Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Child of Mine: My "Sweetly Broken" Journey (Introduction)

Child of Mine: My “Sweetly Broken” Journey

Table of Contents

Part I              Growing Up
Chapter 1        My First Official Grown-Up Summer                                    
Chapter 2        Fast Forward 13 Years or So                                                
Chapter 3        More Than You Wanted to Know                                        
Chapter 4        A New and Ugly Me                                                            
Chapter 5        First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage                             
Chapter 6        Then Comes...                                                                      
Chapter 7        Lessons from the Battlefront                                                  
Chapter 8        Lessons for Life                                                                    

Part II             Growing Down
Chapter 9        The Final Frontier                                                                 
Chapter 10      The Breaking Point                                                               
Chapter 11      It is what it is!                                                                       
Chapter 12      Adding One More to the Mix                                                
Chapter 13      Oh, Give Me a Home . . . Please!                                          
Chapter 14      The Heart of the Matter                                                         
Chapter 15      From “Good, Adult Step-Child”. . .                                       
Chapter 16      . . . To Child . . .                                                                    
Chapter 17      . . . To Humbled!                                                                   

Part III           Growing Faith                                                          
Chapter 18      The Desert                                                                              
Chapter 19      Blessed Be Your Name                                                          
Chapter 20A   Your Will Be Done?                                                               
Chapter 21      Digging Deep                                                                         
Chapter 22      In Jesus’ Name                                                                      
Chapter 23     Keeping the Faith                                                                    
Chapter 24      Sweetly Broken                                                                                 

[Scripture quotations taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION.®  Copyright ©  1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.  Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.]

Note:  If you would like to read Child of Mine alongside other people and discuss it with them like in a “book club,” I included a bunch of “Fellowship Questions” in a later post that you could use to keep the conversation going.  If you would like to do this, I suggest giving everyone copies of the questions to work on by themselves after they read the chapter(s).  And then, get everyone together for some dessert and coffee and have fun sharing your thoughts about the chapters and your answers to the questions.  My prayer and goal is that it helps you build relationships with others and learn more about yourself in the process.
            And just to give you a heads up, (if you are interested in doing it) Through the Furnace is like a guidebook to help you on your journey to being sweetly broken.  And this can be done on your own or with a partner or group, too.  If you are someone who likes to discuss your life and thoughts and feelings with a trusted friend, then that may be the way to go for you.  If you choose to do this, you may want to read Child of Mine at the same time because that is what I base Through the Furnace on.  Just something to consider!


            Everything had been going fine until I noticed a strange feeling.  Something doesn’t feel right, I thought.  I grabbed one of my teeth and began to wiggle it.  It was loose . . . really loose . . . wiggling freely back and forth in my mouth.  I began panicking.  I grabbed it and pulled on it.  And it popped out like nothing.  It wasn’t attached at all.  I could pull it out and put it back in, like a peg in a hole.  And soon, all the other teeth began to wiggle back and forth inside my mouth, like wheat in the wind.  And so I did what any normal person would do . . . I freaked out!  
            I’ve heard that the roots can reattach themselves when a tooth gets knocked out.  So I tried to get them all back in a straight row, and I bit down hard on them to keep them in place, hoping that they would reattach.  But even under my bite, they would wiggle around.  The harder I bit down, the more they wiggled.  And there seemed to be nothing I could do about it until . . . I woke up.  Thank GOD!  It was just a nightmare . . . again!
            But it felt so real!  I could practically still feel them wiggling.  It was very disturbing.  It always is!  I had been having this same dream periodically for about a decade or so now.  And I’ve never been able to figure out what it means.  (I’m a professional counselor, but I am no dream analyst.)  And for obvious reasons, I have become terrified of losing teeth.  
            Little did I know that these dreams were a sort of foreshadow of the most trying years of my life.  Maybe they were prophetic, in a way.  But it wasn’t just about teeth.  It was about losing control of all the stable and solid things in my life, and yet trying so hard to hold them together.  And these years would drastically alter my view of myself and my relationship with God.  But they weren’t pleasant years. 
            Rewind a little bit:  Just as these difficult years were headed my way, I heard a song on the Christian radio station, K-Love, that spoke so deeply to me.  It was a song by Jeremy Riddle called “Sweetly Broken.”  (From his Full Attention CD.  The whole CD is absolutely fabulous!  Love it, Jeremy!  And, K-Love, you’ve been used more than you know in my life.  Thank you for your ministry!)  It’s about being broken before God, humbled by His love. 
            And for some reason, it really resonated with me.  God had been getting a hold of my heart in a much deeper way for years before this, and this song challenged me to draw even closer to Him.  And somewhere deep down, I felt a prayer welling up in my spirit, “Lord, I want to live this song.  I want this to be my song.  I want to know what it feels like to be Sweetly Broken before You.” 
            Well, I would come to find out that God answers prayers like that.  Even if it’s years later.  It just doesn’t always happen in the way we expect or like.  And so, somewhere along the way, I found myself in the midst of the most difficult, painful, and confusing set of years I had ever faced.  Years of facing inner fears and insecurities, trials and loss.  Years of digging deep and exposing lies I believed, idols I chased, self-sufficient behaviors, and self-protective walls.  Years of pruning, stretching, growing, and refining.  Years of biting down hard and trying to keep things under control.  And failing! 
            I call this my “time in the furnace.”  And it hurt!  And in the midst of it, I had forgotten about the prayer that I uttered years before.  But as I was finishing up writing this book, I remembered it.  And I realized that all of those ugly years - all of the pain that I went through - were the answer to my prayer to live that song.  (Don’t worry, Jeremy.  It’s all good now!  No hard feelings! J)   
            My Furnace Time hurt, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.  I had learned something that I couldn’t learn when times were easy . . . brokenness and humility!  And while this journey may have started with nightmares about losing teeth and losing control, it ended with me gaining something that I had been missing my whole life -- something that I desperately wanted and needed, no matter how much I acted like I was fine without it.  (I’ll get to all this later).  And that made it all worth it!
            The first book, Child of Mine: My "Sweetly Broken" Journey, is about . . . well . . . my journey to being sweetly broken.  I guess the title explains it.  It’s about the good times and the bad as I have gone through the different stages of my life so far, from naïve child to cocky young adult to smug married woman to confident mom.  And then, it’s about the fall that I took from that high horse.  It’s about the hard lessons I have learned and the beautifully painful trials that have moved me from fearful self-sufficiency to being a “sweetly broken” child of God.  But mostly, it’s a story about how God can take the broken pieces of a heart and a life, and make something beautiful.
            And my story is not too different from so many other people’s stories.  We all have pasts full of pain and heartache and longing.  We all have fears and doubts and insecurities.  And whether we acknowledge it or not, these things affect our relationships – with ourselves, with others, and with God.  And I hope that by honestly sharing my story, you may find something of yourself in it, something that resonates with you and that helps bring you some encouragement or insight or healing.
            But instead of just writing my story, I went a step further and wrote Through the Furnace: Your "Sweetly Broken" Journey.  I took the lessons and insights that I gained during my “time in the furnace” and put them into a workbook-style devotional guide to (hopefully) help you work through issues from your past and any hindrances in your relationships, particularly with God. 
            It is my hope that you will feel that you have walked with me on my journey toward healing in Child of Mine, and that I can walk with you on your journey toward healing in Through the Furnace.  Nothing would fill my heart more than to know that these books helped someone find a more authentic, vibrant relationship with the Lord, full of His Love, Truth, and Healing.  [Actually, what would fill my heart the most is to know “that my children are walking in the truth.”  (3 John verse 4)  But this is right up there with that.]
            And if I may put this up front here, Child of Mine is not like “speed-dating” where you get one minute to find out all the highlights about someone else’s life before moving onto the next person.  (For the record, I have never speed-dated.)  It’s more like a lingering, summer’s day visit with a friend on your front porch over a glass of lemonade.  It takes you deep into my life at various points - good times and bad, funny and not-so-funny. 
            It does get to the serious spiritual meat eventually, but before that is a long, friendly visit as I let you really get to know me.  I don’t know about you, but I feel like we don’t have enough deep friendships in our society nowadays because we are all so busy.  And I guess I want this long, rambling book to be more like a deep friendship than a get-to-the-point-because-time-is-money booklet.  So hang in there, it does get to the point eventually.  (But just to warn you, the first chapter is quite long and will be very boring to most people.  So go ahead and skip it.  All you really need to know is this: I went on a mission trip to Papua New Guinea when I was 21, and it changed my life.  There, now you can go right to chapter 2.)  Settle into your favorite chair, grab a warm cup of coffee, and enjoy the walk that we are going to take together on the Sweetly Broken Journey. 

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