Damaged by divorce: Restored by grace


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Christian marriages are not immune from divorce. It happens much too often. Marriage is an institution established and ordained by God. The marriage union between man and woman mirrors the relationship between Christ and His bride, which is the Church. (Ephesians 5)

My husband and I have both been through divorce in the past, but by the grace of God we were forgiven for the mistakes we made in past relationships. God brought us together and He has have given us an opportunity to serve Him as missionaries. We also try to use our past experiences to minister to others with similar experiences.

Read more about this in the article, “Damaged by Divorce & Restored by Grace“. I wrote this article for startmarriageright.com.

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Let Go


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I can relate to the words of Lindsay McCaul’s song, Let Go. So many times in my life, I held on to things far too long… things that weighed me down… things that made life more difficult. Why is it that we find it hard to let go and allow God to carry the things in life that are too much for us to handle? Nothing is too big, too heavy, or too hard for God, so why do we hurt ourselves when He stands there waiting for us to let go?

My husband is a big, strong guy and he can lift and carry a lot more weight than I can, so when there is heavy lifting to do, he handles that for me. I have some problems with my back and neck that actually makes it even more difficult for me to lift or carry anything of substantial weight. However at times I will lift heavy items on my own instead of depending on my husband and when I do this I usually end up with back pain. My husband reminds me that He would have taken care of the lifting if only I would just allow him. He is strong enough to do the lifting and to carry the heavy stuff with little effort, so He wonders why I don’t just let things go and let him take care of it.

In the same way that my husband is willing to make things easier for me and to help me avoid pain by carrying the load, God stands waiting and willing to carry our burdens, if we will only, let go. My husband can take care of the physically heavy stuff for me, if I let go and hand it over to him. God can take care of all the heavy stuff that others may not even be aware of. There are things in life that we hold on to and attempt to carry that can hurt us much deeper than just causing physical pain.

For many years, I had things in my life that was weighing me down. I was a single mom with a low paying job. I worried about finances and how I was going to pay the bills. I worried about my children because I knew that they were affected by every poor choice I had made. I was lonely, so I tried to fill the void with unhealthy and ungodly relationships. I was angry at people in my past that had hurt my children and me. I was angry at myself for allowing my life to get so out of control. I was ashamed of the person that I saw in the mirror. I was disappointed that life had not turned out as I had planned. I reached a point that I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted and I felt that I could not take another step. I could no longer handle the weight of the load I was carrying.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”   Phil.4:6-7

I knew the Lord during this time of my life. I was a child of God, but for some reason I refused to let go of the worry, the anger, the guilt, the disappointment, and the shame. Instead of letting go, I stumbled through life with this heavy load and I endured the pain. When I finally fell on my face in exhaustion, I cried out to God and asked Him to please take the burden off me. I remember the feeling of peace that I felt the moment I finally let go and gave it all to Him. Since that day in 2002, life has been so much easier. Life is not worry-free, nor is it pain-free, but life is easier because I’m not weighed down by things of the past or by things that I have no control over. I have peace because I know that God now carries all my concerns about my children, my finances, and my future. Since I let go, God has taken away the anger, the guilt, and the shame of my past. I no longer feel lonely because I walk with God and He assures me that He will never leave me alone.

Are you holding on to something that you need to allow God to carry for you? Let go and give it to Him. God can carry any load that you have. He carries mine and He can handle yours also. You can trust God to take care of your loved ones. He loves them more than you ever can. You can trust God with your worries about the future because He holds tomorrow. Let go and give him your worries, your grief, your pain, your bitterness, your anger, your unforgiveness, your guilt and shame.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

God desires to carry our burdens but we must first let go. He will not pry open our hands and take things from us, but He does gently cradle our hands and assure us that everything is ok and that we can let go and place things in His hands. God wants us to trust Him with all we have… no matter how large or how small. It’s time to LET GO.

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Blessings in Brokenness



This morning, I listened to the song, Blessings by Laura Story. It’s a favorite of mine and it helps to remind me to look for blessings in every situation, especially in times of trials. Laura wrote this song after her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor and went through multiple surgeries. I don’t know the entire story behind this song or exactly how God worked in Laura and her husband’s life through this trial, but I do know that God used this situation to inspire her to write this song. The song has ministered to me and I know it has done the same for many others. God is using Laura’s brokenness to bless others.

We hear people often question, why God allows bad things to happen to “good” people. I suppose that this question is really asking why Christians have to experience bad things in life. Christians or “good” people, regardless whether they are Christian, experience trials in life for the same reason that any other human does. We all live in a fallen world. The difference for Christians is that this world is not our home, so we take comfort knowing that the troubles of life are temporary. Some may think that just by believing in Christ, we are exempt from the pains of this life but that was never promised.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

We are not spared the trials that come in life, but because of our belief in Christ, we have hope that sustains us through difficult times and we possess peace that calms the storms. We may not avoid the storms but because of Christ we can peacefully endure them. Perhaps this is the best answer to the question, “why”. If Christians didn’t experience hardships then others would never witness how God provides strength to overcome. It is sometimes difficult to explain in words the peace that Christians have during times of illness or loss, but how we handle the trials can be a testimony of the power of Christ in us.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”.  2 Cor. 12:9

God’s grace is sufficient to bring us through any storm and He can use even the most hurtful situation for good. Whatever you may be going through at this time may be preparing you to help someone else in the future.

” 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 Cor. 1:3-4

Perhaps you are dealing with physical pain or coping with a disease, such as cancer, or perhaps it’s emotional pain, depression, or loneliness. Maybe you are grieving a loss or dealing with financial troubles. Whatever the cause of your suffering, God’s grace is sufficient.

My prayer is that God sustain you through this time; that He comforts you with a peace that only He can give. I pray also that God help you discover the blessings in your brokenness.

TIME


watchIs it that TIME of year again? Is is TIME already to put 2012 to rest and welcome in a New Year? The final hours and minutes of 2012 are quickly passing, so soon this year will run out of TIME.

For me, 2012 was a milestone in TIME. I turned 50 years old this year. Turning 50 didn’t really feel much different than turning 40, but one thing that I have noticed as the years have passed is that TIME seems to pass much quicker. As a child, TIME moved slowly. The TIME from one Christmas to the next or from one birthday to the next seemed like a lifeTIME.  Actually, any TIME that a child waits in anticipation of anything can make a few hours feel like days. However, as we get older, TIME passes much too fast.

We speak so casually about TIME and often forget what value it holds. Think about all the idioms we use for TIME:

TIME flies

TIME is short

TIME hangs heavy

TIME passes

TIME runs out

We waste TIME

We have spare TIME

We spend TIME

We save TIME

We have good TIMES

We have hard TIMES

We lose TIME

We find TIME

We make TIME

We kill TIME

We live on borrowed TIME

There are 1000’s of idioms for the word, TIME. We describe TIME in so many different ways, as if it truly is something that we can control. The truth is: TIME is limited. TIME is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t matter whether you are young or old, rich or poor; TIME doesn’t stand still for anyone. The only control we have over TIME is how we use it and who we share it with.

When we are young, we think that TIME is endless and that there will always be enough TIME later. When “later” arrives, we realize that TIME is short and TIME doesn’t allow us to go back. As much as we like to believe that we can make up for lost TIME, it really isn’t possible. Once TIME has passed, it’s lost forever. We may still have TIME left and we can use that more wisely but we never get back the TIME we’ve lost.

The photo I chose for this post is a photo of my momma’s watch. My momma went home to be with the Lord in 2008 and after she passed, I asked my siblings if I could have her watch. That was the only thing of hers that I wanted. She didn’t wear a lot of jewelry but she always wore a very simple, inexpensive watch. She took it off only to bath and to sleep. I wanted the watch for two reasons. One: Because it was something that she had with her all the TIME. Two: Because it represented TIME.

That watch represented the TIME that I wanted desperately to have with her. I wanted more TIME. I wanted to go back in TIME before she was diagnosed with cancer and spend more TIME with her. I wanted God to give her more TIME on earth; more TIME to spend with her children; more TIME to enjoy her grandchildren; more TIME to meet all her great-grandchildren.

No matter how much I wanted more TIME, there was no more TIME to spend with my momma. She was only given a certain amount of TIME on this earth, which meant that I was only given a certain amount of TIME to spend with her and that TIME had been spent. The problem was, I didn’t feel that I had spent that TIME wisely and now it was gone. The watch is a reminder to me that I should value the TIME that God has given me. TIME is a limited resource that should be used wisely. TIME is valuable but it becomes priceless only because it is shared with others. My momma’s watch is a reminder for me to spend my TIME on the important things in life and to share TIME with the important people in my life. Most importantly, the watch helps me to remember to give God His TIME. It is God that has granted us an allotted amount of TIME on this earth, so we need to spend TIME with Him.

As 2012 comes to a close and all our TIME for this year has been spent, I hope that you can look back and feel that you did spend your TIME in wise ways with the people you love. If you feel that you wasted this precious gift of TIME, I pray that you will resolve to treasure God’s gift of TIME during the New Year and years to come. Don’t allow the things of this world to steal the treasure of TIME from you.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”  Ephesians 5:15-17

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.”  Psalm 39: 4-5

Damaged Hard Drive


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This morning I was trying to access files that I had saved on an external hard drive. The device would not open but instead just gave me error messages each time I attempted to plug it into the USB port on my laptop.

I’m not a computer expert but I’m “tech savvy” enough to know what questions to ask, so I searched the Internet to get answers from those who are “experts”. I’m pretty good at following directions and I can usually fix most technical issues with just a little expert advice and clear instructions. However, that was not the case today — I’m still working on this issue.

The point is: As I searched for answers to why I was getting these error messages, I consistently saw the same words appear in my search results: “damaged”, “corrupt”, “recover”, “restore”. As I read these words, I wasn’t thinking about the damaged hard drive or the corrupted files any longer. These words described me — but not just me. These words describe all of us. We are all broken and have suffered damage in one way or another. Some have suffered more than others and their damage may be visible for all to see. In many cases however, we can’t see the damage that has been done to others. They carry their scars deep inside and do their best to hide the damage from outsiders.

When I picked up that storage device this morning, it looked as if it were in perfect condition. There were no visible signs of damage. However, even though the device can still be read and it is possible to see that there are files stored on it, it does not function properly. Because of some corrupted files or damage to the partition, the device no longer serves its intended purpose. In order for this hard drive to work as a storage device once again, the corrupted files have to be cleaned up, and the damaged partition has to be repaired. All of this is done by running recovery programs and if the recovery process is successful, then it is possible to restore the data.

This may not be a completely accurate explanation of the technical recovery process but it’s a pretty accurate description of the spiritual process of recovery and restoration. If our lives are filled with corruption, we can’t be spiritually or even physically healthy. When we attempt to function in life as damaged vessels, we can’t fulfill the purpose for which God created us. The good news is: He can and will clean us up, He will repair the broken parts, He will help us to recover from the hurts, and He will restore us to a place where we can fulfill our purpose in life.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3

I don’t know if there is hope for my damaged hard drive, but I know without a doubt that with GOD there is HOPE for you and for me because He does not discard the broken pieces. He molds and shapes us into the person He created us to be.

 “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand,… ”  Jeremiah 18:6

Why?


“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world 1253045942Xr6lMiand against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Ephesians 6:12

Why can’t we have peace on earth?

In the beginning, there was peace on earth, but God created humans with the ability to make free choices. When Adam and Eve sinned against God, all future mankind bore the consequences. The peaceful existence that God desired for us was traded for a world full of chaos and pain, where evil has free reign.

Why do awful, unthinkable things happen?

When tragedy strikes, we look for someone or something to blame. After the recent school shooting, people placed blame on many things:

  •  No prayer in our schools: Some say that God isn’t allowed in our schools because policy dictates that schools no longer have times of public prayer. As a Christian, I of course want the whole world to accept the practice of corporate public prayer, but lack of public prayer within the walls of our schools did not cause this tragedy. There were Christians in that school that day, and I have no doubt that there were prayers being said there as well, so yes God is still allowed in our schools. As long as Christians continue to pray, there will be prayer in our schools.
  •  Guns: Some say guns should be banned or at least better controlled. This didn’t happen because people are allowed to own guns. Criminals will always find ways to get weapons. Evil causes people to kill others with guns.
  •  Mental Illness: Some say this individual was mentally ill? Even so, most mentally ill people do not commit horrific acts of violence. Evil will however, take advantage of the weak.

Why is it so easy for a mentally unstable individual to acquire a gun?

Perhaps if he had been exposed to prayer and Bible readings while at school, he might have turned out different. Perhaps if more funds were allotted for research and treatment of mental illness then he could have been helped before he became violent. Perhaps if there was better gun control, he would not have been able to get the gun.

Why? I don’t know.

Why did it have to be children who died?

I can’t make sense of this but I know that only evil could do such a thing. The purpose of evil is to destroy all that is good. The best thing about us as humans lives inside our children, who have yet to lose their innocence. When children are harmed, the damage and pain is far-reaching.

Why does God not intervene and prevent horrible tragedies?

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

God is always at work. He protects, He heals, and He does intervene much more often than we realize. Throughout life, things happen that influence our decisions or the paths we choose. Many times it’s as simple as running late for work and later realizing that if we had been on time, it might have been us involved in that fatal accident. For unexplained reasons, we left the house a few minutes later that day and reached that intersection just minutes after the accident.

When God intervenes, His hand is invisible because we choose not to see it until it’s more visible against the dark backdrop of evil. It seems that we only look for the hand of God when evil is present.

Why? I don’t know.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”    Psalm 34:18

As I write this, I try to choose my words carefully. I don’t want to minimize the pain, the suffering, and the loss for these families. There is no acceptable answer, to “Why”.

I don’t write as a scholar, a philosopher, a psychologist, or any kind of expert. I don’t have the answer. I write as a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, but most of all as a child of God, who needs to express my own sad and confusing thoughts. Writing helps me gain clarity, however this time… I still question… Why?

On December 14, 2012, evil walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT and took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults.

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Dear 16 year old me


206468_1063012942220_8031215_nHi there, it’s been a long time. It’s been 34 years since… well, since I was you. I’m sorry that I’ve taken so long to write but I thought it was time that I contacted you to tell you how life has turned out so far and to try share a little of the wisdom that I’ve gained over the years.

First, I want to tell you that I know how you feel about yourself and I want you to try to learn to love yourself. You really are a very special person and you have a lot to offer. Don’t sit on the sidelines so much. Try new things, take a few risks and don’t be afraid of failure. It’s okay to fall down; it’s okay to make mistakes, just don’t give up. Please stop comparing yourself to others. Learn to like what you see in the mirror or better yet, get a new mirror because you are seeing a distorted image… you aren’t seeing yourself the way others see you. Life will be much easier for you once you learn to do these things. To be honest, 34 years later, you are still working on this but you have come a long way.

I know you are hurting right now. Life seems really hard and it’s not fair. Your parent’s divorce felt like the ground crumbled beneath your feet. All the safety and security of home was taken away from you but you and your brother and sisters will get through this eventually. This event does shape your life in many ways, as does every other experience, but your feet will find stable ground again.

You will someday understand that your parents did the best they knew how to do. Try to spend as much time as you can with your momma and daddy. They will be with you for many years but your momma will go to be with the Lord much sooner than you are ready to let her go. After she is gone, you will think of many things that you want to say to her and there will be many questions you want to ask, so make sure you do that while you can.

Prepare yourself, because life is about to take another drastic change. You will soon be married. I guess you needed to grab onto something after the divorce and this relationship was convenient. In less than a year, you will be a mom… yes, soon after you turn 17; you will become the mom of a beautiful little girl.

I wish I could tell you that life is wonderful from now on and you live happily ever after, but you will experience divorce again… this time, it will be your own. There will be other bad relationships as well. There will also be some very good times. You will have another baby girl in 1984 and a baby boy in 1986. Enjoy your children. They will always be a source of joy and comfort for you.

A part of me wants to warn you of all the situations and people that will cause you pain so you can avoid them. but I know that you must travel the same journey that I’ve already traveled. You will go through times when you don’t want to face another day… but God has His hand on you and He has a purpose for you, so remember this at those times when the depression drags you so deep into those dark pits that you can’t see a way out. Remember this when you go through sleepless nights worrying about your children or about how you are going to get through another day.

Many years from now, when you are 40, God will bring you to a difficult place; A place where you will have to make a decision to either try to continue to live life depending on your own abilities or to depend completely on Him. Remember this scripture: “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11). God will use this verse during this time to speak to you. At this point, your life will begin to change in wonderful ways.

I wish I could tell you how to avoid the difficult times and to spare you so many nights of crying yourself to sleep, but if I did that, it would change who I am and where I am today. Although some parts of your life will be hard, it’s this journey which  you must travel that will make you the person that God created you to be.

This is what I want you to know about the person you will become.  Every hurt, every scar, every experience, good and bad has shaped me into the person that I am today. The journey was not always easy, but even during the bad times; there were wonderful blessings, such as my children. This journey eventually intersects with the path of a wonderful godly man who is now my husband. I know it’s hard right now to think so far into the future but just try to remember whenever times are hard that God has a plan for you and it’s worth every tear and every rough spot in the road.

With much love,

Darlene (50 years old)

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