Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

Trash Day

Good to the ness, you know you’re holding on too tightly to things when it’s trash day and you cry when they take ALL the trash. That’s where I found myself this morning. I must’ve looked at those trash containers a bazillion times wondering if they’d take all the trash that was put out to the curb. I’m sure had it not been removed prior to my driving into work I’d still be wondering if they’d take it all. God made sure that was one less thing on my mind today. Thank you, Lord.

It’s been about a minute since I paid any attention to my blog. I’ve thought about it a lot, but I was just too weary to write. It’s a season of change and I don’t always walk through change with grace. I mutter under my breath. I talk out loud. I pretend like it’s all okay. I convince myself this is a good thing all the while kicking change like it’s a boulder I’m supposed to move. Is it any wonder I found myself crying over overflowing trash?

The thing that has me all twisted up inside is moving. Not only moving, but downsizing. Not only downsizing, but buying instead of renting. This is reason for celebration, right? Everyone is so excited for me and yet, here I am, dragging my feet like it’s a 500 pound weight chained to my ankle.

This particular move is different. I don’t feel it’s permanent but it changes the dynamic of what had become comfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for the gift of being able to buy a home. After all, it’s part of the American dream, right? I no longer have to worry that my rent is going to be raised every time the lease comes due. I don’t have to worry if a pool for my grand daughter is going to ruin the grass. There’s so many good things about this move. I’m even closer to my grand daughter.

Yet, there’s this tugging at my heart that wonders, “did I do the right thing“? As I settle into the new house, I see things I didn’t see when I looked at it 3 times. This home, like me, has its’ quirks. But, it also has its’ charm. One friend described it as “quaint.”

The rental was more than I needed, but it worked for the season I was in. After 8 years, life was pretty comfortable. The easy choice would’ve been to stay at the rental and pay yet another increase in rent. But it didn’t sit well in my soul. It didn’t sit well 2 years ago when the rent was raised. I stayed, because it seemed easier than moving.

However, it cost me something besides money signing the last lease. It robbed me of my peace. I panicked every time I thought of the lease coming due. I panicked every time I got a text message from the landlord. That’s no way to live. Something had to give.

You’d think the answer would be easy. Move! But, it wasn’t just my life I was uprooting once again. It was my son’s. Yes, I know he’s a grown man but to me, he’s my child and life was going to be changing for him as well. So, the “move” solution, while simple enough, was still complicated.

Can I take some time here to give God some praise? When I finally made the decision to move, I didn’t have the money for a down payment for this house or any other house. I had no idea how or where it was going to come from. I figured I had some time to save the funds, but it didn’t work out. My son offered to loan me the money for a truck he was selling, but it never sold. Yet! Totally believing God to come through on the sale of that truck when it’s time.

I digress, back to the house. But God! I won’t get into the details, but let me say God showed up and provided for the down payment. I was BLOWN away. I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t have to haggle for the price of the house and it was really all I wanted.

Not only did God come through on the funds. He came through on the actual move, the lawyer I needed, the realtor and the list goes on and on.

So what’s my problem? Change. Change is my problem. It means I have to grow. It means laying down the old, and picking up the new. It means getting real with myself. I allowed some things to creep in that had no business in my life. I let fear in. I forgot who I was in Christ. I allowed my circumstances to be bigger than my God.

I put myself in a cocoon of sorts when this happens. I wrap myself up and hope no one pops the bubble wrap I placed myself in. Unfortunately, there’s always someone or something ready to pop the bubbles. It’s not always a bad thing when those bubbles pop. I knew it was time to throw the wrap off, stop retreating, and step into the next chapter with God.

And here I am! In my new home surrounded by boxes, unpacking, decluttering and thankful for trash day.

It’s funny how something like the trash being collected turns my heart and mind to Jesus. Everyday He takes my sin (trash) away. He collects it up and throws it as far as the east is to the west. He brushes me off and sets me back on my way. How can you not wake up and give God all the glory, glory! He is indeed worthy of ALL praise.

Have a beautiful day my friends! Know that God’s already gone before you and He’s right here with you!

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Falling Apart

You can do the hard things, but you don’t have to do it reliant on your strength. Wait, what? Lemme ‘splain Lucy. The other day, my son asked if I wanted a hug. I did, but I hesitated for a few seconds. I felt if I went in for the hug, I would lose whatever it was that was holding me altogether. I was tired. More tired than I realized.

The current battle in this moment was too much and a hug from my son might just be the end of me. I felt a choke hold of emotions rising up in my chest and throat, threatening to steal my composure. Do you know what I mean?

I surrendered and went in for the hug. Yep, I cried. I said I was tired of always being the “strong one.” My beautiful grown son gave me permission to stop being strong. For the next few moments I just breathed through my tears. Why is it so hard to be vulnerable? Why is it so hard to drop the facade and just say, I’m tired? 

I don’t know that I needed permission not to be strong, but I felt a surge of relief wash over me as I let it go. 

If you know me, you know I’m not a fan of putting puzzles together. I don’t even like riddles. Gasp! I know, right? I want the easy. I want the answer. I. Just. Want. To. Know! 

If you put a riddle on your social media post, I will google the heck out of it before I answer, and feel no shame! However, I will not read the end of a book I’m reading until I get there. It’s complicated, I know. 

Unfortunately for those like me who just want the answers, waiting is beyond annoying. But you don’t get where you’re going until you take a step, and then another, and sor forth, and so on. It’s like the exasperating puzzle. You put it together one piece at a time. 

There’s the key. It’s in coming together of the broken apart pieces that make the puzzle whole. When we try to ignore those broken pieces, we set the healing aside. We stuff those pieces down and let them flounder around in our beings as they look for an escape. 

Make no doubt, those pieces will find their way out, one way or another. 

Look around. You’ll see them if you dare to look close enough. It’s the person reaching for the bottle, hoping to drink it away. It’s in the addict, hoping to numb it away. It’s in the abuse, hoping to rage it away. 

Hurt needs an escape. It needs to be tended to. It needs a vulnerable place to land. A place where shame, guilt, and self-condemnation don’t reside. A place that says, it’s ok to cry. It’s ok, to fall apart. 

It’s so very important who you share your hurts with. In the wrong hands those hurts become weapons to take you down even further. To be used against you in moments you never see coming. 

Humans can be so very cruel and yet so very caring. It’s critical you know the difference. 

The day my son asked me if I wanted a hug, I didn’t know I needed one. But, my Jesus knew. 

He knew my human strength was waning. He knew exactly what I needed in the weakness I had yet to see.  

For the answer to be a hug is huge. I didn’t grow up in a hugging family. It’s not what we did. We only hugged when necessary. They always felt foreign. But, that’s not what a true hug is. It’s the total opposite. 

Hugs are a very simple yet powerful gift from our Heavenly Father. It takes 2 people to make a hug happen. It’s a participatory act of opening up your arms and both giving and receiving one another. A true hug envelopes your entire being and gives you space to just be. 

Friend, it’s ok to not have it all together. It’s ok to come undone and cry things out. After all, you never know what you might find after the tears have cried themselves out. And maybe, just maybe, whatever needs to fall apart, will be the very thing you need for things come together. 

It’s gonna be a GREAT day and you get to be here for it! How awesome is that? 

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Before You Say Never

Caught up on Grey’s Anatomy over the weekend. The episode was called “Look Up Child”. One of the character doctor’s named Jackson went to visit the man who fathered him. His father left him and his mom when Jackson was a child. He had questions for his dad, Robert. Jackson was doing some internal searching on what to do with his life. Jackson asked his dad about the family business that he also left behind. By the way, the family business is referred to as the “foundation.” They pretty much have tons of money. Anyways, Robert began explaining a bit about his lack of enthusiasm for the foundation. He said, “I was never gonna be the son my father wanted, because I didn’t wanna be the man the role required.”

As you can well imagine, Robert’s father was none too happy that he wanted no part in the family business. He had a few less than desirable things to say about his son. Things that left an impact. Things that he allowed sink in, take hold and shape his worth. Things that led him to believe his son was better off without him. The relationship Robert had with his dad affected another generation.

By worldly standards, it would be easy to see a dead beat dad instead of a wounded soul. Our decisions/choices matter. Our words, matter.

Getting caught up in the trap that we are the masters of people lives is nothing new. It’s been going on for thousands of years. Social media has made it worse.

I want to get back to that statement Robert said, “I was never gonna be the son my father wanted, because I didn’t wanna be the man the role required.”

Never-that’s a long time to think something about yourself. Yet we do it everyday. Go ahead and think about the last time you claimed that over your life.

“I’ll never be as pretty as her.”
“I’ll never be that good at….”
“I’ll never be that muscular.”
“I’ll never lose this baby weight.”
“I’ll never ________________________ (fill in your “never”)

The list could go on and on. When we think of ourselves in a negative way and what we lack, we set ourselves up for our own failure.

Robert didn’t need to be the son he thought his father wanted. Robert’s identity was not in who his father wanted him to be. It also was not in the job he chose.

Every time we tie our identity to things of this earth, it’s imperative to know those things are temporary and can be taken away at any time.

Many people think they’re the job they do. I used to one of them. My brother was another who believed he was the job he did. I watched him fail to find purpose after he retired. He was lost, broken, and couldn’t find his way out of the bottom of a bottle. He spoke non-affirming words over himself and bought into the lies he believed to be true. Some of those lies were from his own thoughts, some were given to him in anger and some were given to him in hate. Our words matter. I can’t say that enough.

I loved my brother. I miss him greatly. He left a void. But, this earth was not his true home. I wish he could’ve seen himself reflected in the eyes from the ones who loved him best. But, even our best could not outmatch the One who loved him more than anyone ever could. One who loved him unconditionally. One who wanted the absolute best for him. One who died to give him life. One who created him for more than he could’ve ever imagined.

The same One who loved my brother like that, loves you like that. You’re not hidden from His view. No matter what you think you know about God, I guarantee it doesn’t even come close to what He knows about you.

But, that’s a relationship you’ll have to build. When you’re ready. When you’ve had your fill of the world and what it has to offer. Or more so, what it wants to take. You may think like I used to, God wants to take things from you, but that’s not who He is. It’s in your surrender, your giving up, where you’ll find beauty from ashes. It’s a personal choice my friends, because He’s a personal God.

He’s the Giver, we’re the receiver. But, don’t take my word for it. Read it for yourselves from James 1:17

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (NIV)

The beauty is that He gives you the gift of free will. He allows you to believe in Him or not. But before you say you’ll never believe in Him, take a chance and get to know Him. Not because I told you to, but because you know there’s something more that’s been “calling” you. I promise you won’t be sorry for answering that call.

Have a beautiful day friends!

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Hard Things

The other day I got some unexpected snail mail. I love getting cards in the mail. Don’t you? Inside the beautiful card was a book magnet. It was also beautiful. Then I read the inscription. “You can do hard things.”

My eyes widened, my heart took a few extra beats and I thought, “Oh, Lord…what now’? My thoughts ran from, I can do the hard things, to what if I don’t wanna do the hard things? What if I’m not willing to do the hard things? What if I’m not really ready for the hard things?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t take everything as a sign as things to come, but this felt like it was something I needed to my attention. And the thing about doing hard things, you can’t really avoid them.

If 2020 showed us anything, it showed us hard things. But in the midst of them, there was a lot of good. It would’ve been easy to stay focused on the bad. I mean, it was constantly shoved in our faces at every turn. Good to the ness!

But what stood out in my mind, was the good. The people who stepped up and helped out and shared the love despite all the yuck. I bet if you look back, you’ll see some of that too.

Back to my impending “hard things”.

First of all, I gotta give praise to God. He’s been so faithful to walk me through what was coming up. I can’t even begin to tell you all the ways. I can tell you, it’s been a good couple of weeks that step by step He led me through and prepared the way.

Let’s see that Deuteronomy 31:8 has to say about how God goes before us:

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (NIV)

Not only does He go before us, but He lets us know He’s with us and then instructs us not to be afraid or discouraged.

He’s such a good Father. Even in the wake of things to come. Even if things don’t turn out the way I want or think I need.

Last night the first hard thing came and it carried over to this morning. It wasn’t anything I planned or really saw coming. But, I knew in my heart that after a couple of days of hearing “it’s time,” the time had come.

I’ve been a hot, tears spilling down my face mess. I hear my Savior whisper to come to Him and lay my heartache down.

When God asks you do lay something down, it’s for your good. It may not feel like it in the moment, but if you stick to what He says, I firmly believe you’ll bear the good fruit that will come from obeying.

Remaining where I am or going where He wants to take me is of course a choice. I don’t have to do the hard thing. I can stay put and see how my plans work out, but the closer I grow to Him, the more I know He has the very best plan for my life. Lord knows, I’ve chosen my plans over His countless times and I know how those plans turned out.

Those plans were typically for my self-seeking pleasure. The all about me plans. The what I deserve plans. The what about me plans. Oy vey. And finally, the me, myself and I-(dol) plans.

So, I did what I firmly believed God asked of me and with tears I let the thing He asked me to lay down, go. I spent time with Him in prayer sharing how I felt. He sat with me as I cried it out. He sits with me as I type it out, and use countless kleenex to clean up my tear-stained face.

Yes, I can do the hard things. Not because of me. Because of Him. You my friend, can do the hard things too. Not because of you. Because of Him. Because He loved us first and He loves us best.

I don’t know what hard thing you may be going through. But, stick close to God throughout it. He’s going to carry you through to the other side. Whatever that looks like, put your trust in Him. After all, He is the one who controls the winds and the waves.

I’ll leave you with this promise:

“But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; he flames will not set you ablaze.”

Have an amazing day, friends. Be bold! Be courageous and set your sights on things above.

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Show Me The Way

The other day when I turned on the tv, Little House On The Prairie was what popped up on the screen. I can’t say I remember watching too much of this show when it originally aired or even the reruns. But for some reason this one caught my eye.

There’s a character named Edwards. I guess he hurt his foot and was feeling pretty useless and depressed. So, Ma Ingalls suggested to Pa Ingalls to take Laura over to Edwards house and go help cheer him up. Over the course of the visit, the man, Edwards suggested a hunting trip, and it was agreed that Pa Ingalls and Laura would go along.

Once in the woods Pa and Edwards decided to head out to hunt while Laura stayed behind to make some grub. Aha! Herein lies the true reason Edwards wanted to go into the woods. As I said before he felt useless because of his bum foot. It made him feel like a burden to his wife and friends. So he concocted a plan to off himself. He was just about to pull the trigger of his rifle to shoot himself in the head when Pa Ingalls kicked the gun away. With his suicidal plan out in the open, Edwards told Pa his plan and “reasonings” behind it. Who knew Little House tackled such heavy subjects as this?

Edwards was determined to finish what he started. But Pa Ingalls was just as determined to save his friend. While praying to God, Pa asked the Lord to show him how to help his friend. Help being the key word here. He asked God to show him the way. Just then a deer came out into the open. Pa said it was pretty much the deer’s lucky day and tried to shoo it away.

He fired a round into the air to scare the deer away. It didn’t move. A perplexed Pa then had an epiphany and said “show me the way.” Next thing we hear is another shot fired. This second shot captured Edwards attention who was sitting in his woe is me stew several hundred feet away. Pa screams out Edwards name and Edwards quickly hobbles over to Pa. When Edwards reaches Pa, he sees Pa on the ground looking poorly. There’s blood on Pa’s shirt. Dun, dun, dun.

Pa tells Edwards he needs to go back to camp and get Laura and a horse. Surprisingly, Edwards makes it back to Laura at camp and says her Pa’s been hurt and they have to go get him. BUT, Pa strolls into camp, blood still on his shirt, uninjured. Seems it must not have been the deer’s lucky day after all. The blood smear had to come from somewhere. Poor deer.

Edwards is pretty angry after having to hobble all the way back to camp on his walking stick crutch and complains he almost killed himself doing it. Ironic huh? Little House all over here teaching folks big lessons.

Once Edwards got outside of his own dark musings and thought more of helping his friend, his life took on another meaning. Instead of thinking he was useless and no good to anyone, he put all those type thoughts behind him and dug deep to find the strength he needed to help his friend. His injury may have hindered him a bit, but it couldn’t stop the overwhelming desire within him to help Pa. That desire to help, propelled him into action.

The enemy loves to isolate and speak death into your mind. He only comes to kill, steal, and destroy. Edwards couldn’t see past his injury. He allowed the lie that he was useless because of his injury define the rest of his life. How often does this happen in real life? Life isn’t what we think it should be, so we shrug our shoulders, say this is as good as it gets, and become like the walking dead. We draw further into our own world and forget that life is best lived when we help one another.

We all have different skills and gifts. We’re wired that way to help one another, not hurt one another. We’re wired that way to lift one another up, not tear each other down. Love one another is the Lord’s commandment for a reason. He knows what hate can do, what it’s capable of, and the way it hardens our hearts. Hate doesn’t make us stronger. It makes us weak. So weak in fact, we give up on the life Christ died to give us. I’m just gonna let you think about that on your own.

Today’s a new day. It already looks different than yesterday. Tomorrow’s not promised. How will you LIVE out this gift of today? It’s your choice. I hope you choose love. Love is its own reward when lived out as intended.

What does that love look like? I’m so glad you asked!

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4~7 (NLT)

Love well my friends!

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It’s Not Okay

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” ~ Matthew 12:36-37 (ESV)

The other day I got a text message from a dear friend. Not just any friend, but a friend who goes out of her way to make the world a better place. She knows pain. She knows what it’s like to have her feelings hurt. She doesn’t want that for those she loves or comes into contact with, so she encourages and uplifts.

To say I got a little peeved when I found out someone made a unwarranted, hurtful comment to her is an understatement. Not only did I get upset for her, but I got super upset over the way she was hurt. Why? Because it’s not okay.

It’s not okay for anyone to make a comment about someone else’s body. Please read that again. None of us have that right. It’s none of our business. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way we’ve made it our business and blurred the lines of what’s acceptable.

Let’s look up the word harass, shall we? For the purposes of this post, we’re going to go with this definition from Merriam Webster:

to create an unpleasant or hostile situation for especially by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct.

Can you see how an unwelcomed comment concerning body type could easily be considered harassment?

You can blame the careless and reckless use of your words on society or some other reason, but the truth of the matter is, if it comes from your lips, you’re solely responsible for it. Period.

Even as I’m typing this message I’m having a hard time not blurting out the thoughts flying around in my brain. But if I typed exactly what I was thinking, it wouldn’t be helpful. It’s not my desire to compound an already tender issue with more hate and discontent.

My body is not up for your debate. My body was not designed, built, or created in, or to your standard. The fact that anyone thinks they need to make any kind of comment as to what anyone looks like, says 100 times more about them than it ever will about the person being verbally attacked.

Make no mistake, careless words have the power to hurt, even devastate someone. Is that how you like to be treated? I know for certain it’s not how I like to be treated. I also know for certain, that I’ve treated others recklessly with my own careless words. I’m not perfect. But, that’s no excuse for being nasty. It’s simply a cover-up to justify the nastiness.

It’s not okay!

I’ve been reminded of the many times over the course of my God-given life of the careless words I’ve said to myself. On any given day, you can find me fluctuating between the realization of who God says I am or the skewed worldly views that always remind me of who I’m not.

And that’s it, right there. We bought the lies that tell us, we’re not pretty enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not skinny enough, we’re not rich enough….when is enough, enough?

I can’t answer that for you. I can only answer that for me. My heart hurts for the constant barrage of hateful things said to others in the “heat of the moment.” We’ve become complacent in hate. We’ve allowed it to seep into all of our crevices and it can’t help but pour itself out for fear it may totally consume us. Except, we have a choice.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into that passage of Matthew that opened this blog with The Message translation.

“If you grow a healthy tree, you’ll pick healthy fruit. If you grow a diseased tree, you’ll pick worm-eaten fruit. The fruit tells you about the tree. “You have minds like a snake pit! How do you suppose what you say is worth anything when you are so foul-minded? It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.”” ~ Matthew 12:33-37

You see, as I stated earlier, we have a choice. My son tells me that when I pass from this life to the next, he’s going to take my remains and make me into a tree. It makes me laugh. I don’t know if he’ll actually do that or not. But, if he does, I hope I’m a tree that produces healthy fruit.

That’s the legacy I’d like to leave behind for those who come after me. Healthy fruit. Life giving, healthy fruit that carries over from generation to generation.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, you probably heard this before, “if you ain’t got nothing nice to say, DON’T say it.” We literally do not have to comment on everything we come across. It’s a choice.

It’s my heartfelt prayer no one ever speaks another mean word to you but if they do, I hope your roots are firmly planted in the love of Jesus Christ and who He says you are. He is after all, the sustainer of ALL that is good.

And that is something worthy of all our praise!

Have a beautiful day my friends!

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California Roll Style

I came upon a 4-way stop this morning on my way to work. As my car came crept up to the stop sign, I witnessed a truck slow to a crawl, but not come to a complete stop at their designated stop sign. I thought, “Ooooh, look at you just California rolling” through the intersection. Disclaimer; I may be guilty of doing this from time to time myself.

Over the course of my life, many people have made an impact on my life. But there’s a difference between someone making an impact on your live versus in your life.

I don’t know where I learned the phrase “California roll” for this traffic violation but wherever I learned it, it stuck. According to urban dictionary, this phrase means: “To fail to make a complete stop at a red light or stop sign, especially when turning.” See, I didn’t just make this up on my own. And I bet you thought I was gonna be talking about sushi! HA! This is not about sushi.

This past year where we’ve been allowed to work from home, stay secluded in our homes, and refrain from the life we’ve grown accustomed to has been hard. Life may not have come to a complete stop, but it definitely came to a California roll.

Where did I see this happen the most in my life? In my faith. Let me explain. Before the Covid “lockdown” I was in “control” of whether I went to go to church or not. When I made the decision to stay home from church pre-Covid, it was typically because the week had been to “people-y” for me. You all are awesome, but don’t get me wrong, sometimes life outside the confines of my home, is a lot for this introverted extrovert girl.

But then staying at home became my only option, thanks to a pandemic. Awesome. Not!

Watching church on-line is easy. It means I don’t have to be fully present. I can carry my digital device from room to room in my house and listen to the message while doing other things. It’s called multi-tasking. You know what happens when you multi-task? Something usually gets missed.

This past Sunday, I decided I was going to be fully present during church. No multi-tasking allowed. No California roll type faith happening this day. I didn’t go in-person. I stayed home. I was reminded as I listened and watched the worship and message who I was there for and why.

Church is not about the people. It’s not about the worship team, the pastor, the tithing, or the potlucks. It’s not about the hypocrites, the sinners, or the saints. Those reasons alone can actually keep you from going to church. They make for a good excuse. I mean who hasn’t heard, “there’s too many hypocrites in church” as an excuse not to go?

Please hear my heart when I say those things I’ve mentioned are not reasons to not attend church. I’ve had so many amazing encounters because of all those people and events. Having a church family is truly a blessing in ways I can’t even begin to remotely express my gratitude over. Relationship and community are a part of the life Jesus has for us. We need our peeps. And I’m not talking about them sugary marshmallow shaped chicks or bunnies! Blech!

So what’s church about if it isn’t those “things”? I’m so glad you asked. It’s about Jesus. It’s always been about Jesus and the message of the gospel. It’s about rest. It’s about taking the focus off you and centering on the One who gave His life for you. It’s about feeding your soul with the life altering Bread of life. If you go to church for any other reason than getting to know Jesus intimately than you’re missing out on the very thing you…I need most. Jesus.

 Jesus is the only One who makes an impact IN you. But, you have to stop long enough to get to know Him. California rolling through the process is like swiping right on a dating app. Or is it left? Clearly I don’t use these. HA!

The point of all this babbling is to say going to church is FOR you, but it’s ABOUT Him. What you get out of the experience is where you place your focus.

Matthew 6:33 says:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” ~ NIV (emphasis added)

If you want to know about “all these things” mentioned in that verse, I’d recommend reading all of Matthew 6.

At the end of the day, getting to know Jesus is a choice. How much time you invest in doing that, again, your choice. It’s called free will. It’s a gift. One we didn’t earn. And that’s the thing, Jesus freely gave His life for you. And you get to decide if you want in or out. That’s some amazing grace my friends. Choose wisely.

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Broken Shells

Just over a year ago I was at the beach with a friend I hadn’t seen in years. We had an outstanding time reconnecting! I’m not a huge fan of crowded beaches or hot sand. Since it was February, the sand wasn’t hot, and the South Carolina beach wasn’t crowded. It was perfection in my book!

Every day my cherished friend and I walked along the beach discovering its hidden treasures. She was on the hunt specifically for a whole sand dollar. She never found one. She found all kinds of broken ones. She collected them anyways. The thought was to piece one together to see if a whole one could be made.

Yesterday in my quiet time with Jesus, I was brought back to the beach. As I walked along the memory beach I carefully picked up each broken shell I came across and held it close. As if that broken shell was the most precious thing on earth.

Usually the broken shells are thrown down or tossed into the ocean. The flaws make them un-pretty.

Your flaws? Your broken parts? How do you see them? It’s important how you see them, because they’re part of you. You can’t erase them. You can’t out run them. Wherever you are, they are too. That’s why it’s so important to know, they don’t define you.

Did they change you? Absolutely. Did they end you? No. But they did become part of your story. The key word here is “part.” Are you letting part of your story define the rest of your life?

For years I allowed collective parts of my story tell me I was a failure. I held onto shame, guilt, embarrassment, and fear like they were my best friends.

Like those tossed aside broken shells on the beach, I felt un-pretty. So, I did what I knew to do. I buried the broken bits and pieces deep inside and then planted my “I’m ok” flag on top of my emotional mound of yuck.

I tried to pack the pain-filled voids with all types of things like sex, alcohol, shopping, crazy diets, television, food, exercise, etc. Guess what? The mound of yuck was still there. But, it never let me alone. It wanted to be addressed. It wanted out. Instead of letting it out, I stuffed it back down.

How’d that work out for me? It didn’t. When I thought I couldn’t take the pain of it all any longer, I made a plan to escape it. I was done. I wanted out.

But, years later, I’m still here. My self-destructive plan collided head on with Jesus. My plan failed. Thank you Jesus!

My life forever changed when I met Jesus. I don’t know who you think He is, but for me, He’s everything.

He is absolutely everything I’m not and so much more. But even though I‘d heard of Him, I didn’t know Him. Maybe you’ve heard of Him. But I have to ask, have you experienced Him? There’s a marked difference.

Being told about Jesus is not the same as having a relationship with Him. When you truly collide with Him, there’ll be no mistaking it.

It’s my heartfelt prayer today that you know Jesus in such a way, there’s no denying it. I wasn’t even looking for Him when He came for me. He came for you too, whether you believe it right now, or not. I can’t wait for you to meet Him.

The picture below is a beautiful shell I spotted on Myrtle Beach, Feb 2019. I left it there in hopes someone else might be reminded just as I was of how very loved I am. Do you see a broken shell? I see it whole, made just as it should be.

Have an amazing day, friend! It was made with you in mind, by the Creator of the universe. How awesome is that?!

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Uncontrollable Laughter

It took me a long time to get my Associates degree. I wasn’t a fan of schooling. I got bored easily, and my mind more often than not, drifted to places I’d much rather be. Daydreamer. Yeah, I’m ok, with that label.

In grade school I was the girl in the corner because I talked too much. I don’t ever remember a teacher asking me why I was disruptive. I wonder if I would have told them you didn’t speak much in my house. That school was the only place I felt I got to be “me.” Funny, they thought placement in a corner could keep me quiet.

In High School one of my favorite classes was typing class. The teacher would call out, A,S,D,F,J,K,L,semma (for semi-colon), over and over, for our finger placement on the keys. As I sit down at the computer keyboard, I still think about this. When my fingers are placed incorrectly, words are jumbled and off their mark.

We had assignments in typing class. I would get them done and then type up stories about my best friend and her boyfriend. I titled all the stories “As The Stomach Turns.” I got the title from the Carol Burnett show. Those particular skits made fun of soap operas. If you’re a soap opera fan, you may recall the show, “As The World Turns.”

I would giggle and smile at the overly dramatic stories of my beloved friend and her love life as I typed them out. You may understand if you’ve ever been caught smiling at your smart phone as you received or typed out a text to someone. My bestie would read the stories and we’d both laugh at the ridiculousness of them. It was a highlight of our day.

Daily laughter was crucial to my existence. Laughter didn’t come so easily in the home where I grew up. But when we did laugh, we really laughed. The kind of laughing where your stomach and cheeks hurt.

Back to my degree. When you enter the military you have the opportunity to go to college. For many years, I couldn’t be bothered. I thought we had enough “schooling” with learning how to do our jobs and become great leaders. But, if you wanted to progress in rank, having that coveted piece of paper proving you were educated was required.

Thankfully this is where the Community College of the Air Force came into play. So many of the courses you took for your military job could be counted as credit to your degree. Sa-weet!

Two of the last classes I needed for my 20 year degree was algebra and public speaking. Yes, it took me 20 years to get my degree. But, that’s not the point. This is about the last 2 classes and more pointedly the public speaking class.

If you stay in the military long enough, you’re going to have to get up in front of folks and either recite something, teach something, or commend someone.

Public speaking can be scary. My legs shook and wobbled and it took all I could do to remain upright. My voice sounded crackly, my throat got dry, and let’s throw shaky hands in the mix. Is it any wonder that one of the last classes I took was public speaking?

When it came time to sign up for that dreaded public speaking class I was elated to find there was a condensed summer course. Score!

I have to admit I totally loved the class. It was so much fun. All the outwardly things I spoke about earlier still happened, but I wasn’t alone. My fellow students understood what I was feeling. Then this happened.

We were given a simple tongue twister to recite. Simple enough. When it was my turn, I got up from my seat, walked to the podium, and confidently started to recite what was in my hand. I think I was about 5 words into it, when I started laughing uncontrollably. Seriously, the more I tried to stop laughing, I laughed even more. I looked at the professor, and she was not amused.

To make matters worse, I looked at 2 of my friends in the class and the look on their faces made me laugh even harder. Eventually, the whole class was laughing. Not my teacher. She still was not amused.

I decided to turn my back to the class. After a minute or what seemed like a lifetime, I finally regained my composure. I took a deep breath, turned around, opened my mouth to speak only to have laughter come pouring forth…again. The class for whatever reason was still just as amused as I was, and joined me. I wonder if their stomach and cheeks hurt as much as mine did?

In an effort to get this madness under control I once again turned my back on my audience. I regained my composure, and I turned around. I looked at my professor’s face, and I finally got the assignment over with. I’ve never had anything like this happen before, and I’ve never had anything happen like that again. To this day, I have no clue why it happened.

If I had to venture a guess, God either knew I needed a good laugh, or someone in the class did, or maybe we all just needed a good belly laugh. I can’t say for sure if the class was laughing with me or at me. Maybe it was both. Either way, the memory of it brings a silly smile to my face.

Life can get super serious. Make sure you take time to be silly. Laugh! It’s good for you. We’ve all been through a lot lately. Too much of any emotion will leave us unbalanced.

Is laughing a cure-all? Probably not, but it has a lot of benefits. I’ll leave you with a question.

When was the last time you laughed…really laughed?

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Rancid Stew

Last night I had a crazy dream….totally sang that! There were a lot of parts to my dream but I want to share the part where I got shot in the leg by someone I didn’t know, or maybe it was just some I didn’t recognize. I stared in disbelief that this person shot me. I screamed out “why did you shoot me”? They just looked at me, shrugged their shoulders and moved on, while I was left there wounded and bleeding.

I don’t believe this was a random dream. The other day someone close to me intentionally hurt me. But it wasn’t with a gun. It was with their words. I wasn’t stunned in disbelief as in my dream as this wasn’t the first time this has happened. Because of that fact, I can more easily decipher this wasn’t about me, it was something that hurt them, and the retaliation was to ensure someone felt their pain. That someone, was me.

As misguided as that sounds, this happens all the time. It’s been said, “You get what you give” or that’s “karma” for you. But it’s really just “hurt people, hurt people.” This comes from growing bitter. This comes from not openly and honestly confronting the problem you have with someone in love. Instead, stewing about it for days seems the better option. Trust me, it’s not.

“Danger, Will Robinson, danger”!

During the stewing process, not only does the current hurt get added, but previous hurts, unresolved bitterness, and things not even pertinent to the current issue gets thrown in. Now you’ve got one rancid stew. As the rancid stew keeps bubbling it’s got to go somewhere. After all, it’s been brewing for days now, and you have to release the pressure. Or in this case, release the hate.

Unfortunately, the receiver of this rancid stew you’re ready to serve rarely sees it coming. How do I know? Because I’ve been both the receiver and the giver of rancid stew.

I’ve learned as the receiver of this stew I have 2 options. Respond in kind, or try to get to the real heart of the matter. I’ve also learned responding in kind keeps the unhealthy behavior in play and gets me nowhere. This is not what I want for my life or for anyone’s life for that matter.

I know not to enter into the fray too soon after being served rancid stew. The server (original hurting person) may still be in “stewing” mode. Only this stew is the, “I showed them” kind of stew. This stew is all about feeling vindicated and successful in the hurting of you. This stew is totally acceptable to the server of the rancid stew. What’s that phrase? Oh yeah. “Misery loves company.”

And because misery loves company, we make sure everyone around us gets a taste of the rancid stew so we can ensure:

  1. We have backing before we serve the stew. (Misguided courage and pride)
  2. We can share afterwards how the intended received the stew. (Pride, pride, and more pride)
  3. And lastly, we can sit back and pat ourselves on the back for having the guts to hurt someone. (I’ll let you fill this part in, but for sure pride is in the mix)

When I became a Christian, I thought I just needed to take this type of stew, talk it out with Jesus, pray for the person, and go about my day.

This is where healthy boundaries come into play. I think I just heard angels sing! God gave us the Ten Commandments. Think of them as boundaries. The minute you bust a boundary, consequences are sure to follow. You either correct the behavior that caused you to break the boundary or you keep going until it breaks you. Yeah, I may know a thing or two about being broken by the consequences of breaking those boundaries. Oy vey!

It was time to set a boundary. The first thing to do was to find out what the real issue was that started the stew. Fortunately, it was relatively easy. As I said, there’s a starter to the stew, and then all the other things not necessarily pertinent get thrown in as well. I was prepared for all the stew ingredients because they haven’t changed for this person. I hurt for this person but at the same time, being continually hurt by and blamed for all the things I can neither change or fix is exhausting.

However, if there’s something I need to own, I need to do so in order to help “fix” the stew. This ingredient is called responsibility. Yup, it’s true, I’m being responsible for my own actions. It’s not a new concept, but it’s one largely forgotten or misplaced.

Years of carrying the same unresolved hurts weigh heavy on your soul. It’s too much to carry. It’s why we make the rancid stew. Something has to give or the stew will keep getting more rancid. Hmmm. Let’s start with this, Jesus said,

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

When we first process all the things that burden us with Jesus, we’re better equipped to handle things. Why? Because He will show you a better way. He is after all, the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:16)

When we process things through hate, hurt, lies, and discontent we fill our own heads with, we lash out with the same.

To get to the heart of any matter takes courage and vulnerability. We all have flaws. To see the flaws in ourselves reminds us we’re not perfect. We assume a lot. We’re wrong a lot. We act irrationally, and when that happens we add feeling foolish to the mixture. Not to worry. We’re in good company.

As the song says:

“Everybody plays the fool sometime
There’s no exception to the rule”

Funny, I just looked that up those lyrics and the group who sang that back in the 70s was “The Main Ingredient.” Coincidence? I think not. Moving on.

But, we don’t have to act the fool. Nobody likes to be served rancid stew. I hope the next time someone, myself included, feels the rancid stew brewing, we stop the recipe of misconception, lies, and hurt, and ditch that recipe for disaster into the trash where it belongs.

Honest communication, kindness, and love are great starters for a relationship stew. After all, you know the best meals are all made with….say it with me…bacon! Haha Gotcha! It’s made with love my friends!

Have an amazing day! Remember it doesn’t cost our souls a thing to be kind, but there are great rewards!

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