Miracles & Ripples

Miracles & Ripples

Where do I even begin?  So much to say.  I think it’s going to take me a long time to really process what has happened in the last 10 days.

I have never shared this part of the story fully, so I will start with that.

Just under a year and a half ago, my daughter was arrested.  The circumstances were extremely serious and she was potentially looking at a very long time in jail….possibly more that 30 years. The total number of charges was 28, with the most serious being attempted murder.  I still, can hardly hear that or look at that sentence without feeling like I’ve been punched in the gut. It’s like living in an alternate universe.

On May 10, 2017, I had gotten a phone call on my cell at work around 2pm.  I didn’t recognize the number and I was really busy so I didn’t answer.  And I didn’t think another thing about it until I was walking out the door at the end of the day.  As I stepped outside, I was looking at my phone and realized I had a voicemail.  I got into my car and started listening to the message.  It was 39 seconds long and it changed my life.  As I heard my daughter sobbing, I pulled into the library parking lot and just sat there.  I could barely understand what she said, but I understood enough and called the number back.  The person who answered the phone was not my daughter.  It was a woman with law enforcement and once I told her who I was, she said words that are seared in my memory.

“I’m so sorry I have to you this, but your daughter Miley has been arrested for second degree attempted homicide.”

I couldn’t even think.  I immediately asked if the other person was okay.  What she said, set the precedent for everything in my mind and heart from that point forward.

“What could have been a very, very harmful situation, was not.  By some miracle, everyone is okay.”

We said a few more things back and forth….I couldn’t tell you now, what those things were.  I hung up the phone and sat in my car, in that library parking lot, head in my hands, and wept.  I couldn’t move.  I don’t remember how long I sat there alone.  Unable to breathe.  Unable to process.

And then I heard a little whisper.  “I’m in this.  This is all me.”

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May 10, 2017 – Arrest Photo

Eventually, I somehow made my way home.  In the next 24 hours, I learned more about the circumstances of her arrest. There are so many details I could share but all I’m going to say at this point, because of the freshness of the events in the last week, is that she attempted to steal a car and was interrupted.  As she ran away, she was chased down.  She had a gun and pulled it out when she was caught in a headlock.  She fired that gun.  Multiple times.  There was a bullet in the chamber but the gun did not fire. The gun never fired.  God put His finger in the end of that gun and saved a life.  And in the process, saved my girls life.

 

He knew what would stop Miley in her tracks.  He knew what was enough….and He knew what was too much.  She had spiraled very rapidly into drugs and crime.  In the span of less than two weeks, she accumulated 28 charges and now sat in jail with a $1 million dollar cash only bond.  But God still knew.

In that moment, when I learned that there was a bullet in the chamber but the gun didn’t fire, I knew.  I knew that the whisper I had heard was the Lord.  He was in this. That gun told me from the very beginning that God had every little detail taken care of and I didn’t have to worry anymore.  About anything. All those prayers that I had prayed over her, over all my children, came rushing to the surface and I knew that God was answering.  The ocean I thought I would drown in, was becoming the very thing that would carry us to shore.

And God went to work….in fact, He’d already been working for a very long time….I just couldn’t see it yet.  The first time I talked to her on the phone I gave her a scripture.  For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11.  It was the only thing on my mind for her.  I prayed it over her, I wrote it to her in letters, I talked to her about it on the phone….and I prayed it over her some more.

Miley sat in isolation in that jail cell for many weeks.  There was no contact with other inmates other than through her cell door.  She was let out of that cell for just 3 hours a day and only in the company of deputies.  In that isolation, She took every other book out of her cell and began to read nothing but her bible.  She began to write me letter after letter, telling me about how God was reaching down and encountering her broken, busted life.  She was allowed 2 envelopes per week and would stuff multiple letters in each one….sometimes she would write 2 or 3 in the same day.  I will keep those letters until the day that I die.  They are a written record of a million little encounters….the became a single massive miracle.  They are a written record of the love of God.  He needed her to be right where she was and she knew it. He was transforming her and she kept saying yes. A weak yes is still a yes and she did it every day for 533 days.

And so we fast forward to October 2018.  There had been more court appearances than I can count, plea deals and withdrawals, delay after delay.  Her bond was still set at $1 million and trial was set to start 3 weeks before Christmas.  And then it came.  An offer for rehab and probation.  No prison time.  None.  And on top of that, there was a possibility that she would be released for a few days before she had to report to rehab.  I held my breath.  On October 24th, 2018 we went to court for what was supposed to be a motions hearing for trial.  It ended up being a plea hearing and subsequently a sentencing hearing.  I have been to court more times in the last year and a half than I’d ever been in my life.  This was like nothing I have ever experienced.  When it was my turn to speak for the sentencing portion, I gathered my stack of letters from the last 18 months and I walked to the front.  All I wanted was to bathe the room in the love of Jesus that Miley had discovered.  I so desperately wanted Him to be seen.  I wanted the credit for it all to go to Him, because it was all Him. These were my words….

More than 17 months ago, my daughter Miley could think of no one but herself. She was in deep pain and was making the worst decisions of her life to attempt to find freedom from all of the chaos inside of her. Today she is not that same person. This stack of letters are the words of a young woman’s stunning transformation over the last year and a half. Every word, in every letter is about recognizing and taking responsibility. They are not about feeling sorry for herself or blaming others. Today, She is thinking of and doing what is best for her son. Today She asks me how I’m doing…and listens. Today she is concerned that her sister and brothers are okay and happy. Today She worries about her dad and wants him to be happy. She is not perfect but she is forgiven. She was not that person nearly 18 months ago.

Today she is.

We are here on this day because of the choices Miley has made and in so many ways I am so sorry for that. But ultimately, I believe in the deepest part of me that we are here because of the kindness of Jesus. He loved Miley enough to stop her in her tracks. He loved her enough to save lives. He loved her enough to know what was enough. But God is funny like that. He is never about just one person. His reckless, unceasing, chase-you-down love is about everyone involved in this case. He died to save the lives of everyone in this room. All of you are valuable beyond what you can imagine and he loves you deeply.

He is working out the redemption of my family in the middle of this most painful process. He is making a tender, fiery warrior of out of Miley. Her story will change lives if she continues to choose this new path. Her own life and the dead and broken lives of countless others will be brought to life because of what God has already done and what he will continue to do in her. Isn’t that the best we could hope for?

I would like to thank Patrick for his hard work and his belief in Miley. I would like to thank the sheriffs deputies who do the thankless job of serving this community in a very difficult place like jail. I see you. Thank you for always being kind to me. Thank you, your honor for choosing the law and serving in a capacity most of us could not imagine. And most of all I thank JESUS Christ for saving a life destined for a cycle of deep darkness. Our lives will never be the same. Today We choose LIFE. Thank you for your time.

When her lawyer spoke, he talked of the change in her and how he has never said that kind of thing about a client of his.  He talked of who she was at the beginning and who she is now.  He said, “Her mom is religious, the victim is religious.  I am not.  But there is something else at work here.  I’ve never seen anything like this.”

That did me in.  I had so desired to be honoring to the Lord in this whole mess.  And he was seeing what he had never seen before.  He was seeing Jesus.  There is nothing better.

The judge talked about how, in the 2 1/2 years she’s been on the bench, she’s never seen a court case like this.  She talked about how all parties worked together to give Miley a future.  She talked about how we all sat in the same rows and talked with one another. She talked about all of the support she was seeing for Miley in the courtroom.  She talked about how it was a calm and peaceful environment.  And she thanked us for that.  And then she accepted the plea deal for my daughter and set her free.

For 4 days, I watched my daughter.  I watched her interact with people.  I watched her share her testimony.  I watched her deal with conflict.

All the things that I expected were not there.

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October 25th, 2018 – When Moses came down Mount Sinai….he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the LORD.  Exodus 34: 29 a&c NLT

She wasn’t aggressive.  She didn’t yell.  She didn’t dismiss others feelings.  She listened.  She understood.  She stood up for herself but she didn’t attack.  She asked for what she needed.  She was affectionate.  She was peaceful.  She was honest. She was respectful. She was confident in what Jesus had done in her.  She knew that she would never have made it through except for Him.  And she said so repeatedly.

And after not enough days (four), I drove her to Denver to begin her court required time in rehab.

What God has done is almost impossible to speak of with human words.  He has completely changed a girl who hated herself and everyone around her.  He has changed a person who was in utter darkness into one who just wants to give herself away to people.  She just wants to love.  She knows that He has called her to do and she has already begun. All she wants to do is speak His name.  She wasted no time and said yes to the first opportunity.

So here is my encouragement for you.  When your children start down a road that you cannot convince them to avoid.  Stop.  Realize that you cannot rescue them from the story that is meant to be their lives.  You cannot rescue them from their testimony.  You cannot stop the miracle that God is trying to do in their lives.  I tried desperately to change her path.  I saw the destruction coming and could not stop her.  Her dad did everything he knew how to do….and still could not stop her.  She went anyway.  And it

was ugly and dark and desperate and broken.  And look what God has done!  Miley has exactly the story she was meant to have.  She knows that there are people that will need her story.  She may even find those people in rehab.  At this point, who knows what God will do?  She will be a world changer.  Even if it is just one life….because, like me, like you, like all of us, she is one pebble thrown into a vast ocean….and the ripple reaches all the way to the shore.

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October 26, 2018 – Home

Be a ripple.

And watch the miracles.

 

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I gave him to you…

It’s 2 am and I’m wide awake. I’ve read my bible. I’ve had intimate prayer. I’ve cried my requests and gratefulness to the Lord. What more is needed for rest to find me? I pray some more. I search my heart. I speak out forgiveness for things I haven’t acknowledged an offense for. I speak forgiveness for what I’ve already forgiven but I’ve picked up again. I’m searching my heart for more. Then it hits me. Be silent Mitzie. Stop talking and just be silent. It didn’t take long. He just needed my quiet heart.

Many times over my 20 year marriage I have wondered why it has had to be so hard…why I have had to feel so much pain. What’s the point of this God? Why has so much of my adult life had to feel so broken? I finally heard the answer in the middle of a night of tears.

I gave him to you to drive you to Me.

I knew that he would be your wilderness. Even more so than your children would be.
As much as I wanted to give you someone who would meet all the human needs that you have, I could not because you never would have found me as you have in the many seasons of pain. When you have questioned how long you would have to endure, when you have asked for a way out, when you have begged me for a rescue from your pain, I heard you, but I could not let you run away because I gave him to you to drive you to Me. If he was not there, you would be wandering, living on the surface, finding small pleasures in silly things. You are one I needed to call into the deep. Deep waters. Deep intimacy. Deep love. I needed you to have a deep story. I gave him to you to drive you to Me. He is not the issue. I am your issue. I gave him to you to drive you to me.

I told you at the beginning of this current season that you are in, that it’s about souls. I came to seek and save the lost. I desire that none would perish. You always apply that to others. That is truth but I am talking about you as much as them. You put such importance in others behavior and heart condition. Your motivation is pure in this but leave that to me. That is not your concern. It is mine alone.

I needed you to have this man whom I love in the deepest parts of Me. This broken, wounded, beautiful soul. I am using his brokenness and wounded heart to drive you to Me. I did not make a mistake. It wasn’t some random choice of fate. I. Chose. Him. For. You. Many times you have seen him as your enemy but he is your gift, Mitzie, he is your gift.

Nothing that has happened in your 20 years has been a surprise to Me. I knew it all before you were born. I knew the good. I knew the bad. I knew the pain. I knew what it would take to drive you to Me. Do you not know that it is that way with everyone? I know what it will take for all to see Me. I give everyone what they need to drive them to Me. They always have a choice but I still give them the gift. I always give them the gift.  He is your gift.

Do you see it now?  I gave him to you to drive you to me.

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Do you see it now?  I gave him to you to drive you to ME…..

Marked

I am being…
Unwoven
Unraveled
Unlocked
Everything I held close, held important….
Pulled away.
My brain screams “WHAT HAVE I DONE??”
My spirit knows
It’s way beyond that.
Holes everywhere.
Space everywhere.
Pain always.
Ideas I can’t find
Words I can’t grasp
But I know
Somewhere
Somehow
Sometime
I will know
The end of this road I’m on
I am not who I know myself to be
There is more
So much more
Raw
Ripped open
Grasping
I will sit here with You
I will keep asking
“Where are You in this?”
Show me…
Show me…
Show me…
I will not run away
From the hurt
I will push forward
I keep pushing forward
I am asking….
“What is the goal?”
“Where are we going?”
I want to go with You
Take me with You
Please take me with You
I see now
You are showing me
Yourself
Your heart
Your eyes
Your desire
Keep going
Keep going
Don’t quit
I won’t quit on You
I will stop fighting You
I will stop fighting the pain of letting go
I will stop
And I will let You…
Fill my broken places
Open my dark spaces
Please God…
Encounter me
Unweave me
Unravel me
Unlock me
Unlock me
Unlock me
Mark me

My heart hurts….

I had a realization this morning.  My heart hurting is not necessarily a bad thing.  It means I love, deeply, the one that I am missing or am burdened over.  It means that I am not closed off to my emotions, that I feel the realness of raw moments, good and bad.  When it becomes bad is when I dwell with the bad feeling, when I make my bed with it,when I become best friends with it, when I wallow in it.  When I do not turn that emotion into prayer, I am sinning.  It is sin for me because God has shown me what I need to do with it…that I need to bring them to Him first.  When I don’t do this, I am choosing to discount the emotion that God placed in my heart., to turn away from what He has shown me, what He divinely placed inside of me.  I am choosing MY way of dealing with things, not HIS.

For many years I viewed my emotions as a curse.  Maybe I have said this before but I thought I was a freak because my emotions were so all-consuming.  The process of learning that it was something that God gifted me with has been many years in the making.  He placed this thing in me to accomplish His purpose in my life.  He created me for intercession and is constantly teaching me and showing me how to pray.  I wish I could convey to you the depth of His passion about this, but I only have a tiny glimpse of what that is.  What I am realizing is that the only time that my emotions overtake me is when I am not taking them to the Lord, asking Him how to pray.  I had a revelation about a month ago that was the beginning to what I am realizing today.  It is okay to be overwhelmed because real life can be like that…things happen…but be overwhelmed, don’t be overtaken.

For the sake of transparency, however, I have been somewhat overtaken recently.  I have allowed my circumstances to become bigger than what God intended to do through them.  I have forgotten to step back, to breathe, to pray.  In His grace, though, He keeps giving me pieces to this puzzle of mine.  He keeps peeling back the layers and exposing me to myself.  I may not like looking in the mirror, but I will take that any day over the chaos of living outside of Him.  I am facing some things this summer that I know are going to be difficult for me, but He is already showing me how He intends to surround me when circumstances try to overtake me.  He is reminding me to pray.  He is reminding me that He loves me.  Deeply.  Without reservation.  I am not deserving of such mercy, but He gives it to me anyway.

The End of This

I’m tired.  I have made other people tired with my emotions.  I am struggling and I have made others struggle.  I am trying to stand on what I know to be the truth, but some days it is difficult to see the forest for the trees.  Do you ever have times where you know God has changed so much about you and then in one fell swoop you just walk right back into what you have always done?  I have a particular issue in my life that I keep doing that with.  I will go months at a time keeping it in check and walking away from the ugliness that clouds my life, but then, when I start getting tired or feeling stress or failing at something, it rises up and takes out everyone in its path…I revert to that young girl who never felt heard or seen and I lose control.  I become so emotional that there is no making it better.  I want to hear the perfect words that will fix it but they never come because I’m starting to realize that they don’t exist.  I put this responsibility of perfection on ones I love and they cannot fulfill the demand.  There is something inside me that needs fixed (don’t we all) but I don’t exactly know what it is.  I know there is always a reason for things but sometimes the water gets so muddy with your own dirt that you can’t see which direction to go.  I guess I am saying this because I really need prayer.  I need to get victory over this thing that I cannot even define yet.  I know that God loves me, even in my weakness.  I feel like I am seeing what this weakness is really doing for the first time and I don’t like it.  My love for my family is so great, but this junk covers it up sometimes and I hate that.  I hate that I am grieving God.  I hate that I am grieving my family.  I want to be better.  I want to love better.  I want to love well.  I want to do what God wants, but somehow I know I cannot come into His fullness while this thing is still within me.  I want to come to the end of this.  I need encounter…

Every Time I Turn Around pt 2

I just had to share and update on Shawna and Ryan that I posted about yesterday.  She posted this to the Marine Moms page today…

“Great news, ladies!!! I was at work last night, had my kiddos tucked in bed and breathing well (it’s respiratory season), and started opening my charts when my phone rang.  Guess who it was!!!! My wonderful son, my Marine!!! We had a very long conversation and talked about so many things.  He started off saying how ashamed he was, which I stopped him short and told him there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and that I am more proud of him today than I was when i spoke with him last weekend.  I told him it took amazing strength to get back up and move forward.  He sounded great!!! He sounded confident, yet humbled and he talked a great deal about faith.  Goodness, I could go on and on about our conversation.  Since I am extremely sleep deprived, I will keep it short in hopes my post will make some sense.  I do want you all to know that I told him about all the prayers you ladies were saying for him and how proud you were of him.  I could hear the smile in his voice when he said “please tell them I said thank you.”  May God continue to bless all of you wonderful Marine Moms. :)”


Just when you think it can’t get any better, God blows up the box we put him in and exceeds all expectation!  Lord, keep encountering Shawna & Ryan and every other Marine and families!

Every time I turn around

Every time I turn around God shows Himself.  I have a story I want to share with you.  It is not my story but it is part of me because I live in this world and I have invited God to show me how to pray for things in this world.  Her name is Shawna Yates and she is a Marine Mom.  I asked her if I could share her story and she said yes.

Shawna’s son’s name is Ryan and he has accomplished more than a lot of us ever dreamed of at a very young age.  Tyler and Ryan were in the same company at boot camp so I met her via our Marine Mom Facebook page.  I was on that Marine Mom page when I came across this post from her.

“I am in desperate need of prayers.  I received a call from my son’s 1st Sgt.  He was picked up by Echo Company yesterday and has fallen into a funk and now wants to quit.  This is not like my son.  He is a very determined young man.  He graduated high school a year early (he was 16), had enough college credit hours to be promoted to Private First Class after boot camp (at the age of 17) and has never given up anything he has set his mind to.  He excelled in boot camp and loved it.  When I talked to him on the phone this weekend he sounded great, however something in his voice sounded different when I talked to him Monday night.  He is now refusing to train and is willing to accept whatever punishment the USMC has in store for him.  His 1st Sgt. is telling me that the paperwork to have him detained is being prepared.  He is just a boy!!! I feel so helpless!!”

I was immediately struck by her first statement…she was desperate.  Her heart was breaking.  I felt the pain she was feeling…it was tangible.  I knew how I would feel if that was Tyler.  Had something happened to Ryan?  Had he been hazed?  Hurt somehow?  Assaulted?  What would cause a boy who was to determined to just want to give up?  I didn’t have any answers for her or myself.  So I did the only thing I knew how to do….I prayed.  I told my son John and he prayed.  I told my friend Patrice and she prayed.  I went back to that post several times and over the course of the day there were almost 80 posts of prayer and encouragement for her and Ryan. What struck me was that these posts weren’t all just “hey we are praying for you” posts….many were actual prayers.  The Lord impressed upon hearts the need of this boy and this mom…most of who have never met either of them personally.  He so pressed into my heart the desperation of where Ryan was at and the helplessness that his mom was feeling.  That emotion thing that I talked about a few days ago was so relevant to this situation.  God can use anything He gives you for HIS glory.  I woke up several times in the night with Ryan on my heart and prayer on my lips.  I just knew that if I/we did not stand in the gap for this young man, his life would be forever altered.  Shawna was told that he would be given the opportunity to take his PFT (Physical Fitness Test) the following morning….one last opportunity to follow a direct order and get back on track.  If he did not, the consequences would be great.  Being detained can possibly mean arrest, the brig and even dishonorable discharge.  That goes with you for the rest of your life.  It’s like you have committed a felony or worse.  Having that on a job application is not good.  I just knew in my heart that this was not God’s plan for him but it depended on our willingness to rise up on his behalf.  So we did….lots of us.

Prayer is powerful stuff.  God is powerful stuff.  Just a couple of days before her son hit his own personal brick wall, his mom posted a scripture.  I saw it when she posted it but it came jumping off the page at me yesterday.  It is Joshua 1:9.

 “I will be strong and courageous.  I will not be terrified, or discouraged; for the Lord my God is with me wherever I go.”

He was letting her know ahead of time that He was and would be with her…through EVERYTHING.  He was giving her hope before she even knew she needed it.

And so yesterday morning Shawna wrote this…

“Thank you all so much!!!!! Your prayers worked!  He found the strength and motivation to complete the Pft this morning.  He is now in Echo Company full force.  Ooo-rah!!!

And…

“Well, ladies, I just received my call from 1st Sgt.  Ryan found the strength to pick himself up and become more motivated.  He took the PFT this morning and PASSED!!!!!  He has found his way back to the USMC.  1st. Sgt said he will receive a written counseling and will be assigned a mentor for a few weeks (which I know he is desperate need of).  He will not lose any of his money and will be able to call me on Saturday, so long as nothing else happens.  I want to thank each one of you for all your prayers, support and encouragement.  I laid in the dark all night and all morning going over each of your posts and I don’t think I could have done this without you all.  I will never forget this.  Thank you!!!!  Also, I would like to voice my appreciation of 1st Sgt Daniel.  He didn’t have to take the time that he did with my Marine or listen to this crying momma over and over, but he did.”


What more is there for me to say.  This story, to me, is just yet another way of God showing me that my relationship with Him is important, not only for myself, but for others as well.  If I was not drawing close to Him, I don’t know that I would have heard the need for such focused prayer for Ryan…I don’t know that I would have prayed like I did, even if I had heard it.  This is yet another story that I will take forward in my pursuit of God.  He is who He says He is and He moves at the sound of our voice…Every Time I Turn Around!!