And Other Thoughts

A Cause to Blog

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dare to Declare!

Joel Osteen recently said, “A blessing isn’t a blessing until it’s spoken.” I then posted this statement on Facebook and challenged my friends: “How many blessings are we withholding by not speaking it?”

I spent almost my entire life listening to how I made stupid choices, wasn’t good enough to be a mother, or wasn’t smart enough to aspire to anything worthwhile. This didn’t come merely from my parents, it was all around me.

Nearly everyday we encounter “words of death” in our lives. People yelling at us for one thing or another, flipping us off as they drive by, or calling us rude names when they don’t even know anything about us. People make automatic judgments on us based solely on our political or religious belief. And even our President has come out in full force against middle-America, calling them “ignorant” and demanding them to shut-up. The world is so full of words of death it’s hard sometimes to believe anything good can happen in our lives.

But what if we just started a Blessing Revolution and spoke declarations of victory and blessings into other people’s lives? What if we used our prayer time to declare healing, comfort, peace, safety and salvation, instead of begging God for miracles? It's already done. Declare it! 

declare [dih-klare]: to announce officially, proclaim; or to manifest, reveal.

I officially announce. I proclaim. I declare…

Dare to declare blessings on others. Speak life all around you. Bring hope back into the world. Stop withholding blessings.

Today, I’m declaring victory, success and blessings in your declarations!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Little Girl

I didn't mean to write this. It just happened. And it was painful!

I’m five. Pigtails. Dress shoes. Being girly. I’m sitting near the East window, the sun behind me. I think it’s Saturday. It feels like a Saturday. But nothing feels ordinary. Everything is out of sorts. And there is he is. Suitcase in hand. He’s leaving me.

I’m five. She’s four. The woman is blonde. It’s a small apartment. The little girl is in flowered underwear and nothing else. She has tiny glasses and cross eyes. I refuse to go in and stand firm in the hallway. He forces me inside. He tells me, “Don’t pout or I’ll cut that bottom lip right off.” I suck it back in quickly. I’m quiet. I hate this place. I hate the little girl, and I hate the blonde woman, too. I hate this apartment. It’s not my home and my mom isn’t here. I’m a complete stranger here. I cry when the lights go out and I’m forced to sleep on the hard floor next to the little girl’s bed. She wears a patch over her eye at bedtime. What’s her problem? I hate it here. I miss my mom. I miss my bed. I miss my dad, but I don’t want him here. I want him back home…where he belongs.

He told me the little girl was my sister. I didn’t have a sister. My mom didn’t have another baby, and if she was my sister, why wasn’t my mom here with her? Why this blonde? If she’s my sister, God can take her back. She’s cute and all, but I just want to go home. I don’t want a sister. I don’t want a new home. I just want to go home.

Those are my earliest memories of my childhood. Those are my very first memories of my father and my step-mother and my half-sister.

I’m back home. Alone. I’m still five. It’s midnight. I wake up scared and run to my mother’s bedroom. The bed is empty. The kitchen is empty. No one is in the living room. I run upstairs to the neighbor’s and see if my mother is up there visiting. She’s not there, either. The neighbor comes down and calls my grandfather. He comes and stays with me until my mother comes home.

It’s midnight. I wake up scared and run to my mother’s bedroom. The bed is empty. The kitchen is empty. No one is in the living room. This time I call my dad’s answering service and talk to the operator. She keeps me company until my mother comes home again.

It’s midnight. I wake up scared and run to my mother’s bedroom. The bed is empty. The kitchen is empty. No one is in the living room. I scream through the front screen door to my great-aunts who live across the street. “Help me, I’m alone!” They come over and keep me company until my mother comes home. The bribe of ice cream didn’t stop me from being scared like my mother said it would.

It’s midnight. I wake up to loud music and people talking and laughing. I walk out in my lacy, little girl pajamas and there’s lots of smoke and people drinking from bottles. My mother scoots me back to bed.

It’s another Saturday morning. This time I wake up to find a bulky man with curly dishwater hair sitting in a chair, playing with our two puppies. I hate him.

She marries dishwater hair guy. She flaunts it in my dad and his new wife’s face. She pretends to be happy and okay with my dad’s new life because she has a new life, too. But he beats her. He drinks all the time and I spend most of my time after my mother picks me up from my grandparent’s sitting in a bar playing shuffle board bowling or pinball. I learn how to wash glasses behind the bar, and I tend to do that a lot to kill the time while they get drunk. Once we leave, they usually always get into a fight when we get home.

It’s midnight. I wake up scared because I hear glass crashing everywhere. I hear my mother screaming, “STOP! PLEASE STOP!” I run out to try and help, but I’m scared. He’s big and mean and throwing things, and slapping her, and pushing her around. I grab our two dogs and run to the neighbor’s house, trembling. I bang on their door. It’s the middle of the night and it takes them time, so I yell, “HELP! PLEASE HELP ME!!” Someone answers the door and they call the police. When the police arrive, he’s gone already. My mother is bruised and bleeding. She’s sitting at the dining room table, crying into a tissue. She’s mad at me for running to the neighbor’s, and the next day she scolds me for having the police come. But when it happens again—and again—I keep doing all I know to do. Grab the dogs. Run next door. Scream for help. Call the cops. I’m scared!

I tell my dad and he does nothing. He calls my mom a whore. The blonde hates my mom, too. I tell her to shut-up because my dad is going to leave her soon and get back with my mother. They begin to tell me that my mother gets her car fixed by having sex with mechanics. I’m seven. I hate them.

I’m eleven.

He still beats her. He’s broken some of my things in his anger. Raged into my room and took my ceramic paintings I made at my dad’s and threw them against the wall. We’ve moved now into a new, beautiful home. I’m growing up. I’m no longer a little girl and he notices that. I hate the way he looks at me.

I’m sleeping. I hear them fighting again. I hate that! This time he barges into my room and locks the door behind him. I stay quiet and still. I don’t move. He crawls into bed next to me, under the covers. I’m laying on my stomach and he lifts my shirt up and begins to rub my back. Slowly his hand slides over my butt. I freeze. I’m scared. I’m really scared. My heart is racing. My mother is banging on the door, “LET ME IN. OPEN THIS DOOR!! OPEN THIS DOOR!!” And then she stops banging. And it’s quiet. And his hand slides beneath my underwear.

It’s Saturday again. The next day. I sit blankly on the carpeted floor in front of the TV. I know it’s cartoons, but I have no idea what I’m watching. I’m paralyzed. And I can still feel his grubby, stubby, smoke stained fingers on me. I just sit there. No one says anything to me. They made up and they are happy again…for today. No one notices I’ve gone far, far away. I won’t return for another eighteen years. When God reaches out and saves me from that little girl.

Friday, September 2, 2011


I had already been divorced for over a year before I got saved. Getting married again to someone who was Godly and good—the right person God had for me—was something I was eager for. But I had concerns considering what Jesus said anyone who married me would be committing adultery. I was washed of that sin and was made a new creature, I was told. So that was a huge relief.

After getting saved, my “men” patterns hadn’t changed. I was still looking for a very specific guy, and he was usually incredibly wrong for me, even if he was a Christian. Although I had received Christ and was made new, my past still lingered around in there somewhere, and that typically drove me to continue making bad mistakes when it came to relationships.

I so desperately wanted to do it right this time. I wanted to “hear” from God on who he had in store for me. Unfortunately, when you want to “hear from God” about who you’re supposed to marry, you could hear what you want to hear. I couldn’t tell you how many guys I thought God told me was “the one.” And when other people get involved in hearing from God for you…that’s when all hell, quite literally, breaks loose!

I had one person tell me that a guy I was merely acquainted with through a friend was the one for me. I staked a claim on it because he was in a band and very attractive. I went in gung-ho, believing the word I was given. When I confessed to him what I thought God told me about us, his response was, “If God told you that I’m the one for you, I’ll stay single for the rest of my life.” Nice! So I immediately began to doubt myself on this “hearing from God” thing when it came to men.

At the March for Jesus in 1998, I struck up a conversation with William and we realized we had gone through some similar temptations the night before. We immediately became good friends.

A few weeks later at one of our church services, we had a funny conversation with one another, and his friends who was standing with us, made a comment to him afterwards how interesting it would be if I were the one for him. Well, he mistook this comment as, “God told me she’s the one for you,” and he RAN with it. I mean full throttle, petal to the metal, baby! And the pursuit was on.

Because he was such a sweet guy and all the girls thought he was handsome, kind and thoughtful, when he would tell them about what God told him about me, everyone instantly thought it was a brilliant idea, and they too, RAN with it! Full throttle. Petal to the metal.

I, on the other hand, RAN from it! I knew without a shadow of a doubt that he was NOT the one for me. I felt it in my bones. I felt it in my spirit. I knew that I knew that I knew…this was NOT God. So I kept telling him that, but he’d pursue harder, insisting I wasn’t listening to God, because: “Everyone else knows it, so the devil must be trying to trick you because God has such great things in store for us.”

When he said “everyone,” he wasn’t kidding. Even my best friends started in on me about it. Out of the blue, people at church would come up to me and give me a “word” about William. “Stop fighting it,” they’d say to me. I even had people who were married to people they despised because they believed God “told them” to marry then, come up to me and tell me, “Look at me. I married to someone I didn’t like. If God says it, you have to be obedient.”

But God didn’t say it to me. And that was my plight all along. God did not tell me that. In fact, as the pressure increased from “everyone,” eventually God told me plain and simply, “No.” That was it. “No.” Nothing more to it. No explanation. No in-depth, lengthy prophetic word. Just…no. Matter of fact.

I finally told William and “everyone” else what God told me, and I was immediately told that I was being lied to. God would have given me more. God would have told you why. God would’ve… And here I was, a newly born again Christian who was clueless as to what God would or wouldn’t do, so I began to doubt myself and God all over again until William finally wore me down.

The wedding was beautiful, and “everyone” was so happy for us; especially for me, considering how the devil really tried to prevent it from happening. 

We had two good days, and from there it went downhill. That’s when the control began to happen, and the religious mentality beat me down on a daily basis. It was because of this brutal bible thumping that I began to then question not only our marriage, but everything God had done in my life up to that point. I began to ponder why God would have wanted this type of man in my life, and “everyone” told me it was because I was a very strong, independent woman and this was God’s way of breaking me and making me humble. No matter how miserable I was in this marriage, all hope was lost according to “everyone” else. I literally had people say, “Tough. You’re stuck now.” But I couldn’t believe that after all the abuse I had gone through in my life with men, that God would then put me in another mentally abusive relationship.

I eventually ended up seeking counseling from our lead pastor. If I was stuck, I had to make it work somehow. William was against it, but he soon found it was an awesome tool for his agenda to look good in front of the leaders of our church.

When William and I would go to counseling, every time we sat before them, his demeanor went from complete arrogance and hate towards me at home or on the car ride there, to humble and weeping, desperate to save his marriage. He would confess to our pastor and his wife how he would do anything to make me happy, but he wasn’t willing to discuss anything as a couple. He’d save up his list of my sins (yes, he had an actual list) and try to humiliate me in front of our pastor to make me look wicked, and portray himself as a victim of my wickedness. I remember one time in particular I got home from work and he outright refused to speak to me. I kept trying to get him to talk to me, to tell me what I did wrong now, and his response was, “I’ll discuss it at counseling,” clutching my list of sins in his fist and thrusting it in the air in contempt.

I couldn’t live like that anymore. I had to take a break and I kicked him out after another horrific fight and days without talking to each other. Believe it or not, he moved in with my best friend and began filling her head with such garbage that she rebuked me relentlessly. (Praise God that she has since apologized and realized how she had hurt me all those years ago.)

In my decision to leave William, I lost everything I had known over that first year of being saved. I lost all my friends because they sided with him. The church was against me and rebuking me non-stop with calls, visits, emails. All the peace I had was gone. All the hope I had vanished. I had to leave my church that I loved because he was there pushing his agenda to “win me back,” and no one cared to listen to my side. All I ever got was, “Tough. He’s your husband.”

He was so convincing that he even got my dad to side with him. My dad had a long talk with him one night and came back to me asking what was so wrong that I couldn’t give him another chance. He had turned “everyone” against me, and I was so tired of being badgered and tired of feeling so spiritually defeated that I gave in again. And that’s when things got really out of control.

All the while I felt God was telling me to go back home to Wisconsin. I had felt it shortly after I got saved but “everyone” told me that wasn’t God. I tried to talk to William about it, but he wouldn’t even consider listening to me.

When I finally decided I truly had to get out of this destructive marriage, the whole church turned against me again. I had had enough and finally decided to listen to what God was telling me, instead of what “everyone” else was telling me.

I prayed about it and felt God told me to put my house up for sale. So I did, and it sold the very next day! The first person who looked at it put in an offer that day. I told William I was moving back home and he told me how “deceived” I was, and how I wasn’t hearing from God at all, because God would never tell me to leave him. But I knew what God was telling me.

Even though I had bought the house before I married William, he still needed to sign the papers since we were married, and he outright refused. God then asked me to ask William to come with me, but he adamantly said that he would “never in his life” move to Wisconsin with me. That’s when I knew why God had me ask him, and that his answer was my answer I had been diligently seeking about our marriage. It was over.

During that marriage, I had never experienced so much turmoil and anger in my walk with God. It scarred me for a very long time, and pushed me to fear church, to fear people, and to eventually just walk away from it all. It only took a short year being back home for me to stop going to church completely, start drinking again, and start rehashing and reliving abusive relationships. I was so angry with God and the church, and so angry at myself, and wracked with so much guilt for marrying William in the first place, I thought after the divorce was finalized that my sin had finalized my relationship with Jesus, too. And so my hate for myself grew worse, until I finally met a man who could truly abuse me the way I felt I deserved. Marriage number 3. Divorce number 3.

I know there are a lot of religious zealots out there who will try and convict me for this, or tell me I’m a sinner for what I did by leaving him, and any marriage after William is null and void. Well, I’m hear to tell you that sometimes God releases us from unhealthy, burdensome yolks. God took Israel out of Egypt and slavery, and he will do it when we, too, find ourselves in destructive, abusive slavery.

I have since made my peace with God over William, and even tried to make peace with William about it a few months ago. Instead, I received more religious restrictions from William—eleven years later, mind you—despite his plea that for years he has wanted to tell me “he forgave me.”

He forgave me?! I asked for his forgiveness because I knew I was wrong to have married him in the first place, and I was deeply sorry for ever misleading him into thinking I loved him as anything more than a dear friend. I was sorry for that. But this man has yet to apologize to me for what he did to me, and how he misled an entire church to feed on his own desires and lies. His only attempts to ever “win me back,” so to speak, were provoked and guided by leaders of the church to “do the right thing before God” so he could have a clear conscious.

I got saved. I got married. I got divorced. God forgave me.

I fell from God. I got married. I got divorced. God forgave me.

God never left me. I knew that in the deepest part of my core. Sometimes I even felt it and cried out to Him, but I could never fully commit again because I was so scared of what would happen if I did. I never got too close to anyone at church. I never let anyone in. I hid in God instead, and that’s just about as bad as walking away from Him.

After all that happened to me after moving back to Wisconsin, you have to wonder why God would have had me move here again. You could see the situation and the abuse I went through and insist that “everyone” must have known better and I was, indeed, deceived. But again…God never left me, and even though it looked bleak and hopeless, He had great plans for me.

Many may now ask how I knew Jared was God’s choice for me. I didn’t “hear” from God about Jared. I had to do a lot of hard work with God to heal my life and my patterns. After getting out of the nightmare I was living in, it took me three years with God to heal. I simply told God that although I didn’t want to be alone for the rest of my life, I was perfectly content with it as long as I had Him to comfort me and fill that void. And without knowing it, He began to test me on that by bringing more bad seeds in my life, and I passed every time by standing firm in my faith, being wise about what kind of people they were, and leaving when I figured it out.

I went through several tests like that and then Jared came along. This was the ultimate test, because he was not my type at all. In fact, he was one of the nice guys that I typically dumped all over. I was reluctant and truly had no expectations on our first date. I liked him well enough, even thought he was one of the greatest guys I’d met, but I wasn’t convinced or anxious to jump into it like I had always done in the past.

It was God who pushed us instead.

He came to us. Unannounced. Uninvited. Unexpected. We were both taken by surprise, and our heart raced in anticipation, but we were both scared out of our minds to ask each other if what we felt was mutual. And then Jared said, “Do you feel that?” And I knew right then and there God anointed us, and that was His way of saying, “It is good.” I didn’t have to rely on feelings or thoughts or “everyone” else. God showed up and did all the work for us. He took all the questions out and gave us immediate complete answers.

Today I’m in the best relationship of my life. In fact, one morning not too long ago, God actually told me that Jared loves me the way He loves me. And I knew immediately how awesome and wonderful God’s love was for me, because I had something amazing to compare it to.

I may act like I’m in control, and I may even be a bit bossy with Jared, but deep down inside, he knows I respect him and will submit to him. But the kind of submission I have for Jared is the same that he has for me. It’s based on respect, love, and kindness, and consists of a wealth of knowledge and a great desire for God.

I made God first in my life, and by doing so, my love for Jared flows naturally and my desire to be a good wife to him takes no effort at all.