Friday Prayer – Let’s Pray for Each Other

Friday Prayer Anne Mil

 

It’s Friday! Another week! We made it!

Have any prayer requests or things you want to share about where you’ve seen God work in your life?

For us, could you pray for me as I am still sick. It’s on and off now, but every few days the flu symptoms come back for a couple of days. Then I’m fine for a while.

Tim and I are going to Zambia to work with The Alliance for Children everywhere March 26-April 8. Please pray we raise the funds we need to raise ($1700) and for our health and hearts as we prepare to head over there.

How can we pray for you?

Friday Prayer: How Can We Pray for You?

I am consistent with being inconsistent.

This week, I turned 34. Which means I’ve been blogging (officially) for TEN years. Yikes.

A few months ago, I said I wanted to make Friday all about prayer. I’ve done that now…three times.

Sorry.

With my imperfections/busyness/laziness/etc., I am really trying to get back into this rhythm.

A birthday is just a good excuse to reinstitute your New Years resolutions, right?

So, with that said, it’s Friday.

How can we pray for you? Celebrate with you?

Dear Sexual Abuse Survivor

marydemuth-headshot-squareToday, I am so thrilled to share a guest post from my friend Mary DeMuth. Mary and I met when I worked at Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall, Texas. People knew I was writing and thought it’d be cool for me to meet a real author, so Mary came in and we chatted. She sent me a copy of her book and told me one day, maybe I’d have my book contract. Two years later, I did.

Beyond writing, Mary and I share a common thread that’s a little more faded, a little thinner. We were both sexually abused. Though our stories differ, our hearts beat the same for helping others know there is hope beyond abuse. We have survived, and you can too.

Here’s a letter from her to you. Or maybe to someone you know.

Love, Anne

(Get Mary’s Book Not Marked as an eBook here and a paperback here.).

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Dear Sexual Abuse Survivor,

I don’t really like the word victim. Even survivor has a strange connotation. And I’m not too keen on victor. None of those words encapsulate what happened to you, the devastation sexual abuse enacted on your heart. But we’re strangled by language sometimes–even writers can’t adequately express horror.

I much like the word BRAVE. Because it’s so darn brave to walk away from something like that. It’s brave to forgive. Brave to live your life in the wake of sexual trauma. Brave to hold your head high.

First let me say I am sorry. I’m so terribly sad that sexual abuse is part of your story. It’s not right. Someone chose to take something from you–your volition and your body. That person (or people) violated you. They used their power and bully persuasion to overwhelm you with their sinful desires. And now you’re the one left feeling dirty and used–while so many perpetrators walk this earth free. 

It’s not fair.

Some of you feel shame and guilt in gigantic measure, heaped upon you. Some of you feel that you invited the abuse. The way you dressed. The hole in your heart that longed for attention. The equating of sex with love and affection. You feel you wooed the perpetrator somehow. Let me say this: A person who adores and loves you would NEVER EVER violate you. Never. Instead of violation, they would protect. They would pray for you. They would honor your boundaries.

Someone’s selfish gratification is not your fault. Don’t own that. Dare to believe your worth, and allow yourself the feel the grace that God grants you. Forgive yourself. Let yourself off the hook. You were abused. You didn’t want it. Someone took from you–like a thief. They may have used slick words, threatened you, persuaded you that you wanted it, but it’s not true. Thieves are often liars.

In sexual abuse’s aftermath, you’ve possibly thought of suicide. You’ve cut your skin until the blood came. You over-ate. You spent years hard as rock, bitter as horseradish, always vigilant–ready to fight. You’ve protected your heart with ironclad resolve. No one will EVER hurt you that way again. Not on your watch.

All these coping strategies had good purpose a long time ago. They protected you. But now they’re strangling the life out of you. I only say that because I’ve walked the path of isolation and withdrawal. Actually, I spent about a decade of my life keeping the sexual abuse secret. And once I let the secret out, I decided I’d been healed, so I tucked it back away for another decade and lived inside myself–not daring to deeply engage my heart.

An untold story never heals, friend. Isolation only masks the problem.

That’s not living. It’s existing. It’s pushing stuff down that you hope stays submerged forever.

Unfortunately, our stories have a way of coming out–almost always in our actions. We end up hurting those we love. Some people become perpetrators because they never deal with getting better.

I know there are questions. I have them too. 

  • Why did God allow this to happen?
  • Why didn’t He step in and rescue?
  • Why do I have to suffer seemingly forever for something someone else did to me?
  • Why can’t I ever feel normal?
  • Will I ever be able to enjoy sex?
  • Why does my spouse have to suffer for something someone else did to me?
  • What’s wrong with me that I kept being violated?
  • Was I put on this earth to be stolen from?
  • Why am I here?
  • What was it about me that perpetrators found irresistible?
  • Why do other people keep telling me it was a long time ago and I should be over this?

I want to assure you that these questions are entirely, utterly normal. And you should ask them. You should wrestle with them. Some of them will not be answered this side of eternity.

When I feel overwhelmed by the whys and the whats, I stop a moment and consider Jesus. This may not resonate with you because you might be mad at Him. That’s okay. I hear you. But there is comfort in knowing Jesus understands.

He took on the sins of everyone, including sexual sin, upon His holy, undeserving shoulders. He suffered for everyone’s wicked crookedness. And when He hung on a cross, He did so naked. Exposed. Shamed. Humiliated. Bleeding.

NOT MARKED - FOR AMAZON 3DThat’s why, when I write about sexual abuse recovery, I have to involve Jesus. He has been the single best healer in my journey. He understands. He comes alongside. He “gets” violation.

Sexual abuse is devastating. It pulls the rug out from under your worth. It keeps you scared. It infiltrates nearly every area of your life, consciously and subconsciously.

But I am here to let you know there is hope. Though the healing journey is long, it is possible. When I tell my story now, it feels like I’m sharing about another person’s sexual abuse. I’ve experienced profound healing. It didn’t happen passively or quickly. I had to WANT it, pursue it. I had to stop shoving it down and bringing my story into the light–with praying friends, with counselors, with my husband.

Today I enjoy sex. I can share my story without getting that vomit-y feeling in my stomach. The flashbacks are less and less. I still have moments, of course. But I am so much farther along than I had been.

I want to end this letter with this truth: You are amazing. You survived something traumatic and horrific. You are reading this letter blessedly alive, connected to others. Your story absolutely matters. Don’t let the trauma steal your story of hope today.

Joyfully free,

Mary

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I’m humbled and grateful to be here today. A huge thank you to Anne for allowing me to share my heart. A little background. I’ve shared my sexual abuse story in the last few years, but I haven’t always been so open. Initially I kept it silent for a decade, then over-shared, then went silent another decade. The healing journey hasn’t been easy, but it has been good.

About a year ago, I sensed God wanted me to be bold in sharing about sexual abuse. I wrote “The Sexy Wife I Cannot Be” on Deeper Story, which went crazy (so many comments), followed by “I’m Sick of Hearing About Your Smoking Hot Wife” on Christianity Today. The overwhelming response to those two posts prompted me to write Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing after Sexual Abuse.

The book proved too risky for publishers, so I decided to crowdfund it, which turned out to be an amazing success. I cannot believe that now I can hold Not Marked in my hands, and also offer it to you. What’s unique about it: It’s written from the perspective of a survivor. It doesn’t offer cliche answers. It’s honest. And my husband shared his unique journey of how to walk a loved one through their sexual abuse.

 

Beating Burnout Interview with Dr. Thom Rainer #5: Preventing Burnout

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little video series with Dr. Thom Rainer, president of Lifeway. This is our fifth and final interview (and keep in mind, there was only supposed to be one video that emerged from our conference room chat…his insight is just so good and his heart is full of compassion, I’m so pleased we got five!)

In this one, we discuss the root of burnout and how to prevent it spiritually, emotionally and physically.

If you’ve missed any of the previous videos (which range from 3-6 minutes long), you can watch them:

1) Beginnings of Burnout

2) The Roles of Millennials and Mentoring in Stopping Burnout

3) When Do You Quit?

4) Symptoms of Burnout

5) Preventing Burnout

This is also the last week you can get Beating Burnout: A 30 Day Guide to Hope and Health on Amazon for 2.99 WITH a free audio book (after you email your receipt to me). You can also preorder the paperback over here! (If Amazon takes care of business, they’ll go out  next week!)

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Praying you guys have a healthy weekend,

Anne

Beating Burnout Interview with Dr. Thom Rainer #4: Burnout Symptoms

In 2005, I found myself in a hospital totally burned out. At the time, I didn’t know it was burnout but after a week of (invasive, ahem) tests, they ruled out any disease. I was overweight, emotionally unstable, and isolated.

Dr. Rainer and I talk about some burnout symptoms and how he almost got to a point of burning out himself.

One of the most important questions I’ve ever been asked: “Does working in this church interfere with your communion with Christ” still influences me today.

Check out today’s interview with Dr. Thom Rainer of LifeWay for Beating Burnout: A 30 Day Guide to Hope and Health (which is on sale at Amazon for just 2.99 through Friday or you can preorder the paperback here!)

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Beating Burnout Interview with Dr. Thom Rainer #3: When Do You Quit?

It’s a short one but a good one.

How do you know if you’re supposed to leave serving at your particular church?

How do you know if you should stay?

How do you deal with the expectations others have on you?

How do you keep an attitude of joy even when you’re faced with tough challenges?

Check out today’s interview with Dr. Thom Rainer of LifeWay for Beating Burnout: A 30 Day Guide to Hope and Health (which is on sale at Amazon for just 2.99 through Friday or you can preorder the paperback here!)

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