Peace.

 

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Since moving to our present church nine months ago, we have been blessed with new friendships, much encouragement and support, truly great preaching and teaching, anointed worship… where both of us have experienced surprise and a little disappointment we had not been swept away in the rapture, discipleship and healing and last, but not least, starting a new Homegroup from our own home.

We have enjoyed what each of the members of our homegrown has brought and feel so thankful that the group are cohesive and very willing for the Holy Spirit to lead us forward.

Last night one of our members led us through the bible passages on peace.  Not worldly peace, but the peace of God.  We discovered so many passages that talk of peace.  It was good to share our own actual experiences of peace, where I spoke of the year 2007/2008, when, despite the loss of children, dogs, home and the pain of what had driven me to that place, I felt peace and joy in Him.

It was agreed we can feel  at peace, even in the darkest of places, in the most painful of places, if only we would refer to our Father.  He takes us through if we let Him.  We can come through unscathed, if we stay focussed on Him.

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Peace does not come without cost though.  To know that He promises us peace, to know that it is there if we want it is one thing, but to attain it is to align yourself to Him, to be walking that straight and narrow path, to be relating to Him through prayer and worship, to be listening.

Cost? Yes, it means putting aside the time we spend doing other things and forming a discipline which in turn becomes a way of life.

It means putting aside blame, working on forgiveness, confessing our own sins, swallowing our pride, surrendering to God, being accountable, (asking God to reveal the sin within and addressing it).   Holding onto the lies of the past, whether self inflicted or not, prevents relationship with God, which in turn, prevents that all encompassing peace.  Holding onto grudges, misconceptions, misunderstandings and remaining in unforgiveness.  Not seeking reconciliation and anything and everything that is flouting the will of God will prevent us from attaining that depth of peace you have been promised by your Father.  It is possible that it will in fact, leave you spiritually uncovered which in turn means satan has an open door to meddle with your life.

Interestingly, this morning’s daily reading from Seeds of Kingdom (Ellel Ministries) was about peace as well.  (see below).  Not coincidence, a word from God, that my own peace is attainable and is coming.   I am in the midst  of attending a discipleship course ,and last Monday was a day long session on the seven steps to freedom from Freedom in Christ Ministries http://www.ficm.org.uk/   It was exhausting but releasing  and a sense of calm arrived within.  I know that I will need to continue to work through the steps and give myself an annual review to maintain the freedom I have so far received, but to attain more also.

Never again do I want to be in that place in the desert where satan has free will in my life because I was drowning in my pain and oblivious to what God was saying and trying to do in me.

The cost to oneself is far greater than that of aligning to God, not only is all peace lost, but health and finances flounder, the enemy feeds you lies and one thing leads to another until you are in a downward spiral of despair.

 

download (2) “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit, soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23

Blame is the burden of accusation for wrongdoing. It’s right to face the truth of who’s been responsible for particular damage in our lives. It prepares the way for either confession of our own sin, or the forgiveness of others. Unfortunately our carnal nature is usually reluctant to acknowledge personal blame for wrongdoing and more ready to self-justify our own actions and point the finger at others (Isaiah 58:9). Occasionally, when struggling with issues of abuse and personal insecurity, we may feel forced to take the blame for something which we’re not responsible for, particularly when we feel under pressure from others in a position of authority.

We live in a world unwilling to accept that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), a culture of frequent blame-shifting, and a culture more ready to claim entitlement than confess sin. Of course particular individuals may have sinned against us, and they’re wholly responsible for hurt in our lives. In this case our forgiveness of them is the way through to the healing of our inner wounds.

It’s appropriate to consider the apportionment of responsibility in any sin issue, for truth is a doorway to healing. However, the ministry of Jesus is founded in forgiveness, to release each one of us from needing to carry the defiling accusations of the enemy (Revelation 12:10-11), and enable us to walk as pardoned children of God, with all debts paid.

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Some verses to think on.

Psalms 29:11 The LORD will give strength to his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.
Psalms 34:14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
Psalms 37:37 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
Psalms 119:165 Great peace have they which love your law: and nothing shall offend them.
Proverbs 3:17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
Proverbs 14:30 A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.
Proverbs 17:1 Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.
Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.
Isaiah 32:17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
Isaiah 48:18 O that you had listened to my commandments! then had your peace been as a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea:
Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Luke 7:50 And he said to the woman, Your faith has saved you; go in peace.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Ephesians 2:17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were near.
Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be you thankful.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.
Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
James 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
Peace be with you.

Prodigals

amandalannon:

Although it is great to know I am not alone in this painful process, I would never wish the experience upon another. I found this so helpful and hope to attain the books recommended in order to help my prayer life in praying for my children.

Originally posted on messagefromthefield.wordpress.com:

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I was on my way home from work when my wife called. She had picked up our 17 year old daughter from work. There had been an argument over some questions my wife asked her and she jumped out of the car and informed my wife that she was tired of our questions and our interfering with her life. She was not coming home, moving out.

And that is what she did.

We should have seen it coming. It was not the first confrontation but you always want to believe the best about your child.

There were many questions that went through our minds over the next days weeks and months. Most beginning with “why”. Along with the questions, emotions. Denial, anger, frustration, disappointment fear (big one) sorrow, loss.

And you remember. The day she was born so tiny and helpless. Her first steps, her smile and laughter. Her first…

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Do not worry about tomorrow.

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Whoa!  This made me sit up and take notice.  (See below the reading I received today from Ellel Ministries, Seeds of the Kingdom.)

Which Way, Lord?“This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look … ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.””Jeremiah 6:16, NIV

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Are we standing at the crossroads, unsure which way to take? Perhaps we’re lost in a fog and can’t see the way ahead? Or it may be that all doors appear to be closed and we’ve run out of options. What should we do? The logical Christian answer is that we ask the Lord for direction. But in the midst of turmoil and confusion, when our attitudes are wrong and our patience is thin, and worry begins to take hold, how can we hear the voice of God? Jesus said, ‘Do not worry about tomorrow’ (Matthew 6:34). ‘Do not worry about your life’ (Matthew 6:25). The Apostle Paul said, ‘Do not be anxious about anything’(Philippians 4:6). It’s plainly wrong to worry, but how can we avoid it?

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By worrying we become more concerned with the enemy’s influence over or lives than in trusting God. A worrying Christian is easy meat for the enemy. We listen to his lies telling us that God doesn’t care about us, and we believe them. ‘Be alert … Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:6). ‘Do not give the devil a foothold’ (Ephesians 4:27). We need to look constantly to the Lord, not at our circumstances. Trust Him. He is aware of our situation and really does care. ‘Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you’ (1 Peter 5:7).

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If we ensure that our lives are right with God through repentance of self and forgiveness of others, and there’s no loophole through which the enemy can gain control, we can turn towards God and begin to see things in a different light, from His perspective. Then His purposes can be worked out in our lives: ‘Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’(Matthew 6:33).

Once our distractions, anxieties and fears are put behind us, and with God to the fore, His direction can be discerned. ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths’ (Proverbs 3: 5-6). Our will and our wants can be handed over to Him, without prejudice, giving Him freedom to act on our behalf.

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‘Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life’ (Psalm 143:8).

http://ellel.org/uk/daily-devotionals/which-way-lord)

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My battle with myself…. Be still and know He is God or get busy overcoming  and drive yourself into the ground trying.

Cleaning today prior to visitors tomorrow I see the damp patches on the wall, the peeling paint the crumbling plaster, the shot windows, the tattiness of all the decor and I despair at my inability to do anything about it and how much worse it is all going to be if and when I can.

Then I read my daily readings. Of course, this is why I receive daily readings (to help me grow in Christ) and I confess, I don’t always read them.  My confession to a friend the other day that I was angry with God (along with many other’s, including myself) so was punishing myself by withdrawing and comfort eating,  AGAIN. (Angry because everything is always such a battle, nothing appears to be resolved, the ongoing rejection from my children, the battle with my emotions over what people have done to cause those rejections and all the rest)

I have often been reactionary when the chips are down, it is not a mature response but it boils up through a lifetime of hurt, abuse and rejection, it will be dealt with one day, if not here on earth then in heaven, but it is me and thankfully I have a husband who never, ever, ever makes me feel bad about my responses, he simply loves me through them.

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Blessed am I in my husband, in my church, in my new and old friends.  Why does the journey seem so difficult, I look around and see so many people who are clearly “sorted” and yet I do battle daily, warfare in health, emotions, thoughts, responses, family….sometimes life seems so horrible and I feel so ungrateful for all the good chunks.

They are blips in my walk with Christ and I understand many have them, just don’t air them.  It is a choice to keep on going, it is a choice to lean on Proverbs 3:5-6 it is a choice not to worry about tomorrow and it is a choice to not keeping looking back.

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Happy New Year

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A mountain to climb.

roadmap-of-peace-philippians-4-7-And-the-peace-of-God-which-transcends-all-understanding-will-guard-your-hearts-and-your-minds-in-Christ-Jesus

A timely daily reading in preparation for my task for 2014, to put my entire past into a place of peace with Jesus.  I have longed for it and I feel I am now in the right place to do so.  New Church filled with Christlike people and of course my Godly husband who has been struggling all alone to bring me to that place.  I fear that outpouring to come but I embrace what will follow.  Bring it on!  May I take this opportunity to wish each of you a very happy new year.  I pray that you will be filled with a rich sense of peace and an abundance of God’s love.

26 December, 2013

Today’s Free Devotional from Ellel Ministries International 
Memory

“You will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.”
Isaiah 54:4, NAS

It`s that time of year particularly associated with looking back and looking forward. Our memory, the storage and recall of information from the past, is surely a wonderful, though complex, aspect of God`s design for the human body. It requires detailed interaction between the physical senses, the brain, the soul and, not least, the human spirit (1 Corinthians 2:11)

Trauma can cause a break to these physical and spiritual connections within the body, causing memory loss or distortion. Also, we may make a conscious or unconscious choice to disconnect from painful or guilty memories, as a coping mechanism. Any such breaks in the rightful flow of memory, especially when chosen, are contrary to God`s order and can give opportunity for the enemy to interfere with the complex systems of memory within the body, soul and spirit.

Rightful remembrance should be part of normal life (Luke 22:19). Those memories which have been painful can be brought to a place of peace with Jesus, when we choose not to allow broken-ness to be the way (even unconsciously) of dealing with the wounds or sins of the past. Just choosing to forget them does not resolve them; it simply buries them in a place of spiritual isolation and darkness.

God does not totally wipe out difficult memories but, through His healing of wounds and His forgiveness of sin, He removes the nagging remembrance of pain and shame.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that I can look forward to the year ahead without having to carry a buried remembrance of the wrongs and hurts of the past. I`m so pleased that they can be fully resolved through You. I can be at peace.

Happy Christmas

 

 

Stopping by just to wish our blogging community, new friends and old, a very Happy Christmas.  May the blessing of the Lord rest upon you and fill you to overflowing with His love and power, now and always.

Hope to be back early in the New Year.

▶ All You’ve Ever Wanted – Casting Crowns.

via ▶ All Youve Ever Wanted Official Lyric Video – YouTube.

I just looked up today
And realized how far away I am from where You are
You gave me life worth dying for
But between the altar and the door
I bought the lies that promised more
And here I go again

Lord, I know I let You down
But somehow, I will make You proud
I’ll turn this sinking ship around
And make it back to You

But all my deeds and my good name
Are just dirty rags that tear and strain
To cover all my guilty stains
That You already washed away

(‘Cause) All You’ve ever wanted, all You’ve ever wanted
All You’ve ever wanted was my heart
Freedom’s arms are open, my chains have all been broken
Relentless love has called me from the start
And all You wanted was my heart

I was chasing healing when I’d been made well
I was fighting battles when You conquered hell
Living free but from a prison cell
Lord, I lay it down today

So I’ll stop living off of how I feel
And start standing on Your truth revealed
Jesus is my strength, my shield
And He will never fail me

No more chains, I’ve been set free
No more fighting battles You’ve won for me
Now in Christ, I stand complete

 

Wisdom

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A truly wise person is one who will apply all he/she knows to his/her own life.  It is one thing to be wise in theory, to have learnt from experience, to have learnt from reading, to know in theory all that is right and true, but to align oneself with the truths of the bible, to truly apply wisdom to ones own life and to walk in it is the truly wise person.

There are many people who one could label as wise….they throw out a line which makes sense for the moment it is given, they can quote the truths of the bible, but are they living it themselves.  We have prophets galore throughout the world, prophets are meant to be wisebut are they living it?

Wisdom keeps you from trouble.   Wisdom is discernment, judgement, insight, common sense, knowledge,

There are many verses within the bible about wisdom, here are a few ……

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Job 12:12  Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.  Experience teaches wisdom.

Job 28:28  Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.

Psalm 111:10  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

Proverbs 1:7 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 3:7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.

Proverbs 4:6-7  Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

Proverbs 10:13  Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, but a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.

Proverbs 11:2  When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Proverbs 12:18  Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 13:10  Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

Proverbs 14:1  The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

Proverbs 14:8  The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.

Proverbs 14:33  Wisdom rests in the heart of him who has understanding, but what is in the heart of fools is made known.

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Proverbs 15:31  He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.

Proverbs 16:16  How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!

Proverbs 17:24  A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.

Proverbs 19:20  Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.

Proverbs 24:14  Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

Proverbs 29:15  To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child.

Ecclesiastes 7:12  For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.

Ecclesiastes 8:1  Wisdom brightens a man’s face and changes its hard appearance.

1 Corinthians 1:30  It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

James 1:5  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

James 3:17  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

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Always praying for wisdom.  It is easy to look back and acknowledge that you could have done something differently that is not wisdom, that is regret, wisdom is to not err in the same way again.  Oh for wisdom.

Broken families blighting children….. The Christian Institute

I believe there are many who would entirely agree with the sentiments this article states.. I know that it is something that is felt deep within my heart as I watch and also suffer, along with many other’s, the results of bad parenting of the generation growing up today.  Have a read of this article from The Christian Institute.

“Children are suffering because ‘hollowed out’ and fragmented families are failing to properly teach them about right and wrong, Ofsted’s chief inspector has warned.

Society is “pussyfooting around” and “making excuses” for poor parenting, Sir Michael Wilshaw added.

He said kids “lack more than money” – they are being afflicted by a lack of discipline and parents who aren’t taking responsibility for teaching them well.

Responsibility

Sir Michael commented: “Some people will tell you that social breakdown is the result of material poverty – it’s more than this”.

He said: “These children lack more than money: They lack parents who take responsibility for seeing them raised well. It is this poverty of accountability which costs them.

“These children suffer because they are not given clear rules or boundaries, have few secure or safe attachments at home, and little understanding of the difference between right and wrong behaviour.

Hollow

“If we believe that the family is the great educator – and I certainly do believe that – and the community the great support system, then we as a society should worry deeply about the hollowing out and fragmentation of both.”

Sir Michael made the comments as Ofsted launched its annual report on social care across England.

In 2011 a leading psychologist warned that parents are facing increasing violence and abuse from their children who do not get their own way.

Spoilt

The “little emperors” of this “spoilt generation” not only have violent outbursts at home but also at school, and even nursery.

Dr Aric Sigman, a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, said the age at which children were violent and disrespectful towards their teachers “is coming down to nursery level”.

He added: “They’re swearing and throwing chairs at their teachers at younger and younger ages. It isn’t surprising this is happening in a domestic setting.

“Parent abuse and parent battery appear to be on the rise and what seems to underlie this is to do with parenting, the lack of boundaries and the reversal of authority.”

Children are suffering because ‘hollowed out’ and fragmented families are failing to properly teach them about right and wrong, Ofsted’s chief inspector has warned.

Society is “pussyfooting around” and “making excuses” for poor parenting, Sir Michael Wilshaw added.

He said kids “lack more than money” – they are being afflicted by a lack of discipline and parents who aren’t taking responsibility for teaching them well.

Responsibility

Sir Michael commented: “Some people will tell you that social breakdown is the result of material poverty – it’s more than this”.

He said: “These children lack more than money: They lack parents who take responsibility for seeing them raised well. It is this poverty of accountability which costs them.

“These children suffer because they are not given clear rules or boundaries, have few secure or safe attachments at home, and little understanding of the difference between right and wrong behaviour.

Hollow

“If we believe that the family is the great educator – and I certainly do believe that – and the community the great support system, then we as a society should worry deeply about the hollowing out and fragmentation of both.”

Sir Michael made the comments as Ofsted launched its annual report on social care across England.

In 2011 a leading psychologist warned that parents are facing increasing violence and abuse from their children who do not get their own way.

Spoilt

The “little emperors” of this “spoilt generation” not only have violent outbursts at home but also at school, and even nursery.

Dr Aric Sigman, a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, said the age at which children were violent and disrespectful towards their teachers “is coming down to nursery level”.

He added: “They’re swearing and throwing chairs at their teachers at younger and younger ages. It isn’t surprising this is happening in a domestic setting.

“Parent abuse and parent battery appear to be on the rise and what seems to underlie this is to do with parenting, the lack of boundaries and the reversal of authority.”

Children are suffering because ‘hollowed out’ and fragmented families are failing to properly teach them about right and wrong, Ofsted’s chief inspector has warned.

Society is “pussyfooting around” and “making excuses” for poor parenting, Sir Michael Wilshaw added.

He said kids “lack more than money” – they are being afflicted by a lack of discipline and parents who aren’t taking responsibility for teaching them well.

Responsibility

Sir Michael commented: “Some people will tell you that social breakdown is the result of material poverty – it’s more than this”.

He said: “These children lack more than money: They lack parents who take responsibility for seeing them raised well. It is this poverty of accountability which costs them.

“These children suffer because they are not given clear rules or boundaries, have few secure or safe attachments at home, and little understanding of the difference between right and wrong behaviour.

Hollow

“If we believe that the family is the great educator – and I certainly do believe that – and the community the great support system, then we as a society should worry deeply about the hollowing out and fragmentation of both.”

Sir Michael made the comments as Ofsted launched its annual report on social care across England.

In 2011 a leading psychologist warned that parents are facing increasing violence and abuse from their children who do not get their own way.

Spoilt

The “little emperors” of this “spoilt generation” not only have violent outbursts at home but also at school, and even nursery.

Dr Aric Sigman, a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, said the age at which children were violent and disrespectful towards their teachers “is coming down to nursery level”.

He added: “They’re swearing and throwing chairs at their teachers at younger and younger ages. It isn’t surprising this is happening in a domestic setting.

“Parent abuse and parent battery appear to be on the rise and what seems to underlie this is to do with parenting, the lack of boundaries and the reversal of authority.”

Friend or foe?


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What is a friend?  Someone you relate to,  and who reciprocates that relationship.  Someone who you can confide in, someone who is trustworthy and loyal.  Someone who will tell you when you are being difficult, someone who will confront your bad behaviour but also confront those who oppose you.  Someone who will stand by your side through thick and thin.

Someone who is not afraid of being honest with you.  Someone who likes you, loves you, enjoys you, someone you might not actually see or speak to for months at a time, but when you come together it is as though it was yesterday.

I have had a few of those sort of friends in my life, who have been truly loyal who have walked beside me and held my hand through the hardest times of my life ever and have rejoiced in the great times.  They are consistent in their relating to me, they do not judge me, and I know I can depend upon them.

One of the wonderful things about friends is that you learn so much from each other, and through that learning and sharing, you grow together, through good friends, the good stuff rubs off.

I have had friends who have walked in and walked out from time to time and those who have come and gone, as they move on to other things, places, times in their lives.

There are friends you hold with a loose hand, who you can have good times with but don’t want to be involved in your hard times, there are people who walk into your life during a crisis and then move on.

There are people I can call friends but have never met, such as facebook friends who have written privately, shared the highs and lows, been there when no one else was aroundthere are people I know from way back who touch base once a year but the friends one never needs are those who betray you.

I have had friends such as those….ones you have spent much time supporting, giving up much time and energy, getting emotionally involved with, encouraging, loving, caring, holding close during their most difficult times, people who can literally suck the life out of you.

There are people who are so artificial, you go slowly with, almost reluctant to get close, but they come at you in a full on friendliness, sucking up, telling you things they think you want to hear  …only to find that they are saying the opposite about you behind your back!

To my foes, my enemies,”You intended to harm me, but God used it for good to accomplish what is now being done!”  I ask God to bless youI pray for your personal enlightenment.

As for my real friends, I thank God for for you.  If you are reading this, thank you for sticking close, thank you for your time, love, encouragement, support, shoulder, tissues, the laughter and the tears.  Please know you are never taken for granted, you are loved and appreciated at all times.

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Sexual abuse?


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What had gone on was so shameful I could not tell anyone, because it was something I did rather than someone else do to me.  As you may have read, I had been abused by two men, clear cut sexual abuse, no doubt about the wrongs there, but this, this was different and I could not share it with anyone.  It involved the man who was a role model, the man who fathered me, the man who claimed to love me, the man who was dysfunctional for reasons beyond his control, but it was he who asked me to do something I knew was wrong.  I did it!

I was in my early teens (my parents were separated) and had told him about my grandfather, he told me what that man had done to my own mother, he seemed very chilled about the whole situation.  Not angry like my mother was when I told her.  He was protective and loving about it.

My previous experiences of sexual abuse had rendered me helpless, an act done to me, I had even experienced other males (3) in my family, nearer to my age, testing my willingness to allow them to experiment and discover the female form, they did not get far, it is much easier to turn away from someone your own size and age than that of someone who is supposed to be  respected and obeyed because they are an adult.

The next time I went to visit my father in Wales, he had his usual afternoon siesta and asked me to wake him up an hour later, which I did.  I cannot, despite searching my memory, recall how I went from waking up my father and the next scene.  All I do know is that I acquiesced to something that was so unbelievably wrong that I lived with the guilt of that single act of obedience to my father.  What would have happened if I had said no.

My father was, generally,  a gentle man, he was tactile, tender but he also had a filthy temper and his anger was something to avoid, but it wasn’t fear of his getting angry with me which drove me to do as he asked, it was the fear of losing his love for me because by that time I knew, without doubt, that my mother and brother disliked me with such intensity, all I had was my father.

As instructed, I took hold of his penis, whilst kneeling at his bedside and I did as he asked whilst his organ grew and then spurted like a volcano.  It was both fascinating and horrifying.  I cannot remember what happened afterwards, I know that my visit continued as normal, there was no awkwardness but I do remember feeling rather unclean, uncomfortable, puzzled and not sure where I should file the experience in my mind.

I knew I could not tell anyone, my father did not instruct me not to tell anyone, he did not tell me it was “our secret”, there was no threat, yet I knew I must not mention it.  He asked me to do it on my following visits to him in Wales and then he moved to London.  I dreaded the requests but longed to be with my father, he loved me, didn’t he?

Once living in London he never once asked me to perform such things again but he did ask for me to snuggle in bed with him before it was time to go to sleep, he would read a book to me or talk to me about things that happened to him in his childhood or during the war.

When I got to sixteen or seventeen I started to display a reluctance to be that close to my father, there was no longer anything overtly sexual  happening, but something within me was telling me that it had to stop, it was very wrong.  Then one evening when we were about to retire for the evening, I told my father, very gently, that I did not think it was right for us to continue to have those intimate moments, that being in bed with him felt wrong.  He was sad, and I know he was disappointed, he showed it by his coolness toward me for the remainder of my visit, despite my best efforts to appease him by speaking very very nicely and behaving in the “ladylike” manner  he wanted.

He continued to be loving toward me, once he got over the “loss” of his control over me in that area, and I was much happier.  We continued to have very open conversations, and it was he who once told me that the way to a man’s heart was not through his stomach but through his penis!  Thus my willingness to search for love via promiscuity!  Mature men, years later, were horrified at such a revelation and totally dismissed my father’s statement and of course, now I know for myself, that it is untrue…..in most cases.

I pushed the memory of those few years to the very back of my mind and never mentioned them to anyone.  It was unfortunate, when I became ill with depression and my father was ill with dementia, that during a session of psychotherapy I blurted it out, having already spoken quite comfortably about the sexual abuse that had happened earlier in my life.  I was shocked at myself, and regretted it immediately, the psychotherapist reeled me in and concentrated on that alonefinally asking “did you enjoy it”!

I was shocked, it had tormented me and I had not known how to catagorise such events, for it did not come under the normal heading of sexual abuseI was not touched, but instructed to touch another.  Therefore I was the abuser?  That was the way my mind had settled on it, the reason I decided that no one should know, plus the fact I never wanted to dishonour my father, I had seen so much hatred meted out toward him by my mother, her words were like attacks from a viper, pure poison.  Today I understand, but at that time I did not and I was the scapegoat for her anger and hatred of him and I felt sorry for him.

With the psychologists question I burst into tears, denied any such possibility and left the room never to return, I even wrote a letter of complaint.  Arriving home my ex-husband asked what was wrong, I blurted it all out to him forgetting I had never told him about it.  He was furious.  Furious with me!  Furious that I had never told him.  Furious that I had allowed a “paedophile” near our children.  That my father was an out and out paedophile and that he should be locked up.  The fact that my father was locked up in an institution seemed to escape his notice.

My already broken marriage took on a new angle.  My exhusband became a bigger hypocrite, using what had happened to me back in my early teens, against me and even went so far as to corrupt my children, letting them believe that I had put them in danger.  He screamed and shouted at me for several hours

Two facts.  My father was not a paedophile.  My children were never ever in danger, I never left my children alone with men other than their own father, ever!

To this day I find it difficult to catagorise what went on between my father and myself….yes it was sexual abuse, but ……. And yes it was very wrong…….but!  If my children’s own father had asked them to do that to them I would have been horrified, disgusted, angry and removed them from his care.but then he had a wife….even so, he still used pornography and he endangered his own children by exposing them to his enjoyment of such.

I don’t want to make excuses for my father but nor do I want you, my readers, to think ill of this man.  He was damagedvery damaged, it does not excuse him but it does mean one can view him in a compassionate light rather than with contempt.   Further, I could have said no.  So where did that leave me, where does that leave me?

As for the question the psychotherapist asked “did you enjoy it”?  My answer was no at that time, it would have been no at the time those events took place and it is no to this very day.  It makes me feel quite sick inside that anyone could possibly think it would be enjoyable.  It was so very very wrong.

I am very aware that by putting this factual encounter of what went on is putting me in a very precarious positionbut having thought long and hard and prayed over itI am prepared to take that risk.  Please know, that my story is not to discredit my father in any way, shape or form, nor is it to engender questions about myself.   I loved my father and I know that he loved me, in his own way.  I know there are a lot of unanswered questions here, and even questions that are yet to be asked.  Why didn’t I say no?  I know it was fear that prevented me from saying no, just as it has always been fear, fear of being unloved, fear of being hated, fear of rejection.  When You have tasted rejection early in life and it has been reinforced throughout life, you fear loss and you fear more of the same.  What does any child desire more than anything else.  Love and acceptance.  When that is denied you continue to seek it and the seeking of it will be in all the wrong places for all the wrong reasons.  But people like me only come to that realisation much later in life, if at all.  We live with our regrets, we live with our wrong choices, we live with our mistakes and we live to question our integrity, our weaknesses and our needs that have not been addressed.  We also live with the acknowledgement that we were not given what we should have been given.  Protection.

So, this post, is definitely not  about dishonouring my father, and please know, that I have forgiven him a thousand times over, as I have my mother.  It is about cleaning out my attic and it is about sharing with those of you who have had similar experiences and it is about enlightening those of you who have never experienced such events in your lives and have even, perhaps, judged those who have….it may only raise further questions, but it needs to be in the open, it needs to be discussed, and it needs to be stopped!

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If only it were that easy.

New Clothes Day – Bible in One Year by Nicky Gumbel

Clothes shop

Clothes shop

This daily reading dropped into my mail box yesterday and I did not read it until after my blog of yesterday had been published.  I thought it very timely and an excellent follow on.

New Clothes

I tend to wear very similar clothes every day.  I cannot claim to have much ‘dress sense’.  Yet, believe it or not, before Pippa and I got married it was even worse.

When I got married, my flared trousers, misshapen sweaters with holes, string vests, ties (inherited from an uncle) and dilapidated trousers had to go.  I hate getting rid of things – especially clothes to which I am attached.  They feel like old friends.  But alas, the time had come to be re-clothed.

As well as the outer clothing, our hearts and minds have an inner clothing.  When we come into a relationship with God through Jesus, the old clothes have to go and we need a new set of clothes for our hearts and minds.

Each of the passages for today tell us something about what it means to reclothe our hearts and minds.

1.  Control the way you think about other people

Proverbs 24:15-22

Have you had the experience of someone doing a wrong to you or hurting you in some way and then finding out they got into trouble themselves?

This passage warns us against thinking that they are getting what they deserved and rejoicing over their problems: ‘Do not gloat when your enemies fall; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove’ (vv.17–18a).

It is so tempting to gloat when those who have been causing us problems and opposing us mess up and fall.  It is rather tempting to enjoy the moment and feel that they got what they deserved.  But this is the wrong response.  We need to watch our hearts and resist thesethoughts.

As Joyce Meyer writes, ‘It takes a lot of “heart work” for us not to be at least a little bit glad to see that person get what is coming to him … We should always remember that “hurting people hurt people.”  Those who hurt us are usually hurting within themselves, and their pain may be so strong that they are not even aware they are hurting us.’

Lord, forgive us for the times when we have gloated when those who have attacked us have fallen.  Help us to resist the temptation to rejoice.  Thank you that it is possible to control our hearts with the help of the Holy Spirit.

2.  Clothe your heart and mind with love

Colossians 3:1-4:1

When we become Christians we are ‘in Christ’.  We are united with him in his death and resurrection.  Therefore, Paul can write that ‘you died’ (3:3).  And he can also write, ‘you have been raised with Christ … your life is now hidden with Christ in God’ (vv.1,3).  In the future, ‘When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ (v.4).

Because of all that Christ has done for us and made possible, we need to reclothe our hearts and minds.

Change what you think about (vv.1–12)
Right action begins with right thinking.  If we want to live this resurrection life, made possible by Jesus Paul writes: ‘set your hearts on things above … Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things’ (vv.1–2).

This is not easy because we are surrounded by ‘earthly things’ (v.2) and temptations.  We need to take radical action.  He writes, ‘that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy’ (v.5, MSG).  He reminds them that this is what they used to do before they were Christians.

We need to ‘strip off’ the old clothes (v.9, AMP).  Now you must ‘rid yourselves’ (v.8) of the bad stuff: ‘anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on [‘clothed yourselves with’, AMP] the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator’ (vv.8–10).

Put on the new clothes.  We are God’s chosen people and therefore you are called to live as such.  This means a radical change of your position in the world.  You need to be active not passive.  Instead of the bad stuff, you are called to clothe yourself with ‘compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience’ (v.12).

Change your reaction to others (vv.13–15)
Christ lives in every Christian, regardless of background.  In Christ there is no racial barrier (‘no Greek or Jew’), no religious barrier (‘circumcised or uncircumcised’), no national barrier (‘barbarian, Scythian’) and no class barrier (‘slave or free’) but ‘Christ is all, and in all’ (v.11).

Paul goes on, ‘bear with each other’ (v.13).  In the world, if someone lets us down, that is often the end of the relationship.  But Pauls tells us to ‘forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you’ (v.13).

Forgiveness is a uniquely Christian virtue.  Others may forgive, but only Christians have such a solid basis for forgiveness.  As CS Lewis says, ‘To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.’

One word sums up our new set of clothes: ‘love’.  Paul writes, ‘And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity’ (v.14).  Love is not just an emotion, it is an action.  It is something we ‘put on’.  As we put on our physical clothes, so we are to put on love.

This is the beauty of the Christian community – Christ brings about a radical change in our relationships.  The way Christians relate is so different from the world and should be so attractive.

How is it possible?  We must set our hearts and minds in the right place and, as Paul goes on to write, ‘Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace’ (v.15).

God’s peace acts like a referee in our hearts – telling us what is in and what is out.  One of the questions we should ask about any decision is ‘do we sense God’s peace about what we’re about to do?’

Change your attitude to Jesus (vv.16–17)
We need to be constantly guided by ‘the word of Christ’ (v.16).  He says, ‘Let the word of Christ – the message – have the run of the house.  Give it plenty of room in your lives.  Instruct and direct one another using good common sense.  And sing, sing your hearts out to God!’ (v.16, MSG).

This kind of community will come from being centred on the worship of God and listening to the word of Christ in the Scriptures.  It will be a community of love, ‘sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord’ (v.22).

It will also be one of hard work.  Whether we are an employer or an employee we are serving Christ.  We need to do our jobs well and with a good attitude in our hearts and minds: ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord … It is the Lord Christ you are serving … you also have a Master in heaven’ (3:23; 4:1).

Lord, thank you for this beautiful picture of the Christian community – a people whose hearts and minds are set in the right direction.  Help us to strip off the bad stuff and to clothe ourselves with the good stuff.  Help us today to live a life of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Help us to forgive as you have forgiven us.  May your peace rule in our hearts.  May the word of Christ dwell in us richly as a community, in our teaching and in our worship.

3.  Change the direction of your heart and mind towards God

Jeremiah 14:1-15:21

The book of Jeremiah is a call to repentance that begins with Jeremiah’s own heart.  ‘Therefore, this is what the Lord says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman …” ’ (15:19).  Repentance means changing our hearts and minds and turning back to God.

Jeremiah was God’s spokesperson.  He turned his heart and mind to listening to the word of the Lord.  This was in stark contrast to the false prophets of the day.  ‘These preachers are liars, and they use my name to cover their lies.  I never sent them, I never commanded them, and I don’t talk with them.  The sermons they’ve been handing out are sheer illusion, tissues of lies, whistlings in the dark’ (14:14, MSG).

On the other hand, Jeremiah’s heart and mind was set on listening to the Lord – ‘This is the word of the Lord to Jeremiah’ (v.1), ‘Then the Lord said to me …’ (15:1).  He knew how amazing it was to hear the words of the Lord.  ‘When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight’ (v.16).  Ultimately, this is the only thing that will satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts and minds.

Resolve to continue to read God’s words every day and to meditate on them in your heart and mind.  Once you have heard the word of the Lord, you need to pass on the life-changing message unchanged: ‘Let your words change them.  Don’t change your words to suit them’ (v.19, MSG).

Lord, thank you that when we repent and change our minds you restore us so that we may serve you (v.19).  May your words bring joy and delight to my heart.

God be in my head, And in my understanding;
God be in my eyes, And in my looking;
God be in my mouth, And in my speaking;
God be in my heart, And in my thinking;
God be at my end, And at my departing (Sarum Missal).

Pippa Adds

Colossians 3:12–17

We had this wonderful passage read at our wedding.  If we could all live as these verses suggest, it would make for very happy marriages, families, churches …

My Enemies

love-your-enemies

(Extracts are from R.T Kendall’s Total Forgiveness.)

“What is an enemy?  This is a person who either wants to harm you, or who would say something about you so as to call your credibility or integrity into question.  They would rejoice at your downfall or lack of success. They would not pray that God will bless you and prosper you but sincerely hope that God will bring you down.”

I know, without any doubt whatsoever, that I have several enemies, you have possibly concluded who they are from previous writings and what has been said about their actions against me.  Their choice, not mine.

“An enemy is a person who hates you, but would not always admit to the word hate.  I say that because, should your enemy be a Christian, they know it is wrong to hate.  So they will use any other word or words”

Then I can openly say that alongside those who are out and out enemies, I also know some Christians who are also my enemy.

“An enemy is also a person who will take unfair advantage of you.  To quote Matthew 5:44 in the Authorised Version, they ‘despitefully use you’.  They walk all over you. “

“An enemy will often persecute.  The Greek word for ‘to persecute’ simply means ‘to follow or to pursue’.  They pursue you because they are obsessed with you. 

I have friends who think I have exaggerated or become paranoid about the extent and reasoning behind those who persecute me, that there is a campaign, by my ex-husband and eldest daughter to discredit me..a conspiracy.  They think that I have become hypersensitive.  However, since marrying Keith and having an “on hand” witness to the events that have unfolded in the past three years alone, he can clearly see, along with other’s who do not know the people I mention in my writings, that there is evidence of conspiracy and clear persecution by several to cause me as much harm as possible.

“You intended to harm me but God used it for good to accomplish what is now being done!”   Kendall writes “The Blessing of having an enemy”   “The greater the hurt, the greater the blessing that will come”

Seriously???  I have waded through his book slowly, laboriously, trying to put into practise what he has written, much of it has put my back up.  I have spat back at him, “but you don’t have a clue what they have put me through”but of course he does, he has had his own experiences from which to talk from.  There is a horrible element within me that does want revenge, and I don’t like it.  I don’t like it one little bit.  I know it is wrong, I know it is a big sin within and I pray for it to leave.  So the forgiveness thing is huge… I have had too much from my enemies, but still, I must forgive.

So, to read that I am blessed in having just one enemy and will be greatly blessed from the hugeness of the hurt from that one enemy I can look forward to an abundance of blessings from the entire grouping?   YES.  But only if I forgive.

“The chief motivation to forgive is not only the promise of mercy by being merciful, but the greater reward that is promised – whether it be bestowed here on earth or in heaven.  I say that because of Jesus’ words when he came to the ultimate Beatitude:”

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  (Matthew 5:11-12)

Kendall writes, “if you have a real, relentless, genuine enemy – and you are sure that this person is not a figment of your anxiety or imagination – you should see yourself as sitting on a mine of twenty-four carat gold.  Except for the fact that all enemies of Christ are ours as well, not everybody has a fierce enemy.  Not everybody is that blessed.  But if you are so blessed – and Jesus saves the best for last in the Beatitudes –grasp the opportunity with both hands.

“When you know that a person is obsessed with you and is out to discredit you, you are very, very blessed indeed.  This doesn’t happen to everybody.  You are chosen, for behind your enemy is the hand of God.  God has raised up yoru enemy – possibly just for you!”

I don’t want to be seen as ungrateful, but I would have preferred not to have any enemy at all, but if this is the way God is to bless me, then I must be thankful!

If my way of dealing with my situation is by sharing it here on the internet for any or all the world to read, then I am sure it will bless others too?  I can but hope so.  But no, it won’t, for if there is an element of revenge in my heart as I form the words for you to read, then the blessing is null and void, for there is no forgiveness in the want of revenge.  So I say to you, that if you have read any revengefulness in my writing, please point it out, for that is not my motive here at all.  God will know anyway….from Him nothing is hidden.

We are to love our enemies.  How many of you actually have enemies.  It is easy to say you must love that person in church who you don’t particularly feel harmonious toward, they are not your “sort of person”but you can love them, they do you no harm.  But can you actually love the person who means to harm you, has harmed you, wilfully and persistently.

I can say I am continuously working on forgiving the people who have wilfully harmed me,  yes I can forgivebut can I love them?  Not yet.  I am confident that once I have forgiven, love will come naturally.  That is my greatest challenge.

We are back to this matter of choice.  Love is not what you feel.  Forgiving is not doing what comes naturally.  It is often said ‘You can’t help what you feel.’  We therefore assume, is the choice to love someone repressing or denying feelings?  No.  Repression is almost never a good thing to do.  Repressing is playing games with your mind and you may not know you are doing it.  Love is a conscious choice to forgive – even if you don’t feel like it.  Don’t wait until you feel like it or you probably never will forgive.  Do it because it is right, not because you feel like letting them of the hook. We therefore choose to forgive – or not to forgive.”

I choose to forgive, but it is hard, so, so hard.  It is a daily chore, it grates against my innermost feelings, my emotions, it is so unnatural…. but I have to choose  to do the right thing and the right thing is to forgive and to love my enemies.

There is no easy way to do this but to work through it, there is no “magic formula”, no wand to wave so it just happens, I don’t’ even think it is something that would happen miraculously, but I can ask Keith about that….it is a processa birthing almost.

Will unforgiveness make me bitter?  I don’t think it would make me bitter unless I allowed it, if I dwelt on it, kept scratching at the wounds inflicted and did not allow them to heal..that would create a bitterness, but I don’t think unforgiveness makes a person bitter.  There are those who have said they have forgiven, or lived through horrible periods, but still bring it up over and over and it is clear they find it very upsetting….almost whispering through the events in the hope that the bitterness or pain of that event is not revealed.

Forgiveness is more than just saying you forgive, it is cleaning the event out of your heart all together.  It is trying to forget the pain of it, letting it go, not reliving it.  Yes of course there are some hurts that have such an impact on ones life it is impossible to exclude them when sharing your past with new friends but it is not allowing the event to cause wounds when retelling.

An act done against you, a one off, such as someone willfully destroying a precious possession.  That possession cannot be regained and you will be sad for a long time that you no longer have it, but you can get over it, it does not have repercussions.

An act, such as familial rejection is difficult simply that you cannot pretend it has not happened…”do you have children”?  What do you say?   “No” to save having to explain that you do but they have rejected you.  Or “yes” and hope that no more questions are asked?  The truth is always the best answer.

My answer is “yes I have three children but they have all rejected me”.  It is then up to the person I have told, to decide whether they think I must be the most horrendous woman/mother on earth and not worth getting to know or that my children are the most ungrateful people on earth and I am most definitely worth getting to know.  So far, no one has turned their back on me when I have made that statement.

I will forgive my enemiesfor that is what is right, that is what is expected of me, and the very act of doing so will bless me for it will release me from their hooks.  I will go on to love those enemies and again, it will bless me, for it is obedience.  I do not want to ruin my fellowship with God by disobedience!

Who is your idol?

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Who do you follow and what does it cost you?  I have expressed my distaste in this area earlier in my blog but have been moved to express my exasperation once again, so forgive me please if you have heard it all before.

I have never subscribed to a “fan base”, paying to be part of a group so I can get the first innings to information or concerts.  Nor have I ever understood the culture of screaming and fainting at the sight or sound of an idol.

Today I am a Christian and I am a hungry Christian, in that I hunger for Jesus.  Would I scream and faint if He came into my presence.  No.  Truthfully, I have absolutely no idea what my response would be, it is too incredible for me to even contemplate, I can only go by my previous experience when I encountered God….absolute awe, breath- holding wondrous awe, a complete sense of peace, and giving of my entire self.  If I could choose what would happen, I would want Him all to myself for a while, to thank, to talk to, to listen to, to adore.

Being a Christian means I turn my back on worldly things, I am here in this world, I have to be in this world but I do not have to take part in worldly things.

Soif we are not to be a part of this world, why do we, as Christians, “follow” our Christian idols.  Those being, in the main, American ministers!  I find it incredible how so many bow so low to such people.  The wealth these “ministers” generate in the name of Jesus is frankly, disgusting.

It caused me to comment to my husband, on realising I could not subscribe to one such person’s web site without paying $100 up front, “what if Jesus made us pay to follow Him”.

It makes me stamp my foot in frustration when you listen to some  Christian leaders screaming out to their audience, where is your faith….”believe in Him and you will be wealthy, you will want for nothing, He will give you all you desire” .  My retort to such people as they flaunt their worldly wealth on stage is “where is your faith” why are you charging your audience so much to come and listen to you….these words should be free, they come from Jesus, you are cashing in on what He has given us all, you are stepping in his way and making the vulnerable look to you and not Him.  You are inciting hysteria and making people poor to subscribe to you, when subscribing to Jesus is free and good.

If you are employed as a minister of a church to minister to those people of the community in which your church sits, if you are a preacher and you are paid to preach in various churches, if you are a ministry and are invited to talk at various places throughout the world and you are given a monetary gift for doing so, then that is right and proper, surely.  But to go beyond and charge people for subscribing to your website, or paying for your flight and accommodation….well all I can say, where is your faith, if God wanted you to do it He would see it was arranged.  Surely?

Do they honestly believe their wealth is truly God given.  Probably.  Well they will be accountable to God, as will I.  I just think we all need to be a whole lot more discerning in what is going on out there, in the churches across the world, and who, exactly, is cashing in on the “experience”.

All glory be to God!  Not to man, any man, ever.

Sexual Abuse from my grandfather.

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A full time boarder at school in Sussex and it was winter.  I was eleven years old.  My grandparents had been assigned as my guardians whilst my parents were abroad.  My grandmother was in hospital undergoing major surgery, my grandfather took the opportunity to take me out shopping that Saturday.  He asked me what I wanted as he would like to treat me to something.

Most of the girls in my dormitory wore stockings and all I had been given was long grey socks, I longed to have stockings, they would be warmer, and some bloomers to cover the gap!  I asked my grandfather if I could have stockings….

He took me to a department store in Hastings, in the lingerie department he spoke to an assistant to equip me with all that was required to enable me to wear stockings.  That included a suspender belt of course (although later Pretty Polly brought out the stockings that stayed up by themselves).  I had two pairs of stockings, one belt and two pairs of bloomers, one pale pink and one pale blue.  My grandfather paid for the goods and then took me to tea in the same store.

Later he took me home to his house and suggested I might go and try on the things he had bought me so that he could see what they looked like.  I went innocently upstairs and put on my new undergarments and returned to him in the dining room where he was sitting at his place in a large wooden chair, he asked me to give him a twirl, which I did, then instructed me to come and sit on his lap.  I did.  He then proceeded to stroke my thighs, I wriggled with embarrassment and unsureness and he then said he had better get me back to school.

The next visit to my grandparents house I had a sewing project, an apron to make for my mother and my grandmother was to help me.  She was upstairs having her morning bath whilst my grandfather was washing up  the breakfast dishes.  I was leaning over my grandmothers sewing machine, trying to make sense of the pattern when my grandfather came to look over my shoulder.  He then put his arms around me, whispered something in my ear, put one of his hands up my top and caressed what would have been a breast, but I was undeveloped at that time and the other hand into my knickers.  His fingers found that place that had been broken into five years earlier.  He started breathing heavily and kissing my cheek, whilst still standing behind me, he then turned me a little and kissed me, with his mouth open.

There was a sound upstairs and he removed his hands and straightened up, he said something to the effect of getting a move on or my gran would wonder what he’d been doing, he told me that it was our little secret.  I ran upstairs and nearly knocked my grandmother over as I rushed to the little room I was staying in.  She called out after me and I told her that grandpa had kissed me with his mouth open, before I could tell her more she told me I was a wicked liar and where did I learn such nonsense.

I cannot remember what happened next, I just know the rest of my time in that house was horrible, I was in disgrace and I could not wait to get back to school.  I never told anyone, but I know my school friends knew something was up, I was very quiet.  It was years later that I told my father what had happened, and years after that I told my mother.  My grandmother asked my mother from time to time, if it had really happened or whether I had lied.  My mother said it had really happened.  My grandmother had difficulty coming to  terms with itbut it really happened.  How do you cope when you know your husband has sexually abused a child, I wonder whether she knew he had done the same and worse to my own mother?

Two years later.

Two years later.

 

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Growing Pains

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I believe it is true to say that growth causes pain, either physical or emotional.  There is pregnancy, naturally first here, where a baby stretches it’s mother’s uterus as it grows, which in turn stretches her abdominal muscles and puts pressure on various internal bits and pieces.   There is pain in giving birth,  the cervix has to be enlarged in order to allow the babies head through, and this “growth” creates in you the need to learn about parenting, nurturing, loving and putting first a little demanding mini you before yourself.  That can be quite a painful experience for those who have never had to give or compromise with another.

The young child has teething pains, not once, but twice, the milk teeth and then the loss of those and their replacement.  Some children suffer growing pains at certain stages of their development, those are physical and very real.  We grow into larger and fatter people by being greedy, overeating and in turn our bodies suffer, in pain, a fullness, bloatedness, extra weight to bear on the hips and knees and ankles.   An enlarged liver can cause a lot of pain, as can an enlarged heart.  There are many medical issues that are to do with growth, in the negative sense, which cause enormous pain to the sufferer

Some lessons in life are painful, especially when learnt the hard way.

Then there is the growth as we mature and, hopefully, become wiserwe can look back and see we have suffered to get to where we are today,  sadly, we may have caused suffering too.

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Some find it difficult to learn, such as in school, (which is much easier today than it was in my time).  As we go further back we know that schooling was tough, there was no leniency!  No understanding of learning difficulties, different paces, different ways to learn, it was regimented and meted out by rote and if you didn’t get it you were punished.   Some people, even with today’s allowances, really struggle with getting through their schooling, it causes pain whilst it creates growth.

Sometimes we have to wait for growth, self improvement, lifestyle improvement, financial improvement  And if you are anything like me, you find your lack of patience is frustrating and painful.

However, there is the biblical term for growth which we find in Romans 8:22 “All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy”

I love this piece of scripture.  I comfortably relate to it.  Most of all, I long for it.  I am told I am enlarging, but I don’t see it at all, sometimes I feel I am shrinking from the fruitful growth that came in 2008, I feel it has left me and I am back at square one.  Which is equally painful!

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We have growth in our realisation of our new found knowledge, of being renewed.  Sometimes, when I am right on track, I receive a very real and physical quickening in the centre of my abdomen which almost wants me to double up, it is delightfully uncomfortable.  Yes I know, how can that be?  Well it is a sudden and deep tensing of an area I am not usually aware of, but I receive joy in it’s action for I acknowledge it as something spiritual, something wonderful, encouraging me to grow in Christ.  It always leaves me with a desire for more, much much more.

I have learnt life’s lessons in the worldly sense in the most painful ways possible, I have not welcomed it, encouraged it, nor can I be blamed for it, I am one of those people who has  been unfortunate and used as a scapegoat for other’s to mete out their issues at me.  So be it.  I learnt a lot of things from them, none so much as desperately not wanting to be like them!

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My growth pains are not over, I have a long journey ahead of me, many of us do, I know and I know that what is out there in the dark is going to continue using me as a scapegoat, that there are more deep sadnesses to come.  I hope to continue to grow by them, to not sit and become bitter, which causes the reverse of growth.  At the end of my journey I have something so wonderful to look forward to, and that is what will get me through the tomorrow’s and all the painful growth to come.

Prayer

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As mentioned before, I am virtually unable to speak my prayers which makes honouring someone’s request to pray for them, then and there, somewhat difficult and if I then force out the verbal version it is so stilted.  I pray constantly, throughout the day and most especially in the early hours of the morning if woken where I pray in depth.  However, that does not help anyone else, does it?

Yesterday, I visited my mother,who earlier in the week expressed her distress over the phone, that she had not been able to get hold of her youngest sister who is very ill, she kept saying how sad it all was and I suggested she pray for her.  I know my mother states she does not believe in God, but I am not so sure.  She seemed quite interested in my words, that by praying for her sister she too would receive peace.

Yesterday I tried to remind her of the conversation and my suggestion, then asked her if she prayed.  She shook her head then said she does sometimes, when she was in the right place.  Keith very quickly and gently told her that quite often, it is when we are not in the right place, that prayer puts us in the right place.  I don’t know whether she took that on board, but we pray it so.

But isn’t that so true.  We pray for other’s, we ask God to bless people, to provide in all things for all people including ourselves, we offer our confessions, we ask for His help for pure hearts, clean hands, renewed minds and those things tend to be our daily prayers, but actually, how often do we really pray when we are feeling out of sorts with ourselves, when we have allowed ourselves to be carried along the choppy waters, getting further away from the One who can help us?  If only we.no,  if only I would see the sense in that and refer my emotions, thoughts, defensiveness to God alone, as we are expected to do, then I wouldn’t get so tossed about in those turbulent dangerous waters.

Message to self, God first in ALL things ALWAYS,  Amanda.

Beyond that, I am praying that one day, before it is too late, I am able to pray with my mother, aloud, to express my deepest longings for her and thefamily, in her hearing,  in the very real hope that she will be blessed and will also pray, that she will have peace in the coming months or years as this horrible disease of dementia takes her further away from me.

Perhaps those of you who have room in your prayer life, would please pray for this also?

Where do we stand -dementia and faith

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A comment made recently “we are our brains so when we get dementia we lose sight of our faith and are lost”.  A statement that has no bearing on my own thoughts on such issues.

First of all let us start with the basics.  The brain is our control center and it coordinates the body’s functions…walking, talking, swallowing, breathing, taste, heart rate, smell, thinking, emotions,  cognitive behaviour, perception and memory, to name some.   Should any part of the brain become damaged by disease or injury it will have a detrimental effect on its function, or the function of the area that is damaged.

I worked in neurosurgery for a few years after qualifying as a nurse back in the 70’s.  To nurse people through some devastating neurological damage was an enormous privilege.  Head injuries from road traffic  accidents, haemorrhages which caused swelling or bruising to the brain and tumours were a few of the things patients had to overcome when admitted to that ward.  With the excellent knowledge of the doctors/surgeons and the hard work of the entire team along with that of the patient, many potentially life diminishing situations were reversed or worked around.

Anyway, that is the brain and like the heart it is not “who we are”.  When we talk of a “broken heart” it is not the actual heart muscle that is broken, it is the heart of us, our souls which are hurt.  So with the brain, we are not “our brains”.  Our brains..via our will,  can manipulate someone into thinking what we choose to display as the true person, the “real me”.

Each of us has a soul and each of us has a spirit.  It is those two elements which make us who we are.

Our character is formed from our experiences as we travel through life ..it is built.  Personality is who we are, it is genetic and acquired..

Our soul is what we think and feel  so for example one hears the phrase “soul sister”, we liken ourselves to that person because we think and feel in a similar way, there is therefore, a connection.  Our spirit however, is who we are, what we were created to be and when we become born again Christians, our spirit is renewed, we are born of God.  Our souls can be changed by the renewing of our minds through our relationship with Christ.

So, back to dementia.  Dementia and alzheimers are both diseases of the brain, which steal our memories and our capabilities, they can also steal our personalities, through the activity of the disease we can show different traits, for example someone who has, characteristically been a person who has displayed integrity and their personality has been that of a shy retiring sort can then become a person who is aggressive and foul mouthed.

When death comes, “death” as in the body closing down, our brains die too, we have no further use of it, so too does our soul.   Our spirit, however,  lives on.  If we are born of God, a choice we have made whilst alive, then our spirit is “saved” and our spirit is that which goes to heaven.  The Bible tells us that those who are dead will rise from their graveswhich opens a whole new conversation on cremation, transplants etc, however they won’t be the bodies we had on earth, they will be new and there will be no more pain or suffering.

Back to the point, so having dementia cannot separate you from Christ, because this disease is that of the brain not of the spirit.

BUT… my question is, can a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s come to know Christ, be saved..or even that of a person who has brain damage?  Our brains allow us to learn, we learn through hearing, seeing and understanding.  If we cannot do that how can we understand the importance of asking Jesus into our lives?

My mother has dementia, still in the early stages, but she is nearly 90 so time is short in both aspects, I talk to her about my faith and I pray for her salvation, but as her brain is diseased and she is unable to grasp the basics how is it possible for her to confess and ask Jesus into her life?   I have been given the opportunity to be reconciled to my mother and in this situation the very real possibility of bringing her to Christ, because before dementia she would not entertain such conversations, she was very determined and settled in her belief that evolution was everything and God did not exist.

I believe, that even though she cannot, necessarily,  mentally make that choice, she can hear, seeds are planted and when the time comes for her to make that choice, she will be able to call out to God as her spirit takes flight.  Sounds romantic, but that is what I believe.  None of us can know but we do have accounts of near death events and testimonies to that effect.

On the writing of this page I searched the internet for information on dementia and faith, there is no “absolute” it would seem, but that of my own hope and faith.   Without hope, there is despair and I know my Father in heaven is a faithful Father, he wants each and every one of us to know Him, so those of us who are able, must spend dedicated time in prayer for those who appear to be lost.

For those who would like to know more about dementia and/or Alzheimer’s, please visit

A Glorious Opportunity and listen to the delightful Jennifer Bute, a retired GP who has dementia and is able to give some wonderful insights in both the disease and it’s relationship with faith.

The Dementia Centre A centre of excellence for those who are diagnosed, caring for, treating or supporting.

Ken Abraham  A touching testimony.

Whistle blower

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A conversation, about Snowden and his whistle blowing, with my husband the other evening reminded me of the time I felt compelled to whistle blow on a colleague.

There is a huge difference between “telling tales”,” being a snitch” and whistle blowing.  When is it okay to “tell”?

Usually, telling tales is about wrong motive, you want to get the other person into trouble, you enjoy seeing them squirm with embarrassment at their discovery of wrong doing and you relish the punishment that might be meted out for their troubles.

Whistle blowing inevitably is about ethics, blowing out of the water the underhanded behaviour of another  for the sake of other’s.  It is a dangerous position to put yourself in, the saying “don’t put your head above the parapet or it will be shot at” is so true.  However, do you stay safe and live with your discovery or do you action your integrity and deal with it by throwing light upon it?

I had just been promoted to “senior nurse” in a the day hospital department of a village hospital but the person who was overall in charge was a physiotherapist who I will label as “Doris” for ease of reference.

I found that Doris was, despite her pleasantries and jokey type of attitude was extremely lazy, she took delegation to another level.  I found I was to do all but physiotherapy and taking part in meetings.  My role as nurse when far beyond my duties, but I didn’t mind, I am hard working and would rather be busy, but felt resentful that much of the work took me away from the patients rather than allowing me to get to know them and care for them.

One patient would be taken, by Doris, to the physiotherapy department which was in the room next door to us, she was made to walk up and down the bars which she had extreme difficulty doing and was fearful when having to turn around.  She was a short person and rather heavy set, spending most of her time in a chair.  Doris would leave her to do her exercises unsupervised.  The other physiotherapists in that department would come and complain to me, saying that the patient was constantly calling out for assistance and they had their own patients to deal with, it was interrupting their work and where was Doris?  I suggested they spoke to Doris next time she was available.

The complaints kept coming and I was fearful of the patient’s safety.  I spoke to my next in command, a senior sister at another cottage hospital, she told me I should report the situation to areas manager.  I thought about it for a while, whilst approaching Doris myself was fruitless, it was like water off a ducks back, she actually said, in the patients hearing “oh that lazy cow, she’s pathetic”.  ~The patient thanked me for my endeavours but was truly distressed with her visits to us and threatened to stop coming.

I had to act, so I spoke with the area manager who told me to speak to Doris, I explained I had, she told me to do it again.  I did, but the situation continued, I told the area manager again and threatened to leave if nothing was done.  She spoke to Doris.  Doris was not best pleased with me and she made it very clear.  It was at that time I became ill and was signed off sick with clinical depression, (no it was not related but possibly the last straw in a lifetime of conflicts).  On the few occasions I tried to return to work I failed, I explained I could not work with Doris, she made it very clear she was unhappy with me and even accused me of causing trouble, I did remind her I had approached her directly, twice, but she dismissed those attempts and said I had betrayed her.

I was then given the opportunity to run the outpatients clinic, which I did for a little while, but the depression took hold and my nursing career ended due to generalised ill health.

If I was in the same situation again, I would blow the whistle.  A patient should not be compromised at any time for any reason no matter what age or reason they are under the care of the health service.  No one should be treated like that and that poor little old lady had already suffered a fractured femur, she was so fearful of another fall.

To this day I believe I did the right thing….what say you?

Cruelty

There are so many areas of cruelty, we often read in the news about the cruel acts of humans toward animals, children, the elderly and much in between.  It is an outrage that we, sensitive, spiritual beings, should have the will to lash out to the defenceless and cause  harm.

It is especially harrowing when images of cruelty are displayed across the news pages, the starved and beaten child who has, at the hands of it’s parents, the people who are expected to love, protect, nourish and nurture, cause willful harm which quite often ends in death.  What motivates people to commit such acts of cruelty.

The abandoned dog, left to scour the streets for food and water, probably beaten at some stage and even mutilated, cowering in dirty shelters, too terrified to feed itself for fear of getting hurt some more.

The elderly patient in a nursing home, in the care of so called professionals, where in the last days of their lives they are to be treated with dignity and respect, nursed gently to their last breath but instead not fed, not given fluids, left in excrement, no drugs, treated roughly, even hit.

Where does it start?  Is it the bully from school, getting away with the taunts and the divisive acts, building strength from his/her ability to cause harm without boundaries?  Where does the hard heartedness come from?  Some say it is films, tv, internet but I don’t agree.

I don’t believe that people are necessarily taught to be aggressive, even when they are victims of such behaviour from an early age, I don’t agree they are influenced into that mindset at all, a few maybe, but generally speaking I just think it is something in the make up of a person, a cruel streak, a control element, power seeking, adrenaline fixing and in the end it is a drug.

Think on these words…..Barbarism, inhumanity, malice, persecution, savagery, bestiality, bloodthirstiness, callousness, coarseness, depravity, despotism,  heartlessness, malignity, masochism, mercilessness, murderousness,  sadism, spite, venom, wickedness, fiendishness, unkindness…...all are synonymous with the term “cruelty”.  Cruelty is a choice, no matter how young or old the person is who chooses to be cruel, no matter their background.  It is  a wilful desire to cause harm to another and the desire to see suffering.

It would appear we have become indifferent to such behaviour.  The complacency in our responses to the news of cruelty is a shudder and a moving on, a dismissing of such an event.  Because it does not touch us personally, we let it go.  We cannot do anything about it?  What is the point of worrying?  It is absolutely outrageous that anyone, whether it is the person in your community or someone a million miles away, is behaving cruelly and causing wilful harm to others.  Why aren’t we all up in arms when we hear of such things?  What if you were the victim of such acts?  What then, would it be different?  What makes you more important than someone a million miles away?

Remembering the horror and sadness as  the story of abduction and murder of little Jamie Bulger all those years ago, how could two young boys commit such an evil act, just kidnapping him then taunting him, but then to  murder him, a total stranger?  It still has not been explained, what lead them to this evil act?  An opportune moment of seeing him without an adult and the response to the questions of what they were doing with him as they lead him away, cryingso easily carried out, no hesitation, such confidence!  What went on afterwards does not bear thinking about and what provoked them into going so far and then covering it up.

Many children come from rotten backgrounds, where they are beaten up, they witness one or the other of their parents being abused.  Where alcoholism, abandonment, and drugs are a daily horror.  Where adult only video’s/dvd’s, computer games  are easily accessible.  I know that many children all over the world are raised in such an environment, but I cannot begin to imagine that the most would turn out to be just like their role models.

We all have choices and even if we only see wrong being done as we develop we have the choice to decide whether we want to be like our role models or different.  I cannot go with the excuses made for those who commit such crimes of cruelty, that they didn’t know any better.   We all know better.  We know what is nice and what is not nice.  If we did not then why is it you can see such awfully sad faces on children who are victims of cruelty?  Why would they choose to dish out that same behaviour to other’s when it has caused them so much pain?  Sorry but no, I have heard enough excuses for those “poor” people who enjoy being cruel, there is no excuse at all.  They simply choose to be cruel because they enjoy it and if that sounds judgemental, so be it.

Discuss?

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