Rockin’ and a’ Rulin’

We can love people and lift them up for something about them that is already there.

That’s  how Jesus loves us – He loves us warts and all!

Sometimes it’s just right in front of us and we fail to mention it. Other times, maybe we don’t feel good ourselves and we are focused upon all of that.

Today this girl is challenging herself to put all of that aside and show love for others for who they already are.

Won’t you join me? It will be a fun adventure!

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Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:11

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Indecision Clouds My Vision?

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Hi Friends!

You know, over the past year, I have been presented with numerous decisions to make regarding where I should be job-wise. It’s been a struggle and it  has happened multiple times. This has caused me to really dig deep and ask myself what the Lord has been wanting to teach me. There have been numerous things, and the process continues!

Today I just want to spend a short time with you to share just a tiny piece of what I have learned from the Lord during that process. This part? Well, it’s the part of it all that He has been urging me to share with my friends.

It’s so easy for us to get baffled and frustrated when faced with decisions, isn’t it? A lot of times it’s just easier when God makes the choices for us.

I guess the biggest thing on my heart that I wish to share with you is this: We are placed on  this earth to glorify God and draw others to Christ through all that He does in and through us, right? So our “purpose” is to grow in and develop our (and possibly help others develop their own) gifts, talents and abilities that the Lord so generously gave to us. Why?

So that He can have the impact upon others around us and through us for Christ!

* We have been placed where we are at right now by God.

* God can change where we are at or our circumstances any time He so desires.

* We are called to do His will “on earth as it is in heaven” regardless of the two above points.

* We are to maximize all that He has given to us and use that to share and show Jesus to others!

There is a LOT we can share with one another regarding this topic, but today I want to just say a little something about indecision. Sometimes, it can seem like when we step out in faith – when we don’t know the reasons, or even when everything is muddy and confusing as to whether to dig down and stay put or move on and make changes, that our vision gets cloudy.

Indecision can cloud OUR vision.

And that’s the point: We need to remember that it’s not OUR vision we are here to fulfill – it is the Lord God Almighty’s. He is the one who knows all – He is the one in control. We are called not to rely upon our own human vision, but the true sight that we gain by walking in faith.

We are to trust in Him that He’s got this – even through our “mistakes.”

I fall constantly into the trap of weighing the scales when I have prayed, checked over and over in God’s Word, and cried out to Him for an answer as to a decision that is ahead of me. I seem to have to re-learn this lesson over and over again. The flesh is very stubborn, but God is stronger! Isn’t it funny how we have to be reminded of that so very often?

Know what I have found over the past year? That if God sends an opportunity my way and I don’t step into it, I am more likely to experience “I wonder what would have been if…” than if I didn’t do so. I do not want to be disobedient, and I am so thankful that the Lord has placed that so heavily upon my heart lately. You know why? Because before, I only wanted to do what was best or right for me, and a little for God on the side thrown in there. NOW, I want to obey what God has for me, and I pray (selfishly) that it will work out to be best for me and my family too.

Maybe some day I won’t even care about that other part – you know, the selfish one? Ha Ha.

There’s nothing wrong with digging in and staying put if that’s what the Lord has for you – if you feel called to that and feel you can maximize all that God has given you where you are at, by all means, do it!

But if not, and you see an opportunity in front of  you that seems risky, involves potential failure, doesn’t “make sense” in some ways yet doesn’t conflict with what the Holy Spirit is saying and what the Word says, then it may be a good time to step out in faith.

* If we don’t accept the risk, we may never be able to fully live out what He has for us.

* If we don’t trust Him in the face of possible mistakes, are we really trusting Him at all?

*  Do we only trust Him when it feels safe to do so?

* He has us in His loving hands even when we screw up. Sometimes when we mess up or make what seems like the wrong decision, we realize and experience His love for us on a completely different level than we ever did before.

I want to encourage my friends to continue to love people where you are at, but to move it if He is calling you to move!

Believe that He is going to do a great work in and through you wherever you go (or stay).

Trust Him – He’s big enough, strong enough, powerful enough. He’s filled with more love for you than you can even imagine!

And above all, value obedience even when it doesn’t make an ounce of sense by all human standards.

One word of caution, as I struggle with keeping this in mind all the time: In the pursuit of living out our full potential for Christ, let’s remember who and what we are to glorify and live for – keep it in a Godly perspective. Sometimes, it’s so easy to get caught up in fulfilling our God-given potential and using our gifts, that we begin to glorify, even worship that instead of HIM.

If we remember and pray over that, day in and day out, our vision will change and evolve into His vision. Isn’t that wonderful to think about? We serve an AWESOME God!

Yes, indecision can cloud MY vision, but it’s HIS that makes paths clear.

I want to encourage you to keep looking to Jesus friends! Keep your spiritual eyes wide open and be ready to go where He would have you go. He’s with you every step of the way. Nothing can take that from us!

I’m thankful for the not knowing – for the cloudy human vision I have experienced over this past year. It’s caused me to rely upon HIM and what HE sees ahead more than upon myself. It’s caused me to know He is by my side through it all, and at the end of the day, nothing can separate me from Him and His love. Thank you Jesus.

No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

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HE Gets to be the Game Changer!

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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

Yes, menopause can really, really stink! But check out that verse! Did you see that? We REJOICE in our sufferings. Whoa!

You got it –  I am writing about menopause again today. Yes, I am going to continue to write about it for some time. Because that verse up there? Well, it is TRUE!

I have to admit, I have not been rejoicing much with this menopausal crazy in my life. It’s hard to do so when you feel like – YUCK! This stuff is way more pervasive than I ever imagined. At this point, I feel like what I thought it would be like at the age of 80 or 90 – and I am NOT kidding!

Yes, I am praying for the Lord to help me to endure and change my attitude. I woke up today and just decided that I can’t make it go away, so I must press in and ask God to bring me through it. I am asking God something very specific here, along with the “normal” stuff I ask Him to teach me through any trial:

1 – Will you help me to remember all of this so I can point out the positive and the hope for others going through this? Will you give me your clear voice to tell other women that there is light at the end of menopause (I have to believe there is) and that it will get better? Most of all, will you help me to share with them, with myself, that there is YOUR light right now while we are in the thick of it?

You. Are. Here.

2 – Will you help me remember the Serenity Prayer, Lord? I find it so hard to surrender, yet keep trying. You know what I mean, right? We can’t just give up on trying to take care of ourselves; your temple, our body. But we must surrender the expectations or hoped-for results ultimately over to you and focus MORE upon what you are teaching us in this now. Help me to do that, Lord. Help all of us to do that, whether we are dealing with the crazy convoluted mess of menopause or something else that has and continues to just rock our world. Help us step through each day one step at a time. Help us to abide in You and YOUR love and YOUR strength. Help us to trust and love you more and be who you are in us despite the thorns in our side.

In the meantime, I am not giving up, friends. After much prayer, I have come to the conclusion that even if I don’t feel like it, I am going to pour myself in to being open minded and trying new things. I am not going to focus too much on the end result of these things I am trying in order to feel better, but just step – just try stuff out with the Lord’s approval each and every step of the way.

Here’s what I am doing now and why:

The standard, “just exercise, eat right, get enough sleep” stuff is NOT cutting it! It’s time for extreme measures, and that actually now makes some sense to me. You know, there is NO WAY to pinpoint what’s going on with menopause, figure out a solution, and just stay there and all will be good. It has a life of it’s own and it changes on a whim. We have to change along with the “change.” I find it funny it’s called the change, as it is a million billion trillion little changes that are going on all at once to create a big change.

Thank God that HE never changes!

So….I am doing a bunch of stuff now and it seems (after a few weeks now) to be helping some of the problems, but certainly not all of them. I am doing a detox (two weeks long) made especially for women to get the digestion right. I am doing some intermittent fasting (only twice a week, and not a full fast) to create calorie confusion and get the adrenals, the metabolism, the digestion working better. AND, I am doing an entirely different eating program on the rest of the days per week….shaking things up a bit.

Menopause may try to trick us, but two can play that game!

I have added weight training and yoga into my week along with my cardio, which I have reduced to shorter spurts, versus the longer and endurance-producing ones. Those longer ones are good when your body isn’t full-on stressed, but actually don’t help much when you are where I am at.

AND…are you ready for it? Along with massage once a month (not near enough, but it’s expensive) I am getting ready to try accupuncture for the first time for the joint pain. THIS joint pain has been the worst part for me over the last six months. It’s almost to where I feel I can’t function normally any longer. I feel hopeful. But again, my hope is in the Lord more than anything else. I feel He is asking me to step, let Him do the rest. I must stop resisting  having an open mind!

I want to be someone who can say to other women:Guess what? It does get better! And guess what? Everyone is different, but if you are determined and prayerful, you can manage better until you reach the other side.”

I think we can be better than ever, but we don’t have to wait until “it’s over.” What if it never is over (fully)? I had to wrap my heart and mind around that last night with God. Am I going to just lay down and let my life be permanently “paused?”

NO WAY!

Paul didn’t do that when he was in prison and carried around that thorn in his side for so long. He found contentment where he was at, but didn’t stop being hopeful in Christ.

I’m not one of those “name it and claim it” types. But I do believe God can and will do anything He sees fit for His glory and good. It is within the realm of possibility that He wants to heal me and make me more energetic and vibrant than ever. And it’s also very possible I will carry this physical thorn in my side until I go home to be with Him.

The key is: Am I going to allow Him to work in me through it all? Am I going to be more like Jesus even when it’s hard? When I am angry, feeling panicky, getting hot flashes, night sweats? When my elbows and joints in my hands and arms and feet feel like they are about to crack? When it hurts to even walk, but I have to muster up something within to exercise through it? When it costs money to try to take care of myself when I really don’t want to spend it? When I need to think of others and not myself in the face of something so pervasive it feels like it is consuming me?

The list goes on and on, I can assure you.

Remember: We are allowed to not feel good about it sometimes. But we still can rejoice that God is doing a mighty work within us – even when our bodies feel like they are falling apart.

Look at the work done on the cross, friends. Look at what was done there. Jesus’ body was beyond broken there. Then He was filled with all the dark and sin of the world for a time before He rose again. And I KNOW – I just KNOW, because He tells us so – He is more vibrant than EVER!

He lives!

Yes, we are going through the change – daily. If we press in and abide in Christ, it is good news that we are changing, friends. It’s a daily process. It’s a continual gift. And we must remember that we can rejoice even when we don’t “feel” good.

I don’t think Jesus pretended to be happy up on that cross. I don’t think that he showed the world, “hey, buck up and do it with a smile.” But I do think that he willingly endured what He knew was the Father’s will….He didn’t complain, even though He didn’t like it (to say the least). He STILL forgave to the end. He STILL showed love and mercy to the end. He STILL remained pure and – GOD – to the end.

He still is our perfect and our mighty God.

And HE needs no changing. So he has all the room, power, might and love in the world to work in and through us while we DO change – a LOT!

Turn your expectations over to God, especially when it comes to your body if you seem to have no control over it. But not your hope! Never your hope!

Our hope is in HIM. Nothing can take that from us!

Our bodies belong to Him. I glorify HIM and not my flesh. But I will do my best to take care of that temple. If it feels like it’s falling apart, I am going to remember how beautifully Jesus was put back together when He rose again. He didn’t fall off that cross like a lump of nothing to remain that way forever – no way! And neither will we.

But we must nail our flesh to that cross with Him – daily. And if and when we feel we can’t put one foot in front of the other, He will tell us whether to stop and rest or keep moving, as hard as it is to do.

He will tell us.

Nope. I am not going to let menopause define me. THAT is what the Lord is doing in me right now, friends. He is challenging me to remain true to Him and make certain that who He is in me is what defines me.

He IS changing me. Is He changing you or is menopause doing that?

Become free if you aren’t, friends. Become free not from the pains and hardships, but from all the darts and arrows of the enemy that try to trick us into being defined by our circumstances.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is LIBERTY!

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

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Keep it in the Black

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. Proverbs 16:24 NKJV

I’m a big believer in true and sincere encouragement of people that surround us. All too often, it comes easy to let it flow when it comes to taking a withdrawal – giving feedback, criticism, whether in a harsh manner or veiled under being “constructive.” I think there are times and places for kind correction or admonishment, sure. But if we don’t make enough deposits in regard to our relationships, those times can seem to put our account with that relationship into the red. It gets expensive. It costs in the relationship. It costs in the person’s heart. And it most certainly costs the person who keeps withdrawing when he has no surplus there in the first place.

Today, is someone around you hurting? Frustrated? Under a bit of stress? Practice letting the words of encouragement flow from you to them. Eventually, if we really make a point of doing it, this will become all-the-easier and begin to flow out of us like honey!

It is a practice, you know. It comes easier if we reach down into the heart and think about that person instead of ourselves. It gets easier every time, and every single penny we deposit adds up over time. It doesn’t have to always be 100 dollars worth of encouragement, friends. It can even be, “wow, it looked like you had fun putting your new skateboard wheels on…that’s really neat you are so into that.”

I promise it gets easier every single time. And God promises that lives are enriched and we are fulfilling His will by loving one another in this way. The more we do it, the more we, and those who are the recipients of our words of encouragement will feel it – all the way down in our bones!

Let’s keep our accounts with others in the black. And for those that are in the red, all we can do is start making good and real deposits to turn things around. Let’s start today!

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The Husband From The God Who Answers

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Today my husband is 48 years old. I sit here pondering the fact that I met him 35 years ago. He was thirteen and I was twelve. I started thinking of all the things I may wish to write about today to honor him and help to make his birthday special, but nothing seemed just right.

So I prayed.

“God, I want to honor my husband today and write something special for him and share it with my friends. Would you lead me as to what you would have me share today?”

And God answered…..

I think that I was made for Mark and Mark was made for me. Not too long after we were married I did the math in my head: “Wow…Mark was born in the beginning of ’66 and I was born about 9 months later the same year. That’s kind of cool.”  So in a way, Mark’s birthday is my own birthday as well.

Around the age of 12-13, we met at school. During Junior High and the beginning of High School, I had Snoopy spiral notebooks in which I wrote my name as Mrs. Anne  Birkelo, or “I love Mark.” I will never forget that.

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But what I think about the most when I think about Mark and his birthday today is how thankful I am that I am married to a man who truly understands that every single day, we are living out a born-again life in Christ Jesus!

Every single day that we walk this earth is a gift from God. Every day, we are faced with challenges, obstacles, battles of the flesh, heart and mind. And each day, we have to make choices about those things. Every day we must choose, “am I going to follow Jesus and cry out to Him or go my own way?”

Mark chooses to follow Jesus. And not just on his “birthday.”

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Today I’d like to share some attributes (and there are many more, I can assure you) that I truly appreciate about my husband. Because of all of these wonderful things that are Mark, I have a leader in my life that I can follow after and who helps me to draw all-the-closer to my One true King, Jesus Christ. I also get to celebrate who Jesus is in and through this wonderful man.

To say I’m blessed by my husband is an understatement. I can’t believe that I get to open the gift of him every day – even on his own birthday!

Boo: Thanks for making every single birthday of yours a reminder of the many blessings the Lord  has bestowed upon me and our children because of having you in our life. Thank you for having birthdays and displaying fully and clearly what it is to walk in Christ on a daily basis; drawing closer to Jesus every single day.

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DEVOTED: And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Mark it utterly devoted to His relationship with His Savior and all of his priorities from there fall right into place. He holds true, faithful and strong to keeping God first in his life, and then his commitment to me and our three children is right next in line. Mark will give his all to every single thing he is committed to in life. I know I am blessed because of his devotion to his Savior, our marriage and family. The fact that I can stand and say that I know this man would never leave me for another love is beyond a blessing.

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HARD-WORKING/PERSEVERING: Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

This man amazes me in this regard. I really do stand in awe at how hard he works. He puts his everything into his work, sticks with it when the going gets beyond rough, and has stamina I don’t think I have ever seen in anyone else my whole life! He used to work too much, but he was able to see that and change his work hours and lifestyle so that he could still work to capacity, but keep his priorities straight. Anyone that has Mark on their team, whether in the workplace, serving at church, or just helping someone move or get things done, has the bulk of the workforce that they need on their side. If there is one trait I wish I had of Mark’s it would probably be the perseverance piece of things. It’s the way that he perseveres through things that I admire. This is the dude who back in the day of the disciples, would have left everything and done anything Jesus asks regardless of physical boundaries. He lives that today. He’s been gifted with an amazing ability to plow through and remain effective, efficient, and committed, with minimal or no complaint along the way. Whoa! To be made of that stuff! I can’t fathom it. He has to work at this, sure. But there’s something in his makeup – something God gifted him with in this that I cannot explain. It’s unreal to me. And oh, how I appreciate this about Mark.

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

There may be occasional times that Mark loses  his patience, but let me assure you, it’s not after  having displayed more of it than I’ll possess in my lifetime! This man puts up with a wife who needs to vent… A LOT. He and I balance each other out so well, but to do that, he has to have this never-ending reserve of patience. See, he’s not built that way (like me) at all. He doesn’t need to vent out his thoughts, feelings or angst in order to not “get toxic”. I don’t know how the dude does it, but he just gets that stuff out in some other way or sucks it up without becoming a beast. In turn, while dealing with his own stuff, he patiently listens to me during the times I need to discuss the same issue for the 100th time. I can’t even do this one justice….just take my word for it. The dude is beyond patient!

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GENTLE AND MELLOW: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5

As hard working and persevering as Mark is, he has an uncanny knack for being very go-with-the-flow about certain things. His overall day-to-day demeanor is very laid back and mellow. I don’t know how a person lives both traits simultaneously – being so hard working and tenacious, yet being laid-back at the same time. The only thing I can say is it truly must be of God. By gentle, I mean he has a pretty gentle spirit. He is certainly not meek and mild (wimpy) by the world’s standards and definitions. But he is quietly under control. “Meek” by the Lord’s definition; that’s Mark. That strength under control? It. Is. Powerful. It makes me feel safe. Yet I know that he will be chill most of the time, rather than exert that power and strength in ways that are demoralizing to us. He lives a lot of the time in the day in and day out moment by moment. I love this about him so very much.

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CONFIDENCE/SELF CONTROL: In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. Proverbs 14:26

Spinning off of that, is his inner confidence in who he is in Christ Jesus and out of that comes self-control. I can’t say the man never gets angry or loses his temper – he’s not perfect. But I can say that he is certain of who he is in Christ Jesus and he has such confidence about it that it alone is a testimony to others he encounters. Overall, he has far more self-control than most people I have ever met. I think that has to do with the fact that he is patient and the perseverance piece of things. But the bottom line, is that again, these are things I believe God gifted him with – no man gets the real stuff, the God-given stuff that has to do with these traits on his own. Mark is obedient to the Lord, and the fruit of that shows. Clearly.

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SERVANT: If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. John 12:26

Mark has a servant’s heart and lives a servant life. I believe he has been given the spiritual gift of giving. The dude will sign up for worthy things, even when he doesn’t want to. I don’t hardly ever see him rest or do things for himself. I do think he needs to recharge more often, but it’s possible it’s not that season in his life (to need that or be less effective without it) just yet. Mark doesn’t sign up for every little thing just to do the whole “I am involved in this and that” stuff. He truly serves. He finds the things that others don’t want to do and he signs up to do that stuff. On top of that, the dude remains faithful to that task. When he feels like he is tired, he still goes. When he wishes he could just stay home, he goes. When no one else wants to show up, he’s there. And here’s the kicker: He does it with joy and without complaint. Unbelievable!

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RESPECTFUL:  Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the  emperor.  1 Peter 2:17

I can’t quite put into words how rare this trait is these days, especially from a husband to his wife. But Mark is beyond respectful. He truly understands and appreciates what he has in his relationships and life and gives that the respect that it deserves. He respects and loves me for the person that I am in Jesus and the things that make us different. He treats me with kindness and care even when I am not easy to get along with sometimes. He would never say a bad thing about me, his wife, to anyone! And he would not disrespect me or our relationship by acting in impure ways at all. The man is faithful, and to me, that is the ultimate show of respect aside from honoring the person you are with for who Jesus made them to be.

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STRONG: The God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. Psalm 18:32-34

This may seem silly, but Mark is probably the strongest man physically that I have ever met. He doesn’t look like a body builder, isn’t 6 feet tall, and doesn’t seem like one of those football players out there at the superbowl, but after having lived with him all these years, I can tell you that man is built for hard work. I have no fear that if anyone ever approached me or our children with the intent to harm us, that Mark could take them down if necessary. Again, I think it’s that power and strength-under-control thing that gives rise to this physical-strength-thing. Truly, I know I am guessing here, but I think Mark is built a lot like Jesus in the flesh might have been. He’s got that calm and gentle spirit, but he is filled with a power that is harnessed perfectly and kept under strict control.

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HUMOR: A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones. Proverbs 17:22

This one is my favorite. To me, part of having good humor is being able to understand other people’s sense of humor. It’s being strong enough to laugh along with others and be slow to be offended. It’s about being able to let go and have some fun in life. Mark lets me play with him and be silly and understands my strange sense of humor. He plays along. He is funny all by himself and doesn’t even know it. I swear, if God hadn’t given me a husband who had this trait, I’d possibly be dead. Sometimes Mark does or says things that he doesn’t even think are funny, but when I crack up about them, he goes along with me for the ride. As serious and hard working as Mark can be, he fully understands there needs to be fun in life. I think God gave Mark this trait so that we would stay married, and do so happily! Ha Ha!

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PRAYER: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18

Mark has a TRUE gift regarding prayer! I have watched it emerge and it just continues to blossom. I don’t understand it fully, because it’s not my gift. I pray, but the way Mark prays brings a peace over the room that I can’t explain. Truly, the Holy Spirit just flows out of him when he is praying. I don’t think many folks fully understand what a gift this is. The Lord tells us of the power of prayer and what happens when two or three are gathered together in worship and praying in His name. I never experienced it or understood that until Mark began to be asked to lead prayer in groups a lot. It amazes me. I have been praying about how to write about what I see when this happens, but words so far just fail me. I am so beyond thankful that the Lord has blessed my husband with this gift.

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Will you help me to celebrate my husband and his special day today? Would you, dear reader, say a prayer thanking God today for Mark and the way that he lives Jesus out in this world for others to see? Will you pray that he continue to grow and flourish and have great effect on bringing others closer to Christ? This man prays for so many others and does so in such a selfless manner. It is my greatest hope that the best gift of all I could give to Mark this year is to get others to pray for Christ to continue to shine brightly through him.

Happy Birthday to my wonderful and Christ-like Husband, Mark!  I love you the MOST!

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Milk and Pickles

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My dear friend Heather and I have been discussing menopause a lot lately – the angst, the light through the hard stuff, the good, bad, and ooohhhh, the ugly of it! But most of all, we are trying (oh, so very hard with God’s help) to see the funny in it. There is a way to have a sense of humor about those things which can seem so serious and so pervasive to us, you know. They may indeed be just that as we walk this earth (serious and beyond difficult); but at the same time, we don’t live for this world – we look toward eternity.

Menopause, my friends? It makes it a whole lot easier to look toward eternity with anticipation!

Here’s a link to my Heather’s facebook page and you can read all about this wonderful and real woman of God. You really should check her out – she is amazing! https://www.facebook.com/#!/HeatherMertens.Author

Anyway, this morning she said to me: “And suddenly I find I am trying to put the milk in the cabinet. Argh.”

Dudes! Believe it or not, as hard as I was (and still am) laughing about that statement, the reason for that is that I have put the milk in the cabinet! I’ve done lots of other weird things too!

Yes. It’s because of menopause. (Ugly enemy)

So this little ditty is for my Heather and for all those women out there struggling with the crazy of menopause, hormonal ups and downs, or any kind of junk in general. Don’t ever lose your sense of humor, friends.

Kids are a’ hungerin’ this mornin’
Eatin yer breakfast’s a very good habit
After looking all around our kitchen
They found the milk was in the cabinet.

Oh, now it makes some sense
Cause mom had it last, are we right?
Don’t look for where it should be then,
Or you’ll be a’looking all day and night!

Our mom’s got a big booty again
And it jiggles, it shakes a lot!
She broke it doing a cartwheel
For about year, she didn’t feel so hot.

Sometimes she laughs and giggles
But eventually will come the tears.
Maybe a growl or two thrown in there,
God, will there be a lot more years?

She runs around all frantic-like,
“Oh God, where’s my brain, help me grab it!”
She smiles when He whispers kindly to her;
“It’s by the milk inside the cabinet.”

Sometimes she worries about it all
Wonders if it’s serving any kinda good cause…
This crazy thing we’re all living through,
This thing called menopause.  😦

She says it’s a daily reminder for her,
That she really needs her Savior..
To guide her and to lead her,
Ta put one foot in front of the other.

She tells us it helps her remember
That flesh and minds are fickle,
And sometimes she laughs out loud,
Finds her keys beneath da pickles.

Yah, sometimes we find her laughing too,
While other times she just wails and weeps.
Menopause may have it’s earthly hold,
But Jesus’ love, well, it runs deep.

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

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Big and Best

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Hmmmm. Quite interesting verse there.

Sometimes we who tend to overthink things really need to discern if that’s such a bad thing. I often berate myself for thinking too deeply or too much. But the truth of the matter is that if the thinking is in all reality, exploration and digging into the heart, then it’s actually something that can be productive (even if it’s a pain in the rear).

It can be part of the sanctification process, for sure.

Searching our hearts is so very important. I know that for me, I have dark crevices in there. Those are dangerous, you know. Sometimes we have to dig to find them. We have to prod and twist to bring them to the surface so the poison can come out and fruit that is good can grow. Actually, it’s the Lord who prunes us, not ourselves. But at the same time, we must be willing to do the work He asks for us to do. As always, living in true relationship with our Savior is just that – R-E-L-A-T-I-O-N-S-H-I-P: it’s got to be two-way.

This verse slays me. If you look into a crystal clear pool of water, you will see a pretty clear reflection that stares right back at you. It is a true representation (that reflection) of your true face. And yes, you guessed it! Just as the verse says, our heart is a true reflection of our character, and our life reflects our heart.

All of it.

Thankfully, we are covered by Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross. And although that makes our salvation something that we can’t earn, it doesn’t get us off the hook for how He asks us to live our lives or the work that He asks us to do so that He can live in and through us as He so desires to if we are His true followers.

So how does that life we live reflect that heart of ours? Well, for starters, it’s in how much we nurture that relationship with our Savior. But then, it is seen pretty clearly in how we treat one another.

“He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty. Job 6:14

Do you have a healthy fear of the Lord? Do you stand in awe of who He is? Do you know that at the same time He now calls us “friend” if we are saved by Jesus Christ and have entered into a true relationship with Him, that He is still our King and All-Powerful, Sovereign, and Mighty God? That spells reverence. That spells respect. And that usually entails listening and praying for Him to guide us and fill us with His power to obey His commands.

If you know this fear and awe of the Lord, then it’s important – soooo important to truly listen to what He commands us to do. We are NOT TO WITHOLD KINDNESS FROM A FRIEND.

Withhold: To hold something back; refuse to provide. To take away from or withdraw. To keep in your own custody. To refrain from granting, giving, or allowing.

This is big stuff folks. BIG!

Lest you think I am standing in judgement of your heart or you as a person, dear reader,  please know that I am only speaking the truth in love. I would strap Annie up first if I was responsible for going down the list of people who need to suffer the consequences for withholding when the times get rough or tough.

But I also know that I am not alone in this. I care for all of us in relation to this important command from Christ, and the Lord has told me to share this without fear or trepidation. He does tell us that there need be no condemnation for those of us in Christ Jesus, but there definitely needs to be exhortation (an address or communication emphatically urging someone to do something).

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17

This is for everyone, but in particular it is for the body of Christ. And Annie is a part of that body of believers. Annie has failed miserably at times in loving others with reckless abandon.

We’re all guilty at times, aren’t we?

  • I’m not feeling it today.
    I don’t want to deal with that person.
    That person wounded me, so I have to protect myself.

Oh..and by the way. “Friend” by the world’s standards is “a person whom one knows, likes and trusts. But Jesus says we are brothers and sisters in HIM, we fellow Christians. That makes us “friends” by acquaintance. Actually, we are family. If Jesus calls us friends, shouldn’t we treat one another that way, even when it’s  hard?

I’m not sharing today about healthy boundaries. I’m saying we need to tear them DOWN. If there is a problem, maybe we can’t solve it completely (it takes at least three – the person, the other person, and Jesus), but we CAN show love in the process. We CAN choose the loving gesture. We CAN stop withholding. Jesus didn’t withhold from the criminal on the cross right next to Him!

Here is my reminder to myself (again) before I go off to spend time with the Lord before bed tonight: This is not an option – This is a command from the ONE we serve!!!!

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. John 15:12-14

That tells me something – something BIG and something IMPORTANT about Jesus and what He expects from us. It tells me that to be called His friend, I need to love others the way He has loved me.

That means no withholding. That means correction in my heart in the places I am withholding. That means risk. It means choice, regardless of feelings, wounds, hurts, complications, confusion, moods, circumstances. It means what it means. Period.

It means dying to myself more and more each day and letting Him fill that dark with light. Hopefully, my heart can be filled with more and more of Him each day, so it reflects His beauty instead of my ugly.

He can and will do it, you know. If we allow Him to take up full-on residence in our hearts, what we see shining back at us when we look to Him for the love, to Him for the ability to love like He does, will be a vision of real love.

We will see HIM instead of ourselves. I don’t know about you, but that seems far more pleasurable a thing upon which to set my eyes.

And that is not only BIG, but it is also –  BEST.

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This Thing Called Love

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This isn’t easy…

Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love..Romans 12:10

Neither is this…

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

Or this…

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

This one’s truly hard sometimes…

“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18

Even more difficult…

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44

And if you really think about it – this one seems insurmountable…

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34

But God, who lives inside of us – well, He can do all things!  Thanks be to Jesus Christ – Mighty Savior and Lord!

Not by my own power. But by HIS.

Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! Psalm 105:4

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