“I Make All Things New!” Jesus Christ


 
I received news of my aunts passing, early this morning. It was mixed emotions which I had. She had created turmoil in our lives, yet the Lord does use all of these experiences to “work together for good.”
As a child who had experienced, much pain and separation, at such a young age, this particular aunt was the one, whom I held the biggest grudge. That is, until I became a believer, and the Lord healed my heart.
Yes, I was a small child, when I was thrust into an adult world. She was the last stop before the final ‘stripping away,’ of everything and everyone, I held close.
She would scream and yell at me, when I lived with her for a very brief time. I became the scapegoat for everything which was wrong in her life. I had just lost my young brother, and even though, it was quite traumatic for me, somehow I could take the blame for this as well,
I didn’t clean the house enough, I didn’t love my father enough, I didn’t help my mother enough. I had supernatural powers, which every child believes, when they suffer this kind of loss. We take all the weight of the world and bear it for the adults.
Of course, I had no idea, that this aunt had some problems. I internalized everything she said to me.
When decision was made, not to care for us, but to place us in a Children’s Home, I believed that was my fault as well.
Surely, there must be a reason, for all of this.
I shared the quarters with children, who had been physically abused. Some still wet the bed in their teens. Other’s just abandoned. How would I know that I didn’t deserve this special punishment?
My mother, was ill, and she was furious to find out that her own children, seemed to be ‘tossed out,’ like yesterdays garbage.
Yet, her sisters had no idea, what to do, and they didn’t understand the tenacity, which my mother had. This event made her more determined than ever, to recover.
 
Now, as I said, I did not process things as an adult would, so I had no idea, that this aunt had serious issues as well. All I knew, was that I was angry. All the terrible things she spoke to me, and the cruelty of her behavior, only exacerbated my anger, when I was in this home.
But the Lord “is close to those who are brokenhearted, and those who are crushed in spirit.”
Yes, it is true. I had a nurse who I remember, to this day. Rocking me in a chair as I wept, and consoling me with the words, “Your mother will return for you.”
I also remember having a Sunday School, which we went to on the grounds. I was given my very first bible at this school.  I still have it, and have read the words written on the cover many times. “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey, Robert, the Sunday School teacher.”
Yes, we don’t always understand the impact we are having on a young child’s life, when we say and do these things.
But God knew, that one day, He would heal my deepest hurts in a most miraculous way.
 
I became a believer, and I started to see the things which I harbored in my heart, were a stumbling block, to the transformation which the Lord was going to bring about.
I started to pray for certain people, who I knew were assigned to me in a special way. Those who had brought the deepest wounds to my soul, would be at the very top of the list. The Lord reminded me, that I may be the only one praying for these souls, and if not, then the power of combined prayer, would be even more dynamic.
As I prayed, I was reminded that it really wasn’t about, ‘how I felt.’ This enabled me to lift them up to my Father, and release the anger, I had felt.
I knew when I took a step in faith, and this being the act of my will, the emotions would follow. As I could see a changed heart, I would perceive this person differently.
Well, with this aunt of mine, the Lord brought the visual picture full circle.
She had been such a painful part of my past, when my mother had her breakdown. After losing everyone close to me, the last person in my life, who was part of the decision to place my siblings, and I, in the home, was this aunt.
How many years, did I harbor this anger and hurt? I can say, for half of my life.
Then one day, after becoming a believer, it happened. This aunt called me.
Full of fear and extremely depressed, she had come down to my area of the country. She had lost her husband, spent a lot of money, while running, and systematically, ‘cut off,’ the communication with her own siblings and children.
Now she was calling me to come and help her. She had a breakdown and she was in a residence near me.
The thought first came, “Serves her right. The exact same thing has happened to her, and now she also lost her own children, by her own hands.”
How incredible was this, I thought.
Then the voice of someone close to me spoke. “Do you really believe that any of this is a coincidence? I mean of all the places for this aunt to be, in the whole world? She’s 15 minutes away from you? And not to mention, she’s in the same situation as your mother was.
Don’t you think, that the Lord is doing something?”
As much as I didn’t want to believe it, I had no other choice. If I were to plan a revenge, this would be similar, except the part about the phone call would have been played out in a different manner.
I would have instead, answered the call and twisted the knife. “Oh, you say you had a breakdown, like my mom did? Oh,, and you have no children to help you? Oh, and now you are calling me, the one child you tormented and placed in a home, oh so many years ago? Hmmm, that’s too bad. I’m very busy.”
 
No, I knew that this was not what the Lord had planned, when He said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.”
I saw this as something He was doing for me. After all, I had been praying for her.
Now, I made the drive to see her. Still feeling the remnants of my childhood anger, I arrived at this little shack of a house. It held a few rooms and a cafeteria.
As I asked one of the nurses, where my aunt was, she told me she was dining in the cafeteria. She pointed to a small,, circular window.
“She’s right there!”
“I don’t understand,” I told her. “Where?”
She pointed again, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It could have been that I was looking for the woman, who had always looked much younger than her age. Full of spunk, a full head of red hair, and wild as a young girl.
All I could see was an old woman with gray, unkempt hair. Much heavier than my aunt, sipping a spoon of soup, while hands trying to steady the shaky fingers, to her mouth, without spilling.
“That’s my aunt?” I was in shock. What had happened to her?
I realized at that moment, that I was filled with pity. I started to weep. All of the desire for any revenge, left my heart. All I wanted to do was give her a hug, and let her know everything would be ok.
Now, I realized that this was part of the Lord’s plan. Not just for her, but for me.
I sat with her, and listened to her tales woe. Knowing that she had been responsible, did not decrease my compassion. She was the ‘Prodigal Daughter,’ and I know that I have been her myself, many times.
So, I continued to grow closer to her, and pray fervently for her over the years.
I had gone up to pray for her since, finding out she had this heart condition.
I found in my bible, a prayer request listed from my church in 1989, for her salvation.
She was so blessed when I gave this to her. Just to know, I had been doing this for many years.
Yes, I have come to realize that the Lord doesn’t heal us, because we deserve it, but because we don’t deserve it.
This is true grace.
I reflected back on ‘Robert, the Sunday school teacher.’ And this experience which the Lord would one day use, for His own purposes. Who knew,if this aunt had placed me in this awful place, that I would be praying over her one day.
Yes, I am blessed.
 
Now, I heard from my cousin, yesterday, that my aunt had taken a turn for the worse.
I called and asked her caregiver, to place the phone up to her ear, so that my mother and I would be able to speak to her.
As my mother gave her words of comfort and love, I marveled at the things our Lord had done. But the ultimate healing is to be with Him. This was my message to her.
I reminisced of the fun times we’ve had and made her laugh  quite hard, as I recounted some of our experiences together. I told her to ‘hold on,’ to these funny memories, as the Lord came for her. Because it is true, the “joy of the Lord is our strength.
At about midnight, I received a message that my aunt had passed away.
I went to tell my mother, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen my mother cry like this. Even at the loss of her mother. Perhaps it is because of the long history with her own sister, and the fact that they shared the same womb.
I held my mother again this morning and was so comforted in knowing that I am with her, when she heard this news.
Yes, this is difficult, but I can say, “Thank you,” in spite of the circumstances. For the ones, who had given to the Lord. My life has truly been changed.
I will miss her, but the one thing I do know in this life, we will see each other again. In a place where there is no pain or sorrow.
Until that time, Rest In Peace, Aunt Dottie!
Advertisements

The Greatest of These Is Love


Love Never Ends

Yes, I am a work in progress. I never realized how far from the mark, I’ve really been. Well, if anyone thinks they have arrived….you haven’t! And the Lord will certainly show you that.

When I think of Love, I had a clouded understanding. I am learning that I wasn’t even close. Yet, I am getting there.The Lord tells us that we are going “from faith to faith and from glory to glory.” All I can say is; Be careful what you pray for!

I had forgotten prayers offered up, long ago. I let my suffering cloud my vision and the Lord allowed this as well. He has pruned me. A painful process to be sure, but necessary to bring forth the fruit of His spirit.

I doubt that many recognize this as it’s happening. Since it is a process, it is slowly happening as we live and try to walk as He desires us to walk.

Today, as I was praying, He spoke a word to my spirit. He pointed out an amazing concept. These things always seem to make sense and as if it’s something that we should already understand, yet, understanding and applying any principle, as you know, are worlds apart.

This is the word that the Lord had spoken today;

  • Grace, it opens the door to forgiveness
  • Forgiveness, it leads us down the road of love
  • Love, she sits on the throne of righteousness and she will make right every wrong

“Love covers a multitude of sins.”

I was mulling this over in my mind and was reminded of a few things in my life. I had thought of my childhood. I had already been devastated by the loss of my youngest brother, my parents divorce, and the loss of our home.

At this point I watched my mother deteriorate into an emaciated woman. I had no idea what was wrong with her, but I knew it was serious. As I watched her frame, whittle down to 94 pounds, I felt such incredible terror. I was helpless and felt if we just kept the house clean, she would be ok.

As she became more ill, it was clear that she needed medical attention. She finally checked herself into a hospital, as she secured a place with our neighbor. The woman had her own 5 or so kids to care for. In a small project home, we all crammed in. This woman had accepted us as her own and decided to go the distance. What an angel.

However, little did I know; my aunts had decided we belonged with family. They had a meeting and split us up. We went to various relatives.

At the time, I became ill and no wonder. The particular aunt I was with, did not like the idea of me and my brother being in her home, since she was extremely stressed out.

She was very impatient and especially given the fact that I was ill. She made cruel comments to me. The relatives had gotten together and decided we would all have to go. They placed us in The Children’s Home.

Traumatized once again, as I’m surer my siblings were. I felt so much anger toward the particular aunt that had me, that I couldn’t see ever having the ability to forgive her. After all, we were only children. I had an angel working in the Home. She was a nurse and she would rock me in a chair as I cried. I would say, “I’m never going to see my mom again.” and she would reassure me that I would be with her again. I remember Baby Love, by the Supremes, playing as I would rock in that chair. She gave me the love that a young child needed at that time. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that she offered her love to, but I felt special. The Lord used her to bring comfort to a host of hurting children.

My mother did recover and mostly because of the knowledge that her children had been placed in a home. To this day, I hate grapefruit juice and the smell of oatmeal, because it was the breakfast that we had been served, every morning.

Years later, after becoming a Christian, I began learning about forgiveness. Not having a complete understanding, I was about to have the lesson taught in another complete picture. A parable come to life.

I received a call from my aunt. The one that I was still holding in my anger cell. She had come to the state that I live in, on a quest for fun. She had spent all of her money, made her children angry enough that they would not speak to her, and now had a complete breakdown.

“Why call me?” I was still feeling the hurt and pain of childhood stinging my heart. “Serves her right,” I thought. I mean this is the same circumstance for her, except that she has alienated herself. As I spoke this, I was reminded by someone…”Do you think of all the places she could be in the world, it is a coincidence that she is 15 minutes away in a home?”

No, I agreed, this is an incredible coincidence. Which was painfully obvious that it was not a coincidence at all. God was moving His hand I supposed, but why? “Ok, I’ll go and see her. Whatever God wants.” But I sure wasn’t feelin the love.

As I walked into this place, I asked where my aunt was. “Oh, she’s having dinner in that room.” The gentleman pointed to a door with a small round window in it. As I approached, I saw through the portal. A mass of people at a table. I peered closer. Which one was my aunt? She was a striking woman who appeared younger than her age. Surely I would be able to pick her out of a crowd like this one. As I studied the faces of each person, I saw a woman who bore a resemblance, except for the fact that she was about 60 pounds heavier than my aunt and her hair was gray. My aunt had a beautiful head of red hair the last time I had seen her. The woman was eating very slowly and shaking while trying to bring the spoon to her mouth. The man came up alongside of me, as if he’d read my mind. “That is her.” All of a sudden a wave of emotions came over me. I started to cry. All these years of anger and to see it come full circle and the punishment I had so desired, had now given birth to compassion. “Lord, I don’t want this for her.” Now the Lord was beginning to show me that in all my anger, if I could have chosen a punishment, it probably would have been similar. Oh, how many times had I wanted her to experience my pain? My mother’s pain? And yet, now….I couldn’t bear the sight of this.

I went in to visit and all of my anger slipped away. It seem almost as if it had been a fire extinguished. It was as if the Lord had taken a hose from the water of life, and sprayed in one gushing shower. I felt a need to reach out to her. To help her. “Please remove this Lord. ” I felt myself asking for His mercy for her. That was about 20 years ago.

I had just visited her again. She has had a lot of hurt in her life, yet I will never feel anger toward her again. I have nothing but compassion. This was the gift that the Lord gave me. The forgiveness wasn’t for her, as much as it was for me.

Grace….it opens the door to forgiveness. Did she deserve it? Yes, if grace by its definition, is unmerited favor. We deserve it because we don’t deserve it. If that makes any sense to you.

I am at once aware of the meaning of my suffering. It is developing in me, the character of Christ. I am to be a reflection of Him. How foolish I have been. Staring me right in the face all along. The very things that had caused my pain, had also blinded me to what He has been trying to teach me.  And what is required of me  if I am to learn these lessons? He’s already told us. A baptism of fire. Suffering to the point of our death. Our death to ourselves. Our death to our desires, which is the opposite of what the world desires. So it is no longer me who lives, but Christ who lives in me.

I had thought of another picture. A beautiful picture and as I said, the Lord always speaks to us through what is natural. If we have eyes to see.

My friend Grace. I knew her when we were both in second grade. Right after coming through the trauma’s of my young life. I met Grace. She was perfect. She was the best at everything. Teachers pet. Best singer. Best athlete. Grace…was wonderful.

Grace was the one who delivered the news of my boyfriends death.

Grace became lost. She moved out of my life. I was searching for Grace on the streets of a city and her address didn’t exist.

The mire of this world, killed Grace. She died years ago as I was also falling into darkness. Sad that I couldn’t find Grace years earlier. I asked the Lord why? I had only heard of her demise, as I was leaving my hotel in this city. Why couldn’t I find Grace? I asked.  “It is in my time,” He reminded me. “One day, Grace will return to you.

Now, I am beginning to understand. Grace did not die. She is resurrecting…from the rubble of my life. And Grace now reigns in my heart.

The door swings wide open…all we have to do is walk through!♥

The Sword of the Spirit


We don't war against flesh and blood!

We don't war against flesh and blood!

My brother and I were talking about the difference between the times that we had grown up and now. All the bloodshed today.  We grew up in rough neighborhoods too, but we knew how to handle ourselves. It was mostly a intimidation factor. People standing in the middle of the sidewalk and refusing to move. You were to cut right through the middle if you were bold enough. I was.

I had lived in a project for the majority of my life and taken it for granted. It was the loss of my father and our house when I was only five. Then the death of my baby brother and my mothers breakdown that left us in the care of her sisters. They in turn, placed us into a children’s home and we were all separated from each other. All of these events shaped us. They forced a toughness in us. My oldest brother, who is mentally challenged, was then placed into a home and that was the final separation. I was the next oldest, so I had to accept the fact that I was to curl up and die, or accept adult responsibilities at a very young age.

It was at this age that I started to experience supernatural strength. Something above and beyond the natural and a voice that started to speak to me. Arms wrapping around me in comfort and shielding me from the horrors that were all around me. I was to continue to experience one trauma after another, yet, I still heard Him speaking and He would let me know that He was with me. There was a purpose for it all.

I remembered sitting on the busy street in front of our little brown brick home with my best friend, Romaine. She was black. We watched the army tanks rolling down the streets in preparation for the race riots in Milwaukee and had no idea what was taking place. All we knew was that we were best friends. She told me, “girl, you need to get you some soul!” She taught me every dance that a black girl knew how to dance. The Popcorn, the Mother Popcorn. The Chicken, Funky Chicken, the Hesitation, the Meditation,Mashed Potato, and she was solely responsible for teaching me everything Motown. We would sit for hours and listen to everything that Motown had to offer. Romaine did not live in the project, but a very nice house across the creek. She would only come and visit me. I was a kind of combination of soul and hippie. I loved Bob Dylan and Motown. His song , Blowin In the Wind, was in full swing and so was all the great hits by James Brown and Stevie Wonder.

I had another, white girlfriend, Kathy, and she sounded like a black girl. She would hang out with us sometimes. She lived directly across from me in my court in the project. The first day I met her, I gave her a black eye. I threw a rock at her and had to go and apologize. We became good  friends after that. I guess I earned some respect. lol I didn’t know that at the time, I was just showing off, after all, I was just a little girl. I was sitting on a dumpster with another little girl and being edged on, with rock in hand by a malicious voice next to me, I clearly was not thinking . I had the advantage and this girl must have been jealous, so I took my shot and bingo! The rock hit its target. Geesh! I could have taken  poor Kathy’s eye! I didn’t even know her and to the other girls delight, I blackened it immediately! Of course the other girl claimed I was just horrible! At any rate, it didn’t work it’s poison for long, as I said, we became fast friends.

All the boys loved her because she developed early. She had soul and she could dance. I finally was learning how to dance and it wasn’t too long that my friend Romaine was not embarrassed that she could present her prodigy to her black friends as an official “soul sister.”

Now when I finally moved to a house and it was in the inner city, there was a group of girls  that would start to walk around my home and call me out. It was funny to me, because one of them was a white girl and the others were black. This was a territorial rite of passage. They assumed I was intimidated, however, they had no idea that I had grown up in a project and had been fighting for years. I didn’t walk away from fights and sure didn’t cross over to the other side of the street when I saw a group of girls hanging out.

These girls came around every day with their chants. “Oh Carrie, come on out!” I would just laugh. I was watching and waiting. I knew sooner or later we would see each other, but it wasn’t going to be like this. You don’t just walk into a group. It would be at my choosing, not theirs.

One day, I was returning from the store and I saw the group. There they were standing on a corner. Much bigger than the small group that circled my house and I thought. I’m not crossing the street and I will take the girl that keeps calling out my name. She’s the one that seems to have the problem and I’m getting tired of her tirade. Then if the other two want a go at it, they will be next. Her name was Stacey. She was cute. I came walking up the street and as I approached they started with me and I looked at her and said, “you wanna start, cuz I’m ready to knock the mess out of you!” At this her eyes were as big as they could get and I pushed her back. When the other girls heard me speak for the first time they realized, I didn’t sound like a scared white girl that was going to back down. I know this is funny now, but this is how we talked back in the 70’s. lol Yes, we were called “white hunky’s and we didn’t care! Those were the days. We fought with our fists and we had mixed neighborhoods. Of course, mine was way more black than white, but we did have a lot of fun. And after I established that I had moved  in from the projects, I was now accepted. Now even esteemed. I was hanging out with these girls and we all had fun and talked about that day on the street when I was about to kick Stacey’s a**.

A few years later, I was in an alley with my brother and his friends. He was telling his wife the story about a gang of girls that had come after me. I had pulled a pliers out of my back pocket and they took off running. I said, “yea, what was I doing with pliers in my pocket anyways?” He said, I don’t know but all my friends thought that was hot!” We cracked up at that!

Now that I’m older and Christ has reminded me of that toughness in me, I look back at all of the things that I have experienced. I remember my brother and I hopping trains together. The first time I learned how to do it, I wore all white. I somehow knew I would not get a speck of dirt on me. It’s just hilarious when I think of the picture I must have been. I never fit the mold. I was like the model, learning how to jump a train. I remembered my brother telling me, “now look, you have to have your feet running before you hit the ground or you are going to slide and fall.” Ok, I thought, that sounds easy enough.” As I jumped up and grabbed the rails, it was so exhilarating. The train started speeding up and going faster and faster. I was so excited as I was riding along. He had told me, “jump off before it picks up too much speed or you’ll be in the next county!” I started to get scared, so I thought, this is time to make my jump. I watched the ground and got my feet in motion as if I was running. Closer and closer to the ground, as if my feet were running and I remembered they were running along as I gently touched down. I was feeling as if I was accomplishing something that very few people in a lifetime could ever say they did! Rather like skydiving. We also would climb to the top of grain cars and go into them. It was an incredible experience. you would feel like you were in a bounce house, but the grain would be like quicksand. Of course we heard the stories of kids that had been buried alive in this stuff. That only it more intriguing to us.  We would get the M80’s from the caboose and put them on the tracks and unhitch the cars and push them over them to watch them explode. Now I know you wonder what fun this could be, but this is what poor kids did. We would find all kinds of things in our neighborhoods that rich kids didn’t have and our friends didn’t have and it amazed us that they all wanted to come over to our neighborhoods to visit. It may be the tough factor that intrigued them.

We had friends that came from the suburbs that had wanted to hang out just to come to the tracks with us. One was my girlfriend, the pastors daughter. Her and I had gotten into so much trouble, because we had all gone to the railroad tracks that night and gotten taught her how to hop a train. Then we had gotten chased by a security guard with a gun. What a thrill that was! We had stayed out all night and when the cops had chased us, she had hidden under the mud flaps of a truck and I had hidden in the back yard of someones house. Her mother had called my mother and we had gotten in a lot of trouble, but man, the stories we had last a lifetime! Especially since I watched as the cops walked right by her hiding under those mud flaps. That was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen. For a pastors kid, it doesn’t get any more exciting than that! She’s now in the military and thanks me for introducing her to the most thrilling moments of her life! haha! Well the Lord is the one that protected us. I have to thank Him for surrounding us in our foolishness!

Now, I know that I do not war against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities. I am always reminded of this very thing when dealing with these spirits. I was at these very same railroad tracks when a very evil boy from our neighborhood tried to rape me. In broad daylight, he grabbed me. My brother and his friend were with me, but they were so terrified of this guy. We called him Scarface. He terrorized the neighborhood. He once beat this boy so bad on the street that he stomped on him until he went into convulsions. Here he was this day and he had grabbed me. He started to molest me and told my brother and his friend to leave immediately. He started to scream at them. We didn’t have cell phones back then and I was terrified. Nothing around but what I thought were empty warehouses. As my brother and his friend looked at this guy with fear, and started backing away, I hear a voice from far away scream, “Get your hands off of her, right now!!!” It was like an angel spoke from heaven. I looked and saw a man running from far away! He was coming closer. At the sight of this man running, this guy took his hands off of me and started to run. I saw a man coming and I couldn’t wait. I just wanted to run home. I took off running. I ran all the way home and never looked back. I always wished that I would have thanked this man, but for all I know he was another angel dispatched from heaven.

Years later, my mother was attacked in our home. I arrived home right after this happened and I was so distraught. I made her move and I slept with a knife under my pillow. Furious at the thought. She told me that this man went into my room and I sensed that it was this same guy. I would pray that this guy would return so that I could give him his final curtain call. But the Lord would not have that. He reminded me that He would deal with him.

This man was evil beyond description. He was sent from the pit of hell and the Lord reminded me that this was not a human battle. So a knife would not be a way of battling this, but we wage warfare with our prayers. These are wicked spirits. To see this man do this to this poor boy in the middle of the street and then to my mother, made me ill. I’ve seen other spirits like this at work. Now I know, it’s not a pliers in my pocket, nor a knife under my pillow. It is the sword of the spirit, which is the WORD of GOD, which is going to defeat all the power of the enemy!

Each time we speak the word, he is a defeated foe. He hates it when we know the word, but he hates it even more when we speak it!

So now, this is how I fight against the wiles of the enemy! Make Gods words your words. Learn them and speak them!