Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Looking Back

Random Item A:
Well, the big news that I have not been allowed to blog about yet (since September, folks!) is finally out. Yay! My baby sister is getting married! For the record, it has not been a real secret. We just haven't wanted to spread the news around the W.W.W. yet. Lots of people made guesses about it, but since I am the gatekeeper, I didn't publish their comments. (By the way, you might notice that I don't ever publish any comments on the other blog that mention this blog. That's only because I want to keep this one personal and separate from work.)

Random Item B:
I am feeling very nostalgic about Jackson's birth. I just look at this little man running around my house and I cannot believe how my life has changed in the last two years. I keep thinking about being in those childbirth, infant care, and breastfeeding classes with Janelle and Sunni and our hubbies. We had no idea what we were in for. And even a year ago, we couldn't have imagined how much the babies would grow and develop such distinct personalities from then until now. I feel so blessed to have an almost-two-year-old. This is my favorite stage by far. It really does keep getting better.

Random Item C:
My mom is teaching Breaking Free in Houston this semester. It got me thinking about all the things that happened in my family's life in the years that led up to that study. I generally look at the whole of my life and think of it as having been very happy. But I guess today I took a close look at everything that went on during my high school years - everything that the enemy threw our way - and those four years were unbelievable. Unbe-stinking-lievable. Not in a good way. And the things that happened in those years weren't even sin-induced crises. I think they helped lead to my own sin-induced crisis, but that's another story.

What is weird to me now is that I don't remember ever crying out for help. I don't remember talking about the pain I was in or about how stressed out my heart was. I think "stressed" is a good word for it. I know I talked to my parents, but I kept a whole lot of that away from them. I didn't confide in any youth worker and ask for prayer. There were some that reached out to me, but I refused. I felt so sad this morning when I realized that. And it wasn't for lack of friends or godly adults who would listen. I just didn't open up about the real stuff. Maybe I did those things, but I can't really remember them. In fact, I remember trying at about age 15 to train my heart not to ache. I felt pathetic for hurting. Man, that was healthy! Why on earth did I do that? I kind of want to go back and beat my teenaged head against the wall. It's funny because I would never do that now. I am all about talking it out!

Another person's head I'd like to beat against the wall? Well, he's not an actual person. I won't do him the honor of mentioning his sorry name in this blog post, but I'll be very happy for the day when I see Jesus beat his head against the wall of hell. Even though we turned out alright and we saw God's faithfulness, what he did to us stunk. That is not even close to a good enough word for it.


Kay~ said...

Amen Sister!!!!
The more I grow to love Jesus every day, the more I despise the enemy. Spiritual warfare is a real thing. I hold tight daily to THE ROCK--the cornerstone.

Holly said...

Thankful for your very honest and beautiful heart...His grace is enough. Sorry for your painful years...wish I could have taken it upon myself for you. Yet, I know that it is exactly those fires of affliction that grow us up in Him.

You are loved. You are cherished...and just plain precious!

Katie said...

Oh do I hear you on high school. Most people want to be 18 again... I am 28 and THRILLED to be 28.

I did the same thing, Amanda. Developed a wicked eating disorder as result. It's sad, but kind of in a beautiful way, you know? Thanks or sharing... would love to hear more on that. I have such a heart for that age in our church... not still kids but not quite adult. Stinks.

LauraG said...

Praise God for bringing you and your family through those times, and for using the resulting growth to minister to others. You are a blessing! And you're definitely not alone in the "what was I thinking?" department.

Susanne said...

I know this is going to sound so cliche' but, I really do understand what you mean. I think back to a point in my life, when I was virtually destroyed, partially by my own sin, partially by sheer circumstance, and it can still...even to this day...break my heart. But I that God that HE IS FAITHFUL, and that even though "that 'person' who is not worth mentioning" had other plans for my life, GOD'S PLAN prevailed!!!
Thanks so much for sharing this...
Breaking Free was my first study of your Mom's and it's what got me "hooked"! ;-)
Have a wonderful evening, Sweet Siesta!

ocean mommy said...

Since September!!! You ARE good. I would have had to seriously asked God to close my mouth on that one. :) BUT, I think that keeping it quiet was a very wise choice.

You know, I think when both of my girls turned 3, I got really sentimental about motherhood. As hard as those toddler years can be, I loved every stage. And as much as I miss having a new baby in the house, I LOVE the stages we are in. I love that we can sit and have deep conversations, or just be silly girls and play in the make up. It just gets better and better.

Can I just tell you that you are an awesome Mommy!

Have a blessed week!

Heather said...

I love random C. Not because of the pain you went through but because of the fact that in the end our pain is dealt with. Doesn't make going through any of the stuff any easier. Believe me, I've been through some stuff and the hope I cling to is just the picture you painted ... what a glorious day that will be. I can't wait for that monster (that's being nice) to get what's due him! I also look back at what I've been through, my family has been through, and I think about the good that has come from the bad. I look at the way I have grown from the pain and I look at how God has helped me use that to help others. That is beautiful and beautiful to see how he turns beauty from the ashes. Make it easier NO but there is something about being redeemed from the pain!

kittyhox said...

"In fact, I remember trying at about age 15 to train my heart not to ache."

I remember doing something similar when I was 17. Whenever I thought about what was bothering me, I imagined building a brick wall, brick by brick, between that thing and me. Until I started automatically thinking about it on the other side of a wall from me. I couldn't stop thinking about it altogether, but I was able to stop feeling that horrible feeling when I thought about it.

After many years I dealt with those memories/feelings in a more direct, healthy way.

Looking back, I realize I should have talked to someone or dealt with it head on, but I know I just did what made sense to me at the time, to get through it.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that I can relate and hope you won't beat yourself up for handling something painful like a teenager, when you were a teenager!

I'm sure our imperfect lives will help us to bless our children and other young people in our lives as they go through things that hurt them.

Unknown said...

Isn't it funny how our perspective changes as we get ...older? I'm sure that your hurt hasn't gone unnoticed by our Saviour and He'll take care of it all.

As for the Bible study...Breaking Free was one of my favorites and most life-impacting. Those ladies are in for a treat! We begin "Stepping Up" on Jan 21 at our church here in Paragould! I can't wait!! Looks like a fun and challenging ride ahead.

Emmy said...

I just LOVE your heart Amanda... so precious... so pure... so loving and tender... Thank you for your realness and transparency!
I now have 3 teenagers 13, 14 and 15 and one 8 year old...I was praying the other day... Gosh Lord... I am so panicked about this age... how am I going to do it? I want them to be 2 again... in their cozy foot pajamas all piled in my bed!
I love your blog! Praying for tonight! (and next 10 weeks) God Bless! Emmy : )

Anonymous said...

Many congrats on Item A! :) How fun for you & your family!

I'm glad you're enjoying Item B. Definitely a blessing. :)

In regards to Item C, I was just last week thinking back/still embarassed about some of the S T U P I D things I did in younger days...some after I was old enough to "know better"...I cannot begin to praise God enough that He can take our most un-fun and humiliating moments and teach us from them and use them to bring glory to Himself. I honestly hadn't thought of that (in regards to what had specifically been brought back to my mind) but your statement made me think of it and was an encouragement. Thank you. :)

Kasey Ewing said...

I agree. I look back and think about the high school years and why in the world didn't I say something. I too, had godly, loving parents. Plenty of youth workers who would have done anything to help. Yet, I pretended and acted like I was fine, nothing hurt. Still do sometimes. I was just listening to your mom on Life Today about how we should just start being real with each other. All stop pretending.
It is through the suffering of the cross that we are saved yet, we try our hardest to take the path of least resistance. The hurt and pains accomplish so much in us.
When we lost our son, Jake, in a car accident. I had to fight that same thing. I also tried to train myself NOT to hurt. God did get my attention. He continually told me he wanted to heal my heart not pretend the hurt wasn't there. WOW,what a lesson.
I am right there with ya sister.
Much love,

Holly said...

Hey again! I just finished my exercise time and guess what I heard on my mp3? The song from Patriarch's "For Good," sung by Mandisa. I worshipped with hands raised on my recumbant bike and thanked Him for the hard circumstances...that He brings and that He has brought--He's putting the pieces together and making something beautiful in your life, mine and others'.
Love you!

Darlene R. said...

God's greatness is so awesome! The fact that he KNEW that everything your family went through would be used for His glory in the years to come-- that is truly amazing.

He is using your family to touch so many lives.

I am just now learning, at 32, that seeking council is not something to be embarassed about. It's just part of this life-long spiritual learning process!
I am so glad that I have learned to seek out people who are much wiser than I am in so many areas. It has been such a relief for me to just be real and not to have to make people think that I have it all together, all the time.

Thank you, Amanda, for your "realness". You are a true blessing to me, and I look forward to meeting you in San Antonio!


Anonymous said...

I can't tell you what this post did for me. I have two teenagers, been a youth pastor's wife for 16 years and when I read your post about your teen years, I could see face after face of young girls I know....keeping so much to themselves and not opening up about the real stuff. I am also leading a study on "Believing God" and I see woman after woman being just like the young girls, wanting to BELIEVE what they are studying but being overwhelmed by desperate times by the _______(I also will leave his name unmentioned) I was overcome with tears, no sobs,by your last paragraph... that yes, one day, that enemy that is hurting, devasting & destroying so many lives, will one day have his head bashed against the walls of hell. That day can't some soon enough. I hold fast to the words from John 16, "I HAVE CONQUERED THE WORLD" yes, yes HE HAS!

Cinde said...

Sweet Amanda -
I am so sorry for the trauma you all had to endure in order for "Breaking Free" to come to fruition. But, if one by one, all of us whose lives have been radically changed, redeemed, repaired, and renewed by that study could line up and tell you our stories, you would know that it was worth it. You've probably heard many testimonies from many people about the effects of that study. But someday in heaven I hope there's a line up of all of us so your entire family can see the sum total of the lives that have been transformed by that study alone...not to mention the many others. Each time someones completes Breaking Free and comes away healed gives "you-know-who" a kick in the teeth.
Thank you for enduring that season so that I can say "I'm not who I was."
Love you dearly!

Little Steps Of Faith said...

I can totally relate to your teenaged years girl...I met with the Youth Pastor today, and he asked why my heart was with the youth, and I told him my story.
Basically, if it wasn't for God bringing me into the arms of love at 17yrs, I would have been in real bad places today.

but i would share those experiences off the blog.

thanks 4 the randomness

Fran said...

Oh Amanda! We are all so excited for your sister. Thats so exciting. Praying for all of you!

Praying for Bible study in Houston! That study changed my life but I need to do it again bc I just need to do it again! :)

And, looking back on my high school and early college years....oh the arrogance I had. I really thought I knew so much.
I had no Jesus then and I "knew so much!" JUST HORRIBLE! Oh, how I was a miserable child and didn't even know it.

"Thank you Jesus for the freedom and deliverance and the love and mercy and grace and love and all that other glorious stuff you do!"

Janelle and Ella said...

AMEN!!! Good word as always!

And man, I can't believe it either that we a month away from having 2 YEAR OLDS! How did it go so fast? They are so precious!

Anonymous said...

It took me about a whole minute to figure out that you were talking about the fallen angel in the last paragraph.
It's always smart to know what you are up against. Jesus is the CHAMPION!

Nancy Mon said...

We will get that ringside seat to see the enemy get his head bashed in.

I think he tries to convice us we are the only ones going through whatever we go through as teenagers and then he holds an evil thought that we will continue those ways of isolation and not talk things through as we get older.

Love this post and the transparency of it. More so I love this post because the victory that is all over it.

Kelly said...

I'm excited for your sister! She and her fiance make a beautiful couple. I hope you will get to share pictures from the big day!!!

Sunni at The Flying Mum said...

I think we'd all like to go beat our teenage head's against the wall. Actually, I could probably go back and beat my adult head against the wall a few times too.

As for that other somebody you didn't mention. Yeah, he's got it coming. He should be really nervous.

Amen & Amen!

And, I agree, this stage is the cutest, yummiest yet! I want to hold onto it forever!

Anonymous said...

can't tell you how much your comments help me understand so much..have a teen girl who is just crying out for help, but not wanting to let anyone help her. She has started cutting to deal with the pain. I don't think they (especially girls) know how to let out the pain until they are in their twenties.

Please pray for our teens. There are many of these girls out there that do not know how to find an outlet for their pain....way, way too many. (Even our Christian girls!)

Love to you and your family!

Stephanie Kay said...

I have been wondering about your sister for a few months now. = ) I think I have a 6th sense for these things. = ) = )

I had one of those mommy moments tonight at supper. I'm getting tears just thinking about it. My middle guy will be 3 next month. He pointed at something and instead of the cute toddler awkward point he used a regular pointer finger straight, 3 fingers tucked point. A little thing but one that shows he's not a toddler anymore. Sigh.. They are fun at this age. Even the Baby Girl who at 16 months has become proficient at using "no."

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I had such a weird feeling when you mentioned, in passing, that you were in a February wedding.

It's all clear now. I wasn't just sick from eating too many Christmas cookies.

Isn't it hard to believe how fast time flies with those precious babies? Even though I'll have a new one tomorrow at this time (insert a mild freak out here), I still can't accept that my older two are six and four. Each day is so precious. Each stage is such a treasure.

Anonymous said...

"I felt pathetic for hurting."

Amazing how he causes us a world of hurt over that...

Anonymous said...

I felt pathetic for hurting.

he can sure wreak havok over that one little line. {not that I would know...{{{ahem}}}

FitzandMolly said...

I remember when I was informed of some pretty devastating things regarding my family at the age of 13 - I felt as though I could not cry. I honestly did not know what to do with the information, so I never cried about it. I finally cried about everything at the age of 31. That was a few months ago... Sometimes teen girls simply need someone to tell them that it's okay to feel or okay to cry.

On a completely different subject, I just looked at the pictures of your Pappaw, and realized that I'm pretty sure he was at Bible study tonight, and that I had a conversation with him! If it wasn't him, I'll just tell you that I met the nicest man tonight who said the nicest things about us girls on the praise team!

Anonymous said...

i am new to the blogging but have fallen in love with your's and lpm.i am actually your mom's age so of course her ministry has been invaluable to me since her very first study. your's has been a tremendous joy because it helps bring back those precious memories of a first child and babyhood. those are some of the most blessed years to reflect on. i can just remember singing "to hold a new born baby" and then right into "yes Jesus loves me." thank you for being the tool to keep me in touch with those special memories.
i still have my third baby (she is 17) at home and wow this part of parenting is the tough. your blog entry today has reminded me of how difficult this age is for her also not just me. what a great resource you can be to the teens. you are of course a very Godly woman and example to them yet not as old and square as their own mothers. Keep up the great faith for raising your little Jackson and savior every minute. i will continue to enjoy being energized by your youth and glean any wisdom i can about teenage girls.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing your sweet heart with us! And AMEN to that head that has a head beating coming from Jesus!

I love reading all the stories about you, Janelle, and Sunni and your precious babies! I keep praying that God places Godly mommies in my life like that for me to share in the joys of motherhood come this May!

Susan said...

Amanda, my husband and I have come to realize that we went through things in our lives...high school...college...early marriage...so that our children wouldn't have to. Or if they did, so that we would know how to help them. A whole lot of little things and some HUGE ones. Some of the things our amazing teenage daughter has gone thru...I went through and struggled with. I, like you, didn't call out for help. Didn't ask for prayer. I thought I was a freak for not being able to deal with it. Not so our daughter. She didn't HAVE to ask for help because we knew what was happening and stepped in and gave her the help. What a difference.
You'll do that with Jackson. You'll be more in tune (not to say your parents and family weren't) with what he is going thru. More sensitive to his NOT asking for help and reaching out to him.
Hugs, girl.
Oh and P.S...enjoy these time when they are little...they grow up REALLY fast!

Unknown said...


Last night at the grocery store, there was a man and his little boy walking to the car. The little boy was holding Daddy's hand. Daddy was pushing the "truck" buggy (that's a shopping cart for the non-Southern folks). It was such a precious site and it reminded me so much of the men in your life! I could just see Jackson and Curt in those two...

I wonder how difficult it is for children to grow up when they have parents involved in ministry: if it's easier or harder for them when they know folks will be there. From your post, I can guess it's about the same as those of us who didn't have ministry parents. (I bet God will use the pain you are remembering to minister to someone else in that same boat!!)

connorcolesmom said...

A) CONGRATS to you sweet sister - I too had already guessed that she was the big wedding you are trying to get ready for :) That is so exciting!!
b) I constantly look at my 2 boys and feel as if it were yesterday they were babies. They do grow up so fast and each age has it's own difficult stage but it does get better and better. So far my favorite age is 8yr. My oldest is 8 and he is truly so much fun (although I do like the baby stage - oh the cuddles).
c) I loved the Breaking Free study and I can not imagine what your family went through during your HS years. I also was like you in HS I wanted to be so independent and take care of myself and my emotions. I know now that seeking godly counsel is so important. God uses so many avenues to teach us and mold us into the people He wants us to be.
Oh and the day when God takes care of the enemy will be well, too good for words!!
Much love,

Misslisslee said...

I don't think you will find a woman who wouldn't like to go back and bang some sense into her idiotic teenaged self. I missed so many opportunities to grow out of being a milk-fed, fair-weather Christian, I became so entangled in sin, and I believed so many lies. All of which are things I cannot change now. So I've decided to pray thanksgiving over all the permanent consequences of my sin I've been spared from and praise God for being delivered from that time and that place. I hope that makes sense. Praying that your sister's wedding will be a beautiful, restful time for your whole family and that the study will be a balm to so many hurting souls!

Cindy-Still His Girl said...

"...beat his head againt the wall of hell..." My favorite thing I've read all morning! :) Love it.

Fonda said...

Thanks for sharing your heart. Sometimes it is easy to begin to imagine ministry families lives as being without the pain of 'real life'. I appreiciate your willingness to be open with us.

As to the joys of the handsome two year old in your life...enjoy each and every stage. My oldest is 24 and the youngest turns 13 this week. I have learned to treasure each of my five children's individual personalities. It is a blast!

Kelly said...

I am amazed at God's faithfulness to me and others when we fail Him so much! Thanks for sharing personally His faithfulness in your life.

Shelley said...

Wouldn't it be nice if every adult was granted an hour with their teenage selves? So much pain and heartache might be averted. But perhaps we would not be as wise if we didn't suffer through the teenage years and learn things the hard way?

Anyway, thanks for sharing your heart. I love to read your blog. There is much beauty in your words. Beauty that comes from the Truth.

God Bless!

MamaCass said...

I had my really rough years in college part sin-induced and part tragedy. As always your words spoke to my heart. Love you!

Shelly said...

I'll join you in the boxing match against the unmentioned name :)

I too taught my heart not to ache (STUUUUPID me - I mean that in the most gracious way. But what was I thinking...really?)

I've missed blog-land over these busy weeks of ending school in finals and the holidays, but I hope to be back around now. Bless you sister - and your new lovely hair do :)

Amy T said...

Great post. If we only knew then what we knew then. But even the parts we hate about how we acted helped us grow into what we are today and help us to continue growing. To look back and think how far God has brought me (even though sometimes He had to drag me). It makes me feel better about how far I still have to go. (And I know you are so excited about the upcoming wedding!)

Anonymous said...

Awesome news about your sis. That is an especially joyous time to savor.

I think I called my mom a million times after I had my first baby to apologize for all that she endured while I was a teenager. I think that's one of the hardest (of the many) responsibilities of being a parent. Wanting to teach your child life without them having to endure major amounts of emotional pain figuring it out. You said you tried to train your heart not to ache and I think that I had my heart out there for anyone's taking. I just wanted someone to love me the way that no one could. Only God could and can and will forever continue to. It's difficult as an adult looking back and realizing the emotional damage that we were doing to ourselves. Training ourselves in a way that was distorted and confused. So thankful that He is able and willing to heal our pain and hurts and restore our hearts to Him. I love this song by Mercy Me:

"Bring The Rain"

"I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that
I've gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You

Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings
You glory. And I know there'll
be days When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to
praise You, Jesus, bring the rain

I am yours regardless of the clouds that may
loom above because you are much greater than
my pain. You who made a way for me suffering
your destiny so tell me what's a little rain?

Holy, holy, holy
Holy, holy, holy
is the lord God almighty
is the lord God almighty
I'm forever singing

everybody singing
Holy holy holy
you are holy
you are holy"

Yes, because He has carried us through the past we can see Him in our present, planning for our future.
Amy in OK

debra parker said...

Is it not amazing that you held these feeling as a teenager...and now you work with those very girls...


He is good. He will always use the hard parts of life for His glory.

Serah said...

I never would have been able to keep such a secret so long! Congrats to your little sis!

And I had those painful years, too. Thank God He always kept His hand on me through that time, even though I didn't know it!

I have to tell you that my ladies Bible study started the updated version of "A Woman's Heart" last night. It was just the introduction, but we're all so excited about it.

Rose said...

Well said beloved Amanda, well said!!! I attended 1st night last night, it was extremely emotional, to know that I will be set free but you live so long like this, you don't know how to behave as a set free person. . . make sense??

Bev Brandon @ The Fray said...

I talked with my four kids at Christmas about what happened in their teen years as they tried so hard to make life work by doing right things. They see it different right now that it was all good. Your post means a lot to me today. To see you push through what you thought was "life" but wasn't really and now you are fighting the good fight of faith. Thanks Amanda for being willing to share from your heart. Very encouraging.

BethAnne said...

This is exactly why we need more people with stories like yours to work with our young people in the church. As we get older, I think that many of us forget (or try to)the 'junk' we dealt with as teenagers. You remember the pain you went through and will be able to help so many young women because of what you went through.
Even though hard times stink when we are in them, it's funny how God uses our trials to make us stronger so we can encourage others.

Dionna said...

Amanda - I think it's great that you kept Melissa's engagement a secret from us on the WWW. Some things need to just be "private" for awhile and not shared until you're ready for them to be public. And that's a-okay. :)
I also totally understand and can relate to you about your personal and public blog. I have two as well. No one really knows about my private one except some friends and I don't list it under my blogger profile. I have two "tones" on my blogs just as you do. My public blog (that you have probably visited) is much more about reaching women and sharing my faith, journey, and walk as a woman. My private one is much more personal. It's much more about my life. So if you ever want to read about my boring, day to day life as a mom and wife - let me know and I'll give you the secret address! HA :) (Yes, I trust you. )

Sharon Brumfield said...

I agree he stinks.
My parents were in the ministry when I was growing up and I have scars to prove it.
It does bring me great satisfaction to know that for eternity he will PAY! Pay while I am walking on gold streets-whole, healthy without a care in the world.
That is a thought that brings great joy.

Rachel said...

A very touching post--thank you for sharing and being so honest. It definitely took me back to my own teenage years. The part about adults reaching out to you and you not receiving them sounds familiar. Now God has you married to a minister and working with college students; wow, He really knows how to use us, doesn't He?

On a separate note...good job on keeping such a HUGE secret. And since September? You're my secret-keeping hero :)

Allison said...

Congratulations Melissa! You are amazing Amanda....even as a 15 year old....

Faith said...

I loved this post (in all its randomness :)) and seeing how God has worked.
And yep, I have two separate blogs as well--I can definitely understand the desire/need for that! :)

Bethany said...

You don't have to post this, especially since I'm responding nearly a month late. I stumbled on this blog quite by accident and I just felt led to add a few cents.

First, I understand the baby nostalgia all too well. =) I had four children in 4 1/2 years (they're 9,8,6&5) and each and every time the two-year mark was especially poignant... it is right on the edge between baby and little boy/girl. It's precious but bittersweet.

Second, I've spent the last few months(well, two years really) looking back at all the hard things that have been thrown my way. My heart aches over so many of them - the pain, the grief, the betrayal, the losses... it overwhelms me sometimes to think of it. And yet... and yet, joy comes in the morning.

I weep over what my life was, over the mistakes I made, over what might have been if I'd only reached out to someone... and I cry some more because God took all of that and He's refining me into someone who will bring Him glory. God has refined you in many ways and knowing your past struggles only proves how amazing He is.

I also look forward to the day when Jesus exacts justice from the enemy for all of us who have suffered under his attempts to break us. Praise Him that justice has been in the plan from the moment the serpent wound himself around the tree in the Garden!

May the peace of Christ be with you,