Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

Well Meaning People

I think it’s safe to say we all have that friend that always offers up what you should do because let’s be honest, it’s probably what they’d do. Their solution to your problem is a good fit for them and since your friends it should be a good fit for you too, right?

Not necessarily. Have you ever taken a friend’s advice and it went horribly wrong? What was the fallout? Do you trust your friend less now? Did you blame them for their advice despite the fact it was your choice to follow it? Did you kick your friend to the curb over it? Maybe it changed the dynamic of your friendship.

Maybe you’ve been that friend well meaning friend. I know I have.

I believe people mean well. But, let’s face it. We’re all flawed. We’ve seen things we shouldn’t have seen, and done things we shouldn’t have done, and they left a mark. Etched in our memories is the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s that never happened. A reminder that “next time” I’ll do that thing differently.

Only next time doesn’t come so we replay the past event in our minds and kick ourselves for doing the “dumb” thing. We say things like “why did I listen to so and so?” and “how could I have been so stupid?” and “some friend they turned out to be”.

It’s not that you’re stupid; you’re human. You tried something and it didn’t work out. You learned a lesson but instead of moving on from it, you clutched it in your hand and made a fist with it. What’s inside your fist?

The night before Jesus was to be crucified he was in the garden of Gethsemane with His disciples. Judas, one of the disciples, had betrayed Jesus. He wasn’t in the garden with them but he showed up with a crowd that was armed with swords and clubs. They were sent there to arrest Jesus. Jesus addressed the crowd;

“”Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?”

Mark 14:48 (NIV)

He goes on to remind these people prior to them coming at him with swords and clubs He’d been with them every day teaching them in the temple courts. They “heard” Jesus teaching, but did they “know” Him? If they knew Him would they have still brought the swords and clubs?

I’ve read this passage of Scripture several times. One night it hit me and I asked myself “what do I come at Jesus with”? “What’s inside my fist?” In my Bible that night I wrote “self loathing,” “bitterness,” “hate,” and “anger”.

Those were what the clubs and swords represented to me. Can Jesus handle all that? Of course He can. But at what point do I lay them down? At what point do I stop coming at Him with swords and clubs and KNOW He is worthy of all my praise?

I can’t answer that question for you. That’s a personal journey between you and your Heavenly Father. For me, it’s when I KNEW Jesus died for me. He chose the crucifixion.

When I see the word crucifixion. I see “fix.” He came to “fix” the sin that separated us from God. He came to “fix” what was broken in me. He came to ”fix” the self loathing, bitterness, hate and anger. To restore and redeem what the enemy has stolen.

God will finish what He started. But I have a part in this beautiful exchange. So I open my fist, my heart, and my whole self to Him and allow the good work He wants to do in me. Why? Because I’ve experienced enough to know God is who He says He is and He does what He says He’s going to do!

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work in you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ returns.”

Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

That’s some good news right there my friends! Open your fist! It’ll be ok! Have an amazing day and remember you are loved and so very precious in His sight.

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The Air of Familiarity

“Hello darkness my old friend,” are lyrics to the song “The Sound of Silence.” If you don’t know, the song was originally written by Paul Simon of the duo Simon and Garfunkel. It was composed after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Maybe like me, you didn’t know that bit of historical trivia. You’re welcome! The song has a bit more meaning now.

I’m sharing this with you because those first words I wrote seemed to envelope my being as I walked into a local Legion this past weekend to support a fundraiser. They were serving up a chicken bbq and I love me a good chicken bbq.

My son was helping out at the event. He actually pulled aside one of the meals for me. So sweet, right?

When I got to the event, I didn’t see my son outside where all the fun was happening. I thought, I should’ve texted him to let him know I arrived. You know what they say about hindsight, right?

Since I’d left my phone in the car and he wasn’t outside and I was in unfamiliar territory, I decided to pull my big girl panties up and venture inside.

This entails me putting on my “you can’t touch this” armor. I know all too well how to throw this armor on. It starts in my mind. “You got this girl.” My shoulders square up and my head tilts up a little higher. I walk with intention as I make a bee-line to my destination. Eyes front, but keenly aware of what’s going on around me.

Sounds like a lot just to head into a bar, right? But, I didn’t know what I was heading into and I knew I didn’t want to stay any longer than necessary.

As I got to the entrance of the bar, a man stood there between me and the door. I stopped. I waited. He didn’t move. He kept talking to whomever he was speaking with, so I waited.

It was almost as if I was given the opportunity to change direction. But he moved, and I went in. The air of familiarity wrapped its arms around me as if to say, “welcome home.”

I knew this place. Not because I’d been to this bar before, but I had been to what seemed like hundreds just like it.

The stark difference from walking out of the sunshine into the dark didn’t escape me. The neon lights dimly lit the room. My eyes adjusted to the dark. The stench of stale alcohol wafted up my nose and infiltrated my senses.

I quickly scanned the room for my son. He was at the bar. It hit me, hard. My son, was at the bar. It was the first time I ever saw him at the bar. As I got closer to him, one of his friends turned to me with a drink in his hands and said “you want some”? He knew better.

I’d be lying if I said the drink didn’t look “good”. In that moment several things went through my mind.

So many heart wrenching moments caused from the over consumption of alcohol. So many “fun” times. So many memories forgotten. Are they memories if they’re forgotten? Hmmm.

A lot of those forgotten memories had to be filled in by friends who were witness to my drink enabled ways.

Words that typically flowed from my lips after being filled in by the previous evenings antics were “yeah, that sounds like me.” Insert hollow laughter or total disbelief that I’d do something “like that.”

I had no clue if those things being repeated were true or not because I used to drink so much, I’d “blackout”. I’m so thankful smart phones didn’t exist back in those days. Pictures did. But not the technology to record drunken shenanigans in a small hand-held device. Can I get a hallelujah?

Alcohol is not my friend. It isn’t my family’s friend and truth be told, it’s not your friend.

It deceives you. It lulls you into a false sense of security. It makes you think you need it to get through the day. We glamorize it. We use it as a coping mechanism to “relax.” We say things like, “I just want to take the edge off” or it helps me “unwind.”

Let’s call it what it really is. It’s a justification to do what we want. Be careful the justification doesn’t turn into an addiction.

I remember going out a date several years ago. I was appalled on this first date he downed the entire bottle of wine during dinner.

So appalled I went home after the date and downed my own bottle of wine. Oy vey!

He at least let me know what I was in for had I continued to date him. I, on the other hand, hid it. Do you maybe see a problem there?

The Bible warns us about the destructiveness of our behaviors. God is a gracious God. He gives us the free will to make our own decisions. I’ve made some doozies! How about you?

Those “doozies” don’t define me. They taught me valuable lessons. It’s what I do with those lessons that either propel me forward, or drag me down.

We’re told by the Apostle Paul:

“Everything is permissible,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,”but not everything builds up.”

1Corinthians 10:23 (HCSB)

I can’t explain why some people can stop at just one drink and others can’t or won’t. I can’t explain why someone would deliberately want to hurt themselves by doing something we’re warned is bad for us.

I can explain the damage it’s done to my life. I can explain how it affected my childhood being surrounded and raised by alcoholics. I can tell you how it affected my life when my brother left this world after being caught up in the demonic clutches of alcohol’s call. Those things I know all too well.

I can say without a doubt, if darkness is a friend, alcohol is its name. It’s not something that builds me up. It tears me down.

I may not always make the right choice, but that day of chicken bbq, I did. I stared my foe in the face, well, ok, a plastic cup, and I said no.

I choose me. Why? Because Jesus thought I was worth dying for. This life is not my own. He paid the ultimate price for my freedom. I spent years wasting it in the dark. No more!

I’m a child of light. I’m gonna shine.

The best part, those wasted years will be used for His glory! He brings beauty from ashes my friends. Whatever your darkness is, it’s no match for Jesus! He’s overcome it all. Sweet Hallelujah!

Have a fabulous day, friends!

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Label Maker

We love our labels, don’t we? Go to any pinterest board and you can find plenty of creative ways to label all the things. Even when it’s evident what’s in the container, we slap a label on it. Why?

There’s a type of comfort in a label. As if a label is all we are. Could you imagine if we wore our labels for all to see? Not the labels we think people would want to see, but the actual labels we brand ourselves with every day.

Labels such as, failure, druggie, drunk, ugly, fat, skinny, worthless, unlovable, stupid, addict, loser, and the list goes on. None of these are who you are but we sure claim them as if they were.

Labels make us feel comfortable. We embrace them. Even the bad ones.

Once upon a time, I embraced my bad labels. Oooh, let me tell you, I had a lot of them! Adulterer, drunk, home wrecker, bad Mom, stupid, failure, fat, and well, you get the point.

I embraced them like they were a fine coat of glitter! You couldn’t see my labels. But you may have seen the behavior attached to them and surmised for yourself what I tried to hide.

Once I bought into the label, meaning I decided this is just who I am, I became comfortable. The first time I committed adultery, I felt all the bad things associated with it. Guilt, shame, fear, dirty, regret, and just plain awful.

Why would I keep doing something that made me feel all those things? The easy answer is I was trying desperately to fill a void.

The more complicated answer is, I was broken inside and I didn’t know it. So, I kept on, keeping on.

The more I gave into it, the more comfortable I became with it.

The more comfortable I became with it, the more I justified it.

The more I justified it, the more I did it.

I believed in the label. Read that again. I gave power to the label.

Maybe you’re believing in a label too. I would caution you to be careful which label you choose to give power over yourself.

One of the most potent statements we can ever say is “I didn’t have a choice.”

That’s a great lie of the enemy. We use it when we want to justify the action associated to choice we’ve made.

The fact is, we all have a choice. We get to decide. Everyday we’re faced with several scenarios in which we get to choose.

You can choose the thing that’s going to lift up your soul or push it down. You can choose the thing that’s going to make you feel good for the moment, or the thing that’s going to cause regret. In the end, it’s your choice. You can’t blame it on anyone else. Your action, followed your choice.

Eventually, the labels from the bad choices will tear you down. They’ll make you believe more in them, then in yourself. You forget who once were and believe the lie, this is as good as it gets, and as good as it gets, sucks. There’s no hope in that.

Once it sucks, you reach, “so what’s the point.” Now my friend, you’re at a cross roads. I know, because I’ve been there.

When I got to “what’s the point,” I then went to, “who cares.” After “who cares” I got to “I can’t do this anymore.” After that, I made an escape plan because all I wanted was the pain to end.

Thankfully, my plans didn’t succeed. God stepped in.

“You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.

Proverbs 19:21 (NLT)

That was the night I fell to my knees and said I couldn’t do this life by myself anymore and asked God to help me.

The world and its ways did it’s best to take me out, but God already had a plan to raise me up!

Our choices matter. What we label ourselves matter. We’re the sum of our choices. But, we’re not defined by them. At any time, we can change course. The beauty in that is we don’t have to do it alone.

We have a choice. Life on our own–how’s that working for you?

OR

Life with Christ (Total game changer)

Don’t take my word for it, let’s read Romans 12:2. This verse breathed life into my dying soul. I’m referencing The Message version of this passage:

Place your Life Before God

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)

Mic drop! Boom!

I no longer wear the labels of this world. They were destructive and confining. Friends, God didn’t slap an adulteress label on me and send me out into the world. But, He did give me free will. I made the choices that set my path in motion. At the end of my destructive path, God was there. I just needed to get my worldly self out of the way.

He never gave up on me. He will never give up on you. You may have given up on yourself, but He’s reaching out, waiting just for you. He created you for relationship with Him. Are you ready? The choice is…say it with me, “mine.”

Have an amazing day in Christ! He loves you with an everlasting love!

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The People of Walmart

I locked my keys in my car today. Good times! But, my son was already in the parking lot because we planned to go to lunch. So he hopped back on his motorcycle and headed to the house to get the spare key to my vehicle. #Hero

I took the opportunity to get out of the heat of the day which was heavy with humidity. #Blech So, I headed back into the store.

As I sat in the store waiting for my son to return, I asked God to show me who I could bless. As I scanned the various people moving around the store, I hummed the lyrics to “Build My Life,” because it was the last song I heard getting out of the car.

Watching all the people around me, I got the sense I was to look closer. So many people. Just like me, just like you. All of them a walking story.

Some wore shirts with their favorite sports team. Kids wore their favorite character on their shirt or something saying how awesome they are. Some had glitter, some wore hats, and well, some wore less than others.

But there was one t-shirt that was bolder than all the others. The front was the same as the back. I sighed. I thought, little kids just learning to read will see that and will ask questions parents my not want to answer yet. Made me sad. That what we want to say so loudly through what we wear could cause another to stumble.

The song changed in my head. I thought of the movie Funny Girl. I pictured Barbra Streisand playing the character of Fanny Brice dressed up as a pregnant bride and I smiled as the lyrics “A walking illustration of his adoration” now played in my head.

I thought “I wonder what story I tell” when people see me. “If” they “see” me. In high school I was told more often than not I looked like a b****

I wasn’t, I just didn’t walk around with a smile plastered on my face. I was quiet. I was shy. I didn’t feel like I fit in. I had my circle of friends that I pretty much kept to but there were also times, I didn’t shut up. Just ask the teachers who would put me in the corner. Ummm, hello, I can still talk from here. And, I did.

I digress, back to the main idea here. I continued to people watch. I saw people doing life together. I had the thought to shout out “Does anyone need prayer?” But I squelched that. More than once to be honest. Usually I’m pretty bold these days, but life has knocked me down a bit, so I kept watching.

But as I looked, I heard in my spirit “these are my people.” “What do you see?” And my eyes filled up with tears. Seriously, I think tears are my super power these days.

What I saw were people, made by God, created in His image. Each one unique with a story, just as I have one. No better than me. No worse than me. Just different. Yet, the same.

And I realized that as I waited and watched, God had blessed me in so many ways. I was touched by lives in those 30 minutes through people I may never meet.

And all they were doing, was everyday life. Getting each other coffee, paying for their groceries, smiling at others, pushing carts, taking fitful kids out to the car, and the list goes on.

These were the people I saw in Walmart today. My life will never be the same. Because God taught me more about love today. And when God touches you, you get wrecked in the best way! 

(Originally posted 18 August 2019, on my Facebook profile)

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Caught In The Crossfire

I stood on the sidewalk looking at the lawn sprinklers going in every direction. How was I going to get past that mess of water? I strategically planned my path and headed up the stairs and into the water fray. I did pretty good until a rogue sprinkler spray entered the mix. I stood there for a moment planning my next move and as a sprinkler spray headed my way, I backed up. I was met with cold water on my side. Retreat…retreat…retreat! 

I planned, I plotted and I still got wet. Sorta how life feels right now. You plan, you plot and yet, something you didn’t see coming, zero’s in on you, and suddenly you find yourself in the mix of whatever it is. 

I had choices to this water dilemma. I could haphazardly make my way through the sprinkler system and take my chances again or change direction. I opted for the latter.

I could’ve let that ruin my entire day. I could’ve grumbled and complained to anyone who would listen, but where would that have gotten me? I couldn’t change the fact the sprinklers won.  So I moved on. I wasn’t gonna let something as minimal as getting a little wet steal my joy. 

A couple years ago, I don’t know if I would’ve let it go that easy. I may have called the building and grounds department and blamed them. If they wouldn’t have listened, I may have loudly voiced my disgruntledness to my boss and coworkers trying to gain their sympathy and asked them to jump on my victim bandwagon with me. I may even have written a “politically” correct email. I may even have carried the disgruntledness home with me. Or better still; fire it up on social media. 

It’s a pretty easy thing to do these days. Riling up someone with your opinion is as easy as lighting a match. It’s almost as if people can’t put the drama down. Did you know you can become addicted to drama and chaos? Did you know once that happens you find ways to drum up drama? 

Why would anyone do that? Because that’s how your brain was trained. And once you get used to drama you don’t know what to do when things are quiet. Quiet becomes uncomfortable. Quiet in your mind, means a storm is brewing. So before the storm comes to you, you become the storm. It becomes a matter of “control.” 

I was enlighted of this fact after I started reading a book called “Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics.” by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden. 

I was a bit shocked to find out the way I grew up had such an impact on me, that it wasn’t everyone else that was the problem. It was me. I unconsciously looked for ways to stir up trouble. 

As long as I was the one creating it, no one could come at me. They were too busy trying to get outta my way. And I didn’t see it. 

I not only exhausted myself with all the drama. I exhausted everyone around me. There’s a reason we’re told by the Apostle Paul to:

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing,”

Philippians 2:14 (NIV)

This came from a man who spent the better part of his life in and out of prison. PRISON. 

Grumbling, complaining, and arguing leads to division. You know who loves it when we’re divided? Satan. He kicks back and laughs his fool head off when he can cause us to turn against one another. 

What happens when we’re divided? I’ll tell you. All the sprinklers come after you all at once and before you know it, you’re sitting high atop a pile of offense and thinking you’re better than anyone else. 

We stop learning. We become know-it-alls based on the rhetoric of hype, shock and awe. 

We become distant. 

We shut down. 

We isolate. 

We become complacent. 

We believe the lie “this is as good as it gets.’ 

We lose hope. 

We shut ourselves in. 

We get caught up in our own head and thoughts. The lie that nobody cares runs rampant through our brains. 

The darkness closes in. 

The light at the end of the proverbial tunnel gets dimmer. 

Does any of that sound familiar? We weren’t made to isolate. We were made for community. To be part of something good that feeds our soul. Not something negative that causes division. Look where that division has gotten us today. 

To be mature in Christ means that we can disagree with one another and still be in relationship with each other. We have so much to learn from one another. 

You won’t learn if you’re looking through the lens of grumbling, complaining and arguing. Because at that point, the only opinion that matters is your own. You may know a lot, but I daresay, you don’t know it all. 

It’s really very simple. You either bring unity or division to the situation. It’s your choice. Now that I know what peace over drama feels like, I choose peace. 

It’s not to say I still don’t get fired up over things, but I stop and ask myself how important this is going to be in 1 year. Because,  A LOT can change in a year. I found staying frustrated and angry does exactly what the enemy wants, it steals my peace and joy. 

He’s stolen enough from me. It’s time to make a stand. It’s time to rise up and put an end to his nonsense and claim the victory that’s already mine and yours in Christ. 

Let’s look at the reasons why it’s beneficial to stop the grumbling and arguing. 

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”

Philippians 2:14-16

I don’t know about you, but I think the Apostle Paul was onto something life changing. Who wants to run or labor in vain? No thanks! I’d rather shine this little light of mine and bring the hope and love of Jesus Christ to the masses! 

Keep shining my friends, it’s not in vain! God be glorified! 

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Escaping Yourself

Have you ever watched the movie “Never Been Kissed”? It’s like a girl’s worst High School nightmare come to life. If I see it’s on TV, I give the remote a rest and settle in.

I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it, but I still cringe and say…”Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it.” She doesn’t listen. She does it.

If you’ve not seen it, it’s basically about a reporter who’s sent back to High School. Her assignment? Get in with the popular group and get the salacious goods on them. Simple, right?

No, not simple. Our heroine finds out all too quick she has her work cut out for her. She was not part of the popular clique in High School and her brother is quick to remind her of that fact when he learns about her writing assignment. He was even so loving as to remind her of the nickname they gave her. Josie grossy.

After a painful flashback her brother gives her a pep talk and she’s ready to seize the day! Or not.

After many awkward trials and embarrassing tribulations, her brother comes to her rescue and he goes back to school too. He has no problem getting into the popular group on his first day. He knows how to speak their language because once upon a time, he was popular too.

So what does her brother do when he’s “in”? He talks her up. He says a bunch of things to make her appear “cooler” than she is. He even goes so far to say, he dated her and that her family is well off.

I’m gonna stop there. To know what happens next, you’ll just have to watch the movie.

Let’s just call what her brother did what it is. A lie. In fact, he told multiple lies. It’s all very innocent isn’t it? After all, he just wanted to help his sister with her job assignment. What’s the harm in that?

Remember, on her own, she wasn’t “good enough” for the popular group. It was only when they believed she was something she wasn’t, she became acceptable in their eyes.

I can relate to that. I’ve tried pretending to be something I’m not in order to garner the approval of someone. I wonder if you can relate as well.

Imagine putting on someone else’s clothes that are too small. No matter how much you try to wriggle your body into them, they don’t fit. But let’s say you actually manage to squeeze yourself into them. It doesn’t take long to realize, this look is not for you and you can’t wait to get them off.

At what point does a lie become so uncomfortable you feel compelled to tell the truth? How long do you think a lie can “live” in you before it changes you? And by change, I don’t mean in a good way.

Typically when one lie is told, another is sure to follow. Eventually you have a string of lies to keep up with and before you know it, you’re in a constant state of worry over who knows what. It’s exhausting.

Lies have a way of catching up to you. Either someone figures it out or you become so frazzled, you have to tell the truth. Either way, be prepared to suffer the consequences.

Why is telling the truth so hard? Why is being who God made us to be, never enough? Why are we so afraid of the person in the mirror?

It’s the person in the mirror, you can’t escape. When you wake up, you’re there. When you leave the house, you’re there. When you go to sleep at night, you’re there. You are literally everywhere, you are.

No matter how hard you try, you can’t escape you. Let me ask a simple question. When does self-acceptance start? It doesn’t have to be complicated unless we make it so.

Let’s begin with answering what makes you feel most like you? Not what everyone else thinks you need to be, but what speaks joy into your soul?

When we try to be something we’re not, we do ourselves and others an injustice. We rob ourselves and the world of that “thing” that makes us who we are. We can even hurt others in the process of pretending we’re something we’re not. Including ourselves.

Sweet friend, self-acceptance isn’t a weakness. It’s a knowing who you are and not letting someone shame you for it. It’s a strength! I daresay if someone feels the need to shame you, they’ve yet to accept who they are. Why else would they feel the need to attack you? Think about that.

Everyday I see someone caught up in societal chains and social media makes those chains stronger. Living life behind a screen is a futile way of living. Are you exhausted from trying to keep up with the popular trends? Have you spent hours trying to copy someone else’s look? Dance? Talent?

Have you noticed the minute if you’re able to conquer the latest trend, it’s already passed and you have to begin the next one? Consider this. Maybe someone needs what YOU have to offer. But you’re so bogged down with trying to be someone else you forgot how awesome you are.

Our heroine from the movie inevitably couldn’t keep up the facade she’d taken on. Her “self” beckoned to make a stand. To be heard. To be seen.

It’s only when she stopped being who she thought she should be, that she became everything she needed to be. The approval of others faded into the background and she lived her life.

Is your “self” beckoning to be heard? To be seen? Maybe it’s time to listen. I know a thing or two about shunning myself and wanting to be someone, anyone, other than me. But at the end of the day no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t escape me.

I allowed others to disapprove of me and I wore their disapproval like my armor. No one told me it was ok to just be me. I needed to be skinnier, smarter, quieter, louder, dumber, and the list goes on.

It seems everyone had an opinion on what and who I needed to be or look like. So I became a version of other people’s input only to find out, by their measure, I still wasn’t enough.

Just like our heroine from the movie, I couldn’t keep up. Something had to give. So when I was at the end of “me,” I came face to face with my Creator, Jesus Christ. Maybe you’ve heard of Him.

If not, allow me introduce you to the One who loves you, just as you are. He accepts you, even when you reject yourself. A little secret…you can’t escape from Him either. How do I know?

It’s one of God’s promises. The LORD God goes with us. He will never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6) Where you go, HE goes. Who else can make that kind of promise?

If you’re tired of all the noise, may I invite you to come sit with God? He knows what your tired soul needs. He wants to refresh you and restore what’s broken.

You don’t have to accept His invitation. He’s secure in who He is despite being rejected daily. He’s so secure in his identity, He’s stays the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) He won’t change for you. He knows what He stands for. Do you?

In a world that begs us to believe in everything it tosses our way, aren’t you ready for something that doesn’t shift with every passing fancy?

I know I was and you know what? Jesus, was patiently waiting. My life combining with Jesus is the BEST decision I ever made. I can say with bold confidence:

Jesus! He is the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6)

Have an amazing day my friends! Shine Bright!

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Love Saved You

“Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone—as though we had never been here.” ~ Psalm 103:15-16 (NLT)

Have you ever walked through a cemetery? It’s a stark reminder that life here on earth is fleeting. Last October I found myself walking through a cemetery in Auburn, NY. I was visiting some dear friends and felt the need to stretch my legs a bit. 

This cemetery has some old headstones. So old, you could no longer read the etched engraving. 

It was during my walk I came upon this engraved stone.

I nodded my head in agreement as I thought about my brother who had recently passed. My earthly love wasn’t enough to save him. Wounds still fresh, I stood in front of this stone and read the inscribing a few times. Tears slid from my eyes.

I continued on my walk thinking about my brother. Like I so often do, I asked Jesus to give him a hug from me and I blew them both a kiss. It makes me feel better. 

After I walked a bit, I decided I wanted a picture of that quote so I headed back. I read the inscribing once again and then it hit me; my earthly love didn’t save my brother, but there was a love that did! 

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16 (emphasis added)

So you see, love did save my brother and he now has eternal life with our Heavenly Father. Hallelujah! That’s reason to celebrate! 

Death is not easy for those left behind. In my mind, there should be a natural order on how things play out. But, I’m not the one who numbered my brother’s days or knew my brother before he was formed in our mother’s womb. 

My brother’s death shook me to my core. Friends, our days are numbered. We only get this one life here on earth. I’ve spent far too much time worrying about trivial things. I don’t know about you, but I can get stuck pretty easily in negative thought patterns. Where does that lead me? What kind of “life” does that produce? 

At some point, you have to ask yourself, are you living like you’re “living?” or, are you living like you’re “dying?” 

My brother died in between 2 very special days. My son’s birthday is June 18th and my best friend’s birthday is June 22nd. God knows me so well, He made sure I wouldn’t get stuck in grieving mode. Both of these special days remind me that I’m still among the living and there’s still reason to celebrate.  

June 20th may be the day my brother’s earthly life ended, but it’s the day his heavenly life began. Thank you, Jesus!  

Happy Heavenly Birthday my brother. I see you sliding down those rainbows! 

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Check Yourself

When I was in the military we had an Air Force Instruction for everything. AFI 36-2903 instructed us on dress and personal appearance. When I first joined the military it was actually Air Force Regulation 35-10. I share that tidbit because change happens. Basically, this told us how we should look by conforming to the standard set by our military leaders.

It was a reminder that we should check ourselves and make sure we were right before we looked at another and attempted to correct the way they looked compared to the AF standard.

If you decided to address someone else for being in violation you better make sure they couldn’t come back at you and say you were also in violation. Because, well, awkward!

Pretty much any building you went into had a full-length mirror to allow you to check your look. Some of those mirrors were conveniently placed just inside the doors so as you walked out, you got that last glimpse.

This instruction was all about outward appearance. An AFI could govern the way you outwardly appeared but it couldn’t govern your heart. And let’s face it, outward appearances can mask what’s going on inside. 

I no longer have to adhere to AFI instructions, as I’m retired. However, one of the things that still sticks with me is to check myself before I check another. But these days, it’s more an inward check. Let’s face it, outward checks are easy to do. But an inward check? That takes time. That takes revelation. That takes soul searching.

Matthew 7:3-5 reminds us to check ourselves.

“Why do you look at the small piece of wood in your brother’s eye, and do not see the big piece of wood in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take that small piece of wood out of your eye,’ when there is a big piece of wood in your own eye? You who pretend to be someone you are not, first take the big piece of wood out of your own eye. Then you can see better to take the small piece of wood out of your brother’s eye.” (NLV)

Bible Gateway

Bottom line, it’s not easy to do the hard stuff of inward work. But I promise it’s worth it. Getting to know you, how, and why you were created is an amazing investment of your time. Knowing your worth will change how you see yourself and those around you. 

Have an amazing day, friends! After all, it’s a do-over complete with God’s new mercies! 

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How Big Is Your Shield

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” ~ Ephesians 6:13-17

A few weeks ago I walked through the rotunda at Elmira College where they hold various events. That morning the tables were all on their edge instead of their feet. In order to get to the stairs I take to go to my office, I had to weave in and out of the tables in my way. 

These were 8 feet round tables. I could easily hunker down behind one and be protected. Given the size and weight of the tables, hunkering down would be the obvious choice over trying to pick it up and carry it around with me as I deflected the “flaming darts of the evil one.” 

What do you mean by “flaming darts of the evil one?” I’m so glad you asked. Allow me to paint you a picture. 

I’ve been invited to a party. No, make that a gala. It will require me to get a dress. No, make that a gown. Like the one, Cinderella wore to the ball. Can you picture that? Only, it’s going to be you in that gown. You’re so excited you can hardly contain your giddiness. 

The night of the gala, you dress up in your beautiful gown and you practically float on air. You head to the gala with hopeful anticipation that everyone will notice you and ooooh, and ahhh as you enter the room. 

Then the unthinkable happens. You walk in, and there’s someone wearing the same exact ball gown. You’re horrified.  

Seconds ago, you were blissfully happy, anticipating the evening, and now you stand there aghast, not moving because your feet feel like 500-pound weights. 

Cue the head conversation!

Look at her.
She’s freakin’ gorgeous.
She looks so much better in that gown than I do.
I think she’s actually glowing?
Is she glowing?
She’s totally glowing.
Gahhh, I so hate her right now.  

What was I thinking?
Look at me.
I’m not beautiful.
I’m a total frump compared to her.
I’m not glowing.
I should’ve known better than to come to this gala.
Gahhh, I can’t even stand to look at myself right now. 

Fiery darts. They just got thrown at you, by you. And now they’re trying to penetrate your heart. They want to take root and steal the joy you had before you saw that other person in your gown. 

Moments ago, you were the one floating on air. You were the one who looked amazing. You were the one who was glowing. And then you gave it all away on a preconceived notion that someone looked better than you. Who told you that? You did. 

So what happened?

I daresay, you thought the gown was the thing that made you feel and look that way. I’ll go even further and say, the gown gave you a false sense of security. 

But, it was never about the gown. You may have bought the gown, but at that moment you didn’t own the gown. The gown owned you. You gave power to the gown that it was never meant to have. 

Y’all this happens every day. We give our insecurity over to the things of this world in hopes it will make us feel secure. It might not be a gown. It can be any number of things. Let’s take a peek at a few, shall we? 

Why is my hair curly and not straight?
Why do I have dark hair when clearly blondes have more fun?
Why did he pick her over me?
What has she got that I don’t?
Why am I short and she’s got legs for days?
Why can’t I spike a volleyball like her?
Why can’t I be picked for the cheerleading squad?
Why are her boobs bigger than mine?
Why is her nose so small and perfect?
Why are her parents so awesome and mine are so awful?
Why can’t I be that smart?
Why can’t I be someone other than myself?
Why can’t I dance like that?
Why can’t I sing like that?
Why can’t I paint like that? 

I could go on for days here. Why do we do this to ourselves? We literally make our own lives miserable by forgetting all that we have to offer, all that we can do. 

As I’m typing this, my head conversation says, “what are you doing?” “No one’s gonna care about what you have to say.” “Just shut up already.” 

Let me ask you this. Of all the times you’ve questioned “why are they more than this, than me” ever been answered? I’m sure it has. With an even more demeaning answer. Maybe it sounds something like,

Because I suck
Because God hates me
Because I’m ugly
Because I’m fat
Because I’m skinny
Because I’m gross
Because I’m stupid
Because I lack any kind of talent
Because I have nothing to offer

Any of these sound familiar? And let’s not stop there, let’s pick on each body part as if it were our personal enemy. Forgetting all our bodies have brought us through. 

All those demeaning answers are fiery darts of the enemy intended to steal, kill, and destroy you. 

Maybe at this point, you’re thinking, “oh, stop being so dramatic”! To that, I say, let me show you what the Bible has to say about our enemy. 

John 10:10 says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~ NIV 

If we’re constantly focused on what we’re not, how will we ever rise to be who we are? 

When we allow our own defeating thoughts to take over, how easy do you think it is for the fiery darts from others to take root and then compound the self-defeating thoughts running rampant through our minds?

This is a battle, my friends! If we have to rely on how many compliments we get each day, or how many likes, or loves, or comments, we place our existence on somebody else’s whim. 

Is that really how you want to live this one life you’ve been given? By someone else’s definition of how you need to be? I pray not. It’s an exhausting way to live. It’s a lot of pressure to be someone else’s idea of who you ought to be.  

I remember years ago, on the man-made scale of 1-10, I was told I was a 7. You might think that number is pretty high on that scale. Not to me. All that told me at the time I was given that “award,” an award I wasn’t even seeking I might add, was very simply, I wasn’t enough. That I was still missing something. 

Years later, I still battle the number 7. I look in the mirror, I hear that inner enemy say…not half bad for a 7. How do you think that changes the perspective of how I walk out the door for the day? 

I constantly look around for what a 10 would look like (in my already skewed view) and when I see her, I compare her to me. And all the self-defeating thoughts come rolling in. Mind you, I have no idea what that gal had to go through to be a 10 that day. Good gravy! How’s a gal to succeed? 

I mean, how am I to live an abundant life through the eyes of lack? 

Good question! 

Romans 12:2 tells us to not be conformed to the patterns of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. 

The pattern of this world in my instance was a man-made visual scale of appearance. It all started as far as I can remember from a movie simply titled, “10”

I never watched it. I had zero desire to do so. But, I knew about it and from that moment on, every man and woman was assigned a number by another flawed human being. 

This was/is not a good pattern. We have to first imagine that the number 10 is given to someone by who? Or is that whom? HA! Another 10? A less than 10? Perhaps a 3? 

Where does it stop? I mean a 10 to one person could very well be a 9, or an 8, or even a 7. You get the idea. It’s such a flawed scale. And yet, I found myself sucked into the pattern which told me I wasn’t enough all because one person told me that. One person. 

And I was defined by that number for years. Sad, don’t you think? Me too. 

What I didn’t know to do back then was to kick that thought and any negative subsequent thoughts to the curb. Instead, I allowed it to feed my already existing insecurities. 

I can’t go back and change any of that. That would be self-defeating and a whole other barrel of pickles that I won’t go into today. What I can do any time the enemy rears that number 7 award my way is to throw it right back in his face. 

Now, I’m not talking about the person who said that to me. I forgave them. The funny part about that. He had no memory of ever saying that to me. So, here I was, holding onto something for years, that was nothing more than a second in his world. Crazy, right?! 

The enemy I’m talking about is Satan. The thief I mentioned earlier from John 10:10. He doesn’t want you to have an abundant life. He’d like nothing more than to keep you in a pit of despair. That’s who you need to throw that negative stuff at. He’s great at dishing it out and watching you wallow in it. 

And most days, we’re more than happy to give our promised abundant life into his hands. The sad thing is, we may not even realize it until years have gone by. 

It’s time to say NO MORE! It’s time to put on the full armor of God, pick up my shield and deflect those fiery darts. And when I find myself losing ground because I’m weak from the battle, I will take refuge under the wings of my mighty Savior. 

I was not created to be a number. Nowhere in the Bible does God say I’m a 7, or any other number.  

I was created as a daughter of a King. And, not just any King. The King of Kings. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I’m the apple of God’s eye! I’m His treasured possession.   

Pssst. You’re all those things too my friend! Renew your mind sister, and when you leave home, don’t forget your shield! 

Have a phenomenal day. Be you! The world needs that. 

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Go Away…

As I listened to the radio on my drive to work, a huge smile spread across my face as an old familiar tune played through the speakers. As soon as Donny Osmond started to sing “Go Away Little Girl,” I couldn’t help but sing along with him. 

If you could see me right now, you’d see I’m still smiling. 

Ohhh the crush I had on him when I was younger. With his poster hung on my bedroom wall, I’d dream about the day I would marry him. Well, that didn’t happen. He chose another. Rude, right? ha ha 

After the song was over, the announcer said, “No he doesn’t. He doesn’t really want her to leave, Donny’s just playing hard to get.” 

In this song scenario, my beloved Donny was already in a relationship. But there was another girl who caught his eye, who from the sounds of things, was a little too close for his comfort so he told her “go away little girl”. He even explained the reasons why he wanted her to go away. 

Did she go away? In the song scenario, we’ll never know. It ends with him repeatedly telling her to simply “go away”.  

Temptation.

By definition, temptation is:

“the desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise.” 

Me thinks there’s going to be some serious consequences to those who fall into the trap of temptation.

Make no mistake, I may have said “fall” into temptation, but you don’t fall. You choose. Whatever you decide to do when faced with temptation, is your choice. Your choice. 

When I was younger, for some reason, I knew it was wrong to want somebody who belonged to someone else. I had many crushes over the years.Donny’s poster came down, and David Cassidy’s went up. David’s came down and Starsky’s went up. The original Starsky, thank you very much. 

I think you get the point. I remember when Paul Michael Glaser, aka Starsky, got married in real life, I thought, welp, no more fantasizing I’ll be his wife. That was in 1980. 

Somewhere between 1980 and 1984, those lines of “you don’t mess with someone who’s taken” became so blurred, the line failed to exist altogether.

The consequences of my choices left me heartbroken and devastated. How devastated? 

So devastated by the culmination of my unchecked sins that I wanted to check out of this life. The pain was excruciating and I thought it was the only way out.

Looking back, I will say those temporary pleasure choices were not worth the cost. 

The first time you choose the temptation, whatever that may be for you, you may feel guilt, remorse, shame, and a slew of other bad emotions and then choose never to give into it again. 

Or, you may bury all the bad emotions and continue to choose the guilty pleasure time and time again. 

Either way, I dare say, you never truly know when, and for how long the effects of the choice you made will haunt you. All because you gave into temptation. 

You could argue that you had no choice, you had to do it. You could argue that the temptation was just too great. There was no way you could’ve walked away. You had to do it. 

You can easily “justify” the temptation in an effort to make it appear that giving into it was the only choice. 

You could even say, “no one could have overcome that temptation.” But what if I told you, you have an out? What if I told you, you have been given the authority to squash any temptation that presents itself? 

1 Corinthians 10:13 says: 

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Stop! Go back, and read that verse again. What did you see? This is what I saw:

  1. Your temptation is no different from what others experience
  2. God will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.
  3. God will show you a way out 
  4. God is faithful  

That doesn’t mean you won’t have temptations, BUT, when you do, God will be faithful to show you a way out. So even if you do bite into the temptation, while you’ll have to suffer the consequences of your choice, He will show you a way to endure.

It also doesn’t mean you get to run around all willy nilly sinning all-the-day long because God will give you a way out. At some point you need to be responsible and use that gift of self-control God freely gives. 

Remember when I said that by my own choices I was left devastated and wanted to take my own life? Well, that was not God’s plan. He interrupted them. He gave me a way out so that I could endure, without ending my life.

He said:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 

Matthew 11:28-30

This beautiful exchange of my devastating burdens for His rest did just what He promised. As I stepped out of my darkness and into His light, I was slowly renewed and restored. He was gentle and loving as He guided me through my sins and into repentance. 

It was an exchange. I had a choice to stay stuck in my pit or grab on to the hand of Jesus, and hang on for dear life. Had I not received what God wanted to give me, I can’t say for sure where I’d be now. 

Moral of this story can be found in Romans 12:2 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Make good choices my friend! You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble and heartache. Just because it feels good now, doesn’t mean it will feel good later. 

There are consequences to every choice, and you may never know how your one bad choice can affect generations. 

That’s right, generations. Ahhh, but that’s a blog for another day.

Have an amazing day! 

 

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The Bold Blondie

with love, Jilly

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