Hannah Kerr – I Stand Here –
“My desperate feet Come running to you from shaky ground facing defeat I am holding onto Your promise now raise me up on eagle’s wrings give my soul your bigger dreams breathe your life into me a battle cry is in my lungs singing out “Your kingdom come” fall in us pour out your love I stand here at you feet I’m laying down the fear in me And as your child claiming peace Oh give this heart your victory I stand here, I stand here…

My weary bones they come alive with the sound of you restoring hope in my anxious spirit forever new raise me up on eagle’s wrings give my soul your bigger dreams breathe your life into me a battle cry is in my lungs singing out “Your kingdom come” fall in us pour out your love…I stand here at you feet I’m laying down the fear in me and as your child claiming peace oh give this heart your victory I stand here, I stand here…

Away from brokenness into your promises Lord I’m standing, i’m standing here Away from brokenness into your promises Lord I’m standing, i’m standing here
I stand here at you feet I’m laying down the fear in me and as your child claiming peace oh give this heart your victory I stand here I stand here, oh Lord I stand here”

Funny, I was just speaking to my husband last night about fear and love. I told him I truly realize for the first time in my life I’m not afraid of someone. He knows all my “junk” and doesn’t hold it against me, or bring it up in conversation, I’m the only one who does that, and that’s when I let Satan have control of my thoughts. I’m learning how to stop those thoughts, though, and first it’s with prayer, and second by telling myself, “I’m standing before God and HE sees my heart and my life, I fear no evil” I repeat this process about 100 times a day, if not more.

I realize after reading 1 John, specifically,

1 John 4:18 “there is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love”.

WOW…I grew up in fear and knew if I did one thing wrong the love would be taken away and it was proven to me over and over again – if my family’s love was perfect I would have them today. This carried into my marriages, friendships and sometimes other personal relationships – and everyone has proven this to be true – love was used to gain something from me, they knew if I felt the threat of the love going away, I would be under their control. If I am fearing, however, that is not love.

Now I know the difference between real, perfect love and imperfect love. Now I understand why I spent years searching for love and acceptance for no reason,and a lot of time in the wrong places with the wrong people. Last year, I had an epiphany of sorts, I had a realization, I gained knowledge and took a deep look at my life and what was wrong with it…what I was striving for, and not only was I hurting myself, I was hurting others in the process. I had someone tell me to be completely honest with them at all times, and I finally found the honesty, and thought I was living fearfully, but I soon learned that being honest and stating how you see the world, how you see your life, how you see their life, was not going to work with someone who wasn’t living in and with Christ. Now I truly understand that love, and started to embrace it last April, when I was baptized I made a promise to myself to never go back to what broke me, and I’m not. I see God’s love, I feel God’s love and all I can continue to say is how great is His love? How great is my relationship with Him? How great is knowing I am made new, perfect and He sees me as flawless.

It is funny to me that I met and knew my husband was the one for me in less than two weeks, I know he felt the same because not only was he walking with God, he was searching for a woman growing and seeking God’s heart. It wasn’t that we “fell in love” as people say, I’ve learned through my marriage class through my church people who “fall in love” will also “fall out of love” and this too has proven to be true. If you can’t share you love and knowledge of God in relationships, they will not work. They won’t. No matter how hard we try. It’s broken from the start and it can only be healed through God’s grace and mercy.

So yes, this love thing is new for me…the perfect, fearless love. I don’t fear anyone or anything anymore and when I do, my husband reminds me, the evil one will try to steal our joy and make us feel less than that perfect love, but I stand here before God every morning and know I have to lay down the fear because if I don’t, I’m not letting love win. I have come to realize people use threats, chaos, past mistakes you have made, and their own assumptions to cast fear in your path and to bring you back to the person you once were before you found your life in Christ. I have found people don’t see the transformation you have made, the caterpillar becoming the butterfly and hold you captive in their cocoon of anger, hurt, and they feel justified in what they are doing because they refuse to see. Last night, after our night of worship at church, I had several of my husband’s friends tell me to stay strong and don’t let anyone rob my joy, God’s got it all, and I can rest in their prayers and God’s promises…I also realize now I need to pray for these people who try to attack, for they are not experiencing perfect, fearless love. I have a cloud of witnesses surrounding me and bringing peace and fearless love…

I will continue to claim peace as God’s child and I will continue to stand before God and let all fear go, I am not broken, He breathes His life into me, I am continuing to exclaim, “your kingdom come”, I am His Child He surrounds me, He protects me, He gave me victory.

Romans 5:1-5

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“In our own case, we accept excuses far too easily, in other people’s, we do not accept them enough. As regards my own sins, it is a safe bet that the excuses are not really so good as I think; as regards other men’s sins, it is a safe bet, that the excuses are better than I think…to excuse what can really produce good excuses is not Christian charity; it is only fairness. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the excusable in you.” C.S. Lewis.

What a beautiful quote I read tonight as I was doing my D.C. homework. Funny, I’ve had trouble writing lately because I’ve had too many thoughts wrapping around my brain – mainly because I’m fighting Satan at every angle of my life. I do not want to go back to my old life, and one tiny slip will spin me spiraling out of control into the dark again. I’ve had trouble writing too because I keep thinking about a text I received from – what I thought – was one of my best friends and someone I loved dearly, although she recently told me I did not love her – I guess because I chose a different path than what even I expected. Her text read “you are right, I do not know you. The person I know is gone. Very sad.”

Really? You prefer the broken me over the newly healed me? You prefer the person who would let everyone walk all over her and not give her any respect? You prefer the person who was sad all the time? You prefer the person who strove for perfection at all times, yet received no thanks, no praise, no recognition? You prefer the person who was spiraling down to a depression no one could save her from?

This same “friend” then went on to tell me how I had lied to her, to my therapist and yet doesn’t want to be put into the same category as my earthly family who also doesn’t see the new me, the free me, the saved me!

I’ve shown several people who know my story the text about the old me being gone and they all say the same thing “hallelujah”! Yes, my therapist may have just been – as my earthly mom pointed out – a licensed clinical social worker – but she helped saved me. Weekly visits followed by biweekly visits – finally ending in “hey, Teresa, you got this, you are where you are supposed to be, you can keep coming here, but I really have nothing else to offer” – What? I’m cured? Why, how can you say that? She could say that because I did the work, I did the homework, I did the resting, reflecting and repenting! Not only was I seeing her, but I was meeting twice a week with my Christian family who drove me towards God’s word so I could see that I was worth something to my Lord and Savior. He sees me. He knows my worth, more importantly, He knows my name!

I also recently saw a Facebook post that read “Never run back to what broke you” Toby Mac…

Never run back to what broke you…hmmm…to me that explains a lot. I’ve spent 46 almost 47 years running back to what broke me. I’ve tried to live up to everyone’s expectations and not given too much thought as to what God thought of me, or what I even think of me. Last March it hit so hard and in April even harder, and in May when I decided to give my life to Christ, it wasn’t a whim, or just a “oh hey, let’s try this for a while” it was a “I’m all in this and need to do better and need to really focus on the one man who gave HIS one and ONLY Son for my undying, undivided, 100% attentive love!”

Being accused of lying, cheating, no fully disclosing who I am to people and being accused of having mental instability, bipolar disorder, multiple personality disorder, hearing my earthly parents say to my therapist “do you know what we’ve been through with this one?” Really? Do these same people know what God has gone through waiting for us? What we have done to disrespect God? To run from Him and try to live on our own? To try to prove to GOD that “I got this, I don’t need you?” It’s okay, go ahead and view me as you want. I know the truth, God certainly knows the truth, and if you opened you eyes, listened, saw, heard, watched me, you’d see too…

So, yes, in the past, I have accepted excuses for what I have done too easily, I’ve been too hard on others and not accepted their excuses for what I believed has wronged me and I have forgiven because Christ forgave me. But that does not mean I’ll go running back to what broke me. No way, no how. I see me FINALLY for what God sees. And that’s a very valuable, lovable, grace-filled creation. I am worthy – and I will not be broken – not again. Not as long as God is with me and I plan to remain in Him forever.

Romans 5:1-5

Christmas day came and went, without my daughter, Olivia.  It’s the second one without her, and never something I dreamed I would endure.  And as I was talking to a friend about my earthly family on Christmas Eve, and realized they do not see me as Christ does (and probably never will) and they certainly don’t love as Christ does, that’s not a healthy relationship to be in.  I thought about if my salvation depends on whether or not I continue on a path to continue to let them verbally berate me, and the answer is no.  I do forgive all their trespasses, and I have a pure heart when it comes to how I love them, because I see them as Christ does.  Forgiven, imperfect, flawless and I can extend grace.  

I miss Olivia.  I miss her smile, I miss her laugh, I miss her perspective on life, and I wonder, if she could and would see me now, what her thoughts would be on all I’ve been through since 2004.  How I know this is where she wanted me to be, and how she wanted me to see how I can be loved, and I believe in my heart she would be so incredibly happy and proud.  Because her mom, finally gets it.

I think about all the bad relationships I have been in – with those who cannot love as Christ does – and how this past year was a true transformation for me, and I want to encourage all of you out there who are struggling with relationships where you are not loved as Christ loves – get out.  Do not continue on the path I was for so long…my normal was if someone wasn’t being mean or telling me how wrong I am about life, not fully respecting me or my beliefs, they weren’t fully loving me.  Now I realize how unhealthy a path that was – and while it’s difficult at times to realize I deserve to be loved, it’s a true honor to be in healthy, loving, compassionate, grace-filled relationships, I am learning to accept them.  It’s not easy to let the good, positive, love in, but I will eventually learn that I am worth every ounce that is pouring in…

I heard a Christmas song the other night, and it’s been a long time since I heard it but the words state:

God is in us, God is for us, God is with us Immanuel.

God is in us.  Yes, He is.  He is in our hearts all we have to do is embrace it.

God is for us.  Yes, God is for us in every situation.  He doesn’t leave us – even we we stray – He doesn’t keep records of our wrong, and when we turn to Him, He wraps His arms around us and holds on tight.

God is with us.  Immanuel.  God is with us.  Immanuel.  Every step we take, every situation we endure, every harsh word spoken, every tear we cry, every joy we experience, God is with us.

So as I reflected on the day, and all I was blessed with from the start of the day, to very end, I realized how loved I really am, and how many people out there I genuinely love.  This past year of resting, repenting, reflecting…how blessed I am.  I was given a gift years ago, of forgiveness, salvation, and genuine pure love when God sent His son to save the world.  God was literally with us then, and He is certainly with us now.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas Day, Easter, or any other religious holiday we choose to celebrate, God is with us daily, hourly, moment to moment…

A friend said to me the other day, “you are very important to a lot of people”…I never realized I was important, I mattered, my heart meant something to people…now I see it.  Now I get it.  Now I want all that love, I want to matter, I’m finding my way to “home”.  My heart feels at peace, my steps are lighter, my mornings brighter, and I wake up and pray and thank God for all He has given me for the day – before the day even begins.

It used to be – when I was in a relationship, I still felt lonely.  The loneliness never really went away.  Now, even when I am by myself, I am not lonely.  I know someone is with me every moment of every day.  It could be a friend, a co-worker, a brother or sister in Christ, but for the first time, I know when no one else is around, God surrounds me with His arms, His love, His grace.

Michael W. Smith has a song, entitled “When Love Take You In” and it so true.  You can search your entire life and seek for a home to call your own, you can cry yourself  to sleep, drift off, dream, but when love takes you in, everything truly changes… a miracle truly starts with the beat of a heart that knows and, and more importantly, feels it belongs…my heart is so full right now…I feel like crying happy tears and continuously thanking those around me for believing in me, accepting me, pushing me to become all I should become…all I could become.  There is nothing like fully coming into your own and realizing your potential in what God has made you to become.  And then to know those around you are loving you as God made you…well, this is the type of love that never lets go…and frankly, I don’t plan on letting it go.

I encourage everyone to let love take you in, let God wrap His arms around your heart, and your entire being…let God show you WHO you are and WHAT you are and you’ll learn HOW to love yourself…and when you love yourself, it’s so easy to let others love you too…so I’ll leave you with this…

“When love takes you in, and everything changes, a miracle starts, with the beat of a heart, when love takes you home, and says you belong here, a loneliness ends, and a new life begins, when love takes you in…”

Find love people…

Matthew 1:22-23

“Seems like all I could see was the struggle, haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures, wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son, stop fighting a fight it’s already been won”

All my life I have been called unworthy, named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head”, I remember, oh God, You’re not done with me yet

Because I don’t have to be the old man inside of me, ‘cause his day is long dead and gone
Because I’ve got a new name, a new life, I’m not the same, and a hope that will carry me home

I am redeemed, You set me free, so I’ll shake off these heavy chains, wipe away every stain, yeah, I’m not who I used to be, Oh, God, I’m not who I used to be, Jesus, I’m not who I used to be, ‘cause I am redeemed
Thank God, redeemed.”

Okay, so I broke down on Sunday, December 27, 2015, I cried for about an hour, maybe longer, I’m not sure, I remember hearing the 3:45 bell chime, and the 4:00 bell chime and I don’t really remember anything else until the 5:00 bell chimed.  Sunday, resulted in many an anniversary date and what more could I do, but give in and let go.  As I cried, I was filled with emotions from shame, regret, failure, being unworthy, sadness…I listened to the words of the one with me, and kept repeating what was being said  “God is here, I am here” and I wondered, if God was really here, why was my heart hurting so bad?

These feelings subsided and I was able to fix dinner, and I turned on a few of my favorite songs, “Held” by Natalie Grant followed by “Cry Out to Jesus” by Third Day.  Then, I broke down again and asked for an out loud prayer.  Nothing like hearing someone pray out loud for you – and to not only hear the words but feel the words in your heart.

I went home, went to bed and spent mostly a prayerful night, listening to my heart and God’s promises…it’s funny how one event can bring a rush of emotions back…it’s time to let go of them all, however, because I am redeemed.  I am not who I once was, and I don’t want to be who I once was.  I don’t want to live in shame, regret, and feelings of being unlovable and unworthy.  Monday morning I was met with a sermon about “The Bible is the only Truth” by Dave Stone and several songs came on the radio which brought peace to my heart.  I did pick up my head and told the devil to get out of my head.  He has no room in my head, my heart, my home.  He has no room in my life.  He has no space to fill.  He is not good, he is not worthy of MY time.  I will not allow – no wait – God will not allow anyone, anything, to fill the space in my heart or head with negativity, shame, regret or let me be drug into the past.  I am not my past, I am not defined by my past, and I can have hope for a brighter future.

I’ve learned we bind ourselves by our pasts – God doesn’t.

I’ve learned we let the devil in – God doesn’t.

I’ve learned we don’t allow forgiveness in – God doesn’t.

I’ve learned I am my own worst enemy – God isn’t.

I’m looking forward to 2016 – a whole new journey is waiting for me, and I’m ready to embrace it all.

 

“Mary did you know?”  What a song.  Did Mary fully comprehend what God was telling her when He came to her and told her she would carry His son?  Did Mary fully comprehend all that Jesus would do when she was given the honor of carrying God’s son?  What exactly was the full conversation between God and Mary?  I know the Bible gives us glimpses, but I wonder sometimes if Mary said “seriously, God, you want me to carry a child who will die on a cross and suffer a horrible death to save the world?”  And God said, “Yes” and Mary said “okay”.
When you think of all Jesus did:  walked on water, healed the sick, raised the dead, made the blind to see, calmed storms with just the wave of a hand, walked in heaven with the angels…all that and so much more did Mary grasp this with all her might?  Did she feel somewhat scared, happy, overwhelmed???
I think about all this and my heart beats just a little faster…I don’t know if I could have listened to God tell me I would carry a child, watch him be persecuted, die on a cross and then rise again, just to save a sinner like me, I don’t know if I could answer as Mary did  “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.”  (Luke 1:38 NIV)
So, then, Mary, being nine months pregnant, has to go traveling on the donkey to Bethlehem to give birth to this perfect human in a manger full of straw, animals, no midwife, no doctor, no family.  I can see myself now, telling Joseph, “are you out of your mind?  I am not riding a donkey through the cold and giving birth in a strange hotel!”   I’m sure she was scared, but did the comfort of knowing God was with her make everything lighter?  It certainly does lighten my burdens.
I think about the lyrics to “Breath of Heaven” where Mary asks if a wiser person should have taken her place, but Mary continues to believe and offers herself to God and just asks God help her be strong in His plan.  And what a plan He had!
I think about God’s plan for my own life and how I tried to live it on my own and do what I wanted to do instead of listening to the inner voice of God telling me, to let go and let Him.  I think about how I lived my way and nothing seemed to go “right”.  I think about how I gave my life to Him fully over the past year and how much better life goes when I simply let go and let Him lead my path.  I think about all the people, situations, and turmoil this past year has brought and then I think about how peaceful I have become since He rules every aspect of my life.  I see how people can’t seem to grasp this peace I have found and how I do not feel the need to explain myself anymore.  I don’t feel the need to explain, argue, bicker, or justify myself – because I know God has His plan, and my hope is found in Him.
I wonder if Mary felt the need to explain.  Joseph could have had her stoned to death, but he didn’t.  I wonder if Mary felt the stares and heard people talk behind her back, call her names, questioned her character, integrity, her heart.  When I think about all this, my problems don’t seem so big at all.  I haven’t been called to carry the son of God, all I’ve been called to do is live the way the Bible tells me too, to listen to God when He tells me to move, to love Him with all my heart…and I do.
For some reason this holiday season has found me focusing on Mary.  What she experienced, what she was thinking, how she had so much stacked against her yet remained strong.  I think about how, as a mother, you have to be strong so much for the sake of your children.  I think about how God must have thanked her immensely for being such a noble woman and remaining true to Him.   I think about my own life and what God has witnessed in my life.  I realize all the times I thought I was experiencing something alone, I truly wasn’t.  God was walking with me every step of the way.  He’s had my back, my pain, my joy, He was in the storm before it even began to rain in my life.  I cannot even begin to thank Him for enduring may pain and for giving me so much joy.  I think about Him giving His ONLY son for our love, and it overwhelms my heart.  I think of Mary and what she endured and I can only look upon her with a humble admiration.  She gave birth to the most precious gift I have ever been blessed with receiving.  I cannot – in good conscious – take this gift lightly.  Mother to mother – it’s being given a heart transplant and receiving the gift of life – everlasting life – and all I have to do is give her Son my heart, my life, my soul.  That’s a gift I will not return, will not take lightly.  I hope as you think about the people involved in the first Christmas you find someone you can identify with, someone you can relate, someone who touches your heart.  This year for me, it’s definitely Mary…my gift to her is to not dishonor her Son, to hold Him close to my heart, to love like He did, to be thankful for the sacrifice His family made, so I could take a breath.
Have you ever had people in your life who don’t listen to the words you are saying, they decide in their own mind what they want to believe, and/or assume, and that’s the truth they hold on to?  Well, my life has been full of them – daughter, parents, friends, spouses.
What I’ve learned over the past year is you can be honest with your words and actions, and tell people how you are feeling, what your life holds to be true for you and they can’t see it – nor do they hear what you are saying.  Now, the old me would take the words of others (being thrust upon me recently) to heart and make them my truth, and doubt myself, but this new me, the one found in Christ will not relent.  I will not let my past define me.
I’ve also learned, when people think what’s in their heads to be true, it’s because they do not want to face their own “junk” and admit they played a part in the downfall of a relationship.  And it’s impossible to reason with them.
I’ve also learned if you make one mistake in the past, it will be used against you continuously until the day you die.  Some people are incapable of forgiveness and leaving the past in the past and even if you change, and are honest with your feelings, it’s easier for them to throw your past in your face and see you for what they believe you are, then who you truly have become.
I’ve also learned, if you remain true to yourself, and keep plugging away and being honest with what God wants for your life – He will sustain you through all the storms.  This is true for so many reasons and, again, I will not let my past define me.
I’ve also learned when you point out the truth –as you know it – to others, and they don’t like what you are saying, you are the enemy and they will assume and attack anything of your character to prove their point.  The old me would continue to argue and fight for my character, but not anymore.  God sees the truth, He knows what’s in my heart and this is what allows me to continue to move forward and not look back.
I’ve also learned when you tell someone they are “acting like others in your life” they don’t want to be compared to those other people, yet they cannot change their actions toward you – and thus prove your point – they want to accuse, criticize, verbally attack and not hear what you are saying, the words you are speaking, what’s in your heart to be told.
I’ve been accused, criticized, compared, verbally dragged back into my old life, and no one is listening – and I’m remaining strong.  I’m holding fast to God’s promise He will never leave me and He will sustain me.
I know it’s hard to look at someone who you love/loved and think “wow, I may have hurt this person” and to save face and not look at reality you need to keep them in a “bad light”.  Believe me, I’ve done that…and that’s okay, I have big enough shoulders to bear any accusation that comes my way.  I feel no need to fight off harsh words, slander, or what anyone feels is the “truth”.  Because I know in my heart and God knows, the truth.
Am I a little hurt?  Yes.  People say “I know the real you” but if they did, and they heard and they saw the transformation in my heart and life to this point, they would understand, I’ve changed.  Instead of running – like I would have in the past – I faced my fears, spoke my truth and have continued to move forward.  My therapist tells me this is the best thing I could have ever done, and thank God for her, because she has heard the worst of my life, has seen me cry over mistakes I have made, and has never left my side or made me think I was selfish or unjust for facing issues needing to be faced head on – I powered through, I released myself of blame for all that has gone wrong and realized it does take three to make a relationship – God, you and whoever else you chose to have in your life.
So go ahead and accuse.  But remember, God calls us to “bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity”  Colossians 3:13-14…I have chosen to forgive all those who keep accusing, blaming and being unforgiving of me…I know who walked into my life and when they walked in, and I know who walked out of my life and exactly the moment I decided to let them go – for my own sanity.  And it gets easier every day to let go of those who want to continue to accuse, persecute and blame.  Maybe because I know the truth in my heart and I know I’ve done my best – and yes, it does hurt to let go, only because I know those who continue to cut me down have no idea of the grace I’ve experienced, the storm I have been through to get THIS point in my life.  I am eternally grateful and thankful for those who have heard my entire story and supported, loved, extended forgiveness, grace and helped me realize I am not the ONLY person on the face the planet who has made mistakes, fallen short and learned to rest, reflect and repent.  And this grace does not get extended by those who just go to church on Sundays – it’s extended by those who are true followers – followers of Christ – not fans.
I have learned music is my saving grace.  It takes me to places I need, takes me to places of peace, tranquility and speaks to my heart when no one else is around.  God always sends the song I need to hear at just the right time.  And as I was reflecting on yesterdays this morning, this song came on the radio…again, I say thank God for God and for sending what we need to hear at just the right time…
 
SOAR – by Meredith Andrewss
Here I remind myself what You said over me, here I remind my soul who You are
You said You won’t relent, won’t let go, won’t forget, every promise You have whispered to my heart
I know with everything you’re with me, I know you’re working as I wait
Lift me up on wings like eagles, to soar
This desert holds a song I will sing, on and on, You’re a river when the ground I walk is dry
You will set the crooked straight, clear my path, make a way
You will lead me from the valley to the heights
As I wait, As I wait on You
I’m gonna run and not grow weary, I’m gonna walk and not grow faint
Rise up on wings like eagles, to soar
I know with everything you’re with me, I know you’re working as I wait
Lift me up on wings like eagles, to soar
This desert holds a song I will sing, on and on
You’re a river when the ground I walk is dry
You will set the crooked straight, clear my path, make a way
You will lead me from the valley to the heights
As I wait, As I wait on You
Creator, Keeper, Lifebreather, your name is greater than anything I’ve faced
As I wait, as I wait on You, I will wait, God, I will wait on You
 
So, what I’ve learned is I need to continue to SOAR..I need to continue to follow His path and listen to my heart, not the voices on my phone, not the voices in my email, not the voices of my past, not the voices in my head at times.
I’m fearfully and wonderfully made and I have a new life to live.  I was buried, raised and God has me.  I learned this June 20, 2015 and I will continue to follow His path.  

“To learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.” ~ George Mueller

What a great quote for this weekend. Yes, I have seen many trials and I have learned FAITH can see you through any storm. This weekend marks the one year anniversary since my daughter “left home”. I have no idea really how to word it – did she run away?  Did she leave for a reason?  I know she got mad and instead of choosing to talk about it, and be open and honest with me, she left. Has she spoken to me yet?  No, but I did get one email in 12 months…wow, I’m enlightened ( not!! )  In turn, my entire family turned their back on me instead of talking…what I have learned however, is maybe this was all for the best. I have learned I tended to surround myself with toxic relationships. No one but my daughter and I are to blame for her leaving, although there were certain factors about my life I could have changed to prevent this all from happening… When my parents and I went to counseling a few months ago and my mom said “do you have any idea what we’ve been through with her” to my therapist it hit me – sometimes parents have issues they haven’t dealt with and even though you say you are a Christian and go to church, sometimes, you are not a true follower of Christ, therefore, you can’t let go of your own past hurts and those demons will soon consume you. I let my demons consume me for many years, and at times, they still creep in and if I let them, take over my head, sometimes an entire day…but I will not allow them to define me. I am worth so much more to my Father in heaven, then any earthly being could ever understand. I am not going to let anyone who doesn’t understand this new found worth destroy me…because it has certainly been used against me in the recent weeks. My happiness and peaceful heart isn’t out of the need to “rid” myself of bad things, it’s been used to truly find out who I am, who I want to be, and who I put my trust, who sees me for me and not what they want me to be. I used to always put my trust in earthly beings and felt if I was just “this much more good” or “this thin” or “this way” or “did this to please others” I would be happy. After Olivia left and my family distanced themselves and wouldn’t speak to me and I found myself (with the exception of a few moments where people were “there”) praying more, listening deeper to Christian songs, looking up the verses in the Bible where the songs came from and finding a deeper meaning to my hurt. I found that yes, I had been through some pretty traumatic events in my life, but I was still standing and reason is because GOD had me. And God continues to carry me. Yes, I am happier now at this moment than I believe I’ve ever been in my life. And even through this weekend was met with four bouts of crying, and reaching out to those who have truly walked along side me during this past year. The emails or texts back were full of encouragement, hope and verses from the Bible I have read several times, but continue to speak to my heart. Now, is it a good thing – and am I happy – that my daughter and I are separated and even though I continually reach out she chooses to ignore? NO, it’s a very sad, hurtful thing, but when she comes back will I say to her or anyone in the room “do you know what I have been through with her?” NO, I will simply wrap my arms around her and welcome her back into the place of my heart she belongs. Will I ever blame her for leaving and for the hurt she put me through? No, because if she is anything like me, she already knows what she has done has been extremely painful and it’s not my place to make her feel worse, it’s my place to make her feel loved. It’s what several people have done for me – no judging, no blaming, no condemnation, no words of making her feel worse for the wear, just love. It’s what we are all called to do…rest, reflect, repent, reconcile. I understand I played a part in her leaving, I understand I did things that hurt her, I understand I was not, and am not, and never will be a perfect mother. But am I forgiven by God, am I granted grace by God? Yes. It’s just too bad earthy being don’t fully grasp the grace God has given us. I think if we all understood this, the world would be a much happier place. Is it easy to extend grace? Not always…it’s it healthy for us to do? YES. And for those, who throw my “happiness” in my face and continue to repeat hurtful comments to me, you do have a place in my heart, you do have a place in my life, but you have to come to chapter of the book I am in to fully understand my life now. You are not some distant memory, you are not forgotten, but I cannot and will not continue to live my life in the past. I need my future, and my future will be one of hope, faith, encouragement, no judgment, no condemnation, and the extension of true grace. This is something that cannot be explained, it has to be experienced and I’m telling you, when you walk through the fire and know that God has you, you’ll understand… As for me, I’ll continue to remain hopeful, my daughter will be experience this same “AHA” moment I had earlier this spring/summer, and that she’ll see me as a parent, who though made mistakes, loves her child with all her heart, and I’ll continue to walk in faith, I will continue to pray for hearts to soften and for people to see me through the eyes of Christ and not their own eyes. For it’s only when we see people through Christ’s eyes we can fully extend forgiveness, grace and walk there with…I’ll make it through today, for I’m holding strong to faith that endures…Romans 5:1-5.