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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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.

 

It’s Personal…

Circumstances in my life, at first glance, do not scream of joy and thankfulness. They are hard, ugly, messy. It’s ok though…Aren’t we all a little ugly and messy? We just hide it better at certain times in our life than others. I don’t want to hide anymore. I want to live out loud. Whether it’s pain or victory, chaos or peace, I will be real. True. Authentic.

I have had unexplainable peace the last couple of days. It has just permeated me and blanketed my thoughts. There is no answer other than Jesus. My family is struggling, my oldest son is about to deploy to an unknown location; all things that normally paralyze me. But something is different. He is growing me. He is strengthening me. He is expanding my faith.

God is so personal. He is literally sending me something or someone several times a day to point my mind and heart to Him. He is holding me in His arms and I can feel it. It’s a warmth. It’s a calm. It’s a knowing that I don’t have to struggle anymore. I don’t have to strive to “feel better”. I don’t have to fix the problems. All I need to do now is rest. And look to His face. He has it all solved. I may not see it yet, but the solution has already been accomplished, whatever it may be.

So I am grateful. Grateful for a God that is becoming more of a best friend than I ever could have imagined. Grateful that I can let go of control and be okay. Grateful that I am growing. Even grateful for the struggle. I would not have this peace if there was no trial. I would not be growing if there were no problems. There is ugly and messy, but HE MAKES BEAUTIFUL THINGS OUT OF DUST. In that I have joy and thankfulness. In that I have peace.

Laying Myself Bare…

Today I lay myself bare.  I am a flawed human being.  We all are.  I hang onto things thinking that I have some kind of control over them but I don’t.  Circumstances are swirling around my life right now that are making that abundantly clear.  The details may seem important, but they are not.  What I am going through is hard.  The hardest thing I think I’ve ever known.  But there is a point to it all.  I know there is.  There is nothing that God will not do for just one soul.  He will allow everything to be stripped away and broken in order that His great love is known.  Every direction I turn, every path I take brings more stripping and pain.  In reading this, please do not feel sorry for me.  Do not be angry that the hard things are happening.  Instead take another look.  See that what God is doing is beautiful.  It is forcing me to make minute by minute choices to trust Him and not what I see all around me.  It is forcing me to be still where I have been chaotic. It is forcing me to be silent where I have been incessantly vocal.  It is forcing me to have hope where I have seen only the impossible.  I want circumstances to come into line with my plan, with my desire, with what I think is best for ME.  I am giving that up.  I am learning to put my full and complete hope in what God has planned, no matter what that looks like.

I am also coming to terms with the fact, that even in learning all of these things, pain still exists.  It does not just disappear because I am trusting or hoping or being still.  It is there.  It is raw.  I feel shredded.  I feel abandoned.  I feel forgotten.  But I choose not to BELIEVE that I am abandoned or forgotten.  For He sees me.  He knows my name.  He calls me His.  He cares about the things I care about.  He is near to the brokenhearted. He delights in me right where I am at.  His name is my strong tower and I run into that tower.  Nothing can get to me when I choose to stay IN His tower.  Think about that for a minute.  Picture that in your mind.  When I run to His tower I am fully protected. NOTHING can harm me.  NOTHING.  There is peace in His tower.  When I am in His tower I take my hands off of everything that I am trying to control.  I cannot control AND live in His tower at the same time.  Just as nothing can get to me, I cannot keep my hands on outside things. I cannot hold chains of control around those circumstances anymore.  I let go.  But don’t get me wrong, it is hard to stay in the tower. I am so human.  My “need” to have the magical words to change a situation is still there. So I step outside sometimes.  I try to take control again.  Then I have to choose again, to align my heart and spirit with the fact that God can take care of it better than I can.  And so I let go.  Over and over and over again.

I have walked the road of bitterness.  It left me with a stomach full of pills and a stay at the mental hospital.  I will not go back there.  God, in His kindness, chose to heal me and I treasure and protect that healing.  I will always choose forgiveness.  Of God, of others, of myself.  There are people who think I am crazy.  Who think that I have every right to be angry, to be spiteful.  And in the eyes of the world, maybe I do, but I choose differently.  God has forgiven me more than I could ever keep track of.  I will never turn my back on that.  I will forgive much.  Every. Single. Time.  No matter the offense.  I choose Jesus.  No matter what comes at me, I choose Jesus.  I CHOOSE JESUS!

 

Open Windows and Closed Doors

I don’t know how but I thought I posted this back on July 17th….I didn’t so I am today…

For as long as I can remember I have felt unseen, unheard, unimportant. I’ve never felt truly cherished….really, really chosen. But wait just a second before you feel sorry for me or think I’m wallowing in a pity party. There is so much more I have to say.

So much of my story is about emotions…how I feel, how I see, what it does to me. This is me. I am an emotional person. I am a merciful person. But I am a passionate person. I just said to someone the other day that sometimes our greatest gifting is our biggest weakness. I was describing myself in that statement.

There are lots of reasons I have felt unseen, unheard, unimportant….but I want to talk about my participation in that.  When I have felt that way, I would own that feeling and it would become me.  So in feeling unseen, I would become unseen.  In feeling unheard and unimportant, I would not speak with authority or fight for justice.  Let me say this.  Feelings are not always truth.  But my response to them can cause them to become facts.  Let me say that again.  Feelings can lie.  Don’t let them become truth in your life.

The Lord challenged me to be obedient in something a few weeks back.  In the process of that, I became very invested in the outcome….more so than I even thought I was.  So when the decision was made and it was not what I was hoping for, my immediate thought was. “This sucks.  This hurts so more than I thought it would.”  My second thought was, “How do I walk through this with grace?  How do I move forward without offense? I don’t want to do what I’ve always done.”  I want to trust that God has something better.  I want to believe that I will not always feel second best.  I want to let go of what isn’t in God’s plan for me. The challenge is giving up what I want and really, tenaciously grabbing onto HIS best….even if I don’t know what that is at the moment.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a TON of emotions involved in this process.  I’ve cried, I’ve been angry, I’ve had a bit of a pity party, but I’m telling you all of this so that I can move forward.  I don’t want to be stuck.  I don’t want to wallow.  It’s all part of learning to jump out the open window that God might show me instead of banging my fists on the closed door.  I’ll take the open window…