Sunday, September 24, 2017

Look up

When I was a young child, my brother, a couple cousins and myself, were on a pontoon with an uncle of ours. Our uncle wanted to teach us all how to swim that day, and he did, kind of. We each had different levels of swimming skills under our belts and the suggestion of throwing me into the water terrified me because, I fully believed I was going to drown. My brother was the first to get tossed in, then an older cousin was next and both were doing fine. But, that didn't lessen my fears, I was next and I was petrified, crying and begging not to be thrown in. My uncle grabbed me and tossed me a few feet from the boat. I hit the water and started really panicking and choking on the water I had swallowed while screaming for my life. But, my brother swam close to me and with a voice of confidence, he said, "Niki, just paddle to the boat and you will be fine, I'll swim next to you." And wouldn't you know it, instantly I could swim and I paddled over to the side of the boat and climbed back in. My faith in myself tripled knowing I had him next to me if he was needed. 

  The season I have been in has me at times feeling like I have been thrown overboard into a giant sea of strong waves and I have forgotten how to swim again. 

  The Lord recently reminded me of when I was that young child and how I had the skills to swim back to the boat that day, but until my brother swam next to me, my faith was very weak. Sometimes our faith isn't just about trusting God but about trusting what God can do through you. 

  Jesus asked me to step out of the boat recently too and it petrified me the same as when I was that little girl, maybe even more, because now I have so much more riding on my ability to be able to swim. Jesus didn't just toss me in like my uncle had, but he did asked me to do something that I felt was above my ability. I can't walk on water, I can't swim through giant waves crashing against me. I would surly be eaten alive by the ocean waves. But, Jesus asked me to step out of the boat, so reluctantly I did and instantly sank as I started to panic. But this time I didn't hear a voice telling me to paddle back to the boat as he swam next to me. This time, I heard nothing. Jesus had asked me to step out of the boat into an angry sea and then he abandoned me, I thought? As I struggled to keep my head above each crashing wave I was yelling out for help and was met with only the roar of the angry ocean. I couldn't see Jesus or hear him any longer. I felt alone and suddenly my fear left and a deep anguish took over as I took my last inhaled breath and started to sink deep. Suddenly, I wasn't panicked, I had just given up.  I was tired and I saw no way out. 

 There is a freedom in giving up, I guess but, also a deep sadness when you realize what you have just done. As I was sinking to the bottom and watching the sun's light fade out of sight, I wondered was this really it, was I going to drown and Jesus was just going to watch it happen? Just then, I felt him, he was beside me, holding his breath too. Confused, I thought, why was he holding his breath? After all, he can part the sea. He pointed to the ocean's surface and in that moment, I wanted to breath again and I wanted to reach the surface more than anything I had ever wanted before. I moved my very tired arms and with that first stroke towards the surface, I saw Jesus reaching in to pull me out. I grabbed his arm and when I reached the surface, I gasped for air like a new born baby breathing for the first time. It wasn't over but, I wasn't alone and I knew this at that moment. 

More often than not, Jesus doesn't just rescue us, he sinks with us, he holds his breath beside us and he waits for us to reach out our hands for him to pull us back in the boat. It's a painful, soul stretching experience to be sinking and believe you are alone, but God will never ask one of his children to step out of the boat and leave us there to drown. He will however, let us sink and feel the pressure of the deep ocean pushing against us. He knows what pressure and despair can build in us. Remember, when a pearl is being made it causes the oyster great discomfort but the end result is something pretty spectacular. So the next time you are drowning remember to keep holding your breath and look up. 



Sunday, July 2, 2017

Believing the child

Three. That is how many adults I told I was being sexually abused at different times in my childhood and into my teenage years. Three very caring adults were given a life changing ability unknowingly placed in their laps. What they did or didn't do with that information could be for many reason and today I am not concerned with why they didn't, I am more concerned with how can we change this? How can we make sure that every child that discloses sexual abuse will be believed, will be taken seriously and hopefully removed forever from the abuser/s. 

Step one. Go to the child's level, look him/her in the eyes and with your softest and kindest eyes tell them you are so proud of them and that YOU will help them. Tell them you believe them,  remember the child's head is filled with their abuser's lies, start changing that. Tell them YOU will do everything in your power to never let this happen to them again. They trust YOU, stay with them for as long as you can, you are safe to them. 

Step two. Believe the child NO matter what this child acts like or how they behave in the daily life. No matter what, believe them. One percent of children have been shown to be lying and out of that 1% they often find there is still some truth in the child's 'lie'. 

Step three. Be brave. Choose to fight all your own fears and doubts and think how MUCH courage it took for this child to tell you. They chose you for a reason. Be brave for them. They need you. 

Step four. Often the abuser/s are living with the child, tread lightly with who you call first. My suggestion is call authorities first and allow them to figure it all out for the child and their safety. 


Step five. Thank you! 

"The thing that will determine the long term consequences of abuse is not just the trauma itself, but how trusted people respond to the discovery of that abuse! SO, if trusted people SUPPORT that person the long term consequences are much better than if they DENY the harm. While you may think that the victim's parents and siblings would be the one most likely to breathe in life to her, sadly, they are often the very ones that suck the life right out of her". ~ @Nicole_Bromley


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

When deep cried out to deep.

Through deep cries she shared her story of childhood abuse and a long list of drug abuse and the demons in her life she just couldn't seem to walk away from. As she spoke, I realized for the first time something crazy and so simple. She wasn’t a demon, she was a human, a mother, a child and a friend. A broken one just like me. She wasn't my enemy, she was actually somehow, someway my responsibility. Her shattered past became my inner prayer. Her brokenness, broke me. Her tough exterior softened mine. Sitting there I saw it, her pain came out through hurt, her sorrow slipped through her lips like a sharp dagger of words. Her blank and bitter stares were caused from years of feeling a deep and lonely emptiness that none of us could ever fill. She was broken and she didn’t need advice or critical words. She needed my ears to hear her. My hands to hold her. My shoulder to lean on and my chest to beat on.
I know her and so do you. She is in each of us. Each of us is carrying the baggage of our life. Even though our baggage is different in size and color we are each still dragging, holding, pushing and throwing them along lives path. Stop and take a moment to see through the veil to what hides behind it. It just might surprise you with its hidden beauty and strength!



Friday, July 17, 2015

Dear......

This scene plays over in my head. I was walking in, as you were walking out. All I wanted was to run in, grab a snack and fill up my car with gasoline. We touched, your left shoulder actually rubbed against my right side, that’s how close we were. I gasped for air as our eyes met, my breathing slowed down, it may have even completely stopped. My heart was racing. You looked so different to me, you seemed weaker, smaller and so much older, as my eyes quickly looked over you and examined your face. I waited and expected to see anger and rage spewing out from every pour of your body. But there was something different about your eyes, they had changed, they had a brokenness about them. I pulled my head up with a little bit more confidence and my eyes seemed to soften as if I was looking into what seemed like the eyes of your heart. Less fear consumed me than I ever would have imagined in such a moment like that while instead more empathy and sadness seemed to take over. I knew what your eyes where saying, I felt it, I know you and those eyes. Those eyes looked at me for so many years and in so many different ways, but never like this. I looked at you and with me saying no words and I said what I felt was needed to be said, “I forgive you.” You almost had to hold your breath in that moment it seemed. I think it was more then you were prepared for. As fast as it had started, it ended, you continued to walk out, as I walked in but, we both turned once more and then it was over and I woke up. Yes, this was all just a dream but this dream has been on repeat for several months. I wonder why I am dreaming of this encounter over and over, why do your eyes bring such brokenness to me instead of fear or anger? For the last 15 years I have wanted a face to face with you, a moment where you would confess and a moment I could scream, cry and throw any and everything near me at your face and then only after every ounce of me was exhausted, I would say the words out loud, ”I forgive you” as I walked away with what I had always told myself would be peace. But really would it be? Would that be enough after you confessed your heart to me of the sins you committed? Would I be at peace with saying nothing more? See, I know me, I know my heart and I wouldn’t be, maybe it’s a character flaw, maybe it’s not, maybe it’s part of Gods heart in me, I am sure some people would have opinions if it is healthy or not, but I would want the chance to tell you a little bit more. I would want to tell you that I forgive you, but really in the scheme of life and death, my forgiveness doesn’t count for very much. But there is forgiveness that counts for everything, The forgiveness that comes from God that is really all that will matter one day and He is willing and waiting to extend it to you. 
Dammit, I really hate what you did, what you caused, what you took away and I am sure God is/was pretty broken over it too, but that’s where He is so different. He will never turn his love off on us ever, not even on you. Go ahead and try him, confess to him and let him work on your heart because, even men like you, deserve to know that kind of love. I don’t think anyone should live life in turmoil or have their life come to an end without knowing the changing power and love of Christ. You knowing him would mean us sharing heaven together, but I think I could do that and the only reason I know I can say that honesty is because of Jesus. If you allowed him to come in and work on your heart, the man you were and perhaps still are, would be gone in an instant, he makes all things new. Yes, God is really that good, he can turn a child abuser into a forgiven saint. How, I haven't a clue, because to me it seems impossible, but somehow I know it’s not. 
Your days are numbered, as are mine and obviously it’s your choice, but you don’t have to live this next and probably last chapter of your life in such a state of brokenness, but instead you could choose to be more and make you life matter for something really good. 
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our unrighteousness

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

You are not alone

What if more people knew our stories, knew our past, our short comings and those secrets we pretend don’t exist? What would happen if we all started talking more open about our lives. I think a lot of good would come, when we no longer live in such a private culture. I think powerful things happen with transparency, vulnerability and facing our giants. 

If people knew how once upon a time I was so afraid to speak up, I was unsure of myself and let my past rob me of the present and also the future they wouldn’t believe I was the same person today.

Sexual abuse was my dirty little secret but also so were all my lies, lack of confidence and raging anger. I lived a fake life and it robbed me of a real and beautiful life that was waiting to be lived. It's scary to let people in to the real us, the broken us, the not so perfect Facebook status worthy us. We all have baggage and lingering insecurities, pains and hurts from our childhoods. We all have arguments with our spouses, fail some days as parents, financial struggles, addictions of some sorts, but we also all get up after we fall, continue when we are exhausted and some days we need each other so much more than we want people to know. Our stories, not just the horrific and horrible parts but the small day to day events should be told and shared, because we all have them and eventually that story and healing will become someone else's beginning, while also letting them know they are not alone in what they are facing even though so many people believe they are just that, alone.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

It all matters

He’s not surprised even a little bit by your crazy busy schedules, your exhausted eyes, or your need for life to slow down just for a moment. He knows your fears, he see your hardest days, your moments of weakness, your momentary lack of patience and your quiet desire to pull out your grown up clothes that have long been collecting dust in the back of your closet. He sees it all, and guess what, he still adores you and is so proud of your heart to love and serve these little people he has entrusted you with. He isn’t out helping more important causes while leaving you to tend to the smaller tasks, because this isn't a smaller task, its the biggest task, the most important to His heart and that is why He entrusted it to YOU. You are loving and nurturing a child created straight from the breath of God’s own heart and he wants to carry you through all the long and exhausting days, so you will have the strength to continue through this journey of parenthood.” Parenting is hard, there are no time outs, no start overs, no I give ups, but that’s right where he works the best, in our weakness, he shows his strength the best.
Rest in this today, that you as a parent, whether, biological, adoptive, step, foster, relative or any other form that deserves the title of parent, you have been called to something that is dearest to His heart. You were chosen because he knew you were more than capable, and that even when you think you are failing he thinks you are doing a wonderful job at loving the children that he has ask you to raise up into amazing people.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Love is....

Whether you vaccinate your children or are against them, I pray you make an educated choice for your family. If you choose to teach your children about Buddha, Joseph, Jesus, another god or maybe no god, I pray you earnestly seek your heart and all truth regarding it. Whom ever you love, love them deeply. If your skin is a shade darker or shade lighter, I hope people see you for your heart and not the color of your skin. Some of us were raised to believe what we believe and some of us have come upon that conviction through our life. I have very strong convictions in my heart, as so do you, we all do. I think everyone should have a choice, because Jesus, who I love with all my heart gave me a choice, He never forced, breathed down my neck or thump his ways on my head. He loved me just where I was, who I was and all of me, even though I was far from follow His ways, He just loved me. I hope to try and mimic that kind of love by loving others without judgment. I don’t always win at this, but my heart earnestly desires to love all people, of all walks of life, exactly where they are. That act of grace was my absolute greatest gift I ever received, the gift of unconditional love, by a God that had every right to give up on me. Today, tomorrow or next year when you encounter someone that walks a different walk, talks a different talk and loves a different language than you, love them and love them well, you will be giving them the greatest gift one can give.