Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

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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The “Perfect” House

Well….here I am God, humbly coming before you and praying for this house I want to rent because it’s just “perfect” for what I need.  So, ok, it’s already got a washer/dryer and I love my washer/dryer, but I can part with those. There’s no fireplace, but that’s ok….maybe someday down the road. It’s an electric stove and I so prefer gas, but that’s ok.  The fridge doesn’t have a water and ice dispenser in the door, but…I know how to make ice cubes old school. These are just things I would like, not things I need to survive but otherwise this house will be perfect.

Next morning came and no paperwork from the man who promised he would send it via e-mail by now.  Had he sent it, I would have filled it out, sent it back and not bothered to look at any other homes I had scheduled for viewing.  So I went back out to look at the house I made an appointment to look at first thing this morning.  Not so good, smelled pretty funky, and on a busy road, but I suppose I could make it work.  I fill out the paperwork, a little disheartened, but knowing God will come through with what I need.  What’s that creeping into my thoughts??  Oh, yea, this might be the best I deserve given what I’ve done.  No, no, that’s not a godly thought at all, that’s the enemy.  But, I can’t quite shake that nasty little thought.  So before I head out to the afternoon appointments, I get quiet with God and I give up the idea of the “perfect” house I thought was the one for me, since, I still didn’t have the paperwork in my in-box.  I tell God that I’m ok with the “perfect” house not coming through and I’m ready to accept the house He has in mind for me and I thank Him for going before me and doing what He does best and that’s take care of me.  No matter the outcome I know it’ll be ok.

The phone rings and it’s about another house I had called on but I had called on so many, I was confused at which one it could be.  So I agree to see this house after the two I already have scheduled.  And hey, I think I may have just gotten a part-time job in talking with this guy.  Cool.  When he asked if I knew where the house was, I said I would just plug the address into my GPS when I was ready to head over.

The first two houses were ok, they both had their pros and cons but I knew they weren’t for me.  I tell the Realtor who was showing me the houses why I couldn’t buy just yet and that for sure I did not want to live on the South side again.  She promises to stay in touch and we will keep looking.

Plug the next address into Sadie (that’s my GPS) and I start to drive.  Hmmm….this would appear to be taking me to the South side.  Didn’t I just get done saying, I didn’t want to live on the South side?  I keep driving and on the way there, I see the public swimming pool I loved to go to growing up.  That is, until that time I was going up the ladder and those girls pulled my bikini bottoms down for my oh-so-white butt to be viewed by all.  I was mortified, I ran from the pool crying my heart out.  As I ran off, I heard them laughing and I hoped they weren’t planning on following me into the locker room.  Luckily, I got out of there without anymore trauma.

I get to my destination and wait for the guy to come show me the house.  I was early so as I sat waiting, I thought about that day at the pool and the other times those same girls bullied me.  I wondered what became of them and what made them think what they did was funny?  I wonder if they ever thought to consider what it was they put me through.  I wonder what made me their target.  I may never know the answers to that, but I knew for sure I didn’t want to drive past that pool every day.  Who wants to deal with that kind of crap?  I may not have wanted to deal with it, but God did.  He loves us so much, there is not one hurt you have that He doesn’t want to replace with goodness and love.

My thoughts were interrupted when the homeowner showed up.  We get out of our vehicles and we introduce ourselves and shake hands.  Then this man looks at me, leans back and starts repeating my name over and over again.  I’m thinking…”dude, what’s up with you?”  And he’s like Trish (I get it, you know my name), it’s me….Mark (name changed) and in an instant I know exactly who it is; we went to school most of our lives together, but we didn’t hang in the same crowds.  So we laugh, and we hug and the rest of the time I’m just shaking my head and he talked about the house and I’m pretty sure I heard most of it, but I was just too floored by what God had just done.

The house that I thought was “perfect” now paled in comparison to the house God had in store for me—totally redone inside and out.  New carpet, new flooring, a gas stove, a real-wood burning fireplace, a gas hook-up for my dryer, and a fridge with an ice maker and water dispenser in the door; just like the one I left behind in AK, minus the stainless steel exterior.  In one room the walls were painted purple…hello, new craft room. Did I mention the color of my current curtains in my craft room is purple?  God wink!!  It’s located on a quiet dead-end street with a nice big, back yard for Gabby gurl to romp around where we can play fetch.  Not one little detail did God miss; a brand new existing home, for a brand new existing woman beginning a new chapter in her life.  And as if that wasn’t enough, I got to reconnect with an old classmate, AND I got a part-time job.

Beauty from ashes my friends, and you can best believe this is yet another wound God is binding up and healing!!  God doesn’t want us to just survive in this world.  He put us here to thrive no matter our circumstances. Being thankful everyday and praising Him for everything is the only way to live. He is with us every step of the way; we need only open ourselves to what He wants for us.  Are you ready for what He wants to do for you?  Are you ready to have your life forever changed?  Don’t get me wrong, God didn’t promise every day would be without trials, only that He will use the bad for good.  When He works in our lives we give Him all the glory and spread the word by being witness to His faithfulness, grace, and mercy.  We need God and He created us to be dependent on Him so that we could experience the unconditional love He has for us and in turn, we can share it with one another.  Now, who wants to help me pack and move??  Anyone?

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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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#SayWhat

forgiveness-prisoner

I was sitting in the craft room at my computer no doubt doing something of no real value when I felt this nudge….“confess.”  In my head I said “I’m sorry, #saywhat?” I looked around the room as if someone were there whispering from the hallway.  Nothing.  So, I shook my head and went back to what I was doing and then it came again…..”confess.”  My heart started to beat rapidly and I’m pretty sure I was holding my breath when I said in my head, a little more timidly this time, “#saywhat?” and now there was no doubt; God was telling me it was time to “confess.”   

I pondered what I should do about this “nudge” which now felt more like a full-on assault. I knew what I needed to confess was more than just a “little” sin.  In my mind, this was huge, this was “lives” changing and this could never be taken back once it was out there. There were gonna be serious consequences and I played all of them in my mind and none of them were gonna be pretty.  It’s done; it’s in the past, what good could come from any of this coming out now after all these years?  “Seriously Lord, I can’t wanna do this.”

I thought when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, got baptized and started walking in the ways of the Lord, I would just be able to shake off that prison. I mean I was forgiven, right? I was a new creation in Christ and I was forgiven.  Total truth!! Problem was, the Lord forgave me, but the past regrets and fear of one day being found out kept me from forgiving myself and moving forward.  I pushed my chair away from the computer and defiantly walked away. I started pacing the floor arguing the whys, and no-ways of how this was not going to be good for anyone least of all me.  I worried about the past catching up with me and letting the lies be found out by the very people I sinned against. Nope, absolutely no good could come from such a confession.

I don’t know why I argue with God.  He will win when you want to live the life He has planned for you.  What I didn’t know or truly understand was sometimes you will be found in a place where you will have to be radically obedient to what He says.  This was one of those times.

Hands shaking, tears already welling up in my eyes, I sat down to type one of the scariest letters of my life.  You see, I was a wife..not once, but three times.  During those days there was no personal relationship with the Lord there was pretty much only self gratification.  I was a good wife, but, gulp, I wasn’t a faithful wife.  I gave no heed to the commandment “thou shalt not commit adultery.”  So in not paying heed to that commandment, I also broke many more.  I would like to say I didn’t commit murder, but in fact I had murdered a spirit…mine.  I walled myself in; built an emotional fortress, cementing the wall with tears, pain, shame, guilt, anger, worthlessness, and loathing and no matter the forgiveness I knew the Lord gave, I just couldn’t get past what the lies were holding together.  Confess. Confess.  Confess.

It’s true you know….confession IS good for the soul.  It took time to tell all three of my ex-husbands what I had done and no, it wasn’t an overnight feeling of “I’m free,” but day by day the guilt lifted.  God knew what I needed. In my own strength there was no way I could have ever confessed, but He lovingly carried me through and continues to prune the garden of my heart, pulling the weeds and filling the cracks with His everlasting love.  I think I’ll take love over guilt any day!  Best part….the enemy no longer has that foothold in my life.  It’s crushed under my feet and I stand firm on the rock that is my God.

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The Bold Blondie

with love, Jilly

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