These writings are for the imperfect person searching for more of the Perfect God.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Let's talk porn.

There's a part of us that doesn't want to write any of this.  Let alone share it.  But there's this nagging sense within that knows if we don't, shame wins.  And quite frankly, we're tired of shame winning in families, marriages, lives.  God's ability to resurrect dead things, God's gift to stitch all things torn, God's undeserving (incomprehensible) love-- should be fearlessly poured out by every person who's experienced it.

Shame is an ugly vicious deadly thing.  It's the small loud voice that's screaming, at this very moment, not to share.  Keep it in the dark.  Unspoken.  Untouched.  Unheard.  But God's called us to be courageous, fearless & willing to speak regardless of the threat it may impose on a reputation.  

Just maybe, if one by one, we begin to courageously & confidently refuse to bow down to its secretiveness, its darkness, its fear tactics-- this battle can be won, in your family as well.

We pray as you read our story, His miraculous power to heal all things takes center stage.

Love, Jamie & Joy

______________________________


It was Wednesday morning in the early fall of 2006 and I'd found porn on the computer, again.

An internal Tsunami of uninvited emotions washed over me as I sat indian style in the upstairs master bedroom closet- numb & tired. But this time, unlike the others, I finally sensed this wasn’t going to just go-away. No matter how many shoves under the rug I attempted, how many tears I’d shed in Jamie's sight, how my pleads I’d make, how many threats I’d impose, how many manipulative strategic plans I’d formulate—no amount of my own white knuckle willpower could break the cycle happening under our roof.

But this time around, God in His gentle yet heart-piercing exposure wouldn’t permit me to discount my own porn— not for one more day.

It was there, smack dab on the carpet floor of my closet where He revealed my porn was perfectionism. My porn was approval. My porn was people pleasing. My porn was emotional affairs. My porn was codependence. My porn was deception. My porn was validation. My porn was perfect children with perfect husband with perfect Instagram pics (I still love me some good family pics💗) with perfect lives-- Make no mistake, my porn was just (if not more) destructive, harmful, twisted & deceptive at a root level, than his.

Because the thing is, perfectionism breeds jealousy. People pleasing breeds insecurity.  Approval breeds hostility. Pride breeds death.

But vulnerability breeds intimacy.  Messy Honesty breeds life. Transparency breeds love.  Humility breeds victory.

But I hid my porn, I hid his porn; all in a faulty effort to not mess with our flawless persona—our well dressed family and our untarnished life that we’d work so hard to create. After all, what would people think if they really knew?

But this I know, there’s simply no room for love in perfectionism.

None.

When I chose to look/be/do perfectionism instead of allowing the Perfect One to heal the brokenness within the family unit, love was absent.

And Because God IS love, this type of atmosphere in a family kicks Him straight to the curb.

No matter how many Christian labels we may place on ourself, our spouse, our babies, our family, our marriage— when perfectionism &/or denial is chosen over raw vulnerability - evil wins, evil prevails and evil conquerors in a home.

But truthfully & somewhat embarrassingly, the real gut-level root issue, personally, was that I believed Jamie's battle was a direct response of my not-enough-ness .

The same not-enough-ness I had been fleeing since I was a nine year old little girl with long blonde pigtails looking directly into her pink glitter floor length mirror actively listening as satan breathed heavily on my neck whispering, “Look at you; who would ever find you pretty? Your forehead is too big, your nose is too broad, your stature is too thin, your height is too short..." Not-enough not-enough not-enough repeated over & over until I believed it. Immovably planted.

Yet if a person today were to say these ugly statements of hateful destructive lies to an innocent, fearfully & wonderfully made nine year old little child, we’d unhesitatingly call it abuse.

But when satan does, we call it “negative self-talk.”

It’s not.

It’s demonic abuse and it’s spoken for one & only one reason— to kill, steal and destroy that child's true authentic and beautiful identity within— ultimately drawing ones soul towards faulty counterfeit coping mechanisms found in the addiction of both perfectionism & porn.

68% of christian men admit to viewing porn on a regular habitual basis (& women are now reporting 20-22%.) Experts say this number is significantly underestimated because shame (which keeps all in secret) is the key ingredient jam-packed into every fiber of pornography; therefore most don’t admit to it, making this static most likely 80% or higher they say.

If 80% + of men, conservatively speaking, (women not excluded) sitting in church pews week after week are imprisoned to a shame infested, marriage destroying, generationally harming addiction to porn, it would seem much of discussions and prayers would be centralized on helping to break & release & free the congregation from the iron shackles of the enemies strong hold.

But it’s rarely spoken about, this porn epidemic.

Why?

I share this with a zilch of judgment and a heap of compassion- but maybe it’s because statistics say 50% of pastors have admitted to viewing porn regularly. In other words, they’re addicted too. And just like the statistic for christian men/women, these are the individuals who've admitted it; the true numbers are significantly and secretively more.

And because we're all pastors/leaders of someone, whether to our children or an entire congregation--this we do know: satan is not a respecter of title, status, position.  If we're human, regardless of "who" we are or "what" we do in or outside the church, we're a walking target to him.

And yet, God's forewarned us from the beginning, hasn't He?  "Flee (in other words, run for your life) from sexual sin!  No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does.  For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body." (1 Cor. 6.18) 

And since God not only made us, designed us, stitched us, wired us-- He also knew the dark twisted evil perversions of satan.  

Because the awesome ingredient God administered into our brains called oxytocin (the element released to be the super-glue for human bonding during sex,) satan used as he strategically and manipulatively introduced counterfeit versions of intimacy in our path by means of pornography; 3d, intangible, imitation versions of sex. 

When porn, when emotional affairs, when masturbation, when fraudulent, out of order intimacy is obtained, these neurochemicals are inherently released, which in effect bond us to the images, to the people, to the lie-- attacking Gods design of human sexuality to the core.  All resulting in a deadly blow to the God-designed human bonding needed and necessary in a thriving, intimate, vulnerable, faithful marriage union.

Jamie and I had someone recently ask the question, “Can anyone really be free of porn? And not just the kind of being free for a week, a month, a year- only to find themselves dabbling, hooked & right back in it—  but free.”

What she was really asking; “Can an addiction this seductive, this powerful, this twisted, this deep, this neurochemically driven, this culturally-accepted, actually be set free?  An addiction which imprisons souls, tears apart families, rips to shreds a covenant, throws a man/woman far deep into a dark pit of hopelessness, actually be— free for good?” 

To which Jamie, with almost a decade of freedom driving his words, looked her confidently and yet compassionately in the eyes and replied unhesitatingly indisputably unquestionably, “Without a doubt, yes!

This we know.  This we've experienced.  This we've tasted. This we've seen with our own eyes-- there is no sin too dark, no bondage too steep, no bar too thick, no pit too deep for the God of Rescue not to grab hold of our bruised and bloody hand; a hand cleaving, waving, offering the white flag of surrender.  The same flag which may look like defeat to the enemy, but the jokes on him--it's the flag of VICTORY. 


"When you go out to fight your enemies... do not be afraid. The Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt (our place of bondage) is with you!... Listen to me...Do not be afraid as you go out to fight your enemies today!  Do not lose heart or panic or tremble before them.  For the Lord your God is going with you!  He will fight for you against your enemies, and He will give you victory!"
-Deuteronomy 20.1-4

Today, Jamie and I are both free and far from perfect; running straight into the arms of the One who is.  Day by day. Moment by moment.  But, if you're reading this today, experiencing gut-wrenching defeat in any shape or form in your own life, as we did, please know it's not by accident you've parked your eyes on these very words.  

God wants you to know He sees you (Gen 16.13) He's fighting for you (Exodus 14.14) He's in love with you (Jer 31.3) He has a purpose for you (Acts 13.36)  He's rescuing you (2Tim 4.18) He's restoring you (Jer 30.17)  He's strengthening you (Col 1.11)  He's delighting in you (Zeph 3.17) He's guarding you (Psalm 121.8) He's redeeming you (Is. 43.1)

Because, there's victory only in Jesus.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

When going back to normal isn’t an option


Dear normal, 

As you may know, the most common question I receive in my every day life is about you.

'Do I miss you?' 'Do I want you back?' 'Do I feel like I did when I did life with you?' 'Am I back with you?'
But here’s the doozy of them all— 'If I could do it all over again, would I still have left you?'


My “normal-life” that is.

Would I have had the surgery?  You know the one— the surgery which implanted two seventeen inch titanium bars along the spine; & twenty four hooks and screws in twelve vertebrae’s which has left me limited to do activities I once enjoyed. The surgery which now makes a simple task of tying my shoe or picking up clothes from a floor not without difficulty. The surgery which forbids the holding of anything more than 20lbs. The surgery which has caused a consistent stream of a nagging ache.

But can we ever go back to you?  After a life-changing surgery; or far worse-  after a traumatic event * after a loss of a child, a spouse, a parent, a loved one * after a life or death situation * after a life-threatening illness * after a divorce * after a betrayal * after an accident * after an addiction * after a heart-ache?

After.

Do we ever really return back to you... back to normal?

But just possibly, could it be—doing life with you, I lacked authentic empathy? Maybe life with you I denied genuine compassion.  Maybe life with you I disregarded sincere sympathy. Maybe life with you I overlooked others private suffering. Maybe life with you I never experienced the undeserving rescuing power of Jesus.

Could it be God is after my calling, after my character, after my courage; more than He is my comfort? This same comfort once found as my constant companion and a means to an end while doing life with you— life in the normal.

Because God says when my bones are in agony and my soul is in deep anguish, He saves me with His unfailing love (psalm 6.3-4)

Because He says when I’m broken hearted, He’s close to me while rescuing my crushed spirit (Psalm 34.18)

Because He says when my heart is overwhelmed, He leads me to His Rock of safety where He alone is my refuge and fortress (Psalm 61.3)

Because He says when death knocks on my door, He redeems me, heals me and forgives me— filling my life with good things (Psalm 103.5)

Because He says after I have suffered a little while, He restores, supports, and strengthens me- placing my feet on a firm foundation (1Peter 5.10)

And if being with you, normal, means not experiencing these life-giving, life-supplying, life-altering, life-transforming experiences with God, than the well-known statement has proven to be pointedly true about you...
you are most definitely over-rated.


Interestingly enough, it was when I broke free from your routine dullness, your fictitious safety, your stale apathy— I truly found life.  


life, operating in this new season separated from you, normal, where I meditate on the words of Job.  A man who was considered blameless and upright— all the while basking in the favor of his normality; a normal filled to overflow of blessings.

Yet, his normal was hyjacked. Snatched. Snuffed out and replaced with deep physical pain. Relentless suffering. Unending shame. Vindictive accusations. Humiliating circumstances. Immeasurable loss.

But it was also here, in the thick of his new-normal, where job dropped to his knees and cried out..."My ears had only heard of you before, but now my eyes have seen You” (Job 42.5.)

Because smack dab in the mundane of our normal, we’ve only heard of Gods name. We’ve only heard of His great works. We’ve only heard of His unfathomable mercy. We’ve only heard of His unfailing love. We’ve only heard of His unshakeable power.

We only heard.

Oh, but now—after the suffering, after the heartache, after the storm, after the diagnosis, after the accident, after the loss, after the normal's been stripped.... we have seen.

Yes, we have seen His face shining, illuminating, gleaming into the heart’s fertile soil containing seedlings of new-normals. New passions. New callings. New desires. New revelations. New empathy. New relationships. New courage. New strength. New wisdom. New perspective- A new intimate, unending, anchored love for a God who chooses to use that which the enemy intended for harm, as good (Genesis 50.20.)

A new-normal far too rich, far too deep, far too beautiful to ever return to you, normal.  

And so today, while here in our new-normal, we may have more scars, more bumps, more bruises--physically &/or emotionally-- yet they're just simple reminders that the Lord indeed fought the good fight; all the while whispering deep within the confinement of our heart, "You need only to be still.  I got this."  

And when we're asked the all too familiar question-- "Are we back to normal?" we can unequivocally, indisputably, unmistakably, unquestionably respond with a hope-infused, "nope."  

A joy-filled-nope detaching itself from the grips of the dangerously-entising normal; all while leaping into the uncompromising safety, the unwavering protection, the secured locked arms of God.  It's now here where we no longer just hear of His name, but see with unclouded vision, His perfect radiant face eagerly waiting our long-anticipated arrival in the matchless beauty of our new- normal.










































Tuesday, May 15, 2018

I need me some confidence!



I’m fully convinced satan’s after just one thing in my life above all else— above my marriage, above my children, above my family, above my faith, above my belief..

Oh yes, he’s after my confidence.

Because if he can swipe my confidence, he’s stolen my purpose. If he can steal my confidence, he’s hijacked my identity. If he can remove my confidence, all those God sized dreams hand planted deep within my soul—you know the ones—the specific hopes for our babies, our family, ourselves... well, they’ll eventually die.

And so he viscously attacks our gifts, convincing our heart they're really not gifts at all. Then he attacks our talents and tells us we really don’t have any. Then attacks our worth and tells us it’s just best to sit this one out.

But he knows we crave approval— and so he’ll seek to use any willing innocent victim to be his mouthpiece, his spokesperson.

And there’s never a shortage of willing vessels .

It was three nights ago when I woke up in a strange panic. Sweat oozing out of every pour as I leaped out of bed and began pacing back & forth in my kitchen. What had I done? I repeated out loud in the dark kitchen air. A book? Really? Who am I to think I have the ability, and the audacity, to share God’s love with others by means of a book? It’s stupid. It’s silly. It’s lacking. It’s shallow. It’s small. It’s wordy. It’s sloppy...
I repeatedly heard being hollered both directly and effectively, over & over & over & over. The voice was piercing and the message—well, chillingly convincing. And truthfully, I have yet to fully recover from it.

If you’ve found yourself in a season of being pounced on relentlessly by satan, May I suggest you’re on the brink of a God sized purpose?

Because, satan’s perfectly fine with us going to weekly church, attending frequent Bible studies; heck, even leading them... But the minute we actually step foot into the very calling God pre-designed on our life—a calling requiring fierce courage, a calling insisting on steadfast faith, a calling demanding immovable boldness, a calling involving unshakeable sureness, a calling demanding immeasurable hope—satan quickly slithers right in the scene dispelling debilitating + paralyzing venom as any lethal snake would do.

But we’re onto this snake.

Yes, we’re onto your twisted deceptions, your devious lies, your crafty whispers. We’re onto the knowing you seek nothing more then to rattle the sure foundation of our confident hope in order to prevent us from pursuing, advancing, obtaining.

But I’m here to quickly, firmly and unflinchingly share with you that what you’ve failed to remember, satan, is that no purpose of God will. be. thwarted.
(job 42:2.)

So listen up satan...

Psalm 23:4- “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you, God, are with me...”


Col 2:15- “in this way Jesus disarmed the spiritual ruler & authority. He shamed him publicly by His victory on the cross.”


Luke 10:19- “I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.”


Romans 8:38- “And I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angel or demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, nieither height nor depth, neither anything else in creation will separate us from the love of God...”


1 John 4:4- “You have already won the victory, because the Spirit who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."



And this, right here, in this place, at this time, in this moment friends —we drop the mic. We lift our heads.  And we, “Run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer & perfecter of our faith.”



So, “I keep on praying, asking God to enable me to live a life worthy of His call. May He give me the power to accomplish all the good things my faith prompts me to do.”
2 Thessalonians 1.11

Friday, May 11, 2018

A letter to the first-born



Driving down Elizabeth Lake rd. on a cold February 2001 afternoon, I heard our song, Faithy. You were tightly securely enveloped within the dark confinement of my womb, as my right hand stroked the large belly now squeezed between the Jeeps drivers seat & its worn down leather steering wheel.

Do you remember it honey? I sang right along with lee Ann Womak as she & I harmoniously belted out at the top of our lungs....


“Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens. 🎵
🎵Promise me that you’ll give FAITH a fighting chance.
🎵And when you get a chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.

Dropping like a turbulent hail storm right onto my growing belly, the tears bounced one by one by one by one.

I wanted nothing more than for you, sweetheart, to give yourself a fighting chance. For you, Faith, to know that when one door closes, there’s always another just waiting to be opened.  And when you, Faith, have an opportunity to sit it out or dance... sweet one, I so badly want you to dance.

And then on that cold March 14th day when you breathed that very first breath, I gently whispered into those tiny perfectly delicately & wonderfully crafted ears....“🎵Give faith a fighting chance. Look for that open door. When you get a chance to sit it out or dance... dance sweet one. Oh, please dance.🎵

And so you did. Round & around & around you went in your jasmine princess dress in the middle of your yellow and pink starred bedroom each night. And with each passing twirl you’d peer up through your thick blond strands of hair just to make sure I was watching. “Look mommy, I’m dancing!” you’d delightfully sing as you spun that purple jasmine gown like a true princess should undoubtedly do.

But with each new twirl, each new year, each new milestone, the uninhibited unrestricted unconstrained dancing slowly decreased as your big blue eyes, yet once again, peered through those thick blond strands up at me.

Yet it was this time I heard your watching eyes question, “Are you dancing too, mommy?” “Are you looking for that open door after one has been closed, mommy? Are you, mommy, giving your faith a fighting chance? Are you, mommy, going to sit this one out, or are you going to dance with me?”

Because I’m watching mommy.

“I want to love how you love mom. I want to dance how you dance mom. I want to have faith like you have mom. I want to hope like you hope mom.”

Because what I didn’t realize, sweetheart, is that as much as I longed for you to embrace these words as your immoveable truth, as your steadfast reality, as your unshakeable anchor— 


they first had to be mine.

And so you, precious one, it was you who taught me to look with an expectant heart for an open door. It was you who taught me to give faith a fighting chance. It was you who reached out with your sweet little hand glittered with hot pink polished nails and whispered, “Lets dance.”

So, to all you precious first born’s out there.... thank you, on this Mother’s Day, for teaching us mama’s significantly, extravagantly, immeasurably more than we could have ever been taught without you.

There is no other, in all the world, who we’d rather dance through life with... than you.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Please don't tell me to trust God.


(*Much of this is taken from a personal journal entry written about nine yrs ago during a season of marital failure.  Maybe you're in a similar season, or quite possibly something all together different.  But whatever the season you may be experiencing, my prayer is that these words inspire, encourage and lead your heart to the One & Only Remedy)


God, 

If one more person tells me to trust You.... I simply don’t know if I’ll survive it.  Better yet, if they’ll survive it.  Because the truth is, when they offer me this piece of well-meaning advise, it feels like salt being smothered and smeared directly into my raw & bloody & open wound. 

A wound infested infected inflamed with this gripping dark shame covering the internal pain of my heart.

And as much as I know their advise comes from a good place—from a rightful truthful helpful place desiring to steer my pain, my fear, my confusion, my heartache, my loss towards a destination of rest; asking me to do the impossible right now, in this here storm, is stacking further lead bricks of shame onto the already multiple existing ones.

So many bricks.

Their advise is reminding me it’s simply just one more thing, amongst the numerous others, of that which I’m incapable of doing— trusting You.

Asking me to trust You is causing more shame. Further pain. Deeper infection.

Because, how do I trust You when trusting others has proven to be unsafe?
How do I trust You when it looks like You’ve permitted this heartache?
How do I trust You when I don’t believe You could possibly still love me with all the wrong choices I’ve made?
How do I trust You when I don’t even know if You’re actually trust-worthy?

Asking me to trust You while in the typhoon of my life is causing me to sink further down into the pit of despair. 

And I’m sinking Lord.

But I hold to one piece of advise that friend gave me.  You know the one.  The precious friend who oozed of inexplainable peace & radiated an inexplicable love. 

She didn’t tell me to trust You. 
She didn’t tell me to let-go & let-God.

No, Your daughter told me that Your love for me was beyond my limited comprehension.  It was beyond my greatest imagination. It was beyond my deepest understanding.  
She told me that You’re a God who leaves the 99 to find me. 

To search for me.
To rescue me.
To restore me.
To love me.

She told me You hear & rescue me when I call to You for help (psalm 34.17.)

She told me You’re close to the broken hearted & rescue those whose spirits are crushed (psalm 34.18.)

She told me You don’t ignore the cries of those who suffer (psalm 9.12.)

She told me You’re a shelter for those who are weighed down with burden, pain, hurts, grief & loss (psalm 91.2.)

She told me You’re a refuge in times of trouble (psalm 9.9.)

She told me You heal the broken hearted & bind up my wounds (Psalm 147.3.)

She told me that You are love and You loved me first (1 John 4.16.)

Come to think of it, 
She never did mention to trust You, God.  It's quite possible she knew trusting You is impossible without first knowing Your incomprehensible, unimaginable, undeserving love for me, first.

In spite of what I’ve done, or haven’t done. 
In spite of what I’ve thought, or haven’t thought. 
In spite of what I’ve said, or haven’t said.
In spite of how unloveable I actually feel.

In spite of.

“Can anything separate me from the love of Christ? Does it mean He no longer loves me if I have trouble or calamity or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute or in danger or threatened with death? No. Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is mine through Christ who loves me! And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate me from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither my fears for today nor my worries for tomorrow- not even the powers of hell can separate me from God’s Love.” (Romans 8.35-38.)

She knew the secret component needed first in order to trust You, God:
A knowing of Your love for me.

It must start there.  
And, I have this beautiful hunch God, it also ends there. 

As I close this letter, Father, I'm hearing You gently whisper into the wounded places of the heart, "You don't have to trust me just yet, my child.  But know this... My love for you was first, is first, and will always be first.  If you allow your heart to receive that which is undeserved, you will organically sense the life-altering, life-giving, natural-byproduct of a trust in the One who's always worth trusting.
Because My love for you, even in your worst, is enough."

I love you, too, God,

Joyelle








Thursday, March 29, 2018

MeToo.



I have a love/hate relationship with Brene Brown’s theory on Shame.  And Before you throw things at me, all you Brene Brown fans (me included) hear me out:

Studies are showing that if our inner shame can be spoken about and heart-level vulnerability can be exhibited, shame will melt in the face of transparent truth telling. Which is precisely why the #MeToo movement has become increasingly powerful and transformational and liberating amongst us women today.  


Although what originally began as a movement to support sexual harassment survivors and end sexual violence, it now has organically grown into a platform for women of all ages, sizes, races, social classes, languages, issues.  #MeToo has given us an opportunity, an open door, a safe place to speak to that which has been held captive in the dark corridors of the shame infested heart of a woman--a platform in which one of the most powerful weapons of healing can be shared amongst one another:

Empathy.

And, as Brene Brown (a research professor, author, speaker, ted talker and worlds leading shame expert) reports; the answer, the remedy, the antidote to our toxic shame is 'MeToo-empathy.'   


I stared down at these powerful words; words which I had doodled last Wednesday on my sacred yellow notepad.  "MeToo-empathy" it said in my embarrassingly sloppy cursive black inked lettering.  Yet beyond my faulty hand writing, these words spoke truth.  They revealed hope.  They communicated revelation.  

But most significantly, they exposed familiarity as my heart instinctively drifted to the tender eyes of Jesus weeping in John 11.35- weeping in response to the deeply grieving group of individuals heart broken over the death of their beloved Lazarus.  

And to Hebrews 2.18, speaking to that of Jesus' immense, unfathomable suffering He endured; enabling Him to help me during mine.

And to Hebrews 4.15, sharing that God both understands and empathizes with my weakness, for He faced all the same testing I have. 

And to John 8.1-11, regarding a woman caught in the act of adultery.  Brought before Jesus by judgmental stone holders, aggressively abusing her verbally and emotionally as they  publicly displayed all her shame before every watching eye.  Yet, Jesus looked into their condemning, judgmental, hate-filled eyes of the stone holders and said, "Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone."  And at that, Jesus began to doodle in dust where the woman sat.  

I can't help but wonder-- is it possible, could it be, just maybe what He doodled on that hot afternoon day in the dusty dirt beneath her shame-infested self was,"MeToo."  ?

I'm beginning to recognize that just possibly, there's something all together different between Jesus' MeToo and that of a human beings MeToo.

And as much as Brene Brown's theory is completely accurate regarding the active and potent and powerful and healing agent of empathy amongst one friend to the next, I'm slowly recognizing, through both trial and error, that my own limited and faulty empathy for others will inevitably, assuredly and inescapably fail them at one point or another.  And, quite possibly, vise versa.

I'm left to wonder if placing the healing of my shame into another’s hand, solely, through their empathy; or to allow someone else to place their shame, solely, in my hands in order to heal, as suggested by Dr. Brown-- could be misplaced power &/or misplaced position, perhaps, in the ability of a limited, faulty, flawed, blemished human being, such as myself?

What happens when the person responsible for sharing empathy with my shame, in order to heal it, is having a bad day?  Or is having a life crisis?  Or is selfish.  Or absent. Or on vacation.  Or exhausted.  Or mentally tapped out.  Or insensitive.  Or, well, human, I've been asking myself.

Am I forever hopelessly enslaved to my shame?  

Are we forever trapped in this
→confidence depleting

→value eradicating
→selfworth stripping
enemy of our soul called shame?


Thankfully, I can say with an unequivocal response--No.  

Because, on that same Wednesday afternoon, after doodling #MeToo-empathy on my yellow notebook paper, I heard Him whisper far in the secret place of my heart.   A whisper proceeding a confession of an ache I was experiencing from an ended friendship.  An exhaustion I was feeling from a difficult child.   A weariness I was wearing of an overscheduled week.  A sadness I was encountering of a plaguing illness in a loved one.  A  confusion I was enduring of an old violation.  A shame I was sensing over a past failure.

"Joy," He said to me, “When I listen to your heart whisper each morning, saying, “I love you, God,”  you must know one important thing--I always speak in direct response to these four words, saying:" 


“Me Too.”

“I loved you first, dear one (1John 4.19.) My response to your love towards Me is always an unashamed, unmatched, unparalleled, unfailing, unprecedented--- "Me too.”


Every day, every moment, Jesus is doodling in the presence of your enemy called shame.  Doodling two words which authoritatively demand your shame accusers to slip away, one by one, until only Jesus is left in the middle of your heart, along side you, asking "Where are your accusers?  Didn't even one of them condemn you?"  "No, Lord" the adulterous woman responded" (John 8.9-11.)  No, lord, I responded on that Wednesday afternoon.  "Than neither do I," Jesus says.

Because Jesus' MeToo, doodled in the dust of our dirt-stained shame, is the kind of empathy Brene is actively researching.  The kind which heals, the kind which eradicates, the kind which brings us up out of the stone-holders circle of accusations with a new heart.  A heart no longer littered with toxic shame but now stamped and sealed with two words.  MeToo.









Saturday, February 3, 2018

Raising unpretentious kids in a pretentious world.


It was a cold wintery December evening when I walked-in through the side laundry room door, where multiple kid shoes, now all dripping of freshly melted snow, lined up one by one on the rubber mat.

It's a favorite scene of mine; a home full of friends gathering in our home.  Making messes, but making memories.  Making chaos, but making community.

Yet, on this evening, as I walked into the kitchen with both hands gripping multiple Meijer bag's holding food which would no doubt be inhaled within the hour on this particular evening, I noticed a group of the younger boys crowded around Jake. (*name changed to protect privacy:)  Jake is a regular to our home, but there was nothing regular about this scene.

My curiosity led me to the center of their circle where the infatuated, mesmerized and spell-bound eyes now all directed themselves.

And there they were.

Jake's shoes, that is.

But these weren't your every day shoes, like the ones sitting in my back laundry room dripping of now sloshy snow residue.  No, these were Gucci.  At least that's what my third born informed me.

"Goooochiii,"  he said with careful articulation, honor and holiness.

"What's Gucci?" I asked-- which, within 1.2 seconds I soon recognized I became the world's most un-coolest mom. ever.

"They're $800 shoes, mom.  Eight-hundred dollars," they simultaneously instructed me with an annoyed enthusiasm.

Immediately I was caught between the mental tension of both the ridiculous price of this particular shoe and the unanimous response coming from their mouths.

They weren't disgusted, but amazed.  Not repulsed, but attracted.  Not offended, but enchanted.

Where had I gone wrong, I began to repeat repetitively in my heart as I put away the over abundance of food just purchased, into the over abundant pantry and fridge.

Excess.

Because what they don't know is that what's considered normal in our culture, is actually abnormal to the world.
Because what's considered conventional in our society, is actually unconventional to the multitudes.
And what's considered common to our circles, is actually uncommon to most humanity.

How is it I have twisted and skewed and grossly misrepresented the reality of the world in which we live, to these three precious children given into my care to instruct, teach and educate; I began to question on this particular night.   Because I know, deep within the core of my belief system, that talk with no walk and vision with no collision, inevitably leads a heart towards impaired vision.  

And while in this moment, my unsettled emotions desperately required instant direction-- which led to a quiet corner of the house where I sit here now, with you.  It was in this space where I grabbed hold, with ten searching fingers and a saddened heart, His Holy and Perfect Word opened to the book of Acts.

Desperate for direction.  Parched for advise.  Needy for counsel.  

His penetrating Word began to unravel the tangled internal mess and offer instantaneous clarity and certainty and clearness, as I read of the first group, the first people, the first church, the first Christians- and how they did life.  

Corruption had yet to surface.
Deceit had yet to be birthed.
Selfishness had yet to be existent.
Consumption had yet to be desired.

Only undiluted, undefiled, undivided Holy Spirit infested hearts emerged from this small group of first's.

"All the believers were united in heart and mind.  And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.... There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or house would sell them and bring the money to give to those in need."  *Act4.32,34.

They lived open-handedly, not clenched gripped.  They lived selflessly, not selfishly.  They lived fearlessly, not apprehensively.  They lived courageously, not cowardly.  They lived generously, not sparingly.  They lived charitably, not unjustly.

And, as a direct result, they experienced "great joy" (Acts2.46.)--  the very essential ingredient often missing, lacking, depleted in the lives of those of us who live in excess.

Could it be, perhaps, that although joy is the most sought after, desired, wanted emotion of humanity, it's entirely possible that it's simply only offered as a natural response to a selfless, sacrificial, sympathetic, solicitous heart condition?

In God's continued incomprehensible goodness and perfectly timed plan, my oldest son and I were given the privilege, the opportunity, the honor to visit a friend last night.  A dear friend.  A loved friend.  A sick friend.    A friend with three young babies at home, currently unable to care for their needs due to this relentless, unwanted, painful and depleting disease which has gripped her fragile tent in which her beautiful and thriving soul resides in.

Yet, as she lay in pain and discomfort, the joy oozing from her home's atmosphere, from her husband's gentle smile, from her sweet glistening eyes; deeply overwhelmed both me and my son.   It was here, I was immediately reminded that a heart flooded with deep implanted heartache, can still be a heart absorbed with boundless joy.  And a heart saturated with painful circumstances, can still be a heart consumed with anchored hope.

And that's when it happened.  Last night.  Where the unrealistic Gucci-shoe-world collided with the realistic joy-in-the-pain world; as my son perfectly and divinely shared the antidote to life.

"Mom," he quietly whispered while staring down onto his lap as we drove away;  "I wish I owned Jake's Gucci shoes, because I'd sell them tonight and give the money to your friend and her family.  It belongs with them."

Little did he know, this new alive heart just emerged from the undiluted pureness, from the unadulterated selflessness, from the uncommon love of an unpretentious spirit residing in a highly saturated pretentious world.  Where the very words of Jesus still shake the depths of the earth's foundation:  "It is more blessed to give than to receive" Acts 20.35.


Give, and you will receive.  Your gift will return to you in full--pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over and poured into your lap.  The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.  Luke 6.38

"Since you get more joy out of giving to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give."
-Eleanor Roosevelt