Peace Giver

I’ve kept journals on and off most of my adult life. For whatever reason, I haven’t journaled much at all in the last couple years. But I go through my old journals sometimes and today I found this one copied below. In it I’m recounting an experience I had with one resident in particular at an addiction facility in Nashville where I served as “spirituality teacher.”

In group today I was talking to the residents about peace. It wasn’t my plan, but it happened and I felt like I should stay with it. “The peace of God,” I explained, “surpasses understanding because it is not congruent with our circumstances. God’s peace can be experienced despite the turmoil or trials we may be experiencing in any given season of our life.”

After several minutes on my rabbit trail I asked for questions and feedback on what they were feeling. Two of the girls raised their hands and said they did not have peace; any peace. It was a foreign concept. One of the girls started to share. I’ve known her for a couple months now, and I know she’s endured much more than most, seeing her mom murdered, experiencing ritual abuse at the hands of a cult religion that actually claimed God was commanding the abuse, and much, much more. She wanted to be clear, that under no circumstances was she experiencing peace, nor had she ever. Not peace with her circumstances, not with her recovery, not with God, not in relationships, not with herself, nothing. My hand went to rest on her arm. This vulnerable honesty was not something that came natural to her and it was more than she’d said in group in weeks. Most addicts have to work very hard to open up and say what’s really going on inside. They’re used to masking their innermost feelings of pain and brokenness with drugs or alcohol. Her voice started to get very shaky, her face and neck blotchy, and the tears started falling as she struggled to get more words out. She told me that she didn’t know how to have peace with God when God was one of her triggers. She said she questions whether God could ever forgive her for praying while she was shooting up, for His help to find a vein. She said she used to pray for her mother to die, and then her mother was murdered. How could God forgive her for that? The tears fell. And fell. And so did my heart, breaking in a million pieces all over the floor.

That was the end of the entry. We became very close, that resident and I, and I was able to have a front row seat as God graciously and lovingly honored her desire to know the real Him, and experience His peace. Over a relatively short period of time I watched God flood her spirit with His, pouring out His Love and Light and Grace into her darkest places of pain.

I am still in awe as I recall the Sunday morning I had taken a group of residents to Cross Point church as was our usual practice. But that morning, after the message she leaned over and said, “I think I’m ready. Can we talk after the service?”

So I found an empty office and all the ladies, now friends and supporters of one another, joined together as she quietly vocalized that she wanted Jesus to take His place Savior in her life, and she wanted to know and experience God as the good, loving Father she had been learning about.

She asked me to pray, and I asked her how she felt about doing the praying, just expressing to God what she was feeling and desiring. Bravely she spoke out, eyes closed, talking to God through shaky tears, giving Him her heart, declaring Jesus to be her Savior, receiving Him as her closest friend and confidant, and choosing to follow Him with her life.

Praise God, faithful and loving, patient and kind. He knows what we need. He knows what our roadblocks are. He orchestrates moments of deliverance for every heart that aches for Love.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

“For He will deliver the needy who cry out. The afflicted who have no one to help.” Psalm 72:12

 

 

Three’s A Charm

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March 23rd, 2013. A very special day indeed.  A day I was going to send out thank you notes for because so many wonderful women and even a few husbands pitched in to make happen. But, alas, I am nowhere near as put together and on task as I dream to be in my head. And so, I will blog about it. This is an “I love you” and “I never could’ve done this without you” shout out to all the amazing givers in this community effort story. 🙂

Dinah, one of the women in active recovery at Mending Hearts who I’ve been lucky enough to get to know over the last several months, asked me if I would help throw a baby shower for one of the ladies on campus. I thought it was an excellent idea. And then I realized that three of the ladies on campus were actually having babies right around the same time. A triple baby shower was an excellent idea too. But one I knew I would need a LOT of help with. So I intentionally bit off more than I could chew believing God would fill in the gaps through the generosity of others – and do so ecstatically.

And He did!!! (Though I can’t promise there weren’t momentary panic attacks along the way wondering if anything would come together like I saw it in my head)

My goal for the day was to provide for the mommies-to-be everything they would need to breathe easy when they had their little ones and create an atmosphere of love and light hearted fun for all the women who attended. Due to the people I will mention below, that goal was met and far exceeded. When I tell you the women were SET, I mean, I have never seen so many baby items in one place ever. It made me wish I had a baby of my own to spoil! You name it, they got it. Whenever I made a need known, people came through to meet that need. And the room and the decorations and the food, cake, every little detail was just perfect.

So THANK YOU with all my heart:

Jamie and Lance Lockhart                    Miranda Telford

Regina Hernandez                                   Lydia Dragan

Jennifer Pettus                                          Jackie Brewster

Ryan Bult                                                    Jackie and John DiPillo

Billie Colton                                               Joanna and George Logothetis

Angelia Van Vranken                             Anna Lopez

Dena Williams                                          Brandy Little

Brittany Barbera                                       Whitney Frawley

Forest Hills Baptist Church                  West End Community Church

Cross Point Church                                 Renee at Mending Hearts

Thank you so much on behalf of all the ladies at Mending Hearts, especially the mommies, who have all had healthy babies now. 🙂 Your generosity warms my heart and makes me smile. Whenever we sacrifice for the good of others, we can be sure it is actually the life of Christ alive and living through us. That’s just cool. 🙂

For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose. ~Philippians 2:13

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