Are we near the end?

Since people hate over the silliest of things, yes, I believe we are at the end. How much worse can it get? Jesus said when asked about the end of the age: “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.” ~Matthew 24:10

Are you ready for eternity? Do you live in forgiveness or bitterness? Will that thing you harbor anger and bitterness over really matter a thousand years from now?

We have to forgive, and forgive, and forgive again no matter how much it hurts, or how much the offender continues their attack, even if they never admit to their offense. It’s hard. I have to continually remind myself of this all the time. For, I’m not perfect, just forgiven. Forgiveness is the only way to find freedom for our soul. Forgiveness does not mean the offender is not guilty of the sin, for we all give an account for every little thing we do; it just means we release to God our right for revenge. (God’s vengeance is always much better anyway.) We are then free to live in God’s peace and joy, which usually makes the offender angry because we aren’t letting them cripple us. We are free. We are ready to “meet our maker” with a clean heart. We are forgiven. Because, yes; no matter how slighted we feel, if we don’t forgive, God won’t forgive us. If we aren’t forgiven, we spend eternity without freedom, without light, without God…in hell.

Don’t believe me? Or, maybe you don’t believe me because you feel like I shouldn’t be forgiven because I have offended you in some way and you don’t like me. Then I say don’t. What do I know? All I am is the messenger. Here in the States, there is a bible (taken from ancient scrolls) in every corner. Look it up on the internet. All I am doing is relaying what Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

What of this life will you take with you into eternity?

“Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” ~Matthew 18:21-22

 

“And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” ~Revelation 21:6-8

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Proverbs Procrastination Day 3

The Proverbs. Day 3. Chapter 3. It’s packed full of great little nuggets! Several verses have been popularly quoted throughout the millennia, especially the 5th verse…the one about leaning on our own understanding. It always amazes me when we do that since we obviously don’t know everything. But, after all, we are control freaky humans!

Two verses on this day seem to be tossed in the background:

At first glance, the verses are saying to be sure and pay our debts. Don’t be stingy. When we are diligent to pay everything we owe, not only do we show our good character, but we show honor to God in our trusting Him to meet our needs. Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:25-35 that worrying is for the birds, “…Are you not of more valuable than they?” Figuratively: He loves us so much more than we tend to believe, so why do we hold onto our finances and not trust God to provide?

Yet, these verses also bring up another underlying thought. Procrastination is an all too common enemy. A definition of procrastination is to put off or to delay. Why do we put off that which we are capable of accomplishing today? Sometimes, we procrastinate out of pure laziness. Most often, we put others off out of our desire to control our situations. We believe our schedule, our money, etc. is more important than anyone else. Both procrastination and laziness are rooted in self-centeredness and pride. Most of us never thought of procrastination as a sin. We excuse ourselves with our good “intent” of giving, but only when it is convenient for us. One of the first companies I worked for had a saying, “Five minutes now will save five hours of cleanup tomorrow.” That concept is not only true in the business world; it is true in our relationships.

Gardening…Lots of hard work!

Do you have unresolved conflict with anyone? Time is not the healer; God is our healer. Ephesians 4:25-27 says to not let the sun go down on our anger, followed by saying not to give the devil a foothold. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Taking that step toward reconciliation doesn’t always mean the other person will respond, but it’s our responsibility to do our part.

We need to take an honest look at ourselves. Are we withholding money, forgiveness, or restoration from anyone? Let’s give where the giving is due, and trust the Lord to take care of the rest.

The hard stuff of discipline, forgiveness, and restoration only lasts for a moment…the rewards last an eternity.

“My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,
    and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
For the Lord corrects those he loves,
    just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” ~Proverbs 3:11-12 (NLT)

 

What are you procrastinating today?

 

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**If you enjoy devotionals with beautiful artwork that you can doodle as you read…my Proverbs Devotional & Doodles book can be found through The Thinking Tree Publishing Company on Amazon here: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles. You can also order direct from CreateSpace: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles.  … The proceeds help support the mission work in Ukraine!

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New Year, New Country, New Beginnings

Wow! It’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything for this blog…only one post in all of 2016. What do you think…time to revive the blog??

It’s not like I’ve not written anything at all. I’m actually in the process of editing, creating, and writing books. A couple of books I’ve worked on have been published, but not any that I’ve authored…yet. I’ll post the details when it happens. It’s all in God’s timing.

So much has happened this last year! My husband and I left the States in March and have been on mission, living in Ukraine for the past 10 months! We are due to return to the States in a couple of weeks and I am not looking forward to jet-lag, but I am excited to walk on familiar ground once again! I have so much material for posts about this trip that I don’t know where to begin! Maybe in my next post…

Mukachevo, Ukraine... sitting in the middle is The Palanok Castle or Mukachevo Castle, a historic castle in the city of Mukacheve in the western Ukrainian oblast of Zakarpattia. The Palanok Castle is delicately preserved, and is located on a former 68 metre high volcanic hill.

Mukachevo, Ukraine… sitting in the middle is Palanok Castle or Mukachevo Castle, a historic castle in the city of Mukacheve in the western Ukrainian oblast of Zakarpattia. The Palanok Castle is delicately preserved, and is located on a former 68 metre high volcanic hill.

As I looked back through this blog today, I was reminded of the reasons I created it. I want to help people who are hurting. I want to let people who have been rejected know they are not alone. My desire is to lead hurting people to the One who can heal…the One in whom I found healing. Does this mean that God will take away all the drama in life? No. Unfortunately, no. For we live in a fallen world. But, God’s love can help you bloom. Our God-given DNA was created to produce beauty. Our fragrance will enhance the atmosphere around us. But…oh, there’s that word again. But. But, under the beauty of the rose lie stems which hold the thorns of life. Thorns are painful. They are scars on our base. But God is in the restoration business. He takes our ashes and turns them into beauty. He uses our experiences, our thorns, and helps us to grow through the pain. Finally, we learn to rest in His love and bloom where he plants us. Those thorns? Well, they never go away. But, God uses them to protect us from the world we live in. Just as the thorns on a bush will protect the flower or berry from predators, God will put His armor on us as we face our everyday trials.

What scars do you hold? Do you hold scars of regret, lost relationships, or rejection? God can create in all of us a new heart. Though some of our old relationships may never be restored, those scars can be healed and in Him we can move into a new life with a heart of peace.

How can you use your experiences to encourage others? 1st Peter 3:13-17 says, “…always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…” We want to give Hope. For without hope, we have no desire for life. Why do we point people to God? Because we are fallible humans. We fail. People will fail you. They fail us because we fail to keep our eyes on the Lord. When we place expectations on people that only God can fill, we set ourselves up for failure. What then do we tell people? We tell them what God has given us. 2nd Corinthians 1:3-7 says, “…God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God…” People remember personal accounts so much more than a textbook. I guess that goes for me too. I’ve only been slightly personal on this blog. :/

Let’s start the New Year by taking off our masks.

Life is messy.

Relationships are hard.

Rejection hurts.

But…God’s love brings healing.

I still want to help you embrace your thorns. I want to help you put on God’s armor. Time is short. Let’s change our world!

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Beautifully Created

Dad's gift

Do you see the slight girl
with the hesitant smile?
The one in the middle
with the ancient hairstyle?

Oh the secrets she hides
in pale haunting green eyes.
Her stoic demeanor
lend a blissful disguise.

Little girl in my past,
I see your reflection.
Masking painful tears from
your Daddy’s rejection.

Beautiful creation,
though the world be unjust.
God’s love and affection
hold your refuge and trust.

~Me

Hurt people hurt people. The cycle continues. So long as there is sin in this world, there will be injustice. We will be hurt and rejected by people…because people are imperfect. Oh how hard it is to release others of our own unrealistic expectations! But to do so will allow us the freedom to love freely. When our identity is in the Lord, we can have faith that we are totally accepted, cherished, loved.

“Although my father and my mother have forsaken me,
yet the Lord will take me up and adopt me as His child.” ~Psalm 27:10

It’s so hard for us humans to accept that no matter what we do 10% of the population will not like us…even some within our own family; even Jesus was rejected by his family! We buy into the lie that we have to be the best and accepted by the world’s standards to be of value. The book of Ecclesiastes (the most seemingly depressing book of the whole bible) teaches that “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” God created us to be a reflection of himself. He made us beautiful. Even the “ugly” people by the world’s standards are beautifully created; fearfully and wonderfully made.

“For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.” ~Psalm 139:13-14

When we understand the depth of love God has for us, and we understand that He is our Abba God, our Daddy, we find His strength and joy. Our carnal nature continually pushes us to take control of our situations through revenge, bitterness, and broken relationships. Pull from the strength only the Lord can give. Let us worship with joy and let His love flow through our hearts as we wait patiently for his will in our lives.

“Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!” ~Psalm 27:14

Forget about the negatives in the past, don’t worry about the stresses of tomorrow, just live in the beauty of today. You. Are. Beautiful.

Psalm 27.10

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.” ~Isaiah 49:15-16

“He has made everything beautiful in its time…I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.” ~Ecclesiastes 3:11-13

 

Holiday Grace

Thanksgiving & Christmas Thankfulness…My little Speech? Statement? Declaration? My final breath? 😉

I’m so thankful for a faith rooted in love not terror; in life not death. I’m so thankful God allowed me to see him through His Spirit…and not in the examples or interpretations of earthly fallible men. I’m so thankful God gave us his Holy Spirit and his Word for guidance, strength, and comfort, and for the remaining churches that love the outcast like Jesus did (John 4).

I’m so thankful I don’t attend a church that doesn’t allow anyone older than the millennial generation in worship band/choir, but rather exonerates all walks of life (1 Kings 12:13). I’m so thankful I don’t attend a church that doesn’t allow newer, timeless, music for fear of letting go of traditions or just plain being stuck in the 80’s (Job 32:8-9). I’m so thankful I don’t attend a church that clings to suit & tie & stocking hosiery instead of acknowledging that man looks at the outward appearance while God looks at the heart and wants our worship to be a place where people can be real, be accepted, and loved in ordinary jeans (1 Samuel 16:7: Matt 23:27).

I’m so thankful that even though I will never live up to the expectations of people who are so quick to believe the worst, I am forgiven and accepted by a God who loves me just as I was created (John 3:16-17). I’m so thankful for the friends God has placed in my life, people who would not listen to negativity, realizing that to believe hearsay without verification is the same as the original telling of the lie, for lies are only for enemies (Eph 4).

I’m so thankful for my husband and the restoration God has worked through our lives. We are not perfect, but we choose not to control each other, but rather to let God be in control; we choose to respect instead of belittle; we choose to love in spite of our baggage.

Finally, I’m so very thankful for the children God allowed me to birth, even thru the distance, disagreements, and miss-communications, they all know their Momma’s love will never end. My prayer for you is that your road will wind its way to the Lord; that you will always seek Truth; that your faith will be your own, and to know that… “our struggle is not against flesh and blood {people}, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:12).

Most of all, never ever forget…”nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39).

That is all. (This is about as mushy as I’ll ever get….)


~Nora, Daughter of Abba God, Wife, Mom, Friend.

Jesus is the Light

Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave

Piano Man 5

Music is subjective, just like food. I absolutely hate peas. My husband feels the same about onions. I absolutely love onions. My husband loves peas. Different likes and dislikes…neither one of us is in the wrong. We were created diverse creatures by the same loving God.

But lyrics…

When the lyrics are seasoned with God’s word (and not taken out of context), the music is immortal, just as His word is immortal. “Redeemed” is one such song.

The definition of Redeemed is an exchange: to free, liberate, rescue, save, to obtain the release or restoration of, as from captivity, by paying a ransom.

In the second verse he writes:

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret

This song relates more to my life than most. For years I struggled to be the perfect little Christian so God would actually want me. After spending most of my childhood feeling used up and worthless and spending most of my adult life relating to the rejection and outcast of the woman at the well, my name; my identity was bound in shame and regret. Even after accepting Christ, I was still haunted by those ugly ghosts that lived in my past. I was bound up in shackles of all my failures, as the song so eloquently writes. I knew God is love. I knew God loves everyone. But because of my shame and regret, I believed God’s love was for everyone else.

I then read the words of King David, my hero, the chief of sinners whom God loved most, in Psalm 27:10 which says, “Though even my father and mother reject me, the Lord will accept me and adopt me as his own.”

The antonym for redeemed is abandon. God in His mercy did not abandon me. No, not even me. Like the unloved woman at the well, he gave me a new life, a new name, and a hope that will carry me home. No. I’m not perfect. I’m not liked by everyone. But I’m not the same and I shook off those heavy chains of shame and regret ‘cause He’s not done with me yet!

If He gives hope and restoration even to someone like me (and I could tell you stories that would make your head spin), he will and is longing to set you free as well. We can stop fighting on our own, for at the cross he wiped away every stain and the fight’s already been won! I am redeemed and He set me free!

Click here: Official video of Big Daddy Weave – “Redeemed“.

“Redeemed”

Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son
Stop fighting a fight it’s already been won”

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be
I am redeemed, I’m redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head”
I remember, oh God, You’re not done with me yet

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be

Because I don’t have to be the old man inside of me
‘Cause his day is long dead and gone
Because I’ve got a new name, a new life, I’m not the same
And a hope that will carry me home

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, ’cause I’m not who I used to be

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, yeah, I’m not who I used to be
Oh, God, I’m not who I used to be
Jesus, I’m not who I used to be
‘Cause I am redeemed
Thank God, redeemed

Writer(s): Michael Weaver, Benji Cowart
Copyright: Word Music Inc., Word Music Inc. O.B.O. Weave Country LLC

Piano Man 4

To the other side…

Some stories need to be locked up…imprisoned in the deep recesses of the mind. Evil is a hard pill to stomach, unless one is evil. Once the door is opened, evil will slither its tentacles through your soul. Though we are warned to guard out hearts and minds, our curiosity temps us toward the dark pit.

Some stories need to be told. In 2 Corinthians 1:4 we are encouraged to give encouragement. God comforts us and in turn we comfort others. We read for one of two reasons…for self-help or to escape. God wants to use a persons’ tale to benefit others. Countless lives have been changed through the testimony of those who have been through the fire and back.

This…is one such story…

**To the Other Side!**

It’s funny how a glance in a photo, the scent of an old shoe, or the touch of a wool jacket will bring back a memory or two from a far distant world. To see faces from long ago, only to feel the joy, laughter, and the pain once again. In the recesses of the mind, dark cellars were left untouched.

Emptiness

My feet brush soft grass.
Stillness fills damp air.
Bones lie six feet under.
No hope for a prayer.

Existence disappears.
Waters rage in life’s sin.
Innocent dreams are dead.
Wrongs are silent within.

The passion for love
is lost in life’s yesterday.
The gravedigger rests
as dreams and hope decay.

Me

A child wistfully played. With innocence she laughed through each day. Her holidays were filled with anticipation and wonder. Each day began with sunshine breaking through her window. With her siblings she romped and played, growing with promises of happiness.

At daylight she realized Heaven was not on this Earth.

Her family moved as often as the military gave orders. But that didn’t bother her. She just took life as it came. With each move came a new room, new school, and new friends.

The day finally came when their military life ended and home became the region of their relatives. The first year or so was thrilling as she reconnected with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents; relationships that she was not able to develop while abroad.

Her tenth birthday approached with great anticipation. Her aunt made a cake in the shape of a doll with delicate trimmings, complete with her name written in sweet icing. Her new-found friends from houses up and down the street, along with siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents came to celebrate with her.

The details of the actual party faded as memories do with time. Nothing extraordinary occurred. The guests arrived, visited, played games, blew out candles, and ate cake…nothing noteworthy. Only it was her day.

As with every event, all things eventually come to an end. The guests leave full of sweets, and happy to have enjoyed her party. The gifts were opened and the wrapping paper found its way to the trash. A few family members lingered, the men lazily chatted in lawn chairs, and the women cleared and cleaned up the birthday residue in the warm July back yard. As she carried her treasured presents to her room, she noticed Grandpa sitting at the kitchen table sneaking one last piece of cake. He sheepishly grins and asked her if she wanted just one more bite. She supposed since her mom was in the back yard cleaning up, she won’t discover he spoiled her dinner with all the sweets. He pulled her on his lap with one arm while scraping a big spoon full of cake with the other. With her mouth full of sweetness, she felt him…pulsing under her lap. Instantly, she knew in her spirit something was not quite right. The cake in her mouth suddenly tasted like sponge. When she tried to climb down off his lap, he held her waist tighter, pulling her to him, sliding his hand – that seconds ago held her cake – between her panties and her…

Barbie Cake

The above is all I can stomach writing. Oh, the family secrets we keep. Oh, the lives destroyed by those who take innocence for their own pleasure. Her childhood is gone when the joy of being a treasured present is replaced with the worthlessness of discarded wrapping paper. The worst part of the offense is not just the offense itself, but in the reaction and rejection of those close by when the horrors are revealed. Most family members are more worried about their own reputation, especially amongst their religious church mates, so they set out to silence the drama. They hush when she enters the room, like she would not know where their conversation dwelt. Then there are those who cannot let anyone else have more focus than they, countering with their own exaggerated stories purposed to minimize all others. “Oh, that’s nothing, why when I…” Her pain was irrelevant. The path is set through rejection and bitterness, walls of self-protection go up, and thus the victim becomes the villain. Hurt people, hurt people.

I could state all the stats, all the end results, all the laws, but that would be a waste of time. Most intelligent people inherently know the consequences of molestation on its victim, on the families, and on their future relationships. Most perpetrators, rarely a stranger, are fully aware of the damage they cause innocent victims. Yet, it is like a cigarette, once addicted, they just do not have the capabilities of putting that smoke down. Their addiction rules their conscience, even when their exhale is damaging those around them. Their conscience is seared by their physical desires. And the victim is powerless, with no recourse, with no justice. A cancer of bitterness for life lost burns deep inside.

Where is love? Where is justice? Where is freedom? While the victim hides the hurt, hides the pain, the hurt turns into bitterness. That bitterness envelops in anger. That anger which rages inside. The victim tries to escape the memories, the snide remarks from those closest to her, and the lie of worthlessness given to her. Vengeance and revenge sets in the heart. Self-destruction becomes her way of life. The victim becomes the villain, striking first to avoid being struck. Alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. only leave an empty hole. All she wants is acceptance, to be innocent again, and to be loved…proper. Turning to people to fill her needs and heal her wounds inadvertently causes all the more heartache…so the walls are built, high, never to let anyone emotionally touch her…ever again.

Oh, but the longing…the spirit that won’t rest…the Spirit that gently pulls at her heart…

“Let it go.” he says.

“Oh, but you don’t understand!” she says.

“Yes, I do. I know your hurting heart…for I created you. You are my child and you are beautiful.” he says.

“Then why did you create me to live through a very ugly life?” she cries.

“The world was born with beauty, but sin painted dark black paint over earth’s canvas. While you are in the world, I have provided a resting place in me. Because of my love for you, I sent my son to experience the same sin known to man. He was able to shed blood to break through the bondage of sin, of pain, of oppression, so that you, through him, will have access to Me.” he said.

Forgiveness? But why should God forgive someone so disgusting? Why would He in his perfection accept someone so imperfect? Oh, but the longing, the longing for beauty, the longing for wholeness.

“OK Lord, what do I need to do? I need you to take away this pain. I want you to fill the hole in my heart. Will you even accept me?” she asked.

“Yes, I accept and love you just as I created you. But…you need to forgive.” he said firmly.

“Oh, no. Not in a million years! Do you know what they did to me?” she screamed.

“Yes, I saw. And I saw what they did to my son. And to those who asked and believed in him, I forgave.” he quietly explained.

“But why? How could you?” she cried in exasperation.

“Forgiveness is the only way to heal your heart. Let go of your longing for retribution. Leave your vengeance to me. All will one day be held accountable. But, as long as you hold on to your bitterness you prevent my spirit from filling your soul. Unforgiveness, bitterness, and hatred, are rooted in sin, and I am unable to dwell where sin abides. No matter how small the sin; sin is sin. How can I forgive you if you cannot forgive others? Do you want others to treat you with unforgiveness? If you believe I am truth, then trust. Release to me every painful memory, every guilt, and every wrong path you took. Let me wash through you with my pure spirit, giving you a new life, with a clean heart. I will be your peace, your source of love.” he proclaimed, he promised, he purposed.

Quietly, his light pierced through my dark heart, releasing me from my own oppression.

Joy…such a small and simple word…and yet, so full. Thank you Lord.

My Prayer

Forgive me my complacency
Release my life from apathy.
To you I come on bended knee
Lord consecrate my soul to thee.

Forgive the heart that aches for you
Your mercy left my soul brand new.
I lift the heart you cleansed from sin
Restore to me the Joy within.

I cry, My God I long for you!
Your spirit come as morning dew.
Lord cover me with endless grace
I find my strength in your embrace.

Forgive me my complacency
Your burning fire embrace in me.
In your pure love I will enjoy
Your promised hope and perfect Joy.

Me

(Photo credit to: http://nasilemaklover.blogspot.com/2013/08/barbie-doll-cake.html)