Why I’m Not Afraid to Air My Dirty Laundry On Sundays

be still and know that I am GodLast Sunday we returned from a family trip in the wee hours of the morning. After attending church and eating a good meal, we spent the majority of the afternoon relaxing, what we normally do on Sundays. A day of rest. A day set aside for worship. A day different from the rest.

With today’s technology, it’s easy to do laundry without effort. You put clothes in a machine, turn a dial, and press a button. Going to my child’s bedroom requires more work than that.  It’s a simple process.

Last Sunday, I did the unthinkable – I did some laundry and hung it on the clothes line.

Gasp.

I’ve come a long way in being okay with hanging up laundry on Sundays occasionally.  We live on a main highway in a small conservative town. Stores aren’t open here on Sundays. People don’t mow lawns on Sundays. And you don’t air your dirty laundry on Sundays or people will see.

Like other unwritten rules, I’ve learned to assess the root and value of them.

Are they for man or are they for God?

I’ve learned to check my motives for breaking silent codes that bring looks of “I can’t believe she’s doing that.”  Hanging clothes on the clothesline on Sundays is one I’m not bothered by because there’s a principle I value:

I should be the same person in public that I am in private. 

If I’m okay with occasionally doing a few loads of laundry on Sunday, then I should be okay with letting people know about it.  God sees it anyway. I can’t hide things from Him.  He sees my dirty laundry.

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Does He see yours? Or do you try to hide it?

For years I hid my dirty laundry from others. Not the stinky-teen-boy kind, but the unhealthy behaviors I struggled with. Having an eating disorder was a very private thing. No one knew my stuff except me and God and my parents on occasions. I was good at hiding things.

Are you good at hiding things?

For years I responded to conflict with anger. As my children grew older, I couldn’t hide it. It began overtaking my relationships with them and their dad. It was easy to hide, too. I could do a lot of good yelling before going to church and sit really calm in that church pew.

There’s an unwritten rule you aren’t supposed to struggle with things.

You definitely aren’t supposed to be angry in a pacifist faith.

I learned to hide things real well.

So people wouldn’t see.

But God saw.

And as He nudged me to address the anger, the hurt, and rage, I felt more comfortable letting Him wash my dirty stuff. He was gentle with  it and He removed the stains and stink and filth and exchanged it for clean, bright, and beautiful through the forgiveness and power of His grace.

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It’s been a journey with me and God. As He’s changed me inside and out, things have changed in how I relate to unwritten rules.  I’ve learned to answer to God first, then my husband and family above anyone else.

Paul says, “My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t make me innocent.” I Corinthians 4:4

What guides your choices?

Having a clear conscious in the eyes of others doesn’t make us innocent.

While it’s trivial, I’ve learned in my accountability with God, is okay to do laundry every once in a while on a Sunday. I’ve learned I answer to Him for my actions. I could have an empty clothesline every Sunday but be cheating on my husband Saturday night.

It’s all in how it looks, right?

Where do you need to get honest with God?

What I love most about God is that He sees everything and yet He pursues us because He wants a relationship with us.  He pursued me for years to change and heal from an eating disorder and to change and heal from anger, hurt, and rage that was inside of me. I’ve learned I can air my dirty laundry with Him and it’s okay.  He makes us clean and bright, to be on full display in His clothes of righteousness, not ours.

Will you let Him clothe you today? It’s safe  with Him. He won’t fail you.

Father, will you speak to each one reading these words and take the contents of their heart and make it what you desire? Will you equip those who struggle with unwritten rules and judgment from others to know you love them and are a God of grace, forgiveness, and freedom?  Will you continue to pursue those who are struggling with things inside their heart that only you know about?  

Thank you, Jesus, for washing dirty, smelling rags and making us beautiful in you. Amen.

How can I pray with you or encourage you as you learn to walk in freedom? I’d love to hear.

P.S. There will be a new look to Life Beyond the Picket Fence soon as I launch a new website for the blog.  You’ll be able to subscribe to a newsletter linking you to the other things happening here at the ministry and connect you with the other sites I’m writing for. If you are a current subscriber by email, I’m hoping the transition will be smooth. I’ll keep you posted when the site is launched so there won’t be interruptions in your connection here with us.  Thank you!

Sometimes the Best Answer is a Four-Letter-Word.

I spent three years in grad school learning multiple theories on personality, development, and how do conduct talk therapy. Thousands of hours from work experience has taught me sometimes the best answer for life’s problems is a four-letter word .

Bob Newhart puts it humorously in his Mad TV episode:

Stop. It.

In case you think I’m a heartless counselor, I should preface that my comments are personal lessons I’ve learned also as a teacher, parent, and recovered bulimic/anorexic.  There are some situations where the best answer in stop?changing behavior it to simply STOP.  The other word for it is one that’s missing from today’s vernacular: self-control.

Are there areas in your life that need self-control?  Are there areas where the first step in change lies in “stopping the behavior,” even just once?

I know of which I speak. There have been more areas than just eating that have been out of balance in my life. As God has worked through each one, from distorted thinking to anger and others, there comes a point where you have to ask yourself,

“If I want to get over this, what behavior do I need to stop?”

Then you need to take the first step and stop the behavior.

It’s as difficult and simple as that.

For years I binged and purged.

For years I responded in anger.

For years I believed the self-loathing lies that lived in my head.

For years I allowed other people’s approval to define me.

For each of these, I needed to stop {it}.

I needed to stop eating past the point I knew I was “too much.”

I needed to stop fighting, to have the last word, to hold onto my rights.

I needed to stop looking at my insecurities and weaknesses. 

I needed to stop living in fear of what others thought of me.

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There’s a rock on a shelf in our house that is from the walk I was on in when I decided I had to stop fighting with my husband in order for our marriage to be at peace.

There’s a verse in the bible, I Corinthians 10:13, that I had to believe God meant when I needed to withstand temptation to purge every time I ate.

There’s a shelf in my basement full of books I used to teach with that I had to retire when I left a demanding profession because my child needed a stress-free mom to help them through their own struggles.

There’s a note in my cupboard from someone who believed in me and who saw things about myself I couldn’t see.

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There’s a moment for each of us where God draws the line in the sand and says, “What will you do? Continue in your behavior or change what only you can change?

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There’s a moment for each of us where we become aware of what is right and wrong in a situation. The line drawn is different for each of us. In each instance, it’s a moment where we realize how we’ve been functioning isn’t working for us {as Dr. Phil would say}.

We need to exert self-control in the situation and just. stop. it.

The only person we can ever change is our-self.  The only behavior we can ever change is ours. The footsteps 02only person we can ever stop is us.

Are there areas in your life where you need to stop behavior or thinking?  It’s never comfortable or easy.  Sometimes the first step to victorious and healthy living is to simply stop {one time, a second time, and a third and more} until the behavior diminishes.

Are you ready to do that?  You won’t be able to do it in five-minutes like Bob Newhart suggests.  But trying it just once may be worth a shot.

Will you join me?

{disclaimer: This is not a professional recommendation for all behaviors. These are personal comments not intended for therapeutic intervention.  This site is designed to provide information of general interest to the public and is not intended to offer counseling advice about specific situations or problems. Brenda L. Yoder does not intend to create a counselor-client relationship by offering this information, and anyone’s review of the information shall not be deemed to create such a relationship.  You are also advised that access and use of this website is at your own risk. Any information you post on this website shall not be deemed secure or confidential.}

Saying Good-bye and the Power of the Mundane

photo flowersI’m sitting on my porch swing taking in the day I hope will never end.  The sun is on its way down to slip behind the trees in an hour or two.  The flowers are bright around me and a breeze is on my cheek.  The birds are singing,  the cattle are walking to a cool place for shade.  Another Sunday gone, another week comes to an end. So predictable yet so different. 
                            This week my oldest son is graduating.  Up until now things have been routine.  Days have been predictable like every season we’ve walked through.  Today as he shared in church, he reminisced on things that have influenced him…...Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, the support he and his classmates have received in being part of a faith community.
                          “Being in a small town, there’s accountability. Because if you mess up, everyone knows,” he said.  A doubled edged-sword in ways.  My son declared it instrumental in helping him make choices growing up.  There’s value in everyone knowing your name.
                            Today’s not quite the same as I sit on my front porch rocking to the low bellows of the hungry cows.  In the routine of photo (87)life, somewhere my boy became a man. A man who has surrounded himself with friends who hold him accountable.  A man who has chosen to love God not because we said so, but because he has learned of His grace, faithfulness, and unconditional love.  A man who began walking out of my life years ago as I realized I needed to release him to be the leader God has called Him to be.
This week we will celebrate, say good-bye, and let go.
                                 Every mother releasing her son knows its different than releasing a daughter. Somewhere along the way your role changes as you step aside to let him grow and figure out who he is.  There are times to step back so he can develop strength.  Times where you have to be strong and push him into the storm so he can figure out how to survive, all the while watching with a life raft ready at a moment’s notice.  Times where you must step back and let his father instruct and discipline.  Times where you still touch his cheek with a kiss because he is still a little boy inside a man-size body.  Times where the best words are, “I’m proud of you.”
                               This boy has been a big brother, his sister’s best friend, and a son who has held me accountable when my actions or words did not match what I believed. He has been the voice of reason when needed.  In the ordinary and routine moments, he has grown into a man who is ready for the next step.
                        I believe raising kids for moments like these lie in the mundane and routine, in the moments we live when we think no one is watching.  One thing this child and I know how to do is forgive, trust, and give second chances. Important moments for us have included the words, ” Will you forgive me?”
                               I have two more boys to raise in mundane moments.  Six years from now, sitting on my porch swing, I will be saying good-bye to my last knight in the household.  I’m reminded to not rush these days on or to close my eyes to what is ahead.  Each child God gives us is one to be fully seen and known.  They are kings and queens in the making, not for our glory, but for His.
                        I’ll shed lots of tears this week along with other moms and dads celebrating the milestone of graduation.  I’m thankful for each tear of joy, sorrow, and sadness along the way.  Each one a part of the process of releasing a child to fly, lead, and grow.
                        Don’t miss the moments each day.  Let the wind blow on your cheek as the sun slips beyond the horizon. Read a book, sing a song.  Let your boy dazzle you with his charm or your girl snuggle in your arms. Shed a tear, laugh out love, and kiss a cheek.
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And let the mundane and routine bring blessing when the last goodbye is said.

Steps to Health and Healing – Pushing Through Fear

“Ouch, that hurts,” I told the physical therapist working on my knee.  He was trying to figure out what was stable and what needed to be stretched after last week’s surgery.

“We’re going to get you walking,” he said, in a thick Polish accent.  “That pain? It’s from muscles you haven’t used since you’ve been hurt.  Now, get up and walk.

I looked at him with fear in my eyes.   I hadn’t put full weight on my right leg for two and a half months.  I started walking, but with a limp.

Get rid of the limp.  You don’t need to do that anymore.  You’re afraid to walk because of the pain you had in the past.  There is no pain anymore other than from the muscles you haven’t used.  You can do this.  Walk.”

I took steps, one after another, swinging my hip just like he said.

With courage I was capable to do what I was afraid of.

Do you have moments like that?

MP900341649Moments where the pain of the past grips you? Where you change your emotional, spiritual or behavioral posture because something hurts and the only way you know to go on is to limp along.  The limp becomes the new normal, overcompensating for the pain that’s afflicting you.  A pain that won’t go away unless you’re intentional about fixing it so it can heal.

While the surgery fixed the torn meniscus in my knee, my PT was pushing me to work through the pain from unused muscles I no longer used right because the stiff limp I was accustomed to became normal.

Are you walking in pain that has become normal for you?  Have you become dull to the pain, allowing spiritual or emotional muscles to weaken because you’re haven’t been using them?  When you attempt to use them in the right way, do you shrink back because the weakened ones cause new pain?  Are you afraid to go through the pain to be healed and healthy?

Physical therapy has done great things in just one week.  My knee’s been pushed, pulled, challenged, and stretched.  After each session, it’s stronger.   In order to heal, I have to persevere and work through the pain.

Healing from emotional pain is similar.  I often tell counseling clients that things will feel worse before they feel better because therapy brings up painful things needing to be addressed and healed.  It’s like surgery.  In order to heal, you have to open up and repair what’s damaged in the mind, soul, and spirit.  Learning to walk an emotionally healthy road requires using emotional and behavioral muscles that have been weakened.  It’s painful.  You’re pushed, pulled, challenged and stretched.  But after persevering, you’re stronger.

Just like my knee.   If I wouldn’t have sought treatment, I would have walked in pain with my “new normal” limp.  I probably would have gotten along okay until something would make it hurt worse.  Emotional pain can be carried the same way.  Pain and injury becomes an accepted way of life.  It’s not healthy.  Not at all.

I’ve learned my fear of walking “the right way” was real.  The physical therapist saw right through it.  He knew my muscles were strong enough to walk again.  He wouldn’t accept my fear of the past experience to be my present reality.  When he said, “You can do this” it gave me confidence to walk the right way.  “Swing your hip,” he said.  “No limp no more.”Man Walking Along Line in Road

 I needed to do this. In fact, my future health depended on it.

What fears grip you because of pain from your past?  What fears are keeping you from walking forward?

As I continue to get stronger and work at strengthening the weakened muscles, I’m reminded that healthy physical, emotional and spiritual lives requires hard work.  It requires addressing our past, our pain, our fears.  It requires being stretched, pulled, pushed and challenged.  But in the end, we can walk with strength.

With a swing in our hip and confidence in our heart.

We know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who He has given us. Romans 5:3

My love to you,

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Grace

I’m also posting today at She Stands and Encourage 24/7.

I struggle with it,” he said.

Judgment is what he was struggling with. He is also wrestling with grace.

I’ve wrestled with judgment and grace.

Judging others when they broke the rules I thought I had to live by in order to be accepted.

Wresting with grace because I didn’t really know what it was.

Then, I learned.

I learned boxes are things people put around each other, trying to make ourselves and others fit into so we feel comfortable.1-photo (26)

I learned a box is something people put God into when we don’t understand Him, His grace,  so we will feel comfortable.

I’ve done that.  

I’ve lived in boxes I put around myself because I thought it was what being a Christian looked like.

I’ve lived with God in a box because I listened to others more than I thirsted for Him.

Then, I fell.

I fell into places I thought I’d never be. I wrestled with things I never thought I’d wrestle with.  I saw gray places that were formally black and white for me.

I fell out of the box and things around me looked different.

Only God remained the same.

As He sifted, shook, and sifted some more, I realized I needed to know Him more because everything I knew was no longer the same.

As I ran after Him, He ran towards me.

And we met in grace.

Woman with Arms in the Air

Grace showed me I knew nothing except Him and his undeserved kindness.

Grace showed me I was that person – the exact ones I judged.

Grace showed me there was nothing good in me, yet He still deemed me valuable and lovable.

Grace showed me God’s power in the ugliest of places.

Grace showed me man’s ways are no comparison to the great riches of a forgiving, grace-filled Creator.

Grace showed me being right is no comparison for the peace of God.

Grace showed me I can be the worst sinner. And so can you.

Grace showed me God loves the greatest sinner, me and you.

Grace showed me unwritten rules are damaging, but God’s precepts are perfect.

Grace showed me I am capable of great damage when bitterness and anger take root.

Grace showed me freedom comes from releasing what is God’s to take care of.

Grace showed me what redemption looks like, and it’s better than simply being a good person.

Grace showed me God pursues us when we are walking away from Him.

Grace showed me God meets us where we are and will walk with us where He wants us to be.

Grace showed me God’s character is bigger then what humans think of Him.

Grace showed me I don’t have to know all the answers. 

Grace showed me the greatest riches on earth

or the greatest approval rating of all time

is nothing compared to the riches found

in experiencing God’s grace, love, and mercy.

Since I’ve met grace and have ceased from wrestling, I don’t know many more answers.

But I do know God’s peace that passes all understanding and guards my heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6).

My prayer for you today is that God will show you His grace in the areas you are wrestling and struggling in, that He will give you rest.

May His grace and Word abound in your spirit today, tomorrow, and the next day, until you, too, know nothing else but His grace.

“What then, shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? But Him who did not spare His own son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Jesus Christ, who dies – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

No, in all things we are more than conquers through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height or depth, not anything else  in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:28-39 NIV

“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13: 34-35

As you’ve received God’s undeserved kindness, share it with others.

May His grace about to you today,

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P.S. Chuck Swindoll at Insight for Living is currently airing a series on “Grace Awakening” {I receive no compensation from mentioning this ministry or resource}.

What is Your Drug of Choice?

Vodka and Vicodin.  What’s your drug of choice?Pill Bottles Containing Medication

This weekend I’ll be sharing the powerful story of a young mom who found herself unexpectedly turning to Vicodin and Vodka and ended up in rehab.  This was not the life she ever imagined herself living.  She was a parent like you, like me, who learned certain things can numb pain and fill holes in your life.

Where are your holes? What are the gaping wounds in your soul that you self-medicate?

If this doesn’t apply to you, don’t disregard this post.  You may not self-medicate with prescription drugs or alcohol, but what do you fill your emotional holes with?  What do you turn to that numbs the holes in your heart?

A beautiful caucasian girl carrying shopping bagsFood?  Shopping? Relationships? Busyness? Appearance? Success? Children? Enabling?

Or do you turn to substances?  A recent study (“Mother’s Little Helper, LA Times, Jan. 13, 2012) reported there is an increase in mother’s seeking ADHD medication for their children for their own self-medication.  As a behavioral professional working with families and children, my colleagues and I observe an increase in parents self-medicating in some form.   Parents are hurting, therefore children hurt.

What’s filling your holes?

I don’t know if emotional depravity is increasing in our culture or if self-medication is becoming more mainstream.  My work with people tells me it’s both.  Psychological and emotional wounds seem to be increasing and are present in every walk of life.

the dreamTen years ago, I left being home full-time to working in public schools.  A student who lived in my rural neighborhood very poignantly said, “You live in a fairy-tale.” The picket-fence image, the Bubble.

I knew what they said was true, though we had our own struggles as a family.  What the student was conveying was at that time I lived in a small, Christian-everything-is-right-with-the-world-bubble. Over time, experiencing my own personal struggles and becoming more hands-on as a community member and an educational/counseling professional, I know the fairy-tale life is the minority these days.  My own family was on the verge of going over several cliffs to destruction, and I’ve had self-medicating periods in my own life.  I now walk where life is messy, beyond the picket fence-image.

What about you? Do you live in a bubble?  Are you aware of those with gaping holes around you?

As you read Candi’s story this weekend, I challenge you to listen to the holes in her heart that she filled with substances. They are wounds and holes common to most of us.  Cognitive distortions, self-doubt, bitterness.

Do you struggle with these?

Candi’s story is our story.  It’s the story each of us has who tries to fill the voids in our life with unhealthy things.  Though the “substance” may be different, the quest for fulfillment and happiness it similar. While some are more destructive, none satisfy.MP900396129

The root of satisfaction she has found is the same I’ve found. It’s the same found in each of us changed by the grace of Great Healer, Christ Himself, the Son of the Living God.

As you anticipate reading Candi’s story this weekend, I challenge each of  you to examine the holes and voids in your own heart and life and what you attempt to fill them with that’s unhealthy.  Facing our wounds is never easy, but giving them healthy means by which to heal diminishes scaring.

My prayer for you this week  from Philippians 4:6-7, The Message:

 “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

May we live not in a bubble, not in denial, not in pain, but in the wholeness of Jesus Christ, letting His grace and peace fill every wounded hole in your being.

How have you found healing and wholeness from your holes?  We’d love to hear.  And tune in this weekend for Candi’s inspiring story.

In His love,

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The Cost

This is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us.  For God is greater than our hearts.  He knows everything.”  I John 3:19-20 (New International Version) 

This morning I’ve wasted time, in a stupor, mentally avoiding the things I need to do this week, a secret MP900443601rebellion against the stress of the life.  In the stillness of time with His Word, I am confronted not by distractions, but by overwhelming conviction and grace.

After reading Hebrews 10:5-10, I’m flooded with conviction, shame, and humility.  The passage speaks of the once and for all Sacrifice Jesus made so I can stand before a holy God.  This morning, the heaviness of what this means for me weighs on me.

I find it easier to accept Jesus’ death for “big sins,” but this morning I am confronted with the fact that the same sacrifice was made for deliberate, daily sins, ones often labeled “little sins.”  Of the lengthy list I could post, all are rooted in selfishness.  Something I’ve been keenly aware of in my own heart recently.

I’ve been reading I John lately.  It states that our heart condemns us before God, that He knows our motives (I John MP9003417123:16-24).  This shines a spotlight on my heart, and selfishness is the star. The heart does condemn. As I John 3:20 says, “God knows everything.”

Ouch.

But I deserve the pain.  I should feel the pain of using Jesus’ sacrifice for conditions such as selfishness. Selfishness in motives, in relationships, in “rights” that I want to justify.  They’re valid if I measured them against earthly standards saying, “There’s nothing wrong with that attitude – you deserve it!” But when I read Hebrews 10, I’m reminded that Jesus sacrificed all so I can have relationship with the Creator.  While He died for expensive sins, He also perished for cheap ones, like selfishness.  My selfishness is not worth someone else’s life.  Yet He paid it, in love.  No questions, no strings attached.

This humbles and convicts me.  Will I continue harboring selfishness at the cost of His life? He died so I may be holy in His sight.  Will I demand the privilege to use that costly payment for the “right” to be selfish?

I have unfinished business I need to attend to with a holy God before I continue with other business of the day.

I’m thankful I can go before the One who modeled unselfishness to the end.  It’s because of His sacrifice I can enter the presence of a loving, righteous God with a selfish, unclean heart.

Silhouettes of Three Crosses

That’s the gospel. No more words can be added. 

“Lord, Jesus, thank you for your costly birth and death.  Help each of us to weigh the heaviness of why you came and died.  May you transform our selfishness.”

Inspiring Stories: Tanya’s Story

picture for BrendaI have the humble privilege to share Tanya’s Glanzman’s story of being an overcomer and survivor of childhood abuse, abandonment, and neglect.  Tanya is a remarkable woman.  She is a contributing writer for Circle of Friends Ministry each week and ministers to others through My Father’s Daughter Ministry.  as a speaker and writer.  She and her family live in Virginia.   Here is her story.

Both of my parents were addicted to both drugs and alcohol.  I had no recollection of my father who was my first abuser, and whose head my mother had put a gun to and told to “get out” when she caught him molesting me before age two.  I did however remember all too well my grandfather who was my last abuser and who killed himself ten days after I told that he had been molesting me for five years at the age of fifteen. He had always told me that if I MP900403070ever told he would die and it would be “all my fault”.  He was cruel, controlling and verbally abusive.

Between them I could remember five other men who had also sexually abused me.  Each taking from me what was not theirs, what they had no right to. These were men who had been invited by an addict into the life of an addict- and her daughter and who left their mark upon my life with the signature of the most horrendous offense of the soul.

We learned to be a team my mother and I.  She was a functioning addict and I was her caretaker, confidant and most trusted friend.  Not only did I learn what was required to take care of her well, but also became quite sufficient at taking care of myself.  The gifts which characterize childhood such as innocence, purity and irresponsibility were never mine to possess or unwrap. 

At nine years old, my mother and I came out of the most horridly abusive relationship and the last that we had ever survived together. We spent a year living in a hotel room with a man that we were both deathly afraid of.  We each endured ritualistic control, physical and sexual abuse and torture.  I spent the majority of this year locked in a bathroom day in and day out while my mother was forced to make choices in the adjoining room that no one should ever be forced to make.Housekeeping Cart in Front of Motel Room

It was after we were free from this situation that my mother had a complete breakdown and could no longer care for me.  With nowhere else to turn she abandoned me to her father and his wife.  I hadn’t previously known her father because they had been estranged from one another my entire life.  Their estrangement was due to the fact that my mother’s father was the very one that had molested her as a child.

Two months after I built up enough courage to reveal that my grandfather had been molesting me my mother married her fourth husband and moved out of the country with him.  When she found out what had happened she blamed me for not being more careful because she had warned me that my grandfather was dangerous.

The remainder of my growing up years were difficult to say the least.  The abuse that I had endured for so many years finally began to take its apparent toll on me.  I struggled with severe depression, self mutilation and bulimia.  I was hospitalized several times for repeated suicide attempts.  I was consumed with pain and inner turmoil and just wanted it all to stop.  I hated myself, was painfully lonely and longed to be loved. 

My mother and I maintained a strained and difficult long distance relationship. MP900444486As much as I longed for her to love me and be the mother I needed her to be, I began to hate her for all that she had failed to protect me from, all that she never had been and all that she was not able to be.  I never stopped wanting or needing a mother.   

When I was sixteen and a Junior in high school my mother had a second child… a girl.  Within my heart this was the ultimate betrayal.  Not only had I been rejected and abandoned, but I had now been replaced.  The root of bitterness within my heart towards my mother grew.

I came to accept the Lord within my heart as my Savior that same year and began to endeavor to learn of a Father who loved unconditionally, would never leave or forsake you and only offered His children good things. 

Despite my level of woundedness and mostly due to a desire to be different from that which I  came I successfully graduated from high school and began college.  At eighteen I met and at nineteen married my wonderful husband who had no idea that he was marrying a woman with which he would have to travel a most rigorous journey of healing.  Healthy communication, trust and intimacy were three necessities of marriage of which I had no ability to partake in.  His patient and enduring love helped him to stand beside me even in the most difficult of times.  We eventually had two beautiful children which I was told we would never be able to have due to the scars that remained from the hands of my abusers.

Over the years my mother continued to call me, usually however only when she was under the influence of drugs, or alcohol, or both.  Despite all of the abuse that I had endured it was the physical abandonment and emotional neglect of my mother that caused me the most pain, the most hurt and the most sadness.

The Lord had restored so many areas within my life that I was sure that one day he would as well heal and restore the relationship with my mother.  Unfortunately, in 2008, she passed away as a result of a drug overdose.  She never was able to receive the healing, restoration and redemption that the Lord had for her while she was upon this earth.

At this point I was a godly woman, I loved the Lord with my whole heart and I served Him as best as I could with my life. The truth however was that I had never been able to forgive my mother for all that she had done and all that she had failed to do.  The root of bitterness, un-forgiveness and even hatred remained in my heart for my mother. Her death was just one more abandonment, the final abandonment, and I could not deal with it.

Her second daughter was now 14 and was the one who called to tell me that our mother had passed away. I had purposefully never had relationship with her- within my heart she represented every ounce of hurt, rejection and abandonment that I had experienced at the hands of my mother.  I told her that I was sorry, I wasn’t coming to the funeral and that days later I told her father that I wasn’t interested in having relationship with her.

So I “moved on.” A few months after my mother’s death I began “My Father’s Daughter Ministries” and the Lord was faithful to begin to provide me opportunity to speak healing and truth into the lives of women.  Isn’t God faithful to use us even in our own process of healing and restoration?

It wasn’t until, through life giving truth that was offered to me in relationship with my Circle of Friends, that I was lovingly confronted with the hatred and un-forgiveness which remained locked away for my mother within my heart.

I was encouraged to take intentional steps to face and deal with those issues which had prevented me from walking in the fullness of freedom that Christ had for me.  A prideful heart hindered me longer than it should have from seeking out Christian counseling.  I wanted to be able to say “I did it- I Woman with Arms in the Airovercame- with just me and the Lord.”  But it was my Circle of Friends who helped me to understand that truly I was limping, not running, and that until I was willing to face that which I had not, and forgive, I would never be able to walk in all that the Lord had called me to. 

Nothing about the process of healing was easy. There were days when my heart hurt so very much that I just didn’t think I was going to be able to move forward one more step. But with the love and support of my husband and my Circle of Friends I was able to face, accept and grieve the loss of the mother that I never really had.  I was able to forgive her for what she was and what she never was.  And ultimately, I was led to find and begin to develop relationship with the little sister which anger and bitterness had never afforded me the privilege of knowing.

I am so thankful that the Lord has loved me too much to leave me where I was.  His faithfulness, mercy and grace within my life never fail to astonish, bless and humble me. I am so very thankful that He saw fit to allow me to encounter Circle of Friends… He used them to change my life.

Romans 2:11 states that God is no respector of persons. As God has been so faithful to be the Healer, Restorer and Redeemer of her own life, Tanya is blessed to have the opportunity to share the message that His desire is to be those very things to every woman who would have Him as their Father. As a speaker and writer through My Father’s Daughter Ministries, Tanya is thankful to have the opportunity to minister encouragement to the hearts of women destined to be loved by the King.

Middle Schoolers, Motherhood, and Mountains.

If you have or have had middle schoolers, you’ve experienced the Middle School Moan, the eye rolls, etc.   Every Friday I have the privilege to be a contributing writer at Not Alone Mom.  All parents alike, feel free to read today’s article on those precious middle schoolers here.

Also, congratulations to Lou Anne, the reader who won Amelia Rhodes’s Isn’t it Time for a Coffee Break giveaway.  I’d encourage any of you who need encouragement in friendship to purchase one – you can find out more about the book and where it can be purchased here.

Thinking today about many things.  You can read that here.

One of them includes my daughter, a junior at a large east coast university, who is saying good-bye today to children she has learned to love very deeply in Zacapa, Guatemala, at Hope of Life International.   She spent the summer 1228_417796268295738_1380745067_nthere and returned the last two weeks to translate for medical teams.  She has a  deep love for the children she’s worked with and will be saying good-bye and returning to begin a new semester tomorrow.   God is doing tremendous work in this young lady’s life, and I don’t say that because I’m her mom.   Those of you who are pray-ers – would you pray for her today as she says good-bye, as she returns to school, and leaves part of her heart in the mountains of Guatemala?  Thank you.

Tomorrow I will be sharing a tremendous story of Tanya Glazman, a contributing writer to Circle of Friends, who is sharing her inspiring story of overcoming child abuse and abandonment.  Tune in this weekend for her story.

Readers, I don’t know who all of you are, but I know you bring breathe and life to my day, to my journey beyond the picket fence.  I hope this space does that for you, also.

Have a great day,

Brenda

Hard to Love

I love country music because it’s about real life. A current song out now is “Hard to Love” by Lee Brice. As I listen to the lyrics, faces of people cross my mind.  People who are hard to love, and the people who love them.

Read the rest of this devotional posted at Circle of Friends Ministry today.  What a privilege to contribute to their ministry!

This ministry also is the publisher of Isn’t It Time for a Coffee Break by Amelia Rhodes.  The giveaway is open until Wedneday, January 9.  Details can be found here.

A giveaway with encouragment!
A giveaway with encouragment!

What a privilege to partner with them sharing good truth about life and friendships.  Have a great week!

Brenda