“But God!” A Lesson About Moving Forward After Loss

I spoke at the “Bakersfield Gives Thanks” event on November 4th and the Women’s Club of Bakersfield was full of people from different denominations and cultures.  I made new friends that night but it was a blessing to be reunited with old friends too.

In particular, I saw a mom whose children went to junior high and high school with my children.  Nneka and I have seen each other throughout the years at school functions at our son’s tennis events.  But this time when our eyes met, I had no words.  I was overcome with emotion.

You see this was the first time I’ve seen her since her 15 year old son Nedu went home to be with the Lord last summer.  My friend Nikki happened to capture the moment:


Typically when a friend loses a loved one, WE are the ones consoling, hugging, loving them through the grief.

However, that night I experienced and witnessed true healing.  Nneka was consoling me!!

I remember looking at her and reaching out my arms to her.

I had no words.  My ugly cry face in the photo above communicated how sorry I was for her loss of a son gone too soon.

She looked at me square in the eyes and exclaimed, “I know…I know….BUT GOD!”  As tears filled my eyes, she said, “a year ago I would never think I could be here today….BUT GOD!”  Tears could not stop flowing.  With every breath I took, Nneka kept encouraging me, even saying…”it’s going to be okay…BUT GOD!”

As I sit here typing, I’m filled with emotion again.

What I’m learning on my journey of recovery is our trial isn’t going to last forever.  The sting of hurt, in time, doesn’t affect us like it did on day one. Every story has a beginning, middle and an end.  

Think about the end.

The end is what you’ll be telling your children.  The end is what others who are wounded are most interested in.  The end is what brings glory to our Lord.

I heard this quote from William Vanderbloomen, “Will I be healed up? Or damaged goods?”

We cannot control our circumstances, but we can control our response to said circumstances when: 

  • Churches split.
  • Children reject parents.
  • Spouses betray.
  • Friends move away.
  • Life storms challenge our faith.
  • Relatives misunderstand.
  • We have to say goodbye to loved ones.

Some of us, like Joseph in the Old Testament, are victims of hardship and broken hearts.  In the end, Joseph was found “healed up.”

If you are indeed a victim, my advice is to resist the temptation to have a pity party and welcome sympathetic hugs and words of agreement to your situation.  The world welcomes an attitude of entitlement and culture teaches us to seek vengeance.  

Pray to have a response such as my friend Nneka.  Remember this earth is NOT our home and our response to devastating situations is an important testimony to those watching us live out our Christian walk.

Nnekas’ son, Nedu, left this earth at only 15 years old.  No parent should out live their child.  I know there were times when her weeping became unbearable and her heart literally ached…however her words, “But God!” reminded her and should remind us, God is in every circumstance of our lives.

Genesis 8:1
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.

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.

Psalm 73:26
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Matthew 19:26
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

2 Timothy 2:9
for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.

That evening left me encouraged.  I too want to be found like Nneka in the middle of life storms. She is living and moving forward in her new normal only via the grace and promises from our Lord.  

Thank you Nneka for inspiring me, being a Godly example and reminding me of God’s undeniable healing power.

Need prayer? kidmin.kelli@gmail.com 


Advertisements

Surviving Spiritual & Narcissistic Abuse – The Benefits of Self Caring – Video 7

This was the first time I experienced “self-caring.”  

I was advised by my counselor to “self-care” as it is not “selfish.”  I was perplexed by this idea as I have never thought about this concept.  I know of women having a spa day or girls night out and so I thought I’d give it a try at a conference I was speaking at in Pasadena Ca

There is something refreshing to chill and relax…intentionally.  I spent some quality time praying, journaling and spending time with Jesus.  I’ve become a fan of self-caring as it’s important to stop….and allow the thoughts and ideas we have to fully develop and be documented.  Everyone has a system of innovating.  Some people go on a retreat or spend the weekend at the beach, whatever they need to do to wind down and self-care, I say do it!

May all of us who serve the Lord be found worthy of the call in our lives.  May we be found consistent in living a life that is pleasing to our King.  May we self care so we can properly reflect Jesus.  However big or small your circle of influence is, you are influencing  a soul and you will be held accountable for that soul when heaven fills your eyes.

Be a legit follower of Christ.  When you fall and fail…fall and fail forward.  Cast down your pride and take the call in your life seriously!  I was let down by those I looked up to and loved.  I was mistaken thinking those men had my best interest in mind.  Christ has our best interest first and foremost.  The Lord does place people in our lives for His purposes.  For me, the people that were in my life, started living for themselves and their own agendas.  I let them know I knew what was going on and they decided to cover the sin up instead of honoring the positions they had and biblically handle the situation.  They decided to not get mad and get even…. this is how abuse and hurt happens to those we are serving if we forget who we belong to,  that we have a responsibility to the flock and this earth is NOT our home. 

I pray I can help just one person that has been affected by spiritual abuse with my story.  I am healing and want to say..YOU will too.  All of this is survivable.  My prayer is that hope and God’s promises are revealed to you as well.

Questions?  Need Prayer?  Email me at kidmin.kelli@gmail.com

Confessions of a Mama Who Misses Her Son

 

imageimage

I just returned from dropping off my baby boy at the New Mexico Military Institute. Heavy sigh.

Our family was blessed as the United States Merchant Marine Academy sent Kiani as a sponsored “prep,” to NMMI.  He’ll attend 2 semesters to prepare him for the rigorous military life at a Service Academy.

Kiani is my youngest child and he was sooooo ready to take his education to the next level.  Our family has already experienced sending our oldest off to school. My daughter Ilyssa is a Master’s College graduate, has a full time job and lives at home with us and my middle child, Jordan.  Jordan is entering his junior year as a Music major at Cal State Bakersfield.  I realize I have 2 out of 3 of my children still with me. So why am I sad?  I know I still get to be a “mom” to a daughter and son.  I know, I know, I know!

Not gonna lie…. I miss my son, my heart sill hurts and is swollen with bittersweet sadness as Kiani starts the next chapter in his life.

Anyone who knows me well can say it doesn’t take much to make me happy.  I don’t require a lot of attention, I coach softball, love to watch sports, love ministry, and I consider myself a low-maintenance type of gal.  I also have the privilege of serving the  families of my church, celebrating and supporting them in their good times and in their bad.

So as I begin to navigate the feeling of loss that’s welling up inside of me, I thought it would be easier than this.  Grief is felt when a loved ones dies, but it also manifests itself when there’s separation or major change.  We grieve what “used to be,”  a type of loss.

My heart is swollen as my mind replays the videos of Kiani turning on ESPN, opening and closing our blinds, parking his car, playing basketball and turning off all the lights before going to bed.   In all honesty,  I’m disappointed in myself as thought I’ve had over a year to prepare myself for his departure .  I also disappointed myself in January 2013 when my daddy passed away.  I was blessed to lead him to the Lord in 1993, so I know I’ll see him again and thought with all that knowledge, his passing is something I’d handle well.  But I found myself weeping more than I thought I would and the profound void I felt was horribly overwhelming.  Triggers like white Cadillacs, Costco and NCIS still bring tears to my eyes. I’m surprised by my reaction as I come from a line of very strong women, I’m a child of divorce and my mom and dad were married 4 times…each.  Survival mode comes easy for me as a coping mechanism.

The Sunday before his funeral, I remember waking up and looking at the clock.  It was 8:00 am and I remember saying to myself,  “Oh good, I can catch the 9 a.m. service at the local church in my hometown.”  As I tried to shower and get ready, it was like a wave of grief was simply poured over the top of my head.  Bawling uncontrollably  I said out loud, “I know, I know, I know, I know!”  I was telling the Lord,  “I know he’s in heaven, I know I’ll see him again.  Why am I crying?” The next thing I knew, it was 12 noon and I had a pile of used up Kleenex next to me on the couch.  To this day, I don’t know where those 4 hours went.

I concluded, it didn’t matter how much I prepared for the day when my daddy would die.  It didn’t matter that I was a Kid’s Director and worked at a church.  It didn’t matter I knew for a fact my daddy was in heaven.  It didn’t matter that I’d already buried my mom when I was 28.  It didn’t matter that I’ve consoled many families and counseled them on loss.

My body HAD to grieve.  God’s design is that the loss was to be released somehow…to Him.

So at this stage of being a mom, it doesn’t matter that I’ve known over a year Kiani would go away to college.  I am sad.  I miss him and my body is designed to grieve, whether I act strong or not.  Just like Kiani and all of our children, I remind myself they are DESIGNED TO GROW.  This is what the Lord has planned.   This season will pass and the days will get easier, but for now heading into my new normal without my baby boy can only be done as I surrender it all to my Jesus.  It is only through the comfort of my Savior and the hope he has given us that Heaven is eternal, that enables me to endure.

Here’s how I’m letting the Lord care for my Mama Heart:

There are two things that are helping me currently cope with missing my son.

The first is a wonderful support group created on facebook recently for us moms with sons and daughters prepping at NMMI for the USMMA.  There are many Empty Nest themed blogs and articles on the internet. Here are some examples:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/biblestudies/articles/churchhomeleadership/celebratingemptynest.html?start=2

http://www.modernmom.com/c763efd0-3b35-11e3-be8a-bc764e04a41e.html

Maybe your blessed to be friends with other parents that are experiencing the empty nest syndrome just as you are, connect with them.

The second, but most important is God’s Word.

I love what Exodus 34:29  says, When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

After spending forty days in the presence of the Lord, God’s word says Moses’ face actually glowed. According to Pastor Jon Courson, “Moses’ face reflected the glory he had experienced on the mountain.”

  • Spend time in the presence of Lord
  • Be still at His feet
  • Take time to pray
  • Worship
  • Spend time in the Word

When we do the above, refresh and re-energize, our gloom is replaced by a glow.

Moses spent time with the Lord and that is a simple example to me and to us all who are dealing with loss, grief, betrayal, sadness etc.  I want to be found a woman whose face glows. I pray that I can light up a room when I enter it and yet not know it, like Moses.

Isaiah 40:31  “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.”

 

 

 

Ever Been Wounded? How I went from the Pit to the Palace.

image

It is interesting to me that after 23 years of serving the Lord, that I am finally admitting that this thing called “ministry” has it’s ups and downs.  “Pit to the Palace” is a workshop that I lead at conferences designed to help kid ministry workers navigate their way back to the palace in times difficulty, disorder, pain, trails and suffering.

I have not only experienced life in the pit personally and survived, I have the privilege of networking with Kid Ministry workers across the nation and praying with families in my own church who have spent their fair share of time residing in the pit of pain.

What I have come to know these past few years that many of us, kid ministry workers,  suffer in silence and in isolation.  It was only after sitting with friend after friend, that my brothers and sisters in Christ become transparent regarding their trials.  I was shocked that they too experienced the pit caused by pain.  I concluded many hid their problems and wore a mask called, “I’m okay.”  We are ashamed of our circumstances and feel that we will be judged harshly if we admit to having problems.  After all, we are church volunteers or are on staff and we need to be an example to those we serve.  I lived that lie for for over 15 years.  I allowed my trials to confuse my mind about the power that our Lord Jesus Christ possesses.   I didn’t comprehend what it meant to have faith as I hoped in people and my unique strengths rather than our Lord.  I limited God’s divine power and forgot what Hebrews says about faith:

Hebrews 11:1 “ Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

When we are in the pit, what do we pray for?  I know I prayed… relief from the pain.  What keeps us functioning?  Hope.  There’s a motivational quote that states, “A man can live about 40 days without food, about 3 days without water, about 8 minutes without air, but not for 1 second without hope.”

The Lord blessed us, gifted us, gave freely to us, examples of people in the Bible who had great faith:

  • Enoch – taken up to heaven without dying.  He was known as a person who pleased God.
  • Noah – built a boat by faith and saved his family from the flood.
  • Sarah – she believed by faith that she was able to have a child in her old age.
  • Abraham – offered Isaac as an offering.
  • Isaac – it was by faith he promised blessings for the future of his sons Esau and Jacob.
  • Moses – by faith he chose to suffer, left the land of Egypt and parted the Red Sea.
  • Rahab – she gave friendly welcome to spies and was not destroyed with the people in her city.

There are many more examples of God’s power and promises all through scripture.  I was too busy trying to survive, protect, and function to notice and truly claim His promises and to appropriately apply them to my life.  So…..God allowed me to experience a life storm and ultimately my residence for a couple years, was in the pit of pain and suffering.  What I now know about storms is that though they are fueled by strong winds, dark skies, even thunder and lightening, they don’t last forever.  “…there is joy in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

Bottom line, when something difficult comes at you, realize that your faith is being tested.  It is only through the test is how you’ll learn to depend on our King.  Each test serves to help us deal with the next test or trail, if we abide and follow the Lord’s instructions.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while if need be you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7

Author, Debbie Alsdorf’, inspired me and helped me focus on His purpose in my life in her book, Faith Dare.  She bullet points the following statements about trials that kept me focused on the Lord’s promises and helped me inch and claw my way out of the pit and back into the palace:

  • Trials are tests of what you believe.
  • You are to rejoice in the fire of the trial.
  • You are to believe that God knows about the test or trial.
  • You are to believe that God is with you in the test or trial.
  • You are to believe that God has the power to change you through the test or trial.
  • You are to believe that since God is good, all his dealing with you is good – even in test or trials.

If you are in the pit today, whether the pain was self imposed or you are a victim of innocent suffering,  I pray you can realize that there are others like you,  that have their own Pit to Palace story.  You are not alone.  Jesus’ life is the prime example we could all glean from.  Allow the Lord to minister to you right now and help you surrender all your burdens. Starting today and everyday pray for healing.  Keep asking the Lord what is it that He is trying to show you through this, who do you need to forgive and ask Him to remind you of the many promises in His word.  God allowed this in your life for a heavenly reason.  What is happening to you, the Lord is working through you. Once you accept that fact, you’re one step closer to the palace.

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5

If you had full anonymity…would you agree that ministry is hard?

If you had full anonymity…what else would you share with me?

Why does anonymity make a difference?

You do have anonymity and you have a safe place in Jesus.  Turn and fully surrender to Him. You’ll find your way back to the palace.

Here’s the link to Debbie’s book “Faith Dare”

http://www.design4living.org/store/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=43