50 Shades of Pain

As some of you have probably noticed, I don’t normally speak out about controversial issues. However, this time I can’t be silent. The movie that the world has been buzzing about opens in theaters tomorrow. This is a rare moment when the self-inflicted pain that has shadowed me (and those close to me) for 20 years needs to shared. Be warned… what you are about to read is raw and ugly. My heart has pounded every time I’ve thought about writing this. I almost chickened out. There are pieces of my story that only a very, very few people know. My mother does not know some of the things I’m going to share with you today. But out of pure love for all of you… teen girls, single women, wives, mothers… this is why 50 Shades of Grey is so. very. dangerous. ———– I was 17 when I was first introduced to the traditional form of pornography, video-style. It seemed harmless at the time. We were teenagers just being teenagers, right? Not so ironically, the person who first exposed me to it was also my first sexual partner of many. Thus started Paula’s 10-year tornado-like path through life. Something felt empty. College was a period of internal torment, although you wouldn’t have known it by looking at me. I was finally free, after all, which was great for this rebellious heart, right? Those years were filled with sickening insecurity and depression covered up by heavy alcohol use that seemed to cover the pain for a while. My deep insecurity led me to one-night-stand after one-night-stand, and also to several longer sexual relationships...

The 180 & The Anchor

Have you ever done a complete 180 in your life? You thought you were on the right track, but somehow your wheels got just enough off of the railings that you had to jump completely off and start over going the opposite direction? I guess that’s a good way to describe this year for me. 2014 has been one of the craziest, most painful, most growing seasons of my span of 41. There have been so many changes in my life, internally and externally, that it’s going to be difficult to fit it all into a blog post. At least one that is short enough so as not to lose your attention. 😉 In January, I was tired. Not a good tired. Apparently I had been pouring diesel fuel into an unleaded tank. My heart was exhausted and mad, but it wasn’t clear why. From all the picturesque viewpoints, my life looked great. Great husband, beautiful kids, beautiful new home. Not to mention the fact that I was finally in my dream job, in ministry, working with an amazing collaborative team of friends. Yet I was not satisfied, and the lack of contentment and deep unresolved issues were starting to spew out at people around me who I care about. Well, more people. My husband had dealt with it for years. Now, that’s just what was going on inside my heart. There was a mess happening in our family as well. See I have this little problem where I pour all of myself into whatever I do. Unfortunately, the job & ministry that I loved was where my heart was. My heart was not planted at...

For When You Feel Like A Failure

I had messed up. We needed childcare for the event but I had not thought about it beforehand. When I arrived (3 wild children in-tow), it quickly hit me that this was not an everyone kind of event. “But I didn’t know we needed childcare. I thought it was for everyone.” These are the words that slipped out of my mouth to my husband. The problem was that I should have known. If you’re like me, when you feel that you’ve failed in one area, your mind begins a downward spiral into everything else… “I am such a bad planner.” “Why can’t I manage our home right?” “My husband and kids deserve better.” “I’m not a good mom.” “I’m not a good wife.” “Why can’t I just get my act straight?” Then these words come to mind: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13. The verse doesn’t tell me that I can do all things through MY strength, although that is what the world and even some Christian speakers want us to believe. We can’t self-talk our way into becoming strong. We can’t self-talk our way into becoming great mothers or fathers, wives or husbands. And we definitely can’t self-talk ourselves into becoming better followers of Christ. The ONLY way to develop the strength to overcome our failures is to lean whole-heartedly into the cross of Christ… to trust Him, stay in His word, and stay in close communion with Him. All human methods will fail us. So when your mind starts taking the downward spiral like mine did today, remember this from Philippians…. I can do all...

O My Soul

The last several months of my life have been a period of smothering darkness. Aloneness. I’ve looked potential for significant loss straight in the eye, yet told it to go away. It’s been a while since I’ve written anything at all, and most certainly there have been no penned words on this page for the world to see. It’s been a private dark time. Only those closest to me know. But in the dark, God is becoming more real to me. His friendship. His grace. He has orchestrated events in my life that could be explained no other way. There have been very personally spun moments. Blog posts have been put in my feed, songs have been sung, defeat has been defeated. O my soul. Last week, I read a post from Ann Voskamp called How to Care for the Most Important Part of You. It was about being the keeper of our souls… about not being controlled by emotions and feelings. It means looking past the surface feelings… looking down into the deepest part and saying, “Why are you afraid, o my soul?” or “Why are you sad, o my soul?” Little did I know how these words would come back to mind. It was 5:30am on Sunday morning and I was wide awake. For the past two hours, every painful thing (or so it seemed) in the past several years of my life was being played in my head. On loop. I was quickly being defeated by an enemy who likes to play with me in the darkness. But this time, instead of giving in to complete and utter misery, I picked...

Restless.

This word. It smacked me in the face a few weeks ago when I shared with a precious friend that maybe she was… this word. My entire life, I have searched. My heart and mind have battled against each other, trying to make sense of why nothing satisfies this soul. I grew up in a very loving home with a Godly mom, dad, and brother. They were the ones who led me, taught me, guided me. The ones who stood by me through all of my early “searching” years (and still stand by me today). At age 25, God gave me an amazing husband. One who has loved me through pain and has stood by me when others wouldn’t have. We have been gifted with 3 beautiful children who don’t understand why Mommy seems to struggle so. Such amazing people in my life. Yet, this word. Like my friends, I went to college right after high school; however, after 3 changes in major and a lot of reckless mistakes, I finally quit and moved back home. Several years later and on our own young married dime, I finally graduated from the second college, while at the same time holding down a great job. Only to mess that up and cause a lot of pain. Then Jeff and I moved to Chicago, which was great for our marriage. He had a great job and I did too… we were working together with the same company, both of us feeding our own ambitions. But that lasted a year and we were back home. During the transition back to NC, my dream...
The Rock That Is Higher Than I {Re-post}

The Rock That Is Higher Than I {Re-post}

As I read through Psalm 61 this morning, my mind went back to this post… and to a time (a year ago) when it really spoke to me. I needed to read this again, and maybe some of you needed it today, as well… ——— Life gets overwhelming. If you’re like me, days just seem to stack on top of each other… then one day suddenly you realize another year has passed. Sometimes, though life is busy, everything seems to flow together in perfect harmony. But other times, the overwhelmed feeling hits like a 95mph wild pitch against a batting helmet. Maybe you are there right now. The pitch has hit you. You’re feeling overwhelmed… as am I. The harmonies aren’t quite coming together as they should. Sickness… Work… Relationships… Ministry stuff… Perhaps at this moment, you’re looking at the conglomeration that is your life and saying, “I just don’t know how to work through all of this.” Or maybe life is good, but you are facing a task that is overwhelming you. Maybe the complicated nature of your project is paralyzing you, keeping you from seeing how to more forward. If this is the case… maybe you’re standing on the wrong rock. As I was thinking through my own crazy personal matrix and trying to make sense of it all (in my own strength of course), God brought me to Psalm 61:1-3 (NKJV): Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I....