A Million Bees

Hi friends! This post is part of a 7-week series on overcoming fear in which a few friends will be dropping by as guest bloggers. Please visit their blogs, linked at the bottom of their posts here, if you’d like to hear more from them. Here’s to getting a little more free from fear together. – Bree

A Million Bees by Jennifer Petecki

Overcome: Deal With — to defeat or succeed in controlling or dealing with something.

Overcome: Unable to Act — to prevent someone from being able to act or think in the usual way.

Overcome: To Defeat (an opponent) — prevail.

I am not much of a writer, so forgive me if I make mistakes. When I started this project, I asked several other women to write a few words about how they overcame fear. I had a strong need to share from many points of view the process with overcoming fear. Not just from the side of the overcomer but of the person attempting to overcome, as well. I don’t want to bog down this article with my own personal story. Like many of you, I have ADLBD. Attention deficit long blog disorder. The 6 other women have beautifully written how they overcame fear and how they are working toward getting free or staying free. I will share the more practical side of how I allowed God to work in me and through me by renewing my mind daily. If you haven’t read the 6 other articles in our fear series, please check them out.

Let’s get a few things out of the way.

You may have trouble breaking free from fear if you are telling yourself this is your personality, your dad was stressed out all the time so you are too, it doesn’t harm much, it’s just the way God designed you, etc. If there is something in your mind right now making you think you can’t even be totally free I want you to stop and ask God for hope to flood your mind. Then allow Him to start working on your heart and mind.

You need you ask yourself: are you willing to put in the work (especially at the beginning) to break free from fear? Do you want to be healed?

A story from John 5. One man there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and realized that he had spent a long time in this condition, He asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am on my way, someone else goes in before me.” Then Jesus told him, “Get up, pick up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man was made well, and he picked up his mat and began to walk.

I am 36 and I can’t imagine laying by a pool for that long waiting for someone else to put me in. You have to ask yourself, do YOU want to be made well?

Ok, ready? How do I renew my mind daily?

Identify and ask God if there are any lies that need to be replaced. Can’t think of any right now? Wait until your husband comes home and irritates you. What pops into your head? Some of my lies toward my husband used to be: Why am I the only one that cleans or disciplines, He hasn’t said two words to me today, or Why won’t he help me?

Mine revolved around absolutes and partial truths. My husband does clean and so does my son, my husband does speak to me, but he is more internal and thoughtful, and he does help me. These were twisted lies or partial truths and sometimes more blatant lies.

I would start with reminding myself of God’s Word. If I didn’t know it, I would start reading or do a scripture search. God’s Word says I am not alone. Yet, I felt alone when I was cleaning by myself. I had to convince myself of God’s Word by repeating it over and over. As often as needed until those lies either went away or I was able to immediately say, “No, God’s Word says I am not alone.”

Is it kinda this easy? Yes. But it takes practice and learning God’s word. It takes being willing to break free from fear or other mental hindrances.

The way I described replacing lies, works the same with fear.

My husband was an hour late from work one night and I was going crazy wondering what happened to him. Was it a wreck? Did something bad happen? I could have been imagining that something good was happening like he was bringing home dinner, but I was so focused on it being bad news. I was panicking. This is irrational fear. Fear without any truth. The only truth was he was late and I didn’t know where he was. That’s it. I needed to activate hope. “God, what does your word say?” Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” If my husband has a hope and a future, he will be okay.

If we know all things work together for good, our mind begins to be at peace when our son doesn’t check in on time or we can’t get a hold of our elderly parent. Our mind begins to be at rest in God’s truth, until the truth is revealed. Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” This works for every thought that enters your mind. If your thoughts are critical, mean, condemning, make you feel bad, make you panicky, or make you want to harm yourself or someone else, they are NOT from God. Pay attention as you go into the new year trying to recognize your thoughts, God’s thoughts and the thoughts of the enemy. Make a list of the obvious lies. Maybe fear isn’t what you deal with the most but insecurity is. Start filling up your mind, changing it to see the biblical truth that you are: known, loved and seen by God, you are not alone, you have strength, you are ________. Whatever you need, God will provide it in His word.

Find the lies or negative thoughts. Replace the lie with the truth.

What is the truth? God’s Word. Not your own opinion and not the advice of a friend. Get the real biblical truth. Our friends and mentors can be an amazing help, but we need to seek God’s Word first.

Read it, memorize it, write it, speak it, sing it, and start filling your mind and heart with it.

Start with Psalms if fear is the biggest problem. And start playing praise and worship music in your home. If you deal with fear, praise and worship will transform your home. It’s also hard to get in a fight with your husband if people are singing to God in the background.

“I can’t get a hold of my mom! She always answers the phone.”

“God, when I am afraid I trust you and have faith in you.”

Psalm 56:3 (AMP) “When I am afraid, I will put my trust and faith in You.”

You are praying back scripture. You can think on these things, you can pray them back, speak them out, declare them, because they are powerful. God’s word is living and active. Sharper than any two edge sword. You not only renew your mind but you replace deep lies with truth, you heal your mind and heart of wounds and you start to transform. You will think clearer and feel safer. You begin to have more peace and less negative thoughts.

“God, you have not given me a spirit of fear! I have not been given a spirit of fear!”

I screamed this once as a million bees landed on me at a gas station. Okay, maybe like four bees? But four bees is enough bees. Funny in hindsight. I was scared, I am human. But I knew to call on the truth. I have not been given a spirit of fear. I have been given the Holy Spirit and he renews my thoughts and attitudes.

2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP) “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].”

John 14:15-31 (AMP) (Jesus said) “I have told you these things while I am still with you. But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you. Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]”

When fear tried to enter my room one night, I said out loud, “no.” It was more of a creepy feeling or shadow than really seeing something, but I knew it didn’t have the right to mess with me. I don’t live in fear anymore. “I am not that person anymore!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” I rolled over and said out loud to God, “I will lie down in peace and sleep for you alone will keep me safe. I will dwell in your safety.” Psalm 4:8 (NLT) In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. I had memorized that one back when I had depression and trouble sleeping.

I do claim to be free from fear, but hear me when I say, fear will try to keep coming back off and on. Stay strong, renew your mind, tell fear “no”, and live the abundant life God has blessed you with. In the process of writing this project God exposed a couple of areas of fear that were deep in my heart, so I prayed and had him deal with them. He wants us to be made well and he cares so much about us. Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” He knows our anxious thoughts even when we don’t.

Let’s pray!

Father God, hi. Thank You for what You are doing in and through each of us as we learn new skills or are reminded how to break free from mindsets and lies. God you have not given us a spirit of fear but the Holy Spirit. Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to bring us perfect peace and strength. Thank You for allowing me to share how I overcame fear with You leading the way. It’s all for Your glory and honor Lord. You came to set the captives free and I don’t want to be a captive anymore. God you are so so good to us and I will remind myself of Your goodness even when my circumstances don’t line up with what the Bible says. Use us to teach others how to break free. Give us passion for those that haven’t heard the good news yet of the freedom You offer. Thank You for life. Thank You for giving us the mind of Christ that prevails and defeats our enemy’s lies! Amen!

Are you an overcomer? How have you overcome fear? Do you use a variety of skills?

My favorites are praise and worship (all day – every day), prayer, and reading and declaring scripture. I use several translations of the bible. Use the one you like but if you are stuck, I suggest trying something new. I like to read a lot of translations so I can gain deeper understanding.

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Overcoming fear. Freedom from the idol of addiction.

When I first started penning this post in my head, I knew I wanted to write about a time that I overcame fear. I wanted to share with you the tools I used to help me overcome my greatest physical, emotional, and spiritual battle. I heard a song recently called Clear The Stage by Jimmy Needham. The lyrics are so true to what I had to do to survive quitting my 20 year addiction to opiates. You can listen to the song here: https://youtu.be/6smGew7dGto

I’ve overcome many fearful situations in my life. Specifically, in the past 2 years, I’ve overcome the fear of leaving a decade long abusive relationship and marriage, the fear of leaving a good job, the fear of leaving my home, my husband, my dog, my town, and the fear of moving home (again) and telling my family the truth about how I had been living.

I also recently overcame the shock of being verbally abused and pushed out of my home church by pastors I love and respect. To be fair, they didn’t tell me I had to stop coming to the church. They did, however, call me names and treat me inappropriately, and so I chose to leave. Praise God that I never had much fear about telling my family why I wasn’t going to that church anymore. I actually had a great peace about it. That peace came from God and from knowing my family loved me so very much. I’ve heard horror stories of families and friends disowning and turning on loved ones because of their sexuality. But I had no fear about that with my family. After all, with everything I’d been through, the least of their worries was who I chose to love… as long as it was a healthy, loving relationship. There was some fear about telling certain friends; friends in the church, my friend who is a pastor’s wife, my friend who is a pastor’s daughter, my mentors and women I consider spiritual mamas, and my friends at work who didn’t know much about me. I am so blessed that in each of these instances I’ve been met with nothing but kindness and love. In fact, all of the above was fairly easy compared to the fear of quitting my addiction.

Absolutely the scariest thing I’ve ever done is quit my 20-year addiction to opiates. Quitting was a decision I had to make. It was hard. I knew what was ahead of me once I quit using the drug that prevented my withdrawals. I was under a doctor’s care and being prescribed a medication to prevent withdrawals. It was a band aid medication. I wasn’t abusing painkillers anymore, but I was now addicted to this anti-opiate medication. What a lot of people don’t realize is that stopping that medication would bring on the same sort of physical and mental withdrawal symptoms as quitting heroin. I knew what that meant because I had tried to quit many times before on my own. I knew the weeks and months of physical pain and sickness and emotional turmoil quitting a 20-year addiction would take. I had tried to quit dozens of times before. I knew the fire I was walking into. I also knew that going through the fire was the only way to get sober. It would burn me inside and out. But it would also refine me and heal me, burning out the old and replacing it with the new. And I wasn’t going into that fire alone; this time I had Jesus and my loving family.

The first line of Jimmy Needham’s song says “Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze. If that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols.”

That is what I had to do. My addiction had become an idol. I had come to know Jesus years before I quit. I was going to church, doing Bible studies, listening to worship music, going on Christian retreats, reading my Bible and praying daily… all while being medicated everyday just to maintain “normal”. But as the lyrics go “you can sing all you want to and still get it wrong; worship is more than a song“. I had to clear the stage, clear my life of all the stuff that was preventing me from quitting drugs. I had to leave my co-dependent abusive relationship. I had to quit my job where being high was the only way I could function. I had to set ablaze all the things I thought I wanted, and set them at the foot of the cross, entrusting myself to Jesus. I had to humble myself before my family and Jesus. I needed help and I couldn’t do it alone.

I was very sick for weeks; weak, malnourished, depressed, not sleeping … all the typical opiate withdrawal symptoms. My memory was awful and my moods rollercoastered. I was a terror to live with and a sad sight. One very specific thing I remember is that at 39 years old I was too sick and weak to load a dishwasher. I knew that in time I would heal physically but that it would take even longer for my brain to heal. It can take the brain a year to begin healing from the type of addiction I had. And so I waited.

“Take a break from all the plans that you have made and sit at home alone and wait for God to whisper. Beg Him please to open up his mouth and speak, and pray for real upon your knees until they blister. Shine the light on every corner of your life until the pride and lust and lies are in the open.”

During that time of waiting, during the sickness and pain of withdrawal and healing, I turned to God. I put a battle plan in place. Sick as I was, I laid in bed for weeks reading the Bible. Weeks turned into months. Tired as I was, I wrote the Psalms (specifically 34, 116, 23, and 91) out on paper over and over and read them aloud over myself. This was a very good tip from a dear friend, and I recommend it to anyone dealing with a difficult situation. I still do this today when experiencing difficulties; it calms me and brings me peace. There is something about writing the Word out on paper, not typing, but slowly writing, paying attention to each Word and reading them aloud over yourself as if God wrote them just for you. I prayed and had trusted friends praying for me. I listened to worship music and praised Him even though I was hurting so bad.

“Then read the Word and put to test the things you’ve heard until your heart and soul are stirred and rocked and broken.”

It had been weeks, going on months of me lying around the house sick and weak. More times than I can remember, I thought for sure I would not survive, or didn’t want to. One day, as I lay sick in my bed, I opened my Bible to John 5:8 where Jesus tells the man to “pick up your mat and walk”. And so I did. I got out of bed and went for a walk outside. I had not been outside for so long. The sun felt good. I couldn’t do that every day. Some days I was too weak or too depressed. Some days the best I could do was go sit in a sunny patch of grass in the yard. It was springtime. The giant oak trees became my church, the flowers the stained glass, and the birds the choir. I just kept looking for God. I knew He was healing me.

“Then seek the Lord, and wait for what He has in store, and know that great is your reward, so just be hopeful.”

Then it happened. One day I was able to help my mom load the dishwasher without getting sick or too tired. Before I knew it I was able to unload the heavy dishes and stack them up in the cabinets. Who knew that doing the dishes would be one of the biggest memories and milestones of my healing? It meant I was getting stronger. It meant I could finally help my mom who had taken such good care of me even when it was extremely hard to do so. I was thrilled in that moment. Standing there over a sink of dishes in my mom’s kitchen I wept. I wept for joy knowing God had healed me. I was getting stronger and I knew I would continue to get stronger as weeks turned into months which turned into a year.

Today I am proud to say that I conquered my fear, crushing the idol of addiction, and I am 1 year and 7 months sober. The process drew me nearer to the Lord than I had ever been before. The tools I used, like writing out the Psalms, praying with friends, and leaning into the Lord through His Word and worship, are still tools I use to conquer fear today. I know I could not have gotten off drugs and remained sober for 19 months now without Jesus. I have not relapsed once. That in itself is a miracle. I was healed completely by God. It is my biggest testimony. Praise God; I am healed.

“We must not worship something that’s not even worth it. Clear the stage; make some space for the One who deserves it. Anything I put before my God is an idol. Anything I want with all my heart is an idol. Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol. Anything that I give all my love is an idol.”

(1st picture: 2016, 2nd picture 2018)

Targeted

God is moving in big ways in my life, and because I can’t see the end, the purpose, the “why” of it all, some days it is so hard. I’ve always said I have Big Faith. Friends tell me that I’ve overcome so much in my life, and I have. I have walked through and conquered huge fearful things, especially in the past few years. But the enemy doesn’t stop attacking just because you beat him once. If you wake up every day seeking after the Lord, consider yourself targeted. As a follower of Jesus I have a huge target on my back and the devil wants to take me down. I learned yesterday that fear can come when you least expect it, especially when everything is going so well. I was sitting in the rain of favor and overflow, and the devil didn’t like it one bit. So he attacked.

When I woke up yesterday, I prayed about a situation and felt good that God had it all under control. Of course He did, right? He always does. Even so, I asked for confirmation. I put into practice something I think a lot of us do. Something I learned from a Pastor that has brought me confirmation before. I held onto my closed Bible and I prayed that when I opened my Bible and pointed to a scripture, it would confirm for me what I was specifically praying about. So, with eyes closed, I opened my Bible and pointed to the page. Imagine my surprise when my finger landed exactly on John 5:39.

“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me.” John 5:39 NLT

I laughed out loud. I had my confirmation. The Holy Spirit was saying “you already know God’s got this, you don’t need confirmation, keep your focus on Jesus”. Big faith.

As the day progressed, that big faith of mine was tested. The enemy came at me hard; he knows my weaknesses. Some thought I was crazy for having so much faith and putting it all in God’s hands. And when “it” didn’t happen the way I thought it would, when I thought it would, the enemy used that and ran rampant through my thoughts with doubt. I recognized it as an attack of fear, and it was so powerful. To combat it, I used all the weapons in my arsenal. I prayed, worshiped with music, read my favorite go-to Psalms, and got on my knees crying out to the Lord to ease my suffering. But suffering has a purpose; it grows me, stretches my faith.

Even with all the fight I could muster, fear derailed my faith yesterday for just a little while. I knew I had to stop giving into fear, but how? I couldn’t ride the faith train and the fear train at the same time. I listened to doubt and fear and said things that were so not like me; even I was surprised when I said them. Repeating the enemy’s lies out loud gives him power. This had to stop.

Yesterday was not a pass or fail test. It was a test of faith and learning; did I learn something? About me? About God? I did. And my faith is all the bigger for it. I keep coming back to James 1:2-4.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 NIV

I learned a big lesson yesterday. I learned that “God’s got this”, no matter what. All my doubt was so unnecessary because He was there the whole time working things for my good. I’d spent the whole day wallowing in doubt and frustration, and all the while God was still doing what He does – preparing a place for me. He was still on track with His plan for my life, still faithful, still loving me, even in my anger and doubt. God doesn’t change.

Keep praising Him in the storm, friends. Praise Him when it’s hard, praise Him when you don’t feel like it, praise Him when it seems pointless, because praise is never pointless. Hold fast to your faith. Have big “now faith”. That means right now, in every moment, even the hard ones.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

There’s no comma between the words “now” and “faith” in that verse. It doesn’t say “Now, faith is …”, it says “Now faith is ….”. Right now. Even when you cannot see. Remain confident. Rest assured. Hold onto hope in Jesus. When the clouds clear you will be amazed at what you see.
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Seasons

I haven’t written in a long time. Nudges from the Holy Spirit are telling me it’s time to start writing again. Bear with me, I may be a little rusty, but I have so much to share.

I’ve gone through huge changes in the past two years. Physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. As the seasons of life rolled through like summer storms, I always kept looking for the rainbows. Through all the trials and waiting and joy, I watched God moving, and it has been spectacular. To have been so lost and outside of myself for so long, and surrendered to Christ, is a joyful thing. Is it hard? Yes. But it is worth it. I am worth it. And so, like James, I counted it all joy. (James 1:2 NIV)

A season of surrender.

On November 20, 2016, I left my abusive marriage. It was not planned. I did not want to go. Two days prior, my husband had abused me physically and verbally worse than he ever had before. Yes, it had happened before. Many times. You might ask why I didn’t leave sooner. For every abused woman, that answer is different. For me, I was trying to save my husband. But I had heard from God that I needed to get out of His way. God would heal us both, but not while we were together. Also, I did not want to leave my comfort zone, where abuse, addiction, and lack had become normal to me. On that day though, God was having no more of my stubbornness. If I would not leave on my own, He would yank me out of there. No pit is too deep for God’s long arm of love to grab hold and pull you out.

Sitting in the house that day became impossible. God was literally shaking me to my core to get out. So, riddled with anxiety and tears flooding my eyes, I went outside, sat by a tree and called my mom to come and get me. I left with just the small suitcase I never unpacked from my trip to a Christian woman’s retreat just a week prior. Leaving it all behind, and surrendering everything to Christ; trusting Him step by shaky step. I left my job of four years with health benefits, left all my belongings, my husband, my dog, and my home (a tiny 5th wheel trailer with no heat). I had no car because I’d totaled it in an accident a few months prior. I moved back in with my mom in a different city. I was addicted to drugs, penniless, jobless, abused, abusing myself, defeated, and depressed.

A season of healing and restoration.

I previously wrote about the day I quit my addiction to opiates. On May 5, 2017, I started a long and painful journey through withdrawal, detoxing, and day by day sobriety. It was the most painful thing I have ever done. I kept a journal, and if you read it, you would learn that many days I did not think I would survive. I thank God for His presence through it all, and for my family who supported me through this time. In ten days, on November 5th, 2018, I’ll be 1.5 years sober from my 20-year addiction to opiates. And all the glory belongs to God.

The Lord healed me physically, is still healing me emotionally, grown me spiritually by leaps & bounds, and drawn me nearer to him through it all. He has restored all that I lost and more. I’ve had an amazing part-time job for nearly a year, and have accepted a full-time job that starts in the new year. I have a car and my own laptop. I’m paying my own bills, including my debts, my own car insurance, and my school loans. My credit score has increased by 50 points in the past 2 months and is climbing. I have money in my savings account. I’m traveling; vacations and women’s retreats. I’ve been to 10 states with friends this year. My father has said he “has his daughter back” and that he trusts me again. My parents are proud of me and excited with me about my future. And again, all the glory belongs to God. Some will say that I did the hard work. And I did. But I could not have done it without Jesus.

A season of stretching and standing up for myself.

In the middle of all of this, God led me to a church that helped me grow spiritually by leaps and bounds. They poured into me and I soaked it all up like a sponge thirsty for water. I was so thirsty for the Lord. I was at church anytime it opened. I served as a greeter, served on the prayer team and the intercessory prayer team. I loved it all and made new friends there. God stretched my already big faith and began to teach me about my self-worth and spiritual gifts. I received my prayer language, which was something I had been asking for from God. I never wanted to leave that church. After about a year God began to gently whisper to me that my attendance at that church was only for a season. Of course, I didn’t want to hear that and so I kept attending. Again, God nudged me: this church is only for a season, and that season was coming to an end. Again, my stubbornness kept me there – in my comfort zone. I kept going, sitting in the front row each Sunday, worshipping and serving … until I couldn’t anymore. Slowly, church leaders pulled me out of different service areas. I reconciled it to myself as “it’s their church, their rules. I’m just here for Jesus anyway”. Within a few months, I found myself in the middle of the hardest spiritual battle I’d ever faced. Up until then, the church leaders thought they could fix me with niceness. Surely, they wouldn’t lose their “miracle of 2017” to what they considered a mortal sin. As I listened to the pastors, whom I deeply respected, I also insisted on digging into the Word myself. When I wouldn’t simply bend to their beliefs because I had my own interpretations of the living word of God, they become hostile. They will tell you they did it out of love, and I truly believe they loved me the best way they knew how. But God doesn’t love with fear and verbal abuse. They told me I was no longer allowed to sit on the front row, where I had been sitting since my first day there. Why? Because they needed to protect their reputation. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Oh, and I guess don’t let the sinners sit on the front row. Thank God that when the verbal abuse started, I immediately recognized it as abuse. The very church who helped me realize that I was, in fact, abused by my ex-husband, was abusing me now, and I was having none of that again. God had already yanked me out of an abusive marriage and healed me from abusing myself with drugs; I wasn’t about to stay at a church who abused me because of my sexuality. Today I thank God for the friends I made there who did not abandon me as I thought they might. I thank God for the knowledge, growth, and support I received from the church during the season I was there. But as my best friend told me out of love and support, “season over”. I never stepped foot back in that church again.

Restored to more.

Seasons are never just about us. All of this was never just about me. It’s so much more. People are always watching. My family and friends have watched me walk this out. People I have never met have heard my testimony. I surrender to the Lord daily and take each new step slowly but surely. I have been restored to more than I was before, physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. And all the glory belongs to God.

Before We Go On

Hi, it’s me, I’m still here. I’ve been journaling in paper journals since summertime. I was working through a lot of life changes and honestly did not have the wherewithal to type it all out in this blog, nor was I ready for everyone to read all about this part of my journey.

I found my journals and read through them. I’m not quite sure what to write about yet because the past six months have been such an amazing, refining, difficult, and fulfilling journey for me. A journey of surrender, pain, discovery, and restoration. My journals contain a lot of Scripture, a few letters that I wrote to myself from God reminding me who I am (His daughter), and so many words that are really hard to read about how I was feeling and what I was thinking at the time. Many pages are crossed out with the word “LIES” written across them. I realized that I was writing down lies about myself because as I went through this trial I learned more and more about what God says about me. I learned the truth.

I want to tell you all about the journey I’ve been through in the past six months. I want to share about hardships overcome and friendships made; about sickness and brokenness, and faithfulness, God’s and mine.

This coming Sunday, November 5th, I will be six months free from my drug addiction. That is a huge milestone and I’m very proud about that. On that day at church I’ll be getting re-baptized. I was baptized when I first came to Christ five years ago because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do – and that’s not wrong, that’s okay. But now I want to do it because I’m more aware of who I am in Christ. I agree with my friend that baptism should be about you and Jesus and not a work that’s done to prove something.

For right now I want to share this that I wrote at the beginning of August:

When you decide to acknowledge a hard thing that, until today, you didn’t realize had been stuffed so deep down inside for so long, but it comes bubbling to the surface and makes your eyes all watery; when you decide to do this hard thing, go ahead and crank up the worship music and dance before you do it. Praise and dance and sing; pray thanksgiving to God for going in before you, coming along side you, and going in with you. Because this is no cakewalk. You are going to be hugging the fireball, which is exactly what you need to do for God to refine you; burning out the old and making space for the new.

Photo taken by Holly Waugh.

She Believed She Could So She Did

Today is Monday. Most of you woke up early, maybe wishing it was still the weekend, bribing kids to get out of bed, and hurrying off to school or work. 

I have a different sort of purpose today. I’m in the process of healing. In past posts I’ve mentioned the abusive relationship I was in and the drug abuse. It wasn’t just my husband who was abusing drugs, I was too. For years I’d been getting treatment for my addiction from a specialist. I’ve decided it’s time to stop taking the medication that treats my addiction, not to take another drug, and to take on the big bad wolf, quitting altogether and getting healthy. My doctor agrees it’s time. Which means I’m in the business of trusting God. I could not do this without God’s help. I know that because I’ve tried many times and failed for over 20 years. 

This time it’s different. This time I have Jesus by my side, the Holy Spirit in my heart, and God coming for me. I may have been wounded by emotional, physical, and drug abuse, but the wound is not fatal and I serve the greatest healer of all, God.

Trusting God is not always easy. If you don’t know God, imagine trusting someone that you cannot see and surrendering your entire life to Him. Then waiting to see what happens on His time, not yours. 

During this process, I have to be honest with myself & God, confessing my sins. I have to be willing to surrender to His will for my life. I have to stop depending on myself, let go of the reins, and let Him lead me. I have to be able to be silent and still, listening for His instruction. 

Trusting God means going down the road less traveled when most people are going the other way; it’s usually not the way you wanted to go, or thought you were going, but it’s His way, the best way. It is not easy.

Trusting God means trusting the people around you who He sent to help, and trusting that He always has your best interest at heart.
I made the decision to break this chain about a month ago. Since then I’ve gone through many ups and downs, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I’m blessed because God has sent many people to help me, including my family, doctors, and my friends. 

My friends are integral to this process because they always remind me of my goal, which is to be free and to accept the freedom that Jesus bought for me on Calvary when he died on the cross for me. They are my spiritual supporters, my midnight cheerleaders, and mid day musketeers, coming to the rescue with words of encouragement via text messages and phone calls. A sweet picture or meaningful scripture; just a soft reminder of how important it is that I do this, to break this chain that has held me back and weighed me down for 20 years. The enemy cannot have hold of me anymore. 

My family and my doctor keep me in check, ensuring I do what I need to do. Things like eating well and checking my blood pressure. It sounds so simple, but when you’re in the thick of it, when you’re in the fog of war, a physical, emotional and spiritual war like this, it’s hard to remember what you’re supposed to do. If you cannot see the shoreline because the storm is raging all around you, you have to trust the people who love you. You have to trust they were sent by God.

In four days, by the end of the week, when everyone is saying “TGIF” and making plans for the weekend, I will be celebrating a major milestone in my recovery. I don’t know if I will feel horrible or okay. It will take my body some time to heal. I’ve been abused, and abusing myself, for quite some time.

I do know that God is going to take my brokenness and put me back together, better than ever, healthier, wiser, and stronger. A friend of mine once said that “brokenness blooms beautiful”. All I have to do is hang in until He gets here. To wait on Him, for His perfect timing, to trust in that and to not waver in my faith. To have blind faith that keeps going no matter what. Even when I cannot see the shoreline through the storm. 


Sign by Melissa Weimer @ Mel Belle’s http://www.facebook.com/MelBellesCustomDecor

I’m scared because I have no idea how I’m going to feel and excited because I know that the healing process has started. My body will regulate back to normal over time, and I will start a new journey, whatever path the Lord has carved for me.

Normal. Whatever that means. But I’m looking forward to finding out who Bree is. She’s been missing for quite some time.

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The Loved Bible Project

It was the summer of 2016. My husband’s birthday and my birthday, a week apart, had just passed. The sticky heat of Florida summer had me praying for rain. We lived in the country with wildflowers and wild animals; it was lovely and I truly enjoyed it’s beauty. 

Two days after my birthday a tragedy involving my husband brought me to my knees in the middle of the night. It was too much. I wailed at God. I’d like to say I was hanging on to life by a string, but that’s not true. God was holding me up because I had no strength left. I felt alone and broken. But what I had failed to notice through my tears was that God had seen all of this coming long before the days of summer. 

God had put a vision in a woman’s heart to send me a Loved Bible. At the time I’d never seen or heard of “The Loved Bible Project”. I’d also never communicated with the woman who mailed it to me in the beginning of September. This Bible was beautifully decorated with scriptures highlighted, fancy ribbon, and special notes written just to me. Imagine my shock. Why would anyone, especially someone who didn’t know me, take time to create this beautiful Bible for me?

As I read it daily, it’s words sank deep into my heart, patching the aching holes that fear had caused just weeks earlier. It was, to me, a gift like no other, of the upmost importance. This Bible, that seemingly came out of nowhere let me know that God knew what I was suffering. God was with me. 

About a month later, following more problems, I decided to leave my marriage. I didn’t take much with me, but I certainly grabbed my Loved Bible. I walked away from my life, everything I knew, and followed the Holy Spirit down a path I’m still on today. 

I’ve arrived at a point of rest where God has asked me to “be still” and wait on Him. With time on my hands, I pray and read a lot. I especially read my Bible. While praying, I decided I wanted to make a Loved Bible for someone else, someone specific I was praying for.

I got a Bible, pens, stickers, washi tape, notecards, and lots of ideas from The Loved Bible Project Facebook page. Then I got stuck. I just couldn’t do it, I was afraid to ruin the Bible by writing in it. I was afraid that I would mess it up, or do the wrong thing. I had all these plans, my favorite scriptures, great ideas, but fear took over. Weeks passed. 

Finally, I did it. I created my first Loved Bible page! It was exhilarating! I was so excited. I drove a couple of people crazy by messaging pictures of every page I created. Now I can hardly stop. It is so much fun and something I look forward to doing every day that I can. In fact, I think I need to start a new Loved Bible before I completely fill this one up and leave no room for its recipient to take their own notes.

As for the woman who sent me my Loved Bible, Kelli Moore, we are now friends. Though we’ve never met, we hope to one day. We message often and talk sometimes. She is my beloved friend, a beautiful woman, and an angel sent by God; the hands and feet of Jesus that loved on a Bible just for me. And, because of her generosity, I am loving on Bibles for others. 

If you have never tried to love on a Bible, you should. It is so simple and fun. Imagine reading the word of God and coloring, highlighting, drawing and decorating all of your favorite verses! You can make one for yourself, for a family member, or even for a stranger. Who knows, maybe that stranger will end up being one of your best friends. All you need is love. ❤️


Please check out The Loved Bible Project at http://www.lovedbibleproject.com

The following 3 pictures are of the Bible I received in the summer of 2016.



These pictures are from the Bible I’m currently “loving” for someone else.

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My Journey to recognize myself in Christ.

“I will cast my cares on you” Lord (Cast My Cares by Finding Favour), as I start down this road to healing. You have given me such a sweet, straight path to follow. 

The air smells of honeysuckle and hope. The sun is bright but not hot. My heart is at peace with the decision I’ve made. 

My family, and those who care about me have come into agreement that this is the best thing for me; confirming, for me, that we have come into alignment with God’s plan. My friends (you know who you are), have agreed to pray for me and check on me, being the hands and feet of Jesus when I need them.

Thank you Lord for this soft place to land after such a difficult decade. I made many bad decisions, and I’m so grateful for your never ending grace, mercy, forgiveness, faithfulness, and love. You, Lord, are faithful even when I am not. You are the anchor of my hope! 

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19)


You, Lord, are making all things new, and “You are making a miracle in me. When I see nothing but damaged goods, You see something good in the making. When I see wounded, You see mended.” (Mended by Matthew West).

Sometimes I get scared, but when I turn that fear over to you, you give me strength instead. When I get anxious, you give me peace. I’m so grateful for my faith in Jesus Christ as I face these challenges and choices. I believe my faith will heal me. I believe that because God said it would. Looking forward to this time of healing, and abiding in Christ; listening for what God would have me do. No matter what road I take, Jesus will always be with me. That is for sure, that is unchanging, that is a promise from God. 


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Surrendered and Free

Five months ago my husband attempted suicide. Four months ago I was in a bad car accident, totaling my car. Three months ago the abuse in my marriage escalated to physical abuse.

But God was there. He never took His eyes off me. He gave me Splendid and women who poured light and love and Jesus into my soul.

Less than three months ago, in a matter of hours I decided to leave my whole life behind trusting that God had something better for me. I left my husband in a whirlwind of tears and fear. I quit my job and lost my health insurance. I had no car, no job, no money. I had my purse and a couple of outfits.
Who would have thought in the midst of that chaos I would find peace. True peace like I’ve never known before, and rest and hope and love.

Surrendered and scared, I cried out to God. I didn’t know what I wanted. I was so confused about everything. So I asked for peace.
He heard me and answered. I received peace and so much more. So many truly unbelievable things have happened. Unbelievable … but God.
So many blessings. All because I surrendered to God, confessed the truths in my heart, acknowledged the lies i was living and chose Jesus.

Six months since my life fell apart I now have an amazing job, my own money in the bank, health insurance, reunited relationships with my family, and new friends. Today I’m flying to Texas to see my best friend and join her at IF:Gathering.

Yes, God is with us all time. Even in the hard stuff. Especially in the hard stuff.

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The Cave

It’s a long commute home on any day, but this day it was longer. This particular day I was driving down the same road, but on a different journey.

There is a road that I jokingly call the “long road”, because it is the longest of 3 country roads I take to get home after I exit the interstate. On this day, it was as if the “long road” had turned into the long, dark, twisted entrance to a cave; a cave I’d once been in and thought I’d never go back. I’d been there nearly twenty years prior, when first diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I’d left college, going home to my parents, because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I had been misdiagnosed by the college medical staff as “depressed”, but it was more than that. I was depressed at the time, but the medicine they gave me, anti-depressants, made me feel worse. So I dropped out of school and went home. By the Grace of God, my mother is a psychologist, and my father a counselor. They helped me find an amazing psychiatrist whom I saw, once a month (or more, if I needed to) for over 12 years. He said I reminded him of his daughter. He was a great doctor.

So there I was, on that road, headed for that cave again. Why? Because my friend was there, and I would not let him navigate that cave alone. I couldn’t drive fast enough to get to him, I was concerned and interested to see how he was, but not scared. I was never scared of him. I was scared for him. I knew that whatever he was facing, though different than what I faced, he would need me, and I would be there for him. Most importantly, I was bringing help. This time, as I entered that cave, I had Jesus with me.

I knew my friend’s smiles around others were faked because that’s what I used to do. I faked happiness for years so that I wouldn’t worry anyone. I just wanted everyone else to be OK, and not to pay attention to me. I wanted to melt into the background, go unnoticed, and just hide under a rock someplace. I saw this in my friend. I heard his words, and like a time machine, they took me back twenty years. Back to when I’d said those exact same words. “It’s like I am putting on a show for everyone”; “It’s exhausting”; “I don’t want to do this anymore”. I’ve known my friend more than 14 years, and saw though that fake happiness like his smile was made of glass. I saw through to the worry and pain he was in. I didn’t understand it and neither did he, but I would be there to try and figure it out with him.

I drove down that long passageway into the cave and found my friend. In this cave you never know behind which rock, or which corner, another scary thing is hiding. I knew because, like I said, I was in there twenty years ago, trying to sort it all out. For example, I would take a medication that was supposed to make me feel better. These medications can take 6-8 weeks to really start working. So I took the medication diligently, and for one month I was more depressed than ever. Fail; on to the next one. “Everyone reacts differently” my doctor said, “we have to keep trying”.

Around the next bend, I’d be prescribed something to help me sleep, but it only made me completely wired with a bad type of energy. So much terrible energy, that there was no way I could sleep. In fact, it gave me awful panic attacks. Fail; on to the next one. I felt like I was trying every medicine under the sun. But I had to keep trying.

There is light at the end of this cave; you can get through, and you can overcome. Not only that, but I think, after twenty years, I finally know why God allowed me to wander into that cave to begin with. So I could help others. So my cave becomes a blessing. From dark to light, from walking through hell to helping others. Amazing. Amazing realization for me but my friend still has a long way to go. So do many other people who find themselves at the mouth of this dark cave.

But I will be there with him every step along the way. On the other side of this cave is the rest of his life. I know because I’ve been thought it. And who knows, maybe I’m still walking through that old cave of mine, but now I have my faith, my God, and Jesus. And that makes all the difference.

cave