spiritual growth

Ferocious Female Fears: Eskimo Girls and Women’s Retreats

It was January of 1979 when my family moved, and I was a new student, coming in half way through the academic year. I was an 8th grader in a Southern California High School District which had recently adopted a (short-lived) plan to eliminate all their Jr. High Schools and place the 8th graders on the High School campuses. The first week at the school is a a bit blurry, but there are some significant moments that do stand out. For example, I still remember the one time I visited my assigned locker for that year. I was greeted by two gentlemen who appeared to be middle-aged auto mechanics.  I now recognize that they were more likely a couple of 17-year-old boys who had just come from the Auto-Shop class. Both were tall, dark and badly in need of a shave. They teased me when I struggled with my locker. I looked up at the two scruffy men with their broad shoulders and made a conscious decision to carry all of my books for the rest of the year. This was the beginning of my strength-training regimen.

One other memory that stands out is the day I was assaulted by an Eskimo. Someone had been caught passing notes in Science class, and the teacher opted to have us all stay after class for 10 minutes (or maybe it was three–but the time was an eternity in my mind). This was the last class of the day, and when we were finally able to exit the classroom the halls were barren. The High School was laid out in a circle, so it was easy to get lost. I’ve heard about former classmates of my Alma Mater who still wander the blue and gold halls to this day. They are perpetually lost in the round-about.

As I tried to find my way to the place where I was to meet up with my two older brothers, I ended up going in the wrong direction completely. It was a rainy day–so of course it made my mood more intense and my memory of the event more dramatic. I noticed another student from Science class was behind me and heading in the same direction, but I didn’t give it too much thought. I turned the corner to what I thought would be the Attendance Offices, and saw the school’s gymnasium. This is when I realized I was lost.

This is when I also realized that girls could be mean for no reason what so ever. As I stood staring at the large building, the student I had noticed earlier came up behind me and slammed a fist into my back. I turned around and what stood before me was a looming female figure. She had dark brown hair and dark eyes to match. Her jawline was wide, giving her a baboon-like aggressive look. She was broader than I, and she was scowling. To this day I have no idea what she said to me. I think I was in shock.

What happened next was when I realized that girls could be kind for no reason what so ever. Suddenly, three girls seemed to step out of nowhere. Like a pack of Pink Superheroes, one of the girls reached out, grabbed my arm and pulled me in the direction they were walking. No one said anything to the wide face, dark haired girl. They just walked, and pulled me along. Finally one of the girls spoke to me saying, “She wrote a note that said she was gonna kick your ass.” I looked down and mumbled, “Why?”

The answer has stayed with me for years. “She doesn’t like how you look, she said she could tell you were stuck up.

We walked to the Attendance Offices and the Pink Superheroes went on their way. I found my brothers and we walked home in the rain. I didn’t tell my family what had happened because I was too ashamed. Somehow I felt like I had done something to cause the assault. After all, the insinuation of being “stuck up” was the worst accusation I had ever faced. With it held the unspoken belief that I saw something in myself that they lacked. It spoke volumes in areas that I didn’t even fully understand.

It would be great to say that the Pink Superheroes became my friends, but that’s not what happened. I mean, eventually it happened–over the course of years and shared experiences we did become friends (and consequently we now share our lives on Facebook.) What happened in 1979, was that I spent a period of about five months scurrying off campus and up a steep hill to my house for fear of the wide faced, dark haired girl. Then, one day, the girl seemed to vanish. Someone later told me she had moved to Alaska. I have avoided Eskimos ever since.

eskimo womanRiding on “Small World” at Disneyland is an entirely different experience for me than it is for most people.

Last week my husband interviewed for a Pastoral position at a large church in another state. (No–it’s not Alaska) We were blessed that they were even interested in talking with him. In light of my infidelity from last year, I didn’t believe the leadership of any church would want me to wear the title, “Pastor’s Wife.”

Visiting the church was one of the most stressful interviewing experiences my husband and I have ever faced. We have interviewed for several different churches over the course of our 26 years of marriage, but this was completely different. This time along with all the emotions that we brought on our road trip, I brought along guilt and shame. Because these emotions are so intense, they affected the entire week-long process.

My fears and insecurities were huge, but God was bigger.

The church did offer my husband a job. The leaders are fully aware of what I did, yet they have decided to walk through this time with us. Our hope is inspired because of their decision to embrace us both.

We already began to see the adventure unfolding when we found a home to buy. After some offers and counter-offers, our bid was accepted and we entered into escrow. It’s exciting to imagine being homeowners again. The adventure is underway.

Then the 13-year-old girl in me appeared. It happened when I went online to read about the church’s Women’s Retreat. I read the details quickly: campground, hiking, bunk beds. No Refunds on registration. The retreat will happen less than a month after escrow closes. I love camping and hiking, and the timing seemed perfect…before I clicked the mouse.

After I clicked the mouse, my heart began to pound with an unnatural rhythm, the room started spinning and my eyes welled up with tears. I looked over at my husband, and my words spilled out softly, “Oh crap…what did I just do?” He reached over and wiped away the lone tear falling down my cheek, “It’s gonna be good.

And he believes that. He believes that it’s going to be good because he has never been a 13-year-old girl in a new school with an Eskimo wanting to “kick your ass.” He believes that women will like me, and he believes that I will make friends. I love his optimistic confidence in the female species. However, my mind thinks differently about women. Girls are mean when they have no reason to be mean, and if there was ever a time in my life that girls have a reason to be mean–the time is now.

I am eager for the Lord to transform me into a woman of confidence and security–but, I’m not there yet. I am still struggling with identity and self-worth. I am anxious and insecure, and sometimes I have to recite my memory verses over and over at 4 AM until sleep finds me. Sure, in a public setting I can be as funny as any stand-up comedian after a two drink minimum. 🙂 But, my private world is still under construction.

Even though I am no longer a teenager, I am filled with the same fears of rejection. I want to have friends, and I want to connect with people in deep and meaningful ways. I want to hear the stories of others, and be encouraged by the ways God is moving in their lives. I want to go for walks and talk about television shows and failures in dieting.  I want to dine out with friends, and laugh at the stories of child-rearing gone wrong. I want to meet a friend for coffee, and share confessions of books we never finished. I want to believe that there is a place where I am wanted–a place where a woman is waiting for a friend.

My fear is that I won’t make those friends. The enemy tells me that my future will include isolation and shunning. That’s a cold way to live. It brings up images of ice storms and igloos.

My only choice is to pray for the Pink Superheroes to show up in my life. Girls of grace. My hope is strengthened and my heart calms down when I hear myself praying outloud for God to bring women into my life who are not afraid to spend time with a woman with flaws. Over the course of the last five months, I have learned so much about the nature of strong grace-filled women. These are women who love with actions and deeds, and not merely with words. They have inspired me in ways that are more meaningful than they may even realize. They have used text messaging, social media, and coffee dates as a means to show me God’s love. They have been unafraid to invite me to Bunco and Birthday Parties. They nudged me on to serve at my church. They’ve stepped in with blow dryers and prayers. I want to learn from them. I want to take what they have demonstrated and pass it along to other women. Ultimately, I have learned that I want to be someone else’s Pink Superhero.

 My fears and insecurities are huge, but God is bigger.

spiritual growth

Finding God at Pieology

“He wants us to look for Him,” he spoke gently, but with authority.

As my husband and I sat on the love seat in our therapist’s office, we listened while our marriage counselor spoke to us about finding God in the most difficult times.  I have been the one who has been having a hard time “shaking the sadness” and being purposeful and joyful, so his eyes were on me as he continued. He reassured me that God has not abandoned my husband and I in this time of transition. My nervous system feels a little out of whack right now, and because I am facing something I have never faced before it makes it more difficult for me to find God in the equation.

When we are experiencing something that is brand new it is easy to feel like we are in it alone. We are on a new road where we have never traveled, and we don’t have a familiar template to recognize God. Because we know the nature of God, we know He has not abandoned us, but it can feel like He is hiding.

While it is not certain, it is very likely that my husband and I will be leaving California and relocating. We have relocated several times in our marriage and the signs are pointing to it happening again. The difference is that this time I do not get to take my children with me. I do not get to take my family with me.

If we were relocating for any reason it would be difficult, but knowing the catalyst for this particular change is due to my selfishness makes it more painful.  To know that my husband will have to leave his granddaughter because of decisions I made makes me question my ability to bring good into his life. Friends and family argue that I am not the one who made my husband lose his job. That choice was made by others in response to how my sin made them feel. We have examined it over and over and looked at it up against scripture, and what my friends and family have told me is Biblically sound. My husband should not have lost his job for what I did.

That being said, for me the bottom line is this: within a couple of months I am most likely going to leave those I love.  The reality of what is coming knocks the breath out of me.  As I was sharing this with our therapist he asked my husband and I to think of a time when we were children and we had made a mess of something. He wanted us to think of a time when we had made choices that had caused some kind of grief for our parents.

One of the memories that came to mind for myself involved ordering a pizza. I shared a story about the first time I ever ordered pizza for the family. I was about ten years old and someone had elected me to order pizza for the family. (Seriously?) I had no idea what I was doing, and I didn’t have the forethought to ask what anyone else wanted on the pizza. I called and ordered a large pizza with one topping. What topping?

Hmmm…how about…mushrooms.

Needless to say when the pizza was delivered no one in the family was thrilled with my choice of topping. The response was unpleasant to say the least. I had failed and there was not a lot of grace from those who were hungry. It was one of the those moments that has stayed with me for years. “The Night Jackie Ruined Dinner for the Family“. Looking back on it now it holds little value–it’s a meal and meaningless in all ways except for how it shaped me. We talked through the silly timeless event and proceeded with an understanding of how these events when left unattended can do their own kind of damage to us for years. Reevaluating a small and seemingly insignificant event can be a productive step towards closing unhealthy doors and passageways in the current day.

Before we left the therapist office he had some final instructions. He urged us to seek God out in times when it may feel like He is hidden. He reminded us of scripture that spoke into the desire of God to be sought out by his beloved.

Once we were on the road my husband turned to me and said, “All that conversation about pizza made me want Pieology.”

We drove to the local trending pizza parlor for some lunch. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, my heart began to beat faster and I felt nauseous. When I relayed the uneasy feeling to my husband he immediately retracted his desire for pizza, and told me he was willing to eat at home. I could not shake the strange feeling, but I really wanted to try to enjoy the moment. We’ve had so much isolation for the last five months, and at least if we were out of the house it would feel a little more healthy.


We ordered our pizzas (and yes, along with the other toppings, my personal pie had mushrooms).  We stepped out onto a side patio to eat lunch in the sunshine. When the pizzas arrived we bowed our heads to pray. In his prayer my husband asked God to help us to see Him. He asked God to open our eyes to the places where He might be hidden. I wanted to feel what my husband was praying, but in the moment there was a part of me that was a little cynical, and while he prayed I opened my eyes and I spied a couple of jalapenos on my pizza.  Silently I wondered if I could somehow see the shape of a fish in them. Was God going to be hiding in my pizza?

I had just taken the first bite of my cheesy-deliousness when something caught my eye. Through two windows of the restaurant I noticed the silhouette of  young friend standing out on the sidewalk leading into the establishment. Because of the shadows and the distance from where we were sitting, I could barely see him, but I recognized his profile none the less. He is a pastor on staff, and I had seen a post this morning on Instagram reminding me that today was his birthday. I looked to see who he was with–it was another recognizable silhouette. And then I saw another. And another.

When we love people, we don’t have to see the whole person to feel better–even just their silhouette can bring encouragement.

I jumped up and grabbed my husband’s arm, “Come with me…I think some of our people are here!” We rushed to the front of the patio and shouted a hello to several friends who were gathering for a birthday lunch. Their sweet faces turned to us and cheered. Being greeted warmly is never so sweet as it is after humiliation and failure. Hugs and smiles hold more weight than ever, while distance and shunning are like knives to the heart. A few moments later, we found ourselves “crashing” the party of about thirty church staff people we admire.

JP's birthday lunch

It seems that today, that is where God had been hiding.

It was such a small thing. It was lunch at a pizza joint, but it reminded me of God’s compassion for us even when we are unworthy. We may be feeling cynical and doubtful, but He is not. He isn’t even tempted to behave that way towards us–for He cannot be tempted by evil. It will be easier for us to find Him if we stay away from those attributes, but He isn’t going to wait for us to “get our act together” to reveal Himself. That’s not His nature.

My world didn’t change today, and I am still most likely going to be leaving people I love. Because living so far from all of my children will be new and unfamiliar it is going to take all that is within me to seek God when I am unable to “shake the sadness.”  I will have to remind myself to remember in the midst of the worst moments, I am not alone. God will be with me, and my prayer will be that on the days I cannot see Him he will just let me glimpse His silhouette.



Post Script: If you are seeking a Christian therapist, my husband and I  highly recommend Dr. Raymond Jones–for couples and/or individual therapy. Click this link for contact information

Raymond Jones PhD, LMFT, CSAT-S – Certified Sex Addiction Therapist – See more at: http://aspencenter.org/#sthash.8aniODIa.dpuf
Raymond Jones PhD, LMFT, CSAT-S – Certified Sex Addiction Therapist – See more at: http://aspencenter.org/#sthash.8aniODIa.dpuf
Raymond Jones PhD, LMFT, CSAT-S – Certified Sex Addiction Therapist – See more at: http://aspencenter.org/#sthash.8aniODIa.dpuf


affair recovery · spiritual growth

What I’ve Learned About Lying

I have come to realize that one of the worst things about lying to someone is what it tells them about trusting the Holy Spirit in their own life.

Having heard the phrase “squelching the Spirit”, but never giving it too much thought, I didn’t realize that I might have the ability to squelch the Holy Spirit’s prompting in the life of someone else. Last year I was fearfully trying to tame the Holy Spirit’s prompts in my own life, and I never considered His presence in the life of someone else.

After everything was out in the open, the truth of how the Holy Spirit had been moving became alarmingly clear.

The Holy Spirit was speaking to several individuals. In different ways the Holy Spirit was bringing thoughts, revelations, and a sense of awareness to them. With no physical evidence, some individuals approached me and asked me very direct questions about the things they were sensing. They mustered courage and trusted the Holy Spirit’s leading, but in an attempt to shut them down and keep them from seeing that they were correct, I flat-out lied to them.

In lying I was doing more than just covering my sin. Without thinking about the long term consequences for them, by lying, I was telling them NOT to trust the prompting of the Holy Spirit in their daily lives. I was teaching them NOT to trust what God was so clearly showing them. The Holy Spirit is alive and He was allowing Himself to be revealed to them in tangible ways, but when I lied I was saying “Don’t listen to God; listen to me.”

A longing to see God.

In Exodus 33:18 Moses tells God that he wants to see His glory. It is at the end of a conversation that Moses was having with God. In their exchange Moses speaks to God about his insecurities. Moses is concerned that others may not understand God’s preference towards the Israelite nation. Led by this fear Moses asks God join them so that they will be clearly distinguished as God’s people. God assures Moses that He will indeed join them. Moses then makes the request to see God’s glory, and God complies in the way that Moses was able to handle.

“…I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But, you cannot see my face for no one may see me and live.” Exodus 33:19-20

God is powerful. He is so powerful that even the Israelite leader with whom he had actual conversations could not see His face and live. This is the same God who created plagues of frogs and locusts. This is the one who created a plague which took out all of the first born males in one night. With His power He parted the sea for His people to pass, and He sustained them for four decades in a desert wasteland. This very same God prompted His Holy Spirit to speak to believers on my behalf in an attempt to bring me to repentance. He was revealing His glory inside of them by allowing them to hear from Him in a personal way.

He was revealing Himself, and I stopped them from seeing His glory.

It’s bad enough that I was willing to let myself travel down a path of destruction and self loathing, but in lying I was also willing to have people who love me feel a lack of trust in the Holy Spirit as He was revealing Himself to them.

Sadly, I am not alone in this, for it is not only those who wear a scarlet letter who have lied.

Many people lie, including some of you who are reading this blog post written by a sinner. Granted, most of our lies don’t have the power to end a marriage, but it does not mean that God is less saddened by the lie. When we lie we are always taking a chance of squelching the Spirit in the life of another believer. When we lie we are saying to them, “Don’t listen to what you may be hearing from God. Listen to me.”

It is not only the large lies that damage another person’s ability to trust in their own intuitive nature and promptings from God. In some ways, the small lies may do more damage–simply because the lie goes undetected. There is no formal announcement to reveal the truth, and often no one is held accountable for the harmless white lie. But for the person to whom the lie was told it could be an ongoing battle for them to be able to discern and trust the Holy Spirit in themselves.

None of us can go back and make a a lie not happen, and there are many lies that will have long-lasting effects on the tellers and the receivers. The damage from a lie may be huge, and it is up to us to strive to make repairs when possible. We can return to the ones who may have courageously confronted us, to apologize and to confirm in them that they were indeed hearing the Holy Spirit. By doing this we encourage them to keep listening to those promptings and to trust those promptings even more in the future.

Through a restless night I rolled these thoughts around, and I awoke feeling awful. Owning the severity of my lies made me feel so unworthy of God’s love.

I opened my Bible and hunted to find answers for times when God’s people longed to be in the presence of the Lord and perhaps had been denied. In Exodus 33:11, I learned that when Moses and God were done speaking, after both had left the tent, Joshua (the aide to Moses) would stay in the tent alone long after. Moses would leave the tent and return to the people–who had been standing and worshiping during the exchange.  Joshua did not return to the camp with Moses. He stayed inside the tent. Perhaps he was soaking it all in. Reading this prompted me to sit in the tent with what I had read throughout the passage.  Tears came to my eyes as God used the same passage for my comfort that He had revealed in my convictions.

“I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion”

God is the one who chooses on whom He will shower His mercies and compassion. We want to beat ourselves up for the mistakes we have made, and oftentimes we can do more damage to ourselves than anyone else is capable.

Sometimes others in our lives want us to suffer more shame for our own sins. Shame is somehow supposed to insure that we will not sin again. However, shame is not powerful enough to have a lasting impact in a person’s life–shame will only bring temporary outward behavior change.

Mercy and Compassion are the tools for heart change. It was always God’s plan to show mercy and compassion to His children–that is why the words He spoke to Moses are echoed in the book of Romans. God’s plan includes mercy and compassion, and as those attributes wash over us we are drawn to His Spirit and we long for His Spirit to be drawn out and revealed in the lives of others.