Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

You Deserve

Rant alert! I don’t know what it is about those two little words, “you deserve,” but they get under my skin like a bad bug bite’s venom. It’s right up there with the word “karma”. Nope, I don’t easily agree with them. In fact, I wrestle with those words, every time I hear them.

I remember when I went to the car dealership to trade my 2007 vehicle in. The salesman almost lost the deal when he told me, “I deserved” a new car. The vehicle I got came with a new car payment. My 2007 vehicle was paid off. So, I guess “I deserved” the car payment as well? He for sure didn’t congratulate me on that part.

Have you ever read the story of Job in the Bible? Job most certainly didn’t deserve the pain and suffering he was handed. But God permitted it? Why? Because He knew Job. He knew Job wouldn’t turn against Him and rebuke Him in his suffering.

Did Job deserve to be blessed double for all his suffering and pain after he proved his faithfulness to God? Did Job suffer any less or more than others suffer? Did Jesus deserve to die on the cross and suffer the worst kind of a criminal’s death?

Do people only deserve good things because they do good things? Do good people deserve to suffer at the hands of evil doers? Who really gets to decide what any person truly deserves?

I can’t answer these questions. If it were up to me, anyone who commits a heinous act would be put publicly to death. You know who would already be dead then? Me. I’m guilty of committing heinous acts against other humans and God. I’m guilty of breaking almost all the commandments. Yet, I’m still here.

I venture if you spent any time on planet earth, you’ve committed heinous acts as well. It’s human nature to sin. We ALL fall short of the glory of God. No one is immune to sin.

That young man who killed all those children in Texas, in my opinion didn’t deserve to die. To me, he got off easy. He deserved a long prison sentence so he could live with what he’d done until he reached a ripe old age. I wanted to see him suffer a lifetime of pain. Pain that goes deep and runs wide. But, that wasn’t my call to make.

On the other hand, I have empathy for the young man who must’ve dealt with far more pain and suffering in his short life that he thought killing innocent children and adults was the answer to his problems. How much hurt, hate and pain must he carried in his hardened heart? No clue.

I don’t believe for a second those children, parents, teachers, faculty, staff and families deserved what happened to them. Yet, it did. The carnage and trauma caused will take years to heal.

Where is the justice for those left behind? Those that have to deal with the consequences of the senseless murderous actions of one man will try to make sense out of what happened. They will try to wrap their minds around the fact their loved ones are gone. That the last time they said good-bye was literally the last time they would say good-bye, or I love you, or have a good day. Most assuredly the voices they’ll never hear out loud again will echo forever in their minds.

Do they deserve that? No, no they don’t.

It’s easy to place blame when these things happens. It’s how we try to make sense out of the non-sensical. We come together and grieve, but then we start shouting and pointing fingers at one another. Whoever shouts loudest is the one who wins? Right? Be careful with that theology. It’s typically the quiet ones stirring a pot you didn’t see coming to a boil until it’s too late.

The truth of the matter is, we will NEVER know what really happened, what transpired that day or what was going through the killer’s mind. All we know is the fallout.

But, there will be plenty of folks who will try to convince you to believe what they want you to believe. They’ll fill in the gaps with their “best’ guesses. It’s no longer about doing good for the people. It’s about, greed, and power, and money. All things rooted in evil when they become the focus of our existence. Idols in this day and age don’t have to be golden calves. They’re anything you give power to.

It’s easy to blame God when things don’t make sense, don’t go our way or when tragedy strikes. How can a good God allow such things to happen. God didn’t put the gun in that young man’s hands. Once again, God gave us free will, the choices we make HAVE consequences.

On this side of heaven we don’t see God’s bigger plan or the restorative plan He no doubt already has in place. It’s in times like this we either walk by faith or sight. We either believe who God says He is and His Sovereignty or we don’t.

Job chose to walk by what He knew about God despite his crappy circumstances and despite what his friends and wife said. Job had no clue what God was truly doing or that God would double all that was taken from him and make the latter half of Job’s life better. The justice God serves up will most likely never make sense to us. Our finite minds truly can’t handle that kind of sovereign truth.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

God never leaves us alone to deal with the things other humans are capable of doing to us. I daresay it’s when we leave Him out of the picture and take justice into our own hands that we suffer catastrophically more than if we’d have left the avenging to Him.

Count the cost. Count your blessings. Give thanks to God in ALL things because God’s not the bad guy here. We are.

Lord God, we give thanks that You are still in control and still on your throne. Lord, I beg You to hear the pained cries of your people. I believe you are close to the brokenhearted and You are giving comfort as only You can give. Your children are in deep pain and groaning from the tragedy of recent events. I boldly come before you and ask an abundance of love, comfort, mercy, and peace over the families who are left behind to deal with the travesty of evil being ever present in our world. Greater though are YOU than he who is in this world. Whatever You are already doing, I trust that it’s a plan for good and that restoration is already in progress. I pray this nation turn from its wicked ways, and turns back to You. I pray the idols of greed, hate, lust, power, and money are shattered and Your Kingdom comes on earth as it is in Heaven. May it be Your will that’s done and may we repent and submit our evil ways to You. In the mighty name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

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Its Done Me Wrong

The other day I was watching TikTok and a reel came on with Richard Marx. Good Lord, talk about a blast from the past! Richard’s a singer/songwriter that sprang up in the 80s and recently joined the community of TikTokkers with a compilation reel of his hit songs.

I smiled as I listened to the songs but was sorely disappointed when I didn’t hear my favorite song, Hazard. It’s a haunting tale of a young boy who moved to a small town and the town folk found him less than desirable.

In this sad-ish tale, he managed to find one person in town who he gelled with, Mary. Mary loved sunsets, hanging by the river and being with him. That is until Mary goes missing and everyone looks to the “boy” as the reason to her disappearance. I say boy only because the song alone doesn’t allow for you to know years pass by and the two are now grown.

Once again, based on the song, you get the impression the boy, despite his cries of innocence is found guilty in Mary’s disappearance. Look at these lyrics from the bridge of the song:

“I think about my life gone by
How it’s done me wrong
There’s no escape for me this time
All of my rescues are gone, long gone”

The song video tells a different story. The villain in this story is actually the local town sheriff. And in the video, the accused man is actually seen walking away from the town, leaving it ”all” behind him.

The things of this life have a way of getting deep into our souls. When allowed to sit too long, they twist and turn our insides until we feel like the person in the song…”there’s no escape,” and nothing good is ever going to happen. Our mantra becomes, “this is as good as it gets”.

That’s how I felt when I left my hometown years ago and went into the military. I couldn’t wait to kick the dirt of Elmira off my shoes and leave it all behind.

God had other plans. 32 years or so after I left, I moved back to Elmira. The circumstances that brought me back are unimportant now. It’s in the past. Suffice it to say, I made some bad choices and once again, Elmira left a sour, bitter taste in my mouth.

Had I not returned to Elmira, I would’ve not gotten to spend precious time with my dearly departed brother. How I miss him.

I remember whining to God for the umpteenth about Elmira. How could this be part of His plan for me when He knew how much I hated it?

His answer; it’s not Elmira you have a problem with, it’s what happened to you here. That was kinda like a gut punch, taking the wind out of my sails. He was right, Elmira did nothing to me but in my eyes, it had done nothing for me either. Elmira was not the problem.

Dang it. Now I knew I had work to do. It was time to transform my thinking. (Romans 12:2)

As long as I was blaming a city, how could I forgive the life things that happened here? How could I escape from the clutches the negative strongholds had on my hardened heart?

One by one, as I drove or walked by places I would say out loud, “you didn’t defeat me”. “Lord, help me forgive what happened here. Lord, show me where you were in this?”

On my own, I would’ve kept holding onto the bitterness of the hurt and pain form these hurtful incidents.

It’s hard to turn beauty from ashes when you won’t let go of the ashes.

The hard things of this life when allowed to take up any kind of residence changes you. It’s why forgiveness is so vital in keeping our souls moving forward.

Unforgiveness cripples our forward momentum and keeps us in an invisible prison. Stuck inside this prison we become victims to the schemes of the enemy. It’s a perfect playground for him to keep you in the darkness of pain and suffering as he replays the events like a vinyl record skipping on the same note.

Whenever I read Bible verses about weeping and gnashing of teeth, I’m reminded the pain and suffering of unforgiveness go hand in hand with this. I know whenever something from my past creeps in, my teeth clench as my face changes and contorts to the distasteful memory.

Being brought back to Elmira was not a punishment from God. It was a blessing. No, it most assuredly didn’t feel like a blessing each time I visited or drove past a hurtful place. However, each time I invited God into the mess, I opened myself up to the possibility that God would fulfill His promise and redeem/restore another part of my story.

I’m still working through parts of my story that didn’t have that happily ever after ending. Instead of dreading those parts now, and as crazy as this may sound, I look forward to working it out with God. I want all the ashes gone. They serve me no good purpose and the weight of their pain is too heavy a burden for my heart.

Friend, I don’t know what’s caused you deep pain and suffering. But, know you weren’t alone when it happened and you’re not alone now. The first step is acknowledging what happened. Invite God into that mess and allow Him to walk it out with you. It may take several times. Don’t lose hope in the process Hang onto hope like it’s your best friend.

One last thing. Whatever your “its” done me wrong is, I daresay, and with boldness and godly confidence, this is not as good as it gets, the best it yet to come!

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I’m over it.

If you blame Chris Rock, for Will Smith’s actions then you’ll start to understand why Adam blamed Eve because he ate the forbidden fruit and why Eden blamed the serpent for the choice she made. Each one had a choice. Each is equally responsible for their own actions. The blame game is nothing new. Sin is sin.

If Will Smith can see he did wrong and apologize, why is the public still looking to blame Chris for what Will did or for that matter blame Jada for an eye roll?

Chris made a tasteless joke.
Jada rolled her eyes.
Will deliberately walked on the stage and slapped Chris.

It’s doesn’t matter why and the why in this instance is nobody’s business.

Public opinion is dangerous and careless. Having all the facts you think you have doesn’t make you right. Just ask Jesus. Crucify a sinless man and let a criminal go.

Putting celebrities on pedestals is something that’s easy to do. But, it’s also nothing new. Satan himself once an angel in heaven named Lucifer attempted to be higher than God. He put himself on a pedestal and was thrown to earth.

“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.” ~ Isaiah 14:12-15 (NIV)

Did you notice how God knew what the angel Lucifer was thinking? When God says He looks at the heart and for you to protect it, He’s not kidding. Lucifer’s plans were in his heart and God saw it. You don’t even have to commit the actual sin before God knows it’s going to happen. Blows my mind how intimately God knows us.

Moving on. The fact of the matter is, Will Smith is human and he had a public melt down. How many celebrities do we need to watch fall from grace before we understand, they’re no better than us? That they’re flawed humans with raw emotions just like the rest of us? Did all his wealth keep him from falling? Nope, it sure didn’t.

But, what intrigues me is how quickly the public opinion that raised him up, so easily tore him down.

He’s supposed to be a model for others to follow. He’s the Prince of Bel-Air. He should’ve know better. Really?

When our hand-picked idols fall off their pedestals, it hurts. We put our trust in who we think they actually are, knowing nothing except what we’re fed about them.

The fact that we think we need to follow another human being is a deeper calling from Jesus to follow Him. People are flawed. Jesus has never changed. He is exactly who He says He is. He knows we need to follow and believe in something. And every single time we put our faith, trust, or hope in anything but Him, we’ll be disappointed and scurrying to find something to replace what’s disappointed us.

Will Smith doesn’t deserve the stones thrown by hands that sin daily. Our smugness alone throws the pile of condemnation upon him. And no matter what anyone else does to Will, there will be no one harder on Will, than Will himself. We’ve all been our own worst enemy at some point in our lives. Who does anyone think they are when their celebrity fails to live up to their expectation?

The hard truth of the matter, is no one is perfect, and that goes for celebrities and any other person, place or thing we’ve elevated.

The best thing we can do for Will is to surround him in prayer. Prayer is powerful. Prayer changes us. Prayer reminds us, God is still on the throne, still doing what He does best; being God.

May we all be so fortunate to have God fearing, praying people in our lives.

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White Flags

If I had a white flag, I feel like today, I would whip it out and surrender. It’s just one of those days where I wish I could “make the world go away.”

Everything seems too much, too overwhelming, just too _______________________, fill in the blank. You know what I mean?

Let’s take a peek at what the symbolism for white flags mean, shall we? There may be people who legitimately don’t know or care, but here we go, just the same.

I googled “white flag surrender” and after skimming the sites it brought back I went with the History Channel. I’m only going to post an excerpt from the page:

“In more recent history, the white flag has become an internationally recognized symbol not only for surrender but also for the wish to initiate ceasefires and conduct battlefield negotiations.”

I knew it stood for surrender, I didn’t know it included conducting battlefield negotiations. Interesting. See, there’s so much I don’t know.

You know who you can’t negotiate with…ever. Satan. That means you can’t play in his playground and expect not to get hurt. Why? Good question.

Because he’s the father of lies and he only comes to kill, steal and destroy. He’s a master manipulator who only has one thing in mind for you. Your complete and utter demise. He’s a real pisser that one. Yep, I said pisser. Feel free to look that up should you need to, but know it’s not good.

But, the funny thing is (not the ha ha kind of funny, the ironic kind of funny), we all choose to play on his playground every day. Every. Single. Day.

No one is free from sin. It’s not to say we don’t try to stay free from sin, but somehow or another. Maybe you don’t believe me. That’s ok, you don’t have to, I’m a gonna show you what God says about it:

 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” ~ Romans 3:23 (NLT)

Do you see that tiny three letter word ALL? All means all. I know, I say it a lot, but once I saw the word “all” jump out from the pages of Scripture at me, I can’t unsee it.

But, there’s good news. Don’t go all willy nilly on me thinking, might at well keep sinning because clearly we all suck. Even though we all sin, God, put a redemptive plan in place for us to surrender sin. Just a fancy way of saying, God made a way for us to repent through Jesus.

“Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” ~Romans 3:24 (NLT)

Wait, there’s more!

For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,” ~ Romans 3:25 (NLT)

See! Good news!

Yes, we all sin! But, we don’t surrender to sin. We don’t give up the fight to turn from our sin and overcome it. We don’t wave that proverbial white flag and give Satan an all access pass to ours lives.

If we were as lasered focus on eradicating sin out of our lives as we were on how we look, we might stand a chance on being “sinless”. But most likely, we’d find something else to make into an idol.

Speaking of idols and flags, what do you think pledging our allegiance to a flag does for us? Can the flag save us? Can the flag heal us? Can the flag forgive us our sins? Can the flag stop the wind and the waves?

Just some random thoughts I had the other day and how we get all twisted up over an inanimate object. Now, before you get all up in arms over my statements, please hear my heart. I love the USA. I love our flag. I served in the military and I’m proud of our armed services.

But the flag, truly, is just a flag. Yes, it has significant meaning and history behind it but when we use it a divisive tool, what good is it doing. What was I doing in the military? What or whose freedom was I protecting? I didn’t take an oath to protect a flag. I took an oath to protect the country.

God is the creator of ALL things. That includes the creation of the flag. How you view it, is up to you. Just remember, when you’re in trouble, that flag can neither provide for you, nor save you. That’s God’s job. Yet, we always try and find things to try and replace Him.

Psssst…let me let you in on a little secret…He’s not replaceable. Not for our lack of creativity and trying.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, the battle for our hearts is always under attack. What we give our hearts to clues us in to where our true allegiance lies.

I desperately want to honor God in all things. No, I don’t always get it right. The beauty of that, is God sees my heart. He knows my motives behind everything I do. He leads me and it’s my choice to follow.

So, here’s my white flag Lord, I surrender, because there’s no way I can do life without you. The cost was too high when I tried.

Love, Trish

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If you’re even a smidge like me you read the title of today’s story and you thought of the Heinz ketchup commercial with Carly Simon singing, anticipation. Welcome to my brain.

I think it’s safe to say we all need something to look forward to. Some may call it hope, or expectancy when we’re looking forward to something.

The opposite of looking forward to something is commonly known as dread. Especially when we’re in a season of life we don’t understand, don’t want or didn’t ask for. Dread is not a good motivator.

I have quite a few friends in a difficult season. It’s heartbreaking to watch your friends travel a hard road. How thankful am I that in my hard seasons, God always made sure I had people in my life who had gone before me to help me walk through the valleys.

I’m not saying I’m thankful others went through pain so they could help me. I saying, even though my friends went through painful times God didn’t waste their pain. He used it to help me and I’m sure many others.

Healing is ever so important for that very reason. Healing helps us move forward. Healing releases us from the pained filled memory so we can begin anew.

It’s hard to anticipate new things for our lives, when we hold onto the pain because somewhere along the line, pain became comfortable. The known feeling of pain, became easier than the unknown feeling of “what’s next”?

What’s next could be worse, right? And who wants worse? So, we stay stuck in the comfort of our pain. And who knew pain could become comfortable?

It’s not easy to get back on the “this thing called life” train when we’ve been derailed by the “life” that’s been thrown our way.

We’re not given much grace to grieve our painful experiences when life is still happening all around us. Reba McEntire sang:

“I guess the world didn’t stop for my broken heart.”

The world sure didn’t stop.

It’s why we’re still expected to perform and to slap on the “I’m fine” face. Maybe that’s where you are today. Maybe inside your screaming while painting a smile on your face. If so, I’m really sorry. If no one told you it’s ok to feel your pain, please know feeling and processing through it, is better than ignoring it.

The Lord says that “joy comes in the morning.” With it, the promise of a new day and a new way through the wilderness. Joy isn’t the same as happiness. Joy comes from a deeper, spiritual place. Not from people, places or things.

For all the things that bring us happiness can be taken and easily flipped to unhappiness. That’s why we warned not to build up earthly treasures for they can be taken.

I had a friend who once lived her life with the ideology of “waiting for the other shoe to drop”. She was anticipating dread.

Her brother passed away and it flipped her world upside down. Now she lives in anticipation of a full life as long as she’s here on earth.

No one has the secret sauce to each and every hard life situation. How we get through the hard things is walking them out with others.

And when that’s not working, the Lord says for ALL to come to Him. People may not always know what we need, but God’s already got things working in place to get you where you need to go.

Psalm 5:3 reminds us to talk with our Heavenly Father:

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” (NIV)

We have a part in this. We lift our voices to the Lord. We lay out our needs. Then we wait. How do we wait? Expectantly.

But, that takes trust. If you don’t trust God, the waiting will be more like dread. Especially if we think God hates us. Which He absolutely, does not.

We can’t anticipate what God will do in answer to our prayers, but we can wait with anticipation that a good God will answer with His best. Maybe you need a reminder of just how much God loves you. Let me leave you with Psalm 139 (MSG)

1-6 God, investigate my life;
    get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you;
    even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
    I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
    before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
    then up ahead and you’re there, too—
    your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
    I can’t take it all in!

7-12 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
    to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
    If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
    to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
    you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
    At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
    night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.

17-22 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
    God, I’ll never comprehend them!
I couldn’t even begin to count them—
    any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!
    And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!
And you murderers—out of here!—
    all the men and women who belittle you, God,
    infatuated with cheap god-imitations.
See how I hate those who hate you, God,
    see how I loathe all this godless arrogance;
I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred.
    Your enemies are my enemies!

23-24 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.

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Stick Art

Yesterday, my granddaughter and son came for a visit. I love when they come over. It reminds me how precious life is and to not take these moments for granted. Lena and I have some pretty great conversations. Her 5 year old logic is pretty insightful at times. Then there’s the times I look to her Father for clarification and we both sit there with a confused daze on our faces.

It was a beautiful Spring day. After all the cold days, the warmth of the sunshine felt amazing. I was still running errands when Lena and Justin came over. I pulled my vehicle into the driveway, Lena was digging a hole and her dad was overseeing it. She came running to the car when she saw me pull up. We hugged and she went running off.

Justin and I sat at the patio table while Lena happily played with sticks. She started picking up sticks and planting them in the ground. She was very particular about the sticks she chose for her project. She even did some pruning on the ones that didn’t quite fit the way she wanted.

Although, she totally missed seeing the sword her dad and I saw in one of her hand-picked sticks before ripping off the offending branches. Simultaneously, Justin and I started to say something about the sword stick but her little hands were faster than our reactions. She didn’t care. She kept pressing on.

This morning as I sat down with my coffee, Moose and my devotions, I was reminded of Lena’s carefully and thoughtfully constructed stick creation. I wish I would’ve take a picture. But, alas, I did not. And we all know woulda, coulda, shoulda’s, don’t change, what is.

Lena spent quite some time on that creation. After it was just the way she wanted it, she left it alone to come help me spy dog poo so I could pick it up. Moose got entangled in the stick art masterpiece and Lena ran over to help him. The sticks came a tumbling down. She didn’t care. She went off to the next project after helping Moose.

As I reflected on the Lena/stick events from yesterday, I couldn’t help but think of how God carefully constructs us. How He lovingly places gifts and talents where He needs them. How he prunes our “dead” branches that no longer fit in our lives. I thought about how when we fall apart, He doesn’t get all bent out of shape, He just leads us to the next thing.

I thought, how awesome is it, God can have a little girl build a stick creation and remind me how He uses ALL things to accomplish what He needs.

This all came after a pretty rough night with Moose. I took him outside for his last evening potty break. When we came back inside, I went to brush my teeth and he jumped on my bed. I didn’t see him do it, but he peed right where I sleep. Insert curse words here, because, yep, I used them.

I was tired, a bit grumpy and now let’s add anger to the mix. I showed him his mess, I reprimanded him, and then I put him back outside. I ripped the bedding off and threw it in the washer. I was HOT! I muttered under my breath, kept saying things I know better than to say, and then I grabbed Moose from outside and put him in his kennel for the night. Grrrr!

I didn’t sleep well. Night sweats from menopause don’t help. I didn’t care for my own behavior. I cried out to God and said this was too hard. Moose is more “work” than I wanted. Trying to break his 2 year old bad habits is hard. He barks way too much, and potty training him is…well, hard. He still barks at Justin’s every move when he’s here. Sigh.

This morning, God blessed me with another wake-up. I got out of bed and went and got Moose, he wagged his tail and jumped up to say hi! He didn’t stop loving me because I got angry.

Guess what? God doesn’t stop loving us when we get angry. He understands our emotions. He continually loves me through the pruning process. Last night’s angry escapades showed me I had some work to do. After all, isn’t that what God’s amazing grace is all about?

We’re always so hard on ourselves an God is constantly giving us grace. Shouldn’t we receive that grace and begin the day anew, just as He intended?

Never underestimate how God shows up in your life. When I said He uses ALL things, I mean, ALL things. Sticks, dogs, emotions, and the list goes on and on. His majestic imagination and creativity are endless.

Question is, are you looking for Him to answer how you think He’ll answer? If so, you may be missing what He’s trying to show you. Be on the lookout, stay alert, and know our Heavenly Father is always working in ways that we can’t take credit for, because there’s no way we can out wit God.

That alone is something to be thankful for!

Have an amazing day, friends. xoxo

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Singing Waitress

I thought when I began this 40 day writing journey for Lent, I would be closer to knowing what to better focus on. That’s not happened…yet.

A friend commented she thought I’d continue to write daily after the 40 days are up. Hmmm. I’m not too sure about that one.

It’s a challenge to daily come up with something to write about. To be honest, I don’t really know what I want to dive into today. I guess I’ll talk about my lunch date with my mom.

I picked mom up, and off we went to a local type bistro. My mom always does at least one sudden intake of breath and reaches for the dash when she’s the passenger in my car. Like I want to get in an accident or something.

Nothing worse than being a passenger in a car. It must be that lack of control we think we have when we’re driving.

We went to a small type bistro. It’s fairly quiet which makes t’s easier to converse. They had music playing in the background. Both the waitress and I were singing to the song Landslide by Stevie Nicks. Love that song! Love Stevie Nicks.

The entire time we dined, the waitress was singing. It was awesome. There’s just something about somebody throwing all caution to the wind and being joyous.

When she brought us the check another waitress came by just as I was telling singing waitress to always keep singing. Clean up waitress, was like, no you just didn’t, don’t you encourage her, we’ll ban you. Everyone laughed.

I gathered up the check and went to pay. Singing waitress asked if I was coming back next week and suggested we do “show” together. I exclaimed how fun that would be and I was all in. Clean-up waitress was like, what’d I say earlier? Don’t you encourage her.

We started talking about the song we could sing together. She suggested Madonna but then said we’d work on it. As my mom and I were leaving, I heard singing waitress say, “I really like her”. It put a smile on my face.

On the way home I saw a truck with the word “Mickey” on it. I totally know the song we could do now. Sing it with me; “Oh Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine, you blow my mind, hey Mickey, hey Mickey”. I can picture it now. Maybe I will go back next week.

Life’s too short not to have fun. I hope you had some fun today. Laughter is a beautiful gift from our Heavenly Father. He’s pretty awesome at gift giving. It’s a shame not to use them.

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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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“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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