Day 34: Chapter 2/Just a Shell

It was about 22 years ago and I was in my first year of college. It was quite amazing that I was actually attending a college. My grades in high school had always been good and I was involved in several extra-curricular activities. But really, I had no real direction in my life. My home life was tumultuous and discord was the norm. It wasn’t weird to live under the same roof day in and out,  and ignore the very existence of my family. Even in looking back, I don’t remember much positive interaction. Nope, not too much love in my home. Daily living was trying to figure out how to peaceably survive the day without any major altercations and verbal assassinations. Much better to stay quiet, distant, and numb.  Avoid conflict at all costs. It is too ugly. It is too scary. It is too angry.  It is NOT safe.

This turmoil took place between my parents, between my parents and myself, between my parents and my brother, between my brother and myself, and myself and my father. I don’t really remember my youngest brother as he grew up. I did my best to stay out of the house as much as possible.

The last year my father lived at home, before he and my mother got divorced, we did not speak. We continued this for the next 8 years or so. Ugh! What do you do when your own father is a stranger in your life? You grin and bear it and place the heavy weight of VICTIM around your neck. You see everything through a distorted filter. You trust others with no questions and continue to get hurt again and again and again. You perpetuate the scenario time and again with hope of a different ending. You don’t get one. The outcome is the same, if not worse.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?  You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:1-3

So here I am, a young woman in her first year of college with no direction, clinging very tightly to her high school sweetheart. He is still in high school and I am not.  He is changing and I do not like it. A young man who used to pride himself in being ‘straight-edge’ is now  smoking and drinking. He is no longer interested in spending all his time with me.  He wants to hang out with his friends and I am not included. I am lied to and I am cheated on and I just want to die. Another stranger!!

Many times I wished I could have ended it all. Suicidal thoughts come and go these days. I take painkillers left over from dental procedures to numb the pain, wishing it would all just go away. Self-respect and self-esteem were in the gutter. I was a complete mess on the inside. On the outside, I guess it all looked okay.

I manage to work part-time and go to school, yet I never gave my all to anything worthwhile. My only direction was to find a way to get someone to love me, not that I realized what I was doing. I had a tendency to feel inferior, inadequate, and ugly. I did not really know how to relate with others socially. Not really. I overdid it. I clung too tightly.  I got hurt too fast. My development was arrested. Relationships were a stumbling block. I had become a shell of a person. It didn’t look bad on the outside. The inside was in shambles and I honestly didn’t even realize how bad it was. It was all I knew. It was me up against the world and my future looked bleak.

My, my, my how things have changed. Thank you to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You are the lover of my soul.

 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:4-5

 

 

 

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Day 33: Chapter 1/What Lies Ahead

Today, as I look ahead, I see a winding road.  It is a tree lined, soil-covered road.  I cannot see past the bend in it. Instead, I see a wall of trees with vibrant, green leaves displayed. LIFE. Trees have been significant to me in my life. At the time of my baptism (not the first, but the second), all I could see were the trees surrounding me. Faces faded away to a blur and I was in awe of these trees that surrounded me.  The beautiful work of the hands of my Creator. I have not, until this day, thought to ask Him why. There really is no time like the present. Lord, WHY?

That aside, you really do remember your first love!! The LORD swept me completely off of my feet.

Getting back to the scene ahead, I see a path and it is the path that I will walk. Though I cannot fully see what is ahead, I am not afraid.  The air is warm and it’s scent is sweet. The scenery is lovely and I am filled with joy. Though the journey is hidden, I sense in my heart that ALL IS WELL. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. The writing is on the wall. There are plans ahead to prosper me and not to harm me. There is a hope and a future. And it is good. Thank you Lord. Gratitude wells up in my heart as I follow what lies ahead, knowing Jesus is already there. I am confident. I am bold. I am EXCITED!!! I am moving forward.

Sometimes, as we head out on our journey, whether it is a life journey, or a simple trip to the grocery store, we can become distracted, delayed, and sometimes, detained. In moving ahead, we can encounter situations and circumstances, memories and mandates that are keeping us from moving forward. Some come with sharp talons that grip into the skin of our necks trying to terrorize us with the past. These can be hard to tear away from. Sometimes, they render us completely powerless to move forward. Especially  if we try to break free on our own. We CAN break free of these debilitating claws, but we need the power of the Holy Spirit (we always need Him) and certainly others to come alongside of us to help us get free from the bondage that tries to keep us ensnared. Oh, this is a painful process. When something has such a strong grasp on our very existence, it is painful to remove it. But it can and will be removed and replaced! Staying here is NOT an option. Jesus came to set the captives free!!

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. Luke 4:18

Thank you Jesus!!!

In this new freedom that Jesus came to give us, we may now feel a gentle touch that beckons us to turn around and take a look at what was behind. What have I received healing for? Where do I know I have a freedom I never had before? Where have the chains been broken?

What lies ahead comes from what has happened on the path already taken. You thought it was finished, but it requires your attention. No longer claws, but compassion. And you are here. No longer who you were, but faced with a burden to share what God has done for you. You are now being asked to pour out your life for the sake of someone else. Whosoever. It is no longer about you. You are now free.

I feel the tap on the shoulder and I turn around. I am flooded by thoughts and emotions. I am stirred by passion itself. It is a remembrance of a thing that has happened to a person that was me, but is now no longer me as I do not share in the guilt of the sin any longer. I am a free person now. It is no longer I that lives but Christ who lives in me. Jesus already paid for this sin. And no longer has its’ claws in me. Death no longer stings.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? Romans 6:1

I hear the call. I heed the call. The story begins.

In The Beginning

“so give me strength to die myself. so love can live to tell the tale.” the garden by needtobreathe

May this story come forth mightily in the name of Jesus.  In His way and His timing. Moving forward in the light of His glory and grace.

 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Day 32: Happy Anniversary? Uh, NO!

Today is the 4oth “Anniversary” of Roe vs. Wade. I don’t think I need to explain to anyone what Roe vs. Wade was and the impact it has had on people in the United States.

Abortion is a MAJOR topic. It is a sort of SILENT killer because it’s victims cannot speak out or stand up for themselves. They never get the chance.  Many would disagree with that. As stated, abortion is a MAJOR issue. M A J O R ! ! !

For me, what it comes down to is this: LIFE. LIFE. LIFE.

When I began this blog, about 32 days or so ago, I wasn’t sure what to write about. I knew that God had told me, through a prophetic word from a brother named Dick Mills, that I would be known as “The Long Island Yak.” Funny, but this did not appeal to me at ALL!!! It wasn’t exactly the word from the Lord I was hoping for. I was disappointed. And a YAK no less. Ugh! How repulsive!! Not even an attractive creature, right? And who wants to be known as a YAK! aka blabbermouth?

Regardless of what I thought about it, if God said it, then I was not going to let it go.

Several years later, here I am, known to some as “The Long Island Yak”. He has made it come to pass. Praise God!!!

And what have I been led to write about? LIFE!

Now here is where the rubber meets the road. I believe I am supposed to write about something I would much rather  forget about. After all, it is in the past. I have peace about it. I have been forgiven, and all is well. But it isn’t. Not really. Something is terribly wrong, and it is much BIGGER than my story.  And yet, it IS my story. We all have a story to tell. And it seems that now is the time for me to tell mine.

This particular story for LIFE is going to start out with the exact opposite.  It begins in death.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

May my words be blessed by you Jesus, to accomplish what you wish to accomplish with each one.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Jesus saves!  Here is my story (to be continued……).

 

Day 30: Just As I Am

Have you ever pretended to be someone you weren’t? Have you found that your responses have not always been authentic? Have you ever lied? Have you ever believed your own lies? Maybe you don’t lie. Maybe you are actually super conscious of this fact. What then of your image? Are you really who you portray yourself to be to others? Are you known, truly known?

I believe we all have worn masks at one time or another. Often times, for me, I haven’t even realized it. They are so comfortable. They fit so snugly, I just assumed that was who I was. At the least it was who I wanted to be. What’s wrong with that?  That is who I am.  Plus, would anyone really want to see or know the REAL ME? Could they handle the truth? Could I?

The masks we wear do two things. 1) They keep our true identities hidden and 2) They protect our true selves from being revealed. But then they do something else. They trap us. They conceal the very essence of who God created us to be. We become a product of our own making. Image managed and controlled, but fake. They keep us from being who He made us to be and fulfilling the purposes He has planned for us.

So what do we do with this? Who then are we? Who is the real person behind the mask? How can I tell?  Can I take the mask off,  or has it simply become so much a part of us that we can not pry them off?  What is my TRUE IDENTITY?

There is one who knows us better than we know ourselves. He knew us before the foundations of the universe.  We can be real with Him. He doesn’t want us to hide from Him any longer. He wants it all. He knows all about us anyway. And He can and will gently remove our masks.

May we surrender control of our masks. May we let Him reveal our true identity. May your heart and mine be open to His truth. May we lean on Him and other members of the Body of Christ to help us come out of our hiding places and our places of comfort and safety to fully embrace the reality of who we are in Christ. May we see and understand that He has good thoughts toward us and that in Him, we are safe.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations”.  Jeremiah 1:5

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:6

Psalm 139

New International Version (NIV)

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

 You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
 They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
 I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

 

Day 29: L I F E

L…..LOVE

I……IMBIBED

F…..FOR

E…..EVER

Let’s drink in the gift of God through Jesus Christ, His Son. This is LIFE. It is a gift. In this world there is an attack on life.  It is a true miracle any of us are alive at all. As we live, may you and I be thankful for the very air we get to breathe and remember God’s keeping power over us. May we receive the gift of eternal LIFE through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. It is where we, being in Christ, have died so that we may be made ALIVE in Him all our days.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Day 28: A New Adventure

/adˈvenCHər/

Noun
An unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.
Verb
Engage in hazardous and exciting activity, esp. the exploration of unknown territory: “they had adventured into the forest”.
Synonyms
noun. venture
verb. risk – venture – hazard – jeopardize – dare – jeopard

Precisely! And adventure is all of the above. And I am excited by all of what it says, except for perhaps, the HAZARDOUS part.

haz·ard·ous

/ˈhazərdəs/

Adjective
Risky; dangerous.
Synonyms
risky – perilous – dangerous – unsafe – precarious

Adventure can be hazardous? Okay. This does make sense. But why do we risk it? What is it for? Why not just play it safe with our lives and just self-preserve? What thrill could be so worth putting ourselves in harms way?

Has it occurred to anyone that we do this all the time, and often without the sense of adventure that goes along with, ADVENTURE? We can never be so sure if we are in a risky, hazardous situation. After all, this is life. Life is not a promised. It is unscripted. Life is a gift. And it can be taken at any time without much, if any, notice to us. With that in mind, doesn’t it make sense to live life in LIFE! Living versus existing.

May we look to our Creator for the adventures He is calling us to. May my heart and yours be awakened to the adventure in every day life. May we wake up each day with a fresh, new sense of adventure as we head out into this uncertain world laden with risks. May we take a strong grip of the One who can keep us safe through the most hazardous circumstances and be filled with a boldness and courage because He is with us. So exciting!!! Thank you Jesus!

 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28: 16-20

ad·ven·ture