The Pathway (Part II) – The Way Home

 
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. (Proverbs 3:5)


Walking along the road of life enjoying the warm sunshine on my back, whistling a joyous tune and carrying my rule book in my left hand, not a worry in my head, I encountered a sign mid –course in my journey:

 “CAUTION: DO NOT CROSS, DETOUR TURN RIGHT.”

Scratching my head, I looked around.  No one else was on this way for me to converse; I did not see any difference between the land I was currently following and the land to the right.  Why could I not journey forward? What harm would be done?  There was nothing that raised concern within me; clearly the sign must have been put there in error.  Tentatively I touched my toe to the grassy green ground in front of me, just as I thought it was springy and stable, crouching down I sniffed and touched a tuft of grass, nothing odiferous, in fact it smelled the sweetest scent of  green sun touched grass.  I stretched my neck to look as far yonder as I could, a beautiful clear blue horizon, billowy clouds, tall green grass, in fact as I inspected the grass I noticed a little red and black spotted lady bug perched on the edge of a green blade studying me as I studied her. 

“Don’t do it!” She said shaking a tiny little lady bug finger at me, speaking in a small little voice that I had to lean over with to hear clearly.  “Listen to the sign.  This pathway may look enticing and wonderful with its deep blue sky and ample walk way, but don’t do it.  For it will deceive you, lie to you, make you promises  it will never keep, use you and lead you down a way you never should go it knows nothing but deception and is full of self with no consideration to the feelings and heart of the traveler who travels its length. It will take and take and take from you, suck your feelings dry until you have nothing left to give.  It does not know how to think of anyone but its own needs and its own self.  It is a pathway of deception. Don’t be fooled by its outward beauty.  If you saw it with the eyes of truth you would see it as it really is – empty, broken, dark with nothing to offer any traveler, for it can’t even make its own path straight. Follow the right way to go, the one written in that rule book you carry.” She motioned her little hand at my book.  “This one is nothing but a mirage of lies that does not know how to tell its traveler the truth.  It gives you a pipe dream and just when you have travelled deep within its path it will shatter you into a million tiny little pieces without thinking twice. Its only full of self, and never gives thought to anything else but the way it wants to go. The sign is there for a reason. Heed it beautiful traveler of light.”  She fluttered her wings at me and looked up at me with her little face.

I Laughed in delight.  “Oh silly little ladybug, you act as if it were a wayward man.  It is but a beautiful, sweet, darling pathway!  Like none I’ve ever known.  What stories you tell!” Then I whispered to her, “Lady bug, lady bug fly away home…”  The lady bug looked at me a moment with a shake of her head and a shrug of her red and black dotted shoulders, “I tried to warn you, but you will do as you will.  You will come to regret it and my words will come back to you someday.”  She flew off into the sky.

I looked at the pathway to see if I could see what she saw and again was tempted by its enticing land.  I let my back pack fall to the ground so that I could tuck my rule book safely within the confines of the bag and decided that while I was at it, I would kick off my shoes and place them in my bag as well.  I wanted to feel the soft, springy cool grass against the soles of my feet as I went forward on my journey, my mind made up.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained. An exquisite day, birds singing, sun shining and all was right with the world.  “A caution sign.” I scoffed, “Absolutely ludicrous.” 

The scent of honeysuckle permeated the air and my heart delighted at the lovely little fragrant blossoms that clumped sporadically here and there. 

“Come walk my length,” the pathway beckoned.  “I promise you, I will show you beauty you have never encountered.  We will walk this journey together, you and I forever.   I will take you places where history has occurred and we will enjoy going back in time and learning of its people.  I will never leave you.  I will show you love, satisfaction and true contentment.  Palm to palm I will never deceive you or let you go.  I promise… Come beautiful traveler, we were meant to be together – travel my way, there is much to be seen and we will journey together.”  It beckoned to me like an invitation from a lover.  I was captivated, I believed it, I wanted it, there was no way I would go any other way, except the way this path beckoned.   I followed it a ways, stopping at one point to lie down on my back on the sweet fragrant green grass and breathe in the intoxicating scent.  Stretching out my arms luxuriously behind my head to feel the cool smooth grass against my palms and stare up at the clear blue sky and bask in the rays of the sun.   “This is absolute Heaven,” I sighed in delight. The best way ever! The greatest decision I have ever made! I should have torn that sign down, to think I would have missed this lovely little way because of it.  I wonder how many people have missed out on such a scenic site due to that horrid little misinforming sign?!”  I was of a mind to rise up, turn around and do that very thing, but decided against it.  “I am a knowledgeable, intelligent being.  Capable of making up my own mind and choosing what is right for me!” I mumbled to myself,  reluctantly rising up to leave and continue on my way, in doing so I passed by a small pond to filled with scenic flat brown lily pads.

“Are you now?” croaked a response, “Are you sure about that?”

I stopped mid-step and looked around to see where the remark had come from. “Who said that?”

“Me that’s who,” was the response. 

My eyes spanned the ground around me and finally located the source.

“So full of yourself, it’s a wonder you saw me at all,” He huffed blowing up his vocal sacs with air, causing his throat to balloon out.  I dispersed of my back pack, dropped down to the ground to see him better.  There upon a lily pad sat a dark green bullfrog looking at me with disdain in his black little eyes.  “Doesn’t it say something in the rule book about “pride before a fall?” He asked.

“What exactly does that mean?” I asked insulted, was this tiny little green creature judging me? 

“It means that perhaps you should consider the fact that there may be more to things than what meets your eye. Perhaps you don’t know as much as you think you do.  Maybe there was a reason beyond what you could see for that caution sign warning.”  He accentuated his remark by extending his tongue and capturing a fly who had mistakenly thought could fly by unnoticed.  “Point made and perfect timing.  Just as that fly thought he could sneak by me unawares, he was sadly mistaken, to his demolish and to my satisfaction.”

“I beg your pardon!” I said with great indignation.  “You are just a little green bullfrog, what could you possibly know that I don’t?!” I rose back up rocking on the back of my heels.

“Is that a fact?” He replied as he watched me rise.  “I wouldn’t be so sure of that if I was you, I would try to be a bit more open minded…” With that he extended his long green legs and did a flying leap off the lily pad with so high a jump that the water splashed me full in the face.

“What audacity!” I exclaimed wiping the pond water off my face with the edge of my sleeve. Picking up my back pack, I turned my back to the pond and stomped forward to resume my travels. “Wretched little frog!  I hope he gets eaten by a snake!”  Onward in my journey I went.

MY life, MY plans, MY schedule, MY way.  I had made a plan for my life and I was going forward, confident in that plan.  I had made the right decision and as I walked all of my senses delighted in the world around me.  Who knew where I should go better than I? Proud of myself and looking forward to my destination, I continued on.  If things felt this right, they certainly could not be wrong, or so I thought…

As time went on, my travels began to feel a bit too long, the pungent smell of honeysuckle which once had smelled so appealing, began to smell sickeningly sweet.  As the sun began to sink behind its horizon, mosquitoes appeared buzzing annoyingly around my head and nipping at my feet, try as I might, I could not get them to leave me alone.

“Oh you dratted bugs – why must I have been blessed with such sweet blood!” I complained as I tried to swat them as I continued on my way.   “I should be at my destination now.”  Wearily I looked around me.  The pack on my back felt heavy now and was beginning to chafe the area between my shoulder blades, taking it down; I took out my shoes and put them back on my bug bitten feet. I sat against a large boulder, raising my knees up to my chest and wrapping my arms around my legs.

“Regretting your choice of actions yet?” said a quiet voice.

“Oh no, not you again Mister Frog,” I groaned trying to adjust my eyes to the dusk locate the annoying little amphibian.

“I’ve been called quite a few things in my life, but frog is not one of them,” the voice chuckled.

If my sense of hearing was correct, it was coming from somewhere above me, finally I saw it and when I did, I wish I hadn’t.  I backed away from the boulder as quickly as I could.

“Oh come on now,” it exclaimed watching me with little red eyes as it twitched its whiskers. “I’ve no intention of spraying you, I’d say you’ve already made quite a stink of things, wouldn’t you agree?” The skunk twitched her tail as if to toy with me, and laughed in amusement as I cringed and closed my eyes. “Tell me something,” she continued, “why do you have a rule book in your bag if you chose not to follow it? Do you find comfort in just the carrying of it?”  She tilted her head to the left to look at me.  I could see her red eyes glowing in the dusk of the evening.  Once in my own travels I came across the belongings of a camper who had gone out upon a hike.  They had left upon their sleeping bag the same book of rules you too carry.  I was curious about it, so I meandered over to take a closer look. Opened the pages to a rule which said, in a section entitled Psalms Chapter 32 verse 8: “The Lord says, I will guide you along the best pathway of your life.  I will advise you and watch over you.”  I’m curious, or maybe just a bit nosey – but I have to ask, have you listen to His advice? Have you allowed Him to guide you or have you chosen to guide yourself?”  The skunk rested her chin upon her paws and waited for my response.

“What I do, how I do, why I do, is no one else’s concern, only mine.  It is why it is referred to as a “personal” relationship. That sign was clearly there in error.  Someone should have taken it down a long time ago.  I only wish I had done it before I travelled forward.”

“Interesting…” commented the skunk.  “This is only my two cents worth and you can take it for what you will; but it seems to me that a relationship consists of more than just one.  Yet I have not heard you communicate to this Lord of yours in any way.  In fact, I have only heard you talk to yourself about how pleased you are with you, with the decisions you have made…  Look around yourself.  Have you gotten to where you wanted to go? Have you eaten? Are you cold?  To me you look disheveled, lost and irritated far different from the girl I saw set out this morning.  Whose rulebook are you following if not the one in your sack?”

Her words stirred up within me a great irritation and without thinking, I took off my right shoe and flung it at her, hitting her right upon her left hind quarters, which caused her to release the most pungent and smelly sprays which caused my eyes to sting and I began to choke at the stench.

“That was simply cruel, “she said turning around with a limp. “More than cruel, it was mean.  It was cruel and mean.”  She looked over her shoulder at me with a hurt expression on her black and white striped face as she limped off into the dark. “It seems to me, I once saw something else in that rule book you never read, about a person reaping what they sow… You’ll have to tell me how all this worked out for you if ever we meet again.” And she disappeared into the dark.

I was alone, alone with only one shoe.  Night had fallen and now I simply wanted to be done with this part of my journey. I could barely see two feet in front of me and I reeked of skunk.  This was not going according to my plan. This was not the way things were supposed to be, and there was no one here for me to talk to, what should I do? Not knowing, I decided I had no choice but to settle in for the night. Tomorrow I would find a place to bathe and continue on my journey, which surely must be soon coming to an end.

“Don’t listen to any of them, ” the pathway beseeched me. “We were meant to journey together. Keep going.  I will never leave you, we belong together.  You are my one true love, beloved traveler let me take you down a way you’ve never been. Look at my picturesque background, like what you see and tell me you do.  The beauty of may way is solely for you.”  I snuggled closer to the ground.  I loved this pathway like no other I had travelled, I was going to stay on it forever.  I was committed to its way.

Even as I thought that, a feeling of uneasiness crept over me and for the first time, I began to feel a niggling of doubt, doubt that what the pathway was saying was true.  What if they were right? What if I was being deceived?  What if the pathway was lying to me and taking me down a way I didn’t know? I tried to shake the thought off.  I loved this pathway and had forsaken all other ways to follow its trail.  Taking my remaining shoe off and putting my backpack against the ground I lay my head down upon it, like a pillow, the words of the ladybug, frog and the skunk replaying through my head.

“It will deceive you, lie to you, make you promises  it will never keep, use you and lead you down a way you never should go it knows nothing but deception and is full of self with no consideration to the feelings and heart of the traveler who travels its length. It will take and take and take from you, suck your feelings dry until you have nothing left to give.”
Does not your rule book say pride before a fall? Perhaps you should have more of an open mind, there may be more than what you see…”
“Why do you have it in your bag if you choose not to follow it?”

Was not life filled with making decisions? The way seemed straight and I didn’t want to go another. It was my choice and with that last thought inside my head, I closed my eyes and fell asleep.

My own stench woke me up. I’ve got to get cleaned off! I thought as I scrambled up and ran my fingers through my hair.  I’ve got to get clean! The smell of skunk had permeated my clothes and I knew that I would have to bathe clothes and all, so off I went searching for water.  

“Come, I shall show you where you can go,” the pathway said lovingly to me.  “I shall take you where you can get cleaned off and where we can be as one forever.”

I came to a high rise of land and as I reached the top, I could see a river below.  In my relief and excitement I hiked up my backpack and started to run, barefoot down towards the water, which turned out to be a HUGE mistake.  As I got closer to the shore, I encountered sand.  Not just any sand, quicksand.  Only I didn’t know it until I had reached it.  I started to sink.

“Oh this is not good! Not good at all!” I cried trying to get out.  But the more I struggled, the more I could feel my body sinking deeper. “Oh my! What should I do?!  Oh no!” I said trying to remain calm.  What a pickle I had gotten myself into. “Pathway, where have you taken me?” I cried out.

“This is not my fault but yours.” The pathway said sternly in a disciplinary tone of voice.  “People blame me ALL the time for things that are not my fault.  It is YOURS. You had no intention of ever staying on my pathway, did you? Did you wonder about paths that you had not ventured last night as  you slept? Did you listen to the creatures and their accusations around you?”

The more it accused and spoke, the deeper I began to sink.  “What are you saying?” I asked astonished, trying not to fight against the pull. “Happily I would have journeyed down your pathway all the remaining days of my life, for I have loved every moment of this journey.” At that same moment I noticed a troll walking over the side of a hill. 

“Help! Help! Help!”  I yelled trying to yell without thrashing around. The backpack which I had had no my back felt like a millstone around my neck. Oh that I had removed it from my body prior to running towards the water!

The troll stood far from the sand I had so stupidly and willingly walked into and looked at me and laughed.

“What have you here my darling pathway?” The toothless troll questioned. She was about 300 pounds, stringy greasy hair, a polyester dress hung loosely around her pudgy form. Then as she leaned closer, she noticed me and her expression changed to one of anger.

“Who is this that you have allowed to venture upon our land?” She bellowed to the pathway. (If I had had both feet planted firmly on the ground I would have felt the pathway quiver in fear.)

The pathway was afraid of this troll? What power did she exhort over it?

“No one dear, just a wayward traveler.” The pathway responded, voice shaking.

Oh so now instead of “beloved” I was a “wayward traveler?” The revelation shocked me as I fought to keep my head above the mire.  For the second time I thought about all the warning signs that had come my way.  Signs I had chosen to ignore.  

“I’d like to keep her if I may.” The pathway stated to the troll.

“Cover up her head and kill her.” The troll said, waiting for the quicksand to cover my head.

“Ahhhh but then she would be one with my land and with me forever,” the pathway said quickly.  ” You wouldn’t want that now, would you my trollness?” He said it seductively.

The troll tapped a big fat stubby finger to her chin.  “That simply won’t do at all… You cannot keep her – expel her from the mire right now and then follow your own path home for we shall discuss this further!” She stamped a fat little trolly leg, turned around and marched back the way she had come.

The pathway obeyed her and I felt a suction that carried me down at first, covered my head in its slimy, muddy waters and then I was lifted and propelled high into the air, falling on my backside so hard that my rule book, surprisingly undamaged by the mire fell out on the ground beside me.  I landed hard, covered in filth, smelling like skunk and nasty pond water.

My heart was shattered into a million little pieces and at this point, I could not focus upon anything but the pain.

“I’m sorry I deceived you,” The pathway said after a moment. “I wasted so much of your time. I am unworthy of your loyalty and your love.”

My heart hurt, it was hard to hear what the pathway was saying because the loudness of my pain reduced its words to a mere whisper.

“I should never have come this way.  I should have obeyed the sign and ventured the way it indicated. Had I known I would be in so much anguish I would never have turned down your way.” My eyes filled with tears, as my backside smarted, my heart hurt and I felt very alone and lost.  I no longer trusted my own discernment.  “You have hurt me more than I have ever experienced in my life. But the truth is, you poor pathway are the one to be pitied, for the truth is, you go in only one direction. I saw you and loved your way and would gladly have walked upon your path until the end of time.  I saw the beauty in you for who you were, while everyone else just saw a “way.” You are the one who will have to hope that people will ignore the sign and venture upon your pathway and discover the beauty I saw in you. It may take me some time, but I will recover and I will go on.  You will remain, stagnant and stuck and look what you have to contend with?  All the days of your life. I am shattered into a million little pieces, but my God will put me back together and I will rise more beautiful, more knowledgeable and wiser than I was before because I take responsibility for my actions.”   I picked up my rulebook, my back pack, wiped the slime as well as I could off my body.  “I renounce you and this pathway I have innocently, willingly, wrongly followed in a love which could never be returned.  Go away from me, for you paid my love back with deception – back to your old life, your old ways and your old habits.  I shall not journey with you anymore.”  I turned my back on the pathway I had loved to detour a different route.  Broken, but not defeated. Heavy hearted, yet at peace because I was finally going the right way.

“Lord, you say things for a reason.  Forgive us when we do not heed Your voice, but choose to listen to ourselves. The louder our own voices get, the softer becomes Yours because You are a Father who gives us free will.  We can be wayward children, yet still You love us.  Still you patiently await our return to Your way.  I ask that You meet me halfway, for my heart is shattered and I am having a hard time thinking straight and I doubt myself. Forgive me my sins, wash me with the blood of Jesus.  I repent.  I renounce anything that might hinder me from hearing Your voice and following Your direction for my life.  Cleanse me from the filthiness I have gained upon my journey.  My hurt is my own, I own it, I acknowledge it.  I ask that you would heal my heart and bind it back together. Forgive me for not guarding it better, for it is the well spring of life. I ask you this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ my Savior. Who died on the cross for forgiveness of my sins, rose again and is seated at the right hand of the Father. Amen.”

As I stood in the middle of I-don’t-know-where, the sun came through the trees and landed upon my form.  It’s light stretched out to touch my sodden, dirty clothes and made them white as snow. My stench was gone. The grime was gone. I was clean.

I could no longer hear the pathway – it was in the past.  It’s voice was gone.  But I was not alone.  A new clearer voice filled my head.

“My precious daughter, how I rejoice upon your return, you see? I am meeting you halfway.  Though your sins were scarlet, I have made them white as snow.  Here I AM, I AM the one who heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.  Surely I will bind up yours and heal you, for I love you. You are mine. I have plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.  Lift up your head – child YOU are MINE. Come, lets go forward in my love, my grace and my mercy – I have work for you to do.”

And so another chapter in my life closes, do I still hurt? Yes.  I imagine it will take some time for that pain to wane.  For I loved that pathway and I pray that at sometime, it will become a pathway of light instead of one that hurts and crushes and destroys what was meant for only love.

At the beginning of the pathway stood a wanderer – observing the sign and scratching her head… 

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

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.

 

Are You There God?  It’s Me, (Add Your Name Here)…”

When I was a child, I read one of author Judy Blume’s books entitled, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” It is the story of a 6th grade girl who is coming of age and how she converses with God. It is what began my own childhood conversations with God.

When I pray, I talk to God like I talk to you – readers of my blog. I speak my mind. I am honest and transparent. I am REAL with God. Why? Because the Bible tells me:

He knows my thoughts before I even think them.” (Psalms 139:2)

So why not just be honest and forthcoming? Besides God desires a relationship with you, a relationship requires communication. My own personal opinion is that God loves it when you have “conversations” with Him.

“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” (Isaiah 29:13)

The above describes being “religious” having a personal relationship with God is communicating with Him, having a relationship with Him. Your heart is in your conversations with Him, it is a one on one conversation and yet because God looks at the heart of an individual, while we can only see the outside – it is up to God to determine whether or not it is a “personal relationship with Him.” It is between that individual and God.

Any “relationship” requires communication. A relationship should be a two way street – even one with God. I have had many a conversation with God that is similar to that of a child having a temper tantrum on the floor of a store aisle with some of my prayer requests, like a child who wants their parent to buy them a piece of candy and the parent says, “no” there are times when I have brought a request before God and He has said no. No child wants to hear the word “no.” But in looking back at my past prayer requests I can see times where God has compassionately shown me why He has said no. (He doesn’t always show us – He doesn’t have to – He is God). But the one thing we can keep in mind is that:

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

We don’t see the FULL situation but God does, He has our best in mind. The Bible tells us:

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

If you are a parent you can relate. There are times when you have had to say no to your own children – maybe it’s that they want a cookie before dinner and you say, “no.” And while all they see is that they want that cookie and you have said no! What YOU see is that if you give them that cookie before dinner, it will lessen their appetite to eat food that is more nourishing for them. If we think that way, how much more so does our Heavenly Father who sees oh so much more than we do?

I have come to the conclusion that it is all about the issue of trust…

Trust… What a small word with such a significant meaning…   The definition of trust according to Webster’s Dictionary:

Trust – Reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. One in which confidence is placed.

Who is your confidence placed? Who do you trust?

Trust is something that makes us vulnerable. Who we trust or how we trust is pretty much based upon our past experiences. It also makes it difficult when we have been let down to confidently; walk by faith and not by sight. When people have let us down, it is hard to confidently trust in a God who says He won’t. It is probably one of the hardest lessons to learn in our walk with Him. He desires us to trust Him. Do you trust Him? When you find yourself in a situation where it feels “pitch black” and you can’t see two feet in front of you – do you feel as though God has your back? Sometimes God allows you to be in those situations just so you can place your trust in Him. When you are out of answers and your head is in your hands – Who do you trust? Do you believe you can trust God?

Sometimes we can make trust a “head thing” and not a heart thing. God wants us to step out in faith and know without a doubt that we can trust Him. This is hard to do because while we have God desiring us to trust Him, there is ol’ slewfoot standing by our heads whispering in our ears:

“You are certainly in a fine kettle of fish. You are here because of fault A,B,C – all of your own doing…” Or he taunts me saying, “Yeah – look at Suzy Q over there. She has A,B,C, while you – well you are lacking in D,E,F, G. God must love her more than He loves you…”

Those are lies from the pit of hell. The devil doesn’t want you to trust in God – even when you don’t see an answer. Remember he is the author of lies and confusion. The very last thing he wants you to do is trust in God.

Trust… Sometimes we don’t even “trust” our own selves to make the right decisions. It’s enough to make you want to cross your own eyes. Do you second guess yourself? We all have weaknesses. We all have our “Achilles heel.” And the devil knows how to rub salt into wounds that need to be healed. “Why would God want to help you???” The taunts go on and on hitting those nerves that either push us into depression, despair or are used to push us farther away from believing that God is concerned about us and really cares. Instead of believing the promises we have, we believe the author of lies who (if you recall) deceived Eve and caused sin and problems and death to enter into the world in the first place… His tricks are still the same, they haven’t changed, if they were good enough for him to use on those “REAL” people (notice they were not characters – but real people like you and I) in the Bible, why would he not try to use those same methods and tricks on us now? Remember, he even tried to boldly tempt Jesus in the desert. If he was bold enough to try and tempt Jesus, what makes us think he won’t try to do the same with us?

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

God desires that you have life – abundant life. Who are you going to believe and trust? This is one of the ongoing lessons we continuously have to decide throughout anything that life throws our way.

Communication is an ongoing element in a relationship. Relationships in order to be successful satisfying and in order to grow require nourishment. If you are mad at God – Tell Him! He knows! Nothing you are feeling surprises Him. He is your Father. If you need guidance or clarification, tell Him! If we take time to quiet our souls and listen, we will hear Him speak. If we can quiet down the noise of our worries, concerns (and sometimes ourselves even!) You will hear God’s steady, soothing quiet voice. In my own experience God has never once “yelled” at me. Disciplined me, yes – but His voice has been one that is calming and soothing and personal. It takes time to form a strong relationship, but a relationship is something that requires two individuals and God has already said:

“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)

God already desires to be in a relationship with you. To reveal His plan for your life, to reveal how much He loves you. It requires trust which is an ongoing element and difficult to do at some moments in our walk with Him. But when we do trust Him, even when we don’t understand the “why” of a situation, we can experience “the peace that passes ALL understanding” (Psalms 4:7) that comes only from trusting that no matter what we are experiencing, God is in control. Because whether or not we “feel” or “believe” that He is. He is.

 

Hi, are You there Lord? It’s me – Kelly… I am going through a situation that I have NO clue as to what to do. Which way to turn, but I trust that my steps are ordained by you. (Psalms 37:23). I know that you have given me certain promises in the Bible to cling to and believe in when I don’t see a way. I trust You. You tell me that “You have engraved me in the palm of your hand.” (Isaiah 49:16), while I don’t understand or fully see all that is going on around me – I know you do and I know that I belong to You. I need You. Thank You for being an ever present help in time of trouble. Help me to rest and trust in You. In Jesus’ precious name I give this situation to You. I drop it at the foot of your cross knowing fully well that you are more able to handle it than I. Knowing fully well that You have my best interest in mind. Knowing that my steps are ordered by You. I thank you for Your provision, Your help, Your love. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen”

 More Words for Your Journey 

Hello Old Familiar Place…

Hello old familiar place, it has been a year and here I am again; the place I least want to be.  Yet I’m here…  I didn’t realize how fast the year has gone by until I realized it is that time again… I stand in front of your doors, my back straight, my chin set firm – trying to keep the memories of 4 years ago from flooding over me and keeping me from doing what I know needs to be done.  Like a dog fighting against getting a bath, I have to pull my own arm to move jellied legs forward.

“I can do this.  I need to do this. I WILL do this.”  I encourage myself as I move forward, taking one step at a time.

Hello old familiar place, four years ago I walked through your doors, numb, scared, and uncertain of what the future would hold – or even if there would be a future to hold anything.  Yet here I am…

 I am not the same woman I was four years ago when I first entered your doors.  Every year I am a little bit stronger.  Every year I realize how blessed I am to have had yet another year.  I am more grateful for every day that God gives me a fresh page of life to write on.  I am more aware of the fact that none of us are promised tomorrow.  When I walked through the door four years ago, the pages of my life were written in water colors.  Now – they hold a precious vibrancy and boldness as I have learned to embrace each day.  The truth is that none of us know what tomorrow may bring – which is why we have to be thankful for today.

Hello old familiar place, I did not want to revisit you, yet every year I faithfully come against my will but with the strength of better judgment, because I know I have to take care of me.

I am not a statistic, I am not a number, I am not a previous diagnosis – and I most certainly am not “in remission.”   I am a thriving survivor.  I am healed.  I am a child of the utmost high God.  I will walk through your doors trying not to let the flood of past memories overwhelm and terrify me – but to walk in the strength of the Lord holding on to my faith remembering Who it is who is the Author and the Finisher of my faith.  My life is in His hands.  It always has been and it always will be. Although you can’t see it and I appear to be alone – I am not, you see, He is holding my hand.  I can hear Him whispering in my ear:

“My child I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you, through rivers you shall not be swept away. When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, nor will flames consume you, for I, the Lord am your God .” (Isaiah 43:1-3)

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

“You can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you.” (Philippians 4:13)

Hello old familiar place. God used you once to save my life – that is why I return every year. Every year I walk through your doors I am thankful anew at the previous year God has given me.  I am hopeful that I will be given another.  I should have felt that way before any of this had happened, I thought I had – but I realized I had taken life for granted…  I’ve learned  not to.  I have metamorphosed in a way I never imagined I would.  Yet even though I didn’t know what would happen – God did. In the dark place I have been He has brought the amazing light of other women into my life who have been where I have been. Women from ALL walks of life; women with the same questions and worries and wonders as I.  A pink rover line that needs to end, no new members joining in on it; but in the meantime – we squeeze each other’s hands.  We laugh, we question, we cry, we rejoice, we share, we LIVE.

Hello old familiar place – when my testing and appointment is over I shall run out your doors not realizing I had been holding my breath all the way through.  I shall release it and I shall go forth with a renewed commitment to live life FULLY and to make sure that I pay it forward. I will love more deeply, hug my children harder, I will laugh more heartedly, I will savor each moment of life as it was meant to be savored and I will dance as David danced.  In fact, I shall dance out your doors and not look back but forward until we meet again.  

 More Words For Your Journey

 

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)

 

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!

Humpty Dumpty Moments

Pride Before a Fall (Proverbs 16:18)

Humpty Dumpty moments… Have you had one? Come on, be honest with yourself… I know I have…

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

We have all heard the story of Humpty Dumpty, haven’t we? 
Ask yourself this – How close are you to falling off the edge of the wall of your own life? And are you even aware of the fact that you are sitting on the very edge?

In one shocking moment, you’re free falling…

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King’s horses,
All the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.
 

There you lay waaaaaaaay down on the ground looking up at the distance of how far you’ve fallen. You are absolutely incredulous.

“How did this happen? Why did this happen? What happened?”

Your thoughts are as shattered as your being.

“This can’t be happening to me… Things like this don’t happen to me, they happen to someone else. I must be dreaming. That’s it – this isn’t real. I’m dreaming…”

You lay there with no idea of how much time has passed, willing yourself to wake up from this dreadful dream so that you can just shake it off and laugh over it by sharing the “dream” with a friend. Yet the dream doesn’t go away and you don’t wake up. It’s not a dream, it’s real and you don’t know what to do.

Soon you can hear the rumbling of the ground, even from as far below as you are, the sound of hoofs hitting the pavement above. Before long the King’s men peer out at you from over the top of the wall.

“Help me!!!!” You cry out, relieved that help has finally arrived.

They look long and hard at you from waaaaaaay above.

“Help you?” The leader responds.

“Yes! Help me!” You cry out somewhat exasperated wanting to stamp your foot if only it wasn’t over there… Somewhere…

“Well if I help you – who will help ME?” The leader questions eyeballing the distance from the wall to the ground, “What if I fall because YOU fell?” He adds, backing up. And in following his lead the others back up as well.

“Well if you don’t help me, who will?” You cry out in despair.

“Clearly you brought this all on yourself.” One of the King’s men calls down. “This is your fault. You did it; you fell and now look at you.” He waves his hand in disgust at your scattered pieces. “What an absolute mess!”

“It serves you right!” Yells down another, “Why should I lower myself down to your level and risk my own life to help you out? No thank you! I have my own life to consider!”

“Maybe you were pushed!” Another King’s men suggests. “What did you do to make someone push you off that wall?”

“You must have done something to deserve this.” Calls down another, “If I were you, I would sit there and look back on my life and see what I did to find myself in such a predicament. You must be being punished for something you’ve done.”

Oh how the taunts and jabs continue, on and on they went looking down their pompous noses at your scattered pieces, not trying to help, not caring that you could hear every single word they said.

One by one the King’s men turned their horses around and go about their merry way. And although you can no longer see them from your lowly position of below the wall, you can imagine the slander, gossip and stories that will be told throughout the town of the state they found you in.

If not for the noisiness of your own thoughts, all would be quiet…

“Maybe it is my fault… Perhaps I was over confident in my life. Perhaps I became too cocky and prideful and maybe even judgmental and so sure of myself. Never in a million years did I ever think this is where I would be… No one can help me now, it’s hopeless, I don’t see a way out. I suppose I shall lie here and die.”

“You will not die. The number of your days shall be fulfilled.” (Exodus 23:26) “I can help you.”

“Great, I’m really losing it now.” You say out loud. “I’m losing my mind on top of everything else…”

“Are you ready to listen to me? Or will you drown me out as you’ve done in the past by covering my voice up with excuses or with the noisiness of your life? If you had listened to me up there on the wall, you would not be in the physically broken state you are in.”

“Go ahead! Taunt me as the King’s men have! Kick me when I’m down! There is nothing you can say that is any different from what I’ve already heard!” You cry out wishing you had arms to fling out in frustration but they are located way over there somewhere…

“How about, I love you? How about, though your sins are scarlet I shall make them white as snow.”(Isaiah 1:18)

The words are healing. They begin to soothe you, like a mother soothes a fussy child. You’re fully listening.

“I came so that you could have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10), yet you thought you knew better than I what that abundance in your life should be. So against my better judgment, I let you. I wanted you trust in me with all your heart and not to lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6), I wanted you to acknowledge me in all your ways. Yet you never made time for me. The more I tried to show my love for you, the more you allowed the noise of your life to drown me out. There have been many times in your life where I have had to sit back and watch you – fall. I’ve been waiting for you to call upon my name. Yet you didn’t. And the louder your life has gotten the quieter my voice has become.”

It’s true, you think. And so obvious, there is no denying it. “Okay.” You say. “What choice do I have?”

“You have always had a choice. You just haven’t chosen the wisest ones.”

“I’m listening…”

The Holy Spirit continues to speak words of love and healing and direction over you and as you lay there intently listening, receiving and nodding in agreement with the words He says, your pieces start to fly together from where they are strewn and hold fast until all of you is as you once were, whole. As God had originally created you to be, yet there is something that is now a part of you that wasn’t before…

His peace.
His wonderful, beautiful peace – that passes ALL worldly understanding and comes only from Him.

You rise up a new creation.

“Remember all I have said to you,” The Lord says. “The truth is Humpty, you were broken on the inside before you even fell off that wall. You just didn’t know it. Sometimes I have to allow situations in your life to happen, because it is the only way I can get your undivided attention; bring you to a point where you can truly see that the only answer is ME. For without Me, whether you admit it or not – you are broken. You are lost and there is NO ONE who can put you back together again. Not yourself, not anyone else – only ME. To try to find another way is useless. For I am the way, the truth and the life; No one comes to the Father, except by Me.” (John 14:6). It takes some people their whole life to realize the truth of My words – if at all.  There has always been a plan for your life and all you have ever needed to do – is acknowledge me and heed it.”

Psalms 18:33-36 fills your head as you walk back up to where you had fallen off that wall and peer down at the distance you had fallen.

“He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.”

And you rejoice and thank God for His forgiveness, His grace, His mercy, His patience and most of all His love and that the best, safest place to be – is in His presence in His good and perfect will. With that realization you also realize that life is a journey and during those times when you feel “broken” all you need to do is call on His name and He will restore you.

“I will restore to you the years that the Locust has eaten.” (Joel 2:25)

He calls you “His Beloved” because He loves you, and whether or not you are aware of it – you belong to Him.

 

 

 

More Words for Your Journey

The Worries

The worries woke me up this morning… They are the ugly black creatures that wait until the wee hours of morning to harass you and wake you up from your sleep whispering in your ear… “How are you going to resolve this problem or this one…. or this one… or this one…”  They steal your peace and fill you with fear and well – worry.  The more of an ear you give them, the louder and more aggressive they become.  Their biggest trick is to taunt you, often times repeating the same thing over and over again…”You have to take care of A,B,C – but you can’t… Because all you have is this… How are you going to do it? You can’t.. There will be ramifications… You are in trouble…”  They get louder and louder because they are “faith drowners.”  If you listen to the worries, the voice of your faith becomes a whisper until it blows out like a fire that becomes nothing more than an ember and if you’re not careful they can totally blow the fire of your faith out until all that is left is smoke.

Worries  can only become as big as you allow them to get.  If you give them your undivided attention they grow, bigger and bigger and bigger!  They make your heart palpitate and ruin any enjoyment you might get from a day.  They drown out everything around you until you are consumed with them. Like a tornado they can destroy everything good in your life.  Wiping out family moments, or enjoying the small things in life because all you can see is the darkness of the worries and the more you give them room – pretty soon they are all you can focus on. All you can see is their blackness, they choke out anything good around you and rob you of the simple things in life. Their job is to steal from you – peace, joy, love, contentment, happiness.  They fill you with stress, heart palpitations, health issues and sometimes turn you into a person full of bitterness instead of one of faith.

How do you combat the worries when they come flooding into your mind? Sometimes having someone to share them with helps to make them shrink down into the little itty bitty things they really are. Two heads are better than one, sharing your worries helps sometimes helps put them in perspective. 

The most powerful slayer of worries, is the Word of God.  The best way to combat the worries is to quote scriptures out loud.  Sometimes the louder you quote your promises, the bigger your faith becomes and the worries shrink.  Lift EACH worry up to the light of your Heavenly Father in prayer, because He is BIGGER than ANY worry that can harass you.  How to handle worries are even addressed in the bible:

“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? (Matthew 6:25)

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” (Luke 12:26)

“I sought the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from ALL my fears.” (Psalms 34:4)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:5-8)

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) 

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13)

We choose how we live life.  We can allow “the worries” to overwhelm us and take over and live our lives in worry and fear – or we can choose to recognize those worries, sort out the things we can change and pray about those things we have no control over.  The choice is ours. Worries are thieves that try to enter our mind and rob us of all the good things in life.  John 10:10 tells us that “God came so that we could have life and have it MORE abundantly.”  Who do you choose to listen to? The Author and Creator of life? Or the worries that are nothing more than annoyances that try to deplete us of the enjoyment of life that God has so abundantly given us?  

L’Chaim – To life!  Choose life!  When the worries flood your mind – combat them by “changing your mind.”  Watch them dissipate as you concentrate your mind on your blessings instead of on your lack.  Darkness cannot abide with light.  As you begin to think of all the many ways that you are blessed those little dark “worries” will run in fear, for they cannot stand when you replace them with recognizing ALL the blessings you have in your life.  They will flee. Try it and see and watch God as He blesses you with an increase of faith, mercy, grace and appreciation for ALL the good that is in your life.  

“Worries – be gone! I’ve no room in my mind for you today as I concentrate on all that is good and right in my life. I give you no more power over my mind. You may not steal any more moments of my life or take away my peace of mind! Be ye gone! I cover you with the blood of Jesus. In Jesus name! AMEN!”             More Words for Your Journey

Are You in the Middle of a Jonah Moment?

What Does God Have to Do to “Capture” Your Undivided Attention?

 

I wonder what Jonah thought as he sat in the belly of that whale. I imagine him sitting with his back against a side of the belly wall resting his head in his hands wondering how he had gotten into this “fine kettle of fish.” Did he sit there berating himself for all his past mistakes that led up to where he was? I’m sure he must have felt hopeless as he sat there, incredulous that he was actually in the belly of a whale. No human answer to appease the situation.

 Although I have never found myself in the “belly of a whale” I have found myself in situations that no matter what angle I looked at it – seemed “hopeless” and like there was no way out.   Ironically, most of those “deep belly” situations are situations that we have allowed ourselves to walk straight into. I often wonder if God watches us like we watch a movie… Like the scenes in a movie where the person is about to face danger or make an unwise decision, do you think God watches us and says, “No! No! Don’t take that left! Don’t go in there!” But stupidly blind we do just that, and then we wonder how we got where we were in the first place…

 I’m quite sure that all Jonah could do while he sat in the belly of that whale, was pray. He couldn’t run from God anymore – there was no place to run! He was at a point where all he could do was reflect on what had gotten him there and pray that God would deliver him.   Can you imagine what it was like? No doubt it was wet, cold and dark and probably very lonely. I imagine he could feel the body of the whale moving as the creature moved throughout the depths of the sea. I’m sure Jonah was incredulous that he was still alive. I imagine the only thing he could do to keep his sanity was to pray – to talk to God. And God obviously wanted Jonah’s undivided attention to use one of the earth’s biggest creatures to capture him so that he would finally be still and listen!  What does it take for God to capture your attention?  What does He have to do to bring you to a point where the distractions and noise are at a minimum and you are finally willing to listen to what it is He has to say?  Sometimes we are surrounded with so much noise from our lives that we are missing what it is God has to say to us because we don’t know how to “be still and know He is God.”

 There have been times in my life when I have “run from God.” Either because I’m being wayward and like a spoiled disobedient child who “just wants her way” or because I have wandered off the pathway and gotten lost – like a dumb sheep. So lost that not unlike what it must have been like for Jonah – all I can do once I’ve gotten tired of going around in circles, is to sit down, get quiet and talk to God. The talking to Him is sometimes as difficult as the wandering. Sometimes I haven’t known where to start in the conversation…

 “Lord? It’s me… Ummm… I’m kind of lost… With my words and in my walk… I’m really glad you know my thoughts before I even think them because – I’m not sure I even understand them myself at this point… I need your help Father. I don’t know who else to turn to… Please help me. Please forgive me. Please guide me…”

 I believe God honors prayers that come from the heart. No matter the situation or how we got to that point. I believe that God allows us to be “dumb sheep” and go through a situation because it will humble us and make us even more aware that we need Him.   Perhaps He just wants to hear it from us.

 I have no doubt that even as Jonah sat contemplating his fate, not knowing what was going to happen, speaking most likely from his heart to God and finally ready to listen, that unbeknown to Jonah that whale was already on route towards land, where God would have Jonah vomited up upon the earth – with finally a clearer understanding of what God wanted, and the right mindset to go forth with the calling God had chosen him to do.

 God has a calling on each of our individual lives. We can either “go with the tide” or fight it every step of the way to still come back to the point where we realize that true satisfaction, peace and well being comes with obeying what God has given us to do with our lives. Even in writing those words, I see it so clearly – there is a plan for your life, as there was with Jonah’s and it is one that God has given you gifts to achieve.   He is a patient, loving Father who wants the best for you and being your Creator, knows what that “best” is. Isn’t it time you stopped running from God? It may not be the actual “belly of a whale” you find yourself currently in – but discouraged, depressed and with a lack of peace. Probably all of which Jonah felt himself (and more!). It only takes a conversation with your Heavenly Father to turn a situation around, just as God turned the whale around. Who knows? He could be turning your situation around even as you read these words. Trust Him. He knows what He’s doing and He loves you.More Words for Your Journey

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.

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.

 

 

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.

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? 

 Do You Babel? (Yes, I Know I spelled it Incorrectly)

Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. (Proverbs 25:15)

 

Did you ever play the game “Telephone” as a child? I remember playing this at camp with friends. We’d form a line, and the leader of the line would turn and whisper into the ear of the person beside her a secret and then that person would whisper it into the ear of the person beside her, and so on and so on until it reached the very last person at the end of the line. The person at the end would then turn to everyone and repeat what she had heard. How interesting it was to see that what had been the original “secret” had become distorted into something that the leader had never said – I always was astonished whenever I was at the beginning of the line to hear what the end results were, and then to clarify what the actual secret had been. It was funny as a child playing a game – as a grown up, not so funny.

Can you imagine what the world was like before the saga with the Tower of Babel? (Genesis 11:1-9). If I recall correctly, the people were trying to build a tower that would reach the Heavens. God did not want this to happen, so He confused their language. Can you imagine the chaos? The shock? The surprise? The confusion? And most of all – the astonishment?! Imagine being next to your life-long friend, “Ida” and all of a sudden you can’t understand a WORD she says???? And the results are misunderstandings, hurt feelings, anger – when perhaps what was said was meant in love?
I think that we have “Babel” moments continue to happen even in this day and age. You can’t perceive how someone else will receive what you say (or write), because people receive out of their own experience, values and even sometimes – pain. Not everyone thinks the same. You have no idea when you say something how it will be “filtered out” into the mind of someone else, no matter how it is said (and the same goes visa versa). So how do we limit our “Babel” moments? I suppose that is a continuous life lesson. I think sensitivity is key, being non-judgmental as each person’s story is different. God looks at the heart. Man can only look at the “outward appearance.” Sometimes listening is sufficient.
Through my experience being a cancer survivor, my insight upon things has drastically changed from bc (before cancer). I have become more compassionate and less judgmental. I have learned to listen more and speak less. When I talk with other pink survivors (breast cancer survivors), I realize, as I listen, that I am not looking at a mirror image of myself. Each survivor has their own story, their own journey and their own place from which they’ve come. Their experience or the way they cope with the aftermath of their “storm” is no less significant than mine. We are as different in our experiences (and backgrounds) as fingerprints on fingers. Yet we share one thing in common – We’ve all come face to face with a life threatening disease that has changed us in many different ways and in many different aspects of our lives. That is what unites us. Strangers turned into Sisters.
What makes me embrace my fellow pink sister is the fact that we allow each other to feel – whatever we are feeling. There is no right or wrong way. We allow each other to “express” our circumstances however the need is – to rant or rave, to pray, to vent or cry, to laugh or act ridiculously silly. These are a few of the qualities that endear us to each other. There is “NO WRONG OR RIGHT WAY.” We allow each other to FEEL. I think that is something that perhaps others can learn. Our stories are diverse – and yes, there are those “Babel” moments. Where you learn what the scripture means when it says, “To guard your heart.” (Proverbs 4:23) Understanding, compassion, forgiveness, patience and looking outside one’s self is something I think we would all do well to walk in. If I stub my toe, I may “hop around on one foot.” That does not make my pain any less relevant than yours if you’re not a “foot hopper” when you stub your toe. And while I can’t promise that I won’t laugh at how you express your pain ( if you are a friend of mine) I can promise that I will be there to help you through it and make you smile through your tears and certainly try to make you feel better than worse for stubbing your toe in the first place. Smiles and bad moods are contagious. You determine which one you’d rather spread. A smile goes a long, long way…

The Call

The Call One Never Forgets…

How is it we take so much for granted – until we don’t?

Did you see it? The day the world changed?  I saw it! I never believed in “dimensions in time” before that day.  But I remember it so clearly… It happened with just one call.

What is one suppose to do when they get that call.  There is nothing in my repertoire that prepared me for how I should act.  What is the proper etiquette?

I had stepped off the pages of my familiar life into a vortex.  

Can you still see me?  

I am moving in slow motion… Feeling invisible while you go on with your every day life – unscathed.

How can YOU go on like that? Like nothing has changed?  Going about your usual duties… Thinking of your plans, your tasks, your work. How DARE you! Stop! Right NOW!  You are moving so fast – while I am moving in sloooooow motion…

“Helloooooo!!! Can you see me????”  A strong desire to wave my hand in front of your face.  I’m quite sure I’ve become invisible.  WHY do I FEEL like I am NO LONGER a part of the HUMAN RACE???

I feel ALONE. So ALONE.

You can’t SHARE this with me.  It’s not something you can SHARE because it is happening to ME.

I can’t even FATHOM WHAT it is that has happened.  

My mind is outside of my body…. Incredulous.  Unaccepting.  Astonished….

I want to shake you!  I want to cry out to you – “Help me! Help me!!! Please wake me up from this horrible, horrible dream!!! This CAN’T BE!” But you don’t see the changes.  Maybe you don’t even see me? Because you walk right by caught up in your thoughts, in your agenda, in your plans… I HAD plans TOO!

As hard as I try to go about my normal daily duties – I can’t.  I keep thinking, “We are not the same anymore…”  You can’t understand. You can’t experience this from the same place as I.  Its as if there is a chasm between us.  I once was where you are – but you have never been where I am.

Where am I?” 

Even if you wanted to – you can’t.

“What happened? What is going on? How did this happen? Why did this happen? Did this even happen?”

I want to scream! I want to shout! I want to cry!  But I can’t because I’m on the outside looking in…

This is NOT happening.  Not to ME.  I’m YOUNG. I’m not old yet! This can’t happen – not to ME. No! No! No!!!!!

Who is that lying on that hospital bed with the backless hospital gown on, going through all those tests? Staring up at the drop down ceiling in the basement of the Radiology department of some hospital.

What did you say?

“Blah Blahh Blahhh… Cancer. Blah blah blahhh surgery… Blah blah blahhh chemo…”

Why can’t I understand your words?  Why do you sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher?  I see your lips moving – but I can’t understand your words?

I turn my head and look at my mother… My safety net. The woman who birthed me.  She reaches out and touches my hand… I feel it…. I FEEL IT!   My eyes beseech her for understanding.  For clarity.  For understanding.  She leans over and kisses my forehead.

She see’s me! I’m not invisible.  I’m still here!!! 

She translates the Oncologist words.  It’s not the words I understand and accept, it’s her reassuring firm motherly tone that soothes me.  It’s the way she is holding my hand.  It’s the strength in her voice.  The same familiar strength I’ve heard throughout many moments in my life.  Like when I was a child and woke up from a bad dream, and she comforted me as only a mother can do.  
Her voice becomes my lullaby. Rhythmic. Soothing. Like the comfort an unborn baby gets from the pulsating familiar sound of a mother’s heartbeat.

“One step at a time.  Come on. We can do this. FIGHT. You are not alone.  See? Here is my hand. FIGHT.  I am NOT going to let you give up! FIGHT. Moment by moment – see? We’ve already made it to the next.  Look – there’s another one. FIGHT.”

I do it because she says to.  She’s my mother.  She knows.  The vortex is getting smaller now. I can step from the hole back onto the groove of humanity.  Because she tells me to.
FIGHT.

I’m concentrating on the word with ALL I have. FIGHT.  Don’t GIVE in. Don’t GIVE up. Don’t let go. Don’t think too hard. FIGHT.

 I don’t recognize the woman in the mirror.  Who is she?  She kinda looks like me.

FIGHT.

My senses are gone… All except for the sense of smell… Will I EVER get that smell of chemotherapy out of my nose??? It sickens me… Taste is exaggerated, I never want to see another Jolly Rancher for as long as I live….

FIGHT.

How did the moments turn into minutes? Into hours? Into days? Into months?  Chemo is over now – switching it up to radiation…  How can something you don’t FEEL cause SUCH burns?  Will it EVER stop?

F I G H T.

Radiation is over. So are the doctor appointments. So is the treatment.  It has been a success… 

What do I do now?

LIVE.

I turn and scratch my peach fuzz head…

Live?  How?  I don’t remember how?

JUST LIVE.

And so I do..  Tentatively, like a baby learning how to walk.  Unsure of whether or not I’ll lose my balance and fall… I can see those who stood by me throughout this whole ordeal – the TRUE ones.  Ready to catch me should I begin to fall.

LIVE,” they say encouragingly…  LIVE.

And so I will… Each moment, each minute, each day.  Not as before.  Never as before.  I’ve lost the know-how to BE as before.  I am changed…

Changed – but very much ALIVE.

More Words for Your Journey

 

The Tsunami Called Breast Cancer – Dedicated to my Pink Sisters & Every Survivor

Art Work Created By My Very Talented Pink Sister, Ria Goudswaard

What a relief it would be to let my feelings pour out upon this page like a flood bursting from a dam. But I am experiencing an emotional drought. As if I’m having a rigor mortis of my emotions. My eyes sting, there are no tears. Perhaps I am shell shocked? A prisoner inside my own head… 

I am walking along the shore of my life. All you know about me is what you see now. The ravages of a tsunami called breast cancer stormed into my life. 
No warning
No forecast. 
The storm clouds came in so quickly I had no time to plan or to gather my thoughts. 
No time to think.
The waves were over my head leaving me no time to do anything other than swim with the tide. Every moment I fought for my life. It left me unrecognizable to my own self. 

Who IS this woman? I do not recognize her? Where am I? Who am I? What happened???

 Like a person caught in the middle of a bad dream, I couldn’t wake up no matter how hard I tried. Talk about a crash course in learning? What was once only the pretty pink magnetic ribbons you see while in the checkout line of a grocery store became a crash course of Breast Cancer 101. I learned MORE than I ever wanted to know about my body. I was asked to make options and make choices as if I was shopping online and choosing between one item or another.

 “Would you prefer a mastectomy or a lumpectomy? Although you are a great candidate for a lumpectomy the choice is yours….” 

Like a bad dream where the girl is trying to run away from the murderer the only thing I could think of at that time was:

“JUST GET IT OUT. CUT IT OUT. GET IT OUT!!! I DON’T CARE HOW – JUST DO IT!” 

 

So hard to believe that one lump the size of a nickel, one painless little lump right where you would place your hand to say The Pledge of Allegiance, was capable of sucking the life out of me. Like a tick or a leach. Capable of whipping into a strong storm that would become a tsunami that would affect every area of my life and that of my family leaving no stone unturned. How strange is it that cleaning up the aftermath of the tsunami hurts more than the tsunami itself? 

Walking along the shore, two years have passed. The Tsunami is gone now. So is life as I knew it.

 Is this shore my life? 

Yep… I recognize that broken piece of china. It was 19 years old. You wouldn’t know it by looking at it now, but that use to be a china cup called “marriage.” I won’t lie to you, it had a chip in it before the storm occurred. I think I accidently chipped it. But it was still drinkable… It was my fault, the chipping. But the storm, well the cup couldn’t tolerate the gales of wind. The tidal wave shattered it into that unrecognizable piece of china you see right there. Throw it down now – before you cut your finger on that jagged piece. It’s no good to anyone. It’s just a memory of what once was.

Gazing around the shore of my life – I see familiar fragments of things that once were. Running my fingers through my shortcurls I lick lips that are dry. Trying to figure out which way of the shore I should walk.

 I would walk back the way I came, but I don’t know how. I would walk ahead – but I’m uncertain of where that would take me. I’ve lost my direction. I am in an unfamiliar place. I go and sit on the edge of a levy, feeling very much alone.

 “Helllooooooooooo!!!” I yell. The sound echos, “Anyone there????” 

Way off in the distance I can see a figure walking in my direction. A tiny little blurry figure. I walk towards the figure, nibbling on the bottom corner of my lip. Walking past strewn items of my life like seaweed and kelp gathered on the sandy shore.

It is another woman. She looks at me. I look at her. “What the hell just happened?” I ask her. (A very strange question to ask a stranger.) But I recognize something within this woman.

 “I don’t know,” she replies. “ I was hoping you would know.” 

We find ourselves continuing our walk, how odd that I’ve never known this woman before – yet we are sisters. She reaches out to give my hand a sisterly squeeze that says, “You are not alone.” I squeeze her’s back. We don’t know where we are going, or why we are here. But we keep walking. 

Soon we can see another figure in the distance. She joins us. Another of our sisters… and another and another and another… Until we are holding the hands of many women, an unfortunate continuing line which grows and grows and continues to grow. A sorority none of us asked to pledge. A pink rover line. Although we wince at every new hand held – joining our line, there is comfort in numbers. Not one of us understands the “why” of it. But there is an assurance and a comfort that comes in just “being” together.
We cry together. 
We laugh together. 
We are quiet together. 
We mourn together – not only the lives of those who have had to let go of our fingers (but never our hearts) and moved on to the heavenly shores of eternity – but we mourn for our own lives. The lives we once knew. 

Oh don’t mistake any one of US as weak. The waves of the tsunami have beaten us down but we’ve arisen stronger. Our senses for life more keen, our appreciation for today – strong. It is as though we’ve arisen from the storm with a vibrancy. Shouldn’t it be an oxymoron that we can be both vulnerable and strong? 

Yet I move forward, still picking up the pieces of a shattered old life, appreciative of the ability to map out a new one. Trying to figure out who this new woman is? This one called – “me.” Alone – yet not alone…

 

Looking at the horizon, not certain what the future holds in store. Feeling the responsibility of even being “given” a future, learning to “live in the moment” thankful for a God who, while I only have seen in part – He has seen in full. He has seen the “fullness” of “Me.” There is a comfort in that. It must be where the “peace that passes all understanding” abides, completely and totally in Him.        

 More Words for Your Journey 

  

 

 

 

 

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.

Spreading my arms out wide and saying – “Ta Da!”

This is called a “Ta-Da” Moment. Brought to you by your Heavenly Father. So how about truly “letting go and letting God?” (*image from Imagebank.org.uk)

Have you ever given something over to God – reluctantly? I mean like you say to Him, “Father – I want to give to this to you.” And then when you hold your hand out to give it to Him – you’re still holding on to the other end? And you kind of have a gentle tug of war going on?  He never yells at you to release. Because our Father is patient. But finally He might say, “When you are ready to let go, let’s try this again.”

Have you ever asked the Father to change something inside of you – because you can’t even make “heads or tails” of what that “something” actually is? You just know that it needs “fixing?” Maybe He has brought you to a point after going around and around like a dog chasing his own tail – where you are ready to throw your hands up in the air and say “I NEED TO GET OFF THIS MERRY GO ROUND!” And then you do one of those flying jumps off it because you just know you can’t go around and around it once again?

Or maybe He has brought you to a point where you are running to the Father.  And your “pushing whatever it is” right into His arms. Maybe you are saying, “Okay, Okay – I can’t do this anymore. HERE! You win! Take it quick before I change my mind!!!!”  I visualize Him looking at us when we do this – with a cocked eyebrow and an amused smile on His face.  Because you see, He knows the “whole story of you.” We only see the situation, or the problem and it seems real intense.

Sometimes we get so frustrated with ourselves – we beat ourselves up. “Why can’t I do this? Stupid me. This should be easy! I know my Word….” And we walk away from the Father grumbling at ourselves. Not sure that He will be able to fix whatever it is we’ve given Him.

But like planting a seed in the soil. We don’t see the growth under ground until it comes to the surface of the earth. It doesn’t mean that something isn’t going on down there. It means that we can’t see it with our eyes.  I think that is what God does with us when we give Him something that is too big for us… I think that sometimes we forget or think “He won’t DO anything with what we give Him to fix.” But think about it – if your child falls, and skins his knee, and comes to you crying? Comes to you frustrated. Comes to you in pain. Do you turn him away? Noooo. You take him by the hand or perhaps you lift him up into your arms, and you carry him gently some place where you can take a look at it. And always the worst part is the “cleaning the wound up” because it stings and your child might cry or try to get out of your arms. But after that – you put some antibiotic on it – and a bandaid. And maybe even afterwards – you lean down to kiss the boo-boo, smooth your child’s hair back and reassure him that its going to be okay, that its going to get better.

Matthew 7:11 says, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”


If you truly have struggled with something – and have brought it before the Father and released it (albeit reluctantly).  Don’t be surprised – if He changes you… It may be a slow process. We sometimes give something to God and then wait for that “Ta Da” moment.  We may even stand there and say – “Ta Da!!” And then expect to feel rejuvenated… And then we don’t so we say it again – “Ta Da!” And we stand back – and nothing happens.  And then we think “God can’t change this!” And we grumble some more.  But the things that we need changing with us are usually things that didn’t just happen overnight.  Somethings take time.  And it doesn’t mean that God can’t change a person instantaneously – there are times when I  know He has. But I think there are times when He is in us “tinkering around” like one would in an attic.  And you wake up one morning with an “Aha moment!” A realization that – Hey! Wow! I feel different. This thing that I have struggled with and given to God doesn’t seem so “front and center” anymore.  Or maybe you have had a realization that you weren’t able to face before – and its not so bad.  We can trust that when we are struggling with something, and we bring it to the Father that He won’t disregard it. That it matters to Him. True repentance starts in the heart. It’s a heart thing! And your Father sees that. He sees what is going on inside of you. We cannot “change ourselves” somethings only God can. And we have to allow Him to do it. And more than that – we have to trust that He will. And when He does – rejoice. Because He’s “cleaned you up, covered you with the salve (his precious blood), applied the band aid of the Holy Spirit – and leaned over and kissed you and said – You are healed for I am the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Now THAT is how MY Father works! He is all the “Ta-Da” we need.

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.”