Faith Journey

The Crimson Thread in Your Tapestry

The Crimson Thread in Your Tapestry

The Crimson Thread in Your Tapestry

The Crimson Thread in Your Tapestry

Over the course of the last several years, there has been a crimson thread that has interwoven into the beautiful tapestry that God has created for my life. That crimson thread has been the works of the evil one, who is so desperate to destroy my walk, my countenance, and to steal my joy. 1 Peter 5:8

A wise man told me in Sunday school, that HAPPINESS is based on circumstances but true JOY comes from the Lord and according to Psalm 30:5b….weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

#WorldRocked

That statement rocked my little world. It is common practice for me to doodle in class or in church. It is not because I do not listen or I am bored. Quite the contrary. It is because I have to have something to do with my hands. I concentrate better when I’m moving my pen along a notebook. Weird, I know.

I’ve made quite the masterpieces in Sunday school and church. I was doodling, this particular morning and I will never forget when Mr. Benny Watkins said that statement. I stopped doodling, I sort of had a perplexed look on my face. I do not remember anything else about that lesson or about the sermon.

Happiness vs. Joy

I never understood happiness vs. Joy.

That statement made the answer crystal clear. We may not have happiness in this crimson thread but we are children of an amazing God and we CAN have joy in those crimson times.

“The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go both now and forever.” Psalm 121:7-8

Even when you are at the darkes on that thread…He is watching over you, loving you, and protecting you. At that moment, it may seem like He has left you…He never moves….turn your head and there, you will find Him with open arms.

Jesus Spoke to Me

Jesus has been speaking to me about taking back what satan has stolen from me. He has stolen a lot and has tried to ruin my tapestry.  He has done this simply because he enjoys it.  Yet, with one drop of the Blood of Jesus, I can reclaim what was taken. I reclaimed so many things. I told Him that if he wanted me to write, I would write with no fear. If he wanted me to speak, I would speak with no fear. 

Here I am

Writing for the world to see, yet no one reads 🙂

My days have not been rainbows and sunshine. The crimson thread has nearly taken over my tapestry. 2015 brought about the continuation of a porn addiction that nearly broke up my marriage, the sudden death of a family member, the stroke of my best friend, and gaining custody of our 21 mth old great-nephew.

In 2016, my dad had a stroke and my Lady was still recovering. I was alternating my time between my family, my Lady, and my dad. Oh, and our continued fight for custody of our great-nephew.

My oldest daughter’s fiancé broke off their engagement and soon after she was let go from her job, our 3rd child’s volatile behavior hit its peak, and my niece was captured and placed in jail. So, one could say that those 2 years, alone, have pretty much-sucked pond water.

Depression

I felt alone, abandoned, hopeless, and depressed, very far from God and just numb. It has been difficult….I mean gut-wrenchingly difficult. My theme verse for this season of my life was Romans 4:18-21 (I am paraphrasing): Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing. And Abraham’s faith did not weaken. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this, he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.

So, in my own private time and life………without uttering this theme to anyone, I held onto hope that, one day, I would have a rainbow. I know that my rainbow will come because the Lord says in Job 38:11 I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!”

Let the Oddities Begin

Then, in December of 2016, the strangest thing happened. The red thread had begun to overtake my tapestry.  We were in a transition of trying to find the right church for our family and we had been visiting one for a few months. We were at church and we were getting ready to worship. We knew the pastor and his wife, as well as, a few families. We really didn’t know anyone else. We had not been going very long, but it was definitely different than what we were used too.

Before service started, there was a welcome and then our pastor called up a man because he had a “word” to give some people in the congregation. We have learned that this is somewhat normal, but still very abnormal to our family…we simply were not used to that. So, we sat and we watched this man pace back and forth in front of the congregation.

People Watcher/Reader

I am a people watcher/reader and the thing that caught my eye was the fact that he never opened his eyes when he was pacing or talking. He kept touching the insides of his hands and you could tell that he was uncomfortable but being obedient.

He said that he had had this word from the Lord and he wanted to make sure that it was, indeed, from Him and not from this man’s flesh. He realized through his sleepless nights that this was from the Lord and he had to be obedient.

A Word from the Lord

He said that he had a word for someone in the congregation and so we sat, listened, and watched him pace. He made his way down the aisle that we were sitting on and he stopped in front of Big Daddy. I felt like all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room and my mind was whirling. He asked Big Daddy to stand up.

I looked up to the altar, where our pastor was standing, and he gave me a look, a nod, and a smile that it was okay. This man, whom we had never seen or met, told Big Daddy to hold onto his hand. Now, Big Daddy is not a tiny man and his hands are ginormous, so when he stands, he is noticed.

Hold On

This man said that the Lord was telling him to “Hold on. Hold on tight to the rope and do not let go. To trust and just hold on tight.” I felt an energy move through me and tears flowed freely, which I don’t usually cry or get swept up in my emotions, so this was strange to me. The moment was fleeting but the air was thick and I knew, in my soul, we were in for a ride.

We are Still Holding On

Come the beginning of 2017…..so many things happened. My daddy had quadruple bypass surgery, my niece (my youngest son’s mom) was sentenced to 10 yrs in prison, my nephew was close behind her, my daughter went to military school due to behavior, we were trying to get custody of another great-nephew.

My oldest daughter called off her engagement and was downsized at work, fighting with insurance companies for my son’s surgery that he needed, then my Lady got sick, again, I had surgery, my 6th son had surgery, stitches were had by kids…..then the straw that broke the camel’s back happened. Needless to say, we were reminded to “hold on” a lot over the course of the first 6 mths of 2017.

Custody

During the custody battle over my other great-nephew…Big Daddy and I were trying hard to win that case and it was simply out of our hands. We knew what we could do to help the situation…we were willing…but it was not our call. As I spoke to a friend of mine, asking for prayers, she said that the Lord revealed to her what I need to know. She said I needed to “hold onto hope.” She also said that the Hebrew meaning of “hope” is “rope”, so hold onto the rope.

I caught my breath and I texted her back and asked her who had told her that. She said no one and that it was a word from the Lord to me. I asked her if she knew the man that had said the same thing back in December and she did not know him. That is twice, the Lord has said to “hold on.” We lost custody of this little boy and I thought our ride was over…..we had held on but now our trials were over….now we could retreat and heal from the past couple of years.

Then the call came

My sister called me on Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Now, she rarely calls me on a Tuesday…we talk on Monday. I asked her if everything was okay and she said that she woke up to an odd text. She said it was from a friend, a former neighbor, that she used to walk with. That friend said that the Lord placed my name on her heart and that she was praying for me.

I have never met, spoken to, or even seen a picture of this woman. She simply knows me from what my sister had said and I’m sure I wasn’t the topic of every conversation…although I am awesome like that. I told my sister I did not like that and that meant that something was fixing to happen. My sister told me to take it as a blessing, but I was unsettled.

On June 6, 2017

I knew the meaning and the prophecy behind my theme verse and behind these people telling me to hold on tight to hope. I knew what was to come was going to rock our family to its core….and it did just that. I had spent the previous night in the hospital with my Lady…..the Drs had told me her time is near.

Preparing for the death of your mentor, your best friend, your Lady……there are no words for that. When I got home on the 7th, my son was acting strangely, crying, shaking, everything upset him, so we were really excited for naptime (or at least I was excited). He slept well and my oldest son got him up.

Typical Routine

We hugged and snuggled and then I put him on the floor and told him to go about 5 steps to the potty. He went 3 steps and fell….he began shaking violently and said his legs hurt. I picked him up, thinking his legs were asleep, so I held him even more and I rubbed his legs. I put him back down to go to the potty and he fell again.

I knew, then, something was wrong. I called my sister (his grandmother) and said meet me at the ER, the baby can’t walk. From there, we went to Vandy with no results…we got back home and I immediately packed and headed to Kosair’s.

Running on No Sleep

I had not slept since the 5th because I had been at the hospital around the clock with my Lady. Bart stayed home with the other children. Things progressed quickly. He had lost his ability to stand, talk, feed himself, sit up, walk…..all he did was shake from the top of his head down. His eyes were constantly moving, as well.

After a 2-week hospital stay, spinal, EKGs, and so many more tests….we got the diagnosis of Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome. He has either had cancer and his body has so aggressively attacked cancer that now it is attacking his brain OR he will get cancer within the next 3 years and this is just a precursor. During this time, I had to learn to yield control. I had to graciously accept help and ask for help. It was just me and him up there most of the time.

Blessings of Others

I had strangers bringing me meals. I had family come up and sit with me. My sister *always* had her phone by her so I could sit and just cry. Friends and strangers fed my family at home, people gave us money for gas, we were on multiple prayer lists. I am still humbled by being on the receiving end instead of the giving end. Our journey is far from over. Since, we have done chemo, heavy steroids, and many doses of immunotherapy. He still struggles….every day is a different symptom. He has good days and bad days.

Hold On, God is Fixing to Start a New Color

Looking back in what I was seeing as hopeless….God was still telling me to hold onto hope….hold onto that rope of hope. Looking back, my husband was delivered and our marriage was saved, my best friend who had a stroke and was so sick finally went to see her Jesus, and she was restored, we adopted our 7th child right before Christmas in 2016, my father recovered from his stroke and his quadruple bypass, my niece is sober and safe in prison, our daughter who left due to her volatile behavior is figuring out life again, my oldest daughter is happily employed married, and with a baby, we won the insurance battle, and my 6th child will be able to hear (out of both ears) by Christmas, stitches were removed, surgeries healed from, and my baby, well, he is not in remission, but he is doing okay and we are learning how to navigate our new normal. God is good……….He is good all the time and all the time He is good. Job sums it up pretty well In chapter 42:5 I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my eyes.

Eventually, I will write about 2018-2021…the roller coast has not ended but my tapestry will be beautiful when it is done.

He Knows

In Isaiah 30:19b it states that “He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.”

He knows your heart, He hears your cries and as His children, He will answer you…but it may not be the answer that we want because we see a fraction of the picture…He sees from beginning to end.

Be comforted in knowing that “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from the beginning to end.” Eccl. 3:11 He has written your story…He has it all in the palm of His mighty hands. Trust and obey every step of the way.

The Crimson Thread in Your Tapestry

We are STILL holding onto hope cause 2021 has been a rough one.

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Life or Something Like It

Night by Elie Wiesel

Night by Elie Wiesel

Night by Elie Wiesel

Gracious, this book, Night by Elie Wiesel is one that I struggle with reading but love.  It is a simple read and it is not very long.  But.  Just but.  It is packed with horror, devotion, beauty, fear, and survival.

Elie’s story is so heart wrenching.  The thought of my son, who is now at the age Elie was when he was taken to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, makes my heart sink.  You read about the ebbs and flows of his physical and mental state.  The devotion to his father and the yearning of his mother’s hands on his face.  He kept a picture of his sister, Tzipora, etched in his mind.

Trauma

The massive amounts of physical trauma that he endured, yet the parts that stand out to me are the prisoners who were hanged.  It wasn’t enough for the SS officers to shoot them, they had to hang them, as well.  Man, woman, child.  I cannot imagine the images that were burned in his head.

How Does One Survive?

Seriously, how did he survive?  Starvation.  Malnutrition.  Lice.  Issues with his feet.  The beatings.  Watching his beloved father be beaten.  Listening to his dad die and wondering what kind of God would allow this horror.  That is what the Holocaust was…a horror that occurred in this world.  All because someone is Jewish, they were hated.

Deep Hatred

How does one man, Hitler, have such a deep hatred for the Jews?  Honestly, how did he come to such power to have so much influence to create such chaos?  I will never know but I can certainly pray that it will never repeat itself.

Holocaust

We have been to the Holocaust Museum in DC and for as many people that were there, you could hear a pin drop.  No one spoke, at all.  People calmly and quietly filed through the room after room, just taking it all in.  We will never know the magnitude of the sites, smells, and events because we were not there.  Yet, this museum honors the people who suffered and died with walls upon walls of pictures.

Thoughts

This is a book that everyone should read.  Also, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Hiding Place.  Anne Frank is a good book, though I have not read it in years.  That may be my next one!  By reading these books, you are supporting the authors and their families.  It also gives you a better understanding of racism and hates at its core.

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Power of Intentional Forgiveness

Power of Intentional Forgiveness

Power of Intentional Forgiveness

The Power of Intentional Forgiveness is something that is not lost on me.  Forgive is a verb or an action.  You are actively doing something.  It means to grant a pardon for or absolve something; to cease to feel resentment against (as in an enemy).  I love the beauty of forgiveness.

Forgiveness DOES NOT mean that we are somehow giving permission for another person to hurt us or excuse the choices of another towards us.  It is, however, a release for us.  We are releasing that pain and memory so satan can no longer use that against us.

God is Clear

That He is the ultimate Judge and Jury. He states in Exodus 14:14 “the Lord will fight your battles, you simply need to be silent.”  Thankfully, He knows what is ahead of us and He already has the PERFECT provision in mind for every situation.  We just need to stop, be quiet, and get out of the way.

For Me

I am pretty quick to forgive but I am not quick to forget.  That is a fault of mine.  It is hard for me to just shut that infraction out of my mind.  Well, I guess it depends on the situation.  It is like the sting of the pain is gone, but the scar remains.  So, in satan’s true form, he presses on that scar and he picks at it.  What a vicious cycle.

The Hiding Place

As I was reading this book, it was SO impressed on me about the power of love and forgiveness.  Seeing the person that hurt me with a different set of eyes.  With the eyes of Christ.

I have been talking with a friend and we have worked through this concept a whole lot lately.  The end of this inspiring story of Corrie ten Boom struck me so much that I did a screenshot of it and sent it to her.

Preface to a Section of the Book

Let me preface this quote by giving some context.  Corrie and her family were turned in to the Gestapo for hiding the Jews and helping them.  They had served in several different and horrific concentration camps.  They had lost their father, their nephew, and many friends to these camps.

At this moment, in the story, they found out who it was that turned them in.  Corrie is wrought with anger for this person. She is beyond hurt, mad (understandably) at how a “friend” could harm their family in such away.

This is the conversation between an angry Corrie and her sister Betsie.

Corrie:  Betsie, don’t you feel anything about Jan Vogel?  Doesn’t it bother you?

Betsie:  Oh yes, Corrie!  Terribly!  I’ve felt for him ever since I knew – and pray for him whenever his name comes into my mind.  How dreadfully he must be suffering!

*****Excuse me people, but what freaking kind of angel is Betsie to “feel for” and “pray” for this man who caused SO much death, destruction, and pain.  Yes, I yelled that while I was reading.*****

Corrie’s Thought Process After this Conversation

“For a long time, I lay silent in the huge shadowy barracks restless with the sighs, snores, and stirrings of hundreds of women.  Once again I had the feeling that this sister with whom I had spent all my life belonged someone to another order of beings.  Wasn’t she telling me in her gentle way that I was as guilty as Jan Vogel?  Didn’t he and I stand together before an all-seeing God convicted of the same sin of murder?  For I had murdered him with my heart and with my tongue.”

Emphasis Added Was Mine

For real.  To put Corrie ten Boom, who sacrificed her family and her life to save others in the same category as Jan Vogel… a man who killed, literally, several humans out of devotion to Hitler and the cause is insane.

Insane.

Then, that sentence that I bolded.  God does not distinguish between sin.  Sin is black and win.  You either sin (gluttony, lying, adultery, homosexuality, murder (the physical kind), murder (spewing hate in your heart), stealing, the list can go on and on) or you don’t sin.  We are human, we sin.  That is why we needed a Savior to die on the cross to save us from our sins.

She despised this man and this man killed and tortured many.  In God’s eyes… the boy sinned. Let that sink in for about 3 minutes.  I need a swig of coke.  She killed with her tongue and heart.  He killed and tortured with his hands.  Yet, both created in His image.  Both loved by God.  Finally, both sinned in the eyes of God.

I’m having a hard time with this, can you tell?

Her Prayer

“Lord Jesus, I forgive Jan Vogel as I pray that You will forgive me.  I have done him great damage.  Bless him now, and his family.” That night for the first time since her betrayer had a name, I slept deep and dreamlessly until the whistle summoned us to roll call.”

For.  Real. People.  Absorb that prayer.  Adapt it to add the names of the people who have hurt you.

Friends who abandoned you in your greatest time without a word.  These same friends make you question all the things that you could have done wrong and you are eaten up with pain and confusion.  God is NOT the author of confusion.  Let that crap go.  Forgive!

People who rip your children out of your arms claiming you are an unfit parent because they are jealous and want these precious beings for themselves.  Hateful humans want to remove children just because they feel like it, with no regard to what is right and wrong.  Forgive.

So Many More Scenarios

Pastors who you trusted that hurt you and your family.  Accusations are thrown around like confetti.  Allowances of idle gossip within the church to try and accuse you of being an awful parent to kids from hard places.  Pastors refusing to help others, accusing you of affairs, chastising you in dark stairwells because you are trying to protect your children.  Pastors who blamed a child for someone who preyed on them and molested them.  You are asked to leave yet the accuser stays and he is free.  Forgive.

Men who claim to love Jesus and the law who underhandedly try and destroy your family.  They do so while still talking of their love Christ and family.  They lose no sleep.  Let me tell you…what man meant for evil, God meant for good.  Forgive

A family who disowns you for falling in love.  Co-workers who treat you like crap to your bosses but never to your face because there is no basis for the hate they are spewing.  Forgive.

Oh, this woman goes on!

Am I speaking my pain?  Are those deep dark chambers of my heart being unlocked?  Let me tell you.  I have a situation, right now, that I have buried so deeply for over a decade.  It is completely fine tucked away in the back corner of the attic.

Guess what?

God has a sense of humor.  In being content with my pain being hidden away, He decides (cause He is a funny God) that He is gonna bring it all right back up.  Just like vomit.  What this man did was atrocious and unforgivable by my standards.

Yet, there is God.  Only God could orchestrate what is happening.  I have played out every scenario of meeting this human and all the things that I can say.  Honestly, I want to make him feel like shit on the bottom of my shoe.  No lie.

But God

Clearly, He sees that I can’t move forward until I move past this.  Again, forgiveness is not about giving permission for that person to do what that person did.  It is about releasing control that satan has over it in my heart.

I know that.

Now, He has aligned the stars to where it is time for me to face one of my deepest hurts.  It is like a train coming down the tracks.  I see it.  Yet, I don’t need the ticket right now.  This train is going to run over me and my family.

God is my Protector, Defender, Shield, and Stronghold.  May He be my words.  I pray I can see through the pain of the past to see the hurt this man must have gone through and is going through.  May I show Him the love of Christ.

Right now, my flesh wants to bring down a world of pain.  Yet Christ died for him.  Forgave Him.  What more does He need to give?

It is time.

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The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place

This book.  Dangit.  The Hiding Place is a book that every human should read.  It is not a long book, about 16 chapters, and 269 pages.  Yet it is FILLED with glory, triumph, forgiveness, faith, destruction, abuse, poverty, illness, and HOPE.

I have NEVER cried reading a book.  Furthermore, in my defense, I have never had to bite my lip because I’m fixing to lose it while reading a book.  This book.  Dangit.  I feel like that needs to be my entire review.

Just Dangit.

The first part of the book talks about Corrie getting her new dress.  They are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the opening of her father, Casper’s, watchmaker shop.  She stands in front of the mirror looking at herself.

She states that girls now are wearing their skirts knee-length and hers was still 3 inches from her ankles.  As I read that, I’m thinking she is a teenager who may be “coming into her own” type of situation.

Then, I laughed out loud.  She stated to herself that she wasn’t getting any younger and that the new dress made her look more critically of herself.  She was 45 years old, unmarried, with a waistline that had long since vanished.

I guess I was surprised to see that she was not much younger than I am while she is reflecting on her appearance.  Giggle…I giggled out loud in the car while picking up my kids.

Then It Moves On

It talks about her life, her family, and her love for Karel.  The agonizing disappointment when she realized that her life would not look like what she wanted it to look like.  Yet, she was content living and loving her family well.

She was not “university” educated but she was educated in her own right.  Her father’s deep love for her mother and his children was inspiring.  How he was so consistent with spreading the love of Christ to first his family, then others was something that struck my heart.

He saw the good in all people.  There were no differences.  Just a plethora of humans all created in the image of Christ.  Oh, how I wish I could be that way.  I’m not one to really see a difference and I’m drawn to people with harsh lives or some sort of disability.  Those “less than” people catch my eye.  I want them to know they are seen, accepted, and loved.

Details

The details of the abuse, trauma, fear, and living conditions of NON-Jews who helped Jews is astonishing.  The treatment of Jews was something I simply cannot even wrap my head around.  I mean…I cannot even conceive of the sights, sounds, touches, smells…death and fear.  Sends shivers down my spine.

Yet faith, hope, love, and forgiveness were not far from the minds of the ten Boom family.  How they orchestrated what they did and the people they saved is awe-inspiring to me.

Quotes I Marked

“There are no ‘ifs’ in God’s World.  The center of His will is our only safety.”

“Childhood scenes rushed back at me out of the night strangely close and urgent.  Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.  I know that the experiences of our lives when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.”

“My job was simply to follow His leading one step at a time, holding every decision up to Him in prayer.”

“Joy runs deeper than despair.”

This Book

I will plan on reading this more.  There are moments that I can look back on, throughout my life, that I could have done differently.  Honestly, there is a different flavor to those memories.  I wish I had a reset button.

God has definitely spoken to me through this book.  What a lesson.  May I continue to heed His words and see His people through a new lens of life.

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