Waiting Watchmen

Waiting Watchmen

I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.” Psalm 130:6

Watchmen for the morning. When read these words I feel a sense of excitement and anticipation. After a little study on these night watchmen, I learned that morning meant relief for them and a laying down of the burden of keeping watch. If a watchman falls asleep or lets down his guard, the enemy can get in. Things at night are dark and so there must be extra care given to paying attention, being on alert and watching for signs of danger. Once time ticks by and they know that morning is near, they begin to be attuned to the sky and literally watching for the first signs of daylight. This light brings rest, peace and it signals that they kept themselves and their charges safe for one more night. They wait expectantly and joyfully never doubting that the sun will indeed rise one more time.

Dark times are hard on so many levels. There may be physical or emotional pain, uncertainty, doubt, any of those feelings that leave the darkness threatening. While we know that our enemy is always lurking to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), it feels worse at night because our senses are limited. I can’t see as well in the night time and therefore, I am more vulnerable. The same is true in my soul and when life gets dark, I can’t see as well and I am more vulnerable. And at that moment, hopeful and expectant waiting enters.

We have to be waiting watchmen in our lives. When darkness comes we have to remember a few key things:

  1. The night and darkness is never forever. Darkness is a chapter and it is not the whole book. Darkness feels overwhelming because it is heavy and tests our other senses besides sight. Darkness invites us to rely on what we know about God, what we hear Him saying and respond to what we hear.
  2. The sun always rises. It is only possible to wait in hope and expectancy when you believe fully and without any doubt at all that the sun IS indeed going to rise. You’ve seen it rise every day of your life up to this point and there is no reason to believe it won’t rise again. God will rise in your darkness and pour His amazing light all over you. His timing is just not your timing.
  3. Don’t watch alone. The night watchmen are just that…men, plural. It is so important that we all have one or two, or more, people who are on the same course we are watching with us. Perhaps our support people aren’t in darkness themselves but they are willing and open to sitting in our darkness with us, keeping watch for the sun to rise. And perhaps they are in their own darkness and between us, we can share the burden of keeping watch as well as share the encouragement of keeping watch.

Darkness is inevitable, night falls every 24 hours and so our lives will always have seasons of darkness. Getting through the darkness well is done by placing all of our hope in God and His word and then waiting hopeful and expectant for the sun to rise. It will rise friend, you just have to keep watch and not get lost in the darkness. Be a waiting watchmen for yourself and for those around you.

If you need a prayer partner, please email me at jesusreliant@gmail.com

Shalom,

KA

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Beautiful Pain: Letting Go of My Mom

Mom

Last week I had opportunity to process and let go of my mom after acknowledging the harm she brought to my life and then blessing her. This letter is to her, letting her go in love.

You weren’t who you were supposed to be. You claimed to be my best friend and yet, you hurt me over and over again. You kept me from my family because you couldn’t bear to be without me in any small way. You invited me in to your darkness and violence, only it wasn’t really an invitation, you kidnapped me. From the moment I was born, you began spinning your web that would create a false sense in me that you were the only safe person. You were the only one who would always be there for me. You were the only one who could ever rescue me. You were the only one who would bother to understand. You had me convinced that I couldn’t live without you and then, when you died, you were proven right because I couldn’t live without you well.

How pathetic is it to be almost 40 years old and NOT know how my household ran?? Seriously? I didn’t know how to use the front loading washing machine. I didn’t know where we banked. I didn’t know what our bills were. I didn’t know the ins and outs of Sylvia’s life. I didn’t know. I didn’t know that you had orchestrated all of that dependence. That night you said, “you know, we don’t always have to live together. If someday you don’t want me to live with you, that’s ok.”, I didn’t know that I was so beaten, so battered and so reliant on you, my captor, that leaving was never an option. Where would I have gone? What would I have done? You offered a choice that wasn’t really a choice and I knew it. I remember looking at your drunken face thinking, “geez mom, just go to bed. This is a dumb conversation.”

I hated you being in the hospital. I hated you putting me in the spot to have to go to a hospital and see you all debilitated or just not go to the hospital. Once again, I was forced to care for my captor and I didn’t want to. I remember praying that God would kill you or restore you completely because that LAST thing I wanted to do was spend any amount of time taking care of you. I simply wasn’t going to wash you, clothe you or brush your hair. I hated touching you already and I wasn’t going to spend any part of my life meeting your physical needs. I can’t believe I didn’t see how unhealthy we were right that minute but I know, or at least suppose, it was my coping mechanism. I knew you were never coming home, I just couldn’t face all the reality of that. The pain of freedom was too costly.

I can see the little girl you were being so horrendously violated by your mom. She was so broken and so damaged and you had no advocate. Your dad was too meek and too controlled to ever tell her to shut up or stop. And you worshipped him in an unhealthy way. He could simply do no wrong and yet, he was an accomplice to your mom by allowing her to rampage through your life. You never had a chance growing up and when you did finally get to be an adult, you made all the wrong choices. And honestly, how could you not? Your idea of normal had been lost so long ago that there was no reclaiming without pain and process and you always made it clear that you weren’t doing either of those. Medication and alcohol were your answers and they were fatal.

And I wonder if your death was natural. You hadn’t taken your medication for three days. Three days your blood pressure would have continued to climb and your blood would have struggled to push through normally. I’ve had a couple people raise an eyebrow that you went that many days without medication so I know there is at least a slight concern. I wonder if you were just done living with the pain. God provided amazing mercy to you, and all of us, in your death. Talk about “beautiful pain”! That was you!! You embodied beautiful pain.

And now you rest and I praise God that you do. I praise God that He’s allowed me to see the harm you brought into my life, to say “bless you” and let you go. You’ve had enough time in the driver’s seat and now, even though I have no idea how to step back into my life, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to reclaim the relationships lost. I’m going to reclaim my future that was going one way and is now going another. I’m going to reclaim my role as “mother” to my daughter in a healthier way than ever before. I’m going to hug people better because I am able. I’m going to allow people in deeper because now I have room. I’m going to place God solidly in the center of my life because you’re no longer there. I’m going to step out of the prison cell you created because I’ve been gifted the freedom to do so.

I love you, mom. I love that there is a lot of good that you planted in me. I love that you tried to love me. I love that now I can forgive you and let you rest.

Shalom to you, mom.

KA

The Cost of Shalom

Shalom

“The Lord lift up His [approving] countenance upon you and give you peace (shalom) [tranquility of heart and life continually].” Numbers 6:26

Shalom. This is an amazing word that many of us miss. Strong’s Concordance (7965) defines shalom as: completeness, wholeness, health, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, fullness, rest, harmony and the absence of discord. I don’t know about you, but I want all that this word has to offer! And yet, I offer a caution: there is a cost for shalom.

Shalom was the Garden of Eden, everything perfect, complete and whole. There was nakedness without shame or fear. Shalom. At the entrance of evil and sin, shalom was broken for all of us and we ceased to live lives described as complete, whole, healthy, etc. We entered in to a system where evil forces bombard our lives from the onset and spend all their time keeping us from ever establishing shalom again. What evil couldn’t foretell was Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate Shalom! Jesus provides shalom redeemed in our lives and yet, I offer another word of caution: shalom redeemed is a process, not a singular event. The implication here is that all processes inherently have pain and joy combined.

Last week I was blessed to experience shalom redeemed in my story and it came at a price and it came as a process. I am currently in school to obtain a certificate in counseling that is specifically meant to help people work through trauma. In the process of learning, we are invited to face our own stories of trauma and work through them with the grace of the Cross. It’s beautifully painful work and each time I’m in class, I come out a different person than I went in: shalom redeemed.

I had a picture of my relationship with my mom that was distorted at best. I believed her to be my best friend and that, in and of itself, is a distortion. Through the work in my class, and the help of an amazing small group, I had to face what I knew deep down: my mom never truly acted like my friend nor my mom. My mom was a tortured person who had experienced her own deep harm at the hand of her mother and she had no way to respond but by unleashing deep harm on me as well. This was a family cycle going back at least 3 generations that I’m aware of and I suspect more. It’s called a curse. I spent the better part of my 46 years alive covering and protecting the violence that she invited in to our lives and the alienation that came as well.

And then God walked in and shalom was redeemed. After four painful days of processing and reframing my view of my mother, I was angry. Angry that I had experienced her harm and yet called her friend. Angry that her harm and need to keep me to herself kept me from other people in my family. Angry that her harm made it easy to walk away from marriages because I had her to save me. And in my anger, I had to find way to bless her. Bless that she was damaged. Bless that although unhealthy, she did love me in her limited capacity. Bless that God had shown extreme mercy and grace by saving her and then calling her to heaven. Bless that I was saying, “no” to the vows, agreements and curses that existed in my family up to that point. Bless the pain and lay her to rest in the deepest way.

Shalom has a cost and the cost is your comfort. Walking through transformation and facing the evil in our lives is ridiculously painful and uncomfortable. And yet, the redemption of shalom is the invitation God has for all of us when the blessing says, “…may He give you peace (shalom)..” Are you willing to accept the invitation? Are you willing to look at your life and say yes to the invitation that God is extending of shalom? Are you willing to lose your life to find it? (Matthew 16:25) Are you willing to enter in to the process of shalom and allow God to truly unchain you from your vows and agreements that you’ve made with evil that you aren’t even aware of? Are you willing to bless the pain and evil? Don’t desire true shalom without knowing the cost because you can’t force it, you must be led to it by God with an open heart. Open to both pain and joy and filled with radical and ridiculous hope.

My prayer for us all is that we accept the invitation to a life of shalom. If you would like a prayer partner, please email me at jesusreliant@gmail.com.

Shalom,

KA

God Encounters: Woman Caught

“God Encounters” is a series of fictional stories based on encounters with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit found in scripture.

I do not condemn you either.Jesus

John 8:3-11 “The scribes ad Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, he straightened up, and said them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stopped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

 

How did I get here? I’m a good person. I come from a good home and family. I have completely disgraced my family. Even if I were to live through this, they would never speak to me again. I don’t understand where I went so horribly wrong and off course! What’s going to happen to me? Oh God, if you are there, please rescue me. But why, why would God rescue me? I deserve this to happen. I must have a serious character flaw that I was just able to hide from everyone and now I’m getting what I deserve. I am seriously evil and no one noticed. I’m not worth any amount of kindness. This cold cell is exactly what I deserve and the horrific anticipation of the guilty verdict that’s coming is my lot. I’ve been playing with fire and now I’m getting burned and it’s what I’ve got coming to me. How did I get here?

I remember the day we met back so many years ago. He was a friend of my husband and we just saw each other occasionally. Nothing major other than he was funny and we seemed to click. God, I never want to click with another man again. Don’t need to worry I guess, I’ll be dead by morning. I remember that he was large in stature and personality. As I look back over the years, I realize how high on a pedestal I put him and how much of my heart I gave him. Who knew I would be giving my life because of him now.

He was beautiful. Actually, he still is beautiful. Dark hair, tall, large arms, deep eyes, and a big smile with an even bigger personality. He was everything I wanted and everything I thought I needed and yet everything I shouldn’t go near. He was so different from my husband in how he treated me because he made me feel important. He told me I was important. He made me feel important. I hope I was important because if not, I’m going to die for nothing. I’m going to die.

All the years of being careful are gone. All the years of hearing him tell me of his dream to be with me are gone. All the years of giving all of my free time are gone. All my years are gone. I’m gone. Actually, I’m not gone yet, but I wish I was gone. He’s gone. He left so quickly it was like he was never there. No goodbye, no I’m sorry, no I love you. I’m here and he’s home probably going to bed. How could I be so stupid?

I wonder what is taking so long? Why are they keeping me in this cold cell waiting? Why can’t they just stone me and get it over with! I deserve to die. There is no mercy for me. I heard them talking about some new teacher in town that they wanted to consult to see what he would do. I think they called him Jesus. What’s the purpose in this other than to humiliate me even more?

Humiliate me. That’s an understatement. When they burst into the room and caught us in the middle of our moment I screamed and fell into this deep pit of fear and darkness. Every ounce of fun we ever had over all these years drained out of me as if I were a glass that lost its bottom and all its contents. The look of disgust in his eyes was more painful than any pain I’ve ever felt. He hated me at that moment like somehow it was MY fault that we got caught! They ripped us apart and started screaming at us to get dressed. They threw me down on the ground and hurled all types of insults at me. I was wishing they would just hit me because the pain in my head from their voices and the spit on my face from their anger was more than I could bear. When I looked around I noticed that one man had taken him outside and was talking to him in a normal voice. I couldn’t believe that this was going to be all my fault but I was slowly realizing that was the truth of the situation. He was going to walk away. He wasn’t going to even try to save me. And as he turned to leave he looked at me and killed me with his glare. The stones coming my way won’t hurt as much.

Jesus. Why are the leaders going to this guy? Who is he? Moses gave us the Law and in it is the clear direction that anyone caught in adultery is to be stoned to death. Why drag this out more? No one goes against the Law so what’s Jesus going to do for me? This pain in my heart and body is turning to frustration as I sit here waiting. I have no hope and no reason to hope that the judges will find me anything but guilty. There’s really no way to deny what they saw when they came in. My life is over so let’s just get this over with please. I hear the footsteps now. Wait! I’m not ready! I don’t want to die! Please God, save me. I can’t stop crying but I want to be strong and face my judges head on. Someone save me.

I’m moving as fast as I can, they don’t need to push and shove me so much. I’m hurting enough and I’m headed to my death, can’t they show me even an ounce of kindness and not be so rough? I hope I’m standing where they said correctly because I don’t want them yelling at me anymore. Jesus. He looks so average yet he looks so kind. Why isn’t he glaring at me like the others are? Is that love I see in his eyes? I must have lost my mind already and started to go crazy from fear because there is no way he’s looking at me lovingly. I’m not lovely. I’m evil, doesn’t he see that?

Why are they asking him if they should stone me? If they are coming to him for any kind of answers shouldn’t they assume he knows that I deserve death? What kind of game is this they are using my life to play with him? He’s looking at me with love again. STOP! I want to scream at him to stop looking at me like that but I don’t. Is he writing in ground to stone me? Is he drawing a diagram for them on the best angle to hit me and make it the most painful?

What did he just ask them? I must have heard him wrong. Did he just tell them that the one who has no sin in his life is the one who can throw the first stone? Why isn’t he just confirming what Moses already directed and confirming that I should die? What game is this? Why would he go against the Law for me? I can feel my body getting tense as I close my eyes and wait to feel the first stone. But I’m not feeling a stone. I look over at Jesus again and he’s drawing more on the ground. Doesn’t this guy understand what’s happening here? It’s not art hour, it’s dying time and he’s drawing in the dirt!

Wait a minute, do I hear footsteps behind me. Listen. I do hear feet and they are walking away! What is happening here? More people from in front of me are starting to walk away. Jesus isn’t even paying attention!! Is this a trick? Are they walking away to find bigger stones to kill me with? Where on earth is everyone going? I don’t think I can take more of this fear.

Jesus. He’s looking at me again. Of course he’s looking at me again, it’s only he and I here in the court! Everyone has left. Everyone has left? Why on earth did that happen? Why would these leaders just walk away and not challenge him and stone my anyways?. I can barely breathe and if my heart pounds any harder I think I’ll die. He’s just looking at me lovingly again. My eyes are full of tears and I feel myself shrinking inside at his gaze. He is absolute love. I’ve never seen anyone like him.

He just asked me a question and I don’t know how to answer. “Did no one condemn you?” What does that mean? I don’t think I understand the question, give me a minute. Focus on breathing and trying to wrap my brain around the situation and answer. Did I just squeak out a simple answer? I think I said “no one” didn’t I? I’m so confused. There is no one here to stone me and certainly he’s not going to do it alone. That’s not how it’s done.

What did he just say? Go home? Go home! Go home and sin no more. I can’t move, those words are just rolling over in my head and I can’t move. Is this mercy? Why would Jesus give me mercy? My judges left it up to him to judge me and he says go home. My face is hot and I feel the tears just streaming down my cheeks. I’ve never felt this type of love from anyone and I’m not sure what to do. Go home and sin no more. Jesus isn’t condemning me, he’s forgiving me. I’m free! I’m free! Today is not the day I taste death’s sting. Jesus has known my sin and let me go home!!

Oh Lord, let us feel your love like the woman caught in adultery felt your love. All of us at one time or another, or maybe now, have put someone or something in place above You and committed adultery. We have cheated on you with our time and our love and we are condemned. Yet you grant us mercy when we didn’t even know mercy was an option! You forgive us before we even know how to ask for forgiveness. Thank you, Jesus, for letting us go home. Keep us from every straying. Keep us on Your path and in close to Your heart.

Unchained Love: Reclaiming Christianity

Unchained Love

“Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

Christians are getting a bad reputation nowadays as whiners and haters, and unfortunately, when I read the newspaper and see things on social media, I understand why. Some Christians seem all too quick to completely disregard the teachings of Jesus and be hurtful, hateful, whiney and just down right…well…yucky is the only word I can think of right now.

I can tell you in short order a list of things that Christians hate based on what I see in the news and social media. And I’m betting you can too. Here’s a few:

  • Christians hate gay people.
  • Christians hate other religions.
  • Christians hate Starbucks.

Yikes!! I’m lumped into this word, “Christian” and I don’t hate any of those things or people! Some Christians are screaming so loudly at the world over sins in the bible that are personal to them, they are completely overlooking that Jesus told us to love everybody. And not just love as in be fond of, love as in unconditionally. These people are obsessed with making sure that we all know where they stand on an issue and in the process, they are being anything but loving. In my opinion, they are an embarrassment and I wish they would stop.

Now, let me just say that loving someone unconditionally is not that same thing as agreeing with someone. Christians have to get that point really clear in their minds. As a parent, I won’t always agree with what my child(ren) does, but I will always give unconditional love. Same is true in life, as a Christian, you don’t have to agree but you do have to unconditionally love. I see far too many Christians who have completely and utterly missed this point and they are destroying Christianity in the process. Stop taking every little opposition to the bible so personally, God is able to prove Himself and His Word. Start doing what He’s already told you to do: love.

Today, I want to reclaim the word, “Christian” and have it represent its namesake, Christ. A novel idea I know. As a Christian, I am a follower of Jesus, a disciple, and I am a human who makes loads of mistakes and is forgiven. I try every moment of every day to live as Jesus did and love everyone around me and I don’t always do a good job and when I do make a mistake, I ask for forgiveness. I read the bible regularly to make sure that what my life looks like aligns with what God’s Word says it should look like. Here’s how Jesus tells us to approach the world:

  • You shall love your neighbor as yourself. – Matthew 22:39
  • Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you. – Matthew 5:44

The word love in these two verses are both forms of the word, agape. Agape love is a selfless and unconditional type of love. Agape love would never hate, never hurt and never be rude. Agape love would be caring, nurturing and sacrificing. These are the traits we are to exhibit as Christians, not loud and obnoxious behavior. I don’t want to be around those types of Christians any more than anyone else does!

Here’s the thing, my fellow followers of Christ, if you are walking as a true disciple and trying to love as many people as possible, then you have to make up for the people who are calling themselves “Christians” but not acting like it. That’s unfortunate but that’s the truth. Christians are hurting people left and right and if we are going to act as Jesus told us to, we have to reclaim Christianity through unchained love. Stop telling everybody what you’re against and start telling everybody what you’re for! I’m for love. I’m for God. I’m for the people around me. What are you for?

If you need a prayer partner, email me at jesusreliant@gmail.com

Shalom,

KA

 

 

The Sisterhood of Striving

Cease striving and know that I am God.Psalm 46_10

“Cease striving and know that I am God;”-Psalm 46:10

If you’re like me, your brain just blew up. You can’t even imagine in your wildest dreams, which really you wouldn’t even dream about because it’s a nightmare, to cease striving. Striving is what you do! Doing is what you strive to do! Welcome to The Sisterhood of Striving.

Here’s how dictionary.com defines striving and I know, for all of my sisters strivers, you’ll actually get excited when you read these words:

  • Exert oneself vigorously; try hard;
  • Make strenuous efforts toward any goal;
  • Contend in opposition, battle, or any conflict; compete
  • Struggle vigorously, as in opposition or resistance

Oh man, can I just be super honest and say that I read these words and my head says, “Uh ya, isn’t this how we’re supposed to live??” Don’t you get excited at the idea of vigorously exerting yourself in strenuous efforts, through battle or conflict, demolishing resistance to accomplish a goal?!? As a doer, I say sign me up! Life is one big mud run and I want to be the muddiest, grossest, dirtiest person arriving within the top 5 over the finish line either establishing a solid baseline for future runs or beating my last time by no less than 60 seconds. (Oh ya, I speak your language Sisters!)

Some of you have just read the above and so deeply related that you’re wondering how I know you so well since it’s likely I’ve never met you. You’re also wondering what on earth could be the point of this blog. To you I say, sit down because I’m about to drop a bomb on your life that comes straight from God’s Word to your heart.

“Stop striving”, God said. Breathe. Rock in your chair. Hold a stone in your hand. Do whatever you need to do to gain some peace because when you, my sister striver, hear words like “stop striving” your heart pounds wildly and I’m betting the very first question you have is, “But what would I do?” And the answer is, “Be”.

There are a ton of dangers in being a doer and here’s just a few: you forget that God is in control, not you; you wear yourself out; you try to earn God’s love which is absolutely futile and impossible. Striving won’t bring me one iota closer to God ever, but it will take me away from Him. Striving is about me and what I can do and how much God will love when I do whatever I’ve decided is important. The desire behind striving isn’t bad, pleasing God, the core of the idea is bad because it’s impossible to please God by any other means than being present in His grace and being obedient.

Ah…obedience…there’s something I can do! Here’s the catch with this whole stop striving thing: you must stop striving in order to be present with God and then once you’re present with God, He’ll activate you and send you out. So now you’re probably thinking, “But wait! If I’m going to end up doing something, why can’t I just DO that now?” Obedience. Obedience to God’s Word which is inviting you to a place of being. If you can’t be with God, you can’t serve God because you’ll never hear God over the noise of what you’re doing for God without His leadership. Did you get that? If you can’t rest in God and just be in His presence, you’ll never serve Him the way He created you to serve because you’ll never sit still long enough to hear His voice.

God is plenty big enough to get all of the work of the world done without you. Sorry, but that is a truth. It isn’t meant to make you feel unimportant, it’s meant to make you feel less responsible for the world because let’s face it, you aren’t and God is. In the verses prior to Psalm 46:10, God describes all that He is able to do and let me tell you, none of it are you or I able to do. I believe He shows us His power and ability in these verses in order to make the notion of our ceasing to strive easier. Being, for a doer, is a massive act of faith. You have to believe that God is more able than you and that is a core belief change for many of us. So, don’t think you’ll “do” this thing called being with a checklist or a five-step plan because you won’t. Ceasing to strive will be a slowly and likely painful process where you moment-by-moment give your life over to the God who loves you more and is able to do so much more than you can even fathom. So don’t set a timeline to achieve being, it’s not possible.

Right now, pray and ask God to help you see the next step for ceasing to strive. He wants you to know Him and that He is God and I know He’s going to be jumping up and down with joy when you invite Him into your life in this way. This is a process and it is most likely a slow process so be kind to yourself and remember that God’s grace is covering you.

If you need prayer support from a sister striver, email me at jesusreliant@gmail.com.

Shalom,

KA

My Transformation Part 2 – His Faithfulness

God is Faithful

“For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,” Says the Lord your Redeemer.” – Isaiah 54: 7-8 

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” Says the Lord who has compassion on you.” – Isaiah 54:10

Excerpt from yesterday’s post in case you missed it. [For the next two years, I got through my days at work, my time with my daughter and school by living for the moments when I could drink. I didn’t drink at home and I never missed work, I drank on certain days of the week and every-other-weekend when she was away with her dad. On those “free” days, I drank to black out most nights. I was in so much pain I couldn’t stand being sober unless I was doing something fun with my daughter. I hated everything about being an adult because I had never been prepared for being an adult. I was miserable but I didn’t want to disappoint anyone so I made sure to have these neat compartments so that my friends and family didn’t know how much pain I was in and that I was drowning.]

In 2010, we started to occasionally attend church with my family. Even though I didn’t want anything to do with God, I wanted my daughter to know God. We lived about 40 minutes away from this church but it was worth the drive on Sunday’s to have the connection with my family. I was still hurting so badly and I didn’t know how to tell them but being around them relieved some pain. We started to get more involved in small groups and the kids programs and my heart was softening. I hadn’t quit drinking and most Sunday’s I left church in tears, but God was working.

By 2011, we were really involved at church. Every Sunday night, I would beg God to step in a fix my life. I needed to quit drinking. I needed to end a significant relationship. I needed to get my finances in order. I needed God. And every Sunday God would say no. You see, God wanted my life, I just wanted a quick fix. I knew He could sweep away all my junk and I would be fine but He knew I needed healing and I didn’t want that. I wanted to keep my pain because at this point, it was a friend. I was terrified of trusting Him because I blamed Him for so much that I just felt He was mean.

In April of 2011 I was arrested for a suspicion of a DUI. This rocked my world. I was terrified and so full of shame that I could barely breathe. I spent hours at a time crying when I was alone. I craved being alone so that I could just get swallowed up into the darkness. I was embarrassed and terrified I would lose my daughter. I felt like the worst person on the planet, the lowest of the low. I continued to beg God to fix everything and He continued to say no. I knew what He wanted and I was ridiculously scared to trust Him. I didn’t quit drinking at this time but I did quit drinking and driving. Having another arrest was not an option.

By November of 2011, my health was feeling the effect of the alcohol. On November 9, I was in the ER feeling like I was having a heartache or a stroke. I couldn’t remember huge pieces of my life. I couldn’t read a simple paragraph. I didn’t remember driving to work. In the end, I was having a massive panic attack and my heart was acting abnormally. After some tests the next day, the doctor called and told me that my heart was starting to harden in one corner and that it was due to how I was living. She was very cold and sober and just told me straight out that I was killing myself and that if I didn’t stop, my health would continue to decline. I was beyond terrified. The last thing I wanted to do was actually die.

I laid in bed, crying and crying out to God and He spoke to me clearly. He told me that I no longer had access to Him until I gave Him my life. He was turning away from me! You see, in order for me to give Him my life, I had to quit drinking, quit living recklessly, end a relationship and hardest of all…trust Him. I couldn’t grasp any of that and especially not the trusting Him. I laid in bed all day crying and sleeping. And then it happened, I realized I had no other choice.

In one swift movement, somewhat like ripping off the band-aid, I asked God to give me the strength to do all that I needed to do and that yes, I would give Him my life. Laying in bed, I made the phone call that ended the relationship I was in and said that I could have absolutely no contact again. I promised God to never have another drink. I begged God to help me get all of my finances in order and to be able to face the mess. And in that moment, God, in His amazing grace and love, swooped in and released me from darkness. It felt like when there is a power outage for a few hours and then the lights come back on. There is relief and joy mixed together with excitement and thankfulness. I had no idea what God was going to do and I didn’t care, I was feeling a peace I don’t think I had ever felt in my entire life. God was real and He was never going to leave me or forsake me. For a moment, He turned His face away and then, He redeemed me.

So, four years later, He’s allowed me to publish a book, build a blog, start a non-profit organization and best of all, He’s become my best friend and loving Father. I haven’t had a drop of alcohol and I haven’t spoken to anyone from that past life ever again. I’ve been able to face the pain of loss and grief and see how God was present all along. I’ve been able to walk with people as they leave addiction and show them how amazing God is and how much He loves them. I’ve been privileged to pray for hundreds of people. I live my life as a missionary in a foreign land because my home is with God and for right now, this is my journey. It’s amazing!

You can never go wrong with God. Never. He’s faithful always and He’s totally in love with you. If you need someone to talk to or you need a prayer partner, please email me at jesusreliant@gmail.com.

Shalom,

KA

 

My Transformation Part 1 – My History

“For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,” Says the Lord your Redeemer.” – Isaiah 54: 7-8 

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” Says the Lord who has compassion on you.” – Isaiah 54:10

This week four years ago was one of the more painful weeks of my life and yet, it was the absolute best week of my life. In one moment of obedience, I stepped onto the path God had been calling me to and received a level a peace and healing I had no idea existed for me.

Let me give you a little background first. I was blessed with neighbors when I was 4 years old who loved me beyond what is imaginable. They had no children of their own so we adopted each other as grandparents/grandchild. These people were amazingly loving and generous and were devoted followers of Jesus. They took me to church, prayed for me and loved me in ways that God knew I needed. This allowed me to learn about God at a really young age and lay a solid foundation for my faith.

I accepted Jesus as my savior when I was 14 years old. By that time, my folks had gotten divorced and my mom and I had moved to Alaska. While I loved my mom dearly, she wasn’t a stable force in my life. She had a gypsy heart and was typically most concerned with her needs above mine. She wasn’t a bad person, she just wasn’t your average mom. She always wanted a daughter and she always wanted her daughter to be her best friend. This may be fine when your daughter is an adult, however, it is crummy when you’re the kid best friend. She moved around a lot and so I moved with her.

From 14 years old until I was 39 years old, life ebbed and flowed as life does but I built a mountain of pain because of the movement. My very first boyfriend and love died suddenly when I was 15 years old. I got married young and divorced when I was 28 years old. I got married again a couple years later, and then divorced again when I was 35 years old. In between there, I had a beautiful daughter who is amazing. My mom retired early to move in with us and be a stay-at-home Grammy. Throughout all of this, I used alcohol off-an-on to medicate through pain. I started drinking when I was 14 years old and knew that it would help me feel better. Not healthy obviously, just momentarily better. By the time I was in my late 30’s, I was a heavy drinker and not being careful with my life. My mom took care of absolutely every aspect of our lives so I really had no reason to have to be careful, as far as I was concerned. I assumed my mom would take care of me forever.

In December of 2008, on Wednesday the 9th, my mom had a brain aneurysm in our living room and I never held another conversation with her again. The next day she went into a coma and 4-days later, she was gone. My life turned upside down and was flushed right down the toilet. To say that I had no clue is an understatement. My mom had trained me to be fully reliant on her and so to not have her around was…well…pain. I didn’t know my daughter’s schedule, I didn’t know where we banked, I didn’t know any of our bills. I didn’t know how to manage any aspect of my life except working and drinking. I remember standing on my porch a couple days after her death, watching snow fall and saying to God, “I don’t want anything to do with You ever again. You’ve just ruined my life in one swift motion. You didn’t need her in heaven, I needed her here and You took her from me. How dare You! Don’t ever do anything for me again because honestly, I think you stink.” And in that moment, I dove head first into the darkest darkness possible.

For the next two years, I got through my days at work, my time with my daughter and school by living for the moments when I could drink. I didn’t drink at home and I never missed work, I drank on certain days of the week and every-other-weekend. On those “free” days, I drank to black out most nights. I was in so much pain I couldn’t stand being sober unless I was doing something fun with my daughter. I hated everything about being an adult because I had never been prepared for being an adult. I was miserable but I didn’t want to disappoint anyone so I made sure to have these neat compartments so that my friends and family didn’t know how much pain I was in and that I was drowning.

I’ll post the rest of the story tomorrow, don’t miss it! If something I’ve said thus far resonates with you and you want to talk or have a prayer partner, please email me at jesusreliant@gmail.com.

Shalom,

KA

Belief Unchained

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“If you will not believe, you surely will not last.”-Isaiah 7:9b

I’ve been alive for almost half a century and I’m coming to believe one central truth about life on this planet: If you don’t believe in God, you will not last. Life gets hard and the journey gets long, if you don’t believe that God does indeed have a plan, He does absolutely love you unconditionally and that it is never going to happen that He leaves you, you won’t last the journey.

We all walk through valleys of darkness when just getting up and out of bed feels like climbing Mt.Everest and it’s during those times when our faith is tested and grown. The challenge is to stay faithful to God and keep believing. When everything around you looks and feels like a huge disaster, keep believing. When the people around you question your ability to hear God but you are positive you are following Him, keep believing.

Nothing about God makes earthly sense so why should your life be any different? I mean let’s just be honest, the God of the bible, the God who created us, the God we serve doesn’t really count it important if it makes sense, He counts it important to believe. Did it make sense for Abraham to be asked to sacrifice Isaac? NO. Did it make sense for Moses who wasn’t an eloquent speaker to lead the Isrealites out of Egypt? NO. Did it make sense for David to slay a giant with a sling and rock? NO. Did it make sense for God to take on human form, come to earth and die a horrible death just so that we can have a relationship with Him? NO.

Hear me, God wants you to last. You are only able to do that when you believe He is faithful, loving, compassionate and in control. Don’t give up, unchain your belief and follow God well.

If you need a prayer partner, please email me at jesusreliant@gmail.com.

Shalom,
KA

Unchained Construction

Unchained Construction

“..if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”-Ephesians 4:21-24

Construction. Just seeing that word fills my stomach and mind with dread. Construction means things slow down, traffic gets jammed up and there is a mess going on around us. Construction also means that time is going to get slowed down and eaten up with work. Construction has an element of the unknown as well because we’ve all seen timelines get completed demolished because of something unforeseen. In general, while most of us want the outcome the new construction brings, we don’t want the hassle. We want instant gratification, not process. Except God.

God is a God of process. He’s all about the transformation process and the journey, not the outcome. He knows that if we’ll stick with Him, follow His blueprint for our lives, the outcome will be beyond what we could have imagined. And because He knows this, He becomes focused on the construction process. The challenge is us. Will we allow Him to do the work He so desperately wants to do in order to be the outcome He so desperately wants to show to the world?

In a few days, I’ll celebrate four years of giving my life to God in a deep way, deeper than I ever had in the past. At each step along the way to becoming a disciple of Jesus, I’ve felt like I was deep as I could get and then God invited me deeper. There has never been a time in this process when I didn’t experience pain and beauty. There is both pain and beauty in letting go of my old self and taking hold of my new self. The past four years have been filled with tears of joy and triumph as well as sadness and defeat. I’m finally realizing that this will be the rhythm of my entire life: letting God demolish the old and rebuild the new.

Here’s the deal though…God may blindside you. Very few people would be jumping up and down screaming for God to rip their lives apart. I believe God prompts to say a seemingly harmless prayer like “Lord, bring me deep water faith”, and by praying that lovely prayer, you invite God to drown you and bring you back to life. My prayer looked like this, “God, remove any barriers that keep me from being close to you”. This prayer unleashed God to move in my life in ways I had absolutely NO idea were even possible! The construction began immediately and hasn’t stopped yet.

Just today I realized a painful lie I have held about myself: my greatest value to the people around me is in what I can buy for them. As we enter into this holiday and gift-giving season and I have no income, my thoughts are all about what I can’t do for people now. Why will people like me when I can’t buy them a gift? How will I show my love when I can’t take them out to dinner? You see every year of my adult life until this year, I’ve had plenty of money and honestly, too much money. I didn’t see that I had translated my worth to the people around me into what I could buy for them. I didn’t realize that I had replaced my personal value with my financial value. Talk about a barrier that God is removing! And as I said above, God blindsided me to get me to this place. Had I known a year ago that leaving my career would bring me here, I would have absolutely said, “no thanks God”. And yet, now that I’m here, I feel so much more deeply God’s love for me and my own love for those around me. I’m getting a better grasp on how much a gift time is over some knick-knack or meal out.

Being under construction is beautifully painful and you don’t want to miss this process. You have no way on earth to pray for it other than to pray, “Open me up, Lord, and remove the barriers that keep me from You. Walk with me into deep water so that You can remove the old self and rebuild the new”. And then, sit back and watch what God does. He’ll do more than you can imagine, I promise. It will hurt and it will be a struggle, and it will be amazing! The only way to have a truly unchained life is to have unchained construction at the hands of the One who created you…Abba God.

If you need a prayer partner, please email me at jesusreliant@gmail.com.

Shalom,

KA