Tag Archives: women’s ministry

Toxic Tuesday: My Destructive Marriage

 

My last Toxic Tuesday post, How to Love a Woman In a Destructive Marriage, detailed how to respond to a friend who confides in you about abuse taking place in her home.

Unfortunately for some women—friends, family and church members don’t believe her story. After all, many abusers are wonderful at playing the devoted victim! I believe this is true because many abusers suffer from narcissistic personality disorder and consider themselves special. They are not held to the same standards, morals or laws as the general population. Even when caught, if they admit to doing it, they insist it is not who they are. It’s a twisted mind for sure!

After nine years in my own destructive marriage I finally told my parents, and my husband’s and my ministry mentor, what had been going on in my home since shortly after I said, “I do.” No one was surprised. The mentor told me that he had believed for some time now that my husband was mentally ill but he hadn’t said anything to me since he didn’t know if I was aware or if I would believe him.

Why did I take so long to tell, you may be asking.

Good Christian women don’t tell.

Good wives don’t talk poorly about their husbands. You never tell your family because that will incite them to not like him—and they might encourage you to leave him. We are taught at Bible college, in the church and by godly older women that we never speak poorly of our husbands; especially when you are in the ministry—which we were.

We are to encourage our husbands, respect our husbands, forgive them, pray for them, hope in them, help them, and make love a daily action even when we don’t feel like it. Be intentional about how we respond in love; not frustration or anger. Don’t dwell on the negative; concentrate on the good parts. Be the one to set the tone for the atmosphere in your home to keep it positive and productive. Let go of pride.

Don’t compare your marriage to anyone else’s marriage. Don’t compare your attitude or actions to his. Pray that God will change your heart and through that, improve the difficulties in your marriage.

Care, adore, smile, kiss passionately, forgive, forgive again, be gracious, listen, compliment him, comfort him, and be content. Stay…always stay the course—it WILL pay off. It will!  It does not matter how you feel; what matters is how you respond. With God, all things are possible!

Here is the catch—God gives us free choice and your spouse has a choice in the outcome. The above does not apply in an abusive marriage or a marriage plagued with unfaithfulness.

Through the advice of my mentor I confided in one local friend, a long distance friend who would help my mentor confront my husband in hope of reconciliation and healing; as well as, tell a friend/spiritual leader of ours and our mentors from a former ministry who was very concerned about my marriage, concerned about my husband, concerned about me and wanted the very best for my daughter. It wasn’t easy telling a single detail. I didn’t know if they would believe me, tell on me to my husband, or walk away from the relationship.

Two of these close friends who knew all the ugly details of the abuse and walked the road with me for a time after telling them of my destructive, abusive and unsafe marriage, still attempted to silence me from speaking truth and achieving safety. I can’t speak for what their heart motive was; perhaps my truth made them uncomfortable. Did it hit too close to home? Was the evil, messed up truth about my spouse unbelievable? Had the narcissist won them over? Was legalism involved?

One of my friends told me, “I’ve prayed about this and God will remove his hand of protection from you if you go through with this divorce. You are taking yourself and your daughter out from underneath God’s covering, blessing, provision and protection. You are not supposed to do this and you will be sinning against God if you go through with it.”

I thanked her for her concern and told her I would pray about it more before finalizing the paperwork; however, I had only taken these measures after prolonged prayer, in depth Bible study, extensive counseling, and out of obedience to the Lord. I felt like God had held my hand while I skimmed the surface of hell begging my husband to return to me. He refused. In fact, during our time of a therapeutic separation when he was supposed to be seeking professional help and healing so our family could be reconciled; he instead took a preaching ministry and moved away. Because after all, God had called him to preach first and foremost and he was following God’s calling on His life. Good-bye to his wife and daughter—we were in the way of his career. I had spent the last two years refusing to seek another ministry because he needed spiritual guidance and serious professional emotional, psychological and psychiatric help. He decided to no longer wait for my permission; he left and moved on without me.

The other friend, George (name changed to protect his identity), whose own wife was delivered from an abusive marriage through the death of the abuser (first husband), wrote me an email after I gave him the latest report I received from my husband’s psychiatrist. I received discouraging news at every psychologist’s, neuro-psychologist’s and psychiatrist’s appointment I attended with him. But on this given day I heard the final blow that sealed the fate of reconciliation.

Unfaithfulness I had forgiven and mental-illness I could live with if he would acknowledge it and seek help and stay on his medications but hearing, “He has started down the slippery slope of pedophilia from which there is no return” was the death blow and I knew our daughter would never be safe. Before this day I kept thinking he was just mentally ill with an addiction to pornography and with help he could get better.

My hope for my husband’s healing was over. I asked the doctor a few questions and sought clarity but the doctor was clear, serious, and gave me his professional opinion about my daughter’s safety.

George had asked to be kept updated on doctor appointments, progress and prayer needs but the pedophilia information proved to be, unbeknownst to  me, the last straw. Here is the reply I received via email:

Carolyn-

I understand that life has been difficult for you. But please don’t make it more so by continually pleading your case in the court of public opinion. Whenever I hear from you it is a constant stream of bashing your husband. I’ve not said anything before, but now I must. Your husband is my friend. I know he is not perfect, but then again neither are you or I. It’s almost as if you’ve been building a case against him ever since the first of hint of problems last year. Your husband has always been different. Always. He was when we were in college. He was when you fell in love with him and married him. He is now. He could make us laugh like no one else. His nice guy looks and golden vocal cords along with his love for God and the church made him a joy to be around. All he ever wanted was to succeed for God. That dream appears to be a long shot now. But give him some dignity. Stop confessing his sins for him. You said in the email that you have been able to help some women whose husbands have left them, as if that is your situation.  Carolyn…he didn’t leave you.

If you made a mistake marrying him, say, “I made a mistake. I left him because I couldn’t take him.” Don’t write husband bashing emails. What good is that doing??? Are people lining ups saying, “Poor Carolyn,” and that’s helping you? If so, then something’s wrong there.

In love (for all three of you),

George

To this day I cannot imagine how I could have made it through this time in life without my godly ministry mentor and his wife.

Sobbing, I called them and asked if I had been inappropriate with the details I had given about my marriage and my husband’s issues. They said I had not been and then asked me to read the email from George.

After hearing George’s reply they recommended I stop all contact with him; immediately. They were dumbfounded at how he could feel this way after seeing and hearing first hand, my husband’s delusional and irrational behavior and his denial of needing help for his problems and mental illness. All they could guess was that the classic textbook narcissist had struck again; a professional liar and actor who had won over another pawn in his game.

As for, “His love for God and the church made him a joy to be around,” investigators from three different law enforcement agencies have contacted me through the years investigating allegations of child sexual abuse by my ex-husband. All these investigators have said they believe his pedophilia goes back to his teen years and that he purposefully chose the ministry as a way to access child victims from a place of trusted leadership; pastor. The investigators also believe the list of child victims is well into the hundreds but because he targets very young children, who are mostly too young to tell, he stayed under the radar. Until last summer…his reign of terror is over.

No, my husband did not file the separation papers, I did; but make no mistake…he was the one who left in every way except for the paperwork. For him to file the papers would potentially ruin any hope of his future in ministry and preaching. He HAD to be portrayed as the victim.

Had I listened to George and my other local friend, my daughter and I would most likely be dead; at the very least we would have been further abused with my daughter suffering the greatest through it.

God allowed, encouraged and provided a way out of this marriage along with Biblical grounds for divorce.

I hope this testimony brings awareness to women who desperately need help, friendship and love while they seek safety and support during an unsafe and/or difficult marriage.

Be a blessing. Pray scripture over them; in person. Offer to watch their children so they can see a Christian counselor, run an errand, or just need an hour to be alone. Invite them over for lunch. Take their children to the park for an hour. Give her a gift certificate for a massage. Drop a bag of groceries at the door. Or head over to Give Her Wings ministry website to find out how you can help. There is a , “Books we like” tab for suggestions on books that would make a great gift for a hurting wife, and it would be one way you could show her you understand and care.

You could not plan for this
No, there was no silhouette
Up against the pink horizon
To warn you of the hit
But you absorbed it all with grace
Like a child you spoke of faith unmoved
That holds onto you

This thing is going to try to break you
But it doesn’t have to
You’re showing us how
This thing is going to bend and shape you
But He won’t let it take you/You know it somehow
This thing is not going to break you

You could take your loss
You could hide away from us
With your grief lassoed around you
But you’re laying it in the sun
And you stare straight into the light
You say you’d rather go blind than look away
What can I say?

This thing is going to try to break you
But it doesn’t have to
You’re showing us how
This thing is going to bend and shape you
But He won’t let it take you
You know it somehow
This thing is not going to break you
This thing is not going to break you
This thing is not going to break you

Toxic Tuesday: Dangerous and Difficult to Identify

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Watch, listen and learn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I agreed!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some examples:

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

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

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

You need encouragement and you need to laugh!

Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)

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

Seeing Moms’ Night Out guarantees good medicine.

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

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

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

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

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

word filled linkup

Toxic Tuesday: A Real Life Toxic Letter

 

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Toxic people.

They can make a person want to scream, “What are you doing?”

“How could you?”

“What were you thinking?”

“Stop!”

Toxic people in the Christian community are especially difficult to understand. How do you resolve the discrepancies of a person who can be two things at the same time? How is it possible to be good and bad, godly and evil, spiritually sound and morally corrupt, pure and defiled, truthful but insincere to the core, loving and unfaithful, committed while betraying, outwardly dynamic and yet a fraud? They are a hero to some and a villain to others—a matted mess of a person that you cannot untangle; for their good, for your benefit, or for God’s glory.

For example: How can a pastor give the impression of being a biblical family man while; unbeknownst to his wife, partaking in an extra-marital relationship with a bi-sexual atheist? How can priests make oaths to the Lord while molesting young boys? Why do a few go to seminary to enter full-time ministry for the purpose of seeking victims to prey upon. How does a pastor carry on a sexual relationship with another staff member, get caught having sex with them in a room at the church, and still attempt to lie his way out of it? Better yet, how do pastors/clergy forced out of one ministry due to sexual sins gain a new ministry without the next church ever inquiring into their background? How do they keep family, friends and church leadership blind to their sin?

They are toxic. They are professional liars who take deception to a higher level. Daring individuals who seek thrills while leaving clues; desperate for someone to catch them, yet hoping to not be caught.

Here is an example of a personal value statement written by a toxic person living in a deep pit of sin and dysfunction.

 

MY PERSONAL VALUES by Toxic Logic

 

Nothing comes before God.

My God is not the church.

The church does not come before my wife.

The church does not come before my family.

Money is no obstacle to love.

Love is not dependent on money.

Marriage can survive without money,

But it cannot without love.

Although my mind and memory may fail me,

May I never fail to love.

Love is more than memories,

It is the memory in the making.

The child we bear is a gift.

It is the ultimate responsibility to be a parent.

If we fail here,

Then we have ultimately failed.

The child bears the marks of its parents.

May I have cut away from me the lack of integrity, dishonesty and irresponsibility;

So that my child may grow to love and know love

In the most extraordinary way.

The beauty and grace and wisdom of a mother

All come from having been loved, nurtured and provided for by the man of her life who is

Possessed by her love and who remains her knight in shining armor…

A few nicks and bruises…but still shining.

Some wounds remain always as permanent scars.

May I never inflict another so painful and so cruel.

The heart breaks in ways like no other hurt,

And I have broken hers today.

Lord, I thank you for the days when I love my wife…

Completely, totally, consistently, blamelessly.

Forgive me for the shameful days when I forget to love her

…those times when I take her for granted and nearly lose her.

Sickness, fatigue and busy-ness are no excuse for failing to remember to love.

Always remember, I love you.

Behold, a shining example of a toxic person.

This was written after forgetting a special occasion. With an apology like this for a small issue how would a wife ever guess there were major betrayals and mental issues going on with her husband? Resolving discrepancies is next to impossible in a situation like this.

To make matters worse the wife had to listen to the “Value Statement” read from the pulpit as an apology to her, all the while knowing it was insincere, for a show, and to gain exaltation for being ‘real’, ‘transparent’ and ‘humble’. Though she knew something was very wrong she was still clueless to the demons lurking in the shadows. Only the love of family, the help of caring friends, Bible study, prayer, fasting  and time would eventually reveal the depth of her husband’s depravity.

The condition of this man’s heart is a hard truth for her to accept; even to this day.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)

It is for women like her that I write this blog. You are not alone and you are not crazy.

God loves you and has a plan for your life. Ask Him what His heart and will is for your life, your future, and your family. Seek it. Allow the Holy Spirit to comfort you. Jesus will intercede for you if you ask. He is everything you need.

I am praying for you and I hope you are finding applicable help for your journey and scriptures to pray over your situation. Previous Toxic Tuesday posts are full of such information.

Below is my theme song for life’s ups and downs. I have enjoyed it in the best of times and sung it in the depths of despair.

I love most genres of music but the strings in this arrangement weave through my inner being and touch my soul; awakening me to God’s love while keeping me centered in Him.

Toxic Tuesday: A Path Through the Forest

 

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

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

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

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

2 Timothy 3:16-17

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

Love undeniably qualifies as a good work.

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

Read: TOXIC INTERVENTION

Read: A TOXIC RELATIONSHIP AND A THERAPEUTIC SEPARATION

Read: THE THERAPEUTIC SEPARATION AND CHILD PROTECTION

Read: BIBLICAL PERMISSION TO LEAVE A TOXIC SPOUSE

Read: DEAD END

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 5:8 

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

1 John 4:19 

We love because he first loved us.  

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

John 14:21

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

I John 3:18-20

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

1 John 3:18-20

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

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

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

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

Peace

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

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

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

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

 Love

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

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

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

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

Purpose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Timothy 1:7 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh how I need You (x8)

Toxic Tuesday: DEAD END

toxic-people-warning-keep-calm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our human love does not conquer all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 How cool is that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHORUS

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Gone Wrong Relationship: To Do or Not To Do

TOXIC TUESDAY warning

Please understand I am simply passing on lessons I learned and they are examples of experiences I rarely understood the first time. Sometimes I process slowly. I do not like to disappoint people or offend anyone so this attributed to failure of setting healthy boundaries; however, I had motivation, determination and resolve to seek the Lord.

God never leaves me behind in my messiness or failings when I cry out to Him; acknowledge Him, admit my mistakes and ask Him for help.

Below are a few ramblings of what being a peacemaker or negotiator/problem solver does and does not mean.

It does not necessitate keeping a person you find difficult happy so their bad attitude is not found out by others; or so it does not spill out on someone else. You are not responsible for their attitude; positive or negative.

Do not make excuses for them; this includes excuses to your children or your extended family. You do not need to draw attention to the poor behavior but you do not try to explain in away either. It is what it is. As many psychologists have recommended: “Do not sit in your living room staring at a big pink elephant while pretending it isn’t there.” Nor do you want your children to learn by example and believe the dysfunctional attitude is pleasing to God or worthy of replicating. In healthy relationships with normal disagreements or arguments you always shield the children. This can prove impossible in a toxic relationship.

Do not cover for their irresponsibility; emotionally, relationally or financially. Allow them to face the consequences of poor planning, deceit or overspending.

For the lonely of heart who feel abandoned, frightened or craving intimacy while in a marriage covenant; you must spend time reading the Bible and praying it back to God conversationally. Only God can apply a healing balm to your heart and mind.

In normal marriages you never talk about marital problems to friends or family but in a toxic relationship you may need one confidant or a close-knit network to pray for you, encourage you and care for you. Pray about this and ask God if He has such a person, or persons, for you. Do not compromise your values and belief system in who you seek for friends. You do not need to add any other difficult dimension to your life. You need godly friendships with people of the same sex. Finding friendship in the opposite sex is a recipe for rumors, temptation and additional problems.

“Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.” Psalm 37:3(AMP) “We live by faith, not by sight.” II Corinthians 5:7 (NIV) “We walk by faith, not by sight.” (KJV)

Most importantly: Love. This is a tall order for someone in a one-sided love relationship. You want what you cannot have because the other person does not allow access. This may be due to unresolved past emotional wounds, infidelity, addiction to pornography or other reasons. If you were recruited (see earlier posts about Narcissistic Personality Disorder) into this relationship you now realize the bond was based on a ‘Once Upon a Time’ false reality. Whatever the reason; your heart must feel like it cannot endure much more. Love may be a feeling so far removed you can’t remember when it stopped being a feeling. That is okay. Love is not meant to always be a feeling, in fact, it is more often an action.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John 15:9 (NIV)

Love them for Christ; here and now with what you have and what you have not. This kind of love is called, agape, and part of agape is action. Agape is the type of love revealed in Jesus, seen as spiritual and selfless and a model for humanity; not sexual in its nature. To agape means agreeing with God about the person you find difficult. God loves that person so you sacrifice your self-will for God’s will. Love. God called us to agape our enemies, Luke 6:27 so you can be sure He has called you to love the person you find difficult. Since God is love, it is His very essence; we can be certain He wants us to love.

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus,’“is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.’ Mark 12:28-31(NIV)

A few examples of practical application:

When treated with contempt, hatred, anger or deceit; you may state, “I will not allow myself to be treated this way” with firmness but not anger.

When you are being told how you should think about a subject; don’t argue. Simply state, “That is your opinion.”

When the same conversation is brought up again because they want you to change your mind, remind them, “I am not discussing this.”

Always be kind and always say, “I love you” even if they won’t. Put on self-control in a confrontation, and do not repay insult with unkind words or accusations. Remember: Asking questions, reminding them of an answer already given or stating your opinion is not wrong even if they treat you as if you are sinning by doing so.

When you mess up, admit it, ask for forgiveness from the person and from God and think of how you can better handle the same situation next time; because most likely there will be a next time. (It is likely you might be the example setter for apologizing because the person you are having difficulties with may not have, “I’m sorry,” in their vocabulary.)

Loving  with an action that is beyond your comprehension may seem undo-able to you. You are not alone. Seek God and ask Him what His heart and will is for you in this situation. “…to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:18-19 (NIV)

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

LIH GIG

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.

To Live but Not Exist

TOXIC TUESDAY warning

In previous posts I have mentioned narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Today I will add Narcissistic Sociopath.

“Narcissism is a term commonly used to describe those who seem more concerned with themselves than with others. It is important to distinguish between those who have narcissistic personality traits and those suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. Those with narcissistic personalities are often seen as arrogant, confident, and self-centered, but they do not have the exaggerated or grandiose view of their own abilities that characterizes narcissistic personality disorder.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a pervasive disorder characterized by self-centeredness, lack of empathy, and an exaggerated sense of self-importance. As with other personality disorders, this disorder is an enduring and persistent pattern of behavior that negatively impacts many different life areas including social, family, and work relationships.

Narcissistic personality disorder is thought to be less common than other personality disorders such as borderline personality disorderantisocial personality disorder, and histrionic personality disorder. Narcissistic personality disorder is estimated to affect 1-percent of the adult population in the United States and is more common among men than women.”  Narcissistic Personality Disorder Symptoms and Treatments, Kendra Cherry

Narcissism, not the personality disorder, is rampant in today’s culture. I’m not surprised because God warned us of this in II Timothy 3:1-8: “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—  having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,  always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.” (NIV)

I feel like I have to purposely guard myself against displaying such traits on a daily basis. Sin and self-centeredness are my default. I also catch myself trying to NOT be like certain people. Talk about being a Pharisee! I have to constantly remind myself to stop the comparing and just be like Jesus. He is the only perfect example and the only One who can help me.

Today’s topic:  Narcissistic Sociopath.

Do you know what it feels like to live but not exist?

Go with me here. Think of the latest Christmas fad in which many American families participate; Elf on the Shelf. I see friends pin Elf on the Shelf ideas on Pinterest and post pictures on Facebook of the latest places the elf appeared in their home.

For those of you without young children who have not heard of this latest rage; parents buy an Elf on the Shelf  just about anywhere; then every night strategically place the elf in a new location of their home. “There are two simple rules that every child knows when it comes to having an elf. First, an elf cannot be touched; Christmas magic is very fragile and if an elf is touched it may lose that magic and be unable to fly back to the North Pole. Second, an elf cannot speak or move while anyone in the house is awake!” elfontheshelf.com

Our family never did the Santa or Elf thing. Just a personal preference which our children have thanked us for. In our home, Mom (that would be me) is the elf who does all the shopping and gift wrapping and Dad is Santa who stuffs the stockings on Christmas Eve after all kids are snug in their beds. Our children leave cookies and milk for Santa Daddy and, in return for the homemade goodies; he always leaves a trail of crumbs and a witty note.

My friend, DeAnne who writes two blogs: The World Can Wait http://deanneleblanc.com/ and About Lyme http://aboutlyme.org/recently posted a picture on Facebook of their elf sitting on the edge of the toilet seat with a green peppermint and a red and white striped miniature candy cane conveniently ‘deposited’ in the bottom of the toilet bowl.

Parents decide when and where to place the elf for the next day in hope of thrilling their children with a surprising, shocking or often humorous location.

The elf does not really exist. It is just an object. A possession.

If you live with a Narcissistic Sociopath you most likely feel like an elf; with the exception you do exist. You are a living breathing human being made in the likeness of God; to love and be loved. But you feel like an object and you are not supposed to need time, attention, affection, space or money. It is expected you will only do the things you have been authorized to do and go places which have been preapproved.

According to Dr. Martha Stout’s book The Sociopath Next Door, sociopaths make up 4% of western society (Stout, 2010). Although not all narcissists are sociopaths, all sociopaths are narcissists (Stout 2010).

If you happen to live with one I am certain you did not willingly pursue such a relationship. No. These people use lies, manipulations and charm to hook their victim; in fact, they probably loved (or seemed to love) everything about you.  By the time you realize the truth and understand they are not capable of loving you and maybe cannot stand you, it is usually too late.

Society tends to think of sociopaths as serial killers and murderers only; but this is not true. They may be someone we would never suspect is evil or messed up emotionally and/or sexually. They blend in with us and they are terrific actors, manipulators and con-artists.

I have walked my readers through narcissism, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder (also known as Sociopath) one step at a time because if you recognize someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder you are one stop closer to identifying a sociopath.

Another reason you tend to not recognize N.P.D. or a Sociopath is because you are not a deceiver so you don’t know what one looks like. You are not a manipulator so you have no idea you are being played. You have the capability of loving and bonding so when someone acts like they do too; you have no clue that they are performing. Here is the most disturbing part to me: Deceit is such a way of life for them that they are convinced of their own lies. Even when caught in sin or crime and confronted they think: “But wait, that’s not really who I am. I did not do that.”  Evil.

I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist on any level but I understand how these personality traits can infiltrate heart, mind, strength and spirit to the point you may believe you are the messed up, evil and in need of help person in the relationship.

If you recognize yourself in such a relationship; seek professional godly counsel.  If you recognize a loved one as possibly having a personality disorder; seek professional godly counsel for them and attend with them. It will not be easy as the recovery rate for these people is debatable; between 1%-5%, and I think that is being generously optimistic. The most frustrating part is that the spouse or significant other may be the only person who sees and experiences the symptoms, crazy making and ruthlessness of these people. The reason: because they are capable of being grand actors, dynamic speakers and fake sympathizers. That being said, statistics say many of these people either tend to mellow out between age 40-50 or have perfected their game. It is a toss up.

This is about to go deeper so grab a cup of something hot to drink and don’t forget a little bit of chocolate.

Below you may read through the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder taken from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), DSM-IV-TR. If you are certain you are dealing with N.P.D. then read the list of 20 sociopathic traits from the book Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us by Dr. Robert D. Hare, Ph.D. I highly recommend you read this book if you believe you are in a relationship with a sociopath.

If you already know you are in such a relationship and 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.

The DSM-IV-TR defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder as “an all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts,” such as family life and work.

1. Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

2. Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion

3. Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions)

4. Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation – or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (Narcissistic Supply)

5. Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favorable priority treatment

6. Is “interpersonally exploitative”, i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends

7. Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others

8. Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of his or her frustration. Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions as he or she believes that they feel the same about him or her and are likely to act similarly

9. Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, “above the law”, and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy (http://samvak.tripod.com). Sam Vaknin has a valuable book, Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited. This is a necessary read if you interact with N.P.D.

Have you or your loved one/friend qualified for 5 of the 9 criteria for N.P.D.? If so, go through the following list  for qualifications of a sociopath. (You’ll discover many overlapping traits from each list.) The list below of 20 sociopathic traits is from the book Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us by Dr. Robert D. Hare, Ph.D

1. Glib and superficial charm. The tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Sociopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A sociopath never gets tongue-tied. They have freed themselves from the social conventions about taking turns in talking, for example.

2. Grandiose self-worth. A grossly inflated view of one’s abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart. Sociopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.

3. Need for stimulation or proneness to boredom. An excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation; taking chances and doing things that are risky. Sociopaths often have low self-discipline in carrying tasks through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks that they consider dull or routine.

4. Pathological lying. Can be moderate or high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative, and dishonest.

5. Conning and manipulative. The use of deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of one’s victims.

6. Lack of remorse or guilt. A lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, coldhearted, and unempathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one’s victims.

7. Shallow affect. Emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness.

8. Callousness and lack of empathy. A lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.

9. Parasitic lifestyle. An intentional, manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline, and inability to begin or complete responsibilities.

10. Poor behavioral controls. Expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting hastily.

11. Promiscuous sexual behavior. A variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of several relationships at the same time; a history of attempts to sexually coerce others into sexual activity or taking great pride at discussing sexual exploits or conquests.

12. Early behavior problems. A variety of behaviors prior to age 13, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use, and running away from home.

13. Lack of realistic, long-term goals. An inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in life.

14. Impulsivity. The occurrence of behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations, and urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences; foolhardy, rash, unpredictable, erratic, and reckless.

15. Irresponsibility. Repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements.

16. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions. A failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial.

17. Many short-term marital relationships. A lack of commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life, including marital.

18. Juvenile delinquency. Behavior problems between the ages of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes or clearly involve aspects of antagonism, exploitation, aggression, manipulation, or a callous, ruthless tough-mindedness.

19. Revocation of condition release. A revocation of probation or other conditional release due to technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation, or failing to appear.

20. Criminal versatility. A diversity of types of criminal offenses, regardless if the person has been arrested or convicted for them; taking great pride at getting away with crimes. (Hare 2011).

Don’t bury me I’m not yet dead
Don’t bury me I’m not yet dead
Don’t bury me I’m not yet dead
not a walking zombie with no head
not a stepford wife made to obey
don’t want to go through life that way

I’m alive I’m alive
that’s what I say
I’m alive I’m alive
gonna live that way
I’m alive I’m alive
that’s what I say
I’m alive and I’m gonna live today

Do robots dream of electric sheep
I need to live my dreams
not just in my sleep
I’ve been hold up here
but its time to leave
I need to make my move
while I’ve air to breathe
don’t give me drugs no novicane
I must be alive cause I still feel pain

we where born with wings
we where made to fly
we where ment to live
while where still alive

I’m alive I’m alive
that’s what I say
I’m alive I’m alive
gonna live that way
I’m alive I’m alive
that’s what I say
I’m alive and I’m gonna live today

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 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

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!

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

Crazymaking: Part 2 of Breaking Free from Abuse

Crazymaking: Part 2 of Breaking Free from Abuse

Here are notes I took yesterday from Pastor Rick Warren’s  September series You Make Me Crazy. If you know a crazymaker or are a crazymaker God has much to say about abusive circumstances.

No matter how bad your circumstances are you can count on God’s love and God’s power to break free from the abuse.

David describes 92 times in scripture what abusers do and what they use against and over you.

Breaking Free from Abuse: Part 2

1. Aggravation: taunting, picking on, provoking

Jesus: “The truth will set you free.” John 8:32

David: “I said, ‘I will not say anything while evil people are near.’ So I kept quiet, not saying a word… but my suffering only grew worse, and I was overcome with anxiety. The more I thought, the more troubled I became; I could not keep from asking: ‘Lord, how long will I live? When will I die? Tell me how soon my life will end.’” Psalm 39:1-4 (TEV)

2. Intimidation: Tells lies about you and threatens you, pressures you into compliance, scares you into compliance

Marks of Emotional Abuse – David’s Descriptions –

“My enemies taunt me day after day. They mock and curse me.” Psalm 102:8

“…they tell lies about me and threaten me.” Psalm 109:20

“…they make fun of me and ridicule me.” Psalm 22:7

“I have been insulted, put to shame, and humiliated.” Psalm 69:19

“Using words to kill; they bully their way with words.” Psalm 73:8 (Message)

“They push hard to make me fall.” Psalm 118:13 (GW)

“They spread rumors about me, and conspire against me.”  Psalm 31:13

“They mock me with the worst kind of profanity, and snarl at me.” Psalm 35:16

3. Denigration: Always putting you down, makes fun of you, ridicules you (not good natured teasing)

“Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God comes upon all those who disobey him.” Ephesians 5:6 (NLT)

 4. Humiliation: Insulted, shame is the favorite tool of abusers, they demean, dishonor & disgrace you

“Look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them happened to you.” Hebrews 13:3b (Message)

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

5. Manipulation: trying to control you, bullying, jeering, useing words to kill

“By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you get a third person? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 (Message)

“Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, rebuke and expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But when the light shines on them, it becomes clear how evil these things are. And where your light shines, it will expose their evil deeds.” Ephesians 5:11-13 (NLT)

6. Domination: They push hard to make you fall; control you in every kind of way, power plays, to show who is in charge

Advice to Job: “Put your heart right. Reach out to God. Put away any evil and wrong from your home. Then face the world again, firm and courageous. Then all your troubles will fade from your memory, like floods that are past and remembered no more! Your life will be brighter than sunshine at noon, and life’s darkest hours will shine like the dawn!” Job 11:13-17 (TEV)

7. Defamation: They spread lies and rumors about you, love to use gossip to defame you, embarrass you

“Never repay one wrong with another, or one abusive word with another; instead, repay with a blessing. That is what you are called to do, so that you inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9 (NJB)

“Christ never verbally abused those who verbally abused him. When he suffered, he didn’tmake any threats but left everything to the one who judges fairly.” 1 Peter 2:23 (GW)

8. Condemnation: They mock you with the worst type of profanity, snarl at you, use cursing for shock value, crude slang/name calling

If any of these words describe the environment you are in – you are being emotionally abused. This is not good nature stuff here. You need to admit it, name it and point it out. It is meant to harm you.

To hear what to do and what not to do if you are living or working in an abusive environment with a: spouse, boyfriend, neighbor, co-worker, relative or friend listen to this broadcast at:  Breaking Free from Abuse: Part 2