Monday, December 30, 2013

So...A Lawyer, Two Counselors, and a College Student Board a Plane for Haiti....

It's no joke, people.  It's the entourage who will be making a life-changing trip to Haiti in a few days.  The four of us, (all from Grace Community Church) are getting on a jet plane at 6:00 a.m. on January 9th (for those of you who know me well, you know this is NOT an ideal flight time for me - lol).  My girl, Madi (the college student) is going with me (the lawyer), as is my bestie (the counselor) and another friend (the second counselor).  This intrepid group of women, will be sporting our work boots and dungarees in an effort to bring clean water and The Living Water to the dear people of Haiti. 

We will be traveling and working with Strategic Water Teams and  Shoeman Water Projects.  Our main job will be the installation of water purification systems, but we will also be working a day or so in an orphanage and another day or two at a school.  We covet your prayers for us all as we prepare for the trip, go and work our tails off, and return home after 10 days.

Those prayers of yours? TRULY PRICELESS.  However, the trip itself has a price tag. Although we have raised the bulk of the needed funds to get us to Tabarre, Haiti, we still require a few hundred dollars for our time in-country.  Will you please consider helping us?  

 (Don't those sweet faces just MELT your heart?!)

Did you know the average Haitian does not have access to clean water?  Isn’t that crazy for an island? Sure, Haiti is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, but there’s almost nothing in the way of clean, drinkable water.  Even so, a trip to the ocean is way beyond the means of the typical Haitian.  The World Bank describes the Haitian crisis as follows:

"Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest countries in the developing world. Its per capita income — $250 — is considerably less than one-tenth the Latin American average. About 80 percent of the rural Haitian population lives in poverty. Moreover, far from improving, the poverty situation in Haiti has been deteriorating over the past decade, concomitant with a rate of decline in per capita GNP of 5.2 percent a year over the 1985-95 period.
The staggering level of poverty in Haiti is associated with a profile of social indicators that is also shocking. Life expectancy is only 57 years compared with the Latin American average of 69. Less than half of the population is literate. Only about one child in five of secondary-school age actually attends secondary school. Health conditions are similarly poor; vaccination coverage for children, for example, is only about 25 percent. Only about one-fourth of the population has access to safe water. (Emphasis added by yours truly).  In short, the overwhelming majority of the Haitian population is living in deplorable conditions of extreme poverty. In the face of this daunting reality, Haiti's population continues to grow at a high rate estimated at almost 200,000 people per year.”  (See
Moreover, the infant mortality rate is 57 infant deaths before age 1 per 1,000 live births in 2012, compared to 6 in 1,000 here in the United States.  (See" 
The purification system - so simple!

Another less-obvious-to-the-outside-world result of the extreme poverty in Haiti is the trafficking of Haitian children, a topic near and dear to my heart.  According to an article in The Guardian, on September 22, 2005, the sale of Haitian children into the Dominican Republic is a thriving trade, with the going rate for a Haitian child being 54.22 Pounds (the equivalent of $89.40 in today’s U.S. dollars)(See  Most are used for gang income (boys age 12 and under), domestic service (girls age 12 and under), agricultural or construction work (older boys), or in prostitution (girls over age 12). (See      

Am I the only one fired up about this exploitation of precious babies?  During a trip-preparation meeting, seasoned missionaries to Haiti with whom we are traveling relayed to us their firsthand experience of such child trafficking.  They told us of having discovered, while installing a water purification system in the “hill country”, a young girl of eight years who was the household servant to non-relatives, doing all the cooking, cleaning, and providing personal care for the elderly.  The girl’s parents are both dead.  Her closest living relative, an aunt who lived in the city, had sent her to live with these people, to earn her keep, so to speak.  The missionaries quickly learned the girl was highly intelligent, despite her not having any schooling.  They enlisted the help of a respected pastor who negotiated the girl’s release which now allows her to reside at an orphanage and attend school.  Her “captors” told the pastor they wouldn’t have any trouble replacing the girl, as there are many children out there in similar circumstances whom they can “buy”.  This account makes me cry!  And, unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon at all. 

(Conducting school in a tent . . . can you even imagine??)

So . . . here I am asking you to pray, first and foremost.  Secondly, for those who are so inclined, I'm asking you to write a check for clean water . . . and so much more.  Please?  

Checks should be made out to Grace Community Church with “Haiti Mission Trip” written on the memo line, and mailed to Grace Community Church, 14769 N. Hwy Rt. 37, Mt. Vernon, IL 62893. 

Thank you!


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sometimes, Church Doctrine Just Plain Hurts...But Jesus Never Does.

SOMETIMES, CHURCH DOCTRINE JUST PLAINS HURTS...There, I've said it.  And probably ruffled a few feathers already.  My confidence shored up by this quote from Anne Lamott, one of my favorite Christian authors: "You own everything that happened to you.  Tell your stories.  If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better," I continue this post . . .   

(Disclaimer:  Any references to the Church in this post are not specific to the pretty church pictured above.)

In an earlier post, I revealed that God has led me to get involved in the fight against the modern-day human trafficking trade, and particularly against the sex trade whose targets are, by and large, women and children.  As you may recall, the Exodus Road and International Justice Mission are two organizations close to my heart.  However, I have yet to pen a post on behalf of either.  Why?  I've asked myself that very question.  Over a month ago, on November 10th to be exact, the Holy Spirit answered by giving me the content for today's post.  I confess, I've been dragging my feet, letting the "people pleaser" in me rule.  But, alas, I drag the feet no longer.  After all, I have been called to live out Micah 6:8 . . . to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God.  And, today, I must speak about the phenomenon I shall call "sex slavery within the Church."  I am further spurred on by this prayer set forth in the Book of Common Prayer for Ordinary Radicals on November 6th:  "Lord, show us when the enemy we fear is to be found working in ourselves.  Equip us, then, with the sword of your truth and the shield of faith that we might stand our ground in this place where you have called us to dwell together in unity.  Amen."

I grew up in a not-really-religious-but-we-went-to-church-every-Sunday-because-Grandma-expected-us-to kind of family.  That being said, I am ever so grateful for my mother's faithfulness of getting her kids there, and infinitely grateful for the love of Christ I experienced in my little church.  My childhood church family loved us all, and treated us all - girls and boys - as individuals who could accomplish anything and be beholden to no one but Christ.  Then, I grew up and some of the things I saw in the Church just plain hurt - the stomach-churning, self-worth questioning which turns to self-harm kind of hurt.  Here's what I saw and noone would admit was/is happening.  I was there; I know what I know and I cannot now un-know it.

(Insert here a deep breath & a quick prayer for boldness.)  I witnessed sex slavery taking place within the Church.  It continues today.  This servitude starts with a warped doctrine of biblical "submission"; particularly wives (girlfriends) submitting to husbands (boyfriends).  It is denominational and grossly paternalistic.  Women are groomed to believe they are to serve men while men are groomed to believe they are entitled to anything they want from women.  The doctrine, many times unspoken and certainly unwritten, mandates that a wife's primary purpose is to bring pleasure to her man.  And for many men, sex is their paramount pleasure.  So, how does this play out?  In short, marital rape ensues.  Date rape ensues.  And how does it get to this point?  Well let me tell you what I have seen.  I've watched the process, though I didn't recognize it for what it truly is until years later. 

A boy grows up being indoctrinated by church leaders (pastors, deacons, leaders, teachers, etc.) to believe he is entitled to be sexually pleasured by his future wife.  These same leaders brainwash a girl that sexually pleasing her future husband is her duty if she is to be a "godly wife."  This pleasing the man means anytime, anywhere, any way he wants it.  These leaders are predominantly men, but sometimes they are women as well.  

People, when the woman is not consenting or truly agreeing to sex, this this is rape sanctioned and perpetuated by the Church.  Wives, or girlfriends ("It's okay to have sex, baby; then we will be married in God's eyes" - a lie told to many a young girl in love), become voiceless victims.  If a wife (especially one not raised under this particular doctrine) questions what is going on in her bedroom at the hands of her husband, she is belittled and told she needs to "just do it."  Then she questions herself - "What kind of wife am I?"  "What is wrong with me?"  "Why can't I just accept this?"  "Why can I not enjoy it?"  I can assure you that NO WAY is she EVER going to reach out to her "friends" in the Church again for help.

I've heard from more than one woman who has been pushed into sex by her man even though she was physically ill, with the flu or in bed with painful menstrual cramps.  Or made to fulfill her "obligation" to her man despite her being only days into recovery after major surgery, even after enduring an emergency c-section in order to birth a newborn for said man.  I've heard from more than one broken-spirited wife who has been awakened in the middle of the night with her husband on top of and inside her . . . with their other children sleeping in the same room.  And the man?  He truly sees nothing wrong with his demands.  He truly believes he is entitled to his woman's body regardless of her feelings, physical state.  Regardless of where they are or with whom they might be.  Am I the only one whose stomach churns at this entitled behavior??        

This twisted paternalistic doctrine is harming our women.  Though educated and smart, they are repeatedly told they are "less than" their men and demeaned if they dare to act otherwise.  This perpetuated belief is spiritually harming our men as well.  They are taught to be self-absorbed, prideful rapists which eventually leads to soul rot.  It's harming our children.  Boys are learning it's okay to disrespect girls/women and that they are entitled to a raised stature in the Church & sex from their wives, simply because they are males.  Girls are learning it's never okay to live up to their potential if it means they might "out-do" a boy (how shameful!).  They are learning their worth is to be based on their performance in the bedroom.  THIS DOCTRINE IS THE DIRECT OPPOSITE OF LOVING AS CHRIST LOVES HIS CHURCH.  It breaks my heart.  And it makes my stomach churn.  
Now the good news . . . THERE IS HOPE!  And that hope is Jesus.  Let's model our relationships on how Jesus lived, how He treated others, especially women.  Never did he belittle a woman.  Not once did He condemn a woman for her sinfulness (in fact, He turned the tables on the men seeking to condemn by asking them to look inward, and only if they were without sin were they to "cast the first stone" - John 8:7). 


Two days before the Holy Spirit placed this post on my heart, my 19-year-old beautiful daughter and I attended a Natalie Grant concert.  I've always loved her song Held.  The chorus  depicts our hope as women (and men) in Christ particularly well: "This is what it means to be held; How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life; And you survive.  This is what it is to be loved and to know; That the promise was when everything fell; We'd be held."

My friends, this love that holds is God's Love.  He gave us His Son to heal us through His love.  No matter what has happened to our bodies.  No matter what has happened to our emotions.  No matter what unspeakable pain we may have inflicted on the persons we most love. We are held. And empowered.  And emboldened to speak the truth in love.  And to change.  

My beautiful sisters (and brothers), we ARE held.  And beloved.  And set free by Jesus.  You are of incalculable worth.  Men, dare to love your wives and girlfriends like Jesus does, sacrificially and unselfishly.  I promise it will be worth it. 


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Through Surrender, I Am Free


I am broken, yet He says I am His and I am beautiful;
I lie and gossip, yet He gently corrects and forgives me;
I am prideful, yet He saves me from myself;
I run and run and run, yet He relentlessly pursues me.

I cry, He comforts;
I fight, He holds.

I surrender, I am free. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Now, Let Me Tell You Something About My Mother-in-law!

    On June 13, 2013, my dear Mother-in-Love (that's her from a fish-eye view - tee hee!) was whisked by ambulance to the local hospital’s emergency room.  She was bleeding internally; she had virtually no color to her skin and she was frighteningly weak.  The ER doctor, a childhood friend of mine, feared this sweet woman would die from the blood loss before they could replenish her supply.

    Through it all, however, Mother-in-Love kept her positive outlook and never ceased to entertain the staff at our local hospital, or her many visitors.  But, I could see the tiredness in her eyes.  Although she obviously loved talking to anyone who walked in her door and devising schemes to play Cupid (i.e., via a singles mixer/Bible study at her church’s nature campus), she really needed rest.  Rest from her illness and all the poking and sticking, and, most importantly, rest from her constant stream of thought.  She’s been learning the hard way how to stop moving and be still, how to take care of herself.  I can relate to this lesson as I, too, am still in the early stages of learning self-love and self-care.

    My dear husband was with his parents when his momma was first taken to the ER; the kids and I were out of town for the day.  That sweet man of mine held his dear momma’s hand throughout those first scary hours.  And, oh how she LOVED having his firm, yet soft, hand holding hers.  What a beautiful picture.  That man loves his momma dearly and God granted him a wonderful opportunity to show that love with one small, simple, yet profound, act.  And, really, does anything make a man sexier than seeing him loving on his momma?  Be still my heart!

    After ten days at the local hospital with no relief or real progress made, Mother-in-Love was transferred to the big city hospital in St. Louis.  Via a pink ambulance, to her delight!  They quickly determined she had developed a stromal tumor on her stomach lining that ulcerated , or burst, and also a cluster of bleeding ulcers.  Overall, she was given 16+ units of blood in less than two weeks’ time at the two hospitals. 

    Mother-in-Love came through surgery (to remove the tumor (benign)) last week with flying colors.  And her ulcers have healed.  Yay, God!  I look forward to hearing from her what the Holy Spirit has spoken and taught her these last few weeks.

    Although I do not believe God caused Mother-in-Love’s illness, He has been working the circumstances for good.  My heart has softened immeasurably toward her.  He’s blessed me with a couple of wonderful conversations with her.  The Lord has gifted me with glimpses into Mother-in-Love’s heart, into her fears.  He’s gifted me with the opportunity to serve her and love her through simple acts - folding laundry, filing her fingernails, brushing her hair.  For all of this, I am grateful. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

When God Calls

There's always a challenge in life, isn't there?   If you're a Christ-follower, the Spirit just will NOT let you stay the same person tomorrow as you are today.

My calling from God . . . it involves writing, whether it be my legal writing or my blog writing or whatever else God puts before me.   I'm a justice kind of girl (I'm sure that's no shock for you).  What I've seen in my legal career (i.e., domestic violence, rape, etc.) and having been made aware over the past year or so of the prevalence of the sex slave industry, the Spirit has really stirred up a fire in my belly, so to speak.  And, through some of my own experiences, I can relate at least on some level with these women who are systematically victimized.

I've discovered, personally, that I felt voiceless for many years, and still do to an extent.  Sounds strange for a lawyer to say, doesn't it?  But it's true, although AS A LAWYER, I have never felt voiceless.  The voicelessness has come in my being a woman.  My simply being born a female has been the basis for my feelings being ignored and my opinion and/or counsel disregarded over and over again.  And the biggest culprits?  Church doctrine and family.  You know that whole "a wife is to be submissive to her husband" instruction given by Paul?  They (by "they" I mean those adhering to this faulty doctrine, largely male adherents) have gleefully eaten it up.  However, they have totally managed to gloss over and ignore the significance of the man's role according to Paul, when he gave the flipside and admonished that "a husband is to love his wife AS CHRIST LOVES THE CHURCH, giving Himself up for her".  Really, what woman wouldn't be submissive to a husband like that?  Sadly what I've experienced and witnessed over & over again in the church is a flippant "baby, I love you" kind of love from our men, not a sacrificial love.  It's been a self-serving kind of love.  And if you're a woman in a church with this kind of doctrine who doesn't want to be branded a trouble-making Jezebel, you better tow the line and keep your mouth shut.  After all, you don't have a penis, which is apparently the only real criteria for being part of the elite, superior club.

I've cycled through many emotions here and, now with the Spirit's gentle guidance, I realize the faulty doctrine adherents haven't known any better.  Perhaps they should have, but ignorance is bliss, yes?  They've been spoonfed and ingested this doctrine.  Been groomed to believe and adhere to this "male superiority complex" from birth.  I MUST tell you that my dear husband is coming around; he's learning to look to Jesus for his cues rather than to other people.

Back to where I am in my calling. God has gifted me with a talent for writing (you may disagree with this, but please don't burst my bubble; just quit reading my posts - lol).  And He's given me a love for women and showing them that God loves them and His grace covers over EVERYTHING, all their brokenness, all their screw-ups, all their bad decisions.  How I love to see a woman empowered!  To see her find that she is worthwhile!  That's how Jesus saw women back when He physically took on a man's skin.  HE GAVE THEM THEIR VOICES!  Think back to the woman at the well (a Samaritan even!), the woman with the bleeding disorder (unclean!), and Mary Magdalene (whore!).  Jesus tells us to look after the widow and the orphan, yes?  Who is the widow anyway?  In my humble opinion, she is the woman without a protector or provider - whether due to death or divorce or whatever.  Jesus doesn't tell us to use them or to abuse them to satisfy our own sick appetites.  He tells us to love and protect them.

For those of you who don't know, my law practice consists mainly of adoptions (DCFS & private agency, private individuals), guardianships (kids as well as disabled adults), and guardian ad litem court appointments (advocating on behalf of the child's or disabled adult's best interests).  I am in my element here.  And so very grateful God has given me this work.  This is the easy part of my calling.

Recently, I stepped out of my comfort zone a bit and have signed on with an organization called Exodus Road as a blogger to get the word out about sex trafficking.  ER trains & sends in covert teams to brothels and the like to expose sex slave operations, mostly in third world countries, but also in the U.S. and other major world players.  I'm also getting involved soon with International Justice Mission.  This organization is mostly focused on the plight of trafficked women and children here in the U.S.

The Spirit has really been working on me the last couple years, convincing He has plans to use me, though not in the ways I thought for so many years were my destiny.  In obedience, I am to write about my own experiences, in whatever circumstances I have experienced them.  God is always good even though He is not safe (thank you C.S. Lewis & Narnia).  He's already shown me glimpses of how my struggles and my faith walk encourages other women.  My ongoing prayer is that the words I write will not harm, though they may sting and even hurt at times, that they will encourage those reading them and be a balm to their brokenness.  And I know He will heal my hurts along the way as well .


Monday, May 27, 2013

Loss v. Gain (Warning . . . long post ahead!)

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it." - Malachi 3:10 (NIV)

I entered my 43rd year a couple months ago.  I know that must come as a shock to you since I don't look a day over 30.  Right?!  Yeah, Will doesn't buy it either.  Must be that deeply grooved worry line carved from the furrowing of my brow.  

I've got to be honest, the past year and a half have been soooooo hard for this girl.  I’ve internalized a lot & my stomach and my head have repeatedly rebelled.  I’ve been exhausted, overwhelmed, and at the end of my rope.  Yet, it's been FILLED with the miraculous.  And I now know without doubt God is good, even when our finite minds and hearts think & feel otherwise.  In the words of my best friend & mentor, "He never wastes our pain."

Come back with me in time a bit.  Mid-December 2011, I asked God to give me a word or words for a spiritual discipline and/or character trait He wanted me to work on in the coming year (first time I’d EVER done that, but it sounded so “spiritual” so I gave it a whirl).  Well, at the end of 2011, His given word appeared to me . . .  SIMPLIFY - simplify my life and the life of my family.  Simplify!  I'll tell you, my first thought was how in the world does He expect me to "do" this gig? At the time, I was gearing up for a very busy 2012 with my political race for State's Attorney, running my law office in Mt. Vernon, leading a ladies small group, raising three kids, and  learning to unconditionally  love my  husband, among other things. And God wanted me to simplify?  Seriously??  Yes, seriously.  But, prayer works and God is in His Heaven and the Spirit will make us look smart if we will just listen to His counsel.   And the blessings that followed?  Amazing.  I gained immeasurably more than I lost.

Begin February 2012.  My campaign was looking good; I had great party support and had come out well on my first two fundraisers.  Then comes mid-February and so too God's mighty hand of mercy.  If you've read my earliest blog entries, you'll remember this as the timeframe in which I quit the State's Attorney's race at the behest of a prophetic dream.  After a helluva struggle with the Holy Spirit, I quit.  I wept, I wailed, I wallowed at the "loss" of "my dream."  But I did it.  I obeyed...(albeit reluctantly & with much gnashing of teeth.)

Let's get reeeeeally truthful here.  Going into 2012, there were a lot of realities in my life that were really difficult.  I was working my ass off (yet gaining weight by leaps & bounds, how does that even happen?!) at the office but wasn't bringing home much cash.  My youngest child (5th grade) was acting out BIG TIME - at school, at church, at home, anywhere & everywhere.  My oldest child was attending a different church than the rest of the family & was exhibiting her own special teenage angsty sullenness.  My middle child was, well, a middle child...seeking whatever attention he could get.  And my marriage? We really didn't like each other.  We grumbled, we griped, we yelled, we slammed doors, and we went silent with one another.  We went to a Christian marriage counselor with a P-h-freakin'-D.  And we still didn't like each other.  (Enter here the strains of "Gloom, despair, and agony on me; deep, dark depression, excessive misery ...").

On Friday, April 13th, our house was burglarized.  Gone was our flat screen, a laptop computer, a jar of change, our stereo system (swoon pitifully, "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all . . . "), and 2/3 of MY JEWELRY (and bring it down with, "gloom, despair, and agony on me.").  Now, I've never had fancy, expensive jewelry - no $10,000 pieces or anything.  Still, why was it mostly MY stuff that was taken?  I loved my jewelry!

A couple weeks after the burglary, the same sweet friend who brought me the prophetic dream in February, brought me not-so-happy news about one of our kids, the “perfect” one who had never done anything worthy of even being grounded.  Naughty behavior, unrepentant, not the behavior "expected" of a raised-in-church-youth-group-leader kid.  This soul-sister again came obediently to me bearing bad news, after another friend passed along the news to her, knowing my husband & I would want to know what was going on behind closed doors yet not knowing how to tell us.  Hubby was  in shock at the news.  Disbelief.  Puddles of tears.  Finally, I’ve had to ask myself - how dare I ever expect perfection from my children?  Perfection simply does not exist. In fact, I’m a perfect example of imperfection.  Every.  Day.  Of.  My.  Life.

In early May, I began to catch on to what God meant - SIMPLIFY.  I went with some girlfriends to see the movie Blue Like Jazz, which was based on the book of the same name by Donald Miller.  We had been studying it in our small group for quite some time.  In the movie, Penny, one of the main characters, has taken a pledge of not buying anything new for one year as her way of (1) personally protesting materialism & consumerism and (2) saving money to send to needy children and for her to travel to work with said needy children.  I like to call this the “Penny Challenge.”  Now, I had read the book about twelve times before seeing the movie (can you tell it’s one of my absolute faves?).

The Penny Challenge was no surprise to me.  But, when I walked out of that theater, I had been convicted by the Holy Spirit.  No longer did I care that a few thousand dollars of my jewelry was gone.  Nor did I have any desire now to replace that jewelry.  Nor did it matter if I drove a new car or wore new clothes all the time.  Nor did I feel the need to own 70 pairs of shoes (yes, I’ve owned that many at one time before).  I had been convicted of my excess, convicted that I was using “stuff” to fill the God-shaped hole inside me instead of seeking the real thing - GOD.  So, what did I do with that?  Well, by this time I had learned that when the Spirit says “do it”, my interests are best served by my DOING IT.  And the quicker the better.  I reminded myself obedience is a good thing & I took the Penny Challenge. Now came the hard part.  I had gained a ridiculous amount of weight & nothing fit.  Really, it was the onset of summer & I had a closet and drawers full of cute clothes and nothing fit.  And I’ve just committed not to buy anything new to wear??  Can you spell C-R-A-Z-Y?!  Let’s just say, resale shops became my friend.  Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to give up the awesome high of new duds from J.Jill and the sales at Macy’s.  I won’t lie & tell you I didn’t backslide either & go a lil overboard on vacation.  However, I learned that God didn’t let me go naked.  Instead, He taught me a valuable lesson, lessons really.  He taught me I’m not a princess. That I’m not “too good” to wear Goodwill hand-me-downs.  That more toys don’t bring more joy.  And He also made me aware of how materialism had become such a stronghold in my life.  And the joy of giving all those outgrown clothes in my closet away was priceless - no garage sales.  Soon, I was cleaning out closets & under beds & giving, giving, giving away whatever I didn’t need.  Out the door went furniture & dishes & cookware & shoes & shoes & more shoes.  FREEDOM from STUFF!!  

Ah, yes, “SIMPLIFY” was definitely the word God had whispered to me only a few months before. 

Then, around the end of May, around our 20th anniversary on the 30th, after a really, really, really bad couple of weeks in our marriage, the truly miraculous happened.  We gave counseling another try, this time with my best friend as the counselor.  Yes, she’s a “real” counselor.  But always before, she had REFUSED to “touch our marriage with a 10-foot pole.”  Her words exactly.  Add to that the fact that my husband wasn’t real keen on the time I spent with this friend & to say he resented her . . . well, that’s an understatement.  Yet, when he got honest, he really liked her.  I digress.  My friend & I were driving; I had just picked her up for lunch.  She looked at me & matter-of-factly told me (through tears, of course; she's such a sap!) that the Holy Spirit had been working on her and clearly told her that she was to offer to counsel us. Not for money.  FOR LOVE. After I picked my jaw off the floorboard, I began counting the ways hubs would never go for it.  She said “just ask him.”  So I did.  And he agreed.  Holy.  Cow.  I NEVER saw that coming!  But God had a plan.  Boy, did He ever!

I’m telling you - the summer of 2012 was a dream come true in our marriage.  We fell in love all over again.  Sappy with a capital S!  God gave me the ability & the WANT-TO to speak my husband’s love language (Physical Touch, aka sex, let’s be honest here) and He gave my husband the ability & WANT-TO to speak my love language (Words of Affirmation – wow, that man can write awesome love texts (because we ALL know nobody writes letters anymore)).  Now, is our marriage all hearts & flowers? Chocolates  & roses?  Hmmmm, not so much.  But I have August 14, 2012 at 9:00 p.m. engraved in my heart as the date & time on which our marriage was healed.  The summer ended & the kids went back to school, the winter got long.  Real life happened.  The scars remain and sometimes we pick at the scabs & make them bleed.  But, we’re good.  Really good.  And we’re getting better all the time.  Even when it doesn’t feel like it.  And God’s got some mega plans for us!

Summer turned to Fall, the Spirit kept me on task (for the most part, when I didn’t let ADD take over).  I was simplifying not only at home, but also in my work.  I went employee-free, set up my office at home, and put my office building up for sale (sidenote:  feel free to share that tidbit with anyone you know who might be looking for a FAB office building).  I threw caution to the wind and only took cases AFTER I cleared them with the Holy Spirit, something I had been too afraid to do before as I was convinced my family would starve if I didn’t take whatever work came my way (i.e. ugly divorce & custody cases - ICK!).  And know what?  I have never been more fulfilled with my work.  God is so much smarter than I am.  And He seemed to honor my obedience in setting up my office at home by giving me a veritable deluge of new cases! God's grace never ceases to amaze me!

It gets better!  On September 2, 2012, my youngest child, Matt, made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ.  He was baptized in our pond on October 7, 2012, by my dear friend and ordained minister, Sister Paula Clare.   Woo hoo!  Yay God! 

Funny how back in February, I had assumed that since being in a political office was my dream for so long, it must mean it was also God's will for me.  How could I have been so self-consumed to assume I knew God’s will, especially since I really hadn’t consulted Him?  And did He smite me?  No, He gave me Grace.  Over & over & over again (as in infinitum).  I am so grateful He didn’t give me what I wanted.  Instead He gave me what I needed.  And what my family needed.

Now, what “treasures” did I "lose" from giving up this dream?  A lot of pride, selfish ambition, and self-aggrandizement.  Fear of what others thought & pharisaical expectations of my children (especially the girl).  Ugly cases (aka, divorce & custody representation) and searching for my self-worth in what I had (“stuff”) & what I did (“success”).  

And what did I gain?  The realization that I still love my husband and that he still loves me (I’m talking a deep, enduring love, people).  Trust in God.  Awareness of the Holy Spirit being with me ALL THE TIME.  A front row seat to the miraculous.  An amazing prayer posse (now those sistas can pray!).  A love of thrift shopping (who knew?!).  Great clients & great cases (adoptions & guardianships are the bomb-diggity I tell you).  A son who now loves school (ok, maybe "love" is too strong a word - he doesn’t hate school & he even occasionally makes the honor roll).  Another son who doesn’t feel compelled to pick-pick-pick at his siblings all the time just to get attention.  A daughter who is finding her very own faith in God.  And did I already tell you . . . a penchant for physical touch?!

So . . . here we are, well into 2013.  And the words He’s given me to walk out this year?  He gave me two biggies: first, “BE”; and second, “SELF-CARE.”   I’ll let you know how it’s going next time we meet here on this little piece of blogdom.

God bless!