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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Big Announcement: I’m Expecting!

You heard it right, I’m expecting! The anticipated arrival of my first baby, the highly anticipated novel is within sight.

It’s taken nearly three years. Some of you may recall the first announcement about Me and My Big Fat Secret. Many of you have followed me along this perilous journey and offered heaps of encouragement to keep going. Thank you, dear friends!

So here’s the latest.

In January, I signed a publishing contract with Ambassador International, a small Christian publishing house out of South Carolina and Belfast, Ireland. Cool, huh?

Cool because my story is a historical, rooting itself in Ireland.

In March, I submitted my entire manuscript to the publisher and was introduced to my editor. Whom I’m over the moon excited to be working with. If you remember the post way-back-when about my future editor, the one I’ve been praying for since the very beginning, well, she’s the one I’ve admired and respected over the years. I got her! I feel so blessed.

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And now, I’ve officially entered the death by details phase. Re-writes and edits galore. The light is beginning to emerge from the cave as I can officially announce, the baby will be arriving this coming fall! Yippee.

There’s so much I want to say about how much I’ve learned and grown as a writer and as a human. Seriously. But my brain hurts to think anymore so let’s just take a pause and celebrate, shall we? So, if I’m absent from this space for a little while longer, now you’ll know why. 🙂

More fun announcements about the book to come!

Suicide-A story of hope & intention

It was January 2007 when I got the call.

He died. My dear friend, the one from high school, the one I’d always considered a brother. It was suicide. It was intentional.

I could describe for you the pain, the looping roller coaster of grief. A cheap ride I never wanted to go on in the first place and one that took a long, long, long time to get off. But I’m assuming you’ve been acquainted with heart wrenching loss. If you haven’t…someday you will.

So, this is my suicide story. The way it sliced me to the core, bloody and bruised, leaving me vulnerable to the realms of this world and beyond. This is my story of how God courted me during that season. This is my story of how He used all those broken pieces to create something new in me.

God says He is the beginning and end. He who is, who was, and who is yet to come. {Rev.1:8} He is the past, present, and the future. And when I welcomed Him to live and reign in my heart, He promised to never leave me or forsake me. He knew what was to come, and looking back I discover that in a million little ways He was preparing me for that black moment. He always does.

Even still, grief is an unwelcome companion.

In the month’s preceding my friends suicide I had developed a very strong unsettling feeling within my spirit. It was odd. Unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I kept it to myself mostly. I prayed. Then one day, while driving I heard a voice whisper, “Death is near.” Whoa! I shook it off. Yet, it periodically returned. The voice. Those words. Death is near.

And then, the call.

Death is destruction, disaster, and a devastating mixture to our soul. Suicide tosses in additional ingredients. Heaping cups of guilt, pounds of regret, and bitterness served up in bulk. We assume our role. We feel part to blame. We could’ve, we should’ve….

This past week a young college student from my church committed suicide. I didn’t know him but my heart aches for his family and friends. I remember the pain as if it was yesterday. It’s palpable. I hold my journal in my palm, I flip back, and I recoil as I relive that moment.

This grief zone; it’s complicated, dangerously confusing, and life changing.

Are you there? Here are a few things you can do:

1. Record Your Journey. A journal helped me pour out my grief. It was good to help me cope and process the waves that crashed and battered. I quickly discovered that grief measures itself with time. One week, one month, the last time you did this, the anniversary of, words exchanged, all of which become marked by time. In the same way, your grief journey can be measured through words, thoughts, and feelings. As you look back, the million little ways that God was comforting and restoring will slowly be revealed. Not now, not in the fog, but later when you can see a little more clearly. Believe it or not, this journey will be used as a tool. It’s shaping your testimony. Write it out.

Resources: Evernote is an online tablet that you can use to record events or make simple notes. Or consider using Blogger. Opt for private settings if you wish to record for your eyes alone.

2. Guard your heart. Above all else, guard your heart. Imagine your heart as a door, the gateway to your soul. Would you allow a thief in? Never. It’s tempting to want to connect with your loved one. I know. I dabbled. I did not protect myself because I did not understand fully. And because of it I flung open doors to a world that I never intended to enter. But God gave me wisdom and in JESUS NAME I cleaned house and closed doors. I also learned some truths about the Devil. He is a trickster, an impostor, and he masquerades as light. {2 Corinthians 11:14} This means he can disguise himself to look like someone we care deeply for. To masquerade as light means that by all appearances it is good and lovely. Why would Satan do this?  To deceive.

 “Demons are undoubtedly more than willing to masquerade as dead humans if they can deceive tens of millions of people and draw them away from Jesus.” -Ron Rhodes

What’s at stake? When we focus our attention on the spiritual realm or connecting with a loved one rather than fixing our eyes on God, the enemy succeeds. The last thing the Devil wants is for you to gain strength, wisdom, and council from the Lord. This subject is wildly controversial in most circles. I’m stating the biblical truth that has been made known to me. If you wish to have a private conversation about this I’d love to talk. Please message me here.

And pray. He who is in you is greater that he who is in the world.

Resource: The book, The Truth Behind Ghosts, Mediums, & Psychic Phenomena by Ron Rhodes was a huge gift to me. Full of wisdom!

3. Step out of your comfort zone. I know your hurting. Scripture says, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.”{Psalm 126:5} Stepping forward and wrapping your arm around someone who shares your grief is good for healing. When my friend died, God laid a burden of compassion on my heart for his mother. One week after the funeral, my sweaty hands picked up the phone and called her. We talked and cried together for hours. And that was only the beginning…

The remedy does exist. We discover it in a movie, a novel, or in the lyrics of a song. We see it painted in a rainbow or in one star twinkling brighter than the rest. We read it in the Word. Profound and bold, we’ve never noticed it before. The calm, gentle voice whispers truth while the hot shower beads our tear streaked faces. These are the things that bring out hope. Cling. Write. Live. Hope.

Make this your intention.

 

The Heart of a Kinsman Redeemer

Imagine this: You lose your husband, your source of income to provide for yourself, and all hope for the life you had once envisioned.

This is a true story.

Ruth was a young woman when tragedy struck. Her husband had died leaving her lost and alone. The only thing she had to cling to was her mother-in-law, Naomi. A strong woman who also wore the veil of widow-hood. Together, the two of them, left behind everything they owned and traveled back to Naomi’s childhood home. A stack of horrible circumstances pushed these extremely vulnerable women to move back to Naomi’s homeland. A foreign country for Ruth. Literally.

I consider the idea of being placed in the worst possible life situation, such as Ruth and Naomi. What if my only hope for survival was to pack up my belongings and move to a foreign country.

As their journey to this new land unfolds, we witness them wrestling with bitterness and grief. The sinking reality that now they have nothing. They are completely empty.

How will they provide for themselves? How will they survive?

And thats when an unlikely character emerges. His name is Boaz and he is their Kinsman Redeemer.

In Hebrew tradition, a Kinsman Redeemer was a qualified relative, someone who could step into a situation, and assist with restoring property, financial security, and future inheritance. A typical God story where restoration, recovery, and redemption abound.

Boaz is a rich landowner who is leading his working people through the fields during the harvest. He notices this young, foreign woman trailing after his workers picking up scraps of the sheaves. When Boaz asks about her needs he finds in his good heart to give back in complete abundance to these women in need.

As we ourselves enter into this season of harvest, a great time of giving thanks, how can we consider being a Kinsman Redeemer to those in need around us? In the story of Ruth, we find that Boaz has laid out a very simple model for us to follow.

1. Notice. Open your eyes and take a look around you. Who do you see lagging behind? A foreigner, perhaps? Someone who has fallen on hard times? A widow?

2. Clothe with Comfort & Kindness. Sometimes the warmth of a hug or the soft bend of a listening ear is all that one needs. Lavishing someone with intentional kindness often times means that we are the ones who need to step out of our comfort zones. Clothing others with kindness means that we are invested in their pain. Willing to share it with them. When we begin building that kind of relationship with others we will soon discover those needs that might warrant our attention.

3. Give. Go out of your way to give. When Boaz noticed Ruth, first he showed compassion to her by listening to her needs. He made sure she was protected by instructing his workers to look after her. Boaz wanted to make sure that no further harm would come to her. Then, he continually offered her food and drink. He gave her an overflowing measure from his own harvest.

‘Tis the season of the harvest. We gather together and count our blessings. Our lips praise the good things we’ve been given. It’s the abundance. What do we do with the overflow? I encourage you to step out of your space of comfort, stretch out your hand, and bless someone with the heart of a kinsman redeemer.