Love

What Mirror Are You Looking Into?

If you rummaged through my boxes of un-filed, and very disorganized photos from throughout the years you would be hard pressed to find more than a half-dozen photos of me. Photos of my babies as they grew, and family gatherings are replete with those present … minus me.

I often said when my kids were little, “If something happened to me, my kids wouldn’t even know they had a mom.” There was little photographic proof of such a human existence. 

You’re probably wondering ‘what in the world would possess someone to be so camera shy?’

Glad you asked!

At the risk of sounding like a 90-year old grandma … back in the day … K-Mart was the place to get portraits made. Clearly nothing digital or quick about the process. We’d dress up, put on our best possible smile and pose, only to wait with great anticipation for about four weeks when the final portrait would be revealed. 

I was 10 years old when I accompanied my brother and my mom (who had adopted me just three years prior) to pick up our much anticipated portraits. Portraits that my mom hoped to proudly display and send to her friends and family.

I noticed that my mom was slightly agitated as we walked across the K-Mart parking lot. Finally, she stopped in her tracks and pulled out the 8×10 portrait of my brother and me. My brother looked his typical handsome self. But me… not so much. She angrily waved the portrait in front of me and said, “Look at this! Just look at your smile! You ruined another picture!”

I already was self-conscious about my smile, but this moment … these words spoken over me utterly crushed me, and would follow me for decades, dictating my actions and responses, including causing me to hide behind the camera, sacrificing capturing the most precious moments of life.

BUT GOD … 

I’m turning 50 soon, and it’s only been over the last five to six years that I’ve been able to embrace the camera regardless of the output. 

God, through the Holy Spirit, has healed the wounds of those words and other words that have been spoken over me through the years. He has unveiled His love to me, showing me who I am in HIM! That I was created in His image, and the Spirit of God lives in me because I believe that He is who He says He is, and that He sent His Son, Jesus to die a most horrific, tragic death, taking on every scorning word, every moment of rejection, abandonment and abuse, so that I would not have to bear it any longer.

For decades I was looking into the wrong mirror! The mirror of judgment, condemnation and shame. The mirror of rejection and others’ opinions.

But, when I chose to look only into the mirror of HIS Word, I saw (and see) a daughter who is adopted and chosen by the King of Kings! Loved! Treasured and cherished! Free! Healed! The apple of His eye! Forgiven! And … one who has been entrusted with the keys to help set women free from the same pain and wounds that for so long kept me in bondage. 

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Guilt? Shame? Hopelessness? Ugliness? Pain? Pride? Fear?

When we look into the mirror of God’s Word, we see who we truly are in HIM. Our true identity! Who He created us to be! Loved. Forgiven. Chosen. Redeemed. Free. Secure. A new creation. Strong in Him. Transformed. Delivered. Treasured. Cherished. Created for great purpose!!

So … what mirror are you looking into?

Dig deeper: Psalm 45:10-15, John 15:16, 2 Corinthians 5:17, John 8:32, 2 Corinthians 3:15-18; 4:16-18, Galatians 5:1, 1 Peter 2:9

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!