A Letter To My Friends Who Have Said #metoo

For all my friends who have said #metoo,

I am so sorry.

But before I go any further, maybe you could say #metoo, but you haven’t yet. You still feel too alone to do it. Too scared that no one will believe you. Maybe you tried to tell a friend but their doubt and questions brought a second wave of shame.

This is for you too.

I would’ve fought for you then.

And I will fight for you now.

What happened was NOT your fault. You didn’t do anything to bring this on. He did it. It was his choice. He tried to silence your voice and take away your right to the most personal parts of your being.

I can’t imagine how hard this is for you. The flashbacks. The fear. You remember where you were- the time and place. Similar places shake you to the core.

Maybe it was nighttime when he attacked you, and now you’re afraid of the dark. Maybe it was a public place and you’ll never go there again. You can’t drive past the place where it happened. You go out of your way to be sure you don’t get anywhere close. You don’t want to leave the house alone. It was someone you trusted, and now you don’t want to be touched or hugged. It’s hard to trust again. Maybe you sleep with the light on now.

You tried to tell your friend. She questioned you like you were on trial. And you’re left wondering why?

And then the guy went around telling everyone that you had sex with him. You lost your reputation, and his friends celebrated his conquest.

People say things to you like:

Are you sure you didn’t give him the wrong idea?

Didn’t you want him to ask you out anyway?

Are you sure you’re not making something up?

It’s probably because of the way you dress.

They are WRONG. They’re the ones with the problem. I’m not saying that I hope they walk your road, but I wish they could see it clearly.

You are a fighter. You fight this everyday. You wake up and choose to get out of bed and breathe.   You force yourself to leave the house even though you’d rather just stay home all day. Forever.

You’re good at making it look like there’s nothing wrong.

But all this stuff is exhausting.

You look over your shoulder constantly and you are vigilant. Some might call this obsessive, but it’s just personal protection. You replay it in your mind. It’s hard, unbelievably hard.

I can only imagine how hard it is.

But girl, I believe in you! I believe that there is so much more to your story. I believe that you’re going to LIVE everyday in opposition to his choices. His desire to silence you, his attempt to take away your voice and your choice, will not have the final say. You are brave. You are fierce and you will fight this all the way until the end. And you won’t just fight; you will OVERCOME! You’ve already developed a strength you never knew you had. I know you didn’t want to find it this way, but you have. And there’s such beauty in it. I don’t say that to justify anything. These aren’t empty words just to try to make you feel better. There’s no excuse for him. And I hope he’s held accountable to the highest degree of the law. But this is about you. And you’re allowing beauty to come from the ashes of your life. You’re doing it! And THAT, is simply amazing. Any good that comes is an opportunity to celebrate the success you’ve found in living and breathing and fighting. And that’s all YOU!

You inspire me.

You inspire others. I know that other girls are going to speak out because you were brave enough to do the same.

I’m always here for you.

I’ll listen. I’ll sit in silence with you in the parking lot at the mall while you try to decide if you can get out of the car. I know big places with lots of people scare you. If you want to walk in, we’ll go together. And if you’d rather just go home, well, that’s not defeat. You took the first steps!

I’ll drive you anywhere you need to go- the police, counseling…coffee. Just say when.

And then, when you’re ready to post #metoo, I’ve got your back. I’ll stalk your social media accounts and shut down anyone who has the audacity to prove their stupidity publicly. Because some of your “friends” will. You already know who they are.

And when you see him again I’ll be there. I will look him dead in the eye and I will burn a hole right through his retina with the intensity of my stare. My eyes will convey something I’m not allowed to say, and things I’m not allowed to do.

I’ve got your back. I’ll hold your heart. And I will walk with you through every last inch of this.

Because I believe in you.

And I hope you believe in you too.

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What To Do When You Just Can’t

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As we begin our series on healing, it seemed like the best place to start wasn’t with a specific trial, but with the feeling that you just “can’t”.   Sometimes the problem is one BIG thing, but most often it’s not just the big stuff, it’s the entire pile of stuff! Life seems filled by a couple big things, some medium sized challenges and then all the little frustrations get added in. And it’s the little things that on their own would be no problem, when stacked with everything else, makes you feel like the whole world is out to get you. It seems like they come at you day after day in an attempt to drain the joy out of life and cause you to feel like you’ll never finish fighting.

I’m pretty sure you’re already envisioning your own past experiences dealing with exactly what I’m saying.

Sometimes you feel like you just can’t do it or deal with it anymore. And a millisecond behind that feeling is the knowing that things could be a lot worse and you don’t really have anything “that bad” going on. Then you kind of feel guilty for even thinking that you can’t do what’s right in front of you. And that just makes it worse. Haven’t we all been there?

Maybe it goes something like this—sick kids for days on end. You barely have time to wash the germs from one of them off your body before another one starts to come down with the same symptoms. And then there’s the additional laundry, special food requests, your regular job, childcare, housework, errands, your other kids who have practices and last minute projects, orthodontist appointments, and the husband you know you have but you haven’t actually seen or talked to in weeks because life is just this revolving door of exhaustion. We all have those seasons.

So what do you do when you wake up in the morning and force yourself out of bed, fighting hard against the desire to simply disengage and skip all this stuff? And how do you find God in it?   And what does he want you to find in this anyway?

What if all you’re supposed to find is him?

Here’s my take on struggles. He is not DOING this to you, but he is ALLOWING you to walk with him through it. Yes, walk with HIM through it. Life is hard. And there isn’t really an answer to that “Why?” question. Walking through the valley is grueling, and sometimes it seems like we’re there WAY too often and for FAR too long. But when we’re in the valley, we can’t stop walking.  We can’t set up camp and decide to stay. We simply have to keep going one step at a time. And in the desolate place, we find that we’re not really alone after all. We experience relationship with our father (God) in the valley that we wouldn’t have been able to see on the mountaintop. We find that he carries us when it’s hard; he encourages us when we doubt, and he strengthens us when we’re weak.

2 Corinthians 12:9 is a verse I lean into when I’m weak, And he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” I’m reminded of the truth—I don’t have to be “strong enough”. I don’t have to fix it. I don’t have to force it. But I must engage his grace and receive his power.

The best way I’ve found to do this is through rest. Yes, I’m talking about all forms of rest. If you can go someplace quiet and lie down and focus your heart on God for at least 15 minutes, that’s fabulous. If it’s more of a place where you’re still doing the things you need to do, but you tell your mind to rest and you’re breathing in his peace, that’s great too. Cease. Stop. Breathe. We can’t put it off, and we can’t tell ourselves that we don’t need it or that we don’t have time for it. I don’t need to force myself to be stronger. I need his rest. You need his rest. We all need his rest! It’s ok to tell him that you can’t do this; he already knows.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28 

Resting is a challenge for me.  It does not come naturally. It’s hard for me to stop moving, both physically and mentally. But I’ve learned the value of rest. There have been TONS of moments where I have chosen not to engage his rest. I’ve pressed on and pushed beyond my limit. I’m not the only one who pays for that kind of mistake. My family pays. They feel it when I snap at them for one of those stupid reasons like spilling the contents of a cup or better yet, spitting the liquid that was in your mouth across the room because your brother made you laugh. Or when a bowl of cereal (and milk) goes cascading across the kitchen because one of my kids was being silly and thought they’d dance their way to the table. When a harsh word pops out of my mouth it hurts. It hurts them and it hurts me. I don’t want those moments. I want the grace filled ones where we can laugh and live and clean together. But in order to get to the those moments, I must choose rest.  I must surrender myself to that sacred place. It’s in those quiet moments where either my mind or body (or both) is still, that God speaks to me. His words—his love—change everything. My circumstances are exactly the same, but the way I see it, and myself, is different.

There are many good books on rest. And if you’re able, I’d encourage you to search out some of them. But there are times that you really don’t have any extra moments for reading aside from the Word, and if that’s you, there’s no pressure here. Just embrace God, and let him embrace you. Start with one small passage and read it over and over (for days and weeks if necessary) until it’s penetrated so far into your heart that it’s changing you.

[Place Your Life Before God ] So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Romans 12:1-2 The Message

I totally understand that this looks different at different stages of your life. Most of the time, it looks a little different every day. Rest with a baby or toddler looks different than rest with teenagers. Rest when you’re working full time looks differently than rest for a stay at home mom, or a work at home mom. Not one of these places or seasons of life offers us an automatic place for rest. It is space that we must make though—it recharges our soul, it invigorates our mind, and resuscitates a faltering heart. He invites us to come, to lay our burdens before him and receive his rest.

So what are you waiting for? Rest. Yes, right now. At the very least, close your eyes, breathe him in, and breathe the weight out. Start with a simple prayer, “God I am weary. All this stuff is wearing me down. Show me how to find you, to find joy, and find myself. I know that you are with me. I need you right here, right now.”

 

 

 

 

To Help You Heal

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Life is hard. We all find ourselves up against “it”. There are lots of things.

  • A family member is diagnosed with cancer.
  • Your child tells you that they were sexually assaulted.
  • Your spouse leaves.
  • Your kids are bullied.
  • You are bullied (because let’s be honest, it happens to adults).
  • Your dreams fall apart.
  • You lose a friend to drug addiction.

This is just a short list. There are many other things that we go through that make us feel like we’re struggling to stay afloat in a sea of trouble. We can barely get to the surface long enough to catch our breath.

And that’s the problem. We feel like we’re fighting through, on our own, barely able to stay alive. There’s no one throwing us a life-preserver or helping us to shore. But here’s the truth—everyone is going through something. And most of the time, they don’t realize that we are too. If they do perceive our agony, the other problem is that they think they don’t know how to help. Let’s be honest, most of the time we don’t know how to help ourselves, which makes us feel incapable of helping someone else.

But the greater truth in all of this is that we are not alone. God is absolutely with us. He is fighting for us, and with us. He will equip us to not only survive, but to thrive despite our troubles. And when we learn how to do this, it gives us the ability to do the same for those around us.  We can offer that life-preserver we so desperately wanted to receive.

So what do you think? Think I’m totally out of my mind? Or do you agree with me? Maybe you’re somewhere in the middle, too burned out to truly believe that you’ll make it through, but too tired of fighting to surrender yourself to the thought that “this is all there is.” DON’T surrender. This stuff you’re fighting is NOT the end of your life. It’s not the end of beauty and joy and redemption that God has planned. The resurrection days are just beginning if we stand in faith and don’t give up.

David said it well when he wrote Psalm 25, verse 16 reads like the cry of a desperate heart: Turn to me and be gracious to me, For I am lonely and afflicted.”  Here is what I know about God: he hears, he answers, and he comforts.  

Come with me on a journey this summer. We’ll talk about the hard stuff. And we will heal.

Follow along on my blog (https://whisperandwonder.wordpress.com) and my author Facebook page for video chats.

 

How To Change The World

You can change the world. Do you believe me? The answer to that question comes down to this—the way you measure impact. You don’t have to cross the ocean to change the world. You can, but it’s not required. You don’t have to exhaust your resources to make a difference. You don’t have to post something on social media that goes viral.

Changing the world is simple.

Changing the world happens when you touch one life with the love of Christ. When you touch one life—you’ve changed their world.

Simple acts of encouragement make a huge impact. I know this, because I’ve been the recipient. It’s the conversation when someone looks straight into your eyes and sees all the way to your heart. Their words speak life and touch the ache you’ve felt but have not uttered. It’s the written message read over and over—proof that you’re not alone in this journey. It’s the unexpected gift found at your front door. The contents make you smile. It’s the reminder that God sees and reaches in a tangible way: lifting your heart, settling your doubts, and silencing your questions.

We all need encouragement. We need to know we’re not alone. You can make a huge difference in the life of another simply by reaching out. You can change their world. Would you join me? What would happen if 100 of us touched the life of one other person this weekend with Jesus’ love? What if those 100 were also inspired to reach out to another with the love of Christ? Love multiplies changing the world and we’re all in on it.

You’ve heard stories that tell of the way strangers paid for the car behind them at Starbucks and Chick-fil-A. My eyes light up to hear of love poured out. It’s the most powerful force on earth and takes nothing more than a few moments of simple obedience and courage. Right now, ask God for your assignment. Where will you spread his love? Is your heart beating faster? That’s love multiplied inside you. It’s love that can’t wait to get out. Cultivate willingness in your heart for spontaneous assignments too. You are changing the world—one life at a time.

Oh yes, and watch for the way God returns the gifts you’ve given!

The movie, Amish Grace, is not a true story.

I hear this question all the time, “How accurate is the movie Amish Grace?” My response is always the same, “That movie is an entirely fictional adaptation of a real event.” The reply is often something like, “Oh, that’s too bad, I really loved that movie.”

I feel entirely different about it. That movie falsely portrays the most personally difficult, and beautiful, moments of my life. It’s a fabricated story of relationships within my family, within my community (including my Amish neighbors who showed nothing but grace and compassion) and with God—I never doubted him for a moment! Amish Grace is a Hollywood generated “made for TV movie”, but this is my life, and to me it’s personal.

Please hear me though—I’m not angry. Truthfully, I was frustrated when I found out about it, but not angry. I believe in the redemptive love of God, that is, his ability to take the worst circumstances and use them for good in our lives. His WORD, the Bible, is very clear that he redeems. His redemption covers a bad movie. My life is, and will forever be, a story of God’s love. If you’ve watched the movie, you owe it to yourself to hear the truth. I’m not just talking about the truth of my story; I’m talking about the truth of God’s love for you. One Light Still Shines, is a true story- my viewpoint on relationships within my family, interactions with the Amish community, and above all, the miraculous way God restored my life. I pray that as you read it, you would feel His redemptive love washing over you, encouraging your heart to believe that he’s not finished writing your story.

You can read reviews and find out more about it at Amazon- http://www.amazon.com/One-Light-Still-Shines-Schoolhouse-ebook/dp/B00BW29466/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398088629&sr=1-1&keywords=one+light+still+shines

or Zondervan- http://www.zondervan.com/one-light-still-shines.html

Rest now…spring is coming!

It’s been a long winter.  No matter where you live, I’m pretty sure you can relate.   From my chilly office at the front corner of our house, I can hear the wind whipping and whistling—it’s forceful today.  This winter has been unusually cold, excessively windy and brought mounds of snow.   There’s still a trail of frozen precipitation in our front yard.  I’m ready for spring, and the gorgeous days of 65+ temps.  I’d like to feel a warm breeze blowing my hair and the sun’s radiance upon my face.  I long for vibrant green leaves on the now naked trees outside.  I’m ready for all these things, but these things are not yet ready for me.

In some ways it feels like winter has seeped inside my skin.  It’s like I’ve been hibernating—stuck inside myself waiting for the sun to shine and warm my world again.  Gray days have consumed me.  At first I fought the winter, then resigned myself to its presence, but after a spring tease last weekend I’m ready to move beyond this season.  Do you feel like that too?  Winter feels lifeless in many ways: it brings a struggle and dulls my senses.  It commands rest and patience.  God is challenging me, and I’m growing.  Small steps are still progress.  He reminds me to stay within the season—to embrace what’s in front of me.  Sometimes I fight him.  It’s not that I willfully make a choice to disobey, but my desire for what’s to come is greater than my desire to be where I am.  This leads to discontent, the push and pull of fighting the present to engage in the future.

I know myself well, I’ve had these feelings before and I can identify them more easily now.  I silence the inner struggle by leaning into the peace of Jesus.   I stop my swirling thoughts, ones that sometimes rage like the winds outside today.   There’s a choice I have to make—I know that I must find life in this season.  I see the trees outside my window, although it looks like nothing is happening, there’s amazing life just under the surface.  It’s getting ready to break free, but it’s not time yet.  If blossoms and leaves burst forth right now they wouldn’t be able to stand up to the harsh temperatures and brutal wind, so they must wait.  I must wait.  I must remain patient, continuing to cultivate life inside.  I must embrace this quiet place and soak up all Jesus offers me.  His gifts are unending: his presence, love, peace, and promises of the season to come.   I want to soak it up now so I have something to share in the days ahead.  According to the calendar, spring arrives in 1 week.  I have a final set of 7 days to pause in the quietness of winter, to enjoy these last moments of restful hibernation, so that I may spring forth and come alive.

It is going to be a glorious 7 days.

Do You See Me?

Last night I was strolling through Target with an empty cart.  I wasn’t looking for anything specific; actually I wasn’t there to buy anything at all.  I was there to pray and process.  You might think that sounds like the antithesis of spirituality, but it was the perfect environment.  Funny, how God works like that.  My head and heart were noisy.  Target was quiet.  The rhythmic hum of the four wheels on my cart soothed me.  My husband offered me some time out, after a day spent frolicking with 4 kids off school for the holiday.  I needed some space, and Dan knew it.  It’s not that my kids were getting to me, I have an amazing family, and sure, they’re loud and rowdy sometimes, but it wasn’t them.  I was the problem.  I was getting on my very last nerve.

I entered the store with a list, a list of things weighing heavy on my heart, an accumulation of very personal little things.  I felt this list.  I strolled through the store and began a conversation with God.  I asked him what he was going to do with those things and what I was supposed to do about them.  I wasn’t getting any answers.  I’m firmly convinced that my surface questions are often related to processing, and I must keep asking to find the deep answer my heart needs most.  I circled the store, picked up a few things, and, at the same time circled my issues.  The conversation changed.

Do you see me?

Factually, I knew this wasn’t THE question, but I was getting closer.  I even knew the answer as I asked—I know he sees me.

I continued to explore my heart in an effort to try to understand what I desperately needed to know.

I need to know that you see me.  Show me that you see my heart.

Surprisingly it wasn’t a question, but it was THE KEY that would unlock the door and let me out of my self-made irritation.  I needed God to come to me, in the middle of Target and remind my heart that he sees me.

I was browsing through the picture frames when this revelation occurred.  I looked at my cart and decided to put back the things I had collected.  I pushed the cart in silence.  There was nothing more to say, no more questions to ask.  I needed to wait.

I found the shelf, popped the items back in place and started towards the front of the store.  I looked at my watch.  Maybe I wasn’t going to meet him in Target.  It was time to go home.  I passed another shopper, but didn’t look up, I felt subdued by silence.  She stopped me, “Excuse me, are you Marie?”  Jolted from my inward conversation, I stumbled to answer her question.  “I knew it was you, I saw you earlier but didn’t say anything and then I told God, that if he wanted me to talk to you then he would have to make sure our paths crossed again.”  She continued, “I’m sure you get lots of these conversations, so I don’t want to bother you, but I just have to thank you for sharing your story.”

The words I type don’t accurately convey the way she expressed them and how God used this encounter to touch my heart.  She went on to tell me that she had been praying for my family and was encouraged to know what God had done.  I thanked her and walked away, still stunned and silent, but completely changed.  All my “issues” remained; nothing was different, however the weight had lifted. This was only the 3rd time a stranger approached me to talk about my book.  This was not a coincidence; this was God.

You see me. 

Tears filled my eyes.  I held them back.  I was not going to break down in the middle of Target.

I felt his arms surrounding me, his hands holding my heart—the love of the Father in tangible form.  It’s startling to think God would send me to Target to process and pray, and that he would simultaneously send a stranger, used with precision to encourage my heart.  If she had spoken the first time she saw me it would’ve come before my revelatory moment and the impact would’ve been reduced.  Her words came with perfect timing.

I returned home, confident that while my circumstances remained the same, everything had shifted. I was able to view my life through the lens of love, confident that God sees my heart.  He doesn’t have to instantaneously fix my problems—I just have to let him change me.  I am comforted, because I know he sees me.

This song says it all-

And nothing is hidden from Your sight

Wherever I go, You find me

And You know every detail of my life

And You are God and You don’t miss a thing

 

You Know Me- Bethel Music

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