Understanding Life’s Journey…

Blameless Chloe

The Big Picture…

Pure Beauty!

Many of you have asked why and how I organized and developed the qualifying criteria for the board of directors of Blameless, my charitable nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation. Besides a calling, we may not always understand the ways of our Lord.

I sure didn’t understand the big picture seven years ago why, being a chaplain, the Lord was asking me to work with the youth ministry at Bridgeway Christian Church along with pursuing my degrees.  Thankfully I was obedient working with FUEL.

While working with the sophomore girls, I met this beautiful beloved whom I bonded to instantly named Miss Chloe Long.  She had just come back to youth group that evening after a long absence. The Lord asked me to pull her aside and see if she would share her story with me.  We connected.

Precious Chloe and I get each other.  We are mirror images.  We’re embracing our imperfections and painful journeys as something that God has allowed in order to awaken and arouse the beautiful beloveds we are underneath all the layers of heartache and projected images.  We’re no longer bound by this power controlling our lives, telling us we have to look, act or be a certain way in order to be seen, belong, loved and accepted.

We are prayerfully living and practicing each day recognizing that we do not have to conform or perform to others’ expectations in order to be loved.  Accepting we will make mistakes as no one is perfect, we are walking out our faith and lives acknowledging the royal blood running through our veins as we are God’s treasured daughters that He loves and even designed in His likeness.

Oh, if we all would only quit running from our imperfections and embrace our uniqueness!

We’re choosing to embrace and celebrate who we are.  We refuse to waste another precious minute going through life feeling like we’re all alone in our messes and that we rebuke the lies of the enemy telling us we don’t belong or are not good enough.

We believe you’re strong, authentic and courageous if you step out and share your life with others; that creates intimacy we all crave.  Through every word shared and tear shed, you’re relinquishing the power it has over you and you’re helping others to do so also.  Fear locks us in from the inside.  You’re only weak if you hide behind your veils of shame and stay shackled to your thoughts in your cells of hell.  We are loved just the way we are.

Be encouraged by reading Chloe’s unedited testimony and biography for Blameless.  Be drawn into her rawness, her candor and transparency.  You will see why this petite powerhouse is a valuable asset and integral force for Blameless and Forever Free Ministries and why she holds the officer position of secretary for the board of directors.

Her heart is not in serving for her own glory and magnification.  She is a board member and team member because she’s advocating for the lives of precious children and the youth while running after God’s own heart.  She wants to share what Jesus has done for her personally in order to help and build others up!

Chloe’s life and testimony is proof how God is constantly working behind the scenes preparing the way for our future challenges and life’s blessings. 

When certain scenes of our stories are painful, our faith encourages us to walk with God through this frame knowing it’s just a part of a bigger picture ahead.  Every day is but one frame of a million frames revealing a grander picture.  This leading enables us to walk in power and freedom that could never have been imagined or realized.  God is indeed omniscient.
Blameless Courage Over Comfort

 

Meet Miss Chloe Long…

 

Blameless Chloe

 

Pure Beauty!

Hello there! My name is Chloe Long and I am 21 years old. I am a lover of cats, pizza, movies, books, and most of all, helping others.

Now if you quickly scroll right now, you’re probably going to sigh and say this is too much to read and believe me I feel the same! Hahaha. So in a nutshell here’s my story: Lived in a Christian household but didn’t understand or recognize what God’s love meant for me till I was in my mid teens. God has helped me overcome anorexia, body dysmorphia, depression, anxiety, getting out of an abusive relationship, and is currently helping me with my family situation. He has helped me through speaking to me through mentors I’ve had over the years, including the wonderful Miss Tammy, friends, and even therapists, which inspired me to one day become a Child Psychologist, to be the help I need when I was younger. I have learned that God works on his own time and that makes me frustrated at times (a lot of the time actually), but I know it’s good thing because His way is always better than any other way I could possibly imagine. The Bible verse Isaiah 61:1-2 “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,to comfort all who mourn,” has been placed on my heart to be a kind person to everyone no matter their status, race, beliefs, sexual orientation/gender identity, etc. and with it has brought me all of the various careers I have at this moment starting as a secretary for Blameless, a youth counselor at a foster home, a behavior technician for an ABA therapy company (helping children who have autism), and being a child care provider. I have a heart to help others and feel especially drawn towards youth and I can’t wait to see where God will take me next.

Now if that intrigued you to read a more in-depth testimony, keep reading. If you’re done, well let me just say that I welcome ya to our organization and hope that you’ll feel as drawn to helping others as we do!

Although I may be a very young woman in my 20s, it feels as though I’ve lived a very long life with everything God has done to bring me on this path of being called to help others.

I’ll admit that I have lived a very privileged life by being raised in a middle class suburb and never having to face any economic hardships of my own, so when I say that “growing up was tough,” I’m not considering the obvious privileges that I had. I say it because the unconditional love that’s needed in fulfilling healthy family relationships was lacking in my household.

Since my parents were considerably older than the parents of my friends, they raised me with lessons from when they were young, which brought up a bit of outdated values. A main one that unfortunately brought some damage onto me was that I (a young female) was put here to satisfy a man and that I would not be valued unless a man was by my side. I looked at myself and thought that I was worthless unless I had someone. It didn’t help that I was encouraged to lose weight since that would make me more desirable. A dark era occurred where I would try not to eat (purge if I did), eventually become so depressed that I would stay in bed for days, and never stop comparing myself to others; I was only 13. I eventually gained a boyfriend, but nothing good came of it. I was introduced to a whole new world of sexual gratification, but I knew deep down I wasn’t ready and I wasn’t comfortable with it either.

When I was sexually assaulted, that’s when thoughts of “this is what you deserve… this is your future…” plagued my mind and I felt trapped. It went on for three years because I was desperate to be valued; I thought this was my only option. My anorexia worsened and it got to a point that after my 15th birthday, I landed in the hospital because my organs were shutting down and I also had a pregnancy scare; not ideal for your 15th birthday I might add. It was there in that hospital bed, with an IV in both arms, that I started crying and wondering why did things get this far and feeling absolutely devastated that no matter how much I would message my boyfriend (at that time), he never once responded to me being in the hospital. I was furious, sorrowful, and numb all at once and I asked God why.

I remember eventually getting a gut feeling saying that now is the time to start over and that it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t really know if God was truly real or not before then, but after that feeling, I knew what my new answer would be.

I was raised in a Christian household but I didn’t know what that meant till I was older, even after my hospital experience. I never knew that God loved me just the way I was until I was in my adolescence, despite going to church all of my life. It made me realize that saying you’re a Christian and living like a Christian were two very different things. After my time in the hospital, the more I went to youth groups, summer camps, and other fellowship activities, the more I was able to experience unconditional love. I thought recommitting to God every chance I could would keep my bases covered and that now that I no longer feel depressed or actually feel comfortable eating, nothing could go wrong, right?

A dear friend of mine started cutting herself about a few months after I was better (note how I did not say healed; I believe God is STILL healing me even though it’s been 5+ years. Everyday is a battle). I immediately thought to myself about the miracle healings Jesus had done in the Bible, so I called up the prayer team at my church and scheduled a meeting after my youth group ended so I could bring my friend and that she would be healed radically. I prayed everyday until then because I thought that THAT would do the trick. I brought her in, some people prayed over her, and presto! Nothing changed. Instead I felt embarrassed and angry that nothing had happened. Though it did not happen immediately, this experience humbled me into realizing and remembering that God works on his own time and no matter how much I could hope or pray, nothing can change God’s plan. What did happen however was a bitter season which included me falling out of the church and falling back into my depression. I knew I needed help.
I eventually headed into therapy, thanks to my father and his access to healthcare. My mother adamantly told me that mental illnesses don’t exist and that if I was actively experiencing something of that nature that it’s my fault and it’s because I wasn’t close enough to God. Despite my mother’s comments, I knew this was the right thing to do. Therapy definitely helped me. It helped me understand that it was okay to be angry sometimes, that it was okay to cry it all out, that it was okay to not be perfect or in my case to not fit into my mother’s standards.

About a year later I stopped going into therapy because I thought I was okay and could fight my own battles. Boy oh boy was I wrong. What ultimately kept destroying me was this lesson about understanding that God knows better than I do. That his time and plans for me often look quite differently from mine. Through my abusive relationship, through my eating disorder, through my dear friend’s experience, through those that God had called to come home with Him and pass away from this planet, and through my newest challenge of living with an alcoholic brother who physically assaulted me and my parents who have become increasingly distant from the church, God knows what he’s doing even though some days I really question if He does.

This has brought me back to therapy and has humbled me yet again. It’s okay to ask for help and I am proud to call myself a mess. I am a work in progress, I am loved, and I am called to love others.

Through it all, I have come to understand that putting my complete faith and trust in God will not result in a walk in the park, more often than not a very bumpy ride, but still having the comfort that I’m not alone and that God still manages to answer our prayers gives me the courage to keep hanging on. Maybe it might not be in the way that we want, but God does hear and does answer.

Until next time…

Blameless Beautiful You

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When Our Messes Become Our Message…

Blameless Mess Becomes Our Message

When Our Messes Become Our Message…

Breaking Free Announces Me!

Coming from an experienced beloved who’s walked through her fair share of messes, when we go through great pain and trials, it seems easier to just stay bound and wrapped up in captivity, entangled around comforts of familiarity.

Being a prisoner of fear, it seems every step we take to break free, the paralyzing torment only enhances the strength of our cells of hell.

Traumatic attacks are hard to survive and heal from when our focus is solely based on being bailed out. That includes also the loss of failed expectations, physical pain, emotional scars, and even financial destruction.

Blameless Breaking Free 5

I was asked how I comfortably share the torments of abuse and the shame that lingers while breaking free from that controlling link.

Admittedly, there are times when I get overwhelmed reliving it because it feels like another beloved’s trauma. It’s empowering to share, though, because it’s a reminder how freedom has taken back the power of my voice that was once stilled and lost. 

I try to emphasize that there is no shame in our game; Jesus is His name! There really is power in the name of Jesus when we release the blood stains caused from those fears of judgment and condemnation.

Maybe that’s why my heart burns with desire in being an advocate for those who have lost their voice because I get it. I’ve walked that path. I not only survived, but it made me courageous and confident enough to start a nonprofit organization helping others. 

Change requires a lifetime pursuit understanding and applying what 2 Corinthians 1:4-5 (MSG) talks about. God “comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”

Blameless Breaking Free Announces Me

Breaking Free Announces Me!

I met a beloved once at one of our W.E.A.V.E. support groups. I had only learned of W.E.A.V.E.’s existence after escaping exactly what the acronym defines:  Women Escaping A Violent Environment. I was not an advocate then. I was attending these meetings because I had found myself a victim of a creepy stalker.

Stalkers want what they cannot have…

Even though I had broken free from the chains of physical and emotional abuse, I was still imprisoned with identity and insecurity depravities that needed some fine tuning with the Lord’s direct intervention.

Our Beautiful Jesus brings healing to our lives usually one step at a time!

I’ve learned now to approach the testing of trials with more peace, confidence and clarity as my faith has deepened. Trials are now perceived as opportunities to learn tools that will help equip me with what might be brewing in the future; for example, hope, trust, peace, perseverance, patience, courage, you name it.

The development of my character became profound after I left my violent environment.  Kind of funny how God orchestrates situations at times. Here I had broken free from the cycles of abuse and the Lord introduces me to a woman who I would help break free from her own violent environment. 

 

Blameless Tired Of Being Told

God uses my mess and message to walk alongside of others who are tired of being told what they cannot be and live out who God created them to be.

Genesis 50:20 (NIV) perfectly announces to the enemy our authority claiming victory, You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Pondering the power that Genesis 50:20 foretells will remind us that our trials are not meant to torment us or even keep us on our knees. They’re intended to launch us to a completely different atmosphere where we recognize our messes are our messages.

Keeping our messes to ourselves robs others of the blessings that our testimonies offer.

Our momentary troubles are not meant to be gone through alone, much less swept underneath the rug. They’re oftentimes meant to strengthen us.

Conflict births opportunities. It’s possible our tests have come because they’re going to be a part of our testimony.

God wants us alive and present, available to be His powerful and courageous vessels!

I’m going to be brave enough to try and seize every moment of my trials so I can learn wisdom that will help me get through the next mess quicker and stronger.

Max Lucado’s Declaration of Faith is worthy of being proclaimed:

I’ll get through this. 

It won’t be painless. 

It won’t be quick. 

But God will use this mess for good. 

I won’t be foolish or naive, but I won’t despair either. 

With God’s help, I will get through this.

~ Max Lucado ~

 

Until next time…

Thank You For Being Beautiful You!

Blameless Just Because Beautiful You 1.1

Faith vs. Fear? Faith The Fear!

blameless-jail-3

Faith vs. Fear?

Faith the Fear!

“The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me.  Everyone abandoned me.  May it not be counted against them.  But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength…”  2 Timothy 4:16-17 NLT

 

Inmates!  When you think of this infamous title, what comes to mind?  Losers?  Prisoners?  Convicts?  Rejects deserving punishment? 

Better yet, what comes to mind when you hear of excessive force being used by correctional officers along with inmates’ Constitutional rights being violated? 

Who cares?  Hmmmm…

Anyone that knows me or has been following my blog for even a little while knows about my 110% complete devotion and support for ALL of our men and women in blue who have taken an oath and who selflessly sacrifice their lives to help protect and serve their communities. 

Okay, most of them anyways…  There’s always going to be a rotten apple in the barrel that infects and spoils the good ones.  Enough said!  I was married to a dirty cop so I know how that story goes…

That one bad apple didn’t stop me from going through the law enforcement chaplaincy academy after the fact and even serving as a chaplain for the past seven years, nor did being a victim of heinous crimes myself hinder my advocacy work and passion for the rejected and unloved. 

But when a beloved son finds himself in mayhem, I became sandwiched between our justice system and this corrupted force by witnessing firsthand violation after violation causing pain and turmoil to this mama’s child and others by the COs (correctional officers) not following the laws and the rules demanded by our U.S. Constitution.

Where’s the love in this world anymore?  We have become bullies hiding behind the power given to us through lack of governance, social media and our computer screens.  We have become fixated and thrive on corruption and crime and “colluding” and even become energized by real-life drama.  Talk about egotistical people without a moral compass.

When our three-year-olds are more familiar with the word “collude” instead of “loved,” we need to take a step back and examine how we are allowing the actions of others to influence our lives.  This includes how we utilize social media to peek, watch, stalk, gossip and even “date others” which is nothing more hazardous than to one’s “selfie.”

What happened to the meeting of minds face to face and loving our neighbors as ourselves?  Would you protect yourself by letting another brother be blamed for the fall?  If a child was getting hurt, would you intervene to protect them or would you click Facebook first and turn your video on and record instead of protecting them?

Every person is a child to some mother or father, so…  

What if this person was sitting in county jail awaiting trial; considered innocent until proven guilty, right?  Here he’s hurt, harassed, hazed, and even refused his Constitutional rights.  He’s put into a cell with another human’s feces on the walls.

Would you just ignore the inhumane discrimination because inmates are considered “losers” in jail or would you stand up for their rights and scream awareness against those who are abusing and usurping their authoritative powers?

This is frightening to come up against, but my God commands we work for justice.  Just because someone is in jail does not mean they’re dehumanized or any less of a Beloved.  God loves us all just the way we are, mistakes and all. 

These inmates have to do the time for their crimes, but between overcrowding, inhumane conditions, and being subjected to excessive force violates their Constitutional rights and it must be stopped.

What happens when you find yourself in the middle of Corruption versus Dedication?  Justice versus Usurping Authority?  Commitment versus Constitution?  Innocence versus Injustice?  Faith versus Fear?

I want to preface that I still stand behind law enforcement knowing full well there’s plenty of rotten apples, but when you find yourself having to go against some of those you once believed in and supported, the betrayal leaves you mad as hell with a passionate pursuit to end all this physical, emotional and spiritual harm. 

I had no idea advocacy meant I would find myself right smack in the middle of an exposed corruption ring within our correctional facilities through excessive force and inhumane conditions while a beloved child was at the core of just a minuscule part of it.

Between healing from surgery and going through further treatment alongside of this corruption case, writing is going to be sporadic and take a backseat as I fulfill my duties being a mom and an inmate advocate and making sure justice prevails.  There’s a mama’s heart that would love to react with my cast-iron horns fully emerged while spewing out flaming arrows, but…

I don’t know what emulating my Lord looks like exactly because each day there’s a new violation and I haven’t always reacted in a positive, loving manner with the COs with all of these emotions.  When your child is under the umbrella of abuse and injustice and his Constitutional rights have been violated again and again, you better believe I’m going to Faith the Fear boldly and courageously!  And I do not care WHO YOU ARE!

I am choosing to love my son mirroring the words penned from Paul in 2 Timothy 4:16-17.  I want him to feel the love of the Lord alongside of him through support, encouragement, visitation, phone calls, unconditional love and especially being an advocate demanding his due rights so he knows he’s not alone. 

Someone has to stand up for these inmates.  The system is slow and corrupt and families and friends dwindle away real quick.

I firmly believe hope replaces discouragement while trust overcomes doubt because my God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20).  That’s being His hands and feet!

Until next time…

Thank You For Being Beautiful You!

Blameless Beautiful You Bouquet 2

It Takes More Than Courage To Be Kind To Yourself! Tammy Tangent Tuesdays!

Blameless Beautiful Be-Held

It Takes More Than Courage To Be Kind To Yourself!

Tammy Tangent Tuesdays!

Beauty exists in the mind of the Be-Loved and Be-Held!

Hello Beautiful!  I pray you’re having a blessed week so far filled with strength to press through with an abundant supply of tender mercies that we all need to remember our worth and value sojourning this side of heaven.  It’s that time again; it’s Tammy Tangent Tuesdays! 

I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to believe that beauty exists solely in the eyes of the beholder rather than remembering that it exists in the mind of the Be-Loved and Be-Held!  And as I’m walking through some health issues, the appearance of infection and scars have left me wanting to hide behind closed doors until I’m healed completely.

How does a Beautiful Beloved remember that our beauty exists in the mind of the Be-Loved and Be-Held?  If our very own Creator reminds us to be gentle and kind to ourselves as we Blameless Walls Beautiful Definitioncelebrate how He created our inmost being by intricately knitting us together in our mother’s womb, how do we not praise Him for fearfully and wonderfully creating us while being awakened to how His beautiful works of art are seen and are enough (Psalm 139:13-14)?

I don’t know about you, but quite often lately, I am having to focus on who God says I am by how valuable and beautiful I am in His sight, especially since my battle scars have left me with more imperfections and somewhat deformed looking due to an infection.  That requires discipline with self-compassion and kindness.  I am trying to remind myself that being Beautiful has nothing to do with looks.  It’s how you are as a person and how you make others feel about themselves.  Being kind to everyone includes OURSELVES and that more often than not is dependent upon the COURAGE to love ourselves that a lot of us neglect.  Guilty as charged! ♥♥

Sadly, so many of us tender hearts have a tendency to forget just how valuable and beautiful we truly are.  I know for myself, this past week has had me screaming like a horror film fit for Halloween.  I was starting to feel like nothing but Blameless Mirror Wickedbare, dry bones falling out of the mirror just for a taste of something sweet as I glanced and saw what horror a rough week, or month for that matter, had done to a Beautiful Beloved.  The only bubbly I was holding onto was the ongoing battlefield going on in my brain and my deflection in trying to control it!

How can we claim and exude that confidence in knowing we are blossoming right where God has planted us which requires love and attention that we are supposed to embrace in the nurture and care of our own self when all we’re left with is being dry and brittle?  It’s okay to cry.  It’s okay to scream.  It’s okay to be disappointed.  We just have to remember to speak words of affirmation to ourselves filled with love, patience and grace.  Consoling our bruised and tender souls offers healing and is needed for a reason as we learn to be kind to ourselves.

Since I proudly wear my crown and say I’m high maintenance (gotta have me my Jesus time so my brittle bones can dance with life), that requires consistent nourishment (hello… feed me, feed me, feed me 🙂 ); you know, tender loving care that consists of peace and compassion, along with that gentle and consistent touch that the Word of God offers to heal our depleted hearts.

I have come to the conclusion that us Beautiful Beloveds can only walk in our beauty when we learn to practice the delicate art of kindness and self-compassion.  When we do so much for others and teeter across that fine line of forgetting ourselves, we need to pull the reins tightly and bask into some dedicated “ME” time. ♥♥

Never forget, Beautiful Beloved, being kind to yourself in words, thoughts and deeds is just as important, if not more beneficial, to our communities as being kind and loving to others!  Think thoughts that are true, pure, lovely and affirming when you’re talking to yourself.  It’s okay to allow the peace and healing to begin!  It’s called self-compassion; and you’re so worth it! 

Weekly challenge:  This weekly challenge is solely dedicated to being Beautiful You.  Let’s take care of self!!!  It’s our week to be kind to ourselves with compassion.  Let’s never forget that beauty doesn’t exist in the eyes of the beholder, it exists in the mind of the Be-Loved and Be-Held!  Let’s be refreshed, rejuvenated and restored this week.

Until next time…

 

Blameless Flower 6.6

Honoring The Fallen! Never Forgotten?

Blameless Never Forgotten

 

Honoring the Fallen!

Never Forgotten? 

Courage is Contagious

—0o0—

Billy Graham proclaimed, “Courage is Contagious.  When a brave man takes a stand, the spine of others are stiffened.”

 

Honoring the Fallen!  Never Forgotten?  Hmmm… never forgotten?  Really?  Where in most Memorial Day celebrations, unless you’re with a family or community of inactive or active service personnel, do you hear stories of valor and selfless acts of bravery that proclaim this great caliber as to why we celebrate Memorial Day?    

Forgive Us For Not Recognizing Our Fallen!

Sadly, it seems there is more recognition geared towards retail sales advertisements along with the hustle and bustle ushering in the first big holiday announcing summertime.  These preparations for the festivities are great; you know, family gatherings, coming together, barbecuing, boating, camping, traveling with the additional three-day weekend, but what about carving out time to honor the fallen which is the sole purpose of Memorial Day?

There is nothing wrong with the excitement in getting together with our family and friends to unwind and celebrate; we all need that!  But what about the fallen heroes and their families that have lost so much, their precious and valued loved ones, due to their sacrificial service for our freedom?  How are they being remembered?  They are searching for this gratitude and consolation in our festivities that have seemed to be glossed over.

Where is the tribute and honor that should be at the forefront of our celebrations for our fallen heroes on Memorial Day?

Where is the dedicated time for this tribute and recognition that brought us freedom?  Where does the honor, the respect, the remembrance, and the salutation fit into our celebratory festivities this Memorial Day weekend?  After all, our great nation was built on the freedom that these fallen heroes died for!  That deserves recognition.

The ocean tears that have been released by mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, families, and the many innocent children that look for comfort from a nation that pauses to think about, honor and celebrate what their loved one selflessly gave to have this freedom extended is non-existent and quite neglected.

If you’ve ever had to comfort a grieving soul who just learned of their loved one’s death, there is nothing more dreadful and heartbreaking than delivering the piercing words, “I’m sorry, but your loved one was killed in the line of duty serving his/her country.” 

Being honest here, when I was raising my children, I looked forward to having an extra day off with the announcement that summertime was near.  Any excuse to celebrate was quite a gift.  Memorial Day just meant getting the boat ready and the family together for a couple of Blameless United States Flag Last Breathdays spent on the water without any further forethought.  Tragic!
Where is the honor, recognition and respect geared towards our fallen heroes and their families acknowledging how they dedicated and sacrificed their lives?  This is the pure definition of what is called a beautiful exchange.  Can we start teaching our children and share with our families the significance of what Memorial Day deserves?  We can testify to this valor of great sacrifice by sharing a few of the following quotes:

“The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude.” – Jeff Miller

“The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Can we maybe start proclaiming how we’re proud to be Americans and express our gratitude for the meaning behind Memorial Day.  This honor will offer golden nuggets of comfort to the fallen and their families to carry close to their hearts reminding them thatBlameless Memorial Day. In case you thought it was National BBQ Day their lives mattered and stood for victory and won’t be forgotten, nor were their deaths in vain!  Maybe while we’re vacationing, we can even share with others the significance while honoring the millions of soldiers who lost their lives.  Speak it while engaging with others.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating, but putting at the forefront what all of our Fallen Heroes have achieved will keep their legacy alive and one in which will never be forgotten.  It’s a gratitude for blessing us with a privilege that we often take for granted.  We are reaping the harvest from the seeds they dropped during their bout of courage and dedication.  What a gift that keeps on giving, but it needs watering and cultivating! 

By the way, Memorial Day originated way back in the late 1800’s, but was enacted following the Civil War where many Americans started honoring the soldiers who lost their lives by decorating their graves.  Beautiful, isn’t it?  It wasn’t until 1971 that it was deemed a National holiday and celebrated as such through the passing of the National Holiday Act. 

“Those that die for a good cause… hover as a cloud of witnesses over the nation.”  Henry Ward Beecher.

Blameless Fallen Heros

Let us never forget our fallen heroes and their families.  After all, as John F. Kennedy stated,  “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”  

Fallen Heroes, We Will Never Forget Your Sacrificial Service & We Thank You!

Save

Victim or Victor? Part One

blameless-at-the-end-of-the-rope 

Victim or Victor?

Silence Empowers Perpetrators

Part One

This piece of Caryn Drexl’s Photography speaks of unfathomable pain and suffering.  It also exhibits triumphant undertones that are not only haunting, harsh realities, but speak victory if one simply dares to look long enough under the torment.  Kind of synonymous with the old adage that a good friend shared last week, “Our churches are hospitals for sinners, not a showcase for saints.”

If churches and congregations are supposed to be safe havens and refuges for the hurt and broken, how can they safely coexist alongside places of worship and be common ground that encourages engagement in healthy relationships?  Can they nurture and develop into communities where we can learn and grow from one another as we do life together safely through prayer, consolation and the healing of our infirmities?

Why is it I cannot be consoled or receive this peace that others receive or flock to?  Why is my spirit so downcast within me?  Is it because my hands are tied and affliction abounds or because it is yet another piece of bravery that valor requires I walk through?

Have our churches become so polluted with sick people who only attend so they can be catered to and loved on while we practice our sermons getting paid through accolades and tithes and commercialization or are we forgetting through our performance-based facades that we are supposed to administer healing through Love Himself in order to be released back into our communities?

The Word teaches that the Body of Christ is meant to be the hands and feet of God while sojourning this side of heaven through love, justice and accountability.  Why, then, are we staying loosely bound and tied, afraid to bravely break free by confronting and speaking up against the actions of a brother from another mother?

Isn’t that what community in the church is all about; loving one another while sharing our experiences in claiming freedom and holding each other accountable for how we do life each and every day, good or bad?  To me, that requires trust that is gained solely through the engagement of communication and the building of relationships

Since coexisting on earth oftentimes requires love, patience, goodness, kindness, etc., communities go through a gamut of emotions similar to victims ranging from fear to denial and maybe even to acknowledgement.  As a society, how can we claim victory when the actions of our leaders compound and make the violation much more worse than need be all in the name of devaluation? 

I personally feel completely violated myself, not so much from the actions of a perpetrator, but the way my complaint was handled by those in authority.  I didn’t ask the Lord to put me on this path or even to take its sting away.  I asked Him to give me courage to be brave enough while being obedient through Love.  I knew this obedience would release the everlasting peace and wisdom that I was craving for, but I was not prepared to tackle this battle after what I perceived was being completely devalued and shut down.

I can handle the person injecting the fear and control, but what about those who shepherd and lead us and are supposed to protect and support us as we press through attacks, not to mention the legalities that accompany it?  What are we supposed to do if we don’t feel as if our backs are covered?  I know that sadly in the world we live today, this violation will happen again, but it does not have to tarnish the spirit of another.

I was brave enough to try and stop the actions through Love before they hurt more people or themselves and the power from my voice was stilled before I even had a chance to share my concerns about what had transpired.  I don’t know what hurts worse, the actions of the perpetrator or the blatant disregard of my value.  Mocking it on the podium is quite shocking.  Isn’t this conduct called denial, sweeping it underneath the rug because no one wants to take the time and deal with it?  Is it the victim’s duty to proclaim victory without the untying of the ropes first?

Being an advocate and a victim myself, the one thing I always try to emphasize and share with victims is that when we keep quiet because we feel no one will believe us or more harm will befall us, or it will just cause a scene in the church, we are giving our violators the power to continue in their conduct.  What might have started out as borderline bad behaviors can quickly escalate into dangerous situations because no one stood up and said, “Stop.  Enough.”

Bad behaviors and boundary breakers will continue to exist and clash in our congregations until someone is bold and courageous enough to bring awareness through Love.  When this conduct is tolerated in our congregations and the victim is ridiculed, this is not the edification and correction process that Paul speaks so clearly about in 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

As a matter of fact, how can we effectively help build each other up while being sensitive to all sides until we take the time to communicate?  Have our churches lost that delicate art, sense of communal relationships, in order to be polished and presented with perfection?  I didn’t realize living in an imperfect world being imperfect beings demanded perfection; just saying…

Call me bold and courageous or even crazy.  I like to believe I’m a Beloved chosen to walk out my faith as I boldly confront what my Lord asks me to do.  Call me controversial or even boisterous, but I know where my value and worth derive from.  It is my duty and responsibility as a child of God to talk and share about lifestyles and subjects that are a part of our culture today which are not spoken about and even hushed in our congregations.  God forbid!

Until next time…

How Quickly We Forget ~ Courage To See The Hope

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~ How Quickly We Forget ~

Courage To See The Hope

Accept Change & New Beginnings

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Happy New Year, Beautiful!  The new year offers seasons of hope filled with new beginnings and fresh starts.  I don’t know about you, but instead of embracing this new year with excitement, I have found myself all tied up in knots.  One moment I’m hanging onto the rope carefree, squealing with delight, the next I find myself at the end of the rope barely able to hang on, forgetting where my focus should be.  That’s when I have to remind myself, when we’re at the end of the rope, all we need to do is look up.  God is at the end with all Hope!

I generally look forward to each new year because it’s a fresh start to new beginnings while we look back and celebrate how God has carried us through another year; whether it was full of blessings or a year filled with great suffering and refinement. 

As I shared before, my word for 2016 was Favor and I had no idea what life would be like when the Lord lavishes His Favor on you all year long.  I’m not talking about just Favor financially where the Lord spoiled me with lavish vacations or even that He paid off all my student debt (Grammy Tammy is still screaming hallelujahs), but victory in many court trial cases where God used me as an advocate while breaking my own fears.

Favor didn’t necessarily mean that life would be quiet or that life would be easy without trials or great pain, because there were increased burdens with the Favor; but it did mean that my Lord continued to walk alongside of me as He challenged and stretched my faith to new, deeper levels while trusting in His provision, guidance and direction.  Though there were periods of great pain, the Favor that was extended promoted more growth than I ever could have imagined.  Such intimacy! 

This Favor God enveloped my year with included even the long-standing and promised reconciliation with members of my family that had been absent for years all due to forgiveness along with the development of deeper friendships that no amount of money or price tag could be equated.  You can read Daddy’s Little Girl here.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a firm believer that we can do all things through Christ  who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13) and that requires community; you know, friendships that can help drag us to the finish line when we’ve become too paralyzed in fear or too exhausted to take another step.  We’re only as powerful as those we do community with!  I am indeed living out life as a rich, blessed woman; rich with friendships that I have a hard time containing.  I bet you didn’t think Favor equated amazing friendships, did you?  It does!!!

2017 offers Courage.  Courage to me equals change.  More change?  Oh Lord, please tell me that isn’t so!  The courage I needed throughout 2016 married many defining moments, especially when the Lord said that courage would be my greatest test I would ever have to walk through without knowing the outcome.  Am I going to walk by faith or faint by sight?  I’m relying more these days on Psalm 34:7 that says, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him.” 

I totally get it that the only way hardships can touch upon our lives is if the Lord allows it, but knowing Courage is my word this year, I’m going to have to rely more on the words that Perfect Love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).

Being honest here, I don’t know about you, but I tend to forget rather quickly how the Lord has sustained me throughout my entire life, much less how He took miraculous victory just a few short months ago.  People often ask me, do I really read my Bible every day?  Let me sum it up this way:  I’m a reactor and tend to panic easily, reacting in ways that rob me of total peace and self-control (Hello!!!).  This beloved is only strong and courageous when her nose is in the Word.  I did admit and say I was high maintenance, remember? 

I’m alive and thrive because of my Jesus!  To exist with this jovial spirit, I need me my Jesus time for the renewing of my mind and to cast off all old behaviors and beliefs that my old mindset used to conjure up with.  Trust me, I still have those brief, rather pathetic, moments of freaking out while performing my infamous Tammy Tantrums, but then I run to my secret place and purge my heart out to my Lord.  That’s going to take more than great courage for me to master; it’s called a life that is a work-in-progress and proud of it!

Courage also includes getting back to writing, you know, even finishing that book called Flight 951 that I do not care to finish.  Don’t know why either.  Prayers, please!  I also need courage in being me; no matter what that looks like.  I know my story needs to be shared, one that takes great Courage, but I learned during my Year of Favor that God has a plan and purpose that is being unveiled.  I’m a firm believer that there is power in numbers, and community has taught me that we not only need each other for love and support, but for power that walking through it together offers.

So let’s welcome in a Happy New Year, Beautiful Beloved, as we embrace this new season with lots of courage and love as we trust in our Lord!  I would love it if you would share your thoughts or prayer needs below.

Until next time…

Thank You For Being Beautiful You!

Living With Addiction & Strongholds ~ Mother Of Magnificent ~ Day 26 of 40

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Living With Addiction

Strongholds of Broken Behaviors

Mother of Magnificent

Day 26 of 40

Ticktock… ticktock… ticktock…  You know that relentless sound of time creating nuisance where you bury your head beneath the smothering pillow and the only thing it suffocates is your very own breath?  The sounds from the annoying clock marrying your erratic heartbeat threatens to blow out more than your eardrums.  You can’t breathe, you can’t sleep or think, and most of all, you can’t handle the noise or the speed of the world as it hones in for the kill!  How do we tell the world to stop existing and leave us alone as we grieve and process our own sorrows?

Death…  Death of Expectations…  Death of Identity…  Death of Perceptions…  D-E-A-T-H is really nothing more than the pathetic plea and damaging acronym I dared to reason with in what my family is experiencing right now:  Destruction Evolves Around The Hate!  Even the amazing Word of God briefly talks about the damaging effects of hate for good reason, not to mention why Love Himself might hate.  For an understanding on why “God hates,” check out Proverbs 6:16-19.

Hate to me is synonymous with death.  It destroys everyone in its path.  It causes bitterness and allows rage to take over and infect everyone in its tracks.  Hate bulldozes the strong like the plague.  Hate surfaces jealousy and insecurities.  It allows comparison.  It breeds division and promotes injustice.  Hate causes war!  The silent killer like cancer.  Hate oftentimes causes death without warning!

I don’t want to be that roaring lion shaking everything and everyone in a couple-mile radius.  I want to be that beautiful, loving lioness in the picture below who pulls others and her cubs out of trouble by releasing them where they should be; in their den (community) being loved on, close by and protected!  When this mama thinks of her cubs, though they’re grown men with their own families, I still lean on the fact that blameless-mamas-loveI’m a Mother of Mayhem, Mother of Memories, but mainly a Mother of Magnificent!  I have been blessed with strong, intelligent, and successful children that the Lord allowed me to be Manager of Many over.  But when that one extra-grace-required child finds himself in the misery of mayhem, the destruction and bite almost paralyzes this mama’s heart.  Can you relate? 

Nowadays, being honest here, I am experiencing the effects of being paralyzed with much fear and disbelief, and only functioning because of the grace and mercy of God who is the author and deliverer of this Mother of Magnificent’s cub.  This is helping me cling to His promises written in my love letter, the Holy Bible, stating He will never forsake or leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6-8), no matter what we’ve done!  The havoc from the breaking hearts doesn’t just exist within our own souls, but that connection we have with that cub; whether they’re fifty or ten!  It speaks to the very core of the lioness sitting back and letting her child make these mistakes with any and all subsequent repercussions in order to learn and grow from as others take charge of him.

Zach Williams’ song entitled “Chain Breaker” speaks to my heart and empowers me with hope by reminding me that “If you’ve got pain, He’s a pain-taker; if you feel lost, He’s a way-maker; if you need freedom or saving, He’s a prison-shaking Savior, if you’ve got chains, He’s a chain breaker.”  Girlfriends, we can’t give up and let the lies of the enemy spewing guilt and shame defeat us!  We have to join hands by sharing through transparency our deepest hurts so we don’t ever give up and claim freedom!  There’s hope just waiting to be released because there is no shame in our game; Jesus is His Name!

So many of us are full of sorrow, trials, confusion, betrayal, pain and exhaustion.  We need each other for a reason.  Don’t hide behind your walls of shame and insecurities.  Get out there and share!  When we share our hurts with others, it releases the key that unlocks the hope and peace for sustainment and victory.

This mama’s heart is hurting.  I mean, I’m like other mamas and grandmas, I already had my life and children’s and grandchildren’s script written out to perfection.  Though I knew there would be tears shed, hearts broken, and agreements to disagree, I can actually say I never thought seconds of my life would involve tragedy caused at the hands of my own child, especially coming from the one who has a heart full of compassion. 

I am finding out very quickly that oftentimes those of us who are filled with compassion have had great suffering combined with betrayal, along with abandonment and rejection that reared its ugly head somewhere throughout our lives.  Sound familiar?

What happens when the bleeding heart can no longer tolerate the strength from the taunting jeers that has been suppressed?  Sadly, I am finding out that when you haven’t exactly worked through your own fears and hurts, also known as heartbreaking anger, that compassionate heart quickly gets wiped out to what evolves as Hurricane Aggression destroying everyone in its path.  Can you relate?  I know I sure can.

Until next time…

Thank You For Being Beautiful You!

 

Living With Addiction † Breaking Free From Captivity Day 22 of 40

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Living With Addiction

Breaking Free From Captivity

† Freedom to be You and Me †

Day 22 of 40

A child’s innocence stolen!  Through no fault of their own, the child is thrust into an environment that is anything conducive to behaviors worth emulating, much less a world that any adult should walk through or be subjected to.  The vantage point being projected through the naive lens of a child is one of sheer horror and gore.

For the precious, innocent child, being left alone to process the effects brought on from rage and abuse in living with addiction, they are victimized and stripped of all protection and innocence.  Their only hope for survival is through denial.  Denial will become their stable reality.  They will learn that the only way to handle fear is through the fight-and-flight response.

The child immediately employs protection from the construction crew of fear.  With no one to offer consolation and a warm embrace, the child’s fear factor instinctively and subconsciously constructs a safe haven.  This safe haven consists of walls and barriers intended to protect the child as they hide and cradle behind all the emotional scars brought on from the lack of parental protection and emotional stability.  Abandonment is a fierce enemy when a child’s heart is unprotected!

The only rocking this child receives is in the drawing up of one’s knees tightly to their chests with their t-shirts pulled over down to their feet as a means for capturing needed warmth and protection.  They rock back and forth in their cocooned state to pacify and console their anxieties caused from living in a violent environment.  Constant crocodile tears flow from the child’s tender face saturating their t-shirt that once offered warmth now leaving the child cold due to the dampness caused from the chill in the air.

Because of the child’s innocence and naivety, these walls they’ve constructed around their tender and bleeding hearts for protection from others do nothing but hinder their reality as to what life is like in the healthy behaviors that exist on the other side of the wall.  Their barriers teach nothing but emotional isolation, though understandable.  This emotional isolation leads to a lack of self-worth riddled with insecurities and identity crises.

As the child attempts to climb up on his own to catch a glimpse of what God says is on the other side of the wall offering freedom, the child is troubled and confused by what they see.  There is peace without chaos and violence.  Their skewed perception developed from fear clouds the warm invitation and the comforts offered through what the safety of the environment promises. 

The child hesitates and exhausts themselves emotionally to climb over.  Without a friend or parent’s hand to grab ahold of to help them safely over the wall, the exhaustion sets in from battling the fear of the unknown alone.  This fear contributes to the child slipping, allowing the barbwire on top off the wall to grab ahold of their flesh, causing even greater physical and emotional pain.

The child is forced to reside in the lonely, cold and dark places they’ve created to protect themselves from the dark and violent world they were running from until they scurry up enough strength to attempt their breakthrough again.  Light and warmth arouses their curiosity.  Children may be resilient, but what kind of entanglement will their imprisonment bring until exhaustion sets back in?  Is this how we are leaving future generations instead of equipping them?

The child repeatedly attempts to no prevail.  Each attempt leaves the child numb and desensitized to the pain being caused from each laceration delivered from being held captive in the entanglement of the barbwire.  The child wants rescued.  This child is alone and does not have any guidance how to tackle this bondage victoriously.  No one is walking alongside of them or extending a hand of help.  Everyone just looks the other way.  They want help, but no one is offering.  Why are we a society who gives up too quickly and would rather cast the blame and responsibility onto somebody else?

With no one encouraging the child to try again or in a different way, the child becomes so weak and delirious, bad decisions are made.  The child’s last futile attempt to break free from the entangled mess offers nothing but resolution to just survive instead of thrive in this painful cocoon and environment.  Every future move that child will make will cause great bodily injury, to themselves and/or others.  Where does this cycle of abuse end?

Children do not know how to handle adult problems and should never be a part of or witness, whether abusive or not.  Children need to be protected.  When parents are at war dealing with their own emotional battle scars of abuse and addiction, this only further aids in casting the frightened and innocent child into a scary world all alone due to being wrapped up in the remains and captivity of fear and isolation.  But there is hope!

How does one go from abhor to restore?  Love versus fear!  Faith versus fear!  How does that look when the victim is both the child and adult and owning up to one’s responsibility as a parent in allowing my precious cubs to be subjected to this ugly world in living with addiction and abuse?  Fear kept me in bondage as a victim and yet Love was calling me to freedom.

Faith versus fear, how would you react?  Breaking free is a risk.  Is freedom worth it?  My fear’s captivity and insecurities led me paralyzed, unable to escape the bondage and have self-control with trust and freedom.  How could I teach and equip my children to walk in freedom outside the generational walls of living with addiction and abuse when I was too cowardly to break free myself?

Enjoy listening to the lyrics that speak so loudly and profoundly to this very subject in “I’ll Keep On” by Jeremiah Carlson.

Until next time…

 

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