Category Archives: Strengthening

“All That”

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Is anyone really “all that”? I’ve tried it but didn’t have the experience or knowledge to pull it off. At one point in my life I was torn down, stripped bare and left pridefully fraudulent. It’s taken years to, if not get over it, at least move forward. I don’t feel numb or useless anymore. I’ve been waiting to see if God will ever use me for anything again. I’ve botched up so many times that I fear He’s done with me. I want to do something I just don’t know what. My dreams of playing piano, singing, leading, teaching and writing are just that. Dreams. I’ve not put in the time nor had the training to qualify for any of it. Nothing unique here. Just getting older and feeling more stuck. The gifts God graced me with aren’t the shiny, “look at me” variety. I’ve known all along they’re quite the opposite. I just didn’t want to use those. I wanted the spotlight.

Years ago I took piano for a bit and thought the rest would come from above, I’d be the church music leader. Later on in life I was asked to sing on a praise team. Surely the preacher knew my limitations…he’d heard me in the choir?? I took a few vocal lessons and thought I’d shine like a star. A little later on and a few compliments on my writing I decided, finally, this is it! I took a few online writing courses and, well, you be the judge. My punctuation is atrocious.

You see, a midst my list of recoveries, I’m a recovering people pleaser. Some years ago I landed in several consecutive situations. Walked right into them I should say; knowing…knowing…I was unqualified. I unfairly sought assurances from people because I had zero confidence in my abilities. The lack of confidence was generated from the lack of ability. Duh. Regardless I allowed myself to be caught up in the flattery of having been asked to do something and took off running with it. Like a child running with a knife in her hand. I eventually tripped and fell, the wound was deep but not fatal. From that point on I’ve grappled for a place to serve in the Church. Trying this, and trying that, with no true idea of what I was supposed to be doing. Yearning and straining to see what God was calling me to do. I’ve only recently discovered He’s not calling me to do anything. Period. No great agenda. No followers. No one seeking ME out for MY greatness. This was the massive boulder called pride that tripped me up. Being more concerned with what people thought. Trying to be “all that.” I’ve beat myself to pieces chasing dreams that weren’t mine to chase. I’ve not done the time. I simply don’t have the skill, passion or drive it takes to succeed in these grand professions. It feels good to publicly confess this. Great actually!

About a year ago in an online Bible study, the following passage from 1 Peter came up. God revealed something to me for the first time that has been life altering.

1 Peter 2:9, 10
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called (emp. mine) you out of the darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

My calling is to be a Christian. Yep, just me being a Jesus girl. All God has ever called me to be is His own daughter and that through His mercy. I’ve been in training sense I walked down the center aisle of my grandmothers little country church many years ago. I’ve fallen off the wagon and climbed back on so many times. You can take the wagon saying as liberally as you want, I had a whole wagon train. But here I am. Alive and well. Figuring out all I need to do is be the best person I can be, and that through Christ’s strength. Loving my God and my Savior Jesus with *“all my heart, all of my soul, all of my strength and all of my mind.”  I’m loving my husband with a brand new appreciation and my family and friends. I strive to be the best I can be. I will strive to carry what I know about Jesus out into the world in hopes that His light will pour through my words and actions. In hopes that people won’t see me at all but Him who saved me. And that my friends is shiny enough.

*click to see passage of Scripture

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“Don’t Wait! Live Recovered”

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Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon yo and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11: 28-30

 Locked in the void of recovery. Life is moving forward, it’s happening all around. Even if only through the split of a hospital room curtain. At the mercy of call buttons, IV’s and pic lines. Other human hands trying to help alleviate discomfort. The simplest of tasks, insurmountable. Trapped in a body that won’t co-operate or respond like your mind wills it to. Trying not to think beyond what can be seen from the hospital bed. Telling your inner self it’s okay. Just breathe. Seemingly an out of body ordeal. The mind struggles against the drugs which are meant to quiet the pain. The outside world forces it’s way in in the rudest of forms. Demanding precious energy that can’t be wasted. Even visits or calls from the most loved of beings become a drain on body and soul. Life. Moving forward. Home. Looking through windows at the world outside. Rattled. Relentless. Recovery.

When is it complete? Do we ever fully recover from traumatic events or physical ailments? I don’t know many who haven’t fallen prey to a scalpel. Or an addiction. Or both. Quite often a physical repair is made and the victim carries on. Even if not quite the same. Bones heal but perhaps they don’t function quite like they did prior to surgery. Internal organs are tampered with, repaired, and put back into place. Learning to function properly or in a new manner all over again.

Isn’t this also the case when we choose to drastically change our lives? Elective surgery. When we invite Jesus into our hearts it’s the same as having a surgeon in house. He removes things or alters them so we can live happier, better, cleaner lives. No matter how painful the procedure is. Just as you’re released from a doctors care with a list of instructions, Jesus also gives us instructions to follow. His Holy Word. Jesus promises healing if we follow His plan of recovery. The parts that are removed may leave scars. Some visible. Some not. The parts that are altered may take time to wake up and function properly again. Things will never be as they were prior to the surgery. They will be fixed. Repaired. Ready to move from the stagnant place of sickness to living recovered. The invisible illnesses are stealthier. There will be days when those afflictions will ache from now till we reach our Heavenly healing. But take heart! We’ve the pain medication of Jesus’ promise to remove our weary burdens and give us rest. *He promises to bind up our breaking hearts.

Don’t wait until it’s an emergency. Don’t wait until you feel so low you can’t breathe. Don’t wait until the weight of your suffering has blinded you to His light and deafened you to His calling. Don’t wait until your affliction has laid you at deaths door. He’s watching and waiting for you. He will come and get you right where you are. Don’t wait.

*Psalm 34:17-18

*Psalm 147:3

“On Guard”

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The weight of the world is more than I can bear. My own personal struggles exhaust my spirit. My heart wells up with sorrow when I see the state mankind is in. Is it sapping your strength too?
When it’s bearing down on your heart and your soul and your mind, turn that energy instead toward God, for He tells us:

5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27

Brothers and sisters are you finding it hard to find your footing in the war of good vs. evil? Lately I am finding that things don’t feel as “sure” as they used to. It frightens me. Until I remember who is causing these feelings of fear and unrest. Until I remember the insidious ways in which Satan forces himself into my thoughts. Even when I pray it’s as if he hovers ’round my prayer chamber. I believe this is only the beginning dear friends. Why are we so surprised by current events? The Bible warns us of it’s coming. Perhaps we didn’t think we’d see it in our lifetime? It’s hard to admit but part of me feels robbed somehow. I’ve finally reached this golden time in my life. I feel I’ve just learned how to live yet stability crumbles all around me. I wonder which world event will be the swell that bursts the dam of my strength? Which event will plunge me into the rush of chaos and try to erode the walls of my faith? Even as I type I envision footage of a dam bursting. Retaining walls collapse and the force of the water blasts through the wall that has held on as long as it can.

I think of the small crack in the wall that led to the total breach. I think of my view of right and wrong. I think about tolerance vs. acceptance…are they one and the same? I know in my life I’ve made small allowances here and there for one sin or another. If I take my one small fracture and multiply it by every other Christian’s small fracture, over the course of a century what do you have? A flood of watered down Christians preaching a watered down gospel. We’ve allowed the subliminal messages on television and now social media to seep into the weak areas of our faith. We’ve decided to just live and let live. Now we’re living in a torrential mess that makes Sodom and Gomorrah pale in comparison.
Yes, Christian’s are to love everyone and do all that we can to keep the peace. But we simply can not tolerate or accept that wrong is right or that right is wrong. We can’t let what our minds are being bombarded with weaken the resolve of our biblical teaching. This verse of Scripture has been quoted so often in the last couple of years. We’re living it.

3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
II Timothy 4:3-4

Take heart loved ones, listen you who call on Christ as your lifeline and Savior;
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.
Hebrews 8-9a

Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

Be on your guard…

Matthew 10:15-17a

“Just Like That…”

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“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.”  Psalm 110:10

And just like that everything has changed.

A breath was taken, an eye was blinked and everything morphed into now. I look back and realize I’ve crested the top of the proverbial hill. Not only crested it but am well on my way to the foot of the other side. The front side is but a memory. That side was full of expectation, fresh green shoots and buds. And oblivion. All that came before my twenties is now distorted by my present. Somewhere between the summit and the now the mirror has begun to reflect life’s sorrows, grief, strain and stress. Photo’s tell the tale of a life that’s been lived. Yet hasn’t life just begun?

And just like that everything has changed.

My future is the now, there is even some past on this side of the hill. My aging mother, thankfully doing well. Two sisters prematurely widowed, one recent, one distant but acutely remembered. Learning to be alone after being part of another. Extended family losing grandparents at a normal age, losing their parents at a way to young age. The flesh of my flesh is on the verge of cresting his own hill, the flesh of his is on the arduous, exciting ascent. That time when the future is spread out like promise. I own eyes that are dimming, bones that creak, and joints that ache. Struggling to accept what’s happening to the flesh that my life’s blood courses through. My ways are set. Blessedly blessed to view life anew through the lenses of my grand-children’s telescopes. Blessedly blessed to have made it this far and understand that aging is a gift.

And just like that everything has changed.

My generation has become…the way of the past. We remember how it used to be. We remember and think, as compared to now, it wasn’t all that bad. Even as my generation and those before continued to dissemble family values and morals. Do the answers lie then in how age perceives it? Am I my Granny? Shaking my head at the obscenities on social media and television and railing at current day politicians? I don’t thinks so. I believe our children know that lines have been crossed. I believe that on some level they cling to yesteryear’s moral lifeline though there seems nothing moral today. Sadly I believe that the majority of my grand-kid’s generation is in the mud and the mire. Flailing around trying to find solid ground. I believe they want to believe in something desperately. My heart of hearts sinks at what babies, toddler children and teens in this current world are being taught. I weep at what is being accepted as normal and that it’s being devoutly adhered to and defended. And I pray come Lord Jesus, come!

And just like that…I breathe. Jesus.

Jesus! Name above all names! Holy, holy, holy! Only in You can our hope rest. Open the heart eyes and ears of the lost that they might be lifted out of the pit of deceit and despair. Make hearts receptive to Your saving grace. Make known that glorious river of Your peace that flows right beside every aspect of life. Oh God, let free will’s see the green pastures You give us to lie in! They are present even in the bleakest landscape. God we walk now in the valley of the shadow yet we won’t fear. You are near. You are ever present and have already been where we’re heading. Thank you. Give Your children new eyes to see that Your way is the moral way. Your way brings wholeness and light. Give our hearts a new desire to step up and rally together. Let us not fear the ravages of aging, rather grant us the desire to use it to share our stories, our faith and our wisdom. Let us rail against the immorality rather than fitting in with it. We still have work to do, grant us strength! Let us make known the lifeline of Your Salvation and Your moral compass. In Christ’s name always, amen, amen and amen.

Colossians 2:8
Joshua 13:1
Psalm 40:2
Psalm 23

 

“All in a Sunrise”

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sun_burst_with_rays_form_clouds_vector_267255The chilly, clammy wind was blowing, chasing clouds across the sky. That coupled with the ocean’s ebb and flow filled my being with sound that I could feel. Powerful. The sun had just made it’s grand appearance, seemingly out of the water. The fullness of it rapidly ascending to join the clouds. The enormity of the glowing orb made feel so small. I couldn’t look directly at it. It wasn’t long before a bank of clouds came and covered it, then I could gaze on it’s splendor. There before my eyes rays of light shone from behind those clouds, creating a celestial vision. You know the scene, you’ve seen it even where you live or in magazines or on media? The cloud covered sun’s rays spreading in all directions, covered but definitely still there! I longed for the sky to split open and reveal that dazzling staircase that would lead me home. As the vision filled my senses I felt a stirring in my spirit.

I wondered if trying to look at God was like that. I could only bear to look at the cloud covered brilliance with rays reaching out. The enormity of the uncovered sun though bore down into my soul. Blinding, painful, yet filling every sense with wonder. I had no choice but to look away. I immediately thought of how often God’s glory *is described as a cloud. I thought of Moses, after he spent time with the Almighty. The people would beg him to cover his face so they could look at him. I thought of when the Tabernacle was completed and God’s glory came as a cloud filling and covering it. How when the God cloud moved, the people would move. When He was still they were still. I thought about Jesus, how His death immediately rent the veil that separated man from the Holy of Holies. Then something soaked into my soul along with the warmth of the sun. Jesus became the veil. Jesus became the cloud covering through which we can see God. Because He is God. His own mother looked into the face of God. Like Adam and Eve, the people of Jesus’ day, walked and talked with the living God. It’s mind blowing. It’s awesome.

I will never view clouds quite the same. Seeing dark thick clouds covering the sky usually mean storms and rain. Oppressing. But rest assured. Just as the sun is still there burning behind those clouds, so is God, He’s not hiding. Your troubles are blocking your view. But He’s there in the midst of your most violent storms. Sometimes clouds are just enormous, white visions that meander across the sky. Peaceful. We’re aware of the suns heat yet welcome the dimness as they drift across the blaze, leaving us able to gaze up at the Heavenly scene. And sometimes, sometimes, it’s just clear sailing! We’re totally aware of His presence, warm, shining, and bright. Praise Him!

Clouds. They come and they go. There is One I long for though. It will be used to transport Him who is the Light to gather His own unto Him.

*Cloud
*Clouds
(Clicking on the blue underlined text in the body of this post will take you to verses of Scripture. Please, take time to read them…)

“Call Me Stormy!”

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Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he (Jesus) was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.
Mark 6:47-52 (NIV)

I missed my calling. I should have been a storm chaser. Goodness knows gale force winds find me, even when I’m minding my own business, even when I least expect it. I don’t know why I thought living for Christ would be free from thunder and lightening.

Once upon a time I was the storm. A cyclone of self ruination. I twisted out of control with no regard to the mess I left behind. Wild seemed to brew in my in-most being, building in intensity, screaming for release. I got caught up in the approval seeking tunnel, grasping for affirmation, no matter where it came from. Substance abuse, meaningless relationships…anything that made me feel wanted, part of something. Yet something was always missing. Then Jesus, Master storm chaser pursued me and pulled me into the eye of His calm. He began to still my spinning thought process, He began to change it, I found my something and began to hone it. I wanted to know this Master of the wind.

I was finally doing what I was meant to do. The twister I didn’t see coming though was the chunks of me that would either be ripped away or forever changed. I don’t mean just the the visible signs of my morphing into a Christian. I’m talking about things I couldn’t change. Hearts that didn’t want to come with me into this new life. Hearts that feel there’s no need to be different. I lost some relationships, and some are separated by a chasm of, we agree to disagree, and stubbornness. I’ve waded in the floods of sorrow as the waters of resentment and anger rushed me, ever swirling. Under currents of dislike, hate? I’ve experienced the pain of loss even though the flesh and bone forms live and breathe. There are days I feel helpless. On those days I carry that hopelessness to the power of the Cross. I cry out to the Lord for mercy, praying for those who’re lost, longing to bridge the gap. I know He hears me. He comforts me and assures me that I am His. He makes me ready to resume my voyage and equips me for the next gale.

Yes, I still struggle when the sea of my past crashes into my present. Lately, clouds of bygone instances have blown their way into blue skies, threatening and dark. The winds of remorse gain speed, brewing up regret, and sorrow, and discontent. My sturdy façade quakes as the battering force threatens to blow it away, trying to uproot the foundation of who I’ve become. Who I was always meant to be. There are times, even now, when I think it would be easier to take my eyes off of Jesus and look down into the roiling cauldron of worldly living. Satan luring me back into a vortex of age old lies. But I know I won’t. I won’t because God is bigger. He teaches me things even when I struggle against my own churning wake. Even when I’m blindsided by squalls not of my own making. In my minds eye I lift my hands up as forces rage around me, and in me. That are me. I see God’s hand splitting the heavens, reaching down to grasp mine, His spirit calming a heart out of control. The storm abates. The waters still. I look up, compassionate eyes, merciful smile, God of my storms…God of my calm and I say amen.

My prayers go out to anyone who knows the pain an unforeseen twister can wreak. Don your life jacket of salvation and keep your eyes on the Maker of the rain. Go to battle with prayer and petition and rest in the knowledge that He hears you.

Beautiful, please listen! Master of the Wind

“Nothing To Wear”

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The clock ticks the seconds…no…the minutes away as I stand and stare into the dark hole I call my closet. Surely the perfect outfit is going to materialize from out of the chaos. The more I flip through each piece the more flustered I get. Tick-tock goes another ten minutes. Amazing! I see all this stuff yet, I have nothing to wear!

I don’t know about you but my closet has sections. Imaginary columns. Column A is tucked into the sinister dark left hand corner and titled, “I’ll Fit Into That Again One Day.” Column B is front and center and called, “The Good Ole Stand-by’s”, this column has stuff in it that’s more than gently used! The final column is located in the semi-sinister right hand corner and titled, “What Was I Thinking When I Bought This?” Some clothing is stuffed where I can stuff it and belongs in a yet to be created column. Please tell me I’m not alone?

I can’t help but think how lucky the priests of Exodus were. They knew what they were going to wear when they served in the Temple. God had given Moses very specific instructions on the garments they were to wear. From head to toe each piece was given considerable detail and each piece was significant. The Israelite’s were in the middle of the desert yet had all they needed to complete an ornately beautiful temple and ornate garments for the priests. How? Right before the Jewish nation was led out of Egypt, led from bondage, God had commanded them to request articles of gold and silver, clothing and supplies from their captors. The Egyptians hearts had been moved to be favorable toward them, urging them even, to take the bounty and go! Unbeknownst to the wanderers, at a time known only to God, they would need all of the items they departed with. God was providing for them even when they didn’t realize it.

We’re told in the gospel’s not to worry what we’ll wear or what we’ll eat. In fact Jesus tells us we’re not to worry at all.

25 “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? 26 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 than they?
27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.    Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)

Not to say that we sit and do nothing and wait for things to fall into our laps, but that’s another story!

Sometimes as I flip through my clothes I’ll see a top or jacket that was hidden at first and think, that used to be to big, but now…its perfect! Or even better, I’ll spot tags on something brand new, forgotten and never worn and it’s perfect! I don’t think that’s happenstance. If we think God doesn’t look out for every detail of our lives we need to think again. When I do have those times of finding the perfect garment to wear, I thank God for it. There was a time I felt silly for doing so but realized it’s absolutely God’s care for me. Even when it come’s from the, “What Was I Thinking Column.” Even when it’s the dreaded used to be to big but now fits item. At some point in the past I purchased that article of clothing, for the moment that it would be just right. He knows my future. He knows my needs. He knows my heart, and He knows yours. He knows there are some days we just stand and stare. But He provides.

And I always stand amazed.

Heavenly Father,
Thank you Lord for providing us with all that we need to serve You God. Thank You for providing for the least of our needs when we least expect it and that we be mindful of those times, thanking You always. In Jesus name…amen.