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

 

The American Dream was one of my False Idols

girl-785317_640

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. Psalm 118:8

The American Dream ~ the chance to live life to the fullest, in freedom, peace, and strive for happiness and prosperity. The ability to work hard, take responsibility, and make something out of yourself, your life; in the face of obstacles and barriers.

All because of supposed “freedom” and “opportunity.”

And it’s a lie. I guess it has sort of always been a lie.

Here is a more formal “definition” of it. (I say definition loosely, because it could be re-defined at any given moment, just so ya know)….

The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers.

There’s no question about it; we have more outward freedoms here in this country than we might have elsewhere. I’m not bashing that, although there might be room to think about that a little more in another post some day.

  • We can wear the clothing that we wish (most of the time).
  • We can decide where we wish to go grocery shopping.
  • We get to vote and actually think we sorta have a say in who will be elected to office.
  • We can attend church without hiding.

But is that really freedom?

I’ve come to see over the last several years that the American Dream was really, for me, just something of a nightmare that was in diguise all along.

And oh, what a beautiful nightmare it was for a while.

Several years ago, I stopped placing my trust in this country because I saw that Jesus is the only One in whom I should fully trust. I saw that the things we say we stand for aren’t really more than talk a lot of the time. They are, in fact, not indicative of what we stand for at all.

And I saw that we live in a bubble and the bubble, also is a lie a lot of the time.

I saw that I had still been placing some of my trust and hope in MAN.

No country, no set of ideals, no illusion of freedom is what makes us truly free.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners Isaiah 61:1

And friends ~ I didn’t fully understand just how brainwashed I really was. I didn’t truly get it – that loving and supporting my country and buying into this nightmare of a dream was a false idol of sorts all along.

It really had me duped. I was bought in all the way.

By the way ~ in the face of this realization, it does NOT mean that I don’t support our military. It does NOT mean that I am not grateful for the blessings I reap by living here. It just means what it means ~ that those things are nice, but they aren’t what I am supposed to be living for.

They are not what make me free. The truth is. And Christ alone is that truth.

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:21-23

The enemy is the father of all lies; the master of deceit. He makes that which is ugly look sparkly and pretty. He distorts something from its true or original meaning and parades it all around and gives it new meaning – his, not God’s.

Just look at how the rainbow is being used right about now, friends. I’m sorry, but I have to point it out.

The rainbow is a symbol of God’s covenant with the earth. We’ve decided to use it to represent something to fit our own agenda. We’ve decided to use it to further what we like to call freedom and humanity and love. We’ve used our re-definition of what the rainbow symbolizes to fit our new definitions of all else we decided works better for ourselves.

And the cycle continues to pick up speed.

We can distort anything if we put our minds to it. And we can tie it up into a pretty little bow while we’re at it.

So although this is harsh, I’m not bashing everything about this entire country ~ I’m simply pointing out the truth about the state of man’s heart, particularly my own. It can be a dark place if we put on the sunglasses and drink the kool aid for momentary and fleeting satisfaction and false comfort.

It’s hard when we realize we have moved from appreciating something we have to believing in or buying into what it pretends to stand for – allowing it to be a fake substitute for the real thing.

We love our illusions.

I’m not happy about things that have been happening in our country for quite some time now. I’m not pretending they are new, either, although things seem to be happening at a higher rate of speed now and we are waving it around in an in-your-face kind of way. And that makes me sad.

But I am still thankful.

  • I am still grateful that God can use these things to open my eyes even more.
  • I am thankful that God can and does use all things for His perfect will and our good.
  • God can help me see just how blinded I was and even continue to be sometimes.
  • God can help me focus more through these harsh eye-opening realities.
  • God can help me dig deeper into my own little heart and realize where my idols are still taking up residence.
  • God can help me remember that people still need Jesus and regardless of how the enemy tries to take our eye off the ball, we CAN be light in a dark and needy world.

Oh, it’s painful to take the blinders off. If you’ve been in the dark about anything for a while, the light can hurt more than a little bit as your eyes adjust.

But light is a good thing. As long as it’s not the fake stuff.

Thank you, dear Jesus for helping me see what is really just a dream, what is truly real, and what nightmares parade around pretending to be beautiful dreams or fake realities.

Thank you for exposing the dark crevices inside of my own heart (again) and the falsities that I have been filling it with in place of YOU.(again)

Help me to remember, dear Jesus: Help me to remember we are still walking around in a bubble and there are real people in this world – here and elsewhere – living out their own antagonizing and terrorizing nightmares on a daily basis. Their nightmares are very real, quite tangible, and aren’t always wrapped up in bows to lull them to sleep. They are fighting just to survive.

All kinds of nightmares. All kinds of darkness. Your light, dear Jesus ~ You can save us from it all if we place our faith and trust in YOU.

Only YOU can save us.

  • Wake us up.
  • Take the fake pretend comforts away.
  • Startle us!
  • Help us to see what is real, even if it’s ugly.
  • Help us and fill us with YOUR strength, YOUR love.
  • Help us to DO something about it.
  • May Your light shine all the brighter through us in dark days.
  • And most of all ~ Help our eyes to focus on YOU.

YOU, dear Jesus. You are not a dream. You are our reality and you don’t re-define things to suit the flavor of the day.You love us just the same today as you did yesterday.

You, and only You reign SUPREME!!!!

And You hold us in your mighty hands and comfort us as we awaken from the nightmares.The nightmares do not hold us prisoner.

You give us true freedom. You give us Your peace. We belong to You.

Thank you for using all things to keep us awake and focused upon You.

May the idols come down and may we stand firm and tall in the love and truth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

b1f02e1166790b463d4aa12db5907cdc

The Alien and the Candy Store

alien-308429_640

Are ya ready for the understatement of the millennium? I don’t do conflict well.

Unfortunately, in that arena, the fact that I am a highly empathic person does not help me out much. You might think that it would, but yah – not so much. And it really doesn’t help that I have a health issue in which stress takes a HUGE toll. At least, not when conflicts get just plain ugly.

“Productive conflict” as I like to call it, well….. I’m pretty good with that stuff. It’s great when people are sitting down and calmly discussing their feelings, angst, hurts, desire to understand one another. It’s not-so-great when the teeth are showing and “understanding” one another is not in the center of the equation on everyone’s part.

Desire to strive for understanding one another and harmony ~ yah, that’s my thing.

Sometimes it’s my own sharp little teeth that are grinding and showing and making the conflict become “unproductive”. I can be like an alien trapped inside of a candy store, make no mistake about it!

Other times, I am the one seeing what’s really going on around us and feel quite helpless and alone ~ and that’s when the conflict starts to really take a toll on me. I then risk turning into that alien with fangs because fight or flight starts to take over. The monster in Annie comes out to play, and that’s a bad thing, my friends.

Does that happen with you?

I wrote a little while back about not being easily offended and what the Lord has to say about that. As Christians, we must know who we are IN CHRIST and try not to allow those little darts and arrows (that are constantly coming our way) to penetrate our hearts.

But we still get hurt sometimes. (And I am the Queen of that junk. Hence, why I wrote about it – it’s something I have to work on with the Lord because I STINK at it!)

So people like me? We forget to remember and get hurt and in turn, we hurt others right back.

We all do.

Most of the time it’s because of our sin nature – I say that matter of fact because well, it IS. It’s a matter of fact.

And sometimes it’s because we don’t have our full armor on. The Lord cautions us about that. He even lays out for us, piece by piece, what we need to wear today – EVERY day.

But we get cocky – sometimes we just feel like running light and free. When I do that, I almost ALWAYS get into trouble.

The armor is not meant to be an option. Sad, but true.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12

The schemes of the devil ~ let’s just say that it ain’t no joke, friends. I think sometimes that as Christians, we know that he is there, operating and up to no good, but we often overlook just how pervasive his trickery, planning and divisive little tactics really are.

I sense these forces all around us. Do you? Sometimes people think that I read into things too much or whatever you want to call it. Sometimes they may be right. But most of the time, I know what I know to be true. And when you sense something like this around you or others you love, it is unmistakable that ~ IT. IS. REAL.

By the way: The Lord says it’s real too – it’s all throughout the Word.

Check for yourself.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

So those of us who sense these things and do so more regularly or easily than others; well, we aren’t “crazy.” We are actually obeying the Lord to be ever-so-watchful of such things.

But we also have to be careful.

We have to be careful to put that full armor on and remember Who is MORE powerful, Who is MORE present, Who is KING.

Why? Because so often, fear can overtake us. And then we go into full combat gear mode. We try to add to the Lord’s armor something of our own. Some secret weapon that we think might enhance it and make it work even better.

NOT the case, friends. Not the case!

For me in particular, this happens when I allow what I sense or see around me that is “not good” to be magnified and begin to overwhelm me. Sometimes, I feel this need to have the whole “strength in numbers” thing going on. Not as a ganging up on others type of thing, but this NEED to understand what’s really happening – together.

Finding someone else to be there with me in the moment, to name it, talk about it for what it really is (what we are sensing and seeing creeping in) seems like a smart and intelligent  way to fight against it.

You know? To know we have a common enemy and fight IT together, instead of fighting one another?

We’re on to you, evil.

Yah….like that!

But that almost never happens in the moment. And that’s another one of the horrible one’s little schemes. (I can’t stand that devil, by the way)

The truth is, that only God can help us to combat that fear. Only God can help us in times of unproductive conflict. Only God can comfort us that He believes us when we sense the REAL evil around us and feel threatened and even cave into allowing it to permeate our own hearts and try to take over.

Only God.

So we have to KNOW Him. We have to spend time with the Lord in daily prayer, in His Word. We have to seek Him constantly – especially in times of turmoil.

Because it’s too easy to get swept up in emotions, hurts, offenses, and let the REALLY dangerous stuff take over – bitterness, anger, fear, self-pity, hatred, division, apathy – the list goes on.

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14

The armor will do us no good if our hearts are filled with ugly. It will only trap that darkness inside and make us feel stronger and thicker skinned.

Our hearts need to be soft and open to the One True God.

There is a time and a place for vulnerability in love with one another. And yes ~there is a time and a place to proceed with caution. But ALL the time, we must rely upon the LORD for our strength ~ for His wisdom to know what to do ~ and for His peace.

Evil will try to harm us and make us think it is going to get us. Most of the time, it will start right inside of our own hearts and work from the inside out. And yes, sometimes, we are under assault from the outside and it’s banging up our armor pretty darned good.

But if we are truly followers of Christ, we will wise up to what’s going on because the Holy Spirit will make it clear.

And then we’ll remember…………

The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. Psalm 121:7

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

We are not alone. It’s just a matter of who we choose to keep company with ~ Jesus, or the aliens.

Let’s seek HIM ~ shall we?

christianity-151598_640

Evil Pretends to be King

sunrise-734312_640

Each day, we check the news and something more shocking seems to have happened.

  • Something that grieves our hearts…
  • Something that rocks a family, a community, a country to the core…
  • Something that makes us stand in awe, jaws dropped to the floor, wondering…”how can this possibly be happening?”
  • Something….. more.

Something more evil than we can even wrap our minds around.

  • It breaks our hearts and tries to steal our peace, our love.
  • It incites fear, fighting, and tries to take our eye off the ball.

Evil, and the one behind it all prides itself on being a great magician ~ a master of deception.

And it has always been here.

Evil tries to masquerade as many things ~ anything but the pure dark and sick and twisted thing that it is. It doesn’t want you to see who the driving force behind it really is.

  • It tries to fake us out.
  • It tries to put us into fight or flight and keep us there.
  • Evil feeds on FEAR.

And fear breeds lots of even uglier things. It is a catalyst for all kinds of ugly..

But evil can NOT be allowed to be the winner.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

WE can not allow evil to take center stage, friends. Sure, it’s impossible to deny that it is here ~ I am certainly not talking about doing that. (That ~ causing us to simply look the other way ~ well, that’s another tricky tactic that is often used to cause apathy or compromising of our values ~ of love).

Yes. LOVE through the power of Jesus Christ is the true, most powerful thing we have in our arsenal against evil.

But even more importantly, we MUST remember Who is the One, True King!

He has not only always been here ~ He has always been and is!!!

HE IS.

Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. The ONE TRUE KING!

Don’t blame God for “allowing” evil to be present on this earth, friend. Cry out to him instead.

Remember to assign blame where it is due. Then ask the Lord to fill you up with more of Him and His love, His comfort, His peace.

There’s a prince of this earth and his sad little name is “Satan.”

But over ALL the earth, over ALL the universe, over ALL eternity, there is only ONE TRUE KING.

He is coming back for us soon…

Soon and very soon!

And there shall be no more evil. There shall be no more tears. Every single knee shall bow to the One True King!

For those of us who have accepted Christ as our One true love and our One true King, we know this.

So yes….

  • Evil hurts us.
  • Evil causes grief, pain, and absolute outcry.
  • Evil takes temporary victories and tries to fake us into believing that it’s time to throw in the towel and surrender to it.

But let us remember the love of Christ. Let us remember who the King really is.

Let us remember we are royalty ~ Christ’s children.

And most of all: let us remember just Who has already won.

We are not the captives of evil. We have been captured by Jesus Christ, our Lord. And thanks be to HIM!

AMEN.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 2 Corinthians 2:14

jesus-is-king

About the Time that I Died

tree-64311_640

All the times that I not only didn’t appreciate my parents, but I treated them with disrespect, disdain, detachment.

All the times that I went against what I knew to be GOOD, true, lovely, noble, GOOD…. and did the opposite of it all ~

On purpose.  :(

  • The giving away of my one true love, my Jesus.
  • The substitutes that I tried to allow to take His place.
  • The tossing aside of Him – the One, the ONLY One who matters most.

Yes ~ those things.

Those mean, dark and ugly things that lurk in the corners of my memory banks. The ones that try to “come alive” again and threaten to steal peace.

You see, I was dead once.

I was a part of the ever-so-popular group of the walking dead. I kind of even knew it as it was happening too. But I didn’t know how to get out of the quicksand.

But now?

I am ALIVE.

When you were dead in your sins and in the un-circumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins. Colossians 2:13

All the things that happened, to me and because of me – the ones that aren’t pretty;  the ones that are hurtful; they didn’t make me who I am today.

They don’t define me.

I am not a “better person” for having experienced those things. I am not better for having perpetrated those things.

I learned who I do not want to be from what HE did to bring me out of it all!

I don’t have those ugly experiences to thank for it.

I have HIM.

  • The premarital sex ~ it didn’t develop my character.
  • The dabbling in drugs ~ they didn’t broaden my thinking, or make me wiser.
  • The drinking for all those years ~ it didn’t make me stronger.
  • The aimless wandering, the not knowing who to fit in with and who to live for…none of it gave me purpose.

But God.

I am a new creation in Christ. And if anything, it is what God does even through the ugly that makes the old die, and the new come alive.

He brought me back from the dead.

Yes ~ He makes ALL things new!

Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

My memory is failing me in some ways with my chronic illness. But in the most ironic way, at times, it seems sharp in regard to the dark things of the past. The dark cloud under which I took my self-seeking shelter is almost palpable when I recall it.

And I’m working on that.

  • I’m working on forgetting the old.
  • I’m working on reveling in the new.
  • I’m working on being present in the beautiful moment of today.
  • I’m working on the true kind of shelter.

The one in which I get to step out, hand in hand with Jesus, and look to the skies whilst seeking His face and bask in the fact that….

HE IS ALIVE!!!!

And because of Him….

So am I.

There will be rough terrain to conquer. There will be dry times in which my lips are parched and I am not sure when I shall reach a place of reprieve. But I will walk this with THE Savior of the world right there with me. He may even have to carry me sometimes.

He will make a way and keep me whole. 

No. Matter. What.

This I know.

Do you know it, friend? Do you know that you are no longer dead if you are living in Christ Jesus? Do you know it? You CAN look ahead, even when it looks bleak outside. You will not die, but have eternal life. You will never be alone – even now, while you navigate that which seems desolate or dark. In this, each day is made NEW.

In Jesus, we are truly ALIVE.

Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19

horseshoe-bend-4041_640

Free the Monkeys!

monkey-256420_640

I’m a silly little monkey sometimes. How about you?

I have been thinking so much lately about my chronic condition – Fibromyalgia. I have been thinking about the fact that although on the surface, it may seem like suffering, I really haven’t quite been looking at it that way.

Instead, I have been struggling, friends.

Let me explain further by sharing this with you:

Suffering ~ The state of undergoing pain, hardship or distress. Anguish, adversity, torment, martyrdom. Opposite: Pleasure, or happiness.

Struggling ~ Making forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction. Having difficulty coping with or handling. Fight, grapple, wrestle, brawl, spar. Opposite: Surrender, giving in, peace

Suffering seems in our culture to have a nicer ring to it, no? Well, not in the sense that anyone wants to suffer, but the person “undergoing” the suffering is, well ~ thought well-of, I would say.

Struggling is more of an action – it’s seen as something not happening to a person, but a thing that person is actively doing. Often struggling is seen as somehow sad, or less than. Other times, people place admiration upon the person who “fights for their rights.”

I don’t care what the world really thinks in the big picture of it all, friends. But I will say that sometimes I do get caught up, in the midst of my “condition” (no one really wants to call it an illness yet) in wondering why people treat folks with invisible illnesses as though maybe, just maybe, it’s all in their  head.

I can tell you – without question – this stuff is not all in my head. I’m not even convinced that this label of “Fibromyalgia” is quite all the way accurate. There may be something bigger going on than what meets the eye. I can say most definitively that the spiritual struggle is by far been more pervasive than even the widespread pain can be.

So back to the struggling and suffering stuff. Friends, I may suffer sometimes in the clinical and dictionary definition way with regard to this problem I have. But I must tell you, I don’t feel like it’s true suffering at all.

There are people in the world that can attest to what true suffering really is. I am not one of them.

This version of “suffering” that I am experiencing doesn’t take away my happiness. It doesn’t completely steal my peace (most days). It tries to ~ I’ll give you that. Sometimes I have to fight, and by fight I mean surrender a lot of stuff to the Lord. My human weaknesses, my sin, my selfishness, my desire to have it all, is really the way that I suffer as I walk this earth. It is far more crippling of a condition than this chronic pain syndrome is.

So in reality, it is me that “tries to” steal my own peace. It is me who I have to fight against every single day. It is me and the elevation of self that tries to put up a fight.

I am not a martyr.

I am not deserving of recognition for how I handle my pain.

I have a lot of things that afflict me that are far greater than Fibromyalgia.

But I am saved by Jesus Christ ~ and that makes me special.

That and that alone.

Him and Him alone.

Friends, the struggling aspect of things is what assails me more, by far. I am a little control freak who has “struggled” her whole life to achieve balance and peace.

It ain’t gonna happen.

I find myself struggling and getting all jumbled up some days about the stuff that I simply cannot control – and when that happens, I’m pretty much wasting my time. I find I end up having to surrender it all anyway at the end of the day. The only thing about that that holds any value whatsoever, is that it teaches me even more about surrendering it all to Christ.

Other times, struggle can be good. We have to struggle and fight to not get sucked down into the mire ~ into the “I gotta fight for my right to party” mentality. We have to fight and grapple and grasp for the outstretched hand of Jesus sometimes. This is a good kind of struggle. And thankfully, my stubborn self helps me out a little with this kind of thing.

But ultimately, I can offer nothing in the fight against worldly thought processes and mentalities. I have nothing to bring to the table that will help me fight against those things which are seen or unseen that threaten to attack. Nothing of Annie will help here, friends.

But I have Jesus.

My Lord and Savior saves me from more than I know – all the time.

My Lord and Savior can give meaning to even seemingly “bad” things like suffering and struggling.

My Lord and Savior takes all that is bad and creates good and brings about His will.

Nothing will stop Him.

And there is great peace to be had in the full-on knowledge of that fact.

Are you suffering today, dear friend? Are you struggling to fight for your rights or grappling for the Lord’s peace because something, some outside force is trying to take you further down into the pit of despair. Fear not. The Lord God is with you, friend! Bring it all to Him, won’t you? Leave it at his feet. Simply accept that today this is how it is, but know WITHOUT QUESTION that He can change it all at any moment.

And even through the ugly – the very, very ugly – He will shine His beautiful face upon you.

In that, we can rejoice!

In that, we are made free!

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5\

ape-450151_640

 

 

Just Enter In ~ Even when You are Limping!

dance-674752_640

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

Tonight I got to attend church for the first time in several weeks. Friends, it was a blessing that I find hard to put into words.

You see, my family and I attend the Saturday night service, and for whatever crazy reason, Colorado has been having rainy weather ~ storms brewing on the last few weekends especially.  Well, those storms and that back and forth “weather” is something that wreaks havoc with regard to my pain level. And quite frankly, I haven’t been able to muster up the strength to show up until tonight.

Pain. Deeper than the “normal” Fibromyalgia pain I have and walk around with every day.

Pain. The kind that goes to a whole new level – making my joints feel like they are being squeezed in a vice – restriction of range of motion.

Pain. The sticky, slashing layers of it – striking me over and over again.

Underneath is the all-over tightness and dull ache I always have. But layer upon layer of acute and sharp stuff starts to ensue ~ tacking on to the one beneath it and compounding and building something….awful. Until ~ well, you guessed it: I am down for the count or full on struggling and even limping.

But today I was able to do it, friends. Today, I was able to get to church (and even able to somewhat disguise that limping for a while).

It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t fluffy and feel-good stuff. No way, no how! But I wasn’t agonizing to the point that I couldn’t smile. I wasn’t so completely focused on my pain that I couldn’t pause to worship my Lord and Savior. I wasn’t disabled to the level of not being able to talk a bit with a couple of lovies of mine, hug a few sweet peeps, and let someone know how very proud of them I am.

I was laughing through the limping. I was loving through the limping. I was able to enter in and engage, broken body and all.

And this was good.

I even got to see a double rainbow driving home with my daughter while we laughed and listened to the Spanish radio station (that always makes you happy by the way- you must try it sometime).

My point is this: If you can scrape yourself together enough to just show up and hang with some fellow believers – even if only for a short time – it’s a good thing.

It’s good to get there and be there – to just enter in – even if our bodies are falling apart.

It’s good to rest too if we just can’t do it ~ but when we can, we almost never regret it.

It’s good because there’s no better place to be while limping than with others who can lift you up and just need to see your smile. Yes. Even your wincing-type smiles.

I’m thankful today friends – I’m so very grateful that I got to enter in to my church home. I am glad I got to see those fellow lovers of Jesus who are hurting in their own individual ways, yet seeking Him through fellowship with one another.

Some of us may be limping ~ it’s true. But the best kind of  healing comes when two or more gather in His name. Because when that happens? Well, HE is there.

And HE is never limping. HE conquered the grave. HE saves us from everything, friends and gives us eternal life and fellowship with HIM and those who are part of HIS family.

That is cause for constant celebration. That is the most good of all!

Limping or not ~ I’m up for that kind of party. I shall sing His praises. And yes ~ I shall dance.

Even if only in my heart.

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20

people-467438_640

I Have Been Immersed Today (And I Will Rejoice!)

feet-289001_640

I have been immersed today.

I have been immersed in self-pity. I have been immersed in Jesus joy at the same time.

I have been immersed in pain – true and deeeeep-below-the-muscles-all-over-kind-of pain. I have simultaneously been immersed in an inexplicable Jesus-kind-of comfort.

I have been immersed today.

I cannot sleep, so I write. I write about my immersion.

Today I have sharp and vivid memories – fond ones of times when I given the ability to jog all the time. Running for miles and miles and sweating all the toxins out – ending with a rush of endorphins that lasted the whole day long.

Immersed in the beauty of that memory.

Pounding out the stress – the aches. Pounding it out through the pain. Painful at first – probably for the first mile or so.

And then came the bliss. I was immersed in the bliss then ~ consistently.

I have been immersed in the memories of that physical euphoria today.

I have been immersed in the longing for it – the pining away for it.

The flesh is strong. The desire to satisfy it is even stronger.

And the tears came. They came fast and hard. And they are still here right now as I write and share my heart a bit.

I am immersed in tears today.

Oh how I miss days in which experiencing some initial pain – intentionally-embraced pain – held what seemed like a beautiful pay-off that was beyond worth it after each of those long and so-very-satisfying runs.

How I miss being able to work hard enough physically that I would get on that good sweat and feel….cleansed.

Now my body has to work in overdrive just to make it through the day. The pain from my Fibro is so intense some days that the days in which I feel nothing more than a generalized tightness of muscles (ALL OVER, I might add) seem like “good days.”

Will I ever run again?

And so I walk with Him. I walk with my Jesus as I cry like a baby and wish for something more – something different. I struggle and strain not to fall into a place of condemnation for not being content on days such as today. I turn it over minute by minute to my Lord and Savior – begging Him for conviction to replace condemnation where needed, and comfort to replace my sense of discontent and sadness.

He is cleansing me.

I am immersed today. Because I am toxic.

I am immersed in the knowing of my Lord and Savior and the need to know Him even better.

I am immersed in waves of self-pity and despair laced with the knowledge that I am blessed beyond belief all at the same time.

I wallow, I bask. I beg, I accept. I scream. I pray.

I ask for more.

I thank Him for what I have.

And I end this day immersed in prayer – praying for a deeper knowledge of Him and who He is – and the ability to see the fruit that He is producing in my life.

And while I feel I am withering and rotting in so very many ways, I know the truth. And it sets me free.

I have been immersed today. I have been immersed in relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And I shall rejoice. Because HE is never going to be a fading memory I have to pine away for – He will always be with me. And it keeps getting better and better every day.

I think I’ll “run” with that one!

Though the fig tree may not blossom,

Nor fruit be on the vines….

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength;

He will make my feet like deer’s feet,

And He will make me walk on my high hills.” Habakkuk 3:17-19

roe-deer-423597_640

Anew

man-486634_640

And the crushing of the heart – it is raw.

And the hurting of the feelings – they are fresh.

And the complaining and the mocking and the misunderstanding – all there…

Anew, anew, anew.

And the selfishness – replenished daily.

And the failure to understand – a formidable presence.

And the sneak attacks of the enemy – surprising.

Anew, anew, anew.

Relentless, pervasive, crushing, divisive.

Battling, raging, perplexing, isolating.

Ripping, smashing, slaying for whatever cause –

Anew, anew, anew.

And the blessings – they are awaiting.

And healing of the heart – is never-ending.

And the sanctification – His merciful cleansing.

Anew, anew, anew.

And the wisdom imparted through prayer.

And the peace – through self surrender.

And the love replacing the hatred.

Anew, anew, anew.

Perpetual, ever-present, molding, unifying.

Treaties, calming, understanding, risking.

Patching, rebuilding, healing for whatever cause –

His mercies and His love –

Anew, anew, anew.

It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

assistance-72834_640

When it Storms in May (and You were expecting Sunshine)

sky-404060_640

So much in life and how it goes for us seems to depend upon our expectations, and our willingness to be flexible in that arena. I live in Colorado, and the weather here is, to say the least……..unpredictable. (smirk upon my face)

Sometimes I have a pretty bad attitude about it too. Just ask my husband. I often say I would rather live in a warmer climate (year round), possibly near an open body of water (beach and sand), and where I can know what to expect (overall) on a day-to-day basis. A girl can dream, right?

But I know ~ the grass is always just seeming greener when I think that way. Dreams are just dreams, after all. (sad face)

In all honesty, I am quite blessed to live in Colorado when it comes to weather. Most of the time, we have more sunshine days than many other places when you spread it out over a year’s time. Most of the time.

But this May has really been ugly. I haven’t enjoyed it at all, especially with this Fibro body I am walking around in now. I thought it was going to get sunny and warm again. We were teased with that a little bit, and I was getting excited, you know? But alas ~ then came the gloom and hail and dark and rain and wind and….the stuff I hate.

So, the expectations must be adjusted once again. I didn’t do a good job of being proactive about it this time, and my attitude started to decline along with how my body feels. I forgot to look for the ray of sunshine amidst the gloomy and the cloudy.

It’s there. That ray of light is always there. I just wasn’t looking up.

There’s also a bigger picture at play here other than what month of the year it happens to be and aside from what the fickle weather is doing. It’s about all of life, friends.

For me, I had thought that I was going to be in a place in life right about now where I would still be enjoying the awesome ability to run and jog and get on a good sweat and have endorphins from doing so running through my body 24/7. That’s not been the case since I was struck down with Fibromyalgia.

At one time, I actually thought that once I reached this age, I would be sitting back and enjoying time with my Mother (and best friend) on the weekends – having coffee – because she had planned to move here so she could spend more time in a state that she loved. She went to heaven though – so that didn’t happen.

I also thought I’d be enjoying the role of coaching others in my work and possibly even taking that to a higher level than I had experienced a few years back – helping people find ways to tap into their strengths and enjoy their work even more. But I had to step out of a leadership role due to all the stress in my life.

But out of all of those things – those things that the world might portray as dreams lost – out of them all, the Lord has brought so many blessings my way. He is so very faithful. And He can make beauty (sunshine) out of the ugly (storms).

He is more powerful than lightning…

He can comfort us and protect us even when hail seems to be raining down, never-ending.

He can keep us warm and dry even when it is wet and soggy all around us.

We have only to adjust our expectations.

We have only to turn it over to Him and allow His will to be made manifest – even when it’s the unexpected stuff and we wonder what He might be doing.

JESUS ~ He knows this.

He shows us that it is not about our own will, but that of the Lord’s.

He shows us that each day is a day in which we don’t have to know what to expect because God’s got this.

He shows us that we can ALWAYS look up ~ look up to the One and Only ~ the only One who knows, never changes. The only One we can always rely upon without fail.

So if you find yourself feeling disappointed, let down, sad, or kind of stuck, it’s okay. Your expectations may need to be adjusted, or you may be going through a grief of dastardly proportions that has nothing to do with expectations at all.

Either way, God’s got you in the palm of His hand. And He will carry you as His will is brought to fruition.

You are not alone, dear friend. And even in the middle of the storm, He always has something good in store for us.

Bow your heads today with me, friends.

And when you are finished?

Don’t forget to look UP.

Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heaven’s lights. Unlike them, He never changes or casts shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

clouds-21156_640

 

I Celebrate Mother’s Day Differently ~ Since Mama went to Heaven

balloons-388973_640

Every year, when Mother’s Day comes around I realize it: I celebrate Mother’s Day differently since Mama went to Heaven a few years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, friends. I miss my Mama dearly. But I am so happy, now that the shock of the initial grief has subsided a little.

Why? Because I know that I know that I KNOW where she is right now. And its a way cool place. She’s with the King of Kings!

Sometimes on Mother’s Day I feel a tinge of sadness or a remnant of that fresh kind of grief that strikes you in the first days and months following the passing of a deeply loved one. But although I cannot celebrate with Mama on Mother’s Day, I find that I celebrate her for who she was and still is in many ways that I couldn’t appreciate before she left this earth.

I celebrate who my Mama is every day ~ not only on Mother’s Day.

I celebrate who Mama was and is in Jesus.

I celebrate my Savior, who  has her firmly in His grip.

I celebrate the fact that He’s got me too!

Yes. I celebrate ~ differently.

I often find myself lost in thought as to what Mama might be doing with Jesus right now. It’s the coolest kind of imagining one can do. And, usually when I catch myself dreaming away about such things, I find I have a smile on my face. I feel like I am getting to be right there with them sometimes, and I often wonder if the Lord isn’t doing something mysterious in those moments.

It’s awesome.

I dream about it, friends. I find myself walking in a meadow to meet them ~ it feels like I’m walking on puffy clouds, but it’s actually beautiful green grass. Everything feels….lighter. All burdens are lifted. There’s a peace there that reaches a whole new level that I cannot explain with words.

I celebrate differently ~ and I would venture to say that I celebrate…..BETTER.

Because I cannot wait to see my Jesus face to face! And my Mama too.

I am excited for the day that I can see them and hug them and kiss them and wrap myself under their love again.

When it happens? I shall twirl. I shall dance. I shall sing and laugh and cry and love will pour out of me that I didn’t even know that I possessed.

And in the meantime? Well, that’s another part of the different kind of celebrating that I will continue to do. Love transcends earthly boundaries.

True love ~ like the kind that I receive from Jesus and from Mama? Well, all I can say is it’s cause for a daily celebration!

Jesus lives, my friends!!! He conquered death and He is KING! And because He lives, Mama does too. So do WE! Whoo Hoo!!!!!!!!!!!

What a GIFT of love, my friends. So much better than any Mother’s Day gift or any other gift I could ever give to another!

Just call me the party chick. ‘Cause I have a never-ending present to open, and each time it gets better and better!

If we follow after Christ and trust Him as our One and only Savior and King, we get the best present of all!

We get His presence in our presents.

Every single day.

I celebrate differently now. I celebrate Mother’s Day and Christmas and Easter and every day differently now.

I am grateful.

And it is…………GOOD!

Join in my celebration, friends. You are SO invited.

But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Corinthians 15:57

tea-556777_640

Utterance

font-388690_640

Sometimes I say the wrong thing. Maybe it’s not appropriate for the situation, not diplomatic enough, or it just plain comes out…..wrong. Anyway, I can definitely say that sometimes I have a big mouth and my foot fits right in there regardless of what kind of shoes I might be wearing that day. (And sometimes they stink)

But more of the time, I don’t say enough. I don’t take the opportunity to proclaim Jesus and His grace, His love, His understanding ~ boldly and with great joy. I let fear hold me back. Or selfishness, or worry, or concern about what others might think if I say something the wrong way or offend them.

I have found in life, dear friends ~ I have found that I usually regret the not saying more than the times I have said something the wrong way. I can apologize with great sincerity when I say the wrong thing. But a missed opportunity? Well, those are the times – those pockets of silence that I KNOW should have been filled – that I regret.

Do I wish to live with that? Not any more.

I pray for the Holy Spirit to nudge me (and pound me, even) when I am not sure what to say, but I know that I am supposed to open my mouth. I pray for the words – His words – to flow out freely. I pray for the obedience to stop over-thinking things and just let those words come out….the words that come straight from the heart and the Spirit of the Lord. And I pray for the wisdom to know the difference ~ the difference between my own well-intentioned words and those that He would wish for me to say.

Our words matter, friends. And not just how we say things, but all the things that we do not say.

Open your mouths and let your words be things that reflect all that Jesus Christ is.

Grace, Love, Salvation. So very much more.

It’s the good news that we simply cannot keep to ourselves.

We may be in chains in many other ways, but we can still speak powerfully for Christ Jesus. Because He lives.

And He has good news for us to share.

And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:19-20

Only One King ~ It’s ALL GOOD

crown-413692_640

You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only. Matthew 4:10

Sometimes as Christians we cross over a line without even realizing it. The fuzzier it is, the harder it is to tell once we are treading on thin ice.

The enemy knows this.

We have the best of intentions as we find ourselves wanting to express love and kindness to others and look for the light and love of Jesus in them. Naturally, we then wish to lift that person up, encourage them, and take a moment to revel in all that God is doing in their life.

And that is good.

But as soon as it even begins to turn into a admiration of that person, rather than who they are in and because of Christ, we risk a form of “person-worship”.  It doesn’t always  happen ~ but it does become a bit of a tightrope and we need to be careful.

The glory belongs to God. friends.

“I want to be just like that person.”
She is so great and has it all together.”
“What he is doing for God is so wonderful.”
Her ministry is so awesome ~ she’s really great.”

It’s not bad for us to say or think these things ~ It’s only dangerous if it stops right there. It’s really scary if it started right there!

If we don’t go the step further in our minds and hearts to remember that it comes from the Lord, we start to idolize that individual instead of Him.

HE is what is Good.

Often our actions and our words are the only way that others can see what Christ is doing in and through us. But it is SO important that we attribute all the good that any of us that follow after Him do here on earth to the Lord.

It’s important for that person to “clothe themselves in humility”, but equally vital that those of us who listen to them, encourage them, or learn from them do not glorify them as some sort of God.

This happened to Paul, as well as many other followers of Christ, you know. Many times.

These guys knew….

That was not good.

But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news,telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. Acts 14: 14-15

We know the story well of the pastors, bloggers, teachers, mentors who have lorded over their own ministry and given the credit to themselves instead of God. But what about those who are following after them? Do we find ourselves somewhat worshiping our teachers and leaders in the church and in ministry overall? How about that person out there who has a “wonderful ministry for Christ?” How do we perceive them?

Anything that I do (such as this blog, for example) in which I share about all the Lord is doing in my life ~ the good, the bad, and the ugly ~ well, in a way it’s a ministry. It’s a testimony of what Christ is doing in my life and the life of others that I am doing life with.

But it’s not MY ministry.

It’s not my personal kingdom, friends.

And for me personally, I must say….I truly feel the greatest testimony of the good that Christ has brought about in and through my life comes from seeing clearly all that I am not without Him. Only then can I clearly see HIS goodness. Only then can I see that no matter what happens, with Him on my side it truly is going to be all good.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Do I find myself admiring another person and how Godly they are (or seem to be) and fail to look for the brokenness and how Jesus Christ is responsible for any and all good that has happened in their life? Do I stop short and simply sit back and wish I were more like that person instead of searching for ways to learn how Jesus made them who they are today and every day?

Sometimes I do. I admit it ~ I am guilty.

I find myself teetering on the line between listening to what GOD has placed inside of them and is allowing to spill out, and seeing it as that person’s own widsom ~ gifting ~ or awesome-ness.

Like I said: It’s a fine line.

I want to be standing on the side of the line that is ALL GOOD. I want to be firmly rooted on the side where Jesus is, rather than mixed up in the stew of human goodness and divine goodness.

It’s a casualty of living in this transitional home, friends. Things get murky and muddy.

Gotta remember to always look up. Look up to what is purely and divinely good.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39

I focus so much on making sure that I am loving others that I run the risk at times of forgetting that it should come in second to loving the ONE and ONLY that is wholly good. Only that makes the second part worth anything at all. Only that allows the second part to be the kind of love that Christ has for us to come out of us as we love upon others.

Keepin’ it Good ~ ALL the way good.

We have to check ourselves all the time. We do this through prayer and daily heart checks with the Lord.

It is good to lift one another up and encourage them and tell them what the Lord is showing us through them and their willingness to use the gifts He has given them.

It is good to seek Jesus inside of others and recognize Him and see Him and how He is spilling out of them because He lives inside of them and wants to shine.

It is good to edify, encourage, reinforce, compliment.

It is GOOD.

But making these things our first stop is not ALL good.

It is not good to exalt or glorify anyone other than Christ. Not a person. Not a pastor. Not a shining leader and man or woman of God.

No ~ not even an angel.

“And I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9 And he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book; worship God.” Revelation 22:8-9

Friends, it even happened to John, so don’t beat yourself up if you, like me, have teetered on the tight rope and occasionally capitulated. It is okay. God understands and will forgive us.

We can simply recognize it and ask the Lord to fill our hearts and our need to worship with Himself. He can use others, for certain. But all the good comes from HIM.

He will do it, you know. He is ready to enter in and be our ALL.

He is our One and Only ~

There is only One King ~

And He is our ALL GOOD.

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:17

love-699480_640

Yet Still Today

water-534098_640

A couple of months ago I hit a new low in regard to my health. It reached a place where I could not continue on the way things were and I had to go out on leave from work for about six or seven weeks. So these last weeks have been spent in rest and recuperation, nesting around my home, and moving through the days one at a time.

Blessings have come, yet my health is still a thorn in my side, friends. Yes, I am better in some ways, but the monster is always there ~ simply looming and waiting, teeth exposed and jaws flapping, eyes squinting and piercing and ugly mouth salivating ~ just always right there and waiting to chomp.

But Jesus is here too, and although the monster tries to give me a run for my money, it is simply no match for my Savior.

I am His.

Yet still today…………

  • Today I return to work, to a new and better work situation which is a blessing (a miracle, actually) yet I find myself in a strange place.
  • Today I am finding myself anxious when I know that I shouldn’t be.
  • Today I am wishing I could continue on the way I have been these past six weeks or so.
  • Today I am finding myself feeling discontent even before anything has changed or happened.
  • Today I am fearful and feeling guilty because that must mean I am not trusting in Him.
  • Today I am looking at what might be yanked away from me instead of seeing the blessing that the Lord has provided to make dealing with the ugly a little bit less ~ ugly.
  • Today I am already feeling guilty that I have all of these feelings.

What will this new season in life regarding my new work situation really mean for me and my family? Will I be able to do a good job without compromising my health? Can I let go of the expectations I have always had of myself to perform to the utmost of my ability and just simply do a GOOD job? Is that enough?

What if it doesn’t work out? What then?

I am His.

In so many ways I am a glass half full girl, while in others I am quite the opposite. I wish I could just pick one and be it, but that’s not the way it works for me. When I am the half empty kinda gal, I know I am simply trying to be honest and practical and realistic, yet I feel guilty for being less than positive about things. When I’m in half full mode, I feel great about looking at things as positively as possible, yet worry I am placing too much faith and hope in whether things turn out good or not.

It’s not about that and I know it.

It’s about trusting in Him no matter what things come, how things work out or don’t work out, and knowing without question that no matter what, He never changes.

Neither does this:

I am His.

So today I do not find myself looking at the glass one way or another. I find myself looking past the glass and unto Jesus, friends. I am reaching for His hand and trusting Him to pave the way for me. I am believing that He already has this covered and will reveal to me all that He has for us. I am hoping in Him and that He will help me to keep what truly matters at the top of my priority list.

That’s the part that is far more than half full. My cup runneth over.

Because…….

I am His.

Do you know that you are His no matter what happens to you? In the face of the unknown or difficulty or trials, do you know that Jesus never changes and is always by your side? Can you bring yourself to His feet and turn that thing over to Him even before you have your emotions straightened out? That’s the way it’s supposed to be anyway, friends ~ we can come to Him just as we are. It’s always been that way and remains that way ~

Yet still today.

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. Psalm 23:5

water-droplets-619152_640

 

Peace for this Piece ~ A Prayer Request for Kara’s Loves

stone-174038_640

Last night, I went to bed with a piece of my heart that felt kind of out of place, jumbled up, and twisted in several knots. I then woke up this morning and the first thought that came to my mind was of Kara Tippets and her loves ~ particularly her beautiful little family and one of her dearest friends who I call friend as well, my Shellie.

To say that my heart hurts for them today, friends? Well, that is quite simply a major understatement.

As many of you already know, Kara Tippetts went home to be with Jesus yesterday, and her loves are hurting. Her husband, her beautiful four children, and her many, many friends ~ they have a different feeling in their hearts today than they did prior to yesterday. I would venture to guess that it feels like it’s being squeezed, and squeezed hard.

And that is a hurt that one can only understand if they have been there.

But there is peace in this piece of things too…

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Kara allowed Jesus to speak to us through her in so very many ways, friends. She spoke much about The Hardest Peace and even wrote a book titled as such ~ about the peace we find in Jesus in the midst of suffering, hardship, heartache, and even when all the pieces of this puzzle we call life seem to be shattering all around us.

But she always returns to Jesus ~ always returns to His grace and His peace, His joy and His love ~ no matter how many pieces of us seem to be crumbling down to the floor.

He makes us whole even when we seem to be falling apart.

And there is peace in that piece of things too…

Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. Matthew 9:22

Kara has fully returned to Jesus, friends ~ to live with Him in her forever home. And she is healed from cancer and all that may have been ailing her on this earth.

But what about the sharp pieces that those who love her are dealing with today? Is there peace to be had for this piece in the suffering pie that they must endure right now? Is there peace to be had and snippets of joy to be felt even as they move through these days, weeks, and years without Kara by their side? They know they will be seeing her again ~ but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be missing her something fierce ~ something heart-squeezing.

Is there peace to be had for all of these pieces that are so very hard to swallow and we sometimes wish we could just throw out and rid ourselves of so we can get back to the good stuff?

I’m pretty sure that Kara might say to us ~ “this IS the good stuff. Seeking His peace and being held by Him even when it’s hard.”

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

Christ’s peace is not always the kind that makes us feel totally calm, at ease with everything, or completely void of stress and difficulty. It is, like Kara tried to tell us and show us in all that she did, a peace that can often be hard to grasp, but one worth holding on to with our ALL.

And it can definitely be hard to swallow.

But the Lord has placed a voracious appetite within us and has assured us that He is here for us, with outstretched hand ~ ready to carry us through so we don’t cut ourselves on the shards.

We have to reach for it, friends. We have to reach for His hand. But we don’t need to strain too hard, for He is ready and waiting for us.

We have only to hold out our hands, because His is already right there for the grasping.

There is peace in that piece too….

…that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us. Acts 17:27

Reaching for the hand of Christ is not hard once it’s open and willing~ it’s not the hardest piece for us as we walk through rough things. I think it’s the willingness to simply even open our hands wide in the first place that can prove to be a strain for us.

We like to clench our fists sometimes.

But Kara’s loves ~ many of them ~ well, they don’t struggle with this piece of things. They don’t struggle with reaching for Jesus through this sad time or the suffering they are enduring as they grieve the loss of having their Kara by their side.

But their hearts are still being squeezed today, friends. They are all dealing with the pieces of grief, and heart hurt and missing their love so very dearly today.

They are being squeezed and may be wondering if they will come out whole on the other side of it. But they are also being held tightly by Jesus. He’s holding them together as they contend with the broken.

And there is peace in that piece, friends.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2

So, will you pray for peace amid all the pieces of grief these friends are enduring today, dear ones? Will you pray for their hearts to be filled with Jesus and His love and comfort as they walk through this twisty-turny valley of sadness intermingled with peace and love all at the same time? Will you pray that the Lord will help them to know that it’s okay to be rejoicing one minute for Kara and the fact that she’s fully healed and in the presence of her Savior, and crying the next because they miss her so very much?

Will you pray peace over all of these pieces?

Most of all, will you open your hand to your One, True Savior and let Him hold it as you walk through suffering or hard stuff in this life as well? Will you share yourself with others who wish to walk alongside you if you are grieving, or if the pieces seem to be shattering all around you today?

Therein lies His peace.

There is always peace in every piece if we open up our hands and turn our eyes upon our One and Only and ever-so Mighty Savior, our dear Jesus.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to a fund benefitting the Tippetts children:
Jason Tippetts
P.O. Box 49727
Colorado Springs, CO 80949

glass-475736_640

For My Son ~ It’s a Painful Privilege, I Know

waiting-531291_640

Lately my son has been sharing his heart, his hurt heart with me. I’m thankful that he’s willing to do so and I know that he would want me to share some of this with you, as many of you probably struggle with this at times. Maybe you will be encouraged to know you are not alone ~ that we are all in this thing together, yes?

His hurts come not from the normal-type of angst you might expect from a teenager ~ one who is on the cusp of becoming a full-blown man. One who may feel ready to move on to the next phase/stage of life, but still has school ahead of him.

No. His hurt comes from something much more riveting than all of that stuff.

His hurts aren’t plaguing him because no one is paying attention to him, or that the girl of his dreams doesn’t like him back the way he would hope she would right now, or even from being a bit in that awkward, in-between place where you are sort of ready to grow up, but the world says…”not quite yet.”

It’s not that kind of stuff at all.

It’s about the difficulty we all face ~ those of us who are best friends with Jesus ~ the difficulty of feeling like we are trapped, and unable to live in our forever home. The difficulty turns into a bit of sadness. It can then morph into a sense of discontent, being  unsettled, or wondering where your place is when you know you aren’t living “at home” right now.

That forever home with Jesus ~ the place where there are no limitations in screaming out how much we love Him at the top of our lungs!

That forever home ~ the one where no one is trying to stay hush-hush about the one, most singular awesome thing there is to talk about ~ our Mighty God~

That forever home ~ the one that those of us who walk with Him closely know will be so much better than the world we live in now.

Yet…….

We have been placed  here for a reason, friends. It is hard ~ soooo very hard sometimes not to long for home in a way that wrenches our hearts isn’t it?

But what I was trying to share with my son (and I would covet your prayers for this to sink into his heart and encourage him) is that I have been through the same thing he’s going through right now ~  and what the Lord has always planted inside my heart to encourage me and pull me out of the mire is this:

HE came down to rescue us.

HE came down to be light in this world and save us.

HE came down to walk amongst us and suffered for us.

HE came down!!!

So why should we get out of it? Why should we get to be let off the hook from being here, walking amongst others in a foreign land?

In no way do I want to make light of or diminish my son’s feelings, or those we all experience from time to time at all by saying any of this. I just feel that I’d like to share what God showed me when I went through the same thing. He taught me that it is actually possible to wish for and long for our forever home, but still be okay with being here for the time being.

  • It IS possible to live in this world, but not for this world.
  • It IS possible to look forward to (and pray and beg for) his imminent return, but still move through our days with purpose and joy and peace.
  • It IS possible to do both ~ but we have to fight for it, and pray diligently, and walk in faith and KNOW without question He has us here because it is HIS will.
  • It IS possible!

And yes ~ it IS hard.

We get the privilege of being light in a cold and dark world.

We get the privilege of living out the love and compassion Jesus so deeply desires be given out freely to others who either don’t know Him, or are struggling to stand strong for Him.

It’s our privilege that is painful, but a privilege nonetheless.

I will be the first to raise my hand and say “ooh, ooh, pick me” to be able to proclaim without hesitation that it is hard ~ hard beyond belief! We are to look forward to the return of Jesus and He even tells us that those who do so will be blessed.

But in the meantime, we have to trust Him that He has us here for good reason. It’s not about us ~ it’s about Him and His glory.

So, for my son, I’d like to encourage you today…

It’s a painful privilege you have been gifted with to walk this life on fire for Jesus, when it seems that everyone around you simply wants to pour water over you and put out that fire.

Don’t let the enemy win.

My son ~

It’s a painful privilege to long for your forever home, but remain here to be Jesus even when you can’t freely speak Jesus.

But He will be the words ~ you have only to show up.

Oh my son ~

It’s a painful privilege to love your Savior so very much that you simply want to be in His presence forevermore and be done with this hiccup in your eternity.

But it’s also a peaceful privilege.

There is peace beneath the pain ~ and it’s all because of Jesus!

May God give you the peace and JOY that surpasses all the gunk that comes at you from the outside. Those darts and arrows cannot penetrate the fortress He has created in and around your heart, mind and soul.

It is not possible, because YOU. ARE. HIS.

And I am so very thankful that I have been given the beautiful privilege of walking through this painful privilege with you as my earthly son. Yep ~ there’s that peace again.

And ~ as I smile to myself, I hear Him say….

Don’t forget about the joy. Do NOT forget about my joy!”

Oh my son ~

We shall rejoice!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4

alone-666078_640