Tag Archive | grace

An Apology to a Brave Man

My husband is a brave man. He has been reading my blog posts even though he is aware that the words he reads will in all likelihood pierce his heart as he continues to learn of the effects his pornography addiction has had on me and our children.

After reading Hope is Scary, he gently brought to my attention an error that I had made in expressing his feelings in my story. My husband was disappointed to not consummate our marriage on our wedding night. I am grateful for his correction as it has taught me a valuable lesson early in the communicating of my story. I am telling my story, not his, and although the two are closely intertwined as our story, I cannot presume to know his feelings and thoughts on all the situations I may write about.

I wrote in truth my perception and feelings based on my reality and memories. And I will continue to do so because it is the truth and reality of the life I have lived. What I will no longer do is transfer my perceptions onto my husband as being his truth.

I apologize to my husband, my biggest fan and supporter, for this unintentional yet hurtful blunder.

And I apologize to tamarshope and the readers of Tears in a Bottle for the inaccuracy. It is my hope that you will extend grace to me as I stumble and learn to find my voice. It is my hope that you will continue along with me and my husband as we walk hand in hand with each other and God on our healing journey.

 

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Welcome a New Writer!

I have invited a guest writer to my blog and although she will introduce herself in the coming days and weeks and she shares her story and her heart, I would like to take a moment to say a few words about her and to welcome her to Tears in A Bottle. 

A few years ago when my life seemed to unravel I often thought; “I’m so alone! No one else gets it!”

And then God brought Cynthia into my life!! And though our stories may be different there is a common thread that runs through them.

inspire

Cynthia is a talented writer, a wife and mom and a dear friend. She sees, not only with her eyes, but with heart and spirit.

She writes about the invisible grit, the soul parts that we feel but can’t see. And she does so with gracefulness, honesty, and whispered words of faith.

She is a gift to me.

Cynthia’s honesty challenges me. Truly. And yet, her honesty shows me grace, not shame.

I am grateful for that about her. Over the last couple of years as I’ve come to know Cynthia and have read what she writes, I kept thinking; “this has got to be shared!”

 

writer

And so from time to time I would mention this blog and ask if she would consider writing and sharing her story here…..because I know there are many who need her words of encouragement, life and yes, even challenge.

It’s a scary thing to write on a blog, but she was willing to listen to God’s voice…and in His timing move forward in faithful obedience…knowing He’s right there beside her.

writer6

Really, for all of us, whether it is with a pencil or a paintbrush or a mixing bowl or a microphone or a dust cloth, an empty page, a blank canvas or a sheet of music.

They are tools….and we are called create.

Friends, for each of us, it’s time to peel back the layers, remove the veil and find the art – the gifts – deep within. Uncover them. Dust them off. They are yours. Unique to you.

And like Cynthia, in His timing, we use them. I encourage each of you, use your gifts to influence those around you. This is your art.

You will find that Cynthia writes with feeling, depth and truth. You will see glimpses of her heart through her words, her writing is her art.

Beautiful

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I hope that you will welcome Cynthia and read her words and hear her heart, because through them God will impact your life.

Thank you Cynthia for saying “Yes” to the invitation to share your heart.

Thank you for your obedience Cynthia and the legacy you’re leaving. Thank you for sharing with us your art. 

Our Stories of Brokenness….

Spiritual whitespaceI have been following a blog by author, Bonnie Gray, for some time now and I have also read her book, “Finding Spiritual Whitespace”.

She is a gifted writer, who shares her story and her soul. Her voice is pure, calming and inspiring.

At the end of this post I will share a link to an article she wrote, please take the time to read it. She expresses what is in my heart.

The enemy continues to try and quiet my voice…to not share my journey, especially in the midst of this painful time in my marriage.

I sometimes daily battle the urge to appear to have it all together, to offer only what I think people need, what I think it is they want. To offer a false self to them and even to my husband.

Why?

Because I’ve always felt this  pressure to seem unbroken, especially as a good Christian woman.

But I am finding that in my support groups this isn’t the case. We are all there because we are broken and there is no denying it or hiding it.

But really! Who wants to appear broken, doubtful, uncertain and in pain…..who wants their words to be misunderstood, used against them or wrong assumptions to be made? telling our story

Bonnie Gray encourages me with these words:

“It’s hard to write and put our stories out there, but I passionately believe every part of our journey is soul beautiful with Jesus.

It’s our authentic stories that frees people to see that Jesus real, loving, beautiful and alive. Right now through you and me. As is.

The world longs to know God through real people. Your voice. Your story.

Love the world by letting God love us — through our stories.”

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for all of us to not give up, to be courageous, to keep trying, to not let our voices be silenced any longer.

Telling your story is really about finding and using your voice. Be kind to yourself and listen to the parts of your story that want to be told.

I love what Bonnie Gray points out in her article-

“I thought about God — how did He decide what to include, given this is His only written book about Himself? Talk about stress and pressure to pick and choose!

But, God didn’t choose to write a book of rules or formulas. God chose to write a book about real people — His favorite stories of those He loved.

These were real people, all journeying through different human experiences.  God did not choose to edit out tragedy, betrayal, and brokenness.  He included it all”

And isn’t it true, it is in the midst of these broken, authentic stories that God shows such grace and beauty!

http://www.faithbarista.com/2015/04/im-writing-about-sexual-abuse-today/

Peeling-Layers

The Power of our Words….

As you can see I have taken a hiatus from blogging for awhile, not because I haven’t had anything thing to share, not because my heart isn’t still passionate to see women and men find freedom and walk in victory through Jesus, but because it feels like God has taken me through a season of pruning….a season of trusting, of walking by faith not by sight, a season of aloneness…..and I continue trusting Him as He is giving me just enough light for the step I am on.

But I am back now and hope to share more of His heart with you….more of my self with you…..and trusting that He has a purpose for all things.

I’d like to share something different from what I normally do… the following is from author, Holley Gerth, and her words are powerful for us women….words that need to be heard.

Women, I am sure we are all guilty of this at some point in our lives. We need this reminder to support and love each other. We need to take the gentler path and offer grace to each other.
I pray we can stop our critical and dismissive behavior and words because the truth is: God loves us all equally! There is no competition for God’s love!
What she shares is true, beautiful, convicting and real….

Commitment-of-Words

From Holley: “I sit at a junior high lunch table feeling self-conscious about my braces and wondering if I will ever have a boyfriend. My thoughts are interrupted by a group of girls behind me. “Oh, she wants to be cool but she’s not,” says one. The others laugh and add similar remarks. My back stiffens and I stare ahead, sure they’re talking about me.

But then someone says, “Shh, here she comes.” A girl slides into a seat next to the rest of the group and they welcome her like they’re all BFFs. She has no idea she’s just been the topic of conversation. Or does she? Somewhere deep inside her, doesn’t she realize that if her group talks about everyone else then of course at some point it’s going to be her turn too?

The only way to make our sisters feel truly, deeply, heart safe is to never talk critically about anyone. No gossip. No condemnation. No judgment. Not even disguised as a prayer request. Is this hard? Oh, honey. But it’s one of the greatest gifts we can offer to each other.

Yes, you will have times when you will have a genuine concern about someone and you will need to process it verbally with someone else in order to help that person, resolve a disagreement, or for another worthy cause. I’m not talking about those times–that’s a whole post on its own. I’m talking about when we tear down our sisters as a type of entertainment. For a moment we feel less insecure, more powerful, included. We suddenly feel more value when we say, “Did you know…?” and follow that phrase with the latest juicy tidbit.

But after the temporary sense of belonging wears off we walk away wondering, “What do they say about me when I’m not there?” Expect that your friends talk about you in the same way they do everyone else in their lives. And expect that they will imagine you do the same. Telling someone, “But I would never say anything like that about you” is little reassurance.

Let’s start a new movement, friends. Instead of women being known for talking behind each other’s backs, what if we were known for having each other’s backs? Jesus said, “By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another” {John 13:35}. That includes our words.

Years ago I wrote the commitment of words above and I still hold tight to it today. I want you to know you are safe with me. You are safe with (in)courage. You are safe with each other. We are not that lunch table in junior high. We never have been and we never will be. Everyone is welcome but words that wound are not allowed. No, ma’am.

So come in, sister, sit down and share your heart. We want to hear. We want to know you. We want to cheer you on. And when you stand up and take a step forward in faith, you can be sure we’ll have your back wherever God asks you to go.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

http://holleygerth.com/

Emmanuel~God with us!

God's lightI love Christmas! It is a season to celebrate but all too soon it ends and life goes on…..
I don’t know if you are like me but too often I go into the new year with resolutions and a resolve to do better, to improve myself and to make a difference. However, the road can become long, I grow tired and weary, and all my good intentions seem to fall by the wayside.

Life is a journey… perhaps it is just the anticipation of a new year but I find I get reflective and find myself asking; is God not bigger than the boxes I try to keep Him in…and life not larger than the labels I would paste on it.

I love it when the Holy Spirit gently whispers to my spirit that God is big, and although life is large if I look I will find surprises at every turn, unexpected mercy in times of need, unbridled grace when I surrender and the love of God at the end of every road.
He reminds me that a life of faith is not built on my own strength, but on the
strength and goodness of God.

This Christmas as I lit a solitary candle and took some time to rest in my heavenly Fathers presence, I realized that of all the awesome events in the story of Christ’s birth – the star, the angels, the shepherds, the wise men – the most remarkable is simply the fact that He came!

Emmanuel-God with us….long after the celebration is over, the Christmas tree is taken down and the decorations are put away may we remember that we are no longer alone, the Prince of Peace has come to tell us how much we are loved by the Father.

And as I bundled up on a crisp, winter evening and stepped outside to view the magnificence of the stars in a cloudless, night sky I was reminded that God is guiding all of us just as He did the wise men who sought the child….if we will take the time to listen and to follow.

Emmanuel- God with us. My prayer is that we will always remember that the presence and mercy of our Heavenly Father is with us at all times, that the light of Christ’s love surround us…May grace and gratitude overflow…and may the joy of Christmas live in your heart all year round.

The Lord bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you and give
you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

Safety in the hiding place of grace….

I haven’t written for a while and I admit that I’ve missed being here. In the last couple of months it feels like I’ve been on a journey with God as I faced myself; truly faced some things about myself….my agendas, my weaknesses,  my flaws and my longings.

Working through the book, Grace for the Good Girl: Letting go of the try hard life by Emily P. Freeman, as well as the book, Truefaced: Trusting God and others, with who you really are by Bill Thrall, John Lynch, and Bill McNicol, has certainly not been easy, but it has been healing and freeing as I’ve been throwing off the yoke of pretending, and of learning to forgive myself.
Through these books God once again stripped away something within me….and I believe He is using these authors to strip away something within all of us who long for more……and I also believe that our Father God is blowing upon His children in this hour, with a gentle, yet powerful wind. He is breathing life into us…. and as He blows, the false perceptions concerning our identity, which we have received from the enemy, the church, and even ourselves, will be removed, and we will stand as His mighty servants….His warriors.

As my heavenly Father continues to strip away all that causes me to hide from Him and others, He offers me safety in the hiding place of grace!
And so, in the safety of His grace I have faced my self-protecting ways, my tendency to try and please God rather than trust Him, attempting to live a life of perfection and failing, the fear of making a mistake and looking foolish, and the hiding, not wanting others to see my weaknesses and flaws……but I get so weary of the striving, of beating myself up, of never cutting myself any slack….of paying penance….and I don’t think I am alone in this….God used the authors I mentioned earlier to expose another layer of self-protection and in its place I experienced the wild grace of God….

A friend shared with me a post from the Truefaced blog that was so very timely. With permission from John Lynch I am sharing this very powerful and freeing post.….

Please be sure and visit their blog….you will be blessed and experience much freedom as you journey into the room of grace.( www.truefaced.com/blog)

The Haunting Question

We’ve been spending the last few times together talking about forgiveness. But before we get to the good news-the way home, let me first address this haunting question being asked by many of you:

“What about the forgiveness I can’t give myself? How do I forgive myself?”

Bill and Bruce would do this much better, but they’re probably on some Polynesian island with friends, drinking fun concoctions from the shells of coconuts. So, today I’m all you’ve got.

Ready?

To forgive myself demands I not only trust the shed blood of Jesus to completely purchase my salvation with God in heaven. I must be absolutely convinced it allows Him to never be disgusted with me while I am maturing into who He says I now am. He says I am righteous even though I often don’t yet behave like it. He says I am holy though I surprise even myself with the outlandishness of my selfishness. He says I am absolutely and completely beloved. He is actually unable to love me more and refuses to allow anything I do to cause Him to love me less.

It is stunningly and overwhelming shattering to face that He saw every single betrayal, obsessive repetition of failure, and my repeated hurting of those I most love long before I performed them. And having seen even the degradation I’ve not had a chance to yet act out, He said, “Yes, that one. That’s the one I want to bestow all my love upon. All of it. Uniquely, particularly and with as much unbridled love as I have for my only begotten Son.”

And now, what delights Him most is that I’d just believe it. Not perform penance for Him. Not beat myself up to prove I mean business. Not take the all-forgiving nature of that love as a reason to carry disgust for myself when I fail. Not degrade myself before Him under the self-disdaining groan of “What’s wrong with me? I should be better by now. What a loser!” Those words no longer fit; not for one now literally fused in nature with the God of the universe.

It’s hard to conceive that the very power over the next failure you will not want to not forgive yourself for, is found completely in trusting the power of this scandalous, outlandish, stunning love. Trusting God with my sin, allowing His solution, is the entire basis for releasing the redemptive power of the Cross. Period.

The only thing I might want to be upset at myself for is refusing to take this gift. For me to somehow imagine that I “should be…if I were any kind of Christian”, diminishes the sacred purpose of the cross and thinks far too highly of myself.

It is a choice of humility that says, “I’ve played judge and jury far too long. I’m weary of it. You alone have authority to judge and prosecute. I’ve been dragging around what has never been mine to carry. I’m done fighting this one by myself, foolishly imagining You don’t care enough or have the power to redeem every one of these failures. Either You are God and can fully vindicate, validate, redeem, protect, exonerate, defend, make me blameless, or this whole thing has been a cheap carnival magic show. I’m done with the trite contention that I’m just too failed to be forgiven by You or myself. I’m done demeaning what you did for me. Forgive me for this arrogance most of all my dear God.”

When Paul says in Romans 8 that no one gets to bring a charge, condemn, or separate us from every fiber of His unfathomable love, included in that “no one” is us!!

This all sounds good and well-until you do the one thing you thought you’d never do. The really big one. The one God lovers don’t do. That’s when we may have to go through that dark night of the soul to discover whether we’re convinced the shed blood was that powerful.

No, this does not excuse my sin. Yes, I will need to make things right with those I’ve wronged. Yes, I will need face the reality of what I’ve done, along with the consequences. But there are two things I must not do:

*Refuse His complete, absolute forgiveness and unchanging assessment, love and affection.

*Refuse to accept His complete acceptance, fellowship and delight after what I’ve done.

 

For these, as noble or pious as they might sound, actually deny the efficacy of what Christ did for us.

He has no need of such rehearsal of shame. That day is over. You are free. You are right on time. You are deeply, always precious and front row with Him. And this new life within you will never want to take advantage of it, given the chance to live in it. This magical, all encompassing love, when risked and trusted, forms the basis for real, beautiful, stunned worship.

The Cross was that powerful, your God that incredible.

John-one of the three amigos, part of the ever-growing tribe of grace

Fellow strugglers, thank you for journeying with me….. He is calling us deeper, and invites us to journey with Him and experience His wild grace…..and His gentle voice to us today says this:
“Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me, See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me. (Song of Sol. 2:10-13)