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6.11.17

A New Day



It is November, a year since my last post on this blog. The sun is shining and the birds chirping outside my bedroom window on this crisp autumn Monday morning. I'm chatting to God and remembering yesterday's church service with warmth and realise that I am looking forward to going to church again next Sunday. It occurs to me that I haven't felt this way in many years. I feel excited about going to church for the first time since we had our own church, D7 Church. I never dreamed the grief process would take so long. I never imagined that it could hurt so much and that my church life would become so complicated!

It's a new day today. I feel a little flicker of something I used to feel. There is hope. But I'm taking it slowly and just enjoying going to church each Sunday. I still fear someone speaking to me and may seem very unfriendly when someone does. The thought of being asked to serve on a team still terrifies me. There is a long way to go in this healing process I can see. But just being in the House of God each week is healing. I love the time of worship and can't get enough of it. Hearing the word preached is another layer of healing and each week I see how important our weekly church gatherings are.

The church isn't the Sunday meeting, it is the people and together we are the church 24/7 but there is still something powerful that happens when we gather together each week.

I never thought I would ever get to feel this way about church again, but I can honestly say that I am looking forward to doing to church again this coming Sunday.
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20.11.16

What happened to me?

I remember a time when I was heavily pregnant with Daniel who is now 10 year old! During that season our church was about an hour's drive away and we were very involved. Eric didn't have his driver's licence at the time and he played in the church band, so every Thursday I would drive him to church, sit through band practice and then drive him home. To make this journey work I would prepare Eric's dinner and give it to him to eat in the car as I picked him up from work on the way to church. On Sundays we would get to church very early to help set up and then rest in the car in-between the morning and evening services so that we could attend both. It was too far to drive home and come back again so we decided to stay in town and wait. Thursday's was our home group night which we attended each week and occasionally we would have to head over to church for a team meeting. This was our life. I may have mentioned this season previously but wanted to refresh your memory to show the contrast from when I was that in-love with church that I would give 110% to whatever we needed to do, to how I feel now.

Now I feel like I am holding back. I fear being asked to help with anything. Sunday's approach each week with dread because I still feel numb inside. A part of me want to run again. I want to get stuck into church life and help build it in whatever department I am needed. Another part of me wants to run in the opposite direction forever to get as far away from church as possible. What happened to me? How did I go from being so passionate and sold out for the cause to where I am now? Will I ever have that kind of passion again? Will I always feel so horrible inside and so lost?

Since Eric has made a career out of church and we no longer serve together I feel weird. We have divorced our church life. We no longer dream together about what could be or pray together over what we are building. Our conversations are no longer passionate for the cause but all about him and his career. Church has stopped being something that I love and more something that I have to endure so my husband can do what he wants to do. Will this division ever end? Will we ever build together again? Will our dreams ever be one as the once were? Or is this it, do I walk on my own path and simply survive the journey?

All I have right now is questions, confusion, hurt and aloneness.  Not loneliness, I have friends. Aloneness because I don't think anyone can understand me right now. I am sure they would try and would offer the best advice that they could muster but if I don't understand this season I am in how can anyone else.
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13.11.16

Back on the Path

We went to church on Sunday. Eric, Daniel, Amy and I. Together as a family for the first time in ages. At first I felt nervous going back. I knew it was right and it was time. The season had changed and there was no reason for me to stay away any longer. My heart felt full, I was no longer tired and all my other reasons and excuses had faded away. To be honest, I actually missed church. My reasons for being nervous are too many to list starting with fear from all that had happened in the past all the way to fear of being hurt all over again and everything in between. Despite all that was going on inside of me emotionally something stronger was drawing me to church.

Choosing a church wasn't an option, it had to be a Baptist church so that Eric could do his placement for his studies and it would continue being a Baptist church for the two remaining years of his studies. I was ok with that. I accepted that church would not be as exciting as it had once been both because I was fond of the Hillsong style of church and also because I had been hurt so many times that I would keep my heart protected and remain cautious for some time by choice. I felt a sense of responsibility to the Baptist church and knew that God had something in mind for us as a family.

Eric is back on the path he is meant to be on and so I go to church of my own free will to support him on his journey and to get connected again as I should be. My heart pines for church to be fun, full of life and... well as it says in 1 Chronicles 22:5 ," ... the house to be built for the LORD should be of great magnificence and fame and splendour in the sight of all the nations." In my mind church should be magnificent, full of joy, worships should be loud and make you want to dance, prayer should be powerful and yielding results such as healing, miracles and deliverance. Even the building should shine either because it has cool lights or more importantly because Jesus is there.

I digress. The point is that Eric is back on the path that I believe he is meant to be on and we are back at church as a family. Our new pastor is a woman and she is really amazing, taking the church over the Jordan and into new and exciting things. We are honoured to be a part of what God is doing at our new church and will serve the pastor and the people to the best of our ability.
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6.11.16

Amazing Breakthrough

Enough was enough I thought! Something had to give. The pressure was too much and I wanted my job and peace back. My prayer was specific and I wanted a clear and final answer before I put the whole thing behind me. Although I tried to go to church with Eric once I was still spending Sundays at home. Everything inside of me did not want to go to church. I knew that if I did go to church it should be to Eric's church. So the children and I stopped visiting other churches and committed to go to Eric's church and support him in his role. It was too difficult though and no matter how hard I tried I could not force myself to go to church. Sundays became a day where I prayed while pottering around in my garden and we became a TV church member of Life Church - they have a fantastic kids program each Sunday.

Back to my prayer which went like this:

"Dear Father God. I love to hear your voice! There is nothing more that I desire. Father, please tell me if you want me to do anything about Eric's university? Do I interfere? Do I get involved? Do you want him to finish his studies? What do you want me to do?"

After praying I had an extremely strong conviction to do whatever I had to so that Eric could go back to university and finish his studies. I found several email addresses on Eric's computer for his university contacts and also found some of this friends contacts. All in all I contacted everyone that I felt I should contact and simply said,

" It has been on my heart lately to do whatever it takes to get Eric back to his studies. I don't know where to start so am just praying and reaching out and trusting God to lead the way. Do you have any advice?"

I received several responses where people confirmed that they also felt that Eric should continue his studies as he was clearly called to ministry. Everyone was so lovely but there was still that matter of Eric's outstanding fees from the first year of studies. Eric was adamant that he would not return to university without his debt being settled first.

What happened next blew my mind! The very next day this email came into Eric' inbox:

"Dear Eric, I hope that you are well. I'm writing to let you know that we have now received pledges of funds to cover all your fees for this year apart from £1500. The College is able to give you a bursary for this outstanding amount. I do hope it might be possible for you to continue your studies next year. Please do get in touch if you would like to  talk about this."

Oh my goodness! I got Goosebumps when I read this. It couldn't have been any cleared and served as direct confirmation to my prayer the day before, that Eric should be back at university to complete his studies and continue on the path he had originally set out on. I was immediately reminded of Isaiah 65:24,

" Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear."  NIV

Another version says it like this:

" I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!" NLT

It seemed possible that all this time I was not actually completely wrong but that I was in fact fighting a battle for my husband's future so that he would remain on the path that God had for him and not be tempted by another path which seemed to be good and Godly but was in fact simply not the right path.
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30.10.16

The Reason for Everything

There is only one way to really and truly get God's attention and that is to either break his heart so badly that he turns away and cries or to fast! So I chose the latter as I have broken his heart far too many times in my life and I needed him nearer to me that every before. So I withheld food and all drinks except water from my flesh and cry out to God.  Day one of my fast consisted mainly of headaches and me pouring out my heart to God. Day two God spoke briefly:

"Everything comes from God alone, everything lives by his power and everything is for His glory." - Romans 11:36 TLB

Bottom line: It's all for Him.

So with this revelation I forced myself to see things differently. I tried and make it about him and not about me. What did he want? How could I make it about him?

One Sunday evening I insisted that Eric and I seek God together. We spend the evening really reaching out to God together and I prayed until I felt like my eyeballs were going to pop out from the intensity of my prayer. My prayers were groanings in the spirit! It was then that I heard God's voice as clear as anything as he said:

"I want you to trust your husband?"

I was baffled, of all the things God could have said to me why did he say that? Seriously! I needed encouragement, support and nice warm fuzzy. Not a command that didn't fit into what I was seeking him for. So without even thinking about it I responded tearfully,

"But God how?"

To which God instantly said, "I won't ask you to do something without giving you the grace to do it."

And that was the end of the conversation. I left the living room knowing that God had spoken and that I had to obey his voice. I can't say that I was happy that I had heard from God. He unearthed something that I didn't know was there. I thought I did trust Eric. What did he mean trust him? It seemed that deep down inside I held onto the fact that I can trust men, no man in my life has ever been trustworthy and although Eric is the nicest man I have ever known he was still a man and not to be trusted. This was not a conscious thought but it seemed to be a thought that I believed someone deep down inside my soul. So my next challenge was to learn to trust my husband.
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23.10.16

Deep Darkness

Eric was convinced that I was depressed and wanted me to see the doctor again. I stood by my confession that I was healed of depression in October of last year and that what I was going through was NOT depression. It was a deep darkness but not depression - I knew the difference. I was unhappy. I was deeply miserable. I was not liking life. But I was not depressed. And so in my frustration I resorted to writing melancholic poetry. It didn't even rhyme which was an indicator of how deep the darkness was, I couldn't even be bothered to rhyme!

Darkness surrounds me
I even breath it in
It feels heavy
I can't find a way out

"Sanctify yourself[i]," you say
"For tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you."

Hopelessness fills me.
How did life get so bad.
Hurt consumes me.
There seems no escape.

God help, please rescue me.
I can't do this on my own.

_________
[i] Joshua 3:5
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16.10.16

The Submission Struggle

It's 5am on a dark, warm, late summer's morning. I have been awake since 2:30am.  Sleeping has become difficult lately with me averaging about four to five hours sleep most nights. Sometimes less. It's horrible! But my sleeping pattern is not what I want to share with you today. Today I want to share something that I never dreamed I would ever struggle with. Submission. A word that many recoil at. A concept that the modern woman finds outdated and irrelevant and many modern Christian woman believe it's a cultural thing for times past. I however have always been a massive advocate for submission and have passionately preached about it, written about it and believed it with all my heart - or so I thought. Well it's easy to think you are submissive when everything is going your way!

Eric keeps asking me why I won't follow him. I can see he is hurt by the fact that I am not fully behind him in his new church, in fact I am totally opposing him. I am 100% in disagreement with him about his choice to attend and work there. I have been very clear and direct with my disapproval and we have argued many times about the fact that he expects me to follow him wherever he goes and to trust him. Most of all he has made it clear that he expects me to submit to him.  Aargh I hate being told to submit, it goes against what I believe submission is so I dig me heals in even deeper. I believe submission is given by my own free will as a gift to my husband and cannot be demanded of me. Despite everything else I am about to share with you I still believe this to be true - anything else would be domination in my opinion and I don't believe a husband should dominate his wife in any way at all. This whole church situation has really thrown me! I can't understand why I so passionately resist the church that Eric is working at. It's not the people or the church, I believe that they are Godly and have a great church. It is a firm conviction that we are not meant to be going down that path again!

My past has affected me. I don't blame anyone or any past experience but I also don't want to put all the blame on myself either. As you may or may not know from my other writings, my dad was not the greatest of dads having crossed over boundaries that he should have. My step dad wasn't any better, in fact he was much worse. I had a string of hurtful relationships and a failed first marriage (because I was an idiot sadly). So to me the thought of completely trusting and surrendering to a man is ludicrous, even to a man as wonderful as Eric. I have always felt to keep my cards close to my chest and always make sure I have the winning hand. Never consciously but definitely subconsciously making sure I always have a way out, an emergency exit. Divorce thoughts plague my mind regularly and have done for 12 years of marriage. There was a season when I thought I cracked it but they came back. Knowing that there is a way out if I get too hurt is a comfort to me. The thought of having someone have full control over me is... well... unthinkable. Only God gets that much of me.

My prayer was something along these lines this morning:

"God, I don't want to give my husband, or anyone, power over me. Why should I give up the free will that you gave me. How can a trust a man. I trust you completely but I don't know how I can trust my husband. I don't want to give him power over me. I want to keep the door open to leave it I need to. What do I do as know all of this is wrong but you know it's the truth of how I feel. I give you all my heart and all of me, I trust you but I can't give that to another human being. I am tired of always feeling hurt. I don't want to keep myself in that position when my husband or anyone else can hurt me. What do I do? I know this is displeasing to you and I desperately want to please you but I can't see a way forward."

As I sat on my sofa in tears I saw a large thorn stuck in my flesh with a bloody wound around it. I felt like God was saying to me that He could remove the thorn if I wanted Him to. He showed me how I had been protecting and holding onto this thorn, not wanting to let it go. My pain was caused by this thorn but if I didn't allow Him to remove it I would continue living with pain that it brings. It made sense to me, why would someone knowingly hold onto a splinter or thorn in their flesh? Even though it would hurt to take it out it was a no brainer that it has to be removed. Yes I still resisted. The thorn was an obvious metaphor, perhaps of me holding onto my divorce thoughts or of me not wanting to submit. It could also be the fear of losing my power and giving a mere man his way with me. What if losing this thorn meant I became a mindless zombie who just did whatever my husband said and lost me in the process of blindly obeying. Yuck! I don't want to be that kind of person!

So I surrendered to God, not knowing for sure what the thorn was, how painful it would be to have it removed but fully confident that willing living with a thorn in my flesh is painful and foolish. I do trust God with all my heart and I know that He only ever wants what is best for me. I know that I can't 'fix' myself, this problem is too big and probably too deeply rooted. So I surrender. I will wait and see, trust and obey.
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