When the Fireworks Lost Their Sparkle

when the fireworks lost their sparkle by nicole bernard on devotional diva

[Guest post by Nicole Bernard: We’re welcoming back Nicole today to share her perspective on how our sins hurt God.]

The Fourth of July can be quite stressful…. at least that’s my experience as a mother to a rescue basset who suffers from anxiety issues.  This year, while my husband, Steve, and three-year-old son, Carter, sat outside enjoying the fireworks, I remained inside with Lucy as she paced, panted, trembled, and occasionally lost control of her bladder (and worse).  

As I sat crouched on my knees near our living room window, scrubbing away at the carpet, a burst of light flashed, catching my eye.  Turning my head, I was soon captivated by the nearness of the fireworks.

Sheepishly, I realized what was truly happening:  There I was on my hands and knees, literally scrubbing away precious time while my family was outside making wonderful memories.

Abandoning my task, I jumped to my feet, heading towards the door.  It was time to take my place in those memories… not remain in the background cleaning up after a neurotic hound dog.

Turns out, that was only the first lesson I learned that night.

I came through the door to see Steve and Carter, side-by-side in lawn chairs, watching the sky.  Smiling at the picture they made, I came up from behind, squeezing Carter’s shoulder.

My son, who’d always loved spending time with his mom, looked at me and said, “No, I don’t want you.  Go inside.”

Though I don’t take orders from a three-year-old, I can’t say his words didn’t slash…that my happiness didn’t dim; and that the lights in the sky didn’t suddenly lose their luster.  Here was my son; this precious little person whom I love so much…for whom I’d suffered, sacrificed, and rearranged my entire life for…telling me to get lost… It was my first real rejection from my child, and it cut deep.  

But don’t I do that to God, my Father?  The truth is that God created the earth and the heavens for his glory.  We, too, were created to reflect his glory, and to embrace with gratitude the gifts he’s placed all around us.  How much time have I spent failing to recognize what he’s done for me; the glory that is obvious all around me?

It’s so easy to fixate on the things we feel are lacking in our life; to become consumed by the few things that we want but don’t have… and somehow miss God’s glory and his very presence all around us.  

For years I didn’t understand that my sins hurt God.  I reasoned that I was only hurting myself.  But what if that’s not true?

If the underlying cause of all sin is a basic rejection of God and his ways, why would I not believe that it would cause him pain?  In Deuteronomy when God speaks of the Israelites he says:

“For I will bring them into the land I swore to give their ancestors – a land flowing with milk and honey.  There they will become prosperous, eat all the food they want, and become fat.  But they will begin to worship other gods; they will despise me and break my covenant.”

Deuteronomy 31:20 NLT

How had I believed this would not be hurtful?  With all God did to demonstrate his love for the Israelites, and all the miracles he performed while freeing them from slavery…  How could I ever believe that their blatant rejection didn’t sting?  

On the Fourth of July, I began to understand.

With Carter, reconciliation came quickly.  Less than an hour after telling me that he didn’t want me, he was cuddled in my arms falling asleep.  And though he’d hurt me, I was more than willing to embrace him.  The same is true of our Heavenly Father.  In whatever way we’ve rejected him, be it intentional, or unintentional, the remedy is simple.

He’s ready to forgive and restore.  Just tell him, repent, and rush into his ever-waiting arms.

And enjoy Him.

“Sing hymns to God;

all heaven, sing out;

clear the way for the coming of

Cloud-Rider.

Enjoy God,

cheer when you see him!”

-Psalm 68:4 MSG

nicole bernard on devotional divaNicole has spent the past 3 years as a stay-at-home mom to her young son (and two hound dogs); and considers this time away from work to be an incredible blessing. This season at home has given her the space to focus on growing in her relationship with God as well as the time to explore her faith in writing.  You can read about her journey at Faith Over Understanding.  (If you are a dog lover, you may also enjoy her dog blog: Two Suburban Hound Dogs).

Continue Reading

Friend, Do What You Came For

betrayal friend do what you came for forgiveness devotional diva

[Guest post by Jennifer McCollum: When Jennifer sent this piece to me, I just knew I had to use it for this day. The story of Jesus’ betrayal always makes me emotional, and I appreciate Jennifer sharing her story of betrayal.]

I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. –Book of Timothy

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was desperate to stay alive. Full of “sorrow to the point of death,” he prayed for the bitter cup of crucifixion to pass from him. He begged his disciples to stay with Him. But, instead, they fell asleep, exhausted from mourning.

Alone, Jesus prayed as blood and sweat fell like drops of tragic rain. This was not the poetry of the cross. It was hematidrosis, a rare medical event caused by extreme anguish.

Then came the mob of guards from the Sanhedrin with swords and torches. Judas previously arranged a signal for the club-wielding swarm to ensure they arrested the right person.  In the garden of shadows made from lanterns and olive branches, in that grove east of the Kidron Valley, Judas greeted Jesus with a kiss. That sweet, innocent symbol of love and devotion, sacrament and respect.

Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.”

Such grace in the face of betrayal, but let us not forget, blood and tears.

In 1999, betrayal ravaged my life. I couldn’t see beyond the lower slope of the Mount of Olives, beyond suffering to resurrected life. I was a mess on the cold tile of the bathroom floor. The proverbial fetal position, hoping in equal measure to both die and be saved.

It would be many years before I was OK. Too many. Fear chained me to grief. If only I could have seen beyond the tomb of my despair to the white robe of my ascension into gifts, everlasting.

After my world exploded with betrayal, I’d drift off to sleep only to awake with no memory of my recent losses. For a split second I was not alone, still parasolling through my life, sweet with all that I cherished still intact. But, within seconds, I would slam into the brick wall of truth and be crushed fresh again.

And again and again.

Who Betrayed You?

I do not know who betrayed you. Perhaps it was the father to whom you were devoted. He left you, and in the end there was chicanery and you were disqualified from inheritance.

Maybe it was a friend of the family. You begged him to tickle your belly, and then one day when you were latchkey and alone he stopped by the house and took away your innocence.

Perhaps it was your husband’s lover. She paraded through your house making a mental list of all your stuff so she could tell him what to ask for in the divorce.

Betrayal comes in many forms. It whacks us into distrust and confusion and really, we are never the same. And, while I do not know who betrayed you, I know the One who was betrayed.

It is the Christ, Son of the Living God, who gets down on the bathroom floor with you. Who helps you walk barefoot over shards of memories. He picks the glass from your eyes. He restores your soul.

He is the Light of the World, seeing through the dark night to you. He understands you. Lovely, amazing you. You, who so long ago, met the end of that flagrum. You, who still bear the scars of a flogging at the hands of someone you loved.

Before Jesus was nailed to the cross, they took a whip that was knotted with bones or shards or hooks or metal. They beat Him with it, cutting lashes into His body. Now, by His stripes the deep lacerations of your rejection, abandonment and regret can be healed.

He is calling out to us now. Even if we struggle to believe in Him, He is unaffected by our doubts. Unaffected by promises we didn’t keep to the Man of Sorrows.

From that first day when you believed in Him until now, He has kept your promise and He will never, ever let go of it. And, He will never let go of you.

I know this because He has never let go of me. He remains my anchor on the shifting boundless ocean of my life.

Jennifer McCollum on devotional divaJennifer McCollum lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and three children. Her blog, Are You There God? It’s Me, Generation X  has been has been featured in the Washington Post and  National Associated Press. She writes about faith, family, culture and community, and in her free time loves to take pictures. Her photography has appeared in numerous places including CNN.

 

Photo by Jennifer McCollum, used with permission.

Continue Reading

A Story of Rediscovery

a story of rediscovery by erin marie shell on devotional diva[Guest post by Erin Marie Shell: This is a story of God’s love, a story of heartbreak and a story of rediscovery. Thanks for sharing, Erin!]

Exhausted after a full day of work, I arrived home late one night, opened the front door, and entered the darkness.  As I walked into the house, my heels clicked on the floor, greeting me with a very loud, unfamiliar echo. Without turning on the lights, I began to realize what had happened. 

After 11 years of marriage, he had moved out. The shock of an empty house left me reeling in confusion.  I was exhausted with life, exhausted with familiar feeling of not being good enough, exhausted with begging him to see me…really see me. 

As though life itself was being drained from my body, I sunk to the floor with my sleeping baby girl in my arms.

Physically, emotionally, mentally, with certainty, I knew that this would be the one that I could never overcome. Surely, this was the blow that would take me completely out. I cried for hours, and I lost track of time. There was no one I could call, there was no one who could understand.

The journey to this point had been traveled imperfectly by him and me alone. We were both responsible for what appeared to be a tragic failure.  I had given more than I had to give to a marriage that was never satisfied, a marriage that didn’t care if I suffered, a marriage that refused to justify our existence in it.

I felt dejected, fooled, and crushed with disappointment as I lay on the floor, my body heaving with every cry and breath.

But it was on that floor, in a single defining moment, that God met me, and gently picked up the shattered pieces of my spirit, shattered beyond my recognition.

He met me there, right where I was, and flooded my heart with His love.  Suddenly, I didn’t feel like I was alone – I was accompanied by a great, warm Presence. 

God reminded me that in my weakness, He was strong.  This was not an opportunity to give up on His abilities, instead, this was an opportunity to give up on my abilities.  I had to give up on the belief that I had to do it all by myself, that I was alone, and that I would fail.

This was my opportunity to let go, and allow Him to be God.  This was the beginning of my ultimate love-encounter with God.

I began to experience my love-encounter with God, beginning with my own personal meditation practice.  This was a time that I dedicated to listening, feeling and recording the knowledge and wisdom that God impressed upon my spirit in a delightful, soothing way.

Just as with anything you devote time and energy to, over time, I came into a deep knowledge of what I was studying – God and my Self.  As a result, I was restored, stronger, more radiantly than I can recall with any previous awareness.  This delivery of restoration reverberated throughout every aspect of my life, from my spirit and relationships, to my career, business, family, and ministry.

During this period of time, Beautiful Wild Free – Spiritual Healing for Women Rediscovering Themselves, was birthed.  Women began contacting me as they experienced the inevitable challenges of life, looking for answers.

“Why?” they asked, and as we engaged in conversation, I discovered that a process of rediscovery was a natural result of having been spiritually broken.  It doesn’t really matter what did the breaking – the loss of a child, a marriage, a relationship, health – it was simply the fact that there was a breaking that positioned them perfectly to embark upon a journey of restoration that would exceed any understanding of possibility or expectation.  

What would you do to discover peace, to wake up vibrant, to embody radiance that illuminates that life path that you’re walking?  At the base of all created things is an energy of love.

Love has the power to restore, create and enliven.

It takes more than just a knowledge of love to accomplish this, it actually takes a love-encounter.  An encounter with love brings you to your most authentic self, which is a gateway to true personal freedom. As you learn to love God, then to truly love yourself, you can then love others – even those who have purposefully committed severe acts of hurt and hate against your spirit.

This is where you find true peace and love, and where you learn to position yourself to receive what it is your spirit truly desires…to rejoice in the beauty of love, wildly, freely and with abandon. Beautiful.  Wild.  Free.

Erin Marie Shell on Devotional DivaErin Marie Shell, MBA is a passionate lover of Jesus Christ, bestselling author, compelling speaker and successful businesswoman whose life purpose is to help women achieve spiritual healing by coming into an intimate encounter with God’s love. She is the creator and spiritual catalyst of her women’s ministry Beautiful, Wild, Free: Spiritual Healing for Women Rediscovering Themselves.

photo credit: Petite Blonde via photopin (license)

Continue Reading

You've Got a Plan

you've got a plan by karsyn robb on devotional diva power of god healing christian song[Guest post by Karsyn Robb: Karsyn contacted me to share her beautiful song “You’ve Got a Plan,” and I was so excited to have a musical submission! Below is the story behind the song, followed by the video. Enjoy!]

 

At the end of my freshman year of college, two fellow students attempted to sexually assault me on my university’s campus. I was fortunate enough to be able to get away, but the trauma from that night nearly destroyed me.

For five months I kept what had happened a secret because I was terrified of how people would react once they found out.

It didn’t take long before the stress from it all took its toll causing me to briefly end up in the hospital. So by September, I knew I couldn’t keep quiet anymore and told my family and the university what had happened as well as filed a no contact order against the guys.

In January the following year, I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in the UK for six months, which was exactly what I needed to begin the healing process. It was during my first week in abroad when I wrote, “You’ve Got a Plan.”

The song was a prayer expressing the brokenness I had felt the last eight months and admitting that I wasn’t strong enough to deal with everything by myself anymore.

It was time to put all that had happened into God’s hands. Being away from the place and the people that had caused me so much pain was my chance to start fresh and begin the long process of picking up the pieces.

It didn’t get easier overnight, in fact it is almost two years later and there are still days that are almost impossible to get through, but I am healing. I am stronger than I’ve ever been because I surround myself with people that love and support me.

Most importantly though, I have the King of all kings fighting for me so I know I’m going to be okay.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWbF2ovVCUg

If you’re unable to see the embedded video, click this link to listen to Karsyn’s song “You’ve Got a Plan”

karsyn robb on devotional divaKarsyn Robb is a 20 year old singer-songwriter from Nashville, TN. She is currently earning her bachelor degree in Music Business and Marketing with plans to graduate in December of 2015. Although music is her favorite passion, she also has a heart for traveling and photography.

photo credit: Cactus with yellow flowers. Less than 3 inches tall, it is nearly full grown. via photopin (license)

Would you like to “become a diva” and guest post on Devotional Diva? Follow this link to find out how!

Continue Reading

Letting Go

letting go on devotional diva

 

I recently let go of something that was really, really bugging me. Sometimes, I hang onto issues that are bothering me until something happens that makes me get pretty angry. And then, because I hate being angry and upset…I’m just able let go. And it’s the sweetest feeling.

There’s nothing sweeter than letting go.

→M

Continue Reading

Surrender Displayed

surrender displayed on devotional diva[Guest post by Jennifer Kelly: I love Jennifer’s vibrancy for spreading God’s grace. This is her story about salvation, forgiveness and most importantly, Jesus.]

I love it when other women share their personal stories of overcoming grief and pain and forgiveness.  It’s like receiving a precious gift when you least expect it. When you stumble upon a story of hope in the midst of hopelessness, healing amidst the pain, or love for the unlovable, it moves you.

I grab onto stories of life found in the desert, and bury them into my soul. In a world where brokenness, selfishness, and evil turn up on every street corner, I am need of a present wrapped in sheer grace. To actually see and hear and listen to how salvation has sprung to life through the lives of others, is so much more than a gift…  It is living water.

Actually, Jesus says this same exact thing to another woman overcome by grief. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14, NIV).

The word ‘life’ that Jesus uses is actually ‘zōē’ in Greek.  It is the element of life found in the spirit and soul. The Key Note Study Bible writes, “zōē is a somewhat metaphysical term which denotes the vey life-force itself, the vital principle which animates living beings to breathe”.

Did you catch that? Your soul actually breathes from the saving grace of God.

I can remember what it felt like to need to breathe.  I mean, I wasn’t the woman by the well with five husbands and a man on the side.  No, I was just a woman by a different kind of well (wine and bars and money and stuff), about to get divorced, having an affair, and no-where-else-to-go.  I was a woman who was exhausted, suffocating, and drowning out pain with all sorts of numbing agents.  Sure, some scars were not caused by me, most were.

I have had to forgive others for unimaginable transgressions, I find that forgiving my own transgressions are much more difficult.

When the consequences are from your own actions, when the grief is self-prescribed, when you find yourself on the dirt road of bad decisions, shame, and regret.

When it’s all your fault.

Forgiving others and ourselves is excruciating, both are impossible without Jesus. I found grace and forgiveness in the desert of my soul, much like the woman at the well.

Resolving your own sins, shame and guilt can only be done through surrender. This is what makes it nearly impossible.  I have a tendency to need or want or try to fix things on my own.  Surrender is in direct contradiction to this.

My absolute favorite woman in ALL of Scripture is the ‘sinful woman’ found in Luke. This woman (who only holds all of fourteen verses) beholds a gift wrapped in sheer grace. Scripture describes her as, “a woman who had lived a sinful life” (Luke 7:37).  She had the reputation, she held the scarlet letter. But she also displayed one of the most amazing acts of surrender in all of Scripture.

Oh, how I resonate with her.  How I feel her pain of longing and suffering.

She pours oil at Jesus’ feet and sobs.  She did this in front of the people who would judge her.  She did this in front of the people who thought she was less than nothing.  Needing the love and forgiveness of a Savior.

Needing the inside of her soul to breathe.

The past two years for me has been a journey of forgiveness and healing.  I’ve had to bare my soul and trust that Jesus can really heal, can really forgive, can extend to me a gift of living water.  I’ve had to stand in front of judgment and opposition.  When people can’t seem to differentiate the sinner from the sin.  Jesus does and can.

And every time I approach Jesus in prayer, every time I get on my knees, every time I stand sobbing at his feet, He whispers to me in the deepest part of my soul, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace”.  And my soul breathes.

 

jen kelley on devotional divaJennifer Kelly is a very messy wife and mom. She loves reading, writing, philosophy, music, art, theatre, and really anything that is created by an artist. Jennifer currently attends Christian Colorado University where she is studying Biblical Studies. Find out more at jenjkelly.com.

photo credit: Roberto Verzo via photopin cc

Continue Reading

When Church Hurts

when church hurts

[Guest Post by Lori Tisdale – We know each other through mutual friends nearby, and she asked me to share my story on her blog — I had to host her here! If any of you have stepped foot in the church, you’ll understand what it means to be hurt. But. It’s what we do with our hurt that matters. Please welcome Lori!]

I was the first born of a new pastor and his young bride. 

For the most part, I was a very well-behaved preacher’s kid — the teacher’s pet, a devout Missionnette (the church’s version of a Girl Scout). I led the on-campus High School Bible Study, taught years of Sunday School, went on missions trips, etc.

I vividly remember God’s call on my life, at a summer kid’s camp – I was 12 years old. He very clearly told me that He wanted me to use my hands to reach others for Christ. I was not your typical preacher’s kid — you know the kind, they are usually rebellious.

But I was not.
Until I was hurt. 

Nearly 25 years into my Dad’s ministry career, he was targeted by certain individuals in our church who felt they were hearing God’s voice and direction more clearly on certain issues. And for years they argued with my Dad, their pastor, about how he handled these issues. Until they eventually disagreed enough that they threatened my Dad to step down, or else.

These individuals were more than just people in our church. They were people we had vacationed with, shared holidays with, and had grown up with.

Their actions rocked our world.

I had been extremely hurt by quite a few people in our church family. 

I started to question the purpose of church altogether. Church didn’t feel like family anymore. And I certainly didn’t want to go to church, mostly for fear of being hurt again. Plus, finding a new church after you’ve listened to your Dad’s preaching all your life is rather difficult.

I used the excuse that church wasn’t a requirement to being a Christian, so long as I still had a relationship with God.   But in that decision I was turning away from God’s call to ministry.

Along came some new friends who were much less judgmental. After all, when you’re partying and drinking with them at the bar they don’t want to be judged either.

As a result of hurt and resentment and pain,  I completely stepped out of God’s will for my life. I was running from it, kicking and screaming. For a long time, I kicked and screamed.

It was ugly. 

Until I got it. I finally learned to accept God’s love for what it was, all I would ever need! My worth wasn’t found in the circumstances of my life, how bad my church hurt my family or me. My worth was found in His undying love, His mercy and grace, His forgiveness.

I finally learned how to forgive those who hurt me, who hurt my family. 

It took longer than I like to admit.
But I finally learned that painful lesson.

My journey kind of reminds me of Jonah’s:  God told Jonah His will for Jonah’s life, and due to a number of circumstances Jonah said “Nope! Not gonna do it!” and he ran from God’s will for his life.

But God said, “Oh yes, you are!”

With God’s help (and a lot of grace), Jonah faced his fears, and fell back in line with God’s will for his life. What’s even more amazing is the thought that even with all of Jonah’s running, God still wanted to use Jonah for His glory!

That’s amazing to me! 

So here I was, finally returning to church, returning to God’s call on my life, but so very fearful of being hurt again. 

And yet God reminded me of the plan He had for me. To use my life to bring Him glory. I can’t say I wasn’t hurt again.  But my perspective had changed. Despite my fears, I could rely on God to go before me, to protect me and be with me.

“There is no fear in love. Instead, perfect love drives fear away” (1 John 4:18).

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).

Lori TisdaleRaised in church, as a “preacher’s kid”, Lori has a unique perspective of church, leadership and faith.  Lori loves sharing her personal faith journey and what it took to bring her back into a deep relationship with her Heavenly Father.  Having a passion for authentic living and connecting, Lori views her life as an open book and loves sharing that with others.  Lori’s faith and lifestyle blog explores various DIY/craft projects, kitchen successes (and failures), and God’s life-giving message as it pertains to His calling on our lives (and the life lived in between all of the rest).  Lori and her husband Lee and their dog Callie reside in San Diego County. Connect with Lori on her blog: http://mylifeaslori.wordpress.com.

[Photo credit: Johndel via CreationSwap]

Continue Reading

I lost more than a marriage

tin can phone

[Guest Post by Kathy Moore – I have been walking alongside my friend through her separation, and then divorce. It has been especially hard to watch as the gossip train has started, and doesn’t seem to stop. If you are a “Christian” who knows others who have been destroyed by gossip, please forward this to them. If you are one of them — be encouraged by my friend Kathy’s story today.]

I am divorced.  

Out of obedience to the Lord, I have been silent to share my story — until now. Due to continuing gossip, I have felt the Lord’s prompting to speak truth.

Matthew 5:13-14 reminds me as a Jesus follower I am to be salt and light to the world.  Salt, as we all know, flavors, and light reveals. In addition to being a flavoring, salt is a healing agent, though at first it stings like no one’s business.

And light? While we are thankful for all the wonderful gifts it brings into our lives. Sometimes, when we look straight into it — we are blinded. I realize that there is a cost in being salt and light.

I have had my own healing happen through the stinging, cleansing agents of salt. I have looked into the light and been found wanting.  

I have yielded to both the stinging and the blinding, and I have come out stronger for it. I have come out a stronger follower of Jesus, a more compassionate friend, an empathetic leader, and a mom who is able to instill healthy boundaries into her children.

It was not without pain, tears or anger at God. 
God has brought me full circle. 

He took an anger so deep that it turned logic into chaos. He lovingly comforted me as I came to the cross, a 41 year old broken, humbled, beaten woman full of repentance and asking for forgiveness. He has restored my heart, even in my deep brokenness.

It is time to speak up and confront the abuse — spiritual and otherwise — that continues in my life and the lives of my children.

January 2011, my life unraveled. 

I had known for many years that things were not right. I worked and worked to make things right. But. Nothing stuck. Healing did not occur. My husband and I had separated 3 times in 15 years together.

The final time, I sought assistance from church leaders. I realize now they were not equipped for such a large task. I knew that my church did not support divorce, and I didn’t want one — but I knew I could not keep living in a terrible situation.

I was angry.
I was hurting.
I was out of options. 

The problems had started years and years before. I never really had the guts to bring the situation into the light. My husband and I did not fight well. As a matter of fact, the fights often turned abusive. Chocking, hitting, name calling, and being thrown down occurred more than once.

I admit, sometimes I fought back. The last time we fought, my diamond left a cut above his eye. But years of verbal, physical and emotional abuse left their mark on me. All I wanted was out. And so I began swallowing over-the-counter migraine medicine. That one act created a firestorm that led to my eventual divorce. Unfortunately, the firestorm really didn’t hit the true cause of my misery — abuse. It only added to the abuse by adding a layer of spiritual abuse.

When I filed for legal separation, I lost more than a marriage, I lost a church family and the support of those I had counted on.  

I was left a shadow of what I had once been.

What I have failed to mention is all the gossip that has occurred since my separation, and then divorce. Though I filed for separation, I was not the one to check the divorce box. I never wanted divorce. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what was happening inside the four walls was not healthy for me or my kids and it wasn’t getting any better.

I have been called a run-away wife. 
I have been told that he found better women. 
I have been told I am a terrible mother.
It has been said that I’ve slept around.

And who said all these things? Christians. The very ones who turned their backs and didn’t wait around for the real story.

I am tired. 
I am righteously angry. 
And now, my children have gotten caught in the insipid chatter.

Ladies and gentleman, abuse is never ok. Abuse is a symptom of a much deeper issue. 

I tried everything imaginable to stop the abuse. I stayed for 15 years. I loved my husband. I wanted a better future.  I drove those who really loved and cared about me nuts, because I could not leave my marriage. And yet, the marriage and abuse were killing me, slowly.

It is a rare day when I don’t pray for my children’s father.
It is a rare day that goes by when I don’t grieve over my broken marriage.
It is a rare day that goes by when I am not confronted with the damage of divorce. 

On the other hand, rarely am I not thankful for who I have become. I wish I had had this strength when I was married, I believe maybe there could have been a different ending.

I like who I am.
I like who God created me to be.
I like the woman who relies fully on Jesus — for everything. 

God has shown up and continues to show up — financially, emotionally, and with gifts I couldn’t have asked for.

And yet, the gossip continues. People. I am divorced. I left an ugly situation hoping and praying for a different outcome, which still hasn’t come. However, God has come into my life and scooped out the anger and given me a heart of forgiveness towards my children’s dad; a forgiveness I’ve extended verbally to him.

Before the Lord, I am clean.

I have kept silent about the true nature of my marriage, because I wanted to protect not only my kids, but their dad as well.

I prayed that understanding would come. I have begged and pleaded with the Lord for someone to stand up for me — and yet here I am, with full peace knowing I must stand up now and speak truth.

Truth shines light on wrongdoings. 
Truth exposes sin. 
Truth is love. 

Love isn’t just sappy and happy. Sometimes love hurts. But, what is the outcome? Peace. True, God-given peace. I have walked a very lonely road. Often times the road has left me in the dark, by myself for long periods of time.

I’m thankful for it.
I’m thankful that I know Jesus intimately.
I’m thankful that it’s purely Jesus, me and my kids going down this road.

I continue to pray for the kid’s dad. I pray true, salt and light repentance occurs.   continue to speak truth into my kid’s lives. I continue to love them and have fun with them and all the while encourage a deeper relationship with Jesus. For those that think they are helping by speaking “truth” into my kid’s lives about me or my church or my life — stop it. If you really want to help, confront the sin that is standing right in front of you masquerading as “right” living.

For the rest of you who have so faithfully stood by my side through tears and really, really tough junk. Thank you. I pray one day I can do the same for you.

Kathy MooreI am Kathy Moore, a daughter of Jesus and mom to three. Writing is my passion and encouraging others towards a deeper, more authentic relationship with Jesus is my goal. I’m funny, serious, a bit weird at times, but overall a fun person to hang out with. I’ve been through a lot–just like the rest of humanity and try to use my “a lot” to help others. Connect with me at delivered2thrive.com.

[photo credit: Florian SEROUSSI via photopin cc]

*****If you would like to advertise on DevotionalDiva.com for $30 for 30 days, please click here for details. There are only two spots left!

Continue Reading

Playing The Jesus Card

the-Jesus-card

[Guest Post by Jenifer Jernigan – Like all authors meet, we met through social media. I love her vulnerability, her voice, and the desperation behind her story. I am honored for Jenifer to share her story, and if you, like her, have felt like taking your life–you are not alone! I know her story is long but please read the whole thing. You will be blessed!]

The summer months found me serving as a youth intern in a local church, teaching, ministering, and loving on kids who became an important part of my life.

The fall semester ushered in months of studying through the Psalms in my Old Testament class and Paul’s Prison Epistles in New Testament class.

I was happy.
My heart was full.
I was in a good place.

But the heat of the summer months melted away to nothing, and the coolness of the crisp fall air blew through so very quickly. And there I was, in the dead of winter, broken, yet again, into a million pieces, heart cold and calloused, experiencing a death all its own.

We sat there, my friend and I, on the sidewalk outside the cof­fee shop, he numb from the icy-cold air, me numb from my shat­tered world. Coffee-shop music played in the background. Bells jingled each time the heavy glass door opened. People hurried in from the cold to warm their bodies with yummy deliciousness. They laughed and shrilled with glee. Some shared secrets and made grand plans. Others came to enjoy time alone away from the busyness of their lives.

It was almost like an out-of-body experience, if such a thing exists. I saw them all, the many who walked past. And I heard the music, the bell jingles, the laughter, and even the ahhs as the warmth of the patrons’ treats made its way into their bellies. Yet, at the exact same time, I saw absolutely nothing and heard not a whisper. I was lost in an ocean of broken dreams; a sea of emptiness enveloped me. And years of innocence lost, wrongs done, and wounds inflicted welled up inside me.

The minutes passed by and turned into hours, how many exactly, I have no idea. My friend was the first one to speak.

“Ya know,” he said, “God has a plan and reason for everything.”

Immediately I felt a fire burn deep within. Slowly I turned my head, looked straight into his eyes, and loudly whispered my rage. “Do not play the Jesus card with me! Do you understand me? Do not tell me everything has a purpose and a plan. Are you f#*&^*$ kidding me?”

I stood to my feet, pacing back and forth, heart beating hard and loud, like a thousand bass drums. “Don’t say that to me!” I screamed. “Don’t!”

People stopped dead in their tracks to gawk at my public display of brokenness and pain.

“I can’t do this!” I went on. “Do you know how bad this hurts? I can’t breathe. I can’t think. I can’t feel. Except . . . I feel everything. And my mind races. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. It wasn’t sup­posed to end like this. It wasn’t supposed to end at all!”

A madwoman walking is what I was. I mumbled. I screamed obscenities. I cried; no, I wailed in pain. I lashed out at my friend in unimaginable ways. He sat there, silent.

As I paced with fists clenched, the tears poured from my eyes. The pain, the ache, the emptiness inevitably forced me to my knees. My friend came to my side, trying to ease the burden, to lighten the load of pain that weighed me down because years of hurts and heartaches and things that should never happen to anyone had just broken me.

“Don’t touch me!” I shouted. “Don’t touch me! Please don’t touch me!” I cried uncontrollably, hugging my waist, my head lying against the gravel parking lot.

But my friend didn’t listen. He lifted me up from my puddle of pain so I could see into his eyes.

“I will play the Jesus card,” he said, “because it’s the winning card. And the pain you feel right now will one day subside. And you’ll be able to stand, victorious over this emptiness you feel.”

That was 1998. The pain I felt that cold winter night, the ache that left my heart empty, didn’t vanish in a few short days; it took years. Years of God working and me surrendering. Years of God healing and me accepting His healing and realizing there was pur­pose for my pain.

But I need you to know something; those years found me bro­ken many more times by the weight of pains.

They also found me searching to be accepted. Searching to be loved. Searching to be heard. Searching for the real me. And my search led me from one unhealthy relationship to the next, from one bottle of alcohol to another, and from one shopping spree to the next door-buster sale. During those years I married and had my first child, but I still searched for more. My searching and pain dead-ended in a court­room, with me uttering a word I never thought I’d utter: “Guilty.”

I then found myself in an extremely dark place for two years.

On a daily basis I contemplated taking my life; I’d attempted it years before, but this time I knew I wouldn’t fail. I emotionally dis­connected from my daughter and husband; I felt nothing for them. I was out all hours of the night, driving dark roads, sitting in empty parking lots, hiding from the world because I was so very ashamed of what I’d become.

Driven face to the ground once again, like Paul, I had my own Damascus road experience. And once again my heart screamed out as tears poured from my eyes, God, I’m a mess. I’m a complete and utter failure. I’m stupid. I’m used up. I’m alone. I hate myself. And believe me when I tell You, You want nothing to do with me! I’m sure there are others far less complicated than me. Others who are better suited and much more deserving than me to be Your child.

My insides were jacked up. I’d been deeply wounded by others and myself. And my wounds were bleeding and festering and stunk to high heaven. I had absolutely nothing to offer God. There were no credentials to my name. No great accolades or endorsements to cause heads to turn my way. I was just a confused, shame-filled, broken-down girl.

But God had purpose for my pain.

The day God chose me and turned my insides upside down and right side out, the day He turned my unlikeliness into something extraordinary in His book, I was a hot mess. But today I stand changed from the inside out only because the Word of God has rocked me to the core, healing the wounds that left me empty and lonely. I stand brave, not fearful. I stand whole, not broken. For those of you who are hurting today, weighed down by an oversized load of pain, heartache, hurt, and complete emptiness, may I lay the Jesus card on the table and say to you, “God has a plan and reason for all your pain”?

It’s okay if you can’t see His plan and purpose right now through your pain; and it’s okay if you scream obscenities at me.

And while the perception may be that you’re “the perfect Jesus girl,” the reality may be that you’re standing in a very different, very wounded place this very moment. People may not see that, but Jesus does. It’s okay. You don’t have to be who others think you should be. It’s okay for you to feel your pain. But what’s not okay is for you to stay buried by it, broken down in a puddle of hurt and heartache.

The time will come, and for each of us it’s different, when you’ll have to look your friend Jesus in the face, choose to allow Him to lift you above the pain, and embrace the healing He offers. The day will come when you’ll have to lay it all at His feet and allow Him to carry the load of your heartache. Until that day comes, even if you’re only able to know this in your head, know that God is actively working, there is purpose for your pain, and one day, you’ll stand on the other side of it, sharing your grace story for His honor and glory.

Jenifer JerniganJenifer is a Bible teacher whose passion is to equip women to d.i.v.e. deeper into God’s Word, teaching them to study Scriptures for themselves. Her book, Dive Deeper, is a part of Thomas Nelson’s new InScribed Studies Collection. Visit with Jenifer at jeniferjernigan.com.

*Excerpt taken from Jenifer Jernigan’s new book, Dive Deeper: Finding Deep Faith Beyond Shallow Religion. (Thomas Nelson, March 2014. Used with permission.)

dive deeperLeave a comment below to win a copy of Dive Deeper! Winner will be chosen at random on March 22.

[Photo: ashley rose, via photopin cc]

Continue Reading

When Your World Comes Crashing Down

when-your-world-comes-crashing-down

[Guest Post by Rochelle Frazier – I met her through the Top 10 Blogs for Christian Women post I compiled. She was nominated for the list, and when I looked at her blog–I knew I had to have her share! For anyone who has seen their picture perfect like come crashing down, this is for you today. Be encouraged! You are not alone.]

Is it possible to arrive at the place where you stop asking, “Is there more? Should I be more?”

Is it possible that your restless heart could actually find rest right where you are?

Satisfied?
I dare to say “Yes!”

I don’t have the story of overcoming an addiction or a broken, battered, and abused childhood. I not only grew up in church, but you could find me there whenever the doors were open. My story was more on the line of the over-achieving, people-pleasing perfectionist. Everything in order and perfectly decorated, even my children.

From the outside, it appeared I had it all. And according to the “American Gospel,” I had every reason to believe that I did. You know the gospel that teaches us to be all that we can be, to own, possess, and claim what is ours, to climb a ladder that is placed on the wrong mountain and burst through the ceiling that has no eternal significance. And do it our way! This same spirit even carried into the way I served the church.

So when my perfectly orchestrated life left me empty searching for something more, I had no idea it was Him that I was missing.

I had it all together, right? Believing I was spiritually full, I offered my little teacup to the world asking… will you fill me?

But it didn’t come as I expected being a wife or a mother.
Nor through my perfectly decorated home waiting on Southern Living to arrive.
Nor from improving my figure or my social agenda.
Nor from becoming the top of my industry.

And then when my perfect little world came crashing down in 2006, broken and believing irredeemable, I turned to the very things I had avoided in my pursuit of perfection to see if they would fill me. But nothing satisfied the deep longing of my soul.

And then I finally came to the end of me, and because I needed God so desperately I would finally fill the calling of Jeremiah 29–not the one that I had worn on t-shirts and pasted on journals claiming that He has plans for me, but the rest of the verse that says,

“When you seek with your whole heart, I will be found. And bring you back from captivity.”

I was praying for captives. Quick to point out the captives. I had even prayed for God to open a door so that I might visit the captives in Africa. And then reality hit that I was a captive. My heart would become restless trying free other captives who, like me, bought into the wrong gospel.

So how did I come to this place?

There was a year that changed my life. Our community was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, a few months later I would be diagnosed with congestive heart failure delivering twins, and while seeking to beat all odds against me, I would become a single mom.  I was told I may never work again, and with my three precious angels and a healing heart, I offered up a prayer,

“Would you give me an idea that would change my life?”

And He did. I began writing what is now the children’s series, Sweeteas, and these precious little characters would absolutely change my life. However, what truly changed me was that He answered that prayer.

A collision with the fully present God who I had enthroned in eternity wrecked my life. I was never to be the same. He became a reality and my life had to adjust to the true Gospel. The Gospel that says,

“You will find your life when you lose it” (Matthew 10:39).

And I did!

Sweet friends, when your world comes crashing down your heart has tasted eternity (Ecc 3:11). It will be restless until you return to His love. But when you do, you will find that the longing of your weary soul is satisfied!

Rochelle FrazierRochelle is a storyteller by nature infused with undeniable markings of a true Southern girl: charming accent, gracious hospitality, and her passionate and infectious faith. She is the author of the children’s series Sweeteas and He Gave Me Pearls and journeys with women daily through her blog “Living with Divine Purpose.” Her story is one of inspiration birthed at a time of desperation, and gives hope to women that He still brings beauty from ashes. She is the mother to a beautifully blended family of seven including her husband Todd, and children Joy, Jadyn, Holland, Houston & Jackson. She is currently finishing her newest book, Something More: Daring to Live on Purpose. Connect with Rochelle at http://www.rochellefrazier.com.

[Photo: A National Acrobat via photopin cc]

Continue Reading
1 2 3 7