Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

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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Just A Girl

“And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:38 (ESV)

If you’ve ever heard the story about the birth of Jesus Christ, then you’re sure to have heard about His earthly mother, Mary. We can really only guess her age when the angel Gabriel paid her a visit with a life-changing message. Can you imagine being 13 or 14 and being told you’re going to be impregnated by a Holy Spirit?

Ummm, I’m guessing not.

Mary’s story is like no other. She was just a girl doing her thing, making plans to be married and begin a life with her husband, Joseph. But God. He had a plan and she was a major part of it.

She could’ve said no. She could’ve taken all the presumptions of the things that could go wrong and simply said, “nah, I’m good, but thanks for the offer,” and went on her merry way. Get it. Merry way. Mary way. Her way. Ok, moving on.

Mary wasn’t given the big picture, she was given a snapshot of what was coming. She didn’t phone a friend or ask family for advice. She didn’t say, let me pray on it and get back to you, she simply said:

…“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” …

Luke 1:38 (ESV)

Mary’s faith and trust in the Lord is mind blowing. Don’t you agree? Is it any wonder why God chose her to be the mother of His precious Son, Jesus? God didn’t just choose Mary on a whim. He knew her. He created her for a purpose, and this was all part of His master plan.

Mary had no idea until that point and time that God had this plan for her. She could’ve been doing any number of things when the angel came upon her. She could’ve been washing the dishes, taking care of the kids, going to work, getting her hair done, wondering why she was put on the earth, or crying over the latest Hallmark Christmas movie. Any of those things sound familiar?

Just like me, just like you, Mary was living her life. Was it a fulfilling life? Did she ponder her life purpose and wait for it to happen? I don’t know, but it seems to me she was making plans to be married like any bride-to-be, would do. She was simply living her life and preparing for the next chapter.

And isn’t that what we do? We make our plans and think we have all the things figured out and then suddenly, without warning a plot twist shows up.

Do you think Mary saw the plot twist of an angel showing up and saying, “hey, girl, heyyyy,” do I got some good news for you”! I’m guessing, she did not!

But when this sudden plot twist of a moment came upon her she didn’t run. She listened. When the angel finished what he needed to say, she simply asked:

…“How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

Luke 1:34 (ESV)

Good question! She didn’t start guessing and creating her own version of what was to happen. She got right to the point. In turn, the angel didn’t dilly dally with his answer, he said:

 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.

Luke 1:35 (ESV)

Do you think her jaw dropped to the floor at that answer? I could almost hear my own flippant answer. “Psshhhtt! Is that all? Well, glory to God in the highest indeed”! But this story isn’t about me. Thank the Lord!

What I’m trying to say here is, Mary was just a girl, living in the moment, doing all the “normal” every day things. God saw her. God knew her. God created her.

I’m just a girl. God sees me. God knows me. God created me.

You’re just a girl. God sees you. God knows you. God created you.

But, being just a girl was never His plan for Mary. It’s not His plan for me. It’s not His plan for you.

When you’re a child of the Most High God, you’re never “just a _________________________”

You’re part of His master plan. You have purpose.

Mary didn’t know when her “suddenly” was going to happen until it did. She would have more “suddenly” moments throughout her life. God didn’t say, “here you go, Mary, good luck with this monumental task” and leave her alone. No, He was with her, wherever she was.

Our “suddenly” moments typically change the course of our lives in ways we didn’t see coming. Just like Mary we have a choice to make. Panic and run or trust the plan God has for each of us. There’s a reason things are permitted in our lives.

Remember, Mary only got a snippet of the big picture. As much as we’d like to think we’re in control, God is the only One who owns the BIG picture. He knows exactly how all the pieces fit together and it will always be for the good and the glory of His Kingdom.

We may not understand. We may not agree, and that’s ok. As much as we think we do, we don’t need all the details. In all honesty, those details can keep us from moving forward in trust or moving forward at all. Why? Because we invent things in our head that most likely will never come to pass. I can’t count the number of times the things I’ve planned haven’t even come close to panning out. Thank you, Jesus!

My friends, whatever snippet you’ve been given as part of the bigger picture, will you trust God with the outcome? Can we follow Mary’s great example and say:

…”let it be to me according to your word.”…

Luke 1:38 (ESV)

Merry Christmas my friends! I pray you know how very much the God of the universe LOVES YOU! After all, He sent His greatest and most precious gift to us. His name is Jesus ~ Emmanuel ~ God is with US!

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Well Meaning People

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark 14:48 (NIV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

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

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The Air of Familiarity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re told by the Apostle Paul:

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

1Corinthians 10:23 (HCSB)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a fabulous day, friends!

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Label Maker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 19:21 (NLT)

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

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

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

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

OR

Life with Christ (Total game changer)

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

Place your Life Before God

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

Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)

Mic drop! Boom!

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

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

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

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LIVE HOLY

with love, the Bold blondie

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