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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You Really Aren’t Enough…

You Really Aren’t Enough…

I’m feeling pretty out of sorts lately and I realized (duh) that I needed to put the chaos in my head down on paper so I can make some sense of it.  Will you bear with me as I trudge through this processing thing that I do?  Maybe something in here will be helpful for you too….

This week has been a really rough one for me.  I’ve had some really (really!!!) hard parenting moments with my grandson and I’m still questioning whether I did things the right way.  Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t.  But I’m trying.

I also saw (good ol’ social media) the end result of my “muchness” for someone I really love and respect.  That was a hard one.  I tried so hard to do things the right way but things were just never the same….and in the end it didn’t really matter….I was set aside anyway.

Right now, I feel really unseen.  I feel like people have this perception of me that says, “She doesn’t need anything.  She goes through stuff but her and Jesus, they always work it out.  She doesn’t need anybody.”  And in that perception of me, I get left alone.  It’s true, Jesus and I do have a real thing.  We work through it whenever things come up.  Sometimes I see what He is trying to tell me pretty quickly.  Other times, it takes foreverrrr! Usually because of me!  But to be totally honest with you, people still need people.  They need to be seen and loved and known.  We (yes, me) are so good at focusing on our own selves, and our own pain, that we forget to look up and walk along with the people next to us.  Here’s the thing though…You don’t have to fix it.  You don’t even have to make it better!   What???  How can I say this?  Don’t we all feel like we can’t step in with someone else’s struggle unless we can fix it, or make it better somehow??  The real honest truth is that your kindness is what makes it betterChoosing to love and be present is what makes it better.  Your undistracted eyes are what make it better.  And then there’s this…..God didn’t design you to fix it anyway!  Nope.  No fixing for you.  Or me.  That’s His job.

Ok.  Deep breath. (Am I really about to admit this?) Here’s the big one….

I have been battling with feeling used…on a major scale.  I feel as if my heart to love and help and do the right thing is seen…and I’m being taken advantage of because of that.  Some days, it seems as if I have the designation of the Fall Guy  “When it all falls apart, I’ll give it to Mitzie.  When it’s too much for me to handle, I’ll give it to Mitzie.  She’ll push through and make it work. She’ll keep it all together.  I don’t have to hold up my end of the relationship cuz she’ll be good with it…eventually.”  I feel like I have a sign on my forehead that says, “Kick me, I’ll just take it.”  Right now, I am that person who hears the promises but is not seeing the actions to those promises.  And I’m losing it a bit.

So now my enormously overthinking brain asks questions like this.  “Am I reading too much into all of this?  What about grace for these people?  Everybody is broken in some way or another…maybe this is just the way they’re broken?  Hurt people, hurt people, right?”  So now (as I always do), I’m in the process of excusing all of these feelings away…I’m invalidating what is inside me.  In the scheme of things, are they even going to matter in a few days or weeks or months?  Probably not.  But maybe they’re still valid….and I need to purge them out so I don’t go to this place over and over and over again.

This whole post so far (let’s be honest), sounds like a pity party.  Maybe it is….but maybe it’s not. You can decide.  But let me suggest something to you.  Maybe it’s the process (at least for me) by which ugly things that grow in the darkness, get pushed into the light so they can be flushed out.  Soooo here’s a question for you (or a few)….does any of this sound anything like what you’ve said in your own head from time to time?  Are they things that you know you’d be judged or condemned for, so you never say them out loud?  Are they things that you have cuddled up to like a warm, fuzzy blanket and accepted as truth?  Has the lie that you are unseen become such a part of you that you just accept it?  Do you own the belief that you are all alone in the world and that no one cares?  Do you believe that you are too much and no one will love you because of your “muchness?”  Do you believe all of the darkness that runs through your thoughts?  Guess what my friends!  No darkness can reside where there is light!  Maybe it’s time to bring it into the light.  Just sayin’

And on a final note….as I’ve just thrown up (figuratively) all over the keyboard….I just had a revelation.  I may be about to offend lots of you, but here it is anyway…

We, especially women, keep saying to each other “You are enough.” May I suggest that, actually, you aren’t. Yep. I said that.  But seriously, let’s get real…..there is always someone who won’t like how you dress or do your hair, how you work outside the home or not, feed your baby formula or not, give them solid food too early or too late…How you shouldn’t be married to the one you’re married to…or god forbid, be single….How you don’t have the right taste in friends or furniture…How you don’t spend your money right, or make enough, or that you flaunt the money you have or live too “high”….That you don’t clean the right way or say the right thing or do the right thing or have the right job.  How you don’t feel things the right way or love the way they think you should or talk quiet enough or loud enough or even talk enough. You’ll talk too much or too fast or too slow or…..or…..or.  You fill in the blank.  There is always a plethora of not-enough-ness.  Let me just be clear.

You. Are. Not. Enough.  Only Jesus is.  So when you talk too much or love too much or run too much or breathe too much, let Jesus be the one who is enough for you……and for the one who judges you. 

Offense

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

Meltdown…

I had a meltdown at 2 am this morning. There’s no other way to put it. It was messy. Ugly.  I was tired from a busy weekend and my grandson didn’t want to sleep and it all came crashing down. I cried. For an hour. The feelings were so powerful. The nerve endings of my emotions lit fire and consumed me. In that moment I was undone, I was lost. My very skin hurt. It was so tangible that it felt like this would never end. But It will. Nothing lasts forever.

What on earth is helpful or hopeful about what I’m saying? Well first, I’m totally human. And that’s okay. It’s not wrong to be human.  This is the path that God has given me to walk but some days I feel like I’m in a prison.  A prison of pain.  That no matter what I do, I cannot escape.  But that’s not it at all.  It is not a prison of pain.  It is the narrow path.  There is movement forward if I choose it.  But only I can choose it.  He’s not putting walls around me and locking the door.  He’s asking me to set my eyes on Him and walk blindly forward even when it’s dark and I cannot see.  And I cannot see.  At all. I am completely blind.  None of my senses are telling me what to do.  There is no sight. There is no sound.  There is no touch.  It is so scary that sometimes I am afraid. So afraid that I melt down.  So afraid that I run away from Him.  What He is asking of me is hard.  He is not fixing my circumstances.  At least where I can see.  And I don’t know what the eventual “fix” is that will bring all of this to a resolution.  The only definite thing that He has shown me is that I need to trust Him.  His answer and His resolution will be perfect.  Even if His “perfect” and my “perfect” are not the same.  His way is always better than mine and fear is a liar.  Fear is a LIAR.  So I run back to him.  Because away from Him is way too scary and the fear becomes real and the fire burns.  Next to Him I will not be burned.

Fear is a Liar 2“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters,  I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.   For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior”  Isaiah 43: 1b-3a

The Trenches….

Do you look around you and see suffering everywhere?  What do you do when you see it?  Do you get in the trenches with those who are suffering and pray or do you crawl away and pray it doesn’t touch you?  Do you look beyond the agony and find the purpose?  Sometimes its hard to see anything but the pain.  I know.  I’ve experienced my fair share.  It’s easy to focus on how much it hurts and how we just want to not feel that way anymore.  It’s time to shift our thinking to another possibility.

I read a devotional this morning (http://www.intouch.org/magazine/daily-devotion#.VBr8dvldV8E) that shook my thought process.  Then it became the topic of conversation in a group message I have with some dear friends who get in the trenches with me.  It was about sifting.  How Peter was not ready to take over when Jesus left and so he was sifted in preparation.  It is so hard to look past the suffering and see that there is always a reason, a purpose.  There IS. God is not just about allowing people to experience pain for pains sake.  He wants us to experience more of Him, to grow in faith, to grow in love, to get prepared.

So here is the personal nature of God.  After all of this conversation, a woman walked into my office in obvious pain.  She had hurt etched all over her face.  I asked if she was okay.  She was not.  She poured herself out.  I poured back.  We sat here in my place of work and cried while she let me minister to her and love on her.  She needed God to show up today and He did.  He used another woman in pain to be the heart of Jesus.  He didn’t need someone who had it all figured out.  He needed someone who was in the middle of it to crawl into the trench with her.  So I did.

I challenge you.  Crawl in with someone who needs a personal touch from the Lord.  Be bold.  Be vulnerable.  Be real.  Be Jesus.  Not tomorrow.  Not next month.  Right now.

 

Sacrifice

Today I have a dear friend that God so graciously placed in my life who is embarking on the same journey we started not long ago….only hers is so much more than mine.  I sent one son to serve but had 3 beautiful kids still at home.  She is sending her two sons, her only children to boot camp at this very moment.  She will walk back into her home to be greeted by silence.  There will be no more crazy game nights playing chicken foot…no more arguments about silly sibling things…no more birthday cakes…no more family drives to Texas…no more lots of things like Easter, Mother’s Day, Birthdays…but there are new things that will bring joy too…

There will be pride in what her sons have chosen to do…there is the absolute unadulterated joy at that first letter in the mail and every one after that….there is the feeling she will get when she knows her boys have passed one stage, and then the next and then the last and hardest; the Crucible….there is the moment she will hear their voices for the first time since they left home…there is the sight of their new, manly faces after 13 weeks of the hardest recruit training in the military…there is the first hug that feels like home….there is the hours spent on family day just staring at their beautiful faces…there is the new way that they walk through the world…the way they stand at ease no matter where they are…there is walking through the mall and having a stranger thank them for their service…there is their presence in her home for a few precious days when it is all over.  It is like nothing else and there will never be anything else like it.

So as her boys swear in and say goodbye, I thank her.  I thank her for her sacrifice, for her way of being graceful in the choice her children have made.  I thank her for allowing herself to be drafted when they made that choice.  I thank her for the children she and her husband raised…the way they are strong and willing to do what others cannot do.  I thank her for giving her boys to our country, because that is what she has done.  They will always be her sons, but she has given them to us so that we may remain free.  I thank her when thanks is not enough.  I pray for their well being…that they remain healthy and strong…that they hear the voice of their Father in Heaven when they are struggling…that they lean into Him when all else fails.  I pray that they have the strength to put one foot in front of the other when there is nothing left inside to continue on. But most of all, I pray that they feel the love of those who are far away but stand behind them in everything they are endeavoring to do….that they would know without a shadow of a doubt that they are not forgotten and that they are loved!