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Archive for May, 2018

Forgive.pngMy heart didn’t want to believe the painful truth of the words he spoke. Not my child. Not this unbearable, unthinkable trespassing of an innocent soul.

I felt rage swelling in my chest against the one who had caused all of this—a malevolent, murderous rage born of maternal instinct and sin-sick imperfection. He was responsible for the lost years. Years steeped in misdirected anger, self-soothing sabotage and grief disguised as defiance. He deserved a punishment unlike any other. If he had been standing in my living room that day? I would have gladly been the one to execute the sentence.

It’s frightening to confess the depth of my brokeneness. Admit to the ugliness. Disclose the depravity.

But, is it possible that you can relate to the desperation of a mother rising up fierce and unforgiving to protect her child? Perhaps you are the precious one who has lived through the fire of something that seared your soul? A pain now so raw you doubt your ability to forgive?

Friend, you and I are incapable of forgiving in our own strength. Only through the healing, hope-giving power of Jesus will we discover the ability to release the burden of our heart.

Choosing forgiveness is an act of obedience. Jesus didn’t suggest that we forgive; He commanded it.

Love your enemies.

One simple, beautiful phrase that evokes ‘Amen’s’ and head nods when those offenses we’re asked to forgive are small or insignificant. But, when the wound is as deep as a well in the desert? When the pain pulses and pounds like a jackhammer tearing at flesh? Are we expected to forgive those hurts?

Love your enemies.

Jesus didn’t tell us to love our enemies when it was convenient or easy. He didn’t pencil in a provisional clause; an if-then statement that alleviates us of the responsibility to forgive.

Love your enemies.

 And, I imagine myself in the crowd surrounding the tree while the sinless Christ pours forgiveness from His soul like the blood spilling from His wounds.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

 Love your enemies.

My sins alone would have nailed Christ to the cross. If I had been the only woman to have sinned, He still would have born my stripes. Chosen death that I could live. Offered himself for the enemy.

If Jesus loves me that much? Gave that much? How can I refuse to forgive another?

And you, Friend? Are you willing to set aside the millstone of unforgiveness for freedom today? Trust Jesus. He’ll do the heavy lifting.

Three ACTion Steps to Help Move from Unforgiveness to Mercy

Admit to the bitterness and anger hidden in your heart. (1 John 1:9)

Choose obedience. Deciding to do otherwise only leads to division in  relationship with Christ. (Matthew 6:14)

Trust the Father. He is both loving and just. (Romans 12:19)

 

Peace and blessings,

Tammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The day we trusted Jesus, we were set free from bondage.

I didn’t know her, but the vulnerable thoughts she’d penned pierced my heart.

I realized where I was stuck. I was stuck in jealousy–wanting the childhood she had. Wanting. Wishing. But, not having.

She spoke of jealousy, but what I heard in those words? Grief. Yearning. Broken-hearted longing. If I had to guess? This woman, like so many, grew up in dysfunction.

She may have been raised in a home with an empty pantry and only harsh, angry words to nourish a girl’s hungry soul. Hers may have been the home other children politely refused to visit because they’d heard the shouting and cursing seeping from the walls in the dark of the night. Or, she might have been the child shivering beneath the covers because the heating bill had been neglected in favor of another bottle of her stepfather’s favorite whiskey.

If that is part of your story? I. Am. Sorry.

Something is terribly broken in a world where children grow up with hungry stomachs and hungrier hearts.

You can do something different, dear one.

And if we are honest, we all might admit the truth…

Even the best families are dysfunctional. While not everyone experienced a childhood without a father or cleaned up after an addicted parent, we all know this one thing.

Our. Parents. Were. Not. Perfect.

And, of course, neither are we.

[bcc tweet=”So how do dysfunctional, messed-up people break the chains of familial bondage? Is it even possible to rid ourselves of unwanted habits that have hitched a ride from one generation to the next?

Yes, but not our own power. Instead, we can turn to the one who is All-Powerful.”]

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners…(Isaiah 61:1)

But to begin moving in that direction? We need to recognize the hurts and habits that moved into our marriages and families uninvited. Call them out. Denounce their destructiveness and invite the Holy Spirit into the walls of our homes and hearts.

Unabated sarcasm? Angry outbursts? Shutting down? Shutting out? Whatever the sin. Name it, friend, and He will begin to unfasten the chains.

Invite His correction. Accept His instruction. Trust His direction.

There isn’t a stronghold that can stand when we invite the Helper into our sin-created, self-mandated cage. The walls of resistance are shaken, doors burst open and we step into the light of freedom the moment we admit our weakness. Click To Tweet

There may be times we wander into the dark den that once held us captive, but we don’t belong there. Remember,the day we trusted Jesus we were set free from bondage Click To Tweet. The door stands open. Let’s trust Him enough to step across the threshold.

In His love and grace,

Tammy

 

 

 

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I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.He put a new song in my mouth. Psalm 40_1,3.png

The high-pitched whirring of the car matched the acceleration of my heart, a rapid ta-tunk, ta-tunk, ta-tunk as I pressed the accelerator. Thoughts ricocheted in my mind, rapid-fire like a motorized, ball-pitching machine.

They’d be better off without me.

This hurting wasn’t part of my plan.

I don’t think God knew what He was doing when He gave me life.

The messages repeated again and again as I rounded the edge of a mountain. Temptation rose large, whispering its poison as I imagined what it might feel like to launch off the earth at 13,000 feet.

You can stop it all. Right here. Right now.

2 Corinthians 10:5 joined the panoply of others.

Take every thought captive. Take every thought captive. Take every thought captive.

And God’s word, sharper than a two-edged sword, guided me home. Safe. Settled. Soothed.

Still, depression held on.

Depression. Even the word sounds threatening, doesn’t it? Like so many others I’ve lived it. I’ve walked through depression with friends and family. And I’ve discovered that depression is no respecter of persons.

Age? Irrelevant. Gender? Immaterial. Status? Insignificant. Faith? Unrelated. Time? Inconsequential.

Depression disguises itself as disinterest. Detachment. Despair. It swallows hope in its black, gaping mouth and casts its shadow on even the happiest moments. You feel alone. Alone in the pain. Alone without purpose. Alone without… Click To Tweet

If you aren’t that woman, you know someone who is struggling right now. She may not tell you. She may not share the pain. But, you do know at least one dear soul who–in living with depression feels lifeless inside.

Oh, how the chains of depression drag and pull like a treacherous rip current at low tide. Its power seems overwhelming and the thought of catching a breath grows ever dimmer.

Is there any hope?

Sweet friend, Jesus can shatter the chains of depression. He'll walk through the deep valley with you now--shoulder to shoulder--and lead you to an open space where you inhale deeply of life and laugh in delight. Click To Tweet

In the Bible, our Father provides examples of other people who loved Him and struggled with depression.  Job. David. Solomon. Elijah. Naomi. Most of these people were spiritual giants, yet they experienced hopelessness. They also provide us with insight as we take up our scriptural sledge hammer and prepare to destroy depression.

Depression and Spiritual Warfare

As with Job, depression can be a result of trauma and grief. After all, the enemy knows our vulnerabilities and, while restricted, he seeks to steal, kill and destroy anything of promise in our lives.

Job’s story (Job 1-3; 38-42) teaches us:

  • that the Enemy targets those who love the Lord and live out their faith.
  • God was with Job–even when Job was angry and accusatory.

Depression and the Importance of Community

Naomi’s husband and two sons died, leaving her a penniless, bitter refugee. Still, her daughter-in-law, Ruth, remained a faithful companion.

Naomi’s story teaches us:

  • even when we feel as if God has abandoned us, He remains near.
  • not to isolate ourselves. We all need a ‘Ruth’ to speak words of truth and encouragement.

 

Depression and the Challenge of Ministry

Regardless of our circle of influence, we are vessels through which God’s love is meant to flow. But, ministry–whether to our husband, children, colleagues, or women’s group–is challenging. Elijah was depleted and depressed because his ministry seemed ineffective and there was a price on his head.

Elijah’s story teaches us:

  • we must care for the needs of our body by resting and eating well.
  • that we are never alone. It’s important to seek community and trust in His faithfulness despite circumstances.

Depression and the Importance of Prayer and Thanksgiving

David might have been a man after God’s own heart, but he understood the suffering of betrayal and the heartache of losing a child. Honest and vulnerable, David’s prayers typically end in praise and thanksgiving.

David’s story teaches us:

  • God doesn’t expect us to recite pithy, sanitized prayers. We can be honest about our situation. Honest about how we are feeling. Honest about the pain.
  • praising and thanking God reminds us of the truths we know about His goodness and love.

 

These scriptures provide us with wonderful, encouraging truths. However, depression is a form of illness. If you struggle with depression, you need support and treatment for that sickness just as you would any other. Beyond addressing your spiritual needs, please seek help for your depression in other important ways. Click To Tweet

These include meeting with a counselor or therapist, sharing your struggle with a few trustworthy friends who can pray for and minister to you, caring for your body with a healthy diet and exercise, and possibly considering the use of medication for a time.

If you or someone you know is struggling with self-destructive thoughts as I had been, seek help immediately. Call a hotline or go to the hospital.

The enemy is a great deceiver and he is adept at convincing us life will never get better. He is lying. Jesus came that we might have life and live it abundantly. Click To Tweet

With prayers for peace and holy strength,

Tammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My son’s pint-sized body huddled beneath the bed covers as if the thin cotton cover could shield him from any enemy. Since his father had deployed to Afghanistan, Seth’s fear had transformed into something destructive. An ever-growing-never-contained-despair rooted in the darkest anxiety.

The merest whisper of sound in the deep of the night trigged a near-panic response. Every stranger striding across the neighborhood’s suburban sidewalk? A possible adversary. My sweet boy was immersed in a world of imagined threats: kidnappings, fire, never-ending darkness.

Oh. My. Heart.

Despite his past experiences and regardless of my reassurances, Seth was convinced. Surely unknown, unseen enemies lurked beneath the child-sized bed along with half-assembled Lego sets and miniature race cars.

My words seemed not to penetrate. To reach the core of my child’s fear.

Trust me. I’ll take care of you. Don’t be afraid.

The Israelites carried that same inconsolable, impenetrable fear through the desert thousands of years ago. Having been plucked from slavery and delivered safely through standing walls of water, an entire people stood overlooking the bounty and beauty of a land God had promised them.

At the Father’s instruction, twelve leading men were commissioned to explore the uncharted land of Canaan–to survey its cities,  peruse its people and weigh its wealth.

This land belonged to Israel in the same way that Israel belonged to the Father. It was gift-wrapped; held  in the open palm of the Father’s hand like a cluster of grapes hanging heavy in expectation of the harvest.

Trust me. I’ll take care of you. Don’t be afraid.

Ignoring the certainty of their circumstances, God’s children allowed fear to dictate their decisions.

Huddling behind logic, the Israelites discounted Yahweh’s words, “Canaan [is] the land I am giving to the Israelites.” Numbers 13:2

He must not understand the presence. The power. The prowess of these people.

Hiding behind half-truths, the Chosen focus on fear until it rises a behemoth–ever greater, sending tentacles of untruth snaking through every tribe and leaving His men and women in mass hysteria.

Begging to return to bondage. Bad-mouthing their rescuers. Blind to their belief.

I see my face in the crowd. I’ve been that woman. The one for whom the imagined giants of Crisis and Complication ascend larger than any of His promises. Despite the Father’s faithfulness, I allow fear to command my choices and master my mind.

But, I long to be the Caleb in the crowd. Don’t you?

In opposition to a near-rebellion, Caleb admonishes, “Let’s go and take up the land–now. We can do it.” (Numbers 13:30 MSG)

Caleb doesn’t hesitate. There is no quavering in his voice nor quaking of the knees. Caleb knows his God and, grabbing hold of holy confidence, girds himself to join God on the journey.

I want to be the woman exhorting and encouraging, “Trust Him. He’ll take care of us. Don’t be afraid.”

Friend, fear only maintains power when we give it permission. But, when we grab hold of holy confidence and rely on Him for strength, our giants are reduced to rubble and we can move forward into the land of promise. Click To Tweet

In His grace and peace,                                                      Tammy

Action Step: Step out of fear and into the promises God has for you today. Download and complete this printable and use it to prompt you to remember His faithfulness when your spiritual knees are knocking. Click to access this resource. Fearnot

february

 

Linking up at:

#porch stories,  https://www.crystalstorms.me/category/heart-encouragement/, and

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Choose to believe He is faithful.

Delicately crafted cards line the aisles of every Hallmark store and images of women smiling wide as their children present them with breakfast flash across the grey screens in living room corners. There is joy in the celebration of mothering and don’t we all yearn to be loved so beautifully?

But for some, Mother’s Day is like the scratching of a tree branch across an aging windowpane: a needle-tipped reminder of the celebrations you once knew or the celebrations you longed to experience. A perceptible poking and pricking at heart-wounds old or new.

This may be the first season of your life without your own mother and you long to hear her laugh or ask her about living life well. How did you do it? I miss you. 

Perhaps this is the holiday that pains you because you never felt enough, became enough, proved enough.  And your mother? The woman you emulated? She handed those messages to you wrapped in critical words and disdainful glances.

Or, like the others before it, this holiday sits like a broken promise–dreams turned to dust before your eyes. The mother you needed was unavailable. Inaccessible. Unaware. Still, you carry the child you were in your heart and hope that one day someone will fill that empty longing in the way you wish your mother had done.

For some, Mother’s Day is a lonely salute to infertility, a memorial to the dreams you had for your prodigal or the child who took his own life. One more year of unfair circumstances. Unanswered prayers. Unsolvable situations.

If you are one of the hurting ones, can I tell you how sorry I am? I am sorry for the pain. The loss. The grief. I’m sorry you feel alone, unnoticed, or unloved.

Sweet friend, whether this Mother’s Day is one of resignation or celebration, distress or delight–would you allow me to encourage you?

Your heavenly Father is more than able to fill the empty spaces. He longs to embrace you in unmatched, unimaginable love. To invite you deeper into His mercy. His beauty. His abundance. And there? You’ll discover overflowing blessings that quench the needs of your soul.

For now, each of us must choose.

Choose gratitude for the mother whose life was spent loving her children.

Choose forgiveness for the mother who failed to love well.

Choose to trust Him when arms are empty and the pleasure of mothering has been stolen.

Choose to believe He is faithful. And as we move from earth’s shadow into heaven’s light, we’ll discover the fullness of being loved (and loving others) beautifully.

Blessings,

Tammy

   

              

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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