“I knew about you, but…”

My most traumatic life experience has nothing to do with the abuse I’ve lived through, the amount of death that I have been surrounded by, or near death experiences I’ve had.
My most traumatic experience came in the form of a church play…

When I was younger (like, little kid young), my church did a show a couple of times called “Heaven’s Gates, and Hell’s Flames”.

When I was about 7, we did the play and my mom played a young mom who dies with her baby & faces judgement after having lived a “good” life, but not really committed to the gospel. My little sister played the baby.
Let me set a scene for you that has haunted me to this day.
One of my biggest fears, and actually quite a bit more traumatic for me than I ever realized:

A young woman and her baby are killed. She stands before the judgement seat & begins to think over her life. She knows of God & His Son, she has been a good person, but she’s never really sold out to Christ. Never been dedicated to the relationship or expansion of the Kingdom. Her name is not in the book of life. But, her baby has yet to be marred by the world & unable to make any decisions for herself.

So, the woman’s baby is taken from her to heaven; Then she cries, as she realizes where she’s going, and as she is dragged off to eternal damnation, she screams “I knew about you, but I never really knew you!”

– Reality Outreach Ministries, Inc.

This was my mom, and to this day, there are certain times when I still picture my baby sister being removed from her hands, her being dragged away, & her blood curdling scream comes into my head: I knew about you, but I never really knew you.

Just like the Pastor in the Left Behind movie who screams at God, “I stood right there!” pointing at the pulpit. Lamenting on how he had spoken the word of God each week but it hadn’t penetrated his heart.

Since I was 7 years old (there is a reason they recommend offering a place for kids 9 and under during the performance) and watched my sister be taken from my mom’s arms & my mom dragged away to the pit of hell – this has been one of my biggest fears.
For myself, for my family.

That we would know about Him, but not really know Him.

We know all the lingo, the words to the songs, we raise our hands in Worship.
But, it’s not enough…

Our hearts have to be filled with faith & our lives filled with action (James 1:14-26).
Lip service, pious tweets, & pretty Instagram pictures aren’t enough.

And, just like the young mom in the play; just like the pastor in Left Behind; God’s word says some people will look like they have it all together, like they are on their way to Heaven, but they will be turned away:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons  and perform miracles?’  Then I will say to them, ‘I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!'”

– Matthew 7:21-22

One of the biggest criticisms I’ve found online for this play (which still tours), is that it scares people into repentance; and it’s not true repentance. Along with this scare tactic people have complained about comes a lot of people who balk at a doctrine of hell, and eternal separation from God, calling it “unbiblical”
…Unfortunately they are wrong.

It’s clear from this passage, and others, that though God’s will is that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9; John 3:16-17; Ezekiel 33:11), some still will due to His loving design of free-will (Ezekiel 18:21-32; John 3:18; Romans 6:23; Revelation 20-21; 2 Thes 1:9).

So, I’ve been terrified at different points of my life…
how do I really know I’m saved…

Lucky for me, His word outlines that, as well:

  • I am saved if I: confess Jesus as Lord; believe in my heart that He has been raised up by God. Justified by belief in my heart & professed of faith with my mouth – Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:9-10,13) (Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32)
  • If I am saved, my life will look different, and it will be evidenced by my love for others (1 John 4:7-21); it will be evidenced by the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-24)

It’s about the heart. The changes made, dying to myself each day & following him (Luke 9:23, Matt 16:24, Mark 8:34).

I know I can’t actually see into the hearts of those around me, but I can be sure of my own salvation. I can be pretty sure of the salvation of those in my life based on the above evidence.

And, I can recognize the tool of the devil to try to confuse & scare me, as he is prone to do (1 Peter 5:8).
When I hear that scream in my head & I get worried or confused, I can come back with the Word of God knowing that fear and confusion isn’t of Him (2 Tim 1:7).

I have faith on the other side of that fear that instead of me crying out “I knew of you, but never knew you”; Instead, my name will be in the book & I will hear “Well done, good and faithful one”.


Let me know what you think, below. Let me know how I can pray for you 🙂

I Want to Submit

Here we are at the end of the month…and I didn’t write every day…and I don’t know exactly how well I stuck to the theme I chose.

But, it’s my blog, so that’s really ok with me. Besides, when you’re a rare, chronically single Unicorn, basically every post is a #SingleLife post.

Today, I want to get a little deep, a little serious, though.

Because, honestly, there have been a lot of thoughts going through my head today, and they fill up more time than 5 minutes, for sure.

See, as I’m in this waiting period, I have to be preparing myself, as we’ve talked about before.

And, as a non-feminist feminist, I feel I have a lot of preparing to do.

I believe in freedom for women & men alike, otherwise, what did Christ die for?

I believe in being fairly paid for a job I do, based on experience, time, & training, regardless of my sex/gender (which, I feel the Proverbs 31 woman would probably agree).

I believe in mutual submission (you know, Ephesians 5 stuff)…but –

And, this is a big BUT –

My submission is called to be different than his.
Mine revolves around due respect, of him, of his position, of our relationship, and of Christ’s headship over both of us.
His  revolves around the command to love & sacrifice, caring for me as Christ does his church.

At it’s core, submission has more to do with our position related to Christ than to one another, because in our position related to Christ we find our position related to one another.

The thing is: I want to submit.

For someone as fiercely independent as myself, career woman, driven and ambitious, I know that sounds strange.

However, if a man is honestly following Christ, living as Christ asks, he will be easy to submit to. My submission will just be natural, honoring him & Christ. Our lives will be a reflection of that. Our motivation & direction will be the same.

Here’s the kicker: if I choose wrong, I’m still called to a life of submission.

Which is why I’m still single…

Because I refuse to submit to just any old body. Now, some say I am too picky.

Waiting for someone as passionate about God’s will as I am.
Waiting for someone who wants to be actively involved in ministry.
Waiting for someone who seeks a life active in travel and sharing God in more than one place.
Waiting for someone who is moving in the same direction as I am, with an end goal at the foot of the throne.

Too picky? False.

I want to be obedient to Christ. I want to submit.

Honestly, I am looking forward to letting someone else take the lead for a while…I’ve been doing it for nearly 2 decades now, so I’d be willing to allow someone else to take over. But, just as I’m preparing myself, he has to be prepared, also.

So, until then, I will continue to wait, pray, and prepare.
Until then, I will be passionate and faithful, learning to be even more so in the small things (otherwise, He can’t trust me to be faithful with the bigger things, but that’s a post for a future evening).

Until then.

 

 

Broken Road

“Every long lost dream, led me to where you are…they were like Northern Stars. Pointing me on my way, into your loving arms. This much I know is true, that God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you.

Unicorn
Rare
Chronically Single

Sure. Those titles; maybe me. Definitely me.

But, this is my path. An extension of my calling & dreams…

So, recently, there have been some encounters:

One made me feel pursued – though, he was obviously not a part of  God’s plan for my life. Yet, I was momentarily side tracked by the enjoyment of feeling wanted.

One, I wasn’t so sure about –
A strong faith & a kind spirit –
But, a path far different from my own. A calling not in the same vein as mine at all.

I am not planted here in OK…
My heart is already being pulled to the Pacific Northwest. I know my journey goes there – after a bit of Tiny House travel, I hope.

God has awakened in me a restless & wandering heart. A heart that desires to see a passion for Him awaken among the nation’s youth. A heart that desires to connect to the hurting & broken, hearing their stories, observing the beauty of Creation – all over this nation and across some others.

God has called my heart to adventure…
So, I know my “broken road” must be leading me to someone with a similar heart.

I know I am not meant to be planted here…I know I am meant for this, yes, but also meant for so much more.

So, I will pursue more.
I will pursue His call.
And, I trust this path will lead me to One whose heart is like mine.

Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same”
– Emily Brontë


Last night, I had a conversation after church

Him: “Hey, Candice, are you really going to move to Washington? Are you really going to get a Tiny House and move to Washington?”

Me (looking at him confused): Of course!

Me (after a pause): Well, actually, first I’m going to get my Tiny House and travel around doing youth ministry for a while, then I’m going to settle in Washington.

Him (laughing): That is awesome! Don’t take this wrong, but that is so you!

This was an actual conversation I had last night. And, it awakened something in my spirit. A sleeping giant.

I have been thinking about all this and praying about it for a while now. But, last night was the first time in…ever…I had voiced it out loud.

I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but the wheels are in motion. I have begun tiny house plans, researching financing, and listing out contacts/resources for this journey.

I don’t know how, when, etc. But, God knows.

I am just watering the dream He planted, trusting in Him to work it all out, as only He can.

And, I.Can’t.Wait.


This post was inspired by last week’s 5 Minute Friday theme PathI’m a little late to the party, but you should still hop over and check out all the posts there. And, stop in below and share some of the dreams God has planted in your heart. I know He hasn’t given up on this world yet, and He will use His people to make all the difference in the world!

 

It’s Time

Belittled. Demeaned.
Hiding in her room.
Creeping down hallways,
Tears staining a frightened face.
Stop the yelling!
It’s too loud…
Why do you tell everyone you’re so proud?
Do you even know what love is,
When smiling photos are just a lie?
This is God’s plan, they say.
So, He wants little girls and boys to 
Suffer this way?
Who couldn’t even make their own choices,
Or know of anything else?
Stay strong, they say.
As if I have another choice.
Just give it to God, they say.
But, wait, didn’t they say it’s been
In His hands all along?
How do I trust the God who led me here…
Again?
Where do I begin…
Again?
Lord, I do believe,
Now, please help me in my unbelief
Because, on my own 
I.Am.Nothing.
On my own, 
This will surely
Crush.My.Soul

10 years. 10 years I fought the biggest battle of my life. Depression came in 2nd only to my choking anxiety. Though, I felt insecure, sad, and confused early on – I was 10 years old when I can remember actual depression starting.

The dark cloud followed me. My world lacked definition and color. I existed in a grey world. Lacking joy. Lacking peace.

I was just a little girl…but one voice in my life told me a big lie, showed me his words were “true” and an enemy unlike any I could have imagined took hold.

But, though God had never abandoned me, He finally took hold. There was finally a release. And, for 8 years, I’ve been free. Beautifully free.

Six months back in the worst place I’ve ever known, around the most toxic person I’ve ever had to have in my life, and it’s almost back in full force.

When I moved back, I thought it could be different; things were getting better. I thought I could stay clean here – but I’ve relapsed.

I thought I had the tools – I do have the tools.
And, though I do this with others daily, still the question arises:

How do we use these tools when the toxic environment doesn’t change?

You see, we lack a voice.

Depression and anxiety have kept me so worried about my family that I have no voice – no way to expose the abuse & injustice done…Unfair for a 5 year old. Unfair for a 13 year old. Unfair for a 28 year old.

And, after all, who can I talk to in the church? The “safe place”.

Because, honestly, the church has, as a whole, been extremely irresponsible when it comes to Mental Health concerns & abuse.

Over the years, I’ve heard:

Well, what did you do?
He’s the head.
Your job is just to be submissive. Your mom, too.
This is God’s plan.
Just try to stay strong.
Shh. You can’t talk about that. Especially not here.
How he treats your mom is none of your business.

The most freeing words I’ve ever heard from a pastor was that the ABUSER breaks the covenant with God by abusing the power & breaking God’s will. Not the spouse. Not the kids.

This is why I have spent my entire adult life giving a voice to others’ struggles…reflecting places where I could not give a voice to my own. (Proverbs 31:8-9)

But I refuse to be afraid anymore.

So, I’ve decided to attempt to extend an olive branch, do some patch work, explain my side, demand a response, and let the chips fall where they may.

But, I will no longer stay silent. I will give a voice – finally, a true & honest voice – to my pain, my struggle. I will no longer live in fear or walk on eggshells.

Not for my family. Not in my church. Not in my life.

Because, I fully believe God did not intend for me to live this way.
He intended for me not to live in the darkness that has been so familiar, but in His light.
He did not intend for me to fear judgement of others, but to trust in His love.
His intent was not that children would be used, rejected, & broken,
But to be loved, trained, and disciplined through both.

You see, what happened in the darkness – secret things like this – are not meant to remain secrets (Mark 4:22, Matthew 10:26, Luke 8:17)… So, after 23 years, it’s time.

It’s no longer a burden I will carry. At least, not alone.


Linked up with Tuesday @ 10 over at FindingtheGraceWithin.

I Won’t Apologize for My Living Space

And, maybe you don’t need to either…

Let me explain:

I feel like homes are meant to be lived in fully & beautifully, and if you cover that up by cleaning every little thing every day, I feel like it may detract from the living that’s done there.

Now, I know we all choose to keep our spaces differently, and I get that…I also get that there is a point where mess tips the scale and becomes unsafe, utter chaos.

But, most of us don’t reside there, most of us reside in the world of a life well lived & a home well lived in.

As I type, the frying pan from last night’s dinner is still soaking in my sink, there are painting supplies on my table, and my reading nook is really the move-in catch all…

And, I won’t apologize for that.

I spent the day working, and the evening with my sisters and friends: there was laughter, there were inside jokes…there was the moment when I squealed at the baby elephant (I really love elephants)…

My home is for making memories. For living my beautifully messy life. And, I won’t apologize for it.

Are you a young, stay at home mom feeling guilty that you can’t keep everything clean? Or a working mom trying to balance everything? My guess is, you spent precious time with the kiddos. Don’t apologize for that. Those cheerios in the couch and the toys littering the floor? Those are your home’s battle scars, the beautiful sign of life within the walls of your home.

Are you a single (young or more mature) person, making your way in the world? Trying to create something lovely around you? Have the remnants of a hobby strewn about? Or the makings of a great party? It’s the tell-tale sign of life well lived.

The great thing, we have the choice, when we invite people in. We can apologize for our space, or welcome others in openly.

Yet, when we apologize, what are we saying:

I’m sorry for living…I’m sorry for having interests…I’m sorry for spending time making memories…I’m sorry for playing with my kids…I’m sorry for working hard, then allowing myself time to relax rather than clean…I’m sorry that my hobby takes up space…I’m sorry I can’t be perfect all the time…I’m sorry you have to see my mess…

At the root, may be fear of judgement, or a lack of trust. But, when we welcome others without apology, we say:

Welcome to my mess…Welcome to the reality of my world…Let me show you the beauty of my life…I trust you here in my mess…I have a beautiful, full life…I am comfortable with myself & with those I let in…We can have fun without fear…This is a place for relationships…

We get to choose how we decide to bring others in. With an invitation and smile, or with an apology & trepidation.

So, I won’t apologize for the mail pile on my counter, the still as yet to be unpacked boxes in my living room, or the laundry that hasn’t been put away…

I’ve been busy. Connecting with my clients, making big decisions about work, paying my bills, creating pieces of art for my new home, and spending glorious time with my family (as well as alone time).

And, I applaud you for your well lived life, too. You young (or more mature) single, making it all work. Or the moms/dads (both stay-at-home & working), letting their kids live & making the most of that time.

I hope you too can learn not to apologize for your living space.


Tuesday @ 10 post…this week, Choice.