuse (Finkelhor & Dziuba-Leatherman, 1994; Timnick, 1985) and only 12% of rapes involving children are ever reported to police (Hanson et al., 1999). 

Boys tend to have a more difficult time with abuse than girls and are less likely to report sexual abuse than girls. Lyon, T.D. (2002). Scientific Support for Expert Testimony on Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation. In J.R. Conte (Ed.), Critical issues in child sexual abuse (pp. 107-138). Newbury Park, CA: Sage. (on-line:http://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?65+Law+&+Contemp.+Probs.+97+(Winter+2002 )

Myth: “If they are normal looking, well-educated and/or a well-known leader they do not fit the description of a predator.”

Truth: Predators love the general public’s assumptions. This makes their attack all the easier. Child abusers come from all classes, racial and religious backgrounds and may be homosexual or heterosexual.

 Myth: “I can’t believe he is a molester, after all, he has been alone with my children several times and never touched them or made them uncomfortable.”

Truth: Predators are very careful in their selection so as not to get caught. They do not molest all children they come in contact with; contrary, they select few and the victimization is a gradual process.

Here is an admission from a convicted molester: When a person like myself wants to obtain access to a child, you don’t just go up and get the child and sexually molest the child. There’s a process of obtaining the child’s friendship and, in my case, also obtaining the family’s friendship and their trust.  When you get their trust, that’s when the child becomes vulnerable and you can molest the child.” (Salter, 2003, p. 42)

Myth: “Once an abuser is arrested everyone will know their guilt.”

Truth: People are too quick to believe that the accused is innocent, even if there is plenty of supporting evidence. According to Dr. Salter, “Normal, healthy people distort reality to create a kinder, gentler world than actually exists” (p. 177). Salter, A. C. (2003). Predators: Pedophiles, rapists and other sex offenders: Who they are, how they operate, and how we can protect ourselves and our children. New York: Basic Books.

Myth: Molesters are usually unmarried men in need of sexual release.

Truth: They are often married; sometimes for the purpose of throwing people off their tracks. Sexual gratification is not necessarily the primary motivation for victimizing children.  Power, control and anger are often the primary motivators. Again, studies show that most predators are married or in consenting relationships.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The signs that an adult is using their relationship with a child for sexual reasons may not be obvious. We may feel uncomfortable about the way they play with the child, or seem always to be favoring them and creating reasons for them to be alone. There may be cause for concern about the behavior of an adult or young person if they:

  • Refuse to allow a child sufficient privacy or to make their own decisions on personal matters.
  • Insist on physical affection such as kissing, hugging or wrestling even when the child clearly does not want it.
  • Are overly interested in the sexual development of a child or teenager.
  • Insist on time alone with a child with no interruptions.
  • Spend most of their spare time with children and have little interest in spending time with people their own age.
  • Regularly offer to babysit children for free or take children on overnight outings alone.
  • Buy children expensive gifts or give them money for no apparent reason.
  • Frequently walk in on children/teenagers in the bathroom.
  • Treat a particular child as a favorite, making them feel ‘special’ compared with others in the family.
  • Pick on a particular child.

*From: Parents Protect! http://www.parentsprotect.co.uk/warning_signs.htm

 

Other warning signs:

  • They enjoy watching their children play naked.
  • They bathe with their children of the opposite sex past age two.
  • Play seemingly ‘innocent’ games involving bondage where the children become frightened and have to beg to be released.
  • Takes pictures of children who are not their own; at the park, at parties, in the neighborhood.
  • View child pornography. Child pornography viewing/possession is punishable by law. TURN THEM IN TO THE AUTHORITIES.

Be Alert:

  • Be alert to people, especially men, who work with youth but do not themselves have youth in the activity. If they have a strong desire to be with youth and you notice they seek affection from the youth; there is great reason for concern.
  • Watch who your children hang out with in the neighborhood, park, church or youth club. Get to know the leaders. Offer to assist with the activities.
  • Internet safety is paramount. Consider a ‘No technology’ policy in your home when guests are visiting; or keeping all technology in the kitchen within everyone’s sight. Just like a coat rack, shoe rack or bench; you could have a tech bench where all guests’ electronics are placed.
  • Consider having an ‘Open door’ policy when your children’s friends are visiting. Bedroom, office, family room doors stay open for safety purposes. You should never assume you know what goes on in another person’s home. You never know what has been said or done by a family member, relative or neighbor that a child may unknowingly act out or repeat.

Most Importantly:

Pray for and with your children. Keep avenues of discussion open and let them know how much you love them. We cannot protect them from everything by micromanaging their lives, but we can watch, listen and be proactive.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Child abuse is not a private matter and we as a society need to stop treating it as such. By doing so we protect the guilty and further damage the victim. We tend to be so, ‘hush, hush’ about it. Yes, it is ugly. Yes, it is destructive. IT IS REAL! Talk about it. Seek counseling for it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Trust your instincts. Suspected abuse is enough of a reason to contact the authorities.

If you suspect abuse; do not ask your child questions. Allow a trained professional to interview them. Asking questions is considered leading the witness and the issue will most likely be thrown out in a court of law.

If your child tells you of abuse inflicted on them…

  • Keep calm.
  • Tell the child you believe them.
  • Show interest, care, and concern.
  • Reassure and support the child.

Take action – it could save a child’s life. Report child abuse to your local or state child protective service agency AND to your local police/sheriff. Also seek professional help from a pediatrician and a licensed child psychologist.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 What does an online predator “look like”?

1) Blends into society

2) Is typically clean cut and outwardly law abiding

3) Is usually white, middle-aged or younger, and male

4) Uses position in society to throw off suspicion

5) Can rise to be a pillar of society while actively pursuing children

6) Often engages in activities involving children

7) Appears trusting to both parents and child

 “One of the devices that predators use in the interactions with kids is sending them explicit photos of themselves.  What they’re trying to do is sort of deaden the nerve endings.  They’re trying to beat down the resistance.  It’s part of the grooming process to normalize what they’re trying to do.  And it’s pretty insidious.”

— Ernie Allen, President & CEO, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

 Grooming:

Remember: The ultimate goal of the “groomer” is to arrange an in-person meeting to engage in sexual relations with the child or teen!

For more internet safety tips go to: http://www.internetsafety101.org/profileofapredator.htm

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Predators are in all professions.  Unfortunately, we have seen doctors, lawyers, law enforcement and clergy.  There is really no common trait.  In fact, many of them are drawn to those particular professions which give them access to children.”

 —Mary Beth Buchanan, U.S. District Attorney, Western Pennsylvania. Enough IS Enough

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

All of this information is magnified when a mentally ill predator enters in to the scenario.

For the difference between a molester and a pedophile see a previous post:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Psalm 5 – A prayer for the children. A petition for child abusers/molesters/pedophiles to be found guilty in a court of law.

Listen to my words, Lord,
consider my lament.
Hear my (the children’s) cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.
For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
with you, evil people are not welcome.
The arrogant cannot stand
in your presence.
You hate all who do wrong;
    you destroy those who tell lies.
The bloodthirsty and deceitful
you, Lord, detest.
But I, by your great love,
can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down
toward your holy temple.

Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies—
make your way straight before me.
Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
their heart is filled with malice.
Their throat is an open grave;
with their tongues they tell lies.
10 Declare them guilty, O God!
Let their intrigues be their downfall.
Banish them for their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you.
11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

images

MORE RESOURCES:

EIGHT COMMON MYTHS ABOUT CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE (#7 & #8 are must reads if you have doubt about a child’s accusation of child molestation.) http://leadershipcouncil.org/1/res/csa_myths.html

CHILD MOLESTER MYTHS:  http://www.child-safety-for-parents.com/child-molester.html

http://www.parentsprotect.co.uk/ is a top notch resource for parents who want to protect and/or help an abused child.

I also have Christian resources listed in the right margin of my blog. Hover over each entry to see the details for each link.

A Toxic Relationship and a Therapeutic Separation

TOXIC TUESDAY warning

Today’s Toxic Tuesday refers mainly to intervention within a marriage.

Last week’s “Toxic Tuesday” post mentioned a therapeutic legal separation. I recommend this only as a last resort to help the person in crisis.

Your goal is to bring the person to repentance, restore the relationship and provide emotional healing. Last week I recommended you make a list of behaviors which must stop immediately. This included the requirement of seeking godly professional help immediately. Stick to it! You can do it but you cannot do it on your own. Ask for assistance from the helpers who were present during the intervention.

Maybe your spouse went to a few therapy or doctor appointments and declared they were better, healed or simply—done. If after two to four weeks (or your stated goal and time) you realize nothing has changed, your spouse does not acknowledge he or she needs help and they refuse professional counsel you could prayerfully consider meeting with an attorney for help with a therapeutic separation. Always keep your safety in mind. Your lawyer will most likely recommend that you not tell of your actions but rather allow your spouse to find out when the papers are served. There can be a shock value added to the seriousness of legal proceedings. You are serious about saving your marriage and saving your family. There will be a financial cost involved and either you or your spouse will need to make alternative living arrangements. Your legal representative will most likely suggest you, and the children if you have them, stay in the home and have your spouse make arrangements for their own needs. Again, they need to be the one inconvenienced so they will hopefully have more reason to work on seeking help and healing.

I do not suggest this as the last effort before divorcing your spouse. I truly believe divorce is avoidable in most circumstances. Our society is using divorce as an easy out. Our marriage vows are not, “I’ll stay with you as long as I feel loved, secure, happy and fulfilled,” but rather, “To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” This includes, to name a few: Being out of work, in a coma, suffering from mental illness, the death of a child, being imprisoned, or having an addiction. It does not include being abused due to untreated or denied emotional issues, mental illness or addiction.

Most mental illnesses are manageable or treatable with medications, counseling and a diet of healthy foods and supplements. Addictions can be overcome. The only catch is—the person has to want help, seek help and work hard; most likely for the rest of their life, daily making good choices for themselves and for those around them.

If you are in danger or you have a child being abused, please leave immediately and seek help. Instances of children making up stories of child abuse are rare. Always believe the child. In the right margin of my blog you will find links to articles on abusive relationships, resources for counseling services and referrals, a link for those who are victims of domestic abuse, and a link for Christian survivors.

I want to clear up what I believe is a misnomer regarding divorce. I often hear the phrase, “Kids are resilient.” I do not know where this saying originated but I have not found it true. Do kids find a way to cope just like the adults? Sure. But divorce changes the way they function, interact, trust, view life, and it hurts their chance for marriage when they become adults. Divorce can change the personality and even the character of a child. I do not consider any of these changes resilient, positive outcomes. Unless there is abuse taking place; finding a way to stay together is usually in the best interest of the children.

I personally know many women who can testify that after their divorce from their Christian husband, the man acted dishonorably against the children for the purpose of hurting his ex-wife’s heart. Safety became a concern. Some divorced fathers introduced their kids to alcohol, drugs, pornography, violent films, and extreme sports. Why? Because it drove the former wife almost insane with concern for the children. I know this cannot be a blanket statement but I have seen and heard of shocking behavior from former husbands too many times. I am not male bashing. I know this could be reversed and said about some women too. I want couples to be aware of how quickly spiritual, emotional and psychological manipulations operate within a divorce.

Back to the therapeutic separation.

I believe it has the potential to strengthen the marriage when done well, done for the right reasons which are clearly stated, and when bathed in prayer. And lots of it!

The trickiest part of a legal separation can be child visitation if child abuse is suspected. Family court frowns heavily against spousal testimony. In fact, your testimony is usable against you if you do not have physical evidence to back it up, or an outside person’s eyewitness account. Be careful and seek guidance. (I will address childhood victimization accusations/evidence on next week’s Toxic Tuesday blog.)

If there has been infidelity in the relationship the separation can be more challenging and will require that a third party knows about the betrayal. A godly professional can help you navigate the muddy waters. Remember, unfaithfulness is forgivable. Your relationship is reconcilable. Mental illness is treatable. With God all things are possible. The bottom line is you want a healed heart, a healed spouse, a healed marriage and a healed family unit.

Set clear and reasonable expectations such as days and times you will talk on the phone. This is a ‘time out’ and both sides need to treat it as such. Verbal communication may still be important. Allow your counselor’s input for this decision.

Most importantly you will need Jesus Christ to make it through such circumstances. Only He can minister to your heart, soul, mind and strength. You have emotional, spiritual and physical needs which He wants to meet; not only spiritually, but practically. Invite Him. Read His word, the Bible. Pray the word to Him. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

I find Mark 14:17-21 to be applicable, “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

‘Bring them here to me,’ he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.”

Here is an excerpt from Jesus the One and Only by Beth Moore: “Christ can perform astounding wonders when we bring Him all we have. Beloved, I want you to hear something loud and clear: no matter what your ‘only’ is, when you bring all of your ‘only’ to Jesus, it’s huge! When we bring Him everything we have, He multiplies it beyond our wildest imagination.”

In John 6:5-8 we find that Philip was very practical and factual; working from a financial viewpoint of supply and demand which perhaps led to pessimism, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Andrew, on the other hand, listed every physical resource they had; a measly fives loaves of bread and two fish. I wonder if he asked optimistically, “but how far will they go among so many?” He at least looked for an opportunity. He had an idea and he offered it to Jesus. Whatever Philip and Andrew’s reasoning’s; Jesus knew He was about to perform a miracle of huge proportions with the small offering of a young child.

The multitude needed fed. Jesus multiplied five loaves of bread and two fish to feed each person to full. Each of the twelve disciples picked up a basket full of bread after everyone had eaten.

Offer Jesus your all. What is your all? A broken marriage, a broken heart, a mentally ill spouse, emotionally fragile children, you fill in the blank. Offer it to Jesus; along with, a daily quiet time with Him and ask Him to multiply it beyond anything you can imagine.

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!

“Embracing the Circumstance God Has Put Us In” -Joni Eareckson Tada

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I’m in a ladies Bible study for Thriving Despite Difficult Circumstances. As we women grow closer to God in the daily-ness of difficult life we are vulnerable with each other.  We allow time for everyone to tell their story about the path God has brought them on to the present moment. Do you know what I have found? Honestly opening up about our imperfections, brokenness or heartache is refreshing to other women who are in need. I have visibly seen the wall of self-protection come down as these sweet women pour out their heart and are comforted in their vulnerability. It is a beautiful sight because I know God is working. We have invited him to do so! It is ALL about Him, not about our circumstances.

We have made our study a safe and trusting environment where we know what we share will not be repeated outside the group. We listen, we encourage and we pray for each other. We don’t say, “Oh, it will get better” or “Don’t dwell on it so much” or “God is in control.” These things we know.  If someone asks for advice we will give it and we will speak the truth in love when necessary but we exist to allow God to do His work then we simply join Him.

We share real needs. Often times they are deep and they are serious. Everyone’s hearts can hurt. They may hurt for different reasons but the pain is real, it is deep and at the moment you can feel like you are the only one who has ever endured this exact problem. We simply want to love on each other by putting an arm around the person next to us and praying for a sister’s unique need. We keep track of the prayer requests and we thoroughly enjoy boasting in God for the answers He gives and we continue to petition for the answers on which we wait.

I must add that these open, honest, caring, prayerful and trusting relationships happened with women who had never known each other before the inception of the group. Oh, the love of Christ!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

At last night’s study one of the women was encouraging another through words she had heard on a Joni Eareckson Tada YouTube video. I love the sweetness in our group.  Even between our every other week of being together they are praying for each other and thinking of ways to encourage each other and meet each other’s practical needs. Life changing compassion.

Watching Joni Eareckson Tada’s video reminded me of the wonderful life in which I am privileged to participate. Joni is a woman who has thrived despite difficult circumstances beyond anything I could ever imagine as a Christian American living in a free country. Joni is a quadriplegic who suffers severe chronic pain and is a survivor of stage 3 breast cancer. She knows ‘difficult’.

Do any of the following topics hit close to home for you, are they ringing your door bell or are they smack in the middle of your living room?

“Life can be horrible and beautiful at the same time.”

“The weaker I was, the harder I leaned on You (Jesus), and the harder I leaned on You the stronger I discovered You to be.”

“I knew the scriptures in James 1: Welcome this trial as a friend. Romans 5: Rejoice in this suffering. Philippians 1: This has been granted to me to suffer for Christ. Acts 14: You will go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

“Are you trying desperately to find all the puzzle pieces to your life so your life will make some sense? So the circumstance will make sense?”

“I can’t do this thing called life. My puzzle pieces aren’t fitting together.”

“When suffering hits us hard—when your heart is wrung out like a sponge; you don’t stop the bleeding with answers.”

“You don’t stop bleeding with answers.” This is where listening, loving, praying and compassion come in. This is what I treasure about my Grace Group: Thriving Despite Difficult Circumstances. Their hearts are for God first and others second.

Grab your Kleenex and allow God to grow your heart, soul, mind and strength.

Also, if you like the “Life is Hard. God is Good” quote at the top of this page; you may purchase super cute T-shirts printed with the quote under “Products” in the right side margin. A friend of mine sells these on her blog/Facebook page. The shirts are $20. Part of the cost of the shirt goes to one of several nonprofit ministries that help people when times are hard. She has different prints including a great new Christmas logo.

Grateful Beyond Measure025A.J. and his Neurosurgeon – first steps

When I have been in the midst of difficult circumstances and did not know if, when, or how I would make it through; I was able to make thankful lists. I would literally cry all the way through the lists as I talked to God telling Him of my heartache and difficulties while being reminded me of His words in Isaiah 61:3, “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor…” (NIV)

It isn’t easy to remember gratefulness when you are in the middle of pain that feels like it could take your sanity, life as you know it, or the actual life of a family member.  About two years ago I was gently reminded by our pastor during one of his sermons to make another thankful list.  By the time I finished the list I was able to thank God for allowing me to go through a particular difficult circumstance. The treasure I gained by going through the mess, the pain, the darkness—was worth it, and I would do it all over again to receive the provisions God granted me in the struggle.

Since there is nothing in this world that I need, want or love more than my Savior; He will remain number one on my ‘Thankful List’ forever.

I am thankful for my husband and children. We have been through a lot but we know without a doubt that God placed us together to be a family. Through my family God provides me opportunities to agape (selfless love of one person for another; especially love that is spiritual in nature) and God allows me to make a difference in this generation for the Kingdom of God.

My list is long but some entries stand out amongst the others. They have to do with my children’s safety and well-being; some of which I am not at liberty to share because of the personal nature of the issues.

God’s timing was not always my timing or my way. No. And I did not understand God’s timing. Even now tears of remembrance overcome me. Here’s the thing: In hind-sight, my way would have been a temporary band aid but God, in His sovereignty, had something permanent in mind.  I will never forget, I will never be able to say thank you enough, and I will always fall short of giving God the praise due His name for His goodness.  Every day I remember how God brought us through. Every day. I cannot forget. I am thankful.

AJI am at liberty to share one of my entries: My son A.J.’s healing of a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury; two, almost three, years ago. There is not a day that goes by when I do not think of the accident and the healing. I suppose I remember it daily because I home school him and know his struggles, and when I look at A.J. I remember how blessed I am to still have him with me. What God did is so dear to my heart that even now—I am overcome with tears of joy.AJ in hospital

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I will be blogging more about his injury in future posts for the purpose of sharing how I prayed for him and how God responded. For now, here are some pictures which tell a much abbreviated story.

Intercranial monitor & breathing tube have been removed.

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Facial swelling & discoloration were supposed to increase over the days to come but were instead diminishing hour by hour.

002The way a nurse explained the incision to us led me to believe  there would be a scar behind the temple area 3-4 inches long.

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“I can eat this all by myself—thank you.”

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Imagine my shock when I saw the incision for the first time.

013 Yes, it was brain surgery after all. His skull plate was put back in with small titanium plates and screws.

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Dad was holding one of many applesauce cups. A.J. was CRAVING applesauce.

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Brotherly love.037 041A.J. had just found out he was being released. First thought: Call his brother, “Colson, Colson, I get to come home today!”

022 A nurse wheeled A.J. from Children’s Hospital across the walk-way to Barnes-Jewish Hospital so he could have the other side of his head shaved before going home. The young woman who shaved his head sweetly refused payment so A.J. gave her one of his silly-band bracelets.

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Nell – a St. Louis Children’s Hospital visiting therapy dog

THANKFUL! THANK YOU, GOD!

A.J.’s 11th Birthday

Update on A.J.

Toxic Tuesday: Boundaries

keep-calm-and-have-boundaries

“She dresses herself with strength.” Proverbs 31:17

There is a way to remain strong and to thrive despite interacting with a difficult person. It isn’t easy because when you are in the middle of relational turmoil or are receiving a verbal lashing it can be challenging to keep your thoughts straight.  Thinking quickly typically does not happen. If you are like me, you have to think about and pray about the situation before acting, speaking or setting a boundary. Having a plan of action in advance will safeguard you and will be beneficial to the other person. Often the difficult person has a tough time with self-control and your boundary can actually help them keep an emotional or verbally abusive outburst from erupting.

Does your D.P. (difficult person) keep asking the same questions over and over? Do they refuse your answer and creatively find another avenue to demand the response or resolution they desire? Do you continually hope for an agreement? Do you long to be rationally understood?

Disagreements abound. There may be several answers or opinions to a subject but not to your D.P. To them it is black and white and their way or opinion is the only correct one. Do not waste your time arguing. Perhaps using, “That is your opinion” repetitively will soon keep your D.P. from attempting to overtake you on the matter again. It isn’t that your D.P. forgets the previous conversation you had on the topic. It is that your D.P. is attempting to wear you down. “That is your opinion,” used consistently will remind your D.P. the ‘wear them down’ tactic is no longer a working strategy to be used against you. I’m not saying they will not continue to try, I’m saying, “That is your opinion,” is a gentle reminder to them that this conversation is going nowhere. This also shows them that you are keeping your opinion and your dignity.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 (NIV) Although your reply will not be received as gentle it is working in a gentler way than arguing words which are being fired at you from a flaming tongue.

Is the topic to which you have already given an answer being approached—again?  Think about this response, “I am not discussing this with you.” Any time your D.P. brings up the topic in hopes of receiving a different answer from you; remember this easy phrase. You will most likely have to say it several times as long as this person stays in your life.

“Say just a simple ‘Yes, I will’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Your word is enough.”  Matthew 5:37 (Living Bible)

If your D.P. likes to make decisions for you or give you orders but they are not an authority figure, “That’s not what I was thinking” or “That’s not what I had in mind,” are examples of good phrases to learn. After your D.P. has heard the same phrase multiple times they will remember the boundary before trying to cross it again.

If your life is in danger or you think these responses could place your life in danger use your good judgment and refrain from possibly making the situation worse. If you are in danger please leave immediately and seek help. In the right margin of my blog you will find links to articles on abusive relationships, resources for counseling services and referrals, and a link for those who are victims of domestic abuse.

If you are dealing with an individual suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder they will never tire of attempting to wear you down. They are not able to see your point of view; they are not capable of empathizing, loving or bonding. They are users who recruit people for close relationship who can be used for a specific purpose to improve their existence, provide a cover for something they don’t want others to find out about them or meet an unhealthy desire.  Maybe you have recently come to this realization about someone in your life. Although you may see this and know this, the most maddening part of it is that no one on the outside sees it. That is because a narcissist lives their life on a stage acting out the role they think the other person wants to see. They are the grandest actors you could ever have the disadvantage of being in any type of relationship with. Here is a very important character trait to remember when dealing with a narcissist: Self-control. Although telling them how you feel or giving them a verbal reprimand may feel good to you; when it is all said and done you will soon realize it was wasted time, emotion, words, energy and thoughts because not one word of it will be taken seriously or to heart. In the end this will further frustrate you. A narcissist has no other point of reference other than themselves.

These lessons have been hard experiences I have lived through and learned from, but I only learned from them because I spent extensive time in prayer and Bible study, and had the loving support of family and some of the best friends a girl could ask for from God. If you make time for Jesus, through prayer and Bible study, and invite Him into all areas of your life; you will never regret it or think, “That was time wasted.”  Never.

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)

Most likely the issue with your D.P. is control. These personalities long to having power over other people but now that you are on to them, you can set up safe and healthy boundaries to protect yourself and your loved ones. You will recognize the behavior when you see it and not be caught off guard. I remember the feeling when I finally began to recognize it. Your, “Ah hah” moment is coming!

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31: 25-26 (NIV)

Most importantly, practice I Corinthians 13:2, “but (if I) have not love, I am nothing.”  (ESV)

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”         I Corinthians 13:13 (ESV)

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.

Toxic People

     TOXIC TUESDAY warning

          In an earlier post, Flashing Billboards on My Forehead, I began explaining my history of unhealthy relationship issues and how I know God is calling me to recognize and respond to them in a biblical way.  I have not always been a beacon of healthiness myself. When I became serious about a daily relationship with my Savior and began spending time in the scriptures and in prayer something extraordinary happened; I invited Christ to show me my sin. My unhealthy ways of thinking, talking and interacting with others. And do you know what happened? I began to be convicted in my heart, soul, mind and strength. I acknowledged the problem, repented of it, asked Jesus to heal it and replaced the empty healed place with something good leaving no room for the problem to return. This is a continual process.  As my son, A.J., articulated this week while we were studying Jesus the One and Only, “Jesus was born naturally perfect.” To which my son Colson replied, “Man, I wish we could have been born that way. We were born sinful.” Yep, every single one of us. That is why we need Jesus the One and Only!

Here is my continuation:

When prayers were not answered in a way I could detect I turned to reputable Christian books on being a peacemaker, developing healthy relationships, remaining purposeful in prayer and resolving conflicts biblically but they were of no use. These books are beneficial for most people living in a sinful world when interacting with mentally and emotionally healthy people or even being in relationship with those suffering from mental illness who are willing to admit they need and want help. Relating to a person suffering from mental illness who refuses to seek help goes beyond the practical application offered in most books with the exception of the Bible. Applying grace and mercy is essential in relationships with those who suffer from mental illness because God calls us to love others. That being said, God does not call us to abuse at the hands, or the mouth, of a foolish person. The Bible has much to say about the foolish; in fact, a word search at biblegateway.com yielded 182 verses pertaining to a fool. Here is a sampling:

Psalm 107:17 -Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.

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

Proverbs 13:20 – Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

Proverbs 14:7 – Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips

Proverbs 14:8 – The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.

Proverbs 17:21 – To have a fool for a child brings grief; there is no joy for the parent of a godless fool.

Proverbs 17:25 – A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the mother who bore him.

Proverbs 23:9 – Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.

Proverbs 26:11 – As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.

Proverbs 27:3 – Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.

Proverbs 27:22 – Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.

Ecclesiastes 10:2 – The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left

Ephesians 5:11 – Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

Titus 3:10 – Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.

Wow! Scripture is clear that we need to stay away from foolish people and that includes those who are dysfunctional, abusive and boundaryless.

I have a history of allowing anger, toxicity, to be taken out on me so when it comes up it feels natural but I know God is calling me to recognize and respond to it in a biblical way. This is anything but easy for me.

Several books I have read referred to these foolish people as, “Toxic” which I consider spot-on terminology. When you come in contact with a chemical toxin you can become contaminated to the degree you are damaged in part or in whole. Spiritually, emotionally and physically speaking we become damaged by “toxic” relationships but instead of calling a HazMat response team to stabilize and remove the toxins we have the Ancient of Days. The Creator of the universe. The Author of Math and Science who created the properties of every toxin known and unknown to man. God knows our entire history and is capable of locating, speaking truth over and eradicating the poison from our very being.

God’s word has everything we need for understanding how to live on planet earth.  This does not necessarily mean our life will be easy or that we will never have impossible issues or problematic people to deal with. God’s word does not tell us we will never encounter difficulties or be allowed more than we can handle just because we are Christians.  You have heard the quote, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” You will not find this quote anywhere in scripture. I have lived through more than I could cope with in multiple areas of my life.  Scripture says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13. My times of strenuous challenge have not come from temptation but rather from God allowing me to live through more than I could understand or deal with in a healthy way. This caused me to pray and read the Bible more believing God would heal me and He did; however, not always the way I hoped He would. My help usually came in ways I never imagined. God’s word says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10. God’s track record for sustaining me and not failing me is 100%.

God continually allows me more than I can handle which leaves me utterly dependent on Him. I don’t mind this and I actually enjoy rubbing Satan’s stupidity into his own face because every time he sets out to destroy me; my inabilities and weaknesses are turned into strength. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” 2 Corinthians 12:9. You see God does tell me in scripture that when I am weak He will be strong. When I cannot get up off the floor from deep despair His word says He will be the, “Lifter of my head” and He is.

You may be asking, “Who are foolish—toxic people?” If you have to ask you may not have such a person in your life. Or you may have grown up in a toxic relationship and not be aware of it because it is all you have ever known. For others, you may have had a name or two in mind while reading this post.

Foolish (toxic) people are the ones who complain all the time about you and/or pretty much any topic. They are the ones who always blame you for their problems. When you lovingly confront them they always turn things around so things you felt they had done wrong are suddenly your fault or you are the one who did it or you are crazy because it never happened. They drain your energy and leave you feeling tired, angry or depressed. No matter how much you try to cheer them up or compliment them it is never enough and may even come across as an insult to them. They constantly find fault with you and you can’t do anything to please them. Even the Proverbs 31 woman could never please this type of person. They may take advantage of you and manipulate you. They do not respect boundaries you have set. There are controlling aspects of your relationship with them. They are verbally, emotionally, spiritually, physically or sexually abusive to you or a loved one. Are they so nice then so mean, or so mean then so nice, to the point you are left dazed and confused as to what just happened? These are some of the signs to look for in a foolish—toxic relationship.

Do you recognize yourself in such a relationship and want to know how to respond?

The Bible clearly teaches that we are to have nothing to do with a fool but what are we to do if the person is a family member, long-time friend or co-worker?  If you are asking yourself this question I highly recommend you commit the issue to God through prayer. Faithfully ask Him what His heart and will is for you in this relationship and petition it in the name of Jesus.

I would like to tell you that God always repaired and healed toxic relationships in which I was involved but He did not. Not because He wasn’t capable of doing so but because the other person had free will, given by God, but did not choose to be reconciled and healed.

In the right margin of my blog you will find links to articles on abusive relationships, resources for counseling services and referrals and a link for those who are victims of domestic abuse.

Here is a list of books I have read over the years and can personally recommend:

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Cloud, Henry and Townsend, John

Boundaries in Marriage by Cloud, Henry and Townsend, John

Boundaries with Kids: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Children by Cloud, Henry and Townsend, John

Boundaries with Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No by Townsend, John

Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t by Cloud, Henry and Townsend, John

Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships by Cloud, Henry and Townsend, John

The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to recognize it and how to respond by Evans, Patricia

Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited by Sam Vaknin

The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Allender, Dr. Dan B

If after praying, studying the Bible, receiving godly council, reading and applying applications and setting healthy boundaries you still see no improvement in your relationship with your fool; it may be time to move on.

Maybe you are asking, “What does this application of setting boundaries look like in real life?” I will attempt to share some of my life lessons on boundary setting in upcoming blog posts. I’ll think of them as: Toxic Tuesday: Self-protection from fools of Biblical proportion.

I am no authority in this area, just a fellow sojourner, who God happens to be very serious with in the area of setting boundaries for the purpose of protecting myself and those I love.

Remember: There isn’t any problem a little bit of chocolate and a whole lot of Jesus can’t fix!

LivingWell

DIY Projects

DIY Prayer Box

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“I can’t do this but I’m doing it anyway,” is a quote by Nicole Lavelle that pretty much sums up my life.

How then does one do what they are not capable of doing? Prayer!

Do you have insurmountable obstacles? Do you know someone in need of a miracle? Are you desperate for an answer to prayer?  Are you concerned for someone close to your heart? Are you anticipating God’s activity in your life?  Are  you seeking a creative way to teach your children to pray and to involve your family in meaningful prayer? Are you finding it difficult to appropriately thank God for something He has done in your life?

I have encountered all of these scenarios and I have found prayer to be the tool I needed for every one of them.

I was inspired by my church’s Prayer Room, with various specific prayer stations, which we have utilized over the years while holding prayer vigils. When I compared my prayer time at home to my prayer time during the vigils it resembled  drive through fast-food compared to a sit-down steak dinner, with the One I love, at an upscale restaurant.  I enjoy and depend on my daily prayer time but my soul found uninterrupted intimate relationship, renewed strength and blissful zeal in the simple structure the prayer vigil offered participants.

The idea of dedicating a room in our house solely for prayer was a grand idea but did not realistically fit our family at this stage in life. So I condensed prayer tools, some of which were replicas of the prayer vigil along with some of my own, into a Photo Box. The box coordinates with our home, decorated in the seasonal colors of fall, because I could live in perpetual autumn.

I am teaching my kids to use this box of prayer tools which makes our prayer life richer, organized and meaningful. Although this could be used daily, we reserve it for special occasions or special needs. I want to ensure my children do not become bored and do not feel inadequate while praying. The disciples fell asleep in the Garden so I know we are capable of doing the same.

Here is a list of what I keep in our Prayer Box:

  • Directions that can be followed step by step
  • Scriptures
  • Candle and matches (keep out of reach of children)
  • ABC cards. Go through the alphabet to find an adjective for God that correlates with every letter, write a word/phrase that describes God to you in this particular situation or write how  you are asking Him to work in this situation.
  • Clay
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Psalm 100 cards
  • Hymnal
  • Journal
  • List of missionaries from our church
  • Small pad of paper and a sealed box
  • Current list of prayer requests for our church family
  • Bible
  • Essential oils: Cassia, Cedarwood, Cypress, Frankincense and/or Hyssop

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These are inexpensive oils I ordered from Edens Garden. If you are using essential oils for therapy/healing purposes I recommend using only Young Living Essential Oils.

Don’t forget a box of Kleenex or a travel size pack of Kleenex

We find a comfortable spot and gather close. (There are times when I utilize the box in private).

We do not consider quiet time during prayer uncomfortable but rather an opportunity for God to speak to our heart, soul, mind and strength. It is good to discuss something with the Lord and then be silent as we wait on Him. (This is a discipline I lack and hope to enjoy the benefits of before moving to my residence in heaven).

We follow the A.C.T .S. approach to prayer and worship time. We read the scriptures and instructions out loud. You may use all the tools/helps or choose according to your prayer topic. Pray the printed scriptures out loud; add your own prayers anywhere you choose.

A drop of Cedarwood may be rubbed into the palms of your hands before beginning your prayer and meditation and/or a drop of Frankincense to symbolize you are bringing your best to Jesus.

“And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.” Revelation 5:8 (NIV).

“Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne.” Revelation 8:3 (NIV).

“May my prayer be set before you like incense;
    may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.” Psalm 141:2 (NIV).

We read in scripture that incense represents the prayers of the saints and in the tabernacle the altar of incense was before the throne of God, the arc of the covenant, burning continuously because we are to pray without ceasing.

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved…                    2 Corinthians 2:15 (NIV).

Take a moment to light a candle, or light incense, and as you enjoy it’s sweet aroma, be blessed to know that your prayers are always a sweet aroma to our Heavenly Father.

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ADORATION

“But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak,  knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.” 2 Corinthians 4:13-14 (NASB).

Oh Come Let Us Adore Him… Savior, Master, Yahweh. There is something about that name!

Use the abc card and go through the alphabet to find an adjective for God, or a word that describes what you are asking of God in this request, that correlates with every letter. When you are finished, take time to read the list back to God, just fill in the blank —

“Lord you are_____________________”

(We believe, therefore we speak!)

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When you have finished this card, pick one of your words and find a hymn or praise song for that word/adjective. Meditate on that song and sing it to God, either aloud or in your heart.

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 God “inhabits” the praises of his people (Psalm 22:3). As your heart begins to adore him, you’ll sense his presence more deeply.

CONFESSION

“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 (The Message).

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

“Change my heart, Oh God.” Make it ever true. Change my heart, Oh God. May I be like you. You are the potter; I am the clay; mold me and make me; This is what I pray…

Take a piece of clay from the bag. As you work the clay into the shape of a heart, use this time to search your own heart. What do you need to give Him? Pride, greed, selfishness, anger, lust…

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(Use the hand sanitizer to ‘cleanse’ your hands.)

Use a drop of Hyssop as a symbol of the cleansing work Christ has done for you. “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7 (NIV)

“… let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God.”                             2 Corinthians 7:1 (The Message)

 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9

 Accept God’s forgiveness and cleansing and thank Him for it.

Use a drop of Cypress which scripturally symbolized purification and can be used as incense.

THANKSGIVING

 “We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, “I believed it, so I said it,” we say what we believe. And what we believe is that the One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive. Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise!” 2 Corinthians 4:13-15 (The Message)

“For all that you’ve done, I will thank you. For all that you’re going to do, for all that you’ve promised and all that you are is all that has carried me through, Jesus. I thank you.

And I thank you, thank you Lord! Thank you for loving and setting me free. Thank you for giving your life just for me. Jesus, I thank you, gratefully thank you.”  -D Jernigan

Take time to meditate on Psalm 100.

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
     Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
 Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

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On a Psalm 100 card, write your own personal Psalm 100  by filling in the blanks.

Know that the Lord is ________________________________________________

It is He who ________________________________________________________

And we are His ______________________________________________________

Enter His _____________________with ___________________________________

Give ________________________to Him and ________________________His name.

SUPPLICATION

 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4: 17-18

 If you are praying over someone in your presence you may anoint them with drops of Cassia, a holy anointing oil, used during Old Testament times.

Pray for the people on your prayer board, church prayer request list or your church missionary list.

Other prayer needs:

  • Church staff, leaders, teachers and members including families, singles, widows, sick and shut-ins.
  • Life’s difficulties, struggles, relationships, finances, studies or job.
  • Friends, loved ones, relatives, neighbors, co-workers. Talk to God about their needs. Ask for their salvation.
  • Our nation: President, legislators, justices, judges, governors, mayors, police and emergency personal.   Grant us wise leaders. Turn our nation’s hearts and minds to you, God. Pray for righteousness. Pray for the weak, the oppressed and the enslaved.
  • Internationally: Pray for the weak and oppressed and pray against modern day slavery. Pray that God’s word is accessible to all people in our generation. Pray for pastors and churches in countries where Christianity is persecuted. Pray for the poor and the starving that Christ will provide their every need.

Use the journal to record and date thoughts, prayers, dreams, etc.

Use the small pad of paper to write down your struggles and give them to God. For this I have a completely sealed box (glued & tied) where the struggle may be placed.

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Another option is to pray for ourselves or others and then give the request to God by releasing a seed outdoors. The seed symbolizes something we need to let go of. When we release it outside we are showing God it now belongs to Him. We may see the fruit of our prayer some day or God may be the only one who knows the outcome of the prayer/thrown seed.  We know whatever the outcome may be — it will be a supernatural work of God. (I have found gourd seeds to be vigorous.)

I hope you find this prayer time to be refreshing and that it makes you long for the next time you come before the Lord. I pray that God ministers to your heart, soul, mind and strength during these prayer times and that you begin to notice and remember answers to prayers.

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Completed Cards

More information on the above mentioned essential oils:

If you are using essential oils for therapy/healing purposes I recommend using only Young Living Essential Oils.

CASSIA* (Cinnamomum cassia) steam distilled from bark. Cassia was an ingredient in the Holy Anointing Oil given to Moses. This exotic fragrance of vanilla/cinnamon might be similar in its aroma to cinnamon, but it is physically and chemically much different. Care must be taken in topical use as it may cause skin sensation. It is antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and an anticoagulant.

Scriptures: Exodus 30:24; Ezekiel 27:19; Psalm 45:8

Historical uses of Cassia:

  • A drop placed in the hands rub hands together and cup over nose for a joyful, uplifting feeling.

CEDARWOOD* (Cedrus atlantica) steamed distilled from bark. Produced mainly in Morocco, it is the species most closely related to the cedars of Lebanon. Of all essential oils, cedarwood is highest in sesquiterpenes, which are oxygen-delivering molecules capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier.

Scriptures: Leviticus 14:4, 6, 49, 52; Numbers 19:6

Historical uses:

  • Diffuse or inhale from bottle to enhance prayer and meditation.
  • A drop of oil in your palms and then cup them over your nose and mouth. Inhale, breathing deeply to help with mental clarity.
  • Used as an effective insect repellant).
  • A drop to a cotton balls and place in drawers to repel insects.
  • Egyptians used 1-3 drops rubbed into the scalp may help to inhibit hair loss.
  • A drop or two rubbed on wounded skin may help to clean, disinfect and protect from infection.
  • Rub a drop or two on the chest area to help relieve symptoms of (difficult breathing) bronchitis.
  • Applied to help with sleep.

CYPRESS* (Cupressus sempervirens) steam distilled from seeds. The oil of Cypress has been used since ancient times for purification and as incense.

Scriptures: Genesis 6:14; Isaiah 41:19; 44:14; I Kings 9:11; Song of Solomon 1:17

Historical uses:

  • Used to help with healing cuts and healing of scars.

FRANKINCENSE* (Boswellia carteri) steam distilled from resin. It’s a generational tree that takes forty years to produce its first resin. One of the gifts of the wise men to our Savior, frankincense would have been rubbed all over the body of the baby. Egyptian tradition says that “Frankincense is good for everything from gout to a broken head” or in other words “good from head to toe”. If in doubt, use Frankincense. Other names for frankincense are “olibanum” or “Oil from Lebanon”.

Scriptures: Exodus 30:34; Leviticus 2:1, 5:11, 6:15, 24:7; Numbers 5:15; I Chronicles 9:29; Nehemiah 13:5, 9; Song of Solomon 3:6; 4:6, 14; Isaiah 43:23; 60:6; 66:3; Jeremiah 6:20; 17:26; 41:5; Matthew 2:11; Revelation 18:13

Historical Uses:

  • It was used improve concentration.
  • Spiritual oil that enhanced and promoted emotional and spiritual feeling.
  • Diffused to elevate mood.
  • A key ingredient in the holy anointing oils and the oil that stopped Biblical Plagues. 

HYSSOP* (Hyssopus officinalis) steam distilled from stems/leaves. It has a very long history as a cleansing herb.

Scriptures: Exodus 12:22; Leviticus 14:4, 6, 49, 51, 52; Numbers 19:6, 18; I Kings 4:33; Psalm 51:7; John 19:29; Hebrews 9:19

Historical uses:

  • Used to prevent the Plague.

LivingWell     Thoughtful Spot

Flashing Billboards on My Forehead

TOXIC TUESDAY warning

“I have learned that faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”

Philip Yancey

Conflicts: Dysfunctional. Abusive. Boundaryless. They can happen to anyone including Jesus followers who daily spend purposeful time with God through reading the scriptures, in-depth Bible study and consistent prayer. You may be a godly person and a good neighbor, boss, employee, co-worker, parent, spouse, child, sibling, relative or friend finding yourself in an unwanted and uncalled for difficult relationship or circumstance.

I have had relationships in which I interceded for the other person through prayer by asking Jesus to heal them of their dysfunction, mental illness or sin. Most scriptural records of Jesus healing a person were instant, complete and permanent. Even though the person I prayed for had not asked for the help or healing and I could not physically take them to Jesus; I could spiritually bring them before Jesus.

I have previously witnessed Jesus provide in ways that seemed impossible to me relationally, emotionally, spiritually, physically and even legally. He is so like that. When I have been at my wit’s end believing there was no possible way, no hope, no healing, no relief, no safety to overcome an obstacle; Jesus did the impossible. My mind had not previously conceived what He chose to do on my behalf. It was so out of the box that only He could have done it. There lies the beauty; Jesus has no box and I cannot put Him in one. Whoop — whoop!

That being exclaimed, I must also add that I have known Jesus long enough to realize not all prayers are fulfilled the way I wish, in my timing, or sometimes they may not be answered in my lifetime and I know I’ll have to wait until heaven to see how it is eventually answered. My heart may sometimes doubt Jesus heard my prayer but my mind always knows better. He hears, remembers and acts. Always.

If you use Pinterest, the online bulletin/pin board, you have likely read quotes about trusting your heart: “There is no instinct like that of the heart.” “Trust your heart. What is true feels good. What is false causes doubt.” – Monica De Liz. “Always listen to your heart.” “When you can’t believe your eyes you can always trust your heart.”  “Trust your heart and you will be with the one you love” -Aunt Wu.

Here is what trumps all these quotes: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV). Our hearts need to be established in Christ first and even then scripture tells us not to trust in our heart, but with all of our heart, trust in God. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” Proverbs 3:5 (NIV).

I knew Jesus was capable of healing the person I was praying for. Scripture told me of His great power and; moreover, scripture states the power is for us. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,” Ephesians 1:18-20 (NIV). I have longed for this kind of power to be exerted in to the heart, soul, mind and strength of someone I knew on multiple occasions. The bottom line was they had to want it and believe Him for it. When they did not —I was not quick to give up on them. I’m stubborn like that.

Often when I sense God has released me from relationally reaching out to someone and has shown me the exit door from a dysfunctional, abusive or boundaryless relationship; I usually look for a detour and go back for the person. I find myself wondering, “Have I done everything I can?” I do not want to question if there was possibly something else that would have worked. I continue to pray and ask if there is please, another way. I must know I did everything I could and when I look back; have no regrets. If I am going to error I can live with erring in faith but I could not live with erring in what was convenient. I am capable of missing the proverbial boat when it comes to discerning the voice, the will, of God and I want to make certain I clearly understood his heart and will for this concern.

On the other hand, I have a history of allowing anger (toxicity) to be taken out on me so when it comes up in a relationship it feels natural but I know God is calling me to recognize and respond to it in a biblical way. This is anything but easy for me.

Sometime I imagine I have a flashing sign on my forehead that reads, “Easy to Manipulate: Free Test Try” or perchance “Bounaryless: Trespass without caution.” God keeps the lessons in these areas coming at a steady pace and He is determined to teach me how to soar by handling the issue without becoming nervous, shaky, lightheaded, heart pounding out of my chest or; as in my most recent lesson, feeling like Icy Hot was rubbed on my chest. I never before experienced this sensation during a difficult confrontation and fortunately was able to laugh at myself when the conversation had finished. Icy Hot — seriously — I never knew!

Thankfully, God is a patient teacher who does not give me a failing grade. He just keeps teaching me new applications and giving me new situations in which to work them out. God has also given me a godly, humorous private tutor who happens to be an Ace when it comes to practical application. God is very serious about me learning this lesson and passing on to you what I learn. I must add that these lessons are not easy and are sometimes painful. To quote Beth Moore from a lesson in Daniel: Lives of Integrity, “You want to learn this lesson in the classroom and not on a field trip.” I imagine I have more field trips logged than the average student.

In an upcoming post I will refer to toxic relationships, or what the Bible refers to as relationships with fools. Until then; if you, like me, have a flashing billboard on your forehead — turn it off! And keep clear of Icy Hot.

DIY PRAYER BOARD: Pass it on       

At this point in history, on our timeline, one way God shows proof of His existence is through individual believers. I have witnessed God beat great odds and do the impossible in my life on multiple occasions.  I must pass my testimony on which is the reason why I write on this blog.

I long for the return of Jesus when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; but until then, some of the prayers of my heart are: “Allow Your word to become accessible to all people in our generation. Let me be found faithful. Empower my offspring to be found faithfully loving God and loving others. Come, Lord Jesus, come.” The wickedness I hear and read of in the news causes me to frequently ask for the return of Jesus.

I want to make God known for who He is to people in my circle of influence but most importantly I must make Him known to my children by teaching them how to have a daily relationship with Him. I can joyfully say that all of my children have asked Jesus into their hearts and proclaim Christ yet there is more for me to do. My calling as a mom is to pass my spiritual heritage on to my children which is to include the stories of God’s deliverance, protection, provision and healing in our lives through prayer and fasting. I consider this heritage rich beyond words because there is no measure for sufficiently telling about God’s great works nor is there any way to adequately describe Jesus to them. Any attempt always falls short because there is no perfect way, on this side of heaven, to convey in words the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

If my children are going to be found faithful with the life God has given them, and be found fulfilling their God-given purpose they must be comfortable praying to God, their Father. This cannot be left up to chance so I have provided ways of helping them with their prayer life and below is one of the tools we use daily.

PRAYER BOARD

 I made this Prayer Board out of an old picture frame I no longer used.Prayer board

Adoration, Confession Thanksgiving, Supplication

A.C.T.S.

What is your heart and will in this matter, Lord? _______________ I petition this in the name of Jesus.

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“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25

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“I believed; therefore, I have spoken.” 2 Corinthians 4:13

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Box of blank paper on which to write prayer needs.

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A.J. added the below request to the board tonight. The National League Championship Series now stands at Cardinals 2, Dodgers 1. Go Cards!

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Praying for the St. Louis Cardinals to win the 2013 NLCS. Go Cards!

Answered Prayers:

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There is relief, sometimes unexplainable, that only comes through prayer. So we pray for those we know and love and for those who ask us to pray for them.

My kids enjoy reading through the envelope of answered prayers.  Colson was just doing so and noticed that most of the prayers were answered in the way for which we had prayed. He also took note of the prayers that were not answered with the healings for which we had prayed. These were almost exclusively traumatic brain injuries.  Three of those were answered with complete healings in heaven. One did not have the complete healing A.J. received after his severe traumatic brain injury and another waits, after more than two months, to again be able to speak or move his body.

I do not understand God’s sovereignty regarding these T.B.I. prayer requests especially since I know there are no coincidences with God. He has for some reason brought to our attention the need to pray for several T.B.I. patients in the last year and a half.

We are thankful for the opportunity to storm the gates of heaven on behalf of others.

How I made my Prayer Board:

My nature inspired house is decorated with rustic and primitive style furniture in the colors of perpetual autumn so my goal was to make the Prayer Board blend with my other home décor.

  • I sanded, wiped clean and painted the frame the same pumpkin color as my wall.
  • After the frame dried I rubbed an old candle on the edges and in groves followed by two coats of flat black paint, allowing dry time between each application.
  • After drying, I used my Pampered Chef scraper to scrape off the candle wax revealing distressed pumpkin, then lightly sanded and wiped clean.
  • I sealed it with two coats of matte polyurethane.
  • I covered the original mat-board with coordinating fabric and measured where to place the twine in each direction (ribbon could be used).
  • I wrapped the twine all the way around the board and tied it in knots which are part of the overall presentation.
  • I used a hot glue gun on the back to help keep the twine in place then I stapled the twine along the edges for long lasting hold.
  • I cut an allergy medicine box to size then covered it with scrapbooking paper.
  • I folded and tore (or use scrapbooking scissors) brown paper grocery sacks into note size papers and placed them in the box for quick use when someone needs to add a prayer need to the board.

The Prayer Board hangs next to our table so every time we eat we can glance at it and pray for people and situations that we would otherwise most likely forget. This helped my, reluctant to pray child, become a ready to pray child full of confidence. We use the Prayer Board during our Bible study and prayer time in school also.

A chalk board, magnetic board, marker board or bulletin board could just as easily be used. My favorite part of writing the needs on paper is that when the prayer has been answered we write the answer and the date on the piece of paper and place it in an envelope to be kept for our future boasting in the Lord.

PROOF POSITIVE:

  • Create an atmosphere of prayer in your home with an easily accessible type of Prayer Board.
  • Date the prayer need when you place it on the board and date it when you know it has been answered. It will be your turn to brag on God!

The Increase: Adam Wainwright – My Story

The Increase: Adam Wainwright – My Story.

Here is how the worst injury  in the St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright’s career helped him thrive in his personal life.

 

 

Breaking Free from Abuse: Part 3

These are a few notes taken from Pastor Rick Warren’s lesson regarding abuse:

Hurt people hurt people. Abusers have typically have been abused. We have all learned unhealthy ways in some area of life and we are all broken so nobody is holier than anybody else. If you are abused or know someone being abused you can’t pretend it’s not happening. Christians have to stand up and protect the helpless, the offended, the defenseless, and the victims wherever they are.

Don’t confront an abuser by yourself. This is not wise or safe at home, at your office in the work environment or anywhere. In the Bible, Solomon talks about doing the difficult together. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12. This is to be done in a spirit of love, restoration and gentleness…in truth. You turn on the light of truth in that area of darkness where things have been hidden. “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Ephesians 5:11. Healing takes place in the light. Then all your troubles will fade from your memory.

Begin the healing process. It takes courage to speak out and reveal the abuse; reach out to God…Jesus is your Savior. He came to save you from your sins and from your abuse, in every area of your life.  Put away any evil and wrong in your home: You may have to clean house relationally – emotionally. Get away from the abuse and get help then you have hope. There is no reason to suffer in silence.

Let God settle the score. Don’t get even or try to hurt them back. You have three places you can be in relation to the abuser: Beneath them morally, on the same plane morally or on higher ground morally. Be better than them. Getting even makes you no better than the abuser. You’re just even, but when you forgive them you are better than them. Jesus said, “Forgive.” I Peter 3:9 “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” Never repay one wrong with another, one abusive word with another. Repay with a blessing. If you want God’s blessing you have to be different.  Maybe you are being abused physically, sexually or verbally. There is one person in this universe who understands abuse. He understands it more than anybody else. His name is Jesus Christ. See Isaiah 53. He was wounded and crushed (that’s abuse) for our sins. He was beaten and bruised so that we could have peace (that’s called abuse). He was mocked and whipped so we could be healed (that’s abuse).

If you’ve never met Jesus, your healing starts here.  Let me introduce you to your healer, His name is Jesus Christ. Nobody has been abused more than Jesus.  He knows the pain because He took the sin of the entire world including the guilt for the abuse that was done to you. That guilt He took on Himself and died for. He took every abuse ever done and took it on Himself and He died for that so that you could be forgiven, so that we could be forgiven, so that we could have peace, that we could be healed. You have to meet the Healer to be healed. There are examples of people who carried the pain all their lives and there are examples of people who let Jesus Christ heal them of that verbal, emotional, sexual or physical abuse. He understands, He knows, He feels the pain. Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the broken hearted, those who have been crushed.” Nothing crushes your spirit more than abuse.

We have to deal with abuse because it is contagious and gets passed on from generation to generation.

Somebody has to break the chain. It is going to be you, today, now, with the power of the Holy Spirit. If you are the abused or the abuser know there is a way out. There is healing available for both abused and abuser.

No situation is hopeless.  See John 3:16 God sent Jesus to bring you home to Him. Even if no one else had been born on the earth except you, Jesus still would have come to earth so that you could come to know God.

Do you want to learn how to accept this Jesus as your Savior? Please click the Know God tab at rickwarren.org.

Listen to the link below to hear Rick Warren’s lesson on Breaking Free from Abuse: Part 3.

Be healed!

Breaking Free from Abuse: Part 3