Life knocking at your door

Life will intrude on your pain. The phone will keep ringing, and people will bang on your door…. even we don’t have the ability to lift up our head.

 

Life sometimes gets in the way of what you are going though.

I often find that God speaks to me in ways that are hard to see at the time, only to go “ahhh” when He shows me. Other times it is as clear and audible as someone standing in front of you. Today was the former.

I was laying in bed. I had just woken from a sleep. Yes…in the middle of the day, I was sleeping.

The past year has taken its toll on me. The year was going to be busy anyway, I knew that. I had taken on a lot of projects this year. I won’t bore you with the details, but just to say that the part-time work became more and I took on some other things that became bigger than first expected. On top of this I injured my back badly and needed very strong painkillers just to walk. With football season just finished and my weekend now back to where I could get some other things done, I found myself one night shaking from exhaustion and I watched as the world spun crazily time and time again. I clung to the side of the kitchen bench and prayed for strength. I knew that my body was telling me to rest. I pulled out of a major volunteer job that I had promised to help with and took a deep breath as the rest of the things that need doing could just wait for later.

For the past week and a half, I have rested and slept… a lot.

Today I was in pain, still tired, and a little emotional about some things that are going on that are out of my control. A picture comes to mind as I lay on the bed, half asleep. It was the sight of yellow leaves on one of my patio pot plants.

My Blueberry bush has yellow leaves, it is lacking something in the soil. To add to this, my old dog had scratched the dirt out of the pot. Its branches are full of flowers and I have not given it any fertilise since last year, and it is now too small for the pot it is in.

I winced and closed my eyes as I remembered that I had noticed, a few weeks back, that another pot outside my house that was starting to crack. It was cracking because there are too many of the same plant in the one pot. They are overflowing, and need to be separated and transplanted into new pots. The dozen or so plants on my front patio needed some moisture and some fertiliser, because they look neglected and sick.

Suddenly my whole front yard came to mind and I groaned. The winter had taken its toll on the front lawn, it was full of weeds and there was hardly any grass left after the frost killed it time and time again.

Spring had decided to come whether I wanted it to come or not. I wanted to curl up and lock my door. I wanted life to go away. I wanted to be well, with energy and no pain. But no, that was not the case. I buried my head in the pillow and wished for life to stop so I could take some “time out”. Then, I remembered the sick and pitiful looking plants at the front of my house, and I sensed that the Lord was going to show me something.

He did.

I headed out to the front of my house armed only with the need to move. I have serious concerns that there will be anything left of the plants afterwards, because I have the innate ability to kill even the hardiest of plants with my “loving touch”. After 5 hours work I will now watch with concern to see if they survive. I am in so much pain tonight I can’t move too much. I have to get dinner ready and life still screams at me… and I yet the Lord has me writing this – ‘cause someone needs to hear it.

There is a story unfolding in the life of someone very close to me and this is about her… and for some reason… someone else.

About 2 months back this lovely lady lost her eldest son in tragic circumstances. I have been one of the ones God has asked to journey with her, so I know her well. This story is not about me, it is about her. She will read this story and know why God needed to do this today.

Three days ago, she spoke about how someone wanted her to get on with life. She felt the need to inform me that she should just suck it up and move on. I told her off…gently, of course. I told her that she was – a grief-stricken mother; a broken-hearted woman desperately trying to stop the tears from flowing. I was angry that she felt the need to find a way to look past her circumstances and be something that she was not…and I told her so. You cannot be anything more than what you are.

She has been deeply upset by life intruding on her grief. She is conscious of the pain that has her housebound and almost physically bent. She is aware of the cracks that are showing her life. Spring is intruding on her winter. She is not over the winter, she does not want spring to be here.

For anyone who has lost a child, there is a special kind of grief that comes with this loss. No one should lose a child…no one. I am told that those who lose a child grieve for long and struggle with the need to want to go on with life.

I have never personally had this experience, and so I can only go on what God has given to me as I watch my friend grieve. God keeps giving me compassion and insight. Like today.

Now please understand me – my little problems are nothing like what she is going through. But God often speaks to me in a way that I can explain to others.

Life will intrude on your pain. The phone will keep ringing, and people will bang on your door. Washing still needs to be done and the children still need to be fed. Our close family members (husband and children) will demand our attention even we don’t have the ability to lift up our head.

Most days my beautiful friend is too broken to exit from her room, yet life is demanding that she move. I sense that she resents this.

God did not ask me today to do everything. My house is still in need of a good clean, I need to get our tax done for the accountant. I have paperwork littering my desk and I am sure my editor will be wondering if my scheduled article will be ready in time. My winter sheets and blankets are in a pile ready to be washed and put away, and I need to dust the house.

He got me to do something that would also lift me up. My mind was clogged and unable to write much of sense. I tried numerous times over the past few weeks to get my brain to produce words for anything. My brain was frozen.

For some reason what God asked me to do brought clarity, and stopped my mind from looking at all the other stuff. It has also helped me find the words that I struggled with the other day, so these words are for her –

My Beautiful friend,

Life seems too big for you right now, but don’t be scared. You cannot do everything that you see in front of you now. Don’t try either.

Your beautiful son is not here and nothing is going to bring him back. I know you want to turn back time and stop the pain from occurring. I am so very sorry that the help I give does not lessen in any way the pain you feel. I want to take away your pain, but I can’t.

God has placed in your life some special women who will are trying their hardest with help you, but they can only help you so much. God is placing some things in front of you right now that need your attention, because whether you like it or not the world will not stop for you. I am sorry that it won’t, and I know you need more time.

God will help you see what those things are and I know you watch with concern that you might actually only have the ability to destroy rather than to fix. You have lost faith in yourself and you doubt the encouragement that God and others bring to you. You are exhausted and sick and you feel lifeless and limp. The things that used to bring you joy are like a sword in your heart now.

God never asks us to do everything, just what He places in front of us.

Please don’t expect too much of yourself, you are not capable of anything too much at the moment. You are very hard on yourself – God is not. He gets you, He understands and knows you. What others think you need to do, is not what need to be done.

I know this will hurt you to do this, but you need to do it. This is not only an encouragement but a warning. I am sorry I have to say this.

Yes, what you are looking at may survive without you involved. But “it” needs you. Strength comes when you step forward. Trust God to give you what you need to do, and He will help you with your pain after.

I am so sorry I cannot take this away from you, my beautiful friend. I am sorry I cannot lessen your pain. I am here and I am standing with you.

Love you.

 Normally God would just give this to me, and I would only speak to the one person that needs to hear it. This time He hasn’t. Which means that there is someone else that needs to hear this too. For some reason it is about someone with a broken dream or life. You are shut away from life and wanting life to end.

I don’t know your pain, I don’t know what it is that you are going through. God has not left your side, He is waiting for you to draw close to Him. Don’t worry about the feelings, they are affected by what you are going though. Just trust God to help you and heal you.

Life will not stop. Sometimes it will pound at your front door. It will not let you rest or stop. But it will give you the ability to move.

I am reading my way through Psalms at the moment in my time with God. I am up to psalm 27 and 28. Verses 7, 8 and 14 have been on my heart all day. Take some time to read them and I will pray for you.

Psalm 28:6-7a –
“Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.” (NIV)

Editors note: I am to put this up quickly and I will probably read it tomorrow and see all the grammar and spelling mistakes. I hope you will look past this and know that this is important. Be blessed.

Football Season

Football season is about to start for this year. Yep, see you all in September!!

I don’t mean sitting a watching football on the TV. I mean that my young men, my sons, play Rugby League. I will spend the next 7 months as taxi driver, nurse, cleaner, canteen volunteer, and their number one fan and cheer squad.

My two boys are at their first football training session this afternoon. I suspect that they are going to come home sweaty, stinky and exhausted. It is still very hot this afternoon, I also suspect that they are also going to come home desperately needing to shower and cool off.

One day, I asked both the boys what they enjoyed about playing such a rough sport. Their answers amused me. My eldest one said the fitness and the team comradery. My youngest one said that he got to smash other kids and to tackle. (note my pained expression) BTW, the picture that heads this blog is of my youngest son. He loves to tackle!!

As a footy mum, I will spend the next 7 months running the boys to various locations around our large district, and cleaning mud and dirt from their clothes, shoes and our car. I will buy oodles of strapping tape, painkillers, heat rub and food.

Oh… and did I mention food?

As I have said before God speaks to me through very simple things in life.

I am the type of mum that cheers them on in their pursuits in life, encourages them and pushes them to keep their commitments, all the while holding my breath every time they get injured. There are times that I turn away with tears in my eyes when I see them hit the ground and take their time to get up.

The Holy Spirit encourages me forward, helping me to my feet when I fall. Scripture floods my mind when I hurt and gives peace when I am troubled.

I watch the boy’s coach pat them on the shoulder, and encourage them to push harder. The coach will help them with their flaws and weaknesses and place them where their strengths are more like to be used to the max.

My Heavenly Father reminds me that I have made a commitment to Him, that my heart must remain in the game with Him as my coach. He will place me where He can help me in my weaknesses and where the strengths that I have are providing the best for those around me. He will also let me know when I have let the “team” down, and remind me that through Him I can do what He knows I can do.

While footy season to my sons, is about the team and the game, the season for me is about making sure they get their rest and pace their busy lives well.

Often to me life is about the everyday, making sure every family member is looked after and getting things done that I rarely seem to have time for. My Father -He knows the bigger plans. He is watching me and reminding me that I can rely on Him when I get exhausted, when I am in pain and when I simply do not want to run onto the field to play one more game. I watch as He paces my life and stops me from getting myself too busy.

This blog has just taken a turn…

My two sweaty teenage boys have come in and walk past me. Their faces are red and they complaining that they hurt all over.  Even as fit as they are, they are going to hurt tomorrow. I think my words to them were something like this – “You feel it now, but give it a few weeks and it won’t hurt anymore.”

I can feel God nod His head in my direction. “yes, Father, I too hurt.”

“I need you to do some training.”

Oops…didn’t think He noticed!!

So, before Him now I have handed Him two situations that are really hurting me right now. I feel the pain as He trains me in the area of forgiveness. I really wanted to leave it alone and pretend that by sitting on my backside it would go away.”

“Walk Ruth,” I hear Him say, “Walk with the decision to hand it over this that you carry. This is faith. Do you trust me to work through everything in your life? Even those that seem to have no change?”

(Oh my goodness.. those faith muscles again!!!)

“I have trained and trained in this area so many times, Father, nothing has changed. I have given it to you before.”

“Yes, but does it hurt as much this time.”

“No”

“Was it easier to hand it to me?”

“Yes”

“How is your faith?”

(I flex it, it feels stiff), ”Yeah..ok, I didn’t realise that I would be so stiff!”

“Remain trained in the area of forgiveness, never stop forgiving. Anger and resentment do not seem to cause you to be unfit, but it stops you from being your best. I will continue to enlarge your faith, until eternity, without this you will not continue forward.”

I know what He means. He is now silent. I am grateful for the best Coach, Counsellor, and God that shows mercy and knows me well.

While I know, there will be times when my children hurt and are in pain, I will be there for them. There are times they want to give up, but I will not let them. There are times when it is too early to get up, but I will pull there blankets off them and give them a hot drink to wake them. There will be times when the drive is long, but we will do it anyway.

Why?

Because every achievement is good and is better when you do it as a team. While they must play and train, I go through it will them.

My God does the same. He cannot walk this walk on this earth for me, but He is “doing this life with me”. He is fully here with me in everything.

For that, I am eternally grateful.

Be blessed

Stand Up, Speak Out and Act – Say no to violence

 

(Domestic Violence is an issue very close to my heart. Tomorrow (the 25th November) is White Ribbon Day. It is a day where men encourage other men to not be violent, and not be silent about abuse that happens around them. It is about encouraging men to Stand Up, Speak Out and Act.)

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Thirty years ago, I hung on to the handle of a car and prayed for my safety.

My boyfriend at the time, was a ‘petrolhead’, who loved fast cars and fast relationships. He was, at the time of my terror, driving his hotted-up car at full tilt up a windy narrow road to the top of a mountain. It was well after 9PM, and, most of the time, the car we were in went sideways around the corners and really didn’t straighten up to go around the next corner. The screams in my mind did not reach my lips and not a sound came out of my mouth. With his eyes on the road, he hooted and then switched off his lights and yelled over the noise of the car engine, “Don’t worry, I do this so that I know who is coming down the mountain. They will have their lights on and I can see if they are about to come around the corner.”

Despite the fact that that young man could have taken my life that night, and possibly the life of another person coming the other way. I never stood up for myself, or others and told him what I thought of the situation in which I had found myself.

When we got to the top, I should have stepped out of the vehicle and called a friend to pick me up. But no – I stayed in the car, the relationship and the fast lifestyle until he dumped me for another woman.

A year later, I entered another relationship, and for the next fourteen years went on the next wild ride – one that included physical, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse. I hung on for dear life and prayed for safety, respect, and love to be mine. The screams of heartbreak and terror reached my mind but never my lips. The bruises faded and my heart broke while silent tears slipped silently down my face. On odd occasions, I would speak, but then be terrified that my husband would know of the ‘betrayal’ I would bring to our lives.

Despite the ‘ride’, I stayed hanging on for grim death to the handles of my failing marriage and ignoring the damage I could do to myself (and later, my young child and the unborn baby in my tummy) and did not move to change the situation I was in.

I was too scared, too unsure of myself and too certain that it was because I was to blame. The same voice of uncertainty that thought that I was silly to make a fuss over a fast ride was the same voice that told me I was to blame for my husband’s anger.

The home I had grown up in was the same that I was in now. Yes, I was not a good wife. I was just like my mum – disobedient, rebellious, stupid, and unable to be of any use to anyone… or so I thought.

My strength, I believed, was in being a hard worker; strong in muscle and able to do any task set before me. Even if it meant working like a man. I was proud that I was independent and strong. The conflict of what I thought I was, was too difficult for me to see and the pretence too hard to live up to.

The inability to stand up for myself at home, started clashing with the job I had at the time. As a Security Guard, the assertiveness I was learning did nothing to change what was happening at home. The front I held onto as a good, religiously faithful wife, as a Salvation Army soldier and a no nonsense Security Officer, became a non-identity in the relationship with my husband. It slipped away to nothing as I stepped into my own home, silently falling like the dirty clothes I took off at the end of the day.

The few friends I had, could do nothing for me as they were sworn to secrecy. Slowly, I allowed the Salvation Army ministers and my doctor to know, but they could not do anything while I silently and passively allowed myself to remain in brokenness and rejected the help they offered.

Silently, I screamed for help and hoped that the bruises or the pain would be noticed and that someone would come to my rescue, while rejecting the people who came my way, regardless.

Silently, I cried myself to sleep and hoped that someone would count the tears on my pillow.

Silently, I covered up for my husband’s outbursts in public and covered the marks that hid his private outbursts.

Silently, I blocked anyone from seeing what he was like, as if it was my fault anyway.

Men who knew, said nothing as they watched, not knowing what to do without causing me more pain. No-one knew how to fix my private pain.

One day, I backed away from his swing, then caught the eyes of my toddler son whose face mirrored my terror.  His mouth was open in a scream – but silent…just like mine years ago. I ran over to him, picked him up and carried him into the room and locked the door. The baby in my tummy stopped moving and silently I prayed that he was okay.

From that day forward, I took steps to never be silent again.

I challenged the views I had of myself, I fought for my safety and I spoke to others of the hidden life beyond my public persona.

I fought the lies that were told to the world. I was not bi-polar, I was not emotionally stable. I did not have multiple personalities or post-natal depression. I was not a stupid person, who was clumsy and difficult.

I was me… and the me that I was getting to know was better than the ‘me’ he said I was.

People who are in abusive relationships need help, but they are seemingly unaware that they are not to blame, that there is a way out, and that they can get help. The world they reside in, and the conflict within the relationship, are emotionally and mentally overwhelming.

The education to know about and to avoid such relationships was not available to me as a young woman. The help for women like myself, was not talked about. Domestic violence was not openly spoken about in my circle of friends and acquaintances.

And the community support was not readily available should I need to move out of our home quickly.

There was one other thing greater than all this.

I, myself, did not think I was worthy of the respect, worthy of better treatment, so I went into the relationship and I stayed.

I remained the victim, until I chose to be a survivor.

Saying ‘No’ to violence starts within the hearts of average Australians – every person. Every man, every woman, and every child. Everyone is worth something to someone. Saying ‘No’ is the start, acting and speaking is the next start.

No voice should be silent and every voice heard.

 

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