Abuse survivors, Exodus 5-6-14, God's word, healing, healing after abuse, Hearing God's voice, hearing the Lord, journey, knowing when God speaks, listening to God, overcoming tragedy, Steubenville Northwest, Word of God
**Flashback Goodie – I pray you have enjoyed this little jaunt down memory lane… five years. I can’t believe it. I suffered a new onset of PTSD from this particular experience. In so many ways I was ready to go. And then I had to stay in a world that didn’t make sense to me. I had no idea where God wanted me to be. I could tell He was calling me into a new path but I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t understand if He was going to let me live then why not push me more into touring and speaking? …. Who knew that only two years later Hopeful Hearts Ministry would be established. Who knew? Take comfort in knowing that even though you want one thing and God seems to be pulling you in another direction try not to waste time struggling against Him…what He has in store for you will bring peace and blessings you never knew could bring so much hope.**
Often I get the question “How do you know when God is speaking to you?” and honestly it is a matter of listening with the heart. What this means to me is being aware of not only my gut reaction but to override that with the thought ‘what is it you want of me God?’ and then go with what your ‘gut’ says. When you choose to follow in His will and make a conscience effort to keep Him in mind in all things throughout your day this ‘discernment’ process can become almost as simultaneous as breathing air. But the key to this is, when your ‘gut’ tells you not to do something, even though your mind wants to, then it’s time to take it to deeper prayer and follow what your gut is saying. In my experience, that is listening to the heart (the Holy Spirit).
When God gave me the peace I needed to come to terms with whatever His will would be for my life that day I remained in that peace (and shock) until I made it to the Spokane Convention Center. When Ryan came to me, stricken because he just wanted to get home, my gut told me right away that this would be a new journey for the both of us.
In line at the rental counter Ryan and I joked about the absurdity of us traveling as strangers. “You’re not going to hurt me, right?” I asked (now, please keep in mind if I had ANY ‘gut’ feeling, just that knowing feeling that something is not right, I would NOT have gone with this young man, let alone ask him if he would hurt me or not!) Neal had instructed me to give him all of Ryan’s information as well so when Ryan was giving me this he smiled and said, “How do I know YOU aren’t going to hurt me?” Ah, yes, I am nearly 17 years older than him (*gasp…old enough I could have given birth to him technically…geeze) he should be worried! So I dug out a business card and handed it to him. “Keep this in your pocket that way when they find you they’ll know who did it.”
I know, morbid right? We were hyped on adrenaline, anxious to get going, we just wanted to get out of that airport! Joking about these things put us at ease and began the strange bond that God was creating. While we were waiting Ryan was trying to talk to his parents who were at the Spokane airport waiting to offer him a grand Welcome Home and they were confused as to why he wasn’t there. He kept explaining what happened and his Dad just couldn’t believe him! I heard him explaining over and over again what had happened and what we were about to do. Someone standing next to his dad heard we were getting a car and called their husband who had been on the flight with us to see if he could ride along. We waited for him up to the point of when we were ready to get the car but he never showed, so I’m assuming he opted to do the morning flight.
That little bit is important to me but it shows me how important it was to God that Ryan and I have that four hour drive to Spokane alone. We hopped in the car, punched in Spokane in the GPS that I rented (mainly to help us get out of Seattle) and then we were on our way.
The poor guy…he really didn’t know what he had gotten himself in to. He asked me what I was doing in Spokane so I told him about the youth conference. Then he asked what it was I spoke about…well we had 4 hours and I began with the very abbreviate version so that he wouldn’t be too uncomfortable. But ten minutes into the drive we stopped for a ‘bathroom and snack break’ and when we were headed on the long stretch of Hwy 5 he said, “I want to hear your story.” So I told it to him, all of it, and when I was done he gave me this odd look and said, “Wow, well I know you aren’t lying because how can you make something like that up?”
So then he began to tell me about what he related to within my story, which led to us going deeper into his childhood, his family dynamic, and ultimately what led him to join the military in order to ‘get right’ in his life. As I mention often in my talks, we all have a story. And his was filled with just as much hurt and pain as mine just different situations and different trials. Plus, he is on the beginning of this journey to fight the good fight and become the man that God has created him to be. He has dreams and a vision and I’m certain once he can fight the demons that continuously jump on his back he will conquer through and achieve every goal and more.
At one point in our journey he turned to me and said, “I’ve never told anyone these things. It’s crazy that I can talk to you like this.” I couldn’t help but smile because it affirmed my ‘gut’ feeling of realizing that possibly the biggest way God was ‘showing up’ in my day that fateful Friday was by orchestrating a way to get this young man and I in a car alone for four hours. That to God a 20 minute conversation that we could have had on the plane would not have been enough time. God loves this young man that much that he wanted him to be heard.
Not once was the radio played, except for the beginning when we were first starting out until he asked me about my ‘story’. For four hours we talked and shared and bonded. He told me about his friends and why he cared for them so much and then by the time we were getting closer to Spokane he wanted me to meet his buddies so we took a detour and I got to grab a quick bite with all of his friends and meet his dad. I was honored that he included me in this homecoming.
When he dropped me off at the convention we took a picture (it would have been better had he not had the dip in his mouth ) and said our goodbyes. But I don’t believe that is the end of our acquaintance. I’ll keep up with him and surely I’ll pray for him daily.
Inside the convention center I was greeted with love and concern and then I saw Fr. John Amsberry and suddenly my resolve broke. He had hugged me and asked if was alright and I spat out, “I just need to go to confession! I had planned all along to come to you today to go to confession and on the plane when it was happening I kept thinking, NO! I need to go to confession!” So he took me outside and on the streets of downtown Spokane he heard my confession (don’t get your minds going, I didn’t do anything that bad!). And that is when I finally broke down and cried.
The rest of the night was a fog because the adrenaline rush had warn off and I was exhausted. But I made it there just in time for adoration and oh how I adored him and gave praise and thanksgiving for all the ways in which He showed up for me that day.
The rest of the weekend was amazing as all of the Steubenville conferences are amazing. You can’t beat watching hundreds and thousands of teens become vulnerable to God who longs for their hearts and to watch as they get to a place where they are handing Him their hearts with utter abandon. And to hear the stories of some of these men and women who came up to me and poured out their hearts. One precious young lady had gone through so much, truly more than I could fathom (so you can only imagine ALL that she’d been through!!!) and yet she was AGLOW with His love. Her journey to healing will be long but she is equipped with the greatest healer.
Sunday morning during the empowerment part of my talk (empowerment is when we pray over the ladies, calling upon the Holy Spirit to give them the power and strength to overcome any issues that they are facing when they get home…we call out specific sins and allow them to speak them in their hearts to God (not out loud) and offer it up to His control) at this point I felt the call to read them Ephesians 5:6-14, the verse that inspired the title to EXPOSED. I explained how God called out to me one night and gave the verse to me as I heard ‘Awake o sleeper arise from the dead and Christ will give you light’. I went on to encourage them to voice these issues in their hearts as we prayed over them so as to ‘get them out of the dark’ and into the light.
That morning at Mass I had just received Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist and as I went to kneel in prayer the band began to play “Awake O Sleeper”. Instantly I was engulfed in God’s love. It was like He was saying, “I am pleased with you.” It cradled my head in my hands and cried tears of thanksgiving and joy.
He is faithful, true and constant.
Read more of how God can speak to each one of us in my memoir – EXPOSED: Inexcusable Me…Irreplaceable Him for only $1.99 on Kindle and in paperpack on Amazon.