Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

Dangle or Jump All In

I wrote the words below as a Facebook post in May of 2020, after a memory of my son popped up. He was a security guard on the Air National Guard base where I worked. For some odd reason, I had the post in my email and when I searched for something, this came up. Title and all. Which was weird because none of the words I searched matched this email. So, since I don’t believe in coincidences, I thought I’d share here. I’m hoping it encourages you.

Hard to believe this was 10 years ago. So much has changed. He said this was his favorite job. The base closed shop and moved across town to JBER. My Chief position got eliminated and retirement was on the horizon. I had no clue what I was going to do when I retired. People asked, “what’s next?” I’d answer, no clue, but God has a plan. Y’all, I didn’t even have a real relationship with Christ then.

My son the security guard working the main gate at Kulis Air National Guard Base

The thing that came next was a move back to NY. An amazing bed and breakfast owner named Cheryl Barber said I could come work for her at 10 Fitch Bed and Breakfast, so off to Auburn we went.

Through a turn of unfortunate events and my bad decisions, I eventually, wound up back in the city I said I’d never live again. Bloom where you’re planted has been a theme for me as I struggle in my heart to be in the town I grew up in, and couldn’t wait to escape. My mom said, my “roots” dangle. Makes me think of sitting on a dock with my feet kicking at the surface of the water. My tootsies test the water but I don’t fully jump in. Ya know what? Sometimes dangling is enough. 

Dangling doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, sometimes jumping all in too soon can have dire consequences. The world is made up of all kinds of folks. If I dangle in this season, it’s ok. God can use the danglers and He can use the all-in folks, and all the others in between. He’s not limited to who or what He can use. God has absolutely everything at His disposal. 

My point is no matter where you are in life, God’s got you. What someone else perceives about your life is a snippet shot of the sum of you. God sees it all. He’s the only one who knows your whole story. He’s not looking at where you live, He’s looking at how you live. My roots don’t have to be planted where I live to bloom, they need to be planted in Him to bloom. Let’s read Matthew 13:1-8 (ESV)

The Parable of the Sower

“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

What does that mean? Let’s read Matthew 13:18-23 (ESV)

The Parable of the Sower Explained

“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

And finally, let’s read John 15:4-6 (NLT)

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

So, dangle or jump all in! Just make sure you do it all with Jesus, where ever you’re at! Have a great day my friends! Jesus loves you

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Red The Cat

Well, I guess since I can’t shake the visual from my dream last night, I’ll share with you all. Fun, right?

I was in the woods. I was with somebody but not sure who it was as I didn’t see them, I only heard them. We came upon a BIG cat. I named him, Red. Poor critter was struggling to get a matted, worn looking sweater off. He rolled on the ground, pawing with all his might to get that thing off. You could tell he was getting weary from the struggle.

After a discussion with the voice, I decided to approach Red the cat to help get the sweater off. I was surprised he didn’t try to scratch or hiss at me. I worked slowly and talked calmly to Red as I first pulled one paw out, then the other. I gingerly reached for the collar and slipped the sweater off, only to find pajamas that encompassed his entire furry being.

Red trotted off before I could further assist. End of dream. But, Red and his pajamas are still ingrained in my brain.

As I reflected on my dream, my first thought was, pajamas? Really? And how did I not see the pajamas under the sweater? I mean it covered his entire furry body. But, it was the sweater that had my full attention. The details of the pajamas only appeared once the sweater was removed.

My second thought was, why didn’t Red stick around so I could help him with the pajama removal? And what was Red doing in the woods seemingly alone, and not surrounded by a loving family?

By now, you know I took this dream to my Heavenly Father and asked Him what I could take away from this dream and new new furry friend, Red.

Being in the wilderness is no fun. It feels lonely and isolating. Jesus might know a thing or two about being in the wilderness. He spent 40 days and nights there and when it was over Satan came to Him and tried to tempt Him into sin. It didn’t work. In the end, Satan fled and Jesus was attended to by angels.

The reason for His wilderness time was made clear it the first verse of Matthew 4:1.

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

Jesus was sent into the wilderness for a specific reason. To be tempted by the devil. Yikes!

Now let’s tie this all together. I believe Red is symbolic of the work Jesus does when we find ourselves in the wilderness. We don’t always see what’s happening, but in this place is where we struggle to let go of the things that no longer serve us.

My furry friend Red, rolled on the ground and pawed at the sweater but he couldn’t get it off own his own. He needed help. Had I tried to help before he was ready, we both could’ve gotten hurt. It wasn’t until he was weary from the struggle that I could help.

Jesus doesn’t force us to let go of something that’s not good for us. But, there may be circumstances that happen around you, that lead you to where He wants you to go. Sometimes, that place He’s leading you to, is the wilderness.

In this place, He can slowly and tenderly attend to you. He can show you the things that you’ve allowed to replace Him. He can show you buried pieces of yourself that needs healing. He can show you that He never left or forsook you.

Just as I reached out ever so gingerly to help Red remove that worn, matted sweater, Jesus lovingly helps remove that outer matted, and worn layer that needs to go.

But, don’t be surprised if there’s more than one layer that needs to go. Red trotted off in his pajama’s because he felt relief from that shed sweater. What’s under those pajamas? I don’t know. Maybe it’s his fur, maybe it’s another layer.

What I do know is, God won’t quit halfway through the process. Nope! He’s in it for the long-haul. But, don’t take my word for it. The apostle Paul reminds us in Philippians 1:6:

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

I don’t know what season of life your in my friend. But, if you find yourself in the wilderness, don’t try to rush through it. There’s precious work being done. It’s not a punishment, it’s a refining process because of God’s great love for you. He’s got something meant just for you that He will use for your good and His glory.

And do you think that I chose the name Red by coincidence for our furry friend? I don’t think so. It was after all, the red blood of Christ that was shed for the saving of your and my life. And maybe if you think talk of the blood of Jesus is yucky, then let Red the cat help with the visual until you can embrace the blood of Jesus being your saving grace.

May you find rest for your soul today! May you feel the love Jesus Christ has for you. May you see the works of His hands all over your day today. And may you seek to know Him as He knows you; intimately and personally.

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The Cost of Fame

Death. It’s inevitable. You can’t buy life. It’s one of those things that just happens. I’m not sure why the death of Lisa Marie Presley caught me off guard. It’s not like I followed her career or knew much about her at all. I guess somewhere in the back of my brain I always felt sorry for her. She had to share her famous daddy with the whole world. All too soon, he was gone from her life. Later in life, her eldest son committed suicide. She was devastated.

Like her dad, she had become addicted to prescription opioids due to an injury. She overcame. But, it’s the pictures of her as a young girl that capture my attention. Look at her smile. She has no clue what her life will become. She’s just living in the moment. As the little girl, she’s just happy to be with her daddy. Or so it would seem from the image captured here.

Lisa Marie Presley and her daddy, Elvis Presley

We all know what pain looks and feels like. Moving forward and away from the pain takes guts. It’s daring to believe in hope. That better things are coming. I don’t know what she believed. But everyday someone famous teaches me that money and fame can’t buy life. It can’t buy happiness. Celebrities are no different than any other human who walks this planet. They become famous because we make it so. We put them on pedestals and we idolize them.

Lisa Marie became famous the day she was born. The daughter of the King of rock-n-roll. She didn’t ask for that title. It was simply inherited. I wonder if anyone ever asked her how she felt about that?

Watching the interviews of her from the red carpet at the Golden Globes awards, the last night she’d ever see, they asked her “who” she was wearing? And all sorts of questions about the movie Elvis and the actor who played her father. It all seems so unimportant. As if the dress she wore, and who made it, was the end all of the be all. We make that type of information important. Why? We buy into the celebrity lifestyle by coveting what we think they have.

Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. Lisa Marie’s death is tragic and sad. But no more so than any other person’s death. I don’t think this side of heaven treated her like a celebrity. Pain was still a part of her story. She couldn’t buy her way out of it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, when will we see that money is not power. That money can’t buy us long-lasting happiness. That we can’t take money with us when we die. Money makes a poor idol. It steals from living a stress-free life and keeps us locked in chains and deceives us into thinking we always have to have more. Why? Because we want it all.

On the outside looking in, celebrities have it all. But from the inside looking out, it’s what you don’t see that’s dangerous. I’m not saying money is bad. I’m just saying the reasons behind money can be deadly.

Today’s a new day. We have no real idea of what’s in store. Lisa Marie’s public death is a stark reminder you can be walking the red carpet one moment, and dead the next. What you do with the gift of today is your business. As for me, at least for today, I gonna stop putting so much pressure on myself to be an idea of me. I’m gonna embrace me so I can love others better.

Rest in heavenly peace Lisa Marie. Please join me in praying for peace and comfort for her family.

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I’ve Got It

The other day at the grocery store, I had to reach quite far under the top shelf to get the big plastic wrapped container of 35-16 oz., water. Or is it waters? Either way, as I hoisted it up to walk it around to the front of the cart, a gentleman said, “Here, let me get that for you,” as he started walking towards me. Ummm. What? I replied with, “No thanks, I’ve got it.” He said, “Are you sure, it looks pretty heavy”. He wasn’t wrong, it wasn’t light. But, I reiterated, “It’s ok, I’ve got it”. Then we parted ways.

After the brief encounter, several things went through my brain. The first was shock that someone was offering to help me. Usually I help others get things they can’t reach. Then, did I look like I was struggling with the water? Then insult, because I am woman hear me roar, right? Then, awww, that was super sweet, you don’t find many guys who offer to help. At least that hasn’t been my experience these past several years. I’m not saying those guys aren’t out there because clearly they absolutely are. I’m just saying, I haven’t typically intersected with them.

Next up, over analyzing the situation. Why didn’t I put the cart behind me? Once I grabbed the water I could just turn and put it in the cart instead of taking extra steps around the cart? Gosh, was I polite enough when he asked? I would hate to be the person that stopped him from helping others because I was too gruff. All my fellow people pleasers raise your hands in the air and say, heyyyy, hooooo.

How many times have you offered to help someone, got turned down and then vowed to never do that again because people are just, well, too people-y? Then you turn around and help because that’s just who you are, and you know how good it feels to help someone.

Now let me give you some background. A couple weeks ago I was having dinner with a friend. I promise you, this is not about man bashing. Some women actually like to have doors opened for them, and to be let off the elevator first, but my friend and I have noticed these type things have gone by the wayside. At least in our cases. I don’t know all the reasons why, but I have a few guesses. Again, not man bashing, just an observation.

Days after that conversation, I was going to the post office to mail my Christmas packages. I was carrying 2 boxes. An older gentleman, in front of me was carrying 1 box. His one box was bigger than my boxes. When he got to the doors, he opened the one side…for me. At the same time, another gentleman was exiting the building, and he held the other door open for me. Both doors, wide open for me to walk through, by 2 different men.

Back to the other day and the water incident. This is the part of the story where I loop God in. He’s always weaving things together. Do you look for Him in these things? Any way, God heard my conversation with my friend. God heard me previously say, multiple times, how sick and tired I am of going to the store. These weren’t prayers. I was actually grumbling. Yet, beyond the grumbling was a heart cry. God separated the grumbling from the heart cry, and answered.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful I can go to the store and get all the things, but, it doesn’t mean I always like it. Those of you who always go to the store, I know, you get me. I’m not sure why I declined the man’s offer to help with the water, but it reminded me of how God will answer prayers and we either see it or we don’t. We either walk through those wide open doors, or we decline the help offered. You know, “I’ve got it”.

When God says His ways are not our ways, He’s serious. Remember, if we seek Him, we find Him. Do you know God? Because your relationship with Him will determine how you seek Him. I used to seek the judgmental, god must hate me god. Well, not so much seek as try not to catch his attention for fear of wrath. I mean who wants that kind of attention?

But, God cares about us. All through the Bible we find out just how much. He cares so much about this child who felt neglected about a simple door being opened for her, He sent not one, but 2 men to open doors for her.

It’s really rather simple, God’s in the details. He hasn’t forgotten you. Maybe though, you’ve forgotten who He is? Have you put Him in a box looking for Him to do your bidding? Or have you given Him the room to move using ALL the things He has at His disposal? Are you looking for Him in your day? Are you expectant for Him to move?

Truth is, He’s moving whether you see it or not. There’s always gonna be someone who wants to tell you how to have a relationship with God. That’s not gonna be me. All I’m going to do is share what He’s done for me. Because I don’t truly know you the way He knows you. I don’t see the deep desires of your heart. But, God does. And quite frankly, I’m still learning about my own relationship with God.

Your relationship with God is personal. He’s the One who knows what you need better than anyone. Not the stars, not the moon, not your horrorscope, (not a mistype), not even a psychic. I may have past experience with relying on those other things to help me navigate my life. They didn’t serve me well.

My point is simply this, God heard the cries of my heart and He answered. Why? Because He loves me. Guess what? He loves you too.

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Circling The Drain

Circling The Drain

I feel a shift. Not a big or mighty shift. But a shift, nonetheless. It’s easy to see big, drastic changes. But it’s the small steps towards something that gets easily ignored, forgotten, or even dismissed. When in fact, those tiny steps forward should be celebrated.

Perhaps this shift is a new thought that interrupts, and inserts itself into the “same old” pattern of thinking. This new thought brings hope into a desolate situation. Except, the hopeful thought gets tossed to the side because the “nothing good ever happens” thoughts over power it.

I call those negative thought patterns, “circling the drain”. It’s like at any given moment we can be sucked down the pit of despair drain, but instead we ride the rim, hoping something will change, but dismissing any hopeful thought or movement toward change.

What happens next? The “what if’s” join the circle. Nasty little buggers. The “what if’s” allow the imagination to run wild with every possible “this will never work” scenario. They snatch hope away like the Grinch stealing all things Christmas, until there’s not even a piece of tinsel left.

Hopelessness then comes creeping in like the thief it is. This is the scariest of places. Hopelessness has a language and feeling all its own. It deceives and destroys. It robs you and doesn’t think twice or look back to see if you’re ok, because it could care less about you. It takes and keeps taking, until there’s nothing left to take.

I’ve been hopeless. I’ve been overrun by guilt, shame, self-loathing, and low self-esteem. I’ve looked at the reflection in the mirror and mentally abused myself. Which led me to physically abuse myself. Not in obvious ways…at first. Eventually, the lies of the enemy piled so high on top of me, I couldn’t or maybe I just didn’t want to see a way forward. I just wanted all the pain to stop.

Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’re there now. Words seem hollow. Simple actions are unbearably hard to achieve. Going through the motions is a chore. And if this is what life looks like, you no longer want any part of it. Whatever the reason(s), I’m so sorry.

The theme song to the tv show MAS*H is entitled “Suicide Is Painless”. I beg to differ. It’s anything but painless. It’s gut wrenching. It’s hope deferred. It’s dark, twisty, and hell bent on destruction. Suicide is not a stigma, it’s not selfish, and it’s nothing new. It has no rhyme or reason and anyone can be its victim. Race, religion, status, popularity, rich, or poor doesn’t matter. Suicide isn’t glamorous and it won’t “show them,” a thing.

I can’t make any promises, but I can say, from my own experience, that suicide is not the only option. There’s still ”life” to be had. There’s still more. But you have to decide your life has meaning and purpose. You have to decide to step away from the rim of the drain. You have to know, deep down, below the darkness, there’s still a light shining. Even if it’s a flicker, it’s still there.

You have to fight for you because yes, you are worth it. Let me repeat that..YOU are worth it!

Tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. Seasons of life come and go. This moment in time is not your entire story. It’s just, right now. And right now, is all any of us have. In the blink of an eye, shift happens and life begins beyond this moment. Because time nor the world, my friend, stops for no one.

I guess what I want to say is, there’s always hope. You may have to dig to find it, but it’s there. Name one thing you can be grateful for and focus on that until you can think of the next thing, and then the next. There’s always, always something to be thankful for, as cliche as that sounds. If you weren’t supposed to be here, you wouldn’t be reading this.

And if no one has told you lately that you matter, please hear my heart when I tell you, YOU matter. And what I mean by that is, the world would not be a better place without you, nor would those left behind be better without you.

You are an intricately made, wonderfully complex, deeply loved person of effect. You, my friend, are a world changer. It all begins with a ripple. Remember always, greater is He that is in you, than he who is in the world.

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Silly Love Songs

The past few days, the song “Silly Love Songs” by Paul McCartney & Wings, has been running around in my head. Which is odd because I don’t really like his music. Yet, here we are. Let’s take a look at some of the lyrics:

“You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs
But I look around me and I see it isn’t so, oh no,
Some people want to fill the world
With silly love songs
And what’s wrong with that?”

The song was written by Paul and his wife Linda. It’s said it was written in retaliation to music critics who accused Paul of writing, well, “silly love songs.”

It would seem songs, and movies about love are always in high demand. Who doesn’t love a happy ending? This time of year we’re flooded with cheesy love stories. Despite knowing the overplayed plot of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back, we still tune in. We cry, we laugh, we get all sentimental and we long for the unrealistic tv version of love. Simple, silly, cheesy, love.

However, if you’ve ever been in a relationship, you know they take work. There’s no play by play book that covers every human interaction. For sure there’s similar experiences but no relationship is comparatively exact to another. We know there are highs and lows. We know things get blown out of proportion and feelings get hurt. We know they end. Sometimes we’re so devastated by the end of a relationship, it takes years to fully recover.

Even so, we long for that “silly” love connection despite knowing how awful it can make us feel. Why? Because we all love the idea of love. Can I let you in on a little secret? Love is anything but silly. Are there silly moments? Of course. But what happens when we bump up against the truly hard stuff? Do we tuck tail and run or do we press in and persevere? Allow me to share a story with you.

The beginning of a love story begins with a birth. I mean, we’re all were born at some point, right? In this particular story, this birth, no matter how long ago it happened, the purpose is the same. It never changes. It’s all about love. Not love, the sqishy, ooey, gooey, feeling; love, the action.

Once upon a time, thousands of years ago, a baby was born in the city of Bethlehem. But, not just any baby. No, this baby had a specific plan and purpose on his life. A purpose so big, only he could fulfill it. This baby, was sent specifically for you.

Let me show you.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16 (GNT)

Do you see that word “everyone”? That means, you. Everyone does not exclude you, it includes you. God didn’t say, “except that one,” no, He said “everyone.” So can we now agree that God sent His Son for you?

Ok, let’s keep moving forward. The baby born in the city of Bethlehem was named Jesus. Maybe you’ve heard of Him? His mission, to save the world. Read that again. To save the world. Cue the theme from “Mission Impossible”. Who’s in this world? You are. It’s no accident you’re here, despite what you may have been told or how you may feel.

Let me show you.

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!” ~ Psalm 139:13-16 (TLB)

Can we now agree, you’re no accident? Not only are you not an accident, you’re marvelous because you’re His workmanship. Not only are you marvelous, you’re wonderfully complex. All those things about you, you think are too much, not enough, or over the top, are part of your complex make-up. You are everything He thought of and put into action. I know, crazy, right?

As I mentioned earlier, the mission of Jesus was to save the world. Every single encounter we read about in the Bible is significant and completed with great purpose. As Jesus grew into the man He was purposed to be here on earth, He didn’t bypass the broken or the sick, or the downtrodden or the sinners. No, He went in search of them. Why? The answer is simple, yet so complex. Love. Not silly love. Agape love.

A grape ape what? No, no. Let’s try it again. Agape love. It’s a Greek word. This love is not a feeling. This love is all about action. It’s the highest form of love. It’s sacrificial and it puts others first.

Let me show you.

“If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.”
~ 1 Corinthians 13:3-7 (The MSG)

So, you see, you can write, listen, and sing about silly love songs. You can watch all the silly love movies, but you won’t be filled. There will still be a longing for “something” more. I know, because I bought into the lie that silly worldly, selfish love would make me whole. But, it never did.

It wasn’t until I understood that while I was still neck deep in my pit, covered in sin, that the Savior of the world, chose to sacrifice His life for mine, because of His great love. And friends, there’s nothing silly about His love for you. He’s very serious about His relationship with you. But, that’s something you’ll have to experience for yourself. Because He’s not a stand-offish God, He’s personal.

And it’s not Santa Claus, who sees you when you’re sleeping, or knows when you’re awake. Nope, it’s God. But don’t take my word for it.

Let me show you.

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”
~ Psalm 139:1-12 (NIV)

Nothing silly about that my friends! God sees you. He hears you. And most assuredly, He loves you. He’s not forgotten you, nor has He abandoned you. He is always, always, with you. Your mission…believe it or not. He leaves that choice in your hands. He will never force His love on you. Because His love is a gift, freely given to everyone. And yes, that still includes, YOU!

May God bless you and keep you, make His face shine upon you, and give you peace!

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Stink, Stank, Skunked

A couple days ago I shared the following story on Facebook wall. At the time, I wasn’t sure why this happened. As I was contemplating the scenario, it dawned on me that before I got out of bed, I prayed for God to help me be creative. Hence the following story. I hope, if nothing else, it makes you laugh. It definitely helped me be creative. And might I just add, well played God, well played.

If you were anywhere near the vicinity of my home around 6:15ish am, I hope you enjoyed the show.

I let Moose out this morning like I always do. I threw his toy after he ran out as he waited in “attack” mode for me to toss it so he could grab it up and then run over to the corner of the house to see if there was anything bark worthy that way.

As I sat down to enjoy my morning devotionals and coffee I heard him growl. Not his typical growl. I thought…well maybe that squirrel finally decided to charge him. I got up out of my chair and opened the door and no, there was no squirrel.

The scene playing out before my eyes was straight out of a cartoon. There was Moose being chased round and round by a demonic skunk. Sweet baby Jesus! I in no way handled this well. I started slapping my hand repeatedly on the glass window of the screen door while yelling at the top of my lungs trying to scare the skunk off. This is apparently not the tactic you want to use. It did nothing but make the two of them go round and round faster. This skunk was no where near deterred by my crazy lady behavior. Pretty weird since I was freaked out by my own behavior. But, this is a skunk we’re talking about, people!!

The skunk, to my nose knowledge had yet to spray. That doesn’t mean it didn’t. As Moose would circle around to the door, I would open the screen door for him to run in. Praying to God the skunk wouldn’t follow him in. Moose was pretty freaked out, so it took him a couple times round to see the door being opened for him.

Moose doesn’t usually have something chase after him. This was a new unwelcome experience for him. He typically does all the scaring off with his “vicious” bark, but this skunk was all like…I don’t think so, dude. Lemme show you what I got!

Finally, about the fiftieth time aroundMoose saw the opened door, and ran through it. Thank the Lord, Moose didn’t get directly sprayed, but the smell is in my house just the same. Awesome.

The demonic skunk stuck around the front porch until the sun started coming out and then it no doubt scampered back to its den. Wherever that is. I’m guessing Hell. I know skunks have their purpose in the world, but Lord, just no!!

Moose is fine after his skunk encounter. He’s resting peacefully in my lap. Maybe he learned a lesson today, maybe he didn’t. Only time will tell.

What did I learn? I’m still figuring that out. Meanwhile my house is filled with aromas of stink, stank, skunk.

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Check Engine Light

This morning I found myself in an angry mood. Like how is it even possible to be angry without anything even really happening yet?

As I’m talking it out with God, while trying to listen to a “Gratitude devotional,” (did you catch the irony there), I berated myself for even being angry. Like, my anger was something to be stuffed down and swallowed so it could continue to fester in the dark.

It was then my Heavenly Father asked me why I was being dismissive of myself? Wait, what? So, I had to sit with that. Anger stuffed down, will find its way out. Most likely, someone close to you will suffer the brunt of your unchecked emotion. Then you have that to deal with.

On the show, “The Big Bang Theory,” Penny never pays any real attention to the “check engine” light in her car. She just keeps saying “it’s fine” to anyone who points out the light is on. Eventually, her car gives up. It sputters and spews, as smoke fills the engine area and then it completely dies.

Consider your emotions as your check engine light. They’re telling you something. They’re letting you know, something requires your attention. Ignoring or dismissing them, will not make them disappear. You either deal with them, or they’ll deal with you.

In dismissing my anger away, I was telling myself, I wasn’t worth my own attention. That I didn’t really matter. That it was just an extension of my constant state of ungratefulness and I just needed to get over myself. But, it wasn’t. It went so much deeper than that.

So, as silly as it sounds, I apologized to myself for ignoring the “silly” check engine light. I sat in it. I processed it with God and now I’m sharing it with you.

If God thinks every detail of our life matters, why would we think any less about our own lives? Why do we ignore what we’re feeling? Where did we learn to do that? Acknowledging our emotions is simply giving ourselves permission to look under the hood. It may be a minor adjustment or something that goes deeper than a quick glance.

Either way, daily maintenance is critical to how you keep your heart in check.

Proverbs 4:23 reminds us; “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV)

When was the last time you checked your engine? I daresay, your well being depends on it.

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What Happens Next

Did you ever have someone pick a fight with you but you didn’t even know a battle existed? Have you ever faced an enemy you had no real understanding as to why you were thought of as the enemy, just to find out it was because you were being you?

What happens next in that moment is crucial. You can turn to people pleasing mechanisms to try to gain their affection which will inevitably cause you to resent them.

You can ask others what their take on the situation is and see what suggestions they offer. Keep in mind, most friends will be biased to your presentation of the situation. Which is typically one sided.

You can get angry and retaliate causing an even bigger rift. Ya know, cause that always works out well.

You can reactionary text the person. Here you can easily hide behind the screen and say and approach things in ways you never would during an in-person conversation. Most likely “tone” will be inserted and a text argument will ensue. No one comes out feeling better after these. They are the epitome of immaturity and fruitlessness. And now you have written documentation so you can rehash the situation or put it in your weapon arsenal. Ya know, cuz that’s healthy.

You can sit and stew and think about all the things you want to do or say. You can twist your imaginary mustache planning and plotting all while snickering devilishly. Picture Snidely Whiplash from Dudley Do-Right.

Or, you can pray. You can ask God to show you what you need to do next. Praying might not change the situation but it will definitely help you process with the One who understands you best. He alone is able to handle ALL of you. Let’s face it, we all got stuff. But, He alone will love you unbiasedly through it. He alone has the ultimate answer.

Relationships take time. Trying to rush through them to be only what you desire is not a relationship. It’s a dictatorship. You’re better off with just being an acquaintance. This way you can fake it till you make it and never have to be vulnerable or authentic. Putting on a constant show to garner one’s attention or affection is draining and caustic. It’s like playing a game of roulette. Who will I be today? Sounds exhausting.

Thankfully, God is faithful. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He’s my constant in the storms and the One I can safely find refuge in. Knowing that I’m fully accepted by Him, helps me be more authentic and vulnerable.

Let’s face it, pretending to be something we’re not only gets us so far. Eventually the facade falls away and we “lose” it. Typically blaming the other person for our own lack of authenticity and self-control.

It’s not easy being “real” in a “look at me” selfie world. But, if you can find it in you, to be more self-accepting, you may just be more accepting of others. Because in the end, isn’t that what we all want? To be accepted and loved for who we are, and not what we bring to the table?

Just my musings for today. I hope you find space in your day to appreciate you and know how very loved you are. You’ve been through a lot. Maybe it’s time you gave yourself the grace you’d give another. Speak kind words over yourself and watch how your mind and body respond. Because being your own best friend is so much better than being your own worst enemy.

Be brave my friends! It’s a new day, and sometimes the biggest obstacle we’ll face, is the one staring back at us in the mirror.

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Call It Something Else

This quote keeps coming to my mind: “Sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” I don’t know who originally said that, but when you google it, all kinds of things come up for it.

Maybe it’s the word, “sin” that has such a negative connotation to it, that most people don’t want to think (count the cost) before they leap into the things they know God said was bad for us. Or maybe they’ve never heard about God.

All I can say is, the word “sin”, isn’t the problem. It’s the action of sin that causes the damage. Think about the worst thing you’ve done and reflect on what it cost you. My own sin broke my heart to the point I wanted it all to end. The pain and long suffering was devastating on my soul.

Yes, I’ve asked for forgiveness. I’ve repented (changed my ways) and I know I’ve been forgiven. Yet, my battle field still tries to take up space. Some days it hits me out of the blue and next thing I know, I’m reduced to tears, berating myself once again for the pain I not only caused myself, which is bad unto itself, but more so the pain I caused others.

Knowing what I know now, I want to shout from the mountaintops, ”Don’t do it.” Don’t do that thing that will cause you great and long suffering pain. And while I’m able to warn others, and sometimes I get that opportunity, I also have to tread lightly because I know at any given moment I’m still prone to my own acts of sin. And in the end, people will choose, what they’re going to do.

Sometimes I don’t know what’s more heartbreaking. The heartbreak of others or my own. Watching your own loved ones suffer knowing you can’t fix their pain, is gut wrenching.

All of this to say, God will never lead you into sin. He gives us free will to choose. It’s a gift, yet it can seem like a curse when we make the unwise choice to enter into agreement with Satan.

But, today’s a new day. God’s mercies are new, and He’s doing a new thing. That’s good news! So, wherever you are today, know your gifts of free will and self-control can help lead you out of sin or keep you from sin. And if you don’t like the word sin, maybe call it something else if it helps you move away from it.

In a book I recently read by Matthew Perry, he called his sin “the big terrible thing.” If you read his book, you’ll see just how far that sin took him, just how much that sin cost him, and just how long that sin held him. And you’ll hear the heartbreak he caused himself and those he loved.

One last thing…your own sin will never just be about you. It’ll bring others along for the ride in ways you may never know about. You’ll leave a sin trail of collateral damage that can be years or even generations long.

Stay vigilant. Guard your heart and armour up. The devil is prowling and looking for someone to devour. I pray it’s not you.

Be blessed my friends. Make wise choices and flee from the enemy’s antics and devastating shenanigans. Remember, “…greater is He that is in you, than he who is in the world”! (1 John 4:4)

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Fresh Grace for Today

God's mercies are new every morning, great is His faithfulness. Lam 3:23

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