When you read the word vandalism, what image did you first think about?
The image of someone spray painting a fence or throwing a rock through a window?
Our current climate in the downtown part of Portland has been vandalized over and over.
The definition of vandalism is:
willful destruction with malicious intent, to do harm or destroy;
OR willful or ignorant destruction of artistic or literary treasures.
It’s been very sad to see the violence lately.
When our Pastor spoke about this one Sunday many years ago, it provoked a lot of thought in me. (imagine that!)
The word vandalism brings to our minds many images.
We would never take a spray paint can and destroy someone else’s property.
Yet I challenge us to think of this in a different way.
In this political climate when we talk bad about someone.
When we choose to hear a rumor and believe it, and maybe even spread it more without knowing facts.
When the words we say become less in line with the truth.
We are committing vandalism of the heart.
Fragmenting the heart and reputation of one another.
We do not have the right to do that anymore than the ‘violators’ who vandalize Portland.
It is like we are committing a homicide of the heart. It is death to someone sacred.
It creates death to a relationship, and places a judgement on someone else’s character.
The willful destruction, is when we choose to spread the rumor, or believe the untruth.
The malicious intent, is when we choose to say harmful or unkind things about someone.
With the intention of doing harm. It hurts us, as well as the one we are talking about.
So in this journey called life, we must be careful with our words, our thoughts, our actions and our intentions.
God has given us all, if we follow him, a discerning truth.
If we read the word, if we take caution in our motives, and if we listen to our heart.
We will be truthful to ourselves and those around us.
The challenge today, is for all of us to examine our lives and see if there is anything hurtful we choose to do.
Let this be our prayer:
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, Oh Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
Lord God, help us to redeem our words towards one another and be kind.
“And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, Just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:2
When you read the word vandalism I hope you see it more clearly now
When you read the word vandalism, what image did you first think about?
Rest for your soul.
As he was teaching, Jesus said, “unless you come to me as a child, you cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven”.
We know he did not mean ‘be born again’ by your mother. That’s impossible.
He meant, come to me…with ‘Freedom of heart’… Freedom from rules…Freedom from fear, with a child like spirit, spontaneous…with joy and excitement.
Come to me with innocence and a desire to learn.
Have you ever seen a child so joyful and so excited; they could not contain the feelings within them?
You say to them ‘calm down’ and they know they can’t. It is so exciting, and so wonderful.
They are in the moment. They share the joy with you not caring, who is watching or listening.
Jesus says to us, “come to me as a child”.
Who would not run to their Father especially if he was a safe person?
He wants freedom for us. He wants us to rush into His arms.
As a child who needs a protector. As a child who SO misses his or her daddy.
“Abba Father I have missed you. Please hold me as I rest in your arms.”
Would you run towards a God who is pleading for you to come, or would you run away?
I guess it would depend on your experience with your earthly father.
We know the days have been hard and the fatigue is surrounding us.
Jesus says, “come to me everyone; who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest”.
He is not talking about sleep for a weary body. He is talking about rest for your soul.
Rest for a heart ravaged by life.
Rest for a soul so beaten down by adult responsibilities and duties.
Rest for a soul that is tired.
“Come to me. I can give you the rest you need. I am able to fill your heart with so much. Your needs will be met.”
Is your heart longing for the God who loves you?
I pray you will soon find.
Rest for your soul.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 NIV
Strong words coming from the Lord.
Whenever an angel would see someone, the first thing they would say to them was; “do not fear.”
The angel said it to Mary, then Joseph, and many others.
Knowing we are not alone is a wonderful promise.
For I am with you. A comforting message. I am here. I will not let you face your circumstance alone.
Do not be dismayed. That is not a word we use often so I was curious of it’s meaning.
Looking up that word it means, [to break down the courage; dishearten thoroughly;]
[sudden or complete loss of courage; utter disheartenment.] sudden disillusionment.
So He is saying, don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I see the whole picture.
Even when you don’t know the outcome of what is in your life, I am with you.
I will strengthen you and help you.
What a promise and a peaceful message.
We don’t have to rely on ourselves we can trust in the process.
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Again we are not left alone. He holds onto us. Leading us as we follow his way.
It’s such a good word for us especially now in this climate we live in.
The world and it’s craziness.
Do not fear…three powerful words. Strong words.
Perfect love casts out fear.
Trust softens fear.
Fear can cripple us and stop us from growing and moving forward.
When we feel strengthened we feel empowered and ready for the next steps.
I really like this verse.
It speaks of hope, and relationship and caring and compassion.
It assures us that God the almighty is for us and with us.
So do not fear, for I am with you.
Today is October 1st and fall is officially here.
It’s hard to believe we are in the fall season already.
I love the fall.
It is my favorite time of year, (other than those nasty spiders).
I am not into Halloween, but I do enjoy the festive decorating, using fake leaves and pretty table cloths.
Historically this was the month I would always get sick.
Every year I would get bronchitis or other breathing issues that included a cough.
It finally went away and that season for me has changed.
Last Christmas I had a nasty ‘something’ that was right before my surgery.
I thought it was pneumonia but it went away and they did give me antibiotic during my surgery.
The bug was gone after I woke up so they must have taken care of it with a variety of meds.
Fall is so beautiful, the colors are radiant and bright.
I love the crispy air and the need for sweaters and boots.It has been a very strange year with all that has gone on.
I pray the coming year will be different.
Better perhaps? more hopeful?
None of us would know the intensity of 2020.
It’s a good thing we are resilient people.
There has been so much tragedy, so much hard stuff, so many with major illnesses.
We must also not forget we are in the middle of a very intense political season.
It is polarizing and sad, that opinions are strong and words are spoken.
I will never let politics get in the way of my relationships with people.
My friends and family are way more important than making my point clear.
I know the direction I am going in this election.
God is ultimately in control and HE will ordain the rulers of the land.
Today is October 1st and fall is officially here.
The week is closing soon.
I welcome a short time away from the same old boring routine.
Soon we are heading to the beach where my heart is always longing.
Oregon beaches are often cold.
The winds can snap right past your face and chill you deep within.
They can also be sunny and beautiful and warm.
You don’t know what your weather will be so you prepare.
Walks in the sand are therapeutic to the body and the soul.
I used to think we could live at the coast, but after going there weekly for a few years,
we have changed our minds.
It is way better to visit and then go home.
When we went to Hawaii, that was different because it was warm and tropical and the water
is not cold.
Oregon water is very chilly and you really can’t stay in it very long.
Those who do dare to go wake boarding usually use water suits for protection.
There are a few spots around the coastline where they ride the surf.
The most relaxing thing is to sit and listen to the waves as they move back and forth.
If you are lucky you will hear seagulls and other birds sometimes.
We have seen pelicans fly over the surf looking for fish.
It really is relaxing.
The fall storms are coming and the force of nature will show itself in a mighty way.
So nice to watch unless you have to be in it.
I personally like a window between me and the rush of wind.
If one is lucky a fire in a fireplace would be a nice addition to this ‘visit’.
The ocean and it’s sand is always a call to my heart.
It is peace and even though it can be very dangerous, it can also be very healing.
The week is closing soon and it will allow time for reflection and thought.
The hard stuff continues and these last few weeks, our area has been surrounded by fires.
You cannot imagine the anxiety it felt like when looking out the window and seeing the sky a deep red.
Fires moving across hundred of acres.
The sky is full of smoke and particles of small hazardous air to breathe.
It has been scary, overwhelming and horrendous to watch our state burn.
When it felt like this year couldn’t get much worse, then this happened.
Soon they are predicting rain and Lord we do need it.
I pray it comes soon to clear the air, clear the skies, stop the fires.
Firefighters have worked long hard shifts.
It’s not easy to fight a forest fire and we have had cities burned to the ground.
At this count I think there have been 10 people killed and a few not found.
Wild life has been deeply effected and you can imagine their fear when the familiar is burning.
People have come together and created safe zones for farm animals.
People have come together to feed the workers or those who are displaced with no homes.
It is a time to come together and help each other.
The protests we have had downtown is becoming old news, this is more important right now.
I pray often for our firefighters, our police officers and any one who is serving in that role.
This has been rough for them.
Our house is safe although we were in a level 2 evacuation zone.
That means at a moment’s notice you can move to a level 3 which means “leave now”.
This has been the strangest year, I am so ready for something fresh and new.
It will feel better when the rains come and the sky returns to normal.
The hard stuff continues and these last few weeks have been really hard.
Life is hard sometimes and it seems lately it’s become harder.
Having Covid show up didn’t make it easy or nice for sure.
Isolation and staying in can be good for a season, but we have been doing this for many months now.
Many people are tired of wearing masks and following the rules that change daily.
We have purchased our share of hand sanitizers and masks.
I have not yet ventured into the hair salon and going to the doctor’s office scares me because of the germ factor.
Since I am still recovering as a cancer patient and even though I finished radiation in March, they still consider me immune compromised.
As a introvert by nature staying home is not hard for me; although I really miss seeing my family and friends.
Have not seen my best friend in almost a year and I really miss her.
She is immune compromised too with leukemia issues and has to be very careful with germs.
The doctors don’t know what to say to her other than to keep doing whatever she is doing. Her system is holding steady and they don’t know why. We do, there are a lot of prayers for her and she’s staying strong.
Then another ‘friend’ who worked with me for over eight years was just diagnosed with lung cancer in March and is already on hospice.
We hear these stories and we wonder why.
He IS a God of miracles, but sometimes this stuff is so hard and sometimes it is not fair.
Life hands us these things and what are we to do? How do we pray?
For healing or comfort or wisdom for the doctors?
It has been a very difficult year for sure.
I know others who are struggling with life and death issues and it is hard to understand and hard to figure out.
We just have to walk this journey and do our best and pray.
Life is hard sometimes and it seems lately it has become harder.
A review of the basket of words, brings me to remember the reason why I wrote them at this time.
I was given the basket and it sat in my den for many years.
One day I started thinking about how it could be shared and how it could be a blessing for others.
The goal in writing this series was to not only be a blessing; but give the reader something to think about.
I chose the words carefully and prayed about how to share them.
The series was done in 2014 but not many have ever read it, and this time I revised some of the writings.
I began with the word courage, then willingness, then trust, then tenderness, then power, then balance, then change, then compassion, then rest, then healing, then play, then beauty and delight, then peace and light and finally, power and forgiveness.
I didn’t realize the word power was used two times, but when speaking about surviving abuse and trauma, there is a lot of power to overcome.
It was perfectly ok to use it two times.
As I have healed from my own journey, God has shown me that the experiences and the story can be shared.
It doesn’t have a hold on me anymore.
The story is important. The journey defines me.
The coming out of hard and dark places can bring hope to others.
To know that someone else has walked this path of brokenness; can give life to others just beginning their recovery.
I have sat with those who were hurt. I have listened to the tears.
I have heard stories that were hard to hear; but it’s a survivors truth of what happened and how it affected them.
I pray this sharing has been meaningful, for it is a gift to be there with others as they share matters of the heart.
A review of the basket of words make me realize how very important they are to me and my healing.
The final two words in the basket of words.
I have chosen these to be power and forgiveness.
When trauma takes place in any situation there is a ‘power’ that rises from the offender to the victim.
It is dark and controlling and very damaging.
When I think of that kind of power it’s feels heavy and hopeless.
When survivors begin to heal they begin to take back the power.
Boundaries begin to replace obligation.
The silent one becomes vocal and the rules change.
The word power is mentioned in the bible 256 times.
When I think of biblical power I’m remembering creation.
God through HIS power created all.
Then I remember when Jesus told the winds and the water to calm down.
Power can be negative or positive depending on the circumstance.
When a survivor begins to heal, they begin to realize that holding onto the pain and hurt only hurts them, it does not affect the offender.
What is taught in recovery, is “the only way out is through.”
When a survivor begins to heal they realize they ‘have’ the power within themselves to say, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” Genesis 50:20
A healed survivor can help heal others.
They begin to realize the pain is not permanent. Yes it leaves scars.
But scars tell our story.
Only when the trauma survivor begins to realize; giving up the right to hurt those who hurt you, is the most powerful thing you can do.
Forgiveness then becomes the next step.
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it. proverbs 3:27
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline (or a sound mind). 2 Timothy 1:7
Forgiveness is not saying it was all ok and it didn’t hurt me.
What was said, was hurtful. What took place should never have happened.
It is a very important part of healing and the forgiveness does not have to be in person; it can be as simple as a prayer.
When a survivor can say, it was ugly. It was horrible.
But I choose to forgive because God has forgiven me. I cannot carry this anger any longer, I need to let it go.
It is not saying you understand their choice to offend.
*It is just freeing your heart to move on.* It is a gift to yourself.
In my process I had to forgive those who hurt me; so it didn’t have power over me anymore.
Dictionary.com says it is to cease to feel resentment.
Forgiveness is not for the offender, it is for the one who wants to heal and move on to a better way of living.
I pray this series has given hope and healing and maybe new insight.
The final two words in the basket of words are power and forgiveness.
The basket of words continue and the next two we are learning about are light and peace.
As the survivor from trauma begins to heal; the light begins to show them many areas that were once not clear.
Light illuminates, Light exposes.
When you turn a light on in a room that is dark, the contents are no longer a mystery, it is seen as it is.
Healing does that, it brings to light and shows the survivor all that was hidden and dark.
The bible talks about the word light 309 times.
YOUR word is a lamp unto my feet and light to my path.
Light arises in the darkness; He is gracious and compassionate and righteous.
The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. (the understanding is so important when healing is happening)
As the survivor begins to heal they begin to see the reality of the trauma as it was meant to destroy. All trauma is damaging.
Only when healing begins does the light and the calm begin to show up.
The next word is peace.
Such a powerful word because when someone is in a trauma situation there is nothing that looks like peace.
The bible talks about the word 353 times.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
As healing begins it is hard to understand how the story shifts and there is no longer a need to tell all.
I have seen survivors heal on such a deep level, when the light removes the darkness from them and the peace enters where anger once lived.
I have experience with this and it is powerful to see and watch.
The survivor can face each day with hope, and healing and that is such an amazing transformation for them.
I have heard a saying that says something about those who heal after intense hurt. They become the healers.
They become the ones walking alongside saying, “I know it’s hard YOU can make it.” They become the encouragers.
The basket of words continue as we learn about two more, we are almost done and I pray it has been a blessing.