Sunday, October 23, 2016


It's time to move past pain.

I was praying one day and told the Lord, "Well, I've pretty much written about all I know to write about. Do You have any ideas of what I should write about?" I really wasn't expecting an answer, to be honest. I say a lot of things to God and He doesn't always clearly answer me. But on this day, He did. He said, "Write about pain." That wouldn't be my Number One choice, but after a few weeks, I started writing about pain and a few experiences that came to my mind.

When I say the word pain, what immediately comes to your mind?
Is there an event in your life that coincides with the word pain?

 Pain can feel like it is cutting us to ribbons, even years after an event. On the outside, perhaps we look normal. But in the invisible realm, we are gushing out blood from our wounds.

No one can avoid pain.

Everyone experiences pain.

The experiences I'm sharing are really small potatoes compared to other people's memories of growing up with an alcoholic parent, or because of abuse, or divorce. I realize that. Those are much deeper hurts. I would never minimize those experiences by comparing them to mine. These are just meant as examples of painful situations many of us have experienced.

In the fourth grade, I can remember a girl coming up to me as I had my hand on the door to go outside for recess. We had spent many afternoons playing at each other's houses. I clearly remember her words, "My mom said I don't have to play with you at school." as she headed out the door. I remember stopping and thinking, "But why? We've played together all our lives. Why can't we play together at school?" Even now, I can remember and feel that pain. I didn't understand. My heart didn't know what to do with the hurt. I must have opened the door and went on outside. But I can still recall the pain I felt at hearing those words. A little seed was planted that said I was found wanting in some area and I didn't even know what area it was.

In the fifth grade, I was the new girl at a tiny school. I was painfully shy, but smiled and tried to be friendly.
A girl was passing out birthday invitations. She passed them out one by one as we all stood in line. When she got to me, she looked at me and said, "I'm not inviting you."
While I understood on some level as a fifth grader that it was because I was new and she didn't know me,  it still hurt deeply. All the other girls were standing there admiring their invitations and I wasn't included.

When I hit the 7th grade, it was the year of Farrah Fawcett and her famous hairstyle. I had read that this style only worked if your hair was thick and wavy. Mine was, so I was convinced that I could be beautiful if only my hair was cut like Farrah's.  But it wasn't to be.   In your mind's eye, place a bad haircut on one of the tallest girls in the 7th grade (me), one of the skinniest girls in the 7th grade (again, me), and the one whose front teeth stuck out a little, and you can kind of get the picture. I hated what I saw in the mirror.

Fast forward a few years later when our 9th grade class was voting for class officers. I attended a small school and had been a class officer each year. But that year was different. My name was called along with several others who were nominated. We were asked to stand out in the hallway while the class voted. When I came back in, I found out that I hadn't won that year. But I was even more surprised and hurt when a girl I considered to be a friend, leaned over to me and said, "I didn't vote for you." I was at a loss as to why she wanted me to know that. The remainder of that last year at that school was very hard. I  felt like I didn't fit in anywhere.

Probably none of us escaped our school years unscathed.

I often felt like I was a disappointment as a kid. If I made the honor roll, I felt like I was okay and good.  But I wasn't the prettiest, the smartest, the most popular, the most anything.  When I looked in a mirror, I was always disappointed.

The hardest time of all for me during those years were the yearbook photo days. Maybe I could somehow persuade myself that I looked okay when I saw my reflection in the mirror each morning. But photos just don't lie.

I dreaded the day when the teacher passed out that envelope with our photos inside. Do you remember those big envelopes where your picture showed through the window of the envelope?  I always had hope in my heart. Maybe this year, I would look better. Maybe I would have taken a good picture. Maybe I even looked a little pretty. But every year, my hopes were crushed. It seemed I looked worse every single year!  My teeth stuck out, my eyebrows were  bushy, and my hair was big, but not in an 80's good sort of way.  If I tried to work on one area of myself, it literally seemed another unmanageable area made itself known....pimples, sciolosis...all I needed were glasses and braces, which somehow I managed to avoid.

I began to believe what I saw in those photos. I believed I was ugly.

 Sometimes pain can lead to shame. For many years, I've had a sense of shame always being there, covering me, and speaking lies to me.

"They don't like you."
"You aren't pretty enough,"
"You never do anything right."

It can go on and on.

My husband often says this, "Guilt is feeling bad about something you've done, shame is feeling bad about what you are. It's an identity issue."                             

Pain and shame can define us and convince us of things that are not even true about ourselves. If you hear something long enough, you start to believe what you are hearing, even if it is coming from your own head.

My husband remembers a time when he was the new kid at school. He and his brother were wearing jeans and cowboy boots, while the other guys were wearing bell bottoms. He had been well liked and popular at his previous school, but now at the new school, he felt he had been dropped in the middle of a mine field.

One day, during lunch,  his classmates were reaching over and helping themselves to tator tots off their friend's plate. When my husband casually decided to do the same, that student went into a rage, picked up his lunch tray loaded with food, and slammed it all over him. He was covered in lunch room food and left the room while all the students laughed. He felt totally humiliated. But that experience, along with some others during those awful years, left an imprint on him - that he wasn't acceptable as he was.  He made a decision to do whatever it took to fit in. That decision would affect his life negatively for many years.

All of our painful experiences, if not healed, can define us as who we think we are.

When I look in the mirror, I have to fight to see who I am now. I have to strain to not see the unattractive 7th grader staring back at me in the mirror.

Over the years,  I've often thought I missed an important class in school. The class that teaches you how to walk, how to talk, how to do your hair and makeup, and what clothes to wear. It feels like a memo was sent out that I somehow missed!

I was helping with a GED class a few years ago with Teen Challenge students.  While assisting a really sweet young man in his twenties, he suddenly became very emotional.  Being back in a school environment suddenly caused him to recall how a teacher's words to him had made him feel stupid. Even though that had occurred years ago, working on his GED brought back all those memories of feeling that he wasn't bright enough or as smart as the other kids in his class. He was a grown man now, but that pain and those words were still a part of him. He was actually very bright, but the words of that teacher had convinced him otherwise.

This reminds me of something I read the other day about Thomas Edison.

Amazing, isn't it? He would grow up to be one of the most famous inventors of the century, but because of his different learning style (this article said that he was probably dyslexic), he was labeled "addled"(dumb) by a teacher.

Maybe there are words that were spoken to you that you have had a hard time getting past.

Has someone such as a teacher, told you that you were dumb or slow or stupid?

You're not. Maybe you have a different learning style, but you aren't stupid.

Has someone called you worthless? Maybe a parent said that in anger or a spouse or someone else close to your heart has said that to you.

That label isn't true either. You are extremely valuable. So much so, that Someone saw you, loved you, and was willing to lay down His life for you. You have great value to God. Jesus' love for you isn't just a fairy tale story. It is real. He sees you, knows you, and loves you right where you are today.

Did your family struggle financially when you were growing up? Sometimes that feeling of lack can create a great insecurity even when those times are years behind you. Do you still struggle with feeling that you or your family aren't as good as other families? God wants to heal that area of your heart.

Were you hiding a secret that caused you shame and pain?

God longs to bring us into a place of peace where we no longer struggle with hearing the voice inside our head telling us we can never be good enough, never achieve anything, never do anything great. None of that is true, although if it is something you've heard in your head for a long time - it can seem true. You've just gotten used to it.

But that doesn't mean that we can't start over by replacing those lies with what is really true.

The older I become, the more I realize that Jesus isn't just our Savior or a Healer. He is that prince on a white horse that wants to rescue us.

Our four year old son passed away twenty years ago. That is hard for me to believe sometimes. I still remember details very clearly from the night he died. There is still pain there. You aren't supposed to see your little boy on a hospital gurney when there is no longer any life in his body. I still struggle in a very, very big way with fear concerning our other children. I will wake up sometimes and think, "Will I have to go through that again? Please God, don't let that happen again." I recognize that I need healing in that area. There is still a lot of pain there that needs to be healed.

A couple of days ago, I was in line at Walmart to return an item. There were two young men in front of me. Something about one of them caught my eye. For some reason, the moment I looked at him, I understood that he felt bad about himself, as if he felt he wasn't as good as other people. I don't know how I knew that, but it just seems I did. Inside my head, I prayed for him. I prayed that God would show him how valuable and loved he really was.

It hurts my heart to know there are people we pass every day who feel this way. They live and function in pain because it is all they know. I truly want to see that kind of thing healed up in their hearts by the One who loves them the most. I just don't always know how to move from Point A to Point B in how to go about that. I've been thinking about that verse lately that says, "Do the work of an evangelist." I'm perfectly willing if God will lead me in how to do that.

My husband often teaches on our identity. A couple of things he says are:

1. We can actually argue against the word of God when we continue to believe the wrong things.

2. Assuming we already have the truth is one of the biggest barriers to receiving the truth we need.

Part of the process of overcoming pain is in our court. We have to choose to do things in a new way.

Pain hurts. Pain is painful. But God can use even your most painful experiences.Sometimes pain causes us to forge ahead with God in ways that perhaps we would not have done otherwise. He can bring beauty from your ashes.

If I could pray with you, it would be this prayer: "Lord Jesus, open their minds, hearts, and spirits to the truth of who You are and who they are to you. Even when they are sleeping, begin to awaken your love in them. In everyday ways that the can comprehend and know, begin to show them how valuable they are to you."

Much love to each one of you!

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Dreams Do Come True
Rockefeller Center, NYC

I'm not sure when I became interested in visiting New York City.  I never really thought I would get to see it, though. There were a couple of reasons:

1.  The expense of a trip. Sometimes you can get a good deal on flights, but then there is the question of hotels in Manhattan - they aren't cheap. Plus, in my dreams, I attended a Broadway show. Another cost. Then there are taxis, subways, museum, food, etc. So, it didn't seem like a likely event in my little corner of the world.

2. Our daughter and our son both have some medical issues. Our oldest daughter has CP and in a wheelchair. She is unable to bathe, eat, or get in or out of bed on her own.
Our youngest son has a g-tube and requires a special formula and meds 2x a day.
Those two things in themselves seemed an insurmountable obstacle to me. It makes it very difficult to just pick up and go somewhere. If you have children, you can arrange child care, but special needs kids really have special needs.

For our 25th anniversary, my husband really wanted to take me to NYC. Our church, with so much kindness, gifted us with money to help with all the expenses. I was so touched by their generosity.

 Even after plane tickets were purchased and hotel reservations made, I was very skeptical that I was really going. Our two kids in particular weighed on my mind. My husband said to me, "You really aren't sure we are going, are you?" I really wasn't. Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night with a panicked feeling. Or I would think things like, "Maybe I just have this built up in my mind. Maybe I won't even like it there. Maybe it will be awful. Is it even safe?" My kids laughed at that last one. It's a typical thing only I would ask.

There was so much uncertainty. Would my mother-in-law really be able to come and stay with the kids? Would there really be someone that could come and put our daughter to bed each night? Would the bath aide cancel in the morning and Elisa wouldn't even get a bath? Would the home nurse come when she was supposed to? (At that time, we had some home health care workers that weren't reliable).

But you know what? All the details fell into place and one morning, we arrived at the airport for our early flight to Chicago (only 45 minutes by air from where we live) and then on to New York!

I'll never forget flying into LaGuardia airport. As we walked through, I kept telling myself, "You are here. You are actually here!"

I wanted to throw my arms around our taxi driver and tell him how glad I was to see him. I wanted to grab perfect strangers and tell them how happy I was to meet them. I didn't do either, but it was in my heart. I could feel happiness radiating off of myself as we put our suitcases in the trunk and climbed into the back seat.

We drove into the city and I was the typical tourist, craning my neck to see all of the skyscrapers. We pulled up to our hotel in midtown Manhattan and checked in. We literally plopped  down our suitcases, changed into comfortable shoes, left the room to explore, and didn't come back into the room until dark.

I had been a little concerned that my husband would only want to do a little sight seeing. But I didn't need to worry. He was game for wherever I wanted to go.

We were within walking distance of Rockefeller Center and went there first. I watched the people ice skating beneath the statue of Promotheus, and felt like I was having an out of body experience. We walked on to Grand Central Station after that. I've lost track of everywhere we walked to on that first day. I don't think I had ever walked that much in one day in my life! But it seemed there was something spectacular to see on every street corner.

A couple of days later, on a bright, sunshine filled October afternoon, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge towards the One World Trade Center. It was such a beautiful day. The Brooklyn Bridge is simply majestic. It has been standing there over the East River for 146 years! As I walked, I prayed that God would be with the people of this great city. As I did, I could feel God's heart for New York, too, and for every person that called that city home.

It's strange, I know, to have such a love for a place that isn't my home. Of course, I'm only a guest there when I visit. It is a romanticized time for me. I don't live there, work there, or have to pay rent there. I'm just on vacation. I get to enjoy all the wonderful things the city has to offer in a very compact time.

But I wanted to share this for you. Whatever dream you have in your heart, no matter how far fetched it may seem, God can work out all the details. He is very kind and wants to give you the desires of your heart. I always think of that verse, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33). I think as we try and live our lives for God, He will add those things that mean a lot to us.

Last year, we took our daughter to NYC for her first visit. It was so amazing and wonderful to see all the sights through her eyes. That entire trip still has a dreamlike quality.

My husband just recently said, "It feels like we should be taking a trip to New York." We both said he probably felt that way because of the time of year. We visited New York in the fall these last two times. But hopefully, we will get to return again next year. At least, I am hopeful that we can.

What dreams do you have right now? What places do you imagine going to? God is interested in making those dreams come true!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. (Ephesians 3:20)
I'm a mom of six living in the Midwest. I know that I may never get to meet you in person, but somehow, through this blog, I want to somehow convey to you that you aren't just a face in the crowd. God sees you and knows you. He loves you. If you've never been sure that He is real or cares about you, He does. If I could sit with you over coffee, that is what I would want you to know. (And if you are from NYC, please say hello. I'd love to hear from you:)
Much love to you!
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