Memories

As my eyes popped open this morning, I had a thousand thoughts come rushing at me.  It was as if a dam had just been broken, and the flooding waters of pent up thoughts had broken free to be analyzed.  I’m so thankful they didn’t haunt me during the night. I was able to sleep undisturbed for the first time in almost a week.  This morning I write.  I pour out these thoughts so that I can find peace in my day, and enjoy precious time with my loved ones.

Many years ago my daddy owned an Amoco food shop and car wash that sat right off I75 in Michigan. As you exited the freeway if you turned one way there stood the Detroit Truck Stop, and if you turned the other there stood our Amoco.  I grew up in that store.  In the late seventies, it was a full-service station.  Daddy and his brothers worked on automobiles and fully serviced gasoline.  I played in the garage and pestered the workers as a small little girl would.  My older brother and I would play with the hoist, laughing as we’d raise each other up, and bring each other down.  Those were happy times.

In the mid-eighties, the old service station was torn down leaving a brand new convenience store in its place.  I remember the excitement, yet the sadness of ending one chapter and beginning another.  When I was thirteen I’d ran up a high telephone bill, so my daddy handed me a brush and bucket.  He made me scrub every tire and lower panel of each car that came through to be washed.  If you have ever been to Michigan you will understand that in the winter this is gruesome.  Mucky salt sludge on the bottoms of each car, oh that wasn’t fun.  I worked every day after school to pay off my phone bill.  I loved working so much that daddy just kept me on the payroll.  I worked hard every day, and when I became old enough to handle the responsibility of the register and tending the store, I was trained.  I loved meeting the many people who were traveling from Florida to Canada, and Canada to Florida.  We had so many new faces every day, but I found joy in meeting them.  During those years this was my freedom from dealing with the abuse, and the horrific things that were happening to me.  This was truly my happy place.  I loved the week long training session my friend and co-worker and I went to.  We learned a brand new register system, that in the late eighties was considered high tech.  Our store was beyond busy.  We only worked six-hour shifts because of the high volume of sales.  This kept the employees from becoming overly stressed.

One powerful memory that dad and I reflect on often is in the late eightees we had all of our employees quit at the same time leaving just dad and I.  We tag teamed to keep our store open.  I would go home and sleep a couple of hours, dad would come and relieve me, then I’d come back and work a double shift.  Dad and I barely slept those few weeks while he trained new employees.  This is where I gained the strongest part of my work ethic today.  I learned so much during those few weeks, the struggles and pains of trying to keep a business going, but not only going but solid and strong.  We did.  Dad always commends me on this.  Even though it was hard, I would do it all over again.

I’d do it all over again because I could escape.  I could get away from the horrible things that were happening to me, and the memories of those that had already happened.  I was able to be strong even when I wasn’t.  I always say that working so hard during those years until I met my husband was my lifeline.  I was drowning, and no one around me could see it.  God did, and I know He placed everything in my path that I needed to get me to where I am today.  I am sure of that.  My testimony is raw but real.

What released the tidal wave of memories this morning?  The passing of an uncle.  When we lose people we love it causes memories to break free.  I remembered all the happy times that I’d spent with my cousins in their home.  He was a single father doing the best he could to raise his two children.  He always treated me as if I were the third child when I was there.  We had fun times filled with laughter.  My cousin found old photos of my mother and uncles during these years and then the held back memories were set free.  So here I am writing.  Remembering.  Aching.  Crying.

I don’t want to go back.  In the middle of those years were some of the most painful I’d ever endured, but if I could weed out those horrific years, and keep all the good ones I would.  I think this is what healing is.  When you can see how far God has brought you, and laugh at the good times, and then when you look at those painful years and the pain doesn’t overtake you, then you realize just how much God has done inside of you.  How when you share your story (testimony) with others it’s as if you are telling a story of someone else’s life, even though it was unmistakably yours.  This is why I share my story with others who have suffered abuse.  I will always be an advocate for abuse victims.  I will always be here to help them and encourage them in finding their way to healing and restoration.  This is my heart’s desire, and burning passion inside of me.

 

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Be Careful Little Heart

When God says it’s time to leave all that is familiar.  You must give up what is comfortable.  Letting go of friendships, relationships and people you once greatly admired.  This kind of detachment causes a painful ache in the heart.  Especially if you had been there a very long time.  The past year has been a new season of God plucking me up by the roots, removing the unnourishing soil, and planting my roots in new, deeper and organic soil.

I have never been very good at change.  I’ve been experiencing change quite often lately, and it still feels as if I’ve just stepped off a tilt a whirl.  Everything around me spinning even though I’m standing on stable ground.  I feel God drawing me into deeper intimacy.  I crave His presence more than any earthly food I’ve ever tasted, and I’m not satisfied until I’m in that spiritual realm where my heart is dancing with His.

I won’t lie and say that it isn’t painful to look back.  I know that God doesn’t want me to look back, but sometimes I see a comment on social media that just takes me back to a time when I was part of something very special.  Time changes things.  People change things.  Our season in a certain place and with certain people comes to a close.  This is such an important time to guard our heart because when we are hurting and God is changing things we can be open to so many things that aren’t a part of God’s perfect plan.

I know it is time to take all that God has taught me through those precious years, and move forward.  It is time to let go of the past, and allow God to use me right in this now season.  It’s not always easy.  I have to truly guard my heart by staying as close to the one who created my heart as I can.  He knows what is best for me, even if it’s not easy!

~The new journey continues…….

(c) Angie Counter *Beyond The Scars Ministries*

~*~ There is life beyond the scars ~*~

He Bore My Burdens For Me

     He bore my burden for me, he lifted my load, straightened the road at Calvary he set me free. The thorns on the crown were my hand me downs, the stripes on his back weren’t his own. Yes he died alone but now he lives own and he bore my burden for me…

     “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” Isaiah 53:4

Burden: a load, especially a heavy one.

What is your burden? What heavy load are you trying to bear on your own?  I know for me, there are a couple of weighty ones I’ve struggled with lately, and as I’ve been just spending time trying to let go of them, placing them into God’s more than capable hands, I’ve struggled with truly letting go.  It’s easy to say I’m going to let them go, and give them to God, but truly doing so isn’t easy for me.  A couple of years ago God gave me a powerful lesson that I came across while studying tonight:

Have you felt at times that you are walking in un-mapped territory on unsteady ground? I have felt like this over the past week, feeling like my emotions were so out of control I felt like they were in the clouds one minute and under my feet the next. God is so faithful to teach us during these highly emotional times, and I guess it’s just that we are so desperate for an answer from Him that we are more open to hear His voice out of our sheer desperate need. I felt like I was carrying a 100 pound weight on my heart, my stomach was tied in knots with tears that were constantly stinging my eyes. My heart was so heavy from trying to carry not only my own problems, but those of the ones that God has placed so close to me in my life. All day long when my heart would start to feel so heavy I couldn’t hold it in my body any longer I’d whisper, “Lord, it’s me and you!.

Midway through my workday, exhausted both mentally and spiritually, His sweet and calm voice stopped me in my tracks. “Angie, pray and release!” I froze, goosebumps spread from my head down to the tips of my toes. PRAY AND RELEASE! What a profound lesson. He then proceeded as he often does to tell me a story as example. He said, “If you are planting a garden, you plant the seed, cover the ground and wait. If you dig the seed up to keep looking at it to see if it is growing, the seed will die. You have to trust that when you plant the seed, that the rains from the heavens will nurture the seed, the soil of the earth will nourish the seed, and in its appointed time the seed will manifest its fruit or vegetation. The same is when you are praying to Me for an answer, plant your seed of prayer, and by faith know that as you cast your seed into the ground of faith, I will water and nourish this request, and in my own time, my own way I will bring it to pass. You have to pray to me, release it into my hands, then let go and let me work.”

What a powerful lesson from the Lord I learned this week. He is the one that carries our burdens, lightens our loads, because of his love for us, and our relationship with Him. Because of His journey to Calvary, we now have someone who takes our heavy burdens, works all things together for our good, as we then rest in the waiting. That’s not always easy to do, but Jesus is telling us today to Let go, and let Him handle whatever heavy loads we are trying to carry; give to him the heavy burdens we are trying to bear on our own. Today let us begin a new way of praying, PRAY AND RELEASE!

Heavenly Father, I ask that as each and every person that reads this they feel a new revelation of your desire for us to trust you completely. That we as your children come to realize that when we cast our prayer to you as seeds, by faith we are letting them go and trusting that you are all-powerful to nurture our need, bringing to the surface the manifestation the answer we so desperately planted. Father, you are so faithful and just, so ready to work on our behalf if only we will come to you in complete faith and trust. I pray that you touch the heart of each reader that reads this today, be to them what they need in their lives, as I thank you for each and every one of them as a blessing in my life’s journey. In the most wonderful and powerful name of Jesus I pray, ~Amen~

(c) Angie Counter *Beyond The Scars Ministries*

 

Casting Our Nets

“So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret,  and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets.  Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”  And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.  So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.  When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken;  and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”  So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.” Luke 5:1-11

 

As I read this passage, I could see a picture of the importance of doing things God’s way.  We can work all day long, day after day, trying to do things in our own strength and the way we believe it needs to be done. It is only until we truly submit our lives to God and allow him to lead us, our lives will become full of the abundance God has for us.  We wear ourselves out doing what we think is right, never really considering that God wants us to go deeper in our revelation of Him, in order to bring forth the abundance.  In the depth of God’s word and presence we will find the tools that will better equip us in bringing sinners to repentance, and restoration for the broken.  In the deep water with God we will find a truth that we would never find in the shallow water alone.

      Jesus was there that day to teach the people a very important lesson.  They had all gathered there, pressed in, and was ready to hear what he had to say.  Jesus looked over and saw the two boats resting in the water, so he got into the one boat and asked Simon to take him out into the water.  (one very important part of this passage is that Peter would have never been able to catch the abundant amount of fish without Jesus with Him, the Lord’s presence is key in experiencing an abundant life.)  He began to reveal to them a very important part of their Christian walk.  He looked at Simon and said, “cast your net into the deep water to catch some fish”.  Simon was tired, they had stayed up all night trying to catch fish, and they had caught nothing.   Even though Simon was doubtful and tired, he wanted to see what Jesus was going to do.  As soon as they dropped their nets into the deep water, they began catching so many fish that their nets were too heavy and were breaking.  The fish were so many that the boats were too heavy and began to sink. Once they stopped trying to catch the fish their way, and began doing it God’s way, what transpired was exceeding and abundantly more than they could ever think possible.  When Simon Peter gained true revelation of this, he fell down at the feet of Jesus knowing that he had not been doing things the way Jesus had planned.

I remember when I was a young girl and my dad wanted me to sing Country music.  We packed up and headed to Nashville to record two songs on a 45.  We finished the recording, came back home, and tried to find radio stations to play the songs.  I appeared on a cable program, auditioned for star search, and sang in talent shows at night in the clubs.  No matter what we done, or how hard we labored, nothing happened that would launch me into fame.  There was always something missing when I’d get up there to sing those songs, it felt as if a part of me was lost, and nothing I was doing has helping me find it.  I was a very miserable young woman, and I always found the nets in my life empty… no matter how I’d try to cast them out, they’d always come back with nothing.  Then one day I gave my heart and life back to the Lord, and began to sing Gospel music.  The moment I stood in front of people singing a song of praise, I was casting my nets into the depth of God’s spirit, and what I found was something that I’d never found in the world.  My nets were full…  I wasn’t trying to do things my own way any longer, I was doing what God created me to do, and the revelation of this sent me just like Simon Peter, to my knees in deep revelation and repentance.

Any time we try to do things our own way it will always come back void, but when we do things God’s way it will always exceed what we could ever imagine possible.  This is true in all aspects of our lives.  This is why it is so important as I stated earlier that we always take Jesus along our every moment journey.  If we try to do anything and I emphasize the word “ANYTHING” without Jesus we will ALWAYS find emptiness in return.  Casting our nets out into the world alone, we will labor and come back exhausted, broken and alone.  Casting our nets out into the world with Jesus we will be refreshed, restored, and find rest in his arms.

 

Where are you casting your nets?  What are you pulling back from them?

 

I had come through a very hard time in my life, and the harder it got the more I found myself walking alone.  I had allowed lies to overpower my mind, telling me that God had stopped loving me because of my weakness.  I was drifting on the waters of life, in a boat alone. I hadn’t back-slidden, I’d back-stepped.  I stepped back away from allowing the hand of God to lead me, because I’d believed he saw my weakness and depression as failure, instead of the truth that God saw it as brokenness and need.    I’d cast out my nets but the only things that came back to me were bitterness, depression, insecurity, self-condemnation, brokenness and heartbreak.  This went on for such a very long time.  I’d go out  and sing with our group, but because I’d  not allowed Jesus inside of the boat with me, I’d always feel such a horrible emptiness.  Then one day something changed.  I recognized the lies of the adversary, I stood up and confessed my weakness, and then I asked Jesus back into my life’s boat.  What I’ve experienced lately is that my nets are full, and now so full that I can go and feed others with the abundance of God’s supply.    We have to cast our nets into the depth of God’s restoring power, his love, his word, and his presence.  Then take all that he gives us there  to feed those who are starving.  Since coming out of this dark place I was in, I have seen firsthand what horrible battles God’s children are fighting in their minds.  So now what God has filled my nets with, I now can feed those who are hungry, and then they will do the same!

So today I ask you this question?  Where are you casting your nets?  If it’s not in the depth of relationship with God, then you need to stop now and allow him into your boat.  Are you bring forth abundance from what you are casting out?  If not, begin to cast your nets into God’s word, and watch as you begin to see and experience the true abundance of God.

(c) Angie Counter *Beyond The Scars Ministries* 2017 All Rights Reserved.

Miss Perception

Yesterday was a day I was trying so hard to stay aware of my actions.  I’ve tried to allow God to redesign my life and heart, so that I can be a better me for Him.  I’d spent the morning in study and prayer, then got ready for work.  I’ve been trying to find a second job for the summer months, since I work for the school system and we don’t get paid for those three months we are off.  I’ve applied for a few that I thought for sure I’d get, but I was praying that God would open a door, and close the ones that He doesn’t want for me.  Of course the one he opened isn’t one I thought would be the one (isn’t that how we always think), but it looks like this will be the one he wants for me for these three months at least.  I try not to question, because we don’t know who he wants us to be a blessing to, and we should never be so proud to work anywhere where he has a plan.

Well, as I was getting ready to leave, a co-worker asked me if I had always been a “goody-goody.”  I was shocked.  I thought about her question, and then I began looking at my actions, and reactions to see how she had come to that perception of me.  I try to be real with everyone, that has always been my deepest desire.  I’m not ashamed to tell people that I have a back story.  A really hard and painful backstory.   To become the woman of God I am today hasn’t been easy, and of course I’m so far from perfect, but my desires have changed.  She then asked me what was the worst thing I had ever done, and I told her a story of a time of rebellion, where she looked at me almost dumbfounded.

What bothered me the most about this conversation is that the body of Christ have given this image for so long.  I know this to be true because when I was younger and trying desperately to find my way back to God, I thought everyone around me that was a Christian was perfect.  They didn’t talk about their faults, or weaknesses, they just acted like once they came to Jesus they were instantly perfect.  I am an imperfect person who belongs to a perfect God.  I strive every moment to be better, but I don’t want anyone to think that I am too good, or perfect.  Paul said it best when he said “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:15)  We all live in a fleshly body, and we will fail God at times.  That doesn’t give us a license to sin, but it also tells us that we need God more.  We need God because He is the only one that can help us to be able to overcome these sins, but we will never be perfect, only our God is perfect!

I don’t ever want others to feel that I am perfect, and I never try to act like I am.  I am a sinner saved by Grace, and no better than anyone else.  I’m on my own potters wheel in God’s hands, not ashamed of my journey because I have a story to tell.  I just pray that as I am approached by others that ask me this question, that I can let them see that every child of God has a backstory, one leading to the cross, and one leading to restoration.

 

(c) Angie Counter *Beyond The Scars Ministries* 2017

Loving Out Loud

 Help me love your people Lord…. Out Loud!!!!

“Let me be a little kinder.  Let me be a little blinder, to the faults of those around me. Let me praise a little more.  Let me be when I am weary, just a little bit more cheery.  Think a little more of others, and a little less of me.  Let me be a little braver, when temptation bids me waver.  Let me strive a little harder, to be all that I should be. Let me be a little meeker, with the brother that is weaker.  Let me thin more of my neighbor, and a little less of me.  Let me be when I am weary, just a little bit more cheery.  Let me serve a little better, those that I am striving for.”  ~Glenn Campbell

This has been a hard week for me.  One of the hardest as far as lessons go.  I have learned a lot during my years of living for the Lord, but this week has been one that has been pretty painful.  When you admire someone, it isn’t easy when you realize that this person wasn’t as admirable as you thought.  Especially when you watched them hurt someone who are not yet living their lives for the Lord, but you can see the desire in their heart to come to know Jesus more.  My stomach was in knots, my heart was broken.  I silently cried all day long for this person, and the loss of what I once considered a valuable friendship.  I still love this person, and pray that their eyes be opened to what they are doing, and how they are not leading by example.  I will continue to pray for this person, but what we have to realize is that the lost need compassion.

Now I want to truly emphasize that as we have compassion for the sinner, we still have to let them know that their sin is wrong, but there is a way to love the sinner while hating the sin.  There is a fine line, one that I don’t think believers have grasped hold of.  They go to far on the forceful side, or the compassionate side.  This is where we have to pray harder for the Holy Spirit to give us the right words to say, and wisdom to know how to love the sinner apart from the sin, while still letting it be known we can not condone the sin.

Now that being said,  as my heart is aching this morning from what transpired before me this week.  The Lord has put something in my heart, and I feel the sting of tears as I write this.  The woman who pressed through the crowd had her own issue that she had to press through obstacles to find her healing for.  Everyone has their own “Press Through.”  Mine may not be like yours, and yours may not be like mine.  I want to love each person in my life that has their own “Issue”, while helping them find their way to Jesus.  If I have ever hurt someone along the way, I’m so sorry!  I would never intentionally hurt anyone.  The idea of that breaks my heart.  I want to help the hurting and broken, because I’ve been there, I know how painful the path is to press my way to the healing feet of Jesus.

I have learned a lot this week, and let me tell you I can’t hold back the tears as I write this today.  My heart is broken from watching it all happen right before my eyes.  Watching someone I greatly admired hurt someone, while realizing that they live their life as a Pharisee, and that hurts me.  We have to love people out loud, not just say we do.  As my son told me the other night, “Our actions speak so much louder than our words.”

 

Help me Lord to live out loud for you, and not just be a person who says I love people, but I want to truly love people.  I don’t ever want to hurt one of your lost sheep.  That would be more than my heart could take.

 

(c) Angie Counter *Beyond The Scars Ministries* All Rights Reserved

He Is The Vine

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5

As I read this scripture, I think about how we are entering into planting season.  What little winter we had here in the part of Tennessee where I live is slowly fading into spring.  Soon the farmers will be planting their crops, as will my husband and I plant a small garden where we can eat fresh fruit and vegetables from our harvest.  We will pray over the soil to be blessed by the Lord, so that we can grow a bountiful crop.  Everything in our life needs to be blessed by the Lord, and if it isn’t, we need no part of it.  He is the vine.  He is the main source of our sustenance.  We are the branches, which are connected to the vine, THROUGH relationship.  If we are not connected to the vine, nothing in our lives will be blessed.  We will live in a state where we bare no fruit, good for nothing.

I want my life to be a reflection of that connection.

Lately I have been so dissatisfied with the world around me.  I find that most people are complacent, and as I grow more and more hungry for a fresh anointing and move of God, I desire to be around those who are hungry like I am.  Nothing is more discouraging than going out to eat with a friend while wanting a double cheeseburger, and watching them eat a small fry because they are not hungry.  I can’t help but laugh at this as I write, but it is true.  I know that I have friends who go to eat with me and feel discouraged when I order a salad.  I don’t do it because I’m not hungry, I usually order a salad because it’s on my safe list from my autoimmune disease.  I would love nothing more than a double cheeseburger.  *smile*

Oh there is a powerful message in this passage this morning.  The powerful connection of being a branch connected to the vine.  I want nothing more than to be connected to God, so that the mighty power of His spirit flows through me.  I believe in moving in the anointing of God, using the spiritual gifts He so graciously gives.  So my desire is to be connected to Him so that I can see God move mightily in my life, and the lives of those around me.

(c) Angie Counter 2017 *Beyond The Scars Ministries* All Rights Reserved