Thursday, December 30, 2010

The unceasing call of Love - Part IV

::::  See Parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series of posts to "get the whole story" :::::::

I hope everyone had a great Christmas filled with family and egg nog!  I took some time off from finishing this series of posts to focus on Christmas and family.  But I'm finding I want to have it completed before the new year so here is the 4th and final installment.

A side note that I would like to make first.  At the invitation of our awesome neighbors, on Christmas Eve Jerry, the girls and I attended a candelight service at the church that we started out at when we first moved here; the one with the pastor who patiently listened to me while I vented my anger.  It was amazing how people remembered us (well, mostly Jerry and the girls since I did not attend but maybe 2 or 3 times) and were genuinely happy to see us!  And in talking with them, we discovered that Jerry and the girls had attended church FAR longer than I had remembered!  I thought it had only been for about 2-3 years after we moved here (until around 2001).  Turns out, they had attended up through 2006!  About the time that Emily was too old for Sunday School but still too squirmy to sit through the main service.  I want to publicly thank Jerry profusely for continuing to provide for the girls in this way, even when he had NO support from me to help him do so.  I will forever be grateful to you for this, my sweetie.  I love you.

You're my lobster 

Ok, on to the conclusion of my journey up til now.  In the years following our move out of the city, I began delving deeply into all things spiritual, EXCEPT Christianity.  I read book after book after book on subjects such as near death experiences, native american spirituality, out of body experiences, eastern philosophy, chakras. I also read and listened to channelings from beings who said they were from other star systems or beings who were here to help humanity.   While looking online, I saw there were others that were searching just like I was.  I joined message boards and began conversing with people who felt as I did; that there HAD to be a better way to connect with God.  

In 2001 I found an organization that became what I called my spiritual family.  I believed that these were souls I had journeyed with over eons of time in other lifetimes.  I spent the better part of this last 10 years with them, going to workshops, conferences, making personal friendships and helping out with the organization.  At the center of this group was a man who channeled a specific entity who said that we had worked with him before in previous lifetimes and that we were back together now to help with Earth's ascension.  We would have monthly meetings (using the internet, they would have a live feed of him channeling this entity for the rest of us around the world to participate in).  Sometimes I would even go and participate live at these gatherings. 

In the beginning, I tried to get Jerry to join in with me, telling him that there was so much more to God than his limited bible could tell him.  I explained concept after concept and could not understand why/how he could not see what I saw.  After awhile, I let it go thinking that he was just too "asleep" to understand.  So spiritually, I went my way, and he went his. 

There are so many other things I could write about from this 10 year period of time, the things I experienced, the people I met, the way I viewed my role as a mother, how I viewed marriage/relationships but I find that I just cannot bring myself to put it all down in writing.  I'm not sure I could even do it justice anyway because I am SO not that person anymore. 

What I will say is about 2 years ago, a subtle unsettledness was beginning to nag at me inside regarding the group I was associating with.  And it grew and grew over time.  I ignored it for the most part, but it just wouldn't go away.   I was beginning to notice incongruence's between what they taught and how they lived.  I tried a few times to leave but I always found myself drawn back in.  I had become very close friends with a girl who, over time, had moved through the ranks to become a prominent part of the "inner circle" of the organization.  I didn't want to lose my friendship with her. 

Things came to a head in the summer of 2009.  The organization had just finished a very intense and powerful conference. It was a culmination of all that we had done for the past 10 years so emotions were running high.  This friend had invited me to come out to her home a couple of weeks after this event just to chill together and discuss all that had occurred. There was also going to be opportunities to spend some down time with the main people of the organization since they all lived in the same area. Since we rarely saw each other outside of organized events this was a very welcoming invitation.  So I flew out to spend a week with them.

And it was as if the scales had been completely lifted from my eyes.

During the entire time I was there, I saw things I had never seen before.  I saw the utter dysfunction between the people in the "inner circle."  I saw the hypocrisy of what they said vs what they did.  I saw how confused and misled my friend was.  I saw so many things that absolutely left me in shock by the time I left.  I didn't understand any of this at the time.  I just knew something had absolutely changed and I didn't know what.  I cannot over-emphasize how much this affected me.

I came home wondering what was wrong with ME.  Why I didn't feel like I belonged anymore.  Why did I feel like they couldn't "see me."   Why did I feel so distant from them?   I tried emailing with my friend after I got home to tell her how I felt.   She encouraged me to keep writing because she felt that it was about "me not valuing myself enough and not allowing my own power and magnificence to shine through."  Well, I kept writing, but as I did, there was a growing sense of conviction that it was not ME that was off, but them. 

Things culminated at the end of Aug. 2009 when I did something that I still cannot believe I did to this day.  It may seem like an inconsequential thing, but with this group, it was HUUUGGEEE.  At the time that all of this other stuff was going on, there was a massive thread that had been started on the message board that we all posted on.  It began in July and ran nonstop night and day for over a month.  I don't know why. It was just one of those rare things that sometimes happen on a message board. People who never got along before were all posting and everyone was accepting of everyone else and we were all sharing our deepest secrets as well as being as silly as we could be.  And when I say non-stop, I do mean non-stop.  When one side of the world was asleep, the other side would post all night long, and vice versa.  It was more of a chat room than a message board because of the constant live interaction going on.  I believe we were well into the thousands with the page count.  It really was quite amazing.  Towards the end though, it turned very nasty.  A few people came on and decided to "sling mud" in every direction at the participants.  People began fighting and arguing with one another.  Some left by deleting their accounts all together.  It was ugly.

Well, I had moderator status of that message board (although I was no longer an acting moderator).  And about 2 weeks after returning from this trip with my friend, I woke up one morning and with a calm and conviction I cannot explain to this day, I went in and deleted that entire thread.

You can imagine the kind of response that ensued.  If I had tried to get out before, I had totally succeeded this time.    I was banned from the board and many of my friends, including the one I was closest to, had decided I had gone crazy and told me to stay far away.  One person had even suggested that I was having a spiritual crisis.

And in retrospect, I now realize that a spiritual crisis is what it was.  God had been prompting me for some time to leave that group and I didn't listen.  While I was at my friends house, He most decidedly "lifted the veil from my eyes" so that I would see what was really going on.  It sucked though.  I'm sorry but it really did. It hurt like heck.  And I have no doubt that the prompting to delete that thread was not only so that I would HAVE to leave that group but so that I could also see the truth about the friends I thought I had there. 

For the next year I spent my time in a sort of spiritual void.  I had decided that my relationship with God, whatever that was, was going to be a solo journey.  I still checked out the main lightworker information sites but did not participate directly with any one group.  And yet, through ALL of this, I still felt what I can only describe as an irresistible "calling." 

The truth is, I have felt this calling all of my life.  And in a myriad of different ways, I have tried to answer.  Albeit, always on MY terms.  I thought I had to "do" the searching for answers myself.  In my own power.  I thought my own mind was powerful and wise enough to uncover the secrets to life and master my own destiny and that my own heart was big enough to encompass the love and compassion needed to change myself and the world.  Yet, in this last year in particular, I was shown in many different ways how utterly untrue this was. Through several different experiences with my boss, with my husband, with being a musician playing the flute,  through an illness of one pet and the death of another, rather than feeling like god, I was instead, incredibly humbled. 

So when November 11th, 2010 rolled around, I was very ripe for the surrender that was necessary for God to reveal Himself.  His unceasing call of Love never waned.  It was my own resistance to surrender to it that kept Him from me.  It was only when I realized that I could not, on my own power, reach Him that I realized why Jesus is so incredibly important.  It is in our nature to resist this surrender and try to do things on our own.  To believe that we are the creaTOR rather than the creaTED (and that is not just limited to new age thinking).  It was this wall of resistance that Jesus came to remove so that THROUGH Him we could be reunited with God.   God already has it all figured out!  All He asks is that we surrender our will to His and He will guide us with His own personal plan for us.  It is not for us to "fix" this world or to even "fix" ourselves.  All we have ever had to do is to desire to Love Him with all our heart and all our soul and through that communion, He, in His perfect wisdom will complete it through us. 

And so this brings me full circle to that moment so many years ago when in the simplicity of my childhood desire to Love, I loved my "imaginary friend" in the form of my "puff the magic dragon tree."  But now, after all this time, after all these years, I have found that “imaginary friend.”   And He’s not imaginary.  HE’S REAL.   And He will never betray me, and He will never ignore me, and He will never manipulate me, nor lie to me nor tell me I am loving Him too much.  I am free to love and love and love and love and love and love and love to my heart’s content and He will never tell me to stop.  He's there, giving my heart a hug every single day and loving me back in a way I have never, ever known.

That’s the bottom line of what life is all about.  Loving God.  And knowing now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He truly resides within me, there are no words on this Earth to express what that means to me.  This communion; it really is the bottom line.  What He does with that through me are the miracles, the glorious expressions of that communion for the world to witness.

And I now get to do this for the rest of my life, even for eternity.

To me, that IS Heaven.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas filled with Love and Joy and Peace.   I'm including a gift from my Father that He wanted me to share with you all.


(EDIT: For some reason I cannot embed. Click on this link to get to video):

I also found this cute and current rendition of the Birth of Jesus.  It shows the main characters as if they were conversing on Facebook.  Love it!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Seek and Ye Shall Find

I'm posting a series of videos of a man named Nick Vujicic who speaks a better testimony that I probably ever could.  In speaking with a dear sweet friend today, I realized that I am utterly unprepared with words to speak of God's magnificence and Love.  Nick does it in spades.  The message he speaks (not just with his words) is one I desire so much to do as well.  And that is, for my life to demonstrate and reveal to others who God really is.  To demonstrate He is REAL.  My words are not enough.  Reciting scripture, although they are wonderful seeds to plant, is not enough.  In Nick's words,  "I want to be a living testimony of God's power, God's grace and God's Love."   A life lived for God, through Jesus, speaks louder than words ever can. This gift He offers is not just for me, or for Nick, but is for everyone who seeks with their whole heart.

I received a bracelet from a new friend God brought into my life recently and it is inscribed with this message which I feel is the core of what I've been doing all of my life:

"You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart"  Jeremiah 29:13

There's another verse I love and in my newness I'm not sure where it's found in the bible (will edit once I find it).  EDIT:  Found it:  It's Matthew 6:33. I like it because it describes how my primary focus was on finding God and establishing the relationship.  The intellectual questions I had about who He was and why were secondary.  However, after finding Him, all of these questions were answered.

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

I pray that you never stop seeking until you KNOW, with utter conviction, no matter what, that you have found. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

When God Became a Man

I'm having one of those days when I so want to express but I don't know how.

I found this wonderful article today that I would like to share an  excerpt from that help a little. It talks about God becoming a man and what that means.  Then I'm going to ramble a bit and let it all come out.  :)

When God Became a Man

"It has been rightly said that the history of the world hinges on a stable door in Bethlehem. The birth of Jesus in a little stable in Bethlehem forever changed the history of the world. Jesus was God with skin on, walking among us and showing us what God is like. He was not a man who became God, which is impossible, but God who became a man.

I LOVE how he says "Jesus was God with skin on!"   When I think about that; how God HIMSELF came into this world and took on a human body so that He could show us the way out, it just humbles me to no end.  He came as Jesus, to show us what God is like, NOT to show us how to "be like God."  Jesus was not a man who became God, He was God who became a man.  

It's amazing to me how I used to think of it the other way around, that I, myself was "God in a bod."  So many of the things I used to believe had, at their core, the concept that I was on an even level with the Creator of the Universe! That I WAS that Creator.  Which, in the long run, really diminishes God all together, if you really think about it.  Because I don't care who you are, no one can never think of themselves well enough to even come close to matching their highest image of God. So my "highest thought" of "who I was"   absolutely paled in comparison to Who God Really Is.  (argg..words!).     

Think about it:  Even on one's BEST day, when life is flowing and everything is effortless and you feel peaceful and joyful and God-like, it is still so lacking.  You will still get tired by the end of the day, or painfully stub your toe, or an angry person will shove you sideways if you are in their way.  That's being God?   Seriously?  God is only as grand as that?  Like the singer (forget who) says, "What if God were one of us?  Just a slob like one of us?"   

WHY would ANYONE want to reduce God to something as mundane as that?  How could anyone feel COMFORTABLE with that and how, pray tell, would one ever have any hope that life could ever get better if God was no better than us?  Why would they want to reduce God to their level?  So they can feel better about themselves?  What would there to look forward to?   Will God (ie: themselves) somehow magically improve themselves beyond just "experiencing all" and begin creating grander things?  Well, if they are God, why wouldn't they create those things right now!  What's stopping them?

Yes, what is stopping them?  That IS the question.

Why is it so hard for people to believe that God could be much grander and greater than they can ever even imagine?  Why are people so afraid to ACCEPT a God that glorious, instead, reducing Him to just their limited highest thought they have about themselves?  What if, God really IS that grand?  Imagine it....all of the things you've heard or imagined in your life about a God who is Almighty, All Powerful, gloriously Loving, so huge and so absolutely awe inspiring that you become utterly speechless in His presence.  Think of the movies or pictures you've seen that depict this where people fall on their knees in amazement and wonder.  Imagine yourself before this God.  Would you feel equal to Him?  Would you feel worthy to be standing there?  How would you feel in your gut?  Close your eyes and seriously think about that. There's a reason that instinctively and intrinsically you would not feel like you had a right to be there.  No matter how much you may deny you would feel that way, in your heart of hearts, you know that you would.  Could this be why people make God in their image instead?

Now, what if that same God, still wanted you to BE with Him, so much, that He would lower Himself into human form to FIND you.  That He would SACRIFICE a part of Himself on your behalf and create a doorway just so that you could be together, because He loved you that much.  And then, once you walk through that doorway, He would send another part of Himself to dwell within you to TEACH you how to get closer to Him so that you could truly know that "you are never alone."  How could you not accept a gift like that?

The irony for me is, the journey I thought I was on before to "connect with Divinity," "become Christ-like" "purify" etc... well, I still am!!  BUT:  I'm doing so under the proper tutelage of the One that God sent to teach me.  And my lesson book is the bible.  All this time, there was already a plan in place for this process.  It's called Sanctification.  And it requires a lot more than what most people are willing to do, beginning with humbling yourself in full surrender of your will to God's will and becoming as vulnerable as a newborn baby (hmmmm.......).

The only difference is, before, I was trying to figure this process out on all on my own, all alone, walking in circles.   

Now, I walk the path laid out before me, brightly lit by Love and  accompanied by a dear Friend.

I sincerely pray that others discover the joy of accepting this gift from God.


Friday, December 17, 2010

The unceasing call of Love - Part III

As I type this today, I look out the window to see my youngest daughter, Emily (12), playing outside in the snow.  She has created an imaginary world centered around our weeping willow tree in our front yard.  She plays out there every day after school for at least an hour.  I see her sitting on a branch, looking up at the tree and her mouth is moving.  She then runs around it, plops herself in the snow and looks up to the sky, mouth still moving.  I hope her weeping willow tree makes the clouds change shapes for her.  :)

At the time that this experience with the pastor occurred, I was 28 and he was 52.  Regardless of the age gap, I was still an adult.  Yet, because of the issues I was working through at the time, I had the mind and heart of a child.  I have not yet been able to reconcile this in my mind.  I should have known better.  Yet, I honestly didn't have a CLUE.

After I left that day, I drove home in kind of a numb silence.  (which I had gotten very good at doing).  I did not tell Jerry right away.  I didn't know WHAT to say.  I met with my therapist the following week and I did tell him.  But very matter of factly.  It did not hit me emotionally at all how so wrong it all was.  My therapist, however, took action immediately.  He made it very clear to me that I should tell Jerry and also that I was NOT to see the pastor alone again under any circumstances. He also filed what's called a "vulnerable adult" report with the state we live in.  I remember, even then,  feeling like this therapist, whom I had grown to trust, was just being paranoid and going overboard.

That night I told Jerry.  To say he was devastated was an understatement.  It took him no time at all to feel the full force of the betrayal.  A man he had trusted to care for his wife during times he could not be there himself, left him feeling very betrayed. What I didn't appreciate enough back then but I came to appreciate immensely over time is how not ONCE did he ever blame me or question my actions. ((((Jerry))))).  We immediately stopped going to the church and Jerry sent a letter of resignation to the church board.  When I wasn't showing up for our "meetings", pastor would call inquiring about me.  Jerry would answer the phone and made it very clear to him that he was not to call our home ever again.  The pastor was "surprised" by this and didn't understand why Jerry would say this, and even after Jerry confronted him, he acted as if it was all just a "huge misunderstanding."

Our friends would call asking why we weren't there.  We didn't feel it would be right to "plant the seed of secrecy" in them as we knew how that could spread and infect a church.  Because we couldn't explain, one by one, our friends dropped away.  I cannot tell you what a loss this was to lose such a large part of our life as this church was for us in such a short amount of time.  And it is the reason that we never got to finish the last mural of Noah's Ark in the nursery.  We left our paints, projector machine and all our other supplies there.  We did find out later that some of the other church members got together and finished the Noah wall for us.  (tears).......

Ironically, this did not cause me any kind of set back but I think it's because I blocked feeling the full truth of what had happened from myself for a long time.  At this point, Jerry's son whom we had gotten custody of had gone back to live with his mom so there was no "reason" to find a new Nazarene church, or any church for that matter. 

About a year and a half later, I was contacted by a district "deacon" (not sure of the terminology) of the Nazarene church inquiring about my interactions with this pastor (he had seen the vulnerable adult report filed by my therapist).  He stated that this pastor had not stayed at the church much longer after we had left due to "financial embezzlement suspicions" and had been reassigned to a church out east.  He also left there under questionable circumstances and was now pastoring in a church in the south.  There was a female member of that church who was filing charges against him for "inappropriate conduct" and he wanted me to give a deposition of my experiences so that he could help assist her in her case.  He made it clear to me that although the "typical" way to handle things was to "shuffle a pastor along" to a new congregation, he was not going to let that happen in this case.  But even after all the depositions, meeting with the church's lawyers etc. the whole thing just fizzled at some point and we never did know why.  To this day, I have no idea where he is or if he is still pastoring.  He would be 67 now.

By this time, I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter Emily and we were thick into getting things in place to move from the "big city" out into the country. We wanted a fresh start, away from the days of hospitals and the church and to raise our children in more of a "Mayberry" sort of place.  We managed to accomplish this by Oct. 98, 1 1/2 months prior to Emily being born. (whew!  That year of 98 is a whole nother story as well. :)  )

Once we moved, Jerry felt led to find a new church.  I, did not.  I had come to the place where I was finally VERY (and I mean VERY) angry about what had happened.  I openly declared that I wanted NOTHING to do with church, pastors or Christianity EVER again.  Although Jerry shared my anger, he tried to convince me that it was best for the girls if we continue to provide them exposure to the Word through Sunday school etc.  I told him he was more than welcome to find that for himself and the girls but that I would most decidedly not be joining him.  So for the first 3 years or so after Emily was born, Jerry and the girls would go to church and I would stay home.  Eventually, Jerry stopped going as well because a couple not united in God tends to fall away from God.

 In the beginning, Jerry told me that the church he had found had a pastor that he really liked and that this pastor really wanted to talk to me about what had happened. I don't know how that pastor got me to agree to it, but he began coming out to our home once a week to talk with me.  When he came, we would sit at our kitchen table, his bible open on the table between us and he would just listen while I vented my anger at God, pastors, church and Christianity.  He didn't judge me, correct me or interject at all.  He would patiently listen and simply wait until I asked a question (which was rare because I certainly thought I had all the answers at that point) and then he would turn to his bible and find scripture that related to my question.  Each time, I would blow off his answer because I did not consider the bible any kind of authority in my life anymore.  I don't remember how long he came to visit me, but I know I gave that poor man a very hard time (smile) and at some point, I just asked him to stop coming, and he did. Not long after, he was reassigned to a new church up north and we never saw him again.  (a couple of weeks ago, I was able to locate this pastor and called him to tell him of what had happened with me and how much I appreciated what he had done for me).

But something stood out to me that I admitted to no one but Jerry.  In ALL of the time I had met with that other horrible pastor, I realized that not ONCE was his bible ever present.  I came to understand that it was not God or Christianity that had betrayed me.  It was one man who did.  However, my heart was so hard by this point that it was not enough to get me to re-engage with Christianity or the church.

 So while Jerry and the girls continued to attend church, I decided that I would find God in my OWN way.  I began delving into other religions, eastern thought, native american spirituality,  and anything else I could find.  One day, I was in a bookstore and ran across a book called "Conversations with God." The author claimed to have a divine connection directly with God who began to have a conversation with him.   One of the things he wrote was that God said "there is no eternal hell.  Only the one that people make for themselves through their own minds."  I read that and shouted a grand Hallelujah and felt my heart open wide.  No hell?   I knew it!!!   Daggone those church ladies and their fear tactics!!!  Daggone Christianity and their fear based teachings and archaic thinking!   Now I was ready to discover the "real God within" and my "itching ears" were ready to listen to everything and anything that told me who/what that was.

The unceasing call of Love - Part 4 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The unceasing call of Love - Part II

Although I was walking through a lot of darkness at this time, I had also begun going to church/youth group.  I had a friend in high school who invited me to their church.  I attended the youth group there for awhile as well as the Sunday services.  Just before I turned 18, I was asked by the youth pastor if I wanted to accept Jesus into my heart as my savior.  I said I thought I had probably already done that as a child.  I was told I could pray it again as a "rededication" to Him, so I did.  I was welcomed in as a "new baby Christian" and given books to read and scripture to study.  In college, the next fall, I joined Campus Crusade for Christ to continue my walk with Jesus and was with this group for almost 2 years.  However, my "Christian life" and my "real life" rarely intertwined.  I did not feel any "inner conviction" about my choice other than I really did want to live a good life according to God's Will and, if possible, avoid going to hell.  But I had NO clue how to live that in any practical way.  So I went to bible study and church but the rest of the time, I spent in what I felt was the "secret darkness" of who I really was inside.

Then in the spring of my junior year in college, I met Jerry.  I wasn't looking for a boyfriend, but he sure wanted me to be his girlfriend!  I went on the token "first date" and then promptly avoided his calls/attempts to contact me.  But he was one persistent little bugger and he eventually got me to agree to go on another date.  We ended up dating for 2 1/2 years before he asked me to marry him.  During this time, I was still battling with depression and the darkness I now felt was a permanent part of who I was.  I had no idea how Jerry could love me or why he would want to marry me.  He knew the struggles I was going through but he stayed anyway.   So in Oct. 1991 we were married.  We were married in a lutheran church that we had begun attending just after we were engaged.  Jerry had been a Christian since he was a teenager but he had not been attending a church for some time. Our engagement prompted us both to begin going again on a regular basis.

During this same time, we were fighting for custody of his 2 boys and ended up going to court the week after our honeymoon.  We were able to get custody of his oldest son (10) but his mother made one condition that we find a Nazarene Church for him to attend.  So we left the lutheran church we had been at and found a Nazarene one.  I then became pregnant with our first daughter, Sarah who was born in May 1993.  By this time, we were regular members of the Nazarene church and we really loved it.  We made many friends and became very involved in the functions of the church.  Jerry became a member of the church board and our daughter was baptized there.  Jerry and I even took it upon ourself to paint the entire nursery room walls with floor to ceiling murals of biblical scenes.

 However, this last one of Noah was never completed by us.  And there was a reason for that.


For the first 2 years after my daughter Sarah was born, the dam I had built up to hold back all the pain from my childhood had begun to leak.  I spent some time in and out of the hospital for depression and began seeing a counselor.  I even started taking anti-depression medication which in retrospect I KNOW made things MUCH worse than they needed to be.  But that's a whole nother topic.  :)   It was becoming increasingly difficult to function in my daily life.  The one thing I did manage to be consistent with was being a mother to Sarah.  When she was around, somehow, all of the inner turmoil went to the background and I could focus on her.  But by the fall of 1995, even this was becoming hard to do.

Then, just before Christmas 1995, I was at home alone one evening and out of sheer desperation, I got on my knees on my living room floor and cried out to God like I never had before.  I screamed and cried and pleaded with Him.  I told Him, "I cannot FEEL you!  I know you are there but trust and faith are just NOT enough for me right now...please please PLEASE send me something tangible that I can know is you so that I can reconnect with you in a real way.  I NEED you so much and I cannot do this alone."   I cried and prayed this for a couple hours until I dropped exhausted into bed.

The next day, I went to the church to work on the mural.  While I was there, the pastor came up to me and asked me to come into his office to talk.  He explained that the evening before, he had heard from God in a way that, in his words: "I can count on my hands how many times I've ever heard Him so clearly before."   He said that God asked him to connect with me and help me.  He asked me if I knew what that meant.   I cried and told him yes, I knew exactly what he meant and I told him about my prayers from the previous evening.

Since it was almost Christmas, the pastor suggested that we set up some time to talk each week beginning after the New Year.  However, we were not able to begin those sessions as planned as I ended up in the hospital again the day after New Years.  This time, it would not be a short stay as the doctors felt that I needed longer term care and more intense therapy to deal with the issues I was having.   They had me committed to a long term facility which I stayed at for 5 months.  During this entire time, the pastor came to visit me, sometimes 2 or 3 times a week.  We would talk for several hours.  Sometimes I was able to get a pass and he would take me out to eat or just to drive to a park where I could get some fresh air.  I was so incredibly grateful for his support, as was my husband since he was now having to be a full time "single" dad for Sarah.  He would also pick me up and bring me home for my occasional weekend passes when Jerry could not come to get me.  (facility was over an hour from my home).   We talked about everything and he listened and listened and let me just ramble. He also shared things from his own life that had happened to him, which, he explained was why he could relate to my pain.   I couldn't believe God had answered my prayer so completely!  I told the pastor about my struggles with God and even about the special time out on the hill when I was 6 1/2 years old.  To keep my spirits up, pastor told me that when I was discharged, we would find a place that resembled the hill from this memory and we would go there to reconnect with God once again.

I was FINALLY feeling like life was moving forward again.  God had answered my prayer and I was getting stronger and was feeling that darkness within me really start to diminish.   And by God's grace, (and a very special husband/father) Sarah was adjusting very well despite my absence.   In the late spring of 95, I was discharged and went back home full time.  Pastor and I then began our weekly meetings to continue our talks.  These weekly meetings quickly turned into 3-4 days a week meetings.  We would sit in his office in 2 chairs facing each other by the window and he would just let me talk, about my past, about my pain, and about God.  Since I was not working and Sarah was in daycare during the day (until I felt strong enough to care for her consistently on my own again) I had the time to do this.  I was also seeing another therapist that I had been assigned to while I was in the hospital.  He felt that I was spending too much time visiting with the pastor.  Since this therapist was Jewish, I chalked it up to him not "understanding" how God had answered my prayer and had brought us together.

I asked the pastor about finding the hill as we had discussed so many times while I was hospitalized and he would keep telling me he was still searching for the perfect spot.  It never dawned on me that there was no way for him to know what that would look like.  I just trusted that God was guiding him and I had faith that he would find it.   By midsummer, he stated he had found it and so we arranged for a time to meet so that we could go there.   When I got to the church, he met me outside and asked me to follow him in my car over to a parking lot at a small shopping center down the road.

He said he wanted me to park my car there because the church ladies were having a big function that day and he didn't want them to wonder why my car was there but I was not inside attending the function.

I then got in his car which was a convertible that he put the top down on as we drove down a main road south of the church.   We drove about 15 miles and then he stopped at a small trucker rest stop and suggested we have breakfast first.

After finishing breakfast, we got back in the car and drove a ways out into the country.  He turned off the main road onto a small gravel road that went into a wooded area.

Finally we came to a clearing that looked like a small park on the edge of a small lake.  The trees were very tall and did not really allow one to look clearly up at the sky, nor was there really any kind of "hill" to speak of.

We got out of the car and he went to his trunk to pull out a large blanket for us to sit on.  We went over to a grassy area and spread out the blanket and sat down.   We talked for a bit and he told me that today would be the day I would experience my reconnection with God.   He asked me to lie back, close my eyes and go back to the time when I was 6 1/2 on the hill and begin telling the experience again. 

So I began to do so and I imagined the sky, the clouds, the wind as it blew my beautiful puff the magic dragon tree, the grass as it tickled my body.  I began to feel what that little girl felt so long ago and tears started rolling down my face.  I felt like I WAS that little girl again!

Then suddenly, I felt a heavy weight on top of my legs and left shoulder.   I opened my eyes to find the pastor had rolled over and put his head on my shoulder and draped his legs over mine and one arm draped over my chest and onto my other shoulder.  He was lightly sobbing.  I asked him what he was doing and he said "I was just so overcome by the beauty of your story I just had to hug you, please continue."   I told him I wanted him to please get off of me and I tried to sit up.  He resisted at first and then reluctantly moved over and laid on his side propping his head up with his hand.  He looked at me and I was SHOCKED to see anger in his eyes.   He told me that clearly I was not at all interested in reconnecting with God if I was going to push away the messenger whom God had sent to help me.  He said a few other really horrible things (that I will not repeat here) when I tried to tell him that I thought this was all wrong.   And then I burst out with "WHAT WOULD YOUR WIFE THINK IF SHE DROVE UP RIGHT NOW AND SAW US!"  And then he sat up, looked at me straight in the eyes and said "who do you think she or ANYONE would believe, a pastor, or a mentally ill woman?"   That stunned me into silence.

We sat for a bit and suddenly his mood shifted and he said "look, this didn't go as we had planned today, it probably isn't the right time for you yet, no use in pushing things when you are not ready, why don't we call it a day and we'll wait until you are more prepared to receive God."  And we picked up our stuff, got in the car and began to drive out of the park.  Just before we did, he stopped at the bathrooms they had in a building at the entrance.   He went in, was in there for some time, and when he came back out to the car, he turned to me, put a hand on my cheek, told me he cared about me and then kissed me on the side of my other cheek.   We were silent the rest of the way back and he dropped me off at my car and said "I enjoyed spending time with you today, we'll plan a time to do this again soon, ok?"
I just nervously smiled and nodded and got in my car and drove home.

The unceasing call of Love - Part 3