Why I Deserve to Go to Hell but I Won’t

Are people generally good? Do people do the best that they can? I believe if you were to ask random people on the street they would say yes. I say no. Here is why. Genesis 3:6-13 depicts the fall of man and his response. Those of us that label ourselves affectionately Christians know the story like the back our hand. I’m not saying humans are not generally good because Adam and Eve fell,all though that is part of it. I would argue that it’s because of their response to that fall. Let’s take a slightly deeper look. They ate of the tree off knowledge of good and evil and their eyes were opened to their nakedness. Now here was their opportunity to fall before God and beg of His mercy but that’s not the choice they made. Instead in attempt to hide themselves they sewed fig leaves together. When God confronted them yet again there was the perfect opportunity to throw their hands up and confess their sins. Did they? No, Adam turned the blame from himself to not only Eve but God who created Eve. Oh dear Adam would you have played your cards differently if you would have known the ramifications of your actions? In my heart I would like to think so but I know better.

How do I know what Adam and Eve would of done if they knew the consequences? Simply put, I’ve been Adam and Eve before. I know the tragedy of realizing my sin even though I may have not known that I was sinning. I know the reality of choosing to sin willingly. I even know the pit in the stomach feeling of trying to cover up my sin. I know all to well that humans, specifically Nicci is not good.

Let me share a little bit of the reality of my sin with you. Now if you ask my mom or maybe even people that have known me fa while they may not know my inner heart or the depth of my sinful nature. I am not sharing this to make myself look bad or to bring glory to the person that I once was. I desperately want to call sin what it is and to share that there is redemption available. So let’s pick up when I was thirteen going on fourteen and then the early months of fifteen. I’d say I was the average middle school student. I was pretty innocent and I loved my parents. I was really excited to be going to a new school and moving to a new area,one close to my then best friend! The only thing not so normal about me was that my family was essentially homeless. We lived in a motel and would off and on for a long time. In some ways it was like an adventure and others it was drove me to try to fit in or to be as “good” as my peers.

Soon enough school was in full swing and I was making more friends. One day I got a note from my best friend that was from the guy we dubbed “the curly headed kid”. I didn’t know him but my friend and I would watch him and his mass amount of curly hair get on and off of the school bus each day. In this note was an invitation of sorts to our school dance. To say I was elated would be an understatement. I remember that night as if it happened yesterday. It was so fun and was nearly movie perfect. I could almost imagine the cast of high school musical break out in song at any moment. Yes, it is a fun and thrilling memory. Needless to say as time went on our relationship grew (as much as it can at age 13/14. I mean come on.) and we didn’t remain pure. Despite the fact him and his mom attended Church every Sunday and my mom would drop me off too. I had a desire to follow Jesus but had no clue how to do that. We were fairly active at that little local Methodist church. Unfortunately because of our impure relationship we often times were lying to our parents and that made me feel worse than the after effects of the sexual relationship did. I’d walk home knowing what I was engaging in was wrong. Slowly my time spent with this guy turned from fun or at the very least what I thought was normal to heartache and despair. We’d go to the local Dollar General and he’d steal stuff and I knew it. He’d get more rough with me and I’d start finding bruises on my body that happened while he was “teasing”. All these too big of emotions coupled with my teenaged hormones being out of wack caused me to cut…well what ever you call using a sharpened stick to harm yourself. I had no real desire to hurt myself but I knew tons of other girls did it and I read in my teen books of the angsty characters did it,so why shouldn’t I try? I felt sad and my boyfriend was no longer hurting me in private but now in public too! It all came crashing down one day when he kicked me into the other seat as I was getting off the bus. I retaliated and punched him back and called him a filthy name. The cops were called and of course I was the one to get reprimanded. The bus driver didn’t see what he had done only the punch I threw. Unfortunately I had deleted all of his possessive and hate texts because I was terrified of my mom seeing them. My whole life was one big mess and not a lot of people knew about it. I was dressing the part of a over sexualized teenager during the week and going to church on Sunday. My sin was monstrous and I deserved to go to hell.

“Sexy” expressions are what is displayed on nearly all of my pictures from that time

What we wear does change our actions

I’ve never typed that nor have I shared all the details of that time in my life. I suppose my mother knows more than most and I’m glad through it all she stood by my side.

So how does a filthy beaten down sinner escape hell? How does a person even begin to wash their dirty laundry in their past baggage? How do they lay their baggage down and walk away from it forever? Simply put,YOU don’t. Magnificently though God does! So although you,me,and lots of other nasty sinners have rotting past and there is no escape there is a savior! John 3:16 says For God so love the world (you/me) that He sent His only begotten son so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish ( go to hell) but have everlasting life! Isn’t that absolutely amazing news? Doesn’t that make you want to leap for joy? It does me. So Jesus in His time here in earth detailed how a person can inherit eternal life through His life,death,and resurrection. His overarching message was that the kingdom of God is at hand. He showed us very clearly that being in a relationship with Him was so much more than get out of hell free card. It had some requirements and some duties that we must fulfill. You know because after all we are not naturally good. We desperately needed Him to spell things out for us. You see once Jesus’s blood cleans a person all up and the Holy Spirit comes to make it’s abode in us the requirements of kingdom life really are not a burden. They are in fact a joy to carry out. Now I’m not going to lie and say they are easy because sometimes simple stuff like loving my neighbor is hard. That’s where His grace comes in. We won’t ever be perfect and we will have a free will and Jesus knows that. Through our repentance and patterning our lives after His, we will become His disciple. Day by day the gap between you and your past will grow so vast that it’s not possible to cross it to the person that you once were. That in my opinion is where the assurance of salvation is apparent. You no longer see yourself how Satan wanted you to be but rather how God see you! Trust me when I say that Satan will tell you that you are worthless and trash. That you will never be far away from the label of your sin. I’m here to tell you that yes sin is absolutely unacceptable in the eyes of God. It does make you wrenched and nasty. However the relationship you enter into as a baby Christian and journey through into disciple is a purifying process and NO ONE can stake their claim to your life except Jesus Christ!

This is the real me. The me that has JOY!

No,people are not good;but Jesus Christ is!

Much love,

Pilgrim Nicci

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A Tad About RAD

What is your earliest memory? Is it something sweet like your mother teaching you to tie your shoes? Could it be your Father playing ball on a hot summer evening? Either way it probably is one That is wrapped up with love and care.

Children with RAD don’t have that privilege. You see, their memories go back to when they weren’t fed enough or when a man came into their room at night to do things to them that no child should ever know about. Sometimes it’s a memory of the smell of alcohol on the person responsible from them. Did you know that even trauma in-utero or a mother’s thoughts of ending her child’s life can cause a separation?

We say that children are resilient and to some extent that is true but what happens when a child doesn’t just “bounce back ” after a traumatic experience or abuse?

Here’s the truth. When neglect or separation from a birth mother happens it messes with the brain. When a child has a need and that need isn’t met it throws the child into survival mode. They must find ways to survive because in their mind the adult they trusted couldn’t protect them. Before I go any further I want to point out that when I’m writing I tend to share from an intentional trauma standpoint. Please note that biological children can have RAD too. It could come from chronic sickness,trauma during birth,or something totally out of their parents control. Unfortunately babies and little children can’t decipher the difference. So please note that not all children with RAD have been harmed by their biological parents.

When a child has had that bond separated (for whatever reason) they lose connection with their front part of their brain where logic and reason takes place.They literally get stuck in the back portion of the brain where flight,fight,and freeze takes place. At this point they are not reachable. They in a sense are in survival mode. Who’s going to hurt me? What can I do to keep them from loving me because love hurts. How can I be in control. How can I prove that my adult isn’t going to let me suffer? In a lot of ways in my opinion they become like an animal.

Imagine with me for a moment. You are a happy family with two children at home. Your family isn’t perfect but it is a loving environment and you think now is a great time to add to your family because of all the love you have. You go to whatever avenue available maybe its foster care or maybe an orphanage overseas. You meet your son or daughter for the first time and you fall in love. You know instantly this child is your own from the moment he/she looks up at you and says “I love you momma”. You get home and the first week is bliss. He/she seems to fit perfectly and is the missing puzzle piece to your family. Ah you can almost imagine the white picketed fence around your storybook home. Church family comes over to meet your new son/daughter. They feel invested because they have walked beside your family throughout the adoption process. They say “Oh your son/daughter is so charming!”

No sooner do the guests leave and the door shuts does the light switch of RAD turn on. It’s been on but hidden behind the superficially charming smile and impeccable manners. After all cute things don’t get hurt. The child might be starting to feel something. Something warm and fuzzy something that..could hurt them. So out of no where your child starts to be disrespectful,”accidentally” stepping on the cat, or is really clumsy and breaks things that are important to you. You find yourself walking on eggshells and making excuses to your other kids for the bad behavior. Finally enough is enough so you reach out to someone in your local church only to be greeted with accusations or pet answers. One friend might say “Just fill them up with more love.” The pastor might say “This is so normal! They are adjusting. In due time you’ll see how over concerned you are.” You feel lost and angry. The community that urged you to adopt is now turning their backs on you. The child that should be thankful for your love hates you. Your biological children don’t understand why this child gets all the attention. Your spouse gets a break at work or just plain doesn’t see the behavior. Things come crashing down one day when you are alone with your child. He/she has been raging for hours and you’re at a loss what to do. Then you hear “I’m going to kill you! I hate you!”

This is the reality of many families with children with Reactive Attachment Disorder. No two children with RAD are alike but they all must get a heart transplant and brain healing before they will ever be able to deal with their trauma and work on bonding with their family. We as the church and as communities can rally around these hero parents in several ways.

1. Be available to listen without judgement. You have no clue what it is to walking n the shoes of a parent fighting for their child’s life.

2. Read up on RAD. https://www.nextgenerationattachment.org/store Here’s an excellent no nonsense book that spells RAD out for you. It’s only 70 pages long and chalked full of information for you to be a supporter.

3. Go online to watch Child or Rage or watch the movie The Boarder . Both give a realistic view point on RAD.

4. Send a card with encouragement or prayer to the mother of a child with RAD. You could also send flowers too!

5. DO NOT INTERACT with the children. They feed off of your pity. They know exactly what it does to their parents when they come up and hug you/show affection to you. Don’t be tricked.

6. Hug the mom and dad! Yes, I know it can be awkward, do it anyway. Do it in front of their children. This shows the child that you support their amazing parents.

7. Don’t ever contradict the parents in front of the child! Never as in ever! If you do then it gives the child room to doubt their parents capability.

8. Bring over a meal.

9. Offer to stay home with the kids while mom and dad go to church or on a date.

10. Respect the parents when they give you instructions about their child. They know their child more than you do. Often they are working with an attachment therapist and a team. Do not cause them doubt.

11. Here’s a bonus one. DO interact with the healthy siblings. They need healthy interactions and a support system too! Offer to take them somewhere fun or just hang out with them. Send them something to bring them a smile too!

After all, having one RAD kid is the equivalent to having five healthy kids. Don’t stand in the way of a child’s healing. Be the example of Christ and walk along side parents in this journey. These children are so worth the fight. There IS healing available but it is a slow process. It doesn’t just go away in a years time.After all there is no time limit on growing a heart. These moms and dads are surgeons,janitors,parents,super heroes,and Jesus to their kids. These parents are worth the fight too! Sign up to be a Warrior in the battle that is RAD. Don’t leave your brothers and sisters hanging out on the battlefield alone. With an army we can heal the broken hearted.

Much love,

Pilgrim Nicci

Is the Fluff Worth it?

What is important in life? This is a seemingly easy answer. I find myself asking this very question of myself today. I’ve scrolled through my Facebook and checked my Instagram feed and I sit in amazement as I feel a little “icky”. And I can’t really say what it is really but I know it has to do with the fact so much is being lost around us day by day. Now don’t get me wrong folks because to be quite honest I will be the first one to say I appreciate social media and the opportunity to meet new people day by day and keep connected to friends and family afar.

Are we spending so much of our time taking pictures that will never be printed for the next generation to see? Do the captions that lay below these snapshot moments have any reality to them? Who are the people behind the cellphones that we subconsciously invite into our lives? Lastly do we as people really even know who we are anymore? This is not a new thought pattern and I’m not against social media at all but rather ask two main questions that will answer my above inquiries.

1. What is important? The taking of the pictures or the living the moment?

2. Who are we when we aren’t posting on social media?

Ok so technically that would be 2 1/2 questions. Could you answer them for yourself? I haven’t yet but I’m going too in my own personal time alone. Maybe I’ll even share my thoughts a bit later.

I challenge you and myself once we answer the above questions then start to ask a few more.

1. Who do you post on social media for?

2. What is your ultimate goal?

3. Who/what do you live your life for?

4. Do you actually like carrying your phone with you everywhere?

5. Are you posting 100% the truth?

6. Do you go back and delete stuff later? Or just post on stories that delete themselves?

7. Why don’t these pictures ever get printed?

8. What have you done lately that actually is worthy of a picture?

These are just some of the questions my heart is asking me as I type. No well laid out outline is going into this blog post. It is completely Spirit lead. As some of you know, I have had a six year battle over social media. I got rid of it for a year once but came back “just to connect with family”. I see so much negative that goes on with social media. Arguments,hate crimes,self harm,bullying,propaganda,discontentment,disconnect from real relationships,the list could go on and on. Yet I have been blessed by the tool social media can be. New friends that I’ve met in reality, penpals,my parents go Fund me,Being aware of needs,job opportunities,connection around the world,fast communication,prayer warriors,news,and the list can go on and on as well!

All this is to say I’m deleting a good majority of people from my Instagram and only be keeping it for the few people to stay connected. I’ll be deleting my snap chat because I really don’t like snap chat anyway. My Facebook will going through some revamping if you get deleted “unfairly ” then send me a new request nothing is personal.

I want what I do in life to be meaningful not a cheap replica of what everyone else is doing. I want to spread the gospel,write letters, live a life of purpose,and be my own sort of creative. I’ll still post school stuff and things that I feel matter but my goal is to rid my life of meaningless fluff. I’d encourage you to do the same.

Much love,Pilgrim Nicci

P.S. Go out and print your pictures for the next generation to see! Over Christmas break I poured over WW2 and Great Depression pictures! I’m so thankful Instagram wasn’t around back then or else I’d never have seen them.

Flashback 

I’m feeling terribly sentimental today as I flashback to a time that in some ways seems not so long ago yet doesn’t even resemble the life I live today. Today I have a whole different kind of community and I’m very thankful for that. It doesn’t however take the love I have away from the community I had for six years of my life and in some small way still consider family just in a different way than before. So many memories are wrapped up in these few pictures yet they don’t even begin to tell the whole story. Non of this probably makes any sense and I’m ok with that. It’s all to say, I’m sad,I miss this community (in part), thank you for many great years,I love you all! photo credits Michael Strange. 

I just wanted to share a little part of who I used to be.