Monthly Archives: May 2017

Once Upon a Testimony

Standard

Survivors don’t get to choose their story but they should get to choose if, when, how, and to whom their story is told. . . This much should remain in their keeping- – as so many other things were taken without their consent. For power is gained in the victory of releasing this truth with dignity. And there is no dignity in exposing a soul against its will.  

This was my response to the news leak of the reports of the Dugger girls being molested by their older brother.  That’s all the old me had to say about it. Now here I am, new me, reading it in Facebook memories and trying to support old me in leaving it there.  I’ve always had a voice. The weaving of words is not a new craft for me. It is me.  So old me certainly had the ability to say more. 

But she chose not to. She made that choice because she didn’t believe her unique life experiences formed a point of view that needed to be voiced. 

Having a voice and having something that needs to be said are two different things. And old me- – well She only had one of those things. And new me has no fear. 

How can I say they when I openly admit that triggers, post traumatic stress, and the like continue to be part of my humanity?  I say that because the worst thing I ever thought could happen to me. . . It happened. The reason we “check on” perfectly peaceful babies.  And then become washed in the relief that they are just sleeping.  That sudden, silent phenomenon slipped into my bedroom and left me with nothing to fear. 

Will people think it was my fault? That I am making more if it than what it was? That because I was not raped or physically hurt I should not speak of it? Will they think I’m taking someone else’s tragedy and making it about mine? Will they see me as different , less than. . . Permanently reduced in their minds to the object I was for a time?  

I truly do not care because I truly do not fear. God has not given me a spirit of fear but of power and sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

When a spirit of fear is upon me, I know it was delivered by enemy and that he will be beat severely by my God. I can’t even say God help Him because He won’t. He will only help me come back to power and a sound mind because I know where my help comes from. 

Where does my help come from? 

I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from?

My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:2

So without fear or apology I declare for the masses that I was molested by an older male in Kindergarten and first grade.  My first sexual experience happened before I knew what sex was and it clouded my heart identity with shame and weight too heavy to bear. And God was good and He was there.  And He was both those things even though sin was there and it is as bad as God is good.  God was there because I am His child and He attaches Himself to all that I am. He rejoices over the parts of my heart that are like His. He sees the ugly, dark parts and because He can have no fellowship with darkness- He covers them with the light of Christ.  

But did He allow me to be wounded and molested at a tender age? And if so, is that a God I want to get behind?

 Yes . 

.And Yes.  

God values real relationship with us over controlling us.  So even though He could have overtaken the hand of My molester, he chose not to. God is so very good that His goodness is exercised and revealed even in the “bad” things that come to His children by way of Sin.  There is no “wrong”  in my life that has not been made right in Christ. If I use my freedom to choose to accept and receive that, then I am untouchable by this  ill willed world. 

Because of this, I  can thank God for the blessings that came with being molested. And I can be released from the curse that it was as well. 

I am thankful that God uses this to carve out special sacred places In ministry for me. I am thankful for the intimacy I have had with Him since a very young age. It is no accident that my closeness with God was real to me at the same time as my sexual abuse. For He was very close to me at that time.   I am thankful He has trusted me to help his other daughters retire their titles of victim and survivor, but rather to walk into the ring as victor and thriver! 

I am thankful that He has shown me my true identity because of Who He Is. The  great I AM. 

For I am all the things He is making me to be. And He’s using all my life experiences- the exhilarating and the painful – to craft a masterpiece.  

And so it is without fear or regret that I say. . . 

Once upon a time there was a beautiful little God girl who was violated and scared. She felt shame-filled and different. But God knew that she was different because she was wonderfully and fearfully made by Him. There was a scary mean enemy who broke down a young man to trespass into territory only meant for her purity.  (Because hurt people, HURT people). But what the enemy intended for evil, God uses for good. And as This great, kind loving God walked with Her- – He taught her what her true worth was. That a man who had never harmed a creature, gave His life for hers. And she was worth His most precious blood. That all those drops of blood formed a spectacular invisible crown that made her free instead of fearful . And blessed instead of cursed. She grew and grew in strength and grace and dignity taking more and more territory in the glorious magical kingdom.  She would  continue learning to rule in love on earth as she will one day rule in Heaven. 

Nowhere Near the End 

Advertisements

Harder Still

Standard

I recently posted a blog entitled “Easier.” I was excited that some things seemed easier. I was excited that some events were less sad and I was relieved that maybe I wouldn’t hurt this bad forever. Because a few events had been easier, I assumed most if not all events would be from here on out.

 Of course I would think that. Want that. 

 Better. 

Easier. 

Happier. 

Or at least less sad. 

Yes. More of that please. 

 More is coming. Now I don’t doubt that more of that is coming. I believe it with all of my heart. But I can’t leave that “easier” post out there.

 Because right after I posted, something I had already done was very hard. It was as hard as it was the first time I did it. It was as hard as anything has ever been since she moved to heaven.
And I have absolutely no explanation for it. Why would my 3 year old’s birthday be harder than his two year old birthday was? Why would I cry harder this year when guests left than I did last year? Last year it was the first family celebration without the whole family. 

 The first family celebration since she. . . died. . . I mean went away. . . I mean moved to heaven unexpectedly. . . since I was shattered. . . gutted. . . crucified. . . poured out. . . traumatized. . . left. . . since our family had been downgraded to a table of 5 rather than 6. . . to all boys again. . . instead of three dirty little farmers and a princess. . . to this painfully incomplete group of people who are ALWAYS missing something. . . who always feel that something is not quite right. . . the energy is not quite balanced. . .and the full house is just a bit emptier than it should be. . .

Oh I have theories as to why. Perhaps it was because this is the first time we had really hosted a family celebration in our house since loss came to live here. Or perhaps seeing my friend’s toddler girl playing in the yard I will never see my daughter play in – – perhaps those two things stirred the pools of sadness from which deep grief sprang forth.

But the truth is . . . the real answer is. . . this is grief. It’s the price of how deeply you loved. And you never know when the piper will show up and demand his fee for your child. The child you won’t get back or watch grow or ever make a birthday cake for. The one who knows what your heart sounds like from the inside and who shared your body as her home. The one who was your sister soul mate. Still is but set in crystal dreams now. You thought  you were done waiting on her but it turns out that living and waiting have become the same thing.

Easier. Better. Stronger. Happier.

 These feel good. 

 They feel like me. 

 That old me before this one grew where I used to live. 

 But the truth is that Hard.  Worse. Weak. Sad. They don’t mean I’m not OK. Not healing. Not restored. They mean I am still in love with Ellis Grace. So I shouldn’t be surprised when they roost or relieved when they fly away. Although I know very well that I will be both. Surprised and Relieved.

But I shouldn’t be.

I should expect to be all of those things for a very long time. Like as long as I live and have breath. 

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Psalm 150:6

The Chair

Standard

In January, we threw a lovely vintage tea party themed shower for my niece. Everything was so perfect except for one missing component! There was no worthy place of honor for her to sit. In my mind, a folding chair just would not do.  

She needed a place to sit that was girly and cushioned and regal. Something to surround her that would tell her she was loved and that she was lovely. 

I scavenged through my mind of the chairs available to me with nothing being deemed quite right. And then I saw it in the store front side of the venue for the shower. The Chair. A mixed floral parlor chair with coordinated stripes trimmed in a garland of sparkles and pastel Pom poms. The chair’s floral pattern prominently displayed big pink roses. I had just ordered vintage rose bedding for my daughter’s nursery. The chair even spins like a little girl twirling in a new dress. It was the perfect throne for our purpose. I lovingly placed the chair back in the store after the shower. And never thought of it again until the planning meeting for my newborn daughter’s funeral.  

“Is there anything else you will need ?” My sister Ange asked. There was a long pause before I choked out the words, ” I will need a place. . . Where I can go. . . To get away . . . Or breathe. . . “. I didn’t even know what I would need to do but I was sure I needed a retreat – – a private place for rest or to take on a wave of sorrow I couldn’t manage gracefully. The only thing I knew for sure was that I was weak and this place should have a comfortable chair.  

Our church has folding chairs and worship chairs but nothing comforting in the way of a sitting chair. A rocking chair was suggested and the thought of rocking with painfully empty arms made me grow cold and nauseous. I said , “No. It can’t be a rocking chair.” It was one of the only things I was able to say firmly that week. 

And a whisper of a memory flew in my heart and I said ” you know that chair from the shower?”  

Yes! The room filled with hopeful agreement. That chair! That chair was the perfect chair for a mother of a princess to beg God for enough strength and grace to keep going. . . To somehow feel loved and lovely and close to her daughter at the same time. However, 

That chair had been sold. That chair was gone. 
But do you know what God did for me? He called a shop owner to call a customer to request a borrowing of a piece of furniture that had already been perfectly placed in that customers home.  

When I heard the chair was on loan to me for my hour of need, it touched my heart. This chair felt like love to me.  

But when I was told that the chair was mine to keep forever. Well then the chair felt like Jesus to me. You see He knew that I would continue to need a place long after the day I buried her. He knew that there would empty holes in my home where cribs and swings used to be. And so He provided a place for me. A chair. But not just any chair. That chair . . . The chair I admired with Ellis and sat in with her before she was born. . . He’s that Good. His people are that kind and generous . . . and I am that Loved. Love so Amazing. I’m sitting in my chair now just marveling at it💕💐💕
“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2

 

God has told his people, “Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here. This is a place of quiet rest. . . ” Isaiah 28:12

#EG41 #useEllis2tellus

The Worst Kind of Girl Time 

Standard

I love girl time. Time with my girlfriends, besties, and tribal goddesses. It’s good for my soul and wind in my sails. Mostly. Maybe it depends just a bit. On what our purpose is and why we are meeting. 


For the second time in my life today, I accompanied a woman I love on a difficult part of her path. Both woman were faithfully married and truly devoted to their husbands. They both cared for themselves and their bodies. These are women who love the Lord and obey Him to the best of their ability. 

 We didn’t go shopping or out for pedicures. We didn’t swing by starbucks for the newest fancy coffee. And we didn’t indulge in a long, meandering walk after bible study.
We went to a clinic to see a nurse practioner for them to them to be examined and tested for sexually transmitted diseases.  They were both broken with the traumatic shattering of a woman’s inner soul that comes with infidelity. They were both in shock and disbelief. 

 This can’t be real. 

This can’t be happening. 

What am I going to say? 

 What are they going to think about me? 

 They’re going to think I’m stupid. 

Gross. 

 Diseased.

 Dirty. 

 Used. 

Deceived. 

I feel all of those things.

 I will be bringing all of those things into the exam room with me. 

Although neither of them had ever looked with want toward another man, they could barely lift their heads to look the nurse in the eyes when she said, “what brings you in today?”

What brings you in today? 

Echoes in their head. 

  What did bring me in today? 

My husband’s choices bring me in today.

 It would be nice to point to him but he is not in this room.  Neither of them had a husband at their side.

 The real perpetrator who created the necessity for that appointment. 

 That woman – – that other vagina – – the one I didn’t know about it – – that silent enemy of my soul and my family brought me in. 

 That video I found. . . 

the jump drive he hid. . . 

the text message I saw with those things I ‘ll never stop playing over and over in my head. . . 

that’s what brought me in…

Neither of them could speak for choking back tears and I realized that’s why I was there. To utter with strength what had them smothered in shame. To help them claim their dignity by telling their story in truth and compassion. There had been infidelity in the marriage. What a pleasant little word to describe the tsunami of pain and torrents of shame and heartache that really represents. There had been an infidelity in the marriage and he didn’t use “protection.” No he did not understand his role of protecting at all. 

His wife did not feel protected now. There was no one to protect her from the feeling of disrobing for probing and swabbing. . . for the anticipation of the phone call of the results of these tests. . . for the way it would feel to say your name and date of birth again for your HIV and Syphillus test tubes. . .

To say that my heart was with these women during this walk of shame and heartache is an understatement. Every cell in my body was willing their grace, strength, and dignity to somehow stay alive in the face of these strangers. Strangers that now know what you have not yet had the courage to tell most of your friends. Or any of your family. What you hope you will never have to tell your children.

These are women that I love and deeply admire. Women I aspire to be like. Women who trust me with their deepest, most hidden reservoirs of loss and regret. But it seems unreal to me that I have ever done this and certainly unbelievable that I have done this more than once. Is this one of Gods special calls on my life, a form of ministry he has carved out for me? No, I don’t think so. I think a lot of things about this.

I think the world is this bad. 

 Marriages are this fragile and vulnerable.

 Husbands are this lost and deceived. 

 Boundaries are this non-existent. 

 Covenants are this meaningless. 

 Character is this lacking. 

And the sense of anonymity we have is this dangerous and false. 

 Women are this threatening to other women.

 Children are this invisible in the face of selfishness. 

Family is this flimsy when compared to a flimsy woman in the right form of a deceptive compromise. 

 And most importantly men are this far removed from their true calling and identity of protector, provider, Lover, and Leader.

They are to sacrifice themselves for their families.

 Not lead their family to to slaughter by their choices. 

We must breed and foster a culture of Respect and Godliness. A culture so rich that no man would think of being anything but respectful and Godly, heroic and strong, solid and faithful. We must seek God and follow His word and His ways so that we have the kind of safe borders that lead to continuous peace and health. 

I forgive these men for digging this  trench that I took on so much fire with their wives in. I pray for healing for them both. But I want them to understand that hearts were hurt here. Sweet dreams died here. Purity was killed here. Here in this trench you dug and then threw us in.

 

I love these women. I’m honored to fight beside them. Any trench that they are in, I will run as fast as I can and dive in, picking up my arms – – my sword, my shield. I will suffer through all the nights of fire. I will keep fighting when they cannot. They will never be alone in that trench. And that trench is a grave where many things died. But the God they love and serve does not ever allow that a grave would be the end of the story. So new life is to come. Trees are to grow. Beautiful pastures will take over that trench. And you’ll rest your head peacefully on what used to be your war zone. But not today. Today was hard. And for today and many days to come, we’ll need to keep our helmets on and our armor close. 

But oh enemy – – you have been told – she’ll rise from these ashes with victory in her hand and peace in her heart. And you are the one who will be going down in flames. For liar, oh liar – – IT. IS. WRITTEN.

 

In the same way I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born,” says the Lord. “If I cause you the pain, I will not stop you from giving birth to your new nation,” says your God. Isaiah 66:9

 

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire. . . Revelations 20:10 

 

 

The One who Counts the Stars Collects my Tears 

Standard


This past Sunday was the first time I have cried truly happy tears in a very long time. The first day that felt mostly good all the way through. The first time my tears were filled with praise in well since before the great sadness came.  But those tears, as they rolled down my cheeks – I knew where they were going.  Where they are headed. I can’t wait to see what He’s saving them for. . . What he’ll make with them. How’s it’s all gonna come together.  I have a feeling. Just a hunch.. . that my tears for Ellis Grace are pink and sparkly. . . That my happy tears look like sun and sparkling sand. . . That my Jackson tears are as blue as his gorgeous eyes. . . That tears I have cried over my beloved husband are the color of love itself. . . Blood red.  I have a feeling will see where they were collected. I have a feeling I  will see what God’s thoughts were on each one in his lovingly recorded book.  And I have a feeling that he will make something extraordinary with them. Something that says we are his favorite. Something that we could look that for all of eternity and feel nothing but love and peace.  Yes, I have a feeling. A dream in my heart that started this time last year as I first began to ponder this coming miracle. 

The Flow to Heaven, May 19, 2016

At times, crying seems senseless. Other times healing. Often it’s embarrassing and not something I wish to do in public. For the first time in my life it is a daily occurrence. At some point in the day, for me- in this season- tears will come. Sometimes it is a wave of sobbing that takes over my whole body and many days it’s softer and lighter. . . A little tear that gets away from me and trickles down my otherwise peaceful face. It would be my preference not to cry everyday. I am a historically joyful person. I have been known to call tears a waste of make up😩💄 I have a friend who told me my tears were love letters to my daughter and another who brought me real cloth hankies for “precious” tears. 
There are certain things that we moms have to save and collect from our children because they are precious. And this is what God does with our tears. Each one is precious to Him and because of that we never cry in vain. We never cry alone. They are never wasted. Or unseen.  

We don’t have to wait to see Revelations revealed to have our tears wiped away. From our first skinned knee- – to the boy that broke our heart – – to the deepest waters of sorrow and crushing waves of grief . . . God has to be wiping each one and lovingly carrying them to a place of His keeping. You have gotten over some of your tears but God has not. He records them in a book. Not because He needs help remembering like we do – – but because He holds each one as precious, cherished, and remembered . . . 

Our tears do not flow to a Kleenex, hankie, or our pillow. They flow to heaven in one of the greatest continuous miracles I can imagine. I believe my Ellis tears are pink in that bottle and sparkly and beautiful. They may even look like roses among pearls. . . But I know this. They are counted. They are loved. They are cherished. Because they are an expressed part of my heart and I am of all those things to my Father.  
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 (NLT)
#EG41 #useEllis2tellus

God’s in the Clutch

Standard

You know God doesn’t just do His work. We have to be open to receiving it. Desirous of His gifts. His peace.  He values real relationship with us . So He won’t force Himself on us.  Last year I needed to ask Him to open up parts of my heart that felt locked down to Him. I didn’t know how to do it. It was like trying to find a gear I didn’t know I had.  And it feels like you’re gonna blow your transmission because that other gear just isn’t there.  And then it shifts into another layer of power that you need. That you didn’t know you had access to. That you now have in your gear shift. On your floor board. It’s a lot like God is literally the clutch and each time we need more speed, more power- we need to step on that clutch.  I still have times when I have to pull that clutch and find a new deeper gear to steer me in. Now there’s nothing uglier than learning to drive a stick shift. It’s gonna jerk, choke, die, and backfire . But once you get it, it’s magic and you can drive anything anywhere. And even though I learned to drive a stick when I was 14, This time last year I was just learning that. . . 

May 18, 2016

The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message” (Acts 16:14b).
This spoke to me today BiG time! If you are like me and your heart is having trouble catching up to your head on what you know about God, what He’s doing, how to see things. . . 

How wondrous and wonderful that He can open our hearts to see, hear, and learn . . . 

He opened her heart without her even asking for it. I just know if I ask my Father to open the parts of my heart that feel closed to His Will- – He Will do it! 
In the past two months I have found myself saying ” I know it’s a miracle God but I’m asking you to do it” And He’s been extremely generous, kind, and faithful.  

When I can’t open my own heart, I’m gonna ask Him to do it. We know from scripture He can and does all the time! 

 We are not in this alone. We are all broken and we are all in this together- unified by our HOPE and ASSURANCE that God keeps his promises. . . 
#EG41 #useEllis2tellus

A Season of Supposed To

Standard

I gave birth to Ellis Grace on February 17, 2016. My return to work date was May 16, 2016.  My maternity leave extended two more weeks into a bereavemeant leave that ended around the first of June.  I will soon be posting what it was actually like to return from maternity leave without a sweet baby at home. But for today I will just share where my heart was this time last year as the date passed on the calendar.  And as I remained at home in the very hard work of grief. 

May 16, 2016

  Today is a “suppose to” day. I was suppose to go back to work today and I was suppose to have a beautiful baby making me burst with joy . I was suppose to be praying for the strength to make it nine hours without her. . . 

And what was supposed to be – – is not what is.  

I will not return to work today. Because this isn’t a happy day where I tell stories about what it’s like to have a princess come live among dirty farmers. That milk I was saving and squeezing out of my very soul is likely already part of another baby. . . A baby whose life number probably goes into triple digits and beyond.  

And I won’t need to worry about making it a whole day without her because I forced myself to quit counting at Day 42. (Because God doesn’t mean for me to measure my life by her death)
And so I enter a seasonal shift. What was supposed to be will have to be experienced as what actually IS. 

And this whole season will feel like it’s not supposed to feel this way. And I won’t quite feel like myself because I’m not who I was “supposed to” be either.. . Who I thought I would be. I praise God that I am reconciled. 

But there’s quite a gap between Reconciliation and Restoration. And My God means for me to be restored. 

And if you are in a season of “suppose to be” – – He means for you to be restored too. . . 

We have to know that things are just as they should be. That he is working,creating, and building. If we hurt, it’s only because we are too human to understand the complexity of a divine plan. We just need to stay on board and buckle up for the rough part of a righteous ride. For we will reach our destination. And the sign says RESTORATION AHEAD.  
He restores my soul. He guides me along the right path for His names sake. Psalm 23:3
Finally brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for restoration, encourage one another. Be of one mind . Live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 2Corinthians 13:11
#EG41 #useEllis2tellus