Tag Archives: abuse

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 8)

My Pastor used a term on Sunday to describe the world that we live in … “uncertainty”.    There most definitely is uncertainty in the world, and across the globe there are terrible things that happened this year, this week, this hour.

“Your joy is your own; your bitterness is your own.  No one can share them with you.”  Proverbs 14:10

Earlier in the week my daughter asked me to share with her a Scripture that really helped stabilize me when my own world was topsy-turvy.

That conversation reminded me of a compilation I put together a few years ago … a collection of Scriptures that met me where I was and spoke the cry of my heart.  

Tears2,Sunscreen

“If I’m going to cry,
let them be tears shed before my God.”

Proverbs 14:10 tells us that ‘each heart knows its own bitterness’, which to me means that sometimes you just need to cry it all out.  I think that’s why I collected the Scriptures I did.

Some gave words to the depth of my pain.
Some were cries for mercy and deliverance.
Some spoke deeply to my soul of  irrevocable promises that God would see me through it and work all things together for my benefit in the end.

“You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears. Aren’t they all listed in your book?” Psalms 56:8

And that is why I call them Love Letters for they were -and still are- love letters from Him to me, letters of strength and comfort to my (still*) hurting soul.  I hope they bring comfort to you as well.

*Disclaimer alert!  I’m saved and I’m greatly changed from the broken girl I was in my teens and wrecked woman I was in my 20’s and 30’s.  But by no means, have I “arrived” at that place of wholeness or perfection.  Can we ever, this side of heaven? 

Nope, I’m a work in process, just like you.   Whatever God did for me, He is more than able and willing to do for you too … even more, in fact.  But it will require your faith (confident trust and expectation in His goodness) and your pursuit of His face.   Oh but friend, it is a worthy pursuit indeed to seek the presence of God, and He is SO willing to be found by a heart hungry to know Him.

What are Scriptures have that special place in your heart?  Please comment below with the passage, and if you are willing a bit about the why behind it.

—————————

If you have been following along, above is the initial sketch for the word picture along with it’s progression to the current state in the larger picture. There are components of this piece that are going to be revealed as this blog series continues, so please keep coming back to watch the image in my head/heart come to life on paper.
What do you think would be a good name or caption for this particular word picture?
Also, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about any of the word pictures in this blog series, or any other of my posts. My prayer is that they will speak something unique to your heart/spirit, and I would be honored to know how they move or impact you.

 

_____________
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 7)

In a prior post (week 3), I shared a few definitions of hope, as well as a definition for what I call Bible-HOPE. The latter is a far better kind of hope, for Bible-HOPE (HOPE) is rooted in the Promises contained in the Word of God, and most often to a covenant Promise made between Himself and we, His people.

To hear His voice and receive His deep love for us, this is the very birthplace of HOPE.

But sometimes, life sucks the hope right out of you! And then what, my friend?

How is one to respond when you’ve been smacked upside the head by the frying pan of life, and had your hope knocked clear across the floor?

I’ve experienced both, and no doubt you have too.

Jennifer Arimborgo authors the blog Feeding on Jesus. I think her post “Can You See Him?” beautifully and artfully speaks to this very type of situation, and she has graciously given me permission to share it with you. as follows:

================
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps. 27:13, NKJV).

Do you believe you will see the goodness of the Lord in this life? According to these words from Psalms, being convinced that you will is the antidote to discouragement.

What comes to mind when you read the phrase, “seeing the goodness of the Lord”?

Probably most of us start to imagine desirable outcomes to our current circumstances. These are some concrete ways His goodness could manifest in our lives:

• The healing of a family member struggling with chronic illness
• Sudden, unexpected financial provision for paying off debts
• The restoration of a rocky marriage
• A child being born after a long journey battling infertility
• A loved one delivered from drug addiction

Yes. All of these are most definitely overt expressions of how good He is. Each of them showcases His kindness in a dramatic way. However, I’d like to share with you a deeper nuance of this Scripture than what may be apparent upon first glance.

To do so, I’m going to bring in another passage to help illuminate this one. It’s from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew. “But blessed are your eyes, for they see…” (Matt. 13:15a, ESV). He spoke these words to the disciples, contrasting them with multitudes of people who could see with their physical eyes but had no real perception happening at a heart level (vv. 13-15). He was pointing out to them what riches were theirs because they could perceive truth.

Do we have eyes that see? To see with our spirit means to discern, to recognize, to ascertain, to be aware, to understand. If we do have heart’s eyes that function this way, blessed are we! This is why Paul interceded for the Ephesians’ spiritual power of sight. This was so crucial that he never stopped praying this prayer: “I keep asking… that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you” (Eph. 1:17a, 18a, NIV).

Like them, we, too, desperately need eyes that can supernaturally ascertain and absorb real hope. Now, let’s look at Psalm 27:13 through the lens of this vital truth. David says, “…Unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord…” Do you hear what Holy Spirit is expressing? “Unless I had believed that I would perceive His goodness… that I would profoundly recognize how good He is… that I would discern the true character of His heart, how pure, how kind, how faithful is His very nature… that I would become aware of how tender His intentions are toward me… that I would comprehend with every fiber of my being how much He loves me… I would have lost heart!”

This, my friends, is where hope is born: when we can see Him. When our heart can understand who He really is. When we can truly see His goodness, then we don’t ever, ever, ever lose heart. Blessed are our eyes when they can pierce the fog of adverse circumstance and perceive Daddy’s kindness and love in the midst of it.

How we need such eyes! I would encourage you to pray Ephesians 1:18 and Psalms 17:13 over yourself right now, and then every day for the rest of your life!

Daddy God, I pray that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened, that I may know the hope to which You have called me! Out of Your great, merciful love, allow me to see Your goodness in the land of the living!

==============

What a lovely word picture this is to me. To have ears that hear and eyes that see with the heart (spirit).

But I think this type of engagement requires a willingness to look outside ourselves and above our circumstances so that we can attend to (focus on and interact with) the loving countenance of our Daddy God. And to hear His voice and receive His deep love for us, this is the very birthplace of the HOPE we so deeply long for and desperately need.

In my current watercolor (below, and still a work in process, but I’m going to be revealing more within the next week or three), I like to imagine “Miss Hope” as lifting her arms in complete surrender, as an offering to her Lord. Some days arms are raised in prayer, other days in worship, and still other days in sorrow. But whatever her emotion, there is intimacy and intention to her interaction with God. She knows to Whom she has sought out, and has called upon, and to Whom she is now kneeling before. His voice is comforting and familiar to her ears, and she is able to be restful and surrendered in the sacredness of this moment with Him.

Dear friend, if you have been ‘smacked upside the head by the frying pan of life’, my prayer is that you would take some time to seek out your Daddy God, and allow His voice become familiar to you. If you will seek Him, He has sworn by His own Name to be found by you.

And HOPE can revive again!

“His voice is so sweet and heavenly
Although I can’t really hear Him

I can feel Him speaking to me
Assuring me, calling me near Him

He is watching over me
Always loving me
Always there for me

I will listen with the ears of my heart
For the voice of the One who loves me.”

(poem written by my beautiful daughter L.V. in 1994)

img_20180111_203901963_hdr854888339.jpg
untitled – a work in progress, PHTW 1.15.18

If you enjoyed Jennifer’s post, I bet you’ll enjoy her other writings too (I know I do!). You can find her at: https://jenniferarimborgo.feedingonjesus.com

If you have been following along, above is the initial sketch for the word picture along with it’s progression to the current state in the larger picture. There are components of this piece that are going to be revealed as this blog series continues, so please keep coming back to watch the image in my head/heart come to life on paper.
What do you think would be a good name or caption for this particular word picture?
Also, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about any of the word pictures in this blog series, or any other of my posts. My prayer is that they will speak something unique to your heart/spirit, and I would be honored to know how they move or impact you.
_____________
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

Lord of the past

I have loved this song since I first heard it in the early 90’s.  It was my anthem during a particularly difficult time in my life, but lets face it – everyone has a past!  Everyone has been hurt by harsh words and experienced the disappointment of broken promises.  Everyone has experienced the pain of loss, disgrace, shame.   Everyone has watched dreams die and grieved for missed opportunities.  Everyone has said and done things they deeply regret and wish they could take back.

Everyone hurts!  The question is – what do you do with that hurt?

photo provided by Dez Pain.
photo provided by Dez Pain.

Some of the most personally impacting lines of the song come at the bridge and poignantly speak to the way we so often try to isolate ourselves from the risk of future pain by building walls of self-protection and even self-deception.   I did this for years, refusing to come to terms with my past and doing everything in my power to convince myself daily that the truth that was staring me right in the face did not exist; in effect creating ‘my own reality’ so that I didn’t have to deal with the actual reality that hurt too much to acknowledge.   And like the song said, it was killing me.

Are you hurting today?  There is hope.

For me, it was only when the train-wreck of my life reached its lowest possible point, that I finally surrendered and cried out to God to be the Lord of my past, my present, and my future.   I pray you don’t have to get to that low a point before you reach out for the hand of Love that is reaching out to take yours.  There is no judgement in His eyes, only deep compassion for you and a longing to restore you.  And if you will allow Him, He has promised in His word to transform even the most painful aspects of your past, and give you beauty where there was once only ashes.  He is able.  He can do anything.  Truly, He can.

LORD OF THE PAST

Bob Bennett
© 1989 Matters Of The Heart Music (ASCAP)

Every harsh word spoken
Every promise ever broken to me
Total recall of data in the memory
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

Lord of the here and now
Lord of the come what may
I want to believe somehow
That you can heal these wounds of yesterday
(You can redeem these things so far away)
So now I’m asking you
To do what you want to do
Be the Lord of the Past
(Be the Lord of my Past)
Oh how I want you to
Be the Lord of the Past

All the chances I let slip by
All the dreams that I let die in vain
Afraid of failure and afraid of pain
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

Well I picked up all these pieces
And I built a strong deception
And I locked myself inside of it
For my own protection
And I sit alone inside myself
And curse my company
For this thing that has kept me alive for so long
Is now killing me.
And as sure as the sin rose this morning,
The man in the moon hides his face tonight.
And I lay myself down on my bed
And I pray this prayer inside my head

Lord of the here and now
Lord of the come what may
I want to believe somehow
That you can heal these wounds of yesterday
So now I’m asking you
To do what you want to do
Be the Lord of my Past
You can do anything
Be the Lord of the Past
I know that you can find a way
To heal every yesterday of my life
Be the Lord of the Past

The nightmare and the warrior: step 3 – punch!

This is the conclusion of a short series of posts. If you’ve been following along, we’re at step 3 now, which is my favorite part of the lessons learned!

I had the opportunity to hear Lisa Bevere last summer, what a mighty woman of God! As she shared from her book Fight Like A Girl, she held up a charmed bracelet, designed to be a daily remembrance of the lessons in the book. The charm I like most is the boxing glove – to remind us to “strike when the enemy draws near”.

STEP 1: prepare – prepare for battle by putting your armor on!

STEP 2: position – position yourself for the greatest advantage over the enemy!

STEP 3: PUNCH!

Friend, when the enemy draws near you, you’ve got to ball up your fist, and PUNCHHIMOUT!!

As I shared in a previous post, my victory over nightmares didn’t come instantaneously. But what happened over a fairly short period of time, was that my human spirit – (the part of me that got reborn when I accepted Jesus as Savior) – well, grew a spiritual backbone! Yea baby. Uh huh!

With the increasing understanding of who I was in Christ, came a new and bold attitude and I determined in my heart that if the enemy was going to bother me with a nightmare – I was going to bother him right back! So the next time I had a nightmare (once I was able to wake up from it), I swung my legs off the bed and began walking around my bedroom, commanding devils in the Name of Jesus to get out of my house, and off my property! [punch!]

Then I called out for God’s hulk-iest “big @$$” angels to come stand in military position around my house (“back to wall”), so that no power or principality that was acting in contrast to the Word of God could enter back in! [punch!]

And I cranked up the worship music!! Not the sleepy-time stuff, but the loud, full-on worship!! I wanted to make sure the enemy knew that I knew who’s house this was! [punch!]
I am a daughter of the Living God! And having made my dwelling place in Jesus Christ, I dwell in the shadow of the Almighty!! If he wanted a fight, he was going to get one, and I wasn’t the one he was going to be fighting with!! Are you getting the picture? [TKO!]

Finally, once I was confident that the enemy was black and blue, humiliated, cast out, and cut off … I went back to bed, and went back to sleep.

Within a few weeks, I noticed I was waking up quicker into the dreams, their power over me weakening with every encounter. When I did have a dream, I’d go through the process of making my enemy pay for disturbing me, and then go straight back to sleep again. The dreams got shorter and shorter, and less frequent.

That’s not to say that I don’t still have the occasional dream, I do. But they are few and far between, and nothing like they used to be. It’s as if the Holy Spirit that lives within me sends an alarm to my human spirit, which then tells my body to wake and call on Jesus’ Name for rescue. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken just enough to mumble “Je-sus” in a sleep-slurred voice, maybe raise a sloppy arm towards heaven while doing it, and them promptly roll over and go right back to a night of peaceful sleeping. Usually, that’s enough to do it – but if not, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m still firmly committed to making my enemy pay, and pay BIG, for daring to mess with this daughter of God! I know who I am, and I know whose I am! I sound that Heavenly Alarm, and worship my Savior while the armies of Heaven swoop in and kick the crap out of him!

If you are experiencing nightmares or panic attacks, I pray that my simple story will give you encouragement. Through Christ, you can experience victory over your enemy, making nightmares, PTSD and panic attacks part of your past, not your present! Implement these steps. Get plugged into a life-giving church. Pursue God and pursue His promises for the better days that He has planned out for you. He is faithful, and He will get you through this!

In Him,
Jenny

The nightmare and the warrior: step 2 – position

This is a continuation of a previous post, sharing of my personal deliverance from decades of recurring nightmares.  Hopefully you’ve read the previous two so that you have a background of understanding regarding this blog series.

Me:  “Pastor, I started having dreams again.  I haven’t had them in years, but they’re back.  I know what to do during the day when memories or anxious thoughts threaten to overtake me, but this is at night when I’m sleeping.  Sometimes I’m afraid to go to sleep, for fear of what will meet me there! I feel so helpless!  So defenseless!”

I remember that call like it was last summer. I felt so ashamed to tell my Pastor about my nightmares, the context of them, the effect they had on me.   Many of my dreams were a mix of torment and ‘cloaked remembrance’.  Some were just ‘straight from the pit of hell’.  In my dreams, the enemy taunted the deep places in my soul, shouting “See, you’re not free of me!  You can’t stop me!”  In my dreams, I was still a victim, and I could still be victimized.  It was so shaming, so degrading.

Pastor D:  “You are not defenseless, even in your sleep.   Your body might be sleeping, but your spirit (the spirit of man, which is the dwelling place for the Holy Spirit living within you) is wide awake and on the job.  You are not without defense!”

He probably said it a little differently and maybe said more – but that simple assurance that I was not without defense, and still able to engage the enemy and win, even while my body slept – it was such a miraculous concept to me that I think I might have stopped listening for a few minutes (oops).  But I digress.

STEP 1:  prepare – prepare for battle by putting on God’s protective armor

STEP 2:  position

Just like a wise warrior wears protection (armor) for the battle, he/she will also prepare for battle by “positioning” themselves so that they have the greatest advantage over the enemy.  You’re strategy also needs to include “positioning”.  Before the end of my call with Pastor D, he gave me these simple instructions.   I am calling them “Step 2”, and am going to list them quickly here and then expound upon them a little more in a future post.

Pray before going to bed.
And in your prayers, remind yourself that as a believer, you have made your home in Christ Jesus, and therefore you are covered by the shadow of God Himself.  He is your protector while you sleep, and His Spirit resides within you to stand guard over you from the inside out.

[I recommend you read/study Psalm 91 to build your understanding]

Worship. 
Put on some worship music – something soothing (after all, you’re going to bed – not a rock concert).  It doesn’t necessarily have to be in your bedroom, but play it somewhere in your home and ideally, let it play all night long.

[Don’t laugh at me, but I like to -and often do- listen to Scripture Lullabies.  Not only is it calming worship, but I’m memorizing scripture at the same time.  One of my favorite songs is “Strength of my Heart”, but they are all amazing. Who says lullabies are just for babies!!]

Speak the Name of Jesus.
With head on pillow, and as you drift off into sleep, quietly speak the Name of Jesus to yourself. There is power and authority in His Name, and even the whisper of His Name heard through your ears will bring comfort and peace … and sleep.

 

That one phone call, and implementing these three practices, was the tipping point in my decades-long battle with recurring nightmares.   It didn’t happen overnight, but greater and greater breakthrough came, and then they began to pile up on top of each other!   I was now armed with the Word of God, protected by the Armor of God, and positioned under the Shadow of the Almighty.  Within a fairly short period of time, the enemy was on the run!

I encourage you to start implementing these practices tonight and get started on your journey to the good kind of pile up!  If you haven’t already downloaded “Love Letters”, please see the Step 1: Prepare post.   You’ve got to get the enemies words out of your head, and the only way you can successfully do that is to replace his thoughts with better thoughts.  And who has better thoughts for you than the One who created you, and sent Jesus to bring you back to Himself?   No one!!    [Oh, I would so love to tell you more about the love of God for you!]

Don’t forget to watch for the release of Step 3: Punch!   It’s my favorite step!!  🙂

Be blessed
Jenny