Friday, April 25, 2014

To Those Who Don't Like Christians...

I started working on this a couple of weeks ago and had a hard time actually finishing.  For the past couple of days, God has really put it on my heart to finish this post.

I don't blame you for not liking Christians.  I get it, I really do.  Probably more than you realize.  I know I am always talking about Bible verses, Jesus, and living a Christian life, but I haven't always been like this.  There was a time when I didn't even really want to step foot into a church.  In the past, I have been hurt and neglected by the church, and if my faith was based on the way the people in the church have treated me, I would be an atheist.

When I was a young girl, I survived a period of sexual abuse.  I didn't tell anyone when it happened, and this caused me to build up walls and push people away.  I had friends, but I never let people get really close to me.   I don't really have a lot of memories from my childhood.   Because of the trauma, my mind split my memories and locked up a lot of them so that I could cope with life.  I remember school more than I remember home life because that is how my brain decided to protect me from dealing with the hurtful memories.  The abuse didn't happen at home, but for some reason, I shut out any memory that could possibly remind me of the pain that I went through.

As I grew and became a teenager, most of my friends were making plans for life.  I was just trying to survive each day. They all seemed to know exactly what they wanted to do after they graduated from high school. Because of the past abuse, I just wanted to slip into a coma until a time when I thought life would be easier, and wake up with a new, perfect life.  So, I was like a walking zombie, just sleepwalking through life hoping that some day it would get easier.  However, it didn't.  Life just continued to get harder to deal with. I was going to a Baptist church and I had a lot of Christian friends.  I had a lot of fun with them and I felt close to them.

I went to college because it was the next step that I was expected to take.  I had made good grades in high school and received a scholarship to Louisiana College.  I had now idea what I wanted to major in or what I even wanted to do with my life.  I felt like I was wandering around aimlessly.  I am so thankful now that I never really got into drugs or drinking.  It was just something that I never really liked.  I felt that if I lost control of my cognitive functions that I was opening myself up to be abused all over again.  What I was doing, however, was not living, I was just scraping by.

I seemed to have it all: a scholarship to a good college, a brand new car, a great family who supported me, "good" Christian friends. But, I was miserable.  I didn't see the point to anything that I was doing.  I started to dress strangely and shaved the hair off my head with a pair of clippers.  I started to fail my college classes.  I went back home to visit, and all of my friends from my Baptist church that I hung out didn't want anything to do with me because I looked weird.  I didn't fit in with the image that the church deemed "acceptable." I was struggling, and I felt so alone.  When I went back to the church after my extreme style change, I felt as though the church had turned its back on me.  I needed a friend, but instead of opening its arms to me and comforting me, no one would talk to me.

I met and fell in love with the man who would become my husband.  I dropped out of college to my parent's disapproval and got married.  I went to beauty school, not because I really wanted to, but because I didn't know what else to do with my life.  I liked the creative aspects of hairstyling, but hated beauty school itself.  I didn't really want to be a hairstylist, but I stuck with it because I was afraid of failing at anything else that I wanted to do.  Years went by and I felt like I could never get myself together.  I felt like I was digging myself deeper and deeper into a hole and couldn't get out.  I was still just getting by in life, like a zombie.  I was technically alive, but not really living.  Working in a salon, I made a lot of money and seemed successful.  Just like before, I appeared to have it all together, but inside I felt empty.  I actually tried different churches and have visited many over the years.  I just never felt like I fit in.  I was always an outsider, I went because I kept hoping that things would get better.

There is so much more that I could tell about, but for the sake of time, I will skip ahead.  I got to a point where I couldn't cope anymore.  I was attending a church that was around the corner from my house.  The only reason I went was because my kids had friends there and they loved the huge indoor playground.  I would try to pray and felt like my words were just bouncing off of the wall.  I would try to read the Bible, but I couldn't focus.  By this time, I had two kids and was working full time.  I was depressed.  My husband and I were not getting along and were fighting all of the time. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.  I didn't know how I could go on.  Then, I found out I was pregnant.  I felt stretched past my limit.  I went on as long as I could until after my son was born. Something inside snapped and I gave up.  I started showing up later and later to work and couldn't keep up with house work.  I wanted to sleep all of the time and give up on life.  I tried as hard as I could to keep up with things, but I couldn't.  I made horrible mistakes and neglected my kids during this time.  I took care of their basic needs, but I just couldn't give any more than that.

One day I was taking a shower to get ready to go to a funeral for a friend who had passed away, and out of nowhere I felt Jesus whisper to my heart to start facing my past so that I could heal from the abuse.  I was afraid to face that area of my life.  I had buried that part of my life so deep that I didn't even acknowledge it anymore.  Soon after that, I was lying on my bed, unable to get up because I was depressed.  I was crying because I felt like my life was in shambles.  At that moment, I felt Jesus put his arms around me.  I could physically feel His presence.  He told me to give Him all of my troubles.  I did.  I felt like I was taking all of my hurts and troubles and wadding them up in a huge ball and throwing them away into a trash can that Jesus was holding.  I had pretty much been in church in all my life, and had never experienced anything like this before.  This was not religion, this was real.  After this, I started seeking out other people who had real experienced like I had.  I met others who didn't view Jesus as a religion, who actually had a real relationship with Him.  I eventually did find whole churches that were focused on a relationship instead of the religious aspects of Christianity.  I realized that too many churches are just Christian social clubs instead of places where people can truly worship Jesus with their lives.

 Soon after I gave Jesus my hurts and troubles,  I went on a retreat with my church that a friend invited me to.  During this retreat, I was allowed to share in a safe way with someone about my past hurts and decided right then to start going to counseling.  I learned healthy coping skills and began a journey of healing.  It has been a long, hard road to where I am now, but ever since I let Jesus take over, I have had so much peace and joy.  I have watched Him rebuild my life into His picture of what it should be, which is so much more beautiful than what I was able to create on my own.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

God Can Heal Marriages: Christi and Robbie's Story

This week I have decided to do something a little different.  When Joey and I were separated, I had a conversation with a girl named Christi who attends The Healing Place in Shreveport.  Her story really gave me hope that God could heal my own marriage.  God has put in on my heart lately to start sharing the stories of everyday people who have experienced God in a mighty way.  I have talked a little bit about what God has done in my marriage, but we are not the only marriage He has healed.  Here is Christi's story: 

Growing up as a child, my parents were in and out of church. However, my grandparents took us to church a lot when my parents wouldn’t.  My grandparents were the foundation for our family.  Also growing up my father was verbally abusive.  When I became old enough to take myself to church, it became my hiding place from my dysfunctional family.  Even though my family was dysfunctional I still knew I was loved by them but didn’t always feel safe.  I prayed something as a teenager that I really didn’t realize and God reminded me of this as adult.  I saw these people come to our church who had these incredible testimonies. I didn’t really see living in a dysfunctional family as being a testimony.  But I prayed and asked God to give me a testimony and that he gave me.

I met the man of my dreams at the beginning of 2002 and was engaged by the end of 2002.  We got married in June 2003.  I thought we had a perfect marriage and in 2004 we discovered that we were expecting our first little boy.  We were super excited.  Several years later my perfect little marriage would be ripped apart by infidelity.  

In 2010, my husband and I had separated because of infidelity and addiction to pornography that had gone on for years in our marriage.  I was finished…DONE…Tired of being hurt… There was literally no hope, nothing to save, and nothing to try and work out.  I had a 6 week old baby and a 5 year old to care for so I had to put a bandaid on this open wound that really needed surgery and stitches.  Me and my two boys moved in with my mom.

Months had passed after our separation and the Lord began to bring Robbie to a place of hitting rock bottom.  During this time of separation I had found a new desire for a relationship with God.  I literally had nothing.  I would spend hours on my face before God because I needed his provision…I had no job because I was a stay at home mom before we separated and I needed answers cause I didn’t understand why God was allowing this to happen.  I needed to know how God could let this happen and why he had left me.  I felt disserted and abandoned by God.  My identity was so wrapped up in being a mom and a wife that I had no idea who I really was.  So when everything in life was questioned my identity was also questioned.

For months I continued to keep a bandaid on this wound until finally it was so infected that something had to be done.  I needed to know if God existed because I felt disserted and abandoned by God.  I wasn’t getting the answers that I was searching for so I felt that he had forgotten about me.  Robbie called me one day (He was living in Dallas and me and the boys were living in East Texas) to ask me if I had made up my mind about the divorce.  I was a little taken back because I had made up my mind.  I was kinda like, Are you kidding me?!?!  Our marriage was over! Why would I even entertain the thought of restoring our marriage!! I hung up the phone that day irritated at him even more.  The next several days he called and asked the same question.  The third day he asked me I agreed to something that I really didn’t think would end up the way it did.  Before I got off the phone I told him that I would put the divorce on hold till I got a clear word from the Lord to proceed or not with the divorce.  I desired for God’s will to be evident in my life but I was still struggling with it all.  Somehow down deep I knew that God would agree with me to divorce him and move on.

Several weeks later he went on this thing called Quest with Fellowship of the Sword (  When he came back I could tell a change that had taken place.  During this time he was still living in Dallas and the boys and I were living in East Texas, almost 4 hours away from each other.  He knew he had to do something to try and rebuild what he had tore down.  He started driving back and forth almost on a daily basis in order to rebuild his family.  

Several more months passed and I had an opportunity to go on my very own quest.  It was a time where 23 women from different backgrounds, denominations, and all different walks of life came together independently.  It was a time literally in the wilderness with no distractions, no cell phones, no tv, no screaming kids, nothing but you questing after the Father’s heart and discovering who we were in Christ.  Up until this point I had been a Christian for most of my life and was in ministry as a youth pastors’ wife for so many years but there was so much I didn’t understand.  There was something missing.  I didn’t know who I was. My identity had been wrapped up in my marriage and who I was in my husband that when my relationship came tumbling down I literally didn’t know who I was anymore.  The purpose of me going on this quest was because I needed to hear from God.  It had been 9 months since that conversation with my husband and I needed to hear a clear word to divorce or rebuild our marriage.

During my quest I spent hours upon hours on my face praying and searching for answers.  I needed the clearest word I had ever had from the Lord.  I needed something physical that I could see. I’m a visual person and sometimes hard headed.  I didn’t want any doubts in my mind of God’s answer.  I wanted to know without a doubt in my mind as to if I needed to continue with divorce or to try to allow the Lord to mend my relationship with my husband… One of the days we spent the entire day fasting in the wilderness.  We were literally sent out into the wilderness on a 500 acre ranch with a backpack full of Gatorade, Bible, notebook, and pen.  All day God spoke to me in different ways but by the end of the day I was exhausted and a little frustrated cause I still hadn’t heard an answer to my ultimate question.  God worked on me and really took off layers of a hard heart.  Was I supposed to try to work on my marriage or was I supposed to move on with just my two boys as a single mom?  

All week I had worked on my heart of hurt and worked on things that needed to be dealt with.  Specific things beyond the pain from my husband that had not been dealt with for years.  As I walked back to the ranch house I was praying about the answer that I needed.  I asked God to show me that He was still there and that he hadn’t left me through all of this.  I needed to know that he still loved me and that I was still his daughter.  I stopped to rest for a few minutes and looked down to the gravel road where I saw a rock that was literally in the shape of a heart.  I dug it out of the ground and picked it up.  On the side that was exposed looked like a heart but the inside part was deformed and didn’t look like a heart.  God spoke so loud and clear almost as if he were standing in front of me.  He said, “Christi you’ve worked on your heart this week, you came with literally a broken heart that I have pieced back together.  You’ve sought me and you have found me!!  You’ve allowed me to do surgery on your heart and stitch it back together in order for it to heal properly.”  He said that “You came with a heart that was in a million pieces but I’ve put it back together and gave you a whole heart that has been made new.  If you turn it over those things are still there and they are still ugly and still apart of your past.  Your heart was made whole by ME not by your husband or your boys like you’ve tried to fill for a long time.  Now that I’ve given you a whole heart you can take it back and give to your husband.  I can’t promise that the healing process will be easy but I will be there with you every step of the way.”   

I was completely blown away by God’s word to me.  It was exactly what I needed to hear.  When I got home, Robbie and I sat down together and discussed what our next steps were.  I gave him this heart that I had found and told him what God had spoken to me.  He began to weep.  He shared with me and showed me in his journal that when he was on his quest (8 months prior) he prayed that God would give him something physical that would show His love for him.  God showed him a puddle of water that was in the shape of a heart but didn’t give him anything tangible that he could take with him until God had mended my heart.  

Sometimes God calls us or allows us to go through things that aren’t easy and that are hurtful because He wants the opportunity to work and he desires to draw others to him through his willing servants.  Sometimes that hurt can be caused by ourselves such as sin, or caused by others as in my situation or even unforgiveness which can cause a life of miserable chaos.  I feel like God has allowed Robbie and I to go through what we’ve gone through to do this very thing…To have a voice and to allow it to be heard for healing to take place in other people lives.  Let this be an offer of hope to your hopeless situation.  We stand before you today with a whole relationship with God, and a whole and healed marriage.  God is good and only through Him all things are possible!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Our Easter

My last two posts were about focusing on Jesus during Easter time.  Yep, I have become that person. It's funny how much I have changed in the past couple of years.  I used to think that people who made a big deal about Jesus during the holidays were just lame and need to get over themselves and enjoy the holiday.  That was before I met Jesus personally.  I knew all about Him, but I was about as close to him as I was the Easter Bunny or Santa Clause.  He was a nice story and I just thought he would shower me with blessings if I was good enough, like Santa, right? But once I realized that my idea of Jesus was so wrong, I began to break down those ideas to allow Him to teach me the truth.  Anyway, I could go on and on about that, but what I really want to do was talk about our Easter Sunday.

We had a great weekend with our family.  I am so blessed to have married into a huge family and we always have a good time when we get together. Our family has a lot of birthdays so we basically spent the day having birthday parties and grilling hamburgers.  There are a lot of kids in our extended family, so gatherings are always a lot of fun.  I had my nephew over to spend the night with my little man and my older girls spent the night with their girl cousins. Then Sunday, my parents came to church with us and we went out to eat together.

This weekend I realized how much I love the festivities of Easter.  I have been in this battle with myself over what traditions to change and what to keep.  My Grandmother "Meme" (pronounced Mimi, not like the little pictures), used to love holidays, too, and I think I get it from her.  My desire to change our traditions are not so that we can just sit around and have no fun and be "religious" while everyone else enjoys their holiday.  I just want to change our habits and frame of mind when going into any holiday.  Binging on candy and focusing on what each one gets for themselves is not healthy in a spiritual sense, and also in a very practical sense.  So, instead of all the Easter candy I usually purchase, I bought the kids each a book.  They loved the books more than all the candy! My struggling reader got an activity book that gave simple directions about what to draw and I think she read more yesterday than she has all week! I still gave them a few little candy treats, just not as much as I usually do, for spiritual reasons, but also to teach the kids healthy habits. My husband has a family history of heart disease so I feed our family as healthy as our meager budget allows, but I think everyone needs a spurge every now and then.

We did dye Easter eggs because it's just fun! The kids look forward to hunting for Easter eggs, and I really do too! That is one tradition that we will keep. The past couple of years I have begun a new tradition that I really love: reading about Jesus in the Bible.  I read the chapters about the death, burial, and resurrection, then we talk about it together.  I feel that it is so important that kids know about Jesus and what He did for us.

 I also want to begin a tradition of serving.  There is a nursing home down the street from us full of elderly people who are just so hungry for attention.  It is my goal that for every holiday, we go visit them and just sit for a minute and talk to each one in their room.  I want to take the focus off of what we will get and think about how we can give of ourselves. Our nation has such a "fast food" mentality.  Place an order for what you want, then get it as soon as possible or throw a fit.  I feel that our holidays have become a time of placing orders for what we want. The focus of most holidays is about getting stuff.  I want my kids to think about someone else besides themselves for a change.  Ok, that's about all I wanted to say.  I feel like this post is kind of random, but I felt that I should follow up with what we did because of the last two posts. I am learning how to incorporate Jesus into everyday life instead of just talking about Him once or twice a week. I feel that it is important to talk about that.  I would love to hear comments, questions, ideas... anything you want to say!

Friday, April 18, 2014

What do you mean, "No Bunnies"?

Alright, I know the bunny post may have been a little strange to some of you... No Easter Bunny? How could I do without the Easter Bunny? For me, it's not really about the bunny itself.  It goes deeper than that.  I love bunnies.  They are really cute and soft.  What I don't like is the idea of the Easter Bunny being the focus of the holiday.  The more I get to know Jesus and get closer to Him, the more I want to remove everything that distracts from Him.  Like I said in my last post, it's not about legalistic rules about how to celebrate a holiday.  It's about falling in love with Jesus so much that nothing else matters.

I mean, really falling in love with Him, not just saying that you love Jesus.  I have become obsessed.  I am in love more than I have ever been in love with anyone or anything else.  Before I fell in love with Him, I remember how it felt to tell someone Jesus loved them.  It just seemed wrong.  The words felt like sandpaper on the way out.  I thought I meant it.  I knew it was a good thing to love Jesus, but I had a hard time talking about Him.  One way I figured out there was more to Christianity was that I realized that I had a hard time talking about Him.  I didn't know why, but I just couldn't say His name to people.  I could talk about God all day long, but I could not talk about Jesus.

When Columbine happened, and there were kids that were killed because they admitted to being a Christian, I truly couldn't say at that time I would have done the same thing.  That was another clue that something was wrong. It took years of trying to earn God's love, and getting to a point where I could no longer go on, before I cried out for Him and he truly saved me.  I hesitate to use the word "saved" because many Christians use that word too often and don't mean it.  Jesus really, actually saved my life and changed me from the inside out.

I like to think of myself as a "recovering Baptist." I know people who have been delivered from drugs or alcohol.  I was delivered from religion.  Now, don't get me wrong, I have met Baptists who truly have had a relationship with Jesus, but as for myself, I was a dead Baptist.  It was really a spirit of religion I was delivered from, its just more fun to say "recovering Baptist." I was so hard headed, too.  It took a lot for Jesus to shake me up to a point where I began to let go of what I thought was true and started to see Him for who He really is.  I know there are still habits that He is helping me get away from, but all I know is that ever since I met Him in a real way, I have never been the same.  Do you feel like you need a deeper relationship with Him? Ask Him to show you the truth.  He is so good, He will open your eyes to who He really is.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

No More Bunnies

With Easter Sunday, coming up I have been thinking a lot about what Jesus had to go through.   I want to mention again that I believe Christians should talk about it all year, not just at Easter time, but I think it is good to have a day set where we give Jesus special honor.  Each year that goes by, I really want less and less to celebrate the holiday in the way my family has traditionally celebrated, with baskets, candy, and a chocolate bunny.  I feel that it is disrespectful to Jesus. For a Christian to celebrate in the same way as a non-Christian just seems wrong to me.  If you are not a Christian, I have no problem with you celebrating any way you want.  I don't want to get legalistic and create rules about how to celebrate Easter, but for someone who has given their life to Jesus, to celebrate the weekend He went to hell and rose again by eating chocolate bunnies doesn't rest well in my heart.  I think that each person must really search their heart and pray about this for themselves.  I really struggle with it because my family has always looked forward to a basket of goodies, so in the past years I have given in to this tradition. I need to figure out a new way to celebrate.

I have been reading the passages of the death and resurrection to my kids and it really has gotten to me in the past few days.  Mark 14-16 is what I read to them, but basically if you read the last 3-4 books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, you will get the story.  

In one of those strange God coincidences, yesterday when I read to my kids, we really focused on His prayer in the garden before he was arrested.  Then, at church last night, the pastor talked about that very thing.  There are so many aspects of the entire story that he could have mentioned last night, so for him to mention that, I believe, really shows that God wanted to emphasize that part of the story.  Jesus was a man.  He was God and he was man. When Jesus prayed, he asked God if there was any other way to do what needed to be done.  He agonized about what was about to happen.  He prayed for God to take this burden from him, yet still yielded to God's plan.  I would have been terrified to go through what he went through.  I had an anxiety attack before I went into the O.R. for the C-section of my youngest child.  I knew what was coming and I was scared.  That was just for the birth of my child.  I didn't have to be tortured and beaten like Jesus was. I can't imagine what Jesus must have been going through before he was arrested and the night began to unfold.  Jesus had emotions.  He loved to visit his friends and have fun feasts, he got sad when his friend Lazarus died, he had compassion for those who were sick and hurting.  He must have been so scared.  

Today when I was reading chapters 15-16, I realized something. Jesus probably wasn't afraid of being beaten and killed.  I think it was horrible what He went through, but he suffered through all of that silently.  The only time he cried out is when he was separated from the Father.  

34 At three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” This means “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?”Mark 15:34

My personal belief is that Jesus was terrified because he knew he would have to spend time away from the Father.  He would have to go into hell by himself and battle the real enemy.  The horrible things that the Roman guards did were nothing compared to what he would have to experience in the two days after his death.  He had to feel the weight of every sin that was ever committed in the world and he took the punishment for each and every one.  That is why Jesus cried out in the garden for God to find a different way to save us.  But there was no other way.  Jesus let himself be the sacrifice to cleanse us from a lifetime of sin.  

Don't let his death be for nothing! Live your life to honor His death and the time he spent in HELL for YOU and ME. Don't be ashamed to talk about what He has done in your life. 

I know this is a really heavy blog post.  It has been really heavy on my heart and I think it needed to be talked about.  I really would like to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Share something that Jesus has done for you personally in your life.  Honor Him! I also would like to hear ideas for Easter traditions that point to Jesus instead of the Easter Bunny.  Ok, its your turn: GO!

Monday, April 14, 2014


Several years ago, my marriage was not a beautiful picture.  In fact, lots of arguments, followed by weeks of extended silent treatments, were the norm for my life. I could see a layer of tension settle like dust after each fight.  We were in an unhealthy cycle of pretending everything was ok for a few weeks, then we would plunge right back into the fighting, and then the silence again.  I felt like my life was out of control.  The weight of the stress made me feel like I had the entire earth on my shoulders.  Just to walk across the street took so much effort because of the toll that this lifestyle was taking on me.  So I prayed a simple prayer, "Help." That was the entire prayer. I had learned lots of fancy prayers in my lifetime, but those really didn't make a difference in my life.  It was all I could do just to get that one word out of my lips, but it was enough. 

I was lying on my bed crying and feeling hopeless when I prayed that prayer.  God whispered to my heart that things would get better.  He put his arms around me and told me to give Him all of my troubles.   So, I did.  I felt the weight lift off of my shoulders and I had a picture in my mind of Jesus standing above me with a huge trash can just throwing it all away.  Then I felt his arms around me.  I felt peace for the first time in years.  

Things didn't get better right away, but I held on to the promise God had whispered to me that things would get better.  I knew it just as much as I know right now that I am sitting on a couch holding my laptop.  It was real, I had no doubt.  

    Now faith is the substance 
of things hoped for, 
the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

You may have heard this verse before.  I had heard it many times before, but when I went through this experience, this verse became very real to me.  Faith as substance is a hard concept to grasp.  Something that has substance in the natural world is usually something that you can touch or see. You can hold it, measure it, or examine it.  Faith is something that you can't see or touch.  Faith is kind of like a feeling, but so much more than that.  

Faith is knowing something is true no matter what the circumstances around you are telling you.  It isn't just hope, it is the solid evidence that is created when God himself speaks to you.  It is the substance of things hoped for.  Just like the evidence in a trial is something the jury can see with their own eyes, faith gives your spirit eyes too see what God has said to be true. 

I can hope for rain,  but I don't really know if it is going to rain. The 6 o'clock news can tell me that there is a 60% chance that it could rain. But I will not know for sure until I feel rain drops on my face, or see them from my window.  Faith is more than just hope alone.  It is the evidence that what you hoped will come to pass.  

I waited for about three years for God's promise to come to pass in my life.  I was able to wait because I had evidence that what I hoped for (a better marriage) was going to happen because God told me.  Christian faith begins when you learn how to see God's truth instead of your circumstance.  One way to see God's truth is to hear it whispered to your heart like I did when I prayed.  But that is not the only way; you can read about God's promises in the Bible, or by talking to someone that you know has a good relationship with Jesus.  What it all comes down to is trusting Him with your life.  Let it all go, into His hands, and He will give you peace.  Have faith that God will always do what he says he will do.