Moving from mountains…

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Dropped Max off at football practice this morning.  (beware — gushing Mom ahead…)

Can’t begin to tell you how proud of am of this kid.  He’s set his alarm every morning this summer.  I’m tired from just running him around his busy schedule!  Holding on to these next four years with both hands.  God, I love him.  And these past 14 years have flown, just FLOWN by.  I can’t imagine how absurdly insane these next four will speed past… I also can’t imagine not seeing his precious face every single day.  He shrugs it off, “Mom, it’s not like I can’t Skype you in college…”  same.thing.

And I don’t want to get lost in all this busy, his busy, our busy, just plain life busy.  But it kind of just happens, doesn’t it? Despite our best intentions to be present.  It’s like this inevitable suck of our attention — time’s busy nothings and everythings…  Just staring at him across from me in the car and wondering “how the hell did we get to here?” Till I’m jolted by his deeper than deep voice — “Mom, you’re doing it again…”  Right, there’s no crying on the way to football practice…

And I think of a family that is laying their boy to rest today in our little town.  Holding them so close in prayer.  As I can’t imagine their pain, and when I do — it swallows me whole.  Completely guts me.  NO momma should ever, just ever… and I can’t.  I can’t breathe, so I just pray some more.  And I count these moments cherished, blessed.  Because we always think we have this thing called time, don’t we?  And we lament the moments we have not yet had that will go by too fast like we already have them saved up in some future arbitrary bank…  so maybe the key is to enjoy the seconds.  And not assume we have the luxury of stored time at all — a future of “then” moments…  Prayers for this family for whom death cut time all too short.  Our hearts break for you.  ❤

And in all these thoughts and tears I grab my coffee and my Bible and find some solace in the quiet resting place of the morning.  Just the din of the neighborhood kids playing outside.  It’s been a summer.  And as someone who tries desperately to see the good or some sort of lesson or opportunity for growth in everything, we’ll just say for this family and so many of our beloved friends — we’ve all done lots of stretching…

So opening my Bible and sighing I just prayed upon everything, so selfishly, that God could PLEASE speak to my heart.  I didn’t want to be that “Encourage me!  Encourage me!!!!” needy daughter to my Lord — again — but there I was —  Dear Jesus, I need salve for this soul — and like NOW would be ever so nice.  And I was prepared to sit there and read all morning if that’s what it took…

And there it was, in a rather unlikely place — as I’m going through the Old Testament again — Deuteronomy … the second law…

“The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain.”  Deuteronomy 1:6

Yep, that’s it guys.  I broke.  Cried.  It all came out.

And of course, there is context with the Israelites walking through the desert and so on and so forth.  But this verse spoke to me about transition.  Or the need for it.  And perhaps, sometimes, our fear of that necessary change.  So we become stagnate.  We become stuck in familiar patterns,  whether they be thought ones or physical ones or both.  We get stuck on mountains.  High ones.  And sometimes it’s scary to come down from such high places.

You have stayed long enough on this mountain.  You’ve done your time. You’ve learned what you’ve needed to learn.  You’ve struggled, you’ve had it out, you’ve wrestled all.the.things.  Now move.  It’s time to take hold of my promises.  It’s time to TRUST that they are true.  It’s time to KNOW and BELIEVE that good things are waiting for you.  Go get them.  Go to the good things!  “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 1:21c)

And not only do we ‘need not be afraid’, but we don’t have to have it all figured out.  The older I get, the more I realize this.  God is a God of order, not disorder — but he’s not expecting us to organize it all and make it all right.  People are complicated.  Life is a giant mess.  And so often times, we take that mess on when it doesn’t need to be ours and it’s not meant for us to carry — we more than likely have to deal with it, yes, but we can pray on it, make boundaries, and give it to God and he will fight for us (faith, yes?).  Walk down that mountain and throw a few things out of that backpack you’re carrying — heck, throw the backpack off the mountain altogether. He will fight for you.  And he’s got good things in store for us!

“Then I said to you, ‘Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them.  The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert.”  Deuteronomy 1:29,30

Throw the heaviness off the mountain as you go.  You are no longer tethered to it.  And that is really the gorgeousness of God’s grace, isn’t it? He lifts our burdens while he carries us. 

I can’t solve all of life’s problems.  I’d really, really LIKE too (being the problem solver, type A that I am 😉 ) — but I can’t.  Not mine, not my family’s, and not my friends.  I can’t make people understand me who don’t really want to — because they would rather tell me who I am, what I’m really thinking, and what I’m really feeling — instead of just listening.  And I don’t have to try to figure out people for whom reality isn’t consistent — the truth of events and time ebbs and flows for what works for them and feels right for a given situation.  It’s relative to their perception.  What is sometimes is and then sometimes they can decide that it isn’t.  It’s maddening.  And I can be hurt and frustrated and sit in that, or I can realize none of this has anything to do with me.  I can see the long history of the none of this having to do with me.  The insanity and crazy that has caused.  The constant forgiving and giving on my part.  The longing to be understood, to be validated.  And realizing that my worth has nothing to do with that mess.  With their mess.  And I can choose to not be a part of it.  That is their journey.  That is their walk. And I can forgive and love some more. Because so much has been given to me.  And I can chose to see love for exactly what it is, and to embrace what I am meant for.  And all the holiness, grace, and utter humility that comes from that existence and purpose — so much humility 🙂 .  And it certainly doesn’t entail constantly fighting for the definition or validity of mine. ❤

I can rest.  I can move freely.  I don’t have to be afraid of falling.  “You have stayed long enough at this mountain…”  It’s time for a different view.  With easier air to breathe.  It’s time to move on.  I don’t have to be afraid of shining his light…

Love you guys.

Praying for all of us.

Much peace as we hold onto promise.

Ang

“To let go is to lose your foothold temporarily.  Not to let go is to lose your foothold forever.”  Soren Kierkegaard

 

 

 

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Radical, subversive love…

I been worryin’ that my time is a little unclear
I been worryin’ that I’m losing the one’s I hold dear
I been worryin’ that we all live our lives in the confines of fear.

Fear – Ben Howard

loved-world

 

Good morning, beautiful loves…

Happy Sabbath ❤

Breathing in and out as I give this day to God in the stillness of this morning, re-releasing all of the things that have kept me up praying.  Every day is a ‘do over’ and ‘try again’ and ‘start anew’ beginning for this girl.  I’m always a work in progress.  Never done, never anywhere close to perfect.  But always his daughter.  Always His Beloved.

And every day is another day to live for Him and show and teach my boys and love on my boys and inspire them to do the same…  Amazing, daunting, incredible, precious, hard — all.the.things.  And to be and do all of that for others too.  We are to be Jesus.  Just that.  Some days that smacks me in the face more than others.  Lately, it’s been hitting me pretty hard.  Maybe that’s why I’ve been having so many headaches…

Our world has always contained so much evil.  Sin entered in and it took off like pink eye in preschool. Along with the rest of you, this girl has put on her armor and fought these Goliaths for so long — but this new apathy, this new level of ignorance, this new blind following of hate has shocked even me.  But none of this is really new at all now, is it?  In fact, it’s very, very old. And maybe that is what makes it even more heart breaking and disturbing.  We’ve been here.  And the cost to humanity has been horrific.

I’ve always been told to be the “good evangelical Christian girl.”  Be quiet.  Look nice.  Memorize your Bible verses.  Go to church.  Do the right thing.  Be the good daughter, sister, submit and serve.  Always submit to and do not question authority.  That’s what being a good Christian is all about.  Whether that authority is beating you, raping you, and emotionally abusing you — you just take it.  Because that’s your cross to bear.  Because you are less than as a daughter of Eve.  In fact, you are quite nothingless.  Shut up, and try not to breathe so loud.  Don’t cry.  And maybe if you prayed more and thought better thoughts and tried harder to be a better person, you wouldn’t make your Dad so mad and people would like you a little bit more.  Don’t rock the boat.  You’re blessed to be on it.  God didn’t make this world for you.  You were an afterthought.  A need for a man.  And you will be used accordingly.  Did you say something?  Did you have a question?  An idea?  Didn’t think so.  And if you did — it was wrong and stupid.  And you will be punished for it.  All of your thoughts and ideas are bad. Do not be subversive. You will be silenced. This ideology was my life for over half of it.  I daily fight these voices. Minute by minute, breath by breath, by the grace of a very mighty God.

Yet, miraculously, through this all — God was always there.  And every morning I get to wake up to Him.  And every night I go to sleep and he holds me and he reminds me of his never-ending and never stopping love for me.  And the even BIGGER miracle in all of this is that somehow, every day growing up in this mess of lies and abuse and filth of untruths — He never let me go — and a fire burned in my heart for MY Jesus (not for who my Father and Mother said God was), and I dared to question my parent’s God and I held on to my faith–white knuckles as they tried to drive it out of me.  I understand now that the fire — which danced on the disciple’s heads and Jesus promises his followers and all of us in John — was and is the Holy Spirit. He was always my peace, my protector, my comforter.  He was and IS always with me.  I am very aware of this very real relationship.  It’s one that I thank God for daily.  Through tears and so.much.joy.  I was raised by the Holy Spirit. 🙂  I owe my God so much! I truly AM because HE IS.  My living and breathing is a testament to his existence.  I am nothing but his girl.  No other strength but His scraped me through all of those days upon days and years upon years.  I will praise His name forever.  I would have never known love or known how to love without his mercy and grace.  He is my forever miracle, my savior.

This world is a battle zone.  It’s been for me since I was a little.  And yes, I get tired of fighting, but we’re not ever alone — ever — and we’re not here solely to make cupcakes and ride unicorns (although, I DO bake a lot and really, really love unicorns and all things magical 😉 ). And we can and SHOULD experience and take in joy.  Yes, of course, YES!!!  But we also can not be ignorant that a battle rages on every day — and this battle takes the full armor of God.  It always has, but we need to be even more aware and mindful now.  Which can also be viewed in a positive way.  I am even more mindful of what I say and am trying to be even more giving and active to show what I believe and BE that.  Love is a verb, after all.  I want my boys so see this, not just hear it come out of my mouth in our Bible studies and devotions.  I want our home life and action to drown out the hate — or at the very least, be their daily example of good. ❤

And I want to encourage them to be subversive in a world that is championing blind following to hate spewing leadership.  What does that word actually mean?  Webster defines subversive as “an adjective meaning tending or intending to overthrow”.  We are tending to or intending to overthrow evil and injustice every day of our lives on this planet.  Yes, yes we are. And there are SO many evils and injustices every where.  It can be absolutely overwhelming!   And our Jesus was one of the most subversive leaders of his time.  This can be done respectfully and lovingly.  It doesn’t involve violence or meanness!  I want them to be subversive and brave — to fearlessly raise their voices in the face of injustice and cruelty — to never, ever just stand by when civil rights are threatened or when any one person or people seem to think it is acceptable to place value or call “better than” status on human beings for any reason what so ever.  This is never okay.  This will never BE okay.  And we will be called all kinds of names for standing up in love. For being love and giving in love to others who are deemed misfits and marginal.  Because bigotry, sexism, racism, etc. — those words are filled with hate and blame.  They are exempt of love, justice, or peace of any kind.  But we don’t back down from that kind of evil.  Because that’s not why we’re here.  We’re HERE to be like Christ…

And what does the Bible have to say about these things?

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First and foremost, we have only to look to the cross and Jesus’s sacrifice for us.  ALL of us.  Not just white, privileged men.  But all of us. Jesus was neither white, nor privileged, himself.  He was about as big of an outcast as they come.  Even by the church.  Our subversive Jesus.  Our rebel Lord.  ❤

Galatians is an excellent place to go.  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3:28  We are all one.  Doesn’t get any clearer than that.

And this:   The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love you neighbor as yourself.'” Galatians 5:14 (not just your white neighbor, not only if you believe in your neighbor’s religion, not if your neighbor isn’t gay or disabled, etc. — just LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR).  We’re all neighbors.  And we don’t get to pick who’s worthy of that love.  Jesus died for all of us.  And since he made that sacrifice, I’ll leave the judgment part up to him.  I’m pretty messed up myself.  And loving people, just as he did, is the BEST way to bring people TO him.  I’ll follow HIS example.  ❤

Look up the word love in the Bible.  It’s everywhere.  It’s a humbling experience to read all of those verses. Very humbling.  This family has LOTS of work to do.  We have not even remotely TOUCHED the surface of these verses.   ❤

I also appreciated these thoughts expressed by Stephanie Lape:

  1. In terms of ethics, I don’t care who is President or what they say or stand for – each of us stands before God, accountable for our actions. I am the most imperfect person saying this, so I do not intend to speak from a place of superiority or hypocrisy. But let it be known that racial hatred is crystal clear in Scripture. It is not okay. Neither is denigration of women. Neither is oppression of the poor or “alien” among us. There is a lot unclear in Scripture, but not these things. God makes a preferential stand for whoever is the outsider, so get on their side in solidarity and – in concrete, observable ways – stand with the oppressed for their dignity and justice. Refuse to speak words or commit actions of hatred, but stand for courageous love of neighbor. Jesus did this even unto death. This is the Christian call.
  2. Again, I am not your model, God knows. I fail many more times than succeed. But if you are a Christian, Jesus is your model. Kingdom values are very clear. Get up again with me and by the grace of God let’s live them out in our real lives. This is not partisan. This is Gospel.

 

We are called to be Christ. Period. ❤

And I have began to think about some of my other subversive heroes in history, and talking to the boys about those people, those soldiers of his light and love.  Corrie ten Boom was one that came to mind immediately.  If you ever get a chance to read “The Hiding Place”, please do so.  Life changing, faith building of the most resolute kind. She, herself, was not Jewish (she was very much a Christian), but she stood up to the genocide and hid them and saved so many lives.  Subversive, radical love!!! ❤

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One thing I keep reminding my children and husband is that we’re really quite fortunate to feel safe right now.  As a woman who has experienced sexual violence, abuse, and assault, I have felt traumatized by Trump’s words in ways that others do not understand and don’t even remotely try to understand (rape culture has become so mainstream like so many integrated and culturally accepted evils — ‘just get over it already, bitch, every guy talks like that’)– but I also am fully aware that I don’t feel the intense gravity of this situation like so many of you do.  This is where all of that incessant prayer comes in.  It’s our greatest power.  It really and truly is.  Don’t diminish that, loves. Our God is all-powerful and He is the one in charge. ❤

Ultimately, my family GETS TO feel this way–this overall sense of safety.  So many people are not experiencing this same feeling for their future and their children’s future.  However, that doesn’t mean we don’t speak out and speak up and be a voice in all of this evil noise.  Wrong is STILL wrong even if it’s not directly affecting us.  Because, actually, loves — it is.  We are ALL a apart of humanity.  We are ALL we.  So this IS us.  We all belong to each other in that we are brothers and sisters in this thing called life — connected by the air we breathe, the hearts that beat with purpose towards the goal of living this thing out together in some sacredness of existence — can we at least agree that life has some sacredness left???  So when you come for all of the excluded, you come for us.  And as a girl who has always been one of the excluded — even by her own family, by God, you come for me…

And even if so many of our neighbors (and we love you so much too, we love the ALL of us ❤ ) are screaming and yelling at us — ‘quiet, you bunch of cry babies, what he’s saying isn’t really THAT big of a deal’ — I ask you, what if we changed those words around in Trump’s ‘not so big of a deal’ hate rhetoric?  What if we replaced the word “Christian” for Muslim, if we replaced the word “white” or “Caucasian” for Hispanic or Black or alien, if he made fun of disabled or beaten or raped “animals” (ex — cute little puppies, as we seem to have more sympathy for animals these days) instead of humans — how high would our meter of outcry and outrage be for the things he has said and is saying?!  ‘Well he wouldn’t be THAT dumb!’ (this was an actual conversation I had with someone…)  And then they came for me… 

My point is — and gets lost when trying to explain it but is really SO very simple — you do NOT trample on the sanctity of what it means to be who and what we are and the beauty and ornate preciousness that is in that diversity.  You don’t mock that.  You don’t disrespect that.  You don’t get to assign VALUE to that.  You are not God.  We may believe in different versions of that being, but YOU — you, sir — are not Him.

And I have to believe, I have to hold on to the faith that we — as God’s children — can be better than this.  We will be courageous and brave and I know, I know that ultimately LOVE wins.  I know the ending to this.  It’s not dark, it’s not gloomy — it’s actually quite full of light and victory.  We are overcomers.  “And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.” 1 John 5:4.

Yet while we’re here, we’re growing and forever learning how to be more like him — and oh how much growing we can do in all of this, right? How much MORE we can learn to be like Jesus! ❤

“What ever we learn here on earth, however we grow or do good, it is all to become more like Christ.  When we wait, we have the particular gift of allowing the Holy Spirit to build in us the fruit of His Spirit.  When you abide and wait, you are uniquely pliable because you are living in trust and fixing your eyes on what is unseen.” (Connolly and Morgan, Wild and Free)

And as Corrie ten Boom states to eloquently in “The Hiding Place”,

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

Amen. ❤

And He has always and forever been my hiding place, when this all gets to be too much — as it invariably does from time to time.  We are to live in the world but not be of it.  To carry each other’s burdens, but not to be all consumed by them.  To love, to have empathy, to feel and have compassion, but not let is swallow us alive.  This is so deeply, deeply hard for me.  Darkness can be so engulfing.  We must make a minute by minute, conscious effort to walk and live and breathe with him — for this girl, it is holding his hand all.the.time.  Because it’s not by my strength or by my fixing. And I try to do this without him if I’m not reaching for him constantly.  It’s all Him. And I want it to be all OF him.  “His will is our hiding place.  Lord Jesus, keep me in your will.”  Corrie ten Boom

Because this isn’t about me.  It’s never about me.  Or it gets bitter.  It gets angry.  It gets to be about what I deserve, what I’m owed, or what I want and what I’ve been through.  And it’s not about any of those things.  Ever.  It’s about living Jesus.  It’s about love.  It’s ALWAYS about love.  It’s about giving.  It’s about making sure others see him and know him and feel all of that never-ending, never stopping, never giving up love. It’s about my me-ness not getting in the way of all of that.  It’s about humility.  And wow, there’s just not much example of that anywhere so I really, really need to be mindful of that for my children.  It’s also about forgiveness.  And again, that’s not by MY strength.  That is also an incredible and miraculous gift from my Father. “It is not on our forgiveness anymore than our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His.  When He tells us to love our enemies He gives, along with the command, the love itself.” (Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place).  He gives us so much.  And gives us the gifts we need to keep on giving, loving, and forgiving.  ❤ All of this is nothing short of everyday miracles. Can I get an halleluiah? ❤

And praise God for his miracles.  That happen every single day.  In you.  In me.  In our children.  When we show up for Him.  When we show up for each other.  When we bravely and courageously choose to be subversive disciples of love.  When we understand that His kingdom work is hard, but his walk and sacrifice was harder still.  We will never understand pain or persecution like that.  And we want to make him proud.  So proud of us.  Even though he is.  And we don’t have to.  We just love him so much we want to.  And we love our brothers and sisters so much we will.  We’ll love them ALL — all the way up to heaven.  Because I want us all to be there.  Praising our heavenly Father.  In whom we are ALL worthy.

So, let’s try this love thing.  Hate has played itself out in history far too many times.  It’s never turned out well.  I’m pretty sure that’s the biggest understatement I have ever made.  Let’s fearlessly and relentlessly love.  Just like our Jesus.  Who also fearlessly died.  So that we COULD do this love thing.  For him.  All for him.  Not just for certain people.  But for all of us.  Because he had the subversive and radical notion to see the world as an us.  I really, really love that God-man. ❤

Prayers for all of us.  He’s got us.  And we’re good.  Even when the world screams otherwise.  Take care.  Take heart.  Remember, the battle’s already been won.  But we’ll continue to walk in his footsteps to remind the devil that his day is coming… ❤

Love you.  ❤

Warrior on…

Angie

with-jesus

 

And the truth will set you free…

make truth scream

I am approaching this subject so tenderly, with so much thought and with such careful prayer and meditation.  It has been weighing so heavily on my soul for over a decade.  God sometimes gives us heavy things, doesn’t He?  It is something that has deeply cut my family, our extended family, and even poured devastatingly into my marriage.  I have prayed, I have cried, I have carried this.  I have remained silent.  I have tried to ignore it and move on and around it in our lives — and yet it keeps returning.  These past few months I even confronted it.  And this weekend, after so much pain, and after so much hard — I am finally able to truly let it go.  I am now able to fully understand why this monster has been such a force of destruction and abuse in our lives.

I haven’t been able to sleep lately.  Being a light sleeper, this equates to no sleep as opposed to a few good hours of sleep.  And the terrible nightmares of my father have returned again.  I haven’t had those in years.  I’ve been frustrated, sad, and feeling so completely frazzled with just about everything.  The state of my heart has been a mess.  This most certainly means that things in my life are just plain out of whack.

When God lays things upon your heart and mind and doesn’t let them go, it is usually for a reason.  When something is gnawing on your soul and wearing you down, year after year after year, He isn’t whispering anymore.  He’s shaking you.  You know it.  I knew it.  This all just was not working.  It wasn’t right.  It was never right.  And I wasn’t able to ignore it anymore and let it pass for “personality”.  The concern of “Will other people understand?”, “How will I be judged?” or “I just wish they knew what was really going on!” was completely gone.  Right is certainly not often easy.  But the Lord will not let you rest in wrong.

do what is right

Lies.  Dishonesty.  Gossip.  These things are abhorrently disdainful to God.  They rip lives apart.  They rip families apart.  And the world is a place that is full of lies.  In fact, honesty, truth, authenticity are SO very rare.  So rare, in fact, that we often make excuses for lies every.single.day.  And we make excuses for them in our behavior and other people’s behavior as well.  We say things like, “That’s just the way she is.”  Or, “I’m just so used to her telling lies and saying crazy, off the wall things that I just let it roll off of me and I don’t think about it.”  Little white lies.  Big lies.  And everything in between.  It’s become acceptable behavior.  And it is destructive.

Now, we all are going to slip up in this area occasionally.  It happens.  We’re human and we sin.  No one is perfect.  Owning up to your mistakes, admitting to your sins and errors, that’s one thing.  But not taking accountability for the heinous untruths that have come out of your mouth is quite another.  Lies on top of lies.  Lies begetting more lies.  It never, ever ends.  And the fact of the matter is, if a person really believed the horrific things she was saying about the people she was talking about — really and truly felt there was truth to these fabricated stories or disgusting stretches and slants of fact (which are still lies) — she would talk to THAT person him or herself — instead of taking the hours it takes to call her friends or that person’s other family members to talk about it to them instead.  If there is true care, true concern about the gravity of the things that are being lied about — she would have conversations with the person the salacious stories are being postured about.  That is not done — at first — or at all.  Because the effect desired is not one of resolution or empathy for that person, but drama and attention seeking for herself.

I had thought about letting this go just one more time.  What’s one more time, right? — In the long laundry list of times this woman’s mouth has spread deceit.  But what weighs so incredibly heavy on my heart time and time again is what am I teaching my children?  This behavior is not okay.  By any stretch of the imagination.  No one else would EVER be permitted to treat us or any of our friends or family in this manner.  It does not matter what label of ‘family’ is attached to this person’s name.  Just because you are “so and so” does not make it acceptable for you to act in this matter towards me, or towards anyone in this family.  It would be one thing if you could talk to this person and make some kind of headway, some kind of reasonable place from which to move forward — but the lies only continue.  She will deny anything you say she has said or done.  Vehemently.  And then call everyone else she knows and lie some more — about the very conversation you just had — in which you told her the very thing you needed from her to have any kind of relationship what so ever was honesty.

Lying — what’s the big deal anyway?

choose your words

I spent yesterday in the Word, praying, and meditating to come to some sense of what I was supposed to do with this situation that keeps coming up for my family.  What I really want to do is take my children and get as far away from all of this as I possibly can.  No one seems to stand up to this woman.  I feel very alone in this.  She is not held accountable.  She can not be reasoned with because she takes no accountability (or she will make a general, sweeping apology but when pressed for WHY she is apologizing and what it is exactly that she is sorry for — can only say that she was asked to apologize by so and so because that person thought it would make things better — but can not come up with any concrete reasons as to why she is sorry), when pressed with specific circumstances denies everything or changes her story, and just cries, or yells, or sarcastically laughs (which she will deny and call ‘audible noises’), blames it on everyone else, and then plays the tortured victim.  Breath is wasted on a narcissist.  I am not wasting any more stress or valuable minutes of my life on this ridiculous hamster wheel.  I refuse to play or be a part of this game.  I am done.

All the while, I have so ardently prayed for her and prayed for God to show me what to do as I feel so trapped and isolated in this.  But as a mother, as a Christian, as a feeling human being — I take none of this lightly.  I can forgive over and over again — even if someone is continuing the behavior and never admits to or asks to be forgiven — but it does NOT mean I have to invite the evil or the crazy into my front door or walk through hers.  Forgiveness does not mean you have to be a participant in the insanity.

Even though I was completely exhausted and just spent today, I felt this urgency to get my family to church.  We all had to go, regardless.  It was the strongest pull I have ever felt.  No “I’m too tired” excuses or “We have too much to do today.”  We.could.not.miss.

It was all God.  In fact, it was the biggest God thing.

I finally gained complete understanding as to why I felt such conviction in this.  The words of the sermon were salve, they were my plenty, they filled my soul that had felt so beaten up and depleted for so many years by this woman.  In my eyes, she was always getting away with so much — over and over and over again — and I just wished that people could see and hear her for who she really was.  And then here she was painting others out to be so terrible, when it was her heart and her tongue that were false and full of darkness.  And then, a few years ago, by the grace of God I was over all of that.  Over being misunderstood.  Over the justice here on earth part.  I didn’t care anymore.  I held on to the fact that God knew me, he saw absolutely everything and she really wasn’t getting away with any of it.

But still, this dealing with it all here on earth part was hard.   It was so hard.  And I felt trapped in this.  Like I didn’t have a leg to stand on because she was this person to our family.  I had made boundaries, but it still just felt so wrong inside.  I truly felt like I was wrestling a demon.  Like God was saying, — ‘This isn’t enough.  Your children are getting really mixed messages about right and wrong, about their faith, about what it means to be a father, a husband, a mother, a wife, a grandmother, about love, about who I am.’  Until today.  It became so very clear.

The sermon today was all about, are you ready for this??? — truth and honesty.  And God said, “Angie, here’s your answer.”

One verse.  One little verse.  James 5:12 says, “Above all, my brothers, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else.  Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No’ be no, or you will be condemned.”  Such a powerful verse!  Turns out, God does not take honestly lightly!  In fact, WHAT WE SAY MATTERS.  It matters intensely.  It matters SO much that we will have to give an account for the words that we utter here on this earth.  God is a God of truth.  Satan is the father of lies.  Apostle John, when speaking of the children of the devil in chapter 8 verse 44 says, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for his is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me!”.  Our honesty, our truth, marks our very walk with God.  It is a testament to our Christianity.  God’s words are truth, and as followers of God, we need to be the same with our word.  I want my boys to see and to know this — to fully understand this with all of their being.  I don’t want them to be confused by this when they constantly hear, “Well, that’s just how she is — that’s just how I grew up and what I’m used to from her.”  Not acceptable.  On absolutely any level.

The words we utter also reflect the state of our hearts.  One of the main reasons I practice yoga and meditate and fervently read the word of God and pray incessantly is because I want to fill my heart up with love, with light, with the fruits of the spirit and the wisdom of the One who created me.  If my heart is filled with those things, when I am stressed, angry, or bitter — my mind, my tongue, my first thoughts will have what I have stored up in that space to fall back on.  I must constantly fill up my supply.  It’s been a life long journey for me to come to this understanding, to cultivate this, to find peace despite circumstance, and to realize that I MUST be vigilant about this.  Our hearts and souls need this food just as much as our bodies do — like our lungs need air.  And it is absolutely amazing how much we think and feel comes from our lips.  Devoting your life to authenticity and to the Lord completely changes your insides.  Transversely, if what comes from your lips is mostly lies, you might want to take a look at your heart — and furthermore — your walk with God as a believer.  It is a relationship.  And like all relationships, one that takes cultivation and time — talking and listening.  Luke 6:45, one of my favorite verses in the Bible, says “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” 

from her heart

Truth and honesty are of upmost importance to God.  In fact, James says, “Above all.”  As in, ‘if you should forget all the other things I have told you, this is the one thing you should remember.”  Above.all.  James states in Chapter One, verse 26, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”  His.religion.is.worthless.  Wow.  This is huge.  This is heavy.  This is everything.  Our words, our honesty, what comes out of our mouths — it so very matters.  My religion is not worthless to me.  My God is not worthless to me.  I do not want that message of worthlessness to be conveyed to my children — that maybe it’s okay to repeatedly lie and hurt people if you are this person.  ‘Because that’s just what she does.  And she’ll never change.  And we can’t really talk to her about it because she doesn’t remember any of it, she doesn’t hold herself accountable, so we all just have to live with it.  She’s a gossip.  She always has been.  She stretches the truth.  She makes up crazy stories.  That’s just her.  It’s been her for as long as I can remember.’  Or worse yet, to completely ignore it and not even recognize the problem.  I do not want them to get that message from me.  If other people want to make that choice for themselves and their families, that is theirs to make.  This is mine.  And God is holding me accountable.  Not man.  It is in front of Him I will stand in final judgment.  So the choice is clear for this girl.

the way we talk

And with that, I could finally breathe.  The tears just came, and this time they were because I finally felt peace in my heart when it came to this mess of evil that has plagued our family for so long.  That what ever came my way in the form of obstacles or hardship when it came to this situation, I knew what I had to do.  And I praised God, and I’m praising him still.  Thank you, Jesus!  Like I tell my boys during our nightly devotionals, God may not burn bushes, part seas, pour mannah from heaven, or raise people from the dead anymore — but he still talks to us.  In all of our every days, he still talks to us.  And I thanked Pastor Chad after his sermon for this truly ‘God thing’ for our family.  It was one of the most necessary pieces to starting to work on my marriage and for true peace for this family.

God has us.  He so has us.  And it doesn’t matter if no one else understands, if they say the most awful things in the world about you to anyone and everyone who will listen — he knows us and has us.  And he holds us.  And he will protect us and keep us from evil.  Even if that evil comes with a smile and looks like the sweetest sunshine to the rest of the world.

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.  He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.  For who is God besides the Lord?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” 2 Samuel 22:31-33

He is your shield.  Keep listening.  Keep leaning in.  Keep walking with your Rock.  He will arm you with strength, and he will keep working on your heart and growing your peace.  He will give you discernment in all the webs of dishonesty that may try to tangle you.  He will be your light.  Keep your mind and heart on the things above, and hold fast.  Hold fast.  In his name and in his love — which is the widest and biggest and foreverest… ❤

life with God