** We have been accepted to Crossroads DTS in Wisconsin starting in June! **
Journal – March 21st 2017 “I feel like someone dug a deep, deep hole and put me in it. Gosh, this season is a rough one! I spent most of the afternoon fighting off exhaustion to read my Bible until my body finally gave in and fell asleep. Now, I am awake and longing for the moment I can go to sleep again. I know this isn’t me, so I’ll force myself to go out. I have this strange feeling of disassociation that I haven’t felt in years. The devil is trying his best to wrap me back up in the clothes I used to wear and it is shatteringly painful. It is like trying to put on a dress made from shards of my former self. Like shards of glass, every movement is shredding my skin like paper. As I walk bloodied, I have to care for my family and prepare for a DTS. All the while knowing that this is the preparation. This is death to self – it isn’t pretty”
This may seem dramatic to some but this has been my personal journey for the last few months. As I have shared, our first experience with YWAM was extremely difficult for me. I was a broken woman when we went to Kona. My biggest fear since then was going back into a Discipleship Training School (DTS) with the same baggage, brokenness, and battered self-image I packed for the first trip. Over the last four years, every hint of attitude I had in the past was sniffed out and dug up. God has been faithful to convict me and humble me quickly so I can move forward freely. ~ I hear the song “I’ve Got No Strings” in my head ~ So, when we applied for this DTS in Wisconsin for June, I wasn’t surprised to have the devil try his best to convince me that nothing in me had changed. If I were a daughter who relied on my feelings, we would be in deep doggie-doo. Fortunately, I know my emotions are fickle but my Creator is not. I began to look at a question I had asked numerous times about 8-9 years ago. If we are a new creation in Christ then why do we still look like the same-old-thing we used to? I mean yeah, sure, I am not a drunk or having one-night-stands or cursing like a soldier anymore but my heart still feels like a dump. Well, God has made sense out of some of this for me and I’d like to share.
I want to take you on a little journey – very quickly to illustrate my point. I was very much like my own children when I was young. I was happy, loved people, a little rebellious at times, but in general a blessing to be around. I was molested more than once and was raped as a teenager. I won’t get into the details because frankly, that isn’t the point. The point is the very fabric of my understanding of God and my own identity was compromised by the time I was seven years old. I thought love was being someone’s “secret girlfriend” and my worth was nothing. From that time forward, I operated from that place. I had to manipulate people into my way to feel like my view was valid because no one would listen or care otherwise. I lost many friends this way. Everyone I encountered was a suspect, even my own family. I had no ability to accept love from anyone. If I made a mistake, I was a total failure. The only way I could keep from taking my own life was to find some way to be useful to the world. This is when I joined the Army. I am so grateful for my time in service because it showed me that I did have a few things to offer. Wherever I was, I just did the best I could. At the end of my enlistment, I was very fortunate to be placed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center with some of the best leadership I had ever encountered (CSM you know who you are). The one big problem was my whole identity was caught up in the net of accomplishment and not identity in Jesus Christ.
Shortly after finishing my enlistment I was married and pregnant with Emilia. I had totaled my car, given up my apartment along with my belongings, and wasn’t able to work due to bedrest. Everything I had built was torn down in a matter of four months. Jeremy was not the most sensitive man at that time and had no way to help me deal with any of this. I even attempted to help with coordinating a few things with the church we had been attending but my personality clashed with everyone else’s. I was holding on to control so tight and falling apart. I thank God it didn’t have any long lasting effect on that ministry! Anyway, I went along like that for a few more years. One day I would be great and the next I didn’t know what to do with myself. You see, parenting can’t be measured like a military career. There are no ranks or awards. You just plug away all day and all night so that in 18 years or so you see the result of the hard work. I wasn’t satisfied. I racked up credit card bills and spent the paychecks to relieve the stress only to feel disappointed. Once we knew we were called to missions I began to look at my behavior and change things. You can’t be a missionary and blow money at Target every week, you know? I did pretty well but my understanding of God was still flawed. I thought “If I behave well, I will please Him and it will all work out”. Vending-machine “faith”. I had cleaned myself up and felt ready for Kona.
And Kona changed everything.
Excerpt from my CTDS application:
“We flew to Kona with a 2 year old, a 1 year old, and an infant. I was excited. I thought I was “good”. I wasn’t. We arrived and I was miserable. First, I was former Army and thought I could handle ANY living situation. I failed to calculate “mother’s guilt” into the picture. It is one thing to have dirty feet yourself but when your kids have them and their grandmothers see it on Facetime and well, need I say more? I was so fearful that something would happen to the kids. It all came from my own childhood experiences that I hadn’t really dealt with and so, I was just being torqued up inside daily. Then, there were all of these people that just wanted to love us. They just loved and loved and loved and looooooooved us. It was too much. I had no clue how to receive such love and it made me upset all of the time. Then, the Lord started to press on those areas that weren’t healed (that I thought I were) and the result was a terrified, victim-version of myself.”
I returned back to Maine and began digging up those old roots with my Heavenly Father and boy did it hurt but He changed me. Over the last year or so God has shown me that the work was done long before we came home from Kona but I didn’t choose to walk it out. Most recently, He used the illustration of a garment to teach me about how He changes a person to the new creation. In the Garden of Eden, after the fall, God made a garment or tunic for Adam and his wife Eve as an act of mercy. I kept thinking about the idea of God’s mercy on me for years as I floundered around and struggled with the pain of my past. Even in my sin, I had a garment. Then my mind goes to Revelation 19:7 – “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride (us Christians) has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” See the vast difference between these two instances with our Lord? The first, God made garments of skin to cover the nakedness of His children who chose the fruit over relationship with Him. The second, He gives His beautiful bride fine linen to celebrate the relationship reconciled! As I continued to read in Ecclesiastes 9, “Let your garments be white all the time…”; in Jude “hating the garment polluted by the flesh…”; Revelation 3:4 “They will walk alongside Me in white, spotless garments…”; Matthew 22 “Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?” and the list goes on. It is obvious that there are those who “follow” Jesus and have dirty clothes and those who have spotless linen. Somewhere in there, we have to choose to put on the right outfit. My season of choice came in the Family DTS in 2013. I would either put on the wedding garment or be lost in the same cycle indefinitely. I couldn’t live that way anymore. I wanted my Daddy God. There was this little verse in Deuteronomy that got me to thinking. It is a section discussing what to do if a Jewish man found a woman he wanted to marry in a group of captives. The portion of scripture describes the procedure for taking a captive woman as a wife. Deuteronomy 21:13 “She shall also remove the clothes of her captivity…” hit me. I am no Biblical Scholar, no college degree either. Only my personal revelation that I had lived so many years in a new camp with the Lord but walked around in my captive garments. What was required for my love-covenant with God was to wash up and change my clothes. God will provide the garment but we have to choose to put it on despite what we see in the mirror every day. I want to leave you with one last scripture that encouraged me.
“Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child; break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed; for the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous that the sons of the married woman,” says the LORD. Enlarge the place of your tent; stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; lengthen your pegs. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. And your descendents will possess nations. And will resettle the desolate nations. Fear not, for you will not be put to shame, and do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; but you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of you widowhood you will remember no more. For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the LORD of hosts; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, who is called the God of all the earth. For the LORD has called you, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,” says your God. “For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD your Redeemer.