Stones of Hope… Guest Submission

Hello sweet friends,

I am so excited today to be launching the very first guest submission on Incremental Healing ~ as together we share stories of how God is redeeming our brokenness for our ultimate good, and for His glory.

I’d like to introduce you to a very dear friend of mine. She was the very first person who was sadly able to comment, “I understand better than I wish I did.” Although I am always sad to hear that another person has suffered like I have, there is something so powerful and comforting in knowing that you are not alone. A strong friendship has been forged between us, and I can always count on her love and support.

My friend blogs under the name Liz Tinnea at her site Our Unseen Hope – Surviving Abuse in the Church. She shares her story of how she sought the help of her pastor to deal with the trauma of early childhood abuse. Sadly, this person took advantage of her brokenness and vulnerability to manipulate and abuse her further. The consequences of his selfish choices have caused much heartache and pain.

Despite all she has been through, Liz has an amazing resolve to find hope and healing in the arms of her Savior and Lord. I pray you will be blessed by her story…

Text - stones - unsplash - Joeri Romer

Liz’s Story…

My husband and I were both raised in a home with alcoholic fathers.  It’s interesting to note that our fathers actually carpooled to college together. We met when I was 19 and my husband was 28.

Now here we are going on 25 years later and parents of three wonderful children.  We have stumbled through our marriage together, tripping and falling over the stumbling blocks that our parents’ addictions and abuse have caused to be put in our paths.

My husband was manipulated most of his life by his Dad. He was physically and emotionally abused. He watched his mother and brothers suffer in the same way. I was mentally and sexually abused by my father.

When we married we thought just being together we could overcome our pasts and be the parents our parents were not, but we were naïve.

But thank God He promises He is a Father to the fatherless.  As I look back on mine and my husband’s lives together, I can clearly see that God has been there fathering us even when we haven’t realized it.

I don’t have time to name all of the ways I have seen Him at work, but here are a few major stones of remembrance that sparkle like diamonds in the dust. They are stones of hope and without them we wouldn’t be where we are.

My five-year-old daughter came in from playing hide and go seek with an older cousin.  A gentle voice spoke to my heart to ask her questions about what her and her older cousin had been doing.  Thank God I was able to stay calm as my daughter began saying the words I’d feared most, that he’d sexually abused her. Had God not spoken to my heart to ask these questions she could have been abused for years. My daughter has suffered greatly from this abuse. I don’t know if she could have survived more. I’m so very thankful for my loving, heavenly Father’s guidance that day.

Another stone is the day my husband and I were driving back from counseling.  He’d been struggling mentally for months. I’d believed he was going to suffer a nervous breakdown and not be able to work again.  I knew this would kill him, because work was the only thing that kept his mind off of his pain. I’d been so afraid that things would never get better.  A few days earlier I’d slammed my fists against the wall screaming out to God to please, please deliver us. That day coming back from counseling God opened my husband’s eyes to the fact that his family’s constant interference into our lives was hurting him, our family and our marriage. That day my husband made the decision to move away from his family. It was a decision that began a process of major deliverance in our lives.

Finally, the stone I’m most thankful for is the day God spoke so clearly to my husband’s heart on the worst day of my life. God had opened my eyes to the abusive relationship I’d been involved in with my former pastor, who was still trying to control my life.  I knew it was time to come out into the light and confess to my husband. I could not carry this secret any longer. My current pastor who I had already confessed to was going to come to our home that night and be there when I told my husband the truth. I will never forget walking into my home before anyone was home that day and looking into my children’s empty rooms and wondering if I was going to lose every good thing I had in my life when I confessed this truth to my husband. I wondered if he’d ever forgive me for the almost ten-year deception I’d been involved in. Could he bear the truth that I had been unfaithful to him with his best friend and my pastor? I felt sick. I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff that was crumbling slowly away.

Later, my husband was in the shower getting ready for the visit from our pastor. He had no idea what he was coming to talk to us about. The words ‘Let He who is without sin cast the first stone’ came to his heart out of the blue. When my pastor and I told him about the deception I’d been involved in, my husband was absolutely shocked. I didn’t know if he’d break down or want to kill me. His reaction was nothing short of an absolute miracle from God. He began to cry and said, “I forgive you.” Then he told us about what God had told him in the shower. Because of those words from our faithful, Heavenly Father our family has stayed together.  I cannot express enough gratitude to Him for the mercy and grace He showed our family. This stone is forever set in my heart to never be removed.

Life is still difficult. We are in a new community. We still struggle with the past, with trust, and rebuilding our marriage in a place where we have no support other than one another. We are visiting our third church that is almost 20 miles from our home. Our daughter has had to change schools after only a few months. Our son has struggled to pass. Our older son is 5 hours away starting a life on his own after college.

So much has changed. My husband’s new job has many challenges, and I’ve had to learn to become a stay at home mother once again. The job I dearly loved, working as a church administrative assistant was snatched away when I confessed the things that I had participated in years before.

It’s easy to feel hopeless. It’s easy to get bogged down in the PTSD we suffer at church, the shame of my past mistakes, the self-destructive patterns we are working through in counseling, and the difficult changes we are trying to make in order to be healthy.

But I know when I look at the stones of hope that God has been and will continue to be faithful. I know that because He is our faithful Father, we will be more than conquerors.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31-39

~ Liz Tinnea

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30 thoughts on “Stones of Hope… Guest Submission

  1. Thank you, Liz, for sharing such a tender place. Your vulnerability will speak to so many and help promote healing. I’m sorry for all these hurtful things you describe, but grateful you are holding on to Jesus through it all. Bless you, beautiful friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My dear, sweet friend,

    Thank you so much for sharing the wonderful ways God has been faithful in your life! I can see His hand at work, protecting you and your family, and helping bring you hope in what often seems like a hopeless situation. I will continue to pray for you and your family. I know these trials have been difficult beyond words. But our God is faithful. He loves you with a perfect love, and has an amazing plan to bless you! You are so dear to me – a blessing and a treasure!

    Much love,
    Kamea

    Liked by 1 person

  3. **** ANYONE WHO IS INTERESTING IN CONTRIBUTING A GUEST POST, SHARING WAYS GOD HAS BEEN FAITHFUL IN YOUR LIFE, AND HAS BROUGHT HEALING TO YOUR BROKENNESS – PLEASE CONTACT ME. I WILL BE CREATING A NEW PAGE, WHERE I WILL SHARE MY POST ‘STONES OF REMEMBRANCE, WHERE I EXPLAINED HOW GOD HAS PROMPTED ME TO INVITE YOU TO SHARE YOUR STORY ****

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks so much, Laura for your grace and compassion. I really appreciate it. Kamea, your friendship has been another evidence of God’s faithfulness to me. Thanks so much for sharing my story on your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Our Unseen Hope and commented:
    Thanks to my friend, Kamea Hope for sharing my story on her blog. Kamea is an amazing blogger and a woman after God’s own heart. Subscribe to her blog and I can promise you’ll be encouraged.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awww, thanks sweet friend! It is my honor and pleasure to be hosting your post today. You have an amazing story and a strong faith. No, we are not perfect, and still have to struggle through, but the great Healer is with us, and He is faithful!

      Much love,
      Kamea

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “But I know when I look at the stones of hope that God has been and will continue to be faithful.” Yes, He will! When I look back…. I have such courage to move forward because He is indeed faithful! Thank you Liz for sharing your story and thank you Kamea for making space for us to share. Both of you are brave women, and I am excited to see the Lord continue to use you both in mighty ways!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story, Liz. There is nothing more beautiful than the way God works in the lives of those who invite him in to heal, change and renew. May the Holy Spirit draw close to both of you as you settle in to your new community and may he lead you to just the right church community.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. LIz, thank you for sharing this today. You’ve painted such an amazing picture of a God who redeems and restores and keeps weaving the good into new stories for you and your family… He has begun a wonderful legacy of healing for you all. That’s so inspiring! Blessings and love, both Liz, and Kamea, thankful for you both!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Christine. God is weaving something beautiful into all of our lives – even though sometimes it feels like we are pieces of tangled up yarn knotted and fraying! The most amazing thing to me about God is how things can look so bleak and then we see Him move and all of a sudden we can see His goodness and glimpses of the amazing things He is doing in our lives. He is so Good. Thanks for your encouragement. Blessings to you and yours.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I love this imagery of our lives being woven tapestries. This reminds me of a speaker I once heard (I can’t remember who), who said that our lives are like a tapestry – that while we are here on Earth we can only see the back side, with all the mess of threads and knots, but that someday we will see the masterpiece from God’s perspective, and see how each thread adds to the beauty of what He is working to create.
        So thanks for reminding me of that Christine and Liz!
        Blessings,
        Kamea

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hello sweet neighbour!
      Thank you for visiting, and for encouraging my heart. It is beautiful people like you who have filled me with a renewed energy for persevering. It means so much when others confirm seeing God’s hand at work in my life.
      May God richly bless you on this beautiful day!
      Kamea

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Liz, thank you so much for being vulnerable and sharing your story here. The way God has spoken to you and your husband is nothing short of a miracle and I know he is going to use you to encourage others. Blessed to be stopping by from #LiveFree today.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Your story is so touching, Liz! Thank you for sharing so boldly and honestly. I think those of us with the darkest pasts can shine the brightest lights on others. God will use your story to help so many. Praying for your continued adjustment to your new community.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you, Candace! I know whenever others have had the courage to share on this blog and in person their stories I have been so helped. Thank you for reading and encouraging. It means so much. God bless you and yours:)

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for sharing your heart and your story, Liz. Nothing we do can ever separate us from the love of God, which is Christ in us. I’m so grateful for that in my own life. I appreciate your willingness to post your story here. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Dear Liz,
    Reading your story makes me sad at the real things that happened to you and your family. Yet, reading the way God used those hard, hard things to turn old stones over, giving you newness in your marriage and family. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. Oh, how powerful this is! I lift you and your family in prayer.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much, Linda for your compassion and the wonderful reminder that God never leaves us… It’s a promise I regularly remind myself of. Blessings to you and yours. Liz:)

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I can’t imagine yet I care.

    Hugs from my heart to yours.

    I have learned through losing a son that when we finally lay the stones we are carrying at the foot of the Cross…& leave them there…is a magnificent day when the yoke becomes easy and the burden light. Susan (thanks for joining the dance!)

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us at Good Morning Mondays. I can’t imagine what it has been like for you but I so appreciate that by sharing you may be helping so many others. May you be blessed as you travel through this journey and I know that God has you in His hands and that He is in control. Blessings to you and your family.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much. It has been hard, and if I could change some things I definitely would! But I’ve learned so much about God’s faithfulness and love for us and I wouldn’t take anything for that knowledge. Thanks for reading and for your encouragement. God bless you and yours 🙂 Liz

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Susan, thanks so much. You are so right Christ is the only one we can give them to who can give us true relief, and learning to do that sometimes is a long process, but thank God I am learning. I’m so sorry for the loss of your son. I cannot imagine. Your kindness and care mean so much. God bless. Hugs back to you. Liz

    Liked by 1 person

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