Sunday, July 8, 2012

More Reasons to Bless the Lord

10,000 Reasons

I'd like to use this post to express what we are thankful for as we did a while back.  There are a lot of reasons we have to be thankful.  What is God doing in your life?  What has He taught you recently?    What has brought you encouragement?

I'll start.  I want to share what's been going on with me personally.
I'm feeling a little verbose and I apologize in advance.  

I guess I'm feeling a bit emotional thinking we're getting down to the wire with the court case.  My spiritual journey has been a roller coaster.  The bad church experience left me confused spiritually.  Music and the beautiful lyrics from classic hymns were my anchor amidst the storm.  There were times it was hard to read the music because my eyes were all teary - those words - from scripture  - spoke life to me.   Music was a gift from God to me.  

The next church we attended for two years was my "haven of rest".  I soaked up love and grace from this incredible Body of Believers.  Some knew my story, some didn't, but the love of Christ was evident in them.  This church is led by elders, not one pastor, and I saw Christ in those elders.  They were humble and true shepherds.  When we first went there, we met them, but they never even introduced themselves as "one of the elders".  We had to find out through other people.  That showed great humility and spoke loudly to me that these men were not there in a position to lord over the flock, but were among the flock caring for them.  

When the KGW news reporter interviewed me nearly a couple months ago, he asked if the lawsuit had affected my faith.  The bad church experience definitely challenged my faith.  The lawsuit and all that has transpired because of the lawsuit has strengthened my faith and I'll share some of the ways below.

God knows me.  He knows I have difficulty finding Him in normal avenues.  He knows how to reach me and I can say without a shadow of a doubt He has done that.  I've shared with some people about timing.  I'm a musician when I am playing the piano at church or at the local high school, timing is so important.  Because of the distance between my present home and Portland, it's been a bit of a challenge to figure out how to squeeze things in on our trips.  I will never forget the day that I met our attorney and how all of the events seemed to fit together perfectly - with no minutes to spare.  Hannah and I needed to meet several groups of people that day in addition to other errands/lunch, etc, and that day went together like clockwork.  I couldn't have planned it so beautifully.  His timing is perfect.  There are so many stories like this.  

I'm so grateful for the amazing support network behind the scenes from spiritual abuse experts, authors, website owners, bloggers, counselors, attorneys, and others who have been through difficult experiences and who rallied behind me.  The support in the early weeks was amazing and some of those original people have continued to provide encouragement.   Some have been my sounding board and heard my personal struggles and never once was I judged.  

Some of you, my readers,  have reached out to me privately - sometimes multiple times - maybe even regularly.  You are precious to me and your support has been a blessing.

One of the amazing things about this experience is reading personal stories.  Some of you have not told your story to anyone, yet you risked and shared your story with me - sometimes sharing things that happened decades ago.  I have cried many tears reading those e-mails.  I feel honored that you chose me to read your deeply personal story and hope that sharing it was the beginning of moving things along in a positive direction for you.  Sharing your story is such an important first step because most of us were told to not talk.  When you shared your story, you acknowledged the truth of what happened with someone else, breaking that code of silence.  That is one of the first steps of emotionally breaking free and thank you for letting me be a part of that process.  Wow.  So powerful.  That has blessed me and has shown me that God is here at work.  

I am okay with where I am spiritually.  Some of you may be way beyond me.  That's okay.  I think God is using this time with me to develop and deepen our  relationship.  In the spiritually abusive environment, this part of my relationship with God was not nurtured, in fact, it was squelched because it was so confusing.   

As I said earlier, God has met me in personal ways.  One was through timing, another is through people.  He brought two pastors who became interested in the story because of the media (one in a not-so-nice-way as his church was mistaken for my former church because of name similarity).    These two pastors have been brave enough to participate which is surprising considering some of us are a bit leery of pastors and sometimes pastors are discussed in unfriendly ways here.   One came to offer support out of his difficult church  experience, the other out of a sense of compassion and wanting to learn and understand.  What a beautiful gift.  I've seen God through these men in their responses with readers and through their correspondence with me privately.  Thank you Ken and Craig.  You have shown me Christ.  

And then there are the former church members who for the most part have remained quiet here, but I know they support me.  A few have taken pseudonyms, but most remain quiet (understandably) behind the scenes.  Meaghan and Justice (and family) have provided regular support to me.  Michelle and Don have been wonderful.  Michelle would be rich if she charged by the hour because we have spent so many hours talking.  She has been my sounding board many times and has always made herself available to me - even several times a day - when I have been so emotionally distraught.  I love you, Michelle!

Bless the Lord, O my soul!  Thank you, God.  


  1. Julie Anne - - what a great and gracious tribute to how God has provided to bring you and your family support, healing, and a redemptive role in shaping a more hope-filled future for others of us who have survived difficult and destructive experiences in ministries.

    It seems to be part of the paradox of God's providence that you would be catapulted from obscurity into a situation where you've been able to demonstrate publicly what grace, humility, wisdom, and transformation looks like. It's encouraging to see that everyday disciples can end up in extraordinary roles and that, really, there is no such thing as "ordinary" when following Jesus Christ and seeking to become more like Him. You've borne all this well, Julie Anne. I appreciate the kindness and courtesy you show to us as guests on your blog. Thank you again for sharing your story with us ...

    1. I agree! Praying for you, Julie Anne, to wait upon the Lord, for Him to renew your strength, for you to run and not grow weary...

      Cyber-hugs from far away. You do not stand alone.

    2. Brad - You were one of the first to reach out and help. You were a stranger around 4 months ago and today I call you friend! :) Thank you!

      Thanks for the hugs, Holly!

    3. This is what I'm learning

      Listen to the words in this You Tube video link to find out:

      Surrender All

    4. Thanks Julie Anne ... glad to be of some support along the way. I remember what it was like -- the confusion, the angst -- trying to figure things out when I experienced a horrific church split in the late 1970s. Back then, there were NO books yet on recovery from spiritual abuse and authoritarian leaders. All I had to survive with were a very small number of people to talk with about it, and Scripture. Thankfully, there are far more print and digital resources available, but they can never replace the providence of the personal in helping victims become survivors, and helping survivors become overcomers.

    5. I completely agree, Brad. Being "alone" in this process is very scary. I'm so glad you had people in your life during your difficult church ordeal. It's obvious that you are using the experience you faced in your life to help me and others. That is the beauty that comes out of these trials.

  2. Julie Anne -

    You show great grace under pressure. I know this is hard and has taken its toll in ways no one can imagine. You will be in my thoughts all week.

  3. Julie Anne,

    I totally agree with Jeannette. From 2200 miles away, you will be in my thoughts and prayers this week.

    I thought the song that Anonymous 8:18PM would be the old hymn of he church: Here:

    Surrender only to Jesus, not to the Pharisees.

    This is one that we sang when I was living on the farm and going to a healthy little country church. It still blesses me.

    1. Thank you, Churchian_Not.

      I checked out that song and although I'm not a big fan of country, this was beautiful. Of course the lyrics are so wonderful, but the musician side of me sure appreciated the good fiddle, gorgeous stand-up bass and incredible vocal harmonies. Beautiful! I'm going to listen to it again.

      The message of surrendering to me means that you are at a point that you cannot rely on your own strength anymore and are giving it over to someone else, in this case, God. This is where the rubber meets the road.

    2. Churchian_Not: Perhaps you’re in a situation where there is no healthy church like the one you went to when you were living on the farm. I'm not asking about that - I understand. (We’ve been there too.)

      What I don't understand is your comment about the song posted by Anonymous. Are there differences in the lyrics or music that make the version you posted your preference? Or is it just that this hymn brings back memories of your healthy little country church? (My gramma showed us the little Rock Creek Church where she was baptized - it wasn't being used and the building was in disrepair, but I know her favorite hymn was "Rock of Ages". I think of that little country church and that creek every time I sing it! Grandpa joked and called her "a hillbilly" because she was born in the KY hills and she would laugh and say, "You sure like your Mt. Dew!" :)

      Our new church sings both versions of the song - the one you linked to and the one Anonymous linked to. I like the first one because it says "I want so much Lord, to make you my focus, To serve You in secret, and never be noticed" and I like the soothing string accompaniment. It calms my spirit.

      I really like the version you posted by the Isaacs too - the violin solos and special stringed instruments and also the guitar effects, and they have way over 200,000 more You Tube view counts. (One of the Isaac’s songs was sung at a friend's funeral and it was so beautiful! Thanks so much for linking to the Isaacs, now maybe I’ll be able to find that song on You Tube! :)

      A few weeks ago we brought an older friend along to our new church because she wanted to hear a specific missionary. Later she called me and complained about the music at our new church. Ouch! (Her church has more professional instruments, an orchestra, choir, and many special musical presentations. Our new church is small, but we sing many old hymns of the church and the man leading worship does his best to honor the Lord.)

      This lovely Christian lady and I like different styles of furniture, different flowers, and different patterns of dinner ware. I told her, "You know we like different things" - we've had this little talk before re furniture and china :)

      I tried to find a link to the "old hymn of the church" as we sing it at our new church. Hard to find one with the right "tempo" but this is the closest to our new church singing it:
      I Surrender All (with lyrics)
      I like this one too. I just thought of something - women have a hard time making up their mind! LOL!

  4. The LORD is my shepherd;
    I shall not want.
    He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
    He leads me beside the still waters.
    He restores my soul;
    He leads me in the paths of righteousness
    For His name’s sake.

    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil;
    For You are with me;
    Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

    You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
    You anoint my head with oil;
    My cup runs over,
    Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    All the days of my life;
    And I will dwell in the house of the LORD

    Psalm 23

  5. Amen! Beautiful post. Thank you for it! Praying...

  6. Thank the Lord for His Word that never returns void!

    Thank you Monax, for highlighting those words. I needed that encouragement. I had tears yesterday, but this familiar Psalm speaks to the pain and is so healing. Jesus is a tender Shepherd. He leads his dear children along.

    1. I agree with you, Not a Rebel. The "restores my soul" part is so comforting.

      Thank you for sharing, monax.

  7. Julie Anne- 11:59AM I thought you would like the instruments. I'm glad you liked it enough to listen twice. :)

    I've had times when I have had to rely on God too. Way more difficult than we like to admit.

    Monax - 6:32AM I can't think anything more encouraging than the 23rd Psalm. Beautiful!

    Not a Rebel - 12:44PM I just expected the old hymn and was surprised to find completely different lyrics and music, both. I'm not familiar with the first song.

    I have lost a lot of my hearing. If the voices are high pitched it is very difficult for me to 'discriminate' the words. (Means I hear words but can't make out what they are. It is hard for people with good hearing to comprehend.)

    I found your version on YouTube and I liked how they showed the words with the music. It was a hard choice between that one and the Isaacs. I chose the Isaacs for the music quality. But I don't know how to insert a hyperlink into a blog comment. --sorry--

    The hymn sounds just like I remember it being sung over 50 years ago when my parents were still living. We sang it often, with piano at that church. We didn't have a band. - grin-

    It brings back fond memories of a time in my younger life.

    Thank you, NaR, for asking.

    1. Churchian_Not - 2:31pm Thanks for your gracious reply. It's nice to have peaceful blog conversations :)

      I understand about hearing loss. My husband is losing his hearing and can't hear certain ranges. I'm glad we didn't go to rock concerts or he would be deaf by now! I have ringing in my ears that sometimes affects my hearing.

      One church we visited had a guy with a Worship Leader Master's Degree. The music was so loud with so many brass instruments in "the band" pointed out at the congregation. We sat under the balcony in the back row, and we really liked the pastor who shared about the small farm community he had grown up in and was not a "Lord it over the sheep" type (his first week there he did the funeral for my friend's father-in-law and she told me how much time he devoted to the family and what a support he was to a family he didn't even know. She noticed he had tears at the cemetery when he prayed.)
      Because the loud music hurt my husband's hearing, we couldn't go back. We listened to his sermons on-line, but it's not the same as being there in person.

      I was thinking about my Dad today when I mowed the lawn - he died at an early age. I can't remember how old I was, but I used to "help him mow" by walking behind Dad as he pushed the old reel mower, and one day he did the "pushing" and let me "think I was mowing" by letting me "push" a little bar that came across the handles at just my height. That was a memory that made me smile all these years later :) Dad loved music!

      I wondered how people got links to work in blog posts and found a weblink with an easy way to do that. I'll put the link in here so if you want to learn you can check it out. It's pretty simple. You can just "copy" the html code they have, and then "paste" it into a blog post. Then you copy the web address URL from the browser window and paste it in the code where it says URL. There is another spot that says "Title" and you just cut and paste the title in there. Erase the letters "URL" and "Title" and it works! Here is the link to the easy tutorial if you or anyone else is interested:

      Blogger University

      I can see that my husband and I have a lot in common with you. We've been through many times when only God was there to turn to. That has often reminded us of Philippians 3:20 "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;"

      Sometimes I sing this song to encourage myself in the Lord:

      This World Is Not My Home

      It lifts my spirit and lifts my eyes to heaven. There will be a grand reunion with those that have gone on before - and I look forward to meeting Jesus face-to-face and singing His praises. (Hearing won't be a problem there :)

    2. NAR: Thanks for posting the link on how to add links to blog comments. I've added the link to my right side bar under miscellaneous links. Very helpful!

  8. This is such a great post! It is so nice to hear how even through spiritual abuse, your faith has not been unshaken. God is good!


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