Skip to content

Welcome

Do you know the roaring waves of trauma? Do they take your breath away too? Do you struggle to give voice to the emotions surging and crashing within you? Do you love your LORD and Savior, but often feel so ashamed of your struggle? Then, you are in the right place. Welcome. All of you.

I don’t have a cure for you. I cannot make your wind and waves go away, but what I do have I long to share with you. God has been speaking into my wind and waves, into my heartache, pain, fear and shame. He is revealing Himself as the Living Word at work in me, who sees me, knows me and loves me. Right where I am.

And those relentless waves? They’re actually bringing me closer to Him. He is using what the enemy sent to destroy me to wash away all that does not define me. He is showing me that “everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ” (Colossians 3: (9-11) MSG).

Frank McKenna, unsplash.com

He is showing me the truth of His promise: the abundance of the roaring sea shall be turned toward us. Through the surge of relentless emotions and our struggles to breathe, He is in fact flaming His precious Word alive in us. We “shall see and be radiant”, our hearts “shall thrill and exult” (Isaiah 60:5 ESV). For as Isaiah 42: 2 – 3 (NIV) puts it:

a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice, he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”

I long to share this flaming abundance God is revealing to me with you here. So, each week, I will be publishing a selection of my poetry, worship music that has blessed me, Scripture-filled prayers and stories of God’s faithfulness. Soon, my dear friend Bettie, a chronic illness warrior and passionate follower of Christ, and I will also be offering a regular podcast: a restful time of prayer, fellowship and worship for you no matter where you are in the world.

I will leave you with a poem that expresses the heart of Flaming Abundance. May God bless you and keep you. May He make His face shine upon you and may you know the hope and joy and peace of His Presence each and every day.

PERFECTED STRONG, A poem by Anna Louise Smit


The Way of the Cross

Today, I am joining Kate’s Five Minute Friday community, writing on the prompt: next.

 

 

 

 

May you know God’s nearness this Easter. His resurrection breath in each loss, trauma and sorrow.

 

 

The Way of the Cross 

 

I know the pull of the next

The quick of the fix

Believing in lists

In this and that step

And then you’ll be free.

 

I’ve walked in the law

In the cruel of yeast

In striving for morsels

In hungry, bereft

And alone.

 

But now I am learning

The Way of the Cross

The slow of the pressing

Contracting, the hard and the holy

Communion.

 

Now I am learning in silence

“It is finished” to hear

For abundance is breaking

In my daily falling and dying

Open and spacious the yield.

 

 

John 12:24 (ESV)

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

No Good Thing Will He Withhold

Joining the Five Minute Friday community a little late this week to write on the prompt:

 

 

Psalm 84: 11 AMP

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord bestows grace and favor and honor; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

 

When I was a preteen, my heart yearned for the deep down grace I saw in new believers’ hearts, in those who had lived in darkness as children and came to Christ as adults. They had something I wanted. Something I knew I didn’t possess. God gave me what I wanted and yet I didn’t see that until more than twenty years later.

 

What did He give me? He gave me a heart spilling out in the midst of trauma. He gave me light shining into my darkness. As a preteen and teen, that scared me. I wrestled with what was spilling out. I was afraid of God’s light. No, I was terrified. Why? Because I believed good Christian girls didn’t struggle as I did.

 

What was spilling out most? Distrust, doubt, anger, pain and unbelief. And in my wrestling, I yo-yoed between turning toward and turning away from God. Between numbing and pouring out. Between sinful distractions and brutally honest laments. There were ugly moments of sin and there were beautiful and powerful moments of mercy.

 

Until, my eyes began to rest more on human idols than they did on God. Until I began to see God, through the lens of man. Until Scripture, which was used to justify a truth void of grace, began to frighten me, rather than move me to trust and faith. Until I no longer worshipped God, but man, believing man to be God personified.

 

When I finally fled my idols, believing those idols to be God, it didn’t take me away from God. Instead, my Prodigal path set my Savior’s sovereign plan of redemption into action. He guided me blind, as without even knowing it, I began to walk into truth and grace. Into the depths of His mercy and His everlasting love not just for me, but for each one of His children.

 

When He opened my eyes to faith, I returned to my idols without even realizing it. My as yet untransformed, legalistic mind turned toward explaining away, controlling and sinking my feet into what was known and safe. Until my untransformed mind began to grate with the mind of Christ at work in me. Until my Savior challenged me to question what I had always believed to be true and what others told me was true. Until He encouraged me to still to hear His Voice, and to surrender to His will. A will that called me, not to clamp down in control or to sit still in my known, but to step out into the unknown deep.

 

It’s then, the trauma that first began my Prodigal journey was triggered again, as I met the same religious responses I once did as a child. But this time, as I wrestled and yo-yoed between sinful numbing and brutally honest laments, my roots of faith did not give way. Instead my feet did not move, even as I longed for them to, because my roots were no longer shallow, but growing deep. They stretched out through the darkness of the earth below to drink from my rivers of delight: Christ.

 

I cried out to God again and again and again, and each time, He heard my cry. He reached out and drew me up out of the deep, setting my feet upon the Rock. In my terrible lack, I discovered not just once, but again and again, that in Christ I lack no good thing. God has begun to break open the seed He planted deep in my heart all those years before (Psalm 139:12 ESV):

 

“even the darkness is not dark to you;
   the night is bright as the day,
   for darkness is as light with you.”

 

Praise God! “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).

Leanna Tankersley, On Being, P.154 – 155

“Who has the capacity to sit compassionately with herself, over and over again, when all she wants to do is condemn? Who, among us, has the Love within to forgive herself again and again? Who can open their hurting heart that has clamped shut yet again? Who could let God in once again, even though our faith has not protected us from disappointment, maybe even devastation, maybe even disaster? When we’ve been burned by people who said they believed too? Who could have the resilience and resolve to go on believing when faith hasn’t seemed to produce much of anything? Or so it feels today.

I’ll tell you who: none of us […] we will never—not one of us—be able to muscle our way through it.

God, in his grace, shows us the door, and Love, only LOVE, invites us through. We bring that wounded, wide-eyed part of ourselves to him—the one we’re constantly tempted to appease. We do this over and over and over again. And then, the truth is, there’s really not that much to do. We bring him our burden and he gives us rest.”

 

A Legacy of Love

5 years ago today, Mum (and Grandma to her many grandchildren) entered heaven’s gates at 59 years old. The Scripture I placed in the frame is one that I have carried in my heart almost 5 years now. God has truly been filling me with joy and gladness, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. No doubt Mum prayed for that for each one of her 6 children.

Our last Christmas together

The greatest gift Mum gave me was the outpouring of Jesus’ heart at work in her. I am so thankful for those really hard last months because I saw Jesus like never before. In the first weeks after her diagnosis with brain cancer that came in precious advice, hard lessons learned from her own life. In the last weeks it came through the palpable peace I felt upon her, as everything else was taken away from her. A peace that filled me with a hunger and thirst for Jesus and brought me home.

Mum, our youngest daughter and I, shortly after Mum’s diagnosis

Mum was the one who told me I should seek counseling. Mum was the one who told me boundaries were vital. Mum was the one who told me if there was just one thing she wanted me to remember it was to look after myself better than she had herself as a Mum to us 6. She knew that seeking rest, healing and wholeness for myself would reap fruit not just for myself but for my children and her beloved granddaughters also.

Mum was the one who best modeled a life of prayer and worship to me until her final breath. No, she wasn’t perfect, but therein lay her beauty. The grace of Jesus shone so brightly in and through her because she was humble enough to admit her weakness and sins and to embrace the imperfection of others in loving truth and grace.

She poured herself out for others her whole life: as a wife, mother, Grandma, sister, Aunt, friend to many, missionary, pastor’s wife, high school and preschool teacher. Even as psyioratic arthritis took away her ability to teach pre-schoolers, she looked to bless struggling Moms, graduating as a counselor mere days after a brain operation. No excruciating pain from her arthritis or employers who made it difficult for her to leave could ever stop her from traveling to the other side of the world to welcome her granddaughters, our two girls, into the world. Family came first.

Mum with our oldest, mere months before she went to be with her LORD and Savior

She was a woman who hungered & thirsted after God’s heart. On her tomb stone my Dad had the words of a dear friend engraved: “When you were with Margaret, you knew you were loved.” Oh how she loved us. Oh how Jesus loved us through her.

Mum and our oldest on one of my parents’ many visits to our home in the Netherlands

She leaves a legacy of love that continues to bless many lives. And I pray that sharing a piece of her story here blesses and encourages you too. She would want you to know you are loved. Whatever you are walking today, may the love and peace of our LORD Jesus be with you. May He make His face shine upon you, draw you up on His knee and call you His beloved.

I will leave you with one of the many worship songs my Mum loved to sing:

Offering Sweet

 

Joining Kate and the Five Minute Friday community this week with my offering:

 

Isaiah 52:7 ESV

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

Offering Sweet

 

Count your blessings
I tell myself
Be thankful for the gifts
My heart, it longs to sing.

And yet impoverished
Poor in spirit
What can I bring
What can I offer You, My King?

Blessed, My child
Are you, the poor in spirit
For the Kingdom of heaven
Is yours: Come!

But I am filled with grief
My LORD
What thankful gift can I here bring
When tears fall like rivers from my cheeks?

Blessed, My child
Are you who mourn
For I shall comfort you
And hold you in My arms: Come!

But even in my longing

You alone in worship to raise
I see my weakness, LORD

And know my love is weak?

Blessed, My child
Are the meek of heart
For they shall inherit
My earth: Come!

But LORD, I cannot get enough
I thirst and hunger for more of You
Each day it only grows
What’s wrong with me?

Blessed, My child
Are you, who hunger and thirst
For Me, true righteousness alone
For I will satisfy, each day anew: Come!

But LORD, my heart aches
It bleeds each day
For all those turned away
Your sons and daughters shunned?

Blessed, My child
Are the merciful
Those who turn toward
For I will show them mercy too: Come!

But LORD
Every day I am clothed in sin
All I bring to You is shame
And to my fellow man?

Blessed, My child
Are you, the pure in heart
The ones who confess your sin
For this reveals your righteousness in Me.

But LORD
Each day I bring Your truth in love
But silence shames and anger hits
They keep me on my knees.

Blessed, My child
Are the peacemakers
Those who come in My Name
For you shall be called My Son.

But LORD
Each time Your call I heard

And walked toward Your truth to speak

They turned me cold away.

Blessed, My child
Are those who are persecuted in My Name
For yours is the Kingdom of Heaven
Just wait and see My people in love return.

My blessing is poured
Not in easy and worldly gold
But in bowed down low
My hand will raise.

Count your blessings, My child
In My Kingdom Come.
Each time your knees are bowed
My strength is poured.

For My Power is not perfected in strength
But in weakness bowed here low
In yoked to perfect
And tethered strong
To Son of Truth and Grace.

Bring your offerings
Pleasing and sweet
Each day anew
And watch Me build

My Temple True.

Poor in spirit
Pouring your tears
Humbled of heart
Hungry and thirsty for more of Me
Mercifully weeping My many tears
Purely clothed from shame to grace
Bringer of Peace to softening hearts
Persecuted, reviled 

This is My Son in you. 

These are the blessings
Upon which I build
A worship in Spirit and truth
To swing wide My gates.

The stone builders reject
My Son in you
But I have made Him, My cornerstone
My Temple True in you.

So raise your hands
And praise My Name
Rejoice and be glad
Count your blessings each day anew.

For blessed is He who comes
In the Name of the LORD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His Voice Us Calls

Healing from trauma is a step-by-step process. In my own process, God has taken me through a four step process, twice. First complete rest and a steady diet of the Word of God, which slowly brought the trauma to be healed to the surface. Then, one trigger after another inducing the symptoms of (Complex) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a time through which I clung to Scripture as my very breath. Then, complete rest in a safe cocoon in which I could walk through therapy that required me to face the traumatic memories of my past and the lies I clung to in those moments behind safe, closed doors, where Jesus entered these memories and rewrote them in the truth. Finally, it has required a gradual reintroduction to triggers in real life, by going places that remind me of the trauma I have walked through. There, God has given me the opportunity to press through the fear and the pain I feel to find Him present with me and to internalize the truth He spoke over me in therapy.

During the most frightening and painful parts of my healing process, I have faced believers, who have both encouraged me forward into the truth, and others, like Peter, who have tried to protect me from the path of the Cross. Likewise, when God called me to leave my legalistic church to enter an extended period of cocooning and rest, away from a physical church building but surrounded in precious fellowship that God provided both locally and abroad, I also met with both truth speakers and with the enemy’s accusations spoken through fellow believers.

Our enemy will always seek to derail us when we are walking into healing and will most often do it, not through unbelievers, but through fellow believers. But even there we can trust God to guide us through to hear and do HIS will.

In my own healing process, Jesus has repeatedly spoken: “Get behind me Satan.” and led me further on the path He has set before me. He has helped me to hear His Voice above the naysayers, and to take a different path from the one I took as a teenager. With God’s help, I am now slowly and surely arising in the truth of my calling in Christ. Oh yes, I still fall back into pain and shame at times, but I now know: “for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again” (Proverbs 24:16 NIV). And just so you know: I have been on the other end at times too, as Jesus has turned to me, when I have pridefully tried to “protect” or “heal” others and He has said: “Get behind Me, Satan.”

I will never regret those terrifying moments that came as I chose the path of the Cross, because they are the moments that wrote truth upon the stone tablet of my heart. Truth that now tethers me as I choose to walk toward triggers of trauma again. And I will never regret the year and a half I did not attend a church, but met the church of Christ in my living room and the living room of friends. God truly knew the best path for me and always has. Even my Prodigal path He always purposed for good: to answer my childhood yearning to plunge deeply into His rivers of mercy and grace. I now know, He has never left my side and never will.

I pray that He will embolden us all to (continue to) hear and obey HIS Voice above all others. May we see His purpose threaded through our whole life. May He help each one of us not to become a stumbling block nor a vessel for Satan’s accusations levelled at our brothers and sisters. And where we fall into Satan’s traps, may He lift our eyes back up to Jesus, so that we can lay down the enemy’s accusations and take up our swords of truth. May we be ones who walk in the Spirit of truth and grace.

 

His Voice Me Calls

Rest, they say
Meaning well
They call me halt
Storms they’ve seen
Upon me hail.

And yet I hear
Your still small voice
Lead me come
Tread where waves
And wind me meet.

Voices hold me back
Sink my feet
Down into sand
Of fears and doubts
Surely reason calls me halt?

But then I see
Your hand outstretched
Beckoning my own
Not alone I walk toward
But Abba’s own, clasped and held.

Yes, the wind and waves
They lash and roar
But My Father’s Voice
Is stronger still
Winds and waves “Be still” He calls.

Tears my eyes now fill
My Father He hears and answers me
Hidden fears and doubts He sees
Spirit-led I cast and pour
My feet He treads toward the deep.

Oh yes, my victory
Rests not in reason’s claim
Nor in man’s safe berth
But in God alone
Abba Father calls me come.

Yes, I will rest
Upon My Peace
Upon My Refuge, Rock
His Voice alone
My shield and sword.

Psalm 62:7 NLT
My victory and honor come from God
alone
He is my refuge, a rock where no
enemy can reach me.

Galatians 3: 6 – 7 NLT
And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba Father”. Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are His child, God has made you His heir.

From “Instantaneous” Healing to Loving, Transformational Relationship

Upon my return to faith as a Prodigal daughter God brought such miraculous healing to me from the symptoms of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I soaked in my miracle as proof of God’s love for me. I proudly boasted in the steps God had walked me through and saw myself as called to “free” and “heal” others also.

But then, my symptoms began to return. I tried to convince myself what I was experiencing were isolated and unrelated incidents. I brushed aside what I walked through, even as I saw God meet me there powerfully. However, one day all the little triggers culminated in massive waves and I could no longer deny the presence of what I’d prided myself in as being miraculously healed.

Second Corinthians 4: 11 (ESV) says: “For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” The return of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was truly God’s gift to birth more of Jesus in me. It hasn’t been, and still isn’t, a pretty or pain-free process because for the new to come the old has to be exposed and laid to rest. 

One of the first steps of surrender came as God called me to leave my legalistic church and to sever friendships with those I was enabling in their sin in the name of “grace”. He took me off my pedestal of pride and exposed me as the one in desperate need of grace. He led me to open and then close online ministries, to expose my own legalistic mindset and idolization of self and serving, so I could learn to embrace true relationship with Him and others again.

It has been and still is a painful process of surrender, of me slowly learning to trust my God. Of me learning to take up my Cross, to face my fears and feel pain again. But I am discovering so much freedom and joy, as God is patiently teaching me how to engage again. How to stop hurting my loved ones by defensively detaching and instead speak the truth for grace to flow. He is teaching me anew to receive His Word in love. In sharing my weakness, confessing my sins and baring my heart openly within the safe boundaries He has laid down for me, I am daily experiencing deeper healing.

God has exposed a hunger and thirst in me for what only He can give me. Not for the cold law that was used to shame and humiliate me in my need as a child and as a returning Prodigal, but the love and compassion of a merciful Father, Friend and Counselor, who sees, knows and loves me like no other. A God who never shuns me or turns me away in my confession of weakness or sin.

I no longer pridefully claim to know the steps to freedom for myself or for others. Like Mary DeMuth, I am learning that “The sanctification journey takes more than instantaneous now. It takes time. It twists and moves and steps forward and backward, in circles and oblongs.” (Pray Every Day app devotional, 31 March 2019). I am learning that God alone can transform and heal me and others, day by day. For only He can transform our formulaic, legalistic mindsets into the humble mind of Christ. Only He can draw us into the beauty and compassionate mystery of loving, transformational relationship with Him and others.

And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
Mark 12:43‭-‬44 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/mrk.12.43-44.KJV

Not Dead But Beautifully Alive

Some time ago, I shared on social media about a new job God had swung the doors wide open to. I was excited. He had so clearly opened my heart to acknowledge my dormant desires and passions. He had graciously provided for hours that allowed me to still be present daily for my girls, when they got home from school. And I even knew the employer from a former job.

What I didn’t share was what God was up to behind the scenes. Before I was accepted to the position, God challenged me to step out in faith with my podcasting. To seek funding for a soundcloud platform that wouldn’t be dependent upon my new income. God provided in a beautiful way, strengthening my trust in Him. But deep down, I was glad of the cushion my new job would provide, the independence it would give me financially.

So, when it became clear that I was not able to cope with my new job as the weeks progressed, I at first clung tightly to it. I tried to be strong. I wasn’t keen to lose my financial independence and nor was I keen to “lose face” with the other school moms I had proudly been telling about my new job, finally feeling like I belonged in their midst. But then, in the midst of deep humiliation as my weakness was used against me, I finally let go. But even in this surrender, I still tried to cling to my worldly worth, seeking to deny my weakness, blame and defend myself, when there was no need to.

In the midst of it all, God reminded me of the words He had spoken to me that first propelled me forward to seek, apply for and accept my new job. Two Scriptures:

Psalm 16:5 ESV

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
   you hold my lot.

Proverbs 16:33 ESV

The lot is cast into the lap,
   but its every decision is from the Lord

and words from a book, Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson (p.165, p.168):

“Part of the reason Nathan struggled to speak his desire in the first place was because it was risky. What if it didn’t happen? What if he failed? What if the pain of disappointment was more than he could bear?

But here again, humility offers rest. If we are submitted to God’s hand, even our unfulfilled desires can be fruitful because our unfulfilled desires can be the very things God uses to draw us to Himself.”

“If we limit ourselves to working only when the signs are promising, if we only plant when everything is perfect, we limit our ability to see God at His best. When we limit ourselves to working when the time is right, we reveal that we are still clinging to the notion that success is dependent on our choices and our ability to control outcomes. We are still relying on our ability to make all the right decisions. We are still counting on our calculations and plans to foresee all possible eventualities. But what if God can grow Mrs. Clovis Richards’ beans in a pile of unattended dirt? What if God can bring about good things without us? What if grace is true?”

It’s then I saw they were words for my now. I had wanted financial security. I had wanted independence. I had wanted to boast in my strength. I had wanted to be highly regarded in man’s eyes. I had wanted to fulfill my unfulfilled desires in the world. But God wanted me to surrender my “pile of unattended dirt.” He wanted to expose my need, my deeper unfulfilled desires and draw me closer to Himself there. To shine His grace within me: the free and unmerited gift from above.

Proverbs 19:21 ESV

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

But, at first, I didn’t want grace. I wanted strength and acclaim. I was angry at my humiliation. I was angry at the way I had been treated. But slowly, I realized my anger and unwillingness to receive mercy in my time of need went much deeper than the job I had just quit.

You see, my employer almost immediately responded to the wrong done to me by disciplining the person concerned, sending a signal that this was unacceptable behavior. And my colleagues had responded lovingly, even empathizing with me. I had opened my mouth, inviting others into my humiliation, and rather than agree with the harm done to me, they had encouraged me to speak up.

But when my weakness was used to humiliate me at my old church, I had kept my mouth shut.

Now, as God brought that old situation to mind, He challenged me to acknowledge it as wrong also and to stop justifying it and brushing it aside as my just deserves.

When I finally brought it into the light, writing about what had been done to me at my old church on my blog for the very first time, something strange began to happen. A heavy layer of shame lifted and I began to weep and weep and weep.

For the first time my heart deep down agreed with the truth. I acknowledged fully that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I realized that it deeply hurts my Maker when I minimize the pain done to me and justify wrong done to me. He showed me how I was holding tight to the shame of my past, clinging to my unworthiness, by receiving man’s words as truth. So, He invited me to hear His response to my accuser:

Luke 15: 32 NLT

We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

I realized that me speaking the truth was beautiful to my Savior because it acknowledges the unfathomable sacrifice He made at the Cross to call me and the one who wounded me, His.

Romans 8:33 (ESV)

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

It’s then I saw that keeping my mouth shut not only keeps me bound in shame but also prevents grace from fully flowing toward myself and toward the one who hurt me. To forgive fully is to feel the pain of the sinful actions toward me and to acknowledge them as wrong. To receive grace in my weakness is to fully acknowledge my need and my inability to be the person I wish I could be. It is to relinquish my wish for perfection and embrace the stunning gift of grace. The gift of my Savior’s scars that declare my own scars healed, whole and beautiful to Him.

So, I can stop trying to hide my weakness and instead allow my scars to tell the story of God’s grace in my life. Of Him pouring out His favor on me right in my humiliation. Of Him defending me, speaking truth over me and lifting me above the enemy’s every attack. Of me discovering just how precious I am to Him. So precious that He set me apart, sending me outside the camp, through my weakness birthed in trauma, to declare the wonderful Good News to those living in darkness. The Good News of a God who never ever turns His back upon His children.

And you know what? Those school Moms? They surprised me, responding in love and compassion when I shared my weakness with them openly.

Perfume Sweet

When I was a preteen and teen, I knew the power of lament. Of casting and pouring, and breathing in the Word. And yet, it’s then, much like Hannah at first was at the Temple, I was met with accusing tongues and stern disapproval. I was turned away in my pain and grief. I was told there was something wrong with me. And yet, I was worshipping God from the depths of my soul through the injustice I saw before me.

Rather than believe my God, I agreed with the lies and fled who God had made me to be. Then one day, He overwhelmed me in His palpable peace, when my Mum was given just 3 months to live. No words brought me home. Just the Spirit of God speaking through His presence. He had come to lift the weight of a burden that was never mine to carry.

Words of death can go much deeper than we think. It has been almost 5 years since I gave my heart back to God. But God is still patiently and lovingly breaking me free from the pain and shame of my past. He is lifting the weight of each and every single lie spoken over me.

As I ran in the forest, seeking His face, the tears streamed as I heard Him remind me yet again that it breaks His heart. That it hurts Him, when I turn away ashamed, believing the injustice done is my weight to carry, my punishment. When I believe my weakness is ugly to Him and wrong. When in fact my laments and my cries for truth to be unveiled, for restoration, healing and unity in His Body, are and have always been, beautiful to Him. For they are His perfume sweet.

It is there, in and through my lamenting, I am being conformed (sýnmorphḗ – https://biblehub.com/greek/4862.htm and https://biblehub.com/greek/3444.htm):

4862 sýn (a primitive preposition, having no known etymology) – properly, identified with, joined close-together in tight identification; with (= closely identified together).

3444 morphḗ – properly, form (outward expression) that embodies essential(inner) substance so that the form is in complete harmony with the inner essence.

to His image.

 

If you too are struggling beneath a weight you know that is not yours to carry, I pray that my poem and this song will bless you. I pray that as you pour out your own lament, you will deep down know He is joining you unto Himself. For He is the God who sees us, knows us and weeps for and with us. May He release His perfume sweet in and through each one of us:

Perfume Sweet, A Spoken Word

 

 

Reward

Blessed to be linking up to Five Minute Friday.

 

 

 

 

I remember the dark

The night engulfing

But oh how I remember

Your blazing fire

Setting my night alight.

 

Truth spoken deep

Clutching my soul

Setting feet firm

Upon You, my Rock

Tethering me

Speaking new life.

 

 

Your arms embracing

Reminding me

I AM

Spoken free

Seated in heavenly places

Adopted Yours.

 

I remember

You always

Open my eyes

That I may see

You’ve never left.

 

 

But even in stillness

Aching

My heart

You’re ever calling

Home.

 

Only my yearning

For deeper knowing

Intimate growing

Seeds sown dark

Breaking new life

Light ever unveiling.

 

My reward

Present

For You’re Living Water

Promise already mine

I am now living

My joy fulfilled.

 

Fruit on my lips

You are releasing

Ever rejoicing

I am now singing

My new song

In You.

 

Unveiling a Culture of Shame: Shining Light into Darkness

Through my healing journey from trauma, my eyes have been opened to all the ways shame is unknowingly being perpetuated in Christian community. So many seeking to help their brothers and sisters in Christ through mental, physical and/or emotional anguish, are in fact adding to the weight of their burden, just as I myself did until God allowed me to walk through suffering myself.

My body physically responds to triggers of multiple traumatic events I walked through as a child and as an adult. These events altered the make-up of my brain to such an extent, that whenever I find myself in a situation that remotely mirrors the unsafe situations I found myself in then, my mind AND body will be overcome with a rush of emotions and adrenalin exponentially stronger than a person with a healthy brain produces. I also hear cruel lies spoken over me and have experienced terrifying flashbacks.

However, I know my Heavenly Father is present with me through these storms. And surprisingly these triggers of trauma have in fact been God’s gift to me, because each time they have led to so much healing and restoration. So much so that, coupled with the therapy I have walked through and the Living Word that is daily bringing healing to my heart, the intensity and frequency of these triggers have dramatically reduced. And even through each attack, my faith and trust in God has only grown deeper, as He has revealed His presence in a more profound way, reminding me of the truth of my freedom from fear, sin and shame.

Colossians 2 ESV

14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities[b] and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.[c]

Sadly, throughout my healing process, I have, however, not just experienced loving fellowship, but also condemnation and shaming in physical and online Christian community.

I have been encouraged to repent of my forefathers’ sins to be fully freed of my mental illness, instead of being reminded that all my and my forefathers’ sin and shame has been nailed to the Cross and that I am invited to come boldly to the throne of grace to receive mercy in my time of need.

I have been told I need to be “set free” or have “strongholds broken”, rather than being reminded that our freedom has been paid in full at the Cross and each one of us is being transformed daily from glory to glory, as GOD opens our eyes to see by faith. You see, each one of us already lives in freedom, yoked to our holy Savior, and each one of us is simultaneously being freed from our sin daily. Have we forgotten that God actually perfects His power in our weakness, as we draw near to Him?

I have been told that perhaps I need to have “evil spirits” expelled from me, rather than being assured that no demon can overpower the fullness of Christ present in me. Have we forgotten that the enemy may condemn us internally, as He does all God’s children, but that He who is within us is greater than he who is in the world?

When I confessed my struggles with mental torment, I was encouraged by my pastor to retreat from fellowship with my brothers and sisters. God broke my heart for him also, as I saw how deep spiritual abuse can go. You see, he told me that I should take the same advice once given him: I should go sit in seclusion, like wine in a barrel, so I could ripen and become tasty and of good quality. He was only repeating the terrible harm once done to him.

I was told I am unforgiving, when God called me to cut ties with the church where I continued to face unsafe situations that triggered trauma. Interestingly, cutting ties, after I had forgiven each person who had hurt me, actually brought deeper healing and enabled me to see, confess and turn away from sin in my own life. It is then I sought forgiveness for hurtful actions I had committed at my old church, in my friendships and in my own home. I saw how I had tried to defend myself, assert myself or protect myself through the waves of trauma, rather than boast in my weakness, lean into God’s strength and seek (professional) help, love and support.

I now know that God wept with and for me through each wave of shame and that He never ever advocates our condemnation and shaming.

I will no longer stay silent. I will no longer believe my many sins, my mental illness or my Prodigal past warrant the hurt and abuse I have experienced in Christian community. Instead I will choose to shine the light of God’s love and grace into our churches, so that Christ may unify us in who HE is. I am speaking up because I long for the shame that is weighing heavily upon many more inside our churches to finally be lifted. I long for us to breathe as One in Christ.

Hebrews 13:3 ESV tells us to: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Trauma is a type of prison and is definitely the direct result of being mistreated. Will we as the church choose to remember men and women who are suffering, as though we too are in that prison of trauma with them?

Will we affirm them in the truth of their freedom in Christ as we invite them to sit next to us in our pews? Will we hug them and pray with them, rather than slinking back as if they are possessed? Will we be loving enough to speak truth to them that may hurt them, but also open their eyes to the kindness of our God? Will we show them that our God never pushes us away in our sin, but always bends down to shower us in grace and embrace us in compassion, when we turn toward Him?

And if God calls them away from our churches to rest in His arms and surround them by members of His Body who are able to comfort them from the comfort they have received. If He calls them out to protect them and others from them, to heal them on a deeper level, will we choose to remember them in love? Will we choose not to condemn them in word and deed for their retreat?

Will we weep with them and with our God for the deep wounding they have experienced in this broken world? Will we choose not to perpetuate their shame, but be lifters of shame in their life by boasting in our own weakness and need of grace daily? Will we affirm each beautiful child of God as forgiven, spoken free, healed and whole in Jesus’ Name? I pray that we may.