Monthly Archives: November 2015

(Sex) Life More Abundantly (After Rape)

By Jerri KelleyJerri_3

It was a family member the first time. I was little, too little to be seen as sexually attractive by a man, but sometimes men see sick fantasy and not reality. At 16 I was assaulted by someone I knew and raped on a date when I was 17.

By the time I was 18, the nightmares and anxiety had taken their toll. I felt broken beyond repair and suicide seemed like a reasonable option. In fact, twice it seemed like the only option.

When I was 19, I sought counseling. I told my story, talked about this person I had become, and wondered aloud if I would ever be the person I wanted to be. The counselor’s words slammed into me like a freight train. “You’ll never like sex. You’ll have nightmares off and on your whole life. You’ll never enjoy a man touching you, but with years of therapy, you should be able to have a functional sex life that allows you to be married without resenting your husband.”

I stared at the woman who had just pronounced what felt to me like a death sentence, and I said flatly, “If that is the best you have to offer, I don’t need you. I’ve got that already.” I stood, turned to the door, and walked out.

Then I went home, crawled in bed, and didn’t move. Dead people don’t move, and that is how I felt—dead.

I’ve talked to a lot of women who know exactly what I mean. They understand the nightmares and the flashbacks and the showers that never wash away the feeling of being filthy. Maybe you know exactly what I mean as well. Maybe you feel dead, too. If so, please hear me. There is still life.

After I recovered from the shock of that meeting, I wandered in a daze for a while. I was in a relationship that looked like it was getting serious, and I was considering ending it because I couldn’t imagine a man wanting to be in a relationship with someone as broken as me.

When people talk about sexual crimes, they often talk about the innocence that is stolen. So much more is stolen than that. My hopes of a happy marriage had been stolen. My value had been stolen. This huge part of me had been stolen. It wasn’t just my innocence. It was part of me.

One morning I was reading in Isaiah, and the words jumped at me as though on a billboard.

“And He will be calledDollarphotoclub_47901674

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).”

I had been raised in church, and I had never heard of Jesus as a counselor, so I had no idea how He would make this work, but there it was in black and white. I needed a counselor, and I needed peace, so I did all I knew to do. I prayed a real prayer.

I knew from numerous Sunday School lessons that Jesus is a healer, and I threw everything into one prayer. I told Him I needed Him to be my counselor and help me work through everything. I needed Him to be my healer because He could heal things humans said were impossible, and I desperately needed peace.

Not long after that, I ran across John 10:10. Although I had read the Bible through several times, this time the verse grabbed me.

“The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

I have come that you might have life more abundantly.”

Suddenly, I was angry. The enemy had come to steal. He had stolen my innocence. He had stolen my self-confidence. He had stolen my sexuality. He had stolen a core part of me. He had tried to kill me personally with suicide, but he had also tried to kill my hopes of a happy marriage and a great sexual relationship with my husband. He tried to destroy the children God had planned for me by tearing down everything to get there. And I was angry.

In my mind, I marched right up to Jesus and held out my Bible and said, “Look! Look what he has done! But you came so I could have all of that, so I want it all back. I don’t know how you do that, but you can heal anything, you are stronger than anyone, you can restore anything, and I want everything back!”

I would love to tell you God waved some magic wand and everything was suddenly fine. It didn’t work that way, though. It took time. It took talking. It took facing some horrible fears and telling some nasty truth. Oddly, it took forgiving myself. How in the world victims of sexual crimes end up blaming ourselves is beyond me, but like everyone else I know, I did. I forgave myself for saying yes to the date, for not fighting back harder, for being too small to protect myself. I know. Sounds kind of crazy, doesn’t it? Yet, it is something a lot of us carry around—the shame that we couldn’t stop it. We don’t know how we could have, but somehow, we should have. There were triggers that had to be talked through, and sometimes I simply had to give myself permission to say, “I simply can’t do that.” At first, that bothered me because I had asked for the promised “life more abundantly,” but then one day I realized I don’t do rollercoasters either because I just hate the things, and that doesn’t lessen my abundant life. I don’t eat everything at a buffet, but I still go away satisfied and happy. Sex is the same way. I don’t have to do every possible thing to have a great experience…or to be a great lover.

Healing included learning to trust. I had to talk about things I was afraid to talk about because I had to trust my husband to value me in ways those men didn’t. Logically, I should be able to expect that, but logically, who molests a little girl?

The road to healing wasn’t always easy. Sometimes it was really hard. At times, opening those wounds so Jesus could heal them was excruciating. Sometimes it was terrifying, and sometimes I wondered if it would ever be over, if I would ever really be healed, but I just kept praying for the Wonderful Counselor to walk me through, to show me what I needed to face, and I asked the Prince of Peace to give me the peace and courage to face it, and I kept praying for life more abundantly.

That counselor I saw when I was 19 was wrong. It didn’t take a lifetime. A few years, yes, but a lifetime, no.

I love being touched. I love the intimacy of a man’s caress. I enjoy sex, and my sexual appetite is quite intact. I don’t see sex as something dirty or bad. I see it as a beautiful gift from God. Unfortunately, Satan tries to take that gift and destroy it, but Jesus’ ability to heal, counsel, and restore is greater than Satan’s ability to steal.

Four and a half years ago, my husband died, and the Lord has not chosen to bring another man into my life, but I believe one day I’ll marry again. I must confess. Getting married in my mid-40s is different than getting married in my early 20s. My body is different. My hormones are different, and after 19 years of marriage, I don’t know if I know how to be with anyone else. Sometimes, it feels really scary, and sometimes, it feels like it would be easier to stay single, but then, I think that is just Satan trying to steal another marriage and another amazing relationship, and between you and me, I get mad all over again, walk right up to Almighty God, and say again, “I want it all. I want everything YOU promised.”

I know if God can heal the wounds of molestation and rape, He can handle this. When I choose to remember that, when I allow myself to remember His faithfulness and remember this whole sex thing is totally His idea, then I’m not afraid anymore. Then, excitement at the thought of making love to someone I love deeply fills those hope places. The memories of intimacy feed the hope of being one with someone else again. And this part of me that seems to get lost in the day to day life of being a single mom begins to breathe again, and instead of hiding, I openly pray for the man God has picked out with whom I get to share the rest of this life more abundantly.

#stopviolenceagainstwomen, #violenceagainstwomen, #eliminateviolenceagainstwomen, #eliminationofviolenceagainstwomen, #internationaleliminateviolencegainstwomen, #friendshiphope&friedfruitpies

About Jerri KelleyJerri_3

Jerri Kelley is a single mom raising two amazing teenagers. She is a teacher, speaker, pastor, writer, and listener. For the last five years, she has been on this adventure of life with God as her amazing Husband. He is always faithful, and in Him is always hope.

To read more about Jerri’s life, please visit http://www.jerrikelley.com

 

Hope for Healing

I pray for inspiration each week as I consider writing a story of hope. Today’s post is about hope for healing. Terry’s son, Keith, needs a kidney. He is in the prime of his life and has a daughter in college.

I was shopping at Walmart, lost in thought, considering what it might be like if someone I loved needed an organ transplant, because selfishly, I was considering adding this as a plot twist to my current manuscript in progress. I greeted the cashier and asked, “How are you today?” She blurted, “I’m blessed. I had a kidney transplant.”

I stood with my mouth open and wondered if I had been mumbling aloud.  The cashier went on to explain that it was her second kidney transplant.  Her first organ had been from a cadaver and had lasted eighteen years, when it normally only lasts eight or nine years.  She shared that her daughter had given her the second kidney and what a miracle it was that she was a match because there are six major criteria they look for.  I just nodded my head as she kept talking.

I don’t know if I can write the story involving the need for an organ transplant, because I know that it involves suffering. Consider the waiting, the worry, the stress, but also there’s also hope in abundance thanks to people who mark the little box on their driver’s license to be an organ donor. Maybe God put me in that cashier’s line to write this blog post to bring an awareness of the need for organ donors.

In August, 2015, there were 122,706 people in America waiting for an organ transplant. Of these 101,250 needed a kidney and 15,090 needed a liver, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network (OPTN). http://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/converge/data.

I’m grateful the cashier offered her story because it gives me hope for Keith. God in his wisdom gave us two kidneys when we only need one. Also, I believe the day and time of our death has already been determined. My body may be worn out and useless when I stop breathing, or it could happen tomorrow. If so, then perhaps my kidney, liver, pancreas, and intestines might be someone’s hope for a healthy normal life.

In August 2015, 20,705 patients received a kidney. Of those organs donated, 16,760 were from a deceased person and 3,945 were from a living donor according to the OPTN statistics. Notice that 3,945 were living donors. I hope that you will  decide to be an organ donor. The next time you renew your driver’s license, mark the little box indicating that you will be an organ donor and inform your family. If an accident happens, you can be someone’s hope for a return to a healthy life.

Please lift up prayers for Keith and for those who love him. My prayer for Keith and his family comes from Romans 15:13. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Be joyful in Hope, Patient in affliction, Faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

But as for me, I will always have hope. Psalm 71:14

#Banorgandonor, #donateLife, #giftoflife, #organdonation, #transplant, #kidney, #havethechat

Gathered Fragments

By Harriet Michael

And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” John 6:12 (ESV)

I first noticed this verse in an old handwritten book my father has on his shelf.Dollarphotoclub_45800691 It was handed down to him by his mother who got it from her mother. It appears to be an old journal of some type. On the pages of the book are poems gathered and carefully written by its first owner. Some are famous poems while others are original work by family members. My grandmother and even my father have some original poems hand written by them in this treasured book. The book is titled, “Gathered Fragments” and this verse is written in beautiful penmanship on the first page.

These words in scripture were actually an instruction by Jesus to
his disciples after the miraculous feeding of five thousand 
people. The crowd which gathered to hear Jesus was hungry. It was
lunchtime and the people were without food. Most of them had 
gathered spontaneously without planning ahead even enough to have
brought lunches. Rather than going home, the disciples found a 
little boy with a small lunch of five loaves of bread and two 
small fish. After blessing the food, Jesus broke it into 
pieces, and offered it to the hungry crowd who consumed it 
eagerly. Then, when the crowd had eaten all they wanted, the 
disciples were told to “Gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost.”

Loaves of bread and two fishes in a basket.

Isn’t that a beautiful instruction? How do you gather fragments? Do you have a collection of some kind? Perhaps you collect rocks, coins, or stamps. Maybe you like to make scrapbooks?Grunge background with old photos and label

Do you keep old photos and relics from years gone by; polished and put in a place of honor in your home or give them away as special gifts? My father has a plaque hanging in his home of an old letter he wrote to his mother from camp when he was a child. His sister found the letter and made a very special birthday gift for him one year. Maybe you have carefully held onto family heirlooms so you can pass them to the next generation. Or perhaps, you gather fragments in other ways. Maybe you can produce for winter eating or maybe you gather and dry herbs, fruits, or vegetables.

There are so many ways to gather fragments. Through the years, I have learned another way. I have had more than one occasion to help gather the fragments of a loved one’s shattered life.Dollarphotoclub_74644289 Sometimes these lives were shattered at the person’s own hands, often by sin. Even so, I find myself drawn to the gathering role. While others are shattering through accusations, anger or gossip, my heart aches and longs to help the broken friend or family member to gather his or her life back together. I remember how God has gathered my broken life and put it back together so many times.

What or who needs gathering in your life? What or who is in danger of being lost? Perhaps the shattered, broken life or lives are not people you know. Maybe you learn from the news of others, even groups of people whose lives have been shattered and your heart longs to help in whatever way you can, even if it’s through donations–you are still helping to gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost.

Even when we do simple, seemingly fun things like keeping scrapbooks, or framing old family pictures, we are keeping the heritage of those who came before from being lost– we are gathering fragments. May we be aware of the things around us that need to be gathered. May we always remember Jesus’ instructions to “Gather up the fragments that nothing be lost.”

mosaic from church of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes - Israel

When the disciples gathered the fragments in the Bible story, they had twelve baskets left over. Though this was a miraculous occurrence, the underlying principle is still valid. If you or I form fragment gathering habits, we will find abundance in our lives too. And so will others whom we bless with our fragments–carefully gathered and lovingly given.

#devotionals , #womendevotionals, #fiveloavesandtwofishes #gatheringfragments

About Harriet E. Michael
Christian Author and SpeakerHM photo shoot 2

Born in Nigeria, West Africa, as the daughter of missionaries, Harriet Michael is a writer, gardener, wife of over 35 years, mother of four, and grandmother of one.

She holds a BS in nursing from West Virginia University but has discovered her passion for writing. Since her first published article in 2010, she now has over a hundred and fifty published articles and devotions.

Harriet is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Louisville Christian Writers. Her book, “Prayer: It’s Not About You”, a finalist in the 2011 Women of Faith book contest, is set for release by Pix-N-Pens Publishing Company.

To buy the daily devotional she co-wrote with a childhood friend, click on the link below.51OYYRqPZVL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

http://www.amazon.com/Glimpses-Savior-Meditations-Thanksgiving-Christmas/dp/193809266X/

Follow her on:
Website: www.harrietemichael.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/harrietmichaelauthor
Blog: www.whatHehasdoneformysoul.blogspot.com
e-mail: harrietemichael@gmail.com

Thriving After a Storm

My church split last year. We endured a storm on the same scale as hurricane Katrina and I wondered if our church could survive, much less thrive.Dollarphotoclub_87117466

On our last mission trip, our missionary leader explained there are people who make things happens, people who watch things happen, and people who wonder what happened.  I’ll confess, I watched in disbelief and still wonder what happened?

On the first Sunday after the split, I was unsure if anyone would be in the building. As with most congregations, we are creatures of habit and generally sit in the same area. I surveyed the storm damage, counted the empty seats, and mourned my missing Brothers and Sister in Christ. I still feel the heartache and miss worshiping and serving with them.Dollarphotoclub_68588557

I live in a small community, and I often run into my church family that left. We hug each other, catch up, but we are careful to avoid the mention of either congregation, and I am left with a lingering sadness. I question if my bruised heart is similar to what children suffer when their parents split.

Dollarphotoclub_90773430But God has taken our mess and turned it to His good because both congregations are growing. We are knocking on doors and reaching out to the 14,000 or more people in our community who are not attending church, and both groups are experiencing growth.

Last Friday night, our church hosted a fall festival. During the previous week, we distributed flyers throughout the community. Many church members are learning what a blessing it is to serve in new ways. People of all ages, race, and income levels are coming together to worship and enjoy fellowship.

pumpkins

Our children’s program on Wednesday night is growing in numbers. I assist a teacher who works with 4th and 5th graders. We started with eight in August and have grown to twenty-eight. Our most urgent need is an additional van to pick up children on Wednesday night. In the meantime, church members are stepping forward and using their personal vehicles to transport the children.fall_festival.

Both congregations are growing and I worry the enemy will attack again. Please keep both Churches in your prayers. Pray that we will love each other, as Jesus loves us. Pray that the pruning we endured, will sprout new growth and God will be glorified. Pray that both churches will thrive after the storm.

 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34

And He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:2

And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep, 25 And they went and woke him saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew: 24-26

#Afterastorm #lettherebenodivision #loveyourneighbor #loveandforgive