I am sitting here on my couch staring at a blank screen wrestling with the words I know need to be written. Sometimes I sit down to write and stop myself from continuing because I am fearful I don’t have the time to fully explore where my heart wants to take me.

Tonight feels like one of those nights.

How do you write about the single most spiritually powerful weekend of your family’s life? Where do I start? How do I explain? What do I reveal and where do I protect other’s feelings? Where does the story bleed between theirs and mine?

When I was a little girl, all I ever wanted to do was teach and play church. If I wasn’t playing teacher, I was playing preacher. I mean I was church planting in the living room of our farm house before church planting was a “thing” as I did the preaching, teaching, song leading, prayers, communion, etc. for a room full of my stuffed animals and dolls. My mother provided me with crackers and grape juice for communion. At the time, there were always a variety of hymnals laying around, and I loved to sing. One of my favorite memories from that time is the story I have heard so many times I wonder if it is a tall tale, but supposedly I cut my own hair (bangs) as a sacrifice somehow confusing the Bible stories of Samson and Abraham (hair and sacrifice). I have been told that my parents were not amused. Can you imagine?

In 2012 if you had been close to me and asked, I would have told you that I was finally ready to walk away from corporate life and go back to school to complete a Ph.D. so that I could finally study and teach. I felt like it was where I was supposed to be and that I was finally going to “get it right” and follow my heart…and that it was what God wanted me to do. I had been given a “vision” in church one Sunday morning, and I felt it was the next step. Scary as hell, but somehow it felt right.

The thing is that I was on my knees at the time….so there were no next steps….anywhere. I spent the rest of 2012 honoring the commitments that I had made two years earlier. If I had been smarter or healthier or just a little bit selfish, I would have washed my hands of it all. No one would have blamed me…if for even a half a second I had shared the personal and professional hell I was enduring to stay. I didn’t share though, and to this day I have kept the bulk of the nightmare that was those two years to myself.

I don’t know what I have learned or suffered more from…the original circumstances or making the choice to suffer in silence…then and now. Too close to call at this point.

This past weekend I found out that my niece had been suffering in silence…probably for close to 10 months…certainly for approximately six weeks, and we landed somewhere in the latest/thick of it last weekend. The circumstances of her story are hers to share…and hers alone. What I will say is that when you see the circumstances of your past playing out in real time in the face of your own niece, something happens…or it did for me. The bulk of what I remember from Sunday afternoon is leaning forward in my seat and stating emphatically that the legacy of “this” in our family was going to stop then and there…right before I proceeded to share parts of my story that my niece had never heard (by my choice). That is the problem…somewhere in my ill-founded wisdom, I thought not sharing my own shame protected my family, but it didn’t…and doesn’t…because some of the demons I struggle with are built into my DNA. They are battles that are passed down through our family and hidden like a vampire from the sun. No. More. We ripped open the shades and shined the bright light of truth and God all over the messes of our pasts. We invited God into the middle of it and prayed over the messes and each other and literally fought the enemy to get our girl back. It cost us too. Time. Energy. Sleep. Old wounds. Shame. Buried stories. Guilt. It was worth every last bit of it. It took us the better part of two days nearly continuous before we literally saw her spirit transform before us. I have heard talk of a spirit of oppression being over someone before, but I have never witnessed one being there, being removed, and then gone. I can’t even describe it other than to say it was miraculous. It was God. God defeated the enemy for her heart and won.

I want to teach and I want to preach and I want to do church All. The. Time.

I have been bemoaning Lent and this season that I willing stepped into. I have felt numb and lost and unsure and tired and ill-equipped…and did I say lost? Part of it has been the weight of this family issue that we have been so deeply entrenched in intense prayer over for the past month, but even more it has been my own faith in God waning as I wondered what he might have for me in this season of Lent. I felt a little like a small boat in the big ocean. Did he still see me? Why didn’t I feel him? The tears fall writing this today as it seems so silly, but yet so real because I spent the first half of Lent peppering God with questions and wrestling with him. Then this past weekend he just guided us through this battle in hell for our girl, and he never left us. We were drowning in what to do…what to say…how to pray…how to help…and he just kept showing up for us guiding our thoughts, words, actions, prayers, and he helped us walk her through this nightmare. We were walking her, but he was walking us. I shake my head even as I type because I wish I were the kind of writer who could explain and express those days in a way that was worthy of what God did for her…for us.

I think I have been playing church my whole life.

I don’t think I want to play it anymore. I think it is time to live it. This weekend I saw a glimpse of what truly living church could look like, feel like…and I want more. I want to help these kids…heck, these adults…who simply need someone to help them walk it out, unpack the situation(s), and find their way back to God. I never had that. Never. That is a wound that I had buried so deep that it took my flailing niece to force me to unpack it. I am not the only one either. There are a lot of us who simply didn’t have a parent or an aunt or anyone who would fight for them….go to battle with the enemy for their heart or soul. Every child needs that…every adult needs that. Spiritual warfare is REAL. On some level I have known it since I was 18, but never like this…

I don’t know what all of this means for my day-to-day life other than I know that a switch has been flipped that I cannot undo….and I don’t want to either…what happened in our family this past weekend was precious and beautiful and healing.

Our stories matter. The enemy lurks in the shadows that shame casts over our lives. He wants us to be silent and alone. We have to fight for each other…in those dark, messy, uncomfortable places. God is in the messy. Fighting for us. Fighting with us. The battle is not ours to win, but ours to give him to win on behalf of us. Ours to give to him to win on behalf of others.

As I woke at dawn the day after, I leaned into kiss my niece’s forehead as she slept, and with both hands laid on her, I prayed,

“By the cross of Jesus Christ I now sever all soul ties with {her name} in the Name of Jesus Christ. I am crucified to her, and she is crucified to me. I bring the cross of Christ between us, and I bring the love of Christ between us. I send {her name}’s spirit back to her body, and I forbid her warfare to transfer to me or to my domain. I command my spirit back into the Spirit of Jesus Christ in my body. I release {her name} to you, Jesus. I entrust her to you. Bless her, God! In Jesus’s Name. Amen.”

…which is the Breaking Soul Ties Prayer from Stasi Eldredge’s fantastic book “Becoming Myself” which I recommend to EVERYONE and have gifted to a lot of the young women I mentor. {Click on link to go right to her site to purchase.} This prayer has changed my life as I tend to worry wart over everyone and everything…owning everyone’s battles…#martyr  *Ugh*

I prayed this prayer after days of intense prayer and spiritual work with her and our family because I knew enough to know that I needed to not take all that we had unearthed back home with me….I knew that even as I also knew that I was headed home to find a counselor/therapist to help me unpack the wounds that God had shown me in the thick of her battle.

Photo Credit: stonegableblog

I also have been led to Psalm 51 as I work to reconcile the past few days…and I am reminded that

“…Against you, you only have I sinned…Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place…Create in me a pure heart…Renew a steadfast spirit within me…Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me…”

Pure Heart.
Willing Spirit.

God gave me this Psalm in January during #restorationJanuary and I have had those four words/phrases on my bathroom mirror ever since. Then tonight he took me again to read those words.

This is what I asked for in January…here is where he has taken me in March.


I feel like God is cleansing me from the inside out…I wish it were easier. I wish it didn’t have to be so painful. I wish the seasons were simple and brief OR long and lovely. I have been wishing away the hard these many weeks, but he knew he what he was doing. He was teaching me wisdom. Chiseling away to find the purest part of my heart. Restoring my joy. Testing to find my willing spirit.

…and he is not done.

Not by a long shot.

“…The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart…” {vs. 17} as I learn to look to him when troubles crush me and plead for mercy for the wounds and strongholds of sin that shackle me, my heart, and my life.

….and he will use whatever it takes.

He did.

I sit here tonight and try to remember the little girl, 4 years old, head full of soft brown curls, a couple of dimples….I try to remember what thoughts were in her heart as she set up that church in the living room of her family’s farm house. What joy and dreams were floating around in her heart. What was Jesus whispering into her then? Oh Jesus, what are you whispering to me now?

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”

I am resting tonight in God’s unfailing love…not just for me, but for every single one of us. There is something more available to each of us. Something more even then those of us who have been a part of a church our whole lives have known. There is love anew, fresh grace, new mercies, deeper healing, and more restoration.

I can play church OR I can live church.

Call me crazy, but I want more of the latter.


Bethel | {Beautifully} In Over My Head | Video http://youtu.be/KkoCaZrvAQk

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! 🙂