Thankful for the Mender of Broken Things

On the eve of Thanksgiving, a brief thought. The other day I broke a little figure that meant a lot to me in sentimental value. It was part of a pair I had for years and years, a little touch of continuity through so much change. Tom heard me lament that it was broken beyond repair, in jagged pieces. I made too big of a deal of it probably.

Tonight I went to pull the blinds in the living room, and there it was, next to its twin on the table. I thought I was seeing things. It was perfect. Tom said he had fished the broken pieces out of the trash and said he felt bad about it, so he gave it his best shot putting it back together. He did a beautiful job. I was moved so much with that small act. It was more than just an act of love. It was a metaphor for all he has done for me and our children. He has represented Jesus in my life through the years. Constant, faithful, caring about even the small things and heartaches. A true Christian man.

God mends us in many ways, and often through the love of others. I am grateful. Tonight, I think of those who have really been the healing hand of kindness to me and a great encouragement in tough times. Thank you. I will never forget it.  There is so much to be thankful for, and I thank God for his mercies every day. Have a beautiful Thanksgiving Day, friends.

 

 

 

What a Shame

Anyone who has been a target of malignant narcissist abuse has a long journey to health, both physically and emotionally. (The two are related.)

For those affected, no reading is complete without understanding the role of toxic shame.  Here’s a definition of what that is:

Toxic Shame is a neurotic, irrational feeling of worthlessness, humiliation, self loathing and paralyzing feeling that has been inflicted onto an individual through repeated, traumatic experiences often, but not always, rooted in childhood.

There is the shame our consciences feel as God intended – the healthy shame – when we engage in things that really are shameful. Mistreatment of others, lying, stealing—you get the picture. This is what prompts us to try to make right our wrongs and keeps us (hopefully) from repeating truly shameful behavior. There’s a remarkable lack of this kind of healthy shame anymore in our culture.

Toxic shame is what is meted out by  emotionally abusive people, both as a tool of manipulation and also as punishment by sociopaths who have NO sense of shame themselves and who are skilled at using others for their own ends.

When this occurs, targets begin to absorb this false thinking into their identity — something that can cripple the target and destroy their ability to recover a true sense of themselves. It is startling to realize how emotionally abusive  people use this tactic so effectively.

Looking at this topic from a Christian standpoint, you can easily see how the enemy of souls uses people like this to kill, steal and destroy. Satan is called the “accuser of the brethren.” Yes, indeed, and he works through his willing tools on this planet to do so.

Those who are close to a narcissist, especially in a family or partner relationship, display their fears, insecurities and weaknesses as we all do with those we trust. What is so evil about how narcs work is that these same insecurities, fears and weaknesses are the source of the toxic shame these narcs  heap on the target once the degrading and discarding points in the relationship begin.

So, for example, if a target has anxiety problems, that will not only be thrown in the face of the target as proof they are inferior or mentally ill or otherwise unhinged, and during the smear campaign phase, if the target manages to leave,  it will be spread abroad as widely as possible as proof of just how deranged and flawed the target is.  Your vulnerability when you trusted that person becomes the place to insert the knife by the narc. They were storing up that information for future use. I heard one target describe the mind of a narc as a “steel trap” that retained useful bits of info that was later used – out of context – as a weapon to try to destroy. That’s how they roll.

The gas-lighting they engage in furthers the belief  in the target’s mind that they must be the one who is crazy. Self-doubt washes over the head of the target like a tidal wave.  The sense of (false) shame becomes the most prominent feature in the life of the target. They must be a tremendously flawed person, they think. Depression and hopelessness follow.

Satan is a liar.  His servants who have been given over to prideful minds serve as powerful tools in the destruction of others.   The target is faced with not only combating the  lies thrown at them, but also facing the cold shoulders of those who willingly enabled the narc in his destruction campaign. It can be a formidable challenge to overcome this.

When fake spirituality  is added to the mix, and the abuse takes place by someone claiming to be a Christian, , the impact  on faith can be huge. The disassociation that targets utilize to survive gets read by them internally as loss of faith and all the guilt that goes with that follows. The ultimate goal of the spiritual power behind malignant narcs is ultimately that. The destruction of a person on every level, most importantly, faith in the Lord. Whatever image they portray to others, malignant narcissists are the embodiment of evil.  Secular counselors will call it a “personality disorder.” Be that as it may, it is spiritual at its core. The enemy of souls stalks the vulnerable and innocent through them. Without understanding the devices of the evil one, it is difficult to recover.

There are some good resources on this subject that are essential reading by those who have experienced this firsthand.

I highly recommend this book, “How to Kill a Narcissist.  Don’t  worry, the title refers to the killing of the lying myths narcissists hand out to targets. It is tremendously helpful in grasping what these abusive liars do. Once unmasked, the power they have wielded over targets using toxic shame becomes less and less.

For Facebook users. Shannon Thomas of Southlake Christian Counseling has been one of the most helpful sources of truth on this subject that I have encountered yet. Linking to her Facebook page will give you a constant stream of truth — all aimed at a hopeful outcome for those affected.

I want to conclude this post with a word of caution. Be very careful about those you see for counseling on these issues.  If a counselor does not have a handle on how these moral monsters work (malignant narcissists), you will not only NOT find help, you will also end up with additional burdens of false guilt that you in no way should carry.

We are told in Scripture to “understand the enemy’s devices” so as not to be outwitted.  (II Corinthians 2:11) Biblical counselors who want to apportion equal blame to those in these horrendous situations further victimize the target.  Malignant narcs who end up in counseling with targets (a rare thing) are skilled at pointing to reactions they have provoked by their extreme lies to prove to the counselor that they are not the problem. Foolish and incompetent counselors, particularly those of the “biblical counseling” variety, fall for this way too often. Snakes in the grass are known to provoke wild reactions with their venomous bites not witnessed by others. When the reaction of the snake bite victim becomes the focus of outrage and concern, the snake and its poison have succeeded. It really is that simple.

A few helpful points in these memes below.

 

 

It’s Here Again!

It’s fall officially at our house when the wreath on the door changes, and the acorn people emerge from the cabinet where they patiently wait all year. Emily fished out the pumpkin spice candles for the end tables, so we are all set.

We had a nice period of cool, crisp weather here in SE Wisconsin, but the warmth is returning. Tomorrow, and we are supposed to be in the 80’s again. But the leaves in our neck of the woods are turning early. The route to Emily’s school was startling today with the leaves turning gold much earlier this year.

I’ll save pumpkin buying for porch decorations another week or two. I have to save something for later! Like a lot of people, this is my favorite time of year in our part of the country. It isn’t spring or summer that provide renewed vigor. It’s always this time of year that can’t be surpassed.

Each autumn, (this is my seventh year doing so!)  I post the recipe for my favorite spice cake.  It will make your home redolent with delicious aromas. It makes a really delicious, moist cake if you don’t over bake it!  Happy autumn, everyone!

It Wouldn’t Sell Today

I came across this prayer book my husband Tom’s parents gave him at Confirmation many years ago. Tom had underlined several of the lines in the prayers in key places. These are the old ways, the simple, non-flashy truths of Christianity. These kinds of prayer books wouldn’t sell well today.  Publishers know  the evangelical  public isn’t looking for this kind of thing. But the state of churches and what passes for Christianity in general is a sad reflection of that.

The Hope Blog is Ten Years Old

It was  ten years ago today (July 15, 2007) that I began this personal blog on WordPress.  Within two hours, I had 4,000 unique visitors. I was publishing a busy news and comment blog as a part of the issues program I produced and co-hosted,  and when it crashed unexpectedly due to a technical problem, the ensuing silence of several days allowed me to put together  the personal blog I had long wanted.

My primary site was down, but a co-blogger in that field told readers what had happened to my site and directed them to the brand new Hope Blog. That’s why things were so busy that first day.

Looking back in your life, have you changed much in ten years? Is it good change or not so good change?  I reflect today on  the good changes and lessons learned over the last decade. It’s also interesting to look at ways we have stayed the same. In certain ways, i have stayed the same.

How have I changed? Here are a few ways.

I am  far less trusting of people than I was ten years ago. Like the saying goes, I never trust words, sometimes question actions , but I never doubt patterns.  Not anymore. I am wiser about people. I’ve learned to listen to my instincts  far more than I used to.

I have changed in that I have witnessed, firsthand, God’s providence in caring for our family.  Tom and I have lived this, especially over the last six years since our lives were turned upside down. We went from theory to seeing first hand the miracles God did to provide all our needs, something He continues to do. We were also blessed by the love of those God used to provide for us when we were without employment, overnight, with a family to care for and a mortgage to pay.

I have changed in that I no longer have any interest in much of what passes for “discernment” ministry.  So much I could say here, but I think my first point on my list pretty well covers it.  I think one of my adult sons summed it up well when he said, “Any ministry that is based only on pointing out the error of others is, by nature, imbalanced and unhealthy.” My son was absolutely right, and this is the world that I operated in for so very long.  It’s not opposing error that is wrong. But when that’s 90 percent of what you do, you have a mentally and spiritually unhealthy situation.

I care far less about the opinions of others than I did ten years ago.  Due to the many different denominations, viewpoints, agendas. I was constantly in contact with through Christian talk radio, I felt I had to please everyone, sometimes leading to ludicrous situations.  Twenty-three years of trying to please everyone. Too often, I never pleased anybody, and my in box would overflow with outraged listeners telling me where I had gone wrong. I even had more than one show up at the studios to “rebuke” me for promoting this cause or guest or author. It was madness.

It’s only now, years later, that I am able to say, without embarrassment, this is who I am. If you disagree, that is certainly your right to do so, but I am not changing to please you. I love God, I want to be the woman  that God made me to be, not a clone of somebody else. That may displease some people who watch from afar, but I won’t lose a wink of sleep over it. I feel a freedom that I never used to have before. By losing pretty much everybody from our former lives ,  God was able to give me something far better. The people now in our lives are those we choose to spend time with, not opportunists, users, pharisees and ministry idolaters who will leave tread marks from their “ministry” bus all over your face when you’re no longer useful. We have the dearest neighbors. Unlike those we used to work with, they love us, and we have had numerous chances to show love right back. Emily is the family ambassador, smiling and waving at all who walk or drive by.

I have stayed the same in ways. Tom and I just celebrated 22 years of marriage.  In his quiet way, he has done more to strengthen my faith in the Lord through tough  times than a lot of those thundering about this or that from pulpits or microphones.  Tom lives what he believes every single day, and his family, co-workers  and neighbors have  seen it. I love him even more than the day we married.

My faith in the Lord is not only still there, it has been strengthened. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever. Great is the Lord’s faithfulness, the one who lifts up our heads in the midst of incredible sadness. I will not join the many who spew blasphemy and curses because they were targeted by someone for abuse. Those engaging in evil will answer for it at the Court of No Appeal.  We may have been targets, but we don’t have to be victims. Love really is greater than hate. Nothing can grow in the soil of hate.  But when love is the soil, what beauty can grow from it!

It’s expensive to maintain files of ten years. I’m paying annually for extra space needed on WordPress. I may drop the blog  archives and retool the site at some point in the near future. There is much more I could improve on this site. But I’m not interested in “growing my brand.”  I have no brand. I just have this site to share my thoughts  and talk about my Savior and my family. Thank you for stopping by. and for the encouragement you send. Even if a handful read what I share, you are worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gospel of Madeleine L’Engle

I realize the subject matter of this post is a little off the beaten track for the Hope Blog. A friend recently described the growing influence of occult and paranormal  themes in children’s literature.  A trip to the children’s section of any bookstore will show just how true this is.  Like many parents, I have witnessed an acceleration of this in recent years.

The Gospel of Madeleine L’Engle is written by Claris Van Kuiken, an author and researcher I have known for over 25 years. While it is off the beaten track for my blog here, the spiritual nature of the subject matter makes it highly relevant.  One of the early children’s authors to blatantly introduce occult concepts and terms to children was the late Madeleine L’Engle.  The article details just how extensive these ideas are within her books, both for children and adults.  For Christian parents, it’s worth knowing.

 

 

Shepherds False and True

A shepherd tended a flock of sheep on the hills  At night, they were herded into a sturdy sheep pen made of field stone. The pen was solid and protected them all from predators. The shepherd made perfunctory checks on the sheep each night and went through the motions of his job each day. No one could fault him  for not carrying out the basic tasks that he went through like clockwork. Every day, the same routines without fail. That was the job he got paid for.

At dawn one morning, an injured sheep showed up at the door of the pen, waking him with pitiful bleating. It was not his. He had no way to know where the sheep had come from. It was limping and blood was coming out of a wound.

The shepherd was annoyed.  He didn’t have time to deal with it. The animal looked like it was dying anyway and probably would wander off shortly into the trees. What was the point? The shepherd left the sheep lying against the stone wall and herded the rest of the flock briskly out of the pen to the water and grass on the hillsides. He realized he was already behind schedule.

Hours later when he got back to the pen with the sheep for the night, the injured sheep was still there, barely. The animal weakly lifted its head.  Its eyes implored the shepherd to help.

In disgust, the shepherd turned away.  He’d have to get rid of that mess soon or the carcass would draw wolves and vultures, not to mention flies.

Some of the other sheep looked curiously at the sick one as they filed into their safe, clean pen for the night. A couple stopped with sheeply concern, but the shepherd impatiently flicked them with his rod to get moving.

The shepherd was tired and decided to leave the bloody sheep to die outside the wall of the pen. He would deal with it in the morning. He completely forgot about the animal and dozed off immediately.

In the morning, the injured sheep was gone. Surprised, the shepherd looked around. He hadn’t thought the sheep could move enough to get away.  There was a trail of blood behind that led to a grove of trees down the road. What relief. He hadn’t had to deal with the mess. The sun was rising in the eastern sky. It looked like a beautiful day ahead.

He was leaning against a leafy tree while his flock was grazing later that day when he spotted a dark cloud in the sky some distance away. It moved a bit closer, and he could see they were vultures. One by one they dropped down into a grove of trees. Probably the dead sheep, he thought. Good riddance. He looked with complacent eyes on the sheep from his fold, grazing on the hills. Time for a little nap, he thought, as the gentle breeze caressed his face.


Over the years of working in Christian radio, the various types of churches in America became evident. For many years, the seeker, church-growth, Peter Drucker-influenced model changed the landscape. Bill Hybels and Rick Warren, years ago, developed associations that smaller churches could join to help them imitate the supposedly successful Willow Creek and Saddleback models. Seminars by satellite are still beamed all over the country, as bright-eyed young pastors dream about church greatness and big crowds. That’s one type of American church.

I also addressed the dying mainline churches, churches that long ago abandoned the faith once delivered to the saints and replaced it with a form of baptized anthropology. They exchanged the truth for a lie. The stench of embalming fluid fills these places.  That’s another kind of church.

But there is yet another type of church that I didn’t address much on the program. I should have. These churches have highly biblical doctrinal statements, maintain their commitment to orthodoxy and root out even the slightest growth of false teaching. They are known for not compromising. They outwardly have  a look of health. Their parking lots are full on Sunday with committed parishioners. But there is a problem, and that problem flows from shepherds on down.

If I had to characterize the issue with this kind of problem church, I could do so easily.  No love. The shepherds of these churches can be seen above in the small illustration. They are utterly committed to their churches in the sense that no church service, program, no church sponsored event will be neglected or done in a half-baked fashion. The sheep are herded in, and herded out, like clockwork. The floors are polished. These pastors and churches are not given to change, ridiculous fads or innovation. They are always on time.

But there is a problem. Shepherds in these churches can be so committed to the sustaining of a schedule, to programs, to upcoming this and upcoming that, they can miss the trail of blood in their foyers where “sheep”, deeply wounded and desperately asking for help, have come in and gone out, without it.

Complacent eyes take on a type of blindness. It’s not that they can’t see anything. It’s that they cannot see those who matter most.  These “shepherds” cannot see the hemorrhaging sheep in front of them, asking for help, as their responsibility before God who is the owner of the flock.

They see programs, conferences, schedules, administrative things, opportunities, but the desperation in the face of a hurting person who does not fit the plan? No. That disrupts order. That requires something beyond what they are willing to give.  They have places to go and things to do.

Contrast this with the picture of the caring shepherd that our LORD gives in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15.

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ ”

I have heard from so many through the years whose experiences are not primarily in circus churches with three rings and a trapeze in their ceilings, or mainline spiritual mortuaries. They are limping away, terribly wounded, from the third type of church—the ones that value doctrinal correctness and will not tolerate compromise, but they lack the one needful thing – the thing that is supposed to set them apart in the eyes of the world, the thing that heals and gives life to those who need extra care, because they have suffered terrible injuries. What’s missing is real love.

Shepherds in these places not only won’t leave the fold and  to locate a wandering “sheep”, they can’t be bothered with the bleeding “sheep”  right in front of them. The bleeding and wounded bring nothing but work. Their care is tedious. These sheep don’t nicely fit into a program, an activity, an orderly slot. So the shepherd looks away, progressively blind and deaf to the terrible need in front of him. Not only does he not care for them, he will not so much as call on an assistant to do so.

These shepherds may not even notice the dark cloud of vultures off in the distance, descending on the spiritual carcasses of  the sheep that slowly walked away.  They are busy with an itinerary their secretaries just ran off on the printer. Another opportunity awaits. There is no time for the wounded. No time.

My heart goes out to every single one who has come to what they thought was help, only to be ignored, neglected and passed by. Even a cursory reading of the Scriptures show that this model of “shepherd” is false in every respect.

Jesus Christ is the GOOD Shepherd. Again and again, we see the compassion and care of our Savior who heard the call of the blind, the beggar, the oppressed, the sick and the cripple. He touched the “untouchables” and healed them. The touch of love.

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” cried the man by the side of the road. Unwashed, alone and in darkness, Jesus was his only hope. People told him to shut up, but he only cried louder, hoping against all hope that Jesus would hear.

What did the Good Shepherd do when he heard this man? Listen to the urging of his handlers to move on, as he had a scheduled appointment for teaching in Galilee? Did He head to an august council of great theologians and scholars to discuss fine points of the Law?

Here is what happened.

“When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.” (Gospel of Luke, chapter 18)

The Lord heard the cry first, and then he responded. That cry was heard and acted upon. This is the example of a true shepherd.

I am sorry if any reading this have been injured by false shepherds. False shepherds are far more than those teaching erroneous doctrine or self-help, feel good messages. Any shepherd who does not have compassion that acts in the face of pain and injury is false.

All we can do, and we all need reminding of this in these brutal times of coldness and callous disregard in churches, is look to the Good Shepherd above by faith—the One who never fails, who hears our cries in mercy, and who tends to our wounds in love.

The Good Shepherd shows his love to us by sending other concerned “sheep” in our direction, people, those who encourage and who walk with us on the rough terrain on the winding path to the Celestial City.  We can urge each other on and help untangle things when some get caught in the brambles and minister to those who are sick.

May the Good Shepherd tend to your heart today if you are hurting. The LORD Jesus Christ is His name. Call on Him, the One who always hears.


The Light that Was Dark – A Prayer Request

My old friend and colleague, Warren Smith, had a heart attack yesterday. I’ve known him for over 25 years. I came across his first book, The Light that Was Dark (first printing in the early1990’s) where he described his coming out of the Rajneesh cult and heavy duty occult/New Age teachings into the light of Jesus Christ. His books went from there. Every so many months, I would hear his articulate voice on the phone. “Ingrid, I’ve been writing this new book…”, and we would strategize for the next radio interview.

Warren’s eloquent first hand description of the “light” he encountered in the New Age movement and his discovery that it was a counterfeit light sums up spiritual deception better than any I have heard. He hasn’t wavered in his message of warning. There are counterfeits, because the real thing exists spiritually. Please remember Warren in prayer.

For those interested in his books, here is Lighthouse Trails’ page. for more information. (The books are available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble and other outlets.)  I wish I could share the many interviews we did on Crosstalk Radio through the years. So many times, I felt the Lord’s direction and help in those programs which were a wake-up call to many. If you would like to send well wishes to Warren Smith, here is the contact information.

Early Mother’s Day Joy

Son Will (20) gave me an early Mother’s Day gift and invited me  along with him to Gesu Church downtown where he had a practice scheduled. Knowing my love of the old hymns and gospel songs, he played several for me. I can’t add much, because these old hymn tunes say it all to those who love them. One of my all time favorites is, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” which he played for me. I hope is blesses you, and if you know it, sing along.  Here are the words.

(Note: Another couple of hymns I will post in the comment section.)

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Refrain

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.