Message in a Costa Rica Poem

I wrote this in Costa Rica, while looking through the scenes you don’t see in the Travel brochures…

His Redemptive Treasure
 
Endless webs of metal
     Spin fear upon black tar.
Dark lungs grasping dense air,
     Fierce anger wonders far.
 
Life’s hope is lost for those
     Who dwell within locked bars.
With fear of evil woes
     Bitterness turned to scars.
 
Searching for life’s purpose
     The world’s empty pleasure.
Who will bring God’s true light?
     His redemptive treasure?
 
His death upon the cross
     Covered our scars of sin;
Brought joy in redemption,
     Hearts full of peace within.

~Nora Marie

 

I never let this poem go anywhere…it’s not one of my best works…not even close. But now that my ex mom-in-law is lying in a hospital bed breathing her last, this holds a higher place in my heart. The trip I took was with a group from an organization called “Men for Mission”, which my ex in-laws were part of for many years. As they grew older the trips grew less frequent. Most of the trips were work missions. The trip to Costa Rica in January 1999 was the only one I was able to join. Maybe I’ll write more about it one day. But for now, my prayer is that one of the leaders…my ex mom-in-law…will rest in the arms of Jesus knowing she ran a good race. I pray my ex mom-in-law finds peace. I pray she knows I have no more bitterness for the angst she caused in my marriage. I pray she knows I’m sorry for not being the daughter-in-law she needed. I pray she knows God redeems and restores all.

I need to pull out the old photo albums and scan some of the pictures from that trip. The people and country are beautiful. I pray the two boys I spent time with, showing and telling about the love of Jesus, are still following Him.

Some things we will only know when we cross over into heaven…

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New Year, New Country, New Beginnings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life is messy.

Relationships are hard.

Rejection hurts.

But…God’s love brings healing.

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

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Holiday Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Jesus is the Light

Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave

Piano Man 5

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

But lyrics…

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

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

In the second verse he writes:

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

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

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

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

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

Click here: Official video of Big Daddy Weave – “Redeemed“. 
Writer(s): Michael Weaver, Benji Cowart
Copyright: Word Music Inc., Word Music Inc. O.B.O. Weave Country LLC

Piano Man 4

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.

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~Isaiah 54

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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

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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.”

 

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**Yes, the pictures are mine! 😉

From Dumb & Dumber to Loved & Lovely

We watched the 90’s flick…

 Dumb & Dumber

Dumb & Dumber

last night. It’s one of those movies…well, let’s just say the name fits. It’s so dumb it’s hilarious!

In the last scene, the two friends are walking aimlessly along a sparse highway when stops a tour bus full of bikini beauty contestants. The boys are “dumb-founded” by their beauty. The girls sheepishly say they are looking for a couple of good looking guys to accompany them across the country simply to oil all the girls before each pageant. Every boy’s dream, right?! But, true to the name of the movie, they are ever so grateful to help the girls by directing them to the next town instead of hopping on the bus. So the dumb-founded girls hop back on the bus and head off into the sunset. The movie ends with Lloyd and Harry talking about how two guys in the next town will be very lucky fellows!

Missed opportunities. Misunderstood opportunities. How often do we overlook opportunities because we have such a low self-value we couldn’t possibly believe anything that good could be right for us?

Psalm 139 says we are wonderfully made, that God was there when we were woven together in the secret places, and He knew everything about us before we were born. And he still loves us. How awesome is that? Psalm 27:10 says he has adopted us as his own. Romans 8:38-39 says absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love. Nothing. Jeremiah 29:11 says he has wonderful plans for our lives. Jesus says in John 10:10 he came to give us life…life to the full!

So, why is it so easy to believe the lie that we are just not worth it? Satan is the father of all lies. And we believed him. We believed we were worthless in God’s eyes. We believed we would never measure up to His “rules”. Those rules that show us just how utterly sinful we really are. For God looks at the heart (Psalm 51). That little white lie we told is still a lie. No matter how good we are in the world’s eyes, we are still little heathens in God’s law. So we deserve nothing. Absolutely nothing. Why try for that promotion at work? Our co-worker has a better chance. Why try to befriend anyone or fix that broken relationship? They won’t like us anyway. Why would we see anything good come our way? We believe the lie…

But then…there’s this thing called grace.

That five letter word. Grace. God’s grace. Jesus. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17. We were given mercy. Another five letter word. Mercy. He gently restores us, washing us clean. We are worthy! But…we know. We know the scriptures. We understand the power of sin was busted when Jesus died for us…and rose. We know.

But do we believe? Truly believe?

Did we let His love sink into the depths of our hearts?

We will never be perfect. We will let others down. And others will let us down. Others will believe lies about us, and spread lies. We will hurt for the sin in the world which we live. We are still human. But our mistakes do not define us in God’s eyes. Philippians 3:12-13 says we are not perfect, but we press on. We are not there yet, but we forget (let go of) what is behind…and look ahead.

So we screwed up. So…repent. Admit. Let go of our pride. Repent. Why?

Because God forgives. God redeems. God restores.

Though the world may never accept us…God already did. Our condemnation has been eradicated. Satan spread the lies. Jesus brought the truth. Through repentance and forgiveness, we are His. But, we also need to forgive. Matthew 6:14-15 says God forgives as we forgive. OK…we want to go to heaven…so we forgive those who offended, hurt, and even destroyed us. Though there may be consequences to our sins, God will give us the grace needed to build a new life. Forgiveness from us is a releasing of our right for payment for the offense to God. We release the offender. God will vindicate. Hate is poison. Release them to God in forgiveness. But is that enough?

I must forgive me.

Forgive myself? But isn’t that arrogant? No. Any time we withhold forgiveness, we are playing God. Holding grudges is control. Not accepting God’s forgiveness for our repentant sins only leads to self-destruction. We must not only ask forgiveness, we must accept, and give forgiveness, even for ourselves. Only then will the power of love wash us through and through. Clean.

And we are worth it. God’s love says we are worth it.

And all those scriptures? All those opportunities? Yes…they are for me…they are for you!

Psalm 139

“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”

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