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Wednesday, June 29, 2005


I think I should change the banner of my blog to "welcome to the roller coaster." It seems my recent trip to the beach was only a brief oasis in preparation for a much longer, much harder desert journey.

I'm very thankful for all the people who stood by me during the first leg of this difficult walk. Your prayers are still much needed and much appreciated.

Since this is the peek-a-boo ICU and it's all about coming out of hiding and entering God's Intensive Care Unit, I decided it was time to face a subject that I've wanted to write about, but never had the courage to come out of hiding to do.

So here goes...

I’m a third generation alcoholic. I spent most of my junior high, high school, and college years hiding a family secret and learning to own that addiction for myself. During high school I became a Christian and drank less, but the tentacles of addiction still had a firm grip on my life. Alcohol was my drug of choice to numb the pain. It wasn’t until many years later I would even admit I was an alcoholic and many more before I would seek help to overcome this addiction.

At one point in college, I tried AA meetings, but they didn’t reach me. I didn’t want to define myself by my addiction and I didn’t want to look deeper into why I ran to alcohol. I just wanted the pain to go away. So I hid. Which really wasn’t hard to do. When my addiction started in earnest I was in junior high. Living in Germany, I could purchase alcohol anytime I wanted. Then when we moved back to the States I had access to my parent’s and grandmother’s liquor stash. In high school there were enough parties to keep me busy. And when I wasn’t partying with the wild crowd, I stayed busy with the church crowd. No one confronted me about having a problem. The church crowd never knew I almost killed myself twice getting so drunk I still have no idea how I got home.

After high school I walked away from alcohol, but not the addiction. I’d have an occasional drink and believed I was fine. No more parties, getting drunk, or hiding my alcohol consumption.

But I still didn’t deal with my heart, the reason the addiction still had a hold on me.

It wasn’t until I interviewed for a missionary position after college graduation that anyone looked deep into my life and asked some pointed questions. From that interview weekend I returned home and started seeing a rape counselor for a date rape that happened in high school, which I had never faced. In the process I started to deal with my heart and all the pain I had bottled up in there. The tentacles of addiction started to loosen.

Not too long after that I married and started to talk about my addiction in the past tense. I admitted I was once an alcoholic, but had found freedom in Christ. And I had. But I still had so much more to learn. My heart was only just starting the journey to healing.

Children came. Three wonderful, beautiful little girls. After my first daughter was born I learned my husband was not into alcohol like I had been, but his drug of choice was pornography. We went to counseling and I took another few steps on the path of heart healing.

After my second daughter was born it would be a year before I learned my husband not only still used porn, but he had a true sex addiction. Again, we went to counseling and I received a lot of help for my heart. But not my marriage. Because that takes two.

We had a third little girl and by the time she turned one, I was sure my marriage was over. So after my tenth wedding anniversary disaster, I told my husband something had to change or we wouldn’t make it to the eleventh anniversary.

We attended the Smalley Marriage Intensive in March of this year and God did an amazing work in me. I was finally given the tools and the time to attend to the depths of my heart. And I did. I now know I am free of an addiction to alcohol because God has done an amazing work in my life.

I’m not foolish or prideful enough to think I could never go back though. I could. So I protect myself and my daughters in many ways. And I’ve learned to run to God when life hurts. That is the best medicine for a wounded heart I’ve ever found.

But my marriage hasn’t taken that journey. I’m not sure it will. Today I’ve uncovered more “junk” and seen some pretty destructive patterns that I’ve been allowing to continue.

No more.

If running to God is the only place for healing, which I know it is, He is now all I have.

I’m still grieving what I thought was getting better and wasn’t. I’m still wrestling with anger and hurt so deep I’d like to go to sleep and not wake up until everything is better. But I know that won’t work. I have three little girls that need their mommy and a husband who I hope takes a good look in the mirror and decides it’s time to admit the truth and deal with his addiction all the way to healing.

Please pray for all of us.

Reading back over this, I’m not sure I should post it. I wrote it to sort out my mess of thoughts and keep from going crazy. But maybe it will help someone who reads it find the strength to run to God and get the help they need to break free from whatever has a hold on them.

Please do run to God. Addiction doesn’t just affect you. It affects whole families, and in truth, the whole Body of Christ. Don’t bury your head and let another person’s addictions get a hold on you either. I’ve done that for too many years. I’ve enabled destructive patterns to continue because of my own wounds and needs.

Needs I didn’t take to God. Needs I thought my husband could and should meet.

But he can’t.

God can.

And He is.

Please pray. All I can see stretching ahead are unending waves of hot sand. Please pray I’ll listen to the Lord and stay in His arms. And that one day He will use all of this for His glory. Like Moses on the backside of the desert for 40 years. I pray God will use me to lead others to freedom. That prayer frightens me as much as it calls me. But God’s been preparing me for this journey for some time.

I now (thanks to one of my awesome youth girls) have a little jar of beach sand at my desk. It reminds me that there are other places beside the desert in my future.

And that is a promise for every one of His children. In John 14 Jesus reminds us to trust in God and talks about His Father’s house. He says, “I am going there to prepare a place for you.” And in John 16:33 He says, "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."

“O Daddy, strengthen my legs for the journey and my heart to trust You and love with Your amazing love. Amen.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Thank you for being a friend

There's an eighties song by Andrew Gold that captures what I'd like to say today. It starts with these lines, "Thank you for being a friend. You've traveled down the road and back again. Your heart is true, you're a pal and a confidant."

During my desert walk, there were so many who came alongside and fought for me. Some with me, challenging me to see the truth. :-) They prayed and listened and loved me well. And I want to say thank you.

To my husband: It’s been a tough eleven years. Here’s to learning to fight the right fight together and seeing all that God has in store for us. Thank you for choosing God and spending time with Him. Please keep looking through His eyes at the man He created you to be~ the man you truly are. Thank you for coming out of hiding and into the Truth, into healing. Your strength and courage remind me to run to God as you have done. In the desert, the dark, or on the beach, God is showing me you are His good gift to me. I love you.

To my daughters: In your precious prayers I found the courage to keep walking. You believe God still does miracles. Thanks to each of you and the awesome God we love, I see again how true that is. God is good... you remind me of that daily. I love you so much!

To my best friend: Jen, you continue to point me to the Lord and show me that who He created me to be is good. By your life, your wise words, and your love you reveal the beauty of the Lord. Even when the passionate way I live wears you out. ;-) I’m a glorious mess. Thank you for fighting for me and loving me well. The gift of you as my best friend is one I treasure and count a great privilege to enjoy. I love you and thank God for you.

To the Princess Bible study group: Knowing you all has made me a better person. You are each beautiful, precious young ladies~ daughters of the King. We've shared our hearts, and what God has done and continues to do is an awesome reminder of the good God we serve. Thank you. I also want to say thanks for the email reminders of your prayers, and the Dove chocolate bar coupon. You know me and love me well. I love you too.

To my Threshing Floor partners: You all not only make my writing shine, you walk beside me and comfort me with your amazing prayers. Thank you for sharing my hurts and my joy. I love you Jen, Mary, and Staci and I thank the Lord for putting us together.

To Steph and Rob: Thank you for entering into the painful journey of healing with me. Your prayers touched my heart and my marriage. Your emails helped me define what I believe and helped me see more clearly what the Lord is doing. Your love is a gift. I love you both. God did put us together for a reason~ a very good one. His glory and our good. He's so awesome!

To my Momsloop friends: You all have prayed and talked me through many a crisis and shared much laughter too. Thank you for your longstanding love and friendship. I love you all.

To the others who have shared their stories with me and wish to remain unnamed, I want to say thank you too. Your courage to share your heart reminded me that I'm not alone. Not in the pain or in the coming joy. God has good in store and you are a living, loving reminder of that truth. Thank you! I love you. God has blessed me so much with your friendship.

All of these precious people have walked with me in the desert and been the voice of the Lord when it was hard to listen. To each of them I say, "THANK YOU!" a thousand times over.

Friendship is one of God's greatest gifts. I've spent much of my life without that gift being too afraid of really sharing my heart for fear it would be rejected or not matter. After years of praying and learning to come out of hiding, I'm beginning to enjoy this most amazing blessing.

God is good. You are all living proof.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Choose wisely

On my screen saver are these words...

"Remember. Only One Thing is necessary. Choose wisely."

Some of these words came from a Bible study with my wonderful youth girls. We talked about Luke 10:42 where Jesus shares how Mary had chosen well in spending time with Him and listening to His words. The verse says, “but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

The “choose wisely” part came from a fairytale I’d written for my girls a few years ago. In the scene below the king is throwing a party for his daughters to celebrate their entrance into adulthood. Many in the kingdom desire to win their affection. But there is one whose desire is not for their affection. It is for their destruction. Much like our lives. We have an enemy who seeks to destroy us. We also have a Father who calls us to remember.

“Then one suitor, draped in a jeweled cloak, captured his daughters’ attentions. As the man told stories of his adventures and enchanting far-away places, the King watched the princesses’ excitement grow.

When the stranger departed, King Adonai spoke to Shiri first, then Teshi and Apolline. He whispered his heart’s cry in their ears. ‘Remember that I love you. Choose wisely.’”

This is what God has been teaching me in so many ways through my desert journey. It has been a very hard time, but good. I’d like to share some of what I’m learning.

The most important thing I’m learning is to run to my First Love. Time alone has opened my eyes to the desperate hunger I have tried to fill with other people and things. Good things. Gifts from God. My husband, my children, writing, friends. But when God is calling me to Himself, these good things can stand in the way of the Best. These gifts are also only good when they come from God’s hand and not my striving.

I’ve seen that it’s only when my relationship with my First Love is right, that all other loves are safe. Only One Thing is necessary. I’m learning to choose Him above all else.

Another thing the Lord is teaching me in this time is to choose love over lust. I’m learning from the example of others who’ve shared their stories with me and from my own journey. Lust destroys. Love builds. Love values people and shows respect. Love listens to the heart. Love waits. Lust, on the other hand, demands satisfaction now.

It’s not just youth or singles that need to learn the difference either. Married people need this too. Sex is a gift, not a Band-Aid. When we use it as a place to run to make us feel better, it’s lust. It’s filling a need~ not by running to the Lord~ but with something else. That’s idolatry.

Choose wisely.

This time alone in the desert has been a gift and as I’m learning to choose wisely, I’m falling in love with Him. God is speaking tender words here. He is making all things new in my heart. I have drawn nearer to the Lord and cried out to Him. I’ve learned He truly can meet emotional needs as well as physical longing. He is enough. He is love.

I’m also learning to run to God instead of choosing anger. I love my girls so much. Even so, taking care of three children all day, every day is exhausting. I’ve found my temper short and mind too busy to deal with why.

Until my desert stop.

God is showing me how to run to Him in the midst of a crisis and let Him be my strength, my gentle words, and my loving instruction.

He’s also my forgiveness. Instead of hiding behind anger and the wounds of betrayal, God has led me into this desert to experience my need for of the waters of forgiveness. I’m looking in the mirror with no one else to blame for my reactions, and seeing how thirsty I am. And the result has been an open door to restoration and reconciliation.

A door I’m walking through.

At one point last week, I was ready to throw away all the Lord had begun to show me because the hurt was so intense. I thought I would either go insane or shut down completely. Living an emotionless, passionless, lonely life seemed my only option. I chose to fight instead. Not with the person who hurt me, and not with God.

I chose to stand up and fight the fight of faith. I recognized the enemy’s lies and ran to God for the truth.

And He’s answering abundantly ~ over and above what I asked or imagined. He’s leading me to the beach and restoring my soul. He’s healing my heart as well as the damaged relationship.

I didn’t choose the desert. But I am learning that making wise choices wherever I am matters.

Life is about choices.

Anger or grace?

Lust or love?

Hate or forgiveness?

Idols or your First Love?

Remember. Only One Thing is needed.

How will you choose?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Into the desert

Deserts are not my idea of a wonderful place to visit. I much prefer the beach. ;-) But right now I'm being led into a desert. It's lonely, hot, and the salt of my tears stings.

Did I mention my air conditioning broke last night too?

God does have a sense of humor. ;-)

He also has a loving word to speak to me in this desert. I started to hear it this morning. After days of crying my eyes out and trying to fill the void left in my heart by someone I deeply loved who rejected me, God whispered a reminder of truth.

I picked up Beth Moore's book Praying God’s Word and opened to the chapter entitled “The Insecurity of Feeling Unloved.” There I read the words I’d quoted in a blog not too long ago about The Call of God. “Our need does not constitute anyone else’s call but God’s.” It’s as if Beth penned those words for me and where I am right now. I know God did, whether Beth knew it or not.

God also brought a verse to mind from Hosea 2:14 that I’d recently read in Scotty Smith’s book Objects of His Affection. It says “I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” In this chapter of Hosea God is talking about unfaithful Israel running after her worthless lovers and how God will draw her back to Himself and make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope.

See, I’ve been praying for God to show me how to depend on Him, how to look to Him to meet my needs. He’s answering loud and clear. Beth Moore’s quote, the verse from Hosea, and the valley of trouble that has come into my life are all becoming crystal clear reminders that God has good in store for me, even if I have to spend time in a painful desert.

Another quote in Beth Moore’s chapter on feeling unloved says so well what the Lord is doing in my heart. “No love of the natural heart is safe unless the human heart has been satisfied by God first.” Oswald Chambers.

I still wish God would take me to the beach instead of the desert.

But in the hot, shifting sands I’m living in, God is still good. I’m clinging to that. He has a good plan. Even when I have to tell my daughters we could be moving. My precious middle daughter said this morning as we talked about what’s ahead and the possibility of me teaching in a school again, “But Mommy, we’re home schooled. I want to be with you and my sisters.” My heart about shattered. If it hadn’t already been broken to pieces, it probably would have burst. I had to explain to myself and to my girls that even though things are happening that we don’t want, we have to trust God has a good plan and He loves us and will take care of us.

Even in the desert.

Other verses from the chapter on feeling unloved in Praying God’s Word helped me get out of bed this morning. I literally need God’s Word to put one foot in front of the other. I prayed 1 John 3:19 “O God, please set my heart at rest in Your Presence.” Then my eyes found these words on the next page, “when troubled times come, you may not know what will befall you, but you can hear the steady pulse of the boundless love of Him who holds you.”

I’m learning to curl up in my heavenly Daddy’s arms… and rest. This is God’s time for me to experience Colossians 2:10, “You are complete in Him.”

I would appreciate your prayers as we journey through this desert. Pray that I’ll not wander forty years like the Israelites, but that I will believe the Truth and choose to abide in the One who knows me best and loves me most. It is God I want to cling to in the desert.

And when He takes me to the beach too.

He did fix my air conditioning this morning. ;-) And He’s mending my heart, drawing me to Him.

That’s right where I want to be.

God is good... all the time... and in every place.

Thank you for praying.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Dance

There's a line from an article I'm working on that won't leave me alone. It says: Dance. Even when life hurts. It's better than the alternative.

I've talked a lot about dances on this blog and in the youth discipleship group I love leading. The fear dance, The Great Dance, and in my recent article, dancing with diabetes. All of these share a common element of comparing hard things in life to a dance.

One of my favorite songs from college does the same thing. It’s a Garth Brooks song called The Dance. Like the author of this song, I shared a dance with someone that left me alone holding a broken heart. Listen to these lines:

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared ‘neath the stars above
For a moment, all the world was right
How could I have known that you’d ever say goodbye.

And now, I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end
The way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I’d of had to miss the dance.

Holding you, I held everything
For a moment wasn’t I a king
But if I’d only known how the king would fall
Hey who’s to say, you know I might have chanced it all.

And now, I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end
The way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I’d of had to miss the dance.

I know life is not left to chance. But it is better left in the hands of our loving God who knows best. Even when what He decides hurts.

Truth be told, I had no business staying with the guy that left me brokenhearted. God warned me to get out of the relationship and finally showed me the truth I didn’t want to see. But like a lot of painful things in my life, God has proven He truly does work all things for good.

He’s the author of the Dance. My dance. And yours.

There are so many times I’d like to sit this dance out. Like when my diabetes is out of control or when things in my marriage hurt. But if I truly believe God is good, I have to keep dancing, even when life hurts. Why? Because I know from experience God has something to show me. Something good.

I was reading a chapter in my writer’s devotional today on being like Peter, my all-time favorite Bible character. To anyone who knows me well this is no surprise. ;-) I’m so like brash, bold, impetuous, loud Peter. I only hope God has great things in store for me like He did for Peter.

Every time I hang out with my three princesses or my Bible study girls, I know for sure He does. They remind me God has a good plan.

They also help me to remember the dance is worth every step. Even the ones that hurt.

Back to Peter. Here are some of the quotes that hit me so hard as I read today. Quotes that led me to thinking about this dance of life.

“Be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” 1 Peter 4:7 NIV

“Keep on doing what is right and trust yourself to the God who made you, for He will never fail you.” 1 Peter 4:19

And the final line from today’s devotion: “He has chosen us and will equip us so that, through the words we write and the lives we live, we will effectively be able to ‘show to others how God called [us] out of the darkness into His wonderful light’” 1 Peter 2:9

Those verses challenge me. First to keep my mouth shut when I’m angry so that my rash words don’t bring further damage in a tough situation. Something I’m still learning and failing at more than I succeed. But I’m learning. I’m a glorious mess. God is so getting that point across to me.

Second, those verses challenge me to trust myself to God because He will never fail me. People will. But that’s not an excuse to sit this dance out. To withhold forgiveness. Or to refuse to love.

That’s hard. Hard on a good day and even more difficult when I’m looking at the surrounding storm, watching the waves. And sinking.

Not only is Peter my favorite Bible character, but his story of walking on the waves is also my favorite place to go for encouragement.

God called Peter into that storm and out of the boat.

And even though he started to sink, God was there to rescue Peter.

Me too.

When I listen. When I dance. And more often than that, my awesome Daddy pursues me when I’m trying not to listen and instead working hard to sit things out in disobedience.

I don’t believe I’m alone in that. Peter and I aren’t the only ones that focused on the waves and sank. Right?

Wherever you are, whether enjoying a great dance, or trying to sit one out, please listen closely to the Father’s outstretched hands and love-filled command to “Come.”

You see, He’s playing your song.

Don’t sit this one out. Because when this dance lesson is over, we’ll be dancing for all eternity to the perfect rhythm of grace, in the arms of our Perfect Partner.

So dance. Even when life hurts. It’s worth every step.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Glorious Ruins

You've seen them haven't you? Glorious glimpses of the past now in ruins. Places like the Parthenon, the Roman aqueducts, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Or more modern ones like my husband's desk or my house after a pint-sized birthday party.

Or me.

A pastor friend uses the term "glorious ruins" to describe our human condition. Writers like Scotty Smith and John and Stasi Eldredge expound on this thought with powerful words of how we were created for more and yet we fall far short in our attempts to find Eden in this world.

Instead of reflecting the glory of God, we are glorious messes that make a mess of things every time we try on our two-year-old attitudes and insist, “I’ll do it by my own self!”

Even so, God has a plan and purpose that He is working out in the midst of our messes.

I’m finally starting to get this, but it’s taken a long time and a lot of wrestling with God. See, I’m a lot like the Prodigal’s older brother. I would rather believe I’m not a ruin at all, but that I’m becoming more holy the longer I walk with the Lord.

But the opposite is happening. The closer I get to the Lord, the bigger a mess I see that I am.

Scotty Smith in his excellent, excellent book titled Objects of His Affection speaks about believers in terms that are hard to accept. He calls us an unworthy bride and relates our story to the story of unfaithful Gomer, the wife of God’s prophet Hosea. “As with Hosea’s wife so with God’s people, Israel: Unfaithfulness abounded.” And so it is with us. We chase after other lovers and hide from or forget the Lover of our souls.

In busyness. In making ends meet. In being a good wife and raising good children. In self-improvement. In church work. In just about any thing or activity under the sun.

When we try to find life and love in anything other than God, our relationships and activities become our idols, our other lovers, and merely a means to an end~ making us feel good.

Sounds ugly doesn’t it?

It is.

If we are honest, our attempts to find life apart from God are so very far from the “not too bad” designation we like to put them in. They actually leave our lives in ruins.

Take a hard look in the mirror. What do you see? Do you see tired eyes filled with longings? Me too. I see the mess I’ve made of life by running after many things that left me emptier than when I started.

But before you give up in despair, look again. Do you see the cross? Look closely. If you are a child of the King, He’s with you. Always.

Scotty Smith says it this way, “To see our sins, wounds, idols, and failures apart from God’s grace is simply too much. We will either minimize our condition, thus marginalizing our need of grace, or we will run away in hopeless despair to the arms of a lesser love or to the worship of lesser gods.”

But when we take a redeeming look in the mirror we will see both the seriousness of our sin and the awesome deliverance of our great God. To see both is to be changed.

How do you take a redeeming look in the mirror? Hosea 2:14 gives us a clue, “Therefore I am going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” To really see, God will take us to a barren, lonely place to win our hearts away from the unfulfilling loves we’ve run after. There He will speak His words of love and truth. There we will see the true nature of our idolatry, our sin. And there we will see Him replace the emptiness of our other lovers with His very self.

A line from Scotty’s book brought me up short one day as I read. “Greater love cannot be conceived than God dying for a thankless adulteress.”


That’s me. And that’s my Savior. After a number of recent trips to the desert, I’m learning to look in the mirror and see my sin, my mess, for what it is. At the same time, I’m learning to see it all in light of the cross. It’s paid for. In full.

Even after seeing this truth, there’s another facet of being a glorious ruin that leaves me struggling still. It’s the fact that no matter what I do, there remains more in me in need of change. It’s an ongoing process that won’t end this side of Heaven.

That really bugs me.

I like marking things off my to-do list, completing a project, typing THE END to a manuscript. I like seeing the finish line and crossing it.

Good thing God doesn’t see with my eyes. Instead, He knows He will complete the work He’s begun in me and He isn’t in a race with time to do it.

Even in the midst of this cycle of growth and more necessary growth, God says this, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; YOU ARE MINE. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.” (Isaiah 43:1-2)

And this, “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

God not only saves us and calls us by name, but He DELIGHTS in us. He rejoices over us with singing. That’s the glorious part. The part of us that dares to grasp hold of this truth and run with it. The part that steps out of the boat, like Peter, and walks on the water.

That’s where I want to be. A little calmer waves, maybe. But right there, doing the “impossible” with Jesus.

For the times when I resemble C.S. Lewis’s quote, “like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily satisfied.” God answers with words that stir my soul to remember.

Words like John Piper’s restatement of a line from the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”

And so I remember.

I remember the cross.

I remember my Heavenly Daddy’s love for me.

I remember I need Him.

I remember that I’m a glorious mess in the process of living up to that which I’ve already obtained. One day this ruin will be clothed in white and made new. One day.

Until then I try to remember... Only One Thing is needed… choose wisely.
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