Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Ponderings - Beauty for the Ashes

A couple of divine appointments last week gave me pause to stop and consider how God has taken our family from the ashes of nothingness to now reflecting His beauty and glory....We haven't always been who we are today....There was a point in time when all looked hopeless for my two sons, Brandon and Trevor, and myself....But God.....~  Let me share.....~
Last week my oldest son, Brandon, who is a pastor...brought a group of 90 to "The Call" in Detroit.  My husband and I were blessed with the opportunity to join him for dinner; however with his responsibility for that size group of adults and youth, I was a bit dubious as to how much time we'd get to spend with him.  God saw to it that we had the time.....(Brandon, now 33/blue check and Trevor, now 30 and grey shirt, live 800 miles away so we only get the opportunity to visit face to face about one time per year, which makes our times together even more precious.)

One table over, not wanting to miss an opportunity to gab, I took the chance of introducing myself to one young man, "Hi.  I'm Brandon's mom."

"I'm honored, " he immediately replied.  "I'm Paul."  (My mother's heart thumped.  This young man was honored to meet me!  God's restorative work through Brandon was the reason for his comment.)  We shared a brief discussion and I returned to join my husband and son.

And then an adult who is an instructor in the ministries school stopped by our table to chat.  Brandon introduced us, "Ruth, this is my mother."

Ruth sweetly offered,  "We just love Brandon.  When he speaks, the presence of God comes into the room.  We are so blessed to have him."

At this point, I could not hold back my tears....."Thank you", I choked.  "What a blessing to hear this, because God restored our family.  We were just trashed; just trashed as a family...but God restored us."  Memories of the past overwhelmed me....where we were then....where we are now.  Who would have thought?.....Only God!

TRASHED....ASHES...BOTTOM OF THE BARREL....BOTTOM OF THE HEAP....You name it, we were there.

Brandon and Trevor were both in the mid/later teens, yet still in high school when their father and I divorced.  They chose to live with their father....which collapsed my heart to shreds.  I felt as if they'd both died in a car accident.  My depression turned suicidal and I entered a local psychiatric unit for a week.
During this time, I had also become sexually involved with a former boyfriend.  The emotional emptiness in my 21 year marriage and my own issues made me vulnerable to Satan's pit into which I had willingly walked.  I submitted myself to the comfort of a married man's arms. 
I knew that I was wrong before the Lord and with His conviction, forgiveness, grace, mercy and strength later on, I stopped the sexual involvement, but the emotional attachment still existed.  We were planning to one day be married.   However, after discovering four years later that I'd been believing a lie, it was revealed that he'd never filed for divorce.  The ring and the dress which waited in my closet would one day belong to someone else....and my house of 22 years would belong to someone else, too. 
It was during this mess in my life that Brandon, in Feb. '99 - 18 years old and 8 mos. post graduation, showed up on my doorstep at 7:30 AM coming down from an LSD trip.  "Mom, do you believe in Jesus?" he asked.
"Of course I do, Brandon.  He's the only way."
Brandon continued, "I was in a battle for my soul for the past six hours, and it was only my faith that saved me.  I saw demons.  I saw angels.  I saw the Kingdom of Heaven."
Two weeks later, I had the opportunity to ask Brandon if he'd had a type of out of body experience....He replied, "Mom, Satan showed up that night and said, 'You're going to die tonight and I'm taking you with me.'  I even saw the demons attached to the posters that I had in my room!" 
He immediately moved back into my home.  Sleeping on the floor in the hallway next to my bedroom he shared, "Mom, when I sleep downstairs the demons come after me, but when I sleep up here next to you, I'm at peace."

Brandon turned his back 180 degrees on the lifestyle he'd been living, but I'd had no idea of the drug and pornography world that had taken hold of him.  It was while living with their father that Brandon, while in high school, began dealing marijuana out of their home.  Trevor got involved in this hell hole, too, even though their father was a lieutenant of road patrol in our regional sheriff's department.  
But God performed a miracle in Brandon as he came back to Him with his whole heart and gradually grew spiritually and emotionally stronger.
The fight at times was intense...and I got a crash course in spiritual warfare!  Yet, one more great battle had yet to be fought....Fast forward six months.  I was now living in a temporary place.  I'd brought Brandon home with me after he'd been at his father's.  The Lord had told me there was going to be a battle, and I prayed in tongues the entire 30 minute drive to pick him up.  

Not more than a half hour after returning to my place did the battle begin and continued for the next three hours.   I cannot remember it all, but what I do remember is this:  There came a point at about three o'clock in the morning when standing directly above my son, who lie spewing vile and vulgar obscenities in a voice I did not know, I called upon Jesus and His angels to intercede and help with a passion and a fervor never before known to me.  I could feel Him at my right side.  Brandon no longer looked to me, but to my right.....I cannot tell you what I said, I only knew that He was there....and my son was delivered that night.

Brandon will tell you the same thing.  He saw Jesus standing to my right.  Having gotten involved again with marijuana that evening at his father's, the demons had returned, seven times stronger than before....but Jesus delivered my son.  Hallelujah!  Praise God!  That was 12 years ago.
While living with their father, my sons wanted little to do with me....I knew enough about their living conditions to be very concerned....There was nothing I could do legally.  All I could do was pray.  And pray I did!
Then in 2000, while I was 800 miles away in Michigan having just returned from a 5 week visit to Germany, Brandon experienced a car crash in which the oncoming car T-boned his car on the passenger side.  He was airlifted to a larger hospital, because there was so much blood.  His car looked as if God, Himself had wrapped His hands around the driver's seat where Brandon had sat.  Brandon was discharged from ER that evening with a mild concusion and a cracked rib.  Someone from the flight staff visited him in ER before his discharge, "Dude, you shouldn't even be alive!!!!"

Then on a visit to Brandon's, gasping, I stared at his car photos for the first time.  It looked as if God, Himself, had wrapped His hands around the driver's seat where Brandon had sat. Stuttering through my tears, "Brandon, this is the type of wrecks that only drunks walk away from!"

"Mom," he replied, "It was as if an angel knocked me out just prior to the impact."
.....But God.....

Then last year, while camping in the northern wilderness of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Steve and I made our way into a local village to secure more staples.  My cell phone indicated I had some voice mails.

Trevor's voice...weak, but there....."Mom, I'm in the hospital.  Remember the dream you told me about where you saw me in the hospital and I was calling out to God,'s happening now...."......and his voice trailed off......My heart stopped and I burst into tears....
I could barely get the words out to my husband....Just holding my phone up in the air to his face, I choked, "That was Trevor.  I don't know if he's dead or alive....."

And because there was no cell phone coverage where we were camping, this voice mail was 24 hours old!!!!!  OH GOD!!!!!

Frantically I called answer......then answer.....All I could do was wait and pray....Within a half hour, Brandon called....Trevor had made some bad choices the night before....Knowing that he was medically crashing, Trevor had called 911 for himself....He was admitted to ER at about midnight.  All I know is that his condition was not good.  Brandon arrived and prayed for Trevor....Trevor vomited into the wastebasket....He was released to go home at approximately 5:30 AM.  The doctor stated, "You should not have gotten better this quickly.  This just doesn't happen."  Trevor made it into work that morning....from one foot in the grave to fully restored.
There had been a time when in the midst of losing my 3500 sq. ft. home on a spacious, country 10 acres and everything I owned with the exception of 10 plastic storage bins containing my "savings" that I cried out to God.  "Lord, please, I beg of You, may I never have to bury either of my sons!"  I had nothing....but I had my salvation and my sons were alive.  I vowed that I could weather whatever further came my way....
God has blessed me with a wonderful husband  ...and my sons have bought a house together in the Carolinas.  Trevor manages a successful restaurant deli (and is a fantastic, creative chef when left to his own devices) and Brandon (also a fantastic culinary artist) continues in ministry.

Thanksgiving....Yes, thank You, Lord for restoring our family and giving us Your beauty for the ashes.  Isaiah 61:3.  

Thank You that in the Valley of Achor...that place of death....You ARE Our Door of Hope. (Hosea 2:14 and You became My Husband...Hosea 2:16)

Lord, I pray that this testimony of how You have worked in our lives will encourage someone else today who needs to know You ARE with them and You ARE mighty in battle and Your arm is not too short that it cannot save. (Isaiah 59:1)

"Lord God, I come before You in the mighty Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ and I pray that since You know exactly how You want to reveal Yourself to the person reading this testimony of Your Goodness, Glory and Strength that You show Yourself strong on their behalf.  Lord, when we are weak, then are You strong and You've told us that Your Grace is sufficient for us.  Father, I pray Your Grace be revealed for Your Glory in each and every person who reads this today....for Lord, we need You.  I pray Your Peace which surpasses understanding to cover the heart and mind of every person who reads this testimony....knowing that we overcome the evil one by the word of our testimony and the Blood of the Lamb.  Glory to Your Name!  Amen and amen."

Be blessed and Happy Thanksgiving to all.
Ever yours in Christ,


  1. This made me cry!!! The goodness and mercy of God always gets me weepy!!! Love you, Crista. Just came over here to get the link so I can add it to my website. :-)

  2. God bless you, Clo! Thank you for sharing this site with others. I need to hook up with your website! :)


Welcome ~

The purpose of this blog is to encourage our walk in Christ; together in Him; for as we develop our relationship with the Lord, we ARE more than conquerors through Christ Jesus! Praise God! My writings are mostly from an experiential standpoint; however sometimes this includes dreams and visions. (Comments are reviewed prior to posting.)