My Story: Overcoming the Drunken Monster Within

I’ve spent some time in the dungeon of self-hatred. The term was only a few short years but let me tell you, it was hell down there. A prison-of-sorts where my worth was beaten repeatedly. My image so bruised that it even hurt to look in the mirror. It was sorrowful time, a contemplative pit of disgust and shame. A time when the choices I’d made with my own free will caused me to trip and fall, the long way down.

prison

Some of you know bits of my story. The pre-Me was a girl who’d enjoy any excuse for good time. Drinking was my desired gateway to fun. Oh, it was all in good spirit, I told myself. Most of the time (but not always) I was able to juggle the drink and the façade of self-control pretty darn good. Just a carefree girl with a forecast for fun, I told myself.

But the untold truth was like bubbling magma. What many did not know is that the beer swallowed cold was feeding a monster. A monster of generational alcoholism, a monster with haughty eyes and a lying tongue.

Oh, in those early years the monster’s voice was so affirming. It’d tell me such grand things about myself. It’d tell me how beautiful I was and how deserving I was of ANYTHING and EVERYTHING I wanted. I only needed to relentlessly pursue and I could have it all – the whole world, yes! As the consummation ensued, the voice would coil itself around my spirit and make me feel like a twelve story building.

Come morning, I hated that damn monster. And myself.

True enough, as the years carried on I began to chase after another baby Love. It was the heart of God. As I sought, I learned. Until oh-so-softly another voice began to emerge. This Gentle one, it wasn’t pushy. Heck, though, it spoke truth to me that sometimes stung.

“You are my ambassador,” the Gentle voice would say. “This (drink) is not good for you. When will you let it go?” The question always circled like a white dove returning home, into the palm of my hand. It was always up to me as to what I’d do with it.

Even still, despite the Gentle voice and despite my personal academy of seeking, from time to time I’d feed that monster. Without fail it pushed and bullied its way into chambers of my heart, attempting to conquer its foe, the Spirit of God.

I discovered that the monster had an uncontrollable appetite to devour the other Living occupant of my heart. And so it began, this epic battle for dominance. Back and forth like a sword-drawn Tarzan swinging from a vine. Back and forth, with each pass the Spirit hacked away at the choking weed – monster. Back and forth, with each pass the monster attempting to spew poisonous lies.

“For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. “ – Galatians 5: 17

It takes time; the sanctification, the cleansing, the killing of monsters. The death of it all was a process. The finality, grotesque. The most severe pain I’ve ever felt in my whole life. The grief – a dark tomb. For me, this self-death of drinking was my plummet into the dungeon of self-hatred.

Thanks be to God who rescued me from the pit with His right hand. Though that place was dark, the Voice was with me saying things like,

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light.” -1Peter 2:9

You see, when the monster died, my body felt like ash. But let me tell you, in that good-long-hard-season the Lord God made me whole again, this time, into a new creation. Yes, He did that. I can’t believe it’s been nearly eight years since He destroyed that monster within but He did, and I’ve never known such freedom. Praise be!

And do you know what? He can do that for you too. You’re never beyond His reach. Never. I believe that some of you have been living under the monster’s thumb for far too long. You’re tired. You’re lying in the pit of self-hatred, perhaps.

Dear brother or sister, listen, God’s unfailing love for you is so vast that there is nothing you can do (or nothing you’ve done) that can remove this Love. All you need to “do” is turn your head, look to Him, repent, and let Him lead you into a new (better) life. No regrets.

Amen.
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Crossing the Bridge of the Great Racial Divide

I met a black man last week. He’s on the construction team working to replace the bridge along this Colorado ranch road.

bridgeworkahead

Initially ours was a simple conversation. He was doing his thing, on his side of the road. I was doing my own thing, on the opposite side. Our paths crossed in a warm greeting, then he inquired. He asked me about the ranch, our work. And so this door opened. I shared with him our summer adventure story, telling him about our Minnesota roots and how we’re spending a few months up here in high country. Then, it was my turn to ask about his work, his family. And so it went. It was simple, really.

Then Charleston.

I don’t know about you but this, this latest evil has broken my spirit. The same leather-cracked spirit that feels overwhelmed by the whiplash of racial explosions rippling across our nation over the years.

It’s cause to stop and ask, “What is going on here?” It’s cause for me, a white girl living in a predominately white community, to wake up. It’s cause to pay attention because whenever the earth begins to shake there is a battle to behold.

Though sin and injustices appear to be our ruin I still believe God is at work, doing something big in the hearts of men who will pause long enough to seek His heart, His plan for all peoples living in this great nation.

This post is a long time coming. I’ve been praying, reading a lot and really just trying to “consider” how the Lord wants to use His people in this battle.

Today’s message is simple;

we must be willing to cross the bridge.

 

bridgework

Jesus did it. Consider the story of the woman at the well {John 4}. He busted through cultural barriers to demonstrate love and truth, regardless of the social awkwardness.

Question to consider: Are people outside your race or culture a part of your routine comings and goings?

If the answer is an undeniable No, then maybe it’s time to consider crossing the great divide.

Two things to consider:

  • The bridge is already built. If you are a believer in Christ, take heart, the heavy foundational work is finished. The bridge to reconciliation was established when God chose to establish peace with sinful man through the sacrificial death of Jesus. Because of this we have been reconciled to God {2 Corinthians 5:17-18}. Jesus is the bridge of peace, love and forgiveness.

“Reconcilers go beyond the point of peaceful coexistence and build bridges by embracing diversity as a lifestyle value…” -David Ireland

  • Start walking. It’s one thing to talk-the-talk and another to walk-the-walk. The journey from one side of the road to another in an attempt to bridge the diversity gap in your life, home or family may feel a bit awkward at first. It’s in those feelings of displacement that our senses become heightened. We see, hear, and feel differently when we leave our comfort zones. Take heart, this is normal.

Ideas to consider: Okay, all right…so you wanna start walking. But wait, how? I mean, what exactly do I do?

  • Initiate a conversation
  • Bake and deliver some cookies
  • Invite to your home for a cookout or to share a meal
  • Make a coffee / hot chocolate date

Even though the bridge is built, maintenance is still required. Of coarse, we can choose not to maintain it…but what are the consequences for doing so? Maintaining cross-racial / cross-cultural relationships is healthy. It’s what keeps the foundation strong. Keep in mind bridge work takes time and we can’t expect everything to always go as planned. But if our hearts and minds are focused on cultivating a love and understanding for all nationalities and races then we will become an eager people to move.

“Until you take ownership of the global problem of racial justice and bridge building, you will not be motivated to leave your comfort zone…When we break through barriers, whether cultural or racial, it will help others do the same. This will ultimately lead to global change.” – David Ireland

The literal exchange I shared last week with a construction man working on the bridge was a simple demonstration of taking the first step. If your heart is being nudged, I pray you’d have courage and love in the name of Jesus with total abandon.

Looking to dive deeper? I’d recommend reading the book THE SKIN YOU LIVE IN: BUILDING FRIENDSHIPS ACROSS CULTURAL LINES by: David Ireland.

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A Time to Heal. Hope for the Wounded.

I hurt myself yesterday when a large iron-art piece hanging on the wall suddenly became unhinged from its nail at the precise moment I walked by and gashed my head open. It was so completely unexpected that for several long moments all I could do was hold my face.

And then the blood gushed.

At the time I was alone, so naturally I found myself going into self recovery mode. For the next several hours I bandaged, cleaned carpets, mopped up and swept shards of glass.

It’s ok. I’m alright.

I’m healing.

Ironically, the morning of this incident I literally did a study on, “a time to heal; hope for the wounded.” Crazy, right? Of course, you can guess where my application is headed. 🙂

Because here’s the truth: We are all wounded. We all have scars buried deep within – those unseen – are sometimes the hardest to heal. The reason we are all wounded is because we live in a fallen and imperfect world, and that means life can thrown a mean punch.

But here’s the good news: God draws near to the wounded and broken hearted.

Take a look at the book of Exodus 15. God led his people, the Israelites, into the wilderness. When they were desperate for water, God provided. As well learn, the Israelites had to do their part too. So that, they could experience fully God as their healer.

READ: Exodus 15: 22-26


  “Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”
  Then Moses cried out to the Lord and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.
  There the Lord made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”

From this scripture I find six clues that reveal this process of healing that each one of us can step into at any given time.

1) WE MUST MOVE – We’re told they went and they traveled. They were following their leader, never straying too far away, they moved in sync with him.

2) WE HAVE A DESPERATE NEED – What’s your need? The thing that leaves you longing and aching. The Israelites longed for water. And in their desperation, they asked. In our desperation, we should ask too.

3) CRY OUT TO GOD – They ask and they cry out.

4) REVELATION – When we move towards God, and ask Him to fulfill our need, and cry out in desperation he gives us pictures. He may not give us a quick solution or the answer we believe is best, but God is a God of hope. When we seek him and he gives us a word or a picture in our mind or edifies us through another, these are meant to instill hope. “The Lord showed him a piece of wood.” The revelation is something we can hold. It’s a promise that He sees you and you are not alone.

5) LISTEN & DO – This is the sacrificial art of obedience. Listen carefully, my child. Do what is right, my love. Pay attention, weary one. Keep the law written on your heart. “He threw it into the water.”

6) TRANSFORMATION – “and the water became sweet.” It changed. Everything turned around from that day forward. Because, “I am the Lord, who heals you.”

Today I found broken glass in the corner of my living room. I missed a piece. And so, I cleaned it up. I’m sure to find more later. As you’re sure to discover another low lying area of hurt, another painful wound is sure to get drudged up. Just remember, God heals.

He always does.



Intoxicated- Discovering Your Core Lies

I woke up around midnight on Saturday sicker than a dog. Vertigo. The room had turned itself upside down by the wild spinning in my head. Thus, for a good hour or so produced some nauseating porcelain prayers.

My first bout with the dreaded vertigo came 6 years ago. Again in the middle of the night. That time however; I ended up in the ER with hurried nurses scrambling to diagnose my condition. After a CAT scan, MRI, and full battery of tests they concluded nothing. I was released in perfect form the following day. Still, the jolting affect of that violent episode left me wondering why that happened to me? After I thoroughly analyzed the events from the previous day I was able to self-diagnose the root cause of my sickness.

I had been poisoned.

The said event was stupid, really. I was simply mowing our lawn when it suddenly quit working. Out of gas. So, I filled up the tank and pulled, pulled, pulled on that rip cord thing. Nothing. Hmm. Next, I checked the oil level {well, first I called my husband and thats what he told me to do. Since I’m a fair person I must give credit where due}. Yep, that was the problem! I glugged a quart of oil into the spout, spilling a little {okay, a lot}. Pulled, pulled, pulled and walla I was back in the mowing business.

Except, now, due to the excess oil spillage I had a crazy amount of burn off. You know, black rolling plumes of smoke. I’m not talking a little bit here folks. I’m talking Hiroshima. But a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do and I had to finish mowing the lawn. So thats what I did. Inhaled, ingested, consumed, and digested all those toxic fumes so I could get the job done. In the process I poisoned myself. Later that night, still trapped within the cells of my body, they fought their way to expulsion. Bam, vertigo!

A few weeks ago I began diving into a study written by Sarah Mae aimed at discovering and dealing with lies. Core lies. Those other toxins imbedded into the fiber of our being. Lies that we believe are true about ourself. Lies we don’t even know that we believe.

“Below the flesh, creeping behind bone, in secret places of the spirit,               lie wounds.” – Sarah Mae 
We all have wounds. Taking an in depth look at my own has brought about this radical realization that the way I respond to situations, the manner of how I speak, and how I behave has often times been an overflow of the lies hidden within.  
What’s the big deal anyways? They don’t really have that big of an effect. I’ll just push {mow} through it.
The truth. It’s about living a cleaner, more authentic life. Cleared of debri from the past. Cleaning up the toxic waste and throwing out messy lies. 
Why? To fulfill the ultimate commandment. 
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”             – Matthew 22: 37-39
When we confront those lies and see them as the poison they really are we can be empowered to choose to see and believe the truth. This will make us free. Freedom from lies will give us a greater capacity to love God and love others more fully.

Sometimes it takes a dark night to fully realize that we are indeed sick. Just like my trip to the ER caused me to look back at past events, so can discovering the root of our lies help to diagnose a sin sick condition or ways the enemy has been slithering in and around our wounds whispering tales of deception. 
The Core Lies guide is a free, download that you can obtain here. 
Press on. The truth will set you free.


The Dead Come to Life

I see dead people.

I see them at the store, on the news, in the tabloids, and yes, even at church. Sometimes, for a fleeting moment, I’ll catch the reflection of dry skeletal bones in my own eye. It sends a shiver to my core. Zombies roaming the earth. Decaying life.

Is that you? It’s been me.

First, a life killing condition. Then, a cure.

First, destroyed over my {sinful} will be done.
Then, 911.

First, aching with desire.
Then, 911

First, code blue in grief.
Then, 911

One time my little brother called 911 because he saw a car bust through a stop sign without stopping. True story. In his mind, he believed justice needed to be served. Although it was a false alarm, we were quite amazed when the authorities showed up at the front door.

There is something about the power of authority. Good guys fighting the ugliness of life. Good guys rushing to save the hurting, helpless, and dying.
Consider the reverence we bestow upon those good guys in authority. The way the shrill of sirens, and flashing lights of crimson and blue cause us to heed and pull over. Our unified response for the dignity and respect of someones life overcomes us.
But what about our own life? Your own response? Is it really possible to overcome death?

The answer: yes! One good guy in authority. His name is Jesus.  

Recently I came across Jonathan Thulin’s epic storytelling video for his new single, Dead Come To Life. For the following 9 minutes allow this creative cinematic production to propel your world. 

And if tonight you’re feeling dead…

I pray you call upon 911 and find resuscitating life. {John 10:10}