iron maidens and the dragons they slay

A giant nearly ten feet tall stepped out from the Philistine line into the open,
Goliath from Gath. …”  (1 Samuel 17-4)

She cussed like a sailor.
She smoked like a freight train.

unnamed-4For awhile she drove an eighteen-wheeler from one end of the country to the other to earn her living.
She lived large, laughed loud and drank her whiskey straight.

When she set her mind to something, it was done— five minutes ago.
She tore apart several houses and put them back together the way SHE wanted them.
Sadly, sometimes it wasn’t her “house” and she left a trail of men in her wake.

She intimidated the crap out of me and yet,  I wanted to please her most of all.
I often felt like I didn’t and I’m sorry I didn’t understand her better.

She was my mother. The toughest thing going and to this day, a good bit of who she was remains a mystery to me. There are not many folks alive who can tell me much more than I know so I’ve gotten used to the fringes and shadows of what few memories I possess.

To be honest, there were many years I was flat out mad at her. Might have said I hated her. Hurt and disappointed by her choices and behaviors— and though it wasn’t her fault alone, I didn’t know how to process what I was experiencing.

In fact, for a while if you wanted to make me so mad I might punch you hard and cry harder, all you had to do was say I was a lot like her. That was enough to draw me out swinging. Not anymore.

So much more is clear to me now that I’m older with a fresh perspective on life and it’s struggles and also… now that she’s gone.  I realize now, we were both tragically misunderstood. I loved her more than I feared the pain of her rejection but somehow never found a way to break through.

I miss her. She was strong and amazing.  She was a tough cookie with a soft spot for the underdog, the downtrodden and the strays. And….in at least the best ways I can tell— I’m a lot like her.

She wasn’t a very big woman but recently I have begun to realize that the pain that once passed between us has cast a giant shadow over me for most of my adult life.     It was a giant I had to slay.      One of many actually.

“David asked …Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?(1 Samuel 17:26)

Iron Maidens

 

People…     giant slaying is some downright dirty and difficult work.

 God has wrought so much healing out of this painful place of struggle in me as I’ve done that dirty and difficult work and I willingly open myself for Him to use whatever He deems useful to heal those deep wounds in others. It’s why I’m here. In the process of it all, I find myself now surrounded by a number of other “tough cookies”…. Iron Maidens is how I like to refer to us — as in the “iron sharpening iron sort of way described in Proverbs 27:17.

None of us exactly chose to be this way. None of us asked for this responsibility or the difficulty of having to slay some pretty terrible giants from our past in order to get here.  But none of us would have it any other way if God can use us. It’s the way we are and because we are His, this is also how He’ll use us if we allow it. Imperfect yet beautifully useful… restored for a purpose. Set apart for a holy privilege. Iron Maidens are brave.

***************************************The becoming

And you know writing through my brave here may seem like I’ve gotten a bunch of stuff figured out but if there’s one thing I need you to know — I’m mostly figuring it out as I go along.     Like everyone else.

There are days I’m just aren’t feeling it. Days when all the molehills become towering mountains covered with gigantic problems that seem tainted and flavored like my past. Those are the days when I’m not sure I can— or even want to fight the battle or slay another stinkin giant ever again.

It’s hard.   Me?      On those days I want to quit.
I feel unqualified to speak on behalf of God or to anyone else.
Maybe even like it’s not worth it.
It’s so much….bigger than me.
Sometimes I feel naked… because I forget Who’s really got me covered.

“Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. “I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again.(1 Samuel 17: 38-39)

The Sure Cure of the Light

In those moments, God shows me the truth of what it truly means to surrender… ALL.  He may use another person in my life to remind me of the preciousness of this place and the call to keep slaying those giants. Or He might simply meet with me in His Word, under a tree, “face to face as a man meets with a friend.”

But He reminds me that in His hands— everything about my life and journey is useful for this Kingdom call and the tools He’s given me to fight these battles with are ones I know how to use well.      They fit.

 David quickly ran out to meet him. Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground..” (1 Samuel 17:48b-49)

***********************************

This early story of David flew home to nest in my heart this past week because this is the very same situation we must apply to any and all giants we must slay in the name of the Living God.

As I re-read the story God spoke and revealed there was more than one giant present that day. The obvious one— yelling and screaming and looking all scary, then David’s own family members who mocked and belittled him. He had to respectfully stare down the giant of a wrong authority-figure who wasn’t willing to face the giant himself…and there might have been the giant of pride in there somewhere too.   All these and more he’d face again somewhere down the line.

But the biggest thing God revealed is that in the end, it wasn’t a stone that slayed the giant that day. God could have done that Himself.     What killed the giant…… was obedience.

Faith in God and obedience to the call.   As David eventually learned,   it’s the only way to slay ANY giant.   In fact, it may be the biggest brave of all.

So…. what giants are you facing down today?  Let’s do this thing.

Your Dancing BraveGirlLorretta signature

This article originally appeared at  the Brave Girl Community…join me there?

and I’m linking with Lyli  and Holly too!

bless my adulterous heart

The seasons are changing— I’m glad. I sorta need it.  I’m hungry for a good thunderstorm and the shiver of a brisk wind pointing me in the direction of Autumn. Mostly, I long for an outward sign marking the inward and subtle changing of seasons within—and everywhere as far as I can see.   Good changes.     But slow.

With the heat of summer and a life-altering trip behind me, it’s not surprising that some things have come loose and undone in my life and there’s no putting them back where they were before. Nothing major— in fact, only those closest to me and my heart could sense my frustration as I wonder what still fits and where it all leads. Right now?    It’s here.

In this HERE place I’m sensing God’s question: “Am I your enough?”
And He wants….deserves… an answer.

Precariously straddling the chasm between the “already” and the “not yet”, I’m realizing with a sense of shame that while my heart and mouth may cry out “Yes Lord!”, my flesh and attitude may tell a different story.  Prone to wander, Lord… I feel it. 

Oh bless me and my fickle,    adulterous heart.

bless my adulterous heart

Let me tell you more…

notes from a veteran expert

I swear………… I saw a ghost the other day.

Rushing through the dining room from one task to another I caught a glimpse of someone I surely recognized and had to stop and do a double take. Mary?!?     Wow.     There in the mirror…my mother. It’s happened.

Shoot, she looks pretty good for her age!

Yes, I have reached the age where I can now clearly see traces of my departed Mother gazing back at me in the mirror and there’s more than the numbers on the clock and calendar telling how the time has passed. If I’m honest about the sum I have to admit that even the roughest of the years have been sweet and kind.

I’m in the sorting stage. Toys, books, pictures, papers and homeschool supplies…sorting what leaves, what stays and where it all belongs now.

With the wedding of my oldest on the nearing horizon, another one deciding life matters for the future and only two more years with the last at home, it’s necessary now to see my children, myself and my role through a different lens.

Though somewhat hazy and bittersweet, the memories have kept their fond flavor and can make sense while taking their proper place. Hanging up one hat, I begin to put on another knowing I must not — can not–hold on to what was never mine. This is the way it should be. It’s ok.     It’s good.

In this next season I’ve been entrusted with much to hold and to behold as well. This realization was made clear to me as I was filling out some volunteer paperwork for our local homeschool association. There was a line (how I never noticed this before is beyond me) asking “veterans” to consider mentoring new homeschool families.

Let’s see, I’ve been homeschooling fourteen years so that makes me–seriously?! A veteran? Me?

When did THAT happen?

Let me tell you more…