By the blood of the Lamb

You ever have a moment so powerful that it literally takes your breath away?   Something so powerful happens it leaves you speechless?   An experience that you know you’ll look back on 20 years from now and know your life wouldn’t be the same had the experience not occurred?  Have you ever prayed so earnestly, so intently, so long without an answer you almost thought God wasn’t listening?  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you may relate to this entry quite well.

August 18th, 2012 was the day I had an experience such as this.  I’m good with numbers, have a near photographic memory and remember dates well, but this date is easy to remember because it was the day of our local Fish Fest.  An outdoor musical festival sponsored by a local Christian radio station and several local businesses.  For the cost of your average event ticket, you got to listen to a full day of music performed by various artists, including the headliner (and my celebrity crush) Jeremy Camp. This was the reason I wanted to go to Fish Fest so bad in the first place.  At the height of my depression, music from two artists helped me hold onto hope.  One was Matthew West (particularly his song Strong Enough) and the other Jeremy Camp.  Besides, what’s not to love about a dark-haired blue-eyed man with killer pipes singing to you about the biggest thing you have in common…Christ?  I tell ya it was pretty much bliss.

So….after a day of music, as the sun begins to set, Jeremy takes the stage.  We won’t talk about how I screamed like a little girl at a boy band concert though okay?  He sings some fun up tempo songs and the crowd is dancing and jumping and singing and praising God.  It’s incredible.  I literally could have died that moment and it would have been OK.  I had no idea what was coming next.  I’m not sure anyone or thing could have even prepared me for it either.  It was so overwhelming it has taken me almost 2 months to be able to stay composed long enough to actually get this all written down.  Even now I’m not sure I’ll make it to the end of this post without having to take a break to wipe away the tears.  It’s been a long time since I had felt so much power.

Jeremy has this song called Overcome.  The song includes part of Revelation, specifically Revelation 12:11 that says “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.”  In this song, Jeremy sings “we will overcome, by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.  Everyone overcome.”  Those words are pretty powerful alone, but before singing this part of the song Jeremy asked us to grab the hand of someone next to us and raise our hands to the heavens.  The “someone” next to me was my youngest three children.  I held a child’s hand who held a siblings hand who held another siblings hand and all our hands were lifted heavenward in praise as Jeremy sang his heart out.  I wish I had a picture of us in such a stance…this one of Jeremy singing this song with his hand heavenward will have to do I suppose:

As I stood there with my eyes closed I holding my child’s hand and knowing they were holding each others’ hands too, I couldn’t help but think about the hell my ex-husband put us through.  The sleepless nights, the fear, the economic hardship, the estrangement from family, the name changes, the relocating, the heartache and struggle and mostly the despair.  I started crying and was totally overwhelmed with emotion.  I couldn’t even control it if I wanted to.  In fact…as I type this entry I’m listening to Overcome right now and shaking and crying remembering the experience.

For years I’ve poured my heart out to God begging Him to help me overcome the circumstances I found myself in and, if I’m totally honest, I have felt ignored.  Maybe not quite ignored, I guess it’s more like I knew He had heard me but I felt like He was too busy to answer me or I was too undeserving or maybe even that the answer is NO.  Maybe I was never going to receive my most intimate heart-felt desires.  Maybe we wouldn’t actually ever overcome.  Maybe, though we weren’t being beaten anymore physically, having been so in the past was going to beat our futures.  The longer my eyes were closed and the more I thought about my life, the more I cried.  I was so caught up in the emotion of the moment.  Music has always moved me, but this experience was unlike anything I had ever had.

I open my eyes, snap the picture you see above and looked at my beautiful babies…eyes were also closed and some of their own tears glistened in the lights from the stage.  I then just completely lost it and the tears came faster and faster.  They were feeling this same hugely emotional experience as well.  After struggling for what seemed like eternity to more or less compose myself then came those words “we will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the words of our testimony.  EVERYONE overcome (my emphasis added).”  This was repeated a few times…more times than it is sung in the recorded version actually.  Then he goes on to sing “You overcame, Jesus awesome and power forever and awesome and great is your name.  You overcame.  You overcame. You overcame.” And then…it REALLY hit me.  It was like God reached into my soul and said “Faith YOU overcame.

What exactly does overcome mean though? Lemme go get some Kleenex and I’ll come back to this….

Okay, so according to this website, overcome means “to prevail in spite of adversity, to successfully solve a problem or defeat an opponent, or to be consumed with something.”  Being abused is certainly adversity and yet…we have prevailed.  Thousands of women and children die every year at the hands of a violent spouse/parent.  We got out of our abusive environment and effectively overcame death.  The second part of this definition also applies to my family.  We solved the problem of being abused by leaving the situation and, in leaving, we took his power to cause us harm away.  In short, we defeated our opponent.  Our victory has allowed us to be consumed with safety, with love, and with each other.  This horrible experience we had of being abused and having to run away from home and go into hiding for a time coupled with changing our names and having to start all over with pretty much nothing…repeatedly is consuming on so many levels most of you reading this will never be able to understand.  This night though, it’s almost as if we experienced a paradigm shift.

As I turned and saw my children, each with their hand clasped in one another’s and then in mine, I was completely overcome with peace and love and power.  Because HE overcame the least of these, we could overcome what feels like the greatest challenge/adversity one could ever experience and with every “repeated” phrase that Jeremy sang, the power I felt increased.  All of a sudden I realized I was just given an answer to all those prayers I’ve prayed for so many years.  Heavenly Father sent a generic yet laser focused message to me that night letting me know abundantly clear that we would overcome.  I walked away knowing that I would overcome all that is now in my path to weigh or tear me down.  I walked away knowing that no matter where I had been, what I had been through, or what where I had yet to go and what I had yet to go through, be it good or bad, I would be able to overcome it all.  And not just overcome, but to triumph.

Since this moment, we have overcome the last of our fears about my ex-husband and “came out” to him recently with our new identities.  As powerful as this moment at Fish Fest was, coming out was equally freeing.  Because of the blood of the Lamb shed on that cross so many years ago and our rock solid testimony of that event, we will overcome.  We already have, we will again in the future as life necessitates, and we are powerful beyond measure because it.

And now, please to enjoy the song Overcome by Jeremy Camp:

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I yarn to create

I’m learning that my creative talent doesn’t just show itself in paper crafting and photography.  I am the most creative person I know when it comes to money.  I don’t have very much of it at all and so to pay for the things I need and have any chance of having money for the things I want, I have to be creative.  As I’ve worked to set up a photography business I’ve done lots of cheap frugal things.  I had my Dad make me a portable backdrop stand out of PVC pipe, I use fabric for backdrops (instead of seamless paper, muslin, or the like), I built my own posing cubes (boy was that a chore adventure), I check out photography books from the library before deciding to buy them, I make my lens creatures to help when photographing wee ones, and on and on I could go.  One of the things I decided to see if I could do was remember how to crochet well enough to make some props.  It was a rough go at first, took a lot of trial and error (and lots of yarn), tons of YouTube videos and maybe even some hair loss, but I was finally able to do it some of it (I have friends who are better with yarn than me helping me out).  Here’s the hardest yarn project I’ve ever completed:

It was supposed to have a pom-pom on the end, but I kinda like it with the “tassel” instead.  I’ll be making a pink and white one too and maybe a red and white one for Christmas.  You can find the tutorial I used to make this hat FREE right here.  It’s a pattern created by Bobwilson123.   You can find her blog here, or visit her YouTube Channel as well.  I followed the pattern exactly until it came time for the white trim.  For that I just did 4 or 5 rows of single crochet.

Don’t worry, I still paper craft too…I have an awesome album I’ve been working on that I can’t wait to finish and show off.  Sooner than later…I hope!

Lens Buddy

In addition to the lens creatures I made using hair scrunchies, I also performed surgery on a teddy bear I got from the dollar store so I could turn him into a lens buddy.  Here’s what he looks like on my camera:

Pretty cute isn’t he?  It was so easy to make this…maybe even easier than the scrunchie lens creatures actually.  Just cut him open front and back, push his guts (stuffing) to the side, sew some elastic inside him by whip stitching the front and back together (with the elastic inside) leaving a small opening at the top in the back with the tails of the elastic sticking out and pinned to the back.  Once you are done sewing about 90 percent of the front and back together, pull the elastic tails tight so the buddy fits snug on your lens.  Tie a knot in your elastic, shove it inside and finish whip stitching the “incision” shut!  Eazy peazy lemon squeazy!