Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

Cinderella

There are lots of different movie versions of Cinderella. My favorite version of this beloved fairy tale romance is Ever After. If you’ve not watched it, go do that! Seriously.

You might think my favorite part is when Cinderella winds up with her Prince Charming, but you’d be way off. In this version of the movie it’s about the elderly couple, Louise and Maurice who are servants in the mansion.

The evil stepmother has sold Maurice into slavery to pay off her debt. His punishment for her debt? He will be shipped off to “The America’s”. Apparently that was quite the punishment. Who knew?

Instead, Cinderella or in this instance Danielle de Barbarac, our heroine, is able to save Maurice, her elderly friend from his horrible fate. She does this by throwing all caution and pretense to the wind. She borrows one of her evil step sisters dresses and heads into town to pay off the ransom for the man she considers family while pretending to be a courtier. Gasp!

She knows what she’s doing is wrong. She knows if she gets caught she could suffer the same fate as her elderly friend, Maurice, but she decided the risks were worth it. More so, his life was worth more than hers.

Now comes my favorite part.

Louise is out in the gardens working with her other servant friend, Paulette. Paulette spies Maurice, drops her bucket and does this little happy dance trot towards him and Danielle. Maurice and Louise lock eyes from across the field and with arms stretched out in front of themselves, they limp, run to one another until they fall into a loving embrace. I can totally hear the music in my head and see this scene. I tear up every time. It’s the absolute sweetest thing.

My beautiful friends, this is what love in action looks like. Laying down your life for another. It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s risky. But, it’s always worth it. Even if it doesn’t play out the way we intend, it will always matter.

I’m so thankful, there were no cell phones back then. I’m so thankful that once upon a time, people took action, throwing caution to the wind to help their fellow man.

Whipping out a phone and making a video is great for entertainment, but who is it actually helping when someone is in crisis? We’re so afraid of doing the right thing for fear of being sued, we’d rather “help” by watching.

Don’t even get me started on people and their get rich tactics and manipulation. Ain’t nobody got time to give that nonsense attention.

Smart phones can be an awesome thing, but more often than not, they’re a hinderance to doing life the way we were meant to…together, in community, helping one another.

It’s called humanity. It’s being there when it really matters. It’s being there even for a mom you don’t always get along with.

Lord knows I have my own issues. How’s that song go? “Nobody knows the trouble, I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorrow.”

That’s not true. The Lord knows. He’s always looking for those He can send to those He knows have sorrow or a need. We can’t hear Him if we’re too busy feeding our brains by watching other people live their lives through a screen.

The generation we live in, has made great progress in technological advancement, but we use it more to harm ourselves and others more than help. It grieves my heart.

We are self-sufficient, self-deluded, and self-serving. When was the last time you were self-sacrificing?

Believe me when I say, I’m right in the mix with you. It takes a lot to get out of my house some days and interact with people. It takes a lot for me to get in my car to drive and see my mom. But, it hurts me more to stay inside. It hurts me more to not go see my mom.

A hardened heart will always find an excuse to hold tight onto their life. Fear will always hold that hardened heart back from doing what’s right. It’s easier to allow someone else to take a risk than step into something that you’ve been given access to and an opportunity to step up.

I don’t have the answers. I wish I did. What I do know is God is still God. He’s still looking for His helpers. It’s hard to lend a helping hand when the hands are full with a phone we’re afraid of dropping.

All I know is if there’s a need in front on you, you can fill, but you wait for someone else to do it, you may very well miss out on the most precious gift God wants to give you. What He has for His children will far outweigh what the world can ever give.

Life is always moving. People still need help. Are we willing to sacrifice for another? Only time will tell. I sure hope when the opportunity arises, I’ll do my part to help and not harm. The choice is always ours to make.

I’m ever so grateful, Jesus chose to sacrifice His life for mine. I can’t even begin to imagine what that truly cost Him.

Is it any wonder, He tells us to count the cost to follow Him? He knows more than we’ll ever know what that really means.

Be wise, count the cost and if given the chance, help one another.

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Too Soon

I thought I’d drop a Moose update today. Unfortunately, he still has his cone on. I’m hoping for it to come off tomorrow.

Basically, I tried taking the cone off too early. I thought I could try the onesie again and the one small area that still needed to heal, he’d hopefully, leave alone.

This was not the case. So, I had to put the cone back on but not before he caused a few days set back.

In my defense, a scab had fallen off the neutered area, and I figured we were in the clear.

Moose was a champ about me putting the cone back on. Seems I was more antsy about him having it on than he was. Watching him try to scratch the cone over where it itched on his actual head was sad. I felt bad for him.

Now I feel worse for not waiting. But, isn’t that just like life? We want something so bad and we jump in before it’s time?

We don’t want to save the money for something we think we need so we get a credit card thinking that will solve our problem. In reality, it can make things much worse than had we waited to save the money. Paying an interest rate on top of the inflated cost of an item doesn’t make us rich, but it sure put money in someone’s pocket.

How about when we know God has put a dream in our hearts and we don’t wait for His timing but instead jump in before we’ve been properly prepared?

Usually what happens when we move prematurely instead of waiting for God, we don’t receive the full effect of what God has for us, we settle.

I can’t count the number of times I knew in my knower I was supposed to wait for what I thought I wanted, but instead plunged forward. Having to eat the fruit of those consequences is never easy.

Like Moose, the minutes he reveled in his cone-less freedom were no doubt amazing. He frolicked, rolled around, and scratched in areas he couldn’t reach when the cone was on. He even laid his little head on my chest. It was so adorable. He jumped down, and then he began licking. I attempted to make him stop. But, he wanted what he wanted. His wound wasn’t totally healed and now he’d have to pay the consequences of those few minutes of rebellion.

God has given us the Holy Spirit to warn us. You may call it a gut-feeling or intuition. Either way, when we ignore the internal “stop” sign, we’ll have consequences that follow.

The best thing to do when we know we’re headed down the wrong path is immediately change course. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always immediately change course.

I try to justify my way through it far longer than I should. All that’s ever done is prevent the inevitable. In staying or doing anything longer than I know I should typically hurts others as well. It’s never my intent to hurt others, but all actions have consequences. Oy vey!

I’m ever learning that God’s timing truly is perfect even if I don’t understand the reasons I have to wait. But isn’t that where trust and faith come into play?

I’ll leave you with that question to chew on. Here’s an updated picture of Moose, content to be right where he was; in my lap, soaking up the sun, cone and all.

We can learn a lot from our furry friends.

Moose, say cheese! Look at that smile!
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Search Me

“Investigate my life, O God,
    find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
    get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
    then guide me on the road to eternal life.”

Psalm 139:23-24 (MSG)

The past two days I’ve been attending our local 2022 If: Gathering event. It was phenomenal. If you’ve never attended a Christian women’s conference, I highly recommend this one. So good!

The church was filled with women from all over the local area hungry to learn more about their relationship with Jesus. The friends that attended with me, well, it would take more than one blog to tell you about how they’ve each touched and enriched my life. I will say, I hope you have a tribe of friends who support, encourage and love you, the way these women do for me.

Before I even attended the conference I had prayed Psalm 139:23-24. This is never an easy prayer. You’re asking God to search you. You’re asking God to show you what is going on in your life that’s not in line with His will for you. It’s an intimate prayer for God to come in to your life and see what’s going on.

Now, let me say, I thought for sure I already knew. I mean, I live with me 24/7 so, I got this, right? Insert loud buzzer noise for…wrong!

The very first speaker of the night was local. She spoke about God’s Holiness. It was really good. Until she got to a part that made my heart “freeze” and body turn hot.

She spoke about getting advice from someone concerning her marriage. That person told her, she’d find her a good attorney. Then she said, that advice giving person had been married four times. I heard the tone in her voice. I know she was just trying to make a good point on being careful who you seek advice from, but it still hurt. In the context of the message she said the divorced person was the wrong person to ask. I suppose in her case that was correct.

The negative thoughts came rushing at me like a raging river. Wait. I’m divorced. Not once, but 3 times. Does that mean I’m not a person of wise counsel? Does that exclude me from sharing with others how divorce affects me to this day? What was happening inside me, was deeper than all my negative thoughts.

God, through this woman had just answered my prayer. He searched my heart and He found the shame I still carry from those divorces. Sure, I talk about them. I “laugh” it off, but it appears I still care more deeply about what others and even I, think of my past, over embracing being made a new creation when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

Divorce does not define who I am, unless I allow it. But wait! It gets better. Remember, I said that was the first speaker of the first night. I tucked that shame down and kept on keeping on.

But God, wasn’t done yet. He will finish the work He begins in you.

During the morning of the second day of the event, we had more worship, more phenomenal speakers and then it was time for lunch.

As I sat at the table with my friends, my heart started to beat a bit faster and knew I needed to get this confession of shame off me.

I almost forgot something. Days before this conference, after watching that episode of 9-1-1, I wrote about, I didn’t mention I had cried like a baby. I cried because for the first time I realized the type of running I was doing in my own life. God led me to say, “I’m safe”. I haven’t felt “safe,” in I can’t tell you how long.

Back to lunch with my friends. I knew I was “safe,” with them, but how would they feel when I’d share what God showed me the first day of the conference?

There was only one way to find out. I told them I wanted to confess something to them and then, immediately started to cry. Through my tears, I told them exactly how I was feeling and how I came to be in the vulnerable place I was in.

These women listened. I mean, really listened. It’s not that they didn’t know I’d been divorced, because they did. They just didn’t know the degree of shame I felt over it. Surprise, neither had I until yesterday. These godly women and friends had tears in their eyes and when I was done with my confession, they immediately began lifting me up out of my pit.

One woman reminded me with conviction in her voice, “there’s NO condemnation for those in Jesus Christ.” (Romans 8:1)

Another spoke God’s Truth over me.

Yet another, hugged me and spoke words of godly affirmation over me.

All of these amazing women, heard my hurt, embraced what I had to say, and immediately took what the devil meant to destroy me with, and flipped his accusations upside down and back into hell where the lies belong.

These type of women, are the ones you want in your corner. These loving, precious daughters of God, spoke life back into a weary heart.

Yes, I could’ve kept that shame all to myself. As hard as it was to confess, the damage it was causing inside me was worse. I’m so thankful God surrounded me in love and knew exactly who to place around me. He’s a good God.

Even when He asks you to confess.

Confession is not a punishment. Confession takes any power you’ve given to the enemy and gives God room to those ashes into something beautiful. Because God is a creator, He will always, bring about good from evil. Always!

So now I have to apply this truth in my life. Every time the enemy tries to creepy crawl his way back in, I have to take my stance and say, “NO SHAME,” however many times it takes for it to be thrown out as far as the east is to the west.

Maybe there’s something in your life where you have shame. I’m so sorry for whatever happened to cause that in your life. Let me be the one through Jesus, to speak beauty into your life, just as my friend did for me.

You are a child of God. You are God’s masterpiece. You are the apple of God’s eye. You’re precious. You are loved, chosen, and highly favored. God’s not mad at you. God’s not surprised by what you’ve done and He will use whatever was meant to destroy you, for His good and glory. And He will finish the good work He’s begun in you.

Your mission. Trust Him with your story. Ultimately, it belongs to Him, because you belong to Him.

Much peace and love to you my friends. And to my friends who walked out that tough road with me today, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You’re all amazing in ways, you may never know this side of Heaven.

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Outshine

Last night I watched an episode of 9-1-1. A lot of the show resonated deeply with me. It was mainly about the character Maddie. She fell into what was initially thought of as postpartum depression. Turns out it was a thyroid thing. She was so depressed and convinced she wasn’t worthy to live, she attempted suicide. Thoughts of her hubby and newborn baby made her seek help instead.

She wanted to get healed before she went back to her hubby and baby whom she left months previously. She left because she was so exhausted from her medical condition she drifted off when the baby was in the tub and the baby slipped under the water for a few seconds. She felt on top of her condition she was a danger to her family.

There’s nothing worse than knowing there’s something medically wrong and no one will listen. Maddie ran from her family and her husband with baby in tow decided to find her. He felt responsible. She asked and pleaded with him not to follow, to give her the time she needed to heal. He didn’t listen.

Eventually after months they were in the same city. He daily sat outside a hospital where he thought she’d magically come walking out of one day, until a friend told him to get back in the game called life. That friend also told him that maybe, since he hadn’t found his wife, it was time to let go of what he so desperately wanted and let the “universe” do the work for him. As in, give back to the “universe,” and maybe the universe will give back to you. (Because you know, it’s all about what the universe can do for us.)

Eventually, Maddie and her hubby find each other and after the shock of the meeting, they finally get to talk. What it came down to is Maddie left because she knew her husband didn’t grasp the severity of her mental illness. He thought he could fix it by simply loving her through it. He had a good heart, but she needed so much more than he was gonna be able to give her.

Maddie had been through a lot of trauma. It hadn’t been respectfully dealt with, so the trauma dealt with her. Sometimes space is the best gift you can give someone who needs proper time to heal.

Maddie wasn’t able to heal while focusing on her family, job and all the life things. She didn’t leave to hurt them, she left to help them. She left to seek a deeper inner healing than they could provide. She knew in her knower it’s what was best. The fixers in this workd mean well, but people don’t need to be fixed. They need compassion and a safe place to land. We also don’t need our trauma to be trumped by another’s.

Listening is hard. Being vulnerable is hard. Fixing is nothing more than slapping a bandaid on a hemorrhaging wound. It takes guts to really listen with a compassionate ear. It takes guts to stop “running” from your pain and dealing with it. In reality, you truly can’t outrun your pain.

Maddie tried outrunning her pain by doing the daily grind and stuffing it down. But it came on her full force and it tried to take her out of this world. She succeeded in getting the help she needed. Sadly, many don’t.

I guess the point to all of this is, in a world where people are constantly trying to outshine one another in an effort to become noticed, we’ve forgotten what true compassion looks like. This “look at me and what I can do” world is a harsh place to exist. It’s even more harsh on those who feel they don’t have a place.

I’ll wrap this up with the new commandment Jesus gave us:

“And so I am giving a new commandment to you now—love each other just as much as I love you. Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”” ~ John 13:34-35 (TLB)

Notice it didn’t say to outshine one another. Because that’s not love, that’s selfish.

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Breaking-Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hand Salute

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Misfits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s why we’re warned:

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

1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 10:11 (NIV)

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

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

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

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

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Love Makes You…

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

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

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

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

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

1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

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

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

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

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Grief

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I Believe In You

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

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

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

I believe in you.

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 8:27-8:28 (NLT)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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