Monday, December 7, 2009

Completely pointless...

Welcome to the new edition of getting to know your friends. Okay here's what you do, and try not to be lame and spoil the fun! You can email me your answers :-)

1. What is your occupation? I am a Nurse

2. What color are your socks right now? No socks if I can help it...

3. What are you listening to right now? Meaghan Smith

4. What was the last thing that you ate? Deer Sausage, Yams, corn and brown rice :-)

5. Can you drive a stick shift? Yes!

6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Teal

7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? My Dad

8. Do you like the person who sent this to you? I love her with all my heart <3

9. How old are you today? 29 for 37 more days!!

10. Favorite drink? Hmm.. In Guatemala: Liquado de Banano con leche, Canada: Chai latte

11. What is your favorite sport to watch? I don't really enjoy watching sports... although I did thoroughly enjoyed the canuck game I saw live :-)

12. Have you ever dyed your hair? Yes

13. Pets? I have had several dogs and cats over the last pet was a cat (and the only one since living on my own) Her name was Tigger. I trained her from a kitten and she was awesome, travelled great in the car with me :-) She got into some poison when she was 2, summer of 2008, and I had to have her put down. Horrible!

14. Favorite food? Sushi

15. What was the last movie you watched? Living Proof (very emotional!)

16. Ever been out of the Country? Of course!! As often as I can!

17. What do you do to vent anger? Phone a friend, pray, walk...

18. What was your favorite toy as a child? I can't recall

19. What is your favorite fall or spring? Definatley spring! means summer is on the way!!

20. Hugs or kisses? Depends who it's from...

21. Cherries or Blueberries? Oh, tough one. If rasberry was listed, I would have definatley picked it first... blueberries I think..

22. Do you want your friends to email you back? Yes, of course!

25. Living arrangements? Not ideal

26. When was the last time you cried? This morning

27. What is on the floor of your closet? scrapbooking material, a hamper, and shoes

29. What did you do last night? I was across the border in Sandpoint with a friend, then I was online chatting with friends

30. Favorite smells? Freshly mowed lawn, the ocean, baking bread, subtle colonge on a man, coconut creams, roasting nuts (in New York)...

31. What inspires you? Reading stories of great people, missionaries...

32. What are you afraid of? Heights (although it is getting better..)

33. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? Silly question... mushroom burgers! :-)

34. Favorite dog breed? That I have had? Saint Bernard

35. Number of keys on your key ring? 3 or 4

36. How many years at your current job? 1 1/2 years

37. Favorite day of the week? Don't have one

38. How many states have you lived in? I have only lived in 2. New Jersey and New Hampshire

40. Ever driven a Motorcycle or heavy machinery? Been a passenger, but not a driver

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I go now in Pursuit...

So... I mentioned previously about attending the Pursuit conference in Medicine Hat. I went last week-end. Right from when the Lord gifted me the ticket to go and provided a place for me to stay, I knew that he had something in store for me! :-)

The trip started off a bit snagged...I encountered an accident just outside of Sparwood and was stuck in Sparwood for over 5 hrs. waiting for the road to re-open. Having had planned the trip so I would make it to the Hat before it got dark, It made me nervous to get delayed. I don't see very well at night and I knew they were having bad weather in Medicine Hat... I started praying right away. Friends kept me informed and I waited it out until about 7:30 pm when the traffic started moving again.

I played worship music and praised God for most of the way.. just past Lethbridge the weather was worse and the roads were covered in snow. This being the first time I drove my car (just got a new used car in the summer) in the snow, didn't know quite how it would handle. That's when the praying really kicked in! My heavenly father had my back, and many times I think he was the only one driving the car! At one point my gas tank was getting low, I was cold as the heat doesn't work very well in the car, and I was getting quite tired. I was just thinking of pulling over and sleeping the night in my car when I received a text from Kim. Kim is the lady who had offered me her house to stay in. I had never met her, but I had been texting her about my delays. The conference had started that night and they were awaiting my arrival.

Her text read "...keep coming girl!" It was just the encouragement I needed. Renewed, I kept going and made it to Medicine Hat around 11:30pm. Praise God!

I know I tend to write way too detailed, so I will attempt to keep this short. I will just give the gist to those who have been asking.

For the amount the Lord brought healing and restoration to me spirit, I feel like the conference was a week long, not just 2 days...

Being surrounded by people truely hungering after the Lord and praising him, is always such an amazing place to be! Having not had the interaction of being involved in fellowship anywhere for such a long time, it was like water to dry land.

I was singing at one point with my arms spread open that first day and I saw a vision of myself standing in a waterfall, with my face up, facing the spray of water. My arms were out as I was standing at the time. I could feel the water pouring down upon me. I cannot explain how it felt, but the Lord spoke to me in that moment. He told me that as the water poured over me, so he wanted to pour over me. That it was impossible to stand under the fountain of a waterfall and not have a part of my body un-touched by water, so too he wanted to be in my life. To not have a single area that was not covered by him. That as impossible as it is to attempt to put one hand under a waterfall and not have any other body part get wet, so is it impossible to only submerge myself partly in him. That if I wanted to walk completely in him, I needed to allow my whole self to be submerged in him. It requires everything, and is all consuming. To attempt to stand there and only have a part of myself get wet, would be exhausting. I was also reminded of how he is a jealous God. That he wants all of me and does not want to have to share me (as he does all of us). It was pretty incredible and awesome.

Perhaps that is why I have been so tired lately... I have tried to put just a part of me in him and would not allow my whole self to be submerged...

There was a time before New Hampshire when I heard his voice and saw visions on a regular basis. That awe and peace all wrapped in one, was like feeling a warm blanket enveloping me.

Through the speakers (who were speaking just at me, I'm sure! lol) and the worship it was like pieces of me slowly fit back into place. I was able to listen to the speakers and receive from them without the doubt and judgment I had been feeling. When I lifted my hands in worship to God, it felt freeing, as I shed years of chains the had had me shackled down.

For most people who know me, perhaps the weight I was under was not perceptible to them. For many of my friends, who did not know me before my time in New Hampshire, have never known me differently.. perhaps the few close friends I have that have known me longer will see a difference in me...but it doesn't matter. I know the healing that has taken place, and I feel so much more peace then I had been.

I saw anther vision as I worshiped. That of a bride in a resplendent gown standing at the end of the isle. There was a large window behind her, and from it shone down the sun so brightly every inch of the gown was illuminated. I felt like the Lord telling me this was how he saw me. That even though I have felt guilty and dirtied by many things, as I have been separate from him, that now, he saw me just as that bride. There wasn't a speck of dirt or any mark visible on the gown...and to him I was just as clean. It was a pretty incredibly humbling experience as you can imagine....

As I said, I will attempt to keep this short. :-) (So that means I will stop soon)

These are just tidbits of what I experienced...but you get the drift! I was completely blessed by the family I stayed with. They were incredible and truly his humble servants. They walked fully in the gifting of hospitality to which we are all called, but we seem to struggle with.. They never once made me feel in any way, that I was an inconvenience. I pray blessing upon their home and family! I also had some pretty cool encounters with some other people as well, including an offer to join a mission trip to Zambia in the spring!

So in all that I made my way home... The Lord protected me, even through a pocket of wind that determined to throw me across the highway! :-)

Had I known what was facing me when I got home, I may have attempted to stay in the Hat a couple more days!! lol

I came back to several stressful things. They have lead me throughout the week to lean and trust him. I know I have entrusted him with my life on many occasions and he has brought me through incredible challenges, yet there always seems to be one area to which is a struggle to truely trust in. I am facing that now. My first night home was a struggle, but I am trusting God and giving it up to him daily and at times, hourly.

I had been writing an entry on trust and had a few verses come to mind. I was going to write more on the topic, yet I feel just to share the verses now. I pray they encourage anyone who reads. God Bless!

The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. 2 Samuel 22:3

Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the LORD. Psalm 4:5

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You. Psalm 9:10

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 18:2

Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am in trouble; My eye wastes away with grief, Yes, my soul and my body! Psalm 31:9

Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. Psalm 37:5

In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:4

Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:8

Friday, November 20, 2009

I lift my eyes up...

So...recognizing my last couple of posts were a bit heavy, I was going to move on a bit to a lighter note. Yet, I guess I feel the need to write down and take account of my life prior to Guatemala. People have told me over the years that I should write a book, well maybe just a blog then.

My telling the full story I hope will serve to encourage someone, if only one person...knowing that there is hope. I look back on those years as if they belong to another person. In so many ways it seems separate from me because I know I walk free from it now... There is hope to not be enslaved by your past, through Jesus, and live a victorious, happy life!!

I will account my story from my point of view, obviously recognizing that my experience was separate from my Sisters or my Moms. I acknowledge that I may skew the time line, but will tell it as I remember...

One of my first memories as a child is waking one night to the sound of my Mom's terrified voice. I was about 5 years old. I can't recall the words, but I knew instantly she was in trouble. The chill I felt then is almost as real to me now, as I realized something was horribly wrong.

I got up out of bed and walked to the living room. When I turned the corner, the was my "Daddy", he had my Mom pinned against the wall with a Kitchen chair and was yelling at her, threatening to kill her. Over the years, the details of what was said have been lost to me, but I remember the fear on my Mom's face...the complete confusion I felt at what I was seeing... I said something on the lines of "Daddy what are you doing?"... he looked at me and dropped the chair, proceeded to the window, punched it out and took off out of the house.

I don't know that my Dad would have killed my Mom that night, but I do thank God for waking me up and taking me to stop the beating she was receiving. And strangely, I am also grateful for having witnessed it. My birth father had a strange sense of family. As I was his only daughter by blood, he treated me differently then my sister, and my mom. I did not experience the terror and pain inflicted by him as they did. So witnessing this event helped me in the years to come, as I struggled to reconcile the Daddy I knew with the one he really was...

At the time, the things that would have clued an adult in to the lifestyle my Dad lead, was lost on a young child. The cases of chocolate bars he would bring home he had stolen in his latest heist, was simply exciting... Having him pass a bottle of alcohol to myself and other young cousins as we camped, was what all parents did, right? The fact we didn't really have friends outside of his family because he controlled who my Mom could meet and where she could go... or that every time he came home drunk he would beat my Mom, I was oblivious to...

In fact, the many horrors experienced by my Mom and sister, I never knew about until years later. Aside from the one night my Dad was trying to kill my Mom, the rest of my world was great...

This all came tumbling down when I was 7 years old. It was like any other day, actually more exciting, because I had been invited to a birthday party of a school friend. My Mom was to meet us after school and take me shopping for a present. I was excited all day, and by the time the bell rang releasing us, the anticipation was unbearable! So, my sister not meeting us at the car that day, was maddening, as we had to go! But the longer we waited, she still never came... My Mom sent me to ask a friend of hers we saw lingering outside the doors. Strange..she wouldn't say much...just said she was in the principle's office, and wasn't coming.

So my mom went in... At the time I had no idea what was transpiring. All I knew was all of a sudden my Mom was driving my Uncle, who was with us, home with some excuse that we wouldn't be going shopping... all I knew was I was very upset I couldn't go to my party all of a sudden, and it was my sister's fault...

The next 48 hours were a blur of an acivity as I think I could literally feel my life being turned upside down...

All of a sudden we were at the police station..I was separated from my Mom in a room by myself...asked to play with dolls while someone watched...had to draw pictures of my family with their clothes off... I was confused, scared, and angry... What was happening? I just wanted to go home...

That night my sister, Mom and I stayed in a hotel. A Sandman Inn actually... I remember staring at the sign for a long time, as if to blame this Sand man for messing things up.

I don't remember my Mom explaining what was going on to me, although I knew it was something to do with my sister. In my child's mind I did not comprehend that my sister had just come out that my Daddy had been doing unthinkable things to her...that something serious was happening...I just knew I wasn't home, and that I missed the birthday party...

Laying in bed with my sister that night, I muttered words to her that have pierced me to the core of my being, every time I have re-played what I said to her in the years that have followed.
I blamed her for it all. When she said what Daddy had done to her, I refused to believe. I called her a liar and insisted it was her fault. I turned my back to her and angrily dismissed what she was saying, ignoring her tears and pain...

I never saw my Dad again. Not to talk to him anyway. We left the next day at the encouragement of the local RCMP, to Alberta. We had to start another life, get away from this man who went from my hero, to monster, overnight.

We went into hiding, to protect us from "Russell", who he was quickly becoming known to me. The title of Daddy he had lost, was slowly replaced by monster, evil, and scary...

The first night I doubted my sister faded, as the realization of what he had done to her, became real. From a young age, when my Mom first met my Dad, he had been taking advantage of my sister. She was 9 now, but for 6 horrible years, she had endured unimaginable, ugly things at the hand of that monster. She endured what now adult should endure, let alone a child. She was exposed to pornography, made to drink and smoke, and worst of all, suffered almost daily, to molestation. For my sister, each night story time took on another meaning as Russell stayed in her room after I was tucked in... We had a second hand furniture store my Mom had worked at, and he would take my sister out to "get furniture"...

He did it all rather slyly, and my sister, having known nothing else, and threatened to not tell, succumbed to this as her life. It wasn't until she made a comment to a school friend that it finally came out. Her friend mentioned to her Mom what my sister had told her, and this led to the police showing up at school that life-changing day.

My Mom... as an adult now, I can imagine the agony my Mom experienced finding out what was going on to her daughter for all those years. I am sure she has blamed herself and beaten herself up over not knowing... I have been asked that question before when I have recounted my story. I guess if you have never been in an abusive relationship yourself, then no matter how much explaining, you probably never will understand.

My Mom was abused by her Dad, and went into her relationship with Russell already wounded. Russell was a very charismatic person, as most abusive people are. He soon had my Mom under his abusive had and controlled completely by him. In that situation, it is almost a brain washing you endure at the hand of the abuser. When you are put down every day, you soon walk in that cree over you. My Mom was not allowed friends, and only allowed to see her parents at his discretion. She was beaten physically and emotionally. Her life was darkness. I don't know what it was like for her, I can only imagine. But I do know that as soon as my Mom learned what was happening to her child, she took us and ran...

Legally, Russell had all the right in the world to see us. But fortunately for us, he didn't seem to know that. So we continued to hide in Alberta until he went to court to face charges for molestation. We proceeded to live in woman's shelters, unable to make friends or have anyone know where we lived. We became afraid of every car that went by, and lived afraid Russell would turn up at any corner to take us away..

I didn't know at the time there was a God, or a spiritual element to the world. I do know that I saw demons almost every night in my house before we left Russell. They were very real and vivid to me. Full of color, they would patrol our hallways. They were scary, angry beings that
I was comfortable with as they were always there. After we left Russell, I didn't see the demons anymore, but I felt the hair rasing fear. I became scared of the dark, and would do anything I could to avoid it.

The next bit, became normal in it's craziness. As we waited for the trial, lived life such as it was. It saw us move to another small town, and it seemed, before we knew it we were living on a farm, with another man.

My Mom found a boyfriend and we moved in with him on his farm in northern Alberta. At first, it seemed fun. A nice change and seemed a bit less scary, as how would Russell find us in the middle of nowhere? But this soon faded, as we came to fear again, this time the boyfriend.

His name was Ron. What started as lewd comments about my sister's and my lack of 'chest', soon became more sinister as he began daily 'checks' to see if they were growing yet... Ron was also an alcoholic. A mean one. My sister and I soon became good at watching the signs and becoming scarce when we knew he was getting mean. But we never could completely hide, and he soon found ways to take it out on us. And as the twisted freak he was, he recognized my sister and what she had gone through as an easy target, and soon took the place Russell had left, in abusing her sexually.

At first, I didn't know. It wasn't until my Mom had gone to work one night and I awoke to the sound of him entering our room, that it became all too real. As he climbed into bed with her, I became angry, but terrified. Ron was a big man, but I had to do something! He was hurting my sister!!! I had a big book under my pillow I was reading. I grabbed it and walked to the side of the bed and raised it above my head to hit make him stop... but as I did, the fear overtook me. I knew the beating I would get..I couldn't do it. Instead I went back to my bed and loudly let Ron know I was awake... He left the room, but soon was calling to my sister from the living room couch. As I watched her leave to go to him, I knew I couldn't let it happen. I had to protect her, somehow... So I soon went out there, making some lame excuse to be there and stopped what he had intended. As we walked back to our room, my Mom came home and caught us out of bed.

After initial lying as to why we were up, we finally proceeded to tell Mom what had happened and what had been happening... We left Ron, and went back to the shelter....

I wish I could say it ended there, but it didn't. As an abused women as well, my Mom listened to Ron's appoligies and vows to change, and took him back. I don't know how many, but over the next couple of years, we left and went back to him several times.

In the meantime, Russell's court case had come and gone. He was sentenced to very little time. My sister, told by the police that she would only have to tell the whole story once, did not go into such detail at the trial, and therefore Russell didn't get the full sentence he deserved.

Prison time didn't really affect Russell. He had been in and out of Prison before, and he had an open door policy...he knew how to get out and did so whenever he wanted, it seemed. So even though he was locked up officially, we knew he could be lurking around the next corner any day...

He had threatened my Mom he would find us, that he would take me away and kill her and my sister. And we knew he would if he found us.

Our time with Ron didn't get any better. The abuse worsened to my sister and I, when my Mom wasn't around. He continued to molest my sister, and physically beat both of us. My sister and I tried to protect one another and would have codes to warn the other of something about to happen, to try avoid at all costs, but we weren't always successful. We never knew what would set him off, but knew when we heard him calling to us, it wouldn't be good...

I seemed to get the brunt of the physical abuse and my sister the brunt of the other. I knew when I saw him with the horse whip, it wouldn't be good... One time he was so mad at my sister and I he beat me all the way up the stairs to my room. I hesitated and took more then I should have, because I knew if I ran to hide in my room he would be left with my sister, and didn't want that to happen... I couldn't sit for days after that...

The last time we left him, we went North. We stayed in a safe house in Edmonton. Life seemed happier and started to be "normal", whatever that meant. We were going to counseling, and things were kind of looking up. Then Ron died. He had called my Mom that night, and soon after, his addiction the alcohol ended his life.

I wish I could say it was smooth sailing from there... but it wasn't. My Mom went into a depression that scared my sister and I. In her vulnerable state, was taken advantage of. Ron's friends offered to "help" us, and store our belongings for us until we were able to move back and take them. As it turned back, they had no intention of helping at all. They claimed Ron owed them money, and they had determined by keeping everything we owned, his debt was paid. That included everything, from our toys and clothing, to our vehicle and our Dog!

We did eventually, by law, get some of our stuff back. but not everything. (We did steal back our Dog...only to have him sold by another "friend" who was looking after him until we found a home out of the shelter).

So we moved on... If you read my other post, then you will begin to see why my distrust of men was well-founded....

We moved to Grand Praire, but still hadn't shed Russell's shadow over us. At one point he escaped from prison and managed to find us. He called my Mom at home, and with her quick thinking, managed to keep him on the phone until the police were able to track him down.

Another time, which I didn't know about until years later, was he found us and was in town. My Mom concoted an elaborate scheme to make him believe she was coming back to him..all the while out-witting him and getting us away to safety.

I said I never saw him again, to talk to, but I did see him one last time. My sister and I were playing in our school play ground with some friends, and all of a sudden I saw him. He was in a truck, and he was driving past the school. It had been awhile, but I knew him right away. It was my Dad. My sister and I quickly grabbed our friends and hid in the playground equipment as he disappeared around a corner. We hid there until he stopped circling.

I guess I will jump ahead a bit, to put the ending to our saga of Russell. When we left Alberta and moved to Golden, we continued to be careful and live never knowing... but in the meantime met Al, and the rest you kind of know. Moving to Guatemala did a couple things. Besides changing my life, through coming to know the Lord while there, it also provided a safety. Safety in knowing that Russell could not track us there, safety in that we could live and not be afraid.

I moved on, and after one very emotional night when I was 15, I was able to forgive Russell and Ron for what they'd done. I was in prayer, surrounded by a youth group from Canada on their last night in Guatemala. I don't know what it was, but before I knew it, God had me enveloped in his love in a way more real then I have probably ever experienced. I was overcome, and began sobbing. I cried for hours. Nobody around me knew what was going on. But in those tears, I cried out the pain, the mistrust, the anger, the uncertainty, and fear. I left the room that night drained, yet lifted up. I felt a freedom that was completely new to me. I walked back to the room I was staying in - in the dark - and for the first time was not afraid!

After that, even when I moved back to Canada at 17, Russell no longer controlled me. I always thought one day I would see him again and confront him, but wasn't going out of my way to do so. Over the years, we had kind of kept tabs on him through people we knew still living in Prince George, where he was. He married again, and I was aware he had had other children.

When I had just started my first year of Nursing in 2004, I received the news one day that Russell was dead. Friends of my Grandma's notified her. I was shocked. I didn't believe it. I was almost convinced it was a ploy. But it wasn't until after calling the PG police detachment, and having them tell me and sending me a picture, that I finally believed. He had been shot and killed in what appeared to be a drug-related incident.

So, after prayer, I called the only Pilon number listed in Prince George, to talk to the family I hadn't seen in 17 years. It sickened me they were excited to hear from me, and claimed Russell had kept the phone number active all those years so that I could reach him. I was treated like the prodigal daughter come home, by this family who aided and a bedded the horror that was Russell. I learned I had 2 sisters, 13 and 15 years old. They knew all about me...

My sister and I talked and decided we wanted and needed to go to the funeral as closer. My Mom was hesitant to let us face all those people and memories without her. But she couldn't make it back on time, as she was in Guatemala. So we went. Walking into that funeral home was overwhelming and disgusting. It was packed! How could all of these people show up to pay homage to this monster?!?

We slipped in the back, unnoticed, and suffered through the service. The eulogy, given by a cousin, ripped at my heart. They spoke about me as his pride and joy. I was mad they would talk about me and connect me to him without my permission somehow. Yet, the hardest part was when they joked about what happened to my sister. Yes joked! They mocked my Mom and her and made him out to be a saint that was wronged. They made light of his escapades on the other side of the law as if they were legends, and joked about his ability to escape from prison at will. My sister and I about broke each others' hands squeezing each other so tight in anger.

The feelings I had of needing to protect my sister, came flooding back and just as that night with the book, I felt I needed to get up and say something! To stop them somehow. But the faces of his daughters stopped me. I did not want to do that to them.

We decided we had gotten this far and decided to continue with the day and follow on to the graveside. In the parking lot we met Russell's brother and told him who we were. By the time we got there, word had quickly spread and we were surrounded. Before I knew it, a cousin thrust me up to Russell's girls with the introduction of, "Here girls, this is what you are going to look like in a few years!"

Awkward to say the least... We made it through and stuck around after everyone left the graveside. We stood there looking down at the dirt which contained the man who had turned our life at living hell and did what we came to do... to achieve closier... we spit on his grave!! :-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light" - Ep 5:14

I've thought about it since I wrote my last post, and decided not to go into detail of what I saw and encountered in the ministry that affected me so deeply. I know that the chances of it affecting the people involved is slim to none, but I don't want to take the chance.

It was a time in my life that was very dark. I was lonely and confused by what I was seeing and experiencing. I had a lot of responsibility on me and felt torn in several directions. In the process of it all, I lost footing in who I was, questioning many things I never thought I would question. For the first time in my Christian life, I felt lost and wanted to run away. I didn't run away... but I did become jaded, and ultimately, a different person.

I have looked back on that time many times in the last 6 years, and almost daily for about a year. The struggles were complicated and involved many relationships, that I handled poorly.

I wonder if I had to do it again now if it would have the same outcome? I wonder if I have grown enough in myself, that I could have with-stood some of the trials sent my way?

I recognize we are brought through trials and often don't know the reason for them, but I do strive to interpret meaning from that time, if for nothing else then to justify the years I lost a result of it all.

Perhaps this vagueness on my behalf is too confusing to understand at all what I am trying to get out, but that confusion shrouds the experience for me as well. Looking in at it, I know there was a spiritual element involved. The darkness I experienced and oppression I was under, was beyond 'normal'.

I slowly made my way out of the darkness of that time, and continued on with my life, finally making it to Nursing School. I held on the my trust in God, yet I stayed away from the organized body of Christ. I lost my ability to enter a church and not judge the people saw, as I held them in comparison to those in the NH ministry. I could not worship without doubting the next person's intentions, or wonder of the integrity of the Pastor. So I just avoided it.

Even when I returned on my regular trips to Guatemala, I felt the excitement and the love of service, dimmed somehow. My adversity spilled over into my time with the Lord, and my time in prayer and in his word became a distant past. It happened so slowly that I never really noticed, and in fact, much I am only recognizing now in retrospect.

The last year and a half since I graduated Nursing I feel like I have only been living a piece of my life. Not having the structure and business of school, I felt suddenly exposed to see what my life had become and who I was as a result. I have avoided friends and stayed distant from those who love me... spending more time alone and 'safe' from fellowship that may require me to face my fears and struggles.

But my loving, heavenly Father has never forsaken me and in the last few weeks I have found myself slowly being stirred up inside. Things that I had lost passion for, are exciting me again. I stopped journaling and writing in general after NH, and now wake up and think of writing. I have had some incredible encounters with friends and have seen his hand working in me again.

There is nothing more exciting then to see prayers answered, to see your life used to bless someone else's life, and to be a vessel used for his glory.

Just this morning, I was totally blessed with an answer to prayer...

As I have been slowly crawling my way back through, breaking my pride, I have have run across information on a conference in another town, next week-end. At first I ignored it, yet it seemed to keep popping across my path. Then again recently I saw it and thought that it might be something I would do if I could find someone to go with me. As everyone I asked was not able to come, I pretty much gave up the idea that it could happen... I kept feeling as if this is something I needed to do, but without company and the finances, I wasn't sure...

So, this morning I decided to write an email to the organizers and explain a little where I am coming from and my desire to come and why. I left it at that and in God's hands. Within a half an hour I had a response back, not only providing me with a ticket to the conference itself, but also providing me a place to stay for the week-end!!

Praise God!!

I am so excited... I feel that I am in an exciting time. I am so hungry for God and excited at feeling this way again! I pray that in the next week as I prepare, that I will continue to tear down the walls I have built up around me. That the pain, pride, selfishness, distrust etc...that has accompanied me, will be shed.

Philippians 3:12-16
Colossians 1:21-23

If we've ever needed you...

I picked up the new Casting Crowns CD yesterday. There is a song called "If We've Ever Needed You", that is so appropriate to how I have been feeling.

"Here I cry, Lord, we pray/Our faces down, our hands are raised/ You called us out, we turned away/ We've turned away//With shipwrecked faith, the idols rise/ We do what is right in our own eyes/ Our children now will pay the price/ We need your light, Lord, shine your light//If we've ever needed you/ Lord, it's now. Lord, it's now./ We are desperate for your hand/ We're reaching out, we're reaching out// All our hearts, all our strength/ With all our minds, we're at your feet/ May your kingdom come in our hearts and our lives/ Let your church arise// We're reaching out/ We need you now/ Revive us now/ We need you now"

This song so speaks to the turmoil that has been brewing within me, recently reaching hurricane proportions.

I will back up a bit...

About 6 years ago I was involved in and witnessed, which so many in Christian circles have, a split in ministry. It would take way too much time to re-hash the details of the experience but it most certainly was a turning point in my Christianity. Up until that point I was for the most part, blissfully unaware of the aspect of 'ministry' to which I encountered in New Hampshire.

I came to know the Lord in the adobe homes, and dusty roads of Guatemala when I was 12 years old. I remember walking in the small village where I was living with my family, surrounded by a language unfamiliar to me, and followed by what seemed, dozens of smiling children. As I walked, I tried to figure out how it was possible that just a couple years sooner, my life had been filled with fear and uncertainty, and now I had a new life, living in a third world country I had never heard of...

I was the youngest of 2, with a single Mom, trying to forge a life in the aftermath of 2 abusive, controlling men. One of these men, my 'father'. I had lost count of the amount of times we had moved in the time we left my father at age 7, until we moved to Golden B.C., at age 10. We had gone through a time when we had to change our names and go into hiding... making many towns and women's shelters "home". I mention moving to Golden, because this was really the last move before our lives started to change for the better.

I didn't know at the time that this move to Golden would be so poignant. In fact it wasn't even an official 'move', we were just going for the week-end and never went back.. I am sure my Mom didn't know that the first person she be-befriended in this new town, would come to play such a huge role in our lives, and ultimately be the reason I found myself walking along the dusty road in Guatemala...

This person she met, a soft-spoken, friendly Englishman, had come from his own broken family. Yet, I am sure they had no idea that when they slowly became friends over conversations in a coffee shop, that it was in those moments that saw our future change drastically.

This Englishman, Al, over the next 2 years, grew more involved in our lives and tried hard to befriend my sister and I. Not always an easy task, as we held a deep distrust of men, that we earned quite rightfully. During that time Al had gone on some mission trips to Guatemala. I recall him coming back with gifts on his last trip and telling us of his adventures, but it was all rather boring to me. My Mom had taken us to Church with Al on several occasions, and I started going to Sunday School, but the only thing that really kept me going were the chocolate bars the teacher gave out with a memorized bible verse. The reality of God, was nothing more than a character on a felt board to me.

I had learned through observance of the great role models in my life how to steal, lie and cheat my way through things. And in my quiet way, I continued to do so, not affected by my church-going... In fact I remember my regular stop at the local 7-11 after Sunday school, to shop lift goodies for my walk home.

But everything seemed to come to a screeching 180 degree turn when my Mom sat us down with Al one afternoon to say that they were thinking of getting married. Actually, I don't really recall their exact words, but there was something about possibly going to Guatemala that stuck out to me. It seemed Al felt he had to go back there "one last time" and we would go together as a family...

Within a few months we suddenly had a new man in our lives, I still wasn't sure we could trust. He adopted my sister and I, and was now my "Dad"....and we were on our way to "Guatemala"...

So...messed up life, new Dad, new country, and may I throw in -traveled there and lived in - a converted school bus., now up to speed? :-)

As you can imagine, it wasn't all smooth sailing. In fact we as a family had a lot of issues we were dealing with as a result of our past. To put it bluntly, we were 'messed up'! And messed up in a confined space, in countries we could barley communicate in, well... led to some very interesting and trying times to say the least.

Looking back now, as extreme as it was, God knew what he was doing and by doing so, saved my sister and I from a future we we bound to walk in if we had stayed in North America, in the condition we were in.

So my introduction to Christianity and Jesus was amongst the villagers we came to serve and work amongst, in rural Guatemala. At the time, we were the first white people many of the locals had ever seen. I lament that fact actually, since I don't think our scream fests in our bus, that everyone could hear, was the best introduction to white people. But, they didn't seem to acknowledge our 'family moments' and embraced us as one of them.

We lived in the same yard as the Pastor's family and the Church, so we became an integral part of the church community especially. It surprised us when people poured into the yard every night to attend church, and twice on Sundays. What surprised me more was that they seemed to enjoy it!! (I mean, several chocolate bars wouldn't entice me enough to go to church every day!!)

We served the people in building and other projects, to help improve their lives. I befriended local teenagers and attended youth gatherings with them. We lived amongst the people, and their loving way of life, was infectious. It seemed that loving God and serving him was a exciting thing, that nobody was ashamed of.

I learned graciousness when invited to someone's home to eat, and was fed what was surely the only food available. I learned joy, when in the simple act of giving a hug to someone would light up their face. I learned humility when I was treated like royalty simply because I was there. I learned Jesus walked the paths with the people there, because they invited him along in all aspects of their lives. Serving the Lord was an action which governed everything else they did. It was not a chore or an embarrasment. Reading the Bible was a privledge.

Slowly, those beautiful people worked their love inside of me and I began to change.

We returned to Canada as a family changed, after a mere 6 months. At 13 and 16, my sister and I were eager to return to our friends in Canada, but knew we left a piece of ourselves with the Guatemalan people. I don't think we expected to feel the way we did when we returned to Canada, lost and suddenly strange...

After the summer of working and selling our home, we went back to Guatemala.

Over the next 4 1/2 years we lived in Guatemala, returning to Canada to work for a summer to support us, as needed.

Our trust in God to direct our path was intrinsic. Our first time to Guatemala, my parents had prayed before we left about finances. My Dad was a self-employed stucco/brick-layer who had little money to his name, and my Mom had been a cashier at a gas station. But they gave what they had to him for the first trip we made.. This was a time before internet and online banking, in fact the only phone even available was one for the whole village, it was at a local restaurant. We used it to call family on special occasions only, and as it cost somewhere around $5/min, there was very little talked about, especially not banking. Everything my parents had saved they had given to the head of the mission agency we had come down with, so he could bring money periodically when teams came from Canada. parents didn't say much about finances, but as we left Guatemala and headed back towards Canada I think is when they shared the story with us about giving it over to God and how they trusted that he was taking us to Guatemala, and would make what we had stretch as needed. So it made it all that more exciting when we pulled back into Golden with exactly $1 left to our names!!

From then on, we trusted that the Lord would provide, and every time would work giving all to him. Even the years when my Dad made less then ever, we managed to live on what he did earn just as long, and continued to fund the projects we were doing with it.

I could go on and on... but basically this is how my faith developed. It was real and lived out on a daily basis. There was no falseness to it. The Christians I knew were humble people, who heard God's voice, saw people healed and raised from the dead and many other miraculous things on a daily basis. The focus was on the Lord and the glory only unto him.

Fast forward... and so I found myself 6 years ago, at 23 years old, living in New Hampshire. I went there to help out some friends of mine who were in the lurch. A few years previous I had Nannied for them in New Jersey, and since that time they had become involved with and moved to New Hampshire to follow a ministry. They found themselves without a Nanny, and needed help.

I had become quite close to the family and would have done anything for them. I was working on saving money for Nursing School anyway, so I figured I could continue to do so there for a few months until they found someone else.

If I had only known what those next couple of months would have looked like, I would have stayed far away....