Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

Just As I Was

A friend of mine once lovingly told me after I had decided to follow Jesus, “you don’t get to pick and  choose what you want to follow, you pick up your cross and you follow Him.”  I would like to say after she told me that, I did exactly that, but I didn’t.  I’m a work in progress and I’m human, and every day, Jesus teaches me His ways through the Bible.  Not just your ordinary every day book, but a living, breathing life altering, mind transforming (not to be confused with brain washing), heart softening, truth speaking guide to life.

The Bible is His Word speaking to us today.  Yes, I have free will and I live in a fallen world.  The sins of people (including me) are no different than the sins of yesteryear.  A big difference however is that people used to hide their sin and were either ashamed or shamed into hiding or possibly executed or exiled. Today, we flaunt our sin flags proudly and we ask others to watch our sin and then take you to court if you don’t agree to play on the playground of our sin.  It’s splattered all over social media, television, magazines, books and well, just about everywhere you look.  I’m offended by your offense and you’re offended that I’m offended by your offense and everyone’s walking around offended by offense.

What’s a follower of Christ to do?  Do we take our Bibles and thump away at will or do we look the other way and put ourselves in a Christian bubble? We’re just as human and as sinful as the person next to us. Putting ourselves on a pedestal isn’t going to bring lost souls to Jesus.  We can’t run around shaking our holier than thou finger in their faces, because you better start with the person looking back at you in the mirror.  Good grief we’ll chase away those searching for Christ in a NY minute that way.

What brought you to Christ?  I can tell you it wasn’t any one thing for me.  I know it’s more than I’ll ever know this side of Heaven, but what I do know is, people were praying for me and I had no clue about that until after the fact.  Jesus placed people in my life that knew Him but I was too far from Him to grasp it. It wasn’t until my best friend started changing that I started to question what was happening.  It wasn’t an overnight, she took a Jesus pill and was instantly changed. No, it was a gradual change.  I have to be honest, I didn’t quite know what to think.

As she changed, something slowly started changing in me.  She never told me I needed to change. She never told me I was a bad person. She never changed how she loved me.  She told me about her life changing and what work Jesus was doing in her.  There was no holier than thou finger shaking or Bible thumping involved.

See, I already had guilt and shame deep seeded in my soul. I didn’t need anyone telling me my sins were offensive because deep down I already knew.  My best friend loved me just as I was.  Did she want better for me?  Sure she did, she always had, that part never changed. But she never once forced Jesus on me.  She loved me as Jesus loved me.  Just as I was.

But through it all, God was there. It was my time and I was ready.  I’d come to the end of myself and I wanted something better than the living hell I was putting myself through.  You want to know why I changed…ask me.  I’ve been telling people all about me for as long as people will listen.  Difference now….I have nothing to hide.  My chains are gone, I’ve been set free.   This is absolutely nothing I did for myself.   It’s all about Jesus and what He’s done.

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Danger–Do Not Enter

wrong-way-do-not-enter-sign

Did you ever really notice just how many road signs there are?  There are even some where I’m like, what does that one mean?   Good grief I’m ever so thankful I already passed my driver’s test.  But as I looked ahead today as I was driving, I saw a “do not enter,” sign.  Pretty clear to me that if I were to enter where I’m directed not to go, I could potentially put myself and others in a disastrous situation. 

There are all kinds of roads signs that are posted in an attempt to keep all drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, etc., safe from obvious dangers.  There are signs like, “caution,” “stop,” “no entry,” “yield,” and “wrong way,” just to name a few.  These signs come in all shapes and sizes. They are permanent, temporary, flashing and even reflective. They’re all meant to “get your attention.”

An obedient driver will pay heed to the signs that warn them of impending danger.  Then it hit me.  No pun intended.  Why would we adapt and follow so easily to these types of directions, but not to the warnings and directions given to us by God to follow?  Why do we choose to “walk” when the flashing red hand says “don’t walk?”  Why do we speed up through the yellow caution traffic signal and chance getting caught going through the “red light?”  Why do we “go” when He’s given clear instruction on when to “stop?”  Why do we take our defenses down and wind up going the “wrong way?”  It’s not like He gave us those Commandments to keep us from something good.  He knows all too well if we drive on past the danger signs He’s given, inevitably we,His children, will get hurt. 

So what does God have to do to “get our attention?”  He’s given us a manual to follow…it’s called the Bible.  Comes in all kinds of versions; soft cover, hard cover, electronically, and yea, they got lots of apps for that!! Plus, its chock full of stories that anyone can relate to…there’s history, drama, mystery, romance, horror, (just to name a few) and my favorite, self-help. I’ve even heard the Bible means “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.”

I know at some point in your day you “think” about Him.  Maybe you don’t even realize it, but you do. It may not always be in a technically “positive” way.  It may be in the way of curse words….the ones He tells us not to use as we take His name in vain.  Yet, there it is, all over the place; bleeped out on television shows, said in all different kinds of movies and even in songs where we freely take His name in vain.  And maybe you didn’t say it, but someone else did, so He just came up in “conversation.”

You “think” about Him when something bad unexpected happens and you ask “why, God?” and then you might even pray when you don’t normally pray.  

You even “think” about Him in bed….you know, the times when in no way is your sexual partner God, but you exclaim “oh god.”

See, even when you don’t think He’s there….He’s there!!  But, hey, at least you’re “thinking” about Him and that’s a good thing.  So now that you’re aware, what else does He have to do to get your “attention?”  Perform a few miracles perhaps?  I could direct you back to the Bible, but let’s take a look at something a little in your face obvious…If you’re reading this, you’re alive…so, there’s the very first one…you’re the miracle.  I’m sure if you look back over more of your life, you’ll see plenty more.

God’s manual, His direction for our lives is meant for our well-being, our safety and yet every day, we ignore or push past the obvious dangers and walk into the very fires He wants to keep us from.  He says “don’t,” and we “do.”  He says “stop,” and we “go.”  He says “love,” and we “hate.”  He says “peace,” and we “war.” He says “forgive,” and we “grudge.” Jesus Christ came so that we could “live,” yet each day when we don’t deny self, we “die.”   

We can save ourselves a lot of heartache and hurt if we just wake-up and take direction from the Only One who wants the absolute best for us.  We may not be able to walk the path perfectly, but we can rely and trust on the One who will perfectly direct our path. All we need do, is simply heed His very well thought out Commandments.  Jesus is the Only Way!!

onewayjesus

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In God’s image

photographer

Would you just look at that giant fat face?  School pictures were not a favorite thing of mine.  I dreaded that day and it seems I was never disappointed with the “face” that would stare back at me.  It was like the photographer knew just when to click the camera that would capture the worst image.  Sometimes I wondered who that person was in the photo, because it sure didn’t look like the girl I saw staring back at me from the mirror.

School pix

My mother never liked having her picture taken.  Growing up and even now she does not want her picture taken for various reasons.  I wonder when it was that I picked up that same fetish…..”oh, don’t take my picture, I can’t stand to have my picture taken.”  There are a number of pictures out there with my hands in front of my face. I hate the way I look and I can pick myself apart and tell you all the flaws better than a magnifying glass.

The other day a friend of mine said that she and her family were waiting to have a family portrait taken until her and her husband lost all the weight they were trying to shed.  I didn’t think too much about it until I got home. A very sober thought hit me and I remembered a couple of verses pertaining about tomorrow.  James 4:13-16 (NIV) reads:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.”

 And then there’s Matthew 6:34 (NIV), which states:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

While the Bible never says the exact phrase, tomorrow is not promised, it’s pretty much understood that at any given time, we can be called by our Heavenly Father to go home.  In fact I had it put very abruptly to me once by my English teacher in the ninth grade, “your main purpose in life is to die.”  Say what?!! That was a reality I wasn’t ready to hear, but there it was and I chose to put that statement in the recesses of my brain. But, I’ve never been able to totally forget it and I wonder how many memories I stopped or missed out on because I wouldn’t allow my picture to be taken. 

As I sat here thinking about missed opportunities an older school picture of mine popped up in my head.  Blech!!  Of all the pictures to pop in my head, why that one?!  Oh, that’s why.  Okay, okay, I asked earlier and “You’re” showing me. I hemmed and hawed and I cringed and thought, “I’m going to have to go through soooo many pictures to find that one.” So I chose to not bother in the search because I already knew what it looked liked….it was etched in my brain.  Instead, I went about my day and eventually went to bed.

“Don’t put off until tomorrow, what you can to do today.”  That’s exactly what I did and now it’s still “nagging at me this morning. Why do I wait when I know what I’m called to do? I opened the lid to the mass of pictures not in any kind of real order, some in boxes, some in bags, some in albums and I reached down to one of the boxes and there on the very top was the very picture I hated from school. 

I plucked it up and stared at the picture, started to pick apart all that was wrong with it and then my heart softened as I heard God say, “why are you condemning my creation? That is my daughter whom I love very much.”  I started to cry and realized how hard I’ve been on myself for far too many years.  I allowed my own words to beat myself up over and over again.  So I looked at the picture with fresh eyes and I hugged the picture to my chest and apologized to her; to me

Somewhere along the line, I let this particular picture define how I would always look in pictures.  I tell myself now; it’s just a picture, a moment in time captured to reflect a day God allowed me to live.  It’s a memory to be cherished, to laugh or maybe even shed a few tears over.  Is it my best picture?  Ohhhhh noooooo!! Does it define who I am?  Not by a long shot.  But it defined me, for far too long. 

But this day….today…..I am here, I am loved, I am thankful, and tomorrow is not promised.  If we’re constantly waiting for the perfect opportunity, the perfect weather, or for physical perfection, then I dare say we’re wasting away before our own eyes and missing out on far too much this life has to offer.

We only get this life; we choose how we spend it.  We can believe in the lies of the enemy or we can stand firm on the Rock and know no matter how our “picture” looks, we are a beautiful creation, handpicked and knitted in our mother’s womb.  We’re not some turkey carcass that gets picked apart for good meat, soup parts or trash, we’re human beings created in God’s image.  God doesn’t pick us apart, He sets us apart.  If we’re too busy beating ourselves up, how can we be the light that needs to shine for others to see?  Ouch!!  Message received. 

Thank you Lord for showing me who I am in you! This coming weekend I will be in our town’s annual Christmas parade as one of the most popular characters.  I didn’t know Mickey Mouse was one of the most popular characters at the time I said I would do it. Immediately thoughts came into my head….will people take my picture? I hate having my picture taken. People will make fun of me. Maybe someone else should do this….someone skinnier, someone….STOP.  Are those the things God would say? Not at all.  He would tell me I am well equipped and more than a conqueror and perfectly able.  So bring on the picture taking as I let my light shine for all to see!!

Do you know who you are in Christ?  Do you know the power you posses when you realize not who you are, but WHOSE you are?  Come to Jesus, accept Him as your Lord and Savior and begin to know what you were made for.     

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Life Interrupted

JoyoftheLord

Being new in my faith, I can’t say as I always “get” what God is trying to tell me.  I can read His Word and listen to Worship music, tap my feet and sing till someone tells me to stop because I’m told, someone else is on the radio for a reason. I can go out into the world, smile at people and say a friendly hello, come home and plop back into my comfortable life.  Those are all very good things, but there’s something that God didn’t see from me.  So, what started out as a subtle Fatherly nudge, over the course of a few months, suddenly became my life interrupted.

For years I’ve lived my life day by day in a state of what I would call, dutiful.  I know what it means to be a dutiful child, a dutiful mother, a dutiful friend, and well, you get the picture.  But there was no real joy in all of this duty.  Somewhere along the road of life and all it entails, I can say I truly lost my joy.  I love to help people, and you would think that would bring me great joy.  But, it didn’t.  I love to give, and you would think that would bring me great joy.  But, it didn’t.  I love to make people laugh, and you would think that would bring me great joy.  But, it didn’t.  I love to receive (just keeping it real), and you would think that would bring me great joy.  But it didn’t.  I asked Christ to come into my life and I got baptized and you would think that would bring me great joy.  But, it didn’t.  Now don’t get me wrong, best decision of my life was to give my life over to the Lord, but that didn’t mean I took a magic pill and I was instantly transformed.  Took me years to get to where I am, and I gave God a lot to transform.

All around me now are Biblical verses and messages of joy, and love, and joy, and love, and joy and love; have been for quite some time actually.  This is where God’s nudges have turned into…umm, hello, will you let Me not just talk, but will you listen and obey?  Of course God, but, I’m still not sure what you mean, I’m doing what you’re telling me.  I’m loving on people and I’ve got my smile on, so why the same messages?  Did you just hear God sigh? I think He may have just sighed.

Deep down, way deep down, there was this child, who never got to be a child.  Life became very serious, very early on.  Life was chaotic, emotionally and mentally destructive and painful. In order to survive, she shut herself down and started to live life dutifully. Everything was done out of this sense of duty instead of joyfully.  So it should come as no real surprise for her to understand that God didn’t want this for her…God didn’t want this for me. I took joy and shoved it under the weight of many blankets and I carried out my life dutifully.  In doing so, I left myself wide open to all kinds of spiritual warfare.  I needed my life interrupted so I could get my joy back.  But first, I needed to understand a little bit more about joy.

In all of my Bible teachings no where have I read that life is meant to be lived dutifully.  In my pea brain, this is how I got it worked out.  First off, I had to understand this is not a circumstantial emotion. Regardless of our circumstances we are to do everything with joy.  Roll my eyes, yea, blah, blah, blah.  No disrespect meant here.  My structured logical brain got it.  My emotional brain was still saying….huh?  Okay, so let’s try it from this perspective.

If I don’t have joy knowing God is in control and that He works everything out for my good, then when life beats me up, what will happen? I’ll lose my joy, feel defeated and now the enemy can come creepy crawling in and fill my head with lies.  That’s why God says to “rejoice” always, not sometimes, not just when I feel like it, but always.  If I’m busy re-joy-cing, no matter the circumstance, the enemy can’t come in and turn me into a dutiful, depressed, the life has been sucked out of me zombie.  Joy doesn’t have to be complicated.  Simply put, I have joy because I have God.  So that’s where they joy comes from, it’s a gift from God.  He gives it, and all I need do is receive it.

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