Shaking that Shame

“Hey, have you seen that picture of you that is going around on Facebook” a friend of mine stopped and asked as I scooted out of the sanctuary.

“Oh gosh, not again! I haven’t seen it this time, but I saw it once before.” I replied, trying to quickly end the conversation. I remember feeling physical annoyed and flipping my wrist back and forth to minimize any conversation that might occur. My unaware friend went on to explain how amused her young adult daughters were concerning the “dated” appearance of  the cast of characters captured by the camera.  I was grateful her remarks were lighthearted and  accompanied with laughter.

In stark contrast to her entertained attitude, I wasn’t so carefree when it came to re encountering my past. Suddenly, a strong sense of discomfort washed over me as I stood on the curb sharing empty pleasantries about a photograph snapped approximately thirty years ago. Honestly, all I wanted to do was remove myself from the exchange and forget the picture was ever taken, much less shared with the public.

I knew the photograph she was referring to (at least I think I do). It wasn’t even that bad! It was simply a snapshot of a crew of college kids being crazy.  There wasn’t any illicit behavior or condemning actions going on. (Unless you focus on the Farrah Facet hairstyle that framed my face) The others, my friends from university were all gathered together in the group shot and seemed as carefree and “collegey” as me!

Honestly, the image itself was harmless! So what was my hangup?

Why did the mention of that snapshot sting so bad?

Why did I want to wave away what was recorded on that piece of Kodak paper?

Like so many times before, when someone or something lured me to walk in “way back when”, instead of pleasantly reminiscing about the days of my youth, I immediately shut down and wanted to forget what was.

In fact, if I was being totally transparent and brutally honest with myself,  that embarrasseduncomfortable feeling that overcame me while standing on the sidewalk at church was all too familiar. I had felt it before. It had bullied me on many occasions. And, in fact it’s negative message to my inner self had shaped me for many, many years in the making. But never did I give those thorny thoughts my full attention. Each time they snuck into my psyche , I suffocated them to ward off the work to be done. Using the worst coping skill available, I stuffed my emotions and denied the uneasy reaction trying to make it go away.

However, on this Sunday, as I scurried to my car, with David oblivious to my anxiety, I knew God was doing something different. He was stretching my awareness so much that I had to admit to myself:

I didn’t have a problem with the picture! Instead, I had a problem with my past!

So much that even an innocent picture taken many years ago, held the power to send me sinking in a swamp of shame.

As uncomfortable as I was, I continued to silence my emotional state.

No one knew what I was going through. Therefore, for all of these years shame, guilt and regret had a death grip on me.

Furthermore, writing about “all of this” in the past tense isn’t showing complete honesty, as these burdens bear down on me today. They cause me to tiptoe through the thoughts of my teenage years. They mar the memories of my youth. They cause me to disconnect with people from my past. And, they make me feel like I want to forget a large portion of my life.

The colloquial phrase often referring to this pattern of pain is having  “skeletons in the closet.” But, based on my belief system this type of situation is identified as “spiritual bondage.”, which is better described as a certain type of powerful fear which rules over and against the confidence of Christian faith.

So, as I begin to pray for the courage and bravery to let God shine a light the tarnished spots of my soul, I look to Jesus on how best to deal with my shame. He clearly spells out his instructions to me and to any one else that can relate to where I am. I am learning that when we talk about guilt and shame, we must also speak about the gospel.


So I once I again I turn to the scriptures to set my thinking straight:

As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”(NIV)

Romans 10:11

“Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.” (NIV)

Isaiah 61:7

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,(NIV)

Romans 8:1

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (NIV)

2 Corinthians 3:17

“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (KJV)

Hebrews 8:12

“Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people – free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.” (The Message)

Ephesians 1:7-10


If there is any out there who suffers with shame and guilt, who is shackled by past sins, yet desires to walk in the freedom of forgiveness, please join me in this simple prayer:


I know and believe that I am blessed, chosen, holy, blameless, loved, adopted, accepted, favored, redeemed, forgiven and sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:3-11).

I repent of believing lies that have held me back and kept me looking down.

I believe I am everything God says I am from this day forward, and forever more,

in Jesus Name,


On so many occasions I have begged for forgiveness! Now is the time to actually accept it for myself!

From a Woman Who Never Thought She’d Smile Again …

Finally, it is time to explain my experience with the 10th scripture in this series. As with all the others I have written about, it served as guidance and inspiration to go on. The promise that it offered simply could not be ignored. I craved the professed outcome; hoped every word written would come to pass.

Blogging for two months about scriptures that saw me through a season of trauma has caused me and likewise, those that read and rely on “Just Do Today” to walk through, to be drug through the hard stuff of life.

I have bared my fears, my struggles and my sorrows, the range of emotions that plagued my broken heart. It is absolutely true, I was driven to my knees and was brought to a fetal position on the floor as I suffered through a season of suffering. What I wrote about was real, it happened and it was hard.

I have tried to share the many coping skills and spiritual solutions required to stand up against the darkness that threatened to overtake me. Sometimes, I had to power up and push through, other times I had to sit still and trust. Sometimes the onus that was placed upon me was to simply be OK with not being OK, hoping one day things would be different. Certainly, my patience and perseverance were put to the test.

In each of these situations, the scriptures served as a weapon to fight off weariness, a tool to tame my emotions. As well, God’s Holy Writ provided a structured way to think, so that I knew better than to give up. Today, I am ever so grateful for the many passages that served to soothe me, sustain me and to strengthen me.

However, none of the passages in the series, so far have said anything about cheerfulness, joviality or having joy.

Sometimes, in the darkest of moments, I found myself asking, “Why fight so hard, when there isn’t much to look forward to?”

And, that is what why this last scripture in the series was so vital to my recovery.

When I read Psalms 30:11:

“You tuned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.”

I knew that things would change. I wasn’t sure when a transformation would take place, nor what it would look like when it did. As well, would it be a sudden “something” or another process that extended over a long period of time.

I had no way of knowing any of the particulars, all I could do was trust in the promise!

On the days, I wanted to throw in the towel because, I thought the rest of my life wasn’t worth living, I prodded myself to adopt a different stance.

Chopping the negativity at the knees, I scolded my sour thoughts with truth of Christ, “Elizabeth, if Jesus says one day life will be good again, you need to go along with it.”

So, every time I caught myself thinking about my life being scarred my loss, I gently reminded myself that The Great Healer says it doesn’t need to happen that way.

Instead, out of sheer love and grace, He promised to pull back the veil of sadness and grief so that I could once again experience love and laughter and life experiences that brought sincere fulfillment.

As I said before, I desperately wanted this lighter sense of self. So, I forced myself to believe I would get better.

But the truth is, in the scripture Jesus stated my life would be better than just satisfactory.

He foretold of a time rather than just getting by, my life experience would be pretty darn good. Promising that one day I would be recovered enough to joyfully tap my toes and twirl around!

There were days I never thought this possible! For weeks I walked around with a scowl and a frown. Months passed by when I thought I would never smile again. And years, came and went when I thought all I would do is exist.

But then! In all His goodness, with grace that covered me like dew in the dawn of a new day, God delivered on His promise …


On a special night of celebration, in July of this year, I found myself, out on the dance floor with my adorable daughter!

Yes, I got out there in the crowd and the excitement of the moment and for a few seconds, I shook off all the sadness and layers of despair. For the moment, my wailing had turned to dancing, my mourning rags had been ripped away and I was clothed in absolutely JOY!

For a mom who didn’t think she would ever smile again, I think this is pretty darn good!

Surely, I don’t always feel THIS great nor does delight define each of my days.

But, I am thankful to say, I think I have come a long way…………


Almighty God,

I give you all the glory for this very special snapshot!!! Thank you for this moment and this memory! Thank you for promises that pulled me through and for making good on what you said you would do. As well, I wait expectantly for the abundant living yet to come.



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When WHY? was My War Cry!

The 9th scripture in the series has so many commas this it seems convoluted. With 40 words to read and 6 commas to separate, it sounds like a short order cook spouting off a series of confusing commands.

(I know it isn’t, I’m simply referencing what it sounds like!)

Therefore, I find it ironic that as twisted as it seems, it served as the ultimate solution to a question that constantly served to confound me.


Oh man, did I get stuck in this wicked way of thinking, always trying to understand everything, constantly caught up in the quests for complete explanations and the insatiable desire to resolve all the loose ends.

David pleaded with me not to do this. “Elizabeth, stop thinking that way! It serves no purpose other than to frustrate you on top of everything else!” he would howl as I burrowed down to figure things out. He warned me I was on my way down a rabbit hole. However, on my own I was unable to stop this tangled way of thinking.

Heavy questions like:

WHY did Sam have to die?

WHY did I get picked to lose a child? and

WHY, when she was only 12? (Couldn’t I have had a little longer?)

caused a certain circular thinking inside of my head. I would start by pleading against the question.Then, mentally I played out every scenario that might provide an answer, only to find myself at the end of it all, empty handed. I sat, grasping my head with my hands and pressing my fingers into my scalp as I repeated the identical question over and over.

WHY?        WHY?        WHY?          

You get the idea! I tried to claw and scratch my way into insight. I desperately wanted to know what God was thinking when all of this happened. As well, I thought knowing all the details would make me happy.

The mental interrogation aimed at acquiring all the answers made my mind resemble a war zone. Already hazy and dazed, the additional Why’s flew around like bullets in my brain slicing through an active battlefield. However, rather than the rapid fire ending the life of a certain thought process, the unanswerable questions ricochet off of the walls of reasoning and shattered my own well-being..


Not once did my quest for solutions to questions that had no answers improve my situation. In addition, I was grew aware the question “WHY?” was making everything worse. Mentally my mind was more mixed up and my spirit was exhausted from trying to work my way to intellectual interpretation.

Thankfully, like so many times during my healing, God used His words to carve some sense into my thinking. However, trauma has a way of scrambling your brain for months and months, reading was a struggle, comprehension next to impossible. Therefore, I really had to slow things down to understand this scripture:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 4:6-7

Separating it into phrases clarified each set of instructions and set me on a path to straighter thinking. With my own words at work, I imagined what God might say to me through this scripture. When I broke the segments apart, my interpretation went something like this:

Do not be anxious about anything, – “Elizabeth, you don’t need to be bedeviled by all this. However, I already know how you are going to act when you are confronted with a situation you can’t understand. So let Me remind you, rather than worrying, fretting and working to find answers you will only be told when you get to Heaven, there is another way of dealing with all of this.”

But, in every situation, – What I want you to understand is, no matter how twisted things seem, whatever it is you want to understand, but can’t explain, no matter what the circumstances are that make you ask, “Why?” …

By prayer and petition – I want you to come talk to Me about it. Let Me know how you feel, tell Me the desires of your heart and ask Me to meet your needs. Know that a wrestling match is OK as you work to accept what aren’t able to understand.

With Thanksgiving – And while we are wrestling, don’t forget to worship.  Be grateful I’m here to listen and to offer help. Let me know the things you are thankful for. By doing this, you will become aware that some things are going right and that I AM already at work.

Present your requests to God – And, when you talk to me don’t just give me a laundry list of desires and details. Instead, I want to hear from your soul, so I can heal your spirit. It is important to turn your troubles over to Me, then to trust I will institute the best outcome. Please understand, there isn’t a man on earth that can work all this out.

After many slowed readings, I began to understand, it was only after I fulfilled God’s instructions, then and only then could I experience His reward. As always, a relationship works from both ends.

The first sentence in the scripture clearly told me what I had to do.

I accepted, I needed to honor and adhere to His ways!!!!!!

The second sentence in the scripture told me what I could expect, if and when I followed Jesus’ ways.

Only then, would my heart be healed with an everlasting hope.

And the peace of God – And I promise, the sensation you will experience will be like nothing the world has to offer. You won’t have a high like buying a brand new race car. Instead, you will have a sense of unity on the inside, a sense of being connected to something bigger than yourself, a sense of agreement with others and a peacefulness concerning your purpose. It is vital to remember, I AM the only one who can promise this phenomenon. It only happens when you let ME handle it.

Which transcends all understanding – Then, after you do as I say and experience contentment with your circumstances, your need to have answers will gradually go away, the desire to understand all things will disintegrate and instead of asking WHY? you will rise above the need for earthly interpretation. Replacing your constant quest for details, will be close companionship with Me. (THIS WAS MY AH-HA MOMENT)

Will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ. – And when you are in this peaceful state of mind, your thoughts and concerns will become mine to tangle with. Therefore, leaving your soul and sanity in a state of rest.

There isn’t much more to report after this. Once I pieced the passage back together, I understood what I had to do. And that is where the action comes in.

Reading the words and understanding their meaning, simply laid out the plan and made me aware of the promise. Next, I had to put into play my part of the equation.

I hated when WHY? had the upper hand.  Therefore, I went to work handing over control to Christ, by honoring and implementing the Great Counselor’s wise direction and it work!!!

No longer is WHY? my war cry.

Instead, peace of heart, peace of mind and peace of soul is my proclamation!

Yes, this requires work and a daily devotion to my Deliverer. Yes, I must follow Jesus’ detailed, yet straightforward instructions so that I can taste the reward.

Mental and emotional discipline is required, but living free from anxiety makes it well worth it!

Truly, I have experienced that complete TRUST in Christ, wipes away the wrestling need to know WHY?

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Giving Up vs Giving In

I am certain I asked God more than 3 times for my suffering to come to an end.

As a matter of fact, I actually begged Him on multiple occasions to put me out of my misery. Whether that meant somehow simply dulling the pain of living without my little girl or altogether removing me from this world didn’t make a difference. All I wanted was some type of relief. I yearned for the ache to go away.

I was already a mess and melting from the fiery tongues of trauma when I read the 7th scripture in this series. I’m thankful God led me to it when He did because I was drowning in my own efforts. Anxiety, fear, confusion, hurt, anger and isolation accompanied everything I did throwing me into a distorted state of mind and making everything that much more difficult. Trauma and the edgy after effects have a way of piercing every experience one encounters.


When I tried to fix my situation, I got frustrated. When I tried to ignore the turmoil around me, that didn’t seem to work. If I decided to immerse myself in my environment, everything became a bigger mess. For all that I was doing, it seemed I wasn’t getting anywhere. The emptiness I felt and the energy I was exerting to live beyond my loss left me exhausted.

Honestly, I was weary and weak from trying to work my way to wholeness.

So when I read and received God’s counsel as presented in Corinthians 12:8-9 my spirit was refreshed! I felt like I could let me guard down, and allow someone else to do the work. The instructions weren’t easily enforced because it required that I give up the right to try and make things go my way.  However, I knew I needed to trust they would work.

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

After pondering the passage, I was confident God was aware of how uncomfortable I was. I appreciated He understood the desperation and desire I felt to be delivered. His beloved Apostle Paul had expressed the same type of torment. Immediately, it felt good to know I wasn’t the only one crying out at the feet of Jesus.

Now that I had a partner in pain, with confidence I scoured the scripture for more information. More relief washed over me as I read on and discovered the struggle wasn’t mine to solve. Through the scripture God promised to show up when I couldn’t go on. He spoke to a grace that would cover me when I was crushed. Immediately, I felt a certain permission to crumble into the arms of Christ.

It was in this broken and shattered position, I sensed God telling me,

“You relax, while I do the work!”

“Sit down and give Me room to show up!”

“Stop struggling and I will save you!”

As I scrutinized the scripture, I accepted it was telling me to sink into the arms of Jesus and stay there!

The message moved me in such a powerful way. All at once, I realized that God was showing me it was OK to throw in the towel when it all got to be too much. Furthermore, he suggested I relinquish my ways altogether, so I could find rest in His.

Once I understood this, then I could embrace the 3rd part of the scripture. Particularly, the sentence that says we should boast or be joyful about our weaknesses. Never before did I like saying I couldn’t handle something. However, God had shown me the resilience of a divine relationship.  It is when we surrender our painful situation to Him, that He supplies the provisions and power to see us through.

No longer is there a need to fight against our weakness when we are worn out.  Instead, we are to accept a calming knowledge of being cared for while Jesus works things out.

At the realization of all this, if you can imagine I wanted to shout, “Hallelujah Lord, I trust you to handle things from here on out!”

And there I was, just like the scriptures promised would happen, experiencing a sense of excitement about my affliction.

So now and each time in the future the struggles of life leave me feeling wrung out and weak, I recall the wisdom found in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 .

Knowing the holy words I hold deep in my heart aren’t so much about giving up. More importantly, they are about giving in and trusting God for protection, for power and for His perfection to play out!


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Seeds or Weeds

The 6th scripture in this series literally, saved me from myself.

Honestly, without the straightforward instructions of what was best to think about, surely I  would have succumbed to a wicked way of thinking.

I know the severity of my circumstances warranted my thoughts wander that way.

The halting fact is that following an afternoon of innocent family fun, I came home minus one family member. Adding insult to injury, my daughter’s death was a result of another’s carelessness. We would not be a family of three, if a driver of an oncoming boat had simply paid attention when they turned a corner. In essence, I suffer a lifelong loss because of someone else’s split second lackadaisical decision.

I realize this is a dangerous mindset to dabble in. Just writing about the actuality of it all makes me uncomfortable and  I don’t like reliving this part of the experience. As well, I know not to rely on only earthly details to interpret the relevance of these events, the spiritual story is by far the most powerful.

I dare not linger here long, for I have learned how unwise it is to hang out with painful thoughts of the past. However, there is no denying the reality of what happened. As well, what was mentally required to work through.

I was wronged, when doing right! And, it felt like fireworks that had backfired!

Instead, of looking up and out, celebrating the occasion, I was left feeling the brazing burn. The unexpected and misplaced explosion left me pierced by flying shrapnel and searching for answers among the rubble. There wasn’t a shred of my life that escaped the scorching embers of anguish. My emotional state mimicked my agony, as sorrow and grief overwhelmed me. My mental state was equally as stressed allowing sharpness and hostility to shape my  thoughts.

I wish I could say it didn’t happen! However, if I am to be honest, I need to admit it did. On many occasions because of bitterness building in my heart, I found my reflections aiming fiery arrows at others. I poised myself for battle against people, against the world and against any good thought. I even loaded my quiver and aimed my insults at God. On my worst days when I was really ticked off about what happened, I caught myself silently beating up on strangers, as well.

If I saw a mother act exasperated towards a crying child, I unsympathetically squabbled under my breathe, “You wouldn’t get so frustrated if you realized in a split second she could be gone.” If I heard a parent fuss about their child not making a certain team or a certain score, “I would rant to myself, ” Really, can’t you just be thankful she is still here?” When the pain was at it’s most intense, I even had the audacity to call out God and question His decisions. During my nighttime prayer ritual, instead of sinking into sleep, I was railing against my Savior,”What were you thinking, taking her away? I was raising her to be one of yours! How can you think it is OK to do that?”

The reality that someone killed Sam held me captive for quite sometime. I was angry, I felt assaulted and left with no means to improve my situation. That meaning, I couldn’t figure out a way to get Samantha back. She was gone and that was that! For quite sometime, I fought these demons on a daily basis. Whether in public or in private, my tumultuous thoughts fought to control the tender side of myself. I didn’t like any of it, but I lacked the ability to find my way out of the thicket of thorny thoughts.

At some point, I was given the wisdom that lashing out at others (even if it was only in my mind) because of my personal loss only served to prolong and seeds-or-weedsstretch the pain. Carrying the loss of Sam was epic. Couple that burden with constant condemnation of others and I was setting myself up for failure. Furthermore, because I never voiced my vile, I was the only one caught up in the additional mess.

It is even more difficult to confess that I was aware I was acting out on the inside. I knew using my mental energy to be mad was exasperating the trauma. Nonetheless, I didn’t have a tool powerful enough to tame my destructive thoughts. They entered my psyche without permission and before I knew it the negativity had taken control of my conscience.

However, my psychological situation improved once Philippians 4:8 was revealed to me.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

After processing the teaching in the scripture, I realized what I was doing wrong. Oh, I knew about the advertised advantages of positive thinking. I was aware many authors, speakers and advertisements promoted this tool to live a good life. What I’m saying is I knew all along being positive was important, but what I didn’t fully comprehend nor give appropriate reverence to was that the Authority above all authorities authored the instructions.

Immediately, I went to work trying to figure out how the words were speaking to my situation. By pulling the scripture apart and researching each phrase, I realized I played a huge part in my own healing.

I learned being dreadful or joyful doesn’t rest on the actions of others. Instead, I began to understand that it is an ongoing work from within.

In addition, when I visualized God Almighty sitting down to personally advise me concerning the power of my thoughts, the message took on a deeper meaning. It became clear that in order to receive God’s promises of peace, I needed to uphold my end of the bargain. That being, to assess every situation with the eyes of an angel.

By doing this, the waves of chaos in my inner world calmed down and God willing, eventually will cease. No longer will my gaze at the world be seen forever through the eyes of grief. Instead, Jesus is instructing me how to control my mind so I can calmly and gently walk in His will.

He is letting me know that if I try to live a lifetime without Sam thinking my own thoughts, the outcome will not be rewarding. Oh, the goodness of God that He doesn’t leave me defenseless! Instead, He shows me how to parallel my thoughts with His and offers assurance that if we share the same mindset, together we will see it through!

The discipline to recognize and resist each needling notion is a process and continues to be one that I work to improve. The self-control to implement the wisdom into my ways constantly requires a keen awareness of my thoughts and a great amount of grace from Above, which I know I can count on.

From that past point of realization all the way to today, I  implement the thought pattern approved by Jesus and taught through Philippians 4:8 in order to diminish the ongoing and dangerous thoughts of doubt, damnation and dissatisfaction. When I do, this allows reflections of affirmation, adoration and excellence  to flourish.brain-flowers

By doing this, by accepting and allowing the instruction of the scripture to change my poisonous thought patterns into ideas of gratefulness and abundance, I position myself to receive the peace that God promises to His people.


Thank you Jesus, for always showing me how to walk in Your will, for always providing a peaceful way out , for always bathing me in Your grace and for saving me from myself.



ANTs vs The Almighty

Honestly, I was so mixed up, I hardly knew myself!

All of the sudden, activities I once enjoyed agitated me, projects I once looked forward to seemed impossible and places on my beaten path suddenly became off limits.


For instance, I struggled with going to the grocery store. Simply walking across the threshold made me tremble. As well, entering a restaurant alone was out of the question. The idea of encountering the unknown was something I couldn’t cope with. Painting, which was one of my favorite pastimes became burdensome. The details and the decisions left me empty and annoyed. Creating wreaths for my front door or decorating of any kind, which I once loved to do became drudgery and unimportant. Lastly and most telling was when I couldn’t even attend Brooke’s school functions.

Instead, of participating in Open House like all the other parents,  I sat in the school parking lot tucked away in my car and cried. For so many reasons I cried. I cried because I couldn’t enter the building. I cried because I had changed. I cried because Samantha would never go to school again. And, I cried because my no-show might disappointment Brooke. Nor, would David fully understand my inability to join the other mothers.

I knew something was amiss, but for months and months, I couldn’t explain my own behavior. All I knew was I didn’t like it. In addition, I knew accepting it would only mean more isolation, more drama and more pain.

However, pinpointing the problem wasn’t an easy task. There was so much going on and so many reasons to be weary, I simply lacked the mental stamina to make sense of the mess.

It wasn’t until I was well enough, about 8 months after Sam’s accident that I began to search for a solution. I set out on a mission to understand myself. That is when I learned about ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts). I discovered that trauma exasperates ANTs
producing stinging stressful feelings like fear, anxiousness, jumpiness, edginess, agitation, bad memories, and causes abnormal behaviors to avoid painful reminders.

When ANTs are activated, it is like putting a pie out at a picnic. The ANTs crawl in, over and throughout the sweet stuff. Soon, they take over and create their own colony. When ANTs consume our thoughts they have the potential to produce ANXIETY! Inside the affected person this feels like an onslaught of dread, doubt and it has the power to drive a person to their knees and keep them there if the ANTs go unmatched.

As I read the research, the words mirrored my behavior. I related to each symptom and replied, “That’s me!” to every descriptive detail. Finally, I found confirmation I wasn’t going crazy. The articles gave credence to what I was going through. As well, they offered exercises to erase the ANTs from one’s thinking. I understood their suggestions and agreed their advice carried potential for a cure. However, I knew that a medical dissertation wasn’t my best resource for a remedy.

With a better understanding of what I was experiencing, I picked up my Bible and consulted with the the oldest and wisest Authority. That is when I began to own the truth and the strength found in the 4th scripture in our series :

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives power, love and self-discipline.” 

2 Timothy 2:7

I pondered the passage through and through, breaking it down into sections and stringing the phrases back together. Then, I worked to absorb the entire message.

It was then that God showed me that my negativity had nothing to do with Him. I accepted that anytime I felt barreled over by bad thoughts, it was because I wasn’t allowing the spirit of Christ to come forward. Instead, my panic attacks were allowing a creepy voice to take control of my thoughts.

After much meditation, I became aware that my fears, my anxiety, my edginess and my emptiness all gained a foothold when I failed to envision God in my future. – Tweet This!

It was when I left Him out of the picture, here and now, then and there and with whatever was to come that I fell apart.

Once I realized this, whether I was going to the store, entering a school building, investing in a adventure or starting something new, I increased my awareness and invited the Spirit of God to overwhelm me. I prayed, asking that love snuff out any feelings of loss. I prayed fervently for the self-discipline and mental awareness needed to overcome anxiety and I  opened myself up to the power that is promised to a Holy spirit.

Each time I went about my activities, my ability to overcome increased. Each time I chanted the scripture my self-discipline grew stricter.

With each event that was preceded by angst, I pressed in until my perspective became more positive and eventually my weariness turned into warriorism. -Tweet This!

I was shining my shield to deflect the fiery darts.shield

The victorious outcome wasn’t immediate. Instead learning to overcome anxiety was something that I worked to refine over months. I often encountered a fretful event, but I learned to always ask Jesus, “What would YOU tell me about this?”

After coming up with a few comments I thought Jesus would offer during my time of distress, I worked to incorporate His wise council into my conscious thoughts. I failed at this many times before I finally began to get it right. However, when I did figure out how to ask Jesus to accompany me in the present and to portray Him in my future, my life became more manageable. The level of unease decreased and by ability to live increased.

Five years later, when situations causes me to stir on the inside, I reach inside of my trauma tool kit and repeat the truth found in 2 Timothy 2:7  until the attack of negativity is trumped by the spirit God gave me. As the minutes pass, the madness in my mind is tamed by the the words of the scripture.

It is true, the feelings of fear and anxiety that held me captive were warranted and real, powerful and possessive. However, I have come to appreciate they can be managed, man-handled and put to rest by the truth of the Almighty.

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Paying Attention Pays Off

But now, this is what the Lord says …paying-attention

Immediately, I knew I needed to pay attention!
Whether it was one of those times I was flipping through the Bible searching for something soothing to read, or maybe it was while I was completing a study assignment, I honestly can’t recall.

Five years later, I have discovered the environment doesn’t matter because the message remains with me.

On any given day, I can reread this third scripture, Isaiah 43:1-2 and sense the same reassurance I did during the most crushing of circumstances. Like then, the passage paints a picture of God speaking over his people, over all of Israel, over an entire nation. Yet, He gets personal to the point of calling Jacob by his first name.

-he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel:

With anticipation and selfish motivation, then and now I involve myself in what is to come. I insert my name in the scripture and imagine myself sitting among the crowd gathered to listen. Surely, my ache is similar to theirs. The people of God were overwrought with affliction and I could relate. They were oppressed and I understood. They were afraid and I felt similar trepidation about my future. Eons of time has passed between the persecution of  God’s people and my personal time of distress. Nomine-blkandwhtnetheless, our emotions are strikingly similar.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

As I weaved myself into the words, I first heard a commandment that erased fear as an option. Then a play on personal pronouns granted full authority to the author and placed me under arrest.

I felt myself being calmed, individually called and intimately claimed by Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ was calming me, individually calling me and intimately claiming  me. – Tweet This!

I was certain, He was calling the shots. I had very little to say and saw no wiggle room to run away.

Instead, I stayed still, in awe of His possessiveness and allowed this spiritual branding to sear on my heart. It was then, I realized this had nothing to do with something I did. Instead, as I mingled with God’s message I accepted this was an act from On High.

God had tagged me for His team. All I needed to do was accept the bid. And then came the promise of God’s presence during times of trial.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Oh, it is in this ending of the scripture that I found and find strength.

Yes, raging waters have threatened to erode anything good left in my life. Yes, swift rising rivers have rushed through, wrecking havoc in their wake. I have felt the searing flames of a bundle of torches burning at my feet. On occasion, I begged to leave this world, when grief and trauma were most intense. Yes, I thought death would have been a relief. That is the severity of suffering that some of us are called to experience.

But, thankfully, no I mean really, I am grateful for the promise of help during our hurt that is found in

Isaiah 43:1-2 (NIV)the-book-of-isaiah

But now, this is what the Lord says—                        
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Because, through it I learned:

Panic and doubt don’t happen during a time of crisis if we place our trust in the right place.

Regardless of what grief and trauma “feel” like, God is not gone. He is actually the One keeping me from going under.

That the only way I can withstand the epic adversity of life is to accept the truth of scripture. By doing this, I believed Samantha’s death would not also be the death of me. That somehow, I would come out on the other side of pain and be a better person. That was a tall  order on some days, but because I hung onto every word written in  Isaiah 43:1-2, I was able to see it through.

But, most importantly, I learned as I figure out life with a gaping hole in my family I can always rely on the scriptures to sustain me, to tell me what I need to hear to be whole, to reveal to me what I need to know when I can’t find my way and to always comfort me when I want to cry.

Points to Ponder

Have you ever panicked during a time of distress? If so, what words did you rely on to help bring about calmness during the crisis?

Have you ever felt like God wasn’t around while you suffered? If so, after the storm passed, when did you realize He was the One carrying you through?

Have you ever felt the security that comes from knowing the scriptures during a time of struggle? If so, when was this and what scriptures served to sustain you?


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Trauma … Take Two

cinema clipboard 1

“PTSD from Katrina kicking in, smells that you can never imagine. Every house has lost everything including at least 2 cars. Y’all pray for Louisiana!!!

When I saw this Facebook status posted alongside a photo of piled up debris, I knew I wasn’t the only one sliding backwards.

For so many affected by the recent floods in the Baton Rouge/Lafayette area, this current cataclysmic event is a flashback to the aftermath of some other natural disaster experienced or overwhelming sense of loss incurred. Whether it is the smell of sweltering garbage, the reality of all of your belongings stacked in a heap on the curb in front of your house, the loss of a loved one to the raging flood waters or possible even a beloved pet, the triggers all point to the same underlying issue.

TRAUMA – an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident or natural disaster. A traumatic event or situation creates psychological trauma when it overwhelms the individual’s ability to cope.

water rescueWould it be surprising to know that the above list didn’t do it for me? Rather, it was the process of saving the people and the water recovery that sent me reeling backwards. The scenes of boats racing over the water, men in life jackets intent on rescue and helicopters overhead that pulled me to a painful place. The scenes were so familiar and carried a past so stressful that it felt like a smoldering piece of metal piercing my heart every time I saw a picture.

Physical symptoms of distress began to manifest as tears trickled down my cheeks while out for a walk, I noticed myself upset and unsettled in the evenings when it was time to relax and I began waking up in the wee hours of the morning because my mind was racing with thoughts. The third time I confessed to David, “I feel like tears are filling my ears and a bulge of emotions is blocking my throat.” I knew I needed to stop with the activity and devote some time to myself.

 It was then, in the stillness of assessing what was messing with my head and in turn twisting my heart that a light was shown on what I was going through. I realized something happening in my current environment was causing me to look backwards, to revisit, to relive, to revive an extraordinarily painful time in my life.


Oh, and I was guilty of “going there” and walking in defeat for a few days. I withdrew from helping with relief efforts out of sheer self-protection. I sought refuge from the chaos by seeking calm environments. Honestly, being in the disarray of recovery mixed me up mentally. As well, reopened an emotional wound I would rather leave untouched. My empathy overflowed at the overwhelming sense of loss that so many are experiencing to the point I couldn’t concentrate. I know what it feels like to have your life turned upside down and scattered like a 10,000 piece puzzle.

Truly, being amidst the shambles was causing me to stumble.

(I wish I could say it isn’t so, that I’m stronger than that, that I can handle any situation that comes my way. Instead, I’m realizing I can’t. Nor, am I called, too. )

So, in an effort to find my way out of the slimy pit that I sunk into, I began to pay attention to myself and worked to mentally challenge the triggers. I made a concerted effort to turn off the memories that possessed the potential to wreck my well-being. As I used the tools in my trauma toolbox to help me cope, room was made in my mind to remember what served to save me during my personal season of trauma.

Yes, during that time God showed up in miraculous ways on numerous days, but it was His Word that carried me through the tedious times. When fear, anxiety, stress, and uncertainty arose (symptoms of PTSS)  I recited, chanted, sung, wrote, read and clung to God’s written word, knowing that through it He shares His wisdom with us, that He teaches us the perspective He wants us to adopt and that He states the promises we can trust in.

Sams Bible

The longer I sat, the more grateful I became for the time and foresight to regain my composure. As I rested, a sense of urgency swelled inside of me to reread the scriptures that were earmarked with a sticky note in Samantha’s Bible. The ones that I had repeated over and over, the ones I read then implemented in my own life, the ones I trusted in, the ones that encouraged me to take another step and the ones that promised a fruitful future after profound loss.

Ahhhh, rest, renewal and reassurance soothed my heart. Words that served to revive me before where breathing life into me again. Text that brought dominion and order over this world were doing it again. Passages that promised God’s presence and offered hope were pouring into my spirit again.

Yes, God’s Word had gotten me through a season of personal trauma. And, it was doing it again!

I invite you to journey with me over the next few weeks as I share ten scriptures that serve to sustain me. Along, with how, when, where and why they work for me. Whether it is past or present circumstances doesn’t make a difference. What is important to remember is God’s Word is living and actionable in all situations and it works!

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Matthew 4:4

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Matthew 7:24

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