Monday, September 29, 2014


I've always known I have a gift.  If I were a non-believer I might consider myself a psychic.  But I'm a Christ-follower and I know I have the gift of prophecy.  

My husband wonders if maybe it's a curse.  He says people just don't know what to do with me. I'm having a hard time finding my place in the family of God.

I remember the first time I became acutely aware of this gift.  I was around nine or ten years old.  My family was one of several families invited to a party at the home of Carolyn and John - a particularly beautiful and fabulous couple who'd led a charmed life.  John had been a record setting basketball player for the USC Trojans and then the New York Nicks.  His career had been side-lined when he was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma.  Aggressive treatment had saved his life.  Although he never returned to professional ball, the book about his life led to a vibrant ministry.

Their beautiful idyllic home was about 1/4 of a mile off the road and completely surrounded by trees. At one point during the party I remember sitting on the lawn and mindlessly picking at the grass.  Carolyn saw me, came up to me and gently chastised me.  "Please don't pick the grass.  I work hard to keep this beautiful".  

The word "fire" immediately popped into my head.  I remember thinking, "Carolyn would be very sad if her home burned down."  I started praying for John, Carolyn, and their kids.  "Lord, I pray that if anything happens to this home You would keep this family safe.  If this house burns down, help them escape."

Two weeks later that house burned to the ground.

When John and Carolyn shared the harrowing experience with the church family, I remember them telling how Carolyn had heard the baby crying and she got up to check on him.  As she walked down the hall to his room she saw the glowing embers of a fire.  When she got to the baby's room, he was sound asleep - not crying at all.  She believed God had awakened her.

This was back in the day before GPS and cell signals and because the house was so far off the road it took some time for the fire department to find the fire.  By the time they arrived, the house was fully involved and could not be saved.

I tried going back to the church I loved and an evil spirit warned me that I should go.

I was walking down the hall of church and I caught a flicker of light on the wall.  I turned to look and two red eyes jumped off the wall, came right up close to my face, looked menacingly into my eyes, then floated very quickly down the hall.  I smiled and thought, "wow satan, you really don't want me here."  

Within a few months I was forced to leave, as I detailed in my previous blog post.

It happens all the time - I "see" something and then I know how to pray.  I've seen spirits too.  Not just in Africa where you expect it, but in the eyes of my ex-husband, hovering above the bedroom doors in my home, jumping out of a painting on my wall, in the hallway at church, sitting on my couch…everywhere.

A little over a year ago our small group leader invited a "surprise" guest to my home.  I told my husband I was pretty sure the surprise would be a professed prophet, which did not please him as he doesn't do well being publicly put on the spot regarding religious things.  Sure enough, we spent that evening entertaining all the members of our small group, and the female prophet who identified the spirits living in my home.  That fact didn't surprise me as I believe good and bad lurk all around us.

After dinner, the seer went around the room and prophesied over each person.  Our small group leader is a teacher and Bible study author.  However, it was the woman sitting next to her on the couch for whom the prophetic words "teacher" and "bible study leader" were given.  At that moment, I saw a spirit walk into my home through the open patio door and sit between the two women.  I immediately silently prayed and asked God what that was.  "It's the spirit of jealousy".

I can't explain exactly what the spirit looked like or how I recognized it.  It just…was.

Whether it's seeing spirits, sensing a family member is in trouble, knowing where to find my run-away child, or simply knowing how to pray and for whom, I know I have a gift.  Like all spiritual gifts, it's supposed to be used for the edification of The Body of Christ.

The problem, however, is no one knows what to do with me.  My children have (mostly) learned to listen to me because my intuition is freaky, but I've most definitely been shunned by the very people who should be the most accepting. 

This is what I know for sure; "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2.  It's definitely a challenge to keep loving the very people who've condemned, judged, despised, and broken my family, but I DO love them and that's why what they say matters to me.  

So, is my gift a curse?  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Being Shunned

Hollywood producer, Robert Evans writes in his autobiography (The Kid Stays in the Picture) about surviving Hollywood’s worst gossip, lies, and character attacks.  He was able to just brush off what people said about him, apparently subscribing to the adage, “what people think about me is none of my business”.  Besides, he was no saint.  It took, however, just one horrible egregious lie by actress Sharon Stone to cause him to have a heart attack. The sexy star falsely accused Evans of murder.

Words matter. Anyone who says, “They’re just words – ignore them” has never suffered true character assassination by a cruel person wielding the ax of gossip and lies.

Over the course of the past few months I’ve suffered numerous anxiety attacks.  Once I left a partially filled cart in the grocery store, and another time I carried my unstamped (and therefore unsent) packages out of the post office.  No, I haven’t been accused of murder, but I HAVE been accused of putting a hit out on a former friend.  A HIT!!

The accusation has been affirmed and confirmed.  This woman has made a myriad of crazy allegations against me over the years.  She once accused me of threatening her entire family, so this isn’t new.  I have confronted her about her allegations and gossip.  She sat across a table from me, pointed her finger in my face, and told me she had proof that I was “weak”, a “victim-wannabe” and then added,  “I have no choice but to assume you’re jealous of me.”

But putting a hit out on her?  She has insisted that her informant was a “reliable source”.

Now on one hand, I finally understand all the strange things that have been going on whenever I showed up at the church in which she is a leader and teacher.  Her husband denied me communion, she herself snubbed, shunned, and walked away from me whenever I got close enough to say hello.  One day she even stood with her arms folded behind me during a church service while I sat innocently in my seat listening to the sermon.  I don’t think her eyes ever left me.  Finally, I became so uncomfortable that I left.

On the other hand, what kind of a person makes this kind of crazy accusation?

As soon as I confirmed the truth of the situation, I contacted a pastor at the church who knows my history with this woman.  I was looking for counsel on how to deal with this new accusation.  The pastor told me to “keep your mouth shut and let God be your defender”.

Listen, I’ve written ad nauseam about the damage this woman and her friends have caused my family.  We don’t deserve this!  If saying those words out loud makes me a “victim-wannabe” then so be it! 

The fact that this woman and her friends are Christians is relevant ONLY in that when there is conflict, we are supposed to confront one another in love and for the purpose of reconciliation (Matthew 18).  It is NOT okay – EVER – to spread gossip or to LIE.

 I’ve always followed the Biblical steps of confrontation and reconciliation.  I remember one man defending his own slams against me by turning the tables and making accusations against me.  When I denied his claims, he called me a liar.  The truth is, I’ve never seen the steps in Matthew 18 actually work.  I don’t believe people want reconciliation and restoration, but rather they just want to be right. 

The attacks from this woman and her friends have done life-altering damage to my family and me.  I lost so much – a job, a best friend, an entire church family, and my kids lost their faith.  I do NOT blame The Church for the bad choices or for the dark path my kids took.  I do, however, believe that we ALL do things we wish we hadn’t done when we are in deep never-ending pain.

Like us, our kids lost every friend they had when we were originally kicked out of this woman’s church, AND they watched as their mother was knocked down and beat up again and again by our family “friends”.  They watched me seek restoration with these Christian friends (many times), only to be told that because I worked for The Theatre, I was a danger to their reputation.  It was devastating for ALL of us. 

Are we victims?  NO!!  We’re survivors.  But here’s a fact: For every action there’s a reaction.  My kids walked away from The Church, from God, and from their faith because of how we as a family were treated.  The ugliness towards us has NEVER ended and no matter how deep my faith is nothing can change the fact that my kids have seen (and are seeing) so much ugly.

These people caused deep unnecessary pain and we suffered.  We truly felt as if one day we were out riding our bicycles on a beautiful warm day when out of nowhere a semi-truck deliberately ran us over.  And then, to add insult to injury, we were blamed for riding our bikes – for being human. 

You know, when a Christian mom and dad lose a child to disease or sudden accident that family is embraced, loved and never forgotten.   But, I’ve had people stop me at church to tell me my kids “deserved to be kicked out of church”, and will “never be saved”.  Ummm….so, if (according to you) my kids are dead in Christ, where is your compassion?  Where are your prayers and friendship?  Why am I shunned? 

Some of you have expressed a great deal of impatience with me.  “Move on.” “Let it go.” “Ignore these people.”   I move on and the gossip follows me!  I’m tired of you telling me that I’M a bad witness.  Just by telling our story?  You have no problem talking about the evils of the Westboro Baptist Church, or denouncing the Sudanese for sentencing a Christian woman to death for her beliefs.  But, I share our story of abuse in the name of religion and I’M a bad witness.  Is there no one who sees that as hypocritical?

Am I still bemoaning something that happened years ago?  No!!  I’m frustrated that YEARS LATER these people continue to rip at my family and no one will defend, affirm, or protect us!

The Barna group has written books about how The Church has driven away an entire generation of young people.  David Kinneman wrote (or co-wrote) “You Lost Me” and “UnChristian” and preachers teach the truths from these books in churches all over the country.  Another book detailing the disconnect between what we say and what we do is “The Hole in our Gospel” by Richard Stearns.  And yet I DARE to tell our story – to put names and faces on the anecdotes we read in books, and I’m shamed.

Because you profess to be a Christian, you have a responsibility to me just as I have to you.  I firmly believe that if ONE person had stood up with courage and told the truth years ago, we would not be in this scary place today.  This woman and her friends have been allowed to terrorize my family, and no one speaks up.

Perhaps I’ve misread the Bible.  Perhaps the God of mercy, grace, forgiveness, and unconditional love is not real at all.  Perhaps He IS a judgmental, condemning, hate-filled being who really does not want me in His kingdom – just as you don’t want me in your church.  

Perhaps.  But I KNOW who Jesus is, and guess what? He loves my family.  It is HIS desire that we spend eternity with Him.  I will CONTINUE to be a Christ-follower because I know the Son of God.  I know his character, his compassion, his mercy, his grace, his miraculous works, and his unconditional love.

Robert Evans wrote a check to Sharon Stone for $250,000.  That check is hers if she can corroborate one word of her heinous story.  I’ll make the same offer - $250,000 to this woman who has made this horrendous accusation against me if she can prove I put a hit out on her!   Come see me, and bring your “reliable source”.  The money is yours – unless I first spend it all on therapy and anti-anxiety meds.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Heart

A guilty heart grows a forest of hate; fertilized by truth's silence.

     --Elizabeth Stoeckel
       January 1, 2014

I Resolve to Defend and Affirm

In 2nd Samuel, chapter 13, we read the tragic story of David's daughter, Tamar - a beautiful young girl.  One of her brothers (Amnon), fell in love with Tamar. The Bible says that Amnon was "frustrated to the point of illness on account of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her."

A friend of his suggested that he pretend to be sick and then ask for Tamar to bring him bread and care for him. Amnon did exactly that, and when his sister was close and tenderly caring for him, he grabbed her and raped her. Tamar begged him to not do this "wicked" thing, but Amnon defiled his sister.

After the rape, Amnon looked at Tamar who was lying next to him and the Bible said he "hated" her. Wow! Amnon had allowed the sexual fantasy to take over his thought life to the point that his thoughts finally gave way to action. But as is so often the case, the very thing he thought he wanted, became something to be scorned. A guilty heart grows a hateful forest! Amnon pushed Tamar out of his bed and told his servants to bolt the door so he would never have to look at her again.

Tamar had been wearing the ornamented robe worn by the virgin daughters of the king. When she left Amnon's room, she tore the robe, put ashes on her forehead, and ran weeping through the halls. Her brother, Absalom saw her and said, (vs. 20) "Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet now, my sister; he is your brother. Don't take this thing to heart." The verse ends with these tragic words, "and Tamar lived in her brother Absalom's house, a desolate woman."

We never hear from Tamar again.

Sometimes it seems the easiest thing to do is to quietly sweep sin under the rug. We know of abuse, or neglect, and we turn a blind eye. This happens all the time in society, and just as often in church families. We don't want to make waves. We tell ourselves it's better to not ruin the reputation of a CEO, church deacon, teacher, or pastor, so we ignore the weeping woman running through the halls. We tell the offended to "be quiet now".

Of course abuse doesn't have to be in the form of sexual battery to be abuse. Gossip, lying, stealing, and manipulation are all offenses that are too often kept quiet, but the victims of these evils are still victims. Tamar's pain was never affirmed, and no one came to her defense, and so she lived the rest of her days a "desolate woman".

I know a young man who was sexually assaulted by a trusted mentor. For a period of time the incident was ignored and swept under the rug. The young man suffered in silence. Then one day a courageous pastor affirmed the young man's pain and promised to defend him, even if it meant personal loss to the pastor. There was public scrutiny and eventually a trial. The offender went to prison, and today the young man is emotionally healthy and serving the Lord. He had someone who affirmed his pain and came to his defense. Without the brave pastor who walked with him, that young man might today be living in desolation.

Make 2014 the year that we speak light and truth!  Defend someone today! If you know an innocent person who has been the victim of an assault of any kind—whether it is physical or emotional (gossip, judgmental words, etc…)—be brave enough to affirm their sadness, and then defend them if necessary. Do you know a "Tamar"—someone whose pain has been hushed in order to save the reputation of her abuser? Run to her (or him) today.  Your affirmation could save that person from a life of desolation.