Dear Lonely Woman,

Dear Lonely Woman,

I see you.

I have some idea why you’re sorrow runs so deep.

Your sadness and your pain matter.

How you feel about what has happened in your life matters.

What you do and what you think matter too.

The things and people you try to grasp and hold onto are never going to fill that empty longing in your soul.
But I know a Guy who can.

Stop trying to get something from things or people who are NOT EVEN EQUIPPED to give it.
But I know a Guy who is.

You think nobody can possibly know the battles you’ve been faced with.
But I know a Guy who does.

So you can exhale.

Because He KNOWS you

AND

He ADORES you.

Only ONE promises AND can give you the Real fulfillment you’re dying to know.

He wants to spend every day with you.
He will never say you’re too clingy. He says, “Cling to ME!”

He will never say you are not enough to hold his attention. He says, “I laid down My life for you BECAUSE you matter more than anything.”

He will never say, “Go away,” with his words or his actions.
But instead He only says, “Come to ME.”

He wants to get one on One quality time with YOU.

Why do you think the circumstances of your life leave you feeling so lonely?

He is confident that HE is THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN fulfill your most intimate need to be wanted and to be loved.

HE will NEVER leave you.

Talk with Him.

And keep talking.

I’ll help you start.

“Dear God, thank You. Thank you for the emptiness so that I can find You.
You are MORE than enough for me.
Show me my value that is in You alone and please reveal my purpose ONLY You can give me. Please heal me because of what has happened in my life and remind me that my true value is found ONLY in You. Please forgive me for searching in a hundred other places for the True Love that ONLY You are capable of giving me. In Jesus’ Holy Name, I ask _______________…”

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Hey, you. Please get up. This broken world needs you.

I have about 2 hundred cousins. Not really. But when I was a kid it seemed that way.

One time when I was a little girl, I was so excited that we were going to visit my very favorite cousin’s house. His name is the same as mine; only he spells it C-a-r-e-y.

They had a playhouse in the back yard that was used for storage mostly but that was okay because that made it be a better haunted house. It was also a castle, a fortress, or whatever you wanted it to be. It was 2 stories tall and you could climb stairs inside to the top where there was a little wooden hatch door and sort of a balcony place and you could stand at the top of the world and daydream. It was a beautiful little house.

They also had a swingset. I loved playing there, especially with my favorite cousin, Carey.

Only THIS visit was different.

On this visit; this was the moment the enemy started telling me I was nothing.

My cousin pushed my sister on the swings. But he wouldn’t push me. Then, as he pushed her, he chanted, “Yay, Jenny!”  “Boo, Kerri.”  “Yay, Jenny!”  “Boo, Kerri.”

My little heart broke.

Didn’t he know he was my favorite cousin – my favorite person – in the whole world? Why would he do this?

That was the first time I remember someone (someone I admired) being blatantly unkind to me. It was quite a shock to my little system.

He was probably trying to be silly or tease me but it hurt like I’ll never forget.

“Joking” should be fun for all involved; if not, then it changes from “joking” to “bullying.” (Don’t worry. I asked Carey for his permission to share this. I’m not trying to disrespect him or pay him back. I love him still. He was just someone the enemy used to start my life on the path to believe I was nothing.)

(And then satan worked many more years until I fully believed I was absolutely 100% nothing. There is too much to write in one story -I’ll share more as God leads me to- but I know the very moment satan had fully tricked me into believing his lies. I was being raped. I was 22 and I remember believing right then, “This is all I’m for? I am nothing.” THE ENEMY WAS WRONG. But he’s very clever in his tricks and how he custom-designs them for each person.)

I know the “Boo, Kerri,” time was before I was 9 years old. Not because I wrote down the date but because I remember well what happened later.

When I was 9 years old, I was sexually molested by an uncle who married into the family. That lasted 7 years.

I don’t know why I didn’t tell. Maybe I thought nobody would believe me. I do remember feeling like I was special in some way. Special is FAR from the truth when it comes to sexual molestation. There is NOTHING special about it. It is SICK. Touching any child in a sexual way is purely and completely sick.

I know there are many others who didn’t tell when stuff like this happened to them – and I’m guessing there are probably as many reasons people don’t tell as there are people it has happened to. Every situation is unique and I pray every person finds healing.

At that time, (and for many years) I thought just my innocence was stolen. I was wrong.

He stole my confidence, too.

The only reason I realized it had been stolen was because God just gave me my confidence back about a year ago. I’m now 46.

God gave me my confidence back and then He pushed me out of my comfort zone and showed me He has a job for me to do. He moved me into the terrifying wide space of the internet so that I would be a voice to tell you that YOU are VERY worthwhile.

You are very important and YOU MATTER. I will spend the rest of my life telling you that you matter. Because you DO.

Somebody – or maybe somebodies – told you or treated you like you were nothing. They were wrong.

Whatever happened to you matters. How you feel about it matters. And what you do with it next matters, too.

You are very important. Why would satan work so hard to make you believe his lies if God didn’t have important things for you to do in this life?

Why would satan waste his time on you if you truly were “nothing?”

The answer is, he wouldn’t.

You must be quite a threat to that old devil for him to spend so long convincing you to lie down and shut up.

This is the year you need to get up.  2015.

Please get up?

~~> People need to hear your story so they know they’re not alone in theirs. <~~

You can help people find healing just by sharing your story. You do not have to do this alone. God will nudge you to share your story when you need to. You’ll know when and who needs to hear it.

Please ask God what He wants you to do today ~ every day. He has SUCH great plans for your life. I believe this about you. Now, it’s time for you to believe this about you.

God can restore what was stolen.

My confidence was stolen along with my innocence and I lived without it for about 35 years. If God can give me my confidence back, I know He can do miracles in your life, too. Ask Him.

Please get up. This broken world needs you.

~
Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

I’ve gotta write about this amazing customer service!

Thank you, Gigi, Jax, Ashleigh, and Nora.  Ladies, you made my Christmas extra special this year. And thank you, Erin, for telling us about this store. Thank you, Chloe, my daughter, for caring about me and being a noticer. Thank you for pushing me to go to this store (because we both know I wasn’t gonna.) You are one of my best friends (even if the world says parents and kids can’t/shouldn’t be friends. When you think about it… the world says a lotta stuff that doesn’t make much sense and makes life more difficult.)

When I receive good customer service I OFTEN write to the company or to an employer praising the great way an employee exceeded expectations. (And when I get crummy service I only occasionally write and am very careful what I say. Maybe the person was having a bad day. Everyone has bad days.)

My husband recently took me shopping at Torrid. Torrid is a women’s clothing store. They have cute jackets, tops, bottoms, shoes, jewelry, undies, bras, and even a few nighties to choose from. AND they have gift cards so you can give this wonderful gift to someone.

I visited there once before and received the same quality of service as this time.

THAT time I was just buying a bra that would fit me (because mine was squeezing me like a corset and I was barely able to breathe.) Thank you, Erin. You are my hero! (I know the correct word is “heroine” but I like the word “hero” better because it sounds cooler.) Because you took my daughter shopping with you for your birthday, she told me about Torrid and now I can breathe again. You made a difference in my life when you shared this amazing treasure of a place with my daughter.

THIS time I tried on about 50 items of clothing.

And they did not hurry me. Not even a little bit!

I just had to write about it.

From the moment I walked in I was greeted by a smiling face and she asked if I was looking for something specific. I was. For many years I haven’t found cute jeans that would fit me. She found a couple pair of jeans and then asked if she could reserve a fitting room for me. (They even wrote my name on the door.)

Every time I’d get a few more hangers over my arm, someone would ask if she could take them to my dressing room. “Yes, please.”

At one time I noticed a woman waiting with an employee near the 4 dressing rooms. 3 were occupied. My room was just holding my clothes in it (I wasn’t ready to try stuff on yet) but they were not letting anyone use my space. They prepared a place just for me! Of course, I offered the room to the customer and she accepted.

I believe every person working spoke to me and nobody rushed me. Since I’ve had kids, many days I have been rushed. That’s not fun. Somewhere in the middle of mommyhood, we realize we better sit down a while because we just really need to. As a mom and wife, I hurry to help my kids, my friends, my kids’ friends, my husband, church, school, and then don’t remember that I haven’t taken time for me to be refreshed.

This shopping visit did just that!

After I was there maybe 10 minutes, tears came to my eyes.

What’s THAT about? OHHH! I’m not being rushed, pulled on, pushed, guilted into, needed, volunteered, or anything but pampered.

PAMPERED! WOW! THIS feels GREAT! I could do this every day! (I won’t do this every day. But I will remember the feeling and take moments for me more often.)

(I LOVE being a mommy and wife. These 2 things are all I ever dreamed about being when I was younger. I absolutely love it. It’s okay to need time to re-energize and regroup. Any job requires that for someone to be able to give more again.)

The employees were all kind to each other. There was no “attitude” when they spoke to each other or to customers. There was a genuine respect in the atmosphere that many companies don’t have between employees.

THAT says A LOT by itself!

I wasn’t in a hurry. They let me keep adding clothes to the room.

When I finished looking through all the beautiful choices and was trying the clothes on, every once in a while one of the girls would ask if I needed a different size or how things were going. (They did this with everyone ~ and it was very kind.) Someone would trade out one size or color for another while I was trying on clothes.

It was like they were there to REALLY HELP me shop!

The girls were professional, fun, silly, friendly, real, polite, and would offer their opinions about an outfit.

I LOVED that!

Even if someone doesn’t like a certain style or color on me, I may still buy it because I like it but I really do appreciate their opinions about whether something looks good on me or not. (I’d always rather hear someone who cares about me or cares how I look tell me in the store if it doesn’t look so flattering than for a hundred people to think, “That looks awful on her,” after I buy it.)

It’s not a reflection of my worth or beauty if a certain style or color does or doesn’t look great. Every body is a different shape and it’s pretty cool that we have so many choices to find the most flattering patterns to fit our body shapes.

At Torrid, (I have to admit this) clothes are a little pricey for every season shopping for me, but they’re good quality and the experience, itself, was WORTH EVERY PENNY to me (and to my husband!)

After deciding on final choices (with the help of my family and 4 sweet employees,) they took the time to find if my mailer coupons or if the in-store promotions were better for me.

It was just a special experience from the beginning and it stayed that way until I went home. I listened to the way they talked with other customers. Every person was treated with respect.

Thank you, ladies, for making this Christmas (and bra shopping a few months ago) a fun and special time. Thank you for NOT rushing me. Thank you for actually caring about my day and for offering your opinions when I tried on clothes. YOU made my Christmas more special this year. I know wherever you work, you will shine and companies would be honored to employ you! Thank you, Gigi, Jax, Ashleigh, and Nora.

[Note: This is not a story about thrift stores but I have to mention how much I LOVE thrift stores. Most of my adult life I have bought my clothes and my family’s clothes (not undies or socks) from thrift stores and garage sales. It’s okay to spend money on clothes sometimes but it’s very fun to be able, when someone compliments my cute shirt, to tell people it was only $2 at a thrift store.

But I’m pretty sure I’ll be visiting Torrid again; maybe for my birthday!

Oh, and I did find some cute jeans, too!]

[Note Too: I find it degrading that some people call some women “plus” size. I believe it would be equally degrading if people called some women “negative” size. It sounds unkind either way to me. Like “You’re too much woman.” or “You’re not enough woman.” There’s a lot I wish would change about this world.

Torrid mostly “sizes” clothes in 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4. And it’s a fun experience just to not see PLUS (or minus) on a sign.

We’re women and we’re ALL beautiful. Period.]

[Note Too Also: You know all those clothes we keep in our closets for 10…20…30… years kinda hoping to wear them again?

I cleaned them out.

THIS actually feels GREAT! (I’ll admit I never could bring myself to do this until now. Not really sure why that took so long. And any small step toward being healthier is better than looking a certain size.)

Try it! Say Merry Christmas to who you are NOW at the beautiful size you are NOW.

It’s actually a LOT of fun!! I never thought it would be. But it’s freeing! And once you really look at who you are and how beautiful you are NOW, no matter what size you are, it’s easier and easier as you go through the closet! I’m so excited for you! It may even turn out to be your favorite Christmas gift to yourself.]

 

Seven Million Tears (Divorce)

I remember the waves of sadness that would crash over me. There wasn’t any rhyme or reason so I’d know when to expect the next one.

There may be a song or a moment or words spoken and the waves of sadness threatened to take me under. It was so hard to breathe. I may be in a store or in the library. I had go to my car and get out of there because I couldn’t stop the tears – or the pain.

Sobbing uncontrollably in public isn’t fun.

People usually don’t know what to say when someone is going through a divorce. It’s almost as uncomfortable for them as it is for the people going through it.  (Almost.)

A few years after I’d cried the last of the seven million tears and healed from my divorce, my Uncle Dale visited me. He was going through some deep grieving over the end of his marriage.

I sat with him and we talked. We prayed together. Of course we cried together. I hugged him and THEN I said it; The words I never thought would have left my mouth (and shocked that I’d even THINK them,) “I’m so glad I’ve been divorced so I can help you through this.”

WHAT?!

I mean, WHAT?!

I couldn’t believe I said that.

Those words just left my mouth.

I HEARD what I’d said… and I MEANT it.

I was never EVER glad to be divorced in ANY way – until that moment.

Someone was hurting ~ and I understood the pain. ~ I could be there for him and help in some way that others couldn’t.

That’s what it’s all about. If we hide the stuff we’ve been through in our lives how can we help someone else?

You don’t have to wonder how you’ll know who needs your story.

God leads people to each other all the time. Ask Him who and when.

You’ll know.

Your seven million tears have a purpose even bigger than helping you heal from your pain.

Your life matters. Your story matters. How you feel about it all matters. What matters next is what you will do with it.

 

The reason I tell you that you matter so much is because

The reason I tell you that you matter so much is because most things in the world tell you all day long that you don’t.

I did not know I mattered. Truly I didn’t. And in case you feel this way also, I want to be a voice shouting above the noise that you are a masterpiece and really worth something! Please hear that! I’m not the only one who says so. Jesus says so, too.

If you look through the news, tv shows, movies, commercials, advertisements, social sites, there is one thing after another telling you:

-You’re not the best at whatever and you MUST be the best “or else.” (What does that even mean?)

-You need to look “this” way or you’re not “beautiful.” (Says who? Some magazine or advertising executive? Do they even know you? You’re amazing!)

-You need to buy this or you’re “behind.” (Behind WHAT? Life is just not a competition.)

-The world teaches that if you don’t have name brand clothes you’re “less than.” (I’m pretty sure when we get to Heaven God’s not gonna be like, “Heeey! You rocked that $2,000 outfit!” Seriously?  – And please do not send me hate mail saying I said it’s not okay to have “nice” things. It is. But people who don’t spend more because of a “brand” are not “less than” anything.)

-If you don’t “do life” like most people then something’s wrong with you. (Something’s probably wrong with all of us but Jesus calls us to stand out so if someone says you’re different, that may be a great compliment!)

The world lies.

The truth is that you matter and you’re absolutely beautiful and I will tell you this until you believe it; until God takes my breath. You are so much more than you may realize. Everyone has something beautiful.  Sometimes the beauty is just buried under a bunch of ashes covering the true beautiful you that God intended you to be.

 

Nothing.

IMG_2798 iiaafb nothing

See this picture?

It’s a bunch of “nothing.”

It’s a bunch of dead autumn leaves soaked by rain.

They may LOOK like nothing but when the leaves break down they become part of something bigger and help other things grow.

I may have felt like “nothing” but I have a Jesus Who says I’m VERY SOMETHING (even when I’m broken down.)

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If I were doing things MY way…

I would NOT be online. Period.

I was afraid. It’s as simple as that. I was afraid because now the rapists, molester, and others who have hurt me can now find me easier.

It was not a mistake that I wasn’t online. It wasn’t like I didn’t know HOW to use the internet or computer.

Of course I knew how.

I didn’t want to be online with pictures, video, writing, on social media, or anything else.

EVER.

If I were doing things MY way I would not have put myself “out there” in the great, wide space of the internet suddenly deciding at age 44 to be ridiculed and mocked for my faith in doing what we know God is calling us to do; opening and caring for a homeless teen center in Alaska.

I certainly wouldn’t have intentionally invited hate mail or wanted to hear the poisonous passive aggressive voices from people who do not see why we are doing what we are doing and at the same time do not have courage to ask us “Why?” personally.

If I were doing things MY way, I wouldn’t advertise that we were selling, giving, packing, and now waiting on the Lord to provide what He’s shown us He will provide if we do this work He’s given us to do.

No. I could have been a little more secretive about it… IF I were doing things MY way.

But I’m not. I am listening to the Holy Spirit as He leads our family to do amazing things.

I could have said, “No, God, that’s too uncomfortable. You KNOW me. And I just CAN’T be online. I love You but that is just too far out of my comfort zone. Maybe You have the wrong person for this job.”

RIGHT. I COULD have said that.

UMMM, NO.

One day I will be face to face with God and I want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” So… we will do what He’s calling us to do ~ EVEN though we face people laughing at our faith in Him.

God says He has a job for us and has given me the main tool I need to do this job.

Confidence.

Not just confidence in myself but confidence in Him AND that He’s got this and will show His Power through our work if we obey this calling and follow Him.

The Holy Spirit leads.

Have YOU been called?

Are you listening to what He’s called you to do?

Somebody needs YOU and YOUR life’s story. Have courage and do not be afraid.

Will some laugh? Probably.

Will some support? Hopefully.

Will some walk away from your life. Yes.

But with God’s Power and Support you cannot go wrong.

Step up into your position God’s calling you to.

I believe in you.

Listen to Him.

Matthew 25:21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

I’ve Been Burned

I won't hide it. This will be my ministry. Genesis 50:20

I won’t hide it. This will be my ministry. Genesis 50:20

When I started asking God what HE wants ME to do every day instead of showing HIM that MY stuff was so important and my “to do list” was more important than whatever He had in mind, do you know what He did?

He has been giving me everything I need to do the job He’s asking me to do. He’s been leading me and equipping me every day.

One thing He’s done is that He gave me confidence.

WHO can give the gift of confidence? I can’t. You can’t. I mean, we can help lift each other but to actually GIVE the GIFT of confidence? Who can do this?

I can only think of ONE.

I haven’t had confidence since it was stolen from me. I have not had confidence since I was 9 years old and playing Hide and Seek with my cousins then my uncle decided to lift the sleeping bag and tell me, “Hide under here!”

WHAT a great hiding place!  They’d never think to look under here!  Thanks uncle.

Or maybe not.

I didn’t move. I knew if I moved then they’d find me and then I’d lose the game of Hide and Seek.

That’s how innocent I was.

That was the beginning of many years of satan convincing me I was nothing. That little devil was busy at work to make me believe his lies. I must have been quite a threat for him to work so long on me. Maybe you are a threat to him, too?

God allows bad things to happen to people. I don’t blame God. We all have free choice to eat the fruit the same way Adam and Eve ate it.

And we all have the same free choice every day NOT to eat it.

I have even forgiven my uncle and I am still not going to have my children around him. That would not be wise. (I’m not arguing this point with anyone.) This is my choice because I am my children’s mom and God does expect us to use the discernment He gives us.

See this picture of our table? There are many names on it. (Maybe I’ll write about why we let people sign our kitchen table in another post.) This can represent my heart and people who have come and gone through my life. Some have faded and some are bold, still.

They ALL are written there for a reason.

Now let’s talk about that big, black, burn mark in the middle of the table.

That burn mark is something that everyone sees or senses… but many of us don’t speak about it in our lives.

If I don’t talk about it because that’s uncomfortable or it would make someone else feel uncomfortable (especially at church because unfortunately that’s usually frowned upon and people are often gossiped about when we DO have courage to share our stories) then quite possibly the pain, and the wisdom I’ve gained through this pain, isn’t being used to help others.

I’ve been burned, right? God takes those very ashes and makes them into something beautiful that He will turn back around to glorify Him. He will use my pain and not waste it. I have peace in this.

You can have peace in your pain, too.

What God has been leading me to do (well, part of it) is to be online (which is more than a few zip codes out of my comfort zone) and speak blessings over people, challenge them to ask themselves “WHY” they believe and do what they believe and do, and then the bigger one of moving to Alaska to open and care for a homeless teen place.

I could not do this on my own. Ever. Period.  Any of it.

For the past 6 months every morning before my feet touch the floor, I pray, (sometimes silently and sometimes out loud) “God, what do YOU want me to do today?”

One day a couple days ago when I woke up, (or rather when God allowed me to wake up ~ and we may all do well to remember this about life when we open our eyes in the mornings) I thought to myself, “What if I STOPPED asking God, ‘Hey, God, what do YOU want me to do today?'”

UM, THAT’D BE A QUICK, “NOPE. I’m not going there!”  There’s no going back.

Submission to God’s will and plan for our lives can actually be a fun thing. It’s very exhausting and trying at times and sometimes it’s lonely. But this is so worth it. It’s fulfilling my soul in a way that’s never happened before.

God will use YOUR pain for His glory.  Your pain will not go to waste.

I hope you choose to try this.  It’s simple. (I didn’t say it’s easy though.)

Ask God, the Creator of YOU, the Creator of all your talents, of all your likes and dislikes, what HIS plan is for you today.  He KNOWS you.  He LOVES you.  He’s got wonderful plans for your life.  Do you have the courage to just ask Him to show you those plans?

I know you do.  He will make beauty from your ashes.

The world lies. Forties are sexy and fun! There’s no “over the hill” about it.

Let Me Tell You About My Mom….

Let Me Tell You About My Mom….
Mother’s Day 2010

I remember my mom making sandwiches for the men who dad was working with on stormy nights at the electric company to restore electricity for the families whose houses were hit with lightning.

I remember the fun slumber parties my mom planned for my birthdays. She let me invite as many friends as I wanted to. Mom let us invite one friend our age to the other sister’s slumber parties, too. That was cool.

I remember the most beautiful birthday cakes ever made were the ones my mom made for us on our birthdays…. The kind someone would pay lots of money for, but my mom’s tasted better than ANY store could make.

I remember my mom making beautiful wedding cakes.

I remember telling lot of kids that I was going to have a party and to get off the bus at my house, and they did. My mom didn’t even get mad at me for that. I don’t remember how she got them all home.

I remember mom driving the camper and picking up ALL the friends I wanted to invite to Vacation Bible School, and never complaining about it or making me feel that it was an inconvenience.

Mom makes the very best grandma bread ever. Everyone loves her homemade bread.

My mom made sure we went to church, even on vacations, and that showed me how important church should be.

My mom chose the names for our streets on the corner where we built a house when I was a kid. That was pretty cool.

My mom makes the very best tasting food and makes it look very beautiful. Somehow my macaroni and cheese or deviled eggs just don’t measure up in taste or beauty.

I remember my mom giving up her bed to let company sleep there while mom and dad took a less comfortable place to sleep.

I remember knowing that if I told mom something, that I better expect that she’d tell dad because they had no secrets, and that felt secure.

I remember that mom let us play in the basement and color in coloring books.

My mom taught me hospitality. If someone needs a place to rest, clothes, food, my mom was there for them. I was hungry and… Matthew 25:34-36

Mother’s Day 2010
(From my sweet husband to my mom)
Why my mother-in-law is the greatest

My mother-in-law is the greatest because she is always helping others.
My mother-in-law is the greatest because she makes the best bread in the whole world.
My mother-in-law is the greatest because she always makes me feel welcome.
My mother-in-law is the greatest because she gives the greatest Christmas gifts.
My mother-in-law is the greatest because she has never judged me for my past.
My mother-in-law is the greatest because she had and raised the perfect wife for me.