Weaponizing The Gospel

Podcast Version: http://www.wednesdayswithwatson.com

In her 2020 song “My Weapon” Natalie Grant beautifully sings about the presence of God being her weapon, I believe it with my whole heart, the presence of God is a weapon and this is demonstrated all throughout the gospels. Here is one of my favorite lyrics from the chorus:

“Your presence is my greatest weapon, pushing back the darkness, breaking every chain, my worship opens up the heavens, crushing every strong hold when I speak Your name, because Your presence is my weapon.”

In Mark’s gospel, Jesus repeatedly lives in community with people who appear to be mentally ill. To name a few: the man in the synagogue possessed by a demon (1:21-28), the Gerasene demoniac (5:1-20), and Bartimaeus, who was screaming at Jesus at the side of the road (10:46-52). We can imagine Jesus interacting with other people – including the apostles – who may have be suffering from depression, anxiety, or PTSD and all their friends. In each case, Jesus approaches these people and treats them with dignity. He refreshes their souls. He simply provides His presence first and then whatever else they needed. No name it claim it stuff from Jesus.

Lifeway Christian conducted a poll that demonstrated that almost half of evangelical Christians believe that they can overcome their mental illness with Bible study and prayer alone. I am so excited when God chooses to deliver a person from depression and its friends. But we all know it doesn’t always work that way. I was at church the other day and as a woman was getting baptized she declared her depression gone, and part of me cringed because I knew there were people whose internal dialogue told them “but that didn’t happen for you”, my internal voice was probably the loudest.

Just a few months ago a pastor, author and mental health advocate, Steve Austin, who had championed mental health being highlighted in the church, completed suicide. I didn’t know him, but it set in motion thoughts of “we have got to do better” repeated over and over in my mind. I thought about how we get it wrong. This is not a podcast to chastise anybody, rather to exhort a community of people who are either hurting or live among those of us who are. I want to exhort you to use scripture responsibility, understanding that there is an enemy who is the greatest of all time at using scripture against us as we see in the temptation of Jesus in the desert.

Buckle up guys, we worked hard on this episode, and know that I am speaking to you community—those of you who do life with others like me. This is Wednesdays With Watson Podcast: PTSD, Jesus and You: Weaponizing the Gospel.

Did the title get your attention? Good, if you clicked play, you are my people. Before we get too far into the podcast I want to encourage you to doo something so that we can continue the conversation on IG for the next 10 days, while you are listening open your app and click on the first link you see, that is my IG account. We are going to keep talking about this in short 30 second videos, and I will provide some real- life examples of when the greatest scripture twister of all times has harmed real people. I am looking forward to interaction there as we continue this important conversation. This will especially be advantageous as we move into the season finale where we begin to dive into Faith and trauma.

Before I proceed let me be very clear that I believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and is the authority by which I attempt to live my life. We know that the Bible tells us in 2 Tim 3:16-17 all scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” So the purpose of this podcast is not to take away from the authority of scripture, but rather to attempt to shed some insight on how we often use scripture out of context, in an untimely manner and dare I say, almost use it against those of us who struggle with anxiety, depression, PTSD and all of its friends. Scripture is a weapon, but it is to be used against the ruler of this world, removing his ability to seek, kill and destroy us.

He will use scripture to destroy us, if we let him, and this is why it is so important to be careful about when we use scripture for hurting people. Notice I did not say IF we use scripture to minister to hurting people, but WHEN.

When I was in the children’s home, we traveled almost all year and sang in churches to raise support for the home. It was not unusual for us to have sung 8 times in 7 days. You can also understand how many sermons I have heard in my day, and for the most part I am grateful for that experience, but there was one wounding message from the pulpit, where Luke 9:62 was preached completely out of context, and the decades that followed were driven my misunderstanding of that scripture—that was taken completely out of context. As the years went by, my misunderstanding of that scripture would be reinforced as I would also see it on cute little posters on youth room walls and so I began to take the scripture to heart, exactly as it had been preached. I do not remember hearing about the entire story of the passage, not the one before it or after it. I locked in on not looking back.

“No Man who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” Luke 9:62.

You see, the preacher man told us not to look back, or we would not be good enough for the kingdom of God. He didn’t preach the verse in context or explain that these red- letter words of Jesus in Luke 9 were meant for those who made excuse after excuse as to why they could not drop everything and follow Jesus. And so the production monster of Amy Watson commenced at the tender age of 15 or 16. Trauma wasn’t done with me just because I was at the children’s home, and the years that followed found me not looking back and definitely not seeking help, I wanted to be good enough to be fit for the kingdom of God. As I look back now, with every gut punch in my boxing ring of life, I kept my hand on that plough, I did not look back and with each layered trauma came a distance between God and me, and somewhere along the way I lost who I  was and by the deeply in the throws of a DV marriage wondered. I wondered, often, if God even existed. There were plenty of reasons for my crisis of faith, including my own standoff with God, but that scripture just ruled me, and I didn’t even understand it. I have paid for this thought process in spades over the years. I kept putting my hand to that plough and not looking back until I couldn’t and that fall out is well documented on this podcast, season one Hospitals and Courtrooms.

As I processed the completed suicide of Steve Austin,  I feel now more than ever that my voice must be among those that begs a community of well -meaning believers to simply proceed with caution with us. As I mentioned, I believe the Bible is Absolute Truth, and so as I wrestled with the loss of a mental health advocate and the memory of this scripture creating a performance monster, I knew I had to get behind this microphone and talk about it. And not unlike any other episode, I went to the scriptures, because I really want you to know the power of the presence of God, living and active in you, and sometimes, in the triage stage of helping us, that is what we need. I landed in one of my favorite scriptures in the entire Bible, and probably my favorite gospel, the gospel of John.

He wept. The tears of Jesus are documented in the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35. Some have different speculations about why Jesus wept but one thing for certain Jesus heard both Mary and Martha when they said “Lord, if you’d been here our brother would not have died” Jesus didn’t throw down more red letter words– not like he could have, instead, he seemingly absorbed the pain of those around him and he responded like I hope you and I do when there are those among us who are hurting –he joined them in their sorrow as he was either sad that they didn’t have faith in him or he was sad because they were sad –my point is he didn’t throw any number of scriptures or even chastisements at them. Instead, he wept!  He got in the trenches with his community and he wept.  Jesus’ response to Mary and Martha is a beautiful example for us to follow as we do a life with the hurting broken and bruised– 100% of your community falls into that category at any given time, so as we do life together what is our responsibility to our tribe?

Remember that Natalie Grant song? Certainly, Mary and Martha were comforted by the very presence of Jesus, albeit a few days too late. And so Mary and Martha had a weapon in the presence of Jesus Who got in the trenches and he cried with them. And, so I ask again what is our responsibility when we walk with those who are hurting broken and bruised?

It is to weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. So often we want to fix people and so we use our perceive expertise to help solve a problem instead of jumping in the trenches with hurting people who are sometimes in the war of their lives. Wars need weapons and so we wield these weapons freely with clichés, motivational quotes and yes scripture. It is this you got a problem I got a Bible verse thought process that harms people and maligns the very gospel we say we love! Of course there’s a Bible verse for every problem but when doing life in the trenches with the trauma victim often times you are the Bible verse, your life where the word of God is living and active. You may be the only Bible verse they can handle at the greatest moment of pain.

The first chapter of John talks about how Jesus is the word and how he was there from the very beginning. But that scripture also says that the darkness cannot see the light test because it could not understand the light. I think that is often the case with people in pain, the depths of their darkness is so intense they can’t receive scripture, they cannot understand it.

So, let’s have a talk. What do I mean by weaponization of scripture?  Today it’s just my mic a few hundred friends and me, so let’s chat about how instead of using the Bible as a weapon against our real enemy we pick and choose verses that have somehow been badly passed down through the ages and at times serves to harm a trauma victim particularly a PTSD patient. I can’t tell you how many times well-meaning people quoted Philippians 4:6 to me: “be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication let your request be known under God” I can’t explain the shame I felt before I understood PTSD, depression and anxiety. I finally took a deep dive into that verse and the Greek connotation of the word anxiety is more to meditate or renumeration on something– that is a much different description of what it feels like to have a panic attack or to live in the deepest parts of depression so we throw that particular verse out there people like me feel gut punched by the Holy Bible.

It was never the cliches, cute memes or locker room scripture posters that led me towards healing—instead, God used people who just did life with me, they were His presence and that was my weapon.

These people do not judge me. I remember a time when I must have taken too much Xanax. That was frequent in the days before that hospital stay. It was the middle of the day one friend I was texting called another friend and before I knew it there was a knock at my door there they stood both of them ready to settle in and watch me until the meds get out of my system their response to one of my darkest hours is the reason I’m alive and behind this microphone. Just like Jesus could’ve said 1 million things to Mary and Martha but chose compassion so did my friends. Instead of throwing down red letter words at me they demonstrated the love of Jesus by their actions to this day neither of them have ever spoken of the time they dragged me to a Mexican restaurant are we waiting for the Xanax to wear off.

I am looking at you today—community. We preach it all the time on this podcast. We have encouraged community, but we have never exhorted you or given you something tangible to do when you are doing life with us.

Today, I am here to do that. I want to encourage you as you love those among us like me who have survived or is surviving the fallout from decisions of another. I have made my position clear that I believe that the WHOLE Bible is Absolute Truth and is appropriate for every situation, and we should use it as such too. It is a gift, it is a GOOD gift, and I am so thankful for it.

But just like with all good gifts it matters how you deliver it and it matters how you treat it. The good news of the gospel is the only answer I believe that. But I also stand with my trauma tribe as we love a mysterious God Who for some reason has allowed us to survive trauma. Delivery of the good news matters and my friends said more with that taco dinner  than anything else they demonstrated  the gospel by their actions, they reminded me why I love Jesus because I could see it in them. 

I am still talking to you community. Your involvement with us can’t be shallow, we need you in the trenches with us. You will get dirty, you will get hurt, so decide before you dive deep with us if you really want to fight with us.

When you are constantly in the trenches with somebody you won’t be there long before you have earned the right to begin using scripture– because you have remained a steadfast trench mate. This is true of another friend who picked me up for work the day after I totaled my car during the darkest time of my life, it was the final straw. I remember it like it was yesterday she turned on the light in her van on one dark October morning and she held her own copy of Ken Gire’s book “The North face of God”—“for when you’re ready” she said.

 I was ready and that book, steeped in scripture changed my life forever and is still one of my favorite books on my bookshelf. I have my own copy now and have given away countless copies of it. It is still so often picked up when it gets dark.

I know what you’re thinking hey I clicked play on this podcast because of the title Weaponizing the Gospel what does that even mean? Well I’m glad you asked! Weaponizing the Gospel is opposite of what my friends did. You might also be asking yourself who weaponizes the gospel? Even though I want to raise my own hand because it is easier to send someone a quick Bible verse as a text or card and not get dirty that way, but the reality is I don’t have the power to weaponize scripture neither are you, or do we? It is something to thing about for sure.

But there is one that is the greatest of all time using scripture against us, and he has been given dominion over the earth and using scripture against us– like the anxiety verse that I stated earlier is it not new to Satan as we read in the gospels and the temptation of Christ –what did satan use? SCRIPTURE! Looking at you again, community, let me encourage you that as you compassionately began to use scripture make sure you’re using in context, don’t cause the cautionary tale that I experienced, living decades of my life thinking I couldn’t get help or even revisit the past trauma or I would not be good enough for God. Remember that darkness can’t understand light, so be patient when you utilize scripture to help us. And finally remember that scripture is living and active in you, and as you do life with us, you usher in the presence of Jesus, the Star of the story. His presence is our greatest weapon, and so many of you can be the person that ushers in hurting people to Jesus; we just have to be responsible with the greatest gift of all time, the Absolute Truth, the authority by which we live.

So, what am I saying?  I’m begging those of you who love people like me to remember compassion leads the way. Living in the trenches with us gives you the right to bring scripture and God into our pain, and we will receive it because you have demonstrated your desire for us to get better, just by your steadfast role as a trenchmate.

 Also, remember, the way you deliver the gospel matters. It doesn’t look like cute Memes and name it claim it Bible verses. Finally, we need to remember the power of our words and so when we do use scripture we need you need to use it properly I’m still tearing down walls getting back to that little girl who thought that she could never look back.

I am so grateful for my community and given the proper time they aren’t afraid to throw down some red little words at me. If you are under the sound of my voice and are without a community I urge you to find it somewhere. It only takes one trench mate sometimes, and once you are there with us, as a light, dividing the darkness, scripture will come alive in us too.

It has been my hope that you feel encouraged as a community, and that we all realize the power of the gospel and not ignore the greatest liar of all time who cannot stand against it, but he can weaponize it, and he often does, through us, without us even knowing it. I went to the streets while writing this episode and I asked a group of people to share with me a wounding message they received from some well- meaning person that all but threw a Bible verse at their problem. There were many, but about 10 verses that were mentioned to me over and over, and this is where the conversation will continue on my Instagram. I will post one verse a day for the next 10 days and those posts will be in the highlight portion of my IG for those of you listening to this later. You will learn how oft missed Bible verse are wounding to those of us living with trauma, and for that matter those of you who aren’t. So, make sure you are following us there and I can’t wait to dialogue with many of you in the static post (will put in stories and as a post).

Guys, the word of God is divisive and sharper than any two edge sword. Use it responsibly lead with compassion, don’t let the best news ever get twisted and then never reach the hearts of people that need it the most! Do life with people, then they will want your Jesus.

[Re] Making Marley

“If you have PTSD, at some point your safety has been compromised”—those words ring in my ear, they reverb in my soul and they help me understand the life I live as a PTSD patient.

She told me nobody ever asked; no one cared, they just threw a label on her because she wasn’t speaking—instead of asking or even caring, they phoned in their responsibility that day. She kept telling me, I just wanted someone to ask, I just wanted someone to give me a hug. She told me about the welts they found on her body, but that didn’t stop the nightmare in her home. In my minds eye, I see her hiding in a closet, those words haunt me too.

She started her conversation with me with words that still haunt me “I was gifted with two parents”. I thought about that for a little bit and wondered how she could use the word “gift” when those welts came from one of those “gifts”  She showed me a picture and explained to me that the smile on her face tells a story—a story of a beautiful little girl who just wanted to be asked a question: are you ok? Can I give you a hug?

Then I wondered how many of you look at two parent homes and assume everything is ok and never ask. Her words haunt me, NO BODY EVER ASKED. 

She survived, because as she puts it “I had basic needs meet” I disagree with her, she might have had food and water, but she suffered one of the worst things that can happen to a child, abandoned and neglected, even if it happened in the suburbs.

Liittle Marley’s mom’s (or her other gift as it were) own mental illness forced little that little girl to raise herself without the love and support of what we all assume happens in a two parent home. She told me of the time she attempted to end her life in college. She told me about the 8-10 text messages she sent saying goodbye. She told me how much it meant to her that those people came running to help her. She told me that those people asked, cared and hugged. 

Finally, someone asked, and today a thriving Marlena comes to share with us how she got from abuse and neglect to where she is today, a pediatric ER nurse, a mental health advocate and curator of remaking Marley, hope in trauma, purpose in pain, all of it is on an audio recording I will forever be grateful, please don’t miss this story of child abuse, and how bringing awareness to you is the most important thing we can do.

Be the change? Support this effort by following this free podcast and hear Marlena’s episode here.

Desiring Wellness (the forgotten prayer)

Listen to this solo episode on podcast Wednesdays With Watson.

Dear God,

I don’t think I really meant it when I said whatever you wanted was cool with me. I hate that everyday is a struggle and that most days is just about getting to the next.

Haven’t I done enough?

Haven’t I surrendered enough?

Haven’t I been hurt enough?

Haven’t I loss too much already?

Why tease me only to break my heart into a million little pieces?

Why was my husband so awful and will I ever recover?

When will people stop dying or leaving me?

When will I be able to receive comfort without having to give up something in return?

How long can I go on speaking the words, that You are always there without questioning them myself?

Why did you build me up to tear me down?

Where is this peace You speak of?

Why don’t I have it? Why won’t you at least let sleep come at night?

Why do things change?

Why won’t it stop hurting?

Why can’t you just listen?

Why can’t you throw me a bone?

Will you come meet me in this precipice of life and death?

What did a 7 year old kid do to deserve that kind of abuse? Why didn’t you stop it?

Where were you with every punch for 12 years?
And why, why, won’t you let me just go? Your hold on me makes me miserable. It makes me mad that I can’t just go live my life and put this behind me.

What have I done, O, God, what have I done? Why are You silent?

Nothing can separate me from You, so why do I feel so lonely?

Lord, I feel like she just left me and he just hit me. All I want to do is sleep. I want the pain to go away. I do not know how to deal with this pain. And frankly, I am a little mad at you. I flip through Your Word looking for something to help, and it’s hard to believe it; it’s hard to find it; it’s hard to believe in the unseen. I have never blamed you for the things that happened, but I am confused why You are silent now?

At the end of the day, I do want what you want, but Lord, this is a desert place. I am at a cross roads, either with a choice to completely surrender to You or to abandon You, meaning that I would abandon everything I have ever learned, believed or taught about You. The fact that I feel this way about You right now terrifies me.

Please show up in a way that we humans deem miraculous when in fact, all you have to do is wave Your hand. Please wave your hand, Lord. Please heal me.

Very much like the doctor in the healing pool—I want to know why You haven’t healed. And then I got it. My power is in my wounds.

I do not pretend to understand You. I desire to understand You, but I don’t really know how to do that.

Lord, I don’t know how to surrender. Take this from me, please? Erase painful memories. Please teach me how to make You my everything. Please teach me the concept of constant abiding. Please write Your name on my heart so when the doubt comes back, it is branded; branded with my God who is more than enough.

Thank you for Your word. And even though I don’t understand You, I know You showed up here with me today.

Father, I pray that you would be my dad. I pray that You would speak. I pray that You would comfort me. I pray that You would heal me. I pray that nothing else in life would matter. I pray that I would live with reckless abandonment. I pray that I would live this way BECAUSE I don’t understand You. You are my King, You are my only hope. I beg that you come hold me, Lord. And that nothing else would matter.

Forgive my anger. I sure don’t understand any of this and for the first time ever am willing to admit that. But no matter what, I always come back to the same thing, You. I just don’t always know what to do with that. I am not used to anything or anybody sticking around. If you do not choose to heal, I ask that there would be power in my wounds.

Listen to this episode in it’s entirety on the podcast where you can find here. Do we even want to get well? Listen to the rest of the story, and how my choice to pursue healing changed everything.

Wednesdays With Watson is a passion project but I will spend the rest of my life giving you Hope. There is a lot of it waiting for you in podcast land!

Healing PTSD, Shea’s Story

PTSD, Jesus and You: Healing PTSD, Shea’s story (listen to podcast)

He fought on the battle- field, protecting America and can speak of the things he saw and experienced as he joined hundreds of thousands of soldiers who fought in recent wars. He can tell you how it affected him in ways most of us will never understand. But it was his life before

that point that started the fight of his life, as a young boy he was sexually abused and he speaks of the fall- out from that—he speaks of the confusion of the abuse, the confusion of sexual identity not helped by relentless bullying. He speaks of his first marriage, one that was ill-fated and short but that experience likely not helpful as he fought his demons. He tells of his second marriage and how he is part of the 1:7 men who experience domestic violence, I cringed when he told the story of his ex -wife stabbing him in the back with scissors. Violence in his home notwithstanding, he tells of the eight of his babies that are in heaven because of miscarriages.

He speaks of drug and alcohol abuse, and chasing peace, doing drugs that kept him wide open,likely his way of feeling all of that pain. He tells of being hospitalized by the military for two years as the demons finally caught up with him.

But Then He tells us about what Jesus did.

Today we honor Shea Watson and thank him for his service to the United States, and grieve with him as he tells of a TBI and then rejoice with him as he tells us about where he is today. To hear his entire story, head over to the podcast and here this amazing story of Hope and redemption. Shea embodies I Peter 2:9 and his story brings Hope to us all.

Click here to hear this unbelievable story of Hope and healing.

Living With PTSD, A Warrior’s Story (Angel’s Story)

Podcast Version? The whole story is on his 30 minute episode, click here.

“They don’t know that I go running home when I fall down, they don’t know who picks me up when no one is around, I drop my sword and cry for just a while, because deep inside this armor, the Warrior is a child” Twila Paris

He told me that he did not have a memory of his parents where violence was absent from their home. He easily told me of four or five places his father moved the family in an attempt to win the battle against the demons of violence that played out in their home. 

I met Angel when I was 17 years old. He and his older brother Joe, his younger brother Isaac, and younger sister Anna Marie were in the same children’s home as me. As you may imagine, sad stories were easy to find at a children’s home—but the Rivera’s story affected me then and now as a domestic violence survivor, their story has impacted me in a completely different way. I want to shout their story from the mountaintops because theirs is a story of hope through unimaginable pain. They have navigated the crooked roads of pain and trauma to find Hope. AnneMarie shared her perspective (blog) on my podcast Wednesdays With Watson, she was not there that day that changed everything.

I still remember meeting them at the children’s home, I remember the sound of the wings of bugs flickering inside the blue and white sign that read “Faith Children’s Home”. Angel was the leader of his pack, and we all knew it. By the time they arrived I was in my senior year and considered more of a staff member than one of the kids. I took the Rivera’s under my wing, and I will never forget the day they arrived. Their story is here and on the podcast, but suffice it to say there is so much we aren’t telling you. It is simply amazing that they even breathe air, even thirty years later.

Sometimes it does come down to the areas of life that don’t reside in gray: they are black or they are white. Angel told me that the argument that led to both of his parents’ deaths was over the color of a Bible they were purchasing. She wanted white because it signified purity, forgiveness and the hope of a new start; he wanted black because it would not show dirt.

They went to church and had Sunday lunch as a family.  Angel told me how the night before, police officers pulled his mom out of a ditch after she over-indulged in alcohol. It seemed that she’d had enough of the abuse in their home.

Angel said that his parents separated and left them with their father. But despite his mother’s attempts to hide from her abuser, the ex-narcotics agent had his ways of finding her. The fear of his rage drove her and the kids to a local shelter a few times. But after the cops brought her to her old home after that ill-fated night of drinking, she found herself right back in the line of fire.

The next morning, they decided to go to church and try to stay together as a family. Angel told me on the interview that his parents went forward for prayer that day. They went to the store to purchase those Bibles and that argument continued after arriving back at their home.

Angel told me that he and his brothers were outside playing basketball and listening to music. And then they heard it. As he was telling me the story, he struggled to find a word to describe what he heard. “It was like a light bulb breaking,” he said. 

He continued to tell the story of how, ultimately, those four children ended that day with both parents dead–one of them said his last words to Angel, before taking his own life. Angel explained how he tried to stop his dad from taking his own life.

He told me how they saw their mom lying in a puddle of blood. 

He told me that they still don’t know if he killed her or if she killed herself. 

He told me about his father throwing him across the room before jamming the gun three separate times before clearing the magazine and finally succeeding at a fatal self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

He told me his father’s last words over and over again:  “Tell your sister I love her and call your grandmother.”

That day changed their lives forever, and soon I was to meet all of them under that blue white flickering sign. Hope was on the way. Today, we bring you a story of Hope as Angel has a beautiful family and is still very much working out how this trauma affected him. His wife told me that every day is different but his PTSD is well managed through counseling and community.

My interview with Angel was not easy, but his strength and resiliency is to be commended and his faith, though different, still in tact. After the interview, he committed to more counseling as visiting the property, talking about it and handling all the emotions that came with it highlighted his need for help. Head to the podcast to her the full story, click here to listen or pick your favorite platform. wednesdayswithwatson.com

Holding On To The Unseen Hand

Podcast Version–Wednesdays With Watson Podcast

I met her under the blue sign that read “Faith Children’s Home”, it flickered with sounds of the the bugs in the sign. Countless goodbyes happened under that sign. By the time AnnMarie and her three brothers were dropped off under that sign, I had been at the children’s home for a couple of years, and had been assigned a big role in the welcoming of this family who’s story we saw on the news and read in the newspaper.

All four of them became orphans in the span of just a few minutes. The three boys saw things I would never articulate in the spoken or the written word, nobody should have to hear what thy saw.

I asked AnnMarie to come onto the podcast because I knew that she is still healing and that she would bring a perspective to people who are still working their way through trauma, even if it is thirty years later. Her answers are not predictable and her story brings hope to such tragedy. The reality of living with such trauma is so real, and we are here for it–we are here to help people heal. We believe that healing people help people. This blog and the podcast is the healing zone. Head over to the podcast to hear AnnMarie’s story and then her brother’s which will be published on Feb 24, 2021.

When I asked AnnMarie for a song she gave me 4Him’s “Why”

“I know down here I may not understand, but I won’t let go of the unseen hand, for it holds the reasons why”

Such hope, even when we don’t understand, don’t miss her story over in podcast land.

Special guest Anna Marie Rivera Alberts joins the Wednesdays With Watson podcast with her story of the crooked roads of trauma and pain that has led to a beautiful, albeit still difficult life. 

Show Notes for podcast-Wednesdays With Watson

Her family’s story made the news headlines. A visit to the scene of the tragedy yielded stories from neighbors who remember the story, 30+ years later.  We attempt to tell her story with the delicacy it deserves, yet listeners are still able find Hope in a story that most people would describe as unable to be redeemed. She has broken the generational trauma “curse”.

Hebrews 11:1
For Him “Why”–lyrics. quoted:
“I know down here, I may not understand, so I won’t let go of the unseen hand, because it holds the reasons why”

“What Love Really Means”–JJ Heller
“Who will love me for me, not for what I have done or what I will become, who will love me for me, will somebody show me what love really means?”

Podcast Engineer & Producer:  Amy Highland
Podcast Cover Art: Brittany Knight & Anna Roberts
Episode Graphics: Rebekah Millet
Episode Trailer: Rebecca Reed
Host: Amy Watson

**If you or someone you love is in crisis, reach out for help**
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI.org
Text 741741 for free crisis counseling

Call 211
Suicide Help Line:  800-233-8255
Domestic Violence Help Line: 800-799-7233
NAMI-800-950-6264 or text 741741
Additional support focusing on childhood trauma:

Moving Beyond The Wreckage, Lindsay’s story

Lindsay’s story, Living Beyond the Wreckage

PTSD, Jesus, and You

By Amy Watson

Prefer podcast version? Click here to pick your platform and listen.

I remember the first time I heard about the night the black ice in Indiana changed everything for her. I was at a Christmas party when I met her and while there was then and is now a special light in her eyes, it was obvious to me that she had been through some suffering. As part of the trauma tribe, we know our people.

Her story starts on a dark night in 2001. That day was as you would expect it to be in the middle of the winter in Indiana, and the midwest native was in charge of three children who sat in the back seat of her car. They were merely running an errand and getting ready for an important church event the next day.  When her car hit a patch of black ice, it  spun around 45 degrees stopping only when a utility pole demonstrated the laws of physics.  The driver’s side hit first and her glasses were thrown into a snowbank, making her already blurry vision even more so. Life would remain and probably still does remain a version of blurry as such trauma leaves it’s marks, and as you will hear, the body truly keeps the score.

She describes her life to me as “before and after that day” as a literal line drawn in the timeline of her life. Like most trauma, she remembers.

I remember smelling fire.

I remember screaming and yelling.

I remember holding him in my arms.

I remember hearing my dad’s voice.

I remember the ambulance ride and calling Brian, my youth pastor, from the ambulance.

I remember seeing my mom as I was wheeled into the hospital.

I remember all of the blood, and could barely see without my glasses, but the stitches in my face, I remember them. No one cleaned me up, no one washed my face…

I remember feeling scared, alone and helpless.

I remember when Brian, youth pastor at the time telling me that the little boy had died. I remember how he and my parents and I think my brother all triangulated around me, as if to catch me when I crumbled.

I remember wearing the Columbia fleece I had on in the accident for 2 days after.

I remember not being welcomed to attend the funeral.

I remember the sadness of the brokeness of that relationship.

I remember being asked not to attend the only grief group in the area because his parents and siblings also  attended there. I remember feeling less important, like my pain didn’t matter.

I remember I visited his gravesite at least once a week

I remember court cases and chaos for 3 years after I moved to Florida – finally ending in 2007

I remember convincing people I was moving to Florida to help my parents…

She remembers….. 

Head to the podcast to hear her hope and healing story, wednesdayswithwatson.com provides a place for you to listen or pick your platform.

The Interview:

Lindsay and I recorded this episode “Living Beyond The Wreckage” on December 27, 2020. I was super nervous about sharing her story as the podcast is the first place she told her story publicly. I was nervous about triggering her, and I was nervous that we would both cry. She was not triggered but we both cried. At the very end of the podcast, she pointed out to me that she was wearing the beanie that she wore on that day that changed her forever.

After The Interview:

On a whim, I shared the podcast with an organization called CADI (Cause Of Accidental Death or Injury). When I did that, the founder of that organization reached out to Lindsay and she is now part of their support group and told me “I thought it was only me, I can’t believe the amount of people that have been through this, I am healing.”

What Happened Next?

We don’t know what kind of reach Lindsay’s story has already had or will have, but the reality is her healing made this episode worth all the work, all the tears, all the promotion, all of the things–more than worth it. It will be fun to watch Lindsay continue to heal. I told her we would have her on update episode, that will be fun to hear towards the end of the season.

For her full story, head over to the podcast, it is also on youtube if that is your preferred method.

Her scripture resonates with us all, that is original artwork by Hollis Orr.

Her story is heartbreaking, but her Hope is unexplainable, and isn’t that the best kind of Hope?

Podcast Credits:

Executive Producer: Amy Highland

Main Editor: Crissy Loughridge

Original Logo: Anna Roberts

Podcast cover: Brittany Knight

Healer of all things: Jesus

Shattered Safety

Podcast version:

I was sitting beside her as we were celebrating her birthday, I picked the place, I think. I picked her up for our night of fun and as we drove east we chatted it up, and when we pulled into the parking garage, I didn’t even pay attention to where we parked, and as it turned out finding the car that night only served to intensify the stress of the terrifying events that would unfold.

My own trauma was almost always related to alcohol but I have never had the conviction that it is Biblically wrong when used appropriately, though generally not my thing, I was proud of my drink ordering skills when we arrived at our destination. I ordered us both an apple martini. The size of the opening in the martini glass and the green hue of the drink made it easy for evil to derail not only the night, but the rest of her life.

She grinned playfully, yet competitively as we sat down to compete in a game, and that is when two men flanked us. Neither of them seemed like a threat, both good looking and “in from out of town”, she sat on the end where she could put her drink down to play the game. He slipped behind her, and then beside her as he continued to chat. I was talking to the other dude and was watching her beat me in the game, but I didn’t care, we were having fun. It seemed like the birthday celebration was going off without a hitch until I looked over at her blank, dim and closing eyes, I knew something was horribly wrong. The guys disappeared and my blood ran cold.

She stared at me like she knew who I was but could not speak. I knew she had not had enough to drink to be so out of it and I knew I needed to get her out of there. She couldn’t string words together, but as I slung her arm around me to help her walk all she kept saying was “north, go north”—and that is how I found the car but not before I had to leave her by the elevators because her legs would not work.

I got her home and chalked the whole thing up to too much alcohol even though I had seen nothing to indicate that. My own trauma forced me out of her door and on my way home as fast as possible. I wish I would have stayed just 30 more minutes…..

Click here, for the rest of the story, or here.

OR return to the blog tomorrow for part 2 of the blog!

What If You Are Just A Vessel?

Hands of a potter. Potter making ceramic pot on the pottery wheel

Progress. I don’t even like the word, because like perfection, it seems incredibly illusive to me. What is progress, who defines it? Who deems a thing to have progressed? For the writer, in a vacuum, it is us—we are the ones that define progress, if we choose to stay in a vacuum. I am writing this piece for a Hope*Writers prompt, and without the prompt, I would not write a single word today. I honestly have no idea if any of this will make sense, but in reality, the words you have read already equals the amount increase over zero.  Progress? Maybe..

Peck, peck, ping! Peck, Peck, ping!!

I was probably ten or eleven and I sat at my favorite uncle’s desk and recorded my imaginary stories on that old school typewriter. I have loved words for as long as I can remember and have always taken to the pen in times that my brain looks like the losing screen of a Tetris game, sometimes torture and sometimes therapy, it is always worth it. But progressing to the point of starting often feels like climbing Mt. Everest.

Today is one of those days. Global events have me in a place where I can barely compose a complete thought much less pound out on my keyboard anything that remotely makes sense. But then there is that word again: progress. Thus, I sit and stare at my screen, clean it, change a load of laundry—anything to avoid writing.

But that writing prompt and the investigation into the word progress deserves examination and effort. After all, I call myself an author, I have won the awards and written for all the things, but when it comes to my manuscript, progress is not a word I would ever use, but am I right? I am calling it a manuscript and not a work in progress on purpose.

A few years ago, the ABC drama “Nashville” highlighted a song– even then it served as a call to me or maybe even a conviction that I am to be behind a keyboard directing my fingers to type words—and trust God for the rest. When contests, prompts, or deadlines force me behind this keyboard, I usually deem that day as having progressed at SOMETHING, but it is never my main manuscript—and guilt comes with that because I know I need to write this manuscript, or fix the approximately one hundred eighty five versions of it on numerous devices. But these lyrics speak to me when I think about giving up, when I throw away the pen or let all my computers die so I “can’t” write, these are the words I hear:

“What if you are just a vessel, and God gave you something special? It ain’t yours to throw away, it ain’t yours to throw away, cuz every time you open your mouth diamonds come rolling out, it ain’t yours to throw away”

We are all gifted in our own ways and whether or not God gave me something special in the ability to write or if He is calling me to learn to write, progress is obeying Him.

Because what if, what if I am just a vessel?

What if God gave me something special?

It is definitely not mine to throw away.

So, on this day, I deem any words that I write progress, and I call it obedience too. Progress is obedience, and like anything else obedience isn’t always fun, but always right and always worth it. And as far as that vacuum, if you are reading this and are a writer and in one, get out of it and Hope Writers is a great way to do that!