NORMA L. BRUMBAUGH
We start at different places, are born into a family, some more dysfunctional than others, some religious and some not. Mine was devout, very much so. My childhood was defined by three major areas: family, farming, and church. It was a good life.
My parents taught us how to live with honor and grace and how to work hard and be respectful. I am deeply grateful for my parents, grandparents, siblings, and children.
My life became a little more diverse once I left home. I went to a Christian college, and that was good. I did my share of dating, and that was great. I learned about theology and Bible doctrines, and that was excellent. I participated in music performance and was a puppeteer, and that was icing on the cake. I liked my life, but I was sort of timid, and that wasn’t so great. Teaching in a private school came next. It was okay, but it didn’t really rock my boat.
And then life happened.
It was a lot about loss–the kind of things that are unexpected and crushing; some were earth-shaking hard. Over the course of the next twenty years, I, and others in my extended family, would know what it is to experience the emotional effects of loss through unexpected, tragic ways. I personally would experience the pain caused by a troubled marriage and other stressful concerns. I accepted these things as best I could.
The residual effects on my emotional health and sense of well-being were piling up inside where I couldn’t see what they were doing to me.
It was a gradual thing. Three years after college, I married a nice guy from my hometown. We weren’t far into it when I realized that he and I saw life from entirely different perspectives. He wanted out almost at the beginning, but I didn’t. I hung on through two decades until he said there would be no more “we,” and there wasn’t. By then, my oldest child was in college. Our years as husband and wife saw some pretty troubling stuff that I’m not going to put out there. Intermixed were also many good and precious times. I remember them, too.
By the way, the father of my children supports my ministry because he says it has the power to help others. I am grateful for this, and his willingness.
For the most part through those difficult years, I was the glue that held it together. And I really, REALLY depended on God as my strength and sustainer. My extended family was always a great support to me and my family as well.
The bottom dropped out the year I lost both my mate and my teaching job. I was in a world of hurt, still loving my man when he didn’t love me, dealing with rejection and uncertainty, and not sure how to face the future.
Then I decided to stop the insanity. Deadening dejection in my spirit was sucking the life out of me. I didn’t know who I was any more, it felt like I was an automaton . . . except for the broken heart. I needed help.
I knew I must start over.
There was no other choice. My emotions were damaged, and my energy was woefully depleted. Besides, my children were negatively impacted by the marriage falling apart. They were unprepared for what had happened to us as a family. I needed to face my future in a better way for their sake. I needed to be whole and healthy for all of us. I knew this intellectually, but, truly, I didn’t know how to do it. So I gave it to God.
I didn’t understand why my prayers over the years hadn’t been enough to save my marriage or help my husband. Ours was a major failure at love. I told God that I wanted joy, could He please give me joy. I wanted to be healed–but I didn’t know what healing looked like or if it was even possible. To anchor this request, I vowed to share what God would show and teach me by sharing it openly with others–those who have been hurt by life, the silent suffering found in the church and in the dark shadows of homes across the nation and around the world. I meant every word of my promise.
God answered my prayer.
God changed me and He healed me. It was a process with many levels to it. Joy entered my soul while peace began to replace the bitterness. The inner sorrow began to dissipate as I clung to God. Healing of hurtful memories came in increments.
The hidden sorrow, a form of grieving for what one has lost, left me and has never returned. Wow. So thankful. Father God became remarkably dear and real to me. I became a new and free person. I came to know and experience God in the intimacy of true, living, and vital relationship.
As a result, my inner person has changed its focus.
I am more God-centered in my interior self these days. I view people within a different frame of reference. I see their wounds and lack of happiness rather than their rebellion and selfish ways. The whole spiritual life is something of amazing depth and proportions.
Praying takes on an added dimension. It turns into a contemplative, interactive conversation with God rather than a list of needs and desires. Active listening while praying continually nurtures my spirit life. I write down my thoughts by recording phrases that speak to me and pondering their meaning.
There is so much that I have learned about God.
Something about the process of following within the context of devotion to God completely changes the spiritual conversation. The soul goes through a transforming, a crushing, before it becomes newly minted, tender and sweet.
It is strange (and un-American) to ‘let go and let God’ yet so very important, for God only works in the areas we allow Him to touch. He calls to us, but it is up to us to respond. He is gracious, kind, and a gentleman. Through the process of healing restoration, the heart is softened, purified, revived. It becomes more of God and less of you. Christ-following becomes spontaneous (not scripted), lively (not tedious), deep (not shallow) and much more.
This is where real living begins.
Genuine faith is vibrant faith. It speaks because it must speak. Out of its passion, faith flows like a radiant blessing, outward to others, day in and day out. It is my hope and desire that my writings and speech will cause you to want more in your relationship with God.
Life becomes a rich experience full of grace and truth when God is the end-all. Then it is lived with joy and peace. Hardships become less upsetting because the presence of God is near. He guides our spiritual journey and faithfully ministers as each crisis comes and goes.
A FEW OTHER DETAILS ABOUT ME
I have been active in my local church since 1993. Mostly I teach. Over the years I have served in various capacities: Children’s Church teacher, Women’s Ministry Director, Worship Team member, Adult Sunday School teacher, Christmas Program writer and director, Christian Education Director, Adult Choir Leader, Awana Counsel Time teacher, and morning worship speaker.
Writing is what I do now.
I published The Meeting Place: Moments with God at Lookout Point in 2012. I left my career to pursue ministry through writing, teaching and speaking. This is part of working out the promise I made back in 2002.
I wish I could tell you the whole story but that would be a long book. I wish you well on your own spiritual journey.
God bless you,
I leave with you a couple of family photos for your enjoyment. I am thankful for all of the many blessings God has sent my way and for the way He has transformed my life. To God be the glory.