I Have Ancestors! Part II

Well, it’s been a little over a month since I last posted. I’ve had soooo many things running through my head, but just couldn’t bring myself to write it all out. And then, last night, I received the results from my DNA test. Oh me, oh my… Oh my…

Let’s just say…we’re definitely ALL related!

I promise to write more as my little brain processes a couple of the “shockers” in my results. But, for now, just know that I am convinced more than ever that the life of Jesus gave more healing than any other…ever! To be born of a race that was considered “chosen” yet so horribly persecuted out of jealousy, and yet to still love ALL of mankind, is phenomenal and supernatural.

You know what is the most ironic? How true were the words which Jesus spoke in Mark 4:22: “For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.”

I’m so glad now, even though utterly embarrassing, that my life has not been portrayed as perfect by any means! That my sins have been “out there” and that I have a redemption story…one that shows if God can save someone like me…He can, and will, save anyone who wants Him. Just simply ask…

“My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”

~Psalm 139:15

.

I Have Ancestors!

It’s funny…until the past few years I thought my ancestors were non-existent. I had to come from somewhere, didn’t I?

After hearing little snippets here and there, I finally took the DNA plunge. I know…it’s a trendy thing right now. My dad won’t even consider it. He thinks the government will steal his biological history and use it to create a look-alike robot, or capture him and put him a Chinese torture chamber! 😉 But, if I had his military/war history, I would have those fears too. I think most people already know that the “powers that be” already know more about us than we do!

I’ll find out in a few weeks just where I came from! Most American’s have no clue due to the constant revolving door. When I was living in Ukraine, a lady told me that she was of the “pure” race. Well, she was basically putting me down for being a mixed-breed-mongrel. LOL. **Sigh**

Oh if only she knew that we were all created by God…and he loved each of us no less than the other! I wonder how many relationships would heal if we all looked at each other through the loving eyes of our Creator…and loved each other the way he loves us…

 

Scriptures for Hope:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” ~John 3:16-17

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” ~1 John 4:10

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~Matthew 22:37-40

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~John 13:34-35

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” ~Romans 5:5

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~Romans 5:8

.

The Iris of the Eye

Have you ever studied the anatomy of the eye? The iris is the ring of color which determines the size of the pupil that regulates the amount of light filtering into the retina which transmits the images to our brains. Our eye color is determined by the pigments in the iris. The name “iris” is derived from the Greek goddess of the rainbow, because of the many colors in the iris. While I don’t follow Greek myths much, it is interesting that our colors admittedly are derived from God’s rainbow. The iris of the human eye is quite a mystery. While the common colors consist of brown, blue, green, hazel, or grey, occasionally people are born with a mixture of all colors, creating new eye colors!

We are all created unique. People have a hard time seeing outside the box of what mankind has deemed acceptable. So why, oh why, do we try so hard to fit into someone else’s box? I want her hair. I want his muscles. We tend to feel disliked if we don’t look like supermodels. Think about it…what really is normal? Is your normal…normal? Is mine? The world’s greatest accomplishment will never surpass the beauty of God’s creation!

The ugliest person ever born is completely loved by the one who created the world. Don’t listen to the lies of those who only seek to control and destroy. For, the ugliest person to the world is especially loved and beautiful in the colorful eyes of God.

You are enough.

You are beautiful.

You. Are. Loved.

The Iris of the eye
Filters light to the soul
Painted by God himself
In colors of His rainbow
Trust in Him, and believe,
For you truly are
Fearfully and wonderfully made!

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:13-16

.

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

.

Irma Destroyed Our Barns!

With all the images coming out of the islands decimated by hurricane Irma, one resounding word keeps popping up in my mind: barns. In just one day, the “fun” was washed away…

washed away…

We moved off our farm in spring of 2015 and became city-dwellers. My husband’s family farmed that land for around 150 years. You would not believe the old equipment lying around…continually replaced by the new.

Needless to say, it took us more than two months to clear our junk out of the barns! We sold, gave away, and threw away…and still found more and more…stuff. :/

Though our intention was to downsize…our new house…you guessed it…bigger.

Do we ever learn??

Tearing down the old storage shed and chicken coop…

 

Parable of the Rich Fool

Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”

Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’

“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

.

Pondering Thoughts on Death Today…

Just thinking…

If someone has been turned against you because of the lies of another and that person is dying, do you…

  1. Leave it lie so they can die in peace.
  2. Attempt to shed truth to the situation (without defending yourself) so they will not go to the grave hating you.

I guess the bigger question is….what will they have to answer to when they face God? Aren’t God’s children supposed to seek Truth? Does God hold us accountable if we believe negative things about a person, gossip, lies, without asking for verification?

Are there not two sides to every story?

Do I want the best for that person, or justification for myself?

Did Jesus not say to be forgiven, we have to forgive?

Is it more merciful to let someone die believing lies so as not to upset them, or to expose truth so they will at least have a chance at reconciliation before leaving this earth?

 

But, rock the boat, we don’t.

“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” ~James 4:17

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” ~ Matthew 6:14-15

“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” ~Matthew 18:18

.

Sunday Morning Thoughts

We are not defined by our past. Yet, we do not forget our past unless of course we want to make the same mistakes over and over again. Learn from our past, trust God for our future, and live in today!
1900 Frantz Family
An Earnest Appeal for Guidance and Deliverance: A Psalm of David…

“Hear my prayer, O Lord,
Give ear to my supplications!
In Your faithfulness answer me,
And in Your righteousness.
Do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no one living is righteous.

For the enemy has persecuted my soul;
He has crushed my life to the ground;
He has made me dwell in darkness,
Like those who have long been dead.
Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart within me is distressed.
I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all Your works;
I muse on the work of Your hands.

I spread out my hands to You;
My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah

Answer me speedily, O Lord;
My spirit fails!
Do not hide Your face from me,
Lest I be like those who go down into the pit.
Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You.

Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies;
To You I flee.
Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness.

Revive me, O Lord, for Your name’s sake!
For Your righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.
In Your mercy cut off my enemies,
And destroy all those who afflict my soul;
For I am Your servant.”  ~Psalm 143 (NKJV)

.

My first book!

So I wrote a book…a devotional…and actually published it! My writings usually sit hidden in a drawer, but while living in Ukraine last year, my friend, Sarah, encouraged me to join her in her publishing company, The Thinking Tree Publishing Company, LLC, and put some of them in print. Sarah is a fabulous illustrator! Oh how I wish I had Sarah’s artistic talent…but then again, God gave me my own talents to use. The difference is…she has used hers greatly while mine have sat hidden in a drawer. But is that what God wants for us? According to Matthew 25 he doesn’t…

So, in my free time, I dusted off my notes and we teamed up to create a devotional that can be doodled!

Since this is the 14th day of the month, here is an excerpt of the 14th devotional. First though, read the actual Proverb from the bible before reading the devotional. Then, if you have a copy of the book (link below), you will enjoy doodling on Sarah’s illustrations! I hope you like it…

Day 14 ~ Proverbs 14

“The heart knows its own bitterness,
And a stranger does not share its joy.” ~Proverbs 14:10

How can we truly know another person, except by what we see and hear? Sometimes it’s easy to assess what is in a person’s heart by their countenance. We can assume a person is joyful at that given second by the belly laugh filling the air. We can assume a person is sad, hurt, or bitter when we see buckets of tears flowing down their cheeks. But, can we presume to know the reasons or the source? All too common, seemingly happy people (such as actor Robin Williams) take their own life out of deep depression. We are often too quick to make assumptions about a person or situation before we see all sides of a matter (see Proverbs 18:17 & 25:8). Yet, in our pride, it’s so very easy to assume we know what another person is thinking or feeling. Most of the time, our pride prevents us from simply asking, and therefore our reactions to that person will be unfitting.

“A faithful witness does not lie,
But a false witness will utter lies.” ~Proverbs 14:5

What happens when we assume to know the heart of another and treat them accordingly? If I see someone come through the door with a scowl across their forehead, should I assume they are angry with someone? And then, to top that off, they complain about the blue skies. Should I assume they are bitter or nit-picking? How do we not know that they simply woke up with a migraine headache or have recently suffered great loss? In our humanness, we are all occasionally guilty of these kinds of assumptions. When we fail to seek truth, we are uttering lies. The old Indian Proverb holds true: “Just walk a mile in his moccasins, before you abuse, criticize and accuse.” (taken from the poem Judge Softly, written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895). Yet, if we walk the same path, even then, do we deeply understand the heart of another?

“A sound heart is life to the body,
but envy is rottenness to the bones.” ~Proverbs 14:30

On the flip side, making assumptions on another person’s joy is just as harmful. How often do we reject people because we believe their lives to be ideal? We become envious of their happiness while not being concerned with knowing the road they traveled to live in their joy. Often times, we are shocked upon hearing a mild-mannered sweet Christian’s testimony to find she has a shockingly checkered past. Jesus says in Luke 7:47, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little, loves little.” (NIV) Do we rejoice with those who rejoice? Or do we allow our own self-centeredness to prevent us from being genuinely happy for other people’s success and joy.

Our heart knows our own bitterness. We deeply feel emotion when we have loved another. People are fallible beings. When we place expectations on another based on our own desires, we will be hurt. People will always at one time or another let us down. But we are not alone in our bitterness, or our joy. Jesus says in Matthew 6:8, “For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Why expect strangers, or even those we know, to share in our joys and/or sorrows when we have a God who knows every deep hurt, feeling, and thought we’ve ever had? A sound heart comes when we let go of our expectations of others and place our hope and trust in God, the one who most knows our heart.

“Those who fear the Lord are secure;   
 he will be a refuge for their children.” ~Proverbs 14:26

**If you enjoy devotionals that you can doodle as you read with beautiful artwork by Sarah Janisse Brown, founder of The Thinking Tree Publishing Company; my Proverbs Devotional & Doodles Journal can be found on Amazon here: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles.

.

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!

.

Beautifully Created

A present from my dad…
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

.

The Brightest Star

I wrote this poem a few years back for a very special daughter of one of my best friends after the children’s Christmas program at our church. She always had a way of putting life into perspective…

1982

The Brightest Star

A baby born to parents young,
just starting out in life.
She formed a bond of love so tight,
baby, husband, and wife.

All American family,
the world was at their hand.
They dreamed of trips, the three of them,
the ocean and the sand.

The doctors’ words were cruel and hard,
“She’ll never be like those
who run and play, who laugh and sing,
her kind we will dispose.”

Then love broke in their aching hearts,
for quiet answers lie
in Special babies God has blessed,
not the world’s reply.

While all the children shine like stars
on Christmas program night,
this special child the Lord did see
in her the brightest light.

For from her eyes God’s kingdom shines,
her silent lips proclaim,
to ‘sign’ the words from palm to palm,
His praises to exclaim.

Yet through the words she could not sing,
His love she longed to tell.
From palm to palm she ‘signed’ His name,
and Glory on her fell.

June 1984

.

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

Your Daily Proverb ~ 6:16-19

To those with an understanding heart…this scripture needs no explanation:

There are six things that the Lord hates,
    seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
    and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
    feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
    and one who sows discord among brothers.

~Proverbs 6:16-19

Destruction

…destruction…

 

Death Death and More Death

Stop talking about death as a finality! Mourning is only for those left behind. For those who know our Creator and who accept Christ, we simply begin a new chapter…a heavenly chapter where God wipes every tear from our eyes. We need not fear a new beginning. Fear resides with the unknown, an unwillingness to let go of the mortal. Let the dead bury the dead…“To live is Christ and to die is gain.”

 

Revelation 21.4

 

.

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 with a Cinderella carriage on top, 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…

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 from a life lost burns deep inside.

Where is love?

Where is justice?

Where is freedom?

While the victim hides the hurt, masks the pain, the locked-up memory turns into bitterness. That bitterness evolves into anger, an anger that 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 by the negative voices in her head. 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.

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 our 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 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…

 

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 this 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.

His reply was strong, firm, yet compassionate; “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 Holy 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

.

The comfort Isaiah gave…

If there is one person I could pick to meet in heaven, that would be Isaiah. I’ve often wondered what he looks like. In my obscure mind, my image of our heavenly bodies is of an age of perfection. Mine? Well…if there ever was an age where my body was at its best, it would have to be before kids! For men though, they seem to mature much later than women…in more ways than just the physical. Don’t mock…that’s a proven psychological fact, per the so-called experts! Just look at Hollywood. Women are done by the time they are old enough to attend the R-rated movie they just starred in! Men? Well…I’ll have to save my comments about Sean Connery for another post… 😉

Elihu said in Job 32:9 “It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right.” Meaning, even though he gives the impression of being aged, Isaiah could well have been a young man. Proverbs 16:31 says “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” Did Isaiah have gray hair? Was he bald? Most women lost their “crowns” when Miss Clairol came to town!

These are just rambling thoughts. We really don’t know. Some days I hate the loss of anonymity with the discovery of digital photography. Centuries from now our offspring will look back at us and say, “Geez, could she wear anything more outdated than that?”

Without knowing the nature of their physical appearance, their words are profound to a much greater degree. We are able to hone in on the message rather than be distracted by crooked noses or dumbo ears. Applying the message to our lives is their ultimate goal. Maybe that is the reason God did not allow our brains to comprehend the technical until this century. Could be?

The message Isaiah conveyed in chapter 54 has been life to my soul for the past 15 years or so.

I am fine without a man around. As a child, my dad was not around much. Although it’s not his fault and I do not blame or hold anything against him, it was just the way life was. He was gone at sea for months or in Nam during the Navy days. When civilian life hit, he always worked two and three jobs, and always second shift, with me in school during the day. I remember most of his time at home on Sunday afternoons taking a nap in his recliner. Through my 20’s, my ex-husband also worked evenings/nights, leaving me alone to care for the kids. Needless to say, I learned early not to physically depend on any man.

Yet, I secretly yearned for that umbrella; that sort of protection that a “man” covering provided. I think every woman does. It’s in our nature, no matter how we fight to be independent. So we seek out people in our lives to provide the kind of emotional security no man has ever been equipped to provide. Men search too…just in different areas. They seek security in their careers or physical escapades. I think we humans tend to seek to fill our holes in places that are temporal or were not created to “complete” or make us whole.

Oh my, the relief when I first read Isaiah 54 and realized I already had that protector! That chapter was an uncanny reflection of my life, written centuries ago! I was that bride who married young, only to be rejected. But God spread my “tents” and filled them with His little blessings. He has proven over and over that He, and He alone, is my provider. He has never failed me. He takes care of me…of me!

A few years ago I finally quit expecting others to fill only that which God is able. My fulfillment is not their responsibility! No, I don’t need a husband, kids, family, friends, job, house, dog, or cat to fulfill my deepest longing, that longing for security. The things of this world are temporal. Only God, our creator, can provide the eternal. Only He is able to flow his Spirit through our soul and bring wholeness!

My life did not follow the path I planned, but God in his mercy restored to me that which the locus had eaten (Joel 25). My faith is in God, my protector, my provider, my promise. He has also restored to me an earthly husband to be my umbrella while here on earth. I now have a beautiful foretaste of the security we will one day experience in our eternal home.

I now have hope.

253b

~Isaiah 54

 

.

Your Daily Proverb ~ 27:1 (Do you really know tomorrow?)

I shared this Proverb on my FB last month:

Your Daily Proverb:
“Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.” 27:1
~Six years ago this am… 😦

I only call it “Daily” for the 31 verses, not because I post one daily. That would be so very irritating…unless, of course, my FB or Blog was solely dedicated to Proverbs. I wonder if I would have fewer followers…or more? I think I’ll just stick to my randomness. 😉

That morning, I didn’t even read past the first verse. I usually don’t on this day of January each year. Next year, I think I’ll leave that book alone. Some anniversaries are simply too painful.

We know the birth of one baby will change the whole dynamics of an entire family, no matter how many down the line. So tell me…why would the death of one child, even more so, change the dynamics of an entire family…even the extended family?

We love. We grow. We build our world. Since you don’t miss what you don’t know, if it is never there, we never love. When we love, and that love is ripped from us, our world is full of empty holes.

But oh, to cherish the memories of love…

It is said the only constant in life is change. I don’t know if change in and of itself is either good or bad. It just is. The insecure and fearful will fight change. The stubborn and controlling will fight change. But sometimes…the very tired will grow weary of change.

Life can crush our spirit. With change, God can refresh our circumstances…and our spirit. Time does heal…along with the strength of God’s word to lean on. With each death a new era is born. With each change a new hope is secured.

Embrace the here and now. Let go of the past. Give God the future. For…we never know what a day may bring…

Oh how I miss that little Sunshine on my Shoulder...

Oh how I miss that little Sunshine on my Shoulder…

.

Approval-seekers and Self-pleasers

My husband and I had a little discussion the other day about people-pleasers being one and the same as self-pleasers. We brought up a lot of controversial points in today’s world, so he suggested I put it in a blog.

The people-pleasing theme has run through many of my posts. This may be a reiteration of a post I wrote about people-pleasers: here. I also wrote a post on why people don’t like us: here, so I thought I had it covered. But…can you be a people-pleaser without being a self-pleaser? In my prior posts, I eluded to people-pleasers being self-pleasers. Are they one and the same? My question in my overly analytical mind is; why do we want to please everyone else?

With God, everything is a matter of the heart; even when we are pleasing Him.

We must ask ourselves:

  • Is it possible to please others and/or self and still please God?
  • Do we do our good little deeds for God or to feel good about ourselves?
  • Do we want to puff up others, or do we want to puff up ourselves?
  • When caving to the will of others; is our desire to bring them fulfillment or are we seeking their approval?
  • When seeking the approval of others; is not the seeking for our own satisfaction?

Approval-seekers are self-pleasers.

We have begun to wonder if some sort of revival is beginning to break out over our country. Fence riders are beginning to fall off. Eventually, everyone will have to choose one side or the other so we might as well start now!

One of those fences is full of people-pleasers. I know of at least two churches where the preachers taught on the subject just this last Sunday. Lately, I’ve seen several articles, posts, blogs, etc. on this subject. Hordes of books have been written on people pleasing; approval addiction; and boundaries in the past few years. Some of the hype could be the psychological-money-making-bandwagon. But when the phenomenon reaches several pulpits, we need to take notice.

When revival and/or trials hit, God calls his people to step up to the spiritual (not religious) plate. He said we are not able to live by double-standards. God is not only love, not only grace, but God is truth. Where do we get our screwed up lives from? Lies. Deceit. Lies. Hypocrisy is rooted in lies. Double standards are rooted in lies. And believe it or not, people-pleasers are rooted in lies…for by pleasing one, another must suffer.

Maybe God is fed up with our fence riding and is finally pushing us to stand for integrity. Maybe he is building character in his children to enable us to survive the hard times most are predicting. I don’t believe for one second the martyred Christians in Egypt were seeking the approval of man. How will we react when evil hits our doorstep? You’ve heard the line in the old Aaron Tippin country song, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Maybe God just wants our yes to be yes and our no to be no (even in the little things!) so we will have the character needed to withstand anything the enemy throws at us! Jesus said in John 5:41, “Your approval or disapproval means nothing to me.” Maybe we should follow his example.

God’s approval is all we need. Yet, we tend to have an unhealthy fear of man instead of a spirit of love and respect for God.

Isaiah 51.12

Lord, forgive us for our apathy. Help us to follow truth, no matter who it hurts. Because following truth is following you. Help us to stand for that which is right. Because in standing for that which is right, we are standing in love for all.

Isaiah 1.17 Seek Justice

 

.

Obsessing the setting sun…

Why are we attracted to the beauty of the setting sun? Or, for those who can stomach opening your eyes before a couple pots of coffee, the rising sun?

Painted by God in 2009

Painted by God in 2009

God’s creation. It’s what we are. God put the beauty of His creation in our eyes…in us.

I love taking pictures of sunsets. Just a thought…but how many different ways can one photograph a sunset? If you’ve seen one…you’ve seen them all…

No…just like you and me…each is unique. Each sunset is written with the breath of God’s beauty. Just as we never tire of hearing our spouse say “I love you” we never tire of hearing God say “I love you” with each sunset he sends…

Sunset painted today...

Sunset painted today…

 

God’s love never changes…

 

.

 

(These are my pictures…you are welcome to share because I love to spread smiles!)

Your Daily Proverb ~ 25:4 (Burned by the Silversmith!)

“Take away the dross from the silver,
and the smith has material for a vessel”

Silver necklace & wooden rose

Have you ever watched a silversmith work his magic? It’s quite intriguing to see the excruciatingly hot furnace burn everything to ash, leaving only the purest of the metals. The leftover is the only useful element of the whole product. The process to meliorate a perfect piece of jewelry is through intense fire. The higher quality my silver pendant, the more money the jeweler will siphon from my bank account. The saying, you get what you pay for, is true on so many levels. A silver pendant at a dime store may look nice the first few days, but eventually, the outside coating will wear off exposing the pendant’s true nature…fake junk.

I wrote about the Refiner a year ago here: Refined Restoration. I love the analogy Solomon uses in this verse to describe the process by which God clears out our flaws. It hurts to realize we have issues. When the “Silversmith” exposes our imperfections, the process of cleaning out our hearts is without a doubt downright humiliating. Recently, a lady sat across the table from me stating how she could write novels about others who did such-n-such to her. But then, stated that she never did such-n-such to anyone else. As I respectfully kept quiet, my mind was recalling several instances where she had done such-n-such to me! Do I only see the flaws of others and not of myself? Lord, burn me in that fire…

Ouch!!

But, the second half of the verse gives us hope. Most of us wonder if we have purpose in life. His word says we were created with purpose. The problem with us humans…we are too fearful of pain, too full of pride, to allow Him to mold us into a creation of usefulness, a useful vessel. Because of the inherited sin nature, we are full of flaws, personality defects, and death. Are we letting God grow and mature us? When we allow God to run us through the “fire” to take away our dross (flaws), we cool into pure creatures full of God’s love.

Are we fake junk…

  • Are we full of impatience, unkindness, envy, boastfulness, arrogance, and rudeness?
  • Do we insist on our own way?
  • Are we irritable or resentful of others?
  • Do we hold grudges?
  • Do we relish or laugh at bad behavior?
  • Do we celebrate when truth is exposed…or do we even seek truth?

Have we been burned by the Silversmith…

  • Love.
  • It tolerates all things.
  • Love is loyal.
  • Love believes there is value in everyone.
  • Love does not give up on hope.
  • Love prevails.

 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

.

Your Daily Proverb ~ 20:10 (Do we show partiality?)

“Differing weights and differing measures—
the Lord detests them both.” 20:10
~Not only applicable to business practices…but to relationships as well. Do we have one standard for one person, but not the same expectation for another? Do we love others based on their ability to live up to our standards? We tend to view others based on our personal perspective derived from our own world. When we quit expecting others to love based on our standards, and quit trying to seek love based on another person’s standards, we recognize the Lord is the only entity who loves us unconditionally. The Lord is the only one who shows NO partiality in whom he loves. He is the only one who truthfully sees our heart. He loves me. He loves you! Rest.

Beautiful Differing Feet!

Beautiful Differing Feet!

 

.

Fifty Shades of Lust

Bleach is one chemical I refuse to reject. When whites do not come out of the washer as white as white, they are promptly run through a re-cycle with a load of bleach. Oh yes, my whites are white…not any shade of grey!

I’ll make this post short. A while back, I wrote a piece about porn and its effects on marriage and family here: From a Wife’s Perspective. That post was, admittedly, not one of my best…kind of dry. I really should take the time to re-write, but life and too many other thoughts keep distracting me.

The main theme is the destruction on the marriage and family. Yet, a deeper side-effect is the damage to the psyche. After immersing into the world of lust, the images are embedded in the memory, without help from God above to renew the mind. Trust me…I’ve seen firsthand the fallout.

Most men don’t realize the women in front of the camera are somebody’s daughter, somebody’s future wife, somebody’s future mother. And girlfriends, that man behind the camera is nowhere close to the kind of love we all desire.

What are we committed to? Where are our loyalties? If you are not committed to your marriage, you are flirting with adultery and divorce. Men, do you not realize that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Women, do you not realize one woman’s knockoff is another woman’s designer wardrobe! If you treasure your marriage (or future marriage) your whole heart will be in it. You will protect it. You will love, support, and cherish your spouse. Sex was created by God himself…and it is beautiful. Abuse only distorts God’s creation. Love the way Jesus loves us, with a pure and faithful love.

Do we all not desire identity? At the root of all desire is the need for fulfillment. How can anyone be whole, secure, or complete if their heart is focused on the temporal? Everything, yes everything on this earth will eventually decay…including that beautiful fantasy.

The eternal is all that will fill the holes in our hearts. Put your identity in Him.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made from the hands and heart of our creator!

(Instead of supporting an industry that exploits the abuse of women, donate to your local women’s shelter instead…you may just save a life!)

Psalm 139.14.

Your Daily Proverb ~ 10:7 (Are you a blessing??)

I have at least three things I really need to be doing right now…

  • Clean this pig-sty house for my mom-in-law is coming to town…tomorrow!
  • Laundry…because sometimes we need clean underwear!
  • Fix dinner…because my man usually needs to eat…maybe…

But…here I sit…writing. I had a brainstorm. **Sigh**

I picked a Daily Proverb this morning for my Facebook that had not been posted in the past, 10:1. A couple of hours ago, I received word from a good friend that a former co-worker just passed away. After hearing of her death, the 7th verse, one I have used often, is all that runs through my mind.

“…but the name of the wicked will rot.”

Oh yes…I remember my old co-worker. All I can say is I hope & pray after they found the cancer that she took the time to make amends with whomever she was continually infuriated with. Even more so, I pray she made amends with Jesus. I pray she found forgiveness, for herself and others. The sad thing is, even though I have no right to judge her or where she is now, my memories of her character are so negative, my hope for a positive afterlife is not very…hopeful. Then again, do we really know? I can imagine the office atmosphere now is, how shall we say tactfully, lighter? I myself have been accused at times of being a grump at work. We all have bad days now and then. Usually, we get over ourselves and bounce right back to our usual cheerfulness. And then there’s that one…

That grump. Day in and day out. Always irritated at nearly everything. The one co-worker, friend, or relative who ravishes peace…thrives on hate.

How will the future hold our memory?

  • Will they remember our laughter?
  • Will they remember our rage?
  • Will our Love be known?

The only thing that will matter a hundred years from now, the only thing is the character we leave behind. Not a physical thing. Only character.

Will our memory be a blessing??

Will all this drama really matter a hundred years from now?

Will all this drama really matter a hundred years from now?

 

.

Your Daily Proverb ~ 4:10 (Whose advice??)

“Dear friend, take my advice;
it will add years to your life.” Proverbs 4:10

I love old Indian Proverbs and Irish Proverbs. But I especially love the Proverbs after the Psalms. Most of the quotes are principles, not rules. I wonder how much better off we would be if they were actually approved by Congress and converted into law. I know, crazy, right?!!

Today’s Proverb, the 4th chapter, presents reasons to adhere to wisdom. A while back, I received an e-mail with a series of pictures depicting the crazy, risky, and down-right stupid things men do; like climbing a metal ladder in a flooded garage to change a light bulb. The caption was Why Women Live Longer Than Men! Oh yes, it was so true! Not a lot of wisdom there! In the Proverb, wisdom is described as a form of person using the female gender. I love that. Not just because I am female, although it is flattering 😉 , but because by using the female gender God is saying that wisdom should be treated as a Lady. A lady who is cherished, cared for, and loved. To put it in today’s terms, wisdom should become your basic soul-mate.

We are also warned to be VERY careful of the advice you receive. The only way to know wisdom is to keep His word in your heart (verse 21). The Proverb speaks of adhering to his fatherly advice. Whose advice?? I don’t believe he is talking about our earthly father, but our heavenly father. What man can give infallible advice? No one I know! Most men (and women, of course) will screw it up. The chapter reiterates any advice must be backed in truth or destruction will follow. I think we have all, at one time or another, taken or given well intentioned advice which ended up in disaster.

I wrote a piece about Job’s Three Friends highlighting the destructive force stemming from advice based on a self-centered viewpoint, along with a lack of or inaccurate and/or false information. Do you pray for wisdom? Do you pray you receive advice based on Godly wisdom? Do you pray you give advice based on Godly wisdom? Wisdom is based on truth. God’s truth. Do you seek truth?

Do you seek truth??

Have you had relationships turn sour due to someone listening to bad advice? It hurts. The kicker is, unless the person who accepted the bad advice (subsequently causing the fraction) is the one to correct the fallacious perception others received, there is nothing you can do. Just sit back and wait. In the end, God will correct all wrongs in His time. That’s better said than done if you are a justice-minded person! **Sigh**

The Proverbs contain a mountain of common sense. I’m sure there is a study out there somewhere, and I would not be surprised if the biblical Proverbs are the most quoted of all idioms. They get into your soul. Small quotes are easy to remember…and small candid quotes have the power to guide us to better lives.

Shine bright!

Shine bright!

.

People Pleasers and Brownie Points

Are you a people pleaser or a people lover? Are you a God pleaser or a God lover?

I may get some flak for saying this, but people pleasers are very self-centered individuals. When you run across those who simply cannot say no to anyone, do you think to yourself, “My, what a nice person.”? Unfortunately, most do. Or, what do you think of the person who can’t stand anyone to be mad at them? Do you automatically think, “Oh, they are such peace-loving people.”? Unfortunately, again, most do.

If we cannot say no to people, we are in essence saying no to God. What if God did not want that for that person, or for us? We cannot please both man and God, can we?

In our devotions this morning, the question was posed, “Is it better to please God or to trust God?” Now, obviously, by the way it is worded, anyone can figure out the correct answer is to trust. Yet, without the comparison of trust, most people with a works-based mentality will typically fall under the belief (of which I have had thrown at me way too many times) that as Christians we are to live to please God. We need to be good little boys and girls. On the surface, it sounds good. But God cares more about our hearts than our actions.

Why do we please? Why do we behave properly? When we teach our toddler not to touch that hot stove, they will obey for fear of pain. Very rarely will you find a toddler who will leave hot appliances alone without instruction, especially boys! How many mothers can attest to the continual question, “But why??” Because I said so. 😉 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” Oh, to come to the place where we long to do good out of love…not fear.

We are carnal people. We are selfish people. Do we want God to be pleased with us for our own benefit? Or for His? Do we please (or go around doing “good” to others) out of fear of reprisals?

We want our world to be soft. We want our “Brownie Points” as I used to tease my kids. We want to please others because it feels good…to us. We want to please God because we are under the impression He will love us more. We want to please God because we are under the impression we will have greater reward in heaven one day. We want to please Mommy so we can have an extra helping of ice cream on top of those brownies!

Are you following what I am saying yet? I believe it all boils down to the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:35-40 that we are to love God and Man. To Love. All the commandments are inconsequential after the command to love, for the rest will naturally fall into place.

We love because God first loved us: 1 John 4:18-20. That means we did not love first. He did. He set the example. We are to follow suit. Do we love others, even when we are not loved in return? No, that’s too hard. Sometimes, I just really want to smack people. And I guess maybe God really just wants to smack me…

No, he loves…without expecting anything in return. He loves without expecting us to please him. He just loves. We are to love (do for) others as He loved us, without expectation.

He says wait. He says yes. He says no. Although God wants good things for his children, he never tries to please us. He gives us that which is in our best interest. Giving us that which is not in our best interest is not love. Pleasing us for our happiness is not love. Giving us that which is in our best interest, even that with which we are not pleased is love.

What is our motive behind pleasing others? Do we think God doesn’t know our motives behind our wanting to please Him?

Contributing to the happiness of others in order to fluff our own happiness is not love. Contributing to the best interest of others for their sake, without expecting them to even so much as like us…is love.

What does trusting God look like? Do we trust God for our best interest? Do we really believe he loves us? If we trust in His love, we won’t expect anything in return. We will know He has our back. We will not feel the need to please Him to be accepted. We will want to be the person he created. Typically, we want to be like those we love. We want to be like Jesus.

Pleasure, pure pleasure, only comes when we fully trust in His love.

We cant do anything to make God love us less. So stop trying.

Another church debate?

And the church is now debating youth groups…

The newest movement in the church world today is the “Integration of the Congregation”. The concept is such that our kids are falling away, as argued in one of many circles such as in this article; Charisma News; which discusses statistics showing youth groups are driving Christian teens to abandon the faith. The trend is leading the church to abandon their youth groups.

The debate seems to be about destructive peer pressure in church. The new thought process is that separating youth from parents in church waters down and annihilates any teaching of Godly principles, leaving youth abandoned to seek total downfall with their church peers. By integrating the youth with the adults, they will learn to become exemplary, well rounded, Christian grown-ups. In all the articles I’ve read on Family Integration, statics and scripture references are used to back up this theory: Deuteronomy 16:9-14, Joshua 8:34-35, Ezra 10:1, 2 Chronicles 20:13, Nehemiah 12:43 and Joel 2:15-16…to quote a few from the above article. But, if you look at these scriptures, they talk of feasts and assembly gatherings (you know…church), but do not mention youth groups. In fact, I don’t think anyone has found any scripture stating youth groups are not allowed. (Yet, the bible doesn’t mention cigarettes either. Just sayin’!) One of the verses used by most when it comes to family worship is Deuteronomy 6:4-7, which instructs fathers to teach the statutes to their children. Yes…the fathers to teach their children. So, is this proof we need to abolish youth groups and put everyone together?

And then…finally…here is a common sense article by Ed Stetzer debunking the theory that all youth groups are bad, posted in Christianity Today. Actually, he debunks the statistics used by arguments for the bad youth group theory. When the statistics are skewed, we are compelled to take another look at our theories. I am not at all against Family Integration, rather I am for it. But I am not against abolishing our youth groups either.

This post is obviously just my humble opinion…but my opinion is based on experience…from my own youth. You see, I had a drug problem. My parents drug me to church every week! (Bet you haven’t heard that one before! 😉 ) Seriously, that is about the one thing my parents did right. Part of my “testimony” is that I hated church…and youth group…from being a pretty messed up youth myself. I felt all the kids were either hypocrites or dorks. They were not the kind of kids I preferred to hang out with on a Friday night…and I didn’t. I partied. And partied. But, that’s another story…

In spite of hating youth group…the Gospel got in.

It. got. in.

And I came back. Not to church. I came back to Jesus.

Yes, some of my most pivotal memories are of little words, verses, or phrases, Ron or Lindell spoke here and there. And then, there are the Sunday school teachers who put up with us one hour a week speaking into our lives.

And the list goes on…

I’ve often wondered over the years how many of them thought they were wasting their time. How many of them thought I was a waste…

I wonder where I would be if the church my parents attended (quite by default due to my Grandma) did not have a youth group. Would I have created less trouble for myself and others? Would I be here today? No, I don’t believe so.

Listening to the many in favor of abandoning youth groups, I hear a resounding argument that the youth would be naturally sitting at home on daddy’s knee listening to him quote scripture every waking hour.

Maybe in a bubble.

Not in my family.

Not in today’s world.

Yes, we were a “Christian” family. We went to church. We talked the talk. But not once do I remember my dad leading in anything other than prayer before dinner on Sunday afternoon. Even if he wanted to, how could he? He was either on a ship somewhere or working 2nd shift during the week. Neither did his father, or his father before him. I don’t blame them, they were living as their fathers before them taught. They were doing the best they could. Our forefathers believed the way to show love to the family was to work and leave the teaching to Momma and the Public Schools.

Hey Church! That’s the real world.

Yes, I gathered some instruction from my family. But when a teenager is “troubled” their parent is the last person they will follow. That’s reality.

What would have happened if I did not have a youth group? Where else would I have gone for instruction? The very places that encouraged my self-destructive behavior to flourish: the world. Yes, the public school and, of course, peers.

Now, they say times have changed. We watched a clip in church this morning interviewing several Millennials about their perception of the world and what it was like to be a Millennial Christian. Their words took me back to my own youth. You know what? Nothing has changed. Not really. As a child of the 60’s & 70’s, I had the same outlook…round peg in a square hole. I have a sneaky feeling youth have experienced the same moods since Adam & Eve. We can blame it on almost anything, but common sense says the human body changes and we grow up, during which time we search for purpose…that inner longing for the choosing between right and wrong…searching to fill the hole created by our own sin. That hole which only God can fill. Youth grow to adults, and in the process, we all seek to fit somewhere in society. Heck, even the disciples jockeyed for position…trying to “fit in”.

Youth of any millennia will seek their place in adulthood. Where is the best place to navigate those roads? I believe both the family and youth groups are the answer. The best place is the place where they can find Jesus. If the youth are in a spiritually non-existent family, would they receive instruction outside of church? No. If the youth are in a spiritually non-existent church, would they receive instruction sitting in the pew next to their parents? No. Are there churches with youth groups that are simply play-time? Yes. Are there families who are only “Christian” on Sundays? Yes.

As for the theory of separation, in most American churches, after “Sunday School” is over, when the kids are old enough to sit for a spell (older than toddler age), the youth are always sitting (Integrated) in the church service…sometimes bored to death. But…the Spirit can work years later to bring back God’s word to a broken heart. God’s word which we never realized will reach into our deaf ears. And the “youth groups” that are in question? They always meet outside of Sunday morning services, such as a Sunday evening or mid-week night. Most active youth groups meet more than adult life groups! Would you rather your youth go to the parties I attended on the weekend or to a church youth event? I didn’t think so. Are there “bad” activities going on during church events? Sometimes…for we live in a fallen world. Are there “bad” activities going on during social, non-churched, events? Of this, I can assure you, almost always.

If you want to “fix” our youth, abolishing the group is throwing out the baby with the bath water. Preach to the fathers. Yes, instruct the fathers in how to teach their children. And in all reality, that may fail. Bad stats show somewhere around 50% in the church are divorced/single parent households, where it is more likely around 25-30%…which is still huge no matter how you look at the issue. Embrace those kids, as well as kids whose parents are unchurched. When the fathers are absent, create churches that will hire Youth Pastors and not Youth Directors. Train leaders who will be examples of Jesus to kids. Create an atmosphere where youth have a safe place as they learn to break the parental apron strings and grow into adulthood.

Then, and only then, will you have an explosion of salvation in our youth culture….our future!

God's Spirit will bring His word back to our hurting hearts!

God’s Spirit will bring His word back to our hurting hearts!

.

Your Daily Proverb ~ 20:14 (Inadvertent theft?)

“’It is worthless, it is worthless!’ says the buyer; but when he goes his way, then he boasts about his bargain.” ~Proverbs 20:14 

My husband hates to negotiate. Some of it is sheer personality, but mostly, negotiating is an indication that one of the parties is attempting to get something for nothing. Either the seller has inflated the price to portray something more than it is worth, or the buyer (as in the Proverb) is casting doubt on the quality in order to pay less than the actual worth. Inadvertent theft.

Does God do that with us? He could have. He had every right to cast full light on our sin and expose our worthlessness. Jesus could have called down all the Angels in heaven to keep from paying the price asked for our sins.

But he didn’t.

He paid a price we were unable to pay. He willingly sacrificed an inflated price for our worthlessness. And yet, as he walked away, arose to heaven, instead of proclaiming our worthlessness…he proclaimed nothing but love.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 

Grandma's Relics

Grandma’s Relics

.

Your Daily Proverb ~ 15:17 (Better peace with veggies?)

“Better a small serving of vegetables with love
than a fattened calf with hatred.”
 v15:17

Family. You’ve heard the saying, “You can’t live with them, but you can’t live without them either.” … Well, yes, I can live without them. They say blood is thicker than water…but I don’t believe that is true for humans. We are fallible beings. I do believe that is true for God’s people, who are connected through the perfect blood of Jesus…not the blood of a fallible man.

Do you remember family dinners? Are they even in existence anymore? When disharmony is the dish of the day…a TV tray is much more peaceful. Sadly, we miss out on family time. But, when the conflict, back-biting, ridiculing, and the put-down’s flow, I’d much rather sit by myself with a bowl of…dare I say…broccoli *gasp* than to sit at a full table with people who cause one to have to come up fighting just to breathe. Yep…you can keep your fattened calf.

The family God brings into my life is where the love flows…

Fattened calf...actually, this was probably a bull at one time... ;)

Fattened calf…actually, this was probably a bull at one time… 😉

 

The Vertical Proverbs…

A proverb a day. Does it really work? I believe so. Sometimes those short daily “reminders” keep us jolted into the right direction. I once read an interview with Billy Graham who said he reads a Psalm a day to improve his vertical relationships, and a Proverb a day to improve his horizontal relationships. (Vertical meaning with God, horizontal meaning with Man) I’ve found his words to be true. While simply reading the bible won’t fix all our problems (it has to be applied), it sure does give us tools to cope.

A while back, I started posting “Your Daily Proverb” on my Facebook page…which has been a humorous hit. Mostly because I find a ton of humor, along with a lot of good old fashioned common sense, in the Proverbs. Plus, I tend to see things others might miss. Today though, I posted one that is a little more on the serious side…because it hit home. (And maybe because today I am fighting the proverbial sinusitis and my head makes me just want to slap people!) Maybe I might just start a page on my blog with all my Daily Proverbs…we’ll see. I hope you find today’s pick insightful:

 

Your Daily Proverb:
“The simpleton believes every word he hears, but the prudent man looks and considers well where he is going.” v14:15
~Simpleton. Such a cool word for a simple person! I like that word. Simpleton. How many relationships do you know have been destroyed because someone believed the negative, even from a trusted source, without even verifying if the negative words spoken (your basic gossip) were even close to the truth? Simpletons have no desire to seek truth. That which is right is found in the prudent.

 

Maybe tomorrow…when the fog clears…I’ll post my normal humor…  :/

Praying Mantis in the Mums

(I’m not sure what this picture of a Praying Mantis hiding in my Mums have to do with this post…but there you go…)

 

.

Can we just like each other?

Why do you find it so hard to like me?” That seems to be a common question in our society. Bookstore shelves are full of self-help books trying to answer this question. We seem to think that happiness in our horizontal relationships, not our vertical relationship, is the key to inner satisfaction. But we don’t stop to consider that we are fallible beings. Why do we always have our expectations too high? We tend to walk through relationship after relationship automatically setting ourselves up for failure.

So, why? Why do some people like me…and others don’t?

Do you not like me because of something I did…or who I am?

Do you not like me because…

*of my gender or ethnicity? (Like I can help that!)
*of differing religions? (Tolerance anyone??)
*of my accent, level of education, or social status? (We all put on our pants one leg at a time!)
*you feel threatened by my position or that I have a position you wanted? (work/church/etc.)
*I have physical/mental deformities? (But for the Grace of God there go I…)
*I am single…married…divorced? (This is a big one!)
*I am married to your dad/mom (the step syndrome!)…or your ex (the jealous syndrome)?
*I am married/related to someone you don’t like? (soooo Jr. High!)
*I am married/related to someone you do like? (again…soooo Jr. High!)
*I may have been mean or ignored you in Junior High? (People do change you know!)
*you had me on your own pedestal, and in my humaneness, I let you down? (Unrealistic expectations)

Do I not like you for the same reasons??

Isn’t it about time we all get over ourselves???

Everyone is consumed with their own little world. Most people go through life worried about the thoughts others have toward them, when in reality, others are only consumed with themselves and don’t even give a thought to anyone else.

One of my favorite sayings…

At 20 we’re only concerned with what others think of us.
At 40 we really don’t care what others think of us.
At 60 we realize nobody really thinks of us.
And at 80 we finally just live happy!

Have you known people who were not concerned with how anyone was hurt by what they did, yet their concern was wrapped around the thought that someone may not like them? People pleasers always hurt someone. Think about it. If everyone has their own agenda, whose agenda do you fill? These people are also called peace keepers instead of peace makers. Peace keepers will please the dominate people to keep the drama at a minimum, all the while hurting the meek. But peace makers will stand by the truth and only please God. Yes, someone will always be upset, mad, and out-right disgruntled, because we are selfish human beings who only want our own agenda. Someone will always make everyone feel bad for not following their agenda. Yet, so will the next person. And the next…

Some people seem to be plagued by mean people, while I seem to be plagued by people pleasers! Then again…maybe I am the mean people who plague others! I don’t see it. Frankly, my intentions are usually, always, most of the time, meant for the good. But then again, they say the addict is the last to admit to any indiscretion. Even though I have studied psychology and all the personality/temperament types…maybe, just maybe “myself” is the last I see?? But when you only strive to stand on truth, no matter who is offended or upset, God always makes sure everything works for the good of all involved. (Romans 8:28)

In God’s amazing design, everyone is different. We all have varying personalities, backgrounds, belief systems, and social economic status. I’ve read that 10% of people in your life will not like you no matter what you do. Some personalities will naturally clash. The trick is to overcome our individual preferences and develop an attitude of acceptance. But then, we can’t be offended over every little thing. Attitudes of acceptance requires self-acceptance. We need to be secure in who we are as well. Do we even like ourselves? Knowing that God loves us and accepts our person-hood should alleviate any angst for the opinions of others. Then we are free to accept others as they are…as God accepts us…the way Jesus accepted the woman at the well, the centurion, and the ragamuffin disciples.

So…can we just like each other? But just maybe…with God’s Spirit flowing through us…maybe we can learn to actually love each other? Maybe??

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” ~1 Peter 4:8

80-60-40-20

.

Warning! This memory is not for weak stomachs! But there is a point to my drama…

I’ve wanted to get this memory out for three decades. I may lose some weak stomach readers. I may make you laugh. But some stories are epic. And we always wonder…why??

Christmas Vacation ’84. My daughter was 2 ½ (middle of the terrible two’s!), and my twin boys were 9 months. I came down with a 24 hour bug mid-way through our visit, missing out on a whole day of visiting with relatives who only cared about visiting with the grandchildren. It was perfect. Three days later, on our return flight home, we flew out of Chicago where my ex-in-laws traveled the four hour trip to send us off. I guess back then, the tickets were quite a bit cheaper to fly out of Chicago than at a closer airport. Half-way to Chicago, my fastidious daughter declared she was nauseous. The poor thing up-chucked all over the back seat of her grandparents car…spraying vomit on her Grandma! While I was cleaning her up my ex ordered his dad to pull to the side of the road so he could exit the vehicle as he almost lost his innards from the smell. Men usually do have weak stomachs.

The grandparents treated us to lunch at a very nice restaurant in Chicago, and my ex still felt ill. I assumed he was still reeling from the 2 year old’s puke. Regrettably, he waited until we were half way up in the air to decide his innards were not staying inside. The stewardess told him to return to his seat, to which he asked if she wanted him to hurl in the isle. Stepping aside, she let him go to the restroom…during the ascension. I was too busy wrangling three babies by myself to care if he had his seat belt on or dangled out the window! He then continued to vomit throughout the whole flight, using every barf bag on the plane. I wonder how much those lined tiny little bags cost…

About half way home, 40,000 feet or so up in the bright blue sky, my 9 month old decided to get sick…from the other end! Do you know how small those old airplane restrooms are?? There is no imagination wide enough to envision me cleaning diarrhea off a very active baby in an old airplane bathroom!! The toilet water was blue, with no lid, thank you very much. The sink was not large enough to wash hands properly, much less a whole baby. He kicked. It flew. That’s all I am going to say about that. Thank goodness we had baby wipes back then. In case you are wondering, I did leave the tiny restroom sterile, along with his butt.

One more little person to go…

An hour later, back in our seats, on our descent down, I smelled it again. Of course. After all, they are identical twins! We did not have booster seats back then, in the “stone ages”, so he was on the airplane seat. A cloth airplane seat. Now, a wet cloth airplane seat. I would not risk taking my baby to the tiny little restroom due to the plane descending, as most accidents happen on ascent or descent. So the seat got…more…wet.

Oh, the stares…the glares…the rejection! I waited until everyone vamoosed off the plane before grabbing my puking-pooping little family and headed for the nearest airport restroom. Again…there is no imagination wide enough to envision me changing a wiry 9 month old boy on the restroom floor (before the days of baby changing stations) in the Houston International Airport! My good friend who picked us up at the airport stood in front of us with the skirt of her sundress spread wide to keep the onlookers from looking. The midnight travelers were quite entertained…I was simply humiliated so bad I could not stop laughing. We were a first class three-ring circus. If you ever find someone who will live through that kind of smell with you…keep that friend for life!!

Oh…and to top that off…

We finally arrived home, it was midnight, and we had no food in the house due to us being gone the previous week. So after tucking every sick little body in bed, I headed for the store. The only reason I ventured out at 2:00am on that very foggy night was due to having only one vehicle…which my ex took to work every day, leaving me stranded in nowhereville with three babies. I drove to the edge of the neighborhood, about four blocks from home, and the car sputtered and died. Someone had siphoned our gas while we were on vacation! After walking through fog so thick you could cut it with a knife, I woke up my ex, who woke our neighbor back up, who took him to the gas station for gas…and milk.

Three months later…we moved four states away… 🙂

I’ve often wondered why. What possesses a person to endure this kind of drama…and yet, the next morning, hug, hold, kiss, and love the little ones God entrusted us. Motherhood. Hormones. The beauty of creation.

God, in his love, showed me a picture of His love. We puke on our creator, and he still loves us. We poop on his creation, and he still loves us. Yes, human parents are fallible. They screw up. Sometimes big-time. Sometimes, human parents don’t love their children. Sometimes parents physically or emotionally hurt their kids. Yet, God’s parental love is infallible. Perfect. God created the human parent-child love as a glimpse of his love for us. That gives me hope. No matter how far into sin that child (us) falls, God still loves his children. When every relationship on this sin-ravaged planet falls away, our creator God, in his grace, longs for us…for me…for you…

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” ~Matthew 7:7-8

 

Three Babies…

Momma & Babies

 

More babies…

Baby Kittens

 

And more babies…

Baby Bunnies

.

 

Unconfessed Sin ~ My Thoughts on Forgiveness…

YES! When no one else will…the Lord gives forgiveness, grace, and mercy! He loves us!

And yet, most people do not think about an unforgiving God. He is a forgiving God, a loving God, a just God…and yes, an unforgiving God. Even though that thought should scare most people, it doesn’t. The most direct indication of times when God does not forgive is in the words of Jesus during his sermon on the mount (Matthew 6:5-15). God says we are to forgive…so that we can be forgiven. Otherwise, he will not forgive us. Why will he not forgive us if we do not forgive others? Because, God cannot look upon sin. And unforgiveness…is sin.

God is a God of reconciliation and restoration. But true relationship is built on trust. Since we live in a fallen world, with a carnal nature, no human is perfect. Our relationship with the Lord begins with a confession of our own sin. Without an admission of our faults, we cannot begin the restoration process. This is true with any relationship. Jesus said to Ask, Seek, Knock. Then we will find. (Matthew 7:7) Forgiveness works the same whether it be man or God. If I have wronged someone, or they have wronged me, without confession and repentance first, then reconciliation, and finally restoration, we will always have broken relationship.

We’ve all heard the quote to addicts that the first step to recovery is in admitting to the problem. If we do not admit to our guilt in the relationship, any relationship, we hide behind lies. For no one is without guilt. A relationship based on lies is no relationship at all. 1 John 1:8-10 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Yes, it all begins with our own humility. Then and only then will the relationship be open for restoration.

Confession (or ‘fessing up to our wrongs) is that which makes us humble and gives us a pride reduction. How often do we (speaking for myself as well) hide, or justify, or blame-shift our sins? Not only is it humbling to admit when we have messed up…it’s embarrassing! We even throw the “you just can’t take anything, I was only joking” card because we have too much pride to admit our own wrong. We want to ignore and excuse our own sin by throwing it under the rug. At the same time we expect everyone else to forget our offense, forgive and go on, without repentance, as if no wrong was done. We even claim the person we hurt is unforgiving and self-centered if the pain we inflicted is not simply ignored. That, my friend, is blame-shifting and making excuses to justify our actions. I think we have all done that a time or two. Throwing the responsibility of the relationship rift onto the other person, while ignoring our own wrongs, simply negates reconciliation.

 

*************************

forgive

/fəˈɡɪv/

verb -gives, -giving, -gave, -given

  1. to cease to blame or hold resentment against (someone or something)

Word Origin

Old English forgiefan ; see for-, give

The modern sense of “to give up desire or power to punish” is from use of the compound as a Germanic loan-translation of Latin perdonare.

*************************

The best way to keep in close relationship with God is to be at peace with others, even those whom I have wronged. Sometimes, that means I may have to humble myself and admit I really messed up…which seems to happen pretty often. But to keep any hard feelings or resentment out of my relationships, I need to let them know that I know I messed up…and apologize. And then, their forgiveness is their responsibility, not ours. My responsibility is to admit my wrongs, ask forgiveness, and attempt to make amends. The rest is up to them. But, remember, we have no right to be concerned with the other person’s heart until we have cleared our own first.

What if others do not forgive us? What if they always harbor resentment? Then, I still need to do my part. Their heart, their forgiveness, is their responsibility.

What if I am the one who is hurt, and the offender never admits or repents for the hurt and pain they inflicted? What if they move away or die before the relationship can be reconciled? It is essential for us to be willing and ready to forgive others to have freedom in our own hearts and to keep bitterness from creeping in. We do not negate the sin, but we continue to treat them with kindness while we wait for the Lord to open their hearts to repentance. The sin is still there, but we need to release to God our right for punishment and/or revenge. The relationship may always be broken and the trust shattered, but our hearts need to be free of vengeance and always be ready to forgive, just as we have assurance of God’s forgiveness for our own sins.

So, we must forgive to be forgiven. Don’t misunderstand, forgiveness does not negate or dismiss the sin. Sin is still sin. The other person is still responsible to God for their sin. For us to forgive means to release to God our right for punishment and/or revenge for the wrongs done to us. We free ourselves of the responsibility of judgment against another. Why must we forgive others in order to be forgiven ourselves? Because, when we hold bitterness, anger, or hatred in our hearts, we are essentially playing God. In our pride, we forget our own sin as we focus on the sins of others. When we release others of recompense and repent of our own sin, God’s forgiveness flows through our hearts and His Joy floods our souls!

If we have unforgiving hearts, we have sinful hearts. Let’s let God deal with the hearts of others. Release them and let it go. Then, when we admit to our own faults and ask God for forgiveness, He is always eager to forgive, just as a loving father forgives his child. We have but to ask. Even though God is just, he is also love. “You do not have to get cleaned up to take a bath!” He is not asking for our perfection…that’s why he sent Jesus to die for us…he is only asking for our hearts so he can pour in his love.

Repentance must go with Forgiveness

~~~~~~~~~~

Scriptures to ponder:

~ Psalm 32:5
I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

~ Matthew 5:23-24
“So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and suddenly remember that a friend has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar and go and apologize and be reconciled to him, and then come and offer your sacrifice to God. Come to terms quickly with your enemy before it is too late…” (He doesn’t say, “Only if your realities line up do you apologize.” He said be reconciled. Admit. Apologize.)

~ Matthew 6:14-15
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

~ Romans 12:9-21
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

**Yes, the pictures are mine! 😉

Job’s Three Friends

What kind of friend are you?

My Three Friends!

My Three Friends!

“Listen to advice and accept instruction,
that you may gain wisdom in the future.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:20-21

I have a couple of close friends who are not afraid to tell me when I am going down the wrong path. Sometimes, I just want to smack ’em for telling me what I don’t want to hear…but I love them for speaking truth in my life. I know they are not speaking from their own selfish desires, but from God’s word. They are not speaking from conventional etiquette…they are speaking from God’s heart. (You my friends know who you are…)

The book of Job shows God’s perspective. Not everything we experience is of our own doing. Not every situation can be explained by man. Not everything we go through will even be explained by God. If you notice at the end of the story, God does not give Job a reason for his affliction. Yet, God explains to Job man is small and finite, compared to the infinite and all-knowing God. God is omnipotent and omniscient. He made the Behemoth and the Leviathan (40:15 & 41:1). God asked Job if he was present when God laid the earth’s foundation (38:4). God reminds us that everything under heaven belongs to him (41:11). Job and his three friends tried unsuccessfully to explain his plight though they did not understand anything beyond their own reasoning (42:3)…a reasoning which came from a limited world view. God says in Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” Therefore, unless God himself reveals wisdom, how can we assume to have insight to difficulties others are experiencing? How can we give or receive proper advice?

When Job spoke, he was in a pity-party mode. His discourse sought self-justification, to which God replied in 40:8, “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” Job tried to put God in his little box. How often do we blame-shift on others to explain the troubles in our lives? “Well, I wouldn’t be going through this or that if they wouldn’t have done this or that!” Even more so, how often do we blame-shift on God? We all do. Or sometimes we feel God is punishing us for some unknown sin. Generally speaking, the saying, “what goes around comes around” is true. Yes, God will bring justice. But not everything that happens in life is the result of anything we or someone else did. Jesus pointed this out in John 9:1-7 to the disciples who attributed the man’s blindness on him or his parents. Before healing the man, Jesus said “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” It was the same with Job, “So that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

“By pride comes nothing but strife,
But with the well-advised is wisdom.” Proverbs 13:10

The problem with Job’s three friends is they spoke from man’s wisdom. They spoke from a works based mentality. Their assessment of the situation came from their own experience, traditions, and self-centered view. How many times do we advise someone they are required to do this or that due to church standards? How often do we give advice based on our own background or station in life, or to please others? Oh, “but it’s for the sake of the kids!” Or, “you can’t disappoint your momma!” As with the case of Job, we also are unaware of events in the heavenly realms that affect mankind (Job 1:6-7). Do we heed the advice of friends who ignore that God may have plans that go against man’s conventional wisdom? Against our traditions…no matter who it affects?

When I think of God going against man’s conventional wisdom, I am reminded of how God must have had fun giving the traditional family “Blessing” to the younger child rather than the older, a tradition which God himself set up. Jacob and Esau were the most popular siblings whose “Blessing” was reversed. So who are we to question? Is not the creator allowed to create as he sees fit? Several times in my life, I have been given advice from very well meaning Christian people that seemed right, and may have been full of love to not hurt anyone, only to find out later events were going on behind the scenes which I was unaware that put a completely different spin on the situation. Because a way seems right to us, does not mean that God does not have a better plan. Nor do we pick and choose what God speaks according to our own agenda. Either God says everything or he says nothing. When we trust the Holy Spirit to guide, even in decisions which may initially hurt some, God will always work it out for our good (Romans 8:28). When we give or receive advice which comes from self-centeredness, advice that is man-pleasing, or advice based on one-sided information, God cannot do the work in our lives that will bring about our ultimate good.

Are we never to listen to advice? No. But we sift the words from trusted friends and relatives with the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit, no matter how contrary God’s voice is to common traditions. We must have God as our ultimate priority…over everyone. Everyone. Even if what God tells us goes contrary to those closest to us. For Jesus said if we put anyone, even mother, father, son, or daughter above all else, we are not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:32-39). We need to consider the source. From what viewpoint is the advice coming from? The one person who gave acceptable advice was Elihu. He is not mentioned as one of Job’s friends…or as a relative. Elihu is not deemed as one to be heeded due to his age. He is young. Yet, 32:8 says, “But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives understanding.” God’s spirit; not age, not having a PHD behind your name, not worldly learning, or learning from theological seminaries, not even eloquence; but it is God’s Holy Spirit which gives wisdom and understanding. When we seek or give advice, do we seek through prayer for wisdom through God’s spirit, or do we seek advice through our friends/relatives wisdom?

What is amazing about Job’s whole story is the statement Elihu made in Job 34:21, “His eyes are on the ways of men, he sees their every step.” God is shown to be more majestic than we can comprehend, yet he loves us enough to know our every step. At the end of the book, God restores. Love only wants that which is in our best interest, not their interest, even though we may go through times of great pain. The horrible affliction Job experienced was not only for his own good, but for ours as well. To learn lessons of God’s majesty, loyalty, love. In the end, Job was restored twice over for that which was forfeited.

That’s love.

 

we_is_friends

Hell…a place.

Hell.  Fire man

A foul word.

A very real place.

Can you smell it?

Can you feel it?

Life is a vapor.

Yes, there is always life: Eternal life. We simply walk through the door to the other side. Do we choose the red pill or the blue pill? We will live on. The quote, “Once you’re dead, you’re dead.” only applies to our chance at life. Death is final. Physical death is very final. Yet we live on. Our spirit will endure…Forever…But where? The one tested, tried, and true theory is a place called Heaven, conversing with our Creator on streets of gold. But most ignore the inverse. The same entity which foretold Heaven…foretold the fires of Hell: A torrid place: A very real place: A place for all liars: The root of bad drama. Have you lied to the Creator? He knows your heart. He knows the evil we spew. Yet, He still loves us. He loves us so much that He poured out grace. We will never be able to overcome the consequences of our sin nature…so He died in our place. He paid our debt. And yet, He is patient. He lets us dwell in the midst of our evil, giving us chance after chance to choose…to choose life or death. To choose between truth…or lies. Heaven or Hell. A very real place. Can you smell it? Can you feel it? Life is a vapor…

Fire mishap

Choose…

Woman at the Well

Is it a lack of faith to “bug” God?

Big question of the day: Do we bug him or sit and wait? Isn’t he all knowing? But what if he is busy?

In reading the parable of the persistent widow, it would seem that Jesus was saying we need to be persistent, bugging God continually with our requests. In his scenario, the unjust Judge grants her request because he is bothered by her constant badgering. The point of his parable though is to let us know that God will do even more for his children than an unjust Judge.

So where is faith? Wouldn’t it seem that bugging God is showing a lack of faith on our part, like he won’t or can’t take care of us? No, the faith is to where we take our requests. God wants us to rely on Him, not because he is co-dependent or controlling, but because we cannot follow two masters. We humans are so easily led down the fun path…to destruction. So by clinging on God’s shirttail, we cling to safety. By continually seeking Him for our needs, through prayer, we are totally focused on His will and not our own desires.

But we must have faith…faith in His ability…faith in His will. Trust.

Faith & Trust.

God works for the good of those that love Him.

Why? Because we are His children.

 

“Even though my mother or father rejected me, the Lord will accept me and adopt me as his own.” ~Psalm 27:10 (MSB)

Romans 8.28

The Parable of the Persistent Widow~ Luke 18:1-8 (NIV)

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Understanding Life’s Navigation

Have you ever downloaded a new computer program that was not user-friendly without an instruction booklet? We spend countless hours surfing and clicking in an attempt to master the unreachable. After screaming in frustration, we search for an instructor to show us how to comprehend and navigate before we can benefit from the program. Finally, with no instruction book, and no instructor, in frustration we succumb to defeat and toss the whole computer out the window.

God’s Word and Christianity are much the same. How many times do we fervently read scripture only for the words to fall flat? How many times do we come upon a situation which seems unreasonable?

Morning Work

We need the Holy Spirit to help the Word come alive, not only in our hearts, but also in our minds. In Acts 28:26-27, Paul quotes the prophet Isaiah, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” For this people’s heart has become calloused…” Opening our hearts to God’s Holy Spirit will soften the callouses of our lives and enable us to understand the deep meanings within the scriptures. Seeking mentors who are grounded in the Word will help us navigate through the Word to apply it to our lives.

Taking the occasional inventory will help keep us moving forward:

1)      Do we pray before/during/after reading scripture?
2)      Does our close circle of friends/relatives pull us to God or away from God?
3)      Does our local church (pastor, elders, and teachers) point us first to God’s precepts (His Word) or to their own theology?

Before we throw out the computer, disregard the bible, or throw away our lives; seek His guidance for understanding life’s navigation. Asking the Lord beforehand may save us tremendously in the end!

Isaiah 55:8-13

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty
,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace
;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

 

You want to wash MY feet??

I am one who despises religion…I’m more into relationship. I go to church…for relationship. Not the traditional rituals. The bible is clear the traditions held by mankind holds no meaning in God’s eyes. The apostle Paul describes it best in Galatians 3. Rituals, traditions, religions do not save the soul. Yet, we still have them. We still go. To. Church. Maundy Thursday seems to be the new rage these days. Our church held their first Maundy Thursday service this year. Normally, I am not one to get hyped up about these kinds of services. They seem so very…ritualistic.

Jesus taught in parables. He taught by example. Kids learn more by observing their parents than from any textbook. Traditions, festivals, religious holidays, etc. do serve a purpose. They “show” us the event. But save us? No. So then, why do we bother?

I was ever so glad when I was asked to run the media during the Thursday service. Work is always the perfect excuse to avoid participation. I could hide behind the sound booth where no one notices. My husband was asked at the last minute to participate in the live depiction of the Last Supper. So we were both busy. All settled. Foot washing ritual avoided!

During the service I hit play on a couple of videos which showed Ray Vander Laan explaining in detail the purposes behind each ritualistic position. Why they leaned on their right…or was it left…arm. Why they wanted to sit in such and such place at the table. Why Jesus dipped in the bowl of bitter herbs…with Judas. That part of the service, I love. The why’s. We read and hear things about Christianity that makes no absolute sense in today’s world. We have dishwashers and stoves. We drive cars and fly in planes. Why does it matter which arm they sat on? We sit at the table…they…the dirt floor.

Jesus, in his loving and patient way, lived what he spoke. He said serve. So, He Served. He was the leader. The King of the pack. The President. We are to serve those above. Yet, Jesus grabbed the title of the servant…the seat on the other side of the table…and took up the rag. He washed their feet. The King…washed their feet!

wash20feet

So, yeah…we have this “Foot Washing” in the middle of the service. Oh, don’t get me wrong…I love a good foot massage! I am not above having my feet washed…hey go for the whole deal…I’ll even provide the lotions! And for me to wash others…fiddle-sticks, I’ve wiped plenty of babies’ butts! No, the mechanics of the act have no effect on me.

It’s the ritual. The meaning. Lost in today’s world.

A low voice circles around the sound booth door…can I wash your feet?

If there is one person in the whole church who deserves a spa pampering day…it’s the momma of a pre-teen and a very special boy! I believe the parents are just as, if not more, special as the child. Life never quits. She drops in bed exhausted every night. Yet, full of love. Her house is the host of many a gathering…even in the midst of their own chaos. Always working. Always caring. Always giving. And she wanted to wash my feet.

wheelchair

No way…I should be washing hers!

 

Then Peter’s words popped out. And Jesus replied. And the least shall be first…and the first shall be least. So we wash. And be washed. Washed with the Spirit. The spirit of fellowship. The spirit of Love.

 

Ritual? Yes…to show…to remind us to feel…to love.

1373

 

*I don’t own the rights to the original wash bowl & wheel chair images, and I’m not making any money on them.

Hurt People…Hurt People

When I started this blog, I had in my mind a progression of blogs that would tell a story. But, alas, life hit and my path took a few forks.

In my first two posts I wrote about the ugliness of divorce and the effect it has on families, and on our society. While the subject can be quite depressing, my intent, if not successful, was to convey God’s redemption and restoration. I know first-hand we can have a great life after divorce. I know a lot of people who live in a much healthier state of mind, emotions, and well-being after healing from divorce. But what is not expressed, especially by main-stream society, is the baggage that will be carried for life, even for those who carry the least amount of fault. I say least, because in divorce, no one is without fault. No one.

Our society has been living on no absolutes for about thirty years now. We are so lost in our own self-preservation we forget how to truly love…unconditionally. For the most part, our society does not understand the concept of love. Love is unselfish. Yet, we love for ourselves. Then we hurt.

The cosmic question of the day: Why do people hurt people? I believe research concludes that people hurt others because they were also hurt by others. Hurt people hurt people. In any relationship, if we understand the root cause of an attitude or conflict, the conflict will become inconsequential. At the root of any conflict lies a sin of some sort, usually pride, or lust. Spoiled people hurt people. “Life is all about me.” These days, people are easily offended, even in words not directed at them. Society loves to play the victim. Society loves to lash out. We are a society of extremes. People hurt people. Hurt people hurt people.

So how do we get past that which has hurt us? How do we tumble out of the rain into the sunshine? Whether your pain is from childhood trauma, physical impairments, death of a loved one, abortion, financial problems, bad relationships, or divorce, etc., you can find healing through forgiveness. I would venture to say only through forgiveness. The famous quote by Gandhi, “Nobody can hurt me without my permission” is intended to shift perspective and give control to ourselves rather than those around us. Gandhi used the quote when he practiced civil disobedience to stay strong against his attackers. While on the outside this quote seems to be the answer to all our pain, the reality is we can only rely on our own will to take care of us physically, but the soul will remain empty. Psalm 32:3 says “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” Only when we get to the root of our problem, internal forgiveness, will we be able to walk in true freedom. I know more than anyone the faith it takes to give up control of the pain from wrongs inflicted and let the Lord deal with the injustice. Our nature leans to vengeance. We need justification. But, are our sins any less? Did Jesus not die for us too? God has proven over and over that His vengeance is always just. And sometimes God has a way of “payback” that leaves us shaking our heads knowing only God could pull that off!

And what about those supposed “Christians” or even our “family” who turn on us? Joseph is the perfect example of a man so very hurt by his brothers, friends, and co-workers, yet who refused to seek his own desire for justification. He let God handle every situation. In Genesis 50:19-20 (ESV), he said, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” By releasing his hurt to the Lord’s recompense, he was instrumental in saving two whole nations! Out of jealousy, David was hunted by King Saul. In 1 Samuel 26:10-11 (ESV) David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?”  And David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish.” And God did just that. Saul perished…and David was held faultless. Will we be faultless if we seek our own revenge?

Let it go. Love as the Lord loves. Live in freedom.

 

“Is not this laid up in store with me,
sealed up in my treasuries?
Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and their doom comes swiftly.’
 For the Lord will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants,
when he sees that their power is gone
and there is none remaining, bond or free.”
~Deuteronomy 32:34-36 (ESV)

 

Let it go

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 
~Romans 12:18-20 (ESV)

.

 

Pregnant…Again??

“What? You already have three kids and you’re pregnant again? Don’t you know what causes that by now?”

ultrasound

And on and on the condemnations flew…

So here I am. One failed marriage, another on its way. This one was promised to be my “Knight in Shining Armor” soul-mate. Yes, one would think that I of all people would know better.

My first husband was my high school sweetheart…but, less than eight years later, I found myself disillusioned, emotionally broke down, and bitter. Deep in my soul, all I wanted was the typical Tom Sawyer family complete with the little white picket fence. In a sense, I was trying to create a perfect life in restitution for my so-called “wild” teenage years. After a few years of trying to please everyone, my world crumbled when I realized I wasn’t pleasing to anyone. I was belittled and devalued. My self-worth diminished to my lowest point. I believed the lie that God had turned his back on me and did not care that I was doing everything in my power to live perfectly. So I turned my back on God.

But this post is not about my first marriage, I’ll save that for a later date. But I say all the above for a bit of background information to show my state of mind. This post is about a baby…a precious little human.

When I started dating my second husband, I was exhausted. Divorced with three young children, I was working over-time and living with a spirit of failure all around me, trying desperately to find value in my life. I was always busy, yet very alone. Being ten years older, he gave the illusion of being omniscient. My family was ecstatic, mostly my dad, mostly since he was always looking for someone to take me off his shoulders. Ha! Plus, he was related to my brother-in-law and they gave me only good reports. I thought this was the relief I desperately needed. My “Knight” swooped in with romance, worldly achievements, and showers of silky words. I was bait.

Since my first husband claimed no one would want me, especially with all those kids, I was more than ready to prove everyone wrong. That’s the problem with some men, their arrogance leads them to believe if they do not want a girl, then no one else would want her either. Then, they are shocked when they find out, whether he is good or bad, someone is always waiting in the wings. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Boy was he shocked! On the other hand…some girls have been devalued to the point they settle for what they believe they deserve instead of understanding that God’s love really does have the best for us.

We dated less than six months. I was deceived into believing this “Knight” was going to provide for me, be a fun step-dad for my kids, and yes, it was he who continually talked of having more children, even writing letters of his longing for his own children. He was in his latter thirties and felt the biological clock tick. I knew there was no chance of having more children with my first husband, and even though by the world’s standards I did not need another child, I secretly longed for more babies. Caring for my children put me in my element. I don’t know if that longing is put in women by God at creation, or if I was rebellious against the American 2.5 kid family. Consequently, and at his urging, I found myself pregnant with my fourth child. I remember being extremely excited to give him the news…he was finally going to be a father!

“We’re not ready yet. You need to get an abortion. I’ll not have anything to do with it.”

Those words still reverberate in my mind. How could I be hearing this? Was not this the man whom was to be my Knight in Shining Armor? Was not this baby his idea too? Even if neither of us needed this pregnancy, this was a little human. This was a soul. This was life. I know more than anyone that most women who have abortions are not bad people, they are victims of their circumstances. They are women who have been sold a lie. But, I could never fathom ending the pregnancy…for any reason. And my Knight wanted me to murder our baby? My world spun around and stopped.

Where was God now? Why was I being rejected again? I felt I deserved nothing. Walking a path on the dark side of heaven, while longing to be in the light, I felt abandoned once again.

After four months of marriage, I realized he had issues unknown even to his family. Manic depressives can and do live completely normal lives when their condition is managed well. I won’t go into the struggles they face in this post, but if you, or one close to you, face manic depression or bi-polar depression, please research and be well informed in order to live a nonviolent and productive life. To deny the existence of the condition only creates chaos for everyone involved.

My last straw came when he lost control of his temper with my son. After throwing me across the room when I confronted him, I packed up my kids and my belongings, and left. How was I going to take care of three children, pregnant, with very little support, and no job?

Pride…It really is an ugly thing. I was not the kind of person to ask for help…from anyone. What would be the world’s answer to my situation? Yes, I heard it again. Abort. Welfare. Abort. Start over. Abort.

But how could I look into the faces of my children and live the rest of my life knowing I killed their sibling? Would I have been able to abort any of the children I had if the birth order were reversed? Scientifically, the unborn is a separate human life! In the end, I ignored the comments of destruction and clung to that which I knew to be right. With no place else to go, I humbled myself, faced an abundance of criticism, and asked for help.

In every circumstance, even those created by our own bullheaded mistakes, our sins, God always provides a way to find an open door. We live in a fallen world. We are fallen. We are subject to the corrupt things of the world, even those who are blameless. The bible book of Job is a good study on this subject. God always restores. Sometimes not the way we expect. We will always carry the consequences, but He will restore. The Lord gave me that open door when I humbled myself to His care, and His forgiveness. I cannot tell you it was easy or without tears. But, He provided for me, for my children, and my unborn baby. God promises over and over He will take care of His children. His promises are true. He created us. He loves us.

An adult now, that baby is the joy of our family. God provided people to step in and give us a roof over our head until I could get on my feet. He also provided money for me to pay for our own food, provisions, and utilities. He later provided a father who adopted my baby as his own; a perfect reflection of our heavenly Father adopting us, in all our ugliness, and accepts us as His own. Now, that beautiful life is a college graduate, happily married, and a vital asset to our society.

Did I make the right choice? In my mind, there was no choice to make.

Your situation may be quite different. It may not be an unplanned pregnancy you are facing, but the solution is still the same. Two wrongs do not make a right. Never listen to the lie that God has deserted you. I did, and God showed me He was always with me, waiting. When we find ourselves on a crocked path we need only to pray. There is no sin so deep that God’s grace cannot draw you back.

 

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
~Isaiah 43:18-19

BabyCakes

 “Even though my mother or father rejected me, the Lord will accept me and adopt me as his own.” ~Psalm 27:10 (MSB)

 

 

Refined Restoration

 “Remove the dross from the silver,
        and out comes material for the silversmith…” ~Proverbs 25:4

I love the analogy of the Refiner! It took me most of my life, a lot of heartache, and a ton of prayers to begin to see myself the way the Lord sees me. I, like most in this fallen world, grew up with the wrong thinking of what makes a person acceptable. There has been so much talk the past couple of decades about the “blame it on my childhood” syndrome that it’s become a crutch and excuse for everything wrong today. Blame-shifting does not heal. I believe while it is very true your past experiences can determine your outlook today (and need to be dealt with); your past experiences do not dictate who you are in Christ. You are responsible for you…and your worth is based on God’s opinion, not man’s opinion.

“You are our Father.
           We are the clay,
 you are the Potter;
      we are the work of your hand.” ~Isaiah 64:8

When I stopped trying to live up to the world’s (family, church, friends) unattainable standards, and focused only on the things the Lord said about me (born again, new creatureaccepted and restored), only then did I have the peace, security, and comfort only the Lord gives. A refiner will heat the gold or silver to a temperature so hot that all the impurities (past hurts, bitterness selfishness, envy, etc.) are burned away. The refiner only starts the cooling process when he is able to see His own reflection (forgiveness, peace, joy, etc.) in the liquid. You see, when the Lord refines us, he not only burns out the dirt in our life, he also changes our molecules, our core, and our thinking process. When we have been refined, we begin to see ourselves as the Lord does; beautiful, pure, and worthy of the sacrifice He gave long before we were born. I guess it takes being “refined” before we can fully appreciate just how much the Lord really does love us…and we can finally freely love.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” ~James 1:2-4

Refiner's Restoration

 

 

.