Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

Breaking-Up

“Breaking up is hard to do” is the name of a song sung by Neil Sedaka back in the 70’s. No truer words have ever been spoken.

As I journey towards emotional and mental well being I’ve learned it’s hard, excruciatingly hard, to unlearn and break up with things that no longer, and in truth, have not ever served me well.

In a group friend session today we were asked what’s one thing you’d like prayer towards in your healing journey?

I said I’m in the process of letting go of the guilt of others. Let me explain.

As a sensitive child growing up in a dysfunctional home, I wanted peace for everyone. I seldom tended to my own emotions because I was so concerned on ways to help others feel better. It’s another reason why I didn’t want others to see me cry. I felt like I was placing another burden on top of an already toxic situation.

It didn’t help that when I brought up how I was feeling, it was pretty much dismissed. To include the time I broke my arm and I was sent to school anyway. It took a school nurses’ voice of concern to get my parents to hear “me’.

In essence these type of dismissals led me to feel unworthy of having feelings.

On the flip side, I was also the one who acted out. So much so, the doctor told my parents to tranquilize me. All she needs is a “little blue heart pill” as it was referred to and she’ll be calm. No one ever addressed the toxic home or the neglect.

I learned, I was the problem. Awesome, right?

As I grew older, in an effort not to be the one my Father would single out to verbally abuse, I’d stay holed up in my room. But, toxic has a way of getting past your boundaries and taking up residence where it doesn’t belong.

My role models were from those wholesome tv shows, that depicted perfect families. I know, I know, there are no perfect families…now.

When I ventured into the world and was considered a grown-up, I had all that mess inside I knew nothing about. When my own grown-up relationships failed to be “perfect” I’d mentally check out before I ever left physically.

Control, or that of perceived control was paramount to my well-being. So, when things didn’t look or feel “picture perfect” I took that as, I was failing. Then I’d lash out with anger to try and reign in the messy, uncontrolled parts of “my” life. Which included taking things out on my loved ones. Ugh!!

I’ve been several years under construction. Each day, I learn a bit more as God helps me towards healing.

Emotional neglect is something I’m learning now. Stuffing down any emotion is neglecting to honor what I’m feeling. Feelings are important to understand why something is happening inside.

What I’m learning is that I feel guilty for having my own feelings. It goes back to when I shoved my own feelings down as a child.

Not only do I feel guilty for my stuff, I feel guilty for those loved ones who may have made poor choices due to my own inability to function well.

Please understand, I know we all make mistakes and I will no doubt continue to make mistakes. Learning to heal is a process.

I know I’m not responsible for the choices others make, but in my thought process, if I could’ve done something better or differently, maybe the outcome would’ve been better. It’s only now, I realize it could’ve been worse.

No one else needs to validate how I’m feeling. No one else can tell me I shouldn’t feel a certain way.

When my nephew hurt my niece while playing, she cried. Not wanting to get in trouble, he told her to stop crying, because what he didn’t couldn’t have hurt her.

In essence he was telling her to shove the hurt down so he wouldn’t have to apologize and possibly get in trouble for roughhousing. Needless to say, since I was there, we talked it out and he apologized.

Kids don’t know how to process feelings. They need to be taught. They need to be allowed to express what’s happening. But, when grown-ups didn’t have a good example, they pass what they learned on, or they over compensate to the other side.

That’s what I did with my son. I overcompensated. I tried to make up for him not having his dad in his life. Some would say I “spoiled” him. I truly dislike that term by the way. But, that’s for another day. But, I would argue, I did the best I knew how to do with the information I had.

I felt guilty for what I thought he lacked. But, was the toxicity of our relationship any better for our son? No, it sure wasn’t. But that didn’t make me feel any less guilty for what I thought I did by getting divorced.

Guilt, my friends, is a hard task master. It’s not from God, and it’s a burden our tender frames were ever meant to bear. And yet, I’ve not ever met a person who has said they’ve never experienced guilt.

Guilt has been one the hardest things to break up with. Guilt stands in the way of my receiving God’s forgiveness. God’s grace is so much more than I know. God’s love is so much more than I know. And I will not experience all He has for me with the yoke of guilt around my neck.

Freedom from guilt is my prize. How do I get there? Not on my own. I need God to help me. I need Him to help me understand where my worth comes from. My worth, your worth, is not in guilt.

Our worth comes from knowing we are loved and created by a loving God. We’ve been set free to live an abundant life. Not a life wracked in emotional pain from past trauma. It’s up to us to do our part. We are worth the effort. We are worthy of love. We are worthy of being here. We are worthy to be healed and whole. Not because of who we are, but because of the love sacrifice made by Jesus.

Jesus thought we were worth dying for, why is it so hard for us to believe that truth? Maybe today, like me, you can take that step towards deeper healing and simply receive His love.

You don’t have to prove anything to God. That’s already been taken care of by the shed blood of Jesus.

Today is my break up day with guilt. It’s way overdue. I’m sure I’ll stumble, but I will persevere to freedom, because guilt is not my story’s ending. I’m praying for you to know it’s not your story’s ending either.

Breaking up is hard to do, but with God, ALL things are possible.

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Hand Salute

I found a old folder filled with a bunch of “journal entries” from an English college class I took back in 2001. I was still in the military and this class happened over lunch time. I really enjoyed the class. It was fun, interesting and I really liked the professor.

Every time class met, we had to turn in, what our professor called journal entries. It didn’t matter how long the entries were or what the subject matter was and best part, they weren’t graded.

If she liked your journal entry, she’d ask if she could keep a copy as an example she’d read to future classes.

I was honored she chose one of mine. So, I thought I’d share it with you all. I guess she found the entry funny and “superb”! At least, I think that’s the word she wrote. It’s a little hard to make out, but let’s just say that’s what she wrote. HA!

I’m going to type it out just as it appears on the original.

The paper is dated 16 Jan 2001 and the subject is simply titled: Salute

“I watched a show on television the other evening and caught myself scrutinizing the hand salute the police officers offered up in honor to one of their dearly departed. I can’t help but cringe whenever I see an improper salute.

I gained the right to do so, by making so many mistakes while learning the hand salute at Basic Military Training.

Staff Sergeant Garcia, an assistant Technical Instructor for our flight was given the dubious task to turn our limp spaghetti wrists into rigid straight arrows. Sergeant Garcia demonstrated the hand salute with clean-cut preciseness and then issued his instructions; knock on the closed door once, open the door, step inside, close the door, take 2 steps forward, stand at attention and render the perfect hand salute while stating “Airman Kettell reports as ordered.”

Simple enough was the phrase that came to mind, why any idiot could do that. Well, it embarrasses me to say, it took this idiot a total of 4 times going through the “simple” instructions.

For the life of me, I could not make my wrist into a straight line. It felt like I was doing the correct motion, but it wasn’t until Sergeant Garcia got up from his chair, cursing under his breath, grabbed my hand, and tried unsuccessfully for several seconds to bend my wrist into the correct position.

It seems, my arm was straight, but my wrist was bent at a 90-degree angle. He finally managed to straighten my wrist, but then my thumb decided to misbehave by taking on an angle all of it’s own.

He felt the only way to fix that was to have me bring my arm back down and carefully study his entire hand, which he had placed flat on the desk. He then decided it was best I do the same.

So, I placed my hand flat on the desk. I was then instructed to slowly bring my hand to the corner of my eyebrow, careful not to move a single tendon out of place.

Needless to say, I still screwed it up. My wrist went right back to the 90-degree angle and worse yet, my thumb decided to keep it’s awkward angle. It was very uncomfortable. I decided saluting was stupid.

Sergeant Garcia’s face looked a lot like my disfigured wrist and this time he stood up and imitated my hand salute, all the while screaming “does this look right to you!”

It was all I could do, not to bust out laughing. Knowing full well, I could not do that, I instead made some guttural sound and was asked to leave and stand at the end of the line until I could take this exercise seriously.

So, head hung low, cursing under my breath, I went to the end of the line.

It was my turn again, and this time, my hand actually was in the correct position, but now my head cocked to the side in order to meet the salute. This was not acceptable.

Once again, Sergeant Garcia stood up and imitated my salute and once again I had to keep from laughing.

I was given one more opportunity to render the perfect hand salute. I cleared my head, I begged my hand to stay straight and I did not move my head. It was not a perfect salute, but it was at least acceptable.

He then instructed me to hold the salute, walk into the bathroom, look in the mirror and memorize how my arm felt, which at this point was on fire, and never, ever, let him see me insult the salute as I had previously done. ” The End

It’s amazing how reading through this story makes it seem like it was just yesterday it happened. But that was many years ago. I can still visualize Sergeant Garcia’s face. He was so frustrated. I don’t know why I thought it was funny, but for whatever reason, it got me through it.

Sometimes in the face of frustration, laughter is the best relief. Maybe if we all laughed a little more instead of berating ourselves, we’d enjoy this one life we’ve been given more.

I know these days I’m far more serious than I like to be. Laughing is crucial to my well being. Maybe yours too?

So, if you have a chance to laugh, I hope you do. I’ll leave you with this quote:

Laughter is the best medicine in the world. A day without laughter is a day wasted. Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.

And who couldn’t use a little “cheap medicine” right about now?

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Misfits

I often find myself humming or singing Christmas songs even though the Christmas season has past. Such has been the case for a few days now.

Rudolph is one of my favorite claymation movies. What’s not to like? It’s packed with drama, intrigue, romance, and it ends, happily. Add in super catchy songs and for an hour you can forget all your cares.

The song that’s been playing in my head is sung by the “misfit toys” stuck on, well, the island of misfit toys.

Each of these toys has what they believe to be a “deformity” and no child could possibly love them due to their imperfection.

A choo choo, with square wheels.
A squirt gun that shoots jelly instead of water.
A cowboy who rides an ost-a-ridge (in my head, I sung that, hence the misspelling)
A fish that doesn’t stay afloat.

I think you get the picture. They’re all misfits.

On Christmas eve, the day they’ve been waiting for all year, the toys are huddled around a fire. There’s been a horrible snow storm and the toys believe they’ve been forgotten once again.

Poor Dolly is overcome with all the emotions. She just wants to be loved. She doesn’t want to stay on the island any longer. Through her tears, she remarks “I haven’t any dreams left to dream”.

But then in the distance, the toys hear Santa’s sleigh bells and see Rudolph’s nose. Santa sleigh lands, the toys happily jump into the bag, and off they go to their new adventure.

Yes, I’m smiling as I type this. It’s how I roll.

Maybe like Dolly, you find yourself in a place where you haven’t any dreams left to dream. I’ve been there more than once.

I typically find myself in this dreamless state when I’ve been beat down by life. More specifically, it’s when the life I’d imagined, didn’t happen.

This state of mind is the perfect setting for Satan to come in and start picking you apart.

That’s why we’re warned:

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

One errant thought is all he needs to start feeding you even more negative thoughts. The nasty thoughts that tell you, you’re no good. You don’t have the talent. You don’t have the skills. You don’t have what it takes to do anything right. Nobody cares about you. You’ll never be good enough. He loves to see you defeated.

But, just like Santa made it through what seemed an impossible storm for to get to those toys, you have a Savior who knows your name. He chooses you. He chases you. He rescues you. He loves you.

Why is it so much easier to believe in a fictitious character over a God who created the person who in turn brought the idea of Santa to life?

Even after I found out Santa wasn’t real, I still desperately needed to believe that someone cared enough about me to listen to what I wanted.

Since I didn’t grow up in a God fearing/loving home, I didn’t know Jesus could have been that for me.

Maybe no one has ever told you that Jesus can be that for you. Someone who cares about every single detail of your life. Someone who cares to give you what you need, over what you want. Because, let’s face it, what we want is not always what’s best.

And just as the devil prowls around, Jesus is also seeking for those lost. He’s the good shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:11 (NIV)

A good shepherd gives good gifts and has good plans for you. I’ve experienced both and I bet if you look back over your life, you have as well.

Friend, you’re no misfit. The dreams you have may not look exactly like you thought, but that doesn’t mean you’re forgotten, or unloved. It just means, there’s something better. I truly believe that. The waiting can be the hardest part.

You don’t know what storms lie ahead and you may not understand the timing. But that’s where faith happens. Don’t give up before “it” happens.

One day, you’ll understand, but in the meantime, keep moving forward. The best is yet to come and this gal is cheering you on!

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Love Makes You…

This morning my Lent devotional’s primary Bible verse was a reminder of what love is, what it does and what it’s not. Let’s read it together:

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

Last night during a televised show, an unfortunate action happened. If you’re on social media, you know. If you watched the show, you know. Staged or not, what we saw was not love.

I have this thing about owning up to our actions. Lord knows it’s not easy. The days I came clean about my adulterous life style with all 3 of my ex-husbands wrecked me. But, hiding it, almost killed me. It’s why I’m passionate about owning choices and the consequences that follow. Hiding behind a bad behavior choice and then blaming it on anything but yourself, is toxic.

This world we live in is awesome at the blame game and forfeiting any actual owner responsibility.

Last night, the excuse given for the bad behavior, was a cop out. And for those who don’t understand what love is and does, and what’s it’s not, will always protect the bad behavior and see it as something to be rewarded.

Friends, love the action, will not make you do crazy things. All the other emotions will make you do crazy things.

If you need another reminder of what love is, please, I beg you, don’t look to the world and it’s idea of what love is. It’s flawed. It’s misguided. It’s selfish. It’s attention seeking. It’s fantasized. It’s proud. It’s lazy. It’s flipped upside down, and it’s damaging.

I’m not saying that love doesn’t exist in the world. It most assuredly does. When you see someone helping another with absolutely no venue or thought that the action could be repaid, love lives. When you see someone lay their life down for another, love lives. When you see sacrifice lived out by a parent for their children, love lives.

When you see someone publicly humiliate another human being, rest assured, love most assuredly did not make that person do that. That’s not love.

When you see the person publicly humiliated rise up over the altercation, that’s a step in the love direction.

I’m no better than the person who did the hitting or the person who rose above. I’m just as flawed as the next guy. Most days I’m that clanging cymbal. I’ve been pained, and I’ve caused pain.

Admitting that I’m the one who has grieved another human being over my actions, is a hard pill to swallow. But in order to be fully healed, it’s imperative I own my part and admit, I suck too.

Otherwise, it will always be the other person’s fault who has me using misguided love for myself or another as an excuse to continue making poor choices.

What I know is that when I stand in front of Jesus, He’ll ask me what I did with the life He gave me. If I try to answer with an excuse about the way someone treated me, I have no doubt He’ll stop my babbling mouth in heartbeat and remind me, He asked me what I did with the life He gave me.

You see, it’s not about other people. It’s about what I know to do based on the instruction Jesus gave me. No, it’s not easy. Yes, I make mistakes. But, when we know we can do better, isn’t it time we actually do better?

I can’t answer that for anyone but me. All I can say is, don’t let the excuse of “love makes you do crazy things,” become the basis for the way you live the life you’ve be given. If you need another reminder of what love is, let me repeat it here:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

I don’t know about you, but nowhere in those verses do I see. “love makes you do crazy things,” but I would argue that LOVE made you, formed you in your mother’s womb, loves you with an everlasting love and love led Jesus to die on the cross for you. He chose it out of love for you.

That kind of love will never make you do anything. That kind of love gives you the choice to love as He loved or love like the world.

The choice is yours, choose wisely, and make no excuses.

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Grief

Today was a good day. I went to a funny movie, I spent time with family and friends and then out of nowhere the floodgates opened. Driving and tears don’t mix well. But, when grief comes knocking, I’ve learned it’s easier to let it out than bottle it up.

A friend once told me that grieving is sometimes more than what we actually think we’re being emotional over. I had to give that some serious thought and I’ve come to the conclusion; she’s right.

Today for example I grieved the times my brother and I didn’t get to have. But, my initial wave of grief was over how much I miss him.

Grief gives us permission to feel all the things. There’s no shame in grieving or how long it takes you to grieve.

I think the worst injustice we can ever do is tell someone to “get over it”. How deeply someone is affected by whatever grieves them is their business. The uncomfortably we have with others in pain is what drives us to push others to healing.

It’s not to say it’s a bad thing. Good intentions, right? We don’t like to see someone in pain. Yet, everyday people are dealing with some type of pain.

Although it may not feel like it, grieving is what helps us move forward. It releases the anguish from our souls so we can move forward in hope that this too will pass.

As a little girl and a big chunk of my adult life, I cried in private. I didn’t want people to see me cry. I hated crying in public. I related crying to weakness. I was told crying would make my face be unpretty. I guess in way, you could say crying was my enemy.

I remember the first time I felt like crying during worship time at church. I was like, what in the world is happening here? Nope, not happening. So, I stuffed it back down. I’d look all around, take a sip of water, search through my purse, and do whatever I could to stop those tears.

Then I looked over at a dear friend and she was openly crying in church. I felt bad for her. I thought, you know people can see you right? I never asked her about it.

A couple of weeks later during worship the same thing. It was as if the tears were coming up from a place deep inside me. I couldn’t stop it this time. But, you can bet I tried my best to hide it.

But, God saw those tears. He knew my heart and as the tears fell, a reshaping of my heart started to transform my thinking.

Romans 12:2 was the very first Bible verse I felt led to memorize:

“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.” ~ NIV

I still don’t like to cry in public, but I no longer stop what God wants to do through my tears. Crying allows the pent up frustration, hurt, anger, shame, and guilt out.

I often wondered why after I came face to face with my Savior why I cried all the time? Stuffed down tears will find a way out. Grief can look like working out too much. Eating too much or too little. Grief can look like anger. Grieving is complicated, yet so very necessary to our well being. Whatever it is you lost, it’s ok to grieve. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Your shoes. Your story. No body else has license to tell you to quit crying or they’ll give you something to cry about. Just means, that once upon a time, someone told them to quit crying too.

I guess all I really have to say is, it’s ok to cry. It’s an emotion that God gave us and even Jesus wept. How awesome is it, that the Savior of the world wasn’t ashamed to cry?

Friend, there’s freedom in your tears. And there’s not a thing you can hide from Jesus. So you may as well let those tears flow, because one way or another, they’re coming out!

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I Believe In You

This morning I was having a conversation with my 5-year old baby grand. Every time I see her she imparts innocent wisdom my way. What is it that they say? Oh yea. Out of the mouths of babes. This morning out out the blue, she simply said, “I believe in you”.

It didn’t take long for the tears to well up in my eyes and start their trip down my cheeks. I didn’t even know, I needed to hear those words. But God did. So allow me to pay it forward.

If no one has told you lately, let me say with all the love I felt when my granddaughter said it me.

I believe in you.

I don’t know what you may be going through, but I believe if you’re reading this, God wanted you to know He heard you and He’s working on it! Our God never stops working!

Sometimes I picture God in Heaven with a glittery musical conductor’s baton. He points the baton and things begin moving in place. Trumpets sound, and then He twirls in another direction, points that baton and things begin working in concert together. The way it’s meant to.

God knows I’m a visual gal. Visual’s help me understand things better. Demonstrations help too!

Since I love music, I believe the visual of God with a glittery baton helps me better understand these verses from the book of Romans:

And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:27-8:28 (NLT)

This visual picture also helps me remember God is not looking down at me, scowling. That’s how I pictured Him for a long time. Disappointed and sorely grieving over me. I constantly wondered why He allowed me to be here on planet earth. This was the misconception of God I had.

Comparing the pain humans cause to God’s actions has a tendency to make us believe God is just as angry and hurtful as humans can be.

Let’s not forget that God is the One who sent His Son down from Heaven so He could have a relationship with us. Not a condemning one, but a loving one.

As His Son hung on a cross, dying, He taught us the greatest act of love. He asked His Father to forgive the ones who put him on that cross. Forgive them, for they know not what they do. Even after He asked God to forgive them, they divided up his garments and cast lots for them. I guess it wasn’t enough to take His life, they needed to take it all. (Luke 23:34)

Anytime we confuse what God is doing with our limited understanding, we tend to lean toward the fallacy that God hates us. That includes the bigger picture of why God would allow His own Son to suffer. The bigger reason behind that is more than we could ever imagine and more than we could ever understand.

When God says He will take EVERYTHING to work together, He means both good and evil. Evil is a part of this world and God continues to use it for His glory. Because the darkness of evil will never prevail over the light of goodness.

It’s why He can promise to turn beauty from ashes. But, you have a part in that. You have to want to give up the “ashes”.

Beautiful friend, you will have people come into your life and not all of them will mean you well. I’m sorry for that. It sucks when people hurt others. But in order for us to live the life God intends, we need to move forward in love and forgiveness.

But just as those people come and go, so do ones who love you well. Hold onto them.

Pay close attention, because His love can come through people you never expected and yes, even 5-year old’s who simply say; “I believe in you”.

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You Can Let Go Now

I’m going to blame the video I watched of a heavily weighed down sheep being shorn due to neglected wool overgrowth, on the dream I had last night.

I dreamt I was running around all over the place looking for a way to put my hair up. I was carrying around a set of my old military uniforms and going from room to room looking for ways to secure my hair bun.

I frantically searched drawers, sifted through piles of junk on tables, and went from person to person looking for anything that would help set my hair.

On top of that, I was late to whatever event I was supposed to be attending. and I still needed to change into my uniform. Life was happening all around me but I couldn’t focus on anything but my hair.

But wait, it gets better. I also dreamt about a big ape also trying to fix it’s long, unkept hair and as it was messing around with it, just like with the matted sheep wool, there was all kinds of grossness stuck deep inside. This part is hard to describe. And like I said, it was gross. I’m literally sitting here typing with a scowl of my face.

We all have messiness in our lives. Sometimes it’s visibly apparent in the way we react to outside stimuli and other times, it’s tucked so deep, and hurts so much, we do our best to leave it alone. As if whatever that messy, unkempt thing we’re hiding will go away on its’ own.

I don’t profess to know what dreams mean but I love to journal them down when I remember them. I have some doozies. Have you ever dreamt something so real, you wake up crying?

My ex-husband used to talk and act out in his sleep. I recall two different times he freaked me out with his sleep antics.

One time he sat straight up in bed, and reached his hands and arms to the ceiling. Needless to say, this made me sit straight up in bed too. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Ummm, what are you doing?

Jay: I’m saving you.

Me: What are you saving me from?

Jay: The picture is falling

I then took a look around the room and looked for any falling pictures. There were none.

Me: Ummm, it’s ok. The picture’s not falling. You fixed it.

Jay: Are you sure?

Me: Yes, I’m sure. You can let go now.

Jay: Ok. Good.

Then he dropped his arms, laid back down and slept soundly the rest of the night. He didn’t remember any of it. But, seriously, how do you forget something like that? All day long the following day, I was on the lookout for falling pictures.

Years later we still laughed about this dreamtastrophe. I always thought it was sweet that he was saving me from that dastardly falling picture. Funny, I don’t think I ever told him that part.

Jay wouldn’t let go of that picture until he thought I was safe. I mean, that’s the point of being a savior right? They keep doing whatever it takes to make sure you’re ok. Unfortunately, human saviors are limited to what they can do. They can’t save your soul. That’s not their job.

That job belongs to Jesus Christ. He’s the One who took on death and overcame the grave. He’s the Savior of the world and anytime we try to take His place, we fail miserably.

See, I didn’t create whoever it is I try to save with my grand ideas of how things should be done. My purpose for anyone’s life other than my own will usually look like what I want for them. What I think is best.

Let me just say, I struggle getting through my own day to day. Why on earth would I want to take on someone else’s life? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. But, it’s usually because it’s easier to focus on their mess over the mess in my own yard.

You know what’s pretty awesome when I let go and let God? God, helps me. He shows me how to help someone. Help is way different than control. Just saying.

No where in the Bible does it tell me to control another adult human being. Somewhere along the line, I learned that behavior.

All attempts in controlling someone else always leads to feelings of frustration, anger, and resentment. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Am I right?

It’s absolutely okay to help and love others. That’s a beautiful thing.

It’s not okay to try and control and manipulate others. That doesn’t make you powerful. It does just the opposite and shows how weak you are over the mess in your own life. Can you say bully? Bullies act out from their own insecurities. It’s a way of attempting to gain some form of control over out of control situations.

My messes always look worse thrown on someone else. Is it any wonder, Jesus says to come to Him? He’s not flawed. He has nothing to prove. He has no hidden agenda. He doesn’t suffer from abandonment issues. He’s Justice and Righteousness. He loves you with an everlasting love.

He doesn’t need to climb every mountain or swim every ocean just to fix what’s broken. His dying on the cross took care of all of that. He was broken for our transgressions. He’s the One who’s outstretched arms saved you. Best part, He doesn’t want to control or manipulate you. He just wants to love you.

Whatever mess you’ve got going on inside, He’s ready for you to give it Him. If you’re weary from the internal struggle, beloved, it’s safe, you can let go of that burden now. Jesus is waiting.

Just a little reminder, you’re loved, you’re seen, and you’re not forgotten.

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The Dentist

I had to go to the dentist today. I love going to the dentist. I love the way the office smells, the tools they use on my mouth, and don’t even get me started on the free paper like bib they let me wear. I went too far, didn’t I?

Going to the dentist is not my favorite thing. But, it’s not the dentist’s fault or the hygienist’s fault. Truth be told the reason I don’t like going to the dentist is because I know I don’t take care of my mouth the way I’ve been instructed for years to do so.

I mean seriously, how hard is it to floss? Apparently really hard because I don’t do it. Are there actually benefits to flossing daily? I don’t know, because I haven’t done it.

Since my dentist retired a few years ago I’ve had a hard time finding a new dentist that I like. Side note; every time I type the word dentist, I hear the voice of Hermie the elf from Rudolph. Welcome to my brain.

My previous dentist was old school and I truly loved everything about my visits with their office. But, she retired. And when she retired so did her gentle dentistry. She had none of them high-falutin power tools. Her office used good old fashioned hand tools and a spit bowl. Sigh.

My new dentist office has all the bells and whistles. It even has a hand-held camera to get mug shots of every single tooth, from every single angle. The things you never knew you needed. Right?

Today was my first cleaning since Covid-19 came into town. Prior to my cleaning appointment, I had the dreaded check-up. Dun dun dun. That’s when all the before pictures of my pearly whites were taken. With that appointment in my rear-view, I still had to get the cleaning done. Hence my visit today.

The hygienist was very friendly, yet I still found myself white knuckle gripping the arms of the chair. She brought my digital file up and started asking all the things. Which is only one reason why I dislike going to the dentist.

How many times a day do you brush your teeth? What type of toothbrush are you using? Do you floss daily? And, I think you get the rest of the drill. Get it. Drill. Dentist? HA! I crack myself up.

I bet you’re wondering how I’m gonna tie a teeth cleaning to walking with Jesus. Are you ready?

Sitting in the dentist’s chair with my mouth wide open and allowing someone to view all the plaque and tartar build-up leaves me feeling pretty vulnerable. You can’t hide what you haven’t been doing. Not flossing daily? Check. Not brushing correctly? Check. Not going to the dentist every 6 months? Check.

It’s probably the only time my mouth doesn’t lie. Because the proof is built up on my teeth. Awesome.

Sin, my friends, does the same thing. It builds the plaque and subsequent tartar on your heart, hardening it to God’s best for you.

When I asked the hygienist if anyone ever comes in without tartar and plaque build-up on their teeth. She replied, “rarely”. Now, you can lie to the hygienist, but you’re mouth will totally tattle on you.

If you’ve ever had a toothache or any type of mouth pain, you know how awful it is. It affects your entire being to include your mood.

If you ignore your teeth, tartar and plaque will be the least of your problems. Can you say cavity? Or abscess? Or total tooth decay?

The hygienist diligently, yet gently used the dreaded high powered tools to chip away at the nasty build-up on my overcrowded bottom teeth. Not gonna lie, it was painful in a few spots. That’s where the worst build-up was. Stupid over-crowded teeth. (Like that’s the total reason…not!)

When she was done, she took updated glamour shots of my teeth. Then came the before and after picture show. I now know I love having my teeth photographed as much as I like being photographed. Which is my way of saying, I don’t.

Okay, let’s wrap this up, shall we?

Unaddressed sin affects our entire being, including our relationship with God. It’s why were told to confess our sins. Hiding them or ignoring them only makes matters worse. Think about the worst thing you’ve ever done. Have you told anyone? Allow me to let you in on a little secret. God already knows.

Do you think God can’t tell the way it’s affecting you? Do you think He wants that nasty build-up to remain in you? Do you think He doesn’t see you white knuckling your way through life hoping no one finds out what you did?

Just life you can’t hide the yuck inside your mouth from the dentist, you can’t hide the yuck on your heart from God.

Taking care of your teeth, requires daily attention. Multiple times a day depending on what gets stuck in between your teeth.

Taking care of our soul, requires daily attention. Multiple times a day and then some. The only way to know if were off course in our life is to daily spend time talking with God. It’s not so He can beat you up even worse than you already have yourself. Quite the contrary, He wants to get that heart hardening tartar and plaque out of you so it can beat in tune to His rhythm of love.

Why? Because only He knows what you’re truly created for and His plan is good. Did you know God is singing over you? Let me show you:

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

Spend time asking Him what He’s singing over you.

This morning I asked Him and He reminded me of the song “Dancing on the Waves” by We The Kingdom. Would you do me the honor of finding a quiet place and listening to it? I promise you won’t regret it. It may just be the best part of your day. I promise, it won’t hurt a bit, but I bet it fills the empty cavities of your soul. Drink it in!

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Cone of Shame

I had to take Moose to have his neutered area checked today. It didn’t look right to me. In addition to it looking red, I was having trouble getting him to quit licking the wound.

First I tried the cone I was given. He freaked out. Like a ninja swatting at spider webs kind of freak out. So I found the only onesie in my house. It was way too big. But, it would have to do for the night until I could get to the store and buy him one.

I got one that fit, but he kept licking the onesie. Seriously? I tried soothingly coaxing with my best, no, don’t do that voice, to no avail. I tried using a stern voice. Nope. He was having none of it. He wanted what he wanted and he wanted to lick. Well, don’t say I didn’t try, Moose.

It was time to put the dreaded cone of shame on him. I was prepared to love him through it, but he was fine with it this time. Go figure.

But, the cone was a bit too small. I tried to make it work, but I finally had to call the vet because I can’t watch him 24/7 and he was still doing what he wanted; getting to that “forbidden” area as much as he possibly could.

And let me tell you, that dog is lightning fast when it comes to licking. Just ask my face and ear holes. Nothing like having a dog’s tongue go up your nose. Ewww.

Moose doesn’t understand why he can’t do what comes naturally to him by licking a wound. He wants to do what he thinks will make it better. Instead, it will make things worse for him. It’s up to me to make sure he heeds what’s best for him in the long run. I don’t like the cone either, but it’s better than the alternative.

I think it’s funny it’s called the “cone of shame”. He didn’t do anything bad to deserve the wearing of the cone. He just needs it for protection against infection. That rhymed. HA!

Did you know we have a “cone” of protection? It’s called the Bible. God made sure to give us His protection by giving us exactly what we needed.

For those that don’t know God, they see the Bible as something that stops them from having fun the way they want.

Instead, it’s the longest love letter ever written just for you so you know how to navigate this ever changing crazy world.

When we don’t heed to what He’s warned us about not to do, guess what? We do all the things that cause us to be infected and overtaken by sin.

That’s where the cone of shame comes in. Have you ever done something wrong, knew it was wrong, then felt convicted of it? How did it make you feel?

Guilty? Shameful? Sad? Disgusted? Maybe it’s all of those things plus a few others.

I grew up in the Catholic religion. Talk about a lot of dos and don’ts. I remember going into the confessional and having to confess my wrong doings to a priest. I never felt comfortable doing that. But it was part of being a “good” Catholic.

I always felt shameful walking in the confessional as a child. There was always someone in the church watching you walk in and out of it. For all I know, they timed how long I was in there, too.

I didn’t feel any better coming out of the booth with my litany of prayers to recite for penance. It was like slapping a heavy chain on my wrong doings. Then I had to walk up the miles long church aisle to the hard wooden pew.

Confession. I don’t think I ever said the amount of prayers I was given. Another confession. I lied to the priest. Gasp! Wait, one more. I was surly with the priest. I know, right? How I made it out of the church without my pants catching on fire is beyond me. You know, liar, liar, pants on fire?

Imagine if that’s how I felt about that part of the catholic religion, how I felt about God! Is it any wonder, I would throw my protective cone off and run nilly willy in the opposite direction?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m in no way blaming a religion for my choices. But, it did factor into some of my wayward decision making.

After years of letting sin run my life, I wanted out. The world and what it had to offer was too much, too heavy, and too pained for me. But God! My plan collided with His and He lifted me up.

Imagine my surprise when instead running into a hard hearted God I ran smack into a loving, protective Father. Instead of a litany list of prayers for penance, He simply said, “You’re forgiven.” Instead of a leather belt whipping task master, I found a Father who only wanted to scoop me up, soothe all my wounds, heal my heart, and restore what’s been stolen.

Moose may not like his cone, but as his protector it’s my job to see he’s well loved.

Jesus as my Protector, wants me to know how loved I am.

As I look back on my life, He’s in every single place. He gave me a choice on which way to go. And even though I’ve chosen the worst path, countless times, He’s still, right there, ready to turn those ashes into something beautiful.

Why would He do that? It’s the same reason He suffered at the hands of accusers and died a sinners death on a cross. Love. He did it for LOVE.

He did it for me. He did if for you. He did it for ALL. I don’t know what type of “cone” you may be wearing, but, Jesus has a crown with your name on it. It’s your choice, cone or crown. Just another example of the love He has for you. You get to choose.

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Hand Made Gifts

Yesterday I received a birthday gift from a dear friend. The gift came with a written description of its origin. It’s a beautiful representation of being hand made by our Creator. Rather than tell you about it, I’m going to share the words that are on the card, with you. Because I love it that much!

“HAND MADE
WITH LOVE IN THE MASTER’S HANDS

JOB 33:9

I AM THE SAME AS YOU IN GOD’S SIGHT,
I TOO AM A PIECE OF CLAY”

“These beads…

When clay is new it can be very hard to work with, but the more you work with it in your hands the softer it becomes until you are able to form it. Once formed you put it in the fire to cure it.

These beads represent us. Different shapes, different colors and some have imperfections. Each time you look at these beads let them serve as a reminder of your beauty and worth. I pray you will see yourself as God sees you and that is unique, one-of-a-kind and beautiful. You may even have an imperfection just as these beads do. It is important to remember that imperfection is unique to the character of just that one bead. However, you did not get that imperfection by mistake. Just know, that it was given for a specific reason (so don’t try and change it). this reason you may not understand, but it is part of how God hand made you and He will use it for His glory.

When God is forming us in His hands, we start to become soft. He softens us so he can mold us, then we too must go through the fire to be cured. Although it’s not pleasant it’s an important part of the process that helps us to keep our form.

He uses many different colors and works us together and forms us into a beautiful masterpiece. Imperfect but still useful. The colors can represent either your talents, other believers, family or friends. Always remember you are beautiful just the way you are. ”

I don’t know where these were purchase from and there wasn’t a name attached, so I’m not quite sure who to give credit to. But how beautiful is the reminder that despite our flaws and imperfections God can still use us. How can you not want to know your Creator as intimately as He know you?

I don’t want to take away from the beautiful message by writing too much, but I do want to share the a picture of my smashingly colorful bracelet.

God sees you my friend, and He will finish the work He started in you. It’s His promise. After all, you’re His masterpiece!

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