Tag Archive | prayer

Made to Crave: Subtle Changes ~

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18    Thought for the Day:  I can’t control my circumstances, but I can control my choices.  Setting mini goals – physically and spiritually – positions me for victory. ”  ~ From Made to Crave Devotional by Lysa TerKeurst

I really felt a need to start today’s post with a Bible verse, but couldn’t decide which one.  When I took up my Devotional and began flipping through it for some ideas, I was inundated with all the appropriate things I wanted to say.  So I had to choose.

 

 

I’ve said before that I know we’re (those of us trying to lose weight) not supposed to weigh ourselves every day because when you don’t see weight loss on the scale it’s very discouraging and can thwart your efforts to continue to your goal(s).  However, I just can’t resist hopping on my Weight Watchers digital scale about every other morning to see what, if any, progress I’ve made.  And I never really anticipate seeing anything different than what I saw the day before, but that has not been the case for me.  As of this morning, I’ve lost 9 pounds since beginning this journey on July 15th.  From 326 to 317.  That’s 9, right?  I just stopped and stared at the scale for about 10 seconds.  This done with only changing the way I eat and the content of my food, as well as prayer.  I have yet to begin to exercise.

Although it might not be noticeable yet physically to others, but I’m beginning to see some subtle changes … mostly in clothing.  Things just are fitting the way they used to just a short time ago.  I’m seeing some bagginess here and there.  Admittedly, it’s a bit unnerving.  I have been down this road before many, many times with little to only short-term success and I’ve gained back whatever I’ve lost and more.  So I guess this wardrobe of fat has been a comfort zone for me sort of, it’s all I’ve known all of my life.  Now that’s changing, and changing for real.  Can I really lose weight and get down to a size that I can buy “off the rack” rather than from the online fat stores?  Is this even possible?  Apparently it is, and with God’s help, I’m going to actually realize some goals here!  And I’m going to have to get used to a NEW comfort zone.  Wow!  this is really going to happen this time!  Watch out Macy’s, I’m coming for you!

Until next time, thanks for stopping in and checking my progress out!  TTFN ~ Tamara Eckstadt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still Forgiven & Set Free ~

 

It’s been 6 months since I “graduated” from Forgiven and Set Free last September, 9 months since I began attending one of the most important, life-changing ministries of my life.  If you haven’t read my Forgiven and Set Free  Post-Abortion Blog posts, this would be a great time to do so (there are four posts, start from the bottom).

Today, the ministry coordinator(s) organized a breakfast get-together for those of us who have completed the sessions.  Eleven of my F&SF sisters joined together at 9:00 this morning for worship, minstry, fellowship, food and fun. Some of these kindred spirits I know from church, some I met for the first time and it was like we’d known each other forever!  How can I begin to describe the warm intimacy we sisters share as we talk about our experiences and join in prayer for each other and anyone else who needs prayer? 

After two previous attempts at post-abortion counseling, both failed attempts ~ one with an educated pastor and one with a secular psychologist with a ph.d, I can be assured that Forgiven & Set Free is still “working” within me.  Still holding me close, still consoling me in the loss of my child, and still reassuring me that I will see him some day.  Indeed, I have grown in this knowledge of God’s eternal forgiveness and love.  I’m praying for a time when I can share my experience(s) and newly -found knowledge with another sister who may have gone through, or is going through what I went through.  I know He has a plan for me, and I hope it’s to help someone else.

Until He reveals His plan to me, I’m happy knowing I’ve got sisters who have been through what I have been through, understand my pain and my joy.  I can also revel in the anticipation of my little red oak tree sprouting leaves again soon with the Spring, and I’ll be able to watch it grow and think about meeting my son some day down the road when the time is right.

Until then, I’m going to “Be still…”  Psalm 46:10.Red Oak Tree planted for a child lost.

 

Until next time, TTFN ~ Tamara Eckstadt

  

Revealed Chapter 11: Take Him at His Word

“Impossible is an opinion, not a fact”

In March 2001 I was baptized at Second Baptist Church in Auburn, NY.  A full water immersion baptism.  I sent written invitations to my family and friends, asking them to come to the beginning of my journey with my new life.  I gave my testimony in front of the entire congregation.  I rehearsed and quoted my favorite verse:  2nd Corinthians 5:17:  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”   But my new life had begun long before this pivotal moment in my spiritual travels.  It began that very first night in 1997 when I was slumped on the floor of my bedroom and praying to someone/something I wasn’t even sure existed.  I just didn’t know it then, but my heart was ready.  So God sent someone to me, my husband, to help show me the way and help me understand and find my faith in a way that I could/would understand.  In the 14 years that Al and I have been married, we’ve grown together in faith, in love and in God’s love.  But especially in just this past year (2012).

2nd Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

That’s not to say it’s been an easy road.  Life, even with God’s unconditional love and guidance, is not such an easy road to travel.  There are always pitfalls, missteps, crises and challenges that you have to muddle through.  For me, it’s been that much easier knowing that God has my back at every turn.  Knowing that.  Again, not a simple or easy concept, like the “trust fall”.  And we have had our share of challenges and “trust falls” just this summer to get through.

 Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.

Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.

Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.

Painful moments, TRUST GOD.

Every moment, THANK GOD.

My children are not believers, unfortunately.  I would love for nothing more than to have them find their way as I did, so their futures will be secure in the knowledge that they will go to Heaven when their lives here are complete.  They cannot deny with honesty that I have changed, and changed much for the better since I came to God in 1997.  I wonder if they think this happened by osmosis.  And others that knew the “before” me, do you think I just woke up and decided one day that I was going to stop swearing like a redneck trucker?  Or that I was going to suddenly stop beating on my kid’s behinds with a belt, or whatever else I could get my hands on that worked as well or better?  Perhaps I just suddenly ran out of FWB’s (see “Chapter 9:  Faith”) that I would go visit at all hours, leaving my children home alone and at risk for my own selfish reasons.  And then there was that weekend trip to Florida to be with a “friend” while I left my children with people I barely knew, let alone trusted.  But they were okay, really, they were what? 11 and 13 years old?  And Karrie was 17?

I’m not saying I’m a model of a good Christian woman.  I know I am far from that, but I’m trying.  The fact that a person can come from the chaos and irresponsibility that I have come from and turn a life around and begin living the right way ~ the way God intended us to live ~ is a testament to His existence.  For whatever reason, He came into my heart for the asking, and made me new.  My debts have been paid, my sins forgiven and forgotten ~ and what do I owe?  Only faithfulness, devotion and love.  What He asks for is not that hard!  And for those of you who do not choose to believe, that is your choice.  I’d rather believe and be wrong than not believe and be wrong.  My way (which is His way) is a win/win situation, and I’m not wrong

Now?  My daughters and I have good relationships.  Don’t ask me how they found it in their hearts to forgive me, even when I could not yet forgive myself.  Blessing after blessing.  My son and I have been estranged for the most part and remain so, despite the fact that it’s very painful and I pray daily about it.  I’m sure, in His perfect time, it will be resolved.  Al and I are wonderful together.  As I’ve said, we’ve had our issues, what couples don’t?  But we’re getting through them with God’s help, and the help and guidance of many of our Christian friends.

I had a comment awhile back on one of my chapters from a man who was criticizing what I had written.  He seemed to think I was self-involved, self-pitying and that I should (basically) get over myself (not in those exact words).  I believe he used the word “whining” or “whiney” at one point.  That is the one and only negative feedback I’ve received, and I found it in my Spam box.  Go figure.  But I have not and will not dismiss the comment this person made because it’s negative, as it has value and merit as all of the positive ones I’ve received.  Although, I regret that I did hastily delete the comment before replying to this gentleman and thanking him for his opinion. 

So, why did I write all of these chapters and put myself “out there” for all to see?  Good question.  I was definitely not self-pitying, nor whining.  I guess I was trying to make a point by showing how something good can come from something so dreadful, if you just have faith.  There are so many women who have been or may still be in a situation(s) such as I have been, and I’m hoping they find their way to this blog and get something positive out of it.  If they’re led to a new life through spirituality, that would be my best blessing.  But if they simply get out of a domestically violent relationship, or stop taking their frustrations out on their children by abusing them, or just give their child an extra hug and “I love you” today, I would be deliriously happy.  It’s as simple as that.  I don’t want pity, or praise or condolences or a pat on the back.  I want my words, my experiences to find someone and give them inspiration to better their life and those around them.  I was able to achieve this through finding my faith and spirituality, and you can too.  It only takes a moment and a simple prayer, and to believe that Jesus died for you on the cross.

If you’ve had an abortion, doesn’t matter how long ago, there is help for you.  If you drink or do drugs, abuse your kids, allow yourself to be abused in any way (and there are many ways) there is help for you.  If you’ve attempted or think you might attempt to end your life (yes, I have *twice*), think again and again!  Call someone, call anyone and talk it out ~ and pray, pray very hard.  There is help for you, too!  You are never alone, even if you don’t believe, God is there with you… for you, in you.  Take Him at His Word.

** Aftermath ~ Just a quick note ~ I have found out the BH has passed away, without ever having found me on the street and having to kill me (“Chapter 6:  Trading Faces”).  As told in Revealed Chapter 10:  May You Reach and Find God Before God Reaches and Finds You, BB committed suicide in 2003.  Do the math:  that’s two out of three “ex’s” who have left this world for the next.  That leaves MS, my first husband, alive and well.  Hmmmm.  Actually, he and I have since become good friends, and I have forgiven all three of my “ex’s” (2 posthumously) for their part(s) in my journey.  I guess maybe I should’ve thanked them!

~ Coming Up:  A first-hand look inside a 72-hour stay at Hutchings Psych Center after a suicide attempt.

                        Don’t miss it!

Revealed Chapter 9: Faith ~

We’ve taken up residence, the kids and I, in two separate battered women’s shelters in Onondaga and Cayuga Counties between 1990-1998.  On more than one occasion, we had to move out of our home while BB was away (he was an over-the-road trucker this time) and enlist the help of friends, relatives and people with trucks to do it.  Our moves were always clandestine.  While we lived in Cayuga County, it was difficult for me to get any “action” from law enforcement there, because BB’s family were all “buddy-buddy” with sheriffs, judges etc. ~ it seems everyone was a farmer out there!  If I called the sheriff for domestic violence, if they did manage to come, they always poo-poo’d the circumstances, even the time BB assaulted me in public in the Sears store in Fingerlakes Mall, then went and slashed my car tires afterwards so I “couldn’t leave him”.  Law enforcement assured me things would eventually “calm down”, and that I shouldn’t do anything rash.  Feeling thwarted by those who were supposed to help protect me and my children, I always wound up going back to him and reconciling just to keep a roof over our heads and some continuity in our lifestyle.  Does that even make sense?

 The stress of living in this fashion, never knowing where you’re going to be from one day to the next, was not without it’s humorous and even memorable times.  Once, my eldest was on a class trip for the weekend, and returned home to find to her surprise that we had (yet again) moved.

 We spent an entire summer at Vera House in Onondaga County.  Kristen was on her own by then, so it was me, Karalyn, Brian and Katie staying in their suburban accommodations.  Karalyn got a job at the nearby Burger King, Brian joined a summer soccer camp and we all spent time at the nearby town pool.  Additionally, Vera House provided for miniature golf and other activities.  We took walks (it was in a nice village), and watched the fireworks on July 4th over the river.  I was able to retain my car for the time being, so we had transportation, and yes, I looked for a job.

 But, in the end, I always caved in and ended up back with BB ~ usually I would get an apartment and he would eventually moved back in with us.  I was weak… what can I say?  you don’t know it until you’ve lived it.  Yes, I would time and again put myself and my children in danger by my actions… I am absolutely guilty.  It is a domestic violence “mentality” that I can’t even begin to reason.

 I remember those last few years (before I was finally able to get up the backbone to be on our own) by incidents rather than a time frame.  Most memorable was the fight that BB and I had that turned very physical and could’ve been tragic.  I was throwing him out of our house this time, rather than me taking the kids and running.  But he wasn’t going to go without a fight, and without whatever money he could steal out of my purse before he took off.  Once I realized what he was really after ($$), I made it my business to defend what little money I had from working with which I had to support my children.  I wasn’t going to let him get it.  Somehow, we wound up in the kitchen, both of us tearing at my purse and he was about to gain control when I decided it was time to put this to an end.  I grabbed the nearest butcher knife within reach and I sliced at him with it.  I didn’t connect, but it must’ve been enough to make him realize how serious I was, as he let go and bolted out the door.

 Another “memorable” event that still makes me cringe to this day was when we were driving in rural Cayuga County on our way to “somewhere” that I just didn’t want to go, but he was making me.  We were about a mile from our current residence on Blanchard Road, and he was driving his pickup truck with me in the passenger seat.  The truck’s brakes needed considerable work, and I was afraid to ride in it, but he insisted we had to go.  As we proceeded up the road towards Montezuma, I continued to protest and complain that I didn’t want to go etc.  He finally became so furious that he suddenly slammed the transmission of the truck into reverse (without stopping!) and the truck jerked to a halt then went into reverse as BB had his size 13 boot on the accelerator all the way to the floor.  The truck bolted backwards and BB floored it until we were headed backwards at about 50-55 mph on a rural (but not untraveled) road back to our house.  It all happened so fast that I was in a panic and utterly terrified.  As we crested the hill that led DOWN to our home, still going backwards, he tried to brake to slow us down but the truck’s brakes failed miserably.  We must’ve been going around 55-60 down that hill backwards when he shifted the truck down into a lower gear and threw on the emergency brake as we approached the house.  We slowed somewhat, but he eventually decided we would have to go off the road in order to stop, so he passed our driveway and hit one of the trees in our yard at about 30 mph.  It demolished the rear of the truck, needless to day.  Too scared to be furious, and too furious to be scared, we went at it with each other with an intensity that wouldn’t be rivaled.  Finally he left, in that battered piece of crap of a truck, and left me shaking and crying and marveling at the fact that I made it out of that escapade alive.  It was one of those many, many moments that I wished he was dead.

 There were so many other “incidents” where violence played a part in the lives of my children and me.  Far too many to list here in detail.  There were many court dates, orders of protection, move here, move there.  One of my biggest humiliations, oddly enough, was having to go to work, my place of employment, with a black eye on numerous occasions.  I was always nursing bruises, cuts, abrasions.  And the non-profit that I worked for sponsored one of the domestic violence shelters that took us in!

 The start of 1997 was really the beginning of the end of this chaotic fiasco that had been a relationship with BB.  I was finally able to secure a decent apartment for me and my family, without him.  I had a decent job at a local manufacturing company in Auburn, and was determined to rid myself of the lifestyle that had kept us all hostage for 13 years.  I must admit, it was miserable trying to break free of it.  Even though we were at peace, for the most part, I was lonely and depressed.  Over the summer of ’97, BB finally found someone else to prey on.  And, although he and I were still dealing with issues like child support and visitation, at least we didn’t have the “in-house” violence and stress that we’d had for the decade prior.  It was oddly difficult for me to adjust to the independence, even though I welcomed it!  Me and three of my children were now living in an apartment “alone”, and I was solely responsible for it all… first time in my life.  What a scary prospect!  But this is what I had wanted, and now it was mine.  I did finally feel safety was at hand for me and the kids, well, as long as BB was preoccupied with the new love of his life… he wasn’t bothering us.  Brian and Katie went to visit with him on some weekends, during which time I was guarded.  But things were starting to become a new normal for us, with only my temper to have to deal with, and that was more than enough for all.

 I’m not sure what led to it, but over the months until around early August 1997 I became more and more depressed and lonely.  It’s a self esteem thing.  But I was sure that I was never again going to find happiness, and I was still wallowing in that “all about me” phase that seemed to go on for years!  I was occasionally “seeing” some of my FWB (friends w/benefits) that I’d accumulated over the past 7-8 years ~ I haven’t mentioned much about that phase, but I had a “collection” of FWB, some that I had been seeing short term and some longer term to fill the various voids in my life starting around 1990 or so.  But something was missing, something was tugging at me and I was looking for that white picket fence yet again.  I simply refused to let that dream die.  But now it seemed like an impossibility, and the thought made me despondent. 

 One night, after the kids were in bed or watching t.v. downstairs (I really didn’t keep track), I was in my room and pretty much headed for the end of my rope.  I’d never been one to be “spiritual”, and I surely didn’t believe in the Bible or God or any of that “crap”, but I was at my lowest point and decided what the heck?  It couldn’t hurt… so I got down on my hands and knees, more of a slump on the bedroom floor, and I prayed to “God”, saying “If you’re there, if you’re real, I need you right now ~ I don’t know what else to do.”  I begged Him to come into my life and take control because I couldn’t do it alone anymore, I couldn’t do it at all.  My life and my kid’s lives were in a train wreck, God, and I wanted out.  I must’ve been on that floor for about 30 minutes, in tears and in prayer, before I finished what I had to say to this imaginary God and got up and climbed back into bed.  The despondency waned and I began to feel tired and eventually fell asleep.

It must’ve been about a week later that I was perusing the Personal section of the Classified ads of the local newspaper (yes, they had those back then).  Seeing nothing promising, I decided to place and ad, myself.  Couldn’t hurt.  It was free, and I had total control of the situation, which was perfect for me.  I place an ad, and people call this 800 number and leave a message, then I check the messages 1-2 times a day and return phone calls to those of my choosing.  Fascinating concept.  I wrote up what I thought to be an interesting and intriguing advertisement (which I still have!), and I placed my ad.  Well, maybe after about 3 days of listening to “gentlemen” leave me messages of every sort, I came across a possible “date-able” person, and I returned his call.  His was the only call that I would return from around 20+ messages left.

We ended up talking on the phone to each other 2-3 times a week for a few weeks, but really didn’t meet until November (I think).  It turned out that this gentleman was a customer of the place where I worked as a receptionist!  During the course of our conversations, he said he remembered me, and sounded quite excited at the prospect ~ guess I made an impression on him.  I, however, did not remember who he was in relation to my employment… so our meeting would be a surprise for me.  He showed up at my door with a huge bouquet of flowers, in a snowstorm.  He was taking me to dinner at a nice restaurant in Weedsport, NY, and we were going there in a snowstorm.  I was game for adventure.  We chatted extensively during the dinner, and I was beginning to realize that, although he was good looking, polite and nice and everything, we just had nothing in common.  He was a “Christian”, believed in God and all that crap; he was politically conservative (are you kidding me with this?!), and it seemed a lot of our evening discussion revolved around these two areas ~ religion and politics ~ neither of which I was interested in.  When he dropped me off home later, with a kiss on the cheek, I was sure I would not be seeing him again lest I be bored to death with uninteresting conversation about subjects I didn’t care about.

 However, he did continue to call me, and I called him.  Second date, third date… things were going well.  What?  He wanted to read the Bible with me?  Seriously?!  Well, ok, I’ll give it a try, even though I thought the Bible was a book of simple “hearsay” passed down over hundreds of years by people who didn’t even know or see Jesus Christ.  How accurate could it possibly be?  I’ll humor this guy who had begun to find his way into my heart with his humor, manners and he was obviously infatuated with me ~ that was the most important part.  So we read the Bible together… or he read it to me.  I asked questions, a lot of questions.  He always had seemingly good answers.  I was beginning to understand this “faith” thing of his.  Maybe, just maybe this was something we could share.

 Well, to make a long story short, we cultivated our relationship and were married in less than a year.  Yes, the kids liked him too.  It looked like I was going to get my white picket fence after all!  Well, sort of… it would’ve cost a small fortune to install one on our new yard in Jordan, NY, so I was happy with just imagining it surrounded our property.  I had faith that it was there, even if I couldn’t see it!

The Deceived ~

I’ve had my share, as most people have, of falling in love with someone only to put your heart, your soul, your 100% into that person and expecting the same to be returned unto you.  You invest months, maybe years into the relationship, and you think this person is “the One”, and that you’ll be together forever and always and live happily ever after with that “white picket fence” I’ve always been searching for.  He tells you he’s your soul mate, that he’s always loved you and/or will always love you.  He does everything for you, the romance, the love, the trust and maybe even the faithful.  But, eventually, things fall apart between you, and you begin to find out things during and even after the break up that you never could’ve seen while you were together.  He, indeed, was unfaithful.  Or he was a liar in those things he told you to keep you complacent in his life.

 And this is not only for women, but also for men… but I’m writing from my perspective as a woman who has lived these circumstances perhaps 5 or 6 times so far in my life.

 Being happily married, as I have been for 14 years now, does not exclude you from being vulnerable.  As much as you can try to put these painful experiences away, sometimes they can seep back into your mind, unwanted and unwelcome, and they bring all those old feelings back, including those of mistrust and hurt.  Sometimes you wonder if someday you’ll be experiencing that same deception again in the future with your current love.

 Our church began a series on marriage 3 weeks ago in which our Pastor stated “to really be fulfilled in life, you have to find The One”.  How do you find “The One”?  How do you know that he is “The One”, and not just another liar, cheater and unscrupulous person in your life?  There is only one way to know for sure and you need to know where to look.  He won’t be found in the nearest nightclub, or in the gym where you work out.  He won’t be found at work (yours or his), and he certainly won’t be found in your past.  If you want to find “The One”, you need to look to the Bible because it all starts there.  You see, Jesus is “The One”, the only one that you need to get through this life and beyond.  Once you find Him, the rest falls into place, and your Number Two will too.  My husband doesn’t mind being “Number Two” because we share the same “Number One”.

 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

 Philippians 1:6

“He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it.”

 Admittedly, I still struggle… I do.  It’s pretty much a daily battle for me to rely and trust in “The One” in my life, even though I know in my heart and soul that He is there, always will be, will never let me down and loves me unconditionally.  My “Number Two” promises the same, but is human and, therefore, imperfect (as am I).  However, my husband was brought into my life by “The One”, so I know I’m in good hands here in the world.

 I guess my point is that I just want to share “The One” with you… with everyone I know.  His name is “power, breath and living water… such a marvelous mystery.”  For anyone who knew me “then” (pre-1998) and “now” that I’ve accepted Jesus as my Savior and God as my Father, you can plainly SEE THE DIFFERENCE in me since I accepted life.  And the difference is for the better.  If you want to know more about me “then”, read my ongoing Revealed blog posts, and you’ll see where I’ve come from and how I got here.  For anyone who is living a “hard” life or having seemingly insurmountable problems/issues, there is a way out of that darkness and into the light.  I am living proof.  It happened for me and it can happen for you, if you want it to.  The work starts with a small prayer, it’s that easy.  And it’s worth the hard work afterwards to have the life that God wants you to have.  It’s not all wealth and roses, but it’s good… at last it’s good.

Sunset on the water of life.