Depression: Zero / Jesus: Undefeated

ghosts-572038_960_720

Circle, circle; round and black

You surround me, front to back

Make your rounds and throw the dart

Wounds may hurt and skim the heart.

 

Round and round the black it goes

Scanning weak spots, head to toes

Maybe here’s a place or two?

To launch the grenade, and black turns blue.

 

Run the course, as soon it’s time

For you to leave; ’cause this is mine

Actually, it’s not ~ it belongs to Him

And His light’s too bright for you to dim.

 

Circle, circle; round and black

Prepare thyself!  We will attack!

Darkness ~ no match for His divine light

Return thyself home, to your dark night.

 

Psalm 40: 1-3 

I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him.

forest-669105_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

Fine Lines: Not My Thing

sport-1013881_960_720

I’ve shared a lot in the past about the thin lines between things – the blurry ones – the ones that once you are saddled in-between (on top of and riding the “line”) you are in danger of staying there and remaining paralyzed. Or worse yet – you find you are crossing over the line, and that you are now on the wrong side of it – in the wrong place. Or maybe you are supposed to get on the other side of the line – and some type of obstacle (usually fear based) is stopping you.

So you try to join the circus for a while.  But then you realize you were never meant to be a clown.

These are the lines upon which one feels they are playing a dangerous game with a tightrope. Even if someone seems proficient at tightrope walking, it is pretty much inevitable that taking a fall is in the near future for them. It’s part of the game – the in-between game, yo.

And I have to tell you………when it comes to me, I am definitely not cut out for it!

  • This girl has no balance.
  • This girl has no rhythm for dancing upon a tightrope.
  • This girl does not like fine lines.

I like to know my boundaries, and I like to know them well. I prefer for them to be drawn thick and clear – these are the kind of lines you can see for miles and miles. You don’t need glasses or vision enhancers to spot them.

In fact, I don’t even mind so much (most of the time) if the wrong side of the lines are even blocked off  completely. This makes it easy to see the places to which I should not venture.

That keeps me feeling safe and secure.

That makes my little world seem like there’s a semblance of control surrounding it.

That is an illusion – but one that I seem to like – a lot.

So sad.

Here are some of the blurry and fine little lines that keep showing up on a regular basis in my own little life:

  • The line between full blown obedience and just a little bit of sinning.
  • The line between real love and just….affection.
  • The line between true joy and happiness.
  • The line between dependence upon God and crossing over to dependence upon self or other people.
  • The line between chronic illness and just plain – laziness
  • The line between surrender and giving up and throwing in the towel.

I could go on and on and compile a list of blurry lines that would make your heads spin. I bet you could too!

Isn’t it funny? I love black and I love white. But I do like gray as well – when it comes to my fashion choices. And if I am honest – it seems that much of the time I choose to walk in the gray areas of life to perpetuate the illusions that are counterfeits of the real thing.

Gray is neutral. But so is black and white.

The two latter ones are much more crisp, if  you ask me.

The gray is just – comfortable, man. It fades some into the background – helps one go unnoticed. It doesn’t take your eye off the ball – all that is glitter and shiny around it stands out.

That can be dangerous. Thinking you are in a neutral space seems to make one feel like they are safe somehow. But if we aren’t careful, the gray seeps into our hearts.

  • We don’t want to neutralize our hearts.
  • We don’t want to darken our hearts.
  • We don’t want to confuse our minds.

Or do we?

Yep – I can say without question that most of the time, I recognize it when there’s a fine line, albeit a blurry one, that is taunting me. I have to ask the Lord during those times (every day) to help me see clearly. The only way to do that is to take our eyes off the lines and look up – to Him.

  • He makes all things clear.
  • He is unchanging.
  • He is the One who is safe – the Only One.

He understands the black and the white and He understands all the confusion and gray in-between.

He makes all things new! Even the gray stuff, friends.

Do you have a fine line upon which you feel you are teetering, my friend? What are the blurry lines you find yourself trying to navigate right now in your own life? Do you find that you feel safe and comfortable there – in the in-between place? Or do you find that you recognize the blurry for what it really is and you are seeking God’s face and His clarity, safety, and power to stay on the right side of the line? Is there a line over which He does want you to cross? Or is everything around you trying to force you to think you need to take just – one. more. step. ?

Ask Him.

Ask Him for wisdom and discernment, dear friends.

We all have to do it sometimes. He is here for us – just waiting. He knows fine lines really aren’t meant to be our thing.

And Jesus?

Jesus never promised it would be easy for us. But all of His promises and gifts He has in store for us are well worth it – even as we walk this crazy tightrope in life that we are dealing with daily.

We have to walk it with Him. Correction: We GET to walk it with Him!

Heaven won’t be a dangerous circus full of tightropes, dear friends. Heaven will be a place of joy and peace and beauty – never gray –  all light and bright and beautiful.

  • We won’t be confused.
  • We won’t be anxious.
  • We won’t feel crippled and perplexed.

I don’t know about you – but this girl can say with absolute certainty that THAT IS my thing.

Jesus gave it to me.

Jesus is my everything.

And He has drawn a line in the sand – it is a firm one. It is a clear one.

  • It is not blurry.
  • It is not fine.
  • It is only dangerous if we don’t pick the right side.

I’m so grateful to be on His side of that line!  Aren’t you?

We will always grapple with this blurry stuff in life until we go home to live with Jesus for all eternity. It is part of the war between the flesh and our submission to the One who has saved us. But Jesus is here for us to guide us and to lead us. He has good things in store for us if only we follow after Him with all our heart, mind and soul!

He will pull us over to the right side if we seek after Him and ask Him.

He will save us from the dangers of tightrope walking.

We are not clowns. We are His children. We are royalty.

Just reach out your hand today if you feel yourself teetering. Ask Him to grab it and pull  you back to His loving and safe arms. Then listen – carefully.

He will do it.

You may be on a new tightrope tomorrow – but He will be there for you then as well.

If you haven’t already, won’t you make following fully after Jesus YOUR thing, dear friend?

Say Yes. Make Jesus your EVERY thing. And let Him show you the way.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8

hand-534867_960_720

 

 

 

Annie’s Inner Warrior Woke Up Today!

caught-1013600_960_720

I used to be a fighter ~ a driven, serious fighter. If I wanted something or had a goal, anything that stood in my way would eventually be “removed.”

Let me actually expand upon and clarify that statement I just made: I am a peacemaker. I am an “unhealthy conflict” avoider. BUT…if pushed too far, there’s this part of me that awakens- a part that lives deep, (deeeep) down inside – and that part is a force with which to be reckoned if it is awakened from its comfortable slumber.

It’s what I like to call the fighting force ~ and it doesn’t wake up nicely sometimes.

I’d like to introduce you to the warrior that lives inside of Annie.

This is the part of me that comes out once I have been pushed and pushed and beaten and beaten for far too long.

Annie’s inner warrior.

Sometimes it comes out the wrong way  or gets up on the wrong side of the bed – just ask my husband (hee hee). I have had to (and continue to have to) ask the Lord to tame the warrior at times. Usually this happens when it is my old inner warrior friend ~ the one that relies upon its own strength and might. During these times, just like any other, I have to ask God to cut away the parts of self that  have crept inside and messed with the warrior’s head a little.

Other times, if I am prayerful as she is emerging, (and also after she has come out to play) then she is nothing that is dangerous to my walk with the Lord ~ she is but a part of who God made me to be. That is the part that is strong, but not tainted with self, powerful, but laced with His divine power and inspiration – mighty and focused, because she know that  she has already won.

This warrior sometimes looks worse for the wear, but make no mistake about it; she remains undefeated.

Because of God.

I fight in other ways all the time – ways that I like to call amicable sparring matches:

  • Fighting by putting my fists down when all I want to do is raise them up but I know that the time is not right for that yet.
  • Waging daily war by taking punches while knowing the truth inside is that the only thing I am surrendering to in reality is the Lord (even if it looks from the outside like I am being a total victim or doormat).
  • Giving up on something that I want in order to spend time waiting upon the Lord and prayerfully considering if He wants me to fight in open and tangible ways OR be quiet and still and carry out my war against the flesh in more of a meek manner while He prepares the way.

But there comes a time where you know the Lord is calling you to action- waiting was an action He had you take as well at one time- but that time is nearing its end.

And you know it.

Now it’s time to get up – No more staying down gently.

Yes. There comes a time where surrender crosses over into giving up – and then, it’s anything but true surrender – the kind that God would have us do. Then laziness seeps in. So does self.

I’ve realized for quite some time that I have been teetering on that fateful line – the line between surrender and full-blown resignation and giving up. I hate tightrope walking just as much as I hate roller coasters. Have I toldja that yet? ‘Tis the truth.

So today I woke up and realized something has clicked. Something clicked so loud down in my bones (I guess literally and figuratively today, dear friends) that it woke someone up.

That someone is filled with a major dose of healthy anger at the Fibro Monster that is living inside of me.

  • Healthy because it is being guided in the right way – it is going to be used as a motivational force – and it will become the most formidible enemy that my fibromyalgia has ever encountered. God’s hand is guiding me and literally pulling Annie’s inner warrior out of hibernation.
  • Healthy because it is well-rested, energized, and more than ready to roll (not with the punches, by the way – but I guess we shall see).

Today I declare utter and complete war. And I know that I know that I know that God has given me His blessing.

Guess what else? He is on my side!

Diplomacy is out the window – I tried and it failed. I am a gifted diplomat, dear friends, but the Fibro Beast is not reasonable.

No. With the Fibro, it is now time to fight or die.

When it comes to this beast, chances of taming it are akin to the chances of a million snowballs creating an eternal colony in hell.

  • There is no taming to be done.
  • There is no more talking and compromising to attempt.

And I have known this for a few months now. Problem is, that I laid down and just took punch after punch upon realizing it. Maybe I was supposed to though.

The great news is that in spite of not moving into action for a few months after knowing that this season of rest is over, I am stronger now. I am wiser now. And yes, there’s a bit of anger in there too.

And righteous anger is stronger than Fibro is.

GOD is stronger than Fibro is!

I’m not going to go down without a fight.

I am ready.

I got on the elliptical and treadmill today friends and punched the picture I have of the Fibro beast in front of me the whole time. I prayed that the Lord would equip me with a spirit of perseverance like I have never seen before. I prayed that the Lord would fight this battle with and for me through my inner warrior. The one that He created to live inside of me for such times as these. The one that I have asked that He fill with His Spirit, His wisdom, His love and His truth.

That one.

So the battle is changing now – the wind has turned. It has begun.

Fibro? I have news for you:

My name is Annie Birkelo, Child of God and Daughter of the One True King.

You tried to kill my inner warrior. You tried to steal my peace.

Prepare to die.

Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:31

IMG_4133

 

When an Inch Takes You Further than a Mile

snail-221988_960_720

Inching my way through so many days in 2015 taught me some things, the first of which is that this gal has so very much more to learn. I suppose I will until the day that I go home to live in heaven for all eternity. Thanks be to God that I have a love of learning!

Some days, I had to literally crawl out of bed and inch my way to the bathroom – slowly, but surely – like a little snail making its way to an important destination. I would find myself stopping and stretching along the way to loosen the Fibromyalgia-ridden muscles that had frozen up even more over the night of restless sleep I had just experienced.

But I kept inching and moving to where I needed to be.

I was able to get up. I was able to make it through another day in this new, but very old and unhealthy body.

Inching. Crawling. Stretching. Hoping.

Hoping that eventually I would be able to stand. Upon standing, I would then be able to walk. And after walking for a little while, the aching muscles would finally warm up and begin to melt enough to walk throughout my day. My entire day.

Then it would be time to do it all over again.

Yes, in 2015 inching my way through things became a part of my new normal. But the learning that the Lord brought into my life through this new form of “suffering” went on for miles and miles.

It always worked you know- the morning ritual of inching my way along -the heat from within my awakened body would begin to melt the pain enough to make it through. Some days I would be able to walk in a more sprightly manner than others. While other days ~ well ~ inching along would become my mantra on those swell little 24 hour periods of time.

  • I learned to appreciate how far I could still go even when I had to inch my way toward my next destination…Thank GOD that He is on my side.
  • I learned that inching along rather than running from place to place gives one time to ponder, appreciate, mull things over, and reflect….as long as we remain in His divine presence every “step” of the way.
  • I learned to celebrate – celebrate like there’s no tomorrow – each individual accomplishment along the way! Each inch was a mountain that I had just climbed – and it was all because He carried me along the way.

And now, this new year has ensued, and I have desires that I find myself striving for, and the Lord is helping me along the way. He is helping me to make sure that my own desires are in line with  His for me. And, as always, He is ever-so faithful.

He takes me on journeys that seem to last for miles and miles with each  and every inch that goes by.

We got an elliptical trainer for our family for Christmas, friends. Along with our treadmill, we hope it will serve our little clan well as we all try to make movement and good health part of our daily habit.

Two years ago, an elliptical trainer was “too easy” for me.

Two years ago, our treadmill was a back-up tool only for me for when it was too cold to go running outside.

But today – today, I am able to get on that elliptical trainer. I couldn’t fathom the thought a few months ago.

Today, I am able to inch my way toward exercise again, friends. And those inches seem to last for miles and miles.

My first day, I was barely able to do five minutes on the elliptical, with NO incline, and on the LOWEST setting.

Today, I did eight minutes.

I am inching my way toward my goal. But I am far richer today than I was two years ago when I could run for miles and miles.

Maybe once I am able (if?) to run again, I will remember – I will remember what it is to only be able to move one inch at a time.

I will remember what it is to move forward with Christ at my side, knowing fully that I am totally dependent upon Him and Him alone, and that I will move at the pace He has set out for me, as long as it is on HIS path and His alone.

Maybe I will have a new season of health again. If I do, maybe I will remember that I am just as dependent upon my Savior in good health as I am when it isn’t so good.

 I pray that I will.

Let us press on toward the true things that Christ has laid out before us, friends. Whether we are able to run for miles and miles or can only move forward one inch at a time, He will guide us and lead us to where He would have us go – if only we trust in Him.

It’s not about us anyway, right? It’s about Him and His story. We are all only here to do His will. And His will is just as powerful in the inches as it is in the miles.

 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

pointing-444883_960_720.jpg

 

 

 

 

The Good Old Days?

portrait-947318_960_720

Ahhh. This morning I woke up to a raging headache. It wasn’t a surprise, as it had reminded me of its presence all night long as I woke up every hour upon the hour with reminders that it was there.

  • Right there with me in bed.
  • Right there with me upon waking.
  • And right here with me apparently to take up residence in my body and stay for a while.

So I woke up and, of course, I found myself thinking back on the good old days – the days in which I would wake up feeling GREAT!

The days in which I would not, upon my first waking breath, feel pain and swelling throughout my entire body. The days in which I would jump out of bed, in a phenomenal mood, because all I had to do was look forward to what fun was ahead for my family and myself.

  • Maybe some hiking today?
  • Maybe a fun, long jog to get that awesome endorphin rush my body so loves?
  • Maybe running around from place to place, touring shops and going to a movie and doing like, TEN things all in one day with reckless abandon?

The good old days?

Yes…I will admit there were good (GREAT) times when I didn’t have to pace myself from moment to moment lest I go into a full blown Fibro and autoimmune flare that puts me down for weeks to come.

There were beautiful and long seasons in my life in which I could bask in the abundance of great health and being beyond comfortable in my own skin.

I will admit it was nice to be able to just go along for the fun – whatever was suggested I had the choice to say “yes” if I wanted to – my body wasn’t going to dictate all that I could or could not do.

Yes…I have sweet memories and will admit that sometimes I find myself pining away for that feeling again – that body that is void of pain. That body that…if it DID have any remnant of discomfort running throughout it, I could actually pinpoint with magical accuracy EXACTLY what caused it and (wait for it) DO something about it and I would be in great shape the very next day.

Problem solved?

But I also remember that back in those days, I may have  had a wonderful situation physically, but I was in a daze of sorts.

Of sorts? No!

I was in a daze of all dazes!

  • I wasn’t hyper aware of how good we really do have it because through any and every situation – good, or bad – we have Jesus to carry us through it all if we only trust Him as our Savior and know that HE. IS. GOD.
  • I wasn’t focusing on how Great my Lord is, rather – what was next on the agenda of fun and fabulousness.
  • I wasn’t living my life with God at the center, rather trying to find the next awesome thing to go out and do to add meaning, purpose, happiness to my life.

I had it all. And I wanted….MORE.

And these days? These days, (we know it’s true) I am also in a daze. But it is one that is not being brought about by all the clutter in my life, rather it is mostly from the brain fog that my physical condition brings about on a regular basis.

Yet in the midst of the current glazy and dazy and murky and mucky days of my life now, there is a clarity that never leaves me.

It is the clear message that Jesus Christ sends to me each and every moment of every day:

“I love you, dear Annie. You are MINE.  I am never letting go. Focus on Me.

What peace! What joy! What beauty that cuts right through any and every ugly that besets me!

How Great IS our God?!

I won’t pretend I am different than I was before in ways other than what I just mentioned in regard to all of this. I still find myself wanting more much of the time, it’s just being brought about for a different reason. It will always be a battle we find ourselves in until we go home to be with Jesus – the fight to have it “all” when in reality, if we have Jesus and rely fully upon Him, we already DO have all that we really need.

Yes – sadly, the battle continues.

I still pine away for a body that feels good so I can be that exuberant person that loves to be around lots of people and commotion and is always filled with energy to give, give, give toward others.

I still want.

I still just want.

But I know in my heart that I have it all in Jesus.

The flesh is strong and it fights us – it is a formidable enemy to our spiritual contentment. So are our hearts if we don’t turn them over to Jesus daily for cleansing.

But He has already won!!!!

Yes. I have resolved myself to the knowledge – the absolute and complete fact that I will probably always experience some kind of daze as I walk through these earthly days of my life.

But I will take these days now over the others if I have to choose.

I will take the brain fog daze over the fog that ensues when I don’t have any physical limitations holding me back from seeking to fill holes in my heart that are there when I am not looking upon Jesus over self. The daze that comes about from going, going, going…..from looking for the next thrill, or fun adventure to make me whole and “happy.”

For those who can do both things – fix their eyes upon Jesus and seek out adventure and fun without allowing those things to take His place, keep it up, because there is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. (P.S. Can you tell me your secret sometime?)

But that’s not the way this girl went about things, friends.

Maybe some day I will be able to be healed physically, and out of this season in my life, I will have learned not to let the circumstances of my good health get in the way of relying upon and truly focusing upon Jesus.

Maybe it will never happen in this earthly life, either.

But guess what? I’m okay with that, friends.

Yes, I still find myself wanting it all – that want will probably never go away. But I can be okay with that because I know that He has allowed things to happen for His divine reasons.

How about you, dear friend? Is something in your current situation causing you to pine away for the good old days? Do you recall a better time physically, mentally, spiritually that you wish you could experience right here and now again? Why not take it to the feet of Jesus and ask Him to show you how He can make all things new in spite of what is old or cracked right now in your life? He can do it, you know. He can and will cut right through the haze and the daze. We have only to cry out to Him and trust in Him and His perfect timing.

  • I recall the good old days with mixed emotions, it’s true.
  • I reflect on the current days of my life with the same murky mixture of feelings as well.
  • Sometimes I find myself riddled with fear that I will never be “the same again.”

But God. God then tells me I need not fear. He shows me the obvious that I was missing as I was getting lost in the fog of it all…

I don’t WANT to ever be the “same again.

He makes all things new!

All in all, I have a joy that surpasses all of the mixed-up-stuff that puts me into a daze at times and tries to steal my focus.

In Him, as I gaze upon the face of my Jesus – I have clarity. So much more is revealed to me about Christ even in the midst of the daze that my physical condition brings about.

Cutting right through every last bit of it, is the peace of God.

Glory Be to God!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

forest-669105_960_720

 

 

 

 

Simplifying Is Complicated

tumblr_npb9ksYoWx1ux2o26o1_1280

I haven’t written much lately, as I have been in a mode of making a SERIOUS attempt to simplify some things in my life. In particular, this involves my surroundings – my home environment has become all-the-more-important to how I function now that I work from home and cannot go out and about as much because of the Fibro-Monster.

What I have found over these past two months is that trying to simplify your surroundings is daunting, to say the least. When your brain is as foggy as mine can be because of the Fibro, anything that feels “cluttery” can make it so much worse. It becomes beyond difficult to focus when things aren’t right in your environment. This has a lot to do with what is happening in the nervous system regarding the senses – vision, sound, even touch become hyper-sensitive and can put you into a full-on fight or flight mode if you aren’t careful.

So simplifying my surroundings has become imperative, but it’s hard – it’s complex – the whole process of letting go. We have emotional attachments to things we have kept over the years, especially those that belonged to loved ones who have gone home to live with Jesus and are not here with us any more.

By the way: I’ve been at this for a couple of years now. My attempts before, however, were feeble. I would stop mid-process and not keep the momentum going. But in the last two months I have been tackling it hard core. From all that I have researched regarding the desire to truly simplify and declutter one’s life, it is clear that keeping the momentum is of the utmost importance.

I’m still not done.  But I am getting close.

When we get to where we are nearing our goal – it comes time to edit relentlessly and this is truly the hardest part. Letting go of a lot of this stuff in the first one or two rounds was not very hard. It actually felt quite freeing and I immediately felt lighter – more clarity – a sense of peace. It’s especially great to know that so many of my mother or father’s things will go on now to help someone who has less than we do. I like knowing that someone who needs something for a Christmas gift, or for use around their  home can get it for free now.

Another thing that makes the editing process difficult for me personally, is that I am not really a minimalist at heart. I just want to be. I do have to have a home now that feels clutter free, yet comfortable and still cozy. Friends, when you wanna get rid of clutter and have a space with, well – SPACE in it, that is beyond difficult to do if you don’t simply do a complete gut job.  I can’t do it that way and maintain the cozy vibe that is so important to me.

That’s what’s making it take so long. So I guess we can say I brought those complications upon myself because I forced the process to be this way instead of just gutting all of it.

I don’t know about you (all ye who have been through this lovely little process as well), but for me, the part that is the most difficult is not the emotional attachment stuff. I know that I know that I KNOW that I will see my loved ones again one day in heaven. So, letting go of stuff that reminds me of them isn’t so hard as I kept back the most important things and have a peace about giving away the rest. They would have liked that too, and that makes my heart happy.

It’s the sensory issues I have with regard to the Fibro and stuff that has made it the hardest for me.

For me, being in the home all the time entails a deep seated need to feel good in this environment. If I move one thing to gain a better sense of clutter free space, it has a rippling effect akin to an earthquake that will rock your world. Just ask my husband: One thing gets rearranged and it causes me to need to change all the paint colors and furniture arrangements in every other room of the house.

That is beyond frustrating. But if you are like me and  you start this “process” it is also beyond necessary.

But guess what? It is do-able. And we have done it. We are nearing the finish line and now it’s a matter of living the simplified lifestyle and maintaining that mentality. We are working on other stuff too – not just the clutter in the home. I have been streamlining how I do bills, email, clothing, laundry, cleaning. I have been limiting my social media time and not doing it all over the place, but in specific blocks of time. All of it is helping my crazy little brain. All of it is helping me embrace a simpler lifestyle. But I have a lot of work to do and a whole lotta surrender left to embrace to truly keep my life more simple.

Who knows? Maybe some day I will become a true minimalist, and another seismic sweep of the household will be called for if that happens.

But for now, I feel lighter. For now, I feel a greater sense of clarity through the fog. For now, I feel like there’s more room to focus upon Jesus, my family, and yes – the daily chores, but without the layers upon layers of that which is unnecessary clouding up my vision.

And honestly, that is the most important goal for me out of all of this. I want to help my brain and sensory issues as much as I can so I can focus on Jesus and family and all that is truly important in life.

We won’t be taking anything with us when we leave this world anyway. Jesus and heaven is all we will have then and it will be all that we need. Why not start now?

Yes….for now, he’s given us books and movies, couches and beds, dishes and pretty wall art to gaze upon. But it is my desire that none of that stuff takes the place of my own Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

More than anything else, I wish to gaze upon HIM. And I don’t need a lot of stuff cluttering up my sight line.

But maybe I do need a reminder once in a while – so as I took away so many of the other nick-knacks and wall hangings in our home, I placed these instead in my bedroom.

IMG_4108

IMG_4109

And these in my office.

IMG_4110

IMG_4111

It boils down to that one simple fact for me, dear friends – that if I set my eyes upon Jesus, I can’t go wrong. And that if something gets in the way of that, I need to cut it out and discard it.

Wow. I guess it’s not really that complicated at all.

Hebrews 12:2 We must focus our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith

Jesus-Laughing

 

All the Way Yes

1881a37338a1f786d7d9a6eb8e99fdc3

If you knew that by being the way that you are ~ a deep thinker, someone who is highly empathetic, someone who cares to the point that sometimes they cross the line into worry or anxiety, would you have changed those things about yourself if you could have?

If by changing all of that you could have prevented this ugly illness (or depression, or whatever “consequence” you wish to list) from manifesting and taking tentacle-like root in your body would you have done it?

  • If given the chance to go back in time would you have made that trade?
  • Would you have become someone different if you’d been given the ability to do so to avoid the ugly that might ensue as a result of being the way that you are?
  • Would you  compromise who God made you to be inside to dodge the darts and arrows that would result from being that person?
  • Would you trade the growth, the refining, the deeper knowledge of God and who He is that came from being who He made you to be and turning yourself over to Him for daily molding to live a life of greater comfort, ease, and vitality?

This is the burning question that keeps showing up in the ticky tape of my thoughts ~ over and over again, of late. I can almost hear the sound of it (am I hearing voices now?) in the background pretty much with me ~ all the time.

“Should I have changed the way that I am early on…as a young child… so I wouldn’t be dealing this this Fibromyalgia right now? Is this somehow my own fault?”

And I think that’s because I NEED to be constantly reminded of this question and the answer which is…………………

Yes and No.

There are times that if you were to ask me this question ~ last night was most definitely one of those times ~ I would be VERY tempted to say flat-out yes. But it is really yes and no. Yes, I should have lost the parts of myself a long time ago that did not serve God, but self. But NO WAY would I change the good stuff that God made in me in order to avoid the consequences those things bring about.

Honestly, it’s just that sometimes I am soooo sick that I find myself wishing I could be someone who could say a full-on yes to that. But I know in my heart that I don’t truly mean it. I know in my heart that the thought of that is quite laughable.

It’s just so much harder to have it be yes and no. It would be so much easier to just have it be all the way yes, or all the way no!

I know in my heart that I am filled with things that God made in me, and yes…..some of those things may have contributed to my Fibromyalgia (amongst whatever all else is going on with my body) to rear its ugly head in a major way in my life eventually.

  • Being there for people in death and heartache – consistently – no matter how much it might hurt.That didn’t help my fight or flight issues.
  • Showing up each and every day for a child who struggles with special needs and all the emotion that goes along with that. That’s gonna take a toll on a highly empathetic individual.
  • Engaging the deep thinking and the soul searching and placing of self and ugly in the heart on the chopping block daily that comes as a result of searching to know God in a deeper and more meaningful way. Yah…that’s some intense stuff, folks.
  • And just the way my brain and heart flat-out work ~ let’s not forget about those little contributors to all of this.

The world will tell us a version of the truth that can be distorted, you know. It’s not very often the WHOLE truth. But some of what we are told is true as long as we don’t lose sight of God in the midst of it all.

That little list I made above? That stuff came out of the bad stuff. That is the beautiful stuff that God made out of the selfish stuff that has been there from the beginning. He truly does work all things together for our good if we allow Him to be our God.

Yes. That list is what God did as He chopped up the parts of me that weren’t supposed to be ruling and reigning in my life in order to make me more like Him.

Self-reliance is maybe the biggest thing about myself I WOULD change if I could that contributed greatly to this monster that has shown up in my life.

But God DID change that for me through all of this! God is STILL changing my tendency toward self-reliance. And it IS making me more like Him every single day. Maybe that war that I have been waging all my life – the one we are all taking part in – the war between self and surrender to the Almighty One – maybe it’s that war that has taken the greatest toll but that holds the greatest reward for us all at the same time.

I do believe in making changes that line up with what God has for us, friends.

I do believe we should try to take care of ourselves – because our body is His temple. We can try to eat more healthy food, avoid the stressors and things that bring about no good especially when we contend with an illness like I might have, and change the things about ourselves that do more harm than good in our lives.

I do believe there are times we continue to show up for others, but times where dusting off our feet and moving on is called for as well. And I believe the Holy Spirit can and will guide us when we encounter such times as those.

I do believe in utilizing the tools and resources that we have been provided with to help ourselves get through the hard stuff – the safe ones – The heating pad, the essential oils, some Tylenol, etc.

But ultimately, this illness has caused me to press in deeper to God’s bosom – to take shelter firmly beneath His wing. I find myself crying out for His comfort, His mercy, His companionship, His authority, and His truth and love in a more raw way now, if you will.

  • Nothing replaces that feeling of knowing that only HE can truly help us through something.
  • Nothing comes close to be able to describe what it’s like to meet Him in the midst of our suffering.
  • Nothing comes near to what we experience and how much richer we are when He shows up for us in a new way and reveals something magnificent about Himself that we never could see before.

Asking Him to tell us what to change about ourselves – and what to keep – well, that is something that we can do, you know. We are meant to be who God made us to be and the stuff that has crept in and tried to pretend it’s been there from the beginning is the stuff we have to allow Him to cut out and discard.

That’s what makes us more like Him – being pliable. Submitting. Being the clay.

Being more like Him doesn’t mean comfort, but it sure does mean blessings! Think about how Jesus was when He took His last breath on this earth. It wasn’t pretty and void of suffering by any stretch of the imagination.

But He didn’t leave this earth that way. He rose again after three days. He ascended to be with His Father in heaven. He lives! And He lives inside of us and is with us now.

Suffering does make us see Him in a new light, friends. And one day – one glorious day, all that suffering goes right out the window. Forevermore.

As we close our eyes to the pain and the ugly that our ailments, afflictions and sufferings reveal to us ~ we open them to our One True God.

The Almighty and Great Physician.

The Great I Am.

The Shepherd of our Souls.

He is the Potter Who is shaping our clay into a beautiful vessel!!!

So if you feel like a big lump of clay that has no form or purpose right about now – if you feel like you have lost direction, shape or meaning – if you feel like you have been ground up and left in the dust – turn it over to the One who promises to make it beautiful and right again.

Turn the lumps over. Let Him decide what to keep as part of his masterpiece and what to discard. Grieve if you need to for the discarded pieces – but turn to Him and allow Him to help you see the beauty of the creation He is making out of you.

And then…..you can give Him the answer to the real question ~ the one that really matters:

“if I could have allowed GOD to change me and mold me all along to be able to embrace any suffering that comes my way but be more like Him through it all, would I have done it?”

If your answer is “Yes, but it’s never too late”– well, then you are in a very good place, my friend.

It might hurt a little. But the rewards and the blessings that come as a result of it far outweigh any of that ugly stuff.

He has us in His mighty hands. Let us submit and allow God to be God. Let us say Yes day in and day out. Not yes and no, but simply….YES!

He most certainly has said “yes” all the way to us.

masterpiece-1

 

 

 

I’m Tired of Being an Over-Achiever ~ And God’s More than Okay with That

dandelion-692317_640

All of my life I have been an over-achiever. It was ingrained into the core of who I am to give it your very best ~ always.

The problem is that I took that to mean that I had to give EVERYTHING my very best and do so every minute of every day. That makes a person tired…very, very tired.

Who does that???? I’ll tell you: A crazy person does that. I never said I wasn’t crazy.

  • Who does that and sustains some kind of normalcy in life?
  • Who does that and maintains a strong sense of health and well-being?
  • Who does that and simultaneously is cautious about their motives so as not to strive for perfection, seek after man’s approval, or develop a NEED to be the best at everything all the stinking time?
  • Who does that and is seeking after God’s glory more than their own need to achieve?

Not this girl. I didn’t pull it off, friends. I mostly achieved my goals, and exceeded them in most instances, but the rest of the stuff went out the window. The important stuff.

And I’m paying for it now.

I have been working closely with the Lord in regard to this – for several years now. And just when I think I have let go of the need to achieve, I realize that without question, I am still hanging on.

  • I still want to be the best at what I do work-wise.
  • I still want to be the opposite of where I’m currently at fitness-wise – so bad I can taste it.
  • I still expect myself to give it my best – the difference now is that my best stinks a lot of the time because of how much I have burned myself out.

I’ve also found that I added in an extra pressure-of-sorts and I didn’t even realize I had been doing it until today: On TOP of trying to learn to surrender my over-achiever nature to the Lord, I started to develop an over-achiever mentality in that very endeavor.

I wanted to over-achieve when it came to surrender. (Told ya….C-R-A-Z-Y)

Let me explain it better: Constantly failing at the surrender piece of things was causing me angst and pressure internally because I felt I was letting God down. I felt I wasn’t “doing well enough” at the surrender thingie. I wasn’t “achieving” my goal of not trying to be so much of an over achiever any more.

Geeesh.

If that’s not an indicator that I have a problem, dear friends…well, I don’t know what is.

Here’s the deal: The flesh is strong. So is the mind and the heart.

I fail every day. I fail at trying not to fail. I fail at trying to be okay with failure. I fail at failing.

But I have already won because Christ gets me!!!

Jesus understands my little problems, my sinful nature, my “issues” – every last one of them.

And He loves me anyway. #beyondgrateful

So, instead of beating myself up for failing to relinquish control, failing to let go of being an over achiever, failing to “whatever”…today, I will just revel in the fact that my God understands me and wants the best for me.

And through the things that I am limited by right now, He will show His glory and might.

Through all that I cannot do, or fail to do right, or do too well (and self starts creeping in) and pick back up when I should be handing it over to Jesus, through ALL of THAT….God is in control.

And I believe that.

I have the fullest of faith in Him.

I know He has His plans and nothing I do or don’t do will stop Him.

He just wants for me to hand it over.

So this girl will continue to practice the beautiful art of waking up each day, and doing what I can, as I am moved by the Lord.

  • If He moves me to try to get on a treadmill, I will do it, but lose the expectations of meeting some type of goal for now.
  • If He moves me to let go of needing to exceed my results at work last month, and just be okay with doing a good job, I will do it.
  • If He moves me to sit still and listen, I will do so.

But this crazy girl does need your prayers. #thanksinadvance

Do you find yourself realizing that you need to relinquish control over something, yet persevere at the same time, and you simply don’t know how? Do you find that God asks for you to surrender the need to achieve all the time, but you aren’t sure when to sit still and when to give something your all? You are not alone,dear friend. It’s about Him and not about us, and sometimes all we can do is ask Him to magnify that one thing in our lives…the knowledge that it is all about Him and the trust that He will help us gain clarity as we seek more of Him and less of us.

You are not alone.

  • Let’s make our focus rest on Jesus, and not spend so much of our time trying to find our own perfect balance in how we should or should not be.
  • Let’s focus in on Him each day and ask Him to guide our steps and our lives instead of making so many plans.
  • Let’s give up being over achievers together and then watch God’s glory shine through it all!!! #BrighterbecauseofJesus

He has been waiting for it, after all. And He’s ready to embrace us in full if only we run to Him.

Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39

girl-619689_640

Three Positive Things to Say to Those Who are Suffering ~ Power Punch!

boy-447701_640

A long time ago, someone shared with me that one of the most loving things we can do for others is to tell them what we need. It gives others the same opportunity to show grace and love and care that we ourselves have when they do the same for us. If we withhold, we rob others of that gift. And being able to give grace and help others in time of need is truly just that; a Gift.

So that’s what my last few essays have been about here on my little blog.

But make no mistake: I am not only talking about things that I have concluded that I need for myself. I truly believe this applies to so many people out there in the world ~ not just those who might struggle with an invisible illness, like my Fibromyalgia. There may be some deep and dark grief that is lodged firmly inside of their heart, or things that are causing internal stress that is wreaking havoc in their life. Most every person is fighting a battle of some kind that may be invisible to the naked eye.

By the way: I hate the “outta sight, outta mind” deal, if you haven’t noticed. I truly feel it glorifies God to celebrate all that we are grateful for, but also refuse to sweep under the rug that which is uncomfortable or ugly simply for convenience, selfishness, or whatever reason it is that is driving us to….sweep and hide stuff. And I do it all too often myself. Ick!

Jesus didn’t do only the fun stuff when it came to relationships when He walked this earth, friends. Why should we?

Others may have a “list” that is different than mine, but in most cases, I have found that it boils down to three main things ~ belief, compassion, and care.

In the last essay I shared 10 things that we might NOT want to say to someone struggling with an invisible illness or fighting a battle we cannot see, but that is very, very real. Today, as promised, I will share what I personally feel IS good to say in these situations.

Why only three things when it comes to the positive aspect of this?

Because to me, these three things hold more power all by themselves than even 100 of the things that we shouldn’t say do.  They are a Power Punch Trio of beauties that always make me walk away feeling cared for, and wanting to share all of myself with the person who has said these things to me and said them with a sincere heart. When it’s sincere, their follow-up actions always prove their words to be overall true.

As you read what I have shared here, please remember that as always, it’s about the intentions of the heart and know that these are simply the things that almost always scream to me “I love you and I care.” It is a personal feeling, a by-no-means-exhaustive list, and just what I have seen it boil down to as I have struggled these last few years with invisible ailments (physical, emotional, and spiritual). As I said, it can take on many forms and words can be tweaked here and there ~ but for me, it always has come down to these three things that make me actually feel I can share my burden with someone else. For REAL.

So here it goes….

“What you are dealing with is REAL.” In other words, “I totally believe you.” I can tell you without question, that especially when it comes to Fibromyalgia, we are treated as though it is not quite all the way “real”. But this holds true to many of the other invisible things that folks around us deal with as well. If we can’t see it, measure it, label it, or somehow control it, we seem to throw our hands up and either avoid it, or chalk it up to some other junk. We have to put meaning behind these words too – the person struggling with something like this needs to be convinced again and again that we believe them. Why? Because they are being bombarded with messages that are quite the opposite on a daily basis. They need to know that you believe them just as much as the friend of yours who just received a cancer or RA diagnosis. Invisible Illness, Grief, Pain or Stress from something that happened a while ago, but has rocked this person’s world and still is TODAY, all of this stuff is just as real as the stuff we can slap a label on ~ we have to dig to bring that which is not seen to the surface. Helping to encourage someone that you believe them is often the first step in allowing the ugly thorns that attack them relentlessly to come to the surface so they don’t have to bear the pain alone.

“It’s truly okay to feel bad about it sometimes.” Guilt for being sick all the time is not only self-imposed. In my case, I do take the guilt up on my own a lot of the time, but I must tell you that the medical community, the world at large, is not helping matters for those who struggle with chronic and invisible illness. We see the way that others are treated who have a clean-cut (albeit ugly) diagnosis, versus those of us who have one that is about a condition the medical field doesn’t even understand yet. We see it and cannot help but wonder why we aren’t given permission to feel bad about our pain, our brain fog, our limitations, while others who struggle with something that is more tangible for others to grasp can. We have to ultimately be able to give ourselves permission to feel bad about what we are going through most of the time. But it certainly helps when those closest to us do so as well. This holds true for stress and grief that people are walking around holding inside and dealing with all by their lonesome selves. If they only had permission to talk about it and even know that it’s okay to feel bad about it sometimes, maybe they could actually get on the road to healing and even helping others.

“I want to understand as best I can.” We stink as a society about being willing to deal with the ugly stuff in life. We want all the flowers and bows and pretty little wrappings to make things easier for us to swallow. Basically, we just want to have the party and not do any of the work to make it happen. I don’t know what world we think we are living in, but this fairy tale land we have made up for ourselves is a lie. If we truly want relationships that are lasting and real, we have to be willing to get down in there with people ~ share in the beauty AND the ugly, wade through the things we can easily understand and the things that puzzle us to no end. It’s about wanting to and trying to and being there even when we don’t. But so often, we fail to even express to others that we’d like to understand better what they are going through. Just allowing them to talk helps. But asking questions does too – it shows interest, desire, and an actual care and concern that goes beyond a stance of “I’m here for the ride” and moves right into, “I am sitting right next to you and not going ANYWHERE. Talk to me, brother!”

So those are my three things, dear friends. My three things that I think we can say to others who are struggling with stuff and may feel alone in that battle. My three things that I feel hold more power and punch than all the many little negative things we can try to avoid saying.

Our role is to find ways to encourage others and help them know they don’t have to allow the battle, illness, grief, stress to remain hidden. It can be brought to the surface, and dealt with, even if it takes a lifetime ~ together. We don’t have to bear it all alone and we most certainly don’t have to do that and hide all that is ugly from the rest of the world.

When we do, we truly aren’t doing others in our lives any favors.

MOST important is to remember that only God can truly heal us. Only God can truly understand us, friends. But He has placed us in one another’s lives to be encouragers to one another, to be iron that sharpens iron, to help one another bear the burdens (especially the ugly and invisible ones). There are times that we  have to face parts of things alone (just us with God), but if we make it a habit of bearing all of our burdens by ourselves, self starts to creep in and surrender becomes elusive.

Let us look for the invisible hurts and pains that our very own neighbor is contending with today. Let us search for the beauty and the ugly in the lives of those with whom we interact. And let us encourage each other that we are here for ALL OF IT….the long haul, the sickness and in health thing, the for better or for worse deal.

Because only taking the good parts and discarding all the rest makes for a petty little party. I want the real relationships, don’t you? I’ll take the Power Punch of true friendship and love over the petty party any day.

And that, is what makes me go to sleep at night feeling a lot lighter than when I woke up earlier that morning.

It wasn’t the cake, or the flowers, or the circus animals that did it. It wasn’t all the fun and frilly ribbons and presents ~ or the snacks or the treats or the music and dancing on the tables. No….not at all.

It was the Power Punch. 

And it didn’t even have to be spiked.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

girls-462072_640

10 Things Not To Say to Someone With an Invisible Illness

nurse-37322_640

I will be sharing a post soon on the upside of this kind of stuff soon…the positive spin, the “how to help” and happy-go-lucky kind of stuff. Yes…something more along the lines of what we can say that helps those who struggle with invisible illnesses.

But so very often, I think what helps us get into the mindset of what we can do that is positive, is to start with what not to do. Sad, but true.

We all make mistakes…I know I do. We learn from experience. So often, we learn best when we, ourselves, see things from a first hand perspective. This is where I come in on this topic.

We all struggle to know what the right thing is and what to stay away from when we are living with someone who struggles with something we cannot even see with the naked eye, let alone…fully understand. This holds true for grief, internal battles we cannot see (that we all go through) and as I am discussing today, the invisible illnesses people suffer with, like my own Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue.

Now that I have been living with an illness that is not outwardly visible in many ways, (but oh-so-very-REAL), I have seen first hand an entirely different layer of what so many in our world deal with ~ and they often feel alone.

Here are a few things I have learned that folks like myself don’t want to hear when struggling with an illness or battle that is unseen. These things do not help in most cases.

As with anything, you have to take it all within the context of the conversation – of course. But in most cases, I can say that when I hear such things as the list below, it not only doesn’t help me, but I walk away with more than just the battle I am already fighting due to my illness to contend with.

And I must say ~ This battle is enough.

“Well, at least you don’t have ___________” (insert something “real” here). This happens all the time, friends. We already know that we need to focus on what we are grateful for in the midst of the battle (WAR) we are fighting. We already know that we are more fortunate than many others and we still have much to be thankful for. We already know that this probably won’t kill us. But none of that makes it any less real to contend with. WE can say this, but when others say it TO us, it makes us feel small, diminished, and “less than.” The world has decided what it calls a “serious” illness and chalks the rest up to mere annoyances. The world screams this to the person living with the chronic and invisible illness. We don’t need our near and dear ones to do it too.

“Maybe you just need to exercise, eat differently, drink more juice, take better care of yourself, etc. Although this may hold true for many who have a chronic illness, doesn’t it also ring true for the majority of the people in the world? I can speak for myself that this girl was IN SHAPE prior to being struck down with Fibromyalgia! I was not lazy by any means when it came to exercise or even the way that I ate and took care of my physical health. And it still happened. This is a very sensitive area. Most folks who struggle with a chronic illness, especially one that not even the doctors fully understand are on a roller coaster constantly. They are trying every vitamin, every eating plan, every form of exercise, rest, sleeping techniques and helps known to man and under the sun. To imply that they could do better when they are struggling to fight their illness AND implement a multitude of coping skills, just adds to the defeat and exhaustion they probably already feel.

“You might want to go see a counselor.” First of all, your friend has probably already been down this road. Think back for a moment. Look at things like autism, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder. A couple of decades ago, these were invisible and non-measurable “illnesses” as well. The world didn’t accept that there was a physiological link in the mix. The world wasn’t even sure these things were real and not all in their heads. But now – today, we accept these things as very, very real. Fibromyalgia (my thing), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Adrenal Fatigue, and other illnesses like these are still being viewed that way. The world  hasn’t caught up to us yet. And we know this. Most of us understand this and employ grace towards the rest of the world who doesn’t get it yet. We know that the world hasn’t figured out whether or not to believe it’s a real thing. But we want you to trust us that It is not all in our heads. A counselor may help, but exercise caution if you are going to suggest this to a loved one – the context needs to fit, as always.

“This too, shall pass.” I’m sorry, but give me a break. Most of us are struggling to surrender and accept, friends. The line between accepting our illness and full-blown resignation is very thin. To hear that it may magically disappear one day does few of us any good. What we need is to believe we can live with it better, not wish for or hope for some magic wand to be waved and take it all away. Sorry, but I am a realist. I am also a Christian and believe that God can heal us. That is part of my reality as a follower after Christ. But I look at the reality of many who suffered in the Bible and not a whole lot of it was “removed” from them while they walked this earth. Yes… most of us just want to learn how to cope as best we can if for some (crazy) reason, this never does pass. Do we promise a cancer patient that it will pass and go away some day? I hope not. The way we BEAT THIS THING is not to live every moment hoping that it will disappear, but find ways to live for Christ in the midst of it.

“Do you take vitamins and supplements?” Yes…let me go grab my suitcase and show you. Want some? I have plenty and am willing to share.” ‘Nuff said.

“You “should” _____________” If you suffer from a chronic, and invisible illness and have been around the block a time or two, please take this one off your list. You can say this all you want. But if not, then there is no place for “shoulds” in our vocabulary when we are talking with someone about their illness battles. Again, it implies they have not done enough. It implies that we assume they haven’t already been there, done that. And they probably have. I’ll be the first to say that there may be some things I haven’t tried in order to cope with this thing, but chances are, I have tried most things on the “should” list. Multiple times.

“Well, you seemed fine yesterday ~ what happened?” These things, dear friends – these crazy problems that come with these invisible illnesses or battles that we fight – well, they have a mind of their own sometimes. I can say without question, that I, for one, have serious control issues. I am one motivated individual when it comes to employing every coping (control) skill in my magic Mary Poppins-like bag when it comes to avoiding pain and suffering. And if I could wake up today and use all of my tricks and tools so I feel as good as I did yesterday, I would do it. No contest. (yesterday…all my troubles seem so far away…sing it with me!)

“So much is about attitude. Mind over matter, baby.” Yes. And my attitude just got flushed down the toilet right after you said that to me. Hee Hee.

“You just need to give it over to God.”  For the Christian suffering with one of these monster illnesses, this is one of the worst thing another Christian can say to us as a blanket statement. Again, if shared in the right heart and within the right context, it is more than okay, but so often, we hear this just the way I have written it above. Saying it this way and without framing it appropriately implies that we aren’t…that we haven’t been on our knees beseeching the Lord to teach us and refine us through this thing. It insinuates that we are suffering because we have failed to let God be God in some way. It may be true that we need to surrender and learn from God through our suffering ~ isn’t it true for us all? But to imply that in some way we are sick because of our lack of surrender is just…well, kind of sick in its own way, don’t ya think?

“You just have to persevere.” Yup. Gotta run the race and run it well. Also, need to surrender at the same time. I have to tell, you friends. Sometimes, we want to give up. Some days we need to give up. We probably won’t stay there. But we need a break today. Don’t you have days like that even without being assailed by an invisible illness? Part of the way that we run our race when we are dealing with the invisible realities (battles) in life is to step out to the sidelines and stop for a minute. Pep talks like this don’t help us. Hopping on Jesus’ back instead is what we really need to do sometimes.

So…there we go. Let me conclude by saying that all of the above apply to me. I am not only the receiver of such comments but the giver of them as well. I am not the only person suffering with something hard and invisible today. This list applies to me with my invisible illness as to things I don’t really appreciate hearing. It also applies to me when it comes to things I should keep in mind when I am talking with someone else who is suffering in some way. We can learn from one another how to better build one another up, encourage, specifically pray, and just truly be there.

In the next post, I will share, from my own perspective, what we CAN do that helps those who struggle with these invisible battles.

Because isn’t that what it’s all about? One of the most loving things we can do for one another is to share with them how to help.

Maybe they, in turn, will do the same for us some day.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

encourage

Thorns Have to be Pulled Out if We Want to Heal

deco-839118_640

I’ve been feeling a pulling inside of my heart lately ~ a tugging. It’s a gracious little pull, but firm and unrelenting at the same time. God is nudging me ~ and that means I need to perk up my ears and listen.

He has something to teach me. It’s something that’s important to Him, therefore, it’s important for me.

It’s about Mercy.

What is mercy, anyway? Well, just for starters, dig on this….. (and this is just the definition that mankind has tried to come up with for it):

  • Compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

And for those who like the one-two-punch-type-definitions ~ Try these on for size:

  • Leniency
  • Clemency
  • Compassion
  • Grace
  • Pity
  • Charity
  • Forgiveness
  • Forbearance

But God’s definition of mercy even goes far beyond all of that. We have only to look at the cross to see it ~ and then we get to gaze upon the EMPTY tomb and the blessed hope we have because of what Jesus Christ has done for us!

God doesn’t need our offerings, our sacrifices, our works. He wants, more than anything, for us to show His love and MERCY.

This is what it is to love in a merciful way ~ doing it especially when it’s hard.

This is mercy.

  • It goes far beyond something as simple as offering support or acceptance.
  • It moves right on past feel-good harmony and shows up even in the midst of conflict.
  • It entails blood, sweat and tears on our part sometimes and the pain is most assuredly not lost on us.

But who are we to be absolved of that when our own Lord and Savior allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross as He showed us all of His beautiful mercy?

Just who do we think we are to retain any kind of “right” not to offer up mercy to others?

It’s what He wants from us, friends. But we must ask Him for the power, lest we fail. ‘Cause mercy may be a gift, but not one that we offer up without a cost.

Showing true mercy can truly hurt.

  • So today, as I walk through my own kind of hard stuff, I shall ask the Lord to search my heart and pull out the thorns that are blocking it from being pliable and mercy-filled.
  • Today, I will ask Him to fill the spaces that are raw and possibly even bleeding from the wounds ~ fill them with His healing balm so mercy and love can flow.
  • Today, I will pray that my Savior will help me to remember that it’s not all about seeking to “do the right thing” when it’s hard, but to truly share His love and mercy and allow that to then flow out toward others.

And I covet your prayers, friends. Because this is one of those things that I think you might easily apply the “be careful what you pray for” little snippet to.

We shall not fear.

How about you? Is there anything in your life that you have started to approach with a sacrificial mode of thinking instead of asking Jesus to give you a heart of true mercy, compassion and grace? Do you find yourself struggling under the weight of the sacrifice and carrying a burden that seems to be getting heavier every day? Are you feeling empty, depleted, and like there is nothing left to pour into others? Is there a place God is calling you to display His mercy but you feel you are holding back for a multitude of reasons?

I can answer yes to all of the above, so just so ya know, you aren’t alone.

And that’s when I realize that I am doing it wrong. That’s exactly when I know that it’s time to stop working within my own power and turn it all over to Jesus.

This is part of what this really means, I think. This is part of how we show mercy instead of offering up sacrifices that over time just run dry. Relinquishing the sacrifice-and-serve-because-I-should-do-it mentality and simply let God move us one moment at a time.

This is how Jesus does things. And He will help us too if we simply ask. We will probably have to ask over and over again, because self creeps in often and tries to take the reins.

But He is faithful.

He is merciful.

And He will deliver.

So that pull inside of my heart and the one that you may be experiencing yourself right now? That little tug that is unrelenting? In a way, although it can be uncomfortable at times, it’s just another way the Lord is displaying His mercy towards us. He cares too much to allow the thorns to remain, friends. He loves us too much not to heal our infections in our hearts.

He has work to do in me. And I have so much to learn.

But I am ever-so-grateful that I have the best teacher a girl could ever ask for.

But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13

heart-608787_640

More than 24 More

IMG_3946

Once upon a time, there was a girl who decided she would get married, have three or more children, and live happily ever after by the time she was about 20 years old. She wanted to have her children young, so she would be able to be a hip and fun grandmother some day.  Her husband would be handsome, fun, and reliable (loyal). He would take care of her until the end of her days on this earth, never cause her harm, and make her feel loved. Always.

She had it all planned out: She would keep herself pure for her husband, always be beautiful and the perfect partner for him, never be mean or angry, and then, maybe she would be worthy of the love she knew he would provide for her. She didn’t want to mess this up; not before she met him, and certainly not after.

But she did. She messed up all of her plans.

Yes, something happened to the girl along the way. She searched for love in all the wrong places. She gave up thinking that she would ever find the guy – the one who would love her unconditionally, support her in the good times and the bad, and be her best friend at the same time.

She gave up.

So she threw in the towel. She screwed up in her search so badly, that she felt even more unworthy by the time that she actually got in touch again with the man that she had met at a younger age…the one who would be her husband.

She was happy when they reconnected again, but had already made the firm decision that marriage would not be in her future. She was done…finished. And besides ~ she was tainted goods. How could this guy ever love her for who she was now?

But God made it clear: this is the one. This is the one for her to marry, as much as she didn’t want to get married after all that she had been through.

So she did.

IMG_3947

I am so thankful for 24 years of marriage with my guy. But I have a newsflash for you, dear friends: He’s not THE ONE.

  • He does love me unconditionally.
  • He does take care of me in sickness and in health.
  • He is loyal, reliable, handsome and fun.

But he wasn’t THE GUY.

He is not the One that my soul was thirsting for. He’s not the One who could make me pure again after all the screw ups from my past. He’s not the One who will FOR CERTAIN be with me until I take my last breath.

But He is the one I was meant to marry ~ thanks be to God!

I’m so glad that God lent him to me. I’m so thankful that he is right next in line behind my Lord and Savior for me to love. I don’t always love him as well as Jesus would have it done, but I try.

And the girl does get to live happily ever after. And so does the boy. With The One!

#morethan24more #whoohoo #eternitywithChrist

As I look back over the years of our marriage, I find myself not only grateful, but enjoying a moment of clarity as well. There are two main things that I truly think have carried us through and drawn us closer together over the years, in spite of how we can be in different places regarding different things at the same time.

  • Our mutual and individual love for Jesus Christ.
  • Our desire to be good friends above all else.

The first thing has to be there, or we start placing our expectations upon our spouse for love and acceptance. We start living for that, versus allowing Christ to live in and through us. We start trying to glorify ourselves, worship our marriage instead of the Lord and what He wants to do through our marriage, and live for self instead of for Christ.

We start seeing “love” as what we get out of it instead of what it really is meant to be by God’s design.

And to me, the friendship thing is soooo important because all the other stuff fades anyway, friends. We get old; can ya dig? We stop being so sexy. We can become sick, even ugly in some ways. Just ask my husband how I look during one of my Fibro flares first thing in the morning…ha ha. (He probably won’t tell you though – cuz he loves me too much – so there!)

But because he is my next-best-buddy-second-only-to-Jesus ~ he simply laughs at my disarray and lack of charisma. And I love this about him a whole bunch. It’s one of my favorite things.

So Happy Anniversary to my best husband ever! You are my favorite friend on this earth and I am so grateful that you love me for who I am, even when I’m a messy monster.

God displays his sense of humor frequently in our marriage. But He also shows us His unending grace and mercy.

Once upon a time there was a girl who became, in many ways, quite the opposite of what she thought she’d be as a wife, a friend, a mother. God took her and married her to a wonderful man of God who showed her without question, Jesus and His grace, love, mercy and compassion in physical and tangible action on a daily basis. He showed her through this man that she can be loved, flaws and all. He made it clear that with the help of Jesus, she can love better than she ever thought possible too.

  • 24 years of beauty mixed in with some ugly too ~
  • Loving moments coupled with some scrappy, nasty conflicts ~
  • Impossible-to-verbalize joy and palpable painful seasons ~
  • Blatant imperfections all overridden by gracious and unmistakable gifts from God.

24 years of blessing and time to understand God’s kind of love a little bit better right here on earth – together.

And here’s to more than 24 more!

Above all, love each other deeply; because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

get-attachment (9)

Hello. Is it You I’m Looking For???

Little joys make the things that are less-than-great all the better.

As my health took a downward turn over the last couple of years, the Lord has really helped me to appreciate the small things that I can do. I’m also learning, through the process of reveling in such wonders, a whole different perspective in regard to doing our work as unto the Lord.

Little stuff counts. It counts a lot. But we truly have to be intentional in looking for these little lovelies sometimes, my friends.

So here are a few of my favorite things right about now. I bask in these; I bathe myself in them. When the world tells us to live a little and let go of such menial tasks, I find myself LOVING it when I get to do them. (sorry, never-ending laundry, you didn’t make the cut).

Hello, clean counters. I love to wash you and stroke you with my fabulous 409 every night before going to bed so that I can wake up to your gleaming face every morning before you get trashed all over again.

Hello, pulled together curtains. I love to pull you closed over the blinds each and every night so that I can enjoy your fabulous geometric sassiness for a while before I get the satisfaction of flinging you wide open (let there be light!) each and every morning. You complete me.

Hello, Pill and Vitamin Bottles. I love digging you out of “the drawer” every morning and every night, only to put you back away again so you cannot continue to remind me of what all I must ingest simply to exist. I also love the drawer in which you reside, because if I didn’t put you back in your cozy little home after my daily dose of AWESOME I might actually forget I swallowed you already and take a few too many. So yah…thanks.

Hello, Windex. I love you. That is all. #therejustarentwords

Hello, Mirrors, Mirrors on the walls. You make my heart sing. I don’t love you for the reflection I see when I gaze into your face, but I really love you for the way that you help me pretend I have more daylight streaming into my humble abode. Windows are overrated anyway, so there’s that. You are the best pretend window friends I ever had. Stay a while.

Hello, Blankies and Throw pillows. You make things look prettier even when stuff all around you is messed up. I appreciate you helping me to have a semblance of style amidst the chaos. You’re good like that. You are exceptional, I must say too, at helping me to hide the muffin top whilst sitting and laying around on the couch. It just makes me feel better. You serve multitudes of most-excellent purposes. Yay for efficiency and beauty entertwined in such a lovely manner! You are my shining stars.

And now, for a fabulous tune from our one and only, Lionel. His voice is amazing and brings me much joy. I wanna take a chill pill, curl up with my blankies, and gaze at my light filled mirrors, clean counters, and geometric curtains every time I hear him.

Every single time.

Jesus Sees

woman-801990_640

Do you suffer with something that seems to prevent you at every turn from feeling like you can be the “hands and feet” of Jesus? Are you sick, afflicted, grieving, or so overwhelmed with your day-to-day tasks and responsibilities that you struggle to be able to “go out” into the world and love upon others?

Have you cut out all the extraneous stuff that takes your time, attention, or space away to make room for what is truly important; yet you still get stopped in your tracks every time you try?

You may simply just not be seeing it then.

You may not be seeing that you can serve others from right where you are.

I want to encourage you today, dear friends if you, like me, sometimes forget to remember that you can love others the way Jesus commanded even if you can’t go out into the world to do so.

  • You can do it from your bedridden place.
  • You can do it from what seems like your prison of sorts.
  • You can do it, even if you feel isolated, too sick to go serve at the soup kitchen, unable to go to church because you might be contagious, too weak, or incapacitated.

Prisons got nothin’ on Jesus. Walls can be torn down.

Your heart is not incapacitated, friend. Jesus lives there if you have accepted Him as your Lord and Savior. Jesus is bigger than all the things that pretend to be obstacles that are insurmountable. He can and He will love others through you, even when it doesn’t seem like you are doing “much.”

AND…..sometimes another way that we can show love to others is by allowing them to share some grace with us in our own time of need. Let us not discount that part of loving like Jesus, friends. He let His own feet be washed, after all. He allowed others to wait upon Him at times too.

Humility is precious, yo.

Yes…part of being a true servant comes in allowing others to do things for us too. It is a mark of true humility if we can push down that ugly pride and allow others to meet us in our ugly places, our needy places, our spots in which we feel trapped or like we can’t give in return.

This is grace.

And we can love and encourage in our own ways too. Don’t let anyone tell you that just because you cannot go and volunteer at the church, meet needy people downtown, or run all the races to raise money for worthy causes that you aren’t giving of yourself; that you aren’t “enough.”

Jesus was sacrificially loving all of us while nailed up on that cross. Nails did not incapacitate Him by any stretch of the imagination! Quite the opposite.

Hands and Feet don’t have to be free from physical limitations to be effective.

Jesus proves it.

  • We can still stir one another up, even if we are ill or unable to literally be the hands and feet that are out there meeting others.
  • We are part of the stew of grace and love and truth.
  • We are part of the same mind and body as our fellow believers who may be enjoying better health and vitality than we are able to right now.
  • We are still part of the church, dear friends. Don’t let the enemy tell you otherwise.

So if you are down in the dumps today, wishing you could serve more actively and feeling like you are trapped and just not “with the program” of being the hands and feet of Jesus in the way the world likes to see, remember that your light is still shining.

And maybe it will help you to remember two simple little words today ~ I know I’m going to……

JESUS SEES.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2: 1-4

sparkler-677774_640

The Itch I Cannot Scratch

eye-743409_640

Those dudes in the scriptures? They were T-O-U-G-H peeps, my friends. The stuff they went through – endured – it’s truly beyond me.

Johah, Moses, Abraham, Job, David, the disciples and sooo many more! These dudes went through the ringer, man. I can’t even fathom it.

I get it: Some of them, at first, went through stuff without relying upon the Lord for help. But when they did turn to Him ~ when they did rely upon HIM, His power, His strength, they triumphed. Yes, even while suffering God can show us that because of Him, we have overcome.

That’s how our Savior does things. He pulls us up out of the broken pits of despair and suffering and works His wonders in and through those trials for the world to see. Glory be to God!

He doesn’t necessarily remove suffering, although we, small children that we are, like to think that a nice parent would do so.

Sometimes you have to allow your children to go through some stuff so they truly become stronger and learn and build character. All that good stuff, you know?

I laugh at myself of late, because I feel like I relate to Job. I laugh out loud because when it even goes through my little mind that I can relate to this dude and what he went through, it becomes crystal clear how small and weak I really am….ha ha. Why? Because what I am enduring right now is only a microscopic fraction of what Job actually went through in his time.

And if compared to the suffering that Christ endured? My trials cannot even be seen under a microscope!

Yes, I laugh.

And I cry.

I laugh and I cry because right now, along with the “normal” pain I carry with me all the time from the Fibro Monster, I am infected. Out of the blue (that’s what Fibro and CFS does – surprise!) my immune system started to shut down. Literally over night, my skin became inflamed and infected. It is now in my eyes (pinkeye), my face is covered in scabs (candida yeast) and I have fever blisters on my lips.

I cannot hug my kids or my husband. I can’t even kiss my puppy. I am itching all over and want to scratch my face off, but I can’t touch it. There is no escape. And it sucks rocks.

But…it’s really going to be okay. I’ve been here before. And I, unlike Job, have a doctor I can finally cave in and go to see today.

But when I think of Job, I often think only of how well he held up under adversity far greater than mine. I tend to walk in condemnation during such times because of that. I compare myself and my small faith as compared to men like these, and I come up quite short.

And then I realize later what I have done because God whispers to my heart – go and check a little deeper into the story, my daughter. Job was not so perfect in how he handled things either. He was human, like you. You can learn from him, yes. But also learn that he wasn’t pretending this was all fun and games and that’s not what I am trying to grow in you right now either.

I realize that Job, like me, at first accepted his plight with great dignity and minimal complaining…

The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21).

So very often, when I am under duress, I stop right there in Job’s story. And then I walk away thinking I am an ungrateful child. But when I check a little further and go a little deeper, I see that eventually, Job had his human moments too. He, much like David in the Psalms, cries out. He doesn’t pretend he is loving this situation at all. He even goes so far as to curse his life.

Yes, long before spilling their hearts out to the Lord, these men, like little old me, also went through phases of resentment, bitterness, self-pity, and even anger for all the calamities they were facing.

None of us is perfect when we have an itch we cannot scratch…

Why is light given to him who suffers? Why is life given to those who feel sad in their soul?  They wait for death, but there is none. They dig for it more than for hidden riches. They are filled with much joy and are glad, when they find the grave. Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, and around whom God has built a wall?  For I cry inside myself in front of my food. My cries pour out like water.  What I was afraid of has come upon me. What filled me with fear has happened.  I am not at rest, and I am not quiet. I have no rest, but only trouble.” Job 3:20-26

There’s no pretending on Job’s part that this is a walk in the park, friends. The key is that he sees his infection, but doesn’t place blame on the Lord for it. He cries out to Him instead. He is honest in his anguish. And when we honestly share our burdens with the Lord, it is then that He can truly take them for us.

In His timing, of course.

So yes, this is why I laugh at myself, friends. This is also why I cry sometimes. Because I am like Job even though my infection doesn’t come close to comparing to all that he endured. And unlike Job, I allow the enemy to make me berate myself before I realize what is even happening.

But the good news is that like Job, I do not blame God for my suffering. Thanks be to God that He speaks to us and ministers to our hearts through His Word. Thanks be to the Lord that He can “work all things together for our good.”!

We go through these little processes when we are “suffering” don’t we? It is part of what the Lord uses to mold us and shape us and build our character. It is part of surrender. It is part of dying to self. We struggle to scratch and scratch and scratch. We struggle to satisfy and obtain our own peace and relief. We struggle to the point we can even sometimes forget for a moment and lash out and fight against the One who knows us and loves us the most.

Until we finally give up.

Through all the struggle Job endured, the struggle to understand what was going on was the very itch he couldn’t seem to scratch. Searching for the answers and looking TO GOD is what finally brought him relief of sorts. Trying to understand more about God versus his present situation was part of what strengthened his already-strong faith and character.

Job may have become angry with his situation for a while, but he never really cursed God. He did, indeed curse his situation and cry out a lot about it though. He stopped short of accusing God for the suffering that was inflicted upon him, even though he was angry and upset about his plight.

I think this is the kind of thing that God wants from us. He wants us to cry out honestly about our plight – to HIM. He doesn’t want us to pretend it’s all okay and show how tough we are.

Even through the suffering, Job did not blame the Lord…he even admits he came to know him and build his relationship with him in a new way…

My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Job 42:5

I am infected. I am not tough about it. But far greater than the infection I carry around upon my face right now, I am filled with the love of Jesus. And He saves me!

  • He scratches my itchy heart when it needs it.
  • He brings relief to my soul when I cannot get any from my physical and emotional ailments.
  • He has my heart in the palm of His mighty hand.
  • He brings me a greater peace than any itch-scratcher-reliever-thing ever could.

And it is all for HIS glory anyway. 

And oh, yah….

It’s not even about me.

“See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this” (Isaiah 48:10).

35774-Fix-Your-Eyes-On-Jesus

Party Rockin’ in the House Tonight

dancing-156041_640 (1)

There are some ugly guests that have decided to live with me and they keep having dance parties without my permission. You are about to meet just a few of them.

We gotta laugh at ourselves sometimes; at least this girl has to do it. If I don’t, I would wallow up in the fetal position under my bed forevermore or until the rapture happens, at the very least.

Here is just a snippet of what I really feel, much of the time. If this doesn’t prove to you that I am a sinner in need of Jesus, I don’t know what will.

Introducing today’s top five contestants in the contest to destroy Annie’s brain:

Dear Laundry Room ~ I tried to make you pretty to make it easier to be with you 24/7, but you just keep showing your true colors. Also, your dominating and selfish spirit is getting to me a bit. You try to keep me locked inside all for yourself, and pretend you are wonderful to me because you clean our clothes. Only half of that is true. I’m grateful for all of the skills that you have, but I’d like to spend a little time elsewhere. You may be able to wash the clothes like a boss, but you AREN’T THE BOSS OF ME!

Dear Scale and Perverse Pound Revealer ~ You are truly twisted and depraved. I don’t even know any more why I allow you to be in my house, let alone speak your rancid thoughts to me all the time. I’ve tried to put you away, but you just keep calling me from your dark little corner. It’s annoying. You’re poison. You need to depart from me. Apparently, you obtain some sick kind of pleasure in counting things and then rounding up to the nearest 100th, but I guess that’s how you roll. I shall resist you and just keep in mind ~ Jesus is on my side and he loves me, rolls of fat and all.

Dear Fibromyalgia and Menopause and Irish/Italian Temper ~ You think you have won, but I have news for YOU. You may like to come out to play but you are not my friends. You pretend to be ingrained into the most core part of who I am, but you are just unwelcome visitors who have stayed so long, you think I will forget that you don’t belong here. I know you like to wreak havoc and cause pain that then trickles out or comes in waves to crush all in my circle, but your party is sad and I wanna go home. #partiesareoverrated #idontlikeyourcake

Dear Person Taking Your Bad Mood out on Me ~ I never do this myself, so you shouldn’t either. What’s the matter with you, anyway? I never allow my feelings or concerns, stresses and ailments to cause me to FREAK OUT on others (anyone, anyone? Bueller?) in my line of vision or earshot. What the heck are you thinking?! Don’t you know you need to get a grip and grab it now and never let go? You are ruining the mood I am in and am entitled to BY LAW. Pursuit of Happiness ~ Yay!

Dear Paycheck ~ Why do you make me work so hard before I get to see you? And what’s up with the fact that you grace me with your presence only to disappear before I can even greet you with a hug and a kiss and spend a little time with you. You are a fair weather friend and have a lot to learn about lasting friendship and community. It may pay for you to stick around a little and actually get to know your people. I’m just sayin’.

Dear Melasma, Acne Scars, and Dark Circles that are Never Ending ~ I know you came to see me and stay (till death do we part) because you are cousins to the sun that I spent so much time with when I was younger ~ (we are family).  I have tried to love you, because just because you aren’t pretty, doesn’t mean that you deserve poor treatment. But you need to behave and hide a little when other guests come to play. We don’t want to scare everyone else who JUST CANNOT UNDERSTAND. People are all in a different part of the process, yo. Some day I may be strong enough to let you come out all the time, but right now, I’m still a sinner with issues who doesn’t want people to run away screaming ~ does she have chicken pox or leprosy? Sorry, but it’s true. I’ll work on my dark little heart.

Life is a mess, but Jesus does messy well. For this, I am ever-so-thankful, aren’t you? He loves us, messy and all. And once we have a full grip on the fact that we are broken, imperfect and in DEEP NEED of our Savior, He meets us there.

He will even meet the uglies.

He will take us one day to the real party ~ the best party ~ the one that’s filled with beauty.

I can’t wait for that one!

Yep. His Grace is Enough.

Even if my flaws try to pretend otherwise.

When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor–sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Mark 2:17

keep-calm-jesus-saves

The Scars of Love

heart-742712_640

There are so many things that I was told at a very young age, yet I am finding I wasn’t fully “taught” how to do these things, rather, I was simply told about them over and over again.

This is proof that knowing something doesn’t translate into knowing how to do that something.

It doesn’t translate into understanding it. It doesn’t mean it becomes a part of our character. It’s just some stuff that we think we know and that’s that. (Yah right…I got this)

Here are just a few of mine…

  • Don’t wear white after labor day (which I did, all the time, ’cause I’m a rebel like that).
  • Take care of your skin and don’t lay out in the sun (this one went right out the window, along with the sunblock and was replaced with lemon juice and oil, hot diggety dawg).
  • Seek first to understand others over being understood yourself. Love those “others” not only as you love yourself, but love them even better. Do I even need to explain how I lived this one out, friends? (Let’s just say EPIC. FAIL.)

So here’s what Mr. Stephen Covey says: Seek first to understand and then to be understood. And he is right.

But the Lord is even more right about this. The Lord actually doesn’t only admonish us to do this, but he tells us why and how. It can’t be done without Him. It can’t be done if we don’t fully surrender our own needs ~ our needs to be understood, our needs to be right and vindicated, our needs to get others to change or come around to our way of thinking or being the person we think they should be.

He is my God. And only HE is the God of my brothers and sisters.

Translation? I need to move my butt out of the way sometimes so God can work in others just as I need room for Him to be able to do His work in me.

We are called not only to take up our cross when it’s easy to carry, but to go the distance and even allow ourselves to be nailed to it. Sometimes, especially during conflict, we throw that right out the window. We enlist our inner rap star and fight for our right to party. And that just doesn’t make sense. But it is the human way, after all.

A huge part of loving others the way God asks me to comes down to putting them in front of myself when it comes to conflict and seeking understanding. In other words, I need to throw my need to be understood out the window and not my cross.

Truly. It is a mark of true wisdom to allow God to be God. And wisdom trumps knowledge and turns what we know into real action. It takes the worldly views and discards them, and enables the pure truth to emerge.

  • Wisdom tells us how to let God be God and tells us what place we have in the process when it comes to ourselves and others.
  • Without seeking God’s wisdom, we get no understanding. And that is one of the keys to relationship and dealing with conflict, friends.

Wisdom is the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

So when does the magic music of true understanding usually grace my itchy ears ~ especially in relation to those things that I think that I already “know”?

In my own experience, I have found out how it should look through the times (so, so many) that I was doing it wrong. Sometimes, the wrong way, in hindsight, makes the right way stand out ever-so-clearly. (so sad)

I am now almost 50 and fully “understand” what I knew all along, but didn’t really absorb or believe. My skin has paid for all of the days of adoring the sun and allowing it to FRY MY FACE. Some of it is irreversible, so I get the beautiful privilege of carrying the scars and discolorations with me for the rest of my life.

The white after labor day thingie? Not of consequence to the Lord or myself, so in a glorious way, I get to be a rebel for life in relation to this one small thing. (happiness and joy!)

But the scars that we carry for the things we wish we would have listened to ~ they may be ugly and we may regret them, but they are still a reminder nonetheless. And that can be good.

They are a reminder that there are certain things in life I should seek to truly understand and live by, instead of responding with a “yah, I know that.

What scars will we carry to our death bed in relation to the fact that we haven’t fully lived out what it means to seek to understand others first, (and in turn, love them and esteem them more highly than ourselves) before being so intent on being understood ourselves?

Will they be irreversible for our entire earthly lives? Will relationships and conflicts and divisions the enemy creates through it all mar us and be a testimony of how much we messed up in following our Lord’s commandment to love others the way He has asked us to?

In the end, will we be able to say “I was right?” OR will the scars we bear be testimonies to the race that we ran, holding our cross with us the entire way. Will I go to my death not being understood, maybe even persecuted and spit on and mocked and beaten on top of not being understood by others?

Two words: Jesus did.

But guess what? He was still understood, dear ones. God understands our hearts, our thoughts, our feelings, our sorrows and our joys. If we are truly confident in that and have the relationship with the Lord that we are meant to have, we don’t NEED for others to understand us so very much.

It’s just icing.

I get to talk about this and share it with you because I have credibility. Why? Because I have screwed this up so many times (and continue to all the time) that I have learned a lot about the difference between truly seeking to understand someone and the lens through which they see things (which most definitely influences their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors) and only hearing them and being able to say ‘yah, I know that.

I have messed it up. I have the scars to prove it. I am the first in line to seek to be understood before even attempting to understand someone else. That is love of self in all its twisted and depraved “glory.”

I have been the first one to sign up to go through the motions of seeking to understand someone else (especially if I am in a conflict with that person), when all I’m really doing is getting ready to reply, show them the err of their thoughts, feelings, ways, or respond through my narrow view of how things “should be.” Or simply waiting my turn and biding my time to get my chance to take the floor and make myself understood and known. Capeesh?

But I do want so badly to seek to understand others first, because I believe with all my heart  this is part of what the Lord calls us to do in relation to truly loving others.

  • I used to think active listening was the key, but it’s not.
  • I used to think that letting them talk, and then talking after they had their turn helped, but it doesn’t always.
  • I used to think if we followed the rules of how do do conflict well, we’d come out enlightened and understanding one another even better. Not always the case.

It’s about listening with a truly surrendered heart. It’s about SEEKING to understand how that person feels, thinks, sees things. Especially if it’s “wrong” in our eyes. Especially if we walk away in the end not feeling understood ourselves.

This is beyond difficult to do. But just in case you haven’t heard the news yet,  all ye true followers after Christ: Love hurts.

But guess what else? It’s okay. 

The closest thing I have seen in the world to describe the kind of listening we need to employ if we are to truly seek to understand others is “empathic listening.” But go and read you some good old Proverbs and you will find the really good stuff. Listening with all our hearts does some really good things…

  • This takes true vulnerability.
  • This takes throwing away our way that we see the world and getting inside of the other person’s heart and mind (i.e. the epitome of being the opposite of selfish).
  • This takes surrender. (the real kind – the all the way kind)

This takes tapping into God’s love, God’s wisdom, God’s heart and allowing Him to rule and reign in ours right that very moment.

It also takes time.

It takes time to convince someone that you are truly seeking to understand them. It builds mutual trust, and then and only then, can we help them to understand us. To me, the best thing in the world, is to allow that person to understand myself not for me, but as a gift to them. Mutual understanding builds relationships.

Make sure they are ready to receive that little gift only after you have given them the best gift first – seeking to understand THEM. We may have to hold the smaller gift aside for days, months, maybe even years. But we know it’s there. So does God.

This is a mark of love. This is a mark of wisdom. This is a mark of being true followers of Christ Jesus.

My scars are going to start to change. I am going to be proud to carry some of them with me to the end of this earthly life. Some will be marks of regret, but some will be indicators of God’s true love in action in my life. All will be reminders of pain.

Jesus understands.

May the scars you carry and the new ones you take on be indicators of how well you loved others. May they be nothing but signs of how well you ran your race. And may the new ones be testimonies of the fact that you truly love Jesus and the gift of the cross He has given you to carry.

Let us not forget to remember: We don’t have to carry it alone.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

love-699480_640

Fibromyalgia, Menopause, and Weight Gain ~ Oh My!

thumb-440352_640

Yesterday morning I had a moment…a moment of I don’t know what!

It happened first thing upon waking when I stepped on the scale for the first time in two weeks.

It happened after two weeks of frustrating pain and constant prayer for the discipline to try, try again to drop some weight so as to improve my health related issues.

I wasn’t asking for much. But I sure was hoping to see at least ONE DANG POUND drop after not allowing myself one miniscule eentsy teensy BIT of leeway in the realm of sugar or starch for two weeks straight!

I thought for sure the scale might tip in my favor – just a little bit.

But NO.

I don’t know what to label this snapshot in time as, and for the first time in a while, I feel like I’m at a loss for the right words to describe the state I am in currently. All I can say is that all of me (including the couple of pounds I have even gained) felt suspended in time when I stepped on that scale.

Suspended in an ugly moment in time….I guess that’s one way to feel lighter ~ albeit a sad substitute for true weight loss ~ (smirking to the max right about now).

I couldn’t believe my ever-loving eyes. The discouragement I felt was palpable.

“No. This can not be.”

SO…………

I shall just foam at the mouth for a bit, I guess. Maybe the words will capture this moment I had and maybe they won’t.

But I have to try.

First, let me give you some background. Coming right up, is a by-no-mean-exhaustive list of what all I have done, tried, been open to, over the past two years to contend with my “problem.”

  • My Fibromyalgia problem.
  • My ensuing weight gain problem.
  • My weight gain because of Fibro and then worsening of the Fibro problem.
  • My problem of learning how to live  for this moment and be content, yet not fall into a resignation-of-sorts about the desire to just. give. up. problem!
  • My problem regarding the need to keep on trying – (at least TRY for crying out loud!!!) – to not get sucked all the way down by this beast.

Yeh ~ THAT problem. Bleck!

Chiropractic, Massage, Cognitive Therapy, Myofacial Release, Physical Therapy, Thyroid Meds, Gluten Free eating, strictly juicing, no sugar, no starch, calorie counting, dry body brushing, low inflammation diet, shots of lemon, vinegar and baking soda, accupuncture, essential oils, book reading and research galore, supplements unending under the supervision of a Fibro specialty doctor, support groups, sleeping in all organic materials, changing all my clothing and toiletries, sleeping with a fan at just the right setting and on my face, melatonin, lunesta, 5htp, Sam-e, vitamins I never knew existed, purified water, alkaline water, sugar free cranberry juice concoction all day long, Reflexology, Cupping, Yoga, Walking, Exercising when I can, Not exercising when I can’t, seminar watching, Youtube searching, book reading, rest, stretching, ergo changes galore, epsom salt bathing, sun soaking for melatonin, light therapy, aromatherapy…

….and the list goes on and on.

It’s time to breathe, yo.

The by-no-means-exhaustive list is only part of what I have done in the physical realm. This does not include all the prayer, all the crying out to the Lord, or any of the other stuff that is IN FRONT OF all of these things, dudes.

Not at all. Not at all exhaustive.

But this girl’s still simply……exhausted.

And so yet another ugly moment came yesterday morning – where I felt I had exhausted everything I haven’t drawn a line in the sand over – my last ditch effort  to lose weight but still be able to maintain a semblance of pain control over the Fibro -…it was made clear: that yet again…I had failed.

EPIC FAIL, YO!

In fact, I gained almost two pounds. (Can I cry now?)

I. will. not. cave. in.

I will not cross the line into the realm that the Lord has made clear to me that I am not to enter into by any means.

  • No one is gonna be hypnotizing me.
  • No one is performing some kind of surgery on me to help me lose weight (although that is something I am not against for certain peeps and certain situations).
  • I will not visualize my higher self through meditation or yoga.
  • I will not tap into the “power of me”.

Yet I want more. I want more for my life than this ugly Fibro monster. I want more for my life than this small woman trapped inside a bunch of blubber. I am thankful others can’t really see it – that I “carry it well.” But I know the truth. And this moment of truth stinks.

I don’t so much begrudge the fact that I have Fibromyalgia. I see the good God has brought out of an affliction and I am not even asking that it be removed. He will do that if He wants to some day – my faith is strong and I know that He knows what is best.

I just want to be able to cope with it and learn from it. I don’t want it to drag me down into a pit of despair.

I don’t care that I am not supermodel material anymore and that I am pushing 50 and the lines on my face are deeper and my skin is not so supple any more.

I just want to be able to smile and shine the love of Jesus through it all. 

I don’t care that I am not the perfect, ideal weight and cannot run for ten miles (although I miss that).

I just want to be healthy and not “overweight”, because being overweight makes all the rest of it worsen.

I just want!

I just want!

I. JUST. WANT.

Uber Important Side Note: Do you think that when God says for us to come like a child unto Him, that means toddler behavior is acceptable as well? Just sayin’.

I want to stop feeling like I halfway relate to Job in the Bible. (I don’t have a CLUE of the hard that man suffered, yet I, in my simple little way, sorta-kinda feel I can relate to the guy ~ ‘cept I’m not as absolutely GOOD as he was – no way, no how).

Yet I do know that I am better for the hard stuff and the trials. I do know that God works ALL things together for our good. I do know that suffering and affliction draws us into a place in our relationship with Jesus that we don’t necessarily experience without it.

I know.

But in spite of what I do know, I was still just hoping for a little victory yesterday morning. And again, I was looking in the wrong place for that.

(Duh! Ya think?)

So yesterday morning – this moment in the morning time yesterday in which I stepped on that dreaded scale, it felt like all of my hard work just. meant. nothing.

It even felt like all of my hard work actually HURT me, friends.

Maybe it did.

And I find myself at the ugly and horrible place again today – teetering on the line. Knowing I won’t cross the lines that have been drawn for me, yet hanging on by a thread to the ever-present tightrope that is suspended between surrender and full-on giving up.

It’s a fine one – that line is. And I don’t mean fine in the positive sense of the word.

When the truth hits you full on in the face and isn’t softened by anything else in that same moment, it’s hard to absorb.

It’s hard to stomach the fact that I may remain overweight for the rest of my life. I may gain even more weight. And all of this hurts my Fibromyalgia and chances of reversing it immensely.

  • It’s hard not to wallow.
  • It’s hard not to despair.
  • It’s hard not to want to roll up into a fat little ball and just cry, cry cry.
  • Sometimes I just want to jump.

I am a lover of truth most of the time. But sometimes, the truth is hard to accept. I keep hearing myself saying “it can’t be true!”

“This CAN’T be right?”

“This CAN’T be how it’s supposed to be, right?”

But maybe it is.

Maybe there’s a good reason my body needs forty extra pounds on it. I always have thought of that as a bad thing, but is it possible it’s meant for my good?

Is it possible?

And if so, can I accept it? Can this girl accept being forty or more pounds overweight for her frame?

I don’t know. I really do not know.

But I know this: For now, I have to take a break from all the trying. I also have to keep on going and be open to what the Lord brings my way. I’m there, friends. I will try something else if He so leads, but I will stay status quo as well if that’s what is in the near future too.

No matter what happens or doesn’t happen, I am HIS child.

For now, I have to stop doing what seems like wheel spinning, because frankly, it’s wearing me out. And I covet your prayers.

There has to be some kind of beauty to be found in this moment of truth. Either that, or it’s not a moment of truth at all – instead it may be a moment of a counterfeit kind of truth (a nice way of saying it very well could be a BIG FAT LIE).

I don’t know which it is yet, but it’s either one or the other.

And this girl? Well, that’s what I am going to seek to find out as I draw near to the Lord and cry, cry cry for the next couple of weeks.

I won’t have to get on any stupid scale to determine the outcome or the success of that one, either.

  • He will tell me what I need to know.
  • It may not be pleasant. But it will be the real truth because it is HIS.
  • And that can never be overrated.

My hope is in Him. Not for weight loss alone, not for healing alone from the Fibro beast of a whatever-thing-it is. But for every last bit of it.

He is my only Hope for anything.

Cause the truth – the real and honest truth of the matter is this: In sickness or in health, skinny or overweight, toddler-tantrum-throwing-like or baby-angelic-cooing child-like, I am His.

And that’s the only truth I should cling to at all anyway.

  • His truth is beautiful.
  • His truth is lasting.
  • His truth brings true health.
  • He loves me no matter what.

And although certain moments of truth smell ugly and can be overrated, His moments ~ HIS moments in which He comes closer and says “it’s okay, trust in me” ~ well, those always smell beautiful every single time I get a good whiff. Thanks be to God!

The scale will not deliver me from everything, friends. Only Jesus Christ can do that. I will keep on trying – because He tells me not to wallow in despair and to run a good race. But I will only look to Him as a measure of success. I will only look to Him for deliverance and sanctification. I will only look to Him for the real truth, even when it’s not pleasant.

Because it’s always freeing. He frees me.

Jesus’ truth is always going to set us FREE. Even if we are trapped inside of bodies that have turned against us, we know the reality.

So today, I will pull myself out of this pit and jump. Yes, I WILL jump – for the joy that I have in Jesus.

Even if I AM two pounds heavier.

Because in Him, I can.

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

goal-729567_640

Are You Homesick?

person-731423_640

Do you ever feel like you are homesick, but you can’t quite place your finger on just why that is? Do you, like me, forget sometimes that the pining away for that sense of home is kind of always right there with you even if you are with your earthly family, surrounded by loved ones, and nested in your little nook of the world that you reside in daily?

Are you lonely for home, dear friend?

Do you forget to remember why you are a little homesick, friend? Do you forget to remember, albeit momentarily, that this is not your true home and the reason you are having that feeling is because in your heart and your soul, you know this all too well?

  • You may be thankful for your earthly family and never want to leave them, yet feel conflicted because heaven just sounds so much better right about now. You kind of feel like you want to cut and run. Fast.
  • You may realize what your mission on this earth really is and embrace it with a disposition of gratefulness and even see it as a privilege, yet….you know in your heart it’s just not the good part of the deal. Jesus gets it.
  • You may know that you are still, in a way, just a child inside ~ a child of God who simply feels like they just want to go home and be reunited with their Father. You feel lost. But He is with you.
  • You might be the kid who feels like he has been invited to the party (party? really?) who really just doesn’t feel like attending and wants to stomp their feet, cry and yell, and scream “take me home NOW”. (It often seems like kind of a stinky party anyway). Parties are overrated.

Most certainly in these times, our eternal home sounds a whole lot better ~ and with good reason.

With good reason.

You see, although life is a gift, this earthly place in which we temporarily reside was never meant to be party-ville for any of us anyway. Yes, it’s filled with blessings and beauty, but also with heartache, grief beyond belief, and a consistent and relentless slinging of darts and arrows. It’s a mixed up stew of good and bad, of beauty and ugly, of elation and confusion and it’s hard to know at times what the baseline was that started the cooking process in the first place.

The stew can be comforting but confusing at the same time.

Yes, life is a gift, but not in the way we like it to be sometimes. We like bows and ribbons. We like pretty wrapping paper. We like fun and laughter and happiness. We don’t like it when a spoiled brat comes to OUR party and ruins it for us. Oh yah…but I’m that spoiled brat at the party sometimes. (You’d think then that I’d be a little bit more understanding.)

Jesus was when He walked the earth.

Jesus still IS.

It’s not our time to open all of our little presents, friends. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s true. The real and lasting gift comes from accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and allowing Him to live in and through us. That’s the only gift we really need anyway. The great news is that we don’t have to wait to open that one and it stays with us forever and ever!

We just don’t get all the other great stuff that will be part of our daily living once we enter our eternal home right now. That is reserved for when we step into eternity. And there are mansions and feasts awaiting us there. Whoo Hoo!!!

But there are other gifts to be thankful for in the meantime:

  • There’s the gift that comes in the sharing of the gospel and good news of Jesus Christ being spread throughout the world so that when the real party gets started ~ so that when the best present of all is opened ~ so that when we all sit down to celebrate and feast with Christ ~ we will have many permanent family members and fellow good party attendees alongside us as well! Now that’s a party!
  • There’s the gift of our family, our friends, our loved ones and the fact that the Lord lent them to us so that we aren’t quite as lonely while we wait to go home. We get to see them go through joyful times and comfort them through grief as well. We get to live out Jesus with them during all of these times. We get to do this life with them. We are in good company.
  • There’s even the gift of knowing Jesus better through our suffering, our trials, and our grief.  When He heals us ~ when He comforts us ~ when He lifts us up ~ these gifts just keep on giving. Because of the first gift that we got to open right away, we are filled up with Him. He never forsakes us.

I don’t know about you, dear fellow Christian friends, but for this girl, it’s easier to come to terms a bit more with my longing for my true home if I just fully embrace it in those moments that I am so very heartsick and quite simply, reach for Jesus.

If I fully wrap my heart, mind, feelings, thoughts, my very SOUL around the fact that this is an ongoing grief process, (we are dying to self daily) but there is still cause for celebration ~ well, then the grief starts to dissipate into a million little pieces.

Because of Him.

In these moments ~ these moments in which we long for our forever home with Jesus, these moments in which we find ourselves feeling so alien and out-of-place, so very sick down to the molecular level of being in a foreign land, so desiring with every fiber of our being to finally arrive at our eternal home and stay ~ forever ~ in these very moments, we can taste our true home inside our very hearts….because He is there.

Yes. It is in these precious seconds that we find ourselves actually being filled with the sense of home we need. It is when we are on our knees and telling our Savior that we want more of Him, that we want to be in His presence more, that we miss those who have gone home already without us ~ well, in those moment we have truly come as close to home as possible ~ until such day that we take our last breath and depart this earth.

It is in these very moments that we find and know our Jesus in new and special ways. It is then that we are not quite as lonely for home anymore. He lives in us.

Are you lonely for home today? Do you long for Jesus to come back and take us home with Him and allow us to leave this temporary life behind? Do you find yourself loving parts of this life here, but knowing it is all temporary and struggling to wrap your mind around how to live here when eternity will be so very much better? Cry out to Jesus, won’t you dear friend? Ask Him to fill you with His peace and joy, His comfort and wisdom. Remember His will is being done in and through you, even when many things that surround you feel like a party that’s just gone bad.

For now, our loving Savior has taken up residence in our hearts to help us as our physical bodies walk through a foster home of sorts. And He has prepared a place for us that we get to look forward to. Yet He has not left us alone in the meantime.

How great is our God!!!!

In the meantime, let’s allow Him to live in and through us every second of every day. Let’s be okay with longing for our true home but making the most of the time we have here so that our feast in heaven will be filled with many other beautiful children just like us. It’s what Jesus wants, you know.

He wants all of His children to join Him in eternity!

Let us cry out to our Savior in our loneliness.

Let us ask Him to heal our hearts when we are homesick and look to Him.

And let’s be filled with the wonder of home that Jesus brings to us right where we are at in spite of our earthly limitations.

He can do that, you know.

He will do that.

He has promised.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” John 14:23

jesus-park-bench

A White Christian Woman’s Apology for being Privileged yet truly Poor

heart-603214_640

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:17-18

I was born privileged.

I was born into a caucasian family, of middle-class social “status”, if you will.

My father was in the US military and I was able to travel and receive “special” status for being part of a military family that served a great nation. Wherever I went, I was accepted. And I milked that for all it seemed worth at the time.

  • I have never gone to bed hungry…
  • I have never gone without clothing….
  • I have always been cared for, loved, and had all of my basic needs and then some met to the fullest.

Yet I complained ~ a lot.

You see, I always wanted more than what I had. I wanted everything that I wanted and then some. Wasn’t I entitled to it, after all?

  • I wanted acceptance.
  • I wanted the kind of love that I thought worked best for ME.
  • I had holes in my heart and nothing I tried to fill them with worked for very long.
  • It was all about me and I had to do whatever it took to make my life how I wanted it to be.

The grass was always greener and I sought my special sunshine spot in the meadow ~ relentlessly.

  • I didn’t really care what it would take as long as I got what I wanted.
  • I didn’t think much outside of myself.
  • I knew poverty and hopelessness existed all around me, but my own little life ruled everything.

I thought somehow that I was entitled, and even secretly “cast the first stone” at others for their own inadequacies or sins, all the while, sinning in my own special way and then justifying it.

I cared a little about others ~ but in reality, my own self preservation was the driving force behind all that I did.

Yes….I was born privileged. And I was born poor as well.

I wasn’t concerned with how people of other races or financial classes might feel when others made them feel out-of-place, not accepted, or even persecuted.

I took care of a few people who were needy – giving a bit of money and care here and there when it worked out for me and was overall convenient.

I proclaimed to follow Jesus Christ, but didn’t really give my whole life over to Him. Sure, I would accept “salvation”, but not make Him the King of my life and allow Him to make all the decisions.

I could still do that myself.

I told you: I was also born poor. I just didn’t know it yet.

So today I wish to say I’m sorry for the things that I have done in the past and the thoughtlessness that I portrayed all those years.

I’m sorry to all those who I could have cared for, loved and  helped, but I chose not to.

I’m sorry to God for turning from Him for decades and ignoring those that he loves.

I am sorry for being born white, but not taking extra care to be grateful for what I have and take even more steps toward helping others who struggle because of their race.

I am sorry for being born into a middle-class family, who never really struggled to make ends meet, yet I turned a blind eye to the poverty right in front of me.

I am sorry for being a fake Christian all of those years and allowing legalism to rule, judgement to reign, and love to take a back seat to everything.

I am sorry for being truly poor and lacking love in my heart.

I can’t help how I was born – that I am white, that I was allowed to be educated, that I was able to travel and have all the comforts and needs that I took for granted to be met. But I could have helped how I saw it all. I could have shared more. I could have appreciated things so very much that I simply wanted to just give it away.

But I didn’t. Because I was truly poor.

I am now a very flawed work in progress and always will be until I go home to live with Jesus.

But I get it now.

  • I understand that to follow Christ is to allow Him to live in and through us and that it’s not MY life.
  • I understand that I am not able to turn a blind eye to others in need and it is my privilege and responsibility to help them.
  • I understand that I am to discern the truth and stand firm in that truth, but always speak it or show it in love – REAL love.
  • I understand that I was born rich by the world’s standards, but was truly poor without God.
  • I understand that I can love others even when I disagree with them or their choices, because God loves me that same way.

I understand.

And now I am truly rich.

I won’t make apologies for being a Christian and I won’t make apologies for standing for God’s truth in love. I won’t make apologies for not conforming to this world and its definitions of just what truth and love are ~ because I only follow the truth of Jesus.

Period.

But I do apologize for my lack of giving and lack of love and care at times.

I do apologize for turning a blind eye.

I do apologize for pretending to be rich, but really being poor in my heart.

So if you find yourself privileged but knowing in reality that you are poor, dear friend?

Turn to Jesus, won’t you?

If you find yourself under-privileged, but truly rich because Christ lives within you:

Celebrate and praise Him with me, won’t you?

If you feel lost, misunderstood, persecuted, terrorized, because of race, social disagreements, spiritual arguments, bickering and fighting, or for any reason under the sun…

Won’t you turn to the One who understands it all? Jesus Christ!

We all must seek to find true salvation, understanding and love through Jesus Christ and Him alone.

Then we truly have something wonderful to share with others. Then we are truly rich.

We can’t make everyone feel understood or loved all the time in spite of all of our own sins ~ only He can do that. But maybe, just maybe, He can do some of it in and through us.

We can’t live by truth and do so in love without Christ.

We can pretend ~ just like I pretended to be privileged and rich when I was so very bankrupt inside.

But it won’t last.

All the other stuff is temporary and doesn’t really mean we are rich anyway.

But in Christ, we are both privileged and we are rich.

Let us go forth and share that with others!

‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25:39-40

...that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.…Colossians 2:2-3

child-285030_640