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

One Year Later…

Today is 8/08/18.

In 8 days, I will have been divorced for a year.  I know, I know….a lot of people get divorced. But the pain still exists.  The struggle still exists.  It is a very real thing.  The effects of it don’t disappear in a few weeks, a couple months, a year.  It takes awhile.  I suppose it’s different for everyone. Some people find ways to move on quickly.  Some people take time.  Maybe I’m somewhere in between.

I never imagined myself divorced.  But I am.  And in that circumstance, I have come to some abrupt realizations of how I’ve been seeing myself and how I operate in relationships.

They are this….

I am a lot.  I am a very emotionally intense person.  I feel things very, very deeply….much more than most probably.  And in that, I discovered that I have frequently operated in a very out-of-balance fashion.  I tend to constantly apologize for my tears, my feelings.  I make jokes about myself and my emotions.  I make excuses or diminish things that are part of my God Design in hopes that I will be not be rejected.  I’ve made excuses or diminished my own out-of-line behavior in order to keep myself in my own victim bubble.  I have been known to completely set myself aside for the comfort of others, even when it is wrong to do so.  I sometimes make decisions that are based on manipulating people in order to “keep them around.” I haven’t always chosen to take a breath before I respond in confrontation…and I’ve used those reactionary emotions as a battering ram. I’ve tearfully (manipulatively) glossed over anothers sadness or frustration with me by ignoring their feelings and in turn, aggressively bulldogged them with my own.  In other words, I behaved as if my emotions were the only feelings in the room.

Can you see the pattern?  Is the picture becoming clear?

I don’t say these things to, yet again, be the victim.  I am no victim!  I say these things becaue they are honest realizations about myself.  If I don’t choose to look them in the face, own them, and walk in accountability,  I will repeat them.  Over and over again.

I have been asked about dating and I’m just going to be honest…I don’t feel confident to do that yet.  For a few reasons.

First, I am not comfortable with where I am physically. Before you jump to conclusions, let me explain. I have struggled with my weight and physical appearance for a lot of my adult life.  I have attempted to lose weight and get healthy numerous times.  What I realized, just yesterday in fact, is that I always made those attempts for someone else.  I wanted my husband to think I was more attractive.  I believed that if I became a certain size or weight, he would stay with me (manipulation on my part). Some of that was in my own mind, some not.  He promised me at one point that he would take me on a trip overseas if I lost 100 lbs.  I see now that he was just trying to help motivate me in the goal that I had set for myself, but back then I chose to believe that he didn’t like how I looked and wanted me to be something I was not.  Ultimately, I started crossfit because I believed that if I was what he wanted, then he would love me. What is crazy, is that I never saw it.  I thought I was doing it for myself and only for myself.  I was not.  I was doing it to make people happy with me. But I need to do this for myself.  I need to have my own motivation, not someone else’s.  So I’ve started crossfit again because I want to feel good. Every day. Not just on good days. I want to be able to play on the floor with my grand babies. I want to fly overseas comfortably. I want to hike. I want to ride a bike. I want to lift heavy stuff.  I want to do a pull up. For me. Because I can.

Second is that my marriage was hard..especially the last few years.  I felt really burned…and I don’t want to carry that into any potential relationship.  I want to own my part honestly and work through the ugly, painful, dirty stuff so that I don’t take it out on someone who doesn’t deserve it.  I don’t want to be constantly suspicious of another’s words and actions. I want to love fully….without the reservations of old hurts.  To put it bluntly, I don’t want to be the same person I was in my last relationship.  I want God to be at the center and I long to do it His way and only His way. My dream has always been to have a marriage that is a picture of His love.  I want a relationship that is a witness of who He truly is.

Right now, I don’t know if that’s His plan for my life or not.  And I’m okay with that.  I have learned that I can live on my own.  I have learned that my worst fear can come true and I can come out thriving and alive…because of who He is….not because of any great accomplishment on my part.

Third is that I have a little boy in my life who needs me right now.  He needs consistency. He doesn’t need more people that come in and out of his life that he gets attached to. He’s had more than enough of that.  It’s time for him to be a priority…to be chosen. And I choose him.

If I had had my wish, I would have been able to learn these things while I was still married.  I wasn’t. I was too stubborn and too busy living in my emotions to listen to how God wanted me to find His way through these hard things.  He asked me to go His way more times than I can count, but I just kept thinking I could do it later….when I finally had courage. I kept thinking that surely God wouldn’t allow my family to fall apart.  But He didn’t make my family fall apart. We did that.  And so, I learned these things in the hardest way possible. Through loss.

God allowed me to be sifted because I asked Him to.  He allowed it because He believed me when I said I wanted to go deeper with Him.  He allowed it because He knew I could do it, even when I was sure I couldn’t.  He allowed it because He wanted me to become the warrior that I am now.  He wanted me to be one who walks with His authority. To bring His hope and His healing to the lives of others who are broken and hopeless.

This journey was not for nothing.  And just like me, your road is not going nowhere.  It means something.  It may take longer than you like but it will get you where you are meant to go.

A little post script…Why did I highlight all the eights? I’m pretty sure it’s significant….The number eight in the Bible signifies Resurrection and Regeneration. It is the number of a new beginning.