HOSANNA

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6

It’s there when I turn on the radio, when I walk into a donut shop, into a worship service, or a random store which usually doesn’t play Christian music… the song follows me.

It was there when I was in the middle of the darkest time of my life- the end of my marriage, my divorce, and my life soon after that.

The song is “Hosanna,” by Hillsong United.  I didn’t even know what the word “hosanna” meant, but I heard it everywhere I went. When my ex-husband and I were fighting, he’d leave the house and I’d turn on worship music and fall to my knees. The first song that would play was always “Hosanna,” even though I had no control over the music; I was using a randomizer instead of a playlist.

I remember the day I moved out of my apartment which I shared with my ex. The memory itself chokes at my breath, even a year and a half later. My father was visiting to help me pack and make the drive to Texas. After the moving truck was loaded he gave me a few minutes to myself. I went back inside the apartment, fell to my knees and cried and cried and cried and cried and cried. And then I lifted my hands in worship. Picking up my phone, I turned my music app on, and heard the song “Hosanna.” Awestruck that this was the first song playing (again!) I looked up the meaning of the word, learning that it means, “Save me.” As I prayed for God to save me from the utter agony and destruction I felt, I saw an image of God taking me by the hand and leading me into my future. I knew in that moment that God had not left me, and He would not leave me, especially not in the worst time of my life.

Before I left I walked into my bedroom… my former bedroom. I saw the bed I shared with my ex (his for the keeping) and I set my hands on his pillow, praying life, healing, awareness, identity, and the love of Christ over him.

It was the most painful day of my life. Worse than telling our families we were divorcing. Worse than signing the papers in court. I walked out of the bedroom and toward the front door, taking a deep, deep, deep breath. Closing the door behind me, hearing his dog yelp out of desperation at being left behind, driving away, literally watching the sunset in the rearview mirror, God was with me.

I don’t relive that day for my amusement- at all. I believe there is purpose in my reliving it to share it with you.

God is WITH you. God is FOR you. In the darkest times of your life. In the worse circumstances, He is there, He loves you, and He wants to be close to you.

Let the ruins come to life. Let your ashes be turned to beauty. Find strength in His presence.

Let him be your HOSANNA.

Here’s the link to the song.

It shouldn’t take a tragedy to teach this lesson…

Sometimes I have random thoughts about my life prior to living in Texas. I’ll remember waking to the cool crisp humid air in North Carolina, walking the dogs with pine needles -which were everywhere- crunching under my feet. I’ll remember the sunset on a warm evening in Atlanta, sitting at my favorite Italian pizzeria across from someone I was connected to, but a stranger to at the same time.

It’s no secret I’m divorced; I don’t hide it because I don’t carry my divorce as a defining title on my life. Some people judge me for being divorced, but I believe that says more about them than it does about me.

It’s also no secret that my marriage was troubled- how else do you think we got to the point of divorce- and at times my ex-husband and I took one another for granted.

This morning a random thought popped into my mind of all the many mornings I’d wake up to hear, “Go make me breakfast,” and my heart would drop. My love language is a mix between Acts of Service/Gifts/Affirmation, so as much as I wanted to make breakfast and serve my husband, that was not the way I appreciated hearing it.

There was a time, though, when my ex-husband and I had a near-collision with tragedy, and it solidified our relationship at that time.

It was the Holiday season and we were leaving for our anniversary getaway the next morning. I had our bags packed and was incredibly excited to get to explore Savannah, Georgia. Though things hadn’t been peachy in our relationship, I knew getting away just the two of us might help.

…like when something is about to fall, and you attempt to catch it before it breaks.

I went to take a shower before bed that night, and suddenly had a thought that I hadn’t done a self-exam on my breasts in a while.
Sure enough, I found myself fingering a lump that felt like a large frozen grape. I immediately started to cry, got out of the shower, and went to find my then husband. He felt the lump and agreed that it was something to worry about, but together we decided to pray. Because it was evening, and the next few days were business holidays, we decided to continue with our trip as planned.

Though the sun was shining against a bright blue, wide-open Georgia sky the next morning, my heart was dim. I could tell my husband’s  heart matched my own. Thank goodness for him, though, as he did everything he could to cheer me up and keep my mind off the potential danger looming inside of my body. He always made me laugh, and he kept it up during our trip. I needed exactly that.

Our trip was fun, celebratory, and full of tea, the spray of the ocean, ghost-tours, and even cousins who we ran into. More than that, our trip was intimate and delicate- I’m not referring to sexual intimacy- like when something is about to fall, and you attempt to catch it before it breaks.

During that trip we were reminded that we did, in fact, love each other at that time, and that we were important to one another.

After our return from Savannah with the setting sun behind us, I experienced much fear and anxiety with what was to come. I did my best to pray for peace and healing, but my faith was not in a strong place where I relied solely on God. A few days later, my doctor found what she thought was a second lump. I underwent testing (which was not fun) and when the results were finally in, it was determined that my lump was benign, or non-harmful. Still, I scheduled surgery to have it removed.

Sometimes I think it took the scare of tragedy to bring us back together emotionally. Love is not disposable; people are not disposable. I was guilty of treating both that way.

Although I did not want a divorce, I don’t regret my marriage for moments like these, that remind me to express that I love someone before it’s too late.

Cyclical Communication With God

“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

Have you ever been given a task at work, or had a conversation with someone during which you were confused, uneasy, nervous, or scared? Were the details of the other person’s expectations unclear? Perhaps you’ve wanted to ask or even tell someone something, but you simply cannot find the words, or the muster to do so.

Communication, while absolutely essential, can be confusing, overwhelming, even daunting.

What do we do when someone tells us that they don’t hear from God? They say that they pray and they go to church and have relationship with God, but they don’t hear from Him. As believers, how do we respond? Do we tell them to have more faith, to pray harder?

There’s a simple solution:

Read the Word of God. In the Bible, God communicates with us what he plans for us, desires of us, wants for us, thinks of us, and how much He loves us (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:38-39). He has the best, unchanging communication with us. His word is not confusing like a task at work, or a challenging conversation with a loved one.

The more we read and hear and meditate on God’s word, the more we learn of Him. The more we learn of Him, the more we hear His voice communicating with us, allowing us to trust Him. Communication with God is cyclical.

We should understand that we can openly communicate with God. In Psalm 139 God tells us that He knows us. He knows our thoughts, our sitting and rising, our words before they hit our tongue. Why do we have a hard time speaking freely to God? Why are we reserved in our thoughts or words, when He knows us already? Why do we fear coming to Him with the “tough stuff,” though we simultaneously know He’s equipped to help us?


“O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.” Psalm 139:1-6

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

 

Endurance

A year and a half ago I decided that I wanted to improve my health and get into better shape. I was categorically obese, and decided that I wanted to become a runner to become healthy. “Become a runner” isn’t a phrase many people use. Typically it’s “She was born to run,” or “Running is in her blood.” Neither are remotely appropriate when describing me.

When I first set out to run, I could barely make it around the first street corner before I had to slow my pace to a walk. I probably lasted 10 minutes at the most. The next day, I pushed myself a little farther, and the next day a little farther still. A few months later I was stronger and could run about a mile before wearing out.

Then, I went through an unexpected trial. I placed my goal of becoming healthy on the back-burner. I quickly gained weight, and lost my physical strength. I was distracted, far from God, and spiritually lost. I had forgotten that He was with me the whole time.

After many months of pain, hardship, and questioning God, He pulled me through the trial. Although I was bruised and battle-worn, I was back on my best game: praying, attending church, spending frequent quiet time with God, and meditating on His word. I was also running and exercising regularly again. Each run became a little easier than the last, and I was quickly gaining strength.

This past Saturday I was able to- for the first time- run between 4-5 miles. I didn’t calculate the exact distance, but it was farther than I’d ever gone before.  Two weeks ago I easily hiked 4 miles in the mountains. I successfully and strongly completed my first 90 minutes of Bikram yoga a few days ago (105 degrees is HOT!). I am no longer categorically obese. I am in better shape than I have been since college, and I weigh less than my previous target goal weight.

I couldn’t start with a 4-5 mile run; I had to start with rounding the first corner.

I couldn’t have started with victory in Christ; I had to start with declaring battle against the enemy.

- – -

We cannot run before we can walk.

We must endure, build our strength in the Lord, and stay prayed up. My prayer is that we do not just run, but run with perseverance the race God has called us to. May we never give up hope or lose sight of the fact that God is our refuge and strength, our ever-present help.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

“The Lord will fight for you; You need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

What’s my motivation?

Why do I write?

It’s therapeutic, it’s comforting, and it helps me journal my walk with God. I can go back and read posts to easily determine if I was in a valley or on a mountain, spiritually speaking.

But more than for my own self-gain, I write to inspire, I write to heal. I pray that each post helps someone, anyone- just one person. I pray as I write that the Lord will use my words to be the exact words which someone needs to hear. I write to share what God has done to me, in me, and for me.

How many times have you been struggling with something, or going through a hard time, and someone’s article, blog, or words just “spoke” to you? Haven’t you read a devotional that was just spot-on with exactly what you needed to hear?

I’ve needed (deep down in my soul- in places so deep I don’t want to admit they exist) posts on how to be a better wife, posts about battling my pride, posts about women affected by the adult entertainment industry, the sex industry, posts about repairing friendships, about leaving a certain religion for another, about family, about faith, love, and dealing with sin, about feeling rejected, struggling with settling in a new state, struggling with an addiction to pills, and so many other things.

I’m an advocate for transparency and vulnerability, and I always try to keep that standard in my writing. No one will learn from my mistakes if I never share what they were. No one can see my pain and struggles and subsequent victory through Jesus if I never tell anyone He pulled me out of a pit, a valley, a suffocating ocean, and then when I threw myself back in, He rescued me, again.
And again.
And again.

If I never tell anyone of the grace extended to me by God, who will miss out on knowing that part of His identity?
If I keep my relationship with God to myself, whose life will I never have the opportunity to enrich?
If I keep my mouth closed, who will miss out on knowing Him?

God has done too much for me to hide it all to myself. Being selfish or quiet about God’s greatness and magnitude is just about the silliest thing ever. Certainly people boast about their own greatness and magnitude, so why not boast about God?

“If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.”
2 Corinthians 10:17

God has delivered me. He walked me through fiery pits of religiosity, legalism, anger, sin, divorce, disobedience, rebellion, and fear.

Where am I now? I certainly haven’t overcome anything on my own. I haven’t overcome everything yet, either. I’m on a journey of being delivered from my past and rebuilt in my current walk with the Lord. I’m on a journey to influence people who might be going through anything remotely similar to me.

I’m on a journey to involve, invest, and inspire those who walk beside me on this great journey.

An ex-wife’s apology

Medical Practitioner Writing

 

This letter is to any man who has been hurt by a woman, specifically his ex-wife. This is not a personal letter to my ex-husband. This letter is to offer healing to men who need to hear these words.

Please let me serve as your ex-wife for the purposes of this letter.

- – -

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2

My once-beloved husband,

You were the one I pledged my heart to, the one I loved intently, the one who I thought was the answer to my hopes and dreams. As I walked down the aisle in my wedding gown I saw you standing before me, so handsome and happy looking. I saw the way the lights reflected in your eyes, your gigantic smile, your hands with nervous knuckles, the small beads of sweat forming on your brow. From the aisle I could see your heart written all over your face; I felt the mirrored beating within my own chest.

We were so full of love, joy, peace, happiness, fulfilled dreams, adrenaline, and exhilaration, weren’t we? We had our whole lives before us. White picket fences, laughter, endless intimacy, hot showers together, children, condos and upgrading to larger homes, toasting champagne glasses on our 50th anniversary, our great-grand children chasing one another nearby.

As I walked toward my future with you, I never imagined that years later we would be walking separate directions, our hearts no longer mirroring each other’s and barely beating through the concrete walls at all.

Our previously joy-filled smiles had turned full of bitter resentment and anger. We would never say we love each other again.

My beloved, my babe, my hero, my protector:

I’m sorry “we” isn’t “we” and “us” isn’t “us” anymore, and that our marriage didn’t work out. I’m sorry that in my attempt to love you immensely, I looked to you to meet my needs that only God can fulfill. I thought that you were my happiness, instead of realizing that happiness comes from knowing God intimately, and being content in Him. From that wrong mindset, I placed unrealistic expectations and pressure on you. I set you up for failure that you had no chance of swimming out of. I put my identity in being your wife instead of in being the bride of Christ.

I’m sorry for the pain I caused you from all of that, and from everything else I did. Humans will always hurt humans, as we are sensitive beings, but pain is seldom the intent. It was never my intent to hurt you. In fact, if I could somehow suck back all of the pain I caused you, I would crush myself with it so that you would never have to hurt again.

I’m sorry I didn’t respect you the way I should have. The reasons don’t matter now, but I didn’t always honor you like the church taught me to. Whether I didn’t know how or didn’t think you deserved it, the bottom line is that I should have honored you as my spiritual leader.

I’m sorry that my words cut into you like a freshly sharpened knife. I’m sorry that I made you feel belittled when I spoke to you. I’m sorry that I didn’t practice what I preached with Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” For all of the countless hours I spent in prayer speaking life over you and our marriage, I easily negated that spoken life with my resentment and bitter words of disrespect.

I’m sorry that in my endeavor to strengthen our marriage and “help” you with your struggles was communicated as me trying to control you.

I wish I would have spent more time laughing with you, listening to you, learning your hobbies. I wish you would have taught me how to play the instruments and sports you loved. I wish I would have paid more attention to you to let you know how special you were to me.

I’m sorry that our life in the bedroom wasn’t what either of us wanted. I’m sorry for making excuses. and not meeting your needs. I’m sorry for my part in poorly communicating with you, which affected our intimacy. The one place where God brought us together as one was soiled for us. I wish we could have changed that. I’m sorry that I didn’t honor our marriage bed and that I brought another man into our lives. I’m sorry that I wasn’t faithful to you. I didn’t value you. I didn’t realize what a treasure I had in you. I gave into the tricks of the enemy.

I’m sorry that I turned my back on you when you needed me the most. You asked me to stay and I walked out of your life. You asked me to end the relationship with him, and I didn’t want to.

I’m sorry for my problems that got in the way.

I’m sorry that I thought I knew what was best for you, for us, for myself. I’m sorry that I tried to take the lead and I belittled you in the process.

I’m sorry I hit you back, that I lied to you, and that I acted behind your back.

I hid things from you and was deceptive with you.

I’m sorry for all of the other things I did to contribute to our divorce. I’m sorry for blaming you for our destruction until God got a hold of me and taught me that I was equally to blame, too. He has shown me what I’ve done, and I come to you to apologize and tell you that I’m sorry and I loved you.

The biggest mistake we made was handing our marriage over like new car keys to a 16 year-old devil. For that, we are equally to blame.

___

I need you to let me go…

My dear,

I hope that you will love again. I pray that you will love again. I pray that when the time comes, you will open your heart wider than you ever did with me. It’s natural to put walls up around your heart to protect yourself from ever being hurt again, and we should guard our hearts, as instructed in Proverbs: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23. I pray you only guard your heart against the enemy and his schemes, not against a tender woman who would protect your heart as you protect hers. I pray that God will deliver a special woman to your life who you can and will love fiercely, openly, and purposefully.

It’s ok to let go of me. In fact, I need you to do so for your own health and growth, and for mine, too. It’s ok to love again. It’s ok to love differently and better, and I deeply hope that you will. I pray that you find someone who compliments you where I failed, someone who respects you, and someone who makes your heart happier than I ever could have.

I pray that in your next marriage you and your wife will be blessed and prosperous. I pray that you will communicate where we couldn’t, love where we didn’t, forgive where we were stubborn, and accept where we were prideful.

I pray that God will be at the very center of your relationship with your next wife; that He will be the very foundation upon which your relationship is built; the cornerstone to your life with her.

God’s love and blessings to you:
Love, honor, respect, admiration, peace, and joy.

With closure,
Your ex-wife.

Purpose-filled life

There have been times in the past few years that I would think to myself, “What happened to my dream? Why am I no longer seeking what I was once so passionate about? What am I doing with my life?”

I lived for other people. I was so wrapped around my family and friends that I made their goals my goals, and yet, I harbored resentment that I wasn’t achieving my own dream. The dream I could not even name at that time. When I lost my dream, I lost a sense of my identity.

I completely forgot that my dreams are of God, and my identity is in Him.

Lately I have seen the Lord open numerous doors in my life. For the better part of last year, my life was upside-down, but suddenly one day I realized that I had all these opportunities from which to choose. So with a prayerful heart, I ask God for discernment and purpose in my life.

Just this morning I was feeling disconnected from the spirit. I read a devotional by someone at work and we emailed back and forth about being with God. As I looked for a link to the Charles Spurgeon daily devotional I landed on a Christian leadership devotional by A.W. Tozer. (I couldn’t find the Charles Spurgeon one to save my life. Now I know it’s because that wasn’t the devotional that I needed!)

- – -
For what have you purposed your heart?I’ve shared with my readers before that God often speaks to me with single words which are relevant in my life for a season which He determines. My current word is: PURPOSE. It is no coincidence I stumbled upon this article about Christian Leadership by A.W. Tozer.

On moral determination in the service of the Lord…

“‘Jacob vowed a vow,’ and it was the beginning of a very wonderful life with God….

Daniel ‘purposed in his heart,’ and God honored his purpose. Jesus set his face like a flint and walked straight toward the cross. Paul ‘determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified,’…

These are only a few of the many men and women of the Bible who have left us a record of spiritual greatness born out of a will firmly set to do the will of God…”

For what have you purposed your heart?

I vow now to purpose my heart for God, to fix my mind on Him and make Him the center of my world. Father, take over my mind so that I might think great thoughts purposed solely for you.

We all have a purpose in this life. God tells us about it in Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Live on purpose, with purpose. Make sure those in your life have Godly purposes for you. Ask God to check your heart for anything that needs pruning, for anything without Godly purpose.

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