Friday, June 27, 2014

A Very Happy Anniversary!

In a few days, I will be celebrating my 16th wedding anniversary. This, my friends, is nothing short of a miracle! I'm usually very careful not to drag the issues of my family members into my musings here, but my husband has agreed to a certain amount of revelation for the sake of encouragement and truth.

We became aware of our issues pretty early on in our marriage, but bumbled unhappily along for years, occasionally trying to make changes. It became a pattern, every couple of years or so, to have a huge blow-up of some kind, then the talking and crying and praying and vowing that things would be different this time...but nothing ever really changed.

Well, we finally accepted the fact that we needed outside help to sort through our issues; that we simply couldn't carry on like this anymore. It was do or die, as far as we were concerned. And so, we started seeing a counsellor, much to our shame and embarrassment at the time. It wasn't too far into our sessions that our counsellor determined that she needed to see me on my own for a bit. (Chris has been bravely and deliberately dealing with his issues for the last 4 years and growing like crazy - I guess I had some catching up to do :) )

Turns out that this was exactly what was needed. Thanks to a wise and Spirit-guided counsellor, I found out all kinds of things that had to be identified, confessed, and broken off. So many lies I'd been believing for so long that they were before now undetectable, about myself and God especially. Underlying all of this was a heavy load of shame, so much a part of me that it had essentially become my identity; the filter by which I viewed and lived all of my life.

 Then, this wise woman had me picture in my mind exactly what this shame looked like that has been covering me and negatively affecting everything from self-image to relationships for most of my life. (I've mentioned here in a previous post how God revealed this shame thing to me a few months ago, and that I'd made some progress in understanding the issue but very little in overcoming it.) As skeptical as I might be about this kind of exercise, a picture came to me immediately - a huge, filthy, heavy, tattered, grimy, suffocating blanket wrapped tightly around me, covering me from head to toe.  We then asked God to take it and destroy it once and for all and replace it with His truth. And He did! She asked me what He had replaced it with, and I saw another picture right away: myself in a garment of sparkling, glowing, glittering white; perfectly fitted and beautiful! This vision, this gift, and the unbounded love and absolute acceptance that accompanied it, reduced me to tears of pure delight. It was an amazing experience, and I left full of joy and feeling free as I never had before, but still underneath it all a nagging doubt that it couldn't last, that I couldn't really change...

The next morning, the shame was still gone, the freedom was still there - much to my surprise and delight! On my way home from driving my son to school, I was singing and praying and rejoicing in this beautiful freedom, when God clearly spoke. He asked me what was holding me back now from forgiving my husband (and myself) for the past and fully engaging in this marriage relationship. I had no answer - NOTHING was holding me back! It was like a rebirth.

And without going into too much detail, the days since that day have been AMAZING! While we're both a bit wary lest it fade, we're trusting God to help our unbelief and sustain us in all this wonderful change. Real joy, indeed!

Friday, June 13, 2014


Yes, I have good reasons for not having written in awhile and no, I'm not going to get into them right now...Sorry, do I sound defensive? It's just one of the many, many things I'm working through at the moment - learning to forgive myself for not meeting my own (actual) and others' (perceived)  expectations. Oh, I foresee that many juicy blog topics will be forthcoming in the next few months from my experiences these the past few weeks. Exciting!

I just wanted to stop by and share with you a beautiful truth I've known forever but only very recently started to experience as a reality in my life. It's yet another one where I just have to shake my head and say to myself, "Really? How could this have eluded you for so long?!" It all started last summer when I met Louise. (Actually, it all started with Jesus, but most of you know that part of the story already...) From the moment I met her, and even more so as I came to know her better, I knew that she got it. She was (and is) so absolutely sure of God's love, so completely satisfied and fulfilled and confident in Him, that His love just poured out of her, all. the. time. And not in some annoying, forced, false, duty-driven bubbling over for Jesus, but a genuine, authentic, almost-inadvertent outpouring of love and joy and peace and grace and truth and hope - from her Source. You just love to be around her, because she makes you feel like the most important, valuable person on the planet! Every single time I'd have any contact at all with her, I'd come away with two things: 1) the love and hope and validation and encouragement that I needed to go on and 2) a question - where does that come from? The way she knows Jesus has got to be different from the way I know Jesus...

I didn't realize I was asking that question until after I found the answer :)  The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life (and that's saying something, when I look back over my recent history).  Circumstances have compelled me to question everything - except God. Amazing how trials will bring you to your knees, isn't it? Actually, to be perfectly honest, I did question and doubt and wonder where God was in this mess - but He showed me. He showed up. (I usually hate that phrase, but no other words can describe it better.) In ways that I couldn't possibly deny. The past few days especially, I've had this strange, peaceful, cozy sensation, the way I might feel wrapped up in a blanket in front of a fire with rain pounding on the window - welcome, for sure, but very new and unfamiliar and unexpected, given the general upheaval that is currently my life. It wasn't until a couple of days ago that I identified what was going on, when I heard again a song on the radio that had always annoyed me a bit because she (Jamie Grace, maybe?) sounded so smug,

"Wake up and smile, 'cause it's been awhile;
it's been like a whole day since I stopped
so You could hold me;
Lord, You are the refuge
that I can't wait to get to..."

That's what it is, this strange new sensation! It's God, holding me! Being my refuge, my protector, my strong tower! I would never allow Him to do that before.  Maybe I didn't believe I was worth it, maybe I wanted to maintain control, maybe I wanted to be strong, maybe I've always thought God was just a little bit angry with me...but that's why the song always annoyed me, because I didn't know God like that!  (It's funny, because that song always reminded me of Louise (minus the smugness). ) And something deep within me longed to know that comfort and security. But now! I don't know exactly how it happened, but now I finally know that "God is for me, not against me" (in the words of another great song that always kind of annoyed me...hmmm...)

Weakness can be a beautiful thing.

"My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness."
(2 Corinthians 12:9)