You Are Not Alone

Has your heart, life, and voice been devastated by abuse? Is your pain even deeper because of lack of affirmation and support? Do you feel alone and afraid?

I have mentioned before that I was sexually and spiritually abused by a pastor. I have shared with you somewhat of how it affects me, how it is a lifetime of healing, and how those memory triggers can still knock me down at times.

What I haven’t said much about is how heartbreaking it is when churches still do not support victims. How they can re-victimize hurting souls by speaking up for or excusing the perpetrators. How they ignore their pain and guilt them into silence.

I wasn’t supported by the church leadership, and many Christian “friends” left me when I told the truth. Many times I felt so alone and not understood. I’m so sad that it’s still happening.

I know there are some churches and individuals who are speaking up for the victims. Who pray and work hard to change attitudes. Who learn how best to support these hurting souls. I thank God for them.

And I thank God that He led me to caring and competent counselors who helped me work through a lot. He also gave me some family and friends who believe me, support me, and understand me. I thank God for each and every one.

Above all, I thank Him that He has never left me, even when it often felt like it. When I thought He didn’t care at all about me. When the darkness consumed me.

It has been a long, difficult journey of over 40 years to healing and learning God is safe and always has honorable intentions towards me. I’m still a work-in-progress as He keeps healing deeper layers of pain, betrayal, and shattered trust.

Through the years He has strengthened my belief in the truth that we can always fully depend on Him. He is always working for our good even when we can’t “feel” Him. He remains faithful no matter what.

Jesus cries with us. He totally empathizes with us. He has been ravaged beyond anything we can imagine. His suffering was deeper than anything any of us has ever experienced. He knows what it’s like to be totally alone and forsaken.

He is the ONE who cares about us more than anyone ever will. He will never abandon us. He will always understand and support us, and He will heal us ever more deeply. He stretches His arms wide and invites us into His arms of love. He provides the safety, the support, and the healing no one on earth can.

Then Jesus said, “Come to Me,
all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

“For I will restore health to you
And I will heal your wounds, says the Lord,
Because they have called you an outcast, saying:
‘This is Zion; no one seeks her and no one cares for her.'”
Jeremiah 30:17

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a refuge in times of trouble.
Those who know Your name trust in You
because You have not abandoned
those who seek You, Yahweh.”
Psalm 9:9-10


“I Am Not Alone”
by Kari Jobe

What I Learned This Summer

gods-glory-in-butterflies
I had fun with this collage template and some of my butterfly photos. Every butterfly I see is God’s whisper to me – “I am still with you, My child.”

When I decided to take a break this summer, I was so overwhelmed. Every time I went back to the computer, that feeling would become even worse. It was time to step back and rest in body, mind, and spirit. Time to examine where I was in my relationship with Jesus and my purpose on this earth. These are some of the lessons I learned or relearned:

I need Jesus like the very air I breathe. Without Him I will suffocate in this journey of life. I have had times in my life where it felt like my bronchial tubes closed up and I couldn’t breathe. I thought I would die. Without Jesus breathing His love and life into me, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, I will not survive.

I can worship God just by taking time for Him, by resting in His love and rejoicing in His goodness. I don’t give more glory to Him by doing more. I need to be more concerned with filling up at His fountain instead of how much I “do.” When my well is dry, I can’t offer refreshment to anyone.

I need to concentrate more on encouraging one person at a time, whoever is placed in my life’s journey. I need to quit beating myself up over not making enough of a difference in this world. At the beginning of this break, I thought that without my blog posts I wasn’t encouraging anyone. But God opened my eyes more to the needs of people He sets in front of me each day and reinforced the truth that even a smile or a compliment can encourage and make someone’s day, whether to a loved one, an acquaintance, or a stranger.

At the beginning of the summer, I was struggling with rebellion against chronic illness. I cried out – Lord, I am so weary of all this. Won’t You just take me now? What good am I doing here when I can’t even think to write a blog post? Why won’t You heal me, Lord? Why won’t you make me stronger in body and mind? Why does this have to get worse as I get older? How is this to Your glory? And on and on. At the same time I felt guilty that I was feeling fretful and complaining so much. After all, don’t others have it much worse than I do? I should be ashamed of myself. But God taught me that it’s okay to bring all my questions and troubles to Him. What is invisible to others is so visible to Him. Even when others have it worse, that doesn’t mean I should chalk off my own troubles as nonexistent. It’s still important to acknowledge I have a chronic illness and emotional trauma from past abuse and to grieve the losses. But it is also important for me to open my heart more to what I can still do that others can’t. To open my heart to all the blessings still surrounding me. To be grateful for His upholding love and grace through every loss in my life. To remember that He can transform the physical and emotional weariness into the beauty of growing stronger in Him.

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I want to open my eyes more to the beauty around me. To see God’s beauty everywhere. To thank Him more. Even for ordinary, everyday things like seeing a dog as he sticks his head out of an open car window, the wind flapping his lips into a silly grin. So happy in the Creator who created him. I want to automatically whisper, “Thank You, God, for showing me this.”

I put too much pressure on myself to perform at this website. If I don’t post something every week, I feel like I’m a failure to God, to others, to myself. That’s not true. If I feel in my heart I need to rest from it, I need to listen. It’s ok if a new post doesn’t come out every single Tuesday. It’s ok if I don’t feel strong enough to write vulnerably every time. It’s ok even to just share nature photos and/or a sentence or two. God can make one word or photo breathe hope into someone’s heart just as well as many words. Nothing is impossible with Him!

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“Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’ He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn’t even have time to eat.”
Matthew 6:31 NLT

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

A Child's Trust What is something God taught you this summer?
Are you in the midst of a heavy trial? What is giving you hope?

“Find Rest”
Francesca Battistelli

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A Prostitute’s Plea

Jesus Cares

“Three things will last forever —
faith, hope, and love —
and the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT

When I was sexually, spiritually, and emotionally abused by a pastor, I was talked about and treated as a “whore” by some people. Some said I led the “poor man of God” astray. I believed them and began to identify myself by their words. I was trash. Not even 100 showers a day could ever wash away the filth I felt.

Sometimes we are so ready to judge others when we don’t even know what lies in their hearts. I was never even asked my story. The elders never recognized all the signs and proof of abuse. But to be fair, at that time I felt and said I was totally to blame. Since I had recently become a member, I had to make my confession of guilt in front of the congregation.

Because of my experience, I feel a deep compassion for prostitutes. I know in my heart there is always a deeper story we don’t know.

Did you know that most prostitutes have a history of sexual abuse in their childhood? And the perpetrators are often family members? And this also happens in church communities? Did you know that many are victims of sex trafficking and are coerced or deceived into prostitution? Their minds and wills broken down so badly that they believe they’re not good for anything else?

Perpetrators stalk and prey on the lost, lonely, and vulnerable. So many prostitutes have never learned what real love is. They don’t see themselves as beautiful creations of God, because no one has ever told them. They feel unloved, uncared for, and forgotten.

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody,
I think that is a much greater hunger,
a much greater poverty than
the person who has nothing to eat.”
~ Mother Teresa

Recently my niece, who also feels a deep compassion, shared a poem/song she created from a prostitute’s perspective. It deeply touched me. I know what it’s like to feel alone and “stone cold” so as to shut off emotions. To be controlled like a puppet on strings. To feel in the midst of a “living hell” with no hope of ever getting out.

My niece, Shelley Marie, releases her emotions in songs that come into her heart. Like myself, it hurts her when someone says something bad about prostitutes. She has graciously given me permission to share her poem/song with you.

woman-crying

A Prostitute’s Plea

I sell my body for a dime
I’ve never heard a nursery rhyme
And if you can’t see my hurt I’ll never tell
Ya, that my life is like a living’ hell

I paint a smile on my face
And I can give you what it takes
And you’ll go on and brag about yourself
And you don’t know my life is a living’ hell

So, Please remember me someday
When all your lust fades away
And you’re contemplating where your life has gone
I once was just a little girl
Like the one you hug and give a twirl
The one who calls you Daddy when you get home
Please think of me with kindness in your soul

I never had a soul who cared
No one to hold me when I was scared
My heart is just about as cold as stone
And you don’t know how much I feel alone

I’ll act the way you want me to
‘Cause that’s all I know what to do
And there’s no part of me I call my own
And life is hell when you’re someones else’s pawn

So, Please remember me someday
When all your lust fades away
And you’re contemplating where your life has gone
I once was just a little girl
Like the one you hug and give a twirl
The one who calls you Daddy when you get home
Please think of me with kindness in your soul

 © Shelley Marie

A Child's Trust
 “Broken Girl”
by Matthew West

in-memory

Lord Jesus, thank You so much for allowing Yourself to be broken so we can be made whole. For Your love and grace that can create beauty out of the ashes of our lives. Please give us open minds and hearts to all who are hurting. Help us to be gentle, loving, and compassionate. Not harsh, judgmental, and condemning. Please remember victims everywhere. You can see into every heart and You always know the true story. Please shine the power of Your healing love into their hearts and give them the strength and courage to break free from the chains of shame, insecurity, and fear. Give those who are still in physical and mind bondage the help and the power to get out of those situations. Give us prayerful hearts for them and the courage to do whatever we can. Lord, I believe in the power of Your love and grace! Please help!
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Linking up with: 

Holley – Coffee For Your Heart 

Jennifer – Tell His Story 

Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith

Barbie – Weekend Whispers

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