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2 In Featured Guests

Living Life With PTSD // Featured Guest – Karen of Finding The Grace Within

I am excited to have Karen from Finding The Grace Within sharing her heart in this space. I first met Karen a couple of years back (maybe longer) while writing for the Five Minute Friday prompts. I’ve followed her journey of healing and have been amazed at her strength, which all points to what God has done in her life. I know you will be blessed by her honesty as she shares about living with PTSD.


 PTSD

My entire life, up to this point, I have always thought deep within that “this is the way that I am, this is the way that I have always been, and this is the way that I will always be.”

For the first time in my life, I can actually say, “this is why I am the way that I am”, “this is not how it’s always going to be”, and the most important part? – “this is not my fault”.

I am a victim of child sexual abuse! The first part of healing is admitting what happened to you as real and true. You cannot heal from something you do not accept has happened to you. It has taken me 5 years on this journey of healing (therapy) with someone I trust to help me understand that “this was done TO me, and this is NOT who I am”. I took the step 5 years ago to go to someone and talk about my story from ME, and release the silence within – and I am thankful that I have that support to go forward in my journey.

Living with PTSD and trying to overcome it has been the hardest work I have ever had to endure! I am still to this day working hard through it! There is not a day that goes go by that I do not live with the ramifications of the abuse I endured as a child. People may say that “it’s the past, you have to let it go” .. but if you haven’t lived with it, or lived IN it, you will never understand it, or understand the demons it casts upon you.

Yes the abuse may no longer be happening now, but you never forget! You never forget how it made you feel, how it destroyed your self worth, or what it has done to you inside. The memories, the smells, the triggers, the thoughts – that at any given time on any day, an image can pop into your head uninvited, and you are immediately brought back to the situation that traumatized you. When those moments happen, you feel you have no control; as if you are being abused all over again! You feel as if you are back in the very moment it happened, and you feel defeated, you feel lost, and you feel alone – Imagine going through this process for 35+ years? I do not wish this life on ANYONE!

I have finally reached a place in my journey of healing, and came to realization, that this is NOT the way I am going to live, and this is NOT who I am, and this is NOT who I am going to be. I am finding my way out of the abuse by honoring what has happened to me in the past, telling my story for ME, doing a timeline of my story of  the abuse I endured, and facing it head on. I am slowly welcoming the memories as “information” and not “triggers“. I have found that the more I honor the feelings and the memories, the more I have control over them, and when I say THEM, I not only mean the memories; but the people who hurt me in the past.

It’s not easy to honor something that hurts, it’s not easy to face the memories head on and invite them in.. it’s painful, sad and it makes you angry, but what I have realized is that, the more I fought the triggers and the feelings, the more they had control over me every single day, and that is giving it another day of my life that “they” already took from me!

I go through this daily ritual, and have for the past 35+ years – a ritual that sends me right back into the abuse that makes me feel isolated, and ashamed, guilty and sad, worthless, and full of fear. I have taken that ritual and I have welcomed it! I have come to terms that I am no longer letting it ruin my life, but welcoming it as information that I need to heal from it. It’s a lot easier to walk WITH the current, than it is to walk against it.

Honoring is hard work, it takes a lot of strength, courage, and support!! – But I am taking control over the story and no longer being the person that lived in “their” silence. Each day that you take that trigger and feel it, and walk with it, instead of against it, it will eventually get weaker; to the point of you walking ahead of it, instead of IT walking your path for you!

I am, and always will be a victim of abuse, but how I choose to let it empower over me is my choice.. and the one thing that I now know in telling the story from me is that  -“this is why I am the way that I am, this is not how it’s always going to be, and the most important part? – this is NOT my fault.


 

KarenKaren is wife to Tim, mom to 3 beautiful boys ages 24, 20 and 17, writer, photographer and an adult survivor of child sexual abuse. Today she writes and uses the voice God gave her to help others know that they are not alone and to raise awareness.  Karen is also a CASA (Child Advocate for Atlanta), taking a stand for children who need help finding safe homes to live in. She is currently working on her book, “Alone In The Closet” and hopes to complete it within the next year. To connect with Karen, visit her at her blog, Finding the Grace Within or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

*This post originally appeared at Finding The Grace Within.

0 In Featured Guests

The Mustard Seed // Featured Guest Melissa @ Finding Meaning, Joy & Purpose

Today I’m thrilled to introduce you to Melissa of Finding Meaning, Joy & Purpose. I originally came across Melissa’s blog while vising Five Minute Friday writers as well as 31 Dayers in October. When I put out my request for guest writers, Melissa expressed interest. I am thankful for the opportunity to get to know her more. I know you will be blessed by the words she shares today.

 

look mustard seed

I’m really struggling today…..my sweet Monkey Boy has 2 upcoming doctor appointments in the next few days. One tomorrow with a urologist and one Monday with an ENT. Both problems seem relatively minor, but still are a large concern to me, because after all, he is my baby!

So I’ve had a few conversations with friends today about this and how I’m feeling. Usually, I’m filled with faith about problems and challenges that people face. Hubs tells me that is my spiritual gift. Usually I just am filled with faith that God will move in His mighty way. I cling to Romans 8:28 often; it has gotten me through some very difficult times.

And we know that God works together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.”

But right now, with these issues with my sweet boy, I’m feeling weak in faith.

But in the wonderful way that God loves His children, He doesn’t leave us to go through this life alone. He has given us Himself, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. And He’s also given us other believers to encourage us. I am thankful for my sisters in Christ that lift me up and have faith for me when mine is faltering. They have spoken words of encouragement, truth and wisdom to me today.

Here’s how I saw God move today……..

I (of course) posted a little bit about Monkey Boy’s appointments and asked for prayer on Facebook…..I received lots of support and prayers…..but as I posted, I also saw a post one of my friends had put on her own page. She mentioned that she’s ‘ready to rumble’ with Satan today…she’s full of strength in the Lord and encouraged by the amazing way He’s answered prayers this week. I told her I wasn’t feeling so strong, but was trying to find it. Her response back is what brought tears to my eyes and the realization that God wanted to reveal himself to me in a tiny, beautiful way. She posted:

I got you covered…all you need is to look at the mustard seed.

All you need is to look at the mustard seed. @MJoyPurpose Click To Tweet

A seemingly small comment…..but not to me.

You see, weeks ago, Mr. Football planted mustard seeds in school. He brought them home after they flowered and were about to drop their seeds. We replanted them in a larger pot, but they appeared to have died. In my faith, and not wanting to disappoint my precious son, I’ve continued to water them as they sit on my kitchen window sill. Weeks have gone by…nothing.

But just this morning, I realized that one of the stalks had flowers on it……..a tiny mustard seed was ‘resurrected’ as it were.

mustard flower

THERE is my mustard seed….tiny, thought to be dead……..but alive…..with beautiful, tiny flowers to remind me that my precious Father in heaven knows my heart, and loves me enough to show me that even in a tiny seed that I thought was dead, there is life, abundantly.

How can I doubt Him and his power in this situation, when in His sovereignty, He took the time to show me how much He loves me, how He has my boy and his health in the same hands that created those tiny little seeds.

Thank you Lord for who you are, and how who you are makes me who I am. You amaze me. I don’t deserve your grace or your mercy, and yet, because of your sacrifice, you make me worthy. You love me in such a sweet, personal way that I want to emulate, but can’t this side of heaven. Please help me to encourage others and share my faith in you when theirs is failing. Help me to show them the mustard seeds you have resurrected in their life. Help me to love them well, and point them to you.

Shine On

 

 

 

 

 


 

MelissaMelissa is a wife, mom, loud and proud football momma, nanny, fur baby mom, daughter, sister, friend and a million other things…just like you are too!  But the most important part of her is that she is a Child of God! None of the other titles or descriptions matters a bit without Jesus. She tried to live life on her own for a long time…but wasn’t truly living until she gave her life to Jesus, which started the most important and beneficial relationship I could ever have. She blogs over at Finding Meaning, Joy & Purpose, where her hope is that her words will encourage you to find meaning, joy and purpose in a relationship with Jesus.  You can also find Melissa on Facebook and Instagram.

 

13 In Featured Guests

Making My Heart Expand // Featured Guest Writer – Robin Duncan

I am thrilled to introduce this week’s featured guest writer, Robin of Living My Portion. I originally happened upon Robin’s blog during the 31 days of writing in October. She has a beautiful heart for the Lord and I am excited to get to know her more through blogging. Please be sure to leave Robin a comment here, and stop by her blog and have a look around.


heart_expand

February seems a great month to talk about the heart. Not the candy conversation kind of heart, but our inner being. The place inside all of us that defines who we are.

I have two favorite sayings about the heart. One is something a dear friend says when something good happens. She says,

“that just makes my heart expand.”

The other quote is by Corrie Ten Boom. Of the heart, she says,

“God never measures the mind… He always puts His tape measure on the HEART.”

God never measures the mind...He always puts His tape measure on the HEART. @duncan_rc Click To Tweet

What does that mean? I don’t have the honor of asking her directly what she means and I’ll be honest and say that, though I searched, I could not find the context of her quote. I have to guess on Ms. Ten Boom’s meaning and I believe that as followers of Christ, just as Scripture says, we are to love others and we are to show love to them. God in His infinite wisdom and grace really doesn’t care how much we know…He cares about our heart. He cares how we love.

I’m a bit of a word nerd so I looked up what Webster has to say about the heart. Concerning the human body, it is defined as “primary organ of the blood’s motion…” As a general definition, Webster defines heart as:

The chief part; the vital part; the vigorous or efficacious part…The seat of the affections and passions, as of love, joy, grief, enmity, courage, pleasure etc.

To sum it up. It’s who we are.

The heart is also important in our life as a Christ follower. God’s Word says in Matthew 12:32 that “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” And in John 7:38, we read, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

It seems that our heart is pretty important. After all, don’t we invite Christ into our heart when we ask Him to be our personal Lord and Savior? Our heart is His home.

Our heart is His home. @duncan_rc Click To Tweet

When looking for verses about the heart I came across many times in God’s Word that the heart is mentioned but this one in Luke stood out:

They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)

Have you ever felt what the disciples felt? A burning within as you listen for God to speak to you? A burning within you as you open God’s Word?

That’s the “heart expanding” that my friend speaks of.

Many things can “make my heart expand.” My kids laughing and singing…My man holding my hand…A hug from a friend…Kind words from friends and loved ones. But spending time in prayer and reading God’s Word – those are the best things to expand your heart.

Seeing God working among His people is another thing that can expand my heart. I just love sitting in Bible study and folks connecting over Scripture. Hebrews 4:12 says:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Isn’t that beautiful?

To think that every time we open His Word, He is speaking to us. There are days, I admit, that I simply read a passage to say I had my daily Bible reading. And then there are those days that I want to stay right in the Scripture all day. I want to read, meditate, and listen for Him to speak directly to me.

Tough times come. Our “hearts” are broken over loss, disappointment, betrayal. God’s Word is the remedy for those times. Time in fellowship with Him is the remedy for those times. Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…”

So as February moves along and the busyness of life takes its toll on me, I know I need to rest and allow Him to “expand” my heart. My hope is that this will ignite in me a desire to pass it on. To love well. To serve others well.

What about you? What makes your heart “expand”?

Joy to You!

signature6


 

RobinRobin is a South Carolina girl, born and raised.  She has been married to her minister husband for almost 21 years. They have two beautiful children and are a homeschooling family.  She loves to spend time in God’s word and has a desire to help her children, and others, grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.   While many activities consume her days, she enjoys time with family and friends more than anything.  Robin blogs about what the Lord is teaching her and their homeschool journey over at LivingMyPortion. You can also connect with Robin on Twitter and Google+.

4 In Featured Guests

Dare To Dream // Featured Guest – Patty Scott of Hearts Homeward

I am so excited to be continuing my guest post series here on the blog. Today, I’d like to introduce you to one of my most favorite people, Patty Scott of Hearts Homeward. I do not know her personally, but we’ve been blog friends for a few years now. We’ve followed each others blogs and have become great friends. She encourages me greatly. We are planning a meet up hopefully in the summer. Please make sure to stop by Patty’s blog and have a look around.


Dare to Dream

You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream
~ C.S. Lewis

Being a creature of habit has its strong points, to be sure. We don’t have to think much about how to drive the familiar path to work or to drop a child at school. Brushing teeth isn’t something we dwell on and set timers to remind ourselves to accomplish. Even habits of the heart, once ingrained in their trenches, stay with us until a great effort might uproot them and cause them to slide away.

Still, habit-driven living can have a downside. We get into what we know and stay there. Our “normal” becomes a box, keeping us contained into what is good and familiar, but also presenting us with some perceived limitations that may not be real. We end up going through the motions … laundry, grocery shopping, routine commitments, personal care, church … week after week like a hamster on a wheel. The sameness of checking off our to-do list can prevent us from something bigger, something different, something new. The old adage, “If Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll keep you busy,” might contain more truth than we want to admit. Being full of routine activity and obligations can keep us from realizing the greater purposes of our lives.

I think that’s why I love New Year’s so much. It suits my personality to a T to have the opportunity to cast new visions, to look back over the previous year for assessment and set my sights on what I hope will fill up a brand new twelve months. Of course many of us have given up the daunting exercise of setting resolutions. {We don’t want to disappoint ourselves one more time with our failure to follow through}. I’m not really discussing resolve here. Dreaming is different than resolving. When you resolve something, an air of repentance pervades your thoughts. “I will lose ten pounds by June,” has the ring of “I really shouldn’t have eaten all those sweets over the holidays.” With resolutions we’re trying to navigate our way out of situations or lifestyles we have autopiloted ourselves into. I’m not anti-resolution. Go for it! Sometimes we need to move out of some poor choices and redirect towards something more healthy and life-giving.

Dreaming, though, involves more than a resolve. I imagine if we scanned the brain during a resolution and then did a different scan during a time of dreaming about what could be next, you’d see completely different synapses firing off. Dreaming involves letting loose, daring and reaching for something a bit out of the realm of the practical. It invites us to believe in the God who always does more than we could ask or imagine. If you are going to dream, prepare to take a brave leap into possibilities not yet chartered.

Dreaming involves more than a resolve. @HeartsHomeward Click To Tweet

Some people dream naturally. I’m raising one of those. For the dreamer, life contains infinite options, most of them never needing to be tethered to pragmatic details. Visionary individuals can skip this post entirely. Carry on. As for the rest of us, we may need a nudge {or a crowbar} to get off our comfortable tushes and branch out into the realm of imagination, envisioning … risk.

What keeps us from dreaming?

Besides the habitual and over-filled lives many of us live, there are other barriers to dreaming. The need to have a sense of control restrains our vision. We want security, a promise all will be well. Status-quo living {no matter how drab or unfulfilling} provides consistency which makes us feel like we are driving our own life. We may fear stepping outside God’s will or missing the mark or worse yet, failure. By keeping things predictable, we eliminate much of the risk involved in dreaming. In other words our fear of loss keeps us from greater gain. If you have lived a life pocked with loss or rejection {as I have}, it can be hard to open your arms wide and say, “bring on whatever’s next!”

fear

Fear is the enemy of dreaming. @HeartsHomeward Click To Tweet

If you can relate to fearing change, acknowledge it. Share your fear with a trusted friend. Ask for prayer to release your fear and move into trust. Focus on the promise that God maintains sovereign control over you and your life. Remind yourself, “If God is for me, who can stand against me?” Hurt may come, but no lasting harm will enter the lives of those who belong to Jesus. He will take every pitfall, detour, backslide, mistake and hiccup and use it for our good and His glory along the way.

You have one life to live. At this time next year, you want to look back and … and what? What would you like to see more of in your character, your lifestyle, your walk with Jesus? When you die, what do you want to know you have done no matter what? Free yourself to dream. Don’t hem yourself in with thoughts like, “That won’t work,” or “We can’t afford that,” or anything else related to the details. Imagine all the resources in the world at your fingertips. Realize your loving Father in heaven smiles on you as you dream. You can put feet to your dreams in due time. Start cutting out aspects of your life that don’t align with your vision. Bring in new habits and activities that do.

God said it, “Without vision, the people perish.”

Go ahead, dream.


 

PattyHeadshotPatty is the home-educating mom of two precocious boys. This Midwest girl fell in love with a surfer and made California her home when she married him in 1997. Patty has been blogging about life, parenting and her walk with Jesus since 2013. Helping other women and families as they grow in grace and love is the passion of Patty’s heart and the mission of her life. She loves speaking to groups and investing in women through mentoring relationships. Patty happens to have her Masters in Marriage and Family counseling. She can often be found on her knees in the garden, walking in nature, lying on the couch with a good book or sitting with friends sipping hot tea.  Patty blogs at Hearts Homeward, where you will find honest, transparent sharing along with practical, encouraging support. You can also find Patty on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

56 In Featured Guests/ Reviews & Giveaways

2015 Is All But A Memory // Featured Guest – Diana Rockwell & Bible Journal Giveaway!

2016As a child, I tried my best to stay up until midnight to sing Auld Lang Syne with my parents as they played cards with my uncle and aunt. As an adult, my husband and I would play cards with our friends watching the ball drop at New York Times Square. Several years held formal parties where memories of Auld Lang Syne played in the background, kisses with your husband and a formal toast to the New Year. What are your plans for the New Years? Family gathering, a special party, a cozy time in front of the television with popcorn watching the ball drop at New York Times Square, or trying to stay awake until midnight?

Now 2015 is all but a memory. What were the highlights of your year?

In 2015, I celebrated ten-years of employment, my brother and I joined my father to celebrate his 90th birthday with 100 family and friends, and I met a precious friend that I knew on-line first, and of course spent Christmas with my children and grandchildren.

As the New Year approaches how many of you make New Year’s Resolutions? Searching the Internet on 2016 resolutions, some of the top ones are to lose weight, quit smoking, join or use the gym, exercise, manage debt, drink less, give up caffeine, learn something new, learn a language and on the list goes. I did not see any that were to grow closer to God.

hope3The last few years instead of choosing a resolution or a goal, many chose a word to guide the year. My first word was ‘thrive’. I felt the Lord impress on me that I needed to do more than just live, I needed to thrive. That word enabled me to tackle my weight problem. Words that have been chosen by others are hope, joy, boldly courageous, healing, trust, and faithful. Beloved, are any of these your words to shape your 2016? All you do is ask the Lord for the word He would like you to concentrate on in 2016 and He will answer you. The word I have chosen for 2016 is “hope”. To find out why I chose this word, click here.

My prayer for all of us in 2016 is to grow closer to God. I don’t normally sign up for things but I signed up for a challenge from my friend Stacey Lowe #Write365. It starts on January 1 to write a few minutes every day. Writing a few minutes a day will clear your mind. I will use my time to write my prayers. Also, some are taking a picture a day.

Many read through the Bible in the year. If you would like to read through God’s word in 2016, I would encourage you to get a daily bible that has reading portions in the New and Old Testaments . Wendy Pope has a Walking Women through the Word and she uses a Chronological Bible. Becky Tirabassi has a Change Your Life Bible and Journal. You do not have to buy a bible, there are many reading plans listed in the internet. There is a community of women who have journal bibles that will draw or journal their way through the bible this year.

Beloved, God’s love is unconditional. Each one of us has a fresh clean slate every day not just New Year’s Day.

We are each given a fresh, clean slate every day, not just New Year's Day. @Diana2Rockwell Click To Tweet

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3: 22-23)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13)

What is God asking you to do this year?

*Be sure to scroll down to enter the giveaway!

Diana_AboutPicDiana Rockwell lives in Ramona, California. She is a daughter of the King of Kings, wife to Doug, mom to Randy and Dale, mother-in-law to Ray Ann and JoAnna and Grandma to her six beautiful grandchildren. She is a nurse and loves to write and sew. She has had the pleasure of taking two mission trips — one to Israel and one to Hungary. She suffers from chronic pain but knows that God’s grace is sufficient to meet her needs.  Diana volunteers for Love God Greatly and Proverbs 31 Ministries is is the Prayer Administrator for Dr. Michelle Bengtson.  She writes most every day (as the Holy Spirit leads) at her blog.  You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

The Giveaway

BibleGiveawayDiana has a big heart is to see the women of God growing in the Word of God. She is graciously giving away an ESV Single Column Journal Bible and a Bible Marking Kit to TWO (2) winners!  To enter the giveaway, just follow the prompts on the giveaway widget below. Giveaway is open to those in the U.S. and Canada.  The giveaway will end at 9PM (Pacific Time) on Wednesday, January 6th.

 ESV Journaling Bible / Bible Marking Kit