Use Your Gifts

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Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

I have come to the conclusion that is is BAD…very, very BAD for us not to open and use the gifts God has given us. They are given to us so that when we USE and SHARE them, it can possibly benefit others. They are given to us so that when we USE and SHARE them, it brings glory to God! That matters, folks. More importantly, that matters to GOD!

So let me expand upon that a bit differently, Annie-style.

God has given each of  us various gifts – spiritual gifts, as well as special talents and abilities. Part of why the Lord made each of us different is because He wants us to USE those gifts to edify others and connect to others – ultimately, as a way to shine HIS light to the world and spread HIS truth and HIS love.

These last 6 months (or longer) that I have stepped away from this community and blog have been NO BUENO for this chick feelings-wise. BUT……..I had to do it to do some reflecting and such. As you know, I wrote (practically every day) for the first year or so after I created this blog…and I stinkin’ LOVED IT, yo!

Why? Because I was using those gifts and connecting to others while doing so.

AND………..

Because, like I have always said – writing out or sharing out my heart and how Jesus is working in my little life (this utterly messy and sometimes mixed-up gal), does my heart good and is a form of worship of my Savior, in my opinion. Sharing it, causes me to live more vulnerably, and also gets me to think outside of myself as I have been reflecting on the inside. It is beyond therapeutic – it is something that causes me to TRANSFORM each and every time I share something with YOU. And if it helps even just ONE PERSON, each little thing I share, that is something that makes my heart smile. Big time! And it’s ALL BECAUSE OF GOD.

So, back to the story.  I pulled away for a while to reflect. Something just wasn’t quite right in my life. I took a slight turn and started to go down a little bit of a different road – a new adventure – it’s still a work in progress. As I embarked upon this new journey, I had to give my ALL to that change and transition – learning curves aren’t fun for this girl, but necessary and if you know me at all, I had to FOCUS my ALL into learning these new things. I had to give up some of the things that mattered MOST to me as I was in such a new transition, completely foreign to me. And it was important to do that as we are called to do our work as unto the Lord.

But the absence of getting to do this for a while also gave me some time to think and reflect on it.

It gave me time to MISS YOU, friends.

It gave me time to realize it is a HUGE part of my time with God – the time I spend sharing with others.

And that is GOOD.

So, I have returned, and I have some new ideas on how I will expand the WAYS that I share my heart for Jesus, for the beauty and the ugly stuff in life, for the mundane and the intense things we walk through on this earth, and for the BEAUTIFUL HOPE THAT IS ALWAYS PRESENT as we walk through such things together in Christ. I will be sharing those on the blog very soon.

But for now, here is a little background for you on the MAIN THING I have learned during this time of reflection! Again, in Annie-style, so this will take a paragraph or two to explain…

I have been really praying and working through the concept of contentment with the Lord. There’s a LOT to it that I won’t go into detail about yet, but call it sufficient when I say, there is a DIFFERENCE between walking around not being content because we covet things that aren’t for us, and knowing….. just KNOWING that we have something inside (Holy Spirit, anyone?) creating somewhat of a HOLY discomfort.

It’s all about the PEACE, YO!

When the LATTER REASON is causing that unsettled feeling – it will grow and grow if we DO NOT LISTEN.

I know this, because it’s what has been happening to me and I’ve FINALLY been able to identify it.

You see, I always err on the side of assuming it might be the first reason – the fleshly one- and then I have to pray about it and test that out to be sure it’s not just a case of me not being obedient or that maybe I am just being spoiled, coveting, or ungrateful as I go through this unsettled feeling.

That’s what I’ve been doing this past 6 months. That, and a WHOLE LOTTA PRAYING, dudes!

I have concluded with no SHADOW OF A DOUBT that yes, I am a sinner (nothing new there), and yes, sometimes I want things that aren’t mine to have (not a news flash either), BUT, that I am NOT using my gifts God gave me to the fullest, or even TRYING to, for that matter.

Again: That = No Good, Man.

The Holy Spirit is telling me (and has been for quite some time)…that no, it really is ME telling you this and you will remain uncomfortable as HECK until you DO something about it.

So I’m going to.

This book I am reading right now nailed it: I had prayed and prayed for the Lord to lead me to understanding this inner conflict I have been going through. I had been reading and reading in Proverbs, and many other parts of the Word about all of this. I kept coming back to a passage in Romans that I will place at the end of this for you.

And then this book fell into my hands (another story in and of itself).

Here is the statement that I could never express, but that describes COMPLETELY the struggle I am talking about in just a couple of short sentences (not Annie-style, nope):

“There is a big difference between wanting what we don’t have just for the sake of wanting more and wanting to do something else because we know, deep down, it is where we are meant to be. It is often difficult to strike a balance between a healthy longing for something more and choosing peace, no matter our circumstances. After all, how are we supposed to find our sweet spot when we are stuck in a job or town or situation we don’t love? How do we remedy the tension between choosing contentment and striving for more?” Living Well Spending Less ~ Ruth Soukup

BAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can be grateful for what I have and choose to bloom where I’m at, but AT THE SAME TIME know that I am supposed to do something more. Those things CAN co-exist and I am living proof of it. I would venture to guess that many of you are as well.

It’s not always either/or.

We are CALLED if we are followers of Jesus Christ and COMMANDED to use our gifts to build up and edify the church and be light in a lost and dark world. If we leave the gifts unopened or unused, that is so utterly sad and Such. A. Waste.

No more for this girl.

As always, it’s a work in progress – finding the gifts we are called to use for the Lord’s glory, pulling them out of the dusty box if they have been hidden for a while, and getting them to work well again. We have to find our way – try new things – live them out in vulnerable and risky ways and let the Lord make them hum when He so desires.

But we gotta use them.

Remember today, dear friend, that you have gifts and you will WILT if you do not use them. There are people out there that NEED to benefit from that. There are people out there who NEED to know someone is there. It’s part of having a servant heart and being a bond servant of Christ. And if you don’t know what yours are, seek HIM and have a heart to find out. It may take a while, but He will answer!

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.Romans 12: 6-8

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Flabby or Soft?

Romantic Heart form Love Seeds

Romantic Heart form Love Seeds (Photo credit: epSos.de)

So, I backed off a little bit on my exercise this last month or two – I decided to scale it down a little to give a muscle I had injured some time to heal. That muscle definitelly started to feel better, but the rest of me does NOT. So, that’s over now and it’s time to get back to work!

Anyway, what I have noticed is that although I still worked out about three or four times per week, I kind of let other things go too – I ate more chocolate (which I have always indulged in, but I in-DULGED!), allowed myself more treats (like torilla chips – yum!) AND didn’t do a very good job about my water and green tea intake (which is VERY important for me to not be a slacker about!).

I did a wonderful job of backing off!

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See, I am kind of one of those really interesting types who doesn’t really give stuff like that my personal best if I am not going at it pretty much full-force. Some might say that means I am an extremist, and I guess in some ways, I am. Honestly, I think it’s because I know myself pretty well – I am a slacker at  “heart ” (tee hee) and if I don’t stay focused, I can lose it pretty quickly. Sad, but true.

I think the Lord tells us, when we are seeking Him, when it is to our benefit and within His will to be extreme. For example, I believe in being an absolute and total follower of Christ – a overboard, ultra-committed, way-out-there-on-fire-for-Him full on disciple! I am a Jesus Freak and I am not ashamed to say it.

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I also find that I fall into the category of being “extreme” by the world’s standards when it comes to how much I actually find that I need to exercise to stay fit. The world likes to tell us that three to four thirty minute sessions a week is just fine. But it definitely is not for me!  I lead a pretty sedentary life during the week – I have a customer service job, I blog and do a lot of computer work, and I sleep during the day as I work at night. Sure, I have errands and housework to do, but those things do not keep me fit at all ( I know some women who swear by it, but I am not one of them – it just doesn’t do enough for me – never has, never will).

Anyway, I digress. What I really meant to talk about was that I noticed that although I am not into a different size of clothing, or haven’t really gained a ton of weight (maybe five pounds, but I am not getting on that scale, no siree!) that everything has just gone – well, kind of “soft”, since I took this little “break.”  Gummies, anyone?

Hearts and Candy

Hearts and Candy (Photo credit: Rdoke)

After working for a couple of years to lose a lot of weight the healthy way, I am not about to allow that to get out of hand again – God really helped me through that endeavor and I don’t want to blow it after all of the grace He threw my way.

And soft, in this sense really isn’t just “soft”, is it? Let’s be honest; it’s just plain “flabby.” And flab is baaaaaddddd.

Yes, flab is bad, both physically and spiritually. It causes heart disease, makes one lethargic, can lead to depression, anxiety, and a whole bunch of other things that are not what I would categorize as good. One then becomes a slave to their poor health, rather than spending time focusing on the good things – like Jesus, family, friends, and enjoyment of all the blessings that God has placed around us. Like this coffee, for example!

Cappuccino with heart

Cappuccino with heart (Photo credit: litlnemo)

Uh-hem….hold the whipped cream please.  Smile.

So, let’s just assume that flabby is not okay. At least it isn’t for me.

BUT, soft is a different thing altogether. I have really been praying that Jesus would soften my hard heart and He is starting to work on me in that area. Not even a year ago, I just felt like my heart was icy in a lot of areas – especially towards people. I knew this wasn’t good and that I needed to ask God to soften it up – give me HIS heart – HIS kind of love to feel and show to others. I was scared to pray for this, let me tell you! And I still need a lot of help from Him – every single day (I always will, because I NEED Him). But, He has shown me, as He has chipped away at the black ice that had built up inside of me, that it is definitely rewarding to live with a softened heart. It’s starting to melt!

Heart outtake

Heart outtake (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

You know, I was just thinking about that difference between flabby and soft in relation to the living Spirit of God. When we are flabby, we can’t zip up our jeans the same way, things are more restrictive and tight, stuff just jiggles around and has no order to it – it is just chaotic and irritating. But when we are just a bit soft hearted, well, to me, that would be a better kind of place to live in than inside of a hard heart – because God is just so big, so vast, so without limits, He needs our hearts to be pliable – moldable to Him – movable – flexible, and certainly not rigid.

When I was a young girl, I cared about practically everyone – I would cry for others at the drop of a hat. Although that isn’t a terrible thing, when I look back on it now, I see that my motivations and intentions weren’t really pure. Sometimes it was because I truly did care about and love others. But other times, it was just because I got a sense of identity, acceptance, or satisfaction about being that care taker. That was not a soft heart, but a flabby one.

So I have been to both places, my friends. I have had the flab-ridden heart and the heart of a black iceberg – neither one is fun, and neither one is the heart of Jesus.

As good as heart can wish

As good as heart can wish (Photo credit: harold.lloyd)

I am grateful that my Savior is finally starting to soften up that heart but keep the flab out too. I know that it will be a process and look forward to him proceeding at whatever rate of speed He deems as good. I have yielded to Him and plan to continue to do so, as I know He has a lot of work to do inside there. He has taken away my fear, allowed me to embrace vulnerability once again, and reassured me that soft as it is becoming, He will not allow it to be pierced without His permission or protection.

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Isn’t it wonderful to yield ourselves to our Lord and Savior?

I have always loved hearts and what they symbolize – but now, I love them for what they always should have represented first and foremost in my life – I love hearts because they remind me of Jesus and HIS love for all of us. I love hearts because although at times they are broken, He can repair them and remind us of His wonderful power and grace. And I love that He fills mine up with all of Himself and keeps making it softer and softer by the day.

I love hearts. And I love soft.

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Thank you Jesus for living in mine.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you
your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

 

Menopause and Just Because

 

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I think I have mentioned before that I am in peri-menopause at this time in my life, and it is sometimes not the most pleasant thing in the world. I could write an entire book about all of the things one goes through in relation to this little adventure, which  can last on average, about ten years. But I am not going to do that, because it would probably take about that long to finish, and quite frankly my dear ones, I just have better things to write about! So, BAM!  Ha Ha.

Truthfully, I had not been prepared to start this lovely process involving constant chemical changes raging within as a forty-something woman, and all I had ever heard about in relation to it was that hot flashes and mood swings would be part of the game. No worries!

BAM, right back at me with a deadly right hook and a nice little set of symptoms I didn’t know about to contend with!!! We now have a declaration of war!

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There are soooo many other things that happen as a result of this little tug of war between your hormones, and it is not EVEN funny! One set of them that I have experienced to a level that has my jaw gaping in utter disbelief is joint pain, fatigue, and deep tissue muscle pain. I wake up every day wondering to myself, “If it feels like this at the age of 46, I don’t know how my in-laws in their 80’s have any quality of life at all.” Then I have to remember that this too, shall pass.

It all peaked at a point of desperation a few months back when my husband and I realized that this battle for my body and the way that it functions is continuing to escalate and suck the life right out of me. So we knew that I was going to have to do something to alleviate the casualties of war, and fast! “Menopause? You’re a punk!”

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Rather than invest a ton of money into going to chiropractors, doctors, accupuncturists (although I may try that one), or a whole bunch of herbs and remedies, I did a lot of research and talked to lots of women and found that massage therapy was one of the most effective ways of alleviating some of the pain associated with these symptoms.

I can tell you this now, and this is the absolute truth – this has not resulted in a hormonal peace agreement nor a ceasefire, but it definitely has thwarted the plans of the enemy and prevented further ambushes from taking out my good troops. One or two good massages per month and a little strategizing, planning, and dedicated maintenance is not very expensive and really pays off! I truly do feel so much better.

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Although perimenopause and the pain and symptoms involved with it is a minute thing to deal with in life when compared with other things that are much more devastating, it is pervasive and can absolutely overtake one’s entire existence if steps aren’t taken to better cope with it along the way. After all, I have Jesus to focus upon and joy to live out and this is competing for far too much of my attention and energy at this point. I don’t think it’s good at all to be a complainer, and this was really giving me a run for my money in that department!You may have heard the potter/clay analogies and teachings from the Bible before – I have too. What I am going through now at this stage in my life has given me a real and practical, personal application for it – I am literally watching it as it is happening, my Almighty Father, the Potter, molding me – His clay, and I am grateful for the fresh perspective He is giving me.

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Here is my story…………

I have the greatest massage therapist in the world. She is strong, compassionate, and far and beyond one of the most educated people I have ever met when it comes to the human body and all of the things that exacerbate our aches and pains.

Her hands are so strong, but emanate grace and care for her patients. But because of her own occupation, she can experience pain too.  She has carpel tunnel syndrome, and her hands seize up on her  late at night at times. She has neck pain from standing over and leaning into people’s backs and muscles to get deep enough to bring them some relief. But she keeps on going, never complains, and you would never know she is suffering in any way while she is diligently working and kneading your body to a state of peace and reprieve from pain.

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These massages that I get are not tickle massages – they are a workout through and through (mostly for her, and then my muscles feel it later).  They last for about two hours, and she digs in to every single muscle, tendon, and attachment (those are deeeep down). Not one square inch of me is left untouched by the time she is finished. She knows everything about my body, has seen every stretch mark, every scar, any bruises, all my broken blood vessels, all my dull and old skin, and believe me when I say this; there is no where for any residual fat one may have lurking below left to hide when it comes to this one!

One is fully exposed and completely vulnerable when submitting to this process – trust is absolutely essential. There is no room for shame or holding back and resisting, lest no headway be made. Aside from having a baby, I have never been so exposed, and she is nothing but gracious to me. I’m a well-cared for baby in her hands.

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She knows my body. And she listens to it to see what has changed since the last time I have seen her. She tailors what she knows she needs to do for my own good to what she knows I can actually withstand. But she does ask for something in return from me too – I am asked to go home and take a bath in epsom salts after each session to draw what she has brought up to the surface the rest of the way out.  This not only purges the rest of the toxins out of the tissue, but then redeposits certain things your body needs back in for you all at the same time. I am told to drink plenty of extra fluids and keep my water intake up every day between visits. I am asked to roller out my back and do specific stretches every night to maintain my results and heal. And of course, my lifestyle in general needs to consist of good sleep, stress reduction, exercise, excellent nutrition and sound mental and emotional health. I have no problem with that.

Woman Resting in Bath

Along with that physical battle these fun little hormones cause, there  will always be another war raging within me that is just as life-consuming and debilitating, and one that is far more influential in my life than the one my hormones have undertaken. This one is spiritual – and one that is lifelong until I go home to be with my Savior for all eternity.

Sin enters in and spreads its poison and goes to bat against the Holy Spirit who lives inside of me. And there is no masseuse on this planet who can help me to fight that kind of battle with any kind of lasting power.

via gospelgifs.com

        via gospelgifs.com

But, thankfully, I do know someone else who has that kind of power and He lives within me! His name is Jesus Christ and He isn’t about to be kicked out of the home He has made in my heart. He has divinely empowered hands – and He knows me inside and out (physically, spiritually, in every way) like no other.  He molds me into what He wants me to become (more like Him) if I submit myself into His holy and healing hands.

This is not something than happens simply due to a 10 year “change of life”, nor is it something that ends after roughly ten years of good therapy. It happens because of sin that we contend with and fight against as Christians, as we are still flawed human beings too. Thankfully, if we are saved, our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus, but life still takes a toll upon us as it dishes out more than we can take sometimes and we are sometimes overcome by temptation and the poison of sin.

www.heartlight.com

       www.heartlight.com

I’m so grateful that the Lord never stops molding us and working with us, His clay. He is intent on bringing about a complete transformation and restoration for us as we journey through this earthly life until the very day that we go to spend our eternal one with Him. There, we will experience no sin, no sorrow, no aches or pains, no tears, no suffering. And there, we will STILL be in His hands.

And like my dear massage therapist, His hands have taken a beating for us – they press us and shape us and sometimes there is pain involved. Yet His own hands show us that He knows pain – not pain from His own sin, but that which He chose to take upon Himself because of ours -OUR SIN.

He did this for us on the cross, and because of it, we are seen as righteous in the eyes of God. His hands were pierced and He was nailed to it – for you – for me! I can place myself, like putty in those beautiful hands, because I trust upon Him – and He has done far more for me and withstood far more pain for me than I could ever begin to imagine.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the
righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

angelafletcher via Binlam.com

angelafletcher via Binlam.com

He knows just how much therapy to provide…just how much I can withstand. He is patient, yet tough when I need it. He digs deep, if only I will surrender. He re-deposits His living water inside of me to replenish the tired and sore spots we are working on at any given time. He cares for me as he molds me, blesses me, and transforms me through the work of His glorious and mighty hands.

I could stay there forever, and I have decided that I will.

I am already spotless in the eyes of the Lord because Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins, rose again, and I accepted His gift of salvation. I am a new creature in Him, and just as the bible says, all the old has passed away and I am a new creation. But I still live in this flesh and walk upon this earthly land, so I continue to grow – and to grow to be more like the Holy One, shedding of the stuff that likes to creep in and stunt that very growth is necessary. We pick up toxins as we walk along this earthly path in life – ugliness creeps in no matter  how hard we try – the elements wreak havoc on our spiritual newness in Him, and we must be willing to submit to being worked over by Him in order to bear good fruit. I am more than grateful to be like putty in my Savior’s hands.

via binlam.com

            via binlam.com

He has my body in his hands. He  has my heart in his hands. He has my life in his hands.  And I am putty in His hands. He’s got the whole world in those hands too – right in His very palm – at the tips of His almighty fingers.

It’s all under control.

One day I will see more clearly how going through menopause is all for a good cause – but for now, I am just thankful that I am loved and molded by Him…..whatever place I might be in – whatever “stage in life” happens to come my way. And…I am so thankful that He loves us, even “while we were still sinners” – so very thankful that He loves us just the way we are………..

Just because.

Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

If you haven’t already, might you accept His healing touch in your life today?

Owies and Ouchies, and Ooooze, OH MY!

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When I was a young child, I chose to disobey my parents sometimes. Surprised? I know! It’s hard to believe.

I had a habit of going barefoot outside a lot, and for some reason, I would always end up getting hangnails on my big left toe. I wonder if it might be due to the fact that I went and played in the mud, squished tadpoles and frogs between my muddy toes, then moved on to the sandbox, the see-saw (splinters and all), and ran up and down the concrete stubbing my toes over and over again?

Ya think????????????

Maybe I just have sensitive toes.

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Of course, they would inevitably become infected. Most of the time, it was that one left big toe, but sometimes even the other side was injured too.

This is when, at a very young age, (puffing out my chest with great pride right about now) I learned what “pus” meant.

“Pus”A thick yellowish or greenish liquid produced in infected tissue, consisting of dead white blood cells and bacteria with tissue debris.”

Yes, I was enthralled with dictionary definitions early on, my friends. I thought I was pretty cool stuff since I knew what such an adult-sounding, medically-oriented type word meant. Leave it to me to find a way to feel good about myself in the face of making stupid blunders and acting in a disobedient manner to the point my poor mother wanted to pull her hair out. LOL!

via microsoft office images

via microsoft office images

But I didn’t think it was cool to have infected and pus-filled toes. However, I continued to enjoy going outside barefoot anyway. I guess my control issues emerged at an early stage in life as well. (snicker, snicker, wink, wink)

Every time I got an infected toe, my mom wanted to soak it in epsom salts to draw out the pus and prevent the problem from getting worse. Of course, she had already tried to nip the problem in the bud proactively by admonishing me about going outside barefoot in the first place – almost always to no avail. Most of the time, since she allowed me to disobey about the BIG thing already, I would comply with her request to soak the toe in the HOT, salty water – yelling at her (killing the doctor/messenger) the whole time, of course. Ouch!

Wasn’t I a GREAT kid?

via microsoft office images

via microsoft office images

A year or two passed, and after multiple infected toes, I decided that I was just about done with the salty soaks. I still wanted to have my way though (of course!) – BOTH ways, you see….I wanted to go outside barefoot, AND I didn’t want to have to soak my toe if a hangnail emerged  –  The control issues evolve!

Side Note: Anyone ever hear of the definition of insanity? Yep….I embodied that – quite well, I might add.

Well, a whopper of an infected left toe ensued after playing outside barefoot several days in a row. My saintly mother decided to allow me to exert my rights and not soak the toe this time. Guess what happened? Over the next couple of days it got more swollen, the pus turned greener and grosser, and I learned what the term “gangreen” meant. (Thanks to my eloquent and neurotic father)

Cool. Another new word. And a REALLY infected toe this time!

“Gangreen”The term used to describe the decay or death of an organ or tissue caused by a lack of blood supply. It is a complicaiton resulting from infectious or inflammatory processes, injury, or degenerative changes associated with chronic diseases.

Thinking to self at that time: “I wonder what “degenerative” means?”

I ended up having to go to the military hospital (yuck-o-rama!) to get it lanced. But I had to get some shots too. I don’t know if your mind played tricks on you when YOU were a kid, but mine liked to put on a full-on magic show a lot of the time. I seriously thought I might have to lose my toe or foot…I was fully expecting the machetes to come out any time. These dudes in white coats looked like evil men of misery to me…I could swear that in my line of vision, I saw two or three of them in the background snickering and waiting for a turn to hack at the oozing mess! (Choppity Chop)

I learned then that I did NOT want to display my newfound knowledge of medical terminology by going into the field of medicine. Astute of me, no? (I was a perceptive and extremely intelligent little kid too – tee hee)

via microsoft office

            via microsoft office

Yes…covering up the toe didn’t keep me from the knife (eh-hem, “lance”). Putting a bandaid, and then an even bigger bandaid on it – those didn’t help either. Secretly soaking it by myself a couple of nights when no one was watching in the bathtub (without the salt, mind you) yielded nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.  I got hauled off to the dang hospital and the men in white coats had at it.

By the way: I developed a phobia of men in white coats, needles and lance-like scalpels from that point on…I guess that’s three phobias…..but that’s another story.

via microsoft office

via microsoft office

We all know where I am going with this. The problem was not the bandaid. The problem wasn’t really even the hangnail. It wasn’t the infection, or the fact that I wouldn’t soak the toe, or the frogs or the mud. The problem was sin. It was my disobedience. My refusal to listen to the wisdom of my mother and to obey her in the first place is what caused this problem. And the fact that I’d allowed it to be a pattern in my life had resulted in consequences that repeated themselves as well.

But thankfully, we have a loving and forgiving Father in our Lord! And He STILL blessed me through the process of it all – He kept trying to get me to hear Him over and over again. He never gave up on me. He wanted to teach me to listen and obey. (I chose to develop a phobia  of military hospitals, shots, scalpels, and epsom salts to curb my appetite for getting toe hangnails instead.) So I may have eventually stopped getting hangnails, but I continued to “exert my will” in many other ways throughout my life. I didn’t listen. I didn’t learn. I didn’t change. Not for a while.

Rebellion is ugly, even when it’s veiled in “cute-ness”. And It likes to stick around.

I still fall short of applying all the lessons I should in my life now that I am all “grown up.” But I am trying now…I am seeking God….I am desiring and striving for obedience in my life. I try now to listen and obey, but I am still fooled at times – far too often still.  Sometimes I am still just plain rebellious. But I do listen to God’s voice and try to remember to get back on the right path if I start to stray. I am stepping toward Him now….not the frogs and the mud. I think I may have finally figured out that I have sensitive toes.

Most of my problems in this area are harder to find now…they aren’t as glaring and immediately painful as a big fat pus-filled, potentially gangreen-ous left toe! I have to have faith and trust in Him that He will help me listen to the Holy Spirit who lives inside of me. I have to watch for the warning signs of an impending infection.

Is there anything I might need to confess to the Lord today? Have I been honest with Him about my intentions and motivations? Did I think something that no one else knows that isn’t loving, or pure, or clean? He knows anyway…..but He wants for me to be honest with Him and myself.

Small scrapes and cuts can escalate quickly. We  have to allow the Lord to stop the bleeding right away. Only He can offer the tourniquet of healing truth in our lives.

I have accepted that I have been wired to commit sin in my life, but that I can’t be okay with it sticking around when it arrives. I have also accepted that I  have to keep watch for it when it tries to creep in and cause infection. I have to make sure to keep my shoes on and walk down the right path; not go barefoot when I shouldn’t and step into muddy and germ-laden waters. And above all, I need to confess that sin daily to my Father who forgives and remember that those very sins are paid for by the blood of Jesus.

Doing the right thing is best. Avoidance of sin is even better. But when it bites us, if we get an infection, we have to admit it and get it treated.

There is only ONE Great Physician that I know who can do the job with grace, compassion, and precision – You know who He is too.

Guess what? After bleeding beyond belief for US….so as to SAVE us….Jesus Christ did not get any infections. He rose again, shiny and new, and is more glorious than EVER. That is because He bled for us out of love, not His own sin. He is sinless. He is Holy. He is Pure. Jesus bleed out of obedience to His Father in heaven and love for us. And He lives!

There’s a new doctor in town….actually, He has been around forever. He’s the Tourniquet of Truth and Holy Healer in our lives. He’s the salve for our infections, and He heals all the hurts. He is the Great Physican, who heals hearts and minds. He doesn’t wield a machete, and He is MIGHTY TO SAVE!

I call Him, Wonderful Savior. Mighty God. The Healer of all Men. Jesus, our Lord. He heals all wounds. He makes us whole. And He will carry us – ESPECIALLY when we  like to go barefoot when we shouldn’t.

When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Mark 2:17