Hope Awaits...A Story Yet To Be Unfold

I've been in a bit of a writer's funk, but I am determined to climb out of it today and join the blog world. Despite the fact that it is…

One of those days…

You know the kind.  Winter grey and dreary…cold winds blowing. Partial blankets of thin white snow cover the ground here and there in the effort to herald in the winter months.  I'm sitting in my comfy home office chair with my lap quilt pulled up as far as it will go, while still allowing my arms and hands the freedom to type out these words.  A hot cup of tea sitting by my side, begging to be sipped as the warmth escapes through the thin steam evaporating into the air.

But as I write I realize the gift that God has given me today. The gift of reflection…let me show you what I mean…

What is it waits,
beneath the snow?
A story, yet to be unfold.
~Gay Idle

A story. Each one of us has a story to tell. Yes, even you! The longer I live the more this truth becomes ever more clear. The story is unique to each one of us. Different…yet the same.  How can that be?

The stories are the same in that we each have been, or will be, wounded in some way in our lives.

The wounds come in all shapes and forms…

rejection... lost love... the death of a loved one... physical abuse...sexual abuse...abandonment…miscarriage...verbal abuse...physical loss...poor choices...emotional pain...

and on and on….

It all boils down to the fact that we live in a fallen world. In this world where sin seems to reign, we all feel its effects…sometimes because of our own ability to fall to the temptation of the sin before us and sometimes because of the fallen state of others. Either way, we are left with wounds from the fallout as we walk this journey called life.  So while I may not be able to fully empathize with you in your wounded-ness, I can surely sympathize knowing what it is to walk with the scars left from my own wounds acquired in this life.  

This brings me back to this cold and dreary day. A picture to me of this life…and yet…what lies beneath the blanket of snow?  Not death…life!  Life awaiting for the cold to thaw.

Sometimes our story needs to endure the winter…to lie dormant before it is ready to burst forth as the buds in spring. (tweet this)
Sometimes there is purpose in the pain. Sometimes the pain is, pure and simple…the enemies attempt to bring us down.  Either way…every time, if we allow it, God works through the pain, the wounds, and brings healing, forgiveness, and restoration. Leaving only scars as the evidence of a life healed, redeemed, and ready to bring hope to others because of hope that is within us. 

Not a wishful thinking kind of hope. Rather the hope that is the assurance of a life that 'knows that it knows', because it has endured, even triumphed over the past, over the harsh realities of this journey. What joy and peace that comes to us through the enduring. 

We have a choice to make. Through the hard parts of our journey, will we quit, stall out, refuse to allow God to revive us from this 'winter of our discontent'?  Will we choose to remain in the pit of our pain and wallow in the depths of self-pity? Will we allow it to deplete our feelings of worth, and our self-care and love to deteriorate…creating within us the inability to reach out to others and/or even to reach out to God?


Will we choose hope?! Hope in the unfailing love of a Father in Heaven who loves me…who loves you, more than either of us can even imagine! A loving Father who offers grace, forgiveness, redemption, and healing. Who gives hope to the weary, strength for the journey. He gives light, love, joy and yes…even laughter, especially laughter…. on the path!   

I choose to walk forward carrying my scars, the proof of my healing, into the springtime of my journey…awaiting new life and opportunities that lie on the road ahead.  As Jo Ann Fore says in her book When a Woman Finds Her Voice, "Your story, wrapped in God, around His word, and what He has done in your life will safely lead women home." My heart's cry is that God will use my scars, my life, my experiences, my story to lead other women to the hope and life that can be found in Him. 

How will your story unfold! What are you going to do with it? Are you ready to walk forward into the season of hope? 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit You may abound in hope.
                                                                                               ~Romans 15:13

Today am linking up with Jo Ann and other beautiful women, with freedom and joy and purpose to share our hearts and allow God to use us...our make a difference, to help women find hope and healing.  This week's topic is, Using Our Stories. Join us and share your story!


Do The Hard Thing! Tear Down The Walls! Open Your Heart!

Oh, how Satan wants our hearts!

John 10:10 tells us that the enemy of our souls wants to steal and kill and destroy. He wants nothing more than to destroy us by separating us from God. If he can't keep us from loving God, from trusting God, then he will go after our relationships with others.

You might think, "Well, as long as my relationship with God is good, what difference does it make if I distance myself in my relationships with friends or with family?"
That wall around your heart that you've cherished, protected, and rebuilt after each offense doesn't hurt others as much as it hurts you. It separates you from God, even though you might reason that walling yourself off doesn't have anything to do with your view of God.~ Mary DeMuth
What do I mean by that? The ‘silo effect’ refers to individuals working alone, who are not communicating with others or sharing common goals for the greater good of the community. The silo refers to being surrounded by vertical walls, causing inward focus and vertical communication. But the problem with this is that it limits productivity, growth, and health within an organization. It causes damage to the very thing you are trying to protect. 

This translates into ‘Kingdom living’ as one who just isolates herself from others. She lives as if it only matters that she loves God, but there is no reason to neither cooperate nor perhaps even participate within the ‘body of Christ. The problem with this is that we were created in the image of God. There is perfect symbiotic relationship within the Godhead, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit…perfection in community in the living illustration of God, Himself. He created us to have relationship with others…to live in community. We were created for community!
When I began reading Mary’s book, The Wall Around Your Heart, I thought that I had a pretty good handle on relationships and community living. You see I’m one of those rare individuals that God has given the gift of ‘easy forgivingness’. I couldn’t hold a grudge if my life depended on it. I am not easily offended, nor am I afraid of confrontation. It’s not because I let people walk on me, either. I enjoy a good healthy debate and I am not afraid of disagreeing with a friend. I’m okay if we both ‘agree to disagree’…most of the time. 
But the more I read about using the Lord’s prayer as a roadmap to healing and bringing down the walls we tend to put up…the walls of offense, the walls of defensiveness, or the walls to just protect our hearts from further hurt… the more I began to realize that I had put up some walls. Walls, not of lack of forgiveness, but walls of not wanting to be hurt, or even being vulnerable to hurt… once again.
As a church planting pastor’s wife, I have run into individuals who have made snap judgments of me. There is so much to do and so little help when the church plant opens its doors. So naturally, in the beginning, I was doing many tasks and working in many different areas of ministry just to keep things running. In my mind, it was just one of those ‘for such a time as this’ moments in time that God had called me to until He brought others to fill those roles. After which He would release me to pursue the areas of ministry for which He had given me a passion and equipping. 

Sometimes in my eagerness to get a ministry in place and running efficiently, I was a bit too focused, too intense. And in the process, some read that as being ‘mean’ or harsh. Learning of this crushed me to the core of my heart. My desire was to love these people. After hearing (second hand) that yet another ‘sister-in-Christ’ had misunderstood or misread my intentions, I began to draw away a bit. Oh, I still worked hard in the church and prayed hard for God to send someone to fill these positions that I know He had not called me to forever, but just for the time being. Yet, I began to lose my love for the town and the very people He had called me to minister to in love. I didn’t hold a grudge against the individual people who had hurt me. I knew why they were misreading my heart. I also knew some of them were dealing with hurts in their own past rendering them incapable of extending an open heart and giving them unrealistic expectations of their preacher’s wife. Never the less…it still hurt.
My hurt heart caused me to draw away from the very community that God had called me to. So if this was God’s calling, why was I hurting? Well because, as the saying goes, ‘hurt people, hurt people’. I knew that God had called me to this community of 'hurt people' to be an instrument of healing and reconciliation, breaking down the strongholds of the enemy, strongholds that had been deeply embedded in this community. Mary’s words began to resonate within my heart. I began to realize that I had participated in the breaking of community by backing away when wounded. I felt the need to call out to God for forgiveness for myself, to own my responsibility in the miscommunication, and to give me the ability to love these people…the very ones who had hurt me in their own misunderstanding.
God in His great mercy and love is drawing me back in…back into His fold. He is bringing alongside women in my lives that are encouragers…women who love and laugh. Women who trust my heart and motives…even when in my eagerness I mess up, yet again, and in doing so, He is healing my ‘cracked heart’ right in the midst of the very community in which it was wounded.
Life is hard but God is good! Relationship is hard, but relationship is good! Marriage is hard, but marriage is good! Living in community is hard, but community is good! Are you getting it? Building walls only make it harder to live and love and be loved. Yes…building walls isolates you from others but it doesn’t protect you from further hurt because the hurt just seeps down further into the depths of your heart and soul.

My challenge for you is…
Do the hard thing! Tear down the walls! Open your heart to receive all the good that God has for you!!

Do the hard thing and open your heart.

The quote in this article is from Mary DeMuth's new book, The Wall Around Your Heart.
 If you would like to get your own copy just click on the book image. 

You can also watch The Wall Around Your Heart Book Trailer 
Welcome to the openhearted revolution!


Resent to Represent:What's laundry got to do with it?: Five Minute Friday

I know that it is almost Thursday and here I am writing a post for Five Minute Friday! I am a bit behind on…well everything!

The prompt for this week was LAUNDRY.  I've been doing laundry since I was knee-hi to a grass hopper! I think I was barely tall enough to reach the lid when I learned to do my first load of laundry.

So here is my (cough, cough) Five Minute contribution. Seriously, we all know by now that I couldn't do an actual Five Minute Post if my life depended on it. If you aren't familiar with FMF, just scroll down to the bottom of the post for the rules…and join us!


I call my laundry room, or rather laundry closet, Mount Never-rest! #MountNeverRest!  It seems to be the reminder that a mom's work is never 'done'. Just as you close the washer lid another pile seems to be magically  forming...on the floor right next to the laundry hamper. Why is it so hard to lift that lid?

You wash, dry, fold, or put those clothes on the hangers and they find their way back to the beginning…wash, dry, fold...on and on in endless monotony.  And then there's the occasional shirt that needs ironing!  Yes...I do still iron.  I used to HATE doing the laundry for the very reason that it is an endless task.

I said I used to hate it because I don't really hate it now...I don't really like it either, truth be told. However, I have found a purpose in doing the laundry.  Any task done just for the sake of 'getting it done', has a tendency to become boring, meaningless, and sometimes even painful.  When you attach a meaningful purpose to an otherwise laborious task it takes on a new 'life'. What once was something dreaded or procrastinated over now has purpose and meaning. So even though it still may not be the funnest thing on your to-do list…it can be approached with a new energy and maybe even a lighter heart.

So, instead of resenting that never ending mound of laundry overflowing out of baskets in more than one room in the house, I have learned to find purpose in seeing what those mounds of clothes and linens represent.

 Resent To Representa new way to look at your laundry!

Your laundry represents:

An opportunity for prayer.  

Back in the day when people actually used an iron and ironing board on a fairly regular basis, I realized that instead of being mad that I was the one stuck with the iron in my hand that I could take that time to pray for my son, daughter, or husband. As I ironed an item of clothing that belonged to my daughter I prayed for her…and the same with the rest of my family.  It really does put you in a more joyful state of mind to pray as you are ironing.

The many blessings in your life. 

Yes I said blessings! My husband has worked hard to provide the bulk of the income for our family for our 30 years of marriage. He generates lots of laundry to be washed, dried, and sometimes ironed. But the blessing of having a godly husband and loving father far outweighs all that laundry!  Our two children, who are grown now, have been known to generate so much laundry I have wondered if I would ever get caught up. Sometimes just to get them washed, dried and in a basket was enough. If they needed anything, they could pull it out of the basket! But they had clothes. We all had clothes. Maybe not as much as some but most definitely more than enough for our own needs. Children are a blessing from the Lord. Being able to provide for said children is a double blessing.


Families who really know how to live life generate a lot of laundry!! There are those grungy softball, and t-ball uniforms, Tutu's and leotards from the dance recital, Polo shirts and khakis from that golf tournament, Sunday's best dresses and dress shirts and pants, the ice cream stain that doesn't want to come out as a result of the family outing to the local ice cream shop, mounds of sheets with popcorn butter stains from building that fort in the living room on family movie night and on and on it goes. The more that life is lived…really lived, the more dirty clothes will find their way to the laundry room.

Thank you Lord for the reminder that when the laundry baskets are full our homes are full!
Full of love, life, and your bountiful blessings! Baskets of blessing!(Click to tweet)

What about you? Do you think of the laundry as a blessing and or a curse?

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. (yep! even the laundry) Ecclesiastes 3:1

Now it's your turn!

1. Write for 5 minutes flat - no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments
Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...

Purpose for the Pain and Peace amidst the Why's

Sometimes a stronger, more realistic faith is birthed in the darkest of pits.                      ~Jo Ann Fore, When A Woman Finds Her Voice
I am no stranger to the reality of these words. I have experienced many hard things on this journey we call life. Most have. Or will...given enough years. Yes. It is a given. Suffering and pain happen in the world, at one time or another, to each of us.
   We live in a fallen world...and we are still suffering the effects of sin entering the world way back when Eve listened to the words of the enemy. He convinced her that what God had forbidden was actually good for her. And so...she took a bite of that fruit. At that moment, the moment of action, conceived from her doubt in God's all-consuming love and all-knowing wisdom, sin entered the world. The effects of that sin have continued on and will continue until Christ's return.

Still, while I can intellectually state the reality of why there is so much pain and suffering in this world, my heart still cries out in the hardest moments. Those times when I feel like I am wallowing in the depths of my latest 'pit' of despair..."Why Lord?"
  • Why is my son still suffering from the effects of his two 'strokes'? Why can he not live out his heart's desire to be married, be in full-time ministry, and have children by now? Surely these are godly desires!
  • Why are there times of frustration and misery in ministry? Shouldn't this be a joy?  
  • Why does my daughter suffer with the effects of her PCOS?
  • Why do people we love suffer with cancer?
  • Why do You, Lord,  sometimes choose to heal and other times not?
I get that there are direct effects from our own personal sin. I even get that you allow us to live out the consequences of those sins, even as you forgive. Your forgiveness, Lord,  is there...waiting for us to bring our wrecked lives before your throne of mercy.  But what about those times when we are suffering not due to our own sins but as a result of the sins of others, or just due to the fallen state of this world?

And then I remember...

When those times come to me now, I raise my Ebenezer!

In 1 Samuel 7, we read how Samuel is leading the Israelites as they are making an effort to turn back to God with all of their hearts. In the midst of this gathering of repentance before the Lord, the Philistines rose up against the Israelites to attack them. In hearing of this uprising the people pleaded with Samuel to keep crying out to the Lord on their behalf so that the Lord would hear and deliver them from the hand of the Philistines.  Samuel offered a sacrifice to God and continued praying.  God caused panic among the Philistines and they fell into confusion...thus giving the Israelites victory over their enemies.  Samuel then set up a stone, as was the habit of God's people, as a remembrance of God's help in their time of need.  He called the stone, Ebenezer, meaning stone of help.

So you see, I too raise my Ebenezer. My stone of help. In those times when I feel I am drowning in the why's of life, in the midst of a  new dose of suffering or pain it 'helps' me to remember those times. God carried me when I no longer had the strength to keep going. When the pain was too much to bear...He was there taking that pain on Himself, so that I could not only survive but come out on the other side a much stronger woman.

Sometimes, in His great love and mercy, God has given me a glimpse into some of the why's. Times such as this:
Sitting in the waiting room of the outpatient rehab hospital, I cried out to God, "Why Lord, why are you allowing my son to struggle once again. Why, Lord, would you allow Brad to be assigned to a therapist with an accent that isn't even close to his native language? How in the world is he ever going to learn the proper pronunciation of the English language, with this guy? Why does Brad even have to go through all of this again? Why do we all have to go through this again? Lord, you can heal him...please...why don't you heal him?"
 In the midst of my crying out to God, the therapist, the very one I was just complaining to God about, stepped into the hallway and asked me to join them in the therapy room. He had a few questions he wanted to ask.  You see, in the process of the therapy sessions, Brad had insisted that the therapist help him work on writing a sermon that he was working on in his own time.  Since writing is a part of speech therapy, the therapist had agreed to help Brad work on his sermon. I think at this point he was willing to do anything that would get my son to cooperate in the therapy sessions.  In the sermon, Brad was trying to go through the entire Bible beginning with creation, working through Moses and the exodus(including every one of the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea), basically hitting every single miracle in the Bible all the way up to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. I was to learn that in the process of this, Brad had basically forced  his speech therapist to look at God's Word. Not only that, but this young man was Muslim and was beginning to question his own religion.  He wanted to know what kind of church we went to and what we taught. He said that his wife actually attended a Baptist church, but that he had never considered going to church with her or looking into her faith. He had been content with his own system of belief.  However, now...after going through the sermon with Brad over the past month or so, he was thinking of visiting his wife's church...he was ready to look into Christianity!  
You see...while I was out in the waiting room, crying out to God...well...more like complaining, my son was in there introducing his Muslim therapist to the One True God...the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 
"Okay God, I get it! That young man's eternal destination, his eternal salvation, is far more important than the instant healing of my son."
Sometimes God gives us those moments of clarity in the 'whys' so that we learn to trust in His wisdom, His timing, and His mercy. I have experienced enough of those moments to know that He is faithful and can be trusted with the why's.  As I begin to release the 'right' to always know why God works as He does, or even why God allows things to happen, peace sets into the depths of my soul. He becomes my hope, and my anchor in the storms of life.
There is a powerful shifting that takes place as we abandon the right to understand and we yield to God's working in our lives. ~Jo Ann Fore 
The words written in Romans 8:28 have become a working reality in my life…
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. 
Let Him give you hope and healing, love and laughter! Let Him walk with you and weep with you and then dry your tears. Allow Him to walk with you through your pain so that you can come through...healed and whole. Then use what He has done in your life to reach out to others who are still walking in their pain. Bring glory to the Lord for all He has done in and through you.

 Let there be purpose from your trials, your sufferings, your pain...and find peace amidst the why's!(tweet this)

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of  many lives.  ~Genesis 50:20 

Today am linking up with Jo Ann and other beautiful women, with freedom and joy and purpose to share our hearts and allow God to use us...our make a difference, to help women find hope and healing.  

When God Whispers...That Still Small Voice

It happened in the early days of our church plant at Journey. One evening the hubs and I were driving from Reno back to our new home in Fernley when we passed by a canyon. Sitting far back into the mountain-side was a building of sorts, with bright flashing red lights. I mean BRIGHT, and FLASHING! What in the world was that? I asked the hubs and he said that he had heard it was a  brothel!

And then I felt it. That heavy burden pressing in on my was palpable. My heart cried out for the women at that place...women who used their bodies for financial gain.  I wanted to weep for these women and hated the lies of the enemy that had led them to that place.  I knew this was the voice of God speaking to me...But what could I do?

God said pray...

So I began to pray for those women, knowing nothing about them really. Who they were...why they were there...if they even wanted to be there.
As I prayed, I asked God...Lord why? Why have you placed this burden on my heart?  What in the world could I do? Brothels are legal in Nevada...doesn't that mean these women are choosing this lifestyle? Are they living this lifestyle in response to a painful past, one even more painful than the life they are presently living out?   ...and on and on I prayed.

As we began to get settled into our new life in Nevada and our new ministry God began opening doors...slowly...oh so slowly.  Several things began to happen...

I met the Director of the Local Crisis Pregnancy Center. Journey had decided to take this on as a local mission and thus began a sweet friendship.  I even began training at the Crisis Pregnancy Center, thinking maybe God would use me there as a counselor. This invaluable training has deepened my burden for those women who find themselves in hard places. It has given me the ability to see these women as God sees them. Beautiful, loved and adored by their creator...yet marred by the enemies deceit and lies. His heart breaks over their brokenness. Oh to have a heart that breaks over the very things that break the heart of God!

I got connected to the Director of Awaken INC...a group in Reno that fights human sex trafficking right there in the streets of  Reno. I have heard first hand some of the atrocities that go on in our own 'backyard'.  Please believe me when I say that human trafficking is not just something that goes on in other countries far away. It is happening in our neighborhoods, to our children, across the nation.  God has opened my eyes to the heartache and pain, the brokenness that surrounds me. I continue to pray.

My next connection was with a woman I met through the Open Doors Women's Conference, a one day conference held by one of our local churches every year for all women in the community. Journey, our church, hosts this event in our building. It was there that I met a woman who is involved in a ministry that goes into the brothels just outside Carson City to minister to the girls who work there.  So we began to talk about how I could learn more about their ministry and how it worked
...and I continued to pray.

In the midst of all of the previous 'for such a time as this' encounters, our family moved to a new neighborhood...just across town. I love to walk and I began walking again as soon as we settled in, mapping out a two-mile route that I would soon follow day after day. The hubs came home one day from golf and said one of his golfing buddies told him that someone connected to the brothel, the madam, lived right there in our neighborhood.  I had been walking by her house every day!  As I became aware of the exact location I used this as the prompt to pray for her and the girls at the brothel as I walked past her house. I still do...although my walking routine has become rather sporadic.
 But still...I pray.

One gloriously beautiful day (we have a lot of those here in Northern Nevada), I went out for my usual two-mile walk. As I passed by 'the house' I distinctly heard a still small voice. "Go knock on the door." To which I said,  "What???!!!  Are you kidding me, God?  What the heck am I going to say if she opens the door? Hey...I know who you are?  I mean...really?  I can't even think of anything going on that I could invite her too. She would say no, anyway."  And on and on and on I went. I stood right there on the sidewalk for a solid ten minutes arguing with God. Telling Him all the reasons this was just...well... a bad idea!

But in the end...I went and knocked on the door.  I waited. I knocked again. I rang the doorbell. I waited.  Ok, told me to knock. She has to be here!  So I knocked harder.  It was dark inside from what I could see. It appeared no one was home. Still, I knocked and I waited some more. Surely God would not tell me to knock if she was not there. What sense did that make? But no one answered the door. So finally, feeling a bit dejected...and relieved, I walked back out to the sidewalk.  As I stood on the sidewalk I looked heavenward and said, 'Why??? Why in the world did you tell me to go and knock on her door?  You knew she wasn't why???

Immediately I heard His answer, "Obedience".

Okay, Lord...I hear you.

You see, if I am to be given the honor of walking out this ministry to these women, I first have to learn to step out in obedience to His voice. Even when it makes no sense to me at all! I need to be ready to go when He says, "go"; to do what He tells me to do; to walk in obedience to His word in every area of my life. So that when He is ready to open more doors in answer to walking the next step of this journey, I will be ready and willing to go through the door.  I suspect some of those doors are going to be hard to step through. They may take me way out of my comfort zone. But I believe I am willing and where I am weak and 'unable'...He will enable me.

 I believe He will bring others along-side me to continue on in whatever this ministry will look like. I'm still waiting and praying. I could run ahead and start things...but I know I cannot do this in my own I pray and I wait to hear His voice.
 I believe the primary way He speaks to us is through His Word.  In order to hear His voice clearly, we need to be grounded in His Word.(Click to tweet).  It certainly makes it easier to discern His voice over and against the cacophony of voices that surround us every day.  He may speak to us through a particular verse in scripture, a sermon, a friends advice, or a song we hear on the radio.  God's voice echoes through many different avenues the message He intends for us to hear.  However, it is so very important to be able to discern when those 'outside' voices conflict with God's Word...even the well-meaning ones. For it is then, when there is a direct conflict with the Word, we know that it is not God speaking.

And so...I sit before Him each morning, with coffee, reading glasses, and Bible in hand.  I wait expectantly because I know that He has a plan. I walk and pray...and listen for His voice. I know that in listening to His voice I will find the purpose He has for me...and in finding that purpose I know I will find my voice.(Click to tweet)

How about you? Are you listening for His voice?

Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you. saying, "This is the way; walk in it."   ~Isaiah 30:21

I am linking up with Jo Ann and the other beautiful women to talk about listening for the voice of God...hearing His voice and in that, finding our own voice...sharing our stories. Not to rehash the past...or commiserate over our wounded-ness but with freedom and joy and purpose to share our hearts and allow God to use us...our make a difference, to help women find hope and healing.



Forgiveness...Why So hard?

Forgiveness...a hard word for many people. Why is that? Why is it so very hard to forgive?

For some, I think the problem lies in the fact that they are afraid to admit that there is a deep hurt that needs to be forgiven. They like to think that if they just get on with life the wounded-ness will go away.  So instead of saying, "yes, I forgive you", they just say, "oh...don't even worry about it"...or "it was nothing, really".  Sometimes they don't even want to admit to others that they have been wounded. They may look at it as being too confrontational and they avoid confrontation at all costs.  The problem with this approach to life is that the wounds don't just go away on their own...they lie beneath the surface...waiting to fester at the next offense that flows from the direction of their offender.

And then there's this...

Some things seem just...well...unforgivable. Spousal abuse and child abuse(physical or sexual), extra-marital affairs and murder. These are just some the offenses that fall into that category.  We want to see people held accountable for their actions. Frankly, we want to see them suffer the consequences of their actions.   When we have been hurt and wounded deeply, we(in our human condition) want to see the guilty pay...and pay dearly.  

And I believe this is where the word 'forgive' gets all muddled in the translation.

We think that if we forgive someone for their unforgivable actions that we are condoning those actions. We feel that would mean we are excusing them...even giving them license to continue hurting either ourselves or others. We think, " How can we forgive and let them go...scott free! How can we allow them to continue hurting ourselves and others by their selfish and sometimes even heinous acts?"  

The truth is, forgiveness does not give people permission to go on go on hurting. It does not make the wrong that has been committed against you,'okay'. Forgiveness does not forbid us to put boundaries in place to prevent the offender from taking advantage of us or wounding us again.   IT DOES NOT!   See...that's where we get it all confused.

When you refuse to forgive you are giving the person who hurt you permission to hurt you all over your mind, your memory. Every. single. time. you dredge up the offense you are allowing yourself to be hurt all over again. Bitterness becomes embedded into your heart and soul and becomes a heavy burden.

In Matthew Jesus teaches His disciples to pray, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." Jesus then follows with these words: "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."  Whoa...those are strong words.  There are passages in scripture that may, at first, make it seem as if forgiveness is conditional.  "If they ask...only then will I forgive". However, when I look at all of God's Word in light of the concept of forgiveness I see simply that we are called to forgive. Period.

You see...when we forgive we are not letting the person get away with anything. We are not setting the offender free! It's okay to hold someone accountable that you have already forgiven. It is even okay, to set boundaries so that you cannot be wounded by that person in the same way again. However, it is NOT okay to hang onto the anger, bitterness and hurt for the rest of your life.

The Greek word for 'forgive' in the New Testament is aphiemi and appears there 146 times.  It is actually translated 'forgive' only 47 of those times. It can also mean to suffer, to forsake, to let alone, and more. But more frequently it is translated 'leave'.   Forgiveness is to send the offense and our anger and bitterness away.

When we forgive we are setting ourselves free from the unfair pain that was caused by someone else.  We are letting go of the offense so that we can move on, without the baggage; the weight of wounded-ness on our hearts and souls. We are free to allow the Lord to heal the hurt and pain...the open wound can now close. Leaving behind only the scar in its place. The scar is simply an indication that healing has taken place. Forgiveness restores our own soul and gives us hope for a better future.

I am called to forgive as in Christ God has forgiven me. I don't deserve to be forgiven. Nothing I have done deserves the love and grace that God pours out on me. I am so very thankful that I serve a Savior who is so loving and forgiving. God requires justice for my sins, yes! But Jesus paid the penalty for me, and for you when He took our place on the cross of Calvary. He paid the price! Oh, how thankful I am that He did!!

Because of His great love, I walk forward...forgiven.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Ephesians 4:32

I am linking up with Jo Ann and the other beautiful women on Wednesdays to talk about forgiveness.  Not to rehash the past...or commiserate over our wounded-ness but with freedom and joy and purpose to share our hearts and allow God to use us...our make a difference, to help women find hope and healing.