Add to your faith virtue... 2 Peter1:5
Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. Proverbs 31:10
In Part 1 I wrote about walking through my house praising God and praying, here's the story about why I do that:
It was perhaps a year or so before we even started building I had a dream: Bob and I were walking through a house and we were "driving the demons out of it". As we walked through the house, we sang,
Praise the name of Jesus
Praise the name of Jesus
He's my rock,
He's my fortress
He's my deliverer
In Him will I trust....
Praise the name of Jesus
I looked out the window and all I saw was sand. Then I awoke to the phone ringing. Bob was in the kitchen getting ready to go into work, so he answered it. I called to him and asked, "Who was that?" He replied, "Wrong number, they asked for Brother Smith"
What made me even more so pay attention and never forget this dream is what happened when I awoke to the phone ringing. I lifted my groggy head and looked at the Caller ID. I thought I was still dreaming, for it said: DELIVERANCE TABERNACLE.
I knew what the dream meant immediately. Your "house" often represents your body- the sand was the desert, like the Israelites traveled through to get to the Promised land and lets just say we all battle our own "demons"- right? Like "Imagine Dragons" say,
When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
I felt that God was saying I would get victory, freedom and deliverance from my bondages from praising Him. I wrote about this here in 2012.
So what were and what are our "demons"? I believe a big one for me and many people is desiring the praise of men. Proverbs 29:25 says; "The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever leans on, trusts in, and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high."
Psalm 118:8-9 says, "It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in princes." I met a cashier at the grocery store who had this tattooed on her arm, she could also recite it and did so when I asked her about it.
I feel like God has allowed Satan to tempt me many times in this area to teach me to not need man's approval. Having someone love you is a test and having someone hate you is also a test.
Mother Teresa said,
"If we were humble nothing would change us- neither praise nor discouragement. If someone were to criticize us, we would not feel discouraged. If someone would praise us, we also would not feel proud."
Major temptations in this area occurred while we were building our house and after we moved in. In chapter 1, I talked about what I believe was my call to Christian writing. I received a gift from a local Christian writer. "Awakening the Giant: Mobilizing and Equipping Christians to Reclaim Our Nation in this Generation" by Jim Russell copyright 1996. Jim Russell is the founder of the Amy Foundation which encourages Christians to start Church writing groups and write from a Christian perspective for secular publications, especially letters to the editor. The purpose of the book is to encourage Christians to obey Christ and disciple the masses like the Great Commission says. (Matt.28:19-20) Before I even finished the book, I began writing. It was December and time for my annual Christmas Letter. In January I wrote my Testimony: growing up as the youngest of seven children in the Presbyterian Church and being convicted of my (sexual) sin as a teen with my husband (then boyfriend) and getting saved in 1984, marrying Bob, having Sarah at twenty and us moving to Georgia in 1988.
In February of 2000, I saw a letter in the local paper on a subject I knew something about, so I wrote a letter and they printed it. I have passed out my testimony much and used it as a witnessing tool, but it has never been published anywhere.
In April of 2000, I found an old book (copyright1871) about a nun: Trials and Persecutions of Miss Edith O' Gorman- I felt lead to write an article about that book and Catholicism, that included the story of one of my "tests". I had also wrote about sex in my testimony. I did not set out to write about this taboo subject- it just seemed to surface in my writing all the time. Also the - just right -song lyrics in my head would come to me and I'd quote them. But writing the truth about Catholicism and also the truth about my temptations were BOTH "tests"!
I believe I know what the problem was with my writing; First off, you just can't write openly about sex or anything to do with it. Especially as a woman AND a Christian, some people made me feel shame and guilt over my past. I made out with alot of boys in highschool. I had sex with my husband before we were married. He was/is the only man I've ever "been" with though. I thought this a "Tame testimony" compared to so many others. I also allowed them to make me to feel guilt over being tempted. But Jesus was tempted! Mom introduced me to Oswald Chambers' classic devotional, "My Utmost for his Highest". In it Oswald says, "Not to be tempted would be to be beneath contempt." (September 17th) I shared this quote from , "A Man Called Peter" in the article about Catholicism, "It isn't the fact of having temptations that should cause us shame, but what we do with them. Temptation is an opportunity to conquer. When we eventually reach the goal to which we are all striving, God will look us over , not for diplomas, but for scars…."
Secondly, you can't be "intolerant" of other religions or lifestyles. Was I saying Catholicism's doctrine is wrong? That homosexuality is an addiction or sin? People just don't like that. You have to be "loving" and "accept all". What was also especially hard is that my own parents didn't agree with me on either subject.
Jesus said, "Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." Matthew 10: 27-31
The church where we went while we built our house was very legalistic and I was very legalistic too, actually. The stress of building, raising young children and home schooling was getting to me. I was alone with the children most of the time. Bob was unhappy with the contractor he chose, so he was doing much of the work himself. I didn't admit it, but I was angry at Bob. Then there was a young man at church who would follow me around. I had some experience and could easily tell when someone has a "crush" on me. And as I was saying, this is like my drug. I am a recovering "Approval addict". And writing seemed about my only "outlet". Bob was gone, most of the time and when he was "home" -it seemed he wasn't- not really. He was always emotionally "unavailable". So I wrote a letter for "Jared" about my experiences as a teen dating and being sexually harassed. I also shared a recent experience I had with that type of temptation. I have since condensed this and posted it on my blog. It was meant to inspire him and I used a Rebecca St James song in it called, "You're the Voice". I was friends with Jared's mom and I let her read it first. If I had known what a huge controversy would arise because of this letter- I surely would not have done it. I was trying to do what God wanted me to but I didn't realize at that time that I was getting ahead of myself and God. I was angry at the reaction I received and I wrote the pastors at the church with a list of grievances; one of them being why did not one man in the church confront Bob about selfishly building a house when his wife didn't want him to and now she felt deserted. I was having a "BiPolar" flare-up. I was not yet diagnosed and not on any meds for it. I'll admit I was manic but still they handled the situation very badly.
It reminded me of the story in John 8 about the woman caught in adultery But I DID NOT commit adultery! I'm learning so much about me and life. Victims of sexual abuse and harassment are made to feel bad, dirty, wrong but that is the lie of Satan. But those men made me feel like I was an adulteress just because I wrote about being tempted to-- They treated me like I had the plague! They sent me for counseling also and I went to it.
Oh that I had wings like a dove, I’d fly away and be at peace! Indeed, I would wander far off, And remain in the wilderness. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest. David (Psalm 55:6-8)
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler. Psalm 91:3
Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked. Psalm 91:8
We stayed at that church for another whole year! We were teaching 2nd graders in Children's church that were bused in.
Then someone in the church went to them, accusing them of some very serious things. They should have turned to the Word which says, "Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses." I Timothy 5:19 and in the words of Jesus Himself, "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established." Matthew 18:15-16 Anyways, those people left but the pastor was still terrified- so he tried covering everything up- which just made him look all the more guilty. Our old church could very well be described as when we were "under the law" so we were there every time the doors were open-- they frequently reminded us too- that you were "bad" if they had church and you weren't there. I now recognize things like this as being characteristics of a cult- not that this church was a cult but these are 'red flags' showing that there's perhaps some manipulation and control going on. Bob went to the pastor (at my urging) himself and heard what the accusations were.
One Wednesday night when we were pretty much decided that we were leaving the church, a friend asked me what was going on because the pastor kept "alluding" to something in all his sermons. So we went in the nursing mother's room to talk. Well the nursery coordinator told on me and they sent three deacons to escort me out of church! And I left in tears!
As time went on, I realized God was teaching me things and I came to learn that the biggest battle was always just ahead. And the biggest battle was in my head! I had already been familiarized with this battle from a Joyce Meyer book called, "The Battlefield of the Mind" but I found it very difficult to overcome and even 14 years later, though I had made some progress, I was still battling it. Would this war ever end? It came up and came up, a different person, another time, same story, people who hated me, people who loved me? Nah it couldn't be- No one could love me- I reacted to the dislike/like in the same manner. I became obsessed. I was "stuck" on this person or these people. If they hated me? I was determined to prove myself to them. If they loved me? I either loved them or became terrified of them.
In chapter 1, I spoke about the book , "A Man Called Peter" of my grandmother's that, quite literally changed my life, just as this "House-building" experience was. I had discovered that Catherine and Peter Marshall's son, The Reverend Peter Marshall was still living in New England and had a ministry. He wrote books on America's godly heritage. I signed up for his news letter and sent him a message that if he ever spoke in the area, I'd like to go hear him. Well, you know where he came to speak? Of course, my old church! What are the chances? I don't believe in chances. God is always working on me! I had lost 40 lbs. so I received not a few surprised stares. But they didn't escort me out of church this time.
So I got to meet Rev. Marshall! I was siced about that,
I gave him a letter about my experiences with this church he was speaking at and a couple of my articles to read. I did particularly want to let him know how much both his parents had inspired me. But, later when I thought about it, and became anxious about “What would he think of my writings?” I realized I had wrong motives. I had wanted his affirmation.
As it turned out when Rev. Marshall finally sent a note back to me, he didn’t even mention my writings at all but only thanked me for saying his parents inspired me. Then months later I was reading his commentary on the book, “The Shack” and he mentioned a woman he met recently who was “loaded down with fears of various sorts” and he went on to psychoanalyze her and said she was that way because she didn’t feel God’s love probably because she didn't have the right kind of father in her life. (This is loosely based on I John 4:18) How judgmental, even if it wasn’t about me at all- it was wrong for him to say. Truth is: it was about me, it was about him and oh so many millions of people. But at that moment I could only see myself in his statement and I was devastated. I laid down on the bed and cried, it was not long before the phone rang and it was my Dad. How's that for irony?
It was 2009 and my mom had fallen and broke her pelvis the end of March and had been in the hospital ever since. She came home to be on hospice care on Good Friday and I called and talked to her. Dad was calling to tell me my mom had passed away that morning: April 14,2009. This was the day I cried the most of my life, so far, I hope I never cry so much again. God, Why?! Why do these things happen on the same day?! I think that something’s going on here. Something "Supernatural". In the book of Ephesians it says; “ For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Mom and I Circa 1980
I booked my flight into L.A. the next evening (Wednesday). I was leaving Friday morning, Mom’s memorial would be Saturday. Thursday I was supposed to go to Lydia's school and help with the testing. They call it “proctoring”. I thought I could still do this, until Thursday morning came and then I realized I didn’t really have time, as I was leaving the next day! As I was driving the girls to school that morning, I saw a single mourning dove at the top of my dirt driveway. I thought it was different because I’d seen them in our neighborhood before, but not in our yard or even near our house, also they were usually in pairs. After Lydia went in to school, I parked and went in also. I told the lady in charge, Charlotte, that my mother had passed away, she said she was sorry and then said, “You’re not staying” I replied, “No, I have to get ready to go tomorrow” I appreciated her understanding. That morning in my quiet time, which I wouldn’t have had time for had I went to school to help, I realized I had one of Mom’s prayer journals and began reading it. Later, I picked out a portion of it to read at her memorial. That morning I wrote a poem about Mom. It was repetitive and didn’t all rhyme and I said to myself, “This is no good…this isn’t inspired. God, You need to give me something else to say…” I continued to read and read and cry and didn’t finish it until I was on the plane on my way there. The more I read, the more I realized how my poem, “You showed me by example..” went so well! Mom prayed over and over, “Help me be an example to my children” She knew her struggle with perfectionism and wrote of it as a “thief” which stole her joy. She often would end her entry with, “I love you, Lord. Amen”
That evening floating in the window on the cool spring breeze I heard the sound of the dove softly cooing.
Friday was a long day of traveling; after dropping the girls off at school, Bob and I headed to the airport. I had to catch a connecting flight in Dallas but my plane left Atlanta about 3 hours late, so had to find a different connecting flight to LA. I guess it was about dinner time when I finally arrived at LAX. We left for Dad’s from Jon’s about 8:30 pm so we got to Dad’s about 11:30 pm. I when I finally arrived at Dad’s I saw my sister but Dad had gone to bed. (it was way past his bed time!) I found that there was another dove on the program cover Dad chose for the memorial.
Recently and kinda late in the game (4th season) a friend turned me on to the TV series, "Once Upon A Time". So my girls (also my youngest two) Claire and Lydia have been watching season one with me. Only we need to plug our ears at times (Claire and I) because Lydia has already watched them. "The series takes place in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, in which the residents are actually characters from various fairy tales and other stories that were transported to the "real world" town and robbed of their original memories by the Evil Queen" (Wikipedia)
I just watched an episode where Snow White is trying to get to be with her Prince Charming but so many things stand in her way. In the story world he has to marry King Midas' daughter and in the real world he's already married to her, but they don't know they are story characters remember? Mary Margaret A.K.A Snow White in Storybrooke finds a dove that has been separated from it's family and goes to the animal shelter (where her prince happens to work) to find out if it's injured- it's not but the vet says it must be returned to it's family or it will be depressed the rest of it's life. There's a storm coming but Snow is determined, so of course still goes and almost slides down and falls off a cliff to her death but enter her prince who saves her, of course. The whole story reminded me of my Mom and the dove made me know it was for this chapter. I still know it was my mom's tenaciousness that kept her and my dad together whenever he had one of his BiPolar episodes.
Physiologus, a popular 12th century bestiary, tells us: “The turtle-dove loves her mate very much and lives chastely and faithfully with him, such that, if the male happens to be captured by a hawk or a fowler, she does not take another mate, but rather longs for and awaits her lost one at every moment and endures thus in remembrance and longing for him until death.”
Solomon wrote about his love having "dove’s eyes". (Song of Solomon 4:1) The accepted explanation of this verse that I've heard before is that doves have binocular vision. This means they can only focus on one thing at a time. And who we are to focus on is God, then all the opinions of others will fade from view.
From Mom's journal, April 7th 1989:
I Thess. 1:2
“We always thank God for you all and mention you in our prayers CONTINUALLY”
Lord God the Almighty One- I do praise You for Your greatness and acknowledge You as Lord of my life- Ruler of the Universe.
Father I am thankful to you for the blessing of our children- all 7 of them! Lord, you have taught us so many things thru them. You have given us many blessings- their good health and intelligence- the joy of watching them develop and become adults. You have even helped us as parents to grow through the days & years of suffering and discouragement when things did not go as we expected. You have increased our faith….I love you, Lord. Amen
I collect books of all kinds but especially old Christian books and all kinds of devotional books. I have one from 1945 that says, "Our best tribute to loved ones vanished from our sight is not our tears but our emulation of their virtues. The finest thing we can do for them is to make their best ideals come true." Daniel Russell, "Meditations for Men"
This is the poem I wrote on April 16th, 2009
You showed me by example….
You showed me by example how to love to read…
You showed me by example how to teach and lead…
You showed me by example how to stand for my convictions even if I stand alone…
You showed me by example how to keep the home…
You showed me by example how to read God’s word…
You showed me by example how to pray to God…
You showed me by example how to hold on…
You showed me by example how to forgive…
You showed me by example no one's perfect but we can rely on the One who is…
Wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove.
"Thou'rt only a gray and sober dove,
But thine eye is faith and thy wing is love." Sidney Lanier
"A Future Song"