Beyond the Veil

Delight

By Shelley Shrader

She studied her face in the mirror. Her skin glistened like a newlywed bride showcasing a jubilant smile. Her joy came from the depth of knowing who she was and whose she was. Her eyes reflected beauty and worth like that of rare coins.

It was only a year ago she looked in the same mirror and saw a different person marked by shame, guilt and a deep sadness. But something wonderful and exciting happened to her this past year. It was a life-changing experience.

As a young girl, she dreamed of being wooed and romanced by the perfect handsome gentleman, somebody who would treat her like a queen. She longed to be swept off her feet by a man who loved and desired her more than life. Who relished every moment with her and gave her his undivided attention. She wondered if such a man existed.

One day, she closed her eyes and saw her knight in shining armor. He was dressed in a dazzling pure white robe and riding a white horse. She was wearing a stunning beautiful white gown fit for royalty. It resembled the Renaissance era; simple but elegant.

She wore a crown of white roses and solemnly stood in a downpour of rain. The small mudslide developing under her feet almost carried her away. But suddenly, she found herself swept up by this noble gentleman. He extended his hand to her and hoisted her up on his majestic steed. He carried her through the storm into a calm, peaceful, serene garden. There was not a dark cloud in sight. The atmosphere changed in a moment and she found herself surrounded by beauty, love and warmth. The sun shone down upon them in a beautiful ray of light.

She felt as though she was living inside a Thomas Kinkaid painting with all the vibrant color surrounding her, flowers and plants of every kind. They dismounted and strolled the garden holding hands. She thought to herself, this must be what life was like in the garden for Adam and Eve. So surreal. So beautiful.

He said something to her she will never forget, “My darling you are beautiful. I see no flaw in you. I want you to stop beating yourself up. You must learn to love yourself as I love you.” They continued walking and sharing their innermost secrets with one another. Then he turned to her, stopped and put his hand gently under her chin. He looked intently into her hazel eyes and simply said, “I made this world and everything in it. Including you, my beloved. You are the apple of my eye. Sing for joy in yourself.”

She was captivated by His presence and the words of life He spoke. It was like blinders had been lifted from her eyes. She now saw a different person when she looked in the mirror. She saw someone worth pursuing, irreplaceable and utterly beautiful. She saw Jesus. He is her Knight in shining armor who came to rescue her and make her whole again.

 

Shelley Shrader is a stay-at-home mom who loves The Lord. When she is not volunteering at her church she is dabbling in creative endeavors, scrapbooking, card making, bead work, and prophetic art. She has been active in ministry for 15 years as a Bible Study leader and Altar Prayer Minister.

Because Jesus set her free, she is passionate about leading others to freedom through a personal encounter with Christ. Currently she serves on the Freedom Ministry Team at Lighthouse Fellowship in Fort Worth, TX.

 

 

Being Leah

BrokenheartedLeah was the good girl, the plain one, constantly compared to her sister, Rachel. The beautiful one. Never quite good enough, reminded of it every day, “Why can’t you be like Rachel? Fix your hair, put on a little makeup, sit up straight and while you are at it change your dress.” Rachel never let Leah forget who the beautiful one was.

And now Jacob blamed Leah for Laban’s deceit. As if she had a choice. He made it clear he didn’t love her, like her and barely tolerated her. I would say I can’t imagine how she felt but that would not be the case. It starts with devastation which eventually leads to numbness. Taking on the burden that it must be you.

I can hear her cries each night as she pleads with God to bend down and hear her pain. We know He not only heard Leah. He saw her.

Genesis 29:31 NLT says, “The Lord saw Leah was unloved.” The Hebrew word for unloved is Sane′ which means to hate, hater, enemy. Whoa. Harsh words. The word is also translated as detest and hated her intensely.

Unloved was a nice way of saying Jacob hated her with a passion. How do you sleep with someone you hate? Wham. Bam. Thank you ma’am. Get on. Get off. Not an ounce of kindness or tenderness. Just doing his duty. And making sure she knew it.

You can see the progression as her hope faded after each of her children were born (Genesis 29:31 – 30:21)

Reuben: The Lord noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me. But he didn’t.

Simeon: The Lord heard I was hated and has given me another son. Even a son wasn’t enough.

Levi: Surely this time my husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him three sons. Not even then.

Judah: Now I will praise the Lord! He was her rock.

Gad (by Zilpah): How fortunate I am! I’m just lucky.

Asher (by Zilpah): What joy is mine! Now other women will celebrate with me. Maybe the women will be happy for me.

Issachar: God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband as a wife. Really?

Zebulun: God has given me a good reward. Now my husband will treat me with respect, for I have given him six sons. Not a chance.

Dinah: Judgment. What more is there to say?

She went from hoping her husband would love her to just maybe he would like her to praising God to lucky to other women being happy for her to rewarded for giving her husband to another woman to hoping for respect to judgment. Ouch. She was battered on every side.

What was it like being Leah? Hated. Rejected. Dishonored. Not even liked. How did it impact the way her kids treated her? I can answer that one. Though my ex-husband made it clear our children were to treat me with respect, they followed his behavior, not his words. They heard what he said and how he said it, followed by ‘I was joking’.

Proverbs 26:18 – 19 (NLT) Just as damaging as a madman shooting a deadly weapon is someone who lies to a friend (spouse or child) and then says, “I was only joking.”

The bible compares ‘just joking’ to getting shot by a madman whose only goal is to kill and maim in order to release their pain. The wound is buried so deep, the bleeding invisible to the naked eye until it’s released in a hail of gunfire. Which aptly describes Leah’s life.

We saw how her boys were impacted when they cut loose on Joseph and made sure he paid because daddy loved Rachel and the spoiled brat Joseph.

Jacob blamed Leah for being the oldest, for her father’s betrayal. It never occurred to him that he was reaping what he sowed in his life. Deception and manipulation.

One day Jacob had an encounter with the God of his father and grandfather. I wonder if Jacob changed his treatment of Leah after his night of wrestling with God. Surely if he could reconcile with his brother Esau, just maybe his heart softened towards Leah.

And if it did, was it too late? After years of emotional abuse could she open her heart to trust again? No matter her relationship with Jacob, her relationship with God was firm. She knew Him as the God who sees, hears and knows. Her. When her world caved in she did all she knew to do…Praise the One who heals broken hearts.

 

When a man doesn’t love a woman

Faithful loveThe most glorious thing is to be loved by a man, according to my mother. But what if a man doesn’t love a woman?

I shivered as the veil was slipped on my head. My father was using me to deceive Jacob. Explaining how this was best for everyone. Everyone but her that is. It was her duty to follow her father’s plan. Even at the cost of herself.

My wishes didn’t matter, it was all about the beautiful one and her father’s desire to trick Jacob. Poor pitiful Leah, isn’t she sweet. Always compliant and willing to do whatever was asked of her. As if she had a choice. Betrayed by my own father.

From the moment Jacob walked into our camp, I fell. Hard. He was handsome if you liked the rugged type. Being the eldest daughter has its advantages. For a brief moment I thought I had a chance until I saw his face as he looked at Rachel. It was clear he only had eyes for the beautiful one.

I became a pawn believing I could make Jacob love me. Giving him all of me in hopes of gaining his love. Naïve I know. My sister may be the beautiful one, but I was the devoted one. I was selfless and she the selfish.

Darkness descended after a long day of celebration. It was time. My heart pounded in my chest with the anticipation of becoming Jacob’s wife. As I stepped into the tent reality set in as Jacob whispered Rachel’s name. It took everything in me to keep silent as he kissed me and declared his passion. Not waiting for my body to be ready he took me with one goal. Release.

Tears streamed down my face as he proclaimed his love for the beautiful one. I vowed to make him love me. So I whispered back my love for him as we made love once again slowly. He took his time to awaken love as he caressed and kissed me. Desire welled up within as I gave myself to him with abandonment, knowing after this night he would be mine.

It was not to be. Startled awake by the sound of my name…

LEAH!

My heart shattered at the look on his face as he ran out of the tent yelling for my father. “How could you do this to me? I worked seven long years for Rachel! Why would you trick me?”

“Jacob. It wouldn’t be right to marry off Rachel before her sister Leah. Once the bridal week is over I will give you Rachel. If, you work another seven years.”

Betrayed once again. My humiliation was complete as Jacob agreed to my father’s demands. Though it didn’t stop him from coming into to me each night. The week ended all too quickly.

Tossed aside for the beautiful one I slipped back into my tent to pour out my heart to the Lord, the all-seeing One. He saw I was unloved and spoke into the recesses of my heart.

How gracious He was to me! I could feel life growing in me. When our son was born I named him Reuben because the Lord saw my misery and now, just maybe now, my husband would love me. It was not to be. He only came to me when it was my turn.

Again God was gracious to me. Revealing His love for me by giving me another son. By the time our third son was born, I gave up hope on ever being loved by Jacob. Just maybe he would like me. After all, I gave him three sons while Rachel gave him none.

By the time Judah was born I gave up that he would even show me kindness. Though I would never know love from Jacob, I would continue to praise the Lord for His love for me.

Secretly I enjoyed Rachel’s jealousy of me. She may be the beautiful one but I am the one who gave Jacob sons. Hearing them argue was my secret pleasure.

“Give me children or I will die.” Rachel sobbed.

“Seriously Rachel. I’m not God. He’s the one who is keeping you from having children!”

Rachel thought she was winning when her servant gave her two boys. She had a long way to go to catch up to me. Between us, my servant and I gave Jacob six sons. Rachel was still barren. One day my son found some mandrakes, when Rachel saw them she wanted them. She knew they could help her to become pregnant. She was desperate, begging me for just one. My anger erupted as I lashed out at her, “first you steal my husband and now you want my mandrakes too!”

“Fine.” She shouted. “You can sleep with him tonight, if you give me some of your mandrakes.”

So I traded mandrakes for Jacob. They worked because I had two more sons. And to top it off I had a precious little girl, Dinah. My hopes that he would at least respect me as the mother of his children were dashed. He only came to me to fulfill his duty.

I never gained love, kindness or honor from my husband. I lived my entire life without the love of a man. Every day was a constant reminder of being unwanted and unloved.

When a man doesn’t love a woman…it pierces deep in your soul. A place only God can touch. He was gracious to me and never abandoned me in my darkest hours.

 

 

The Nail

The NailBut the LORD of Heaven’s Armies also says: “The time will come when I will pull out the nail that seemed so firm. It will come out and fall to the ground. Everything it supports will fall with it. I, the LORD have spoken!” Isaiah 22:25

This is one of those verses you read a hundred times and skim over until it jumps off the page. I imagined the Nail being most anything good or bad that holds our life together. As I pondered the verse my first thought was the nail represented bondage however by the end of the day The Nail took on new meaning. The Nail became disappointment, not just a small disappointment like they don’t have my size but the kind that rocks your world and questions what you believe about God.

I believe without a doubt that God has a plan and destiny for each one of us and we are given the opportunity to choose to fulfill our destiny. There are some who know what their destiny is – when you speak with them you can hear their passion in the intensity of their voice. You believe with them, you see God’s hand on their life. You see how others respect them. You watch as the fulfillment of their destiny draws closer and closer. Then the day comes when your destiny becomes intertwined with his when you say “I do”.

Did you know God’s timing is not the same as ours? Months go by when finally it is here, the day you find out your/his DESTINY. Your stomach is in knots as you wait for him to return home. When he walked in the door I looked in his face, I did not see joy; the words he spoke were not registering. “You’re kidding” came out of my mouth without thinking, like he would kid about something this important.

In a blink of an eye – poof, it was gone! The foundation of what you believed is now vapor. You know God brought you both to this moment and at the last second it seems He pulled the rug out from under you and said “kidding”. It’s all just a cruel joke. The disappointment and devastation are complete.

Yet you know that you know that you know God is merciful, kind and loving. What you just experienced causes you to wonder and then you hear his voice “Do you trust me?” What can you say but yes because deep in your heart you know you can.

You hang on those words even when the desire to understand what happened plagues you. And you want to know WHY, knowing God does not need to explain himself, just ask Job. The hurt is deep.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you …” What if what you thought was His plan really wasn’t His plan and if it wasn’t His plan why didn’t He speak up? “Hey this isn’t my plan for you, looks like it, feels like it but it’s not.” He allowed you to hang on the plan even when He asked questions of you like “what if…?” or “could you…?” Never thinking it was a nudge from God that maybe this wasn’t His plan after all.

He rocks our world not out of meanness but because our focus is off and He knows we made an idol out of our passion and plans. We thought we were made for this when in reality his plans are so much larger than ours. “For my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”

I don’t know about you but I have some good plans, there have been times in my life when I let God know if He would just listen to all I have laid out it would fix whatever problem I was having at the time. I know He just patted me on the head saying, “child, child” while shaking His head. The sad part is that I implemented some of those plans and ended up in a worse mess.

Months later, we still do not understand why, however disappointment has turned to trust. The nail which was so firm was pulled out and because our foundation was firm, it did not collapse, the Lord did speak. Instead of asking why, we now ask Him what He wants to say to us about The Nail – it is all about trust, trusting He has something so much bigger for him than even he or I could imagine.

So here you are with The Nail pulled out, you have no idea what God’s plan is or even what He can do with the mess when The Nail came out…

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think!” Ephesians 3:20 NLT

Enough said.

Originally posted on MyPurposeNow.org 10/16/2011

 

 

 

 

Walkin’ on the water

WaterEver get so familiar with a story in the Bible that even when you read the same story from a different perspective you don’t recognize it as being part of the same story? As I was reading Mark’s version of Jesus walking on the water I’m thinking this sounds really familiar, so I begin digging into the Word and I found the same story in Matthew and John. Well what do you know, it is Matthew’s version I am most familiar with as Jesus walks on the water and Peter gets out of the boat to join him. I discovered some interesting facts.

A little background to set the stage, the disciples watched as Jesus fed the 5,000 men and who knows how many women and children with a couple fish and five loaves of bread. According to Matthew and Mark, as soon as they were done Jesus insisted the disciples get in the boat and head across the lake while He sent the people home and He proceeded to head to the hills to pray. As a side note, it is interesting to me that Jesus, the Son of God spent time in the presence of His Father─what makes me think I, a mere human can go for days without being in the presence of my Father?

John had the least to say about the incident. One sentence stands out, “that evening Jesus’ disciples went down to the shore to wait for him.” Wait a minute, according to Matthew and Mark, Jesus was pretty clear in His directions. So though Jesus insisted they get in the boat and get to the other side, they decided to wait for Him. It was still daylight and they waited until it was dark, then into the boat they went to head to the other side.

Here is where the story gets interesting, Jesus finishes praying, it’s dark, and there are no lights, only stars. Maybe the moon is shining. According to Mark Jesus sees the disciples are in trouble and not just trouble but serious trouble, rowing and struggling against the wind. So He knows they did not do what He instructed them to do and now they are caught in a storm – which I’m pretty sure Jesus knew was coming and wanted the disciples to avoid. But they, like us, decide to do what they want and wait when Jesus says go. The storm hits and we begin to question why we are in a storm.

About three AM Jesus takes a walk, which took Him from land and over the water. The disciples are totally freaked out at this point, thinking they are going to die. They see this apparition nearing and as they are screaming like little girls Jesus speaks and reminds them to not be afraid. The part of the story we are all familiar with is when Peter decides he wants to walk on water, and who did pretty well until he took his eyes off Jesus and down he goes. John said the disciples were eager for Jesus to get into the boat. As soon as Jesus stepped into the boat the wind stopped.

Here is what struck me about the story as I pulled all three accounts together…the disciples were in the middle of the lake, Jesus was alone on the land and He saw the disciples were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. (Mark 6:47 – 48 NLT) What I am in awe of is, Jesus saw when He couldn’t see because it was dark. His disciples were in trouble, of their own making. Note Jesus did not explain why he wanted them to leave right away. He expected they would do what He asked.

I could draw a conclusion for you, tell you the moral of the story, I have a feeling God has already done that with you as He did me. What He tells you may be completely different from what He told me. I would love to hear what Father is saying to you.

 

Originally posted on MyPurposeNow.org October 8, 2012

Release your voice

Sand Castle2I thought I could keep going through the questions from the radio interview from June 13th. It was more difficult than I expected. It’s not that telling my story is hard or I am ashamed. I dislike delving into the past. I would rather focus on all God has done in my life for the last 9 years. And the wonderful husband I have now.

So I’m taking a break from the questions. Eventually I will get back to them, especially if I’m ever going to write a book. For now, I’m holding on to His promises…

“The Lord always keeps His promises; He is gracious in all He does. The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads.” Psalm 145:13b – 14 NLT

I’ve interacted with women who are struggling to tell their story. Wrapped in the sorrow of shame from all they walked through. Admitting betrayal by someone who is supposed to love you is one of the hardest things to do. The betrayal is like an ice pick piercing deep into your soul.

There is something about saying the words out loud that make it real. When you consider we spent our lives staying silent, internalizing every emotion, losing our voice and the very essence of who we are all to keep a dead marriage alive.

Is it any wonder we continue with silence and struggle releasing our voice. As hard as it is I will continue to shout about God’s goodness when He pulled me out of the pit of despair and set my feet upon the Rock. He washed away the guilt and shame and set a crown of beauty on my head. He freed me of my captive heart and broke the chains of my prison. He filled me with joy instead of mourning. He made me a great oak tree. Solid. With deep roots. Rebuilding my life. Redeeming my past.

In this there is no dishonor or shame. What was meant to destroy me has made me stronger. This is the story I want to shout from the roof top. I hold to the promise in Isaiah 60:18a (NLT), “Violence will disappear from your land.” And it has.

So rejoice with me. Shout GLORY, HONOR and PRAISE to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! Tell the good things He has done, not the horror of our pain. This truly is the story. Healing. Wholeness. Freedom.

Why tell my story?

SpeakEmotions long forgotten oozed out in my dreams. Apprehension. Trepidation. Fright. Of the other shoe falling. I’ve danced around my story for the last year. Writing about what I walked through without talking about the particulars and details. The host from a radio show I did recently had some good questions. We didn’t have time to get through all 14 so I decided to answer them in my blog. What I didn’t know is what would be triggered.

Last night my now wonderful, adorable, loving husband asked me to come into the bedroom. The door was partially closed and as I looked at the door dread hit. I had to remind myself who I was married to and brush it off. I wasn’t in trouble, he wanted help with something. It seem ridiculous I thought it would be otherwise.

Then the dream. Only it was him I was married to and all the tip-toeing and anxiety were present. Not only from him but from another person. In my dream there was a stalker. At first everyone in my dream protected me. Then a shift, the protectors turned on me since this man was someone they knew and they didn’t know me well. So I must be the problem. Not this man. The man was like him. There was no one to turn to. No one to protect me. Waking with anxiety and over sleeping is not how I like to start my day.

How do I retell my story without reliving it? More of a challenge than I thought it would be. Yet it’s bringing up emotions I need to express. The post from last Thursday was mostly facts not the changing of emotions I felt at the time. But let’s face it what I wrote about happened in 1974 – 1975. What I couldn’t express on paper came out in ways I could not anticipate. I long for my now husband to come home and wrap me in his arms so I can feel safe and secure.

There is a part of me who wants to stop telling my story. To just forget those 30 years of my life and focus on today. Yet the Bible is filled with stories. Revealing the good and bad for all to read. From their stories we learn we aren’t alone. God is still writing our stories. For many of us He is calling us to write and tell our history. Psalm 107:2 (NLT) say’s it well, “Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.”

Why?

“Those who are wise will take all this to heart; they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.” Psalm 107: 43 NLT

As hard as it is. As ugly as it is. I must tell my story with all its bumps and bruises. With all my flaws exposed for all to see. Will there be naysayers? Of course. There will be those who will think badly of me because they ‘would never’. I’ve been reminded I am not writing to those women. I am writing to the millions of women trapped in Domestic Violence with nowhere to turn and thinking they are so alone. I’m writing to the woman who has left her abusive relationship and is learning to live again but can’t seem to break free of the past. And yes I guess I am writing for the woman who wouldn’t put up with this for 5 minutes. Why? So that she would find compassion for those who put up with it for more than 5 minutes.

Maybe my story isn’t for you but it is for someone you know.