Category Archives: Asking right questions

Abuse: Finding Hope One Day at a time. Part 1

You may have clicked on this link almost out of desperation and part of you may be furtively looking around to make sure nobody else sees that you’re looking at this particular subject right now because if they see that you’re reading it, then they might know that you have a painful place in your soul that you have never talked about..

Or maybe this happened to you?

The question was innocent enough…

“Let’s go around the table and share a childhood memory.”

The person who was asking it had no idea what incredibly profound panic that question evoked in one of the ladies sitting at that table. I knew because I had felt that panic once myself as I stood in a bookstore looking at a fantastic book, Mount up on Wounded Wings by a victor who was a trophy to God’s grace despite her past, Beneth Peters Jones.  I knew it would help me, but I was afraid to pick it up off the shelf for fear someone would see me and ask me why I was looking at “that” book and I could not answer them at that point if they did. It was too deep!…. too painful!!.

This dear friend sitting across the table from me processing that question, had just started telling me her story that week. I knew, from the look of terror that instantly filled her eyes, even though outwardly she looked fine, and her demeanor, that had become very stiff and carefully controlled. She had been transported to a dark place by that question and she needed time to think of an answer that would not cause shock in the room. I immediately jumped in with one of my fun childhood stories so that she would have the time it would take for every other person sharing all the way around the table before she had to say anything. Her childhood had been NOT been safe or ideal, unlike every other person sitting there. She had experienced terrible things at the hands of family members who should have been her protectors, but instead was her abusers. How could she say anything to this crowd who just would not understand or have any idea?

We had sat in her house the week before when she talked about certain times of day and certain things people did that caused a problem because they reminded her of the things she had experienced as a child. And she asked me how to look at these things from a Biblical perspective. What did God say about what she had experienced and how could she move forward?

 Building trust

How to did she come to trust me with the story first?

She had heard some of my story, and knew I had worked in a home for girls like her for 7 years.

Trust must be earned! Note that of the 134 verses in God’s Word with the word “trust”, we are never once commanded to trust another person. We are however, commanded and encouraged often to trust God. Many examples show how we need to be very careful who we trust. Look up 2 Kings 18: 20-24 for one example.

We are told repeatedly to trust God.  2 Sam 22:31, Job 13:15; Ps 4:5; Ps 9:10 Is 26:3-4,  are a few of the examples. Take the time to look these up. They will encourage your heart. Even if you have no Bible PLEASE go to Bible Gateway.com and look them up. For the sake of space here we have not fully listed each verse. The value of reading those life giving words of Scripture FAR exceeds anything else you read in this article!

We can learn to trust others to a certain extent who demonstrate the characteristics and approach we will discuss here.

A helpful analogy is to remember that we are dealing with a trauma patient coming in from an accident scene. We must make an initial assessment of the overall damage. Then we have to approach this with taking on the most pressing immediate spiritually and emotionally life-threatening pain and trauma before we can work on long term rehabilitation and reclaim lost ground with healing truth. We Must not try to put a bandaid on a crater of a wound.  So where to start?

Initial assessment:

Listening in silence first. Job 2:12-13,

Pro 18:13  If one answers a matter before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.

Pro 15:28  The heart of the righteous studies to answer,

Pro 20:5  Wisdom in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.

I had sat in careful silence as she talked to me, because this was not something that could be answered glibly. I did not say much and asked her for time to think about it over the coming days. All I could do in that moment was simply listen with the desire to understand.  At home later I prayed and asked God to show me from His word some answers.

Speaking truth that offers biblical comfort and hope!

Pro 15:1-4, 7  A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours out foolishness. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but crookedness in it is a break in the spirit. The lips of the righteous send forth knowledge…” NASB

The main thing I learned when helping those girls, in the group home where I worked, who had been abused and neglected, was that the only REAL HOPE that could make a lasting difference was the Word of God. So we make it our highest priority that our counsel is absolutely biblically sound.  The ultimate end is that your heart is drawn into deeper richer relationship with the true lover of your Soul Jesus Christ who suffered immeasurably on the cross so that we might be saved from our sin! He understands our pain!

Heb 4:14-16  Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (NKJV)

No other answers that you can give to this kind of raw agony will heal like the solid Word of God carefully given. We have to be very careful about how we use Bible Bricks. The Bible is foundational and can grow a solid structure of hope and truth in your heart when the bricks are laid where they belong at the right time and in the right way. Major caution and care is needed so that verses are not thrown out to try to fix without understanding or they will hit with the force of a brick and cause damage and confusion as to how God offers comfort and healing rather than help. With this in mind, we approach help this way.

 

 

 

Is My Child Ok? How Can I know?

This introduction to a new series I am creating for parents on teaching children who are outside the box. It covers the 5 essentials parents need to consider when determining what areas can hinder or enhance success related to their abilities.. to access the free video click on this link below

.https://wispy-firefly-4775.ck.page/f18caedeea

What a Teacher Regrets!

This video is an introduction to what I will develop on this Christian Special Education page.

What you will learn

What is the most important thing about working with children with or without special needs? And, why should you care?

In episode 1 of The Ruth Meed Christian Special Education show, I reveal why every individual who serves children or adults, with or without obvious special needs must pay attention to the Biblical model of special education or possibly miss important things that mean the difference between making a positive impact or being a source of unnecessary pain for the person with disabilities.

Find out about:

• What a teacher learned who had taught for 20 years.

• The 6 ways the Bible tells us people learn and demonstrate their learning. VAKT DW

• Why you should take a second look at how Jesus taught to become a better teacher.

This video is an introduction to what I will develop on my Christian Special Education page. The point of the page is to develop a series of courses to offer practical help with teaching or parenting youngsters with disabilities. It is not intended to be all-encompassing as there are many resources out there. It is initially designed to link the biblical ideas with practical tools for the parent and educator. As time goes on other things will be added as I develop a better understanding of what you need to hear more about related to education especially special education, from a biblical perspective.

My public FB education page is here: https://www.facebook.com/Meeditationseducation/

The link to the private FB group is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/473518573288672/

There are  3 simple questions to screen folks who come into that page to limit scammers etc.

By the way. You have to come back and watch more videos in the series to find out about the Bell:)

Jada

“It’s yours really it is!”

“No I don’t believe you, I think you are wrong!”  Those words still echo in my mind years later when I  think of this story that happened in 1994. I remember the date because I have it written on the bottom of the figurine and who gave it to me.

In the years that I was working at Boylston Home, I had lots of adventures with the girls.  All of them were wisdom developing experiences.

One spring afternoon Jada came bouncing in the door from school with a beautiful little Precious Moments figurine in her hands. She pranced up to me with a delighted look on her face and proceeded to hand me this little figure with joy. I said “thank you dear, but where did you get this?”  My heart was already sinking because Jada was known for having slippery fingers and coming home with things that did not belong to her.

“It’s for you Miss Ruth! I got it for you!” She gushed happily, pushing the figurine into my hands.

I asked her again, “Where did you get this?”

“I got it at school, Miss Ruth.  It’s for you! I got it for you!”  She was not to be discouraged.

“Are you sure are you telling me the truth or Did you steal this from someone?” I was sure I was going to have to take her to someone again and make her give it back..

“No, no! I got it for you honestly I did.”  She was starting to look a little crestfallen at my continued questioning.

“Jada, I’m sorry I can’t believe you.  You’ve taken things from people before that weren’t yours and I’m afraid you might have stolen this too.  I have to call your teacher and she going to tell me where you really got this from so you need to tell me now.”

She barely paused but firmly reassured me, “Yes, Miss Ruth, yes ! I know you like precious moments, so I got if for you honest!”

I walked away from her with a heavy heart knowing that she had probably stolen it wondering “how am I going to deal with this?  I’ll try to give her the benefit of the doubt and I will call her teacher tomorrow.”

The next morning I called the teacher.

“Hello, Miss Smith? I’m sorry, I hate to bother you, but you know how we have this history of Jada taking things that don’t belong to her?  Well, last night she came home with a Precious Moments figurine.  It’s really cute and I have no idea where she got it from can you help me out?”

“Yes Ruth, I would love to tell you what happened with that. Jada knows we have a prize box and a month-and-a-half ago I brought in that figurine and put some high points on it because it has value.  Jada took one look at it and she said, “I know Miss Ruth loves Precious Moments, I’m going to earn that figurine for her!” She spent the entire month earning the points, by good behavior, by working hard, by doing everything that she was supposed to do and getting along with her classmates so she could “buy” that from the prize box for you. That figurine is really yours!   I have been very proud of her effort and you can be as well!”

I wanted to crawl under the table where I was sitting. Not only had I misjudged this young girl. I had completely missed how deep her love was for me that she would sacrifice her earnings for an entire month, not tell me about it and not pick something for herself, but pick something to give to me!  My mind immediately goes to a couple of different verses when I think about this situation. “No man knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person ” (I Corinthians 2:11). and 1 Corinthians 13 where it says “love keeps no record of past wrongs” and, “thinks no evil.”

When Jada came home from school that day I sat down with her and asked her forgiveness for thinking evil of her and wrapped her up in a hug thanking her for her incredible young sacrifice for me! Needless to say, that figurine has always had a prominent place everywhere I have lived and worked to remind me never ever to misjudge a student/child until I knew all the facts! Many times since then I’ve had other situations where, because I took the time to stop and ask all the questions, I was able to save those students the grief of being misjudged by an adult. In one case because I asked all the questions first and was willing to ask forgiveness of a student it saved another student’s life. But that’s a story for another chapter.

Misconceptions: dealing with grief and answers.

Misconceptions about Grief and some Biblical practical thoughts.

A dear friend who has suffered greatly and is now helping others like 2 Corinthians 1 tells us, to comfort, posed a question on FB this week. “What is the greatest misconception of grief that you have experienced?”

In a matter of minutes my mind came up with this list based on the things I have seen, read, heard and personally experienced. I only listed them there, so I want to take the time to develop the answers to each of these Biblically, hopefully for your encouragement and practical use. If enough people express interest I will work on developing a pamphlet that you can order from me.

These are listed as they came to mind so there really is nothing special about the order.  The goal is to supply some key principles to consider when talking to others about their grief. It is likely not completely exhaustive, but it is a good place to start with the common things folks have encountered.

  1. People think they can determine how you grieve is based on how they do.

The Holy Spirit knows our frame, He remembers that we are but dust (Ps 103:14) and because He knows us, He also knows how we handle suffering. If we look at how Jesus handled Mary and Martha in John 11: over the death of their brother, we see very quickly that He dealt with these two ladies differently based on their personalities.  Martha was immediately questioning and talking so Jesus answered her according to her words. Mary was much quieter and Jesus wept with her in silence.

  1. People think they know how long you can grieve.

We know that Job’s friends sat for an entire week in Job 2 before they spoke “because they saw how deep his grief was,” and they only spoke after Job did. (how many of us would sit beside someone who was deeply suffering and not speak for an entire week?) Next, we see that God allowed that discussion to play out for 32 chapters before He said anything.  Then He addressed both Job for his need to develop deeper trust AND his friends for their error in counseling a grieving person!  I was listening to a sermon several years back on Elijah and his “depression.” (1 Kings 19) The speaker proceeded to talk about how Elijah was just on a “pity party” and needed to get up and get back in the battle. This preacher failed to consider some very important things that are noted in the passage. One was the marathon Elijah had just run in Chapter 18. He was utterly exhausted when he was attacked  and threatened by Jezebel. That is when  the devil is most likely to try to take us down. (note that he waited till Jesus was weak and hungry to come after him…Luke 4) More importantly he missed the key phrase where God gave Elijah food,  let him rest, then fed him again with food that nourished him “for 40 days “(1 King 19.8). God knew how long Elijah needed to rest before he could get back to work.  Even when the resting period was done and he was ready to move forward, God did not speak through storms and earthquakes, He spoke in a still small voice with questions.  He never rebuked Elijah for his feeling of being alone, He let him speak and then when he was done saying his piece, God simply told him what he needed to do next. What is even more interesting to consider here is that Elijah was a very outspoken man, so it was surprising to see that when he needed encouragement, he did not get an outspoken rebuke from God. Instead he was given a very gentle question… We can think we are very sure how we need to address people, but we must be careful to ask questions to determine what we are really dealing with first!

  1. People think that your emotional scar is going to disappear/go away.

Emotional scars remain in the same way physical scars do. Like God has given us so many examples through Jesus ministry where he used physical things to demonstrate spiritual unseen things, God also gave us the physical scar to show us what we cannot see inside someone else’s heart.  Scars do heal but the flesh never looks the same.

  1. People fail to see the deepness of the wound.

The verse I think of here is “This kind cometh not out but by prayer and fasting. Matt 17:21.”  I do realize contextually Jesus was discussing why the disciples could not cast out a demon for a man. However, I think the principle applies where we need to consider that there may be harder things going on for a person grieving than we see and we need to be committing them to much more prayer.

  1. People fail to realize that some wounds take longer to drain and heal then others.

I had an experience at one point in my life that helped me learn this principle. I developed this terrible cyst on my back and it was in a place where I could not reach it or do anything to drain it myself. I tried to no avail but it needed to be opened in order to drain. I went to a medical friend. She did not want to hurt me so did nothing. I paid a doctor to look at it.  She said “its not ready to be dealt with yet. ( it was 2 inches across and very painful.) I ended up at someone’s home who took the time to open and do the initial drain that took a couple of hours that day. Then the next days she did more and for days after it continued to drain till it finally healed and I have a permanent indent in a spot on my back from it.  The multitude of applications this produced in my mind are another blog, but the main point here is that some people need more time to talk about, write about, process and work through their grief than others do. Puss needs to be gotten out folks. Some comes quick ,some takes much longer.  I think there is a reason why we are exhorted to forbear with one another. (Eph 4:2)

  1. People think grief is a sin.

Jesus Wept (John 11:32) Nuff said!!

  1. People forget about God’s condemnation of Job’s friends for not speaking right about Him and why God had done what He had done. Job 42:7

 

  1. People don’t know how to answer so say nothing or tell you to stop talking.

Saying nothing is not bad. Just being there in presence and silence can be very comforting. Even Job’s friends recognized that Job 2:13 and they visually looked for the clues to see that Job was suffering.

In reference to telling you to stop talking about your grief. I will develop more in another post about the concept of biblical processing versus venting. Biblical processing in short drains puss and helps to heal a wound. Venting with no desire to understand change or grow is different. The Psalms are replete with examples of anger and frustration expressed, that in the end always turned to a desire to see and understand and rest in the Lord in a new way. That is Biblical processing. Venting is self focused and not intent on growth.

  1. Often People don’t realize that the loss (of an arm to use the physical visual) cannot be just “gotten over.” Life has to be approached completely differently. You simply cannot do the things you did before that same way.

This is simply practical understanding. When you lose a limb you have to learn how to compensate without it. You are never the same but that does not mean you have to be useless. The same is true with a loss. You are never the same and you do have to learn to compensate.  When Paul went through things he talked about experiencing some level of trauma/trial as shown by how he was physically weak. 1 Cor 2:3, 2 Cor 12:-10. Yet even in his weakness Paul realized he could be strong because that is when the Holy Spirit stepped in to empower him. People need time to figure out how to deal with and create a new “normal.”

  1. The first year is not always the worst year. The second and following can be more so because all the support the first year goes away in the years later when things happen that still hit you hard.  My twin was cleaning a cupboard in the years after my dad’s death and pulled a box of Sugar Crisp out and started weeping. ( and then very quickly laughing because of the absurdity of crying over a box of cereal) It was dad’s favorite cereal. You can’t plan for those things! They just happen and you have to recognize the grief, work through it to move on.  I was driving on a highway 10 years after my dad’s death and a truck rolled by with the phrase “jack of all trades.” on the side of it. I immediately started sobbing because my dad was capable of fixing anything completely!

 

  1. Many forget the admonition of Prov 18:13.  You cannot answer till you fully hear or you are a fool.

People need to be willing to ask the right questions before they make quick statements.

  1. Some forget the principle of 2 Cor 1. We comfort how God has comforted us. We cannot help someone else if we have not embraced our own suffering before God and learned how He really comforts. The bible also says the reason the Holy Spirit is our Great High Priest is because He was touched with the feelings of our weakness! Heb 4:15

 

  1. People forget 2 key principles in Phil 3

Verse :10 Paul says he wants to know Christ in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering. We all want the power of His resurrection. We do not readily embrace the fellowship of His suffering!

Verse 13 says “forgetting those things which are behind.” The context of what Paul is discussing here is that he is forgetting all his accolades, all he did well, and he is pressing TOWARD suffering for Christ. So those who try to quote this verse as the reason to just “get over” suffering are, in fact, misquoting scripture.

  1. People forget 2 Cor 12:9 we are strong when we are WEAK and God is strong in us. Suffering and loss absolutely weakens us! But in it, as we embrace our loving Savior, He strengthens us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

  1. In this culture people think weeping is weakness. John 11:35 negates that. Jesus was not weak!

 

  1. The claim that “Time heals all wounds.” Time does heal but it does not make scars go away. Just because a scar is not visible does not mean it is not there. I can’t see your mind but I know you have one.  I can’t see the cancer that ravages someone’s body but it is still there and has to be dealt with. Emotional scars are also there and like a physical scar, if it is bumped or scraped will peel and sometimes reopen, so emotional wounds can be reopened when bumped.

 

  1. Some people think you are manipulating and having a pity party when in fact you are truly confused and need time and help to process the grief.

Carefully asked questions and NOT making assumptions are incredibly important here! If someone says essentially, “I am just having a pity party and leave me alone,” that is one thing, but if someone is genuinely confused in the process of deep grief, they need to be more carefully helped and allowed to process their questions and confusion. Jesus let Martha speak her piece and then answered her. God let Job speak his piece so we all have a clear picture of his areas of confusion and anger etc. Then He answered him with lots of carefully worded questions. 1 Cor 2:11 says that no man knows the spirit of a man except that man. and only when someone states that they will choose to use their grief as a crutch or pity party can you address them this way. Most people who are grieving are genuinely gasping for air trying to survive until they learn a new normal. It is incredibly easy to stand outside of someone else’s sorrow and pass judgment. God gives grace for each person’s sorrow and He times their healing just like some folks get over cancer and others die from the exact same form. We do have to pass through the valley of Baca (suffering) and make pools of hope for those who come behind Ps 84:6 But no one can be the Holy Spirit in someone else’s life. Our job is to listen and ask them what God is showing/teaching them. Or gently ask them what they understand about what a particular verse means. Ps 54-56 are helpful places to start.

  1. People forget that grief is a process not just a moment.

Refer back to my comments earlier about how God handled Elijah and Job. and # 17 we do need to work the process. I have seen information that talks about anywhere from 5 to 15 stages of grief.  The bottom line is  that grief is a process and people have to work through the process at the pace God sets for them and  we need to learn the things God wants us to learn but we have to do this on God’s time table not man’s.

  1. People Misquote verses like “forgetting what is behind and pressing forward.” (see number 13) The context of that is Paul forgetting his accomplishments and pressing toward the fellowship of Jesus suffering…

 

  1. Fellowship is not an instafix. Fellowship means time spent with a fellow in his ship. Ships riding in storms can’t just go dock at the landing. They have to wait for the storm to subside before it is safe to dock!

 

  1. People forget that the skin heals faster than the tissue underneath. My brother had open heart surgery. I tore my baby toe nearly off. I can tell you that the skin heals but the tissue underneath needs more time. I started walking on my foot too soon and reopened the wound because the muscles etc. were not healed under the skin. This is true in loss and grief as well. Deeper grief takes longer to heal.

 

  1. People forget that there are many ways to express grief beyond what they are comfortable with. Some need writing, drawing, talking, hiking, quietness, to name a few.

 

  1. Some People think because you grew up in a Christian home and can quote half the Bible that you know how to deal with grief and don’t need their extended help and understanding. And you should be able to just get over it and be full of joy because we are supposed to rejoice in our trials like James 1 says.

 

While we know the truth of something, we cannot anticipate all the things we will do when we experience it. When you learned to drive a car, you took the paper test but you did not know a thing about pushing the brake or gas at the right time or how much till you got behind the wheel, or how hard to stop or start or how fast to go around corners, or how to maneuver to parallel park. You must experience and work the process and so it is with grief. When I first drove, I ran into a brick wall on a motor bike because I did not know how to turn or hit the brake right. Now that I have driven over 500,000 miles in all kinds of weather and several types of cars /bikes, with various transmissions and axles, there are things about driving I don’t even think about.  But I had to learn. In the days, weeks and months following my dad’s death I could hardly get through an hour with out gasping back sobs. Now 18 years later I can still be caught off guard by a comment someone makes but it does not feel like the “brick wall” of those early days because I have learned how to gently apply the breaks in my mind and redirect after the initial shock of emotion subsides.  Dad is part of who I am, that will NEVER go away.  I have learned how to embrace that while continuing with my life but that took time and understanding from those around me.

Knowledge puffs up. Experience teaches you (1 Cor 13.) You gain wisdom through the things God allows in your life.  God does say He tests us to see if we will follow Him (2 Chron 32:31, Ps 11:4; 26:2; 139:23; Jer 17:10; 1 Pet 4:12) and in the case of Paul He said he would see the great things he would suffer for Jesus sake.(Acts 9:16)  Suffering is part of life and we can have joy in the sorrow but the Bible does say too, that the whole creation travails in pain waiting for the adoption of our bodies. (Roms 8:22) We do feel pain physically and emotionally. Roms 8:26 says the Holy Spirit helps our weaknesses with groanings that cannot be uttered.

From personal experience I can tell you that you can experience an unusual peace and joy at the same time that tears are streaming down your face (or ripping your soul) with deep grief. It is a crazy mix of emotions that is not unbiblical or ungodly. It is the natural process of grief.

“Counting something all joy” like James 1 says, is a thought in the mind first (the word count is a mental process here) it is not instantly an emotion. The emotion takes time to follow.

These truths can be gently shared in small doses when someone is ready for them but they are not the first things to say when someone is gasping for air in a tidal wave of emotion.

Feel free to comment and if needed let me know things you think I should add.

How I learned my philosophy for helping people.

The answer I gave to someone this morning who asked me about how I learned the approach I have taken when I talk to people who ask for my help. First and foremost, it is about 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our trouble, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in every trouble, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. “
We must comfort people not with proof texts but with the comfort God has given us! That means we have to be willing to face our daily “stuff!” before we try to “Fix” other people!
My Philosophy when it comes to psychology is quite simply, anything that works in psychology works because it was already in the Word of God to start with. Sadly in some of the biblical counseling world, we have not really dug into understanding what God is communicating in some of the passages. We may want the easy way out. We don’t want to deal with prickly hard things that hurt. It takes some real time and effort on the part of all people involved. I am working on a visual project of this that I will post in the coming days as it is taking time to do what I am doing and I have to work at it slowly as I have strength.
In the meantime, however, the more I have walked this road of growth and healing and trying to understand what God was communicating to me, the more I have understood some very key passages of scripture and exactly what God is really trying to say and how helpful it is to life and godliness! It has become a driving passion with me to never give a pat answer! To always think through things to make sure I understand what’s really going on and to give a Biblical answer that is not trite! God’s Word is like bricks and picked up and used properly they create a foundation that is powerfully strong. But if they are just picked up and thrown at somebody because someone doesn’t want to take the time to understand where that brick really needs to be laid, they cause more damage than help! I call them Bible bricks for that reason. I will never give someone the quick answer of “You just need to get over this and trust God.” Until I have asked all the question, Prov 18:13 I don’t know what it is they need to get over and I also don’t know if they have the tools and support to work towards getting over it. There are an awful lot of incredibly deeply hurting people who need truth given the right way, at the right time, and laid properly to create a foundation in their life! We can’t afford to pick up bricks and throw them and dash off to our next appointment! I have had people in my life who have done both. One approach was life-changing and directional. The other was deeply damaging!

Suzie

Oh NO..! I missed my chance!!
I had been at Boylston Home for about 2 years when we had a girl placed with us who was supposed to be with us for several months. She arrived on a Monday. That Thursday night, I was home alone with her as the others had gone to some activity. She had gone to her room and I was busy doing the other things typical mom’s do to take care of a house. The Lord very clearly prompted me to talk to her about how to be saved. I thought about it and then thought, “ah, I have lots of time and I have other things I need to do tonight that are more important.” So, I puttered around cleaning or whatever, just doing my “thing.” He kept prompting me with a clear internal thought. “Do it now!” and being the rebellious, insensitive to the Holy Spirit person I that I was at that time, to my shame, I kept saying back essentially, “but Lord, this thing I am doing right now is more pressing and she will be here for a while.” I kept doing what I was doing. Interesting how I can’t remember what I was doing that night that I thought was more pressing than telling someone about Jesus. I just listened to the lies of unbelief, instead of the truth. I had a lesson I needed to learn and God was about to make it incredibly real!

We had a policy at the home that every girl who came to us was immediately given a Bible on the first night and then we would introduce them to the information as they stayed with us. Many came to us who had never seen one before, so it took time to make sure they understood what it was all about. I had not taken the time yet to walk her through the simple Romans road plan, yet, because I figured I had lots of time. So as crazy as this sounds to me now, I went to sleep and let her go to sleep that night with no understanding of eternal hope!

The next morning, at 8:20 am, I got a call from her Social Worker telling me that there had been an emergency court hearing called and “Susie” would be going home immediately. We had just enough time to get her things packed back up and she was GONE!
I wandered around that house all morning in a daze, stunned that I had let a clear opportunity from the Lord slip through my fingers and I was devastated by my lack of response to a clear prompting from the Holy Spirit! I never let that opportunity slip by again as long as I lived there. I made sure that either I or one of my coworkers had at least shared the gospel plan with every girl who came through the door as soon as possible! I was not going to make that foolish mistake again. I learned my lesson! God taught me well!

3 YEARS later I was sitting at the desk writing a report when the phone rang and a Social worker proceeded to describe to me what sounded like a very troubled young teenage lady. I told her we were hesitant to take someone with those kinds of challenges into our program. She barked back impatiently, “Well I don’t know why not, you had her there before!”
I paused, “Oh really, what was her name?”
“Susie” she replied.
I could not believe my ears! God was bringing her back? I went and told my director what I was being described and what I knew of her from before and got permission to admit her back into the program. I was absolutely marveling that God was so orchestrating things for me to have a second chance!

That night I was scheduled to put the girls to bed and I intentionally took care of all the others before I went to her room. I was NOT going to miss the opportunity a second time! She was sitting on her bed and the Bible was sitting at the foot of the bed.
“Is that the Bible we gave you when you left?’ I asked.
“Yes, it is! I have moved many times since I left here and I have lost many of my things, but I made sure I hung on to that!” She stated it with emphasis.
“Really? Did anyone ever tell you what it was all was about?” I asked.
“No,” she sadly replied.
“Would you like to me to tell you about it?”
To my dying day, I will never forget the look on her face as she turned to me eyes ablaze with wonder and joy and asked me,
“Would you really?”
I had the incredible privilege from God to make good on what He had asked me to do 3 years earlier! She was gloriously saved that night. I know it was real because 3 weeks later she was moved again and after she had been gone for several days I got a call from the Social Worker.
“What did you tell Susie when she lived with you?” She demanded somewhat abruptly.
“I am not sure what you mean?” I responded perplexed.
“She is telling everyone where she lives now that they need to trust Jesus as their Savior or they will go to Hell,” She accused me. I reminded her of the policy at the home that was written in our intake packet that we would share the Bible with all residents who came to live with us and that it was their choice to believe or not believe what the Bible taught. She could not argue with me and hung up disgruntled. I hung up rejoicing that God in His incredible mercy had given me a second chance to finish the work He had asked me to do!

“God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance! 2 Peter 3:9 Behold now is the accepted time. Now is the day of Salvation! 2 Corinthians 6:2 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18. My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3 We wait in hope for the Lord. Psalms 33:20 As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of Jehovah is tried; He is a shield to all those who trust in Him. For who is God besides Jehovah? Or, who is a Rock except our God? Psalms 18:30-31” (KJV, AMP, MKJV Esword)

Lydia (Gideons)

“What in the world? How did you know?”
(This is a Gideon Bible story.)
In the years that I was at Boylston Home, 69 girls came through the doors. (I will never use the real name of any girl unless she has given me permission to do so.) Regardless of whether they were there for 24 hours, or several years we had a few non-negotiable principles that we shared with them. Some of those principles we taught were … they were valuable, …. they could take care of themselves, do laundry, dress, basic house cleaning, treat others with kindness and dignity, etc. and … their past did not have to define their future.
The most important thing we did, however, was to put a Bible in the hands of every girl who came into the home. We shared the truth of the Gospel with them using that Bible, knowing full well that it was entirely up to them what they did with that information. Some chose to believe immediately, some chose to wait and think about it and then believed, and some chose not to believe, at least not in the time when they were with us. Our responsibility was not to force a response, it was simply to tell them the truth from the Word of God and let the Holy Spirit() do His work in their hearts. “Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest… “Hebrews 4:1 – 3 NASB (E-sword)
How God absolutely prepared a heart to hear the truth never ceased to amaze me!
We had a girl come to us in her mid-teens. She had quite a painful story that we would learn in the time that she stayed with us. In the first week of her being with us, I sat down with her with a Bible and started to tell her the basic truth of how to trust Jesus Christ as your Savior. I took her through the “Romans Road” with which many of us are familiar.
Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” I told her that we are all sinners who need a Savior. She readily admitted she was a sinner. I told her that sin had separated us from God.
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ Our Lord.”
Romans 5:8 “But God commended (showed) His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
I showed her how these verses clearly demonstrated that even though we are sinners, God loved us enough that Jesus came and died for our sins.
Then I took her to Romans 10:9-10 and 13, “That if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in your heart that God has raised Him (Jesus) from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness but with the mouth confession is made known unto salvation….Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
I told her how genuine Christian faith requires stating with your mouth that you believe that Jesus Christ is God, that He died for your sins and that He rose again to demonstrate He had the power over death and hell too.
I asked her if she had any questions. She told me she was very interested, but she wasn’t grasping it yet. At that point, I quietly prayed to the Lord in my mind and asked Him if there was another verse I needed to show her that would help? He immediately brought this verse to my memory. (I had been to a Bible study a week before where they had talked about using this verse when you share the gospel with someone, so it was still fresh on my mind.)
John 5:24. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes on Him who sent me has everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation but is passed from death to life.”
When the girls were old enough, and could,I always put the Bible in front of them and let them read it out loud or to themselves, because it tended to help them take more ownership for what they were reading. She started to read this verse and then stopped with a gasp. She looked at me with an incredulous face and looked back at the verse and then looked at me again and then shook her head and then kept exclaiming, “Wait! How in the world did you know? I can’t believe this! This is amazing! What? How did you know? I don’t get this? Unbelievable!”
I was, of course, completely surprised and had no idea what she was talking about, so I asked, “can you explain yourself? What’s happening here?”
Still shaking her head and glancing back and forth between me and those words she proceeded to tell me this story.
“Miss Ruth, you already know that my dad kidnapped us kids from my mom and that he had us on the run from the police all over the United States. We’ve lived in abandoned cars. We’ve slept on the side of the road or in the woods. He abused us, and we’ve stayed in cheap hotels. Often, when we were in those hotels, he would go off on a drinking binge. I, being the oldest, was left behind to take care of my three younger siblings. I got pretty bored of watching the same dumb stuff on TV so once my siblings went to sleep, I would pull the Bible out of the drawer. Did you know they have these Bibles in hotel rooms with the word Gideon on the front of them?”
I told her I did because I have friends who work for The Gideons and my parents encouraged us to support Gideon Ministries years ago.
“Well,” she continued, “I would pull that Bible out of the drawer and try to read it and I kept coming to this verse…This one you just showed me… I still can’t believe you knew!! How did you know?? I never understood what it meant, but I wanted to! I even talked to my mom about it when we were reunited.”
I, marveling at the Divine leading of God, asked her “do you understand now?”
“YES!” she declared, “and I can’t wait to go back and tell mom all of this and what this really means!”
I felt like Phillip with the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:29cf.) All I did was teach her some basic principles from God’s Word and He had her heart prepared to trust the truth of the Gospel ahead of time because of what she had read before she ever met me.
Love how God works!

When someone thinks they needed you and you did not do what they wanted.

I was reading a blog today that talked about dealing with the accusations of someone who was demanding attention and the blogger discussed the fact that the individual who was attacking was essentially not trusting God enough.  Having experienced some things in my life these are my thoughts.

Several topics are needing to be addressed here, Forgiveness, trust, boundaries, true love, confrontation, blame-shifting, mercy.

Having experienced my own situations like this and unfortunately once being the one making the accusations I have a double-sided perspective on this that has caused me to pursue answers. These are things I have learned.

When someone accuses me I start by asking a very important question.

  1. Am I guilty of this selfishness that has been levied against me. If so, how must I change and be more Christlike? If not, how must I carefully confront the sin? You can’t do this till you ask some careful questions because “he who answers a matter before he fully hears it is a fool..” Proverbs 18:13
  2. Have I misread her confusion as accusation. 1Co_2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? There are situations where people genuinely do not know how to engage in relationships and I need to be willing to deal with some anger to help them see how to relate as adults but only if they are demonstrating the humility to change and look at their relational misunderstanding. I was in a situation once where I was seeking counsel and at a time of very real need and confusion reached out to someone who said she would help. She left me hanging instead of following through on her commitment. It left me confused because she had invited me to ask.  When I came back with a hurt, questioning email (never a good idea BTW– go talk to people who say they care at that level and Biblically go back again with someone else if you can’t get resolution Matt 18) she accused me of manipulation. I can honestly say, as God is my witness, because of the things I was dealing with, that manipulation was the farthest thing from my mind. I needed genuine help.  That accusation devastated me.  To discern this takes two things.. Patience and careful questioning.  The next time this happened the new person was more mature and wiser and started asking questions and went to the root of my confusion knowing what she was really dealing with (first by not assuming I was intent on evil thinking) and with genuine loving, carefully-crafted Biblical questions and guidance helped me gain a whole new level of understanding in relationships.

I have also been in relationships that despite continual attempts to help them see and change, they refused and asserted their rights.  Then the Word of God is also clear. (More below)

  1. Forgiveness cannot be granted unless it is asked for on the human level, otherwise every person on this planet gets to go to heaven, no matter what, because God is the ultimate forgiver. So what does this look like biblically?

Forgiveness is first Vertical. Mar 11:25  And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. Mar 11:26  But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.  Before God I choose to hold no animosity towards this person. We all MUST do this. This means letting go of my right to retribution before God where He can truly make it right.

Forgiveness is also Horizontal. Luk 17:3  Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

That means I rebuke the other person (in a spirit of meekness knowing I can also be tempted Gal 6:1) But s/he also has to repent. Which means s/he has to ask for forgiveness before I can grant it.  This does not mean I am holding on to anything because I already placed it before God. It simply means that I can’t say “I forgive you” to someone who does not ask for it.  God does not forgive us until we ask Him.  A very important point here is the term “repent” which means change your mind AND change your direction. If people ask for forgiveness but they make no attempt to change, they have NOT repented and you need to consider if you should “cast them out” (Proverbs 19:25; 22:10) of the ability to associate with you or if you are “casting pearls before swine and they will rend you”(Matt 7:6) so you must flee if they continue in sin. (More under boundaries below).

  1. Forgiveness is not a one-time act. It is an ongoing choice to not engage in negative thoughts about that person and as things are triggered, even when they are not there, we have to choose once again to take it back to God until it no longer triggers us.  For some that is a once or twice process because the wound is a skin scrape. For others it is an ongoing process because the wound is deep, like heart surgery, and like a physical wound, needs time to fully heal.  Modern medical research has shown that the same area of the brain is activated when you suffer an emotional wound as is activated when you suffer a physical wound. Emotional wounds do leave scars inside that need to heal. They cannot be seen but they are VERY real!
  2. Thankfully God has never commanded that we trust anyone but Him. Trust is earned and can be broken. Once broken it must be re-earned and as Proverbs 18:19 says “a brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city.” There is a reason for this!  It is not about the brother being bitter. It is because offenses deeply wound and healing takes time and can be very hard to do.  This is completely separate from Love. Unconditional love is NOT the same as unconditional trust and just like you don’t cast your pearls before swine, you do not trust someone who has not earned it by long use and reliability. Or a demonstration of true repentance in action.
  3. Healthy relational engagement means that at times we have to say “no more!” Jesus got away by Himself at times. He eluded the angry, accusing crowd. He confronted the accusing Pharisees. In Acts, Paul escaped in a basket from his accusers. He confronted his accusers as well. More examples are in the Word. The verses “They went out from us because they were not of us (1 John 2:19).” and “cast out the scorner so contention will cease.” (Pro 22:10) come to mind here.  We hate to call a fellow believer a scorner, but at times this is actually the case.
  4. True love does not allow sin upon a brother. (Lev 19:17) Love is not all mushy. It is compassionate and it is also. It is also neutheteo, (the greek word “admonish” in Romans 15:14 I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another) means able also to exhort one another and means at times confronting Jude 21-22 says “on some have compassion making a difference.” But it also says “others pull from the fire, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”  Compassion comes first but repeated unrighteousness needs to feel the fire.
  5. Questions prick the conscience, accusations harden the will.
  6. One of the most gracious experiences I have ever had was when I reacted in anger to another person’s failure to follow through and she responded in anger back, initially, but later came back to me and did what I would consider over restitution for the offense because she cared more about the relationship then her agenda to prove I was demanding too much. I needed to learn that, I, in fact, was not considering everything that was on her schedule and needed to think more of what she needed. She put so much value on the relationship that she sacrificed later in a way that greatly humbled me!  It taught me a whole new level of what love looks like!  It let me know how much more I NEED to learn of what AGAPE looks like. She did this because she knew I was invested in truth and in the relationship with her as fellow believers. She would not do this with someone who was unrepentant.

Just my thoughts😉