1

Posted: June 20, 2020 in Other Stuff.....

The amount of blood pouring from the gaping hole in my stomach was nauseating. I should have bled out by now, but hear I am, watching in shock and horror, life drain from me. My blood began to cover what causes this sticky mess, a spear lay at my feet. It’s handle, splintered and stained red by my blood, was attached to a jagged, rust covered spear head. It’s edges had the teeth of saw blades on each side, shredding through skin and flesh the moment of contact.

I was in such confusion at what I saw in front of me that I was caught by surprise when I felt the deep, searing pain in my back, robbing me of my breath. I saw the point of another spearhead sticking out of my chest.

A surge of energy and adrenaline pumped as I tried to reach over my shoulder and behind my back for the spear handle. I couldn’t reach it. The amount of blood loss and lack of oxygen caused me to collapse to my knees as I slumped forward, the spear in my back standing straight up.

“Why?” I whispered.

“Why not you dirty piece of filth?”A high pitched, whinnying voice spoke.

I don’t know this voice. The sensation of evil poured in all around me. This one, whatever it is, is on a whole new level of darkness.

Thoughts

Posted: May 3, 2020 in Other Stuff.....

Today is my last of my 40 days and nights away from home. Wow is all I can say! During this time, I have witnessed and experienced God completely shatter, like glass, what I truly believed was impossible. I truly believed that it would be the thorn in my side, but God caused it to crack, my eyes now see a brighter world I didn’t know existed!

He has caused me to re-evaluate friendships and given me strength and courage to put them in their proper places, and in doing so, thus far, I can breathe!

He has replaced the lies I have believed, with His truth in who I am in Him. There are no words in human language that can describe and express the power and freedom this has brought!

I have been spiritually, emotionally and mentally sharpened by key members of my tribe, and I believe I have learned enough to face going back home. The outpouring of love and concern has been breathtakingly beautiful… I am still in awe at the love people have for me. I don’t deserve it at all, but the Lord has, for reasons I will never understand, shown me favor and uses them to draw me to Himself.

I will be honest, I do not want to go home. I am anxious about and slightly fearful, but I am so incredibly thankful for this gift of refuge and in an odd way, I’m excited to see what is to come, how God chooses you finish what He started, even in a place of darkness!!

Chapter 9

Posted: March 29, 2020 in Other Stuff.....

“I have to go.” I suddenly said.

Cheryl and Mikki were having a conversation, but I had no idea what they were saying. I couldn’t stop thinking about Flesh standing at my tree. And the noose. What is that all about? I actually know the answer to that question, but if I kept it a question in my mind, I could live in denial for a little while longer.

“What?”

The question broke my concentration.

“I’m sorry, I am not listening.” I answered.

“Yeah. I can see that.” Mikki said then repeating what she had just said, “Why are you wanting to leave?”

I made my eyes look up over the small flickering fire to look at Mikki and Cheryl, back to Mikki.

“I just have to go.”

“You know you are safe here. You can tell us what’s going on.” Cheryl said.

I looked at her for what seemed like minutes. My mind racing and picking apart what she had just said. I could see the instant love these women had for me. Their concern and protection of me would cause the most prideful hearts to crumble. It was overwhelming, the goodness of God was pouring forth from these women. They also reminded me of those I abandoned in Central. What am I doing? Why am I running so hard? Then my mind would flash through the images of Flesh. I have poison coursing throughout my body. The wound on my back was still open and infected after months of treatment. My dreams are tainted with Flesh. I am exposed and now an easy target for the enemy that I know is hunting me, waiting. Which means anyone around me is now also a target. I am simply fresh meat they are dragging through the wilderness and the devil, a roaring lion, is on my trail and he will take them down. All of them, if they continue to try to protect me. That’s why I ran in the first place and why I can’t stay.

“I am a burden. I have nothing. I am nothing. I can’t stay here.”

“Whoa. Hang on a minute. You can’t say something like that and expect us to just let you walk away.” Cheryl’s concern was instant.

“What happened that would make you leave Central anyway?” Mikki asked.

I told them of the battle that changed my life, the poison, the nightmares, my perception of truth, my anger, my heartache, everything. I told them everything.

“I know Lori.” Cheryl said, “She is good at what she does. Why would you not want to get better?”

“Because I am not going to. If I leave, they will start to get used to things without me and when I finally do die, it won’t hurt as much.” I answered.

“That’s not right, Shawn.” Mikki said, “I may not have been around you as long as they have, but since the time I met you, you have made an impact on my life. And I am sure I can speak for Cheryl too. And that’s while you are hurting so deeply. The Lord isn’t through with you yet and He is working in you. Don’t quit before the miracle happens.”

I didn’t know what to say. So I didn’t say anything. I would let them believe that they were changing my mind, and in the morning, I would sneak away. And I did. I left a note, written in the sand, telling them I was sorry, took a spear from Mikki then departed.
…….
“Someone is coming!” Ginger yelled down from the watchtower.

My unit has been praying non-stop for my return to Central and when they heard Ginger’s announcement, they came to the edge of camp, hopes high.

“Who is it?! Can you tell?” Becky called up to Ginger.

“Not yet! Hang on!” Ginger answered.

Momma B and Angela were whispering prayers, loud enough to be heard but not understood. Brie was pacing along with Becky. Lori stood, squinting off into the horizon. They could see the dust being kicked up by the riders approaching, but they were still too far off to make out who they were.

“Two riders on horseback with something in tow.” Ginger yelled down.

“I think… I am pretty sure that’s an ostrich!” Beth yelled out from the watchtower.

“What?!” Brie instinctively asked.

“An ostrich?” Angela and Lori both questioned in unison.

“Uh huh! Yep. That’s what they are towing. It is definitely an ostrich.” Beth confirmed.

“Is Shawn one of the riders?” Angela asked.

The unit fell silent. The ostrich could wait. They wanted their warrior, their sister, their friend back. They knew I was sick. They knew Flesh was speaking lies into my mind and my heart had believed them. They knew I was in danger. They knew it was now a life or death battle. Once again, my unit was waiting anxiously for the order from the Holy Spirit to chase after me, only to be told to standby. To wait.
…….

I had wandered further away from the comfort that trees give. Comfort I didn’t realize until now. Food. Pine needles are full of vitamins if steeped like tea leaves or coffee. Vines held water, which I really needed too. Shade. Oh how I wish I had shade to cool the scorching sand beneath my feet. And just like that, a cloud moved in between the sun and the earth.

“Where are you going, Shawn?”

I know that voice. I know it well. My heart melted into the comfort and presence of the Holy Spirit.

“I don’t know exactly.”

“Okay. Why are you running away?”

“You know why.”

“I do. But I also want to hear it from your point of view. Talk to me, Shawn.”

Before my eyes, I saw a tree rise up from the sand. A palm tree. I love palm trees. I almost thought I was starting to hallucinate.

“Lord?”

“You are not seeing things. This is for you. Come, rest with Me.”

I stopped walking, staring in disbelief at the palm tree. I looked up at the sky. There was only one, thick cloud in the sky, and it was over my head. The rest of the sky was bare. Same with the landscape. Dry and dead. No sign of life of any kind. Yet, here in this moment, to this far away place, the Holy Spirit chased me down. He didn’t rebuke me, condemn me, or even try to stop me. He came in love, with grace He spoke to me, and with mercy He gave me gifts of comfort and relief. I slowly walked to the palm tree and reached out my hand. My fingers timidly danced on the fibrous trunk of the tree and I wept. I clung to the tree and my tears watered it’s roots.

……
“No. It is not Shawn.” Ginger shouted.

“Green capes. They are spear warriors.” Beth followed.

“I know a spear warrior.” Lori said as she started to walk out to greet the approaching riders.

Cheryl slid off her horse to greet Lori and with the same breath began to tell her that they had found me and that I had left them in the night. The Holy Spirit told them to ride to Central instead of come after me. Mikki and Cheryl spent the next few hours answering questions. From my physical appearance to my mental and emotional state. They explained I had encountered something by the water, something unseen to them, that really shook me.

“It was at that moment I saw her mind switch. Right there, soaking wet and spiting up water, something happened.” Cheryl said.

“It was like she was with us physically but mentally, she was somewhere else.” Mikki echoed.

“Flesh.” Lori said.

Angela’s head snapped over to Lori. Ginger and Beth were both nodding their heads.

“It’s that bad?” Angela asked Lori.

“Yes.”

That’s all Lori had to say. No one disagreed. All knew what that meant. If I had left all my armor and my unit behind, then there was nothing more anyone of them could do. Only the Holy Spirit could save me this time and I had the choice to allow Him or not.

……..
Weak from running. Weak from weeping. Weak from fighting thoughts and images in my mind. I sat, against this miracle palm tree beneath the miracle cloud with the miracle working Spirit of God, and for the first time in a long time I felt peace. I found rest and comfort. I had not eaten nor had a drink, but I was full and hydrated by the very presence of Him.

“I love you, Shawn.”

“I know.”

“You say you know, but you don’t believe it.”

Why I continually try to convince the Lord of my lies I will never understand. Or is it, I try to convince myself of my own lies.

“I don’t know why I don’t believe it? I believe You are real. That You are who You say You are. That You did what You said You did.”

“I know.”

“Lord, why won’t You just take this poison from me? You are God! You can do anything You want with just a whisper.”

“That’s what I am doing. What I want. Right now. In you.”

“How could this be what You want? If You truly love me, then why make me suffer? Why let it hurt so badly? Why allow me to hurt those I love?”

I felt a cool breeze move across my face. Where it came from, I cannot give an answer. But out of the heat of the wilderness came what felt like hope.

“What I want is for You to completely know that I love you. And to do that, you must come face to face with the devil’s advocate and see it for what it is. The son of the father of lies, Flesh.”

“I know who it is. I see Flesh every single day.”

“Yes. But you are trapped in the lie that you are still bound to Flesh. You still believe what it says you were, not who you are.”

I sighed. With that sigh it felt the chains around my heart start to fall. I could feel my own heart beat again.

“Shawn, I want you to do something.”

“Lord…. I ….”

The Holy Spirit interrupted, “I am not asking You to do anything I won’t give you strength to do. I know you are weak. So don’t be anxious for anything. Okay?”

“Okay.”

“I dare you to believe how much I love you now. Right now.”

…….

As Angela, Brie, Becky, Momma B, Mikki, Cheryl, Beth, Ginger, and Lori were eating breakfast the next morning, the order came.

“Get your gear. Ready your horses. Prepare for battle. It is time to go to Shawn.”

Food and cups dropped without care of the mess. My unit, plus two more, scattered to make themselves ready.

“Cheryl,” said the Holy Spirit, “Make sure you bring the ostrich.”

Chapter 8

Posted: March 29, 2020 in Other Stuff.....

2019

The campfire crackled against the night sky as Angela and Brie stood over a pot of boiling water. Becky soon joined them.

“I can’t sleep.” Becky said as she sat on one of the logs around the fire.

“Yeah.” Brie said as she began to crush coffee beans between two rocks.

“I can feel darkness and it isn’t from this night sky either. The enemy is in our camp sisters.” Angela said with some alarm in her voice.

“I have been having nightmares.” Brie whispered. “They are of the time when Flesh showed up at camp. Only this time, Flesh won.”

“I have been having the same type of dreams too.” Becky confessed.

Angela simply nodded in agreement.

The three sipped on coffee for the rest of the night until morning broke. Not another word was shared between them. Each lost in their own thoughts. Heather and Debbie began to prepare breakfast and the smell of fresh eggs began to beckon the rest of camp from out of their slumber. All except me. I had been awake for a while still lying on the cool grass inside my tent, but I couldn’t feel it anymore. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t feel anything. Nothing physically nor emotionally. I heard the laughter of those enjoying breakfast and each other outside of my tent but I had lost my desire to join them. The thought of getting up and being social was exhausting. So, I laid there, staring at the ceiling of my tent, numb. I heard someone say my name. It was Brie.

“I will bring her some and check on her.” I heard her say.

Then footsteps. She is coming. Panic began to set in. I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to explain why I was on the ground, why I took my armor off, why Lori still has my helmet, none of it. I didn’t even want to be acknowledged. As Brie pulled back the flap my tent I shut my eyes.

“Wake up ya bum!” Brie joking said.

I didn’t stir.

“I know you can here me. Your eyes are moving behind your lids.”

I laid as still as I could.

“Well I know you are faking it because I know you. You don’t breathe that fast when you sleep either.”

I tried to slow my breathing, but I was having difficulty doing so.

“Okay then, I am going to leave you some bread, eggs, and hot coffee. You should get up and at least come sit with us. It would be good for you.”

I didn’t flinch.

“You know I am going to go tell everyone what I am seeing right? Right? I know you hear me! Stop pretending and talk to me! What is going on with you?!”

Nothing.

“Shawn! SHAWN!”

Anger took over. I sat straight up. I could feel the hate in my eyes.

“GET THE HECK OUT OF MY TENT!”

“What?! What is wrong with…”

“GET OUT NOW!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.

The entire camp heard me and fell silent. Brie knelt down, placed my breakfast on the ground and stepped back. The flap fell between us. I could still feel her eyes looking through the flap at me. Shock. Hurt. Worry. After a moment, she turned and walked back to the campfire. I could hear Angela, Becky and Brie whispering.

“Should we take her to Hospital?” I heard Becky ask.

“She is not going to go willingly.” Brie answered.

“Then we send Lori and Momma B to her tent then. I will go get them.” Angela answered.

I frantically looked around my tent for a place to hide, knowing that the only thing inside my tent was my cot.

“Nope.” I said out loud as I stood to my feet, pushing my breastplate and shoes out of my way. I grabbed the piece of bread Brie left me, inhaled the eggs and downed the scolding hot coffee.

“That is hot!” I said to myself to confirm the scorching pain running down my throat and into my stomach. “I probably deserve the pain anyway.”

I peaked out the opening of my tent, no one was coming toward me yet. Better yet, no one was even looking in my direction which gave me opportunity to slip out and walk out of camp. Unseen. Unheard. Unnoticed. Just like I felt.

It had been thirty minutes by the time Lori and Momma B reached my tent. Momma B pulled back the flaps only to find my shoes, breastplate, and empty cot.

“She’s not here.” Momma B said to Lori.

“What do you mean?” she said as she pulled back the other flap to see for herself. “Oh no.”

Momma B bent over and picked up my breastplate and shoes and turned towards the center of camp, where Angela, Brie, and Becky stood, watching from a distance. Momma B carried my things towards them as Heather walked up next to Becky.

“What’s happening?”

“Well, one of two things,” Brie answered, “Shawn has either run away from camp or….”
“Or? Or what?” Heather asked.

“She’s dead.” Angela gently said.

They stared at Momma B and Lori the entire time they walked towards them. Never once blinking, waiting with anticipation of why Momma B had my things.

“She’s gone.” Lori finally said once they were close enough to be heard without shouting.

“THANK GOD!” Brie let out as everyone let out a deep sigh of relief.

“Well, let’s go get her! She can’t be far and with her wound still causing pain, we will be able to catch up to her by noon.”

“No.” came the immediate response of the Holy Spirit.

“Lord? Is it not protocol that none of us are left alone? We must go!” Angela said.

“No.” repeated the Holy Spirit.

“May I be so bold to ask why?” Becky asked.

“She chose to leave you and to walk away from Me. Let her go. It is her choice.” The Holy Spirit answered.

“I don’t like this. Lord, she left her armor, shield, and sword. They only thing she is wearing is the Belt of Truth.” said Momma B

“I am the Truth. I am wrapped around her waist and no matter how far she runs, she cannot escape Me. She cannot ignore or forget Truth.”

“What do we do then? Wait?” Heather asked.

“Pray.” Lori answered.

“Yes.” the Holy Spirit confirmed.

“Pray for what? I mean, we don’t have a clue what is going on! How can we fight for her in prayer if we don’t know?!”

As soon as Brie asked that question, all of their minds were flooded with the images of Flesh. The horror, the reality, the plans of destruction it has for God’s people. The Holy Spirit revealed to them how it had entered my blood stream and the inner torment within me.

“We need to get word to Ginger and Beth! Has anyone heard where they were last located?”

“We are here.” Ginger answered as she walked her horse over to where everyone was standing.

“The Holy Spirit showed us what you just saw a week ago.” Beth said as she brought their horses some hay.

“Lightning.” Ginger said.

The six women simply stared at Ginger completely lost at what that meant.

Brie broke the silence.

“What does lightning have to do with anything?”

Beth walked up beside Ginger, “The only way to cleanse Shawn of the toxins is by lightning.”

“And how in the world is that going to help her?” Brie asked

“That will kill her!” Becky spoke her first thoughts.

“Hang on,” Lori interrupted, “why lightning? I don’t understand.”

“I speak with thunder and lightning.” the Holy Spirit answered. “It is only My Word that will help her.”

“Okay.” Lori said.

“Well, let’s get our chores done and meet back here this evening, and we will pray. Go ahead and gather Theresa, Debbie, and the others too.” Momma B suggested and all agreed.
……

I walked until I was in pain. Soon after I left camp, the ground went from cool grass to dry, cracked ground littered with thrones and dried sticks. My feet were bloody in a matter of seconds. The more I walked, they worse they became. My back was screaming in agony. I knew I should have never left camp, but I was too proud to turn around. Now, here I was, in pain, no defensive gear, no sword, totally exposed to the elements and dangers… alone.

“Lord, I know I am running from You, but can You help me?”

Silence. No wind. No sound at all. As if God suddenly hit the mute button for all creation.

“Fine.” I said and started to march forward.

I was about to collapse from pain when I saw a small puff of smoke rising from behind some tall shrubs. I slowly approached, knelt down and tried to see through the thick branches and heavy, dark green leaves.

“May I help you?” I heard a voice come from behind me.

Startled, I fell backwards onto my back, let out a loud shriek of pain and rolled to my side. My eyes were staring at leather sandals. Like the ones I have but left at camp. Between their feet I could see the hem of a green cape swaying as this stranger shifted their weight to squat down to get closer to me. I looked up to see a woman, dressed in the Armor of God, with red hair and a friendly smile.

“You are a mess friend.” she said.

“You have no idea.” I answered.

“Where did you come from?”

“Central Camp.”

“Really?”
“Yes. Really.” I said as I sat up, “Why do you sound surprised?”

“Well, look at you. You have no armor, just the Belt, you have a gaping wound in your back, your feet are pretty banged up, and, like I said, you are a mess.”

“Thanks for noticing.”

The woman reached out her hand to help me to my feet.

“Come on. You need a safe place to stay tonight. Let’s get you cleaned up and fed.”

“I am fine.” I pridefully said

“Yeah, and I am Moses!” she laughed, “Come on, girl. You are welcomed here. I am a scout for the East Camp. I and Mikki have been out here for a day or so and we have plenty to eat. There is a river just over the hill beyond our tents where you can wash off the dust of this world.”

Just then my stomach growled.

“See, your stomach agrees with me. Come on.”

“I don’t even know you!”
“Oh! I am so sorry! My name is Cheryl. And you are?”

“Shawn. My name is Shawn.”

“It’s nice to meet you Shawn. Follow me.”

Cheryl lead me around the shrubs to where there were two tents with a small campfire in between. Over the fire was a black kettle just starting to boil and I could hear sound of coffee beans being crushed and ground between to rocks.

“Do you like coffee?”

“No. Thank you though. Haven’t been much of a coffee drinker.”

“Well, if you don’t like to drink coffee, if you chew on two beans you will get the same amount of energy as you would with one cup.”

“That is a lot of bitterness.”

“It is a lot of awesomeness you mean!” Cheryl said with a smile as she pointed to a flat boulder next to the fire. “Have the best seat in the house friend.”

“Thank you.”

As I sat down, I could hear foot steps approaching. Cheryl didn’t seem alarmed so I assumed it was Mikki, so I stayed relaxed. I was confused, however, as I paid attention to the foot steps. They were coming from the direction I just traveled from and I don’t remember seeing a living soul. Or a living anything! My next thought, it must be someone following from Central. But as I tried to convince myself of that, my spirit inside me remained unsettled. The third thought, in rapid succession, I am dreaming.

“Lord, again, I know I am running from You, but please, if I am dreaming, wake me up. Please!” I whispered out loud.

“Shhhhhh!”

Cheryl had stopped what she was doing and slowly crept to her tent to retrieve her spear. Never once making a sound. I felt a presence suddenly behind me, just over my left shoulder. My heart was in my throat. I didn’t want to make any sudden movements but all of my body wanted to run in terror. Something is steadily walking towards this small camp, there is definitely something standing behind me, so close I can hear it breathing.

“Hey. I’m Mikki.” came a voice from behind me as I rolled off the rock and onto my feet, fists up like a boxer, now facing opposite of the direction Cheryl was facing.
“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!”, Mikki whispered, “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Don’t be sneaking up on people like that.” I said with my hands now over my heart.

“Well, I am going to be honest, you probably wouldn’t be so jumpy if you would wear they proper armor.”

I rolled my eyes as Mikki walked past me to where Cheryl was standing, peeking through the shrubs.

“What is it?” Mikki asked.

“Not sure yet. I can hear something walking, but I can’t see anything yet.”

As the two scouts from the East Camp did what they have been called to do, I realized that my choices may have placed them in danger. What if something was following me? What if something saw me wandering around without my armor on and no sword? The Devil has eyes and ears every where, I know he knows that I have rebelled. That I have run away. But I also know that if I run away, if I disarm, that means I am no longer a threat to him. But that also means I leave a “hole” in the Army of God. Just as I am personally exposed, I have left my unit one man down. How selfish could I be? They must be so mad at me. Disappointed. Upset. There is no point going back right now. I don’t want to hear about how wrong I am. I already know. I mean, look at me! I am running around in my “dress” with a thick belt around my waist. My back is still infected and in need of medical attention. By leaving I have kept myself away from fresh salt, I am sure dirt, dust, sweat, and who knows what else, has gotten into the wound. My feet are cut up so badly that my feet are brick red from the blood stains. And know that I have been sitting for a little while, I can no longer see my ankles due to swelling. Those shoes are to help me bring the Gospel of Peace every where I go… I have no peace right now. None at all. My skin looks almost gray, like ash. I can’t remember the last time I bathed.

As I began to sulk, a low, deep growl caught my attention. I instantly looked to Cheryl and Mikki, who were holding their spears in hand with their shields on their forearms, and their swords in the other. They didn’t move a muscle. As silent as a cat, Mikki was able to get into battle position, back to back with Cheryl, without even the slightest crunch of sand under her feet.

“I see something.” Cheryl said, barely above a whisper.

“Flank?” Mikki asked.

“Yes. On two.”

They both stood as statues. For a moment it was like staring at a monument of female warriors of the saints of God. A picture of what strength looks like when the Holy Spirit guides and trains you. The bravery was mind blowing and humbling at the same time. To think that Jesus Christ, the King of Creation, allowed and appointed me to be part of this Army for His Kingdom… me, the queen of sinners… and I have just tossed it all away except this blue “dress” and the Belt of Truth. I couldn’t get the Belt off either. I have tried multiple times to pull it off, wiggle out of it, pry off the buckle, break the buckle, or even just cut it off. None of it worked.

“We can hear you thinking.” I heard Mikki whisper as she slowly moved in my direction to flank whatever is on the other side of the shrub.

I rolled my eyes as I still sat on the rock next to the dying camp fire. For the first time I felt exposed to the outside world. I knew I was exposed. Feeling it is a whole new level. A sudden cool breeze blew past me, causing the campfire to let out a low hiss. Among the wind I heard a “click click” sound, then rushing feet, armor clinking and clanging. A very familiar sound when warriors run.

“AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Cheryl screamed.

I jumped to my feet in instinctively reached for my sword and shield only to grab wind and air.

“Ha!….. Ha ha ha ha!”

“This is not funny! No! Wait a minute!” said Cheryl

The shrubs began to shake like a pompom in the hands of a giant. Leaves began to rain from the sky like confetti. Then, a noise I wasn’t expecting. A mix between a goose’s honk and a hawk’s call. Or maybe more of a goose with a sever sinus infection. I am not really sure how to explain the noise, but it was also deep, long, and loud. Feathers. Black and white feathers began to rain from the sky along with the leaves.

“Hold still! You know, you could come over here and hold this thing for a second so I can get out of the shrub! Mikki! Help me!” came Cheryl’s plea

“Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”

Mikki’s laughter was infectious at this point. I could hear Cheryl’s frustration quickly melting into giggles. You know the type when you are trying to stay serious but have a hard time keeping a straight face. The leaves and feathers finally settled when I stood up to throw more wood on the fire and stir the coals a bit.

“ SQUACK!”

“Shhhhhhh. Shhhhh. There you go. Good boy.”

“Well Cheryl, because you received the present, you get to name him.”

“Present?” I asked, “What present? What is going on over there?”

“You show her. I have to go wash off.”

“I think you should show her with all your beauty! She needs a good laugh Cheryl and only you could provide that right now!” Mikki said with a giggle and darted back around the shrubs to where I was now standing.

“SQUACK!”

“Whatever it is, it is loud. I hope it sleeps at night because I am getting tired.” I said

“Come on Cheryl. I have to start prepping dinner still. And we need water for the night and breakfast.” Mikki urged

“Fine! I am coming. But Shawn, you have to watch him until I can get washed up.”

I giggled and little bit, “Okay?!”
The shrubs moved a little bit as Cheryl and whatever she had began to make their way around to camp. Eyes to the ground she came into view. Her hair is a tangled mess with sticks and twigs weaving in and out. Long black and white feathers were poking out through the gaps in her armor but something was wrong with how her armor looked. It wasn’t shinny like it usually is. Sure, our armor will be dented and have holes in it simply because of the battles we fight, but it is always shinny. Always. Cheryl’s was not. As I quickly examined the situation, I began to see the dullness is isolated to one section.

“SQUACK”

Just then, this huge ostrich walks from behind Cheryl.

“Okay. First, Cheryl, what is all over you?” I asked.

“One wild guess…” she answered, frustrated, covered in ostrich droppings.

“What happens if you walk up behind an ostrich and scare the poor thing to death?! Ha ha ha ha!” Mikki asked me.

“You are really getting a kick out of this aren’t you?” Cheryl asked Mikki.

“Yes! As a matter of fact I am!” Mikki laughed.

“Oh no!” I put my hand to my mouth, “I am so sorry Cheryl!” Trying to restrain my own smile now.

“Well, Shawn, since you also are finding this funny, the ostrich now belongs to you! Here, take it!”

Cheryl handed me the leash that was around the ostrich’s neck. As I reached out to take the rope from her left hand, she reached out with her right hand, grabbed my arm and pulled me into a hug. My face landed in the ostrich droppings that covered Cheryl’s shoulders and breastplate.

“We share around here. The Good. The Bad. And the…” Cheryl looked down at her armor and then to my face now covered in bird dropping, smiled, “… Ugly!”

As Cheryl and I walked down to the river to wash off, Mikki tied down the ostrich and their horses for the night in the safety of camp and began to prep for dinner. After we washed, I filled the kettle with water. While filling it I looked up to the opposite river bank. I instantly felt the blood rush from my head, dropped the kettle, and collapsed in the water face down. Cheryl yelled out for Mikki as she rushed and dragged me onto shore. I hadn’t been under the water very long so my lungs instantly kicked the water out as I gasped for air. By the time Mikki got on her horse and rode down to the river, I was breathing and in shock. I could not take my eyes off of what was on the other side of the river. Am I dreaming? Is this for real? What is happening? My tree, the one that Jesus and I had fellowship at the beginning. Where I first met Angela and knew what warfare truly was. Where Brie and I would hang out by the water, talking while the tiny fish nibbled our toes. Where Becky, Heather, and I would have deep conversations. My tribe would gather to have fun. My special place. My safe place. My place of peace, hope, safety, security, joy… my tree. It is across the river bank and standing beside it is Flesh. My Flesh. Above Flesh hung a noose. A noose on my tree. I felt a searing pain. As if my very soul was ripped open and bleeding.

Jesus came for me…

Posted: March 1, 2020 in Other Stuff.....

I have been a Christian 14 1/2 years. Jesus saved my soul September 11, 2005. Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean I had/have it all together. Far far from it. But this I do know, I am not forgotten by the God of Creation and Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of the world.

See, what I did not know is that even when my choices lead me down the dark paths away from fellowship with my Father, the Holy Spirit continuously reminded me of Who God is and convicting me of my wrong choices.

Punishment of consequences is never pleasant and I was in flat out disobedience. I did not want to walk the path God had clearly chosen and confirmed, over and over again, for me to walk. So, I tried forging my own pathway.

Long story short, I found myself as a dumb sheep… lost, away from home, broken, dirty, bloody, trapped in a snare at the bottom of a deep pit of darkness. Depressed, lonely, isolated and defeated.

On Feb 11 I tried to kill myself and failed. Feb 13 I checked myself into a mental hospital after a 2nd attempt… desperate.

Desperate for purpose. Desperate for meaning. Desperate for life. Desperate for joy. And all these are found in Jesus Christ… and I had somehow forgotten Him even tho He never forgot me.

Wow. Seeing that truth in black and white is powerful.

The moment I whispered, in a hospital bed in a mental hospital, “Lord, I am desperate for You.” He immediately made Himself known.

A nurse smuggled a Bible into me until my friend brought one on visitation day. There wasn’t a day that went by where He didn’t show me how much He loves me every hour! He brought old dreams and goals back to life! He restored my joy and hope in Him and with Him!

It was like I was, well unresponsive and Jesus gave me CPR and revived me back to life! I feel like I can breathe…. like stepping outside after being stuck in an airplane for hours! The air is crisp, clean, and easy to breathe! My heart no longer beats out of rhythm like it did before His chest compressions! It now beats in time with His.

I literally hit rock bottom. Death was level with me. But Jesus said “not today” and He came after me before I ever let out my cry, or bleat, for help. And I realized today that He came after me the moment I turned away.

Grace. God’s unmerited favor. I will never understand it but I am eternally grateful for it.

Jesus,

So many ways Your love has saved the day. And I’m thankful for them all.

-Shawn

Broke

Posted: November 23, 2019 in Other Stuff.....

It is 2am as I sit here, defeated. My alarm is going to go off at 3, reminding me to pray… asking God to bless, protect, encourage, heal…

… how can I even enter His Throne room after this?

I asked, but didn’t wait for the answer. I knocked, but left before He opened the door of escape. I did seek, but I sought my way of relief to the onslaught of emotions surging through me.

In that short moment that I lost control, I can honestly say my pent up emotions left… what followed was/is way worse… guilt, shame, panic…. how do I now hide these marks? There are people I know that will read this… they are going to know I allowed my flesh take control… they will know where I sinned…. dang it!!!!!!!!!

Why didn’t I just let the Lord take the burdens and hurts and fears and anxiety and shock and heaviness and pain???? Why won’t my parents turn to the Lord?? How in the world can they see hope and faith and peace and joy in me with these cuts on me!?!?? Am I the reason they won’t or don’t want Jesus?

I know you are reading this…. I also know you love Jesus …. please pray the my lack of restraint is hidden from my parents…. please.

The Pelican

Posted: November 14, 2019 in Other Stuff.....

Today I had a doctor’s visit that wasn’t the best. It’s my own dumb fault…. I’m the one who stopped my medications, and I was expecting some bad news, but this is overwhelming. Overwhelming enough that on the drive home I pulled over once to cry, once more to throw up, and one more time to text my counselor.

I was going to stop by a friend’s house, but came to “My Tree” by the river instead. Whenever times are good, I come to this tree…. even more so when things are not. I was  almost to my tree when my counselor called… she didn’t have to, but she did. The Holy Spirit used her to be my voice of reason to get my mind to calm down… when we hung up after a short talk, my mind was beginning to slow and my eyes stopped twitching.

I parked at my tree, rolled my windows down and felt the cold breeze brush past my red hot face… what an amazing feeling. The sun then burst out from behind the cloud cover and the river’s water began to shimmer like fresh glitter.

My tree, even with dying, brown and yellow leaves, is so breathtakingly beautiful to me. There’s nothing special about it… it’s lopsided and uneven, but it’s beauty is awe inspiring to me.

As I played my favorite songs in my car, staring at this mesmerizing tree, I suddenly heard seagulls screeching as a flock of them settled in the middle of the Tennessee River. I don’t know what it is about white birds, but they make me smile and forget all the bad … even if only for moment. I’ve been seeing a lot of white birds.

Then it happened, one white pelican swam from behind one of the bends. White pelicans are my favorite of white birds! I watched as the current would carry it back behind the bend and then it would swim against the current just long enough for me to see it and then float away again.

Then, an almost audible Voice gently spoke…

”Just because the sun is behind the clouds doesn’t mean it’s not there… Just because the pelican is behind the rocks of the river bend doesn’t mean it’s not there… Just because you can’t see Me in every situation,  doesn’t mean I am not here with you.”

And just like that, The Lord pointed out the music on my radio, the voice of reasoning from my counselor, the sudden burst of sunshine, the beauty of my tree, the flock of seagulls, and one white pelican …. “See, I am right here.”

 

The end yet the beginning

Posted: November 13, 2019 in Other Stuff.....

(For Angela…this is the vison the Holy Spirit gave me in how we met!! ZXO-eth)

The day I met King Jesus was a day above any other day. I was in a dark cave that was cold and wet. I couldn’t see anything. I kept tripping over rocks and was constantly becoming entangled with roots. I had run into this cave seeking shelter and refuge from the world I was living in, only to find I had left one bad place for an even worse one. I was lost, starving, thirsty, and hopeless. In my every waking moment, my mind replayed my failures, mistakes, and wrong choices. I carried a small knife in my pocket, which I once used to kill small animals or bugs, but it’s role now was to cut into my flesh. Cutting was the only way I knew I was alive. I was numb inside, but when I would cut, I would feel the pain but seeing my blood was a cruel reminder of life.

I lived inside this cave for years. Once I entered in, I couldn’t find a way back out. I lost all connection with the world outside. Every now and then, I would hear the voices of my loved ones shouting out my name as they looked for me. Those days are now gone. I lost all sense of time and reality when it happened….

I was stumbling through the darkness, as usual, when I tripped over a root and fell against the wall of the cave. The impact caused a boulder to shift slightly, and that in turn, caused the side of the cave to give way. I fell through the wall into a hole. My body bounced back and forth like a ping pong ball as I fell deeper and deeper into the earth. My face hit the bottom first as the rest of me crumbled awkwardly in a heap. I slowly struggled to my knees, finding it difficult to breathe.

The hole I had fallen in was deep, but it wasn’t very wide. There was hardly enough room for me to lie down flat. The wall was smooth and flat. No roots, no cracks, no openings. As I felt around, I realized the only way out of this pit was up, and that was impossible.

I lost all control of my emotions. I thought life was miserable in the cave, this was far more than I could bare. I took out my knife and began to tear into my flesh. I couldn’t see the cuts, but I could hear the ripping and smell the metallic blood seeping out of me. Once I settled down, logic began to take over. I knew cutting wasn’t going to do anything. It was just a temporary distraction to the reality of the matter. I am in a deep pit, in the middle of a dark cave, with no way out.

As I sat there against the wall, I heard something. I could hear air moving. My heart began to beat a little faster and I felt a surge of excitement course through me.

Maybe there is a way out.” I whispered out loud.

I felt around the pit’s smooth walls again, frantically searching for the reason of the moving air. I heard the air move again from behind me at the place I was only a second ago. My fingers began to dance over the walls when I heard it again, from behind me.

What in the world? I was just there!”

As I turned my head, two slits of green lights appeared across from me.

WHAO!” I yelled out as I tried to melt into the wall.

Hello Shawn,” came a low, raspy voice from across the darkness.

Terrified doesn’t even begin to explain how I felt. My heart was pounding so hard that I thought it would burst through the front of my chest and fall to the floor. I heard the sound of air moving as the two green slits of lights moved. This thing was the source of the sound I was hearing… it was breathing.

Don’t worry Shawn, I am not here to harm you, I am here to offer a way out.”

How?”, I asked, my voice cracking.

Well, you have already started. Just take your knife and slice a little lower and deeper on your arm and it will be over in a matter of minutes.” The creature whispered.

You want me to kill myself?”

No. You want to kill yourself. If you don’t, you will suffer in this pit, isolated from the world, alone, slowly suffocating. You will face agonizing days of suffering and pain. You don’t want that, do you?”

I didn’t answer. The green eyed creature continued to give me reason after reason why this is my only way out, and it was right. There really wasn’t any other way. But there was this strong desire to fight to live, which seemed pointless, but, nonetheless, it was kicking and screaming inside me. It was the first time, in a very long time, that this desire had come to the surface and it was definitely catching my attention.

I will leave you to your thoughts.” the greened eyed creature suddenly whispered and then vanished.

I could feel its presence leave and I was alone in the pit again. Time slipped by. How much time, I don’t know. My mind raced with so many things. From memories of the days before I entered the cave to the reality I find myself in. The suggestions of the creature and the sudden impulse to want to live. But the more and more I took in where I was, the colder the air became, and the drier my mouth was, the more appealing suicide became.

Stress and desperation filled my soul so I took out my knife once more and began to cut myself. Soon, I was stabbing my legs. I was loosing my mind. My thoughts, fears, dreams, nightmares, hopes, emptiness, every emotion possible was blending together into a muddy display of confusion and insanity. All I could think of was death and the time finally came where I was willing to fulfill that desire.

My heart broke as I paced back and forth within that small space. A thousand thoughts bouncing randomly and endlessly inside my mind. It was overwhelming and exhausting. I leaned against the cold wall and slid down to the ground allowing the emotions building within me finally burst forth as I wept.

What a waste of a life.” I mumbled to myself. “Lord… I am sorry.”

I held out my left wrist, placed the blade of the knife against my skin, and began to apply pressure. I took in a deep breath, held it, and just as I was about to slice through my flesh, a bright light, brighter than I have ever seen before, brighter than the sun, burst through the the top opening of the hole I was in. The light was blinding, but yet I could still see. At some point I dropped my knife and stood to my feet, still looking upward into the light.

I am here Shawn. I have been waiting for you to call on Me.” Came a kind, loving, caring voice.

Even though I have never met Him, I knew exactly Who was speaking to me and I fell to my knees and quickly bowed my head. I was unworthy to look upon Him, let alone be in His glorious Light. He is the King of king and the Lord of lords. The Creator of all things seen and unseen. He has always been and always will be. There is never a beginning nor an end of His existence. He is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Why are You here, Lord?” I asked, stunned that He, of all people, would be here.

I am here for you. To rescue you.”

Why? I have done nothing nor am I anything worthy of saving.”

I don’t see you as you see yourself. I see you the way I designed you to be. For the purpose you are created to fulfill.”

The light came down, all the way to the bottom of the hole, where I knelt, trembling. As the Light filled my surroundings, I saw the mud and filth caked to my hands and arms. My clothes were torn, revealing dried blood on my skinned knees and bruises on my elbows. My hair felt stiff, thick, and matted with mud. My left wrist was cut and bleeding. I didn’t slice my flesh, but I did break my skin, and the blood was running down the palm of my hand and slowly dripping to the dirt floor.

As my mind was consumed with how dirty I was, Jesus knelt down in front of me. I froze, afraid to move a muscle. Without saying a word, He reached out and took my left hand into His. I saw the scares in both of His wrists as He covered my sinful, tainted, bloody hand with His other Hand. I watched as my blood dripped through His fingers…. drip…..drip…. Then it stopped. The blood that was within His fingers vanished and when He removed His right hand I saw the cut was healed. There was still a scare, but it was completely healed. In astonishment I couldn’t help but stare at my wrist being held by Jesus’ Hand. My eyes slowly moved to His wrist and I stared at His scar. Jesus put His right hand under my chin, while still holding my left hand, lifted my head to face Him.

My words fail to explain what I saw in His eyes as He looked into mine. Jesus knew every failure, mistake, and sin I have ever made. He knew my brokenness, He knew my frustrations, He knew my hatred. I was His enemy, yet, here He was with me in my ugliest, darkest, most desperate point of my life. His eyes made my heart melt underneath the intense, overwhelming, all consuming love He showed towards me. Jesus had every right to strike me dead and He would be just and right in doing so; but He was merciful and compassionate. He didn’t have to speak, just the way He was looking at me told me that He accepted me just the way I was along with a promise that He wouldn’t leave me in the state He found me in. I felt like I was breathing for the very first time in 22 years. In His presence, my vision was so perfectly clear, as if I had been blind this whole time before this moment. The life I was living before wasn’t life at all, Jesus was life, The Life, and I couldn’t fathom of living one more second without Him.

Lord Jesus, save me?” I asked trembling.

Done.” Jesus said with a smile.

In a faction of a second, the hole and the cave disappeared. Poof! Gone! The color of my new surroundings were fantastic! The grass was the richest of green, the sky was the brightest of blues! The chirping of birds were marvelous melodies I have never heard!

Lord! How is it that I have never seen nor heard any of this before?! This is amazing!” I asked in wonder.

You didn’t have Me.” Jesus said, smiling as He enjoyed watching me take in the newness of life with Him.

The next few months were exciting and enlightening. Every where Jesus went, He invited me to go with Him and I jumped at every opportunity He gave. He became my reason for living. Anyone and everyone I came across, whether they asked or not, I told them about Jesus and what He has done in my life and the adventures we are having together. I wanted nothing more than to be with Him, I served wherever He wanted me to serve in His Kingdom. There were times I didn’t think I was able to do what He was asking me to do, so He showed me how to do it. More and more He began to show me things I never thought I could do and I realized that the only way I was able to do it was because of Jesus.

He taught me His way, He showed me that in His strength I could do anything He would ever ask of me to do. Those were incredible moments of my life. Laying down the foundation of our relationship that would support every thing I would do with Him and in His Name.

One night, though, a situation happened that I wasn’t expecting and it devastated me. My heart was aching unlike ever before. That people I had grown to love working with turned on me as rumors began to spread like a wild fire.

“Lord! It is not what they are saying! I did not do this! Why are they doing this to me?! Can You stop it?!” I frantically said, without giving Jesus to respond to my questions.

“Shawn, look at Me.” Jesus gently said.

“But Lord! They are telling lies! What did I do? What can I…..”

Jesus interrupted, “Shawn. Look at Me.”

I turned and looked up at Jesus who was standing right behind me.

“Trust Me.”

I stood there, still looking at Him, waiting for Him to finish what He was going to say. But He never did.

“That’s it? That’s all You are going to say? Did You hear what is being said about me?”

“Trust Me.”

“Fine.” I said, not hiding my frustration.

Did He not understand how much this was breaking my heart. It wasn’t really the rumors themselves, it was the fact that these were people I loved deeply. We were serving Jesus together, living life together, sharing laughter and joy, the good times and the bad times. I trusted them and they have turned on me for no apparent reason.

I don’t even know why they would believe I was do such a thing. They know me better than that, but here they were, speaking lies that tore my heart apart and crippling my belief that you can trust others in the Kingdom.

The rumors continued to fly, destroying friendships and deep bonds that took years to build. I may not be waling in a cave, but the old, familiar feelings of being alone came rushing back to my mind and my heart. I separated myself from everyone else. I spent most of my time under a tree that I began to claim as my tree. As I sat down beneath it one afternoon, I felt something from inside my pocket poke my thigh. I reached in a pulled out a small knife.

“How did that get in there? I don’t remember having a knife since Jesus saved me from that pit.” I asked myself.

I fumbled with the knife, allowing it to weave in and out of my fingers. As I watched it dance in my hands, a growing desire and a familiar desire began to grow in my mind. I wanted to cut myself to ease the emotional pain within me. I instantly dropped the knife and quickly stood to my feet. I began to pace with anxiety, placing my hands on top of my head.

“Where is this coming from?” I asked through the tears now rolling down my cheeks.

Panic began to surge through my veins as the intense desire to cut myself began to overcome the desire to turn and run to Jesus. I glanced over towards the knife I had dropped and laying over the knife was a piece of paper with a note written on it. My head snapped up as I turned to look around. There was no one there, and no one could have walked up without me seeing them approach. I returned my attention back to the note still laying over the knife. I slowly walked over and picked up the note…

Praying so hard for you sweet girl.

-A.M.

What in the world?” I asked out loud

Speak to her.” Came a still, small voice of the Holy Spirit

What? Speak to whom?” I asked Him

To Angela.”

Angela? Angela who? And no one is here!”

Yes she is.”

No she isn’t. I already looked. There is no one here, Lord.”

She is there. Speak to her.”

I looked around one more time. I saw nothing but my tree, rolling hills to my south, east, and west, and a flowing river to my north. Nothing else.

sigh… “OK?…. ummmmm, Angela, are you there?”

A woman, dressed in what looked like old, Roman armor, stepped out from behind the north side of my tree. She was smiling. Her face was glowing and her eyes were filled with the love of Jesus. On her head was a helmet that had been scratched and dented from obvious battles she had been in. She wore a breastplate that hung from her shoulders and hugged her torso. It too had it’s share of dents and scratches. From the side you could see what looked like a brace or a wide belt that was beneath her breastplate that wrapped her waist. The breastplate was supported, also, by this belt beneath it. She wore leather sandals with leather straps wrapped around her legs. In her right hand she held a large, iron sword. Her left forearm held a large shield which would hide her when she stood behind it. A blue cape hung from her shoulders and covered her back.

I am here.” Angela answered as she walked towards me.

Angela didn’t wait for my permission, nor did she hesitate in any way in her “mission.” The moment she was close enough to touch me, she placed her sword in her left hand and put her free hand on my shoulder and began to pray.

She didn’t just mumble off words that she had rehearsed over and over again. These words had power. I could feel it within and all around me. I watched as she prayed. Sweat began to run from underneath her helmet and drip down onto my feet.

Suddenly, the atmosphere changed and there was a heaviness about it. With the change of the atmosphere, Angela’s prayers shifted too. Not only were her words full of power, but now authority as she began to pray and give orders in Jesus Name.

I heard a growl behind me and my blood turned to ice. A fear unlike I have ever known began to grow inside me.

I don’t know how, so don’t ask, but Angela knew what I was feeling and in a flash, she retrieved her sword from her left hand, pulled me into an embrace and placed her shield behind me, with her sword at the ready. Then, what she did next, shocked me. She began to sing. And not just any song either. She began to sing praises to Jesus. While Angela sang, I began to her sounds coming from behind me.

Tap…. tap…. ping…. tap tap….. ping

It took me a second before I realized the sounds I was hearing were things hitting the front of the shield she had placed behind me. Something or someone was throwing something at us! The more she heard items hitting the shield, the louder Angela would sing. Then silence. The heaviness in the air left. The atmosphere was back to, well, normal.

Angela removed her shield from behind me and stepped back. It wasn’t until then that I realized my fear had left the moment she had covered me with it.

What was that all about?!” my voice squeaked

That, my sister, was an attack from one of the armies of darkness.”

Wait? What? I am a born again believer! That’s not supposed to happen!”

Angela smiled, “It is because you are a born again believer in Jesus Christ that the enemy attacked you.”

I must have looked confused because Angela began to explain how the Prince of the world is Satan, he rules the world system, and he hates God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Before I asked Jesus to save me, Satan had no reason to attack me because, well, I was in his army doing his bidding in his world system. But now that I am Jesus’, he is going to do every thing he can to keep me from spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. To destroy my witness to others, to steal my joy that is only in Jesus Christ, and kill me. But she also told me that I don’t have to fear Satan or any of his armies when they come against me because greater is the Holy Spirit that lives inside me, than he that is in the world.

She explained many things to me. Especially the defensive armor the Lord designed to help us to stand and face the armies of darkness; along with the three weapons we have to use against the darkness… The Sword of the Spirit, prayer, and praises to King Jesus.

Wow. I don’t know what else to say but wow.” I said, looking at her shield, and then I looked up at her and asked, “How did you know this was going to happen?”

Simple. The Holy Spirit told me to come here for this, so I did.”

Really?”

Yep. The Holy Spirit knows everything, past, present, future. And, yes, He could take care of all this with just a simple whisper, but God the Father and Jesus Christ want us to be part of the work they are doing, which includes fighting against darkness. The Holy Spirit gives us orders on where to go and what to do, and we get to choice whether we will obey or not.”

You chose to do this? You don’t even know me.”

Yep. I did.”

Why?”

Well, I want to be obedient to the One who saved my soul and changed my life! I want to be part of what God is doing! Also, I have been where you were, under attack, but the one the Holy Spirit commanded to come to my aide chose not to come. The Holy Spirit was with me, but the the battle was much longer, much harder, and left a lot of scars that wouldn’t have happened if someone was fighting with me. I don’t want anyone to feel that and go through that. So, if the Holy Spirit tells me to go, I go!”

This encounter with Angela and all that took place was so much to take in and process.

Don’t worry, this will all settle in. The Holy Spirit is the best Teacher!” Angela picked up her shield and began to walk away, when she stopped and turned back and yelled, “Oh, Shawn, remember this!”

OK! What!?”

Praise the Lord always! There are only two times to praise the Lord, Shawn! When you feel like it, and when you don’t”

Angela raised her sword in the air, turned back and walked away, singing.

I took off running from my tree back to where Jesus was sitting, waiting for me to come to Him. He stood and embraced me as I ran into His arms.

Thank You! Thank You for this! I am so sorry I didn’t trust You as I should have! I am so sorry I was angry with You.”

I love you, Shawn, so much.”

Late night thoughts

Posted: October 26, 2019 in Other Stuff.....

I’m not sure exactly how I came to realizing this, but for a week my mind and thoughts aren’t constantly in a bad place. I literally feel “lighter “ than I did…. even my breathing is different. As if the oxygen is pure for the first time of my life….

I have a deeply rooted, thick, high, and long stronghold. A stronghold that I don’t ever talk about, but it constantly haunts me since  the day I decided to follow Jesus. A stronghold I refuse to acknowledge yet it consumes me in fear.
Something happened last week. This thing that is so vast, cracked. It cracked big. It cracked so big that I could see what life looks like on the other side of it. This thing is my Great Wall… and it cracked!
But, that crack also brings about two things…

1) it is time to deal with it. Face it, acknowledge it, and be rid of it. I know a Jesus can do this bc of what He has recently done in my life! Last year, He lead me to my counselor Lori, and through her feeding me The Word and putting into practice The Word…. my wrath left and hasn’t returned. Sure I get angry, but it is no where near the level of violent wrath I had before! One year later, my world began to collapse all around me. Old sin and temptations I haven’t had for 13 years came flooding back with incredible force, my dad’s drinking became way worse and he can be mean. My mom hates me. When she is in her moods, she threatens me, she pulls guns on me, calls me the worst name you could call a woman, she lies to my dad to cause friction, I’m blamed for every failed relationship she’s had, including  her marriage… but in public she says all good things about me, or she uses my failing health to get sympathy from strangers. These and other dramas and hatred towards me, and struggles within slamming me against my stronghold, I saw no way out. Next week will be two months since my failed attempt of suicide. I had lost all hope. I could not see a way out. But Jesus, He never left, He sent help. He sent Lori back into my life, making a safe place to deal with my demons and secrets that are/were tormenting me. Jesus sent Brie, a safe friend for those moments that hit out of no where. Jesus sent Angela, He hugs me thru her exactly when I need it most. Jesus sent Becky who constantly asks and checks on my emotional and mental status! They stand in the gap, they are Jesus’ hands and feet! Sure, I still think about suicide daily, especially when I’m in pain, but again, it is no where near like it was two months ago.

I am at peace. Crap at home hasn’t changed but the Lord has changed me! That brings me to number 2…

2) bc I’m in a good place I don’t want to ruin it by dealing with my stronghold, even tho there’s a huge crack in it. I’m giving myself a million reasons not to go through with it…. and only two reasons to deal with it. Jesus will knock it down and He will use it.

I am so anxious. Fearful of being overwhelmed and my flesh taking over again.

Spiritual pruning is never easy… it’s quite painful…. but Lord, can’t you just take this one away instead of breaking out the chainsaw?!?

Lord help me trust Your timing, Your ways of confronting the lies and arguments I have for keeping my strongholds… I know I am the reason they are still standing… and help me trust Your people, the ones You have put in my life for such a time as this. And now that I see this written out, Lord my anxiety has dropped. Do it Lord! Prune that big ol sinful limb from me! Bring Your wrecking ball and slam into that stronghold. Please, Jesus, don’t let me run and don’t let me get in Your way.

Blackout

Posted: July 29, 2019 in Other Stuff.....

“Shawn, try not to move.” I heard a voice whisper to me.

Pain. Incredible pain pulsed through my back. I opened my eyes and saw green grass below me.  It took me a few seconds to comprehend I was laying face down on a narrow cot that’s barley wide enough to keep my arms from falling off.

I heard grass softly crunch beneath the source of the voice,  they were coming towards me.

“You have very deep wounds.”

I’ve heard this voice before but I can’t remember where. I tried to lift my head to see who was standing next me, but the strain on my back let me know instantly that was a bad idea.

“I told you to not to move. You aren’t ready for that yet.”

“Who are you?” I ask through a crackling, raspy voice.

Silence. Whoever it was simply stood over me.

“Where is everyone?” I asked.

Silence.

My mind began to wander from thought to thought. Am I in the Enemy’s camp? No. That can’t be possible. The Enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. They wouldn’t take the time to keep me comfortable.  They would try to kill me. Is there another battle taking place? Was my unit dispatched again? No, that’s not it either. Someone would have stayed with me. It’s protocol. No one is left behind. Brie would be here or Momma B. If they were needed in battle, depending on the scale of it, Lori would be here at least.

My eyes began to search the grass beneath me, looking for any sign of where I am or who is standing next to me. Blood. Dried blood dotted the bright green grass.

“Is that my blood on the ground?”

“Yes.”

“Where is Brie or Lori?”

Silence.

My heart rate is now starting to quicken. Something is not right. Something is very wrong. Then it hit me… they are dead. Did something happen while I was passed out? Was there another major attack? Every one who dragged me off the field and even those I heard singing around the tent were injured. Not one wasn’t spilling their own blood from some point of their body. My breathing increased. I could feel myself starting to panic.

“WHERE IS MY UNIT!” I yelled with all my might. My voice shaking in fear and anger.

“Calm down.” the voice whispered again without a hint of emotion.

“I WILL NOT CALM DOWN UNTIL YOU TELL ME WHERE THEY ARE!”

“Slow your breathing.”

“DON’T INGORE ME!” I yelled again trying to push myself up off the cot so I could face the mystery person in the tent. I wanted them to see my face, see the anger boiling into fury in my eyes. They need to know I am serious in demanding an answer. But as I bent my elbows and started to push myself up, the person above me put both hands on my back and slammed me back down.

“I said stay down Shawn!”

Fear and anger rapidly coursed through my veins as a fiery burning pain ripped through my back and down my legs. Tears filled my eyes and spilled over onto to the ground, some mixing with the blood, turning it bright red.

“Are they dead?”

I struggled to get the question out through my quivering chin. A thought I never dreamed I would face.

“You don’t need them.”

Wait, what? What kind of answer is that? That doesn’t make sense.

“What are you talking about? Of course I need them.”

“You have me.”

“I don’t even know who you are! You won’t answer me!”

From the bottom corner of my eye I watch their feet shuffle to the head of my cot, turn, and face me. I shivered. Anxiety and fear smothered me as it wrapped around my chest and squeezed tight. I could feel my heart beating hard inside me. I thought for sure it would puncture my lung from the relentless and heavy pounding. I watched as the person above me knelt down onto their hands and knees.

“Holy Spirit, be with me now…”

That was all I could get out of my mouth before the person quickly swung their head under mine and snapped their face, in an unnatural contorted way, to face mine. Whatever blood that was left in my body turned to ice, so cold I swear it stopped flowing. My eyes shot open so wide that I thought they would fall out and roll away from me. My mouth opened to scream but even my words were too terrified to come out. I was, once again, face to face with the worst of the worst, besides the Devil himself… Flesh.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Momma B! Lori! Get in here now! Something is wrong!” Brie yelled out from within the Hospital tent.

Surgery was over. Lori and Heather were outside rinsing the bloody rags, Momma B was putting the last bandages on Angela when Brie yelled out. Becky also heard and began to rush over.

“Where is Shawn’s shield?” Angela asked Heather as they also began to follow Lori and Momma B.

“I leaned it outside of her tent.”

“Grab it and bring it in with you.”

Within seconds Lori is in the tent and at my side. Blood was running from the middle of my back, rolling off to the side, then dripping to the ground.

“I was hoping this wouldn’t happen.” Lori said as she began to take the blood soaked bandages off.

“What?” Brie asked.

“Her worst wound is infected. The infection is pushing fresh, healing blood up and out of the wound. This type of infection is almost like a living organism.”

“What does that mean?” Heather asked

Lori looked up, made eye contact with Heather and then with Momma B, and looked back down at the wound. Never answering the question that hung in the air. Momma B moved closer and began to help Lori trying to get control of the bleeding. No one said a word as they watched the two women work. It was understood what the answer to the question was and no one wanted to speak the words out loud.

“Becky, there is some salt over there in the corner behind you. Would you grab a hand full please?” Lori asked, pointing to the corner with her eyes.

Lori took the salt as Momma B spread my flesh apart, exposing the depth of the wound.

“If you can hear me Shawn, hang in there. We are all here. Debbie went to get oil.”

Momma B looked up at Lori as they shared a quick, silent conversation with only eye contact and a slight nod,

“Shawn,” said Momma B, “Honey, this is going to hurt.”

With a sigh, Lori took the handful of salt and shoved it as deep as she could into the bleeding, infected wound.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“You don’t need them. You have me.” Flesh whispered again.

It’s breath smelt of sulfur and death. Rotting meat was far more pleasant to breathe in than this.

“I thought I killed you?”

Flesh smiled awkwardly and answered,

“You did. But didn’t you pay attention to your training, I come back…daily.”

“I haven’t seen you ‘daily’. Otherwise I would have killed  you continually!”

“Ha ha ha! I am not a fool Shawn!” Flesh laughed a deep, raspy laugh, “I am not going to make things easy for you! I stocked you. I waited for the perfect time. That time came and here we are! Re-united!”

“Where is my unit? They were here last time I faced you.”

“They are not here. They are far, far away. It is just you and me.”

I thought about the last time I faced Flesh. Our entire camp was surrounded by them. Each one of us, facing a cruel reflection of ourselves. Grey corpses with skin hanging like a silk robe on a closet hanger and thin straggly hair over their black, lifeless eyes. To kill them, we had to crucify them. But every time we drove a nail into Flesh, we would feel the pain in ourselves. I remember that day clearly. Above my agonizing shouts, I could hear the entire camp in pain, which continued until the last nail was driven in.

I tried to move my hands. My fingers searching for my sword.

“Don’t bother. Your sword isn’t there.”

Flesh was still beneath me, staring up at me. It’s neck was twisted completely around, the skin folds looking like a tightly wound spring. I could see my own reflection in the black marbles of it’s eyes. Its face, as grey as a storm cloud, cheeks sunken in, and it’s skin as thin as rice paper. When it spoke, it’s jaw cracked, as the joints popped in and out of socket. It has no ears, just holes in the side of it’s head. It really is my corpse. It favors me. A dead me.

“How did I get here?”

“You never left where you were?”

“What?”

“I’ve been practicing.”

“What are you talking about?”

Flesh smiled so big I could see the maggots wiggling between it’s teeth.

“I entered your wound.”

I had no idea what Flesh was talking about. How can that even be possible? Is this figurative? Is this a parable? The Devil and his army does like to mimic Our Father and Jesus Christ.

“You are over thinking it.” Flesh whispered.

That’s when it hit me. If I wasn’t afraid before, I was now. It knew what I was thinking. Flesh was the poison that was on the arrows. It made itself a “virus” per se  and it has entered my mind. My heart became heavy and it sank to the pits of my soul. I have gone through a battle in my mind before too, but this time the enemy wasn’t a dark spirit, it is my Flesh.

“Lord Jesus Christ, help….”

“Stop talking to Him you fool! Jesus can’t help you here!”

“…Lord, I am desperate.”

“How has the Lord sent help before, Shawn? Let’s think about this for a moment.”

I didn’t answer.

“I believe, when you would pray before, help would come in the form of your unit. Am I right? They would show up, Angela would kneel behind you, Brie and Becky would be next to you, all with swords drawn. You even had a sword. The four of you would raise your shields to create a hedge around you. Am I right so far?”

Now I am the one silent.

“I know I am right. Then, in your weakest, they would start to sing around you. Praise the so called King of kings, that Jesus, until you were strong enough to stand back up. Or Momma B would come out and carry you back. Now you have ‘what’s her name’, you know, uh, Lori. Yeah, that’s her name, Lori and Heather and Debbie too. I will admit, I wasn’t expecting your tight little pathetic group to grow. It ticked me off because I had to rethink how to get to you again. But then it hit me, if I can get into you, they can’t get to you! And they are what the Lord has been sending to help you! It was perfect!”

I began to cry. What am I going to do? Flesh is right. They were vital in battle and I have been separated from them. A new emotion began to come over me. I am alone. My tears splashed on the face of Flesh. It smiled a hateful smile then slid out from underneath me.

“You are once again mine and this time, I am not letting you go until you are dead…like me.”