The Pain Under Porn

One of the biggest lessons Chuck and I learned through our journey is to work on the right issue. I spent so much time trying to control Chuck and protect myself that I missed the deeper wound. Chuck spent so much time trying to look good and protect his quick fix, he missed the greater need.

Porn, like any form of coping, is not the issue. It is a symptom, but it’s not the cause. I often say it is the flower but it is not the root. We spend a lot of time treating symptoms: porn, food, anger, drugs, alcohol, shopping, social media, gaming, etc.

Yet all of these (and there are more) are attempts to manage a deeper pain and wounding. There is no sobriety or breakthrough without healing the root issue. Pain has to be processed. It can’t be ignored, or buried, it just comes back up until it is dug up.

But God.

I would never claim to be a certified counselor for marriage, addiction or otherwise.  My story of God and His counsel and presence is my only certification. I can’t heal your marriage, husband or heart. But I know the One who can.

Thank you for your kind comments to my recent blog. God is worthy to be praised. It was my Ebenezer, to declare that He met us in devastation 10 years ago and worked a miracle. I want to always remember His wonder-working power yesterday, today and forever.

And. I know that wasn’t the story for many of you. Some of you are still in miserable marriages with addicts. Some of you bear the scars of divorce.

I. Get. It.

I would like to offer a hard won perspective: All this living is an invitation to experience God’s presence in the middle of it.

Human frailty right next to Divine Hope.

My whole marriage journey taught me this. The lies and betrayal and brokenness, over time, became less about me and Chuck and more about me and Jesus. He was with me. He was changing me. He was fighting for me. And guess what? He was doing the same for Chuck.

One deeply profound truth that John Dee taught me was, “Ask for truth to be revealed.” Sounds almost too simple.  I would stand in my house and worship and ask God to reveal all things hidden, for truth to be revealed in my heart and Chuck’s.  God loves to answer that prayer but brace yourself for the fallout. He loves to break off every chain only to reveal every beautiful thing He has put inside of us.

I am now “fully persuaded” that God is good and He is good to me and for me. I know life and its excruciating pain is changed by His presence.  I don’t blame Him for heartache, I go to Him with my heartache.  Do you?

I don’t love and trust Him because of my outcome, I love and trust Him because of His presence and comfort in the middle of it. The Passion Translation has the beautiful expression, God’s wrap-around-presence.  He is With Us.

If the child goes astray, the loved one dies, the betrayal continues, the bankruptcy is final, we look for Him until we find Him.

God has an answer for everything we live through.  Heck, He is the answer.  Amen.

 


 

 

Recalling the Wonders of God

Wow. God. All I can say is Wow, God. Today marks the 10 anniversary of the worst season of our marriage. We humbly call it The 18 Days.  It was a period of time when our marriage and futures hung in the balance as we separated because of Chuck’s porn addiction.

After years of troubled marriage and years of recovery work, try agains, I’m sorrys, and empty promises, we set this consequence should he again choose his drug of choice instead of his family.

During the tension of separation we both tried answering impossible questions:
Do we stay together? Should we stay together? How would we stay together? Heartache and hatred abounded in our home. One thing was certain, only God could save us.

In 2000, the Lord told me He would deliver Chuck from addiction.
In 2009, all the wheels had fallen off our marriage.
In 2019, we are thanking God for His unfailing love, mercy and power.

There are stories that need to be released around this miracle. Today, I just want to thank God for keeping His promises.  Roman 4:21 commends  Abraham for “being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”

During this season, and many other seasons of promise waiting, God has brought me to verses 20 and 21.

‘Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,  being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.’

What was Abraham’s job? What was God’s job?

Abraham’s job was to not waiver, be strengthened, give glory and be persuaded of God’s power while he was STILL waiting.

God’s job? Be God. Full of wonder-working power to keep His word. Every time.

There are many testimonies of what God did during the 18 days. Dreams, visions, supernatural provision, Spirit led counsel, divine healing, and more. Why?

Because God had the power to do as He promised.

Today, I just want to raise a Hallelujah. Our God reigns.

Hilarious Generosity

The Giving seasons are upon us. First we’ll focus on the Giving of Thanks. Then we focus on Giving Tuesday. And then there is the great push, pressure, panic of Christmas Giving. I wanted to share what God is  brewing in my heart about His kind of giving.

Giving of Thanks. Sunday at New Wine Church we just released God Stories. My heart was so full after spending time bragging on our strong, healing, loving Father. Be sure to spend some time with someone you love and count your blessings. I mean it. Make a list and say them out loud. So good for your soul.

Giving Tuesday.  I have an abundance of ministry emails and letters flowing into my inboxes. My own letter is going out shortly. There must be a better way to navigate all the needs.  Here is one thing to try. For every “asking” letter we receive, or social media fundraiser we read, let’s stop and pray for that ministry. Each group really does need the fullness of Holy Spirit to do what they are doing.

Christmas Giving. Maybe, just maybe, the Grinch had it right. “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store.”

I have been pondering what it means to… slow…down… a… bit… and let the Spirit teach us about how to be generous.

One of my favorite passages on giving comes from 2 Corinthians. The whole chapter is amazing. But for now let’s look at verse 7.

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

Decided.

This word fraught with freedom. We get to choose. Decide. Determine. We get to decide: who is important to us, what issue is moving us, who is feeding our soul and spirit, who is in need?    Obviously God cares THAT we give, but He also cares HOW we give.

Not Reluctant or Under Compulsion

“You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” NLT

God loves a person who gives cheerfully.  Let that sink in.

Are we more concerned about how we look? Do we feel guilt or pressure to give?  Or, are we motivated by love for the One who loves us, and loves that we give willingly, happily, trustingly, even cheerfully?

We love it when our kids share happily and cheerfully. I think God loves it when His kids do too.

Here is the beautiful equation about generosity. We give because God gives. We give because we trust God to refill our cups. We give because it pulls us out of unhealthy Me-syndromes. We give because we know that God does miracles with our two fish and five loaves.  We practice “hilarious generosity” because it reveals that we are overflowing with the same hilarious abundance that God has.

What do we give?

Money. Sure it’s a real thing. Giving can be a real thermometer for how well we are trusting God financially. No shame here. Just a reality check. It all comes from Him. And He never runs out. So do we feel the freedom to share our money because we know God will replenish? Just sayin’.

There are other resources that God asks us to share as well.
• Our God stories. They are like seeds that reproduce once they are shared.
• Our food, clothes, possessions can be shared. Do we really NEED all that stuff?
• Our wisdom and skills. Others may need what we carry but we have to be willing to share and to sacrifice the time, effort and comfort to give to others.
• Hope. Peace. Grace. Love.  More than cheesy Christian-ese these are tangible resources that we store up and give away to others.

I keep hearing in my spirit, “Am I willing to be hilarious generous all these things?”

Everyone is tapped out during the holidays. So it makes me question if we’re tapping into the overflow of Heaven and giving out of His abundance.

“Yes, God is more than ready to overwhelm you with every form of grace, so that you will have more than enough of everything—every moment and in every way. He will make you overflow with abundance in every good thing you do. “

Listen. I get the squeeze. I am just really confronted with “God loves a cheerful giver.” So what if we give a little less out of obligation and pressure but we give a whole lot more with honesty and hilarity?

Here is more of this passage out of the Passion Translation. Enjoy it. And ask the Spirit how you are doing with generosity. May all your Giving Seasons be full of cheer and overflow.

Hilarious Generosity

Here’s my point. A stingy sower will reap a meager harvest, but the one who sows from a generous spirit will reap an abundant harvest. Let giving flow from your heart, not from a sense of religious duty. Let it spring up freely from the joy of giving—all because God loves hilarious generosity!Yes, God is more than ready to overwhelm you with every form of grace, so that you will have more than enough of everything—every moment and in every way. He will make you overflow with abundance in every good thing you do. Just as the Scriptures say about the one who trusts in him:

Because he has sown extravagantly and given to the poor,
    his kindness and generous deeds will never be forgotten.

10 This generous God who supplies abundant seed for the farmer, which becomes bread for our meals,is even more extravagant toward you. First he supplies every need, plus more. Then he multiplies the seed as you sow it, so that the harvest of your generosity will grow. 11 You will be abundantly enriched in every way as you give generously on every occasion, for when we take your gifts to those in need, it causes many to give thanks to God.

(Quote from Dr Seuss book The Grinch)

One Man Did Defend Us

I read a post on Instagram that “sounded” right. So vigilant, so spot on for the gaping wound that is the collective woman’s heart. Yes, we have been scarred and marred. Yes, we have been abused and raped. Yes, we have been groped, gagged and threatened into silence.

But a Martin Luther King quote won’t fix it.
It only holds up a mirror.

The #Metoo won’t fix it.
It only breaks the mirror into a million pieces.

One court nomination (or possible witch hunt) won’t fix it.

Somehow we have lost sight of facts. Are we now seeking a wholesale revenge on half of the population? Are we pushing a movement in the name of progress? Is that movement actually healing anyone?

There is this not-so-subtle narrative  that offers women (and men)  two options. Either stand with Us, the belittled, broken-hearted, raging, victimized women, or stand with Them, the hate-filled, power-hungry, horny bastards who started all this.

I need more options.

I had a conversation with a young woman who said that we need to seize this time of exposure to stand up to a long historical injustice. Read that sentence again. Please.

Here is where I get stuck. Men should respect women. Period. Women should respect men. Period.

Every ethic group should respect every ethnic group. Period.

Why? Because every single human deserves honor and dignity. Period.

Every person is accountable for his/her actions. Yet, we are using a He Said, She Said conversation, done in a public forum, and trying to lay it over the whole of creation. As if a certain outcome in this situation is somehow going to make men behave better, or women heal faster?

Gender revenge doesn’t bring healing. Talk to any woman who has been sexually wounded. Her healing didn’t come by way of her wounder.

Politics doesn’t heal hearts. It reveals hearts.
Men are not the problem. Women are not the problem.

Sin is the problem.

And One Man did take the hit for the whole of creation. I think that’s what bugs me about the Feminine voices talking about their gaping wounds.

We are ALL wounded. Or were.  And my song now is not that I was abused, or molested or groped which I was. My song now is that I know a Healer.

Not only is my Feminine heart healed through Jesus, now I have the power to pray and Speak Up for the other Feminine and Masculine hearts that need to know there actually is a better way.

Jesus really did take the fall for all of the out of whack men. And he really did open the way for women to be truly restored and elevated.

There is still a battle raging for equality and honor.

And we have the answer. The real one. Let’s use it.

 

 

 

photo credit Moody Media

 

Changing How We Talk About Ourselves and Others, Part 1

I’m in the middle of a conversation right now with the Lord.  He is doing a renovation in my soul around toxic thinking.  I know we all deal with negativity and yuky self-talk. But He has taken it several steps further. Let’s dig in, shall we?

Part 1 — Being Tormented
God first pinpointed ownership. He asked me to examine the current theme running through my thoughts. I was at the beach when this happened so there was a LOT of noise around body image.  Even though I was having intense and beautiful conversations with the Spirit, there was a underlying barrage of “you don’t – you can’t – you won’t because you aren’t – you are – you’ll never – you’ll always…”

The Lord asked me who was saying all those awful things to me.

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When It Falls Apart, Trust His Heart

I just have to show you the church sign I passed yesterday afternoon.  “Faith in God includes faith in his timing.”  I sped right past that and did a good Christian “Mmmm-mm, Oh-that’s-a-good-word” thing we all do.  Then I came home to the email that said our long awaited and fought for building move was off.  What did that sign say again?

My friend texted me and asked “how are you doing, honestly?”

“Really hopeful. And I need a good cry,” I said.

Listen this isn’t my first rodeo. Or even my 10th. But you know what, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been in a rodeo, when you fall off the bull, it knocks the wind out of you.

But here comes God.

Holy Spirit stands over you while you are sprawled out and breathless, flashes that reassuring smile, offers you a hand (or a sign), and says “Get up and let’s keep going. There’s things to do.”

You know why we get up? Because when He starts sharing His dreams with us, when He starts asking us to risk and fail and keep risking, you know there is adventure on the horizon.  He is on the horizon.

He is the before me, behind me, hand upon me God.

So risk and failure seem a little less daunting. What is more frightening to me than the falling is the thought that the bruises of my falling down would keep me from running after His dreams.

What if  He has a better place, a bigger place in mind? What if I have been playing it safe and small because I lacked the faith to really go after it?

What if you and I both actually believed God when He says:

“I got this.”

So yeah. I’m up. Dusted off. Had a good cry. Breathing again. And I ain’t quitting. He’s too good for that.

At New Wine Church we have these beautiful offering declarations we borrowed from Bethel Church. The Lord brought back to mind a few lines from the one we prayed this past Sunday morning:

Repentance from poverty,
small thinking, and envy.
Courage to recognize opportunities
and make wealth.
Abundance to bless the world
and the prudence to save and invest.
Revelation to pass on wealth
to our children’s children

Bring it Jesus.


 

 

 

Go Higher

I must have looked like a crazy woman to the shoreline walkers. First I paced back and forth. Then I stood still and stared. Then I would pace again. Stare. Repeat.  This is how I process stuff at the beach when my brain is working on something too big for me.  I was praying. Sort of.  Lord what about… And Lord what if… And Lord I can’t figure out…Lord what are you going to do about…Lord when will…  As I said, praying, sort of.

For the life of me, I just couldn’t figure out an answer for burning in my soul. My list of issues were close to home.
• Facing fear in certain relationships
• Parenting in this season
• Helping my aging parents
• Overhauling my health

But my list also extended to further reaching problems.
• My friends’ mothers dying from cancer
• Grief over trafficking, immigration, etc
• Frustration with the church
• Our planet drowning in plastic

That’s not even everything on the list! No it’s not drama. So don’t say it.  It’s real world. It’s life. And sometimes it presses too close.

I wonder what the Holy Spirit does in these moments.  Watching me, watching you, try to figure out things that we were never meant to figure out alone.

In one of my pace and stare cycles I said out loud, “Lord, why aren’t you answering me?”

“I already have,” the Spirit said.

“When?” I shot back. “I’ve been out here forever pouring my heart out to you. You haven’t said anything.”

“Crystal texted you earlier.”

I stopped mid-pace. I grabbed my phone and looked at my text from my friend Crystal. She sent me a song link and said, “this reminds me of when you heard this at jazz. [jazzercise]”  I had even responded fondly with: “This is one of my favorite pre-Jesus songs. He’s always calling us home.”

Can you believe that interchange happened a hour before my prayer meltdown?

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Confidence in Transitions

Sometimes known as the Squeeeeeze, we call transition lots of things. In limbo, out of rhythm, off your game. Then there’s my personal favorite, out of my comfort zone. We are so certain the deep unsettled feeling is a bad thing we conclude we must be doing something wrong.  But what if the deep unsettled feeling is a good thing? I had a moment in the ocean about transitions that might help us navigate the arduous and sometime unwanted process.

By it’s very nature, transition means movement. Moving from one place to another. In work, family, relationships, even faith every area requires forward motion. To be fair the only thing worse than transition is stagnancy. Standing water, or stagnant, is foul and infested. We desperately need movement to keep us fresh. The Lord used waves to stir up my standing waters.

I go out into the ocean about ankle deep. Feeling pretty confident I step a little deeper because I have a sense of control. But pretty soon I feel the familiar pull on the sand as the water retracts. If  you are beach savvy at all, we both know there is a battering line you must cross, the line where the waves break before crashing onto shore.  If I try to stand or swim  near that line, I will be beaten to death. But if I jump over  the wave, or better dive under it as it is crashing over, I can “pass through” the line and the water calms a bit. By the way, it’s also deeper beyond the break.

(That’ll preach all by itself. Keep going. Don’t let the pressure of the coming waves paralyze you. Jump higher or dive under and you can pass through to deeper waters.)

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Are you BAD or BIG?

Whoa.  This summer I am in my own personal crash course with the Holy Spirit. Several books have come my way which are blowing me up  in all the needed places, but put those books in the hands of the Living Spirit and  you have a cocktail called Rock My World, complete with a little umbrella. Wink. Seriously. It is in a word: Transformation.

One book is called Are My Kids On Track? by Goff, Thomas, and Trevathan. If your kids are little, get and activate it immediately. If you are thinking about kids, get it and work it in to your marriage right now. If you’re like me, and your kids are on their way out  door, go take a deep breath of Grace, and then immediately activate it anyway. It’s never too late to start doing something better.

These wise, insightful counselors and authors have so many tools for healthy emotional development and go so far as to identify, for each gender, stumbling blocks and and building blocks. I tell you, this book is a must read. You know why? Because if we don’t turn our stumbling blocks into building blocks then we remain stuck little kids inside grown up bodies. And we all know THAT person who “never grew up.”

One particular insight explained stumbling blocks for boys as B-A-D.  They said boys are most likely to go to Blame, Avoidance, and Denial. BAD. Believe it or not, there are building blocks to help them through this, as opposed to saying “boys will be boys” or boys are not emotional. Okay you got this concept? BAD, being aware  of when I am refusing to take ownership, when I refuse to engage in a solution, or even admit there is an issue.

Holy Spirit has  used this book to install a new alarm system. My heart starts pinging when I go to BAD.

The Holy Spirit took this pearl and added it to a beautiful concept from another book called Rising Strong by Brene’ Brown. As one of my Kate friends says: Love me some Brene’.  Brene’ asks some real world questions in the aftermath of when you fall flat on your face, when the worst thing does happen, when you fail in front of everyone. How do you get back up?  How do you rise again stronger and wiser and kinder to yourself and those around you?

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The Season of Hope

We had a fire in our fireplace last night.  Uhm. It’s mid April.  We pack and unpack our winter jackets. We wait and wait for the last frost to plant our tender flowers only to turn around and cover them for threat of another frost. Uhm. It’s mid April. So what’s the bottom line.

just. breathe. 

Ever since Resurrection Sunday my spirit has been buzzing with the same Hope that creation sings out day after day. We laugh about blackberry winter, and dogwood winter, and who knows how many more, but we all are Looking for Something. We just know that winter won’t last. Even the brave pansies and daffodils stand strong in their stamina and  say, “hold on, keep believing.”

where does hope come from? 

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