How playing in my family bluegrass band, discovering my childhood wounds and learning how to be still and experience Bible stories in 3D from a guy who's been dead for centuries, all shaped who I am today…
He put a fiddle in my hands and started teaching me fiddle tunes!
He would record them off of records at high speed on his reel-to-reel tape recorder (yup, super old-school)...
And then play them at normal speed which would slow it down enough for me to learn by ear.
Of course, I had to tune my violin down to the same pitch as the recording!
I can still play that Cajun version of Orange Blossom Special!
Classical training was never NOT an option. I studied piano and violin all through school and... was concert mistress of:
- My high school orchestra and...
- Our city-wide youth symphony.
Music was my happy placeI
Looking back now, there were clear signs...
I was shutting down, not knowing I could say no and ended up in unsafe and compromising situations...
Including a teen pregnancy...
My dad simply said, “You be a good girl now.”
Appearance was everything and this was just another secret to keep.
Sadly, we never talked about again.
Life was looking up!
I dove into my studies and soon encountered a ministry where students actually lived out their Christian faith in practical ways!
Though I had grown up going to church, it was never more than something to check off the weekly calendar and this both intrigued me and inspired me!
This was a transformative time where I began:
- Growing in Christ , participating on worship teams and...
- Eventually started mentoring others.
After graduation with a degree in Int’l Marketing and music, I spent 6 months overseas working in Europe and Lebanon.
Returning home, I knew that I wanted to go back as a long-term missionary...
Four years later, I was on my way to Budapest, Hungary with my new husband, Jeff!
We settled in quickly and loved it.
God placed us with a missional music group and we traveled with them, offering pastoral leadership.
Out of this group, two churches were planted and we had our first baptism in our bathtub!
Ministry was thriving and we felt so blessed to be a part.
See, she was working through sexual abuse from her childhood at the hands of her grandfather.
And she was actually doing amazing!
She was processing her discovery, her anger, her pain and her sorrow.
She was coming to terms with what had happened to her and doing something about it.
She was brave and courageous.
Though I didn’t really share the same experiences, I wanted her to know that I cared and came up with one moment that I could recall to identify with her pain.
That night, I had nightmares that were inconclusive but caused a panic in my heart.
From there, it was like pandora’s box had been opened and for the remainder of her visit...
She sat with me as childhood memories of abuse began to surface.
After she left, I was desperate. How was I going to tell people about a God I loved that I hated? What was happening to me? I was sinking down a black hole fast. Was I going crazy??
Fortunately, our directors had the wisdom to see that God CHOSE to reveal my story in Hungary, not in the states. Budapest was clearly a safe place for me. They allowed us to stay there on the condition that we would come home if I needed more professional help.
For the next few years, I spent every waking moment pressing into God to heal.
Gone were the pleasantries and going through the motions of pleasing God and others.
I yelled, I screamed, I cried, I fought and I surrendered.
I hated God, but I didn’t want to make the journey without Him.
Reluctantly, I made a truce...
And to my disbelief, no matter what I did or said, God showed up.
For the first time in my life I began to experience God as friend, healer and lover of my soul.
These were some of the hardest and sweetest years at the same time. I gave God permission to reveal to me my truth in His time.
I wouldn’t go “coal” digging, but I promised not to shut down, minimize or avoid emotional and spiritual work He put in front of me.
What I couldn’t put to words, I could somehow put to song and I wrote and recorded my first healing album called, “Journey.” These songs ministered so much to people that they wanted me to record the same album in Hungarian! I never knew until a few years ago that these songs spread across the nation of Hungary to bring hope to many.
Coming back to the states was A LOT harder than we anticipated (read more about this in my blog, “Is There More?”).
Everything seemed to move in hyper-drive and we felt left behind, friendless and isolated. Our funding also dropped dramatically after transitioning to ministry stateside and all of a sudden...
I was distrustful and angry at God all over again.
One morning in the quiet, a profound realization came over me:
I knew God as my Healer, but not as my Provider and Peace regardless of the circumstance. Deep down, a subtle shift happened as I became aware that there was so much more to God than what I knew.
Why did I go to the anxious, problem-solving place and question His love when He had proven Himself to me over and over?
Distraction was a constant and 5 minutes of “nothing” (stillness) was about all I could take at first!
Then I was blessed to find someone in our ministry who was trained and gifted in leading people through the Ignatian Exercises (yup, this is the dead guy I’ve been talking about!)
Through this initial drink of living water written centuries ago, I began to learn that there are many ways to approach scripture!
I would read the Bible stories and they would come to life! No longer words on the page, the Lord began to help me see myself in the story, and what my deeper need was.
My spiritual director would ask me how I experienced God in the scriptures. For months I would share where I had fallen short (my past) and how I hoped to do better (the future). He kept pressing me and saying,
“No, how did you experience God in that moment?”
In exasperation, I finally said, “I don’t KNOW!” And he said,
“Yes, that is the beginning…” And it was.
Where was God at work in the present moment? How do I step outside of the chaos of life and look for His subtle and profound movements around me, through me, in me?
For the next several years, I devoured the Bible with new perspective... I also read books by Henry Nouwen, Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson, Ruth Haley Barton and the Dessert Fathers and Mothers (a strange name for people of faith that lived a few centuries after the death of Christ, who left their lives of comfort to pursue an inward and outward expression of devotion to Jesus).
I took graduate courses in Spiritual Formation and God began to change me from the inside out.
I longed for stillness and found that this inward pursuit of Jesus created a steadiness of life that was beyond words. His working in me allowed me to be more like the blue part of the flame. Instead of flitting here and there, I was becoming more effective and at peace in my family life, my intentions, my ministry and personal growth. I had become a “listener”…of God, myself and the world around me.
I remember it as if it were yesterday. The Lord just simply said, “It’s time…” And I knew.
You see, all those years before...
In the midst of the messiness of healing, the Lord gently told me He would not “go there” regarding my two most traumatic memories.
At the time, I was frustrated and just wanted the work DONE, but God said I wasn’t ready.
I had to let it go, and I did.
What I didn’t know was that these two memories were actually front pages of chapters...
waiting patiently until our hearts were knit together so deeply that I would be able to withstand the rest of my healing journey.
And I am so grateful...
The life-changing work He did in me to become a listener and observer...
To experience His love and tenderness, to discern His heart in different situations and to know Him at His Word and the TRUTH about who He is and who I am, allowed me to become a listener of myself.
Because of this foundation, I was able to approach the rest of my story with curiosity and compassion, knowing that no matter how hard it would be, that God would always be there.
Whether you are longing for stillness and a greater sense of God’s mysteries at work, or hope to shed light and understanding on an area of struggle you can’t seem to get past, I’m here. This place is for you. Welcome!