Shadow Of Victory

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

PS to post

As I was praying after writing and posting the entry dated 24th Feb, I realised I may have unintentionally given a wrong impression.
I wrote that as "I had not been raped by my father" then I had believed the lie that I had not been abused at all....Please note that I was using this as an example of what society was saying at that time and how abuse was seemingly classified.
To set the record completely straight here and now ...My dad was the best dad he could have been in the life circumstances he lived in and although we had issues they were not abuse related at all.
One thing I have learned over the years is to "Honour your father and mother so that it may go well with you" and whilst it hasnt always been easy I have determined to live within this commandment.I would hope that you will see this being lived out in my blog entries even as I will share some painful times.
Once again....My prayer is that wherever you are on your lifes journey may you know the presence of God.

February 24th Thorn one (continued)

I am so grateful for the many amazing songwriters who present us with lyrics and music that can lift us to the heights and reveal TRUTH about who God is and what God has done. I have always found that worship is a key to healing and my journey has been paved by songs that have served as a balm to my wounded spirit.The songs that are resonating with me at the moment is Desert Song and The Servant King...words such

"all of my every season are still God and I have a reason to sing..I have a reason to worship"
"Hope which was lost stands renewed...I give my life to honour this...The love of Christ ...The Saviour King"

Wherever you are on your journey I pray that you will know deep inside your spirit a "reason to worship and that hope will be renewed..."

Before I continue to talk about "thorns" I thought it would be good to share with you the path of healing I have walked for the last 24 years. I feel it is of vital importance that there is no confusion about where I am coming from in my blog. I have walked a pathway strewn with tears and pain to get where I am today....and I believe this blog is the next step on my journey...remember I shared a phrase at the beginning.."writing is my best chance of happiness" and so I am trusting God that every word I write will plant seeds of restoration in my spirit wherever God sees I need it . Perhaps He will also plant some seeds into your spirit too.

So.....Until I became a Christian I had never shared any of the abuse I had gone through...not because I was frightened or embarrassed ..but simply because I didnt class what I had gone through as abuse.You have to imagine how different life was 30...40 years ago ...abuse wasnt a word that was heard much in anyones language and for me it was purely a belief that as I hadnt been raped by my father ....therefor I hadnt been abused. Even as I began to open up to people I would preface any of my sharing by saying " It wasnt bad...really...It isnt important...really..." How the enemy likes to wrap up lies and hide them deep in our souls . Let me say quite clearly here...quite loudly....ALL abuse is wrong.ALL abuse will need the tender touch of Gods healing

I began my journey to freedom within my church community and I thank God for putting such precious people into my life for just this time.I also commend them for their commitment to love me despite my determination to be unlovable.!!I have realised over the decades that ...Yes ..God can heal instantly and miraculously...but for me it hasnt been as simple and as each strand of abuse was brought to light other areas also needed to be dealt with.I pursued my healing with great zeal as once I tasted the mercy of God.... I wanted more.

Let me list the paving stones that God has used over the last 24 years...

1)Prayer counselling within church...several 6 week sessions over a 2 year period.
2)Healing retreats... 3 x residential weekends over a 5 year period
3)One day appointments ....5 x days with same counsellors over a 3 year period.
4)Therapy... 12 x monthly appointments with a non Christian counsellor
5)Freedom in Christ...2 x course done at different times
6)Courses...numerous over many years...when I was still searching for answers I would attend teaching courses eg Care for the Family
7)Friendship...sometimes a daily propping up by friends for years.
8)Marriage..I am so deeply and unashamedly grateful for Chris ..He is truly my rock here on earth and there were times all I could do was cling on to him.

In between each and every step there has been periods of consolidation where resting and working out the healing have been of essential importance and I would guess that all of the above have taken around 17 years .

In addition to above I have also shared my testimony on different occasions and I have spoken at a BFC womens conference and shared at BFCs seminars as well as involved in praying for many women in similiar situations.

I hope this has given you some idea of the steps I have taken on my journey.. I wanted you all to know that I am not at the beginning of my journey but perhaps quite a way along. If healing can ever be measured ..and only the individual can ever verbalise how healed they feel...but for me if the number "10" were fully healed and walking in total freedom then I would measure where I am on that scale as an "8"...It has been a long and sometimes agonisingly slow journey but I am here.....and let me emphatically life as an "8" is just the BEST place to be right now....I am enjoying God...I am living in the fullness of all He has done so far and I am trusting Him for the future.

May God bless you today on your journey...Keep walking...Keep believing and Keep worshipping

Friday, 20 February 2009

February 20th THORN ONE

I have had a few days being poorly and it has been good to have some time to reflect on where I am going with the blog. One thing that I hadnt counted on and it has been an added bonus have been the comments and emails I have received...they have been such a help to me know I am not alone on this journey but even more than that has been the insight and encouragement your words have given to me and for that ...
.....I thank you.....

So....Childhood....this may take a few entries as it is central to who I am and where I am coming from. Looking back is no longer painful for me ...Jesus truly is the one who takes all our suffering upon himself ...but in order for me to look ahead I will need to share some key events with you. I am not going to be glorying in the awful things nor going into much detail but in order to bring clarity I do need to explain some things .I am aware that some readers may still carry pain and my prayer is that as you read you will know more of the love of Christ and his healing touch upon your life.

I want to say here at the outset that when I first encountered Christ as my personal saviour at the age of 30...I spent too many years asking the questions..
"If God truly loved me ...why didnt He step in all those years ago and stop all the "stuff" happening to me?"
"If God is sovereign ..surely He could have......?"...
"Why does God allow such trauma??"

I used to say to a close friend who was walking my journey with me..."when I get to heaven I will have a lot of questions to ask God!!" In her wisdom she would reply to me."when you get to heaven you will be too overwhelmed by Gods love and mercy that none of those questions will have any relevance"..I can truly say that as God has worked in my spirit that I no longer ask these IF and WHY questions....and it may surprise you to know that I would not change a thing about my childhood.!! It was awful and awful things happened BUT because of it I am the person I am and I quite like me.!!!

A brief explanation of my childhood.... I am the youngest of 5 children born into an extremely unhappy marriage which resulted in much upheaval as mum and dad seperated and tried again and seperated and tried again...etc ...the youngest 3 including myself were in and out of several childrens homes and for long periods of time we would live with one or other parent or with relatives in varying combinations.After many reconciliation attempts they called a halt and were eventually divorced with dad taking the boys to live with him and mum taking the girls. My sister emigrated to Canada followed by one of my brothers and I lived alone with my mum for several years as we moved from town to town living with friends and relatives for periods of time.At age 13 I went to live with my dad full time and at age 18 I met Chris ...fell in love...and lived happily ever after...and that was 36 years ago.

In among that short description of my journey there are some traumatic events which I will be sharing with you.....trauma can be a "making or a breaking" experience...for me it hasnt been as straightforward as an either/or scenario....the trauma I have lived with has been both a "making and a breaking" and I have spent considerably more time than I would have liked in the "broken" stages..

Three of the most significant life traumas that have shaped my growing up have been abuse from ages 3 through to 14...the suicides of 2 of my brothers...and my mum leaving me when I was 12 years old . I have listed them in this precise order as I believe this is in direct order of how significant they have been in my life. On these building blocks my adult personality and character was destined to be formed and before I knew Jesus Christ I was a very broken woman trying desperately to survive.

A couple of paragraphs ago I slipped in a few words that you may just have glanced over without too much notice and which I bring back to you as they are of extreme importance in my story. At age 18 I met Chris...he is my husband and many of you know him....we werent christians when we met so I wouldnt have said this at the time but looking back I know without any doubts at all that God brought him into my life...he is Gods gift to me and has been a major source of healing for me. More than any other he knows exactly how tough my journey has been...he has walked every painful mile with times carrying me times cheering me times leaving me to pace myself...but always there...always willing to do what was needed...always loving ...always forgiving...and he is continuing to walk with me on this journey through this blog.

He isnt perfect...he isnt God....we have had extremely painful and tough times over the decades but God knew what he was doing when our two worlds collided and I use the word collide deliberately as our families and upbringing couldnt have been any more different. Chris is one of 9 children and his parents celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary this year (60 years) and his childhood was a complete reversal of mine.

So...I have set the scene and laid the foundation for this "thorn" and will be unpacking a bit more in my next entry. I leave you with a couple of sentences from a poem that I read in Ruthies blog;

"Your painful past will be nothing but a testimony of my melody of healing resounds through your days" ...... "My purpose is greater than the pain"

From where I stand today I know the truth of these words....May you also grasp something of this truth for who you are at this time wherever you are on your own journey.

Monday, 16 February 2009

February 16th THORNS

This entry will let you know in a bit more detail where I am going on this journey. Today I am looking at these scriptures:
2 Corinthians ch. 12 ...verses 7-9 Paul writes

"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations.... there was given to me a thorn in my flesh...a messenger of Satan to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.But he said to me My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness."


Romans ch 7 verse 15 Paul writes

"I do not understand what I do , For what I want to do ...I do not, but what I hate...I do."

I often look at Paul and think about his "thorn" I guess like most of us we would pay a lot of money to actually know what the "thorn " was....we could all make suggestions but we will never know. My main thought when reading these verses is ..."huh! at least he only had ONE thorn." whereas I have a veritable rosebush of them.!!!"

I seem to have so many weaknesses and I have seasons when I am praying daily for God to remove them and at times I sense him saying.."my grace is sufficient"...Other times I just let them have their way and follow the pattern suggested in Romans..."I do ...what I hate doing" . One of the aims of this blog is to look at my THORNS and in doing so perhaps I will gain some fresh understanding and if you journey with me perhaps it will open up new insight for your THORNS, and together we can keep walking .

So....I will list my thorns and give a brief explanation and then open them up over the next few weeks....stay with me...feel free to drop in ....leave a comment me....hang out.....or ignore.!!!


1) Childhood.....I didnt have the best of childhoods and I am sure I didnt have the worst...but mix together ...divorced parents...childrens homes...multiple schools and homes...abuse....abandonment and neglect and you get a fairly complicated and damaged adult.
2)Significance and Affirmation....we all yearn for these two very important ingredients in the formation of our lives.
3)Self Image...growing up with no real sense of identity left me with an extremely warped view of myself.
4)Friendships....I will spend some time on this THORN....building relationships when a damaged person is fraught with danger....for everyone.!!
5)Marriage....I am so very grateful for Chris ..he is Gods gift to me. I will be looking at how to live with the consequences of trauma within the blessing of marriage.
6)Trust....How does one learn to trust....other people...God ..ourselves??
7)Love...what is love....and how do we learn to love if we havent experienced it ?
8)Character...How is it possible for God to change our character??

I will no doubt find some sub plots going on in each stay tuned.
I do want to say at the outset that I have known Gods Healing in many ways....I have learned about the gift of Forgiveness both for others and for myself..I know the scriptures that say "all things work together" and "I am a new creation" and I am further forward today than I was 10 years ago or 20 years ago for which I am truly grateful to God.
But it has to be said that I still live with some of the consequences of my past life shaping my inner being...and whilst I have seen much progress in becoming all that God wants me to be...I know that there are still areas within me where I live in the "Shadow of Victory" and for this season I am content to live there...knowing its a safe place for me to rest awhile.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

February 11th Boundaries Update

I am truly humbled by the response I have had to my blogging...Thank you to everyone who has sent me emails and comments especially those of you who are finding life tough at the moment. My prayer for you all is that the words I write will bring hope and encouragement to you on your own journey.

I have given a lot of thought to where I am going with the blog and over the next few months I am aiming to focus on different aspects of my journey . I will list these in my next blog entry but wanted first to give you an update on the "Boundaries " that I had set myself a couple of weeks ago. My thanks again to friends who are holding me accountable.!!

On the subject of accountability can I encourage everyone to have someone they can share life with...over the years whenever I have had this kind of relationship I can look back and see that these have been the seasons when I have grown the most.Last night I spent some time with my Mentor and she simply asked me a couple of questions about how busy I had been in my role at church and suggested that I ensure I didnt keep up the pace as I would burn out. This is accountability in relationship for which I am truly grateful as it tells me that someone cares enough about me to speak into my life. am I doing with my goals...

1)Reading the bible in a far I am up to date... I am following the "chronological" bible which sets it all into a kind of story and I am finding it really well set out and almost like a novel.!!
2)Reading fiction....I am amazed to realise that I havent read much at all...I started a novel about 11 days ago and still only about one third through..this is a massive change for me.
3)Praying for/with hubby...I have always prayed "for " Chris but not too often "with", I have long wanted that wonderful kind of marriage where the husband and wife have daily devotions and pray together for know that kind of marriage that you just KNOW everyone else has except you (!)Well...I am just so encouraged that I have actually prayed WITH Chris several times in last few days and I know it has brought us closer together so will keep pressing on with this.
4)Pray for our children...I have taken to doing this as I walk the dog...if you see me walking a large black Labrador round the back area of The Pines School ball in hand and muttering then just say "Amen" I walk past.!!
5)Telly...This is similiar to the fiction reading..I am amazed at how the pull of telly seems to have diminished...the prayer and fasting time obviously has broken something in me.
6)Walking above...wave as you see me walk past....the snow kept me in a for a few days but delighted to be back out with him.
7)Eat sensibly...Alas....I am a dismal failure so far..One of the topics I will be looking at in later blog entries will be the whole subject of my battle re my weight and eating.
8)Bed times..I can put my hand on my heart and say quite honestly I have been in bed before midnight every night ..albeit sometimes at the stroke of midnight...but yippee I did it and I will continue to press through on this.
9)Write daily....The writers group Exposition is growing and we have assignments each month which is presenting me with opportunites to write and also to look at each members projects.For January we all had to write up an "observation" and some of these will be posted on the Exposition blog on church website have a look and see what you think of all our projects. For February we have to take characters from two of the observations and link them together in a spin off story.I also write a completely seperate blog for a Debt Forum and this has kept me busy over the last 8months. Writing The Shadow of Victory is presenting me with fresh challenges as I seek to be as honest and open as I can. Several people have said "you are very brave" and I wonder if I can be "too brave"??..I just know that so many people are living with pain in their lives and believe they are alone and are frightened to share their doubts ,pain and heartache if my "bravery" means that one person will be able to lay aside their mask and say..."yes thats me" then I will continue to "be brave"

So...this is me..up to date with how I am doing..keep walking with me on this journey as I focus in on different aspects of the path I have walked and the path I am on at this time.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

February 7th Where am I going??

I dropped hints in my last entry about where I was hoping to get to with this blog...or this season in my life.Its quite scary to actually speak it out...
Jacqui WG who has started the Exposition writers group (Kerith Community Church) says that "spoken words are like the mist but that the written word becomes like a legacy." My own thoughts on that are that once it is committed to paper and someone else reads it then it becomes a challenge.!!Like a "put your money where your mouth is " kind of challenge.

I hesitate to write it down and let you read it as I am thinking;

What if people laugh at me..
What if people think I am stupid...
What if people think ..Get her.(!)
What if people actually tell me...nah you will never achieve it.!
What if people start to talk about me behind my back.
What if...What if ...What if.... goes... I am writing all this blog stuff with the eventual intention that I may gather it all up one day in some shape or form into a book. Note the small case letters..slipped in there in the hope your eyes may just glide over it and not really take much notice. So here it is again...A BOOK.!! Oh boy..its out there now..shall I press "save " or "delete" , shall I just avoid all conversations now...shall I not have eye contact with anyone,will it become one of those "elephants" in the room that no-one makes reference to? may ask have I ever thought I could or should write a book? This thought has been growing in my spirit for several years..Some time ago the senior pastor of my church spoke about "dreaming big dreams " and this very old dream of writing was resurrected and within six months I had actually written and published a book for children.The Sleepover is a sweet little book for children aged 3-6 yrs about a child with disability. ( At this time several friends with prophetic gifting spoke "words" over me about "writing" and "books" and "influence" and "stories to tell" One word said that "writing a book for children was only a start that there was a bigger book somewhere in the future." I know from experience that all prophecy needs to be weighed and tested and for this last couple of years I have let these "words" rest in my spirit . I also know from experience that "words" often come with no time of I am sailing forth into this dream with no idea of when or if I will ever actually have a book published. I am not actively seeking publication and I have no real idea of where this is going, I just know I have to write.

One of my previous blog entry talks about "writing being my best chance of happiness" and so I will write in the sure knowledge that it will bring me happiness and in so doing it will enrich my life and my prayer is that it will touch other peoples lives too.

So...what will this be blog title and explanation of it may give you some will be about living in "The Shadow of Victory" . I will be writing about my childhood but not so much the "what happened then" but more of the "how it has shaped me into the person I am ." I didnt have the best of experiences growing up and I have had to live with the consequences of it most of my adult life. There are scores of books out there in bookstores about horrendous childhoods..abuse...neglect...poverty..I was in WH Smiths today and there is an entire section devoted to this genre with titles like

No-One Listened.
Cry Silent Tears,
Mummy Doesnt Love You Any More,
Secret Girl,
Daddys Says Dont tell,

Reading the introductions will reduce you to tears and I wonder why people actually buy these books. I did buy one several years ago and as I read it ..detailing the most awful stories of a childs life ...I wonder now what "legacy " this book would leave in the readers soul.Certainly for me I felt seared by the descriptions of unbelievable cruelty in all its forms...physical..emotional..sexual and I have never been able to read any other of this kind of book.Please be assured I am not going to be imitating this genre in my blog,nor detailing any actual events or people. journey has a writings have a purpose..I wonder if you will continue to walk with me? Please feel free to leave comments on the blog even if only to say..."you are a total nutter girl!" but be gentle....

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

February 4th. A Single Step

My beautiful daughter gave me a small gift tile for my birthday and written on it is the phrase...."The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step." For some reason this is resonating with me as I look at it sitting on my kitchen work surface.I have realised that we are all on "a journey" and they all begin with "a single step."

I think back on the journey I have been on for the last 25 years....

Christianity for me began with a single acceptance of an invitation to a guest meeting at church.
Salvation for me began with a single awareness of what Christ had done for me on the cross.
Repentance for me began with a single acknowledgement of my sin.
Changing my character from "one degree of glory to another " began with a single step ......baptism in the spirit.
Growing in God for me began with a single step....reading the bible.
Community for me began with a single step....joining a life group..(or housegroups as they were known then ).
Healing for me began with a single step......admitting I was hurting.
Prayer for me began with a single step.....a desperate plea..."God me.!"

All of these steps are part of a journey I am still on. I have not reached my destination although there have been times I have felt as if I HAVE arrived.! (foolish me). I wonder at times if I hadnt taken so many detours and dead ends would I be slightly closer to my destination? I wonder at times if I have been on the wrong road completely and I know for sure there have been times when I have simply pulled off into a layby and waited for the AA to arrive.

BUT...I am still moving...sometimes feeling like I am on my spiritual hands and knees..sometimes feeling like I am a sprinter...sometimes feeling like I am tied to someone else being dragged along in a three legged race..sometimes I even think I am in some kind of sack race ...but HEY...get me...I am still moving!!! The journey we are all on is like that old film."Around the world in 80 days" all with the same aim but going about it in different ways.

As I have begun this year I believe I am on an exciting lap of my journey. There is a buzz in my spirit and a hope in my heart that this year I will make good mileage on my journey. I am continuing to take "single steps" but they seem much more measured as if I know where they will lead and I have a renewed energy to keep moving one foot ahead of the other. I have some insight in where I am heading ....what destination I am hoping to make....and if I am brave enough and daring enough and confident enough I will blog about it later this week.

Having a destination planned can be scary.....My middle son always had big dreams .....from a very young child...he was going to play drums in a rock band ....he was going to travel all round the world....he was going to Thailand...he was going to live in an igloo.....he was going to all the rock concerts in Britain.....he was going to travel........he was going to drive an open top car.....

He made us smile with his enthusiasm but if honest I would say that deep inside I had doubts....Now years and years later he has accomplished some of those dreams by taking a single at a time...He spoke out his "destinations" and never worried or thought about what we would think...he didnt care if we believed him or not...with a childlike faith he determined to follow his dreams.

So this year..I have a destination in my heart...I am taking single steps in the hope that each one will lead me ever closer to where I am hoping to go. It feels scary for me to share my dreams and destination as I am aware you may have doubts in the same way I had with our son. Will I achieve what I am hoping for?...will I get to where I am aiming for?...I dont know for sure ...but I do know that if I take one single step at a time I will be moving towards the destination. I am hoping and praying that you will come with me...journey alongside me...tie yourself to my leg in some jolly three legged attempt or even jump into my sack.!!! Or better still share your dreams and destinations with me and we can walk together .

Monday, 2 February 2009

February 2nd...BOUNDARIES

I have completed a 3 day fast for the first time ever and know that God has touched my life and done some work in my spirit. It helped immensely to be doing it with others in the church and to be meeting each evening for prayer. I feel refreshed...revived ready to move on. Yet alongside this I have had a tough couple of days which have caused me to realise afresh how much I need the and acceptance of family and friends.

The verses that God has brought to mind from Matthew ch. 12 v.43- 45 tells how .."once the house is swept clean and put in order then the evil spirit goes back with 7 others and the final condition is worse than before." I remember other times when I have felt renewed and cleansed but after a period of time I realise that I have slipped back into sin and at times it has been even worse than before.!!! It is of vital importance that after I have "de-cluttered " my spirit ..that I put good things in place otherwise I know from experience that rubbish will begin again to accumulate.

So....for this reason I have decided to put some boundaries in place and to tell you about them so you can hold me accountable.If you are reading and following this blog it is because you consider yourself my friend and have a relationship with me. Therefor I give you permission to gently ask me how I am doing with the following....


To continue to read through the bible in a year.
To ration my fiction reading to bed time only.
To pray FOR my husband and WITH my husband .
To pray for my children daily.
To aim for telly free chunks of time.
To walk dog daily.(altho with the snow outside today I may start this one late.!!)
to eat sensibly.
To be in bed before midnight..(aim for 11pm at latest)
To write daily...not just in blog but others projects I am involved with.

I know that I can be very lazy..both physically and spiritually and I am aiming to be more disciplined and to build good foundations once again. I feel it is a good time to be doing this as I have commited to Exposition...commited to being Mentored....commited to Life group...commited to Serving and Leading...all of these will cause me to dig deep and seek God.Writing this blog will serve to keep me honest and accountable as I am asking God to keep my writing "authentic".

As I said at the beginning of todays entry I have had a mixed couple of days after I broke my fast ...I went from a complete "high" as I celebrated my birthday with family and friends over 2 days to a complete low after I served at church on Sunday.My area of service is a source of amazing joy to me...most of my friends cant understand why I do what I do and I cant really explain it but I know I am in the centre of Gods plan for me in this season of my life.Yet...this Sunday for the first time in almost 18 months I whispered to God...I cant keep doing this..I cant keep on giving...I cant keep on forgiving....I cant keep on accepting.....I cant keep on loving...I cant keep on turning the other cheek.....I cant keep on leading...I just cant keep on....keeping on....

Perhaps it was the weariness of serving for too many weeks....perhaps it was the sub-zero temperatures...perhaps it was trying to train the teams in new ways of doing things...perhaps it was post birthday hangover...(I knew the 3rd glass of wine was a mistake ) ..there are so many "perhaps" it could have been but all I know was that during the evening meeting as I worship-ped .....I felt as though I was in
the " Shadow of Victory ".... From being on the mountaintop my feet had faltered and the shadow had come upon me .I knew that God was with me and I allowed myself to rest there awhile and God just brought release to me and the tears flowed....and I was able to let go of trying to hold myself together.This is where being in community with others becomes vital.! God never planned for us to be alone...His plan is for us to be in a loving community to share and care for one another and in this context I was both the recipient of other peoples love but also was able to give away to someone else. As I wept all over my friend another friend arrived who was also crying...together we shared and laughed and hugged and prayed with and for one another. Gods perfect plan coming together in the ladies loo.!!!

Later in the evening the senior pastor of my church came alongside me and "listened". I cant even begin to share how valuable listening is...if there was a spiritual gift of listening then my prayer would be that everyone ..everywhere would develop it to the full. Listening is without doubt the best gift anyone can give to another.I know I still have to deal with the concerns I have but I now know I am not alone...from sharing with my husband pastor and friends at the pub....and just being able to share with you in this blog automatically ensure I am not alone and for this I am grateful.

In all vulnerability I ask for your prayers in the hope you will continue to walk alongside me on this journey.