Healing

Courtney Shaw: Before she was Mrs. Florida

Woke up to the wonderful news this morning that my friend, Courtney Shaw, was crowned Mrs. Florida last night. She now gets to go on to represent Florida in Mrs. America. I thought it would be quite appropriate to share my radio interview of her. She is an extraordinary woman of God! Florida is SO blessed to have her wearing the crown.

 

What a Week it’s Been!

The Lord is Near Broken HeartThis has been quite a week for me!

The scab was torn off a wound that was well on its way to being healed. The wound …  a deep, re-opened mess. And I was bleeding. Badly.

For two years I’ve grieved. Processed. Talked it through with God. Talked things through with my best friend. Surrendered. Dripped mascara stained tears onto the pages of my precious Bible. Forgave. Laid on my face before God. Processed some more. Dripped more mascara stained tears. Then forgave … again. Grieved some more. Lamented. Surrendered again. Let go. A process that would be repeated over and over … and over again.

It’s the Shelly Brown process of healing. 🙂

But it works.

Yet now, here I sit, working again trying to stop the bleeding.

I realized this week how vulnerable we are to the enemy (the father of lies), when we feel so deeply wounded. We are so busy tending to the bleeding, that our minds become a raging battlefield. The energies we so diligently used to guard our hearts and minds are now diverted to simply keeping our head above water, while we nurse the hurt and replay over and over in our mind, the scenes that brought us back to this painful place.

My healing won’t take as long this time, as this was merely a set back. The enemies’ fiery darts hit some vulnerable and exposed areas of my heart and mind. But, he didn’t win! I’ll do what I’ve done over the last couple of years …

Process. Pour out my heart to God. Cry. Grieve. Talk it through with my godly best friend. Saturate my mind with Truth from God’s Word. Surrender. Let go. And forgive. Then … repeat, over and over … and over again, until the only evidence there was ever a painful wound is the scar, a beautiful scar. My beautiful reminder of how there is nothing too broken for God’s healing power.

Dig deeper: Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts (minds) with all diligence because out of our hearts flows all the issues of life. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 offers a very simple blueprint for guarding our hearts and minds.

Trusting God: When Things Don’t Go Our Way

With a tear streaked face, I told the Lord, “Okay, here’s the thing God. I’m struggling right now … with trusting You.” I paused for a few minutes looked at my Bible that lay open on my lap and read a few verses. Then, in brokenness and sobbing, I cried, “Okay, it’s not that I don’t trust you, God. I do trust you. It’s just that I don’t trust that you will work things out the way I feel like I need them to be worked out!”

If God spoke audibly, I probably would have heard a resounding, holy “Well, DUH!”

That’s usually the way it is. If we’re honest, we simply want things to go our way. It’s like the viral You Tube video where the little boy asks his mom for a cookie. He says to his mommy, “I – I – like you, but I don’t like you all da time, I like you when you give me cookies though.” We trust God as long as He’s giving us all the cookies we want, but when the cookie jar dries up and things don’t go the way we would like, our faith is shaken and we begin to wonder if we can really trust God, or worse yet, if He’s truly trustworthy.

For some of us, “trust” is a very hard verb to apply. Yet, it is the very thing that can reverse the effect of adversity in our lives. The adversity that the enemy meant to harm us is the very same adversity that God uses to bring about the greatest change in our lives. Joseph understood the effect of adversity by declaring to his brothers, “what you meant for evil, God meant for good.”

The reality is, the more we know God the more we can trust Him … even on those days of uncertainty and human frailty. And, the only way to get to know Him is to spend time with Him — by seeking His face. How long has it been since you sat at His feet … just you and God, basking in HIS presence … in expectation … longing to hear from Him? My favorite method of spending time with the Lord is, “reading until He speaks to me.” When I long to hear His voice, I turn to the books of Isaiah, Colossians, Romans, Hebrews or James and I read … until He speaks to me, and then I make a note of it. The truth is, the more you hear His voice, the more you’ll long to sit at His feet. And the more you sit at His feet, the more you’ll get to know Him. And the more you get to know Him, the more you’ll be able to trust Him even when things don’t turn out the way you think they should or hoped they would.

Rejection Worse Than Death?

RejectionI don’t know the statistics, but having been around and worked in ladies ministry for many years, “rejection” seems to be a foremost area of brokenness in so many lives. The reason for this is, unlike anything else, rejection goes to the very core of who we are.

Right or wrong … it screams …

“You’re not good enough.”

“You will never measure up!”

“You’re not pretty enough.”

“You’re worthless.”

“You’re unloved.”

“You’re unlovable.”

Over the last year, I’ve witnessed first hand how damaging rejection is to heart of a young woman. I’ve watched it manifest itself in the life of someone very dear to me. Her daddy walked away from her and chose another life. I’ve watched as she longed for nothing more than to spend time with him, without expectation of anything else. No expensive dinner. No fan fare. No gifts. Just time. Just him.

Rejected.

I’m convinced that rejection from a parent is one of the greatest debilitating strongholds in a woman’s life (young AND old).

It would have been better had the parent died, than to be rejected over and over by the one who was supposed to unconditionally love and be there for her.

I can say that with great certainty, because I’ve experienced both.

The Loss:

The greatest loss of my life was the day my mom died. I was a month from my sixth birthday when she died. It was the most dramatic, and painful loss of my life. Losing my mom was far beyond the average loss of a parent, because of the days the ensued. It was the last time I experienced a maternal nurturing and love. And, just because a six year old no longer has that, doesn’t mean it’s not needed. Yet … though I lost my mom, not a day in my life did I feel unloved by her or rejected by her.

Rejected:

The day of my mom’s funeral my dad kissed me on my cheek and said, “Good-bye.” I had no idea that would be the last time I would ever see my dad.

Abandoned.

Rejected again:

A year and a half after my mom died, I was adopted by a couple who couldn’t have their own children. My adopted dad was amazing. Certainly making up for the rejection and loss of my natural father. But, my adopted mom? She chose me, and then, in her mind, decided that I didn’t measure up to the daughter she dreamed of all her life. She began to abuse me in unimaginable ways.

Unthinkable rejection. Rejected by the very mom who chose me.

Compared to the death of my mom, the pain of rejection went to the very core of my soul. It would have been better had she joined my natural mom and died than had she poured out her wrath and rejection on me.

To some that may sound harsh. I can hear some of you saying, “How dare you compare death to rejection!” Please know my heart. I would never minimize your loss. Death is painful. The void left behind is something that can never be replaced. Yet, with death, there is a natural grieving process. A process that allows you to work through each stage of grief, and eventually move on as you honor the memory of the one you lost.

Unlike death, processing and healing from the pain of being rejected requires much more attention. If left untended to, the wounds only deepen and fester over time.

I watch this one, who is very close to me, as she tries to process the rejection of the one who is supposed to be there to protect and love and support her. She struggles to see her true worth as a result of his rejection. She wonders how if her own dad can’t love her enough to be there (even though he does love her), how God can truly love her.

I assure her that God fiercely loves her. That only God’s love is perfect. That nothing can compare to God’s love for her. That she can laugh in the face of rejection because she is treasured beyond any human comprehension!

We were created to be loved, valued and accepted. To experience anything contrary to that from someone we trust and love, goes against God’s design for us, His treasured possession.

When we feel the pain and hurt of rejection, it is primarily because we are placing our value and identity in the hands of the one(s) who rejected us.

How does one even begin to heal from the brokenness that rejection leaves behind?

A great place to start is with forgiveness. It’s time to release that person and lay them at the foot of the cross. You don’t have to tell the person you have forgiven them. It’s simply an act of no longer holding the offense against them. Unforgiveness is like carrying a 100 pound chain around your neck. The day I finally let my adopted mom off the hook, I was sitting in a chair praying, and visualizing that I was sitting at the foot of the cross. And in a ceremonious way, I took both hands and removed the chains from around my neck and laid them on the ground at the foot of the cross. And then, I just sat there and allowed God’s love and grace to pour into those broken areas of my soul and mind. And since that moment, I’ve been on a journey to replace the lies that rejection told me, with the Truth of what God’s word tells me.

Value is determined by how much someone is willing to pay for something. And, no one paid a greater price for you than the One who suffered the most torturous death in all of history.  I choose to believe that my identity and my value come from God alone.

No one aside from God, determines our value! NO ONE.

As we embrace the truths of God’s word and His love, we will know that we are valued and deeply loved, and rejection will never again have a debilitating effect on us. We are not defined by our rejection! We are defined by the ONE who suffered the ultimate rejection, so that we can experience the ultimate acceptance … and with that acceptance comes the ultimate unconditional love! Ask the Holy Spirit to allow you to FEEL loved by Him. He promises that when you seek Him with all your heart you will find Him. Ask Him to pour out His healing balm into your soul and mind. When you feel loved by Him your life will never be the same.

Have you experience rejection? Death of a parent? Both? What are your thoughts? What have you done to heal? Are you still struggling to heal? What will you do today to start the process of healing?

When Nothing Else Matters

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you ever had a “stop in your tracks” type of moment in your life? A moment where you realize that nothing else really matters. Your life successes no longer matter. Building your dream home no longer matters. Your profession no longer matters. Your coveted season tickets to your favorite sports team suddenly doesn’t matter. Your awards you’ve accumulated over the years no longer matter.

What kind of moment causes everything else to seem so incredibly insignificant?

The moment you hear that your baby girl is now fighting for her life. The moment when you hear that your cancer has spread. The moment when you hear that your husband of 20 years no longer wants to be your husband. The moment when you hear your adult child has made a tragic life-altering choice. The moment when you realize everything you worked for your entire life, is gone. I can describe these scenes because sadly, these are fresh realities of women I know and love.

Moments like these, take our hearts and minds to places we never knew existed. We witness first hand how frail we are in our humanity. We realize that at the end of the day, all that really matters is something so intangible that all the money this world can contain can’t buy it, dreams can’t fulfill it, the brightest minds can’t create it or duplicate it.

When we have one of those “stop in your tracks” type of moments, and I pray, oh how I pray, that these moments are few and far between in your life, we immediately, as if instinctively, do one of two things: 1) in longing desperation we turn our hearts toward heaven; or 2) in bitter anger we shake our fist toward heaven.

Either way, we look toward our Creator. Instinctively, we embrace Him or we blame Him.  We look to Him to be our refuge and comfort or we look to Him to cast blame and outrage.

It is in these “stop in your tracks” moments when we are forced to come to terms with our own mortality. Our frailness. Our insufficiency. Our brokenness. Our utter dependence on our Creator.

So what does matter in moments like these? What causes us to turn our hearts to Him instead of shake our fist toward Him?

It is the intangible becoming tangible … embracing the supernatural love of God poured out all over us. It is experiencing first hand the supernatural phenomenon of having great strength in our weakest, most vulnerable moment. It is drawing on the resurrection power of Christ to sustain us. It is the eternal … knowing and accepting that every life truly is a vapor, but eternity is never-ending. It is loving God and loving others. Jesus said, in Matthew 22 that “the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind.” Then Jesus said, the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

THAT’S what really matters!

I am determined like never before to focus on what really matters. Time is short! Oh so short. I have responsibilities, goals and dreams, all of which I will continue to press into daily, but, with a newly determined eternal focus of loving God and loving others.

What is one of your “stop in your tracks” kind of moment? What was your biggest lesson learned through it?

More Valuable Than Diamonds

file9411244999123Imagine walking through the wilderness stumbling on natural diamonds. Most of us would ignorantly walk over them and perhaps even kick them down the path, treating them as mere clumps of dirt. Having no clue as to their value and how exquisitely they would look if they were polished and expertly cut.

Aside from being a girl’s best friend, a diamond’s value is not based on what it can do, because the reality is, a diamond is an inanimate object and can do nothing for anyone.

It’s value is based solely on what someone is willing to pay for it.

I have some great news for you today! YOU and I are worth far more than all the diamonds this universe can contain. God paid a higher price than all the wealth that a million years could bring. 

He gave His Son, Jesus to have a LOVE relationship with you and me!

HE ALONE determines your value.

Your husband does not determine your value.

Your ex-husband does not determine your value.

Your family does not determine your value.

Your friends (or lack of friends) do not determine your value.

Your employer (or ex-employer) does not determine your value.

When you have experienced rejection, abuse or abandonment, it’s easy to put your value into the hands of those who hurt you. But, like the one stumbling through the wilderness, ignorantly stumbling over natural diamonds, they could not possibly know your worth.

Paul says in Ephesians 3:18 that Christ’s love for us “passes all knowledge.” In other words, Christ’s love for us is so extravagant and so deep that there is no possible way we could fully comprehend His love. This love is the love that led Jesus to leave the majesty of heaven, to become a man of sorrows. To be reviled and persecuted. To be put to death in the most shameful manner on a cross. Who could possibly comprehend that?

No other time in the past or in the future would any love compare to that.

Back to Ephesians 3, Paul was praying for the Church of Ephesus that they would be rooted and ground in Christ’s love and that if they could simply grasp how loved they are that they would experience the fullness of God.

When the enemy whispers in your ear that you are unloved or worthless, immediately capture the thought and replace it with the Truth of God’s Word. “I AM LOVED WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE!” Write it on an index card. Carry it with you!

Oh that we would could catch even a glimpse of the breadth, and length and depth and height of God’s love for us! When we do we are FOREVER CHANGED!