The Wall

I stood alone behind
My self-made wall of fear and pride.
It kep the world locked out
(Me with my fears, locked up inside).
There were no doors or windows
In this fortress I had made
(I couldn’t take a chance
Someone would see my guilt and shame).

One day, you knocked upon my wall
And old me of a light–
The light of God’s acceptance
That could put my fears to flight.
You said if I surrendered,
Laying down my will, my pride,
That He would be my fortress–
(There’d be no more need to hide).

Carefully, with trembling hands,
I lifted off one brick.
Then I removed another
(Thought I wasn’t moving quick!).
A ray of light came shining
Through the window I had made–
As time went on, I found
I was a little less afraid.

I took more bricks down one by one
Until I built a door.
Then I ventured out
(A risk I couldn’t take before!).
Not only did I tip-toe out–
I let some people in.
They weren’t a threat–
They were a joy!
I found some special friends.

I built an altar from those bricks,
Offered up my fear and pride,
Then found to my amazement–
There was more room for peace inside!
Tearing down my fortress
Was the beginning of hope for me.
Now life is becoming better
Than I ever dreamed it could be

Psalm 61 for 7-year-olds

A Morning Psalm

Last night I dreamed about Psalm 61 as I prayed for a very special little person I know who is having a struggle with school in a Zoom-filled virtual school day. 

This morning I am reading the first few verses from “the Passion Translation”:

O God, hear my prayer. Listen to my heart’s cry.
For no matter where I am, even when I’m far from home,
I will cry out to you for a father’s help.
When I’m feeble and overwhelmed by life,
guide me into your glory, where I am safe and sheltered.
Lord, you are a paradise of protection to me.
You lift me high above the fray.
None of my foes can touch me
when I’m held firmly in your wrap-around presence!
Keep me in this glory.
Let me live continually under your splendor-shadow,
hiding my life in you forever.

Psalm 61 for a seven-year-old:

God, I am overwhelmed!

I need your help!

This is hard.

Everyone else gets done quicker.

I don’t want them to laugh

I need your help.

This is hard.

I need your help.

Let me know I am loved.

I need your help.

This is hard.

Lead me to the safe place

Let me know I am OK.

Lazarus (poem)

In the Mending the Soul group I was in, the chapter we were on was on deadness – how abuse deadens your soul and how God wants to help you get out of that …. I was like – if I knew how to do this different, I would have done it by now!

Then, one night I dreamed of a coffin laying in the yard with a lid off as we tried to move on. Wondering who died. Had to make a decision what to do with this. Wanted to leave it but knew I couldn’t finish moving until I dealt with the body in the box.

3/14/2020
Lazarus, what was it like for you?
You’d been with the Master, knew what He could do….
Did you feel abandoned when He let you die
Instead of coming to save your life?
(Did you cry?)

Your sisters wept in anguish
They hated to see you go-
You were all friends with Jesus-
(Or at least you thought so….)
(Why was He so slow?

Your friends bound you with grave clothes
And wept at your tomb
Comforted your sisters
While you lay in darkness, alone

He came when you’d been dead four days-
(Martha said that you would smell)
He didn’t hold back –this was nothing new….
(He knows broken people so well).

He came and he wept
Told your friends, “Roll back the stone”
He called you out into His light.
Said, “Unbind him and let him go.”

How did you feel when you saw His face?
Did it matter how long it had been?
Or were you just grateful to out of the tomb
To be able to live again?

Reclaimed

I searched for buried treasure,
Looked for pearls far and wide
But came up empty handed
With longing deep inside

My eyes could see but not understand
My ears heard clamor and noise
My broken heart was distracted
By the world and all its toys

Until one day the Good Shepherd
Reclaimed this wandering lamb.
Now I am redeemed,
Bought back from destruction
Held safe in His loving hands.

My Cup of Sorrow

Dreamed tonight of my cup of sorrow–
Sitting in a garden on a stone table, moonlight reflecting off its surface.
Jesus said it was time to deal with the cup –
I tried to argue saying, “No, right now this cup is too full.
I can’t drink from this without it spilling all over…”
But the Man of Sorrows had seen each sorrow when it came into my life.
He walked with me into the garden as together, we approached the cup….
When I was an innocent child and the monsters came-it was not my fault
He too was hated and rejected by people (Is 53:3)
When they told me never to speak of it again-and I locked myself in silence, gave up my voice
He too was beaten down and punished but he didn’t say a word. (IS 53:7)
When I was raped at school and went home feeling violated and alone
He was wounded for this wrong (Is 53:5)
When others dumped their shame on me, saying “If something bad happened, you deserved it.”
People would not even look at him either (Is 53:3)
When they said I was worthless and everyone I loved would abandon me
He was hated and we didn’t even notice him either (Is 53:3)
When I found the nest of snakes and memories came back of being covered with them
He was wounded and crushed for this evil (Is 53:5)
When I could not carry Dad’s depression for him and wanted to die from the weight of it
He took our suffering on him and felt our pain for us (Is 53:4)
When those I loved suffered and I could not protect them from
We are being healed because of his wounds. (Is 53:5)

April 2020

Songs that help:
Under My Feet-Zach Williams
The Hidden Face of God-Michael Card …
The Suffering Symbol-Michael Card
Arise My Love-Michael Card

On the sea of doubt….(reposted poem)

My boat seems very little, Lord,
And the waves are very high.
The clouds are moving crazy fast
In an ominous looking  sky.

Can’t find a sheltering harbor
In this sea of constant change.
Holding course by years spent knowing
My anchor is in Your name.

So many life transitions
Swirling in this sea of doubt…
Do You have some new directions?
How are things supposed to work out?

Will valuable things be strengthened
Or is meaningful service done?
You know our hearts
You know Your plans….
Lord, let Your kingdom come.

12/10/09

A Little Dog Named Courage (trigger post/poem)

If I were an artist, I would draw a large dog crate with no bars on it, no door.
There would be a blanket provided, and food and water,
but never kind words or a comfort or pet.
Courage would be led there at night and told to stay until morning.
The “stupid little bitch” would be alone with her fears, guilt and shame.
(At least the darkness hid her).

Morning’s light would not provide relief.
The Accuser could still visit whenever he pleased.
He’d come to confirm her lack of value, uselessness, failures and guilt.
She’d never had sex with a boyfriend.
(No, she was waiting for marriage.)
Instead, she had been raped by a married man.
(He said was going to hell).

(Does it still “count” as “having sex” if:
You are watching from the ceiling?
Your body is numb?
You say you don’t want it?
You don’t know you can say “NO!”
)

Only now does she see there are no bars or door on her crate.
Only now does she see there is an escape.
Only now does she see the hand of kindness extended-
A Savior who sees the child He died for – one that He loves still.

Learning to give back the shame is courageous. (It is not hers to carry).
Learning to say “I didn’t deserve this” is courageous. (Abusers manipulate).
Learning to walk out of the cage and embrace freedom is courageous.
Learning to call it “rape” because that’s what it was is courageous (and he was a Liar).
Learning to live is courageous. (Her life is in God’s hands).
(This simple, twisted man doesn’t get to take it away.)

Romans 8:38 (from the Passion Translation): So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!

The Father Who Made You (Poem)

Grieving for a friend today…

Little child, crying in the dark
Wondering when the bitter words
And tears will end…
Wondering when it will be safe
To trust again–
There is a Hope! There is a Friend!

The Father who made you
Will not betray you
But longs to enfold you in His love!
His love will heal you,
Restore you and free you.
His love will do you no wrong.

Why won’t he stop?
What have I done?
Is there anywhere I can run?
Is there any place I can hide?
There is One who calls you to His side….

The Father who made you
Will not betray you
But longs to enfold you in His love!
His love will heal you,
Restore you and free you.
His love will do you no wrong.

Conquering Humiliation

With all the witnesses surrounding us-
(Those who provided wisdom, comfort and courage)
Who show overcoming is possible,
(because they have done it!),
We let go of the wounds that pierced us.
Then we don’t fall back into the familiar sins,
(trusting ourselves instead of God,
isolation, deadness and locking everyone out).

Then we can run the marathon He set out for us
With passion and determination,
Journeying to the high places with the Shepherd of love-
The One who loved us even before we knew what love was.
He delights in us, He wanted us, He came for us
And calls us out of our darkness into His light.
He endured the agony of the cross
for the joy of knowing we would be his
And conquered its humiliation.
Because of Him, we can conquer ours.

If we focus on Him,
We will not be overcome
By the evil of those who oppose their own souls
Or be worn down or cave in under life’s pressures.

Thoughts on Hebrew 12:1-3
Paraphrased from the Passion Translation

My Origin Story

Recently, I was given an opportunity to tell how I came to faith in Christ. That’s kind of a tricky story…when you come from a family where there is mental illness and domestic violence, nothing is ever simple.

As a nine year old girl, I had the privilege of going to a church camp for a week. This was probably my first time away from home that long, and I was pretty quiet (some girls tried to block the cabin door and not let me back in saying “You know, people would like you better if you talked more…”). But the Bible study part and the singing part and the part where you got asked if you wanted to “give your life to Jesus” drew me right in. I thought maybe if I put Him in control of my life, I could go home and not fight with my brother and not yell back when I was yelled at and be “really really good” and then maybe my family would not be so angry all the time. Here’s a glimpse into a little girl’s world:

Jesus Loves the Little Children

Jesus loves the little children?
Oh really? Yes, I see…
He must love the other children
(This don’t look like love to me!)

In the car, while Mom hits Dad
And we sit in the back
Afraid and sad
As we drive to the church
And park in a row
Where all those nice people
That Jesus loves go…

I think of the words
Those nice ladies say,
“You can get what you want
From God if you pray.”
So I pray, and I pray,
And I pray and I pray….
(But it never makes
The pain go away).

So sometimes I wonder
Why I am so bad
That Jesus can’t love me
And neither can Dad.

After camp, I went home filled with hope that things would be different. That lasted about two days, so I kind of decided God didn’t answer my prayers, that I wasn’t good enough, and gave up on faith. It’s normal for little kids to think everything is their fault, but that’s a lot for a little kid to try to sort out!

Our family still went to church every week, but my heart wasn’t really in it. Our new Sunday School teacher when I was 14 was a young mom with a big heart and a lot of enthusiasm. She kept telling us God loved us and that He had a plan for our lives and that faith was the only reasonable response. She seemed sincere, but it still all seemed like just words.

Then, three weeks after a friend of mine hung himself, her beautiful 18 month old daughter was killed in a tragic accident. I thought surely she would give up her hope and faith. I mean, how can anyone make it through that kind of loss and still believe God is good and kind and loving or even watching!?!?! But she did.

Seeing her still cling to God and not just give up was pretty powerful. One night we prayed together and I gave faith another chance. God answered this time. Hope began to sprout from all those seeds Sunday School teachers had planted in my heart, even when the ground was still pretty hard and dry.

I am very grateful.

Stay With the Story (Poem)

Too easy to leave the scene on Good Friday
Convinced Hope has died and the story is over …
Even the disciples,
These ones who were chosen
Who had seen water turned to wine,
Loaves and fishes multiplied
Dead people raised
Blind people seeing and lepers cleansed
Still left confused and afraid…thinking they were abandoned.

I am so like them….
When dreams die or hope is buried
When I am dead
In my woundedness
Or pride
Or failures
Or unforgiveness
I so easily lose my way-sink back to the pit I came from…

But the finder of lost sheep (and lost disciples)
Does not abandon us on the shores of our desolation
Because He knows our hearts better than we ever will
He will meet us on the shore with fresh fish on the fire
To feed our hungry souls. He knows we are human.

Hope will rise again.

Teresa Norman April 2020

Legacy (Poem)

Legacy

There’s a little girl in a country church watching Daddy today
Wondering why he lifts his hands and tears fall as he prays.
She’s still too young to understand why Daddy’s heart does break
As he’s praying for the wisdom he knows raising her will take…

“Father God, I’m asking you for wisdom from above
To write a living legacy in the heart of these ones I love.
Please use my life, my words, my prayers
To show them how much their Savior cares…
Let them know they are precious in your sight.
And that trusting you can bring them through the night.”

The little girl is a woman now with children of her own
Life hasn’t always been easy but there’s something she’s always known:
She knows there’s a God in heaven who watches her each day
And that He sees her tears fall when she prays…

“Father God, she’s asking you for wisdom from above
To write a living legacy in the heart of these ones she loves.
Use her life, her words her prayers
To show them how much their Savior cares.
And let them know they are precious in your sight,
That trusting you can bring them through each night.”

When we stand before you on that great and final day
And look upon your splendor, all tears will be wiped away,
The heartaches will be over, the loneliness be gone
As together with the angels, we worship at your throne…

Father God we’re asking you for wisdom from above
To write a living legacy in the hearts of those you love
Use our lives, our words, our prayers
To show this world how much you care…
To let them know they are precious in your sight
And that trusting you can bring them through the night.

Teresa Norman May 1999

A Vessel Of Honor

A noise was made in heaven as the way parted and the Accuser entered the throne room. He came with a list…”See that little pot in the corner? It was made from defective materials. It is too small and weak for any good use. It’s broken now. Surely you have no remaining purpose for that one….It will never amount to anything…Can I have it? I’ll dispose of it for you…take care of the problem…It should be discarded. Surely there is no use for it…” (He inches slowly toward the pot and bends over to grasp it when the Lord’s strong voice booms out saying, “Silence! This one was made for My use. I designed it. I am not done with it yet. I have a purpose your eyes will never understand. It was bought and paid for with My blood: I ransomed this one! It has been redeemed! You will speak no more against it! It is mine!”

Satan slithered away and the Lord went and tenderly picked up each broken piece of the fractured vessel, missing nothing. He carried them to a workbench. The Holy Spirit came and together they labored with love over their broken vessel. The blood of the Lamb and the oil of joy covered each ragged edge as God reconstructed what the enemy thought he had destroyed. Slowly, from a pile of broken pieces, God fashioned a beautiful vessel of honor. At the banquet celebration He held, this vessel was on the table of the King of Kings — a beautiful goblet full of new wine. Its delicate, intricately shaped stem and ornamented sides were beautifully decorated with scenes declaring the victory of the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously.
*****************************************************************
From Psalms 30:8-12 NLT
I cried out to you, O Lord.
I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,
9 “What will you gain if I die,
if I sink into the grave?
Can my dust praise you?
Can it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me.
Help me, O Lord.”

11 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
12 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

Teresa Norman April 6, 1991

At Water’s Edge (Poem)

Standing here beside the ocean
Staring at the sea
Wondering how the God who made all this
Could still use me….
And yet, I hear your voice, Lord,
Even as in days of old
Promising a harvest—
More than my net can hold!

“Cast your net into the water.
Put your trust in Me.
Diverse fish in diverse places—
Trust Me and you’ll see!
It ain’t over yet, My child—
The best is still to come.
As I always have,
I still hang out with fishermen!”

©Teresa Norman
8/3/01

Like Water for the Thirsty (Poem)

Lord, you know there’s times I’ve tried to run
But now I come to give You thanks for all You’ve done.
I don’t know why it is I couldn’t see before
That the hands that were reaching out to me were Yours.

I guess that sometimes pride gets in the way—
We turn aside to try to hide the pain.
So much is lost I know You gave Your life to gain,
So now I come to give thanks in Your name.

Now when my little girls ask how to see You,
How can they really know that You’re around.
You’ve given me an answer I can share with them—
They can see You in Your people—
That’s where You’re found.

Thank You, Lord, for all You’ve done.
You gave me friends that brought me hope again.
Their kindness and their mercy
Were like water to the thirsty.
I’ve seen You in my friends
And I thank You, Lord.

Teresa Norman 1988