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 slept with a married man.
(She was going to hell).
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.
(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!”)
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 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!
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.
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
Last night I dreamed I built an altar on the ashes of the house where my nightmares came from…a place where people who seemed normal, spiritual, responsible and reasonable in their public lives abused and tortured children in the quiet, dark, hidden places.
In an act of divine justice (figuratively speaking in the world of my dreams), the house and barn where these things happened were burned to the ground. Nothing but ashes and a few bricks left. No more hidden places for memories to pop out of-no taunting, intrusive interruptions to the serenity of a reasonable life of gratitude and peace acquired the hard way.
On the altar, I engraved “to the God who didn’t leave me there.”
(A line from this poem “From the Child” I wrote years ago when this journey to healing began…)
…I surrender, God, not to what they did,
But to the need to choose each day to live.
I surrender to the need to grow
And face the things You choose to show.
I surrender to the loving care
Of the God who didn’t leave me there,
Who calls me, one day at a time
To walk with Him and face what I find,
Knowing, as He did before,
That He can lead me through each door
And give me the tools I need to live–
To choose to grow and the grace to forgive.
(Grateful and proud of the adult, woman, mom my daughter Ruth has become! Tomorrow is her birthday)
Like Hannah in the Bible promised long ago
If she could only have a child, she’d give him to the Lord,
I prayed that God would give to us a baby girl to love
And promised we would care for her and teacher her about His love…
So God, in love, looked down on us and brought you to our lives.
I’ve thanked Him ever day since then and I’ll thank him all my life.
I pray that you will know Him too as your Savior and your friend,
Because, little Ruth, Jesus loves you with a love that has no end.
Lord, I give to you this child that you have given me —
Please help me mold and shape her into what she’s meant to be.
Keep her safe throughout each day-keep her in your tender care.
No matter what may happen, let her know you’re always there!
Teresa Norman May 1986
(My mother has been gone for three years now, but as mother’s day approaches tomorrow, I am reflecting on her strength at living her whole life with mental health challenges in a society and a time where those were often neither talked about nor treated effectively. One of the times she was hospitalized, a nurse explained to me that there was nothing we could have done that would have made it easier. She said it was a biochemical malfunction and she cycled between episodes too quickly and unpredictably for medication to have been effective. I will always be grateful to that nurse.)
Dry from weeks in a hospital
In a coma
Life and death fight for preeminence
Her eyes open
As I am rubbing lotion on those hands….
Instead of words of assault, criticism or disgust
She speaks coherent words
Words of appreciation:
“for angels like me….”
She’s back, and she is aware
Wondering what happened
Wondering where she was for “all those years”
(in a coma six weeks but “gone” so long before that)…
A new stage in her life begins
One where, for brief periods
She does not fight the universe and all that’s in it
Brief periods where we talk
Only God knows why, for her
Normal was never an option
Grateful she came back
No matter how short the time.
Teresa Norman Nov 2019
The baby cries, her mother runs—
There’s just so much to do!
You know I wouldn’t make it
Through the day, Lord,
If I didn’t have you!
The kids are in the bathroom—
Oh, I wonder…what’s that sound?
It couldn’t be! They haven’t!
Every time I turn around!
The dishes would try to take over
If they were left to themselves too long.
It seems like another stack’s waiting
Just as soon as the first one’s done.
The laundry pile keeps getting higher,
It seems like it never will stop.
I think I remember that somewhere
Adults sometimes sit and talk?
But as I pick up my crying daughter
And hold her close to my heart,
I feel Your love and Your smile of approval
For I’ve chosen the better part.
Teresa Norman 1983
(One spring when my kids were little, we had a plague of caterpillars that left brown squishy road-killed splats all over the driveway, fuzzy fellas to pick off each kid before they came up, and a cabin covered with an unappealing wiggly mess. As I watched them from the garden one day, I realized how much like the caterpillar I felt sometimes – like something destined to become road kill instead of a beautiful work in process)…
I’m a little caterpillar
With a crazy urge to fly.
Don’t need to understand it
(Don’t have time to question why!)
It just looks so inviting
Rising up above these stones,
Not risking getting squished or squashed
Just trying to make it home.
“The time has come,” my Maker calls,
“To come away with Me
And let My love transform you
Into what you soon shall be.
It is a natural process
Done according to My plan—
(Although it may seem crazy
To the broken heart of man).
But from the very first,
My goal has been to make you new—
The urge to fly is part
Of what I’ve always planned for you!
So even when you wonder,
It’s OK to trust in Me.
You shall be changed—
It’s been arranged!
I’ve come to set you free.
You’ll rise above the struggle
That for so long has kept you down.
You’ll see a new perspective
When you’re not quite so earthbound.
The darkness and the struggle
To emerge from where you’ve been
Will lead you to a new day—
It will all be worth it then!”
©Teresa Norman 1988
The world is full of big problems
I am small, like a sparrow…
I can do only small things
But I can learn to do them with great love.
My actions may not make a difference
To anyone except the person I love and listen to,
Pray with and care for, feed or walk beside.
But to that one, it matters.
Just because I am small and insignificant,
It doesn’t mean the love God has given me to share
Does not matter. It is still His love
And those I love are still important to Him.
God doesn’t abandon or forget even one small sparrow.
He will be with us. We are valuable to Him.
Luke 12:6-7 “What is the value of your soul to God? Could your worth be defined by an amount of money? God doesn’t abandon or forget even the small sparrow he has made. How then could he forget or abandon you? What about the seemingly minor issues of your life? Do they matter to God? Of course they do! So you never need to worry, for you are more valuable to God than anything else in this world.” From The Passion Translation
Recently, I dreamed I had on a beautiful white satin dress
And I was standing on a small stool.
There were tears, rips, and messy jagged gashes
Torn in the beautiful garment I was wearing.
It looked like I had been in a fight–
Like some terrible violent thing had happened!
But as I stood on the stool, leaning into strong arms
I saw several sets of gentle, competent hands
Equipped with needle and thread
Skillfully repairing the tears in my beautiful garment.
At first, I couldn’t understand what was happening,
But as I woke up, I understood –
God saw me in my weakness and my trouble
And brought me to this place
Because He loved me.
If I didn’t panic,
Didn’t run from the help being offered,
If I stayed with the process,
(even when I thought I could not)–
These loving repairers of my tattered life
Would be the hands of Jesus to help mend my soul.
Help me to be a soul mender
(not one those who make the tears in the first place).
Help me to be one of those who lift up the broken,
Providing mercy for the memories
And a place of safety for those who need to heal.
Help me never take for granted Your grace.
Only You can make us whole.
Thank you for the soul menders in my life.
Teresa Norman Apr 2020
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
It’s 3 a.m., here she comes again –
That little sleepy head is sneaking in my bed.
“I want you, Mom.” That was all she said
As she snuggled up as close as she could get to me.
“Rock me, hold me, cozy me, ” her favorite words…
Her thumb pulled out just long enough to say,
I need to know you love me – that I’m special to.
She says it in her very special way…
Little one, the day is going to come
When times like this are but a distant memory
So for tonight, I’ll hold you close to me
So thankful that you’re here and everything’s alright.
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!”
Lord, I need an undivided heart –
Pieces of mine still lay in the rubble
Of the damage done
By those who came before-
who tortured a little girl
Who, instead of singing songs about a sunrise,
Now cowers from its light.
I know you as a Father-
A loving, gentle Savior
(I’m sure I do-
The evidence of your great faithfulness
Has sustained me this far) …
But a piece of my heart,
(the piece still under the wreckage
In the far corner of my not-quite-outrun past)
Questions if maybe you are a bully….
(Not the kind who does the damage –
Not the kind who cheers on the others,
But the kind who watches and maybe holds their coats…
You don’t speak.
You don’t make them stop.
You stand in silence…)
How can my heart be in two places?
I cannot repair it myself. I have tried.
God, I need you.
Teresa Norman 2020
Frightened eyes, face with no name.
Hope buried ‘neath the guilt and the shame
Slipping through the darkness now
Wanting to change-not knowing how.
Little girl, now woman grown.
Her restless heart seeks for a home.
She screams so quietly deep inside.
No one can see the tears that she’s cried.
How long, oh God? When will it end?
Her desperate voice cries for a friend.
Will someone ever comprehend
The damage done by selfish men?
Headlights flash in her frightened eyes
As beneath the crushing wheels she dies.
Laid to rest on a country road-
In death she can finally lay down her load.
No more running from wolves that tear,
No more wondering why no one cares.
No more hiding and running scared.
At rest with Jesus, she’s finally there.
Her passing unnoticed, ‘xcept one bloody stain.
Her body for scavengers now feels no pain.
Her mind finally emptied of all of the fear.
So is the ending of the life of a deer.
Teresa Norman 1991