Month: May 2015

I Thought I Was Crazy

Dear Junior High Self,

I wish I could tell you that your life will be easy. That whatever you touch will turn to gold and you always win first place. But that is not the case. You will lead an incredible life. Filled with adventure, beauty, friendship and joy. But there will also be heartache, disappointment and pain. In fact,  there will be a chapter in your life that you will call your Season of Captivity. But do not fear. It will not last forever. And the beautiful story that comes from it, will make everything you went through worthwhile. For a moment you will think that you have ruined your life. But take heart, little one. God has a plan of redemption.  

                                                                                                                        Love, Love, Love

                                                                                                                        Your Future Self

About 6 months into my marriage, I thought I was crazy.

 

Like batdoodoo kind. But I had heard that marriage was hard. So I thought, Huh, this must be what they were talking about. Or maybe it’s the birth control.

It wasn’t until 4.5 years later when my mother suggested perhaps I should Google emotional abuse that I finally understood what had been happening the past 5 years of my life. Now my mother is a very wise woman when it comes to handling her headstrong daughter. She didn’t come at me head on. She just made a comment that I brushed off in the car with a, “No, I just need this new job to work out,” but the seed had been planted.

Later that I day, hidden away, I searched Emotional Abuse. And I came across a website that saved my life.

And the name caught my eye immediately because if you have ever been in an emotionally abusive relationship, you think you is crazy. Because you feel crazy. And you are told you are crazy. over and over.

So I clicked on the link. And as the words started to slowly fill the screen, the tears began to pour down my face. Soaking my lap and the computer. Because someone else was telling my story. And for the first time in five years, I no longer felt alone.

This is what it said.

This website is wholly, compassionately dedicated to the women who have fought to love and understand, in total solitude, the men that rage at them, call them names, criticize their mistakes, joke about their insecurities, mock their interests, trivialize their pain, yell at them suddenly,threaten them with their deepest fears, then tell them they deserve it.Then to top it off, he steadfastly denies it all as he masterfully charms everyone he meets just like he did to her when they first met.

If you are one of these women, welcome to your tribe.

We believe you and the struggle and pain is very real. You are no longer alone and you are not crazy.

By this point, my entire body was wracking with sobs. I could not see the screen through my tears. And the snot. Ugly cry style. As 5 years of confusion, pain and self-loathing came pouring out.

I clicked on the next page and read:

You are not crazy if you believe he loves you, he just doesn’t like you.

You are not crazy if you struggle to modify your behavior or needs so he’ll treat you the way he treats everyone else.

You are not crazy if you feel confused and inadequate to repair what’s broken in your relationship, but you keep trying.

You are not crazy if you seem to recall things in a totally opposite way then he does.

At this point, my heart feels as if someone has cracked it open and light is pouring in. I’m still crying. But it’s not sad tears. It’s tears of relief. Of aching. Of longing. Because as I read these sentences, it is as if someone has captured my journey these past five years. And the darkness is encountering light. It is both beautiful and painful.

So I click another page. And read a little more. There is a chart that compares abusive relationships to healthy ones.

Competition vs Partnership.

Control and Power Struggles vs Intimacy and Shared Joy.

Contempt vs Validation.

Manipulation vs Mutual Cooperation.

The list goes on. And the definitions hit home. There are finally words to go with what I have been living. I think that is the hardest part about identifying abuse. You don’t have the vocabulary to put what you are feeling in words. Nothing in my life had prepared me for what I was going through so I didn’t even know how to put what was happening into words. Other than, I think I’m crazy.

Wow. Going back to this site 7 years later still gets me. Not in the same way because Praise God, I have been set free and he has healed me. But my heart still breaks for the girl I was back then. I felt so trapped and  that life had become so hopeless. The reason my mom suggested that I Google emotional abuse in the first place is because I had started joking about running away. And like any good mama bear, she asked me what I meant. Because if someone mentions suicide, you are supposed to ask them what they mean. I wasn’t ready to kill myself. I was just gonna get in my car and never look back.

Only those who have lived my story or are living it, can relate to what they are reading. And you need to know, You are Not Crazy and you are not alone. There is hope. And there is healing.

It can be a spouse, a parent, a boyfriend, a boss.

A co-worker, a sister, a girlfriend or someone in ministry.

Emotional abuse is real. And really hard to define. It would be so much easier if the person would just punch you in the face. Then you would at least have something to point to. It’s the million little invisible punches that take their toll on your soul when you are in an emotionally abusive relationship with someone. It is a slow process. And it starts small. Where you leave a conversation. Shaking your head. Thinking, What just happened?

Because at it’s root, abuse is about power. Someone doesn’t feel powerful so they exert power over you. And there will never be connection. Because that’s not their goal.

Power can come by keeping you off tilt so that you never quite feel safe.

Withholding what they know you need, like a hug. Or key information for a presentation.

Disguised jokes where you know you are the target but everyone else is laughing. And if you try to bring it up, “You have no sense of humor,” or “You can’t take a joke.”

Discounting happens when you bring something up and they pretend it didn’t happen. Nothing makes you feel more crazy than someone denying what you know to be true.

Countering in another method of holding power over someone. You try to bring something up in order to move the relationship forward and then out of nowhere you are being attacked. No matter how many “I statements” you use, it ends up spiraling down the crazy train.

The list goes on and on.

But you keep trying to connect. And the invisible punches keep coming. Until one day you are a shell of the person you once were. Numb. Undone. Hopeless. And alone. At least on the inside.

If you think you or someone you care about is dealing with emotional abuse. At work. In a relationship. At home. I have yet to find a better tool to help people find their way back to whole than this website. I have only pulled a few snippets of what spoke to me. But the reality is that day, over 7 years ago, I spent hours on that site. And God used it as a tool to set me free from captivity.

I hope that this can help someone else, as much as it helped me.

Love, Love, Love

The Girl Who Lives In My Head

PS. ALMOST EVERYTHING on this page, save my story, has been taken from www.youarenotcrazy.com. My intent is not to plagiarize or say these ideas are my own. My heart is to get the word out so anyone struggling with abuse can find hope and healing by looking at this site.

The Fruit of Obedience

I don’t remember what my thoughts were as a 20-year-old Young Life leader but they certainly weren’t, “I hope my knees can take this.”

Fast forward 17 years, and that was my first thought when I realized that I would be taking middle school girls to camp this summer. Don’t get me wrong. I am VERY excited.  So much so that I just very wrote very in all caps. It’s just, I’m not 100% sure that I’m up to the challenge.

It’s been 12 years since I took kids to camp. Add a torn ACL and the normal wear and tear on the body, and this accident prone not so young lady hopes her knees can handle it. The running. The dodging. The sliding around on tarps covered in shaving cream. What if I break something? is just one of the thoughts that flutters through my mind.

 You might read that and think, isn’t that part of why you got back involved with WyldLife? To take kids on adventures and help them navigate life?  Yes…and no. When I jumped back in the trenches, I had a plan of attack. I would be the really fun awesome new teacher, make lots of great relationships with my kids and eventually take the kids that I connected with to camp. Maybe get reconstructive surgery before I go. My plan.

God’s plan looks a little different. I don’t know why I’m surprised. Instead of taking a group of 6th grade girls who adore me that I have been building relationships with over the past year to camp, I will be taking girls that I barely know. Who have crossed over into the teenage world of insecurity and eye-rolling. Who really want to be going with another leader. Their leader. The one who has been investing in them, building friendships and walking with them the past year. Unfortunately, she has a family commitment on the mainland this summer that makes camp an impossibility. And so at a meeting over coffee, my team leader basically told me I was the only option. And when I said, “But they don’t want me to be their leader.” He replied in all honesty, “No. They don’t.” (insert the sound of truth piercing my heart) “But God does.”

Driving away from that meeting, memories of cabin times gone bad and over zealous leader faux pas starting whirling through my mind. And I could feel the self-doubt and fear begin to creep in. And so instead of jumping down the rabbit hole. I cried out to God and asked Him to remind me of the truth. His truth.

These are a few of things that popped into my mind.

I am here for the right reasons.

God loves obedience and faith. This is going to take a lot of both.

I have something that God wants me to impart and share with these girls.

I may no longer the hip, fun, trend-setting leader that kids want to emulate but I can be the steady, loving, patient rock that will not be moved.

I know my identity in Christ. I know that I have nothing to offer these kids but Jesus. He is the light that shines through me. Being young, fun, funny, Fill in the blank is not what leads kids to Christ. It is the spirit of God that draws them to Himself. For whatever reason, I get to part of the process, however God sees fit.

Over the past month, I have had to constantly remind myself of these truths. And God has been so sweet. On Saturday, I was driving and came across this little tree. I saw it out of the corner of my eye and couldn’t believe something so little could create such big fruit. Those are full size mangoes growing on that scrappy little tree. And I felt like God was whispering. Pay attention.

FullSizeRender

I see myself when I look at this tree. Little. Scrawny. Not very mighty. And yet look at that fruit. It makes me think of Jesus talking to his disciples.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.                           John 15:16

I don’t know what God is calling you to do right now or how you feel about it. Maybe you are like me, obeying with sweaty knees and shaking legs. Let this photograph remind you that the Kingdom of God is unique. Where the last are first and the scrawniest of trees sometimes produce the loveliest fruit.

Be encouraged. You are not alone.

Love, Love, Love,

The Girl Who Lives in My Head

When You Get Matched With a Friend on eHarmony

Option A

You check your email and see a familiar face pop up. You freak out. Run to your computer at work and maniacally try to log on. Out of trauma you black out, forget your password and get locked out of your account. You go through the tortuous reset process and finally get the ball rolling. All the while huffing, “Come on!” at your computer and impatiently tapping the mouse on the desk while you wait. Not now rainbow wheel!  The moment you gain access to the site, you delete your profile, wipe out your entire eHarmony existence and pray to God that your friend did not have a chance to read it. Your rationale? You didn’t write your profile so people you know could read it. Dumb, I know. But rational thought has left the building. The truth? The image of him and his friends sitting around laughing at either a)what you wrote or B)the fact that you were on there to begin with, makes you want to curl up into a ball and die. You dodge said friend for about a month. Breathe a sigh of relief when you see him at a movie and he acts normal. Neither laughing nor pointing at you, jeering. Four months pass. And then one night he comes over because your car’s battery has given up the ghost. While battery charges, the two of you sit on the trunk and chat. He brings up the fact that you were once matched. You die a little on the inside and say something off hand and quickly change the subject. The two of you never speak of it again.  He later marries a dear friend. You attend the wedding and mean it wholeheartedly when you say you could not be happier for them.

(more…)

Dreams Do Come True. 

Not too long ago I got this in the mail.

special delivery

 With this inside.

presents!!!

And this.

James Bible Study

Love this Lady!!

 To say it made my year, would be an understatement.

 

Here’s the story of how it all unfolded.

When I first met Alyssa’s future husband Jeff, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. Granted, at the time of our meeting, the poor guy was on display, surrounded by people trying to figure out if he was good enough for Alyssa. Turns out he was. So around the time she said goodbye to Maui and moved back home, they fell in love. And I was super stoked because I had been rooting for him.

Then this happened.

Anyway. The next time I saw this guy it was at their wedding and he was already famous and I was super intimidated.

He had just become BFF with Beth Moore. And for those of you who don’t know me, Beth Moore is kind of my jam. I can drop a relevant Beth quote in almost any conversation. Because her bible studies have had a profound impact on my life. And God uses people to shape me.

Beth Moore Pic

Here’s me at First Baptist in Houston for a Siesta Scripture Memory Weekend. And the closest I’ve ever gotten to Wanda Beth. (I’m in the middle left) I was way to nervous to try to meet her. Plus we all know I would just freeze anyway.

Now, if you remember, I get nervous around celebrities and Jeff had just hit celebrity status. So, my way of handling my nerves was to tell him, “I’m not quite sure we can ever truly be friends because deep down I will always wonder if I’m just using you to get to Beth Moore.” (Insert cute shrug)

 Well, Jefferson is a class act and a perfect match for Alyssa.

 And now that they live in Maui,  I’m getting to know Jeff on a whole ‘nother level.(Insert fajitas comment here) And it is such a blessing. The character that Jeff demonstrates reminds me of David. He’s got such a teachable heart, humble spirit and just a tenderness about him in the way that he loves Lys. And don’t get me started on how much he loves Kins.

Right before they moved back Alyssa sent me a text that Jeff had surprise for me that was going to rock my world. My immediate response was “Did he pack Beth Moore in his suitcase???”

Well Beth Moore didn’t quite make it to Maui, yet. (Fingers crossed) But her assistant did send me a package in the mail.

And when I texted Alyssa thank you. She informed me it was all Jeff. Having Alyssa back on Maui is a dream come true. Having her with her amazing husband and sweet family is icing on the cake.

So I texted him back.

text

 

Love , Love, Love,

The Girl Who Lives in My Head.