Posted in Anna Wood

A Review of Modern Map Art

Hey~

Today’s post is a little unusual. Recently I was contacted by a lovely lady named Jennifer and asked if I would be willing to review her map art of Tuscaloosa Alabama. Since I’m from Bama, I said sure. Send it on and let’s take a look at it. Well she did, and I did, and I was amazed. I’d never heard of the company Modern Map Art but having now taken a look at one of their products and having gone online and looked at everything else they have to offer, well, I’m blown away.

Take a look, you will be too:

#Repost @jenniferlindschutsky ・・・
Plantlings and Phoenix. Two of my favorite things. 
Working on finishing touches of our guest room and I'm so excited @modernmapart sent me this map because it's perfect for our minimalist room. I'll share on the blog once everything is D O N E.  Now, all we need is a proper bed frame (any suggestions?). 🤔
#phoenix#modernmapart#map#plants#partner#blackandwhite#minimalist#homedecor#schutskyhouse#hawksandhoneyhome

Here’s what their website says about them:

Modern Map Art takes your favorite cities, mountains, and places and turns them into beautiful works of art. If you’re looking for the perfect way to remember that trip to Europe, honeymoon, place you got engaged, your alma mater, hometown, or anything else, our maps are a great way to display that nostalgia in your home. They make great gifts, too! 

If you like to decorate with maps but have trouble finding exactly what you want, you can contact them. They have such a great range of gift and decorative items. Modern Map art offers pillows, iPhone cases, wall maps, and more. They are “always adding new products,” they say and are willing to chat with you if you’ve got an idea for something that you’d like that they don’t yet offer. Here’s where you can reach them;

https://www.modernmapart.com/

You can follow them on Twitter at @modernmapart

Or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/modernmapart/

So, head on over there, y’all. You’ll love ’em. I promise.

 

 

 

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Posted in Anna Wood, Authentic Christianity, domestic abuse

A woman comes to you and says she’s been abused–what do you do?

A woman comes to you. She says she’s been abused. You look at her face. It’s evident that she’s stressed. Something is going on but you don’t know what. You ask her a few questions. She looks down, avoids eye contact. Her answers are all over the place. She’s obviously distressed. Is she lying? You don’t really have the time to try to find out. You tell her to go home, repent, try harder, pray more. Do more to be a better wife, to try to make her husband happy. “If it doesn’t get better, let me know.” Patting yourself on the back, you relegate it to the back of your mind. “Thank you, Lord, that I was able to be there for her.”

A woman comes to you. She says she’s been abused. You tell her you know her husband. He’s a good man, a gentle man, a kind and loving man. There’s no way he could do the things she says he’s done. “I know him. He’s never do the things you are accusing him of.” She tries to explain but nothing she says meshes with what you are sure you know. “I’ll pray for you but the ball is really in your court. If you want a better marriage, you have to work for a better marriage. You must have done something to make him unhappy.” You send her home but just for good measure, you call up her husband. “Your wife came in here telling me things that I knew couldn’t be true. I just thought you’d want to know.” He gives you a sob story about how unbalanced she is, how hard he tries and how little she appreciates his efforts. “I try everything in my power but it just never gets any better.” After promising to pray for him so that he’ll know how to help his wife, you hang up the phone. “Thank you, Lord, for letting me be here to pray for him and even for her. It must be so hard having a wife like that.”

A woman comes to you. She tells you that there isn’t enough money for food, not enough money for the doctor, not enough money for the power or the mortgage. “Our children need so much but my husband spends the money on other things. I don’t even know where it all goes. It’s always like this, and I don’t know what to do.” You look at her clothes. She’s well dressed. You look at her car. It’s top of the line. You know where she lives; the neighborhood is nice, upscale. She sees your doubt. “That car,” she says, “he insisted that he had to have that for business….” Looking back at her you tell her, “I know where you live. Your house is expensive. Your car is, too. Obviously your husband makes enough money. You just need to manage it better. Sell the car, get something nice but much cheaper. Cut out other luxuries. Move to a cheaper place. There’s a lot you can do to make things better. Maybe get into financial counseling. You need to learn to spend money on what’s important. Work with your husband, not against him. We can’t help you.” She tries once again to explain how broke they really are but, really, there’s no explanation necessary. The truth is so obvious. You send her away, shaking your head as you do. As you sit down to dinner that night, you once again think about her story. Then you pray, “Teach us to be grateful for what we’ve been given, for the bounty set before us, and help us to always be ready to share with those in need.” Thankful that you don’t know anyone who is really in need, you start to eat.

A woman comes to you…. What do you do?

Posted in abuse, Anna Wood, Authentic Christianity, Christianity

An open letter to the church from an abused Christian wife

Dearest brothers and sisters in Christ,

It is with a heavy heart, for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, and because of His grace that I sit down to write you. I’m writing for myself and for my sisters in Christ who suffer under the heavy hand of domestic abuse. You might hear that term and immediately think that you don’t know anyone living in an abusive situation so what I’m about to say really doesn’t apply to you. Please don’t think that. You probably do know someone who is being abused; you just don’t know it yet. Domestic abuse, domestic violence or, as it is often referred to today, DV, isn’t just about whether or not a man is physically beating his wife: He may or may not be but still be abusive. Abuse comes in many forms. Sometimes it manifests as physical abuse but not always. When a woman is regularly torn down by an abuser’s words, when she is afraid to speak up, afraid to make decisions for fear of displeasing him, when she is controlled by her husband, when she lives in fear of angry outbursts, when she is dominated physically, sexually, spiritually, financially or emotionally, she is being abused. Domestic abuse lives within our churches–not that our abusers are Christians, I’m not saying that, but abusive men often masquerade as godly men, and within our pews are Christian women, your sisters in Christ, who are married to abusive men. We are here even if you haven’t yet realized it (and I can understand that since abuse, at its core, is hard to grasp or believe), and the abuse we live under is real. Because our Lord has called His people to care for the oppressed and the poor among the brethren, we’re asking you to care for us. We especially beg you to care about our children.

How do I convey the ache in my heart? Due to my situation, I don’t always get to attend worship services. It is so glorious when I am able to. Meeting with you, worshiping our Lord, reminds me of the glories of heaven when we shall be together with Jesus forever. I long for that glorious Day. When the service has ended, when the last prayer has been said, and it comes time to go home, I walk out of the door with a lump in my throat, an ache in my heart, and unshed tears threatening to flow down my cheeks. The life that awaits me is nothing like the life most of you are going home to. My life is so often stark, lonely, full of pain and stress. When I walk out of that door, I walk into a home filled with heartbreak. I’m married to an abuser–one whose abuse of us has covered much of the abuse spectrum. I, like so many other of your sisters living in abuse, have often been made fun of by my abuser for my faith–frequently in front of my children (even though he, like so many other abusers, masquerades as a Christian). I’m not the only Christian wife whose husband is abusive; I know so many who are. Precious godly women who have been beaten down physically, emotionally, and mentally. God’s daughters who pay a tremendous price just to serve Him in their homes, to teach their children about Him, or to be able to gather together with you to worship our Lord. Women whose home lives are a living nightmare. Women like me. Not all of us will have black and blue bodies from physical assault but all of us have beaten and bruised hearts. All of us live in a man-made war zone.

So I write this letter–from me but also for my beautiful sisters who live in the same pain that I do. Some of these dear ones know the pain of having a man’s hand raised to slap her, to beat her; some quake in fear when he removes his belt to punish her. I write for those who face not love but terror and pain in the bedroom where she is beaten, attacked, or raped for a cruel man’s pleasure. For those who live in poverty because of their husband’s intentional financial abuse or cruel self-centered control of family finances, control which often leaves her and her children to do without the very things needed for survival. For those who are continually lied to, lied about, cursed out, humiliated, gas-lighted, and otherwise verbally and emotionally assaulted. Those who know the fear of wondering what will happen to their children if their men ever carry out their threats. For those who see no way out.

Heartrendingly, many of us also face pain in our churches. We’ve met with pastors, elders, gone to fellow Christians, begging for prayers, for guidance, for counsel, for help for us and for our children, only to be wrongly told that divorce for abuse is a sin, or that “we can’t help you”, or “try harder, pray more, be more submissive”. Do you know how hard it was for us to gather the courage to come to you–knowing that, if we are found out by our abusers, we will pay the price for our “betrayal”? Do you have any idea how hard we’ve tried to be submissive? How often we’ve denied our own needs just to keep peace in our homes? Do you know what it’s like not being able to have an opinion because his is the only one that matters? To live in fear of making a mistake? Of using the wrong tone, saying the wrong word, doing the wrong thing at the wrong time and being punished for it? Of just being wrong no matter what we do? Of giving in, over and over and over again, of burying our own desires for his, of obeying any and all commands no matter how painful because that’s all that we can do, all that we are allowed to do, only to be told by him–and eventually by you–that we’re not being submissive or obedient enough?

God is the only One who has never failed me; I know from speaking with them, from their many letters, from their testimonies, that many of these dear ladies, my abused sisters in Christ, feel the same. When our husbands abuse us and our churches deny the abuse, blame us, or turn away from us, who else can we turn to but God? Thankfully, He, unlike me, unlike anyone else, never fails any of His own. I, like many women (though not all) who marry an abuser was born into abuse. All of my life, Jesus has been the only One I’ve ever been able to fully, completely, trust. He’s so good, this Great God–the beautiful and holy I AM. Abusers change their opinions, their demands, day by day, but God never changes. Abusers put on masks in order to control us and fool others; God is always the same, always good. Abusers deny their abuse of us, blame us for the abuse, go on repeating the same lies, doing the same things, making the same broken promises, again and again and again; God is always a God of truth and love. We’ve been forced by our abusers to do so many humiliating things, endure so much pain, do without so many things we desperately need but God never fails us. He is the only One who has never, ever, failed me–though I, like all of the redeemed, fail Him greatly. When I’ve been afraid, He’s been my Comfort. When I’ve not had a clue how to feed my family or keep a roof over our heads, He’s been my Provider. When my abuser has raged, He’s been my Peace. When I’ve cried long hours into the night, He’s showered His great and merciful Love over me. If not for Him, I’d have no hope. I know that my abused sisters in Christ have similar, heartbreaking, stories of their husband’s cruelties and, sadly, many have similar stories of their churches indifference or, at the very least, failures to understand. Yet their stories are filled with their hope in the Lord–this Great God who loves them and cares for them when no one else will or does.

I know it’s hard to understand where I’m coming from or what abused Christian wives are going through. Maybe you still wonder is there even such a thing as an abusive Christian marriage–how could such a thing be? The answer is, it can’t–not in the way you might be thinking. There can be and are abused Christian wives, yes; but a truly Christian man who abuses his wife? No. A man might have many issues and still be a Christian, but he will be working on those issues, repenting of his sin, always longing to please his Lord and glorify Him better; but no true believer is going to do the things an abuser does, all the while unrepentant. An abuser might masquerade as a Christian but there is no fruit in his life. It’s a mask and a good one at that. Perhaps you might think that you know our husbands and that there’s no way they could be guilty of these things. But you only know them from the outside–we live with them. A bad man might pretend to be good but a good man will never pretend to be bad. The fake face he’s showing, he’s showing to you. God, who knows the heart, sees the truth. And so do we. And so do our children.

Maybe you wonder why we haven’t left, or why we put up with the abuse, or why…, just why, but then you haven’t lived in a war-torn home. It’s not as easy as all of that–not easy for you to understand, not easy for us to know what to do, not easy to leave–especially when we have no one to turn to. Many abused wives have health issues either brought on by the continual stress or exacerbated by the stress of the abuse. Many are poor because of financial abuse, because the abuser can’t or won’t provide, or because he squandered the money on himself. Truthfully, we’re desperate. We’re afraid. And we’re often very much alone. Some of us have no families to turn to, and many of us have been isolated by our husbands so that we have no friends to turn to. Some of us live in fear of speaking up because we fear not being believed or worse, fear what will happen to us if we tell. So, when we come to you, we are coming in fear, out of desperation, hoping against hope, that you will ask the right questions, see through the mask we have been forced by him to wear, try to understand what we’re going through, and that you will pray for us, help us, guide us. Stand up for us. Our stories may be unbelievable to you, you may be so shocked that you don’t want to believe what we’re saying, maybe don’t know even how to believe such horrible things, but please know that we’re coming because we desperately need you. We’re afraid, we’re worn out, and unless you listen to us, unless you, our brothers and sisters in Christ, decide to help us, we’re very much alone. We have no one else to turn to. Our lives may be hard for you to understand but they are still our lives. The abuse may be impossible for you to comprehend but, at the end of the day, unless you help us, we’re still being abused. You can walk away from it; we can’t–at least, not easily and most times not without help.

Abuse isn’t “marital difficulties”. Our abusers aren’t just “angry men” or “men with anger issues” who “really want to do better”. They aren’t men who “aren’t understood by their wives” or who “aren’t being treated with respect” by us. We’re not exaggerating the abuse, or making it up. We’re not nags who aren’t happy that our husbands aren’t doing the things we want him to do. We’re not control freaks trying to make our men fit an image we want them to fit. We take no joy in pulling back the pages on our lives but, if we are to survive, we must. Yes, the world provides shelters, tries to help, but what about the church? Sometimes what the world offers isn’t enough or, where we live, the help simply might not be available. We need our brothers and sisters. We need you. We are your sisters, and we are being systematically abused, belittled, dominated, destroyed, and controlled by the very ones who swore before God and men to love and honor us. So, please, the next time a woman in your church comes to you telling you her husband has been abusive, rather than thinking that she is making up a story because she wants attention, or that she’s just a bad wife who is unhappy with her husband and is using you to get back at him, listen to her and believe her. If she is coming to you, she is coming in fear, and she is terrified both of coming and not of coming–afraid you won’t believe her, and afraid of what will happen if you do believe her but refuse to help her. Coming to you is dangerous. It costs something for an abused wife to step forward. It has cost some women their lives.

Telling the truth about our lives is the most fear inducing things many of us can imagine. What if our abusers found out that we’d told–what then? What if you don’t believe us? When the hope that you will help us is gone, many of us have no hope left. In all honesty, it’s humiliating to look you in the eye and tell you of the things our abusers have said or done, the things we’ve endured, and the horrors we live in. Panic sets in, our mouths dry out, our hearts race, and yet we tell you anyway, hoping, praying, that this time someone might listen. Someone might believe us, maybe even (please, dear God), want to help us–and especially this: want to help our children.

If you will listen, if you will care, more of us just might come forward. But first, we have to know it’s safe. The best way you can do this is by preaching a pure Gospel. Make sure its not watered down–man has already failed us, we don’t need more failures in the form of spiritual malnutrition–nobody does. Then, prepare yourselves to understand abuse. Familiarize yourself with what abuse is–and isn’t. Read some good books on the subjects of abuse, and on biblical divorce in cases of abuse. If you do, you will see that abusers, far from wanting to change, far from not realizing what they are doing, actually rarely change, and do realize what they are doing–and do it anyway. Preach a sermon on the evils of domestic abuse. Announce from the pulpit that it is safe for abused wives to come forward. Let us know that you care about what we are going through. Tell us that you will listen to us and believe us. Let us know that abuse has no place in your church, that abusers will be dealt with, that you will stand up for us and stand with us–no matter what. Let us know that you care about our children, that you love us with godly brotherly love–enough to do what’s right for us. There are so many of us who love the Lord and are trying to be godly women, godly mothers and yes, even godly wives, in the midst of horrific circumstances. Help us to find a way out, help us to get to safety, help us to protect our children.

Please, whatever you do, don’t think, ah, couples counseling is the best way to address domestic abuse. It isn’t. Couples counseling in dangerous to abused wives because abusers use it to further their own agenda. He may seem repentant to you–but when he goes home the abuse almost always increases. Abused wives will be afraid to speak up in couples counseling for fear of this very thing–so please, realize that this isn’t the way to go. Rather, get us alone with a godly woman who will listen to us, perhaps one who has walked this road before us, or sit in there and listen to our stories–along with her, not alone–for yourself. And go on from there.

We need you–we have nobody else. No one but God.

I was flipping through a book the other day trying to decide if I wanted to read it and found where the author quoted from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s sermon on the Good Samaritan. Dr. King suggested that, when confronted with the hurt man, the Samaritan, rather than asking what it would cost him if he took time to stop, might have instead asked, “‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’” So as Dr. King asked that question of his audience, I ask you this: What will happen to me, and to my sisters in Christ, if you do not stop to help us?

May the truth, grace, and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ fill your hearts.

Soli Deo gloria!

Anna

Photo credit: Aaron Burden from Unsplash

aaronburden.com

Posted in Anna Wood, Authentic Christianity, Christianity

Begin with the pure Gospel

 

In most American churches, the Gospel has been reduced down to easy-believism and do-goodism. This kind of preaching is worthless. Simply believing that Jesus is God, and going about doing good because you’re dedicated to Christian virtues won’t save anyone.

Micah 6: 8, He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Walking humbly with God means much more than acknowledging Him. It means dying to self, and living for Him. When we do that, we will do justly and love mercy. We cannot help but do so. But to get to the point of being able to walk humbly with Him requires that the Gospel has been preached.

So what is the Gospel? It’s the Good News that Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a holy life, died a substitutionary death, rose triumphantly, and now lives at the right hand of the Father. One day, He’s coming back. Until then, He’s working out His will in the lives of those who love Him. It is His will that we obey Him (Luke 6: 46, John 14: 23), that we are salt and light to a sin-sick world (Matthew 5: 13-16), that we serve others (2 Corinthians 4: 5, Colossians 3: 23, 24), take care of the poor (Galatians 2: 10), the widows and the orphans (James 1: 27), and serve the oppressed (Matthew 25: 34-39). In short, He is the God who died for us and we are to take up our crosses daily and follow Him wherever He leads us (Luke 9: 23).

If we dedicate our lives to doing what God has required of us, starting first with obeying Him, our lives will be a blessing to our families, to our churches, and to our communities. Anything less is disobedience.

Posted in abuse, Anna Wood, Authentic Christianity

Sometimes the church isn’t the safest place

Every marriage faces difficulties, even Christian ones. But a difficult marriage or even a bad marriage isn’t an abusive marriage.  A disengaged husband, an unaffirming wife, isn’t being abusive. They are failing in their roles but their actions don’t come up to the definition of abuse.

Abuse is the use or misuse of a person for your own purposes or pleasure. It involves the use of cruel words or actions towards another for the purpose of manipulation or control. Abuse comes in many categories but the main ones an abused spouse might face are physical, emotional, verbal, sexual and financial.

Most abuse victims are female, though male abuse can and does take place. Since most abuse is by a male perpetrator towards a female victim, this will be what the rest of this article assumes.

Abuse doesn’t just happen “out there”. It’s not just to “those kinds of people”, or to a certain race, age or social level. Domestic abuse happens to all races, all ages, all religious persuasions, and in all social classes. It happens in the church, too. One in four women in the U.S.A. experience domestic abuse at some point in her life. Some of these women are Christian women. Some of them you probably know but are probably unaware of what she might be facing.

Part of the trauma of living in domestic abuse as a Christian woman is that you don’t know who to trust with your story. Most Christian women who finally get up the courage to tell someone tell their pastor. Sadly, most pastors are not prepared to understand or deal with abuse. I’ve known so many Christian ladies whose husbands were horrible–behind closed doors. Out in public, they seemed to be the salt of the earth. When these ladies turned to the church, they were either turned away, blamed, told to work on themselves, or sent back into the abuse with directions to serve him better and love him more.

Most pastors just don’t get it when it comes to domestic abuse. And, it sadly seems that many of them just don’t want to. It’s so much easier to pass by on the other side of the road, issuing platitudes as one passes, than it is to stop and bind up open gaping wounds–inside wounds or outside ones–of one who is being abused. Getting involved means getting dirty. It might be costly financially, it takes time, and it takes concerted effort to learn about abuse and the needs of abused women and their children. It’s plain hard. And most of them don’t want to have to get involved. I know. I’ve tried to find a pastor who had the wisdom needed to help me to have the wisdom to figure things out.

When I have tried talking to pastors, several of them over several years, about my situation, I was 1) thrown out of one pastor’s office, 2) another told me to divorce him but no further help was offered, 3) still another told me he had anger issues and I needed to be more understanding, 4) another told me that “if you are telling the truth your life is a mixed up mess”; again, no further help or guidance was offered, 5) another offered to talk to him, offered us couple’s counseling but refused to speak to me alone. And there were other responses, none of them good.

Only one of them ever offered to listen further (the anger issues pastor). He eventually listened and tried to help–though by that time we had moved away then he moved even farther away and because of that there was little he could do long distance. The others–nothing. No counsel, no guidance. Nothing.

Not one of them, except for him, tried to come to an understanding of what I was facing. Among the abused Christian wives that I’ve known, and I’ve known quite a few, it has been exceedingly rare for any of them to receive the kind of counsel, love, guidance, or help that they really and truly needed from their pastors or from their brothers and sisters in Christ. That’s not to say that it doesn’t happen. It does happen. It happened to my mother when she left my abusive father for the final time. I have read about it happening (the new lead pastor in John Piper’s church really seems to “get it”–though Mr. Piper himself didn’t seem to). I’ve worked with a pastor whom I later wrote a book with (though we never met) who gets it. But most pastors don’t get it.

Lest you think I don’t love God’s people, I do. Church is one of my favorite places. It’s also one where I often dread to go. Once my situation becomes obvious (and it’s not really that hard to figure out if you know what you’re looking for), the pitying looks, the side glances, being talked about and ignored begins. I’ve experienced it all and more–in two states, multiple conservative denominations, and in many towns and cities.

I’ve learned, through many a painful trial and error, that God’s people are not always like Him. Where He welcomes the oppressed, His people often treat us as if we are lepers. Oh, the stories I could tell–the way I’ve been treated, things said to me, things done or left undone. Worse, the way my precious children have been treated by God’s own people because of our circumstances–shameful doesn’t even begin to cover it.

I was born into abuse. I married an abuser. Some would say my story fit the pattern–an abused girl marrying a man just like her Dad. But I say that those would would say that are missing the greatest part of my story: Jesus. Though I’ve lived through immense pain, pain formed by the depravity of ones whom I should have been able to trust, God has redeemed my story. He has made me whole.

That’s not to say my story has been an easy one. Far from it, in fact. Even now, the trauma of abuse haunts me. I live with its impact every single day. Our financial struggles are formed by it. Financial abuse, financial misuse through carelessness, has been part of my craggy pathway–along with other, equally painful, types of abuse. But, even in the pain, God has formed a way for me to tread. The way is winding, painful, and often darkened. I cannot see its end but I can see the One who is leading me. And, even in want, even in times of great need and financial uncertainty, that is enough. I don’t have to worry for I trust in God’s character. I have no idea what to do about the past due rent, how to afford to fix the van or the dryer or…so much more…but I don’t really have to worry about those things. God has all of those issues safe in His hands, and I trust  Him.

So why am I sharing this? Because things need to change. God has taught us how we are to treat one another and the way I’ve been treated by God’s people, the way so many in my circumstances have been treated, does not honor Him. If you read this and your heart is touched, look around you. Somewhere, in your congregation is a woman just like me. She needs you. Just like I need you and other Christians. We’re not so different from you, she and I. We’ve been beaten down by words or force, manipulated, treated cruelly. We’re hurting, me and my abused sisters-in-Christ. Part of the reason we’re hurting is that we have been ignored, overlooked, or even flat-out blamed for our own pain by our fellow Christians, for so very long. It’s bad enough our husbands hurt us. Please don’t add to the pain.

The church isn’t always the safest place for an abused woman but hopefully one day that will change. It is my fervent hope and prayer that God’s people develop God’s heart for the oppressed. I’ll never be one who will say that I love Jesus just not the church. I do love the church but, sadly, the church hasn’t always known how to love me or others like me. You can help change that. Hopefully, I can too. Jesus is honored when we love one another in word and deed–by serving, by sharing, by doing. Remember the second greatest commandment then put yourself in my place: if you were me, or if you were the abused woman in your church, how would you want us to “love thy neighbour as thyself”?

Posted in Anna Wood, To trust in God

The marriage of joy and sorrow: a personal story

 

 

Tonight as I head to bed, my heart is heavy. Our family is facing so many difficulties. Hard times brought on by circumstances beyond my control seek to overwhelm us. Hard times that I have had nothing to do with but that I am paying the price for nonetheless. As are my children. The rent has come due, and passed, and come due again, and there’s no way to pay it. No way to prepare for Winter–clothes that were carefully packed away were rained on. I didn’t know the roof to the storage shed leaked. When I discovered it did, it was too late. Our Winter clothing–gone, given over to mildew. No way to fix those things that so need to be repaired–the dryer, the van, the stove, the fridge all are showing their age at such an inopportune time. Sometimes the van simply doesn’t work at all. There’s nothing I can do to repair them, no way to do much of anything, to pay for much of anything–and there’s so many needs.

And Christmas. Oh, Christmas. I just don’t want to think about it. What should be joyful is instead overwhelming.

My little son came to me the other day wanting to talk. He’d overheard his father talking to me about our finances, heard him saying things a child shouldn’t know. He wanted to know if we’d ever be so poor that we’d have to live on the street. “Mama, I don’t want to live on the street.” My heart broke. I assured him that God would take care of us, that that wasn’t going to happen. But, fear rises up because we’re so far behind….

My story is a melding of twin realities, the marriage of the joy of trusting in the Lord and the sorrows that seek to overwhelm us. The burden of seemingly endless struggles and trials mix and mingle with the trust that nothing will happen to us that God cannot handle. Jesus is the beginning and the end of my story. If He weren’t, I couldn’t hold on.

Sometimes, I just beg Him to help me to know what to do, to have the wisdom to just get through the day. Even though I know better, sometimes I foolishly worry that something might somehow interrupt God’s plans. That, despite all of my promises to my child, things might indeed somehow fall apart.

Then I shudder at how weak, how small, my faith is.

Our God is a God who isn’t limited by time or space. He’s a God outside of those things, outside of normal limitations because He’s the One who created everything–including what is ultimately somehow “limiting” me and my circumstances. But how to believe it? So much has gone wrong for so very long. So many unexpected expenses, so much family pain, so many sorrows–the financial has been, in many ways, the least of it. So this is where we end up, struggling, hurting, doing our best to stay one step ahead of utter brokenness. The utilities are so high and are past due, the rent remains unpaid, the the landlord could show up any day asking us to leave, and we’d have no choice but to do so. And no place to go, no one to turn to. And with all of that, we’re still struggling just to get through one more day.

What do I make of this, God? How do I trust when there’s no place to turn for relief?

No one to run to…but You. And You’re enough. 

God is always enough

God’s faithfulness is ultimately the end of my story even when there is no end in sight. Somehow God is going to help us, somehow something somewhere will turn and things will work out. I believe that…most of the time. But what if He doesn’t? If He doesn’t, there’s a reason and I can still trust Him. Even if things fail, He never does. Even if sorrows multiply, so will His faithfulness.

As this long night goes forward for me, I remember the story of Elijah running from Ahab and Jezebel. He was spent, worn out, exhausted. Fearful and consumed with “what if”, he was ready to give up and die. God didn’t scold him. He didn’t correct his theology. No, He remembered that Elijah was dust, a man exhausted from his struggles. A man needing to rest. So God let him. Elijah slept and, when he awoke, God fed him. God took care of his physical needs first–then he prepared him to go forward. This wasn’t the first time–or the second–that God had made a point to provide for His prophet. The first time God used ravens to feed him (1 Kings 17: 2-6). The second time, God used a widow woman’s oil and flour, which God kept from running out, to feed not only Elijah but the woman and her son (1 Kings 17: 8-16). This time God sends an angel to feed him and give him water (1 Kings 19: 1-9).

Elijah’s God is my God–One and the same. He’s unchangeable, and He’s good. And, in the deafening silence of our struggles, in the dark night hours when I feel so overwhelmed, so afraid, so alone, I remember that God cared for His prophet–not just spiritually but physically also–and I rest in Him.

Soli Deo gloria!

Posted in abuse, Anna Wood, Authentic Christianity, discernment

Tamar Weeps: God’s heart on domestic abuse

cryingGod’s Word teaches us that He comforts us in order to make us comforters (2 Corinthians 1: 4). As a victim of abuse, I have received the great comfort of the Lord so many times. As my heart has broken, time and again, over mistreatment by those who should have loved me but either didn’t or weren’t capable of it, He has taken me up and comforted me. It is my desire to share His comfort with others  who walk the terrible and lonely road of domestic abuse. I know this road too well. From birth onward, I’ve walked its craggy passages.

Domestic abuse is alive and sickeningly well and, too often, it makes its presence known in the church of God. The love of Christ can overcome it. Through His love, through His truth, we can help the victims in our midst. I’ve started a new blog, Tamar Weeps https://tamarweeps.wordpress.com/ (see 2 Samuel 13) to do just that. Let’s learn together, so that we too can become comforters for those that need it so much. Come on over, share your thoughts, your stories, your hope. I hope to see you there.