Sweeping Change

I recently heard an expression “sweep the corners” and now I notice every single spec of dirt in every corner of my house. As It turns out that fancy robot vacuum doesn’t get the corners, it requires focused attention, and wow did the corners of my house need some attention! I assaulted them with the broom I had to find, and when I was almost done, my heart was pricked and that still small voice:

“Now, what about those corners in your heart?”

Welcome to the brain of a nonfiction writer.

I grabbed my pen, Bible and journal and headed out to my hammock that has served more as a woodshed lately. Staring into the sky, I remembered the last time that still small voice prompted something big as I laid in that hammock on a spring day in 2020. My pandemic panic prompted a question: “what now, God?” and the Wednesdays With Watson podcast was born. However, on this day, God was asking the question and I understood the connection between my question and His. I feel the responsibility of getting behind that microphone, probably more than I could ever articulate. I began to go to the places in my heart I assumed were cleaned with normal heart keeping, thinking those areas were well tended. I was wrong. My heart was dirty, my daily robotic attempts of confessing sin had failed, very much like that robot vacuum in my house.

You know what isn’t fun? Sweeping out the dark corners of your heart.

Names, faces, places and circumstances played like a film strip in my mind. I wrote down the names of people I needed to forgive and was shocked at the length of that list. I vacillated between thinking those corners weren’t dirty to thinking they were King David kind of dirty, Psalm 51 kind of dirty, Bathsheba kind of dirty. I found the familiar scripture:

V7: “purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean, wash me and I will be whiter than snow”

David was in a spot for sure and maybe his dirt filtered out of the corners and into his behavior- my heart sunk at that thought. As if on auto pilot I prayed the verse a Sunday school teacher taught me decades ago

V10: “create in me a clean heart, renew a right spirit within me”

It is easy to read a devotional, say a quick prayer and call myself of lover of Jesus, but in these precious exchanges, I understand the price Jesus paid so that I could sweep the corners of my heart with a simple prayer asking for a renewed spirit and forgiveness. The gravity of the ease of such a transaction rocks me to my core. I am so grateful that my best friend gave everything so that my heart could be clean.

David asked to be washed with hyssop, a bitter plant used for cleansing in that day. He understood that cleaning his heart was going to be painful, as the cleansing process almost always is. But he chose discomfort so that he could step into his familiar standing with God as a man after the father’s heart. I understand that my sin separates me from deep commune with the Star of my story, Jesus–Who is everything to me.

Sweeping is hard work, acknowledging the pile of dirt is usually of my own making is excruciating. But I will sweep on, because I am not called to be comfortable, I am called to be courageous and in these times, this new year, courage looks a lot like sweeping the corners of my heart.

Thank you, Jesus for cleansing me and making me whiter than snow. Please let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight. (Psalm 19:14)

Memory Keeper

Memory Keeper (Podcast Version)

She stood out of everyone’s way as if she were hiding, I would learn later that she was hiding, but stood patiently waiting to talk to me. I had been in Clearwater almost a year and was very plugged into church and was on the teaching rotation for our life group.

We exchanged pleasantries and then she pulled out the big guns when she started talking about my Jacksonville Jaguars. She had been paying attention, it was clear she didn’t miss much when it mattered to her, and simply put, I mattered to her. I admit, I felt the warmness in my chest that she’d paid attention to my not so quiet obsession with the worst NFL team in the history of football. But she recalled other things she’d heard me say to other people or from that teaching chair in that circle of women. One thing was clear, she paid attention, and she remembered. Her memory is annoying, mostly, but never without merit, and mostly useful.

After that day, Crissy was diligent in her pursuit of our friendship and slowly and without even knowing it, she joined the inner circle, the ones with 2AM friends, the league of five -star friends. We slowly got to know each other, but by the spring of the next year, we went on an epic trip to California where we (and by “we” I mean Crissy) drove a good portion of the Pacific Coast Highway—a bucket list item for me and still one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. We were essentially inseparable that summer, eating out way too much, staying up way too late chatting and a lot of uninvited knocks on my door for what was essentially a welfare check when I wouldn’t answer my phone.

In due time Crissy asked me if I would like to move in with her, “for three months” she said, I agreed, which shocked both of us. But before I completely moved out of my apartment, I was already hospitalized because the trauma finally demanded ALL of my attention and so for five days, the doctors tried to help me pay attention in a locked hospital ward. Crissy was at that hospital every time they would let her. While I was there, she finished moving my stuff out of my apartment and called in support from my other friends, of which she was the newest. She also was the one that first read the death threat emails. This part makes me sad because of her gift to remember, she will never be able to forget what she read in those emails. True to form, though, she stepped in and because of her we got a restraining order against the man who had vowed to love me and never hurt me.

I got out of the hospital and life got HARD, I am not even sure there is a word in the English language to express how difficult that season was. To say that season of life was difficult for Crissy too is a massive understatement. We got through it though and those “three months” turned into six years! We moved and started a business together in those six years and today, her friendship, her sisterhood is one of the most precious gifts ever entrusted to me.

It has been twelve years and Crissy and I are family now. She lives next door to me and her family is my family and not unlike every other human on this planet, our lives have been turned upside down in 2020. I found myself with a bunch of extra time on my hands but a business and career in peril–the writing words would not come. I had so much momentum coming out of 2019 too. It seemed every time I sat down at my computer all the words and clarity flew across the keyboard. I’d met an interested agent, placed second in a large writing contest and could see my name on a publishing contract.

Enter March, C19, and ridiculous uncertainty that ranged from my livelihood to navigating anticipatory grief of Crissy’s mama, who is like mine too. She is in late- stage Alzheimer’s.

Saint Patrick’s Day ended with twelve phone calls, each of them harder than the one before. I had to furlough my entire team—still one of the hardest things I have ever done. My heart hurt and all the words dried up, there was no typing, most days I never opened my laptop. But the words seem to come audibly and I knew I wanted to remember this season (2020) in my life, and the Wednesdays With Watson podcast was born.

As part of my tribe, Crissy is one of my beta listeners and after listening to one episode she came to me and sheepishly said to me “that isn’t how that happened”; at first my previously noted annoyance of her insane memory drove my negative response to her. But I also understood I needed to know what really happened in those days and so I asked the shyest person on the planet if she would come on to the podcast, and serve as my memory keeper. She agreed, and I was shocked. We sat down to record and the pain of those days was fresh. As she recounted some of the things I remembered incorrectly, I had to deal in the real, AGAIN, and I was not there for it, you can hear it in my voice on the podcast.

The Memory Keeper podcasts are hard for me to listen to, and in fact, haven’t since I sent them to my producer to edit and publish. But they remain two of the most popular episodes because people want to know how to help those they love. But something weird happened too as a result of subsequent processing of some things I didn’t remember:

More healing. I never saw it coming.

And the keyboard is getting a work out again. My old manuscript needed healing and the new one is reflecting mine.

All because someone cared enough to talk to me about a stupid football team.

Look for Crissy to be a co-host on the podcast, everyone needs her gifts; I need her memory. So, do you.

This picture, taken last summer, is a perfect snapshot of the memory keeper.

Hospitals & Courtrooms

Click here for podcast version, Hospitals & Courtrooms, Episode #4

“There’s a place of quiet stillness ‘tween the light and shadow reach. Where the hurting and the hopeless seek everlasting peace. Words of men and songs of angels whisper comfort bittersweet. Mending grief and life eternal where joy and sorrow meet”.  Avalon

My bed in the psych ward was the one by the window.  The thin curtain dividing the two beds did little to quiet my sobs or my roommate’s dementia.  There was no music.  Music did then and does now speak to me as if God Himself wrote the words just for me.  I wanted to write, but they gave me a one-inch pencil with dull lead, so that wasn’t happening either. Day two post complete nervous breakdown clicked by slowly as I waited for visitors. Besides waiting for visitors, my days were spent waiting for the doctor to come and release me. All of it was hard, and it is even hard writing it now, over ten years later.

“There’s a place the lost surrender and the weary will retreat, full of grace and mercy tender- in times of unbelief.  For the wounded there is healing, strength is given to the weak, broken hearts find love redeeming where joy and sorrow meet.

My friend Michelle has been my best friend since we were in the children’s home together and she was instrumental in my safe exit from my abusive husband.  When she walked through the double doors into the hospital, I started to sob uncontrollably.  She didn’t even have to say anything, she just held, and held on tight.  She begged me to let her help me; no matter what that meant.  She begged me to stop trying to be strong.  Then she made me laugh, and if you know her you know she is just that friend in your life.  I was only allowed to have two visitors at a time and the first Saturday, there were six people there at the same time.  They rotated in an out and all begged me to fight.  Since my next of kin was my sister—she had to drive from Jacksonville and talk to the doctor.  My friend from Clearwater Christian, Kris was there too.  She is my steady friend who observes more than she acts—and that is what I needed.  She is a psychologist and no doubt helped my friends understand what was going on, and that I was going to be ok.

“There’s a place of thirst and hunger where the roots of faith grow deep and there is rain and rolling thunder when the road is rough and steep, there is hope in desperation there is victory in defeat at the cross of restoration where joy and sorrow meet.”

My friend Cheryl was there that day too.  My mind wandered back to the first time I met her and she prayed for me—prayed for healing and restoration, citing reconciliation as “one of God’s favorite works”.  I believed her then and I believe her now, I think now I just understand that it might not be on this earth.  When it came time for all of them to leave Cheryl hugged me and I thanked her for coming and she said “you are worth fighting for”—I will never forget those five words.  It had never even occurred to me that I had value at all.  Crissy was there every time they would let her, and the steadfastness of her friendship would only become clear to me after I got out of the hospital, when all the monsters came to torment my heart, mind and soul.  The day they all left and the door locked behind them I just wanted to die.  I felt like I let all of them down.  I walked back to my room just in time for them to make us go eat.  Or, for me, stare at the food and drink a diet coke.

After standing in that line and getting a new handful of meds, I made my way back to my bed by the window, with a view of the water (just a little gift from God), and fell fast asleep.  Being in the hospital sucked but the meds to sleep were awesome.  I woke up the next morning to an argument between my new roommate and the nurse.  It was time to go to breakfast, and she had just gotten there, she argued.  The nurse relented and I shuffled past her but not before seeing the five -inch cuts on both of her wrists. I only went to breakfast that day because Crissy had finally convinced me they were not going to let me out until I ate.  So I started to order grilled cheese and french fries.  I usually gave it away, either way they thought I ate. 

It turns out that my roommates name was Stacey.  She couldn’t remember if she slit her wrists or if her friend did in their drug induced night before.  She clung to me like I was her new best friend, and I do have to admit I probably was the sanest of the insane.  She noticed my Bible and asked me about it.  The rest of that conversation is cloudy to me.  But, something came up about “birthday verses”.  I told her mine was Romans 12:1 because my birthday is 12/1.  I noticed on her armband that hers was 10/31, so I started in Matthew to help her find hers.  We got to Matthew 10:31 and the words literally took the breath from my lungs:

 “So do not be afraid for you are worth more than many sparrows” Matthew 10:31

Stacey stopped me there, and she wept, as did I.  So, Cheryl was telling the truth when she told me I was worth fighting for, could it be for real?  Either way, I understood the eternal consequences of that moment with Stacey.  And while I know for certain Stacey needed that Word—it could not have been a better message for me at the time either—for that matter today too.

A few days later and after a lot of giving away my grilled cheese sandwiches, I was released from the hospital.  And as if on cue, evilness was released too.   The hospital stay was a reprieve from the war, and so it would rage on, next up, a court date because my dangerous ex husband sent a series of threats to my email. while I was in the hospital. And so I would go from the white coated doctors to the black robed judge, life was not awesome.

And the war waged on, I wasn’t sure I wanted to survive it either.

“Hanging blameless on a cross, You would rather die than to leave is in the dark.  Every moment ever planned coincidence, just all made sense with Your last breath” Avalon

***Note, I wrote this almost ten years ago. I left it as it were in order to give readers a sense of healing in a person after being treated for trauma. The podcast version is way more polished and full of Hope. If you don’t journal, reasons like this is a good one to start***

PTSD, Jesus, And Me: Lost With Directions

Lost With Directions

Podcast version: Just click here and then copy and paste the URL into your favorite podcast platform. Apple, Spotify

I sat at the light and looked down at my gear shift, picked up the bottle of narcotic cough medicine, twisted the top open and swallowed a giant dose. The light turned green, I turned left.

I turned left because the printed directions told me so. The address on those map quest directions was my new address and I had just escaped a marriage where just weeks before a gun was pointed at my head. I still don’t know if the gun jammed or if he had forgotten to load it, either way, the trigger click scared me enough to know that I had to find a way out of the hell that I called home.

Just a few short weeks later, I found that way out with the help of friends. Finally, after a 3-hour drive, we arrived at that light where I chose to calm the pain by narcotic cough syrup. As I sat at that light and let that medicine coat my throat, I could not ignore the giant sign on the corner– “Calvary Church, for life’s journey”. I made a mental note to eventually check out that church, because I knew I was on a journey that threatened to end sooner rather than later if I continued self- medicating, with no one to help lift me up and stop me from fatally falling.

I arrived at my apartment, and my best friend as well as many of her co- workers met me there. They were there and had donated everything from furniture to a fork. I wanted them to leave even if it meant sleeping on the floor, but they insisted on putting my bed together. They left, I drank more cough syrup, chased it with Xanax and slept for about 14 hours. The pain of that day is difficult to explain to you, even as a lover of words, I fail to find adequate words to describe the depth of despair of those days.

But I tried. Just a few months ago, I climbed into my guest closet turned on my new microphone, and started talking. I recorded the second podcast “Lost With Directions” with a quivering voice, burning eyes and a runny nose. The podcast is a veiled attempt to find the words for the pain. You don’t hear them as powerfully in the Queens’s English, but you hear it in my voice. Those were some dark days. They were and are hard to relive, but I am on a mission. That mission is people who are hurting, people who don’t understand PTSD, and people who love us.

In this second episode, I begin to tell you my story. Eventually, I followed through on that mental note to visit that big church on the corner. What happened next is truly a story ONLY God can write.

The podcast is a veiled attempt to tell you the story that the best Author of all as written. It is also an attempt to help people understand the science of PTSD and why trauma survivors have issues with practical issues, like following directions on a map. The memory of needing those printed directions that day reminded me how much my brain was physically affected by trauma. I had been to that area hundreds of times, yet I needed printed directions.

The second episode contains some of my favorite printed directions, those in the Bible. Verses like Hebrews 4:15, the verse that promises that our High Priest is not unfamiliar with our sufferings or Joel 2:25 where He promises to give back all the years the locust have stolen.

Before writing this, I went back and listened to the episode and even now my heart races and my eyes water. But Jesus.

He is all the direction I needed then and all that I need now.

He is the Star of all the stories. He is yours too. Find Hope in this sorrow, because YOU MATTER and YOU are my mission.

Visit the Wednesdays With Watson podcast to listen to Season 1, PTSD, Jesus, and Me.

PTSD, Jesus and Me, Healing That Doesn’t Make Sense

“Behold, I am making all things new” Revelation 21:5

PTSD, Jesus & Me, The Podcast

Healing That Doesn’t Make Sense

Writers start writing pieces all the time that sits on their computer, and it will likely never see the light of day. But, I don’t want to forget these days, and I certainly never want to forget the day I climbed in my guest closet and starting speaking my story into a microphone. That was the day my life changed forever.

The day was gorgeous and less any electronic devices, none would have known that the entire world had just been turned on its ear. We were all “safer at home” or “sheltered in place” as COVID-19 introduced itself to the world terrifying all of us for all kinds of reasons. Our orders to stay at home meant we had plenty of time to consume televised intense social unrest. This day though, I walked away from the spot where I’d spent days in a fetal position just watching and crying.  I can’t be sure, but I think that spot on my couch is stained with tears. For me, the pandemic hit every spot not yet healed, and my business was and is in peril. Having to furlough my entire team was brutal, and remains one of the most difficult things I have ever done. So, I walked out to my hammock, and stared into the cloudless, beautiful central Florida sky and I audibly said “what now?”.

I closed my eyes and turned my face so that I could feel the warmth of the sun, but my heart reported dark and cold emotions and led to more tears and more questions. My sadness had little to do with my seemingly vanishing twenty- six career– my sadness matched that of almost every human on the planet.

As I lay in that hammock on that beautiful spring day, I stared at the book laying in my lap, and could not comprehend even a sentence. My brain was full of fear and paralyzed by decisions I already made; and my body was commandeered by all of it.  The decisions that still waited for me simply threatened to drown me.

That April day may be one of the first times I comprehended the diagnosis given to me in that psych ward so many years ago. PTSD was making the rules: when I slept, if I could eat and how many tears dropped down my cheeks. All of this was met with frustration. Because while I certainly am not unaffected by the pandemic, I was lying in a hammock behind a house that belongs to me with no threats of losing. I planned to only get out of that hammock that day for the grocery delivery I was expecting, and so for my part, I felt very fortunate, and confused at my struggles.

The warmth of that sun in that hammock started to sting very much like each of those furlough calls. As I desperately sought relief from all of that pain, I remembered the words of my friend, JT: “You should start a podcast”, she said a year before. I had zero interest, her declaration seemed crazy to me and besides, I had no technical skills for such a feat and even if I had, I certainly did not have time. I opened my eyes at the revelation of that memory and the sun hurt them, I rolled out of the hammock (onto the ground) and bolted to my laptop and ordered a microphone. I couldn’t even be sure it was the right microphone, but Amazon declared it fit and so did I.

I’d been struggling to write and hoped that this would open some creativity and allow me to get back to writing. The tears dried up, the TV never came back on, and I put my foot of the podcast pedal and Wednesdays With Watson became more than a suggestion from my friend.

The title, “PTSD, Jesus and Me” had been knocking around in my head for a while. I was weary of looking for resources on PTSD, and how to live with it. I wondered how many other people were out there, like me, with little understanding of PTSD, or how Jesus could make it bearable and dare I say even show us the purpose for it all.

I sat down at my laptop and wrote the first episode, “Healing That Doesn’t Make Sense” on April 15, 2020. The words seemed to flow off of my fingers and on to the keyboard. I would love to tell you that I was like so many of my podcasting friends and I sat down and outlined the entire season, and that all the goals were outlined, but none of that is true. I had one goal for that first episode, I wanted people to know that is IS possible to survive trauma and pain.  I wanted to teach people about PTSD, I wanted to help remove the stigma, I wanted people to know that they mattered.

On April 20th, after attempting to record in every room in my house, I climbed in a guest closet, surrounded by blankets, pillows, and darkness. I clicked record and starting talking. I don’t remember much of what I said as none of it was what I had written. Much like the keyboard and the words that get typed that aren’t mine, that was the experience I had in that closet that day. Those words weren’t mine, and I knew that I had stepped into an obedient spot, for such a time as this.

On April 22, 2020, Wednesdays With podcast was born. That first episode highlighted the joy in my voice because I found something to do with my time and pain; but that episode also highlights the pain of the past as I promised listeners a least a little part of my story of surviving thirty -five years of trauma. I hired a producer, who made the file sound good and at 11:15PM on April 21, 2020, I clicked the publish button.

My life has never been the same, and it never will be. Because in podcasting, and thereby helping people, I have found the thing that my heart loves.

I had no idea what the Lord would do with it, and as I write this, I am still in shock. I am not in shock because of the amount of people who listen and support, I am in shock that so many people needed an authentic message on PTSD.

I called that first episode “Healing That Doesn’t Make Sense” because it simply does not make sense. The body of trauma that I have survived should have me still curled in that fetal position on my couch. But instead, these days I find myself behind microphones, cameras and keyboards with a single focus: telling people that Jesus can bring them Hope too. I want people to see me struggle in real time so that they can see that even with Jesus it isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, but it is all Hopeful and at the end of the day that foundation of His ever-present help in trouble is the only thing that any of us have.

2020 taught us that. And I can promise you, I am not going to let you forget it.

Processing Fear

Prefer Podcast version? Click here.

Monday, November 9, 2020:

I woke up and could not breathe. Finally, the events of the last 11 months paralyzed me, I couldn’t swallow, my smart watch was pinging me with warnings, but the chest pain did that first. Lack of oxygen was making me dizzy. I laid there for what felt like forever before I was able to inhale deeply enough to fill my lungs with life giving air.

The time had come, all of it hit me, activated all the things, fear, despair, helplessness, and even some hopelessness. I simply reached critical mass with the bad, and like Jeremiah (we think) wrote, I felt extremely walled in on every side. My hope in the goodness of people was evaporating right in front of my eyes, but one thing was clear, I was afraid.

I walked to my refrigerator and emptied the last remaining drips of cream in my coffee. “I need to get some food in this house”, I thought. But then immediately “no, cash is king, it is not time for you to order food, eat some beans from the pantry.”

And this was the moment that I knew I had to get behind the microphone and capture what PTSD activation actually looks like. Even though that thought is about as illogical as it can be in my personal situation, it RULED me, and as of the writing of this blog, four days later, I just placed an order for food.

I try not to ignore that still small voice when I sense it, and I knew that even if it were for ONE person, I needed to capture this “walk back” to Truth, as I call it, in real time. The “walk back” is literally me processing fear as I have learned in counseling, and focusing on the Star of my story, Jesus. The “walk back” also includes community, and I reached out to them too.

There is so much power in these words: “I am not okay”. And I wasn’t okay, and so I got behind that mic and this is a written version of what was recorded.

Jesus is truly the star of all of our stories, and I will spend my last breath telling the world so.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Published on Wednesdays With Watson, PTSD, Jesus and Me.

I am solo on the mic today after not being able to shake the desire and a prompting to share a message with you. Many of you may be in the same boat I am in, overwhelmed by information, exhausted by processing it, and fearful of the consequences of all of it.

This is essentially a PTSD patient processing fear in real time. It may be just for me, but my guess is there are many of you out there who are navigating your own waters of confusion and concern. Because 2020 has provided plenty of opportunities for fear to murky the waters of our faith.

Shallow water is murky, it is the deep waters that provide clarity, and so I swim out to the deep, clear water. I am terrified of the depths of the unknown. I swim out because fear is stealing my peace, killing my desire to matter in this world, and destroying my body. Just as the Bible describes the author of all confusion will do, he comes to kill and destroy.  But I know that the Star of this story is NOT the author of confusion, and so I swim.

If you are like me, walking through this season may feel a little bit like trying to keep your head above water in a rip current. The water threatens to steal the air from my lungs if I attempt to take a deep breath.  Treading water is becoming harder because of this paralytic that we call fear.  The water is cold, very much like the world feels right now. Waves are crashing into the earth with an anger I understand.  Even though God has proved Himself faithful over and over, I am terrified, and in so many ways, it is difficult to pinpoint why.

I know that before I can process this fear, that other things are standing in line first, they are all friends of fear, they destroy in tandem, anger requires my attention first.

I know that this anger is turned inward as I can’t think of a single person that is the reason for my ire.  This anger is mixed with its buddy guilt. How can I be so fearful?  After all, I have published 16 episodes on PTSD and talk about the Star of the story, His redemption, His goodness, His love and the miracle that is me. How much more does God have to actually DO before I trust Him even in these times, the times when everything is out of my range and out of my control, but stands to heavily affect how I live my life?

“Is my faith too weak or my God too small?”, I ask my myself.

I know my God is not small.

The battle rages, and confusion fills the empty spaces because I truly don’t understand after all that God has done for me in my life how I can still be so afraid. I am so angry at myself.

So, I am trying to keep my head above water, murky or clean, I know I can’t breathe buried under anger and fear. So, I decide how to not drown. It may just be my head, but it is above water as I tread and work hard to be ok. And I am ok.

Barely.

THEN JESUS.  I know there is this tiny green sprout of Hope in my heart, and it looks a lot like faith in the sovereignty of God, and then I remember the promises of Psalm 139, and peace begins to sweep over me. I can’t go anywhere that He is not with me, His creation, fearfully and wonderfully made.

This passage serves as a life preserver for me, and then I know I can stop trying so hard. I grab on to these promises and experience rest, because my sovereign God is in control.

However, I am discouraged that I still have to “walk back” these fears. Somehow I blame myself, but the reality is God has decided to leave these fears and these experiences in the manuscript of my life, and in some ways that is an honor.

Suddenly those spaces filled with doubt, anger and paralytic fear begin to be filled with a stronger presence of the Star of the story. The promises of Matthew 7 serve as another life preserver, “Do not worry about tomorrow because tomorrow has enough troubles of its own”.

I stop treading water and hold on to my tandem life preserver of these two scriptures given to us by the Star of the story.

Because my faith is fine, my God is bigger than I can ever imagine. I can feel fear and thank Him for it, because it is often a gift, pushing me into a sweet commune at the foot of the cross. The air is good there, it fills my lungs without me even knowing.

And so, “I choose to take this walk by faith, I will walk on”.

No shame in fear, just beauty in the relationship with the Star of my story.

Giving God A Chance/Facing Fear

I looked around my brand-new house and wondered how I was going to pay for it. I paced as I made twelve of the most difficult phone calls of my life. As COVID-19 made its presence known to all of us, I had to furlough my entire team, and then I climbed on my couch and literally fell asleep in a puddle of tears. I woke up in a fetal position. It seemed as though my entire twenty -six-year career had merely vanished with the arrival of a pandemic.

I try to anticipate the hits, but like everyone else on this planet, I never saw this one coming.  The days and weeks that followed were no different for me than they were for everyone else as we watched not only our country but the entire world literally locked down and shelter in place orders made the danger of the pandemic all the more real.

I slept a lot those first few weeks in between binges of news where I tuned in to ascertain if there was going to be any help for businesses like ours. I cried a little more than I slept, and spent a lot of time, literally, on my knees. I had not been there in a long time. My prayer life had been more about managing disappointment than actually asking God for anything. I’d ask him to comfort the sick and dying, I couldn’t dig deep enough to ask for a miracle for anything—even though every day I look a miracle in the mirror. My prayers were more tears than anything and it wasn’t just about potentially losing my career, but it was the loss of an entire team of people and last but not least the people dying of the virus broke my heart in a million pieces.

A few weeks ago, I was asked in an interview about the difficulty of 2020. My answer came fast and it was one word:  helpless. “I have never felt more helpless”, I answered. One of the follow up questions pertained to a prayer strategy for this season. As I was preparing for that speaking opportunity, it required examination of my “prayer life”.  I had an answer, it remained to be seen if I shared with the people listening about my managing disappointment approach to talking AT God. That answer was sure to fall flat among women who had come to a night of worship and encouragement. Anyone who knows me knows I am going to be authentic when it comes to these things, but I am grateful that before I got on that stage, some real work was done in my War Room, which I accidentally designated the place where I’d beg God for miracles. My requests of Him in that room were never about my business, career or livelihood. My request of the most high God, in my closet turned communications headquarters, was for someone I don’t even know.

Casey Gray is a young man in his late twenties who contracted the virus and at one point was on not one but two “ECHMO” machines—essentially a heart and lung bypass machine. The call from his friends and family landed on social media and I was absolutely there for the fight. Friends organized a twenty-four-hour prayer chain, and I signed up for an hour. When my time came, I walked into my closet and started my normal talking AT God and asking, in advance, for God to comfort his family for WHEN Casey died. But then something shifted inside of me. The last fifty minutes of my allotted time was this experience that cannot be explained. “But what if God really did this thing, saved this kids life, what if?” I wrote Casey’s name on a piece of paper and hung it up on wall in my closet. As the days followed and Casey’s life hung in the balance, I experienced for the first time in a long time what it meant to what it meant to talk TO God. Each time I walked in that closet (which dubs as my laundry room) I would pray for Casey and his wife Savannah. Before I knew it, I was adding pieces of paper to that wall, other people’s names, and even some personal “big asks” of God.  I begged God for a miracle, and there were so many times the updates from the hospital that should have shifted my request of God again, because the situation with Casey got very scary and as the updates and pleas for prayer came in, I just turned up the volume and added tears and even landed, literally on my knees, begging God for a miracle.

But somehow it wasn’t about Casey anymore, this was about God and me. He was healing my wounded soul and building something in me that had not been there for a very long time: Faith that He is Who He says He is. More tears fell, except this time I was not curled up in a fetal position on my couch, but in a room designated for war, and that is exactly what happens there. God is so faithful to still listen to us, regardless of how cynical we have gotten, He is still God and He hears us.  The question really becomes this: do we (I) hear Him, or have we organized our “prayer life” in a way that essentially manipulates the God of the universe to do what WE want instead of “not my will but Yours”?

My washer in that War Room flooded twice after I made it the place where God and I spend sweet time together. After the second time, I added more paper, more names, and spent more time in there. It is refreshing as I ask for miracles these days rather than managing disappointment.

Casey’s life was spared and at the time of this writing, he has a long way to go, but God heard us and answered our prayers in the way that seemed right and just to us. Thousands of people prayed for this young man, few of us know him. But we understood and understand that God would still be amazingly good had the outcome been different. This is where the examination of my motives for prayer was important. And I encourage all who understand this need for God and His miracles (however they look) to try talking. TO Him, because He still speaks in ways you will only know if you give Him a chance.

New to the blog? Amy is a trauma survivor and creator of podcast Wednesdays With Watson, where she shares her journey with PTSD while writing a memoir to give Hope to others who have lived through trauma.

Forgiving Trauma Makers

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Eighteen was the magic number.

Once I was eighteen, the state couldn’t keep her from contacting me, or vice versa. I worked hard to forget what it felt like to see that note on the door that got the state involved in the first place. It was a warm April day and after an investigation and arrest of her live in boyfriend, the state had deemed her competent to take care of me, and so the social workers, a few plastic bags of clothes and me headed to the place my mom lived, I am not sure I ever called it home. As soon as the social worker put the car in park, I saw the pink note on the door, and I knew it wasn’t good. I didn’t even get out of the car, but the nice lady did a poor job of hiding the familiar handwriting on the sticky note–“Gone To Get Married. Mom”. Her boyfriend had been released from jail and apparently, they both skipped town. My eyes still water a little as I write these words, my stomach drops, and the same thoughts go through my mind….” How, why, what did I do?”  

I have since forgiven her but in no way have, I forgotten, not in the true sense of the word and my soul bears the scars of that decision that she made, my very being remembers, there has been no forgetting. And so, the subscription to the thought process that “forgiving is forgetting” was not a good thing and before I attempt to tell you my forgiveness story, I can absolutely say to you that forgiving is not forgetting.

It wasn’t a surprise to anyone that I wanted contact with her when I turned 18. Daughters want their moms and I was no different, and so 6 months after my 18th birthday, I saw her for the first time since she abandoned me 3 years prior. It was my high school graduation, where I delivered a valedictorian speech, and avoided eye contact with her in the audience. I found Mom McGowan in the crowd, it was her smile and glitter in her eyes that lowered my heart rate so that I could deliver a speech on Phil 1:6—About how God always finishes the work He starts in all of us, writing this story is a fulfillment of that very scripture. It was June 6th, 1990.

Just a little over 1 year later, I stood in an ICU unit staring at her in a hospital bed. Her body was covered with tubes and machines who’s sounds of beeps and whooshes told us that she was alive. I was in my first semester of my sophomore year of college and still lived 120 miles away from where she lay in the hospital, ironically, the same hospital where I was born—the place my life began, and now they were telling us that her life was ending. I had one weekend off a month and so I’d picked a cool fall weekend in October to spend with her in the ICU unit. I refused to leave, and the nurses took just as good care of a hurting kid as they did my mama, providing warm blankets, and snacks was their way of showing deep compassion for the decision that was coming for us. We were kids, but the decision to pull life support was necessary and I knew it, but on this weekend, I just wanted to be in the same room with the woman who gave me life. Maybe I could find some peace in between the beeps of the heart monitors and the swish sound of the ventilator. Maybe, just maybe I could forgive and figure out a way to forget like I had been taught, but I was pretty sure I was never going to forget 14 years of damage from her. But I didn’t want her to die and I had not told her that I forgave her, because I needed it to be true.

The hospital is situated just blocks from where we grew up, and the view from her room was familiar and so it was hard not to see the trauma places and not experience resentment and bitterness for the woman dying in the bed—the beeps of those machines told me I had more time—so I stood at that window all weekend trying to  figure out how I could absolve her of all that she had done. After all, that is what I thought forgiveness meant, like literally just pretending it never happened.

When it came time for me to leave and go back to college, I stood as close to her bed as I had all weekend, I looked down at her hand, which was more bones than skin, I looked at her face, and even though she was intubated, I could see every single bad choice she ever made carved on a tired, and sad face. I thought about grabbing her hand before leaving the hospital to go back to school, in a way, it would have been my way of telling her that we were ok, but we weren’t ok, I still had questions and she was never going to wake up to answer them. The machine beeps had really been comforting often quieting my own racing brain as I both tried to say goodbye to my mom but also come to terms with her complete lack of care for us and that she never had and never would ask us to forgive her. So, I looked back down at her hand, watched her chest rise and fall, swallowed the bile that had invaded my throat and walked out of the hospital room. I couldn’t even bring myself to grab her hand. I wanted it all to be ok, it just was never ok. I knew she was dying, I hoped I would have another chance. I walked out of the hospital just in time for the wind to blow a coffee smell that assaulted my senses and definitely reminded me of the Jacksonville where all the trauma happened, the Maxwell House HQ across the river could tell so many stories. I cried as I drove back to school. I’d been told many times that I was to forgive, but that was included with words like “forget” or phrases like “treat the person like it never happened” and none of that seemed doable to me, all of it hurt in the deepest parts of me.

Just a few months later, I got the phone call and it wasn’t a surprise.  Just ten days after I turned 20 years old, my sister called me at college and told me it was time, and they needed us to sign paperwork that meant we would be removing life support. I wasn’t even old enough to rent a car to drive to them, but I was faxing paperwork to the hospital giving them permission to remove life support. By the time I made it to Jacksonville the next morning, she was gone. She lived fifty minutes off of life support. We did the best we could to have some sort of memorial service, but it was all very obligatory and I couldn’t wait to get out of Jacksonville. I had no idea the darkest days were still very much in front of me.

As I attempted to grieve the death of my mama, I often was riddled with guilt of that memory of refusing to grab her hand—I was and am so sad that she stepped out into eternity thinking that I had not forgiven her, and she was right, I had not. At least I had not made any formal “transactions” to do so.  Her exit off the planet kind of made forgiving her inconsequential, and I was still operating under a faulty definition of forgiveness, too. I could not meet those standards of forgiveness, so I stopped trying.

I went back to school and did what I do, hit the gas, lived life wide open avoiding thinking of my mom or my unforgiveness. I did make a vow to never leave things unresolved with another person again, and that no matter how badly a person hurt me, I would immediately “forgive” (whatever that meant I was there for it) and strove to avoid conflict at all costs. I never wanted to feel that pain of regret again.

Just four years later, I had married and was hopeful of a life different from the one I’d lived, I was never the girl that dreamt of a wedding or a family, every day seemed like a bonus to me, so when I met John Watson, I leaned into that and was determined to be loved, and to love with everything I had too. And, I had my companion of regret that would make me better at relationships, I was still determined to never feel the regret of unforgiveness again. And so, I tried to be perfect, I wanted to be everything he wanted and needed.  He had demonstrated verbal abuse long before the first hit. I just absorbed the pain of his words, but determined to not hold it against him, or forgive him, or whatever would make me feel less fearful of that regret again. I loved him and I did not want to keep records of wrong-doings, I wanted my love for him to be I Cor 13 kind of love, I even had that read at our wedding. And so, I worked hard to just overlook all the things, in my “forgiveness” of his abusive behavior, I kept myself in the line of fire, and in a domestic violence situation, this can be deadly. That is how I understood forgiveness, we forget, and we move on with life, and so that is what I tried to do. This is NOT forgiveness.

Then the first hit came.

Nothing prepares you, though, for that first hit. I really can’t explain how confused I was. It didn’t stop after the first hit, it only ended after he locked me out of the house after dragging me to the door, the bleeding in my ear finally stopped and by that time he was knocking at my neighbor’s door where I went when he locked me out of the house, it was like nothing ever happened in his mind, and in mine, the throbbing of my nose and the bruise on my head felt nothing like the regret of withholding forgiveness. And so, I just marched on but that first hit has a strong fingerprint on my soul, that was the time I was convinced I was just on this planet to be mistreated by others.  We never talked about it, the abuse just got more frequent over the years, and I kept “forgiving” him, but I was pretty sure that at some point, John was going to need to be forgiven 491 times, one more time than Jesus told Peter we were to forgive.

As the abuse got worse, he began to isolate me more, this need to “forgive” him subsided as did the freshness of that regret I had from my mom. I truly did not wish him harm but he was hurting me in the deepest, deepest parts of me, and eroding any self- worth I had left.  He hurt me deeply with his words and his lack of care for me as his wife, shredded me. Seeds of hurt that I’d tried so hard to sweep off the surface of my heart began to take root and bitterness came. It was lonely, I’d not told a single soul that he was hitting me.

One night, I was sitting in the balcony of North Jacksonville Baptist Church at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert. I was there with a college buddy and it felt good to be in a church, I hadn’t been in one for a while. I enjoyed the concert but at the end I found myself unable to move, stunned and with tear- soaked tissues. SCC at the time had teamed up with an organization called “End of the Speer”—the organization is in support of missions to a tribe where 4 missionaries were murdered, most of them prominent missionaries (Nate Saint and Jim Elliott being two of them) in the Ecuadorian forest. They were brutally murdered by tribesmen with the actual death coming by way of the end of a spear.  I’d heard the story before, maybe had even read the book, but I was not prepared for what SCC had for us that night.

As it turns out, Rachel Saint, Nate Saint’s sister went back to the village, and shortly thereafter her nephew, Steve Saint, joined her and together they were part of a team that did introduce the gospel to that tribe. I was stunned by the act of forgiveness and the compassion that the family of Nate Saint demonstrated to that tribe. I was pretty sure they hadn’t forgotten nor could they pretend that it never happened, but they clearly made some sort of transaction with God that equated love because that is what reached that tribe for Jesus. As I was processing that, and ignoring the rolling tears, I begged God to help me to forgive my mama and the monster that was waiting for me at home. Then….

SCC said “and I would like to introduce you Mincaye, he is the chief that killed Nate Saint. The man, short in stature, shuffled out to the state with a taller man, his interpreter, I thought. When Steve Saint began to translate the Mincaye’s story of his father’s murder I violently heaved with emotion. I was simply overtaken by the compassion of the man translating the chief’s story. As of that date, Steve Saint was still living among that tribe, building aircraft and flying in supplies for them—the tribe that took as he describes “his hero” out of his life when he was just ten years old. My friend sat quietly beside me and the entire church was silent as all of us tried to imagine this kind of forgiveness. The lyric in the song “Quiet Uptown” from the blockbuster Hamilton reminds me of what we were all thinking that night…..

“Forgiveness, can you imagine?”

I thought,

“Surely, if they can forgive people that murdered their families, I can forgive mom and John….”

That was the night I started those transactions, but that is what they were transactions, the evaluation of the meaning of forgiveness and what needed to heal before I was even capable of making such a transaction.

It would have been easy to be motivated to forgive both of them by that feeling of regret I had after my mom died, but I truly wanted to forgive them and after what I saw on that stage, I knew it was possible for me to forgive both of them.

I would be lying if I told you that somewhere, deep inside, that my core motivation when I chose to pursue forgiving John was that our marriage would be restored, that he would get help and that the years of pain could be a distant memory, one that both of us used to help other people. But that isn’t how the story went and ultimately I did leave him, and he provided many more opportunities to forgive after I left, but I will never forget him saying the words “I am so sorry” with tears in his eyes, just before I left our home with a U-Haul filled with a fraction of my earthly belongings. I remembered that eternity is affected by decisions like this and on that day, the day I left, I can honestly say my words to him were accurate, as all I could muster was “I forgive you”, and then I left.

After a few years later and a LOT more trauma, I received a phone call that John had been found dead in a hotel room. He died alone and that made me sad and confused and every gamete of emotion but one thing I did not feel was regret.

I meant it when I told him I forgave him, but the years following were years of choices to do so, and my choices were driven by one thing, one thing I learned that night so many years before, a lesson demonstrated to me by the family of Nate Saint, on that stage at the SCC concert:

Compassion.

And that was the question that changed everything for me. “What happened to both of them? What hurt were they tending inside of them? Who or what broke them?”—those genuine questions turned into real compassion for both of them, I may never know the answer to those questions, even though I’d hoped one day to get that answer from John, that day was just never to come. I often tell people that I make transactions to forgive both of them, because for me it was never a one-time deal, the pain both of them dealt is real and it left scars, and so I often have to tend to the compassion a little more than the hurt in my heart. It keeps the seeds on hurt on top again, easily swept away by the gift of compassion.

A few years ago, I was sitting in a Maundy Thursday service at a church in Lecanto, Florida. Lecanto is not my home town, it is nowhere near my hometown and the fact that I moved there is kind of a miraculous story in itself, but it is a small town situated in a large county with little commercialism and most people have never heard of it. I tell you that because what happened next was the pinnacle of my decision to focus on compassion for their hurts thereby healing mine.

Because it was a Maundy Thursday service, it was a somber occasion and the pastor had a huge wooden cross at the front of the church. Each of us lined up with a piece of paper and a nail with the idea being to nail things to that cross that already covered it—things we couldn’t let go of, things that we wanted to symbolically crucify or more accurately remember Who was crucified so that all of it could be okay.  And so I wrote “Mom & John” on my paper, got in line, nailed it to that wooden cross and made my way back to my seat. I closed my eyes and listened as others hammered their own pain to that cross, it was an amazing experience. And then, the tap on my shoulder…..

“Amy, I want you to meet someone” my friend said. I’d shared that End of Spear story with her for good reason, her name was Anne Saint Steve Saint’s daughter in law. She quickly reintroduced me to Steve Saint, who I had met before, but then I saw the man standing beside him.

Chief Mincaye. The man who shoved the end of the spear into the chest of Nate Saint. He was standing right there in front of me, in a big church in a little town in Florida. I was stunned, there it was redemption standing right in front of me. The product of compassion was standing right in front of me. I sobbed; they didn’t ask why—it didn’t matter.  I was stunned at the opportunity to meet one of the men who killed 4 missionaries, and when we closed in a worship song, he didn’t understand a word of it, but his blood-stained hands were raised to the great redeemer of it all.  And it reminded me of the song that SCC closed that concert with that night. Chief Mincaye sang the words that night in his native tongue…

“My Redeemer is faithful and true; my redeemer is faithful and true….”

So, what is forgiveness? Have I even answered the question for you?  Probably not as I have a distain for the definitions, we normally hear about it, and we certainly are wrong when we tell people it is always a one- time decision, that it means that you will forget or even that you should not remove yourself from a toxic situation.

Most people aren’t going to like how I am able to forgive because it doesn’t seem fair, why should we have compassion on those that hurt us? Well, that Ecuadorian tribe is all following Jesus now, and had Rachel Saint not figured out a way to follow the compassion in her heart, who knows if they would have ever been reached. And that would have been tragic, just as tragic as a person who is living with those seeds of hurt burying themselves deeply into the hearts of people who can’t let it go. Love requires that you let it go, and spoiler alert, you still love the person that hurt you or it wouldn’t hurt. Love is final, and it requires you to find a way to forgive, and to live in that forgiveness and that redemption.

We see this in the Bible with Joseph, he forgave his brothers out of deep compassion for them even though they in no way deserved it. But the best example of all was Jesus. He felt such deep compassion for the very people who nailed Him to a tree, so much so that His words “Forgive them for they know not what they do” is so powerful.

Compassion, the secret sauce to forgiveness?  Eph 4:32 mentions compassion before forgiveness because maybe that is what needs to happen first, I don’t know.  But I do know that forgiving the trauma makers is healing to your heart, it has been to mine. Without viewing both of them through the lenses of compassion, and some information that came later, it would be so easy to live in the repercussions of what both of them did and live a substandard version of myself. But just like Jesus said in Jude 24-25, “turn, have compassion on them”…making a difference…”

Maybe you are that difference.

A very special person taught me one of my favorite verses and this is how I view the “unfairness” of …not offer a sacrifice that costs me nothing.(2 Samuel 24:24)

I realize that I may have left you with more questions than answers. But the reality is, I am telling you how and why I can forgive, not hold it against my mom and John and all the things that unforgiveness brings. I realize it doesn’t seem fair but I am grateful for the gift of compassion and love that allows me to share this powerful message of forgiveness. I reject typical definitions of forgiveness and especially in domestic violence situations strongly advise against subscribing to just standing in line for more pain. That isn’t forgiveness that is faulty logic. We all need to find a way to forgive, so the pain doesn’t just keep on giving. It is true that in order to be forgiven by God you have to forgive, but I submit to you that forgiveness is a fruit of being forgiven. And so, if you haven’t made a choice to trust in Jesus, please reach out to someone who can help you do that. You are so loved, and compassion spurs my heart to introduce you to the Star of my story, Jesus, the ultimate Forgiver.

Because he is Forgiveness, and HE is the reason we have compassion.

My First EMDR Experience

“It takes the ‘uber pain’ out of the memories”, he told me. Dr. Petit and I had been meeting for a little over a year, and while plenty of trust had been established, we were a long way from even scratching the surface of all of the trauma. Unfortunately, my ex-husband was still providing plenty more trauma requiring me to return to court to petition a life time restraining order. He continued to threaten my life and I pretty much lived as a hermit. I was still teaching and honestly, it was that job and those kids that got me through my days.

But once a week, I would leave right after work and drive over the bridge to St. Petersburg and have a one- hour session with Dr. Petit. It was my deal with Crissy and so I kept it. I didn’t hate it. If you have listened to the podcast with Dr. Petit, know that he is as kind and gentle as his voice. Over the course of my life, I’d seen many counselors and I did not trust any of them. Many times, I could outsmart them, fully understanding that they were looking to diagnose me with something that a pill alone could fix. Nobody wanted to admit that they didn’t know what to do with me or my story. Until Dr. Petit followed an urging on his heart to seek to not only understand my trauma, but to help me heal from it.

He and I were still in triage mode as I mentioned, my ex-husband only turned up the volume of the threats after I was hospitalized for five days.  I was heavily medicated after that hospitalization, and that was a good thing, numb was good. My body was tired, and it was responding in kind. I was medically hospitalized multiple times in those two short years, and many times spent time on heart monitors connected to the pagers of world class cardiologist at Tampa General Hospital. It was not an awesome time.

When Dr. Petit mentioned to me that he was going to go for more training in additional therapies, I was definitely up for it. He explained the science of it (much of it covered in podcast) I was hooked. I have an undergrad degree in Biology, I was a high school science teacher, so he was speaking my language! He explained to me how trauma interrupts how the two sides of the brain exchange information, he immediately gave me hope that my broken brain could be fixed. I had settled nicely in the thought process that life was as good as it was ever going to be for me, so even a glimmer of hope was salt and light.

It was only recently that I learned why Dr. Petit went for this additional training, he went for one of his friends and ME; he said it was the first time he was prompted to complete new training by a person and not a professional mandate. I really can’t form the words of gratitude to both God and Dr. Petit for that, because those therapies have saved my life. But like everything else, it’s work, it’s not easy. You have to WANT to get better.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitation and Reprocessing) was on deck first. The second part of the podcast with Dr. Petit has yet to air, but he will explain this as my goal here is only to tell you of my experience with specifically EMDR.

Essentially, EMDR heals the brain allowing our emotional brains and our logical brains to communicate again. When trauma occurs, often times, that traumatic memory gets stuck on a loop in our emotional brains. The logical side doesn’t get a say in the matter because of literal damage to the brain. The war may be over, but the patient has not gotten that memo. Patients are then ruled by emotions and debilitating results of such. That was me. All kinds of memories and lies I believed were indeed stuck in that emotional side, and I had zero ability to believe anything but what my brain told me. My brain was not telling me nice things. My hope was weak anyway, but before EMDR I was just going through the motions again, the only difference was this time I was medicated.

My first EMDR session must have been in late 2009. Dr. Petit, in true form, had found a way to invite God into the process, and so the truths we wanted to “weave” into both sides of my brain FIRST needed to be  truths that would never change, ever. I chose the promise of Psalm 139. I chose it BECAUSE I DID NOT BELIEVE IT. After establishing that truth through EMDR therapy, the first trauma we processed was related to my ex-husband and all the pain related to him. If Dr. Petit could help take away the ‘uber pain’ of anything, John Watson was top on my list. As I was sharing one of the many stories with him, immediately three words just popped in my head “I deserved better”. I said it out loud and Dr. Petit sat back in his chair a little stunned (as was I) that in just the first session, a truth we had not even planned just came bursting through all the lies. “Yes, you did deserve better, he said” and suddenly I believed that was true. All the lies that easily ruled me now hit a wall of truth, because I did deserve better.

After a successful “weave” like this was for me, every time an intrusive memory from that time in my life enters my conscious my logical brain shoots that strong emotional brain a message: “YOU DESERVED BETTER”, and that is almost always what flushes me with peace when I think of that time in my life.

I left his office that day, a believer in EMDR, and now almost 12 years later, I can honestly say that this therapy and my doctor’s wisdom in introducing God in the process is the reason I am here to write this to you today.

This game is long and the mission is impotant.

You are the mission. And so we will keep shouting Hope from where we are.

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Wednesdays With Watson

I should not be alive, I get that.  I understand the responsibility that comes with surviving.

I will always be grateful that I get the opportunity to share Jesus when I tell my story.  People often get overwhelmed by the gravity of the trauma and they lose the coolest part of the story, the redemption part. If you are walking life with me you are literally watching ALL things become NEW, one of the most precious promises of the Bible-and this is just the beginning of the redemption– not to be compared to eternity!  That is true in your life too, it’s easy to focus on the suffering and the pain, and we so often forget the gift of redemption and the opportunity to further the gospel through our response to suffering.

Every time I get the opportunity to tell even portions of my story, I always try to remember to declare my mission:  I just want to be a good steward of the pain. I would not choose most of the things that I have suffered, but I also would not ask for those things to be taken away, they have been a gift to me and I want to be a good steward of that gift.

I want Him to find me faithful in using the gift of pain.  It’s terrifying though, surviving trauma seems easy comparatively speaking.  But I know that He has called me and therefore has equipped me not only with lessons learned from trauma, but giftings that we all have. I am a teacher at heart with a passion that is second only to a love affair with learning.  I love digging in with other learners and there is nothing that dumps the dopamine more than watching “A HA” moments!  But my passion gets buried with owning a business, surviving multiple health issues and living in this neighborhood we call adulthood.  I am not a fan of this hood, for the record.

Speaking of gifts, I am reminded of the precious gift of friendship.  I have always been really fortunate in the friends department, I didn’t think it could get better or even different, but 2019 brought my friends out brighter than ever, and I needed them more than ever.  I finished the year with friends I didn’t start the year with and new friendships grew quickly and I became aware at how awesome our God is to give us the friends we have whether it be for a reason, season or lifetime.  Some of those new friendships were made in the most unconventional way –utilizing social media and a shared passion. As a result, I spent the year with amazing people in my life pouring wisdom and encouragement into me, and suddenly these people, some of whom I have never even met, became part of my almost daily life.  The realization of such pushed me to question, could the gift of pain, and the gift of friendship somehow coincide with my passion to teach?

If you have the right friends, you can only avoid them for so long, and if you have two of my friends, you downright feel bullied after they throw down their gauntlet.  Both of them are fairly familiar with my relatively non complaint nature, and so they use their gauntlets sparingly, and so when it’s thrown down, I listen.

“You need to be teaching” was the edict from both of them.  Really, they were only giving a voice to the desires of my heart.

Could Wednesdays With Watson have a whole new meaning?!

If you are interested in joining an online Bible study, I would love to have you!  We will use a universal video application for the study, it will be topical so there is no need to purchase a book of any kind (just need you and your Bible).  I would LOVE if any of you also have a passion for teaching that can pinch hit for me in the event that my work or health requires me to miss a class.  We will likely meet on Wednesdays, but much will be determined by the people that want to attend.  I would count it an honor to spend time with any of you who want to dig deep into Jesus and go where He takes us!  Details with be forthcoming, as so much depends on interest level.

There are two ways to let me know if you are interested.  Preferred method is email at amy@amywatsonauthor.com or you can DM/PM me.

 

 

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. I Peter 3:15

 

I am so eager to share with you the reason for the Hope that is within me and I would love to hear the reason for the Hope within you too!