By Shelly Thompson, Publisher, The Notebook Cafe
April 5, 2015
This is a hard to write, but as I sit here early on this Easter morning, I know…God knows…it’s time.
Time to let you see…My Door.
There she was almost 8, beautiful. Freckles. Pony tails. Always using her imagination and overly dramatic voice to make people laugh. She and her two sisters, and dog (sister 4), the “sissy’s” as they named themselves, they were so close. She antagonized the older sister and was a mother hen to the younger one. I can still see their back packs swinging back and forth as they would leave the house each morning and take the path to school. Happy. Laughing. Secure. I stood at The Door and watched. But, by the time she was 8, The Door and I were old friends.
I spent a lot of time at…The Door. Years.
My memory flashes to when she was 5. I can still see the car pulling out of the driveway, containing the crazy haired, missing teeth, mismatched socks treasures that were my daughters. The “sissy’s”. I watched from the door and waved with a smile and imagined the good weekend visit that I hoped was awaiting them. The 5-year-old “sissy” didn’t love the scheduled weekend visits anymore, but I thought she missed me while she was gone. Five is a funny age for being separated from mom. But, before I left The Door I would always do what my grandmother, Grandma G (named by the oldest of the three “sissy’s” when she was two), always did…I prayed. I stood at the door and prayed for the sisters to be protected. I assumed that was the end of it. I prayed and it was done. Protection.
Read the full journey from behind 'The Door'...
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‘I have gotten through 10 chapters now and you have no idea the impact it is having in helping with my journey with God right now. I feel this is a book of healing! That is all I can say, well besides love, grace, faith, honesty and most of all trust!' Angela D.
'I couldn't put the book down. I read it in one week. What an open and honest sharing of two lives touched by God. Inspires me that there is a purpose in my own journey.’ Marie S.
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The Notebook Café & Co. Publishing newest book release Entwined by Shelly Thompson and Brenda Hamilton is now available. Entwined brings together the stories of two women, who didn't know each other, until God weaves their stories together in His perfect way. Brenda is battling Stage 4 cervical cancer while Shelly is living her life trying to escape the deep distrust for God that has been buried in her heart for years after learning her then almost five-year-old daughter was sexually abused. The Master Author of heaven is present in both of these women's lives through years of unexpected twists and turns weaving His perfect plan together.
The pages of Entwined are filled with encouragement and hope despite heartbreak and disappointments as God's plans are being intricately woven together to create...His perfect life story. The pages of Entwined are the combined journals of Brenda and Shelly beautifully illustrating God is involved in all the small details of our lives though often we can't see it. In a very personal way their stories show that we can trust Him even when we don't know the plan. God beautifully takes the ashes of pain and tragedy making all the seasons of our life into something more beautiful than we can ask or imagine...if we give Him control...to weave our perfect life story. Click here for more information...The book our readers have been waiting for, Entwined, The Notebook Café & Co. Publishing newest book release by Shelly Thompson and Brenda Hamilton is now available. Entwined brings together the stories of two women, who didn't know each other, until God weaves their stories together in His perfect way. Brenda is in the fight of her life battling Stage 4 cervical cancer while Shelly is living her life battling to escape the deep distrust for God that has been buried in her heart for years after learning her then almost five-year-old daughter was sexually abused. The Master Author of heaven is present in both of these women's lives through years of unexpected twists and turns weaving His perfect plan together.
The pages of Entwined are filled with encouragement and hope despite heartbreak and disappointments as God's plans are being intricately woven together to create...His perfect life story. The pages of Entwined are the combined journals of Brenda and Shelly beautifully illustrating that God is involved in all the small details of our lives though often we can't see it. In a very personal way their stories show that we can trust Him even when we don't know the plan. God beautifully takes the ashes of pain and tragedy making all the seasons of our life into something more beautiful than we can ask or imagine...if we give Him control...to weave our perfect life story. Click here for more information.
Here's what Karen Abercrombie, Miss Clara from the movie War Room, multi-award winning actress, and recipient of a Dove Award and a Movieguide Grace Award, says about 'Heart of a Warrior' -
'Heart of a Warrior' is beautifully written by Shelly Thompson, a true wordsmith, who is on fire for God! With a deep warmth, sincerity and transparency, Shelly welcomes the reader in and she teaches, encourages and inspires through her own personal experiences. Because Shelly is such a gifted writer, you get to experience a forty-day journey that is masterfully painted with beautiful and rich imagery that honors the word of God as it stirs up the Warrior's Heart! - Karen Abercrombie
I grew up in a circle of people with great faith, my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. Growing up my grandparents lived four houses away and my great grandparents lived several houses beyond them. They encircled the lives of me and my sister. We knew what it was like to truly have a circle who cherished us, richly loved us, and prayed for us. Although I never met any relatives beyond my great grandparents, their faith and belief in God, was the piece of their legacy passed down that never entered the grave, it remained. It trickled from one generation to another. Next to their black and white photos, their poses set in a time period of no smiles, I always knew behind those rather sour looking family portraits lurked the same characteristics I could see in my circle. They shared smiles, laughter, childhood pranks, buggy rides, farm chores, heartaches of life, joy, and their faith. And their God. I knew because their faith still existed in the living legacy that was my family.
I slowly remember back to the day that I never left…The Door.
There they were, the “sissy’s”, going off for a scheduled weekend visit. A time that was to be fun. A time for playing games, sisterly fighting, staying up late, getting ketchup on their faces, a skinned knee from running on the sidewalk…but never…ever… the open wounds of molestation. Never…the deep wounds of molestation that would not heal behind The Door. That wasn’t what I pictured as they drove away and I watched and I waved and I prayed and I met…The Door.
It's time...to become the Warrior's God has called us to be for this generation and the one coming after us...the pages of 'Heart of a Warrior'are real life devotions God wrote on a young girls heart growing up on 5th Street in an old neighborhood known as Highland Park...a miniature Mayberry... surrounded by her parents, grandparents, and a tribe of faithful widowed women (different shapes and sizes of Aunt Bee).
Reader’s will be enchanted and encouraged with this wonderful neighborhood as they journey up the hill to ‘God’s rock’; remember breathing in the smell of amazing stacks of books during Story Hour in the old library; discover the afternoon 5th Street neighbor 'Grace' received real Jesus grace; relive summer afternoons on the back porch with southern belle aunts, sweet tea, and stories y'all; finding ‘buried treasure’ in the back alley that God used to demonstrate His restoration; walk through painful steps of saying temporary farewell’s to the faith Warrior’s in life as they pass the torch of faith to carry on for the next generation (Acts 2:39)...creating the ‘Heart of a Warrior’...for a time such as this.
This forty-day legacy devotional contains encouraging warrior journal strategies, and real life devotions...for all seasons in life and to share with those coming after you who will face the same Warrior battles.
Your heart will be touched, warmed, revived, restored...and prepared to leave a legacy of faith for the next generation.
Return with author Shelly Thompson for forty days to where her journey began...the old house on 5th Street at the bottom of the hill. A special place where God touched a little girl’s heart for a lifetime. Click here for more information and to order.
The Notebook Café -- Inspired Words for the Journey is an online cafe community of readers looking for inspiration and encouragement in this journey. Shelly Thompson is Publisher of The Notebook Café and co-author of the book, Entwined. Her second book, 'Heart of a Warrior' - A Forty-Day Devotional sharing a Legacy of Faith was released on April 6th with a sold out first printing. Shelly has a passion for writing what God places in her heart. In 2015, taking a giant leap of faith she left the corporate world to pursue a dream God gave her of developing a monthly inspirational faith based online reading café. Today, The Notebook Café reaches almost 60,000 people each month, and operates 'The Cafe' in an 1875 historic bank building in Walnut, Iowa. She has found the road in unknown territory is not always easy, BUT GOD always finds a way to bring about what He has promised. Shelly, along with The Notebook Cafe team Deb Martin, Char Cooper, and Ashley Astley have developed The Notebook Café Annual Woman's Conference each year. Shelly and her husband, Dave, spend time with their parents, three daughters, nine grandlittles, and enjoy many weekends working on home renovation projects…that thankfully never seem to end.
I learned the enemy’s lies at…The Door. Fear. Betrayal. Denial. Anger. Bitterness. Shame. Guilt.
Years passed…behind The Door.
There she is on the stage. Center stage. Nothing seemed to stop her. She smiles with genuine happiness as she accepts her high school diploma. Then college. Next volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate working with abused children. She built a beautiful life with a caring and loving husband. All these wonderful things in her life surpassed the molestation. She still believes God loves her and her faith is strong. I never left..The Door.
I’ve heard the enemy’s lies at The Door…all of them…for years…I no longer notice God. I no longer trust God. I no longer hear the voice I heard as a child telling me God had a plan for me. Yes, I heard God calling me as a child, but then one day….I closed The Door and stood behind it. Watching life through the window of The Door. Seeing my circle live just beyond the glass of the tear stained window, watching their laughter, the enjoyment of family days filled with sunshine and picnics, babies being born, grocery shopping on Saturday’s, the peacefulness of snow in the winter but,…behind The Door I felt nothing, but the pain, bitterness, and anger, that I had stacked in front of The Door. Nothing was going to open The Door again. I would see to that. I would not trust God again.
But then….one day I accepted an invitation at…The Door.
A new friend which I didn’t know very well courageously invited me to attend a women’s Christian conference. I accepted simply because I liked her. I wasn’t really interested in the women’s conference. I was even uncomfortable during much of the conference. Here were thousands of women singing from their heart about loving God and how wonderful He was. I knew better. I still attended church each week but, from behind The Door. Somehow in this arena of thousands of singing females, voices I didn’t recognize or know, the music felt alive. You could feel their joy. You could sense their peace. Their faces showed a love for God that was unmistakable. Maybe it was the sheer number of them praising God, that reminded me of how life used to be. I tried to close The Door to this awakening of what life was like before I started living behind…The Door. So many years had passed. I thought, it’s too late to open The Door. While I lived a life on the outside that most people envied, I never let the inside show behind The Door. I had never left The Door where God didn't protect a young girl from molestation, while I, the mom, waved to her as she drove off…and prayed to Him to protect her at…The Door.
I listened half heartedly during the speakers on stage.
As a woman speaker was presenting her talk her words, like lightening bolts, caught my attention. She was saying to these thousands of women that surrounded me that God can use all things for good. No matter how evil. No matter how painful. No matter how long ago they happened. God...could...use...all...things...to work for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Under the bright lights of that center stage, I remember her saying even more slowly, “God can work good in all things…all things…divorce, poverty, insecurity, job loss, rape, sexual molestation….” I never heard what she said after that because there was…
A crack in…The Door.
Like a light piercing the darkness, revealing with a sharp newly understood realization that God had been working in the life of the “sissy” who was molested all this time. Years upon years. God had overseen the court proceedings that brought justice and stopped the visits. He had seen her graduate through college, build a great marriage, and even help other girls who had been molested. He HAD used even the ugliest of ugliness and somehow over time, made it beautiful. He made her beautiful. The middle “sissy” had grown into a compassionate and caring young woman. She had a heart full of love and kindness. The ability to empathize with abused girls. Her heart met their heart at the place known only by those who have suffered abuse can meet. I had stood behind The Door...the enemy and I had stacked his lies of bitterness, anger, hate, untrust in God, pity, shame, guilt, fear, so high against The Door it was almost unable to be opened. The hinges that as a young woman were so shiny and willing to open had over time had grown rusty and almost lost the ability to move.
The knock….at The Door.
I slowly began to hear that voice again. The soft whisper of the Holy Spirit. Beckoning. Calling. Pleading. Reassuring. It was o.k. to open The Door. It was o.k. to let out the fear, the guilt, the shame – the anger at God (who had been fully active and working in this situation for years), the pain….the LIES. Yes, it was o.k. to let them go. It was o.k. to OPEN…THE DOOR. The lies were blocking The Door. God wanted to remove them. He wanted to take every one of them and expose them in the light of His truth and His grace. Behind The Door there was no light – only the lies of the enemy along with…isolation…sadness…brokenness. Once the crack was opened, the rays of light exposed the darkness that was lurking behind The Door. Remembering what it felt like to trust God. To read His Word. To feel again without fear. To pray and honestly expect God to answer. To live fully alive. The knowledge that even though I can’t always see God working I can trust that He is. Allowing God’s peace to rest upon me in all circumstances.
It takes time. But, God has eternity…He’s got the time.
The Bible tells us that Jesus stands at…The Door.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:20). If anyone answers he will come in. Jesus wants us to open The Door of our heart and invite him in. He stands outside The Door, even though we may reject him, refuse him, or walk away from him. He never leaves the outside of The Door. Never. He is always there. He doesn’t just want to come in. He wants to have an intimate relationship – when scripture says he wants to dine with us that means he wants a close relationship. He wants to be familiar in our lives. He wants us to know his peace and trust him, especially in the hard places of life that make no human sense, when he sees us living behind…The Door. Many times he is watching us with tears streaming down his face and pain in his heart knowing that some will never take the first step, grasp the handle, and throw open…The Door and invite him in.
Our Door was His Stone.
I am so glad that I am no longer behind The Door. I can embrace Jesus this Easter morning! I can see his empty tomb. I can see behind my open door. Jesus met me at My Door and I know, without a doubt, he is at yours. He was at My Door during the hardest part of my life, but I didn’t want to open it. I wonder how many joyful moments I sacrificed behind The Door? How many people could I have helped by sharing instead of feeling shame behind The Door? How many more hugs could I have given instead of holding onto my hurt behind The Door? My behind The Door list is endless, so I choose not to look back. The Door is open, there is nothing back there for me any longer…I am not there. It is finished.
Jesus was in a tomb, dead, buried behind a large, humanly immovable stone. Yet, through the power of God, the stone was moved and Jesus was raised to life. The Resurrection. He stepped out of that dark, lonely, tomb on this Easter morning, into the brilliant sun, predawn dew moistening his feet, free from death. He did this for us. The stone was rolled away…he was not there. It is finished.
If you’re at The Door…this Easter, let God open that Door…even if it’s just a crack. Soon you too will step out and realize…with God’s help…It is finished!
The Notebook Café