Pure Joy

She walks down the street seemingly without a care in the world. Her blonde hair swishing down her tanned back and the flip-flops on her feet make a slapping sound on the pavement.

Her heart is full and with a glint in her eyes and a smile on her face she faces the day with a heart filled with hope and joy. In the distance she hears the sounds of seagulls as they swoop and dive near the oceans waters. She is anticipating the cool water on this hot summer day.

She throws her blanket on the hot sand while slipping the flip-flops off and pulls the “Love God – Love people” T-shirt over her head and tosses it onto the blanket. She heads for the cool water.

The waves crash against her back and she laughs. She splashes happily in the salty waves and glances up at the sun. Oh what joy she feels as the worries, concerns, and frustrations of the past week are washed out to sea as the waves strip them from her.

Standing waist deep in the water she sees a Man approaching her. His dark skin glints in the sun and his beard drips with water. He dives under the water as a large wave crashes down over them and upon rising when the wave has passed He laughs joyfully.

She laughs and says hello as he shakes the water out of His long hair. She stretches out her arms wide, throws her head back, and shouts, “How can anyone not believe in God?”

The Man smiles broadly.

(Sue’s version) Psalm 146:6 – Romans 1:20

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The Cat

The day began bright and sunny and the woman went about her daily chores. She stopped by her office to quickly check her e-mail and suddenly her world seemed to turn upside down.

Reading the last of the short e-mail sudden anger boils up within her. The day is now shot as she stomps about her living room with questions broiling through her mind. In a very short time her strong faith has taken a sucker punch to the gut.

By sundown tears continue to flow, not only from the anger within, but from the devastating news and the confusing thoughts screaming through her mind. Sorrow fills her heart but the anger and confusion overrides all feelings of empathy and sorrow. How can God do this!? screams in her mind.

By bed time her tears continue to flow and sleep is non-existent. The news she received pounds through her mind over and over and then other events, past events, intrude. Her anger boils until she feels she will go crazy. By the wee hours she is exhausted yet sleep will not come. Angry thoughts, thoughts of an unloving God, thoughts of how everything she has believed is hog wash inundate her mind.

Without realizing she has dozed off she’s embroiled in a dream. In the dream she is on a tight rope and at the far end of the tight rope a large black panther is creeping toward her. Step by step he comes closer with teeth bared and a riveting intent on killing her.

He gets close enough that she suddenly and viciously kicks the panther as hard as she can. He flies off the tight rope, but returns.  Again, he slowly stalks his prey. Hunkered down with piercing eyes focused and teeth gleaming through a low vicious growl, he moves slowly and purposefully.

She cocks her leg once again and when the big cat raises its paw to rip her wide open with his deadly claws, she kicks with all her might and hears a painful yelp from the cat as he falls into the abyss below.

Suddenly waking up, with heart racing, and jagged breathing, she sees a Man standing at the foot of her bed.

She blinks.

“Now you know where the anger and confusion is coming from,” the Man states and disappears.

(Sue’s version) 1Tim. 4:1 – 1Peter 5:8 – John 10:10

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A Hidden Agenda

The trees are full, the flowers are in bloom, the birds are chirping their happy songs and off in the distance one can hear the sound of a woman in pain.

The neighbors have complained because of her raucous behavior. The police have been called numerous times but no one seems to be able to stop the woman from her rantings.

She stands in her yard and screams at people as they pass. Children are ushered quickly into their homes, and the adults shake their head in disgust and frustration. Hospitalization helps for a time. The medications render her a zombie leaving her walking in a daze. She stops taking them.

The diagnosis has been deemed to be a mental illness and with proper medication she seems fine. But beneath the surface something else is at fault but no one wants to address it.

She stands at the edge of her yard and screams profanities and suddenly stops when she sees a Man approach. He looks at her intently. Her ranting ceases.

The Man takes a step closer to her, she fearfully steps back. A hidden part of her knows who this Man is and is afraid. The hidden  part is what causes her problems.

The Man addresses the hidden part and with all Authority given to Him by the Father, He commands, “Come out of her!”

Her mouth opens and the evil spirit pleads with the Man. “We know who You are. Don’t make us leave.”

“Come out!” The Man forcibly demands and the woman is suddenly shaking violently and drops to the ground.

(Sue’s Version) Matthew 9:32, Matthew 8:28, Luke 9:37-42, Luke 8:29

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The Search

For years the girl searched. She walked the streets, made numerous phone calls, scanned the newspapers, and talked to people, all to no avail.  She feels dejected, alone, without hope of ever finding what she’s looking for.

Wandering through the park she finds a secluded place and sitting down in the shade of a large Oak tree she sobs her heart out. With her head lowered on her folded arms resting on her knees she suddenly feels a presence and quickly swipes at her tears and looks up.

A Man is standing a few feet away and in a gentle, loving voice asks if He may join her. “Maybe I can help,” He states and she nods her head yes.

The Man sits down on the grass and leans against the tree trunk. “You have much pain,” He states softly. She asks how He knows that and wipes more tears off her cheeks.

“I am the I Am,” the Man states. “Tell me why you’re upset.”

The girl looks at Him for a long moment and something deep inside her wells up. She senses she can trust this Man like no one she has ever trusted before.

“I was adopted when I was a baby and I’m looking for my father. I found my biological mother but she doesn’t want me. She said she should have had an abortion and now I would be a scourge to her reputation and sent me away. Maybe my father will feel differently.”

The Man places His hand gently on her shoulder. “Where are your adoptive parents? They must love you very much for they chose to raise you as their own.”

“They were killed in a car wreck five years ago.” Tears fill her eyes and run down her cheeks. The Man gently wipes His finger across her cheeks wiping her tears away. “You are very much loved and you are never alone.”

“Yes, I am alone! I have no one.” She begins sobbing and the Man gently pulls her toward Him and lets her cry into His shoulder. When her tears have abated He releases her.

“My child, you have a Father that knows your pain, knows your every desire, and loves you deeper and greater than any earthly parent can ever love you.  Your mother and father left you but this Father will never leave you. You will never be alone. Trust Him and He will guide you, soothe your hurts, fill you with His joy, and you’ll traverse this life with a peace beyond your own understanding.”

The Man rises. The girl sits fingering a blade of grass while in deep thought. When she looks up, the Man is gone.

(Sue’s version) Psalm 27:10

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A Survivor’s Testimony

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Survivor Series – Survivor 1
**Note: Discussion of sexual abuse may be upsetting to some readers**

TRIGGER WARNING

I was sexually abused by an adult male as a child. My abuse started with smaller physical touches, while he incorporated fear into his actions to help keep me quiet. He told me my family would dispose of me like the weekly trash if they found out. I would be damaged, dirty goods and they would be ashamed of me. Of course I kept my mouth shut, because who wants to be sent away?

As a child, I was, and I still am, a people pleaser. I did not ever want someone to be mad at me, or feel like I did something wrong. So, I just did what was asked of me because that meant I was being a good little girl. If I was being good, no one would be mad, and if no one was mad, I felt like I wasn’t going to get into trouble.

Those smaller physical touches turned into requests, more like demands I guess, for me to touch him. With my hands, with my mouth…. I always closed my eyes and my mind sort of hallucinated alternate realities that took me to any place but the present. They never made sense, these alternate worlds. Cotton candy clouds, Unicorns with knights and pizza swords. Colours swirling all around me. Random unrelated objects popping into my mind.

I still feel his hands on my body all these years later. Steering me, forcing me, tricking me. I think that is why I am so afraid of people touching me now – whether it is a hug, a tap on the shoulder, someone grabbing my arm lightly as they pass – it takes me instantly back to dark bedrooms and basements, naked and 6 years old. I am ashamed of when I cringe at a safe person’s touch. They don’t mean to trigger me, but they do. He robbed me of the comfort of physical human connection. I hate him for that.

The worst of it all, aside from the brainwashing, threats, and fear-based manipulation, are the rapes. I cry as I type this, because I have never spoken much of it out loud before. Not even to my therapist. I won’t go into details; because I am not sure my heart will let me. But I will say this. To be a child, A CHILD, and have a grown man…. I can’t even type it. The emotions, the absolute terror, the physical pain, the pressure and weight of his body on mine…. I will NEVER forget it.

I thought about leaving you with a happy ending, an image of hope (I do live a happy life full of love, just so you are aware). Instead, I have decided to leave you with an image that may help people realize this happens way too often. If you can picture me, then maybe you might do something about it. Maybe you will make a promise to educate yourself, talk to your kids, your family, your workplace. The children need you. They need us. If you are a survivor, maybe you will feel okay to share your story, too. Because we don’t have to live in silence.

Imagine, if you will, that he has left the bedroom. A man, dark hair, not too tall. But to me, he is a giant. A giant physical being of darkness that haunts me. He leaves angry, of course. Ashamed of what he has done. Again. I am left to sit there, confused. I want to cry. I don’t know exactly what I would be crying over, though. Because I do not yet know what he has been doing to me. It doesn’t have a name. It is everything and nothing all at once. As the hallway light shines in from the door, cracked open slightly, I take a deep breath. I tell myself I hate this. Whatever “this” is.

I pick up my clothes. Most likely a boyish pair of pants and a baggy t-shirt (my sad attempt to be less appealing to him – sadly, it never worked). I put on my shirt and cover the sweat, not mine, and the redness from my stress that still lingers on my skin. I pick up my underwear labeled “Tuesday” but it isn’t even Tuesday. Who cares what day it is. Who cares about the days at all? I put them on, and then my pants.

I stand on my two wobbling legs and try to stop the knocking in my knees and heart. I take another deep breath. I walk towards the door and grip the doorknob. Too tightly. In an attempt to bring me back to the present. I must now act in a play I didn’t rehearse for. For a part I didn’t want. I pull open the door, step into the hall in my unmatched socks. I am sure there are holes in them. I am not sure how, though, because I have nowhere to run. I smile. Not genuine, of course. I play the part of a little girl who is okay. But I am not.

I descend the stairs and sit opposite him in his living room as he ignores me. His wife comes home and joins us. I am reminded of how desperately I want to cry out to her. But I don’t have the words. I just have the fear.

-Anonymous.

Stand Strong

The Man travels from city to city checking on His children. He sees a child playing in the park and the sound of her laughter fills the air.  He kneels down and gently cups her cheek. “You are so loved, little one,” He states and moves on.

In the next town He sees statues. One of a Civil War veteran that had called out to Him with his last dying breath. On down the street He sees a woman sitting on a bench eating her noon meal. She glances up at Him, smiles, and waves. He knows the pain she’s hiding.

Walking into the area known as the ghetto He sees poverty. Children playing stick ball in the trash strewn streets. Mothers peeking out the dirty window of an apartment filled with cock roaches. He shakes His head sadly.

Moving uptown with the tall buildings, traffic noise, and aroma’s of various street vendors, people are rushing, bumping into each other and curses are heard from passing taxi cabs. No one notices Him.

He travels to a rural area where a church is being built. It’s almost completed. He sees the pastor and approaches. “A beautiful church,” the Man states.

The Pastor turns and states, “Yeah and you wouldn’t believe the trouble we’ve had in building it.”

“What do you mean?” The Man asks, knowing full well the obstacles they have encountered.

“First the county said they didn’t want another church. Then a bunch of non-believers started picketing. We had to fight tooth and nail to finally get the permits. I was ready to give up!”

“But you didn’t. The Father heard your prayers. What are you going to call it?”

The Pastor rubs his chin and grins and then states, “You won’t believe this and we’re going to really have a fight on our hands when we put up the sign, but the Lord spoke to me in a dream and said to call it the ‘Christ’s True Gospel Church.'”

“Why do you think there will be a fight?” The Man asks.

“Are you kidding? We aren’t allowed to make any reference to Christianity or  make any reference to Jesus!” The Pastor exclaims.

The Man walks to the building and looking inside He sees a large cross on the front wall of the sanctuary. “That’s a beautiful cross.” The Man states, pleased.

“Yes, it is. One of the locals made that cross from one of his trees on his property. An atheist group saw it being carried into the building and filed a lawsuit stating its offensive and has to come down. We have one for the roof, too and they’re really having a fit over that one. But we just keep praying for God’s divine intervention.”

The Man turns to the Pastor and places His hand on his shoulder. Looking directly into the Pastor’s eyes the Man states, “I am the Great I Am and your prayers will be answered.”

(Sue’s version) 1Thes. 5:16-18

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