The Transforming Power of Love

My husband and I on our wedding day.

My husband and I on our wedding day.

I read this article the other day. As always-at least from pretty much all that I’ve read of his, Matt Walsh was spot on. I was challenged to be the best for those I love. I read it for me-for me to grow and become a better person through it. I can’t say that I’ve always read things like this for me. Sometimes I’ve read things like this and wanted to take it to my husband and say, “See, I’m not the only one who thinks this way and why can’t you be more like this or understand this?” It would have made me feel even more justified to withhold love from him. As I was reading through some of the comments, I noticed a lot of people weren’t reading it for themselves. They were reading it for their significant others or just people in general, thinking what a narcissistic generation we have being raised up. And when we think that way, I think that we become part of the problem.

While it may not seem related, I’ve never really understood why people don’t go to church because of the hypocrisy that’s there. I know it’s there. I know it’s hard to be around people who are hypocritical. I’ve just always thought that if you see things you don’t like, you should try to be part of the solution not the problem. So, if you don’t like hypocrisy, make sure you’re not being hypocritical and make sure you’re being the picture of Jesus you wish to see in the church. Merriam-webster.com defines hypocrisy in this way:

hy·poc·ri·sy

 noun \hi-ˈpä-krə-sē also hī-\

: the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do : behavior that does not agree with what someone claims to believe or feel

So in a way, any time someone claims he/she won’t go to church because people who go to church aren’t acting like Jesus, I have to question what one thinks Jesus would do and whether or not he/she is doing what Jesus would do. Luke 4:16-21 says what Jesus did:

16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,[a] To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”[b20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Not only did Jesus go to the synagogue (kind of like our modern-day church), He also spoke of what He came to do-what we should be doing. By saying we won’t go to church because others aren’t being like Jesus-who by the way, was surrounded by the Pharisees-the people Jesus even called hypocrites, I think in a way, we’re being hypocritical. We’re not acting like Jesus either-whose custom was to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and not only that, He wasn’t part of the problem looking down on others, He took the responsibility to be part of the solution. Actually, He is the solution.

In the same way, I think when we read these articles thinking about what others need to do rather than for ourselves, we’re being hypocritical and part of the problem. We’re on dangerous grounds then because we’re doing exactly what Satan would have us to do as an accuser of the brethren. We become so blinded by the plank in our own eye and instead start pointing to the speck in someone else’s eye. We let a root of bitterness grow up in our lives that defiles many. When you instead focus on other people’s problems rather than taking responsibility for your own actions, you take Satan’s side and start accusing people that God wants to redeem. Your love grows cold and can no longer have the affect that love has. As Martin Luther states:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

I think that it’s an honest assessment at times to say that a lot of “Christians” are hypocritical. I think a lot of us resemble Pharisees more than people who have been redeemed. I know I have and am truly sorry for it. I know there are times I still forget and continue to act hypocritical. It sometimes seems that the longer a Christian “serves” Christ, the more entitled we feel. We become like the jealous brother in the prodigal son parable forgetting that all our Father has is ours. We forget that while sin may be pleasurable for a season, it only leaves us absolutely enslaved to it. We become addicted. I don’t think any Christian man or any man with a conscience that hasn’t been seared can honestly say that he truly enjoys being enslaved to the addiction of porn. It might seem enjoyable at first, but the longer you look, the more your lust grows to even things you would have originally been mortified over in the past, and the more you become enslaved. It’s a fix for them- just like any drug addict or any person stuck in sin can attest to.

When my husband sinned against God that I let have an affect on me, I grew really bitter and unforgiving. While I tried to do everything right on my own, the more he sinned against me, the more justified I felt to be unloving. What hurt the worst was when my husband would sin and hide it from me-always believing it wouldn’t have an effect on me if I just didn’t know, not realizing the wedge it was creating between us. Then, he would often tell me, “Well, if you don’t forgive me, God won’t forgive you.” It was absolutely selfish and disgusting and not apologetic at all. Trust me, if anybody can say that they married someone with a narcissistic problem, I can. I wasn’t given an apology and I wasn’t given time to heal; and to make matters worse, I knew he was right. God says that if we want forgiveness, we have to be forgiving ourselves. Instead of becoming forgiving, I felt justified in my anger because what he was doing was absolutely wrong; and I knew it, and I continually tried to get him to know it. It didn’t matter how many times I told him what he was doing was wrong, that I wouldn’t even wish this on my worst enemy; it didn’t change him. It didn’t matter if I tried to be everything others deem as the perfect wife, my actions could not penetrate his heart. If doing everything perfectly on the outside made someone lovable and led people to repentance, then the Pharisees would be the most lovable people of all and have had the greatest influence. And like I said, I knew God brought us together and I grew really angry at God for ever bringing him into my life. I had never been treated so badly in my life- and I haven’t always been treated so well. Instead, I could have just continually taken it to God and allowed God to soften my heart more and become more like His perfect bride.

Unfortunately, it took me a long time to do that. God’s still releasing me from the strong hold I’ve had over my life. I lost a lot of trust in God during that time although He’s always only remained faithful to me. My view of God became tainted with how my imperfect dad had treated me growing up and how my husband was treating me. I lost sight of the fact that people are flawed-all of us, including me. The only blameless human to walk this earth was Jesus. I started trusting my own strength to protect myself rather than casting my cares on God, and became overly sensitive and hurt to all the sins my husband committed. I became controlling of the situations we were going to be in, and became fearful of the times that I couldn’t control.

Even if I could manage my husband’s actions during that time, I couldn’t change his heart, and I knew that. It was a painful realization. I could never draw his heart to me by anything I did, and it made me fear never being loved. Because I stopped trusting God, I didn’t have a stable foundation and the more uneasy I felt about different things (I had the worst nightmares during that time-was seriously tortured during my dreams), the more controlling I became and the more I felt like I had to find out if my husband was being unfaithful because he wouldn’t be straight with me. While it was painful to find out the “truth” of situations, it was also relieving to me to know I wasn’t feeling uneasy for nothing. It became a fix for me. It was addicting and very damaging. I would have given anything to just be completely set free from it. I felt like there was no way out.

Thankfully, nothing right I did changed my husband’s actions and heart. If it had, I might have continued to trust my own strength instead of turning to the only One who has the power to save. The only One who can redeem all of us. I would have been trapped into believing the lie and sin that my works could save me and others, rather than God’s grace. I would have thought that I could produce the same fruit that only a life connected to God’s vine can produce. We are only branches. When we disconnect ourselves from the Vine, NOTHING good can come from us as God is the only One who is good who can produce goodness. And it is that goodness that leads people to repentance.

The fact that nothing I did and the fact I couldn’t do it on my own-literally, I couldn’t handle it; I was driven mad and on the verge of insanity with my un-forgiveness and bitterness- although I was good at hiding it at times- made me come to the end of myself. While I had cried out to God to fix all my problems before, I cried out to God in a whole new way. I needed Him. I wanted Him. I couldn’t do it on my own and I realized that. I realized that I had gone down a path of sin that was leading me to Hell and I feared the One who has the power to send me to Heaven or Hell, but I also knew He loved me and a broken spirit and a contrite heart, He would not despise. He has always remained faithful to me and never denied Himself despite my many infidelities/sin. It was His love and goodness that led me to repent to Him, and I could trust in His forgiveness over me because of His lovingkindness and faithfulness that never fails.

Because I had been forgiven much, I’ve been set free to love much. I have been set free to love in a way I’ve never loved before. And my husband, holy cow, he’s like a whole new person! Yesterday, I was again reminded of that fact as we were walking on some ice and he, without my asking, held my hand to make sure I wouldn’t fall. He’s written me numerous letters apologizing for the way he’s treated me (obviously, a far cry from how he was before) and yet so grateful for the way God has used Satan’s plans he intended for evil over my life for good. He’s become the biggest blessing in my life and my best friend! I often feel like he’s too good for me now! Only God could do that! Only the transforming power of God’s love can do that! Yeah, we still screw up at times. We still fall back occasionally. We’re still human and we haven’t fully “arrived”, but we know what that path leads to and are more aware right away when we start heading down that path. We can turn to God and ask for forgiveness from Him and each other now and know we’ll be forgiven. Because we’ve both been forgiven much and can love much more freely.

We all have a choice. We can keep reading articles and the Bible and think of others and point fingers and feel justified with where we’re at in life or we can look to Jesus and allow His perfect transforming love and the fire He tries us with to melt all the impurities in our lives. There’s always going to be someone worse off than we are. But pointing at others who are worse off than we are doesn’t make us any better ourselves and doesn’t produce the change we wish to see in them. Only love can do that. Only by seeing ourselves in light of Jesus and His truth will we be able to freely allow Him to do the work He wants to in us. Only by His power can we love our enemies (sometimes people who shouldn’t be our enemies), do good to those who hurt us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who spitefully use us, and that’s what God has called us to do.

Like I said in my previous post, God wants to be glorified in any and every marriage. He doesn’t want us to separate what He has joined together. Yes, He’s called husbands to love and serve their wives like Christ does the church and to wash their wives with the word. But women, even the best husband isn’t God. He’s going to be imperfect and have flaws. The only way we’re going to have our “happily ever after” is when we get to see Jesus face to face. Don’t expect from an imperfect man what only God can deliver. We’re still called to respect him even in his failures. Don’t withhold love because your husband isn’t who God created him to be at the time. If anything, that’ll just drive him more into his sin as he’ll feel justified in his sinful mind to keep sinning since he’s not receiving love at home. Men, please don’t wait for your wives to be all God’s called her to be either before you start loving her. Withholding love from her will not produce the fruit only God can do in her. You can go your whole lives waiting for the other person to do what they’re called to do and I know personally many people who have done that (I wrote this poem after attending the funeral of one of those people) and wasted the rest of their lives in bitterness and some who are still doing that.

Who you are, what you do, and how you react are all things you’re going to have to answer for yourself someday when you face God. We don’t answer for others, only ourselves. We need to make ourselves in right relation to God and allow His Holy Spirit to work through us and the fruit that comes from that is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. You can try hard and seem to have some of those on your own, but if you’re not allowing God’s Holy Spirit to work through you, your “fruit” will not last through the storms of this life. We all face storms. Some of us are fortunate to have more loving marriages from the start, but everybody faces battles in this life. We can allow those battles to harden our hearts to God and others around us causing our love to grow cold and unusable, or we can allow God to allow that fire to shape and mold us to be the people we’re created to be and soften our hearts to Him and extend the grace and mercy we’ve been given to others. What choice are you going to make? Are you going to join all the others waiting for others to get their acts straight or are you going to become responsible for your own actions and become transformed by allowing God to love you and use you to love the unlovable? It is impossible to do that on our own and when we do that, God gets all the glory and we are here to bring Him glory!

*There’s a story I want to share where this lady has clearly brought God glory and allowed God to extend a love that most of us can’t even comprehend in an extremely difficult marriage where most of us would have told her to leave and felt very justified in doing so. Because she allowed God to use her to love the unlovable, she has allowed her life to glorify God and reach others in a way that wouldn’t have been possible had she not responded in the way she did. When I first read this story, I think I was in high school and bawled like a baby praying for God to give me a love like this but hoping I wouldn’t have to go through something like this to produce that kind of love. I almost forgot about the story though since it had been a while back, until my pastor read this story this past Sunday during his message (really good if you want to hear it) when he talked about marriage and divorce. Again, I couldn’t hold back the tears at all. This story is such a beautiful illustration of God’s love and it is so worth reading! It’s only 3 pages in the book “Larger Window” by DeVern Fromke (HIGHLY recommended-pretty much anything by him as he is a great man of God) and I know it’ll make this post seem super long, but if you read anything today, I hope it’ll be this.

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Could You Have Loved as Much?

Bob Considine writes…

Edith Taylor was sure that she was “the luckiest woman on the block.” She and Karl had been married twenty-three years and her heart still skipped a beat when he walked into the room. As for Karl, he gave every appearance of a man in love with his wife. If his job as a government warehouse worker took him out of town, he would write Edith each night and send gifts from every place he visited.

In February 1950, Karl was sent to Okinawa for a few months to work in a new government warehouse. It was a long time to be away, and so far. This time no little gifts came. Edith understood! He was saving his money for the house they had long dreamed of owning someday.

The lonesome months dragged on. Each time Edith expected Karl home, he’d write that he must stay “another three weeks.” “Another month.” “Just two months longer.” He’d been gone a year now, and his letters were coming less and less often. No gifts…she understood. But a few pennies for a postage stamp? Then, after weeks of silence, came this letter:

Dear Edith,
    I wish there was a kinder way to tell you that we are no longer married.

Edith walked to the sofa and sat down. He had written to Mexico for a mail-order divorce. He had married Aiko, a Japanese maid-of-all-work assigned to his quarters. She was nineteen. Either was forty-eight.

Now, if I were making up this story, the rejected wife would fight that quick paper-divorce. She would hate her husband and the woman. She would want vengeance for her own shatter life. But I am describing here simply what did happen. Edith Taylor did not hate Karl. Perhaps she had loved him so long that she was unable to stop.

She could picture the situation. A lonely man. Constant closeness. But even so, Karl had done the easy, shameful thing. He had chosen divorce, rather than taking advantage of the young servant girl. The only thing Edith could not believe was that he had stopped loving her. Someday, somehow, Karl would come home.

Edith now built her life around this thought. She wrote Karl, asking him to keep her in touch. In time he wrote that he and Aiko were expecting a baby. Maria was born in 1951; then in 1953, Helen. Edith sent gifts to the little girls. She still wrote to Karl and he wrote back: “Helen had a tooth…Aiko’s English was improving…Karl had lost weight.”

And then the terrible letter. Karl was dying of lung cancer. His last letters were filled with fear. Not for himself, but for Aiko and his two little girls. He had been saving to send them to school in America, but his hospital bills were taking everything. What would become of them?

Then Edith knew that her last gift to Karl could be peace of mind. She wrote that if Aiko was willing, she would take Maria and Helen and bring them up in Waltham. For many months after Karl’s death, Aiko would not let the children go. They were all she had ever known. Yet what could she offer them except a life of poverty, servitude and despair? In November 1956, she sent the two girls to Edith.

Edith has known it would be hard at fifty-four to be mother to a three-year-old and five-year-old. She hadn’t realized that. in the time since Karl’s death, they would forget the little English they knew. But Mariah and Helen learned fast. The fear left their eyes; their faces grew plump. And Edith, for the first time in six years, was hurrying home from work. Even getting meals was fun again! Sadder were the times when letters came from Aiko: “Aunt, tell me…if Maria or Helen cry or not.” In the broken English, Edith read the loneliness, and she knew what loneliness was. She knew that she must bring the girls’ mother here too.

She must make the decision, but Aiko was still a Japanese citizen, and the immigration quota had a waiting list many years long. It was then that Edith Taylor wrote me, asking if I could help. I described the situation in my newspaper column. Others did more. Petitions were started, and, in August 1957, Aiko Taylor was permitted to enter the country.

As the plane came in at New York’s national airport, Edith had a moment of fear. What if she should hate this woman who had taken Karl away from her? The last person off the plane was a girl so thin and small that Edith thought at first she was a child. She stood there clutching the railing, and Edith knew that, if she had been afraid, Aiko was near panic.

She called Aiko’s name, and the girl rushed down the steps into Edith’s arms. As they held each other, Edith had an extraordinary thought. “I prayed for karl to come back. Now he has- in his two little daughters and in this gentle girl he loved. Help me, God, to love her, too.” (B.C.)

From DeVern:
I feel sure many wives would have exhorted Edith:
“Forget him! Get on with your own life.”
To some that may seem like sound advice, but that is not what Edith felt God wanted for her, and we appreciate her decision. She might even have questioned in weak moments: “Was it really God telling her to forgive, and forgive some more?” Yes, she chose to send her roots deeper into the river of his grace: And God responded by giving her two daughters and a close friend.
It is awesome! When God writes the last chapter, for whatever He writes is good…good for all. The Psalmist seems to know this:
“I will bless the Lord who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh shall rest in hope… Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Let us be assured…
“…weeping may endure for a night,
               but joy cometh in the morning!”

Father, I am sure that I could not endure as Edith did, but I remember that You are the One Who provides special grace for those Who choose Your best. I now choose to become Your channel for loving all the “Aikos” and their children around me, who are helpless victims of sin and lust.

Every Wasted Second

Engagement photo of my hubby and me.

Engagement photo of my hubby and me.

There he is. He’s hurt you countless times. You can’t even remember the last time you only had good memories. Every offense brings back a painful wound that has never seemed to fully heal, and yet he expects to be loved. He hopes to be forgiven. Oh, the nerve of him! How dare he! Doesn’t he know you have a right to be mad? A right to get even?

You. You’ve been so good to him. You take care of his kids. You clean his house. You fold his laundry. You work out and try to look nice for him. You even pack his work lunches on occasion. You even look forward to time spent in the bedroom and you hear that’s rare. You’ve been the perfect wife.  Anybody would be happy to be with you, but him, obviously. I mean, if he were happy, how could he do this to you? He’s the luckiest man in the world and he takes it all for granted. He takes you for granted.

You’ve never done that to anybody, have you? Surely, you’ve never treated anybody so badly, especially not someone who’s treated you so well; or, have you?

I think sometimes we forget, sometimes I know I forget, that there is Someone who we have all betrayed who has only ever loved us. Someone who’s been nothing but good to us and yet we’ve nailed His wrists time and time again. Someone whose forgiven us way past the 490th time. Yet, somehow, we turn our eyes to other things-things we know are going to hurt Him. We know in our heads He has our best in mind and yet fail to really know in our hearts.

Somehow, we forget just how many times we’ve failed Him over and over again when He’s never deserved it. Somehow we forget that throughout all our mistakes, all our purposeful failures, all our faithlessness, He’s been faithful and He will never deny Himself. He’s our Anchor and support when our whole world crumbles.

Then, a spouse, a significant other, a child, or even just a friend, fails us. How could they? We’ve never done anything to deserve it. We haven’t failed them. So we start keeping mental records of the times they’ve hurt us and feel justified in not loving them. We forget that love suffers long and remains kind and keeps no record of wrongs. We forget that love never fails even when everything else does. We forget that Jesus will never leave His bride, the church; yet think that He’s all for a separation when we’re not treated fairly as though He was and is treated right. We forget that nobody’s perfect and we’re debtors ourselves in need of forgiveness; yet, we turn to those “in debt” against us and act just like the unforgiving debtor in the gospels of the Bible.

I understand. I’ve been there. In fact, I lost so much hope for our marriage and over myself and knew I would beat myself up if I ever got divorced my whole life, that I just tried to end my life instead. It was an ugly mess. Honestly, I knew there were issues -major trust issues before we got married. I couldn’t stop shaking and bawling and could barely force myself  into my wedding rehearsal and needed major prayer from my sister and her husband just to get me through the doors. I know it might seem weird that I didn’t call off the wedding. Believe me, that thought crossed my mind plenty of times. I even gave the ring back probably 10x while we were engaged and was told to just put it back on and I did and I pretended like we were happy and not many people knew anything I was going through because of it. I didn’t want anybody to think badly of him and I stopped talking to any of my guy friends because I knew I was vulnerable. And somehow, through all the mess, I had to lean on the fact that God did show us, plenty of times actually, that He had a plan over both of our lives together. With all the trust issues, I started doubting those promises God made over us, but I knew that He did make them and He’s always been faithful to me, and I knew He never gave me peace to end it.

While I didn’t go into my marriage blindly, I didn’t realize just how badly the sins were that we were both entangled in. His might have seemed worse at the time, but I was believing so many lies myself and I grew angry at God for ever bringing us together because I knew He did. I had read “Created to be His Helpmeet” (read with caution if you choose to read it please-there are definitely pros and cons to it as I have grown to realize) about 4x before marriage and even again after marriage and was determined to be the perfect wife. Somewhere along the way, I started taking up burdens not only over myself and my actions, but over my husband’s actions and his salvation. I definitely never meant to be manipulative and honestly normally had a heart for my husband the majority of time, but when he would hurt me again, you would have never known it. And he knew that. My husband knew my “love” wasn’t strong enough to love him through his flaws because I lost hope in God and started trying to love him out of my own power, which was limited. I grew so hopeless and so angry at God that my works weren’t producing the results I wanted. I couldn’t make my husband love me. I never felt loved. Our love was flawed and imperfect, and honestly still is, yet God has slowly been redeeming lost time and giving us a marriage we had long ago lost hope of ever having. Our love has grown immensely for each other in the last year! That itself is a miracle!

Time can’t heal our wounds, but God can. When we walk in His wisdom, God can redeem lost time.  Un-forgiveness and bitterness are not worth it. Trust me. It’s a death trap. Literally. You cannot live fully when you have un-forgiveness and bitterness in your heart, no matter who you’re with. The Bible says divorce covers one’s garment with violence. I get it. There are issues you might need to separate yourself from until you and maybe even your kids can heal, but please even then, pray for your spouse from afar and lean on God and His strength that never fails, and seek wise, Godly counsel from people who fear God before making such a huge decision-if not even just for the protection that might be needed in those circumstances. You never know what God can do through you being willing to stay, even without the word at times, by your chaste conduct, accompanied by the fear of God. God says whatever He has joined together, let not man separate. He wants to be glorified in any and every marriage and wants us to show the mystery of God’s covenant love for the church. God can restore the most difficult marriages and use your struggles to help others going through similar situations. And when He restores difficult marriages that would have completely fallen apart without Him, He gets all the credit.

I wrote a new poem tonight kind of through my husband’s eyes when I felt justified to bring up his wrongdoings, but also through eyes that have been hurt just by not being loved well. We all want and need Love and are lost without it. However, we cannot love without receiving love from the unending Source of love. You may be right in feeling justified to not love someone; but in the end, it won’t do anybody any good and you’re wasting your time. Anyways, my husband seemed to enjoy it and I hope you do too.

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~*EVERY WASTED SECOND*~

You talk to me, mentioning
All the mistakes that I’ve made
The last thing I need to hear
Are all the times that I’ve strayed

I wish I could take back
All those painful memories
I wish I could say sorry
In a way you believe

I wish to be forgiven
Through all my mistakes
We need to cast an Anchor
Whenever our world shakes

You’re right to be mad
You’re right to accuse
But every second we waste not loving
Is a second we lose

I want to love you
In the good, the bad, the in-between
I live to want you
When you’re nice and when you’re mean

I need to hold you
In the times you want to leave
I’ll give you a reason to smile
When all you can do is bereave

I want to be loved
In the good, the bad, the in-between
I live to be wanted
When I’m nice and when I’m mean

I need to be held
In the times I want to leave
Give me a reason to smile
When all I can do is bereave

Can we move forward now?
Not dwell in the past
Every second not loving is wasted
And the years go by so fast

-R.A.D. (me) 1/25/14

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*If you have been divorced, please know that God can and wants to forgive you and restore you and especially with my past actions, it would be silly of me to ever think less of you!

**My hubby has read this (honestly, I have him read all my stuff- normally before, but sometimes after if he’s not around ’cause I normally need the reassurance and he’s been gracious to give it to me!) and even said, “You’re on a role.” 😉 God has truly transformed him far better than I ever could have done if I had my way! Thankfully, for the most part, I’ve been learning to get out of God’s way; though, occasionally, even tonight, I struggle at times remembering to do that. Live, screw up, and learn all over again I guess. 😉

***If you want to read any poetry on screwing up in relation to God, go here.

A Burdening Lie & the Power of a Testimony

Original is 24" x 48", oil on canvas.

GOD IS IN THE RAIN. Original is 24″ x 48″, oil on canvas.

My whole life I’ve felt like a burden. There isn’t any one thing that I can attribute to this, but rather a whole lot of little lies I’ve believed from different experiences I’ve had. I won’t go into specifics because I don’t want people to think badly about others because I know that even when people have hurt me & made me think those things from my experiences, it was really because they were going through different battles of their own & often believing the same lies they were saying out loud to me.

I caught myself not long ago telling my kids that I was embarrassed by how they were acting in front of others. They asked me what that even meant & when I basically explained in kids’ terms what it meant & realized it was because of me feeling ashamed of how others  might perceive them & ultimately me, I realized I was feeding into the same lie I’ve always believed over myself & putting that on them. It was a fear of man that I hadn’t really realized I had & right away, felt the need to apologize to my kids & tell them they are not an embarrassment to me, but rather a blessing.

My little blessings loving on each other November 1st, 2013. :)

My little blessings loving on each other November 1st, 2013. 🙂

Believing the lie that I’m a burden has led me to go down some very troubling places in my life-ones that are shameful to even admit sometimes because who knows what someone might do with that information? I try to be honest to a fault for the most part & I’ve lost friends from experiences I’ve had or had people-friends, I thought- literally put me down & say how ridiculous or disgusting I am for sharing different parts of my story with them. It’s caused me to shy away at times from who I share my story with or only disclose different parts to those I can really trust. And worst of all, it’s fed into the lie I’ve believed over myself that I’m just a burden.

And that’s just it. It’s a lie-a lie from my enemy who only came to steal, kill, & destroy my life. I realized that I walked right into his trap when I tried to take my own life over 6 years ago & had to spend over 10 hours in the ER just waiting for my aspirin level to start going down some. I experienced the after-effects physically for 3 days, but of course it hit me hard emotionally & spiritually for quite some time. But honestly, it was a wake up call for me- & my husband. Neither of us had fully realized just how low I had gotten, how enslaved I was to the lies I was believing until I hit rock bottom.

What really helped me get out of that place was being able to share my story with a friend I could really trust who wasn’t shocked by the ugly places of my heart & how low I had gotten with the lies I was believing- feeling like a burden was just one of many. Before, I felt like I had to keep all those ugly places-all my ugly sin & all the ugly sin others had committed against God (that I felt like were against me)-hidden because of the experiences I had been through in the past which only led me to being more enslaved to my sin & my enemy than I ever thought I could get-which was pride for me. Somehow I felt like all my past experiences & my seeking whole-heartedly after God made me exempt from falling so hard, but it didn’t. 

You might think that this story is sad, hopeless, or depressing, but it doesn’t end that way. Because I fell so hard, I was able to realize that my goodness could never save me. It didn’t matter how much I sought whole-heartedly after God in the past. it didn’t matter that the only guy I ever kissed was my husband. It didn’t matter that I tried to give cheerfully & really wanted to bless others with my life. Nothing I did could ever save me & it was only by falling so hard, that I was able to fully realize that. I could never ever get myself out of the mess I was in, but God could. Only Him sending His blameless Son on earth to take my punishment of sin was able to defeat death & the power of sin over my life. But you know what? He already did that! He did it for all of us to free us from the power of sin over our lives! THAT’s the good news! We no longer have to be enslaved to our sin & walking the path to eternal damnation-hell! How can we not be joyous over that?! Our joy is our strength! Because ONLY God & what He has done for us in this hard life gives us true joy that can overcome & last through the hardest trials of this life! That joy that was set before Jesus, helped Him endure the cross!

If you don’t have joy, it might mean you’re carrying burdens you weren’t meant to carry. While God has given me true joy & saved me from so much, I know that I’ve taken up burdens I wasn’t meant to carry at times. God’s been helping me realize that I have taken up a lot of burdens I was never meant to carry & has recently been helping set me free from them.

Any time I feel “embarrassed” by how my kids are behaving, I’m taking up the burden of other people’s feelings/opinions. Any time I believe what other people might be saying about me, I’m taking up the burden of the fear of man, rather than only fearing God- the only One I’m meant to fear. Any time I’m worried about weight gain from pregnancies or being able to take care of one more child, I’m taking up a burden that’s preventing me from allowing God to bless us with a gift of life that’s so precious to Him & that can be used for His Kingdom & His work on earth! And to think, almost a month after I tried to take my own life & follow the path Satan had for me, God put another life inside of ME-someone Satan was trying to get rid of! My 3 little blessings wouldn’t be here if Satan had his way with my life! Honestly, we could probably do this about pretty much any subject. The only thing I’m called to do is the work that God sent me here to do, just like Jesus. No more. As long as I follow His lead, I’m doing exactly what He wants me to do & it’s so freeing!

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I know this may seem a little unrelated & honestly, I was thinking about this last night before I ever read this article or watched the video with it, but I was about to share it on facebook & started to write this as a little commentary on the video, but instead decided to just share it on this post:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=7ZVWIELHQQY

“Really good video. I wish more people realized this, especially in the church. I know whenever I’ve put someone down in my life, I felt awful afterward just realizing that those people are human & I’m no better than them. We ALL have different issues we deal with. You never know where you’d be if you were in their story dealing with their issues. You can’t say that you’d be better than them ’cause you haven’t walked in their shoes. Nobody can argue with your testimony & while I can’t say Craig Ferguson is a Christian as I don’t know him personally, his personal story he shared can only be seen with respect from me. Hidden sin always grows. When you’re willing to share your story & come into the light, you’re either looking for help & a way out or you’re finally free & looking to help others who aren’t. THIS is what the church needs more of- personal testimonies. It makes my heart hurt every time people bash others trying to make themselves look better. “We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” -Anais Nin”

And I felt these were both a little related. So, that’s all. I’m always open to hear others’ stories & thoroughly enjoy people who share them. I think God uses our stories in powerful ways & wish more people shared them!

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~*When you realize your story was never about you but all about God, you lose your leading role as the hero or the victim.*~

“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 (NIV)

Being Set Free of the Burden of Being Right

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God has been releasing me lately of the burden & stronghold of “rightness” that I have been carrying for so long. I think all too often, we start off with joy wanting to do what God wants & then somewhere along the way make our story all about us & doing “what’s right.” If you’re not being led by God, no matter how “right” something is, it’s not necessarily what God wants you to do with your life as God’s Spirit overcomes the law/rightness. Yes, His Spirit doesn’t contradict anything in Scripture, but it overcomes any idea that it could be about us. I think as a church, He wants us to FREELY follow Him & realize the grand adventure it is when we give everything over to Him & cast our burdens on Him because He cares for us. That freedom is what attracts sinners to His goodness! Righteousness is not a burden we were meant to carry. We’re only to follow His lead. And that freedom is what gives us abundant Joy! The fact that we no longer have to look after the care of ourselves or worry about what others think of us & only fix our eyes upon Him- the Author & Perfecter of our faith who offers abundant joy & eternal life! 🙂


~*By realizing the reality of our Prince within us, we are never bothered again by the fact that we do not understand ourselves, or that other people do not understand us. The only One who truly understands me is the One who made me and redeems me…It is a tremendous freedom to get rid of every kind of self-consideration and learn to care about only one thing-the relationship between our Prince and ourselves.*~

~Oswald Chambers

~*THE RIGHT ONE*~

We sit in lines
With empty eyes
And a program that can’t soothe
Our hearts’ cries
And we wonder what You meant
When You became flesh
And dwelt among men
Never lacking in grace
Never lacking in truth
Yet, we think we show You
By all the “rights” that we do
We’re feeding off yesterday’s bread
Eating crumbs of yesteryear’s meat
Unaware You offer fresh manna daily
As we sit at Your feet
And we read You meet needs
You set captives free
But we’re busy hiding the chains
We don’t want seen
So we hide behind a smile
Yet we’re naked in Your sight
We ignore any thoughts
Of this being a spiritual fight
We’re blinded by principalities of “rightness”
So desperate, we welcome Satan’s kiss
No great relationship is about doing everything right
But rather, abiding with the One who is

-Colossians 2:11-3:3

See also, my poem “The Least I Could Do” for more on this subject that God has been teaching me lately.

**Just a heads up, my hubby & I plan on sharing some of our marriage testimony in an upcoming post (maybe when he’s not so busy with ref season). I’m SO excited for his contribution to this blog & so excited to share the amazing testimony God has given us! It’s taken me a long time to finally hand over the burdens I have been carrying so long in our marriage & release them to God as I was reminded that our story has never been about me & my glory & only about Him! It’s allowed Him to do a mighty work through our very difficult marriage. But PRAISE GOD for His faithfulness & I hope any who plan on reading will be encouraged in their marriages as well! 🙂

New to the Ava Anderson Non-Toxic Team!

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Slowly, Drew & I have been getting into more natural products after my youngest, Maddie, had some skin issues since she was a baby & the kids have been wanting to help clean at times, & I’ve just wanted to make sure the products were as safe as possible. We started getting some Honest Company products & then learned of Ava Anderson by his cousin. Not only are the products even a little more pure than the Honest Company, they have more options, especially along the lines of facial, cosmetic, and fragrance products; but they still have body and household  cleaning products as well! I figured we use these things every day & I had been wanting to try a few of their products ever since I saw how well it worked for Drew’s cousin & after much thought & consideration, thought, “Why am I not just selling this as I would want to be ordering more anyway & I can get an even better deal if I sell it?” So, a new e-mail address for business (rachelanndittmer@gmail.com) & a new site have been set up tonight & I just wanted to share it with you! If you have any questions or concerns, just let me know! 🙂 They have some of the most reasonable prices I’ve seen for a pure-ingredient company & I’m actually super excited to join their team! I honestly never thought I’d be saying that about anything to do with sales! I’ve just become so passionate about this kind of stuff that I really am! 🙂

     So please, feel free to ask away, & check out some of their products on my site: avaandersonnontoxic.com/rachelanndittmer & if you are interested in buying, please buy it under my name or if you might be interested in hosting a party or becoming a consultant yourself, just let me know! 🙂 They sell products in the Skin, Body, Hair, Face, Sun, Baby, Home, Scent, Candle, & Pet (Phew! A lot!) categories! So, check them out already! 😉
                                                           Thanks so much!,
                                                                    -Rachel