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

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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

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The American Dream was one of my False Idols

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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

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The Alien and the Candy Store

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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?

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Evil Pretends to be King

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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

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About the Time that I Died

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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

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Free the Monkeys!

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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\

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Just Enter In ~ Even when You are Limping!

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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

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

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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

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Anew

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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

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

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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).

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

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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

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Utterance

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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

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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

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Yet Still Today

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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Lizard Dawgs Need Love Too

My husband and I were gifted a trip recently ~ a getaway for a few days, friends. We enjoyed every minute of it. We are ever-so grateful.

Aside from the time together as a couple and the chance to get away from it all, we were in a beautiful and warm climate. My body truly loved soaking up the sun and the bit of moisture in the air.

This is the kind of place that makes you want to immediately go outside upon waking.

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We only ran into a small spot of trouble when winding through these lovely pathways around our hotel as we made the short trek to the beach. They seemed to be lurking at every turn. Some were sunning themselves, while others were scrambling across the path from one place of hiding to another.

You had to be careful, friends ~ some of these dudes were the size of a dog. This one here is one of the medium-sized ones.

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Eventually my husband learned that although I was in awe of these scaly (somewhat slimy-seeming) things, I was not about to be walking across any path that I could already see them congregated upon.

Not this girl.

So we did even more walking and took the long way ’round lest we run into more “lizard dawgs.”

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Now, when someone is naughty or rude to me around my house, I have decided to call them a lizard dawg. I’ve always had issues with avoidance of conflict.

Upon returning home, we finally were able to get our new puppy we have prayed over for quite some time now. With me starting to work from home instead of in the office, I needed a little friend. My family has wanted a puppy to love for years now.

Meet Rudy.

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Rudy is beyond easy to love. He has become a part of our family quite effortlessly and is a wonderful (already trained) little dog. He is easy to take care of, loves to sit and cuddle, but enjoys playing and running around.

He doesn’t make you walk around him to avoid being bitten either, unlike the lizard dawgs.

But as we were returning home, I thought about how people are judged as to how lovable they are sometimes by how easy they are to love. And that is really just not right.

Jesus came to save the sinners, sin, imperfections, warts and all.

He came to love the unlovable.

He calls us to do the same.

There’s nothing wrong with the fact that I love my little Rudy. But I must always remember not just to love him because he’s cute and cuddly. I need to love him (as well as others)even when they are ugly.

I need to remember to love those who don’t always love me back.

Even if they are lizard dawgs…..

And maybe even skeleton dogs too.

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For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? Matthew 5:46

 

 

For You ~ My Forever Friends

It’s been a while, friends ~ a spot of time has passed in which I have not written anything down that normally must spill out of my heart without hesitation. I have not been intentionally withholding ~ in fact, I have longed to write to you and share with you.  Yes ~ I have missed you. It’s been a while, friends.

I haven’t forgotten to pray for you. You are in my heart. 

It’s been a time, friends ~ a time of solitude, listening, centering myself with my Jesus and my family. A time of wrapping my heart and mind further around the state I am in physically ~ of reconciling that with the Lord. It’s been a time of learning something new about acceptance and surrender (when is it NOT the time for that?).  It’s been a time, friends.

What has the time brought to you over the last month or two?, I wonder.

It’s been a journey, friends ~ a continuation of a journey in which the Lord brings new surprises along the side of the road for me to feast my eyes upon. A journey in which He has had to carry me along the way, and at other times, in which He has allowed me to stop and rest a while. The road changes daily, but the sameness that matters is there and found in Him (He is with me every step of the way). It  has been a journey, friends.

I feel like you are there with us a lot of the time.

I have much to share with you about this last month, but I am not quite ready just yet. But you are in my heart ~ deeply tucked inside ~ and for you, I am ever-so grateful.

I have been out on a temporary leave of absence from work for almost a month now. I have much to share with you and will promise to do so soon. I am a blessed and most fortunate girl.

But for today, I just wish to say that there is so much to be learned from living in each day with Jesus ~ simply one day at a time ~ one step at a time. Just doing the days with Jesus.

These days string together and certain things on the outside become fuzzy. The lack of that relentless need to know exactly what date of the month it is has been freeing for me. I have never felt that kind of freedom before ~ free to just let the day pass and fill it with what the Lord leads me and enables me to do that day. There is beauty to be found when illness creates limitations for us as long as we spend that time, that while, that part of the journey with Jesus.

Jesus can make us fly when our bodies seem to say we have to stand still.

  • It’s been a while since I felt that, friends.
  • It’s been a time I will never forget to cherish, my friends.
  • It’s a part of this journey that by all worldly standards screams “this stinks!” but is having the most opposite effect that I could possibly imagine.

So for a while longer, I shall revel in that, dear friends. For just this small portion of time, I will move from one day to the next without worrying too much about all the plans and tasks that I cannot do, and embrace what I can. I am not sad. I am not feeling like I am missing out, although there are pockets of time in which I get sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I am rich. In spite of it all, I am RICH!

You are riding along with me in my heart on this journey, friend. This journey with Jesus at the helm.

I talk to Jesus about you every single day.

And although you aren’t hearing from me as regularly right now in this particular season, please know that I pray for your daily walk with Him ~ that your journey would be full of richness and joy and peace and learning.

And may you know without a doubt, that I have not forgotten you ~ my brothers and my sisters.

I hear from Him about you as well: I can feel His love for you. It is strong.

It is a beautiful thing.

Let’s celebrate the freedom that comes from knowing Him ~ from loving Him and loving one another. Let us celebrate the beauty to be found in the midst of that which can seem daunting or less than pleasant. Because wherever Jesus is, well….that’s where I want to be.

  • He doesn’t always pick the beautiful looking road to take us on ~ no, He’s not a tour guide.
  • He doesn’t always let us stop along the way, but if we are weary, He will always be there to carry us.
  • He does give us rest when we need it, and amazingly, allows us to connect to one another through Him, even when we have physical limitations.

He is AWESOME.

He is ALL-KNOWING.

And He is FAITHFUL.

I thank Jesus for you, dear friends. And I just wanted to let you know I am thinking of you and praying for you. Oh, how I do miss you. I look forward to the time in which the Lord says I can write to you regularly again.

Let me know how you are doing in the comments, dear friends. And if you do? Know that I will celebrate along with you, and I will pray for you if  you are going through a difficult time.

I am certainly no Paul, by any stretch of the imagination. But I do relate a lot to what Paul might have been going through when he was in prison (on a much smaller scale, I am sure). I ran across this section of scripture again that sums up how I feel about you and just wanted to share it below.

It is for you…..For you are my forever friends.

I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy  because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,  being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1: 3-8

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Hour by Hour

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God delivers. God saves. God makes all things new.

The residue from our family conflict is being replaced by new seeds ~ seeds of beauty to replace the ugly gunk. Seeds of growth that God plants, even in what seems to be a lifeless mass of junk that this girl would have chosen to discard ~ thinking it’s worthless.

They’re going to become beautiful flowers.

Because He makes all things new.

Healing has begun, but God doesn’t stop there. He uses every situation ~ every circumstance to make things new and better than before. He’s growing a garden ~ a divine one that surpasses what we can even imagine right now.

It’s hard though ~ hard when we are hot in the middle of the messy part. It’s hard to see what He is doing. We can believe (we have to or we are DEAD)…..but we want to see the results faster sometimes than they come. We get tired of just believing, and want the prize right away.

Seeds have to grow.

Today I am thankful that talking and heart sharing has been done. I am grateful that I know that the seeds of the newness of God have been planted. I see the flowers in my mind’s eye. I see them already.

Yet I find myself wondering ~ when will He plant those seeds regarding my health? I find myself wondering if there will ever be pretty flowers to smell in this part of the garden.

Chances are He already has planted them. I think maybe I have stopped fully believing.

  • I believe He is working all things together for my good.
  • I believe His strength is being made perfect through my weakness.
  • I believe He will make something new out of the old in my body.

I just don’t know what it’s going to look like yet. I don’t know that I will get to ever see and smell the pretty flowers.

And that makes me SAD.

Please don’t pity me, friends. I am not asking for that at all. I am simply a weary woman who is sharing what is in my heart and mind today.

I don’t know anything special or wise to share about all of this at this point….it hasn’t been given to me. No nugget of wisdom ~ no secret sauce ~ no enlightening answer as to how God gets us through such things.

It surpasses my knowledge ~ it surpasses my understanding.

I only know that He is not forsaking me. At this point, I only know that there’s something more He wants to grow in me regarding my belief.

It may not look pretty or smell good, but He is growing it. My faith is not strong in the way or area that He wants for it to be. I don’t know how I know this ~ I just do.

So for now, it’s truly hour by hour. For now, I cannot make plans that I know are likely to come to fruition.

For now, I don’t know what the next day holds, or even the next hour.

I only know I have to take it hour by hour ~ with Him.

What will the Lord help you to accomplish this hour? What if we stop worrying about whether we will meet all of our responsibilities in the hours to come and take it one hour at a time? What if we ask Him to meet us anew as we trudge, hope, pray to make it through just this hour? And when the hour arrives in which we don’t “make it” through? Is it really true that we didn’t make it? If He is with us, and we are seeking Him, is that not triumph?

I am so focused on my failures that I fail to see the triumph in what He is doing in and through me in those times. I fail to see that I am already walking through the garden with Him.

Hour by hour, He meets me and is making something new, friends. Some hours I am able to move, accomplish, finish, follow through. And some are filled with disappointment and fear of what may result as a consequence starts to threaten me.

This is when He meets me and tells me that He’s got this covered. I just don’t see it yet.

Seeds are being planted round the clock, friends. I can’t say it doesn’t hurt sometimes. I can’t say I am not impatient to see them grow. I can’t say I get tired of all the planting and want to see the end result more than focus upon the utter KNOWING that God’s work is being accomplished!

But I know that He is planting.

This hour, I know that He delivers ~ He plants ~ and He can grow beauty out of what seems worthless or even dead.

My prayer for us today is that we all forget, even if just for a while, about all that is old, broken or just not working right any more. May we forget it long enough to see that inside, we are being renewed. He is in the process of planting new seeds all the time.

Every hour He is making us new.

Let Him meet you today, friends. Let Him meet you this hour and the next one and the next.

And know that He is God.

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

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This Is War

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There was a conflict in my home last night ~ a family conflict. It came on suddenly, and it grew, and grew and grew until it had a life of its own.

Words flew, confusion ensued, and emotions ran the show. I can tell you right now ~ it was not a show that I haven’t seen before, but I never signed up for a repeat performance.

You see, the enemy entered my house at some point and I didn’t see him coming. I don’t think any of us did.

I think it’s because he snuck into our hearts first. He came in through the back door.

This is what I was writing about the other day: This!

  • This is the ugly I want for God to show me when it’s coming.
  • This is the ugly I want to be on guard for, so I can avoid being caught unaware.
  • This is the ugly that the world tells us is unavoidable, so we get weary of looking for it and heading it off at the pass.

This is the ugly that is not beautiful in its own twisted way.

What is really sad is that we all have a full set of the best armor ~ It’s God’s armor. The sad part is that I can’t even say we weren’t armed…we just armed ourselves with the fake and cruddy stuff. We grabbed the armor of self ~ the glittery and really convenient kind. We grabbed what seemed like it was closest.

News Alert: It didn’t work. Fake stuff never does.

So today…today remorse is trying to win. Today condemnation is trying to win. Today the conflict and the life of its own that spun a web of fire and tried to burn things down has subsided, but the embers are still there ~ threatening to catch on fire again.

Today seems…..dark.

Today it is time for God’s water. It is time for God’s light in the midst of the darkness. Today it is time for God’s mercy and compassion and love. Today it is time to dump out the vestiges of remorse, bitterness, condemnation.

It’s going to hurt.

I am anxious today. I am anxious because everyone has to go their separate ways to do life and their individual responsibilities and we are all separated. I am anxious because there is talking and understanding to be done and we are unable to come together to do it.

I am holding on to the anxiety and struggling to turn it over to God.

But I am believing today, friends. I am believing that God can draw us together in spite of the physical separation.

I am believing.

I am believing that He knows each of our hearts and our desire to make things right.

I am believing.

I am believing that He can heal us and He doesn’t even need our help to do it.

I believe.

I believe He will use the space of separation to draw us together.

This morning, as I took two of my children to school, my son said “I realize I have anger issues and probably always will need God to help me with that.” All I could think was ~ “don’t we all?”

Anger is an ugly monster. So is selfishness.

And so is condemnation.

When we fail to stop in those moments to put on our armor, we give all of our energy to the match of ugly and evil that is trying to grow into an out-of-control bonfire.

I didn’t use my armor. Few of us involved in the ugly conflict did. We all have “anger issues.”

Today I am going to sharpen it and put it back on.

And I’m not going to forget to remember who my enemy really is.

This is war. And I know who is going to win.I need to stop forgetting to remember that. I need to remember that we are on the winning side.

No one ever said that war would be pretty. But there IS beauty in that kind of ugly.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33