Do Not Disturb

“Shh”, can I let you in on a secret?  Promise you won’t tell?   I was seeing someone else.  I know it was wrong, but I could not resist.    He was my everything.  Before long, we began a torrid affair.   I know, I know, it was not right.  But I could no longer help myself.  I thought I was in love.  Perhaps you may know him, he does seem to get around.  His name:  Self Pity.

The whole relationship started innocently enough.  I was frustrated at a turn of events that appeared unfair and he just “happened” to be there.  He stood next to me during my difficulty.  Right by my side.  No one else I spoke with seemed to think my circumstances were that big of a deal.  But he was the exception.  It was as if he knew me.  I mean, really knew me.  He listened to me.  He allowed me to grumble and complain, and complain some more.  He seemed to hang on my every word.  Occasionally he would interject with words of encouragement.  He told me that I had every right to feel the way I did.  He told me I deserved more.

My ego began to be fed by his sweet nothings in my ear.  I was captivated.  I was comforted that someone finally understood my pain.  No one else had encouraged me this way.  On the other hand, it was as if my so called “friends” tried to discourage my persistent negativity.  They would throw out calculated glib expressions like, “You will get through this, Josie.”

Get through it?  Really?  That was the best they could offer?   My life was is in the toilet and this is all you have for me?  Easy for you to say since my misfortune does not really make a difference in your life.  You haven’t had to leave everything you love to go down a path that was not of your choosing.  How dare you minimize my situation with such a pathetic response.

He began to pursue me on a regular basis.  He would sneak over to my place of employment and other places that should have been off limits.  He completed me.  He completed my thoughts.  He filled me with explosive emotions.

Deep down I knew it was wrong to continue on with him.  We were a destructive pair.  But, it felt kind of good and horrible at the same time.  You know what I mean?

I no longer fought his advances.  Eventually, I crossed the line when I invited him into my home.  I gave him a small space of his own in my heart.

He began to change once he moved in.  It was as if he wanted more than this little space.  He attempted to invade other areas of my heart.  Demanding he was for attention.  He wanted all of me.  He no longer completed me; he actually depleted me.  I began to avoid him when he was in the room.  He could really get ugly sometimes when I ignored him.

I finally came to my senses and told him he needed to move out. How could I have been so stupid?  I know better than this.  What a mess I have made.

Let me give you a piece of advice on the other side.  It is not worth it.  He will suck the life right out of you if you do not walk away from him right now.  He will drain you.  Run from his gaze.  Pull away from his advances.

I became reacquainted with a dear friend recently.  He actually was there when I was all alone to pick up the pieces of my self-created mess.  He listens to me.  He encourages me to come to him when I am discouraged.  He helps me in ways that no one else has before.  He is faithful.  He doesn’t drain me; he actually has my best interest at heart.  He writes me love letters.  He completes me.

I wonder if you know him.  His name:  Jesus.



The One-Arm Embrace

She walked up to me at the end of our time together and moved in close to hug me goodbye. As I make my way to her front door moments later, she stops me with this question, “Do you always hug with only one arm?”

What?”  She informs me that when I entered her home and hugged her hello I did so with one arm.

I am dumbfounded.  I didn’t know I only hugged with one arm.  Do I always hug this way?   Does it matter if I hug with one arm or two?  Are there hidden hug rules?

I leave her house, but cannot seem to get this moment to leave my mind.

I wonder if there is a deeper meaning to my half-armed action.  If I only embrace with one arm, why?  I wait for another opportunity to surface.

One presents itself that same day. As she draws near my left side quickly moves toward her, while my right is staying by my side.  “I DO ONLY HUG WITH ONE ARM!”   My mind quickly wants to correct this new realization.  I overcompensate by throwing my right arm into the moment.  Awkward.  My embrace takes on more of a bear hug as I squeeze her extra tight.

It didn’t feel quite right.  A little too close for my comfort.

A second chance for up close and personal contact presents itself the next evening.  Who knew there were so many chances to touch?  She reached in and I did it again.  Only one arm.  What the heck?

I am aware of the importance of physical touch.  It is proven that we need it to thrive.  A study of orphanages around the world reveal the number one reason children fail to thrive is from a lack of physical touch.

I know I am missing out on something more.  I have decided to do a little experiment in the area of close contact.  Every opportunity I have this week, I will give a full two-arm embrace and will calculate my results.

Like, how does this type of affection affect me, or for that matter, the other person and my relationship with him/her?

Watch out, I may draw near to you when you least expect it.

I will leave this question with you…

Do you embrace with one arm or two?


Here I Am Find Me

The papers sat on my dresser in my bedroom hoping to be discovered.    A cry for help called out from four pages recorded in cursive.  My actions and thoughts and hurts and pleas displayed for the first time in print.

The night before on an elementary playground a friend and I etched out a makeshift plan to run away.  Our destination was to a land far away where dreams come true:  sunny Florida.

Our journey made it a number of blocks and a couple of hours before we realized this attempt was not thought out very well at all.  Our hunger for more in life brought us back to reality and to the school’s cafeteria in time for lunch.

We entered back into our daily school routine.  No one the wiser of our plans.  Or so I thought.  My confessions of drug use and other unmentionables and cries out to my love ones still lay there exposed.

I call home to get a feel for the situation.  Was the letter found?  After all, just because I left it out does not necessarily mean that its contents were actually read.

My heart beats out of control as I dial the familiar number from a pay phone.  Do you ever wonder when exactly all the pay phone booths disappeared?   It was as if one day they were here and one day gone.

She answers.  Small talk fills the awkward feeling from my end.  She quickly breaks though the chit chat with a comment on my intentions to run away.  I am busted.  I tell her of our decision to stay.  It is uncomfortably quiet on the other end of the receiver.  I return home later that afternoon.

If I recall correctly, I think the letter was still sitting on my dresser.  But what I do know without a doubt was the words on the pages were never discussed.  Ever.  This bothers me.  Where are the questions?  Where are the tears?  Your daughter delved into the innermost areas of her young teenage heart and exposed them for all to see and not a single question?

The moment brings me back a few years into the recesses of my mind of the time my sister ran away.  She didn’t return home after a concert one evening.  Nor did she leave a note.   I accompanied my mom one afternoon after a tip on her whereabouts.  I saw the hurt on my mother’s face.

What about me?  Do you see me hurting?

Hidden in my note unveiled my true desire…someone to notice me.  Someone to seek me out.  Someone to want me.

I longed for attention.  I searched for it, desperate.  I would momentarily find it in others and on occasions here and there but it would never last.

Here I AM, Find Me

He wants me to notice Him.  He wants me to seek Him.  Here I AM,  Find Me.  I AM here Josie, you need to look no further.  I notice you.  I AM here for you.

His attention knows no limits.  He desires me day and night.  He doesn’t run away from me.  He searches for me when I am hiding.

The other day while praying in my closet,  I cried out in desperation to HIM, “I just want to go home”.

I don’t know where home is any more.  If it is a location, I am not sure where that is.  I am lonely.

Here I AM Josie, Find Me

He calls out to me.  Don’t run Josie.  I am here with you.

I need not run any longer.  I see Him in my misery.  How could I have missed Him.  He was here all along.

He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”.

I find rest in HIM.  I am home at last in His presence.


The Unediting Process

I made a promise to share chapters of the completed book and give you my thoughts.  From the posting earlier today titled, ‘Confessions of a Former Vandal’, I may not be as far along with this battle than you would conclude after reading below.

I do, however, daily take hold of the negative thoughts and attempt to replace them with His thoughts of me.  I must confess, some days it is a bit tiring and I still find it easier to embrace them.  But, with each passing day, I hope to gain momentum and eventually begin to win this lifelong battle.

Observations of Myself

Me Myself and My Thoughts…


Here she is, all put together.  Neither a blemish nor wrinkle adorns her face; only a white, toothy smile.  I do not know much about this anonymous beauty that is positioned underneath the clear glass of a recently purchased picture frame.  She could be anyone.  Is she a nurse, teacher; perhaps she is president of a non-profit organization?  I wonder, is there a significant other?  Does she have children?  Many questions about her identity plague my mind. Is she even real?  The one thing I know is she looks quite content sitting there.  Yet, I am sure that there is more to her than meets the eye.

Perhaps we are not much different from this lady that is displayed underneath the glass.  We appear to have our life all together, but behind our glossy mug shot there is much more going on than meets the eye.

Recently, a lifelong battle that was undetected to the naked eye unexpectedly rose to the surface to make an appearance:  “I don’t like me very much”.  This revelation revealed its ugly head at a retreat in which I was one of the guest speakers.

“You are valuable.  You are His treasure.  You are a princess.”  These sweet phrases spilled from my mouth only hours earlier as I performed a skit reminding ladies to realize how truly special they are.

Yet, I tucked this internal battle of dislike deep into the crevice of my heart, hoping no one would ever notice.

The mantra I have lamented to the Lord over the years has been in one form or another, “Can’t you just fix me”?  (Yet, please do it without pain please).  He is capable of moving mountains isn’t he?

When I was a little girl I vividly remember the first time I desired a type of “genie” restoration.  I was in our garage, working on an idea for a science project at school when I began to push with my hand on my huge and overly crooked overbite in an attempt to move my teeth into the desired place.  As much as I struggled to make them budge, they stubbornly sat in the same spot, perched ever so delicately outside of my lips.  Oh, how this overcrowded mess in my mouth affected me.  There are very few pictures of those younger years with my enormous toothy grin. I all out avoided the front of the camera lens, and the few that did make their way to film, were shortly thereafter destroyed.

This was the first memory I recall being dissatisfied with something about me, and when not receiving the miracle I knew He could give me; becoming quite discouraged.

I look at my teeth now and my smile is no longer a crooked version of Bucky himself, but the transformation came at a cost of losing a couple of teeth that could not remain in the mouth.

As I look back now, oh, how I mourn all the wasted years desiring something on the surface to change all the while my insides rotted away in wasted self-abuse thoughts.

So, let me take you back to the retreat.  I am asked to be the entertainment and perform a light-hearted number before the main speaker takes center stage.  At this weekend event which is held at a nice hotel, I begin the first scene of a four-part skit.  The evening by all account appears to go off without a hitch.  People respond with laughter at just the right moments and I spend time talking with a few ladies at the conclusion of the night before my friend and I leave to go to our hotel room.  Once the door shuts, my lighthearted appearance quickly unravels.

I sit down on my comfy white comforter and allow the pent up tears pour from my eyes.  I inform her that I blanked out in the middle of the skit.  I am certain she thinks I am nuts, but like the wonderful friend she is, she quickly goes into console mode.  She reassures me that not only did she not notice, but assures me no one else did either.  I do not believe her, but accept her encouragement all the same.

I know this does not sound like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I had convinced myself that this performance was not going to be anything short of spectacular.  If the weeks building up to this retreat were any indication of the outcome, I would not have been so sure.

Numerous obstacles built up in momentum for weeks before the retreat.  It seemed that if anything could go wrong, it did.

Even on my way to the airport there was turmoil.  I answered my phone to crying on the other line.  One of my daughters calls me from school and pleads with me to not leave.  Oh how her emotions tugged at my heartstrings.  As I attempt to soothe her, my phone beeps in with another call.  It is her older sister.  Her emotions are just as high, yet hers are hot with anger.  She informs me that she will not pick up her sister from school today (the one crying on the other line).  She feels that it would be good to teach her a lesson.  I am thinking to myself, “Are you kidding me?”   Between the crying from one and the screaming from another, I am only seconds away from my very own emotional breakdown.  I did, however, convince the older one that I would teach her a lesson if she did not do as I say.

Eventually, I made it through security and onto the plane.  Once settled, everything else seemed to equally settle down.  I decide to chalk these moments up to opposition from the enemy and convince myself that this conflict is Satan’s attempt to stop me from going out of town.

That being said, I am in the middle of the room performing a skit I know forward and backward when my mind just decides to shut off.  I begin to adlib and after what I am certain is only two seconds that feel more like two days, I am back on track.  But I am so unnerved with this internal turnout that I end up having that emotional breakdown upon entering my room.  I tell my friend that I do not want to do this public speaking thing anymore.  I am finished.  All I want to do is to crawl into bed and put the covers over my head.  Exhausted, I eventually do get under my covers and quietly cry myself to sleep.

Yet, what a difference a day makes.  I wake up the next morning feeling so much better.  My feeling of wellbeing spills out on my final three sessions which I must say, were absolutely amazing. I am in the groove.   After I finish my part, I take a front-row seat to listen as the main speaker takes the podium for her final session.  Although I have enjoyed this lady’s teaching, I am lost in my own thoughts.  Part of me is basking in the afterglow of my time on stage and the other part of me is forward focused on later in the afternoon when my friend and I will hit the mall to shop til we drop when this retreat is over.

So I can say to you that I was not expecting anything spectacular to happen during these final minutes, when the speaker says something so unexpected that I almost fall off my chair.

She looks down at her watch and explains that she knows she is running late but feels that she needs to share something.  She goes on to tell a story about a horrible experience she had one Sunday after teaching at her church.  Dissatisfied, she heads home not at all happy about her talk.  She does what many people do after speaking and begins to play her words over in her head.  After review, she does not think she said something wrong that would make her feel the way she did.  Yet, she couldn’t get the negative mood to go away.

At this point I sit straight up in my chair and begin to absorb each and every word from her mouth.  She arrives home and heads to her bedroom.  She climbs into bed and pulls the covers over her head.  Stop right her.  Have you ever had an occasion that you just knew God was about to say something that was specific, just for you?

She goes on to say she feels that God is about to tell her something.  She then crawls out of bed, gets down on the floor and takes out her special prayer shawl given to her by her daughters one year for her birthday, or something like that, and places it over her head.  She then waits for God to say something.

She hears just two words:  SELF LOATHING.

I could feel the little color I have in my face suddenly vanish. She tells the audience that the Lord told her that not only had she been listening to lies from the enemy about how she viewed herself, but that she was actually in agreement with him.  Ouch!

That was it.  The core of my problem was self loathing.  The definition of loathing is a strong dislike or disgust; intense aversion.  All of these years I have been in agreement with the enemy.  I know I have.  This was not anything new.  I actually had become accustomed to tucking these negative thoughts of myself away for so many years that I was pretty sure I had everyone fooled.

Everyone, except One.  I am so grateful that our Lord exposed this for what it really was.

I am embarrassed to admit that I have this dark battle of self-destruction, but in order to be completely free from this awful assessment, this fight needs to be brought to the light.

I will tell you I have not arrived.  I have a long way to go, and continue to battle many times a day with destructive thoughts of myself.  The only difference now is that I do not just sit back and idly accept them.  I attack them head on and will do so until my dying day if necessary.

I fight these harsh “voices” with His truth in His Word.  I know that God does not say this about me.  On the contrary, God says:

V  1 John 3:1 (NIV) How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

Psalm 139:14a (NIV) I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made

Isaiah 43:4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.

I am His child.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I am precious and honored in His sight.

I want you to ask yourself, who is the reflection staring back at you in the mirror?  Do you repeatedly beat yourself up?  Do you feel like you have little to offer? Are negative thoughts overpowering His still small loving voice?  Will you give yourself an honest observation and discuss your conclusions with the Lord?



Confessions of a Former Vandal

Okay, I have a confession to make.  I used to be a vandal.  Seriously.  I have, on a couple of occasions, intentionally destroyed both public and private property.  Does the statue of limitations run out on stupid offenses made by a couple of young teens almost thirty years ago?

VANDAL by definition is one who willfully or maliciously defaces or destroys public or private property.  Since that describes me, I guess you could call me a vandal.

On one occasion my accomplice and I entered a vacant home with the sole purpose of making a mess.  Like most criminals, we entered in the house through a side window that was out of sight.  I am not sure if this part is true or not, but I kind of recall us dressing up in dark outfits like real criminals did on TV.

After making our way in, we cautiously looked around as if someone was lurking in the darkness waiting to jump out at us.  But after seeing that we were all alone, we managed to make our destructive marks on the living room walls in a matter of minutes before quickly making our exit.

To this day, no one ever found out.  Since my friend lived in the house next door, we were obvious suspects.  We were never questioned.  But, the question still looms in my head, “what were you thinking?”    I felt awful.  I did not want to go in the first place.  I was talked into it.  An accomplice.  Not making excuses; just telling the truth.  Why would I allow myself to be pressured to perform illegal actions?

Two words… Peer pressure.

Simple as it was, I succumbed to the pressure to fit in.  I was attempting to fit in by acting out.  Go figure.

Pretty pathetic huh?  I wonder what the prospective owners felt after opening the door to see this disruptive display on the walls of their new home?  Were they upset?  Sick?  Scared?  Did they regret the decision to purchase this residence?

Writings on the wall.

Destructive words.

Similar words have made their way to my heart over the years.  I have not invited them in, but they invade me at times.






What is going on inside of me?  These words do not line up with HIS words for me.  So how did they make their way in?

Filthy words…The enemy.  Satan.  The Devil.  Prince of Darkness.

Call him what you will, but he still has influence on us as believers.  And he works the same way he did since the beginning all those years ago.

Deception.  He starts with deceiving us.  Isn’t that what he did in the garden?  He distorts the TRUTH.  He lies.  And if we are not careful, we begin to believe the lie.

Accusation.  He attempts to sneak in and take up residence in our minds by making false accusations.  These accusations slowly devalue our perception of ourselves.  Many times we do not even recognize it is of his doing.

I have become an accomplice to his destructive work.  I ponder these words…I embrace them…I believe them.

I know I do not need to fall victim to this type of vandalism.  I can fight this fight with two words…

Jesus Christ

Simple.  Simple, but sometimes not easy.  It will take His TRUTH and TIME.  These devaluing words have made residence in my heart for some time now.

I have started a new list.



The new words do not come out of me as easily as the others.  I am at a loss for words.

Jesus, help me see myself the way you see me.”


Missing Child Alert

Her name was Tanya.  She lived on this earth only a couple of months.  Her birthday was a week before mine in September.  She lived under 100 days.  Her final day just a week before Christmas.  No pictures of her with the exception of one taken in the hospital where her hair appeared blondish and matted down; kind of stringy and wet.  Her eyes were closed.  I am told that her hair was dark brown.  What made her smile?  How often did she cry?  Did I ever hold her?  Many unanswered questions.  So long ago.

She would be 37 years old today had she lived.  She was my sister.  I was six years old that tragic day that changed my life forever.  I remember it differently than my older sister recounts.  My version has me standing beside my mother as she folds clothes in our small laundry room with the old dark brown washer and dryer.  I recall a smile on my mom’s face that was framed with her larger-than-life glasses.  I cannot remember a time when my mom was ever without glasses.  I see her take  an old towel out of the dryer and meticulously fold it into a square.  The edges were frayed, I think.

I hear my mom’s voice call out to my older sister to check on her as she was still sleeping.  It was late afternoon and it was time to wake up.  This is where things get fuzzy.  To this day, I recall standing looking over my sister’s shoulder as she turns Tanya over.  She looks strange.  She is a different color, like a bluish gray and stiff like a doll.  My sister tells me years later she never rolled her over.  Instinctively, she knows something is wrong when she touches her and backs out of the bedroom.  Who’s memory is correct?  Does it even matter?

I remember hearing screams, but I am not sure.  After that, it is as if someone turned the light off on the memory of that day and many others after.

The strange thing about a loss of this stature is that I hardly, if ever, remember her mentioned.  We did not talk about her.  Her picture sat in a frame in our house.  But, it was as if she never existed.  Life went on.  My brother was born a couple of years later.  Piles upon piles of pictures of this toe-headed boy fill boxes.  There would not be a missing moment of his life;  his early years captured in photos.

How can someone whom I barely remember, make such an impact?  The other day, after I complete my manuscript a friend of mine makes mention of another book titled, ‘1000 Gifts’.  She states that the author’s life significantly changed because of the death of her eighteen month old sister.

It is at this moment I tell her I omitted a single paragraph from my book.  It was the one that mentions my sister and her death.  This is news to my friend.  She is shocked to hear I had a sister who died.  I am sure I have mentioned her before.  She assures me I have not.  She asks about her.  I begin to state the facts of her short-lived life when I feel some hidden emotion begin to surface.  Where did this come from?

The next day I go for my daily run around the neighborhood and notice an old band aide on the street.  As I run by the thought occurs, “it is like covering a deep wound with a band aide”.  What?  It begins to make sense.  If I take a step back from the scene of my life, I start to see clearly.

Have you ever attempted to place a band aide on a deep wound?  A small adhesive is unable to cover such a large wound and the excess blood will eventually seep out all around it.

I think that may be the case.  Although she was never mentioned, there was equally not a chance to heal.  Hurts began to seep out in different areas.  Everyone in our family was affected.  Eventually the bleeding was contained, but the wound did not have a chance to properly heal.  When an injury does not heal properly, ugly scars appear on the surface and underneath.

I understand now that this is the original site of the wound.  This realization does not hurt as much as I fear.  This pulling off of the “band aide” will only hurt for a moment.  True healing will begin.

About ten years ago, my sister, brother and I purchased a headstone for her.  Even though she is not really there, she is known by all who walk the path in the cemetery.  Her name was Tanya Michelle Briggs.  She was my sister.

Lord, we are never out of your sight.  You knew us in our mother’s womb.  You know every hair on our head.  You know the thoughts and intents of our hearts.  You care for us more than a mother cares for her baby.  I pray, Lord Jesus that you help us with our hurts.  Heal our wounded hearts.  Fill our minds and hearts with your love.  In Jesus name…






Into the Deep – Behind the Scenes of Reality

While on the phone with my sister this morning attempting to figure out what is wrong with me, I know what you are thinking, what could possibly be wrong with you Josie, she shares this phrase, “in order to go into the deep, you must let go of the shore“.  Wow, now that is deep.  I makes me wonder… what it is that I need to let go?

Maybe I need to let go of the fact that I want people to see me all put together and not see the real me.  When I was offered a position at a small church a couple of months ago, I shared with my husband that if I accept the position we would need to leave our BIG and I mean BIG church and attend this new intimate facility of three or four hundred people.  He was fine with this.  I, on the other hand, was not.  Of course he would be okay with this transfer, it was not like he had established relationships with anyone or was he involved in ministry there.  NOT.  The most involvement he had was to warm a seat on Sunday morning and hurry to the exit immediately after service as if he were entered into a race and “Amen” at the end of the prayer was actually like the gun shot at the start of a race.

So why would this bother him in the least?  It made no difference to him.  But, it made a world of difference to me.  I had built relationships with many people at this church over the years.  I led a bible study each week.  I was comfortable.  So, you can see what my problem is; these close relationships.  But honestly, that is not even close to the reason I do not really want to attend this new church.

So, back to this conversation with my husband.  He tells me he is okay with attending this small church, when I, without thinking, throw out the following remark, “You know, you can’t hide in a small church.”

He says, “Okay, Josie, I will wear sunglasses”.

Why in the world did I say what I said?  Was I concerned with him trying to hide, or was it possible that this impulsive comment revealed the truth about me in that I was the one trying to hide?

YES, truth is, I was and still am attempting my best to stay hidden.

Those of you who know me may be thinking, “how is that even possible”?  You reveal something about yourself every week.  Your life is like an open book.  The sad fact is that I have not one true close relationship here in San Antonio.  Oh, I have people I mentor and talk to each and every day.  I pray and love and help these ladies.  I listen to their deepest hurts.  I cry with them.  I laugh with them.  They think they know me.  And, actually they may know things about me, but in reality, they may not know as much as they think.

I am a mess.  My wounds are deep.  I have been running from something that I cannot put my finger on.  I know I don’t like myself very much, but why am I afraid to expose myself to others?  Sometimes I manipulate conversations so I can run from talking about myself.  I change them subtly so no one is the wiser.  But this distracting maneuver is unhealthy.  I am always on guard.  What if I am found out?  What am I hiding?  I am not sure.

All this to say, I am going to take the biggest risk of my life by revisiting this book.  I know God is calling me to go deep.  I want to be real.  Reality may bite, but living a lie is much more harmful.  I have no idea what this will look like each chapter, and I may make this journey all by myself, but my goal is complete transparency.

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Lord, help me be real.  Real with my relationships with others.  Real with my relationship with you.  I want to make a difference in another’s life.  I think the difference needs to begin with my life.  Help me heal.  Help me be real.  Help me take my feet off the shore and into the deep.  Go deep in my heart.  Expose all the accumulated junk under the surface.  Help me clear it out completely so I can be used by YOU completely.  I am tired of running.  Help me be still and fight this fight.   I know this is more than a fleshly battle, this is a war with Darkness.  Help me walk in victory.  Heal me Lord Jesus.