The Strength of the Butterfly

Butterflies are an amazing symbol of the good on this journey of healing. Perhaps the most obvious and often reffered to is it’s beauty.  They are also very frequently associated with old things becoming new again. Rarely are they referenced for their strength, seeming so delicate and fragile. To even experience life, a butterfly has a very difficult battle to emerge from the cocoon that encapsulates it while it matures. The struggle is long and seems quite agonizing. Scientists studied this process and learned that when, in human wisdom, we feel it would be helpful to cut the shell and ease their burden, we intervene in necessary development.

   

In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push it’s way through the tiny opening of the cocoon was designed by the Creator to force fluid out of it’s body and into it’s wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never fly.

Lesson: As I go through  life I must keep in mind, struggling is a common experience and an important part of  maturing. In fact, it is the struggle that causes me to develop my ability to fly. Avoiding difficulty could cause me to also miss my purpose.

Every fall, North American monarchs fly south to spend the winter at roosting sites. Monarchs are the only butterflies to make such a long, two-way migration, flying up to 3000 miles. Amazingly, they fly in masses to the same winter roosts, often to the exact same trees. (How incredible is that?)  ~MonarchLab

It doesn’t appear there are muscles in the butterfly’s thin little wings and still they fly for days, struggling through all sorts of obstacles and hindrances because it is necessary for the survival of the species.

Lesson: Embracing God-given ability to fly, never give up just because the journey is a difficult one.

Along your journey, God will cause your story to evolve in such a way that others will marvel at the beauty, innocent of the pain that created it’s brilliance. Each new struggle is allowed by our omnipotent Father, and He will do the work to intensify the beauty you already possess. In turn your life will reflect God’s beauty onto others and the cycle will continue. Jesus will bring about the elegance in their stories as well.

Moral: By the power of His grace and the strength of His mercy, may we choose to spread our wings again, and on the breath of the Holy Spirit…take flight!!


For Supportive Friends

For this Find-Out-Friday I wanted to help you find a way to thank your supportive friends. I share with you a compassionate and informative letter from  a book written by Dr. Dan B Allender  The Wounded Heart, Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse, is the first Christian book I have read on the subject. So far I am highly impressed and learning it is exactly what I needed. I searched for where he is in the country and what he might have to offer for healing in person. If you click on his name above it will take you to his website where it explains the forward thinking work they are doing to help people not only heal themselves, but to also be able to pass the gift along to someone else.  I highly recommend purchasing and reading the entire book.  I also felt this is something that every victim needs to be able to share with a loving friend who is trying their best to be supportive and probably feeling inadequate to the task. I am sure I will bring more reviews in the future. For now I offer Dr. Dan Allender’s impactful words to the soldiers who have faithfully stood by me. Because of you I am blessed and I am healing. Many thanks.

Words to a Friend

You are the friend of someone who has been abused, and you are untrained, inexperienced, and scared. If I am accurate so far, then you have also seriously thought about backing out of the relationship with you abused friend. Not that you are going to treat her like a leper or avoid all contact, but the issue of abuse, the current struggles and fears, are off-limits.

My counsel to you is simple: Don’t back off from the frightening terrain of a wounded heart. You may say the wrong things and even cause more harm, but the worst harm is to turn your back. Accept your limitations, but also acknowledge the fact that you are on the front lines of the battle. You may not like to hear it, but the fact is, you are a foot soldier, an infantryman who is often the first to take the fire of the enemy.

As a therapist, I see your friend once, or maybe twice a week. You see her every day. I deal with significant issues in her soul, but you talk about the same issues and even more. I may be necessary to the process, but you are even more so. Let me say it again: You are very important as a friend who will pray, talk, laugh, cry, read, embrace, shout, bake cookies, drive to Little League, and live life in intimate proximity. Don’t allow your inexperience or your own personal past to keep you from loving well.

 

friendship


Beauty Will Rise

Steven Curtis Chapman wrote this incredible song out of the excruciating pain of losing his beloved daughter, Maria, to a freak accident. It is composed with the verse from Isaiah that I use for this website. I am sure he would be blessed to know how much his words are helping others in various tragedies and heartbreaks. When the phone rings and the caller’s message drops you to your knees; when you turn on the radio and a national tragedy has torn apart a community or a culture; when the doctor stutters the words, “I’m sorry”; when the mind of your loved one is devastated by mental illness; when in any fragile moment, you are rendered helpless and you can find no effective words; God promises in Romans 8:28 He will make all things work together for good.  It is in these trying times when our praise is truly a sacrifice, offered through great heartbreak, and honored by Christ. ~Hebrews 13:15 Though it doesn’t feel like it today, and it may not feel like it for a lot of tomorrows, one day beauty will rise and God will be glorified.

To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes,  The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;  That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. ~Isaiah 61:3

This is a beautiful reminder that at some point “Beauty Will Rise” from everything we perceive as a pile of ashes. “It is our hope and our promise.” ~Steven Curtis Chapman

 


Volunteering to Relieve Suffering

suf·fer v. suf·fered, suf·fer·ing, suf·fers v.intr. 1. To feel pain or distress; sustain loss, injury, harm, or punishment. 2. To tolerate or endure evil, injury, pain, or death.3.  To allow, especially by reason of indifference.

Each day we must decide which side we are on. Do we come to the aide of the suffering, or do we walk on the other side of the street, our eyes shielded. There are so many easy ways to help alleviate the suffering by volunteering, especially at this time of the year. Agencies all over need people to answer phones; relay information; collect food, clothes and toys; deliver meals etc. “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.~Proverbs 22:9 NIV”  Hotlines need people to answer phones for victims of PTSD and other mental illnesses who cannot find a reason to take another breath, war heroes who cannot find their way back home. Donating money when you have no time is also deeply appreciated by both the agencies and the people who have time to donate but no money. Together we will make good happen. Most of these opportunities can be carried out anonymously and the warm blessing you feel in your heart when you give to others is amazing.But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. ~Matthew 6:3-4 NLT” The following are just a few of my favorites to get you started, please click around on their websites to see what needs they currently have.
National CASA   Court Appointed Special Advocates for foster children
ChildHelp            Prevention and treatment of child abuse
Spreading JOY    School supply and Christmas gift drives among many other projects
StreetLight USA “Stop Child Rape” Provides aftercare for victims of sex trafficking
The following quote moved me in it’s sad truth.

When workers divide, it is the suffering who suffer most. They’ve suffered enough, don’t you think? ~ Max Lucado

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV

I pray on this Monday, you are motivated to reach out; you never know how you will change another’s life and what they will be thankful for.


To Speak Freely Brings Healing

Anne Jackson didn’t set out to write Permission to Speak Freely when see posted a simple question on her blog, annemariemiller.com. “What is one thing you feel you can’t say in the church?” The question spread like wildfire around the world through Christian and non-Christian sites alike. It is a topic that has bothered me since I was a teenager. Why do we as Christians shun each other for not being perfect. I have written so many times about the mask we wear saving ourselves from judgment and rejection. What would others think of me if I said this? Can you imagine Jesus telling the people He hung out with, tax collectors, murderers, prostitutes, “Okay, now when we go in the Temple pretend to be someone else so that we are accepted.” Yet when we as Christians go to church, the answer to’ “How are you?” remains, “Fine.” because we’re afraid what others would think if they knew the truth. It’s ludicrous! You know why this book became a fast favorite for me. My book has many underlines and notes that I love to re-read, mostly about fear and shame. Anne also confesses much she realized about her own life while writing.

Anne was overwhelmed with responses. She turned them into a beautiful book which, besides her excellent commentary, is full of poetry, quotes, artwork, and pictures of handwritten answers to her question. Anne states the book “came from places in my own heart and life where I was afraid to say something inside church or to other Christians.” Fear kept her silent, and she needed to know she wasn’t alone. Once I told my pastor, who was also a friend, about my childhood sexual abuse when I had started therapy, and he simply stated that I would be surprised how many women at church have gone through that. No I wouldn’t. He never spoke of it again. Later I told him about being raped, he apologized and sent  a couple emails with scripture in them.

My other favorite part which I use on a regular basis is when she talks about the ‘gift of going second’. Simply put, this is the concept that by speaking first in any, but especially in difficult situations, you give others a gift, the courage to also speak up because they know they are not alone. If you have ever received it, it is a beautiful gift. When you are able to pass it on to someone else it fills your own heart with strength and healing and you can just watch others relief at your words.

Near the end is a truth which I try to live by and seek to do for others who honor me by reading my writing.

Each time we decide to take a step away from fear, we begin to move forward into a life completely energized and rich in the freedom God has for us. AND as we take more steps into freedom, our actions have the power to set others on that same course of freedom as well. Only you can give yourself Permission to Speak Freely!



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