The Little Lighthouse Who Could!  Shine Bright!

You are called to shine forth the Light of Christ. How’s Your Shine?

Remnant, in a world that is getting darker and darker by the hour we are called to be lighthouses for the Lord.  Think about it, it is the whole reason why Jesus went up to Heaven and the Holy Spirit came down.  In John 14:26 Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as “The Advocate.” 

Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one goes to the Father except through me.”  He then says in John 14:12 “I can guarantee this truth:  Those who believe in me will do the things that I am doing.  They will do even greater things because I am going to the Father.”  We, Remnant are called to shine forth the light of Christ like little lighthouses that are safety points for those that are in this dark world.  He says in John 14:25 “The helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything.  He will remind you of everything I ever told you.”  The Holy Spirit is the light within us that shines forth and allows us to radiate the love of Christ.  THIS is what we are SUPPOSED to do.  THIS is HOW we are SUPPOSED to be.  We are to be about our Father’s business, as Jesus was about His Father’s business.  Imagine, if you will large numbers of us “shinning forth the light of Christ” in a world deceived and filled with darkness.  We ARE CHRIST’s Lighthouses.  How is your light shining?

Is the light of Christ within you strong? Shining brightly the Way?  Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to minister to you?  To strengthen you?  It is not a “battery” tucked deep within you, but the Holy Spirit who brings to your heart and mind the things that you need to share with others.  The things that you need to do to grow brighter in Him that has called us.  The power is not anything that is within or of ourselves.  It is ALL Him.  The light within you is only as strong as you allow it to be!  The strength is not one that comes from self but comes from Him who dwells inside of you!  Lighthouses are beacons of light in the storms of life.  We are called to BE lighthouses leading others to the Lord – who is the TRUE light.  How bright are you shining?  How proud are you standing?  Is your structure built upon the One who generates the light within you?  We can do nothing in and of ourselves, we are completely dependent upon He who lives inside of us without His guidance our light grows dim.  The more you submit to what He is saying to you, the stronger the light of Christ radiates from your life drawing others to you so they themselves can see His light within you.

Be that beacon of light Remnant calling others home to God.  Letting them know of His grace and His forgiveness and His mercy and His love.  Stand tall and proud and with praise and with joy and with love help others to become lighthouses for it is not God’s will that ANY should perish, which is why He has called you by name!  Recognize and rejoice that God has called you to be a beacon of His light to others, leading them to safety wrapped up in the light of His love.

Our source is HIM.  Our strength is in Him.  Our light is His light which radiates deep within us.  The days are getting darker as it is getting closer and closer to Christ’s return.  God is calling you to be a lighthouse for Him.  Are you ready?  Then say with me, “Shine bright within me Holy Spirit that God made be glorified! My life, my heart, my body, my soul, my being belongs to Him!” 

The light of Christ which takes away the sins of the world and resides in you leading others home.  No greater calling, no greater joy. 

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There is a Purpose for You

     

Wherever you are, what ever you are feeling, whatever you are going through or doing – I feel led to tell you, YOU are NOT a mistake.  God knew what He was doing when He made you.  God made you with a purpose in mind, whether you know it or not. God has a plan for your life.  Part of your life’s journey is recognizing and discovering just what that plan is, you just have to believe. God tells us in His Word:

No matter your situation, God wants you to know that He knows you intimately, He made you, He loves you and you can bet He has a plan for your life. 

If you don’t believe me – ask Him and He will personally show you that it’s true.  You can also search your Bible and find out for yourself.  (If you don’t have or can’t get a Bible, message me privately in the comments section below, and I’ll see if we can find a way to get one to you).

I know, because He is doing it with ME and God is no respecter of persons.  I was born 3 months premature at a time when the hospitals didn’t have all the “fancy” medical equipment they have now, I had to stay in the hospital for forty days and forty nights.  They thought I was going to die – but God knew otherwise.    It is one of the reasons why my mother named me “Kelly” (which means warrior or fighter).  He has a plan for my life and He has a plan for YOU.  He has no favorites.  But YOU can bet, He loves YOU special.  It’s true, He does and if you are going through a prodigal time when you are journeying home and wondering how you are going to make it – know that He is right there with you, encouraging you and even though you don’t know it – directing you right back home to Him.  The Bible says:

“There is NOTHING that can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:38)

He directed you to this page because you needed to receive a Word from Him, for whatever it is you are going through or experiencing.  I have dedicated this blog to Him for Him to use as He chooses – and He chose to bring you to it.  Allow Him to guide you, to love you, to fill your heart with peace and to direct you – because you are important to Him.  He has called you by name.

“But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.” (Isaiah 43:1-2)

God is not a God that He would lie.  The truth is in His Word.  We need to believe it, believe Him and allow Him to mold us into whatever it is He wants us to be.  Believe me when I say that there is NO greater joy than to be used by God.  To realize the gifts He created you with and the fact that He wants you to use them!  That’s why He gave them to you in the first place!  If you don’t know what your calling is, PRAY.  He’s not purposely trying to hide it from you, but He is a God who gave you free will – which means you have to seek Him on it because You want to really know what that plan is.  And as you do seek Him, He will reveal himself to you and will open up doors.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
and
“Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.…” (Psalms 139:13)

He’s your Father, He loves You – He has called you by name.  You have a purpose  – find out what it is.  You’ll be ever so glad you did…

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I’ll Bet You Didn’t Know This About Yourself…

This post is dedicated to a true warrior of the Lord – Rhonda, who goes from “divine appointment to divine appointment” and I’m so glad I was one God scheduled you to meet. YOU are a TRUE member of God’s Called Remnant. This post was inspired by the Sister you are…

  I’m about to tell you something you may not already know… If you have made Jesus Christ Lord of your life, if you have given your life to Him, you have a new identity.

(At the moment that you are reading those words, I trust the Holy Spirit is playing the Superman theme music into your head). Now I want you to do three things… Ready?

If you are not already standing up, get up onto your feet. Come on! You can do it!  Rise up!

Now that you have risen up, stand with your legs apart and place your hands on your hips!

Raise your chin up and try to look majestic because YOU are a warrior for the Lord. Oh yes you are! I kid you not!  When you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you also received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and that was your seal of superhero dome.  YOU are a super hero for the Lord.

Oh yes…. YOU have been accepted into the Kingdom of Heaven and you are now officially a superhero for the Kingdom of God. Yep! YOU are part of God’s Called Remnant!  Mightier than a Marvel Superhero!  And if you allow yourself – you will surround yourself with other Superheroes that God will align you with because YOU are part of the body of Christ!  And you have a significant contribution to make in His name!  And the only one that you stand accountable to – is the LORD!  Your instructions come from Him!

Visualize this – on the outside people just see the person that you are. Your character, the things that the world defines as who they think you are.  Just as Superman and Supergirl and all the superheroes you were taught of as a child have disguises.  YOU are disguised in your every- day persona life.  What they don’t know (unless you choose to reveal it) is that a change has ensued and now you have a calling on your life.  YOU are called to live a victorious life.  You are called to intercede for those who are walking in darkness.  YOU are a SUPERHERO for the Lord.  Your weapons?  They are so much more powerful than any that you have read about as a child.  YOU have the Word of God!  You have the power of prayer!  You have ministering angels and warring angels encompassed all around you.  As long as you remember WHO YOU ARE IN HIM you can wield your weapons with great strength!

And as you do, it is important for you to remember that “It is not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit.” Says the Lord.

Oh we can do nothing in and of ourselves. It was never us.  It has always been Him!  And ol’ slewfoot and his dominions know that with God’s power behind you, YOU are a force to be reckoned with!  And that is why it is important for you to remember a few things:

  1. Pray without ceasing! Even as you go through the mundane task that seems to take precedence over us doing the every day tasks in our daily life. It can be annoying when all you want to do is bask in the word of God and in the presence of His Holy Spirit – but Superhero! But there is work for you to do! Rise up!  God has a calling on your life.  YOU have become part of the Called Remnant!  God is calling you by name. (Isaiah 43:1) He has plans in store for you! Plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11) and more importantly – plans to glorify His name!  (Are you surprised? Did you feel as though you had no worth? – THAT is one of the biggest lies of the devil.  When God formed you in your mother’s womb I can picture Him excited over you!  Speaking promises over you!  Delighting you!  You are a work of art! YOU are created in HIS image! (Genesis 1:27)  He has called YOU by name! (Isaiah 43:1)
  2. Read His Word! The Bible tells us to “study to show ourselves approved” (2 Timothy 2:15) – That really is not for God’s benefit – it is for ours! The Bible also tells us “that man cannot live by bread alone.” (Matthew 4:4)  In order to grow in Christ and to know the fullness of our promises and also to learn from what others have gone through (Oh yes – those are REAL people just like you and me that you are reading about in the Bible!)  You need to immerse yourself in God’s Word.  The beauty of that is it is really God’s love story for His love for YOU.  As you read God’s Word you will grow and the Holy Spirit which resides inside of you will bring those words and promises to your remembrance as you read it.  You will hide God’s Word in your heart.  I cannot tell you how often I hear the whispering of the Holy Spirit bringing forth what I have read to the remembrance of my mind when I have needed it most!  Also the Bible tells us that God’s Word is a double edge sword! (Hebrews 4:12) You will NEED this as you go forth on “divine” appointments that God will set your life.  It is your greatest weapon!
  3. Sweet Fellowship – Link arms with those who God puts into your life – He has not called you to be an island. You are a Warrior for the Lord.  Those that He places into your life He may just place for a season or for the rest of your life.  You never know!  But you can bet that the people He places into your life will help you grow!  And will help them as well!  There is a saying that I saw a few months back that has made me laugh!  “You are either a blessin’ or a lesson’” And that is true of the people that you will encounter in your life!  Pray that God will give you the wisdom to be able to recognize which one they are!  Some of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my walk  over the last 30 years has come from spiritual growth.  Be open to all that God has for you!

The realization that God has called us to be his earthly “superheroes” is one that came into my mind while I was in the middle of a work meeting. There was the person who was conducting the meeting speaking, and all of a sudden as I listened, he started to sound like the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons.  “Wahhhh wahhhh wahhhhhh!”  And all of a sudden everything in that meeting faded in the background as I came into the realization that one day all earthly things WILL fade into the background and all that will remain is the spiritual realm – which really IS our reality.  The Bible tells us that “only what you do in Christ will last.” The devil has blinded the eyes of humanity to thinking that reality is what they see before them – in the world.  The news, events – but the truth of the matter is what is going on BEHIND those events.  Not what you see with your earthly eyes.  Ask God to open up your spiritual eyes to see clearly so that you can function affectively in the spiritual realm.  Jesus is our example. 

As I sat there I had the realization that I was annoyed… I was annoyed because ALL I wanted to do was to bask at my Father’s feet and enjoy Him and I felt as though having to go through all the daily life things that I had to do was an annoyance from what I really wanted to do.  Then God revealed it to me that underneath my wordly persona – a wife, a mother, a worker and all the titles that go along with our life – was a superhero for him.  And I almost wanted to giggle as He made me think of Clark Kent hiding his true identity behind a pair of glasses and a business suit – only it was me as the world knows me.  But any of those people who REALLY know me know that behind the every day grind and daily duties that make up my life is a superhero (and at this point He showed me ME ripping off my daily clothes of which behind I am clothed in my spiritual armor as described in Ephesians 6:10-18).  My head covered with “the helmut of salvation.  My breast covered with the breast plate of righteousness.  Around my waist the belt of truth.  My feet shod with the preparation of the gospel.” (Again as in Ephesians 6:10-18) Heck! I am a Wonder Woman replica for the Lord!  (Okaaaaaaay, maybe that is a bit of exaggeration but you get my point!)

What does the world see when it sees you? What is it that you see within yourself?  Because truth be told – YOU are God’s earthly superhero!  So now it is time for you to jump up, back straight, legs a shoulder’s with apart, arms on hips, head held up, chin high.  YOU are a child of the MOST HIGH GOD – royalty!  You represent the Lord if you call yourself a Christian.  Get in tune with God.  What is it He wants you to do this day? Listen… Do you hear the cries??? Those are souls that need saving!  Hear that?  It is the Holy Spirit prompting you WHO to pray for! Where to go! What to do!  Open up your spiritual eyes to see and your ears to hear!  God’s got work for you to do!  Go in Him! Go glorify His name!  The world needs God and He’s sending you!

 

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How is Your Oil Holding Out?

                         Got Oil?

I thought I had been prepared… I had anticipated this day for as long as I could remember. What could I have done with it? Where could I have put it? HOW could I have forgotten it????

There were ten of us, you see… When we heard He was arriving, that the wedding banquet was prepared. Oh if you could only know how fast my heart was beating in my chest. I had waited for this day… Some days had been easier than others. The years had flown by and there were times in my life where I lost faith. Where I had thought He had forsaken me. There were times when I was grateful for God’s grace that He had not yet arrived.

You see, patience is not one of my strong suits. There were days that I cried out to Him, begging him to HURRY up and come! Days where I raged at the fact He was not here already.

Where was He? Why wasn’t He here already? How much more evil could these days get? And then there were days when I was disappointed with myself. Where I knew that it was clearly His grace, forgiveness and love that kept Him from coming. There were days where I was actually part of the problem… (And more then likely part of the reason for His graceful delay…)

Now He was coming and we were on route. Where had I placed my oil for my lamp? In my rush to get out the door had I forgotten it? In my absent minded mind was He arriving on a day where my faith had grown as dim as the lamp before me? Now my heart filled with trepidation.

Oh the horror of the thought that I had waited so diligently and with joy anticipating His arrival, was all that to be tossed away because He was arriving on a day where my faith was weak? Where I felt as though the Holy Spirit had left me? A day where my eyes had been removed from Him and on to my circumstances? Oh woe is me!

“May I have some of your oil?” I asked tapping the back shoulder of the virgin ahead of me.

She turned her head and threw me a look of genuine pity and shook her head. “If I give you some of mine, I may not have enough, I can’t risk that – I’m sorry…” She proceeded to quicken her steps anxious to get to Him.

My shoulders slumped, I tried to think back to where I had placed it, but the worries of the world, worries of my life had crowded in and I had been consumed with them instead of walking in faith and believing that He would supply all my needs. Fear, worry, anxiety, depression had all taken up residence in my heart and had made me lose my faith, my trust in He who is greater than any concern. I had placed importance over that which was most important above all things. I had allowed the things of the world to overtake me; consume me and turn my head to that which I had been warned not to. I was in a place I never expected to be. He had warned me over and over again to be prepared.

 The fault was mine. My faith had faltered and I had allowed myself to be weighed down with the cares of this world.

 We can’t allow ourselves to be “that girl or “that guy” – I have written from my heart because I have felt like her, honestly – more recently than not. I thank God for his mercy and His grace. Sometimes it is easy to fall in the “People-Around-the-time-of-Noah” mentality that Jesus isn’t coming back. But He’s prolonging His return BECAUSE of His grace.
  “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” (Matthew 24:22)

It is so easy for us to become desensitized. I have felt that way myself. This world grows with its problems and demands and there are days when I myself am wondering HOW to get through them. But we need to keep our eyes focused on the Lord – like Peter did when he was walking on water. It was when Peter took his eyes off of him that he began to sink.

Are you sinking???? Cry out to God for help. Ol’ Slewfoot would have you believe that God is not listening, that you are not important enough for Him to hear your cries. That is a LIE from the pit of hell!

“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

It is so very easy to allow the oil of our faith to dry up. To stop believing, to become discouraged or distracted or bitter or envious or jealous of others – all those feelings are *not* of God. Cry out to Him. Talk to Him, Pray to Him.

Jesus said:

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:2-3)

And also:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

We need to not leave nor forsake Him as well… And if we do – the very first step is being honest with your feelings and talk to Your Father who cares so much about you how you feel. He will revitalized your oil and make it flow like a running river.
 

Thank GOD for His grace, His mercy and His love. Our Lord is coming we MUST be ready. Help us Father. Forgive us! Guide us that ALL of us may enter the Wedding Feast and not let one of us be shut out.

In Jesus name I pray…

 AMEN

 

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Time to Fight! – You Are At War Soldier, Pick Up Your Weapons and FIGHT!

 
You can either use the weapons God has given you to fight this war you are in or you can be defeated – which will you do? The choice is up to you.

I often wonder what God thinks of us… Does He sit up there in Heaven shaking His Head? Thinking, “I’ve given them a guidebook – The Bible. I’ve given them the tools – prayer and STILL they run around like turkeys with their heads cut off?”

How does God tolerate us? We are (as the Bible has indicated in the Old Testament) a “stiff necked” people. We should rejoice and praise God for His patience and grace with us. I include myself amongst that number. Sometimes the answer is so obvious we don’t see it! Last week my chapel had a movie night – they showed a movie I had not had a chance to see called, “The War Room.” How appropriately entitled it was because the truth of the matter is – WE ARE AT WAR. We are in the middle of a spiritual war and even if we choose not to recognize the truth of that matter – it is occurring and happening ALL around us. We can choose to acknowledge it and participate on the winning side – the side of the Lord or we can choose to hide our heads in the sand like ostriches and act as though nothing is going on around us. This does not mean that in doing so you will not be choosing by not choosing, either way – you make a choice as to whose side you will be on. The fact of the matter is we ARE in a spiritual war and just because you cannot see the spiritual side of what is going on does not mean that the war is not taking place.

God has given us the weapon and tool of prayer to bring those things that concern us to His attention. We are able, through the shed blood of Jesus, to come boldly to His throne by way of the cross and submit things to God through prayer. The War Room Movie portrayed in a very effective manner how God hears and answers prayer.

I felt convicted and greatly encouraged at the same time after watching the movie. It is a movie I highly recommend! It made me excited to pray. I have always “talked to God” but this movie lit a fire underneath me and furthered my desire to pray. You see, prayer is a two way conversation with God. It’s not a soliloquy – it is bringing those things that are on your mind and in your heart before God for His attention and answer. The Bible tells us that God knows our thoughts before we even think them – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek Him through prayer. I find it exciting to see when I have brought things before my Father and He answers! No matter what that answer is, I know that God cares and that He is listening! He desires us to come to Him in prayer.

I think one of the biggest attacks of ol’ slewfoot is our not believing that God cares enough to answer prayer – God does! And I have found that my peace and encouragement has come through being submissive and obedient through praying. I can do NOTHING in and of myself – but when I bring the attention of things that concern me, trouble me, bother me or things I just plain want to know what God would have me do – I pray! Prayer should not be a drudgery, it should be a time of conversation with your Father. If you find prayer to be a drag – you simply need to find a better way to approach it! You don’t have to be sitting in a pew to approach your Heavenly Father (although that is a place of quiet and I find it to be a place where I can be alone without interruption before my Father). You can talk to God ANYWHERE. Perhaps go for a walk? Go for a drive – I will say that working two jobs and being a divorced mother with two children, there have been many a day when I have (while caught in traffic) had long conversations with my Father while driving in to work. I’m quite sure that people seeing my lips moving and an occasional hand gesturing while in traffic, driving have probably thought I was insane – but some of my best conversations with my Father have been at times such as these.

The truth of the matter is you can pray ANYWHERE. In the movie The War Room the women cleaned out there closets and used them as “prayer closets.” I thought that was a creative idea. I opened the door of my walk in closet and got totally distracted by ALL the junk I have folded up and stored in there and not liking small enclosed spaces, I decided instead that I would use my bedroom as my “prayer closet.” I grabbed a notebook and began to write my prayer requests down as I brought them to the attention of my Father. It is amazing how quickly time goes by when you are focused on praying and communicating things that are important to you, things that you are seeking an answer from with your Heavenly Father. Two hours quickly went by and I had only touched the surface of all the things that were in my mind and on my heart. Next to each item I had brought to God’s attention I drew a line. A line to which once I have received an answer from God I will fill in next to that item. God ANSWERS prayer. I want to record when He answered as well as what that answer was. It is exciting when you see that God hears you. That He cares. I find it greatly encouraging when I have received an answer from the Lord, even if the answer is one that I did not expect. There is NO GREATER JOY than being in the center of God’s will. Even being sure of what God’s will is. There have been so many weeks lately, where I have thought about Moses, and how He was focused upon going up that mountain and seeing and hearing from God. He came back down with His face radiating the glory of His time with God. I want that! I want to have the assurance that I know what God wants for me! That He and I have this amazing relationship – communicating. I want that! With the knowledge of what God’s will is comes that peace that passes all understanding and that is something that in this day and age we badly need.

Do you believe in prayer? Have you tried it? Of course the first step is making Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior – the first prayer you should be praying or an example of one is that which allows you to come before the Father and the only one who provides that bridge is Jesus. He died on the cross for forgiveness of our sins and the ONLY WAY to come to the Father is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. In order to do so, you have to pray a prayer such as this:

“Father God, I come before You through the shed blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ who has made a way where previously there was no way. I believe that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, that He lived and was crucified on the cross for forgiveness of my sins and that He rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father. I ask, Jesus that You would come in to my life and be my Lord and Savior. I thank You in Jesus name I pray. AMEN.”

The Bible tells us:

“God so loved the world that He gave His Only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

There is NO greater joy than being in a relationship with your Creator. I have fallen tremendously in love with my Father over the last 29 years I have been a Christian (since I myself prayed that prayer). I have had struggles and victories that have come only because of Him and through Him. I believe that life is a journey for each of us. Each of our journeys are as unique and different as our hand prints. God has NO favors. He loves YOU. He wants to be in a relationship with you. He wants you to know Him. The best way to do that is through His instructional book (The Bible) and through prayer (conversation with Him). You don’t have to believe my words – just TRY what I have written and see for yourself. When I came to Christ and prayed that prayer my conversation with God was, “Okay Lord – IF you are REAL YOU need to reveal yourself to ME. IF we are to have a relationship as I am being told we can – I need YOU to prove it. Not because of what people tell me – but because of what YOU tell me and what YOU do.” In the 29 years since I have said that to Him – He has shown me that He is real in only a way I can receive it. He WILL do the same for you. As I have said throughout my blog – I don’t have all the answers, I am FAR from perfect and there is much work that God is doing with me. BUT I DO KNOW WHO IT IS WHO HAS THE ANSWERS and I can direct you to Him. We were created to have a relationship with God, throughout our lives we constantly try to fill it with other things – but the truth of the matter is – the only one who can fill that void in us is God. We were made to be in a relationship with Him, it is only when we realize that and acknowledge our need for Him that we are able to be filled with that peace that passes all understanding that can ONLY come from being with Him. The Bible tells us:

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)

Honestly, there is no greater joy. No matter the turmoil and spiritual war that is around us – and as you can hear from the news our world is in turmoil. The only One who can restore our peace is our Creator. Prayer is our greatest weapon against confusion, discouragement, depression, anxiety and all the things that would bring you down. TRY IT. See for yourself. God is good, He is real, He loves you and He cares.

Posted by The Prodigal Daughter

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A Modern – Yet Very Old Tale

    How did I ever get to this point?”  She wondered as she stood there shivering, trying to inconspicuously pull up the strap of her shift, which had fallen off her left shoulder.  she shivered, scantily clad, not having been given the opportunity to put on a robe or cover herself with something of substance.  Never before had she been more aware of her life situation. Her gaze was downward, she didn’t need to lift her eyes to see the accusing and angry eyes blazing over her. The men surrounded her, poised to throw the stones they held in their hands.  Their aim directed at their target, which in this case was her.

It would be over soon.  She prayed that when the first stone was thrown, that it would hit her directly in the temple and knock her out, or quickly kill her.  She knew that she deserved what was coming, and received their judgment as justified.  She dare not lift up her eyes, for fear accusation would show in her own eyes for those who she knew had secretly partaken with other women for the same reason she stood before them now.  It was not her place to accuse, her own sins were boldly before her.  

Although she wouldn’t look up, she did allow herself  a quick glance sideways at the man she had been found with. He stood way off to the distance clearly begging his wife for forgiveness, promising her anything to come back into her good graces.  She knew this because he was actually groveling at his wife’s feet, his wife’s arms crossed against her chest, listening to his ridiculous pleas and promises with disdain.  Would his wife forgive him? Probably.  It was hard to believe that this was the same man who had sworn she was his “one true love” the “only one who ever understood him, believed in him or had accepted him for who he truly was.”  Yet was he there standing beside her?  Was he there defending her? Was he even willing to be stoned alongside her? NO. Fool she was for ever having believed him. Loved him. Now here she stood, her life on the line.  It was taking forever for this circle of men to kill her, couldn’t they just do it and be done with it?! Not one of them could hold as much disdain for her as she did for herself.  Would that she could throw the first stone at her own head.

“How did I get to this point?”  She wondered.  “How did I allow myself to participate in something I knew was wrong?”  As she stood there, waiting for the first stone to be thrown, she thought about her life. Ironically, the one thing she had sworn she would never do. She had done.  Her father had left her mother for another woman, and she had seen from first hand experience as a child the unhappiness that action had wrought.  She had sworn she would not become like him.  She had hated him with a white hot searing hate, yet, here she stood. She had gone against all that she had known was right – how? Why and when?  She had been a good faithful girl all her life.  Never in her wildest dreams had she ever imagined that here she would stand.  Ostracized, forsaken, guilty, alone and about to be stoned.  Still she waited.  It was taking forever.  There was a man, dressed in white addressing the men holding the stones.  He had their undivided attention, which for the moment was off of her.  She could run.  She wouldn’t get very far, she knew – but she could run.  But she didn’t.  She didn’t because she knew she deserved what was coming to her.

Why had she done it? The relentless question in her head tortured her worse than any stone throw could. WHY?  And then the answer came to her.  Really, it was nothing but a flimsy excuse. But it was the truth.  She had wanted to disappear, to go away.  She had wanted to forget,to lose herself… She hadn’t been able to deal with the issues occurring in her life, life had not turning out the way she had expected it to and it made no sense to her,  1+1 was supposed to = 2.   But it hadn’t.  So she disappeared into a life she believed was real. She had gotten lost in a lifestyle she had been convinced was real life.  Somewhere along the line the lines of reality and fantasy had become blurred and with it the ability to see things as they truly were. Any time reality would knock upon her door, she had become angry with it. She had denied it! “We shared a tent! We shared a love! We shared a life! He was mine! I was his!” No, she wouldn’t go back.  It hadn’t helped that her co-sinner had agreed and shared and encouraged her with selfish lies, love filled promises he had never truly intended to keep. She wouldn’t look at him again.  The truth had hit her squarely in the head, he had never truly been hers in the first place and she had sinned against God, she knew the consequences. It wouldn’t matter now, she’d be dead shortly.

“Oh why was it taking so long?!” She bit her lip in frustration, wanting to scream. “DO IT! THROW IT! I SINNED! I AM GUILTY.  YOUR JUDGMENT IS JUST!”  Yet she stood still, knowing it wasn’t her place to do anything than stand there allowing goose bumps to form on her body.  How could she be so cold when her heart was racing so fast?

“Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.  Now what do you say?”

Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.

She had heard of this Jesus.  This man robed in white.  What was he writing? She strained her eyes to see, but she couldn’t tell.  

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw the stone at her.”  Again Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time.  The older ones first, until only Jesus was left.

She couldn’t believe it, they were throwing their stones – down on the ground, not at her.  Her jaw dropped in surprise.  Though still she stood.

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one sir,” she responded softly.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.  “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

(*Italic bold print taken from John 8:3-11)

I wish the Bible said more as to what happened to that woman.  How she moved forward with her life.  My hope is that when confronted with her lifestyle and when her eyes opened to show her how her life had been, that she chose to follow Jesus.  He was probably the first man to ever show her love. Yes, my hope is that she ran back to her tent, dressed quickly, grabbed a shawl and followed Jesus for the remaining days of His ministry (or her life).  She was a prodigal, as is anyone who chooses to go down a sinful pathway.  Perhaps she encountered others who had fallen as she had and was able to grow into a strong woman of God and extend the right hand of fellowship to young women and keep them from falling in the way she had.  Perhaps she found her own self worth because of the love, forgiveness and grace shown to her by Jesus.  More than likely her biggest accuser was her own self (which is often the case with ex-prodigals, no matter the sin).  But Jesus encouraged her to go forward, clearly we will not know the ending of her story until we are on the other side – but there is one thing that is clear.  Our God is a God of second chances.  Our God is a God of grace, and forgiveness and love and mercy.  The Bible tells us:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

No matter what your sin has been (or is) Jesus died for you. His words are the same today as they were yesterday, “Go now, and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11).  It doesn’t matter WHAT that sin is – listen to Him.  Heed Him, the life He has for you is so much better than any life you could choose for yourself.  You just have to believe it.  As an ex-prodigal, myself I can tell you that the hardest part is the aftermath, the forgiving yourself and the moving forward.  As I wrote in a prior post, any ex-prodigal is in good company, for the Bible is filled with them:

Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer

Rahab was a prostitute 
David had an affair and was a murderer 
Elijah was suicidal 
Isaiah preached naked 
Jonah ran from God 
Naomi was a widow 
Job went bankrupt 
Peter denied Christ 
The Disciples fell asleep while praying 
Martha worried about everything 
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once 

Zaccheus was too small 
Paul was too religious 
Timothy had an ulcer..

AND Lazarus was dead!
(*Taken from rapturenotes.com)

What are (or were) YOU?  God’s grace, forgiveness, mercy and love can take the worst of us and allow us to use our “mess” for a message and use it for His glory, now that is what I call – a Happy Ending… Or maybe, better yet – A new beginning? You decide…

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Deception

“Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave, When First We Practice to Deceive!” ~ Sir Walter Scott

Even if he did say so himself, the web was magnificent, translucent and large. The design beautifully created, although unless you were of his species you would not be able to appreciate its intricate design, the time it had taken and extreme care that had gone into its making. Now to sit and wait, it would only be a matter of time…

She was beautifully stupid. It didn’t occur to her that she should stop and think before proceeding. Like a mermaid’s siren, she was seduced by it and had to follow where it led.  Where was it coming from? Who was singing it? The song was lovely; it filled her with wonder and curiosity which over ruled common sense. It was magical and fascinating and beautiful all at the same time. She was mesmerized; willingly she followed it like a sleep walker only awake.

“What is your pleasure?” Whispered a seductive voice in her ear, “tell me my love and I shall give you everything your heart desires.” She believed it. She delighted in it, not once did she ever question the source. “What have you always wanted and never had? Come away with me…” It enticed her. She went forward. She did not see a web, she saw a beautifully intricate pathway that glistened like diamonds and silver, it filled her with wonder, delight and pleasure at the very sight of it. The closer she walked towards it the more dim the problems and dilemmas and disappointments of her daily life dimmed. Like a moth attracted to light, she walked towards it. It filled her with desire, it filled her with pleasure, and it filled her with wonder. “Yes, that’s it. Come to me my darling, closer still and I will reach out my hand to you.”

Red flag warnings came up in her mind that made her stop and hesitate for just one moment but the temptation to find out what was ahead was stronger. She had to touch it, as she reached out to touch it her hand got caught on the web and the harder she tried to free herself the more caught she became. First it was her hand, and then it was her wrist, her forearm. The more she struggled for freedom the more stuck she became and it reeled her in like fish caught on a line until there she hung upon the web, full bodied. The stars that had blinded her fell like scales from her eyes and she realized how ugly a situation she had allowed herself in.

Out of the corner he stepped out into the light revealing himself in his true form, which was nothing how she had pictured him to be. He walked over to her and laughed a diabolical laugh, delighted that his scheme had succeeded.

“Welcome to my web of deception.” He said, tilting his head to the side. “Truly the connotation of you each being like dumb sheep is accurate. It never ceases to amaze me how gullible you are. It is almost too easy sometimes… What is it the spider said to the fly? ‘Come into my parlor?’ and she did.” He threw his head back and laughed.

She struggled to free herself, entangling herself further.

He studied her with interest, “A fighter, are you? Unfortunately for you, you walked into this situation of your own good and perfect will and now you are truly stuck… I’ve a few other traps I need to check upon, so sit tight.” He barked out a laugh and melted back into the darkness.

Oh how stupid she felt to have fallen for such a farce. The more she struggled the more the web held her tight. Why hadn’t she heeded the red flagged warnings? What to do? What to do?

The spirit of depression came over her as she felt deflated like an airless balloon.  All her sins and faults danced before her mind, taunting her, cajoling and mocking her. 

“Pray,” came a whisper.

She hesitated and looked in the direction he had disappeared, she was afraid to respond out loud for fear he would hear her and return. “I feel so stupid; I don’t know what to pray.” She thought. “I knew better yet I never saw this coming. How something that sounded so beautiful could be so deceptive.”

“And no wonder, for satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14)

“Did you think he would come in a manner you would recognize? That would have been too easy… “Came the soft response.  “That is why it says:”

“Be as wise as serpents as an innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) 

“Perhaps I should just give up then… I can’t free myself.”

“No you cannot, but the good news is He came to set the captives free. Pray…”

Taking a deep hesitating and shaky breath, she prayed:

“Father, I come before you praising you and thanking you that when I am weak you are made strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) and that greater are You that is in me than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).  I’m afraid I’ve made a mess of things and can’t seem to find my way out.  You say in Your Word that whatever we bind on earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven. (Matthew 18:18)  I ask that you would loose me from these chains that hold me fast in the precious name of Your Son, my Savior Jesus Christ. Forgive me for my sins and wash me with His precious blood, please help me to put my feet back on the pathway I should be on. I thank you that I can call on You for guidance and for help.  I thank you for your mercy, your grace and your love which sustains me.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

As if sliced a part, the webs that held her released her, she was free.

“Now clothe yourself in your spiritual armor.”

“Lord, I put on the helmet of salvation and the breast plate of righteousness.  Around my waist I put the belt of truth and I shod my feet with the preparation of the gospel.  I pick up my shield of faith and grab my sword of the Spirit.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

At that very moment, he returned.   “Nooooooooo!!!” He screamed when he saw she was free.  He charged at her, but she raised her shield in front of her and he came to an abrupt hault.

“Get behind me satan. I am a child of the Utmost High God.  I am covered with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. I belong to him!”

As she boldly stood with her legs a part and her sword of the Spirit waving in one hand, shield of faith in the other he disappeared in front of her like a puff of smoke… “We will meet again…” he threatened as he vanished.

God had given her the strength to get through it, as the devil disappeared, so did her strength and she dropped her arms to her side, exhausted.

“Thank You Lord for  never leaving nor forsaking me, for giving me the strength I need at the moments I need it most.”  Tucking her sword in it’s shield by her waist, and picking up her shield.  She wiped off the webbing residue from her shoulders and turned around to step back on the pathway she should never have departed, humbled but wiser and stronger in Him. And forward she proceeded.

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called her heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

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The YOU Plan

One day God got an idea in His head… One that He couldn’t wait to begin.  Oh how excited He was… He is the Creator, and creating is something God loves to do.  This special day, He had the plan of YOU.

Gently He molded YOU, a pinch here a pat there.  The Potter lovingly kneaded the special ingredients of YOU.  In His mind’s eye He already saw YOU in complete formation.  Each kneading with His hands lovingly done.  Caressing the makings of YOU.  You see, YOU were being created in the image of Him, formed in God’s image.  How excited God must have been over the creation of YOU.  He knew YOU would be one of a kind.  Lovingly He filled YOU with the breathe of life, floating around in amniotic fluid YOU were surrounded by His Holy Spirit, no matter the situation of how YOU came to be – YOU came to be because He chose YOU to be. YOU were never a mistake.  YOU were a plan.  A God ordained well formulated plan.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

YOU were not a mistake.  YOU were not a surprise.  No matter your conception – YOU were created in love by God.  Oh how proud He must have been as He stood back to see the results of His work in YOU.  Watched YOU grow in your mother’s womb with joy and expectation and pride and a fatherly love.  He took joy in the creation of YOU.

“You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all.: (Psalms 139:2-4)

God developed YOU.  He knew the day YOU would arrive into the world.  Like an expectant Father, He watched as YOU took your first breath.  Your entrance a gift to the world.  How hard it must have been for God to release YOU into the type of world He did not originally create it to be.  Your birth was not into a Garden of Eden type of environment that God had originally planned for YOU to exist in.  But into a cursed world full of dangers and temptations and experiences that God originally never intended for YOU to have to face.  But knowing that in advance, He put into action the plan of Jesus, a chance for YOU to be reunited through Jesus back to Him.  Did He kiss YOU on Your forehead before You were born and whisper into your being that along with all the other gifts He had created in YOU for YOU to discover along the course of your life – He had given YOU the gift of free will.  Oh how hard that gift must have been for God to give each one of us… Free will… To choose Him or to deny Him.  He has loved YOU since He created YOU and in that love given YOU the choice as to whether or not YOU in turn will choose, in the course of your life to love Him in return.

“In the same way, I tell you, joy breaks out in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who changes both heart and life.” (Luke 15:10)

It is not easy for a parent to allow their child to journey on their own, knowing fully well the dangers they may encounter along the way… But your Heavenly Father allows certain things to come into your life that will give YOU the opportunity and the knowledge that YOU need Him.  As long as YOU have breathe in your body – breathe that He originally put within YOU, He gives YOU the chance to recognize Him for who He is.  He is your Father.  He created YOU, He loves YOU, He believes in YOU and the only thing that He wants is for YOU to love and believe in Him.

“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (Psalms 34:8)

There are no words to be able to describe that no matter what YOU go through in life, what comes your way – the absolute joy and knowledge that God is with YOU.  He has been since your creation.  Even during the times when YOU have been at your lowest moments and those times when you have felt the pain of loneliness.  YOU are not alone.  You are His precious child – even if  YOU don’t recognize it, it doesn’t change the fact that the One who formed and created YOU loves you beyond any adequate words I could write.
Deep within your being – is a part of YOU that He reserved to be filled with Him and Him alone.  There is a cry that is within your soul that desires to be filled with one thing – HIM.  Nothing that YOU try to substitute in that spot will quench the thirst that is as much a part of YOU as the color of your hair, the freckles on your nose, your lopsided grin… There is a part deep within YOU that was made to be filled with a love so amazing, so transforming, so fulfilling that nothing can compare to it.  YOU just need to choose Him and see for yourself.  YOU see, it is called a “personal relationship.”  It is between YOU and Him.  It has always been just between YOU and Him, YOU just never recognized it.  
“But now, this is what the LORD says– he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
 
Quiet yourself for a moment… Listen… If you quiet your mind and listen, YOU will hear.  He is summoning YOU.  YOU will recognize the sound of His gentle voice – for it is one He spoke over YOU when He formed YOU.  Listen – deep within your heart YOU will hear a voice you previously may have drowned out with the business of life.  He loves YOU.  He always has.  Every tear YOU have cried, every disappointment or hurt that has come your way.  He has wanted to reach out to YOU and let YOU know that YOU have never been alone.  He does not love as the world loves.  He does not disappoint as the world disappoints.  He longs to show YOU His original plan of YOU.  For YOU to love and be loved in return.
Those are the blueprints for the plan of YOU.

“Lord, I hear you – and I choose You this day because long ago, when You created me – You chose me.  I love You, I need You, I want You to come into my life and to be my Lord and Savior.  I believe You were born, that You died for my sins and that You rose again. I choose You Lord as You chose me before my days even came into existence.  I choose to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior.  Please come into my life and guide me.  I love You Lord – and I choose YOU.”

More Words for Your Journey

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No Matter What, God’s Got You!

“I will fulfill the number of your days.” (Exodus 23:26)

 This past Monday was my 4th year “cancerversary” (or so we survivors call it).  It was my 4th Year annual appointment from having been diagnosed with early stage, triple negative breast cancer.  I have been cancer-free for 4 years, but no matter how much time passes  these yearly mammogram appointments fill me with anxiety, fear and trepidation.  This time I was definitely concerned because I had been having painful sensations at the lumpectomy site; sensations I had not felt before and of course ol’ slewfoot taunted me with all kinds of horrible thoughts on what it could be…  Some cancer survivors like to refer to themselves in “remission” personally I have never liked (or used) that word.

I Googled the term “remission” and a Dr. Z’s medical report, Published May 17, 2006 written by Ed Zimney, MD (whoever that is…) popped up. He defines remission as such:

“Complete remission means that there are no symptoms and no signs that can be identified to indicate the presence of cancer. However, even when a person is in remission, there may be microscopic collections of cancer cells that cannot be identified by current techniques. This means that even if a person is in remission, they may, at some future time, experience a recurrence of their cancer.”

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but for me, I find the term “remission” to be insulting, offensive and inaccurate.  You see – I am *not* in remission, I am HEALED.  God has healed me.  To call it anything else is to belittle what He can do and what He has done and I refuse to belittle God and identify my cancer-free self as one who is in “remission.”  Now it is a personal thing, and many survivors fine with that term, I find it insulting and am quick to correct someone who describes me as such.  God has healed me, He has given me a second chance at life and for that I am truly grateful. I found myself thinking of the scene in scripture when Jesus calls Peter out to walk towards Him upon the water.   Matthew 14:22-33:

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.   After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.

“It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.  

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I.  Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord if it’s You,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to You on the water.”

“Come,” He said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,”He said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.   Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

I didn’t want to focus on the taunts the enemy was whispering in my ear, because I knew just as Peter had – I would begin to sink.  So, with my mother by my side, my back straight, my chin firmly set I went to my appointment at the Dana-Farber holding on to my promises.

“I will fulfill the number of your days.” (Exodus 23:26)

“I have made you the head and not the tail.” (Deuteronomy 28:13)

“Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me. Your builders hurry; Your destroyers and devastators Will depart from you.…” (Isaiah 49:16)

This is why God tells us to hide His word in our hearts so that we can find strength in His promises. Unlike people, God does not make promises He doesn’t keep, we can trust that if it is written in His Word – He meant it.  He is not a God that He would lie. He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith – He knows the beginning of the story of “us” as well as the ending, so who better to trust???!

The memories of my cancer experience always hits me a new when I walk into the doors of Dana-Farber.  The confusion, the shock, the fear of the unknown, the uncertainty of what’s to come all come flooding back.  I guess it is a natural “knee jerk” reaction.  Once again, I went through my check in, my blood work and next – the dreaded mammogram (dun dun…) this huge machine that would give the radiologist the knowledge of what was going on beyond the surface… 

This is where most of us Pinks are found sitting in the waiting room, bitting our fingernails, holding our breathes, only to release them when the results (prior to leaving the Imaging Department) are handed to us.  It is the waiting that is the hardest part, the not knowing.  This time around when I was told that everything was normal, I burst into tears. Tears of relief and gratitude.  According to my oncologist, nerve endings can come back to life anywhere from 10 to 20 years from a lumpectomy post surgery.

I cannot tell you what I would have felt if the report had been otherwise, I can only draw upon my previous experience of receiving a phone call saying, “you have cancer…”  But I can tell you this – I believe that God would have given me the strength to face whatever I needed to face as He has done throughout the course of my life and my walk with Him, things may come as a surprise to us – but they are never a surprise to Him.

I have come to realize more and more that each day – EACH day is a gift, a blank sheet of life for us to write upon, one that we will never get back again.  Somewhere along the line we humans began to take each day for granted, to treat each new day as if it were “owed” to us.  The truth is – it’s not.  We were originally created to live forever – before Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden bringing sin and death into the world.  But most people never feel like “they’ve had enough life.”  Have you ever noticed that “old” is something that is 15 years older than what you are?

Life is a precious gift.  What are you writing upon the pages of your life? How do you wake up in the morning?  Do you rejoice?  No one knows what the future holds – but instead of worrying about whatever will be, why don’t we just rejoice and praise God for what He has given us today?  When you wake up tomorrow visualize the day as a blank sheet of paper.  What will you write upon it?  What memories will you make?  How will you view things? What difference might you make in the life of someone else?  Write well dear reader!  You won’t get these moments back… See? Another has just passed… Make every moment count because make no mistake about it – each one is a precious gift from God.

 

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The Pathway Continued (Part III)

 
A gentle reminder – some of life’s most precious moments happen when you least expect it…

As previously referred to in another wrote (see post from March 2013 entitled “The Pathway)  – I was traveling down a beautiful  road, one that I thought I was destined to travel upon  all the days of my life only to have been chased off the road but the fattest, ugliest, sexless looking of trolls.  It was a private way and the disgusting troll had reminded me that the road belonged to her, pulled out her ownership papers, barked at me to be on my way off her property. Heartbroken – I had no other choice but to change route and cross over upon another path.  Looking behind me at my beloved road one last time, I realized that the road was subservient to its troll and would always be.  The pure natural and vibrant beauty of the road would remain unrecognized, unappreciated and neglected – its location taken for granted –all the days of its existence,  which was a shame for its beauty was such that had I been able to remain upon it, I would have danced and frolicked and appreciated its natural beauty all the days of my life.

My head downcast, and being such, I did not see the different kind of beauty in the new path I’d taken. Different from whence I had come. Golden sunshine peaked down in between tree leaves; birds sang joyfully, honeysuckle pungent and thick filled the pathway with a natural wild sense of beauty.  Yet, I missed it all for my gaze had gone to my feet – not in front of me, and my shoulders were slumped in defeat, I cared not where I roamed.  Like a leave flitting about in the wind, I went mindlessly forward, all that had been vibrant and full of color now in my present state of mind, had become black and grey. I couldn’t venture on the road I longed for, so I no longer cared, the beauty had dissipated in the world around me.

Walking with downcast eyes and a heavy heart I did not see the tall oak of a man until I bumped right into what apparently was a set of trunk sized knees, it  startled me (so lost was I in my own thoughts of sorrow).  Like a startled deer poised for flight I froze in the headlights of this unexpected intruder. (Although truth be known, I suppose I was the intruder, since I was the stranger upon the path).

“Whoa…,” Said a strong steady voice.  He stretched out a solid arm with large hands to keep me from toppling over.

I lifted my head up. This man was so tall I had to lean back and stretch my neck waaaaaaay up to see. Hazel eyes in a heart shaped face looked down at me with amusement.  A red beard handsomely mapped his lower rectangular jaw. He looked like a combination of a woodcutter and a leprechaun gone giant, but there was a gentleness that exuded about him that looking upon him, made me feel unafraid.

“Why are you so downcast?” He questioned, raising a large pointer finger to lift up my chin so we could be eye to eye.  “You should be looking ahead of you, not down.”

“I suppose I should,” I responded with a sigh, “yet I care not where I go.  I am journeying wherever it is my feet choose to lead me…”

“Such a lovely face should not be wearing such a solemn look.” He stated.  “Come, no doubt you are hungry and I am pleased to share my lunch with you along with some words of encouragement to make it all the more palpable.”

He led me along the pathway to a small flowing stream.  This gentle giant of a man sat cross legged on the ground and encouraged me to do the same.  Sighing, I obliged. He opened a lunchbox, which I had not noticed was beside him; broke off a piece of bread and a chunk of cheese and handed it to me.  I was about to decline except for the dead giveaway sound of rumble from my stomach, so I decided to partake of his generosity.

“Tell me your story,” He said encouragingly, leaning forward to listen attentively. His face so close to mine I could count freckles that danced upon his nose.  His red well groomed beard gave him an almost regal look, and the kindness in his eyes encouraged me to share my tale… About the unexpected beauty I had fallen upon, the temptation to proceed, which I gave into, the joy and love and completion I felt walking along what I had thought was my own little beautiful road… How I got chastised and commanded off by the horrible troll and found myself alone, discouraged and at a loss as to where to go. When I was finished, I rubbed my hands together to free them from the crumbs and looked up into the face of this gentle giant to see his reaction to my tale.  How astonished was I when I saw eyes filled with tears and compassion.

He was quiet for a moment, this giant of a man. When I gazed up at him I saw a range of emotions cross his face and it seemed as though he was trying to gather his thoughts.  Why should one feel so strongly for the journey of a stranger?

 He was quiet and I was uncertain whether I should stand and leave or sit and stay.  And then he spoke…

“In life you will encounter many various roads and pathways… I have found that the best ones are those that travel wide enough for two and go “both ways.”  Even those that are not easy on your feet teach you endurance and perseverance; and though you may not realize at it the time, strengthen you for the journey ahead.  The most important thing is not the beauty in the surroundings around you or the context of the road itself – but how you travelled it… Life is a journey down many roads.  Think on this – what did you learn from this last road you took?”

I listened to his words and thought long and hard before I answered.  “I learned of love and friendship. I learned that life is much better when shared.  I learned that there are many more meanings to “unequally yoked” than what I had been originally taught.”

“So you see,” said he. “Although you no longer journey down that road (and not at your own choosing) you have gathered a lot of insightful treasures along the way.  Hence, the roads that you travel end up coming together and forming a map called, “YOU.”  Think now, what else did you learn?”

I tapped a forefinger to my lower lip as I recalled my journey through the road that I loved.  “I learned more about myself.  Humbleness, compassion, mercy… I learned forgiveness and most importantly of all that each person’s journey is their own and not to be judged by the observer.”

“Well then,” he exclaimed, “It seems to me that was a road worth traveling no matter its end… You are a better, wiser person for it. Or so it would seem to me.” He rose from his sitting position and once again loomed high above me. He reached down to extend a hand to me to help me up.  I could not help but notice how small my hand was in his immense larger one.

“Who ARE you?” I couldn’t help but ask, curiosity taking over and then blushed with embarrassment at my straightforwardness, for surely it was not my business.

He grinned at me – such a boyish grin for a gentle giant and responded, “Just a traveler like yourself.” He gathered up the remainder of his lunch box, closed it shut and tucked it under his arm.

Looking around at my unfamiliar, yet beautiful surroundings – seeing the newness of the path for the first time, shyly I asked, “would you journey with me a while?”

He looked at my shy expression and laughed a deep laugh, his hazel eyes filled with amusement.  “It seems as if we already are – for you stand upon the same path as I.”

“Very well, “I said my own laughter ringing with that of his. “Lead the way…”  And, although he took up most of the pathway with his size and his girth – He did.


The moral of the story is to always try and find the beauty in whatever path life leads you. Abraham Lincoln once said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” The choice is ours, it may not be the pathway you imagined you would journey on – maybe it’s not the one you wanted or perhaps the choice has been taken out of your hands, not yours to make… It just might be better than anything you would have chosen for yourself…

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” (Psalms 3:5)

 

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Are You Captivated?

He Came to Set the Captives Free – And That Freedom Includes YOU Too!!

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” (Luke 4:18)

There He is, Jesus – with the key to your jail cell.  I have a vivid imagination, as I read that scripture, I picture one of those large old fashioned skeleton keys – you know the kind, you see them in every old cowboy sitcom or movie.  There Jesus is standing there, outside your cell, unlocking the door with a key only He has.  The door creaks as it opens wide, Jesus is telling you to come forth! That you are free!  What is your reaction?

You have been in the dark for so long – You think you are having a mirage.  There stands a man, in blinding white light outside your cell.  You can hardly look upon Him for the light surrounding Him is blinding. You say to yourself: “This is not real, there is not a man dressed in white with a beard and a key outside of my cell.  I’m having an illusion.”  You blink your eyes from the brightness and turn your head to face the wall which you have faced for many a season…

Or…

You run out that door as quickly as your legs will carry you, stopping only at the opening to throw your arms around the man who has rescued you, throwing your arms around Him and say, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!!” Tears of joy and relief and thankfulness streaming down your face…
Or….
You look at the man releasing you with a look of distrust wondering what is in it for Him.  What will this cost you? Thinking that this is another trick.  “No thank you, the devil that you know is better than the one you do not…”  
Jesus came to set the CAPTIVES free!  He can set us free, but He cannot MAKE us accept that freedom!  The cost was His life for YOURS.  He gave it willingly, obediently and with more love than we will not fully understand until we truly stand before Him.  What are you going to do??
I understand all of the above reactions – because I have felt them.  Have you?  I say that humbly and with shame.  Often times when we don’t walk out of our situation thankful for Jesus having made the ability for us to do so, is because we lack enough faith… (Ouch…)  Faith to believe that God is BIGGER than any situation or problem… Or that He even cares enough about us to do anything about it.  If we don’t become discouraged or depressed we become mad at God because we think He doesn’t “love us enough” to help us get through whatever situation we are in.  Even if it is a situation that is of our own doing… And yet that is another reaction we have.
“Lord, this is my mess… I made it.  It is my fault – Mine! Mine! Mine!  I deserve whatever hell I have allowed myself to be in…” 
That is an absolute LIE from the pit of HELL.  There is not ONE of us worthy! Or Righteous! NOT one!!!  The Bible tells us:
“As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10)
and also:
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)
 
There is no degree of sin.  And all of us sin!  (Oh yes…) But the good news is that Jesus took those sins upon the cross with Him! He died for forgiveness of our sins!!  The problem that we have is that we dishonor Him by believing that that is not ENOUGH to get rid of them!  We believe we deserve to be miserable or to stay in the cesspool we have probably created ourselves.  And that is simply not true…
If you were in the ocean drowning, and you were to be rescued – say they threw out a floaty to you.  Would you reach out and take it? Or would you continue to drown, thrashing your arms and yelling, “Help! Help!”
Your help is right before you!  Take the hand of Jesus and allow Him to pull you out of whatever mire you are in.  It doesn’t MATTER the reason.  The Bible tells us:
“You have searched me and known me.You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.…” (Psalms 139:2-3)
Nothing comes as a surprise to Him.  He knows you intimately.  Let Him love you, let Him heal you, let Him deliver you.  He is there at this very moment that you are reading this.  You may not be able to see Him physically with your eyes.  But if you soften your heart, and just quiet your thoughts – you will by the Holy Spirit feel Him.  TRY IT. Don’t just take my word for it – experience it for yourself, what do you have to lose? Listen…
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelations 3:20)
Do not allow your own captivity to keep you from experiencing the freedom that Jesus bought with His own blood…  Do not allow doubt, or sorrow, or depression or self-hate to get in the way of allowing Him to free you.  He is BIGGER than your situation.  He loves you.  Truly loves You.  Don’t hold yourself back.  Walk through those cell doors that Jesus has opened – rejoicing.  Thankful.  it is WHY He gave His life.  He gave it for YOU to walk freely away. 
The price is to turn away from whatever it is that held you captive previously.  Believe that God has better in store for you…. It is true you know.  He wants you to walk through those gates or doors that have held you captive so that you can live the life that He has created you for!  You have a purpose!  You have a reason for being!  Isn’t it time that you found out what that was?  There is nothing more satisfying than walking in the purpose that God has for your life!  Take time to discover what it is, if you don’t know already!
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5).
Now that is a loving Father, don’t you think?  You are consecrated!!!
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
Take His hand. Talk to Him.  You don’t need fancy words – just talk to Him.  Share yourself with Him, it is not as though He doesn’t know you already, He does… But He likes to hear you share your mind with Him.  It’s called “having a personal relationship.”  And that is what He desires.  The Bible says:
“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (Psalms 34:8)
It is the only way that you can discover it and enter into a relationship with Him.  Just like that floaty, you have to reach out and grab it.  It is there – just receive it! Accept it! And when you do – cling to Him.  He is your forever eternal life line.  Once you have tasted and seen that the LORD is good – you won’t ever want to let go!  And guess what?  If you find yourself walking back into that “cell” – you’ll stop and turn around and say, “No!  I have been there and done that! No!  Once those God has freed are free indeed!!!”
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
You will reach a point where you know – whatever place you are at in your life that what God has for you is so much better than what you had for yourself!  And no matter how many times you turn around – God will be there directing you, strengthening you, encouraging you, loving you, believing in you…
Go! Be Free! Walk out of that cell that has held your mind captive!  And believe in your freedom that He has bought with His own precious, precious blood.  
“God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world.” (1 Corinthians 7:23)
Look! The door is open! Fly high! Glide! Soar! Walk in that freedom and don’t look back!  The best is YET to come!
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Are You at the Point of No Return?

 

 

What are you running away from?  Or headed towards?  Have you even really thought about it – or do you just find yourself running and you don’t even know to where?

There are several different ways of escape.  If you are looking for one, you will surely find it, but before you open that door – whatever it maybe, perhaps you should stop for a moment and collect your thoughts and think.  Just quiet your mind and try to gather up your thoughts.

Try and think about what has brought you to the point you are at in the first place. Is it a traumatic event?  Is it a family upset?  Do you feel lost and like you just “want to run away from it all?”  Do you feel as though God let you down?  Or perhaps you thought you had heard the voice of God and things didn’t turn out so well and now you are confused.  Maybe someone has disappointed you and you are hurting and all you want to do is run away from the situation.  Everything inside of you is screaming out, “ESCAPE! RUN!!!” And you know you are in flight mode.

Stop in your tracks. Calm down. Breathe.  This is when you are at your most vulnerable. This is the point where most Christians become prodigals.  Instead of running towards God, they run away and become disoriented, confused, angry, sad, frustrated and lost.

Watch out! You are headed right towards one of ol slewfoot’s traps and you are getting ready to step right in it! And once you step in it you’ll become all tangled up.

How do I know? Because it happened to me.  Sometimes unexpected situations occur in our lives that we didn’t see coming.  They are outside of our comfort zone or realm of understanding.  No matter how much we try, we can’t seem to make heads or tails of it. “Why Lord? How? I followed Your rules, I did what you asked – WHY did this happen to me??!!”  We lose faith in God and be it in anger or confusion or sadness we step away from Him instead of towards.

What has been your escape?  Perhaps you entered into it and you weren’t even aware that you were taking that first step into the unknown.  You didn’t see the “Beware” or “Danger” sign – maybe it was your own ignorance or maybe you were so tuned into your own emotions that you didn’t even see it as you passed it by.  You entered a realm that was not meant for you to venture into.  Perhaps at first it felt soothing.  It took your mind off your situation or your problems.  It seduced you and made you walk deeper still into its escape.  There are so many different kinds – one for every personality.  Was it drugs? Sex? TV? Alcohol? Work? A pretend world? The Internet? These are just to name a few.  Like entering a spider’s web, did you get stuck in it?  Did it disorient you and give you a euphoric sensation?  Did you feel accepted? Loved? Did you feel as though you were able to escape who you were? Or where you came from? Like you entered an oasis.  Maybe the farther you entered into the escape the less you wanted to return to reality.  You were cajoled, enticed.  Usually a form of escape has some appeal to it – it just depends upon your personality, your likes and your dislikes.  Deeper you walked into it until even if you looked over your shoulder, you couldn’t see your way back.  The way you once knew was gone.

Maybe it didn’t happen to you but someone you love.  Maybe you saw them become less and less who they were and right before your eyes they were disappearing and no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t reach them.  The fact is – they couldn’t see you anymore and they didn’t want to be reached… Sometimes the only one who can reach them – is meant to reach them is the One who created them. Not YOU.  But here is the thing, God has given us free will.  He has given us the ability to make choices.  Good choices and bad and sometimes He sits back and watches us and allows us to make mistakes.  It is not the path He chose for us but He allows us to walk it.  Knowing fully well it will bring us pain and regret and sorrow but hopefully more importantly it will bring us growth.

It couldn’t have been easy for God to watch Adam and Eve make the worst decision of their lives.  How much sorrow and pain it must have brought to God, knowing fully well that the choice they made would not only affect the two of them but everyone throughout the course of history.  He made them out of love and they turned their back on Him.  We could get mad at Adam and Eve for what they did – but the truth is we all turn our back on God at one point or another in our own walks.  (Ouch – that one hurt to write…)

Yet all the while God had another plan in place.  He knew what was going to happen and while I’m sure it pained Him, He already had a plan in mind of how He would unite us once again to Him. This time for all eternity.

Adam and Eve when they sinned tried to hide from God.  We try to hide from God.  We try to hide from situations we create.  The truth is – we can’t.  It’s (pardon the pun) “fruitless” to even try.  Whatever escape you are trying or have walked into – it is only temporary.  You can’t run from or escape from God.  The consequences are not those that He intended you to experience. Guilt, sadness, regret, confusion, embarrassment – to name just a few. How many times along the pathway home did the prodigal hesitate and want to turn around and not face his father?  Yet he knew that there was no going back the way he had come.  He also knew that he was a different person than the person who had left his father’s house with his inheritance at hand.  Hopefully he was wiser.  I’m quite sure he was humbled beyond words.  Every step back home must have felt heavy.  How many times did he play what he thought would be the reception he would receive in his head?  (And more than likely it was not the one he ended up receiving!)  I’m quite sure he did not expect to see His father running down the pathway to meet him halfway!  I’m quite sure he did not expect his home coming to be celebrated!  He probably wanted to just disappear into the woodwork of the house due to shame and embarrassment.  How shocked was he at his Father’s joyous embrace?  How long did it take him to be able to receive the forgiveness and acceptance his Father so freely, graciously gave him?  And how many things that his brother said to his father about him had he himself not thought?

Making your way back home is harder than any words I can write.  But for every prodigal I say, keep trodding.  Keep stepping.  Keep walking.  Keep praying.  Keep looking ahead and not behind.  The journey back home includes having to walk in forgiving yourself for your own transgression.  There may be things along the pathway that would try to tempt you and pull you back – but they will have no hold on you, for you know that their escape is really not one of escape, but pain, regret and falsehood and entrapment.  In order to go forward in life you have to walk through the pain.  Pain caused to you or pain you have caused.  In order to walk forward to where God wants you to be you have to realize that there is ONE reality and no matter how hard you’ve tried to hide from the reality, the reality has always been the same.  It has never truly gone away.  Instead of trying to escape a situation – face it! Head on!  Has someone disappointed or hurt you? Forgive them!  Communicate with them, they may not even realize that they have hurt you or made you feel rejected.  If they DO know that they have done it and don’t care – then know that you are not responsible for someone else’s actions – only your own.  This is where we learn to walk in forgiveness.  When you release someone – you also release yourself. Sometimes the only thing we can do is release them into God’s good and capable hands.  Its not easy to do – but sometimes its the only thing we can do.

Here is another thing… God can turn things around.  Use our mistakes and bad decisions for His glory.  Through my prodigal period I have learned that it is truly nothing but God’s love, His grace and His mercy and His forgiveness that has saved me.  The truth is – I was NEVER good enough to earn redemption or Heaven.  It is totally by His grace and love.  I think on some level, I felt as though I had “never done anything bad enough.” But the truth of the matter is there is no degree of sin.  Sin IS sin.  The prodigal in the Bible found himself eating pig slop.  I’m sure in his eyes it wasn’t possible to get any lower than that.  God can take your lowest moments and be glorified through them and when it happens, you will realize that it is TOTALLY God and not anything YOU.  I think God allows us to make our “bad” choices because He knows that we will grow from the experience and will be able to extend the right hand of fellowship once we have arrived back home from that journey and help someone else or have compassion and not judgment upon someone else who is going through a similar experience.  So what ol’ slewfoot meant for trouble – God uses to for His glory and to draw men closer to Him.

Next time I feel like running – I will run towards God and not away, like a child who is afraid and runs into his/her parents arms for protection, I will run towards my God because the only TRUE escape one can find, is in Him. Isn’t it time you stopped running? Stopped trying to make an escape? And ran to the One who can give you what you truly need? Who knows what you truly need? He is a balm and will provide you with the peace that passes ALL understanding – just run towards the LIGHT – the light is HIM.

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The Pathway (Part I)

I was walking down a path on an otherwise unremarkable day, when I came to a bend which led me to a fork in the road.  

I stopped. I hesitated. I contemplated.

Knowing fully well which pathway I should choose…

To my left  – a familiar, well-worn path, predictable, more of the same on which I had already tread, a ho-hum kind of travel, familiar and reliable yet unexciting and if more of the same – tedious.

To my right – a path that drew my attention by its intoxicating scent of blossoms.  Its pathway surrounded on both sides by  long rows of weeping willow trees with such thick branches they formed an arch as far as the eye could see; and oh how they swaying in the wind as if to entice me. 

 “Come, girl… Come down our way.”

I hesitated again.  Should I stay on familiar, unchanging ground or dare I step upon this beautiful path of unfamiliarity?

Tucked deep within the bows of one of the Weeping Willows, hung  small, wooden white painted  sign, whose letters had been painstakingly engraved with a wood burning tool; carefully created  with the precision and care which only a feminine hand would have taken the tedious time to do. It read, “Private Way.”

The sign was clearly meant to dissuade, yet caused within me the opposite effect.

“You have no business going down that other road. Don’t do it.” A quiet stern little voice whispered in my head. “Don’t do it. Stay on the pathway of familiarity. It is your safest bet.”

“What can the harm be?” I scoffed, stamping my foot.  “I deserve to walk down this pathway. How splendid it is and I can’t help but wonder where it leads? Perhaps it is even a short cut?  I’m sure it will be fine.  An adventure, what harm will be done?”

With that my decision was made.  I took a bold if not rebellious step onto the path. 

Sheer heaven

Each step lovelier than the next, my heart felt full.  My well-worn shoes did the pathway a dishonor. Leaving me no other choice…  Feeling somewhat naughty, glancing quickly around me, I knelt down and removed my dusty shoes and socks and lowered my bare toes down into the springy velvety softness of green grass which cupped around my feet lovingly.

“Ohhhh…” I sighed.  What harm would a moment of rest do? I lay back looking up a the blueness of the partially seen sky between high treetop limbs.  Allowing my palms to face down so my fingers could caress the softness of the dark earth beneath them.  How heady and captivating were the fragrant flowers lining the way;  turning only my head to admire the breathtaking view I wonder what lay beyond the horizon? Could there possibly be any sight more splendid than this? Rising back up, I felt light-footed and danced along the pathway, skipping in and out and around the long trunks of the trees giddy at the thought of more to come.

Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! My pathway! Made in love for ME, meant for ME! For my feet alone.  Mine to cherish! Mine to love. Mine to adore! Mine to walk!

So enchanted and self-involved was I that I did not see along one side, a woman’s straw hat flung and forgotten, off in the grass – or the initials of a couple, encircled in a heart engraved upon the trunks of one of the trees. 

On I went, following this oh so splendid path. The longer I trod upon it the more I wanted to continue.  Before long, the sun began to set, and I wrapped my arms around my chest beginning to feel cold. Cold and very much alone. Rubbing my arms, I hesitated for the first time. Looking far ahead, I could see way in the distance a stone cottage, with a warm yellow light shinning from its windows.  How lovely, I thought as it came closer and closer into view.

To my surprise a very robust, unattractive and heavy set woman flew out of the house. Indeed, if not for her voice, I would have thought she was a he.  

“What are you doing on our pathway? Did you not see the sign?”  She said furiously.  Eyeballing me with contempt her hands furled tight in fists. An angry tick twitching within her right cheek.

“You have defiled it! You had NO business continuing on property that is not yours.”  The more she looked at me, the angrier she got. “What business have you here?” 

I glanced behind me at the way I had come.  Thought about the day I had experienced, looked back at the pathway I had come to love, and realized, no answer I gave her would suffice.

“I have none,” I admitted honestly. “I just happened upon the way, and noticed this lovely, lovely path…without giving it much thought – I took it.”

She looked incredulous for a moment. Spittle forming on the outside corners of her lips. “Lovely way?”  She said. “Lovely way???”  She looked behind me at the path as though she was trying to see what I saw.  “This way has not been lovely in many a year! It has been a hard pathway.  A relentless pathway, and exhausting pathway.  I have had to beat weeds down. What once was lush and vibrant and full has become hard and unforgiving and unyielding.  I have tried to grow many a vegetable upon this soil – yet it has withered and died. It has become cold and hard and unyielding…Yet this pathway has been mine since I was 18. I know every grain of its soil.  For 38 years it has been mine. I know its every mood. It is MINE not yours and I will not allow you to come prancing down the way as if you owned it. You do not, no matter what you may think.” ”

Listening to her I stood astonished, my mouth gaping.  How could she not see what I saw?  The land she described was not that of which I stood upon.  It was lush and green and vibrant and seductive.   Calling my name like a lover – tempting me to become one with it over and over again.

She stood defiantly facing me. Braced for war. A fight I could not win. I had only known this pathway for a short while – she had known it for years.  I did not see what she saw – and I actually felt sorry for her because somewhere along the way, she lost the ability to see the beauty in the path.  Her perspective had changed. Her appreciation for it had grown cold. I did not see what she saw before her and yet she was right.  It was not my pathway.  It did not belong to me. It belonged to her.  There was nothing I could say.  I hated her at that moment. Hated her because she had everything I wanted and I wanted to stay there.  Make her be gone! It was my pathway! Created for ME in love. Mine to walk, mine to enjoy, mine to cherish, mine to love! – Yet it wasn’t.  The pathway belonged to her.  I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay!  Yet, it wasn’t mine.

Reaching into her pocket she pulled out a paper.  “You see?” She said shoving her big man size hand under my nose for me to see it.  “Proof! Proof that this is MY pathway. Not yours. So be gone!”

I had no words. For what could I say?  She smiled an ugly smile, turned around and headed back through the door of which she came. I heard the door slam behind her.

Reaching down to caress the mossy ground, I was at a loss for words.  It seemed like it should be mine. It felt like it should be mine.  Yet proof stood within the walls of that house that it was not. The sorrow I felt was immense. It filled my soul. Turning around I didn’t know which way to go. Should I go back the way I came? Yet I could not. Should I go forward? How? I only knew that I could not remain in front of that house for fear she would c

 

ome out again.  How could she not see the beauty I saw? The love I felt? It was all around me. How could I be without it?  Yet as long as she remained, she was proof that it was not mine.  This most beautiful and gifted pathway.  How could years be spent upon it not relishing in the lusciousness of it? When had her eyes dulled? Or perhaps she had never seen it for what it was. How very sad…

Sighing, I dusted off my hands and continued forward finally understanding the weeping willows lining the way.

 

 

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Christmas Reflections

How quickly Christmas present becomes Christmas past… 
That was the realization I had as I lay on the sofa watching “A Christmas Carol” which for me, has become a Christmas tradition I made for myself years ago.  It was my father’s favorite Christmas movie, and so I try and honor his memory by ending Christmas with a watching of this incredible tale.  The hustle and bustle of preparation for Christmas has come to an end.  The Christmas gifts have all been distributed, the food prepared for celebration is now wrapped away as “leftovers” inside of the refrigerator.  Christmas present has now become another Christmas past.  And as the Spirit of Christmas Past had Ebenezer Scrooge revisit his past, I found myself joining him on his journey as I thought about that of my own…
 The real gifts of Christmas are not those store bought items that lay now open and unwrapped under the tree.  The true gifts of Christmas are those you can’t buy in a store.  If you reflect upon your own Christmas’ past perhaps your “gifts” will differ from my own.  But the first gift of Christmas I opened tonight in the quiet aftermath of the holiday was that of “Gratitude.”  I found myself thinking about how wonderful a Creator we have who has bestowed so many gifts upon us.  In this busy day and age it is easy to take so much for granted, if not for the “taste buds” He created us with, we would not be able to enjoy the wonders and delight of “flavors” of all the wonderful dishes that we work so hard to create for the holidays or the fact that we have the means to partake in those wonderful dishes – either by making them ourselves or partaking in the celebration by invitation of someone else who has created dishes for us.

With such busy lives, many of us get caught up with the thought of problems, situations, or worries even –  that we don’t take the time to reflect on the things that truly matter.  It is not until something causes us to pause and reflect that we slow down enough to quiet ourselves and *really* see the blessings of the season.  In doing so, we often miss out on the true Spirit of Christmas and how we can apply it not only once a year, but all year long to our current lives.  What gifts are you carrying forward with you from this Christmas which is quickly becoming a thing of the past?

If you were surrounded by friends, family and loved ones – you are more fortunate than some. Life changes in a heart beat and we never know what tomorrow will bring – or whom it will take away.  We tend to think that life is “owed” to us.  We forget how fragile it is, we and those we love are not promised tomorrow and while we shouldn’t live in the fear of what tomorrow will bring, we should show those we love *today* just how much they are loved and appreciated so that when our today becomes a thing of the past, we will know that those we love who have not been given the gift of tomorrow will have known how much we loved them. That same Creator who was thoughtful enough to create us with “taste buds” also created us with a very special gift that is our own “internal camera” called “Memory.”  And in looking back at my Christmas’ past I am able to once again be with loved ones whose “tomorrows” have at one point come to an end.  I am able to recall, smile and revisit my Christmas’ past with them through those remarkable times, which allows them through those memories to become a part of the present, especially when I am able to share the “memory of them” with those gathered around me.  How wonderful a gift to be able to reflect upon and share.

The second gift I opened tonight in post-celebration reflection was “Humility.” As Ebenezer was shown by the Spirits all his short comings and sins and how it not only affected himself but those around him. I found myself looking back at the passing year, the lessons I’ve learned and the things within myself which need changing. Although we cannot change what has occurred in the past we can apply what we’ve learned to the present with the hopes that such changes will make for a better future (should we be given one). What have you learned looking back at this year that has also almost become a thing of the past? What will you take with you? What will you toss aside?  What will you do differently in the year to come?  These are all things I contemplate as Christmas present comes to a close and we prepare to say goodbye to not only another Christmas season, but to close the books on yet another year that will now be looked upon as another contribution to history.

There is one last gift that comes to mind, and in my opinion it is the one that perhaps is the most important gift of all… That is the gift of love. It was that in which Christmas began.  For John 3:16 tells us:

 “That God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Love is a gift that is wide reaching, and if we show it with sincerity (even with all of our imperfections) we can have no idea how far reaching it will go.  Once planted those seeds blossom and bloom in ways that we may never had expected it would.  A kind or unselfish gesture that is not self-seeking can be more powerful than anything else on earth.  You never know what someone else is going through or what is happening in their life.  Reflecting on Christmas’ past, I have seen in the unselfish gesture of hospitality that my parents innocently extended Christmas’ years ago, when I was just a child to people who otherwise had no place to go for the holidays or simply opted to spend the holiday with our family, something that has now over the course of the years become a wonderful tradition and has defined Christmas to me. By extending hospitality to others, who may otherwise have spent such a major holiday alone – in having a celebration of warmth, friendship and love on Christmas Eve – God used my parents (probably to the extent unknown even to them) to abolish loneliness and sadness and depression the lives of people who had no place else to go. They did it not letting their left hands know what their right hands were doing.  They did it not with the expectation of “receiving” anything back.  There is no possible way that they could have known that by simply sharing Christmas with others it would become an annual yearly tradition which blessed not only those who came, but resulted in teaching our family so much.  Guests who came from all walks of life and added such a rich diversity of learning about other cultures and religions as they shared with our family, traditions from their own.  Christmas Eve became like that of a big pot of stew – each guest adding a certain spice to the pot which over the course of the years became so flavor able it become a favorite dish which was more than palpable to all who partook.  Amazingly all those who entered the doors of my parents house, found that they could not only come join in the sharing of Christmas Eve “once” but as Christmas Eve would come the next year, they found themselves coming back time and time again until now it has reached a point, where those very same people are now bringing the next generation of their families over to my parents house, into what has become an annual tradition and for some – the definition of Christmas. Even ten years after the death of my father, my mother has still carried forth the now family tradition year after year.  My brother and I often tease my mother and tell her that she couldn’t stop having a Christmas Eve celebration if she wanted to, because people would still “automatically come.” This is not because of anything other than the key ingredient that my parents realized was the main ingredient to making the Christmas holiday a successful and full filling one to everyone who decided to share the holiday with us.  Peace on earth, good will to men – the key ingredient to the Holiday, that allows “love” to co-exist past, present and future and that to me, is the gift, which keeps on giving not only one designated day of the year – but all year long.

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Are You Becoming Contagious?

Wherever you are in life – don’t let the weeds of worry choke out the joy. Rise above it and allow yourself to bloom and be a blessing. Roses have their thorns but they are NOT their thorns. Lift your face up to the SON and allow yourself to blossom in the manner He created you to. Once you do, you will experience in the midst of whatever storm you are in what it means to have “the peace that passes ALL understanding.” It is a daily doing – one that we must practice until it becomes a habit. I’m ready, are you?

 

Worry, WoRrY, W O R  R Y, WORRY!  Ever notice how worries reproduce themselves in your head?  Maybe you start out with just one teeny weeny concern that leads to another and another and another until they begin to drown out all the good things in your life.  Until they consume you.  Until you can’t think about anything else except your next concern.

It can become habitual!  Worries spread!  Worries are contagious!  They can infest your head until they become so big that they are no longer little “nitpick” thoughts but big ol’ anxieties that make it difficult for you to even see past them anymore.

For the last few weeks, I have found myself waking up early in the morning with a worry in my head. Believe me when I say it is *not* a fun way to start the day.  This morning, I woke up with a worry – and I decided. NO MORE.  I am not waking up like this ANYMORE.  The best way I know to combat things that I feel I have no control over and am “worried” about is to PRAY.  So today I woke up declaring the Lord’s Prayer.

 “This is the day the Lord has made I WILL REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT!!!”

When I said it – it was more like I was commanding myself.  I WILL!  If I have to wrestle a worry to the ground and roll around and straddle it and contain it – I WILL!  As I lay there having this wrestling match with this worry – I got to thinking about Jesus.  The thing I love so much about the Bible is that it is the “living” word.  It may have been written in the past – but it is very much present and useful for today.  The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 1:9  “There is nothing new under the sun.”

I’m quite sure the things I worry about are things that other people worry about. And here is the thing about worry – sometimes we spend so much time worrying we spend less time concentrating on what we can do to alleviate the worry.  We give “glory” to the worry!  Have you ever noticed that most of the things that we “worry” about don’t even come to pass? Worrying can become an addiction! -And I decided, that that is one club I refuse to become a member of!
Problems are real.  Situations are real. Concerns are real.  I am not “belittling” them- they are all parts of life.  We acknowledge them for what they are, we do our best to work through them and we PRAY about them (put each one into God’s more than capable hand) and we learn to release them.  We recognize that there are things that are out of our control. We work on the things we can resolve, we seek help over the things we cannot figure out how to resolve on our own – and we try to have the wisdom to recognize the difference between to the two.  There is a very well known prayer called “The Serenity Prayer.”  It goes like this:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.”

We all have weaknesses and strengths.  Certain “worries” may  be the results of areas that God is trying to strengthen or teach us.  Skills we need to learn (for instance for me – it is the area of finance). Things we need to work on to better ourselves.  Those things take time.  In a microwave society – such as we live in, we can be impatient especially with ourselves.  Our impatience can expand our worries like someone blowing up a balloon.  Think about it… The worry is a tiny little balloon, but as we put more worry and thought and energy into it, as we get anxious that little flat balloon gathers air in it and gets bigger and bigger and BIGGER and BIGGER!  Until it fills every corner of our life – pushing out all the good things that are there.  There becomes no more room for anything other than that “worry.”

I don’t want to live like that – do you? I don’t want to look back on my life and think, “yep – I lived from worry to worry…” Because guess what??? Problems ARE a part of life.  But they SHOULDN’T BE the main dish!  When I woke up this morning, I realized I’ve been living worry to worry!  Crossing off worries from my list and moving on to the next one!  Are you doing the same?  It’s time to stop.  It’s time to take the power back from your worries. And contrary to popular belief a person who is an optimist CAN still be a worrier!

I got to thinking about Jesus’ life.  He is suppose to be our example, right? So maybe His life is a good thing to examine.  Here is someone who was born with a calling like NO OTHER.  From day ONE. If anyone had caused to worry – Jesus did.  People were trying to kill Him from the day He was born! Yet from what my Bible tells me – He was filled with peace. He is referred to in the Bible as the “”Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)  If anyone had cause to worry – Jesus did!  But time and time again He would look at people (with wonder it seems) and ask them:

“Why do you worry? Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life. What you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food? And the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable then they? Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-34)

What did Jesus do when He was concerned? His concerns were unselfish – they were about others and not about Himself.  Yet, when He came to the garden of Gethsemane and the worry of the cross weighed Him down – He didn’t “sit there worrying.” HE PRAYED.  Jesus knew that regardless of what He faced, His Father’s will would be done. He was born for a reason. WE were BORN for a reason. As I thought about Jesus, I thought about how He had a purpose.  His life had real concerns. But I can almost bet that Jesus took pleasure and joy in the things in His life too.  He went to weddings, He ate at people’s houses.  He played with children. I can bet you that Jesus found enjoyment in life. He never lost focus He kept His eyes on the path before Him. 
He walked in grace, mercy and love. Maybe He’s telling US we need to do the same.
This day I am *choosing* not to walk my life in a thick mire of problems and worries – I’m not going to give them any more power than I already have.  I will acknowledge them, and do the best I can to work through them  – but I will NOT allow them to rise up like weeds, wrap their cords around me and choke the enjoyment of life out of me.  I won’t let them be my focus on living anymore.

How about YOU?  Will you look back on your life and see it in terms of what you worried about? Or will you look back at your life and see all the sweetness of the things that made life worth living? And all the lessons that you learned because of it?

Don’t sit there worrying about – give it to God. Release it. Pray about it. Realize that you are only ONE person. You are human.  There is very little that we have control over in our lives. A lot of our worries are over those that we love. Recognize that as much as YOU love that person – that God loves them more. He created them!  He really does! Give that child that husband that wife that situation to GOD.  He is much more capable of taking care of it than YOU are.  Trust Him.  He has your best interest at heart (and also their’s. Here is something for you to remember – you can’t out love God!)  Also, remember that sometimes God allows situations to come into our lives to mold us into what He wants us to become.  It’s not meant to destroy us.  It’s meant to help us grow.  Sometimes our problem is that we fight Him every step of the way.  Like a child dragging their feet as they go. Maybe our situation is one that He is telling us to trust more in Him.  He is our Heavenly Father – remember that we only see in part – but HE sees in full.  He knows SO much more than our little minds do.  We need to trust Him. As those worries come to our minds we need to recognize them, acknowledge them and give them to the One who knows.

He didn’t give us life to live “worry to worry.”  Life is suppose to be a gift – not a burden.  It’s time to live it as such, don’t you think? 

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What Exactly IS Good Enough?

 The doctors all tell me I should cry. But I am like a faucet that you turn on and the water doesn’t come out.  All you hear is the “squeek” of the metal as you try to turn the water on…. They tell me that with all I have gone through in the last year… Breast cancer, chemotherapy, emergency room visits, a marriage that has fallen a part, fighting for my life, loneliness…. That I should cry. But I can’t.  I just CAN’T.  Why is that?  I’ve wondered that a lot lately – but I think the truth is that if I start crying – I don’t know that I’ll ever stop.

I thought that chemotherapy was the hardest thing I’d ever gone through. But what has actually been worse – is the devastation I see of my life from all that has happened over the last year.  You see – when you go through chemotherapy – they give you premedication that makes you sleepy. That keeps you from feeling overly nauseous.  But after treatment – the pain of all that has occurred is raw. Its numbing, its mind blowing.  And all of a sudden you don’t have physicians, oncologists, nurses, radiologists all around you.  You’re no longer a “specimen on a petri dish.”  You’re standing there by yourself and for the first time YOU FEEL THE PAIN. The emotional pain is worse then the actual physical pain itself.  The awareness of the people who have shown not to be your family or your friend because a lot of people don’t know how to “deal” with what you went through. And there you are picking up the pieces of your life.  Wondering how you go on from there.  You’re not the same person you were before cancer and you certainly don’t know the fullness of the person you’ve become… You only know that your bs meter has no “pre screening” that you look at people who complain about tiny little nonsensical things and you want to say – “REALLY???” “Really???!!!”  And all the things that you had before put on the back burner of your life – have come front and center because you realize you JUST CAN’T GO BACK.  You can’t.  And its not a question any more – its just you know you can only go forward – only you don’t KNOW what forward is.  And your life feels overwhelmed with fires that you are trying to stamp out with your bare feet. And the tiredness is worse then the tiredness that came with chemo – because its no longer a physical tiredness – but an emotional one….
You feel like God isn’t there. Maybe because of things you’ve done. Maybe because what you’ve experienced in your life isn’t all “cut, dry and clean” like many of your brothers and sisters in Christ like to act like it SHOULD be.  Why is it that some brethern take such “pleasure” in the fact that you’re struggling? Does it give them a sense of powerfulness? Why are there so many of us Christians HURTING in the church? And afraid to talk about it because fear of judgement FROM OUR OWN body of Christ?  And so we quietly stew in our own pain, not certain how to get close to God again.  Forgetting that “He knows our thoughts before we even think them.” Forgetting even that during the time when WE FELT GOOD and WORTHY that we never really were???! Not one of us have ever been WORTHY. It is only through the blood of Jesus that ANY of us are able to come up to the cross.  I was reminded of that tonight.  That there is NO good enough.  That is only through the blood of Jesus that I can boldly go before His throne.  And so on top of everything I pray – “Father – forgive me. Forgive me for way back when things felt good and felt right before You that somewhere in my head I must have felt as though I was “good enough” but I am a work in progress. It is only by Your strength, Your grace, Your mercy that I can stand before YOU at all.  Maybe its the realization of that that will draw me closer to You.  For I can do nothing in and of myself.  It HAS to be You. It always has been YOU.  Forgive me for not seeing that until now.  I can NEVER be GOOD enough. But I don’t have to be. Because YOU ARE.  Thank you Father.  In Jesus name I pray.
Amen.
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It’s Alive!!!!

He’s Only a Prayer Away…

   Its so true that the Bible is the “living Word.” Today, I’ve been thinking a lot about the woman in the bible who had been bleeding for years. Let me see if I can find the scripture….(Matthew 9:20-22) “Just then a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years came up behind Jesus and touched the edge of His cloak.She said to herself ‘If only I touch His cloak I will be healed. Jesus turned and saw her, “Take heart daughter.” He said. “Your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.”

What faith that woman had. Twelve years of bleeding. She never accepted it. Can you imagine how hard it was for her to get close enough to “touch him”? Crowds always followed Jesus.  But her determination and her faith – even to the point of saying to herself “IF I COULD ONLY TOUCH HIS CLOAK.” How loving was his response. I’m sure that in the Old Testament times this woman was ostracized. I’m sure she probably felt very much alone. Maybe she felt as though she had done something to bring this on herself. Day after day she lived with this ailment. My heart goes out to her.

Although I have only been considered a survivor for almost two months now, my life has changed drastically. I guess the only way I can describe it is the difference between a beautifully painted “water color” picture and a vibrant, brilliant oil painting. The water color was before bc and the oil painting – after.  I wake up each morning thankful that God has given me another day.

That woman – I can almost see her determination that no matter what it would take – she WOULD reach Jesus and touch Him.  How did she feel when He turned around and acknowledged that He knew He had been touched?  Was she scared? But I’m quite sure His loving reaction – “Take heart daughter” was as healing to her as the actual reaching out to touch Him.

“Lord – I’m reaching out to you – as she was. I don’t know the words to say, because there is so much going on inside me… I want to touch you. The last two years have been the hardest in my walk with You. I know I’m not telling you something you don’t already know. I don’t know how to – get back to where I was with You. I’ve always been honest – you know this. So Lord – I will reach out to you today and I will simply say – “Help me.” Two words Lord. For I don’t know exactly what to pray. I only know that my life is in Your hands. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.”

I guess the biggest thing I’ve learned is that you can’t “earn” heaven. Its not about “going to church” church doesn’t save you – it helps build you up in Christ and surrounds you with other believers (the body). What saves you is the fact that Jesus died on the cross for forgiveness of our sins. Its His love. It’s His mercy, its His sacrifice, its His grace. How strongly I’m aware of that..

I’ll bet you her life was vibrant and full and she never took life for granted after that moment. I wish the Bible told us more about her – what her life was like before and after… I think tomorrow when I wake up I will picture what it would be like if Jesus was sitting at a table right across from me.  Perhaps even joining me in a D& D Skim Latte with a thick foam (smiling) and what I would say to Him. I think that is how I shall start tomorrow. For now – I simply say “Lord, like that woman – I am reaching out to touch you. Help me and I love you.”

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The Way Back Home…

*This is a post that I wrote June 29,2010 four days after I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. God does not cause illness, unfortunately it is part of the curse that our world fell under when Adam & Eve chose not to listen to God’s instructions and age from tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil as depicted in the book of Genesis 2:16-17 “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Sunday, June 21st I held a moving sale with my family. Hardly did I know that day would be the end of a chapter in my life as I’ve known it for the last 43 years.  I came in the house, got ready to take a shower – and noticed a lump the size of a nickel on my left breast. It was just “there.” I ran down to show my husband and we called my mom.  My mom suggested that I be cautious and I make an appointment with my doctor for the next day – I did. Oh how quickly this whirl wind of events took place. Seeing my doctor she sent me for a mammogram (only the second one I’ve ever had) and an ultrasound. There it was – I needed to come in for something called a “core biopsy.” I came in the next day had the procedure.  Now I know no one is fond of needles – but especially needles put in places that they “normally” would NOT go.  However I went visualizing the Lord holding my hand.  The song “Jesus Take the Wheel” going through my head. They told me it would be a 3-5 day wait for the results.  THREE TO FIVE DAYS.  It felt like eternity.  I started thinking of my life for over the past two years… And I realized that no matter what – I needed to begin my trek “back home” to the Lord. No matter what the results.

I thought about Shepherds – how when one sheep is missing they leave their “whole” flock to look for it. I’ve been “missing” for the past two years. Away from the safety, the warmth, the peace the comfort of the Lord. Like a rebellious teenager saying “no Lord! I don’t wanna!!!” I’d gone my own way, looking for – I don’t know what.  And knowing the whole time that I was “looking for I-don’t-know-what.” The ironic thing about it – is I realized during the whole time I waited for the results – that all I need my Father supplies.  And you know – He gives so much better so much more ample, so much more generously than I can provide for myself.  Does that make sense? These past two years – I’ve done things I’m not proud of and probably will only reveal to my inner circle of prayer partners – and you know – I think it is important for each of us to be as transparent with our walks as we can.  Because the fact is – so many other brothers and sisters in Christ are going thru similar situations.  This blog is NOT a confessional blog.  You see – the only one I really need to confess ANYTHING to – is the Father.  And the most ironic thing about it – is HE KNOWS EVERYTHING ANYHOW.  He knows!  You can’t hide ANYTHING from Him. So why do we even try? Like Adam and Eve in the Garden – having eaten the apple – God knew it. He knew what they had done – but still – they tried to hide from Him.  We haven’t changed all that much. (LOL) we are STILL trying to hide from Him.  But here’s the thing – here is what I’ve learned – if you know the story of the Prodigal son.  You know that he realized how MUCH he needed his father.  He got to the lowest point in his life he could go and realized – He needed… He WANTED to return home.  And when he did – his Father was there – looking down the pathway – waiting, hoping for him to come home.  The Bible tells us his arms were open WIDE. WIDE WIDE WIDE.

I ran into my Father’s arms on June 24th. My doctor called me at work and told me – the results were positive. I have breast cancer.  My world has changed.  My life has changed – but you know what hasn’t changed? My GOD.  He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  I gave my life to Him at the age of 21. That was 23 years ago. I have run back into my Father’s awaiting arms – and you know what I’ve found? PEACE. I found security, I found comfort. I found love.  What was it I had been looking for before? I don’t even KNOW.  I only know – that my arms are wrapped around Him TIGHTLY. TIGHTLY TIGHTLY TIGHTLY.  How would you be if your child was ill? If your child was hurting? You would wrap your arms around them and hold them close to you.  Kiss their head.  The Bible tells us “If we being evil give such good gifts to our children – how much MORE will your Heavenly Father give to you?”

I won’t lie to you – I’ve been bewildered.  I’ve been scared. I’ve been shocked. A week ago – I was FINE. Well no – I wasn’t.  But you know what? Ironically I am now.  I’m FINE.  Okay, so I have a Goliath in my life – its called breast cancer.  But you know what? This morning as I read my Word and I prayed.  I thought of David.  I thought of how his knees must have been shaking as he stood infront of this giant.  I thought of how the other soldiers must have been watching on – mocking him.  This shepherd boy. Waiting for him to get pummeled by this Giant of a man. Can you imagine their surprise when the Giant fell? Can you imagine Goliath’s shock what his last thought might have been before he fell? David stood before him with one weapon – his faith.  His trust.  His love for the Lord.  He knew He was real.  He knew the battle wasn’t his. He knew the LORD would win.

This stupid little nickel size tumor came as a huge shock to me.  But you know – it didn’t to my Father. I and many of my Survivor sisters – who btw I’m just beginning to meet – are having/had a “Goliath experience.” But the fight is NOT ours.  And our weapon – is our Faith. I don’t know why my Father is allowing me to go through this – but this I know.  He is in control.  My eyes are on my Father.  My weapon – my faith. I’m standing before the Giant – and I know that as David did – I will win this battle. And my Father will be victorious and I will use this experience to extend the right hand of fellowship to the woman behind me (as women are doing now to me). 

Everyone in their lives goes through a Prodigal experience at some point. Its what you choose to do with what you learn that makes the difference. There is mercy and grace and love in my Father’s arms. In YOUR Father’s arms.  He is no respector of persons.  He has no favorites. He loves all of us – just exactly the same. In the midst of the battle – there is PEACE.

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Pardon Me, I Should Have Begun with My Testimony

When I was a little girl – I would go with my parents to the summer cottage in the Cape.  Oh how I loved to kick my shoes off and feel the heat (or the coolness depending on the time of year) of the sand under my toes.  There was a rocky pier that I would go out and sit on and think.  And oh how I loved the spray of salt water that would sprinkle me whenever a wave would crash against the boulders of the pier.  We would go usually in the Fall.  A time when the cottage would be empty of renters and people. How I loved the quiet solitude of those days.  I think even before I became a Christian at 21 I was always a “thinker.”  One of the first introductions I had to “God” was the book – “Are You There God?  It’s Me Margaret.” By Judy Blume.  On the brink of womanhood I read that book and I learned soooo much. I began to “talk to God” – “Hi God, its ME – Kelly.”  Growing up in a predominately Jewish neighborhood the daughter of parents who were agnostic they never forced a “religion” upon us.  We were free to explore and learn and choose.  I started going to church by myself when I was a teenager.  I felt something “lacking deep inside of me.” A need to feel closer to God. I chose a church that had solar windows (I thought that was cool). I would go by myself Sunday after Sunday – but the Reverand of that Church only spoke of the history of the Church. There were “prayer books” in the pews but I didn’t understand them (there were no Bibles in the pews). The people were kind enough – but still something was lacking deep inside of me…

Ever since I can remember – I wanted to be an actress.  Since the age of three. Talent shows, musicals, plays, make believe – whatever involved theatre – I just had to be a part of. I knew when i grew up I wanted to be an actress.  There was no doubt, no changing my mind – that was it.

When I was in College I was the only Theatre Major in a school filled with women that were going to be teachers.  It was an all girls college – I had been told that I would be able to take my theatre classes at Harvard.  Not sure who it was who told me that – but it ended up not being true. Talk about a square peg fitting in a circle setting.  I didn’t see the need for college – I wanted to get an agent, head out to California and begin to act.  Oh how wise I thought I was at 17. How little I really knew.  However – again, there are times we go through things for a reason – even if we don’t know what that reason is.

I loved my father (my earthly father) very much. But he was very strict.  It wasn’t until I was a freshmen that I discovered MEN!  And ohhh the men that would come to my college because it was an all girl school! I became a sweetheart (little sister) to a nationwide Fraternity.  Parties galore – studying?  What was That?? I even tried to pledge a sorority – but was appalled by the things they did to us while pledging and couldn’t possibly consider someone who spent weeks and weeks tearing me down during the pledging process being someone I would WANT to call sister when it was said and done.  My whole pledging line – quit.

How interesting it is to see how the Lord allows things to form – to set up things that occur to sometimes bring you closer to Him.  While on my way to a pledge meeting (before I dropped out of the line) my sister pledgers and I were walking down a semi-tough section of town.  I had grown up in an expensive part of town – so I wasn’t familiar with this neck of the woods.  A man was running towards us – not to us – but in the same direction.  In his hand he had a gun.  Another man was running after him.  Yelling, “He robbed my store!” We quickly got out of the way and someone (I think called the police).  We continued walking to the Sorority Sisters House we were expected to appear at.  But I was crying and I was trembling.  It really shook me up.  Three weeks later – I was at a “under 21 club” with the same group of friends.  A fight must have broken out within the club and someone yelled in the darkness of the club “He’s gotta gun!!!”  Again I was in the midst of unfamiliar terroritory and worse – caught up in a stampede of people trying to get out the exit door.  And yes – it was just like what you see in the movies – when you see cattle charging for whatever reason… How weird it was to feel oneself being pushed along with the crowd everyone scared and wanting to get out as quickly as possible.  For a young woman who had not witnessed anything violent – these two experience shook my foundation to the core.

I have lived a very sheltered life, you see.  I’m not ashamed of it and I love my parents for all they tried to shield me from.  But when i faced things I wasn’t familiar with it was like a genuine culture shock to my system. It absolutely terrified me. I felt small and vulnerable…   Shortly after that time – my grandfather died.  Now in a Portuguese family the grandfather is really the head of the family.  I loved my grandfather.  We had a very dear and special relationship.  And although my family will laugh and probably each of us grandchildren will say the same thing “I was his favorite.” (Of course I’d be the only one telling the truth… Winking at you).

When my grandfather died – I was at the end of my rope.  There HAD to be more than just this.  It was at this point I was approached while waiting for the bus one day – by a certain cult we are all very familiar with and I shall not name. They asked me if I wanted to study the bible and I agreed.  I began to study with them – much to the dismay and fear of my mother.  She was so fearful that she made an appointment for me to meet with the Reverand of the Church I had gone to by myself as a young girl.  She even went with me to talk with him. He sat behind his large cherry wood desk and began with the religious stain glass windows behind him.  Smiled at me calmly and said – “So Kelly, your mother tells me you have questions for me?”  And I did indeed.  You see the cult I had been studying with had prepared me for this conversation.  I turned to him with my first question and I asked – “Do you believe we are descendents from Adam and Eve?”  He looked at me and said (this is the truth) “Well, I don’t really know… We could be descendents from Monkeys for all I know.”  I looked at him and blinked.  I asked him my next question – “Do you believe that there will be a judgement day?”  He looked at me again and answered “Could be… Could be not.. We may all be blown up in a nuclear war – who knows?”  I looked at him astonished and I grew even more confused. I felt like why was he a Reverand if he didn’t believe things that were key to his Christian faith?  At any rate – the meeting with him made me determined not to go back.  But an interesting thing began to happen.  Although I had not become a “member” of this cult – I did continue studying with them and as I did – i became fearful.  They were causing me to separate more and more from my family and my parents and my brother meant the world to me. I felt.. uneasy… So I finally told them I wouldn’t study with them anymore – and Ohhh how ANGRY they were.  And at that point – since I wasn’t a Christian yet – my response was what anyone with a Portuguese temper would be – PISSED.  And after she told me where she thought I would go – I told her what she could do with her little book.  And from that point on – I determined in my head that my relationship with God – would be JUST THAT. My relationship with God.  No one else’s business. It wasn’t until a couple of years later – when I transferred over to another University and they were having a fleamarket day – I was inbetween classes and walking around looking at the different booths. I came across a table with something called – tracks on it. a girl my age was sitting behind the table. She asked me if I wanted to talk about God.  I looked at her with an eyebrow raised and said firmly – NO. She indicated to me that she was a member of Campus Crusade for Christ of the Intervarsity Fellowship program at the school and I was welcome to join them for prayer or Bible study early in the morning.  I looked at her, blinked and said… “Ahhhh… no…” And kept on walking.  How odd it was that a few weeks later I had gotten into school early.  I wandered around the university and found myself outside of the chapel.  I went inside so I could “talk with God” by myself.  I felt an emptiness inside of me and no matter what I tried to fill it up with – auditions, Shakespeare, Plays, partying, friends, men – there was an emptiness deep inside of me.  I felt as though there had to be MORE to life than just THIS.  Along came “Julie” the girl I met on the fleamarket.  She came quietly and sat beside me and said, “I’ll leave if you want me to – but it might be helpful if you share what your feeling with someone.”  And so I did. I shared with her all of what you have just read and she told me she wanted me to meet the Director of the Intervarsity Fellowship Program, would I come back tomorrow?  The next day – I came back.  It was early morning.  Students were gathered around in a circle reading from the Bible. There was only one seat left – available.  It was next to this very tall, very slender waayyy older black woman.  I looked at her and thought “Good for her! College is for any age!” And I sat down next to her.  The reading was over in a few short minutes.  Julie approached me and said, “Hi Kelly! Glad you could make it! I want you to meet the Head of the International Varsity Fellowship Program. She turned to the woman next to me.  Who smiled at me warmly gave me a big hug and said with a wonderful southern accent.  “Praise the Lord Kelly! Ahhh have heard all about’cha. I’m sooo glad you came to join us today…”  She looked at the little red book I was carrying in my arms.  You see – the foundation the cult had set in me was still there.  Because no one had ever taken the time to share the Bible with me.  Sarah looked at the book and asked me if she could see it.   I handed it to her.  “She flipped through the pages with a knowing smile.  She glanced up at me and she said… “Ahhh have one question for you.”  Her beautiful dark brown eyes looked at me wisely.  I looked up at her thinking about that Reverand I had met with and I smiled.  Ready for her to be as much as a pushover as he was. She paused for a moment before she continued. “Who wrote this book?”  My face crumbled… Such a simple question.  Unexpected – and yet there I stood not knowing the answer.  Feeling like a fool because there I was believing these beliefs and NOT knowing who’s beliefs I was believing in.  I may be many things – but I’ve never been a stupid woman. I’m much smarter than people think… But in this circumstance, my face crumbled and I began to cry.  I felt alone, I felt confused and I felt very, very lost.  Sarah looked at me compassionately, took both of my hands in hers and said with her musical southern accent, “Kelly, ahhhhh wanna tell you about someone who loves you very much.” (I glanced up at her wondering if she knew one of my fraternity brothers…) She raised my chin with her finger and said, “His name is Jesus Christ. ”  (Now you have to remember – I grew up in a predominately Jewish neighborhood.  Wonderful rich culture. And while I had learned much about the Jewish faith – I had never learned about Jesus.  He was more like a “Christmas fable” to me).  Sarah began to tell me about how Jesus had died on the cross for forgiveness of my sins.  How he would never leave nor forsake me.  How He defeated sin and death by His victory over the cross by rising again.  She told me that it wasn’t “church” or a “building” that would save me.  She told me she wouldn’t “make me” go to a certain church. She told me that all I had to do – was to believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that Jesus was Lord and I would be saved. I didn’t see what difference it would make, so i went over the Sinner’s prayer as that goes something like this: 

Dear Father,
I now believe that Jesus Christ is Your only begotten Son, that He came to our earth in the flesh and died on the cross to take away all of my sins and the sins of this world. I believe that Jesus Christ then rose from the dead on the third day to give all of us eternal life.

I honestly didn’t know at the time what a difference that prayer would make in my life. I had NO idea what was taking place in the spiritual ream while I prayed that prayer. And I also thought to myself – “Lord if you are REALLY REALLY REAL – I need you to reveal yourself to me.”  Sarah gave me a Bible.  She had indicated to me – that I could go out to any Christian bookstore and buy a bible myself.  I think it was important to her that I realize that I wasn’t being “forced to learn something, join something or go somewhere” to be close to God.  You see when someone has a cult type experience its important that they not feel “pushed” into something.  I was overly cautious and very appreciative that she was not “making me join a certain church” although she encouraged me to find a church where i could worship and have a body of other believers around to support me. For the first six months of my new Christian life – i didn’t join a church.  I hungered for the Bible.  I couldn’t read enough of it.  Learn enough about Jesus.  The Apostles – the stories in the Old Testament.  I understood what I was reading.  I fell in love with the Lord.  His Word I hung onto deep within my heart.  You see – its not about being “religious” its about having a “personal relationship with the Lord.” One where you can be REALLY REALLY REAL.  And the most wonderful thing about it – is that He in turn, is REALLY REALLY REAL right back at you…  All of that was 22 years ago.  So hard to believe how quickly time has gone.  I have learned soooooo much – but I have yet sooo much MORE to learn.  That is the most amazing thing about being a Christian – you never stop learning, growing in Him.  There is a peace that passes all understanding.  And its not something I can describe to you because the Bible says – “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalms 34:8).  Its like trying to describe to someone who has never seen – what the color “blue” is.  You can’t.  But once you know Him – you really do realize that “He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.” 

As I indicted in the beginning of my blog – I don’t have all the answers… I am far from perfect (especially during THIS time in my walk) but I can point you towards the One who IS Perfect… His name is Jesus – and while people will disappoint you all the time – HE NEVER WILL.

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