“As I settled myself down into the deep cushions of the soft couch, the room felt stuffy and smelled of a floral scent.  It felt safe enough for the time being.  I was there to listen, there to share, there to receive counsel and hopefully there to find healing.  As I heard his voice chills ran down my spine as he replayed his version of the story out loud.  I trembled as I replayed the hurt.  I did not even know this person anymore.  Many things I had once believed had been removed as the realization set in that the many years of my life had been nothing more than mountains of lies.  Wrapping my head around a story that made no sense quickly left me feeling confused and uncertain of my surroundings.  I wanted to jump up from the comfort of the couch that seemed to engulf me and run to the door but then a voice from across the room grabbed my attention and brought me back into the moment.  The voice wanted to know my thoughts,  I tried to speak but I could not breathe.  I did not realize the amount of my tears until I had to make my mouth form words.  What words were there left to say anyway?  It just did not seem to matter anymore because truthfully I no longer knew what was real and what was a lie.  Then I heard the man across the room speak.  His eyes locked on the person at the other end of the couch as he said, “you have completely broken her spirit.  You have crushed and destroyed her.”  Those words pierced into my heart like a dagger.  I knew they were true but I had tried so hard to be strong.  I did not want to be broken and most definitely did not want to be crushed.  How could I allow someone to do that to me?  How did it get this far out of control.  Where was God?  Why was He not there to protect my heart?  It needed protecting.  Then that voice from across the room spoke again.  As I looked up his eyes were locked on mine as he said,  “though you are broken now, you will be ok.  No matter what happens next, you will be ok.”  What?  My thoughts poured out like a faucet running full stream.  I had no clue what he was talking about because nothing in my life felt ok and I was confident nothing ever would again.”

It brings a smile to my heart as I look at all that God has blessed my life with over the last two years.  He has been so good to me.  So often Joel 2:25 will play through my mind. “I will compensate you for the years the locusts have eaten.”  Such a remarkable reminder that God restores to us what we have lost through the valleys, the struggles, the chastising.  

Over the past couple of months I have been participating in a study on the book of Hosea.  As my pastor’s wife has led us through this remarkable journey of God’s redeeming love I have been impacted greatly by its truth and relevance in my own life.  I have witnessed and experienced the unmistakable beauty and amazement  of the redeeming love of God and I am constantly overwhelmed by it.  I once was broken and crushed too but not any longer.

So far one of the most significant teachings through this study came from the week we studied Hosea 5:1-6:3.  My pastor’s wife shared Deuteronomy 32:39 with us which says,

“Look now; I myself am He! There is no other god but Me! I am the one who kills and gives life; I am the one who wounds and heals; no one can be rescued from my powerful hand!”

What a powerful verse.  Especially the words, “I am the one who wounds and heals.”  She explained that the Hebrew word for wound means to crush, smash, shatter or wound severely while the Hebrew word for heal means to make whole, to repair thoroughly.  She summed it up by saying that God wanted to wound in order to heal.  Wow! That is a lot in a few short words.  Because you were not there to hear the entire teaching let me explain that we are discussing Israel’s defiance of God.  They have turned their back on Him and chosen to go their own way, do their own thing.  It is such a relatable topic because every believer struggles with taking control of their life and wanting to do their own thing.  Or at least I know I do.  With that said, God allows us to take the road we choose, often the wrong road leaving us to suffer the consequences.  When we choose that road, we find ourselves in deep water oftentimes drowning from the weight of our bad choices (sometimes because of the bad choices of others) and are severely wounded.  God allows us to take those roads, face those consequences, enduring the discipline so that we can be made whole and find true healing in Him.  He allows us to suffer so that we will find our way back to Him.  Is that not remarkable?  We can turn away, choose other things and yet He will go out of His way to grab our attention, confront us and draw us back into His arms!  I am overwhelmed by His goodness yet again!

As we ended that lesson, my pastor’s wife said something that resonated so deeply within me because of the incredible truth.  She said, “Eventually the pain gives way to rain that refreshes and makes fruitful.”  That is me.  I never thought the pain would end.  I did not believe I would ever be “ok” again.  The pain felt never ending.  But it did.  God allowed the wounds that cut so deep into my heart to break me into a million pieces in order for me to become so desperate for Him that I had to depend solely on Him to heal me completely.  And He did.  And not only did He heal me but He restored to me not just everything that had been taken through the pain but He gave me back even more.  More love, more grace, more knowledge and understanding of who He is, a longing to be more like Him and more of Him to share with others.

Scripture tells us that God does not waste our pain because He wants us to share our journey with others so that others may discover His healing and redeeming love as well. As I have found healing it has become my greatest joy to share what He has done for me so that others will know His redeeming love!

“He (God) comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

2 Corinthians 1:4

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

In heavenly armor we’ll enter the land,
The battle belongs to the Lord.
No weapon that’s fashioned against us will stand,
The battle belongs to the Lord.

And we sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord,
We sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord.

When the power of darkness comes in like a flood,
The battle belongs to the Lord.
He’ll raise up a standard, the power of His blood,
The battle belongs to the Lord.

When Your enemy presses in hard, do not fear,
The battle belongs to the Lord.
Take courage, my friend, your redemption is near,
The battle belongs to the Lord.

©1985, Fairhill Music
Words and Music by Jamie Owens-Collins

When I was younger, I had the great privilege of attending a non-denominational church for a couple of years. They were some of the greatest moments of my pre-teen years as it was during those years that I understood and felt the presence of God for the first time.

One of my favorite songs was “The Battle Belongs to the Lord”. Whenever I was down or scared, I would find myself singing it over and over for comfort. Even today, I find myself doing the same thing and it brings me great strength and comfort.

As I read the story of David and Goliath I am reminded of how when God is on our side, it does not matter how big the giant may be because the battle ultimately belongs to Him.
The following is such a powerful passage and speaks volumes to the trust that we can have in God when we are going through hard times.

“David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
1 Samuel 17:45-47

Whenever I read this passage, I get goose bumps. There is such power and conviction behind that statement. How awesome did David feel to stand against such a giant and not be afraid? To know that he could stand strong in his faith in God and know that he would prevail? God does not expect us to stand around, do nothing, and think that He will do all the work but He does want us to know that His will and truth will always prevail because the battle is His.


I wore the scarlet letter “D” around my neck for several years.  Divorce. It was not a word I ever expected to find attached to my name. In fact, had you asked me in my younger years if I believed I would ever wear the title of divorcee you would have received a loud resounding no.  I would never be one of “those” people. That would have honestly been my answer.  Truly.  Well look at me now.

After sixteen years of marriage and five beautiful children, I found myself at the end of my marriage.  I found myself a single mom of five with no job.  After fifteen years of being a devoted stay at home mom, I had to figure out how to provide for six people on my own.  My identity as wife had been stripped away and was now a thing of my past.  The scarlet letter “D” hung so large and disgusting around my neck that is began to define me. With each marital status box check marked divorced, I sank lower and lower into a lesser version of myself. I began to lose even more of myself than I already had in many years of an unhealthy marriage. When I was young, I wanted so badly to “get it right.”  I was determined to do all the things God wanted me to do and to go all the great places He wanted me to go.  I had great plans for the plans God had for my life. That was the problem.  They were my great plans and somewhere along the way, it all went wrong.

Finding oneself within a community of Christians is incredibly difficult after divorce.  To find healing and restoration within a church can be even more difficult.  Throughout the process of my divorce I went to church.  I wanted comfort and direction. I needed guidance. But what happened was more times than I can count I left feeling discouraged and hurt from simple comments about “divorced people.”  The feelings of inadequacy grew into a pile that covered me with such weight that I could not breath at times.  As I would slowly attempt to dig my way out of the rubble and just begin to see some light someone else was there to add more weight to my pile, reminding me that divorce was a sin and that it disqualified me from God’s blessing.  The cycle continued. The digging, climbing and clearing of the horror and humiliation by those well meaning Christians in my life. A never ending cycle of pain.

It took a great work of God to get me through it all.  It took enormous amounts of time emerged in His book searching for His answers and not the opinions of others.  You see I had to come to the realization that we all have regrets.  We all deal with shame and guilt.  We all have sinned. We all continuously sin. It is an ongoing act for everyone.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  
Romans 3:23

Because of our sin, we all deserve death.  No one person is better than another.  

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23

Suddenly it was like a light bulb went off in my head as I began to truly grasp that no one was sinless.  That was huge for me because somewhere in my mind I had created a lie that said there were those who walked the earth that did not sin.  What a lie I found myself believing. It left me feeling like I would never be good enough.  Then I discovered a “But God.”

But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.  Romans 5:8

Let me tell you the significance of But God, in my life.  I want to share it with you because it is huge and it is freeing.  You see on my own I cannot live this life perfectly.  Nothing I do on my own will succeed if I do not allow God room to work.  This would be where But God comes in and changes everything. Example: I may feel that I have ruined my life because I am divorced but God showed His great love for me by sending Christ to die for me while I was still a sinner. (Romans 5:8) You see when we see a But God in scripture it signals a change or a clarification in what follows next. It signals a change in our life or a chance to challenge and grow our faith.  When God enters the picture of our lives,  He makes all the difference in the world because He changes everything and His mercy makes it new. It begins to change your perspective on things. That’s what happened to me. I realized that nothing I could do nor anyone else would ever be good enough to gain God’s approval, His love or His grace.  We are all nothing but disgusting sinners who need saving. But God gave us Jesus and it is by the blood of Jesus that God’s see me as righteous and no longer disgusting. So now  I shut out the world and I listen to what God has to say about me.

I am a child of God
But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become the children of God.
John 1:12

I am chosen, holy and blameless before God

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.
Ephesians 1:4

I am righteous and holy

Put on your new nature, created to be like God-truly righteous and holy.
Ephesians 4:24

I am redeemed and forgiven by the grace of Jesus Christ

He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.
Ephesians 1:7

My past happened.  It is done. I cannot change what has happened.  I cannot go back and make things different.  I could choose to continue to beat myself up and carry the burden of my past forever but that would just be stupid.  That would be like living in a prison forever.  When it all comes down to it, we all have a past, we all have sin and we all deserve death BUT GOD gave us Jesus.  Thank God and His amazing grace that because of the work Jesus did on the cross, He remembers our sin no more!  He has taken it and thrown it as far as the east is from the west.  He has redeemed the messes and restored the broken.  He has freed me from my past and He has freed you from your past too.  

He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
Psalm 103:12

But the Lord will redeem those who serve Him.  No one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned.

Psalm 34:22

So Christ has truly set us free.  Now make sure you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

Galatians 5:1

There are days when the past creeps in and I find myself suffering with feelings of guilt and shame. Satan wants nothing more than for us to suffer with those feelings.  He wants us to be so paralyzed by our past regrets and choices that we cannot move forward because his mission is to steal, kill and destroy the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.  (John 10:10)  We have to remember that we are free! We cannot enjoy the life God has for us if we allow ourselves to wallow in guilt and shame.  So we must combat those lies of Satan with the Truth of God’s word.

Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “you are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.  And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

That is it!  The truth sets us free!  The past has happened but I will make the choice not to allow it to impact my future.  The choice is up to us. We can choose to either wear those chains of guilt and shame or throw them off and allow God to redeem our past and use it for His glory!!

My scarlet is letter is a “D,” but perhaps you have a different letter hanging around your neck. Truth be told I have many scarlet letters that I could wear. So do you.  Maybe it is an “A” for adultery or addiction.  Maybe it is a “G” for gossip or greed.  Maybe it is a “P” for pornography or pride.  An “I” for insecurity or “J” for judgmental attitude.
Regardless of your sin, regardless of the guilt, God is your only true answer and real source of freedom.

I am divorced but I am no longer defined by my scarlet letter of shame.  Instead, I choose to see myself as whole, forgiven and loved.  I choose to wear the title of Child of the One true King!  I choose to be free!

Grace Deficient

So imagine being told that someone has no desire to meet your spouse. Because of preconceived notions and judgements formulated in their own mind, they do not want to meet one of the most important people in your life. The one person in your life who has taught and demonstrated God’s love to you more than anyone else and they don’t want to know them. That was the dilemma I was facing. That was my heartache. But God quickly turned that dilemma into a great lesson. 

You see, over the course of a messy divorce, I learned a lot about people. I also learned even more about God and His unending love and amazing grace for His children. For those who would refuse to accept someone they have never even met based solely on assumptions and judgements and cast them aside leads me to believe that they may have a grace deficiency. 

 I have come to realize that when you struggle with any kind of sin, there will be those who stand on the sidelines casting their stones in your direction. They will point fingers, talk, and make their judgements yet stand confused as they cannot quite make sense as to how it is that Jesus is working through your mess of a life. I don’t mean that to come across arrogant. Instead quite the opposite. I am a sinner who feels unworthy of being used by God. I have failed on so many occasions but my Jesus did something amazing for me. He paid an amazing price for my life so that my life could be used for His Father’s glory. 

Imagine standing in a room full of people. You are there with your struggles and sin trying to make sense of a life gone wrong. Around the room are those who turn up their noses and point fingers making assumptions of every wrong decision you have made. Suddenly you look and there He is. There is Jesus. You suddenly become confused. Why? Because He is standing next to you. You don’t understand. You see, all those in the room pointing their fingers are the ones who have lived such good lives. They do all the right things. They say the right things. Why is He standing with you? Then He looks at you and speaks.

 “Healthy people don’t need a doctor-sick people do.” 
Then He adds,
 “Now go and learn the meaning of this scripture: I want you to show mercy not offer sacrifices. For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” 
 Matthew 9:12-13 

 There it is. In a nutshell. He is there with you because you get it. You know you are a sinner and you know you need His grace.

Sometimes it is hard for those who have lived such a “blameless” life to understand how it is that those who have messed up so bad in life can be used by God but that scripture makes it abundantly clear. You see, Jesus takes our greatest failures and our deepest regrets and biggest heartaches and He uses them to do amazing things. When we turn it all over to Him, seek His forgiveness in true repentance, He restores us. But not only that He makes us shine brighter than we ever did before. Why? Because we get it.  We recognize that we are frail, weak and sinful. We realize that before we did not get it. We were being held in bondage by rules and regulations that were keeping us from walking with Him so intimately. We now understand what it means to fall flat on our face and have the Creator of the Universe pick us up and say, “My child I love you.” We have been through so much and gotten it wrong so many times that turning down our noses at another is not possible. Instead we see a world full of people just like us. People who are hurting and broken, longing to be rescued. And that is exactly what He does. He rescues. He pulls us out of the miry clay and He begins to mold and fashion us into something so beautiful. But the incredible thing is that we are not just beautiful, but we are usable too. Because we have been beaten and bruised by the ugliness of the world, we’re easier to shape into His likeness. It is easier to mold us into His image because we yearn to be like Him. We desire to be transformed. We want Him. We long to share Him and everything He has done and given to us. We can’t get enough. We look at the world and see what He sees: The hurt, the lonely, the struggling, the abandoned, the beaten, the betrayed, the orphaned, and our hearts overflow with love for them. We see the world with His eyes and our hearts flow with compassion, mercy and grace for those who need hope, who need Him just like we did. And so, He uses us. He is using my husband. He is using me. He is using our marriage. Because of His grace we are being used to bring His Father glory and show His Father’s love to those who need rescuing. 

 As Christians, this isn’t new information. Throughout scripture that is always where you found Jesus. With the sinners, the downtrodden and the lost. He was with the ones who needed rescuing and He avoided the ones who “followed” the rules because they had no place for Him in their lives. That was the mission of Jesus. That should be our mission. Not to turn up our noses at those who stumble and fall but instead to offer them the grace, mercy and love that Jesus offered to us. Why? Because that is what Jesus would do!