Tea, Grace, and Friendship

It’s a beautiful day outside; on days like this I believe I can conquer the world. On days like thTEACUPis all darkness flees and joy is my constant companion. Or she should be. But I am tired. Weary. Wore out. Spent. Done. Physically exhausted. Late sleepless nights have caught up with me. “He gives his beloved rest.” Why don’t I heed the scripture that tells me sleep is good? I mean to – then something comes up – a child, an email, a chapter for my book, Dave… Needs press in from every side and the clock ticks towards midnight. I’d like to sleep late in the morning, but I can’t – life prevents it. Jesus rings a wake up call.

Morning is my tea time with Jesus. If I miss out on my tea and Jesus the day starts out ugly. The combination of Jesus Tea is the 200 mgs. of coffee others need to fuel their mornings. I’ve had a lot of ugly days over my life-time but I’m learning. I don’t want them anymore.Wake up, make tea, sit down on the couch with a Friend and plan your day together. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. Talk it out. Cry if you need to. Breathe in, breathe out.

Another delusional idea for many – hanging out with an unseen being. Well, others can have imaginary friends, mine is as real as history proclaims, and a lifetime of personal experience has shown me. I have faith in my not so imaginary Friend that he will always be there for me, and he has. He has my back. Occasionally I fight with him like I do Dave, downright p -d off at why he doesn’t want to accommodate my very important requests. Other days he is more of a lover than I ever imagined I could find in this life. Pure ecstasy wrapped up in unconditional, ever present, love and acceptance. Today is one of those days – I’m physically and mentally tired but my soul is soaring.

This morning we had a long talk, my Friend and I. We talked about the many fears that sometimes plagued me about our future,, because he hasn’t always done what I’ve asked in the past. “How can I trust you now? You’ve let me down before.” I told him I was pretty ticked off that we are this old without any savings or retirement – or even enough money to adequately move forward in a ministry we have devoted to him. I’m sick of stress and struggle, sickness and death. I’m tired of moving and starting over. I’m tired of being tired.  I don’t like getting old! Some promise you made to carry my burdens.

He laughed – he laughed hard – he tipped his head back and his shoulders shook with the joy of it. Then he gazed at me and I could see myself reflected in deep brown eyes of grace. And as I gazed even more deeply, there was a mirror in my eyes reflecting his image, and another reflecting me, and another with him, going ever deeper into that dark brown pool, on, and on… I laughed. I laughed hard. We lifted our tea and I toasted to friendship, and he replied, “To love.” It is going to be a good day.

The Truth Will Set You Free

This morning I began attending a bible study at the local Evangelical Presbyterian Church in our town. I had been invited by a close neighbor who attends the church. I really want to connect in my local community beyond the church fellowship on Sunday which is not my town. I  liked the way my neighbor expressed they study the bible, pray for each other,  and hold each other accountable. I need accountability – I have a tendency to pull away when I feel pain. In the larger church group I have found in the past that when I pulled away no one noticed – not a good thing when you are feeling isolated and alone to begin with.

Pulling away in pain and avoiding conflict in relationships ends up destroying relationships. I fear rejection. Relationships have conflict – life has conflict – we were rejected in the garden. It is a demon we all face in life. That is the Truth that is setting me free. We were rejected in the Garden, but Jesus gave us the garden of His heart to grow in.

I find I have a few relationships where the temptation to avoid conflict- the fear of rejection – means I produce more conflict by avoidance. It always catches up with me – in one way or another. You can’t be in a leadership position and avoid conflict – it is part of life. Conflict means rejection. God is dealing with my issues of rejection one terrible conflict at a time. And yet, when I feel powerless in a conflict, it triggers the partially trained sadistic demon (ptsd) to go on a rant again, bringing me back to a, “Are you friggin’ kidding me,” when is the Truth going to set me free once and for all?

Today is one of those days I need to face a conflict – not a big one – that is the problem of avoidance – they seems ridiculously big. I skirt it, I dance around it, I tell another about it, I fear it, I dread it. What if I am rejected again? Can I handle it.

You are my Truth Jesus. You hear it all, you see it all, you know my heart. Frail and broken as it is most of the time, you have been healing the broken pieces one at a time. You quiet my racing heart and help me to face the giants you have chosen for me. To prove me. To strengthen me.  I don’t know how people without faith in God face giants. I don’t even have a sling and a stone like David, I have only my fists and my faith; my fists pounding against the chest of an immovable God while my faith knows He loves me all the more for the pounding. He can take a few bruises – He took more than that.

Some would say I am deceived – weak minded to place faith in a God instead of myself. I have faith in the me that He created to face the giants. But me alone – nah, not gonna happen. Tried that before, and I always end up crawling back to God asking Him to pick me up again. Daddy, I can’t do this alone, please hold my hand and help me walk. If I am delusional, this is a wonderfully freeing delusion. You will know the truth….

I was reminded today of a poem I wrote in 2011 about the death of Micaiah – it was the first public acknowledgement of pain about his death I made.

I told the Lord I hated Him, I thought He’d hate me too.

Instead He said, “That’s just one of the sins I bore for you.”

I told the Lord He wasn’t fair, children should never die.

He said, “I’m glad you’re telling me and free to question why?”

Why is life so filled with pain when You’re the God of light?

Why allow such suffering when You can make it right?

Is this really for Your purposes or is it just some ploy?

To play with us a game of fate,  a twisted cosmic toy?

I felt a drop upon my face as tears fell from the sky,

Reminding me of God’s great love descending from on high.

He spoke these words into my heart, and burned them in my soul,

Stay honest in your pain with me for I will make you whole.

Religious fronts and masquerades are Evils entity,

The truth of your heart is in my hands, and the Truth will set you free.

Note: If this is your first visit to my blog; We lost a child in a spiritually abusive cult (Hobart Freeman’s “Faith Message”)  in 1990. Some of the excerpts are part of a book project about those years and my journey of healing.

Are You Kidding Me?

I sat in the car with our other five kids while David walked into the grocery store; it had been three weeks since I had given birth to my stillborn son, but was still unable to walk more than a short distance. I witnessed the “brother” coming out of the store. He had attended the church fellowship we had broken away from – all within the same cult. It was a good break, the former having told me my re-marriage was “unscriptural,” “unforgiven,” divorce was never, under any circumstances acceptable. Even though I did not embrace the Christian faith until a couple years after my marriage to Dave, even though I had several kids with Dave, even though my ex-husband was marrying another woman,  I was to divorce Dave and pray for reconciliation of my first marriage. Thank God David had some common sense – as for me – I had nightmares of my infants being cast into the “lake of fire” due to my “sins.”  We have been married 30 years now and he is my best friend, confidante, partner, lover – my life.

From this line of thinking this man emerged and approached Dave in the grocery store parking lot. Later Dave would relay the conversation with clenched jaw and pain filled eyes, “Did the Lord show you where you missed it brother?” was the first question he asked. “Where’s the sin in life,” others would go on to ask, “You need deliverance from a “Molech spirit” still more. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!! Did we really get sucked into a form of religion that believes this? Or treats each other this way? No one said, “I’m sorry, how can I help?” “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” No sign of compassion or thought for a grieving father but,  “Did the Lord show you where you missed it.” After all, Dave had to have missed it for the, name it and claim it, if you have faith, nothing will ever go wrong mentality.

I’d like to say I never see this in mainstream Christianity, but I do – some more than others and much more prevalent in some circles. How can we reconcile the miraculous works of God we have witnessed (and I have – many – true miracles in our own lives) and intense suffering? Easy, it is a matter of correct Theology, understanding God is sovereign, and Who what are we trusting in. If losing a child, a job, a home, family members (the many things we have lost) delivered us from a cult, from arrogance, bad theology, to have empathy and love for others, and to be more like Jesus, then I God is a heck of a lot smarter than I am. Jesus suffered. Period. He modeled it for us. We live in a broken world. Period. End of story. God is love. Period. Even when it doesn’t feel it. Even when we hate Him in protest of the evil surrounding us. Period. Our pea brains will never fully comprehend God and I no longer need to. I just need to model God’s love for humanity and instill hope in a broken life. That is all any of us can do – if we choose to.

I don’t know what happened to the “brother” who wanted to know where we “sinned” in losing a child. Maybe he has lived a pain free life with perfect children and no loss. For his sake, I hope he has learned empathy; I hope he has learned what the the love and grace of Christ really looks like. I know I have, and brother wherever you may be, I forgive you.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Cor. 1:4

Where was God in Oklahoma?

A few years ago I was told about a conversation that transpired between an individual who had lost a loved one on September 11th, and my chaplain friend who spoke to him. The conversation centered   around where was God on September 11th, and where is large-waves-4He when bad things and devastating events like hurricanes and tornadoes occur. Whenever I hear that statement I am reminded of my father’s frequently used comment, “There weren’t any atheists in the foxhole,” in reference to his time in the trenches of World War II. My father was not a particularly spiritual person when I was growing up so I never quite understood what he was referring to until recent years, when I starting doing crisis and disaster work.

No matter what a person’s spiritual state may be, when confronted with horrific life threatening events the questions of God almost always arise. It is why I love doing what I do, and why I wince when I hear of  organizations that go in to a situation with the main goal of enlarging their religious entity or belief system. I am a Jesus lover – through and through – but when I go in to help hurting people, it is with the hope that they will see and feel the love of Jesus in and through my compassionate acts, and nothing else  – love for loves sake and nothing else.  IMG_1580

So, where is God in all of this? Where is Jesus? A lot of opinions get thrown around at times like this and with them poor examples of the faith I hold dear. Some people feel the need to force God into natural events and man made disasters for answers. We live in a fallen world- we live in a world full of scientific mysteries and wonders – things happen – weather happens – bad things happen.

In the Hebrew scriptures in the book of I Kings, Chapter 11, verses 11 to 12, the Lord spoke to a traumatized Prophet Elijah who had been hiding in a cave after the slaughter of many… It went like this:

Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.”

A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.”

Where was God in the tornado? He wasn’t in the damaging winds, or the flooding waters of Sandy, or the ripping Tsunami in Japan, or the bombings, or shootings, or earthquakes, or gas chambers, or any other devastating event; God is in the gentle whisper. He is in the rescue workers who tire endlessly to find survivors, in the people running shelters and feeding sites – He is in the neighbors who pull together, the teachers who hovered over children to protect them, the people who travel from near and far to cut trees and sift through debris, the nurses and doctors who work tirelessly, the chaplain and pastors who comfort and clothe… Hopefully God will be seen in me.

God is in the still small voice that says, “I love you, and I will be with you through every breath you take calling you to myself. Beloved, I am here, see me.”  That is where God was. That is where God always is.

Note: More on the trauma of the prophet Elijah can be found at my other blog:

http://hesedhappenings.blogspot.com/2010/02/voice-of-god-frienship-evangelism-in.html

 

 

 

“Me pousser sur la balançoire!”

“Push me on the swing!”

Henri and Janette Levaufre

It was a huge swing made from two telephone poles. Henri Levaufre worked for the telephone company as an electrical engineer laying lines in Periers, France. I imagine that is where the poles came from. At the age of eleven I could stand upon the swing seat and pump it until the swing was horizontal to the ground causing slack in the lines. It didn’t matter that it was a significant fall to the ground. Sometimes I could implore the oldest, teenage son, Christian to push me so I could remain seated and reach otherwise unattainable heights. They would try to stop me as I came pummeling through by catching me in a blanket stretched tightly from one side of the swing to the other by his younger brothers. “Me pousser su la balancoire Christian! S’il vous plait!”  Please I would beg. Most of the time Christian would fold and push me – this handsome young Frenchman who I adored.

It was 1969 and we were there to visit Henri who was just beginning to host American veterans of the 90th division. The 90th was the division that liberated that particular area in France when Henri was 13 years old. I visited them twice, once with just my parents, and once my older sister Maureen accompanied my parents and I.  Maureen was married at the time but had never been able to travel as a child.  (Maureen celebrates her 50th wedding anniversary in a few weeks.)

My father was a decorated WWII veteran who was a medic in the European theatre. He was also at the invasion of Normandy Beach on D-Day. During my father’s funeral in which the usual military delegation attended, there wasn’t any roll call as they usually do.  I was told he was the last survivor of the 90th division WWII vets.

 Henri has devoted his lifetime tohttps://i1.wp.com/www.90thdivisionassoc.org/images/jpgs/Web%20mural.jpg honoring the lives of soldiers on both sides  of the battles beginning with the Americans. In his mapping out of the fox holes and battles of that area, he found pieces of artillery and other debris, including  German remains and dog-tags, making him an instrument in bringing closure to the questions of a family whose son had been missing for a very long time. When we visited he had a small museum in his basement. From what I understand that was the beginning of a much larger public museum now.

Henri has since been to the US many times and honored by former president Reagan, as well as a long list of honors including the official 90th European representative. I know my father continued to see Henri over the years,  but for the most part that was kept a secret from me due to the family dysfunctions between my separated parents, and estranged brothers. No information was safer for all concerned – or so they thought.

As this blog goes along with the book project I am writing about my life of healing from trauma, childhood memories are a part of that healing. I often think about my fathers reactions to situations and his probable case of traumatic stress as many WWII veterans and civilians must have dealt with.  There are so many stories of the children of WWII veterans who remember harsh discipline and anger in the 1950’s and 60’s. Maybe unresolved traumatic stress was a culprit. Maybe not. Maybe just fallen humanity.

Today, in thinking about my father,  I found myself looking up Henri. I discover that he has written a book and I ordered it from Amazon. I saw my fathers name mentioned in the book and want to learn whatever history may still be available to me; I want to learn more about the 90th division as a part of my heritage and the heritage of my family. I pass that history on to my son Elijah who served in the Air Force, my son Levi who is getting ready to join the Air Force, and my son-in-law who was regular Army, now full time National Guard. It is a family legacy I am proud of.

You can see or order the book here:  

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0972733027   

As a result of looking up Henri’s name, and a little further digging I was able to find him and begin a dialogue with him via email, now at 82 years of age.

Sadly, my father died just two months prior to the books publication which means the men who fought for the liberation of Perier would never see the book that honors them. The way of most heroes – they never know they are heroes until after their death.

So today, my blog honors the men of the 90th division who lived and died for the cause of freedom; and to Henri Levaufre, who made a difference in showing them all that what they fought for had a greater purpose, and that they will never be forgotten.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”    John 15:13

Note: I hope I can take David to meet Henri someday soon while he and his lovely wife are still there to greet me; and to see the places that so deeply influenced my father, my family, and a nation.

 

 

 

 

What’s It All About?

What’s it all about Alfie?

“Are we meant to take more than we give, or are we meant to be kind. I believe in Love, Without true love we just exist…”

It was a Thursday, four days after our baby Micaiah’s death on Monday, that we had a tiny graveside burial. We didn’t make a fuss about it or invite any relatives from far away even though grandparents had asked that we please have them. It was just our children and a handful from our church; after all -he wasn’t there -he was with Jesus. It was there I made the suggestion… Dave was the song leader of our small group in those days and we had our church service the next night. “Maybe Dave shouldn’t lead worship tomorrow night.” “He has to get up there sometime,” was the reply, “It may as well be now.”  And so he did, weeping the entire time.

One of the most common definitions for grace I hear used is “unmerited favor,” but grace is so much more. Grace is the state of being we need to live to rest in agape love. Grace is a place of constant worship, or abiding joy. “Grace” derives from the Greek, charis, and in a secular context to the philosophers referred to having favor and loving-kindness. Loving-kindness.

Burt Bacharach used to sing a song titled Alfie.

What’s it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give
Or are we meant to be kind?…

As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above, Alfie,
I know there’s something much more,
Something even non-believers can believe in.
I believe in love, Alfie.
Without true love we just exist, Alfie.

Churches that operate by fear or intimidation are spiritually abusive churches and cults. You can tell if they are spiritually abusive because their doctrines and dogmas rule more than love rules. They have services that leave you feeling beat up instead of built up, condemned instead of convicted, and weak in the faith instead of strong in the faith. They emphasize outward conformation instead of inward transformation. They emphasize  the work you need instead of the rest He gave

There can be no true love without grace. There can be no love if we are incapable of showing “unmerited favor” to each other. Not the kind of grace that says if we don’t all believe the same doctrines we can’t serve Jesus together, but the kind of grace that says we all are weak, fallible humans who will stand before a loving God someday laughing (or crying) over all the wrong doctrines, dogmas and opinions we hold.

The single most important thing – the Truth we all need to hold as our common flag or banner under which we abide –

Jesus – without sin, crucified, risen, seated with God as God, our mediator; the way, the truth, and the life. The One who sets the captives free by his grace and love and holds us gently in His capable hands.

If we continue to get stuck on the particulars of doctrines without thinking about others first, what they need, who they are, what they have experienced to make them who they are- we “take more than we give.” If we turn to gospel of Christ into something we have to sell like a cheap magazine, we take more than we give. Can we love others just for the sake of Love and let love be our principle witness? Maybe as the song states, “there’s something much more, Something even non-believers can believe in…” His name is Jesus.

 “You have one Master, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.  But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift.” Ephes. 4:5-7 The Message

Note: What’s It All About Alfie?

We were in Hobart Freeman’s Faith Message, a hyper faith cult that took (documented) well over 183 lives due to its divine healing only teachings. (It’s unknown how many instances like our child were never linked to the cult.)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobart_Freeman This blog is part of a book project I am completing sharing how the true and lasting grace of God can heal and deliver from the devastating effects of spiritual abuse; as well as an encouragement to the church to train how to minister effectively to hurting people, without judgment, bias, or manipulation, but as Jesus did. In Love.

PTSD, and the Power of Forgiveness

The thing about PtSD is it doesn’t always succumb to self-care. It’s not influenced by peer pressure or suppressed by management techniques. Sometimes he is going to have his way and only the power of God can stay his hand.

Last year was one of those years – Drip, drip, drip, drip. Trauma is big – it’s huge, but the smaller losses of life can act like Chinese Water Torture. Drip, drip, drip…

Dave’s job loss leading to losing our dream home, someday we may actually get to retire into gentleman farming, mountain property; moving here, newly diagnosed physical ailments and an suddenly “empty nesting” house has been big. Struggling just to put food on the table at our ages is bigger. This is the time in our lives we thought we would have just enough money to quite struggling to keep on top of bills– maybe visit our grown children once in a while so that our rapidly emptying nest didn’t feel quite so empty. And we did for a year or two. Thanks IBM. Thanks Economy. Blah, blah, blah.

I thought I was implementing some self-care last year.  I thought I was giving myself enough space to handle the changes. Pressure to build the ministry enough to pay my expenses and maybe, just maybe, the possibility of a small future paycheck got me rolling. The desire to work well within my church affiliation and bring order into disaster response chaos was a hallucination. The church – it’s always the church adding to pain and confusion – always the church hurting each other more than other folks. If I had a nickel for all the people who tell me about the pain they have experienced by the church…I am part of that church; I add to that pain. God help me.

It was a good time to build my work within the disaster community with three major disasters in fifteen months. “Jamie, do you think you could…?” “Jamie, there is an opportunity for…” “Jamie, have you thought about…?”  People all wanting to help me make a difference – all desiring to see me succeed. (I like to believe that anyway.) Add to this I quite simply feel the pain of others tragedies and above all else want to make a difference. I want to help them.

And I hurt now – the new physical pain is real. Menopause was real. The results were real. Why now? Why all at once. Seriously God?  Are you kidding me?  The image portrayed by C.S. Lewis  picturing God as a “Cosmic Sadist” comes to mind. Blah, blah, blah.

Somewhere in the midst of these minor (sarcasm) life changes I got overwhelmed. A few friendships got strained or worse, more kids left for college, or moved away and PtSD  (Partially Trained Sadistic Demon) tried to set up camp again on the powerless stage of change. Pain built, anger rose, and he refused to succumb to the management techniques, peer pressure, or self-care. “You need to turn the baby.”  “We don’t turn, the Lord delivers”, was the reply. Where the hell did that come from? What does that have to do with anything? Why now?  I hear her voice. (Yes I said hell, PtSD is not polite) Cosmic Sadist, Cosmic Sadist. Powerless again.

“Come to me Jamie.” “Come away.” The voice of unconditional love beckons me to forget what others think or say. He beckons me back to where the voice that is telling me, “We don’t turn the Lord delivers” dissipates into the reality of His plans and purposes despite our poor choices. “But Jesus, I blew it again all year and the icy cold winter days reflected my pain filled heart. I listened to the wrong voice and lost control. I lost You.” “Jamie, it’s OK. I got your back. I always have your back. You did what’s required, you did your best, and you asked for forgiveness. The rest is up to them. Let it go.”

It was a long year – 2012 – but I learned so much about myself it was a good year. It was a great year! Being conformed to the image of Christ. Thank you Jesus. That’s all I want. Mr. Partially trained Sadistic Demon is getting more well trained with every passing year until maybe I’ll be able to give him over to his true Dark Master to be turned lose on some poor unsuspecting traumatized individual. It’s OK though, cause Jesus may have their back too.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37

 

Note: As I walk this journey I am learning more and more how forgiveness begins and ends with us and what Jesus is saying when admonishes us to forgive others if we want to be forgiven. We wrong each other – we always will. We hurt each other ALL THE TIME. (Don’t think that’s true? Look at the divorce rate or estranged families.) As I walk in forgiveness and beg it from those I have wronged, Sadistic Demon cowers in fear and the power of a Living God breathes for me.

PTSD, Jesus, and Me Pt. 2

The police came to my home to investigate for a “crime scene”. It was the protocol for a death at home without a doctors supervision…

He wasn’t raised from the dead. There were no miracles to make this foolish nightmare end. The life was never returned to him and his blood began to flow out of his untied umbilical cord. I heard David’s broken voice in the distance say, “It’s over Jame. Let it go.”

All I remember was a weight so heavy upon my chest I felt I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t feel this, life has been good . Happy. My babies are my life. Dave’s life.  This dark place was someplace I couldn’t go. I refuse.  I went through the motions without tears – I needed a shower to remove the blood and I was too weak to stand – Dave had to help me. Tie the cord, wash the baby, dress him in the little gown I had just sewed for him as his welcome to our family.  “I want pictures.” “A lock of hair.” “No,” I was encouraged by the women attending, I would remember what he looks like. No pictures. No hair. It was alright they said, it would all be sealed in my memory. He had been weighed, measured, head circumference. He was beautiful- and big. At almost 12 pounds, and over 22 inches long he looked 3 months old at birth. He was perfect with lots of thick dark hair. That’s all I can remember. It was a lie – I no longer remember what he looked like. But I see him through the eyes of faith being held by the unseen God I see through those same eyes.

Many don’t believe that there is a God, or that He is sovereign over our life, but I do. Life is like a beautiful symphony full of happy measures as well a heartbreaking ones, but God is always a vital part of the piece.  Sometimes I feel like He is the Conductor and every note is played according to his hand; other times he may be a prominent piano, or the Concertmaster leading with His mournful violin – but He is present.

It was about 10:30 at night and we had to take care of our son. Dave called a funeral parlor not knowing what else to do, or who to turn to.  I didn’t know it was a crime scene, I didn’t know that there would be a state detective, the coroner, and a state’s attorney, along with the funeral director – but God did,  and is this concerto he conducted the players.

The detective came in and kneeled in front of me as I cradled Micaiah in my arms. I vaguely remember him telling me he was sorry for my loss. He apologized for having to ask me questions and for bringing the others with him explaining to me about the crime scene.  He told me he understood what I was feeling because he had buried his two year old daughter just a few months previous. I told him his daughter was with Jesus. I spoke to him about the hope I had of spending eternity with my son and that he could see his baby daughter someday too if he knew Jesus. Someone else was speaking the words while I watched it happen from a place outside myself. Surreal.  Shock. In my heart I’ve always known it to be true, but in my flesh, nothing was real.  I asked him questions about the crime scene – about what they looked for. He reassured me that he could see by our play room, our homeschool classroom, and our family pictures, that we loved our children; he told me we weren’t suspect and reassured me it was OK.  And then it was time.

That’s when Dave asked if he could carry our son to the waiting hearse – that is when I heard the piercing scream in the room and realized it was my own. That was the first time I saw a shadow fall upon David’s face; a shadow I would come to recognize as the burden of believing he had failed. He had failed his son. He had failed his family. Life was never going to be the same.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”  2 Cor. 4:7 NLT

Note: Our story is a message of the Light out of darkness. Life has never been the same for David and I or our children, but it has been life and it has been good. God has walked beside us every step, every pain, and every trial. I love Him more each day as the reality of the cross becomes crystal clear. Even when we fail at our instrument, He is there to hold our hand upon the bow and give us the music. In our weakness He is made strong. When others forsake us, He is our constant companion. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and though we may stumble and fall, the light will get brighter if we just keep moving forward one step at a time.

PTSD, Jesus, and Me. My Personal Journey of Healing and Grace

It’s been over 22 years since I buried my infant son in a cult – the reason was spiritual abuse- the effects were PTSD. Today I turned 54. Today, I begin to tell my story with the hope it will bring healing to someone else – that it will continue to bring healing to me, and to my family. A voice heard is a voice with power. I lost my voice to a traumatizing, power stealing demon called PTSD, who replaced my voice with rage, my heart with shards, and my love with fear;  but slowly, little by little, the laryngitis is being healed by the power of a loving God.

It was an unassisted home-birth. My wonderfully competent midwife was not going to be invited to the birth – the why of that spiritually abusive reasoning is for another day.

It rises up without warning, and the intrusive images and voices are before me. The trigger has been pulled:
I am there in that room on December 10th, 1990, laboring to give birth for the sixth time.

I hear my voice in a desperate plea from a place beyond myself; a plea to save the life of my son. I hear her reply from across the room; the reply that brought death. I feel the searing pain in my body; the pain of a baby that needs to be born, right now, in a body that is powerless to do it. I am powerless. (He weighed 11 pounds, 12 ounces.) Then the pain is gone – replaced with a different kind of pain – a pain that would never leave me. I see my husbands slumped shoulders as he carries the lifeless body of our perfect baby boy to the waiting hearse. I hear a piercing scream; the cry of anguish, before I realize it’s my own.

It happened twenty-two years ago; it happened yesterday. Feelings of powerlessness overwhelm me, a loss of identity, and the loss of my voice. Can’t you hear me? Can’t you see what is happening? Do something. The loss of my voice means death.

It is always intriguing to me that we can throw around the word “ill” as a physical ailment like diabetes or heart disease, cancer or the common cold; but when ill refers to something mental, cognitive, or emotional like depression or anxiety, PTSD, or traumatic complicated grief – people flinch. All of a sudden we are thrown back to our child-hood with thoughts of “cooties,” or a biblical picture of a man wearing shackles living in the tombs with spit dribbling out of his mouth.

Only those of us who have or do suffer from the effects of a traumatic loss or PTSD, know the deep rooted darkness it can bring – the deep regrets, the loneliness, the isolation and fear. My life was ruled by fear – fear of loss, fear of failing again, fear of pain, fear of feeling the pain, again, and again, and again….all masquerading as anger in a mess of chaos and confusion. Who am I?

Those of us are at least 50% of the population now and as disasters and traumatic events increase, so do the effects of anxiety, depression and PTSD.  Many times I would have chosen to have been delivered from this cold that I tend to catch several times a year to varying intensities, but most of the time I am actually thankful that I have been able to experience the darkest places of humanity. I am thankful that God uses it to mold me into His image. I am thankful that I can feel what others feel, and hurt when they hurt and can walk alongside others when they must enter into the dark places of humanity, the dark places of grief. It is a sacred place, this place of suffering. It is not for the faint of heart, or those without great faith in the knowledge and sovereignty of God.

Oh Christian, does that scare you? Does it bother you to think that deliverance does not always come to us? Or do you choose to believe it is sin in the life of the sufferer, or a lack of faith? Or do you think I am ill for choosing to embrace suffering instead of fleeing from it, that I choose to lean into it as I lean on a Cherished Friend?

I would rather choose one day in fellowship with Christ’s suffering than a lifetime of empty joy. PTSD brought me closer to God and to His healing power. The joy is all the sweeter for the knowledge of how great a price was paid to purchase it for me. Pure joy, reflected from pure pain.

The trigger is powerlessness and with eight children and nine grandchildren powerlessness is a common thread in my life; with a ministry and a calling, powerlessness is a common thread in my life. With breathing, powerlessness is a common thread in my life – a common thread in the life of humanity. As long as we are breathing we are powerless to control the future. We can’t control our children or their choices; we can’t control the drunk driver, the miscarriage, the cancer or the size of a baby. We can do our best with what we have – we can try to make wise choices, do the right thing, and prevent foolish losses, but none of us can control the outcome of life – only God can- and His outcome is often not the one we would choose for ourselves. It is however, the one that will bring about the most personal change if we let it. Sure we have choices in life, and those choices often dictate life or death, good or bad, but the ending belongs to God and God alone.

I clearly see David standing in the corner weeping silently as death covers the face of our child; but now, sometimes, I get a glimpse of Jesus moved with compassion weeping beside him. I still see my husband’s slumped shoulders as he carries our perfect baby away, only sometimes before PTSD gets its grip on my mind, I see Him. Jesus with his arms wrapped around Dave, gently cradling and carrying him – carrying both of them. I still hear a mother’s voice wailing in anguish, but sometimes, the wail turns to a cry of praise right before my eyes. In those moments, I know that I can make it, that real and lasting healing happens in the unseen places of our hearts where only God dwells. I know that He has given me a great purpose and calling in my life and a voice to make a difference.

Note: We were in the “Faith Message” a hyper faith, divine healing only movement founded by Hobart Freeman.
Please share this with others who have been involved in cults, suffered loss, trauma or spiritual abuse. Maybe, just maybe it will help them find their voice. And please stay with me on this journey of healing, your presence makes a difference.