Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

There’s More To Your Story

He wanted to die. For whatever reason, life on this side of Heaven is not what he wanted. Maybe it was too big a disappointment. Maybe it was too hard. Maybe it was too painful or maybe, just maybe, it was the separation of his earthly vessel from His Heavenly Creator that caused a cavernous emptiness so encompassing that he felt only death could fix it.

So he set a course of action in play, one he was sure would take him out of this world, out of his pain, out of his misery, out of his suffering, BUT…God.

“You can make many plans, but the LORD’S purpose will prevail.” – Proverbs 19:21 (NLT)

This day was not like any other day. His body screamed “enough” and told him in more ways than one that he couldn’t keep going at the rate he was going. Many pieces and parts of his inner frame started to shut down from the years of abuse. He was on a mission, but so was God.

He would find himself in the ICU, hooked up to numerous medications. Each day during his stay I watched his body fight back from the brink of death. I witnessed glimpses of hope. I saw his body get the rest it so desperately needed to repair the damage from the choices he made.

I was very much aware of God’s mercies being new every morning and each second as recovery took over destruction. I watched the hands and feet of Jesus at work in those who claimed not to believe in Him. And I marveled as I watched God wooing those who are wandering.  How could I not be amazed at His beautiful and amazing grace?

I was reminded of this verse: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  – Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)

I don’t know the reason he set out on his own path away from God. But his plans did not prevail, and he’s still here. Whatever caused that broken relationship with himself, the one that told him, his life was not worth living, is as personal as the love Jesus has for him. And just as I saw miracles happen over the course of that hospital stay, I know God won’t stop reaching, fighting for His son, His child, His beautiful creation.

I know, because I also found myself wanting to quit this world when it got too hard and the pain seemed unbearable many years ago. It was in this place of  desolation and the belief that no one cared that I thrashed about like a fish out of water screaming: “God, where are you?” And He whispered, “I’m right here, where are you?”

Indeed, where was I? Sin had pulled me far from God, but not so far that His love couldn’t save me. So, if you feel the lack of God’s mighty presence, I wonder, where are you? Because God, He’s right here.  I know, because His promise in Deuteronomy  31:6 says: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Never…that’s a long time.

Sweet friend, if you’re still here, please don’t give up, there’s more to your story than just this moment. Whatever piece of this journey you’re on, it’s nothing that will last forever…it’s just a season. Please remember, you’re life is precious and you have a purpose and there is no one exactly like you that can do all you were created to do.

Your story’s not over, it’s just beginning.

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Will You Love Me?

Have you ever tried to “win” someone’s love? You went out of your way to show them you love them by being there, by paying attention to what they like and surprising them with those things? Have you ever dropped everything to go and help them and yet, you get nothing in return? Your pay back is harsh words and lip service in the way of gratitude. You feel empty and depleted because you realize that nothing you do….nothing you say….can make them love you. You don’t understand because you’ve done “everything” right…they should totally love you, yet, they don’t.

It’s not your fault they don’t love you. You’re not a horrible person but they’ve made you think you are through their actions and their words. There’s several problems in this….you’re desperate for their love so you try to people please your way into their heart. They can’t receive your love because they are broken and can’t see past their own hurts so they only know how to hurt….they actually expect you to give up on them and are fully prepared when you do and they will make you feel bad for it. It will be your fault because they can’t, or they won’t accept the responsibility for it. To do that, would mean they would have to accept they are damaged and in need of help.

No doubt you’ve heard them tout they don’t need anyone and will even say, they’re a good person.  Self-affirmation is the balm on top of their oozing wounds they think they’re hiding from the world.  So before you can hurt them, they will hurt you. It’s a sad state of affairs when you try to pour your love into an empty vessel.  They are depleted because of what ever has transpired in their life.  They know how to assault you and are quite proud of how they can knock you down with those negative verbal punches to your brain and more importantly, your heart.

If you should happen to try and defend yourself, they will lash out harder and then smear your name to anyone who will listen to them.  After all, they need that proverbial pat on the back to let them know they did the right thing.  It’s you who were out of line because how horrible were you by trying to let them know how they made you feel.  Clearly you lost your mind because only they are allowed to dump but don’t you dare dump on them.

Truth be told, they’re not equipped to handle what you have to say.  They are not equipped to deal with your strength.  They are not equipped to deal with your truth…I can hear Jack Nicholson  screaming, “you can’t handle the truth.”  And, they can’t.  So it’s useless, your trying to let them know how you feel, because it’s not about you for them…it’s about them and what you should be doing for them.

And if you don’t know what you should be doing, they will be more than happy to tell you how you.  They will tell you how to you’re allowed to speak to them, how to behave around them and they will tell you how horrible and awful you are when you don’t do things their way.

You’re not allowed to be yourself, so you slap on a mask and pretend to be who they think you ought to be only, you can’t do this for long because being told how to be, how to act, how to talk will bog your soul down and eventually you will erupt in some way.

You were never meant to have someone else tell you how to be you.   It fights against your inner being that just wants to be loved simply for being you…not some version of you that someone thinks you ought to be.

But they won’t give up.  As long as you stay, they will find some way to “beat” you into submission.  Yet, all you wanted was for them to love you.  So, they put you down, rob you of your joy, your confidence and your worth.  They grab onto those things that make you, uniquely you and stuff them in a bag and take pride that they stripped you down so they could dress you up in the chains of their adversity.

I don’t have the answer why this happens.  I just know when it does, at some point you have to make a choice…let go and let God or keep the insanity going.  The pattern will continue to repeat until someone breaks the cycle.  They say people don’t change…I beg to differ.  When God meets you where you are, and you open your heart to Him, change is inevitable, healing begins, and hope is restored.  His Word promises “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” ~~Psalm 147:3 (NIV )  His Word is truth and when you dare to believe in Him, than you can bet your bottom dollar, miracles will happen. Lives will change and glory will be His and His alone.

So, for now, I stand in the gap.  I let go and I’m keeping my eyes on the only one who can resurrecte dead things. I pray for healing, for restoration and things that have been temporarily torn asunder to be healed and made whole.  Because nothing my friends is too hard for God!!  He is King of all Kings and no one, that’s right, no one will love you more than He does.  Dare to Believe ❤

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I gave him permission…

I saw the signs…friends pointed out the signs…I ignored the signs.  I wanted him more than those things I thought could be overlooked or in my mind…fixed.  Surely he loves me enough to want to change those things, why he even asked me to help him overcome his jealousy.

Awww!! How sweet, see, he wants to change.  No, not how sweet.  He asked me to fix what was never mine to take on.  I allowed him to use me as a scapegoat in the moments he knew he would lose control.  I wasn’t helping; I was giving him license to let the monster loose.

The problem here is, I didn’t create his inferior complex.  I didn’t create his insane jealous tendencies.  They came with him; baggage from previous relationships that he hadn’t dealt with but instead brought with him into a brand new relationship.  Of course, they were going to leak into us and I did nothing to stop it, I fed it by complying with his wishes.  But, I was helping him, that’s how I justified the outrageous requests.

It started out small.  He gained my trust by being the “perfect” boyfriend.  I was broken from my previous relationship and so what better way to get over it than by diving head first into another.  Isn’t that what it’s all about these days? Jump from person to person, dragging all your stuff along with you?  Why would you want to take time to deal with things and recover when you can jump onto the next train? Who’s got time for that nonsense?  All aboard the “don’t deal with things” train and let’s see how many bodies I can drag behind me.

Within 6 months we were living together in an awesome house secluded away from just about everyone we knew.  He watched every move I made.  Everything I did he wanted to be a part of.  Awwww!! How sweet was that?!  I mean, after all, I finally had someone who wanted to do all the things I liked.  But after we moved in, he said my friends weren’t so great…those people at my job didn’t really appreciate me for who I was and I should look into getting another one.  All signs.

Friends at worked noticed the jealousy, made comments about them. Oh, I would say, I know, I’m helping him deal with that.  All of a sudden the things I wore were up for scrutiny..where or who gave you that?  I learned to lie.  When I wanted to go home for lunch, he asked me to call him when I left work, call him when I got to the house…you know to ensure I got there safely, call when I left to go back to work and yes, call him when I actually arrived at work.  This was all to “help him.”  Once he knew he could trust me, this type of insanity would stop.

It didn’t stop.  It kept getting worse.  The more I played into his game, the more controlling he got.  He started showing up unexpectedly at the house to see if I was really there.  His anger would flare up over the tiniest of things and I found myself over compensating with every move so as to not anger him.  I was walking around on those proverbial egg shells trying to be “perfect” but it didn’t matter. There was always something.  And yet I stayed…after all, I was helping, right?

He started blocking my path when I would go to leave the room during arguments.  It was a power play.  Sometimes it worked, but mostly, I didn’t tolerate that.  I never had any space to myself.  He was always there.  If I tried doing my crafting hobby, he would eventually call out to me to quit and come sit next to him and watch his shows.  Remember, when I said how cute it was that he liked everything I did?  It was a lie.  After we moved in, all bets were off.

I’d like to say the first time he shoved me down and pulled some of my hair out, I left.  I’d like to say that when the police were called I was told they would arrest him, but I can’t.  See, I pushed him back and now it became a “he said, she said” story.  He could just as easily press charges against me as I could him.  Sad, dontcha think?  So my choice I learned that night, was to let him abuse me and not push back.

To my shock and horror and even embarrassment, I let him come back.  It was pretty good for awhile but my guard was on high alert now.  It was the night he told me I was the worst mistake he ever made after I asked him “what happened to the guy I moved in with?” that I had enough.  I gave him 11 months of my life and I was told I was the biggest mistake he ever made.  That sat with me a long time.  It didn’t matter I had friends who loved me and cared for me and told me otherwise.  I found myself repeating that over and over and over.  But you know what?  That man did not make me.  That man does not define me.  That man did not defeat me.

I don’t know where you are, how far you’ve let him or her beat you down.  I don’t know how much more you’re willing to take.  Only you can decide that.  I don’t know why you think you deserve a love that treats you with such disrespect.  It’s different for each of us that allow “the love” of someone to beat us into the person they think we need to be.  A footstool for them step on.

Funny, he even told me once that when he first met me, he knew I would need to be taken down a peg or two.  And yet, I moved in with him.  I swept all the warning signs under the rug because I didn’t want to be alone.  Because being with him was so much better?  Please, let me live alone as I never want that mess back in my life.  I was made for more.  You are made for more.

That abuser did not make you. That abuser does not define you.  That abuser will not defeat you.  You are not alone.  You are not helpless.  You are a beautiful human being whose light has been snuffed out because your abuser is a coward of the worst kind. A bully who has no self control and only feels empowered by your weakness.  It’s a shame really, because they aren’t happy people.  They’re twisted up in knots and though they might want to change, they choose not to.

And why should they?  They can blame you for their inadequacies.  You become their scapegoat, their enabler and the reason they don’t need to change. Scoff at that if you will, but it’s true.

It takes more strength to leave than to stay.  You have to make a choice and know that you are worthy of so much more.  God didn’t create you for this.  He created you to do the good works he planned for you; not to succumb to a coward who wants to beat you into submission. How do I know?  Because God doesn’t lie and His word says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” ~~Ephesians 2:10   You can’t do those good works, bound up in chains of oppression.  You have to take your life back.  You have to make a choice.  What are you waiting for?

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A gift to bring

drummerAs a child growing up in a dysfunctional home, I found various things and places to fill the absence of love, to find my happy, to make the world go away.  Television became an escape from the reality of all the yuck.

I especially loved the Christmas shows that came on once a year.  Unlike today where they are readily available, if you missed a show back then, you didn’t get to see it for another year, so you can imagine how upsetting it could be to miss even one.  Seriously, devastating!

I’m happy to see the cartoons of old are still loved by many today.  Most of them have a wonderful message to share, why even the mean ol’ Grinch came around from his grinchiness and  concluded “Maybe Christmas, he thought…doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps…means a little bit more!”  Ummm, ya think?

I’m sure you have your favorite and even those you despise. Of all the Christmas cartoons, growing up and most of my adult life, I have to say The Little Drummer Boy was my least favorite, and yet to fill that void, I would still watch it.  The story always made me cry. Always.  I watched it just recently and sure enough, it made me all weepy.  Doesn’t seem to matter I know what’s going to happen, and even knowing the ending..there I am, grabbing my Kleenex.

The Little Drummer Boy animated claymation version of which I’m referring to first aired on December 19, 1968.

For years I watched this show and it held no significant meaning for me.  It was just a sad stroy, with a fairly happy ending.  To me, it was all about the lamb.  Aaron’s lamb.

In the beginning of the story, the narrator spoke of a decree from Caesar Augustus stating that the world should be taxed.  In order for this to happen, the people would need to travel back to their own land.  Growing up, that type information fell under the subject “History” and quite frankly, I didn’t care for history.

We find in Luke, Chapter 2:1-3 (KJV):

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.”  Means they had to all go back where they came from.

So in Verses 4-6 it states:

 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.”

Now that I have a relationship with God, I think..that’s pretty cool…it’s biblical.  Just in a condensed version.

The story goes on to tell of a little boy who was the son of a Sheppard who loved his life.  From the outside looking in, Aaron had an idyllic childhood. Parents who loved him, roof over his head and presents for his birthday.  On his birthday his father gives him a drum.  And instantly he’s a rock star, plays the drum so well, his animals dance to the beat.

Then one night, bandits decide to attack their home and everything that is near and dear to Aaron is taken from him.  All he has left is his drum and his friends….Samson, his donkey; Joshua, his camel and Baba his lamb. The devastation of this night causes Aaron to hate all people.  Not just those who killed his family….but ALL people.  He is filled with anger, unforgiveness, and bitterness and wants nothing to do with people.  He judges them all alike…through the eyes of hatred.

Next poor Aaron’s just going along and boom he’s being kidnapped by the oh so greedy Ben Haramed and his goofy side kick Ali (ahli).  Haramed wants to use Aaron and his dancing crew to make money so he can pay the taxes that have been levied.  So the band of misfits head into Jerusalem to the town square where they fail miserably with their performances.  Aaron lashes out irrationally at the townspeople because he thinks everyone should be as miserable as he is and the motley crew are run out of town.

So, the little band of misfits retreat and eventually happen upon the Three Wise Men’s caravan. What they fail to notice is the very bright star and its glory in the sky.  Haramed can’t see past his greed and Aaron can’t see past his hatred and anger.  The wise men have no time to be entertained as they need to follow the star and they shoo the misfits away.  However, one of the camels in the King’s caravan is too worn out to complete the journey so Haramed sells Aaron’s beloved camel Joshua to the royal caravan.

Now that Haramed has his beloved gold, he lets Aaron leave.  So off Aaron, Samson and baba go in search of Joshua.  They follow the star as they knew that’s what the wise men were doing and that inevitably leads them to Bethlehem where they see….exactly what they were looking for…the kings’ caravan and Joshua.  In their excitement and haste to get to reunited with Joshua, little baba gets run over by a chariot.

Aaron is heartbroken and he just knows the wisemen can help him because after all, they are Kings.  The wiseman  Aaron approaches, tells him that he cannot help him and indeed his lamb is close to death.  Aaron responds “but you are a king.” To which the king says, he is a king, but a mortal king.  He tells Aaron to go to the babe to which Aaron replies, “I have no gift to bring.”  But, he tenderly lays baba down and he approaches the babe lying in the manager.

As he fixes his eyes on the newborn, Aaron is caught up in the beauty of this baby and since he has nothing of material value to place before the babe, he picks up his drum and he plays for him.

In that moment, Aaron is playing only for the baby Jesus.  He is giving the gift of his drum playing back to the one who gave him the gift in the first place.  So you see, he did have a gift to bring.  He didn’t have to wrap in up in paper and bows and make it all sparkly and pretty.  He went just as he was.  Heartbroken and full of hate.

But as he played for Jesus and his focus was on worshipping Jesus through his drum playing instead of his problems what happened?  God saw Aaron’s act of “simple desperation stemmed out of pure love” and He healed baba.  Aaron’s heart is filled with love and his spirit with joy. He was then convicted of his hatred and knew it was wrong…the narrator said so.

I guess the simple lesson learned here is that we all have a gift to bring.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be big or showy, it just needs to come from the heart.  Jesus has everything.  Everything that He’s given us was well thought out and to be used for the glory and honor of His Kingdom.  He’s placed different gifts in each of us…how we use them is our gift back to Him.  I’ll end with the verse the show used…”Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  Matthew 5:8

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Broken Bird

Prayer between my Heavenly Father is sometimes frustrating.  Some days I feel like…am I asking the right thing, is this too petty, is this too much, is this too little?  Other days I just shake my head as I let Him hear my heart and then I go about my day.  Then, there’s this prayer…open the eyes of my heart Lord and break my heart for what breaks yours.  Weird when you think that type of prayer will be about something huge and then it turns out it can be something small.

About a week ago, I walked over to a building where I worked.  There was this bird on the steps, it was injured and couldn’t fly.  Taking survey of the bird, there were no feathers on its head or neck and it looked to have some red sores on the neck area.

As I got closer the bird was hobbling off in fear while making bird noises, so I thought it best to stop advancing as I just kept looking at the bird, wondering what I could do for the poor thing.  I didn’t know what type of bird it was, but I did know it wasn’t a baby or an adult.  I guess it could have been a crow or maybe a vulture, but I truly didn’t know.  All I knew for certain is, it was injured, it couldn’t fly, and I felt really bad for it. I wanted to do something for it, I wanted to protect it, but I really didn’t know how.

So I went inside and asked the maintenance guy what we do for injured birds.  He came outside with me and while his supervisor went and got the net they use to catch bats, I made some phone calls.  SPCA does not handle wildlife so they gave me another number and I left a message and no one ever called me back.  We called another office and they said they would send someone over.  The bird was now in the net, but I can only imagine how scared it must have been.  I left the bird with the man who had the net.

As my day went along, I kept thinking about that poor bird.  It truly just broke my heart.  For pity sakes it was a bird.  And this injured bird broke my heart.

Later in the day I went to ask about the bird and I found out it had been taken over by the railroad tracks.  No one hurt the bird but in case it had a disease or something, it was decided to move it away from people.  I didn’t want to know anymore so I tried to put the bird out of my mind.

On the way home, I had to drive over the tracks which lay under the viaduct.  I could not believe my eyes, but there was that bird again.  Not under the bridge, but on the top, on the sidewalk next to where the all the traffic was. So it was not like I could get out of my car and go get it.  I didn’t have a net or a box of any kind to put it in if I did manage to catch it.  So what’s a girl to do?  I pray for that injured bird and I cry.

Yup, I cried for that injured bird on the side of the road all alone with no one to help it.  It seemed so lost and displaced.  I felt helpless to help and I felt horrible that it had been moved from a pretty good place to a place of danger and now all I could think of was…what’s going to happen to that stupid bird that I couldn’t stop crying over!

So here I sit, telling you this story about my broken bird and I’m crying all over again.  And you know what I know about that bird?  I know it was an answer to prayer.  First, I had been worrying over something for days and I asked God to break my heart for what breaks his.  And He showed me a broken bird and that broken bird brought me back to His Word.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”~~Matthew 6:25-34

I was worried about things in my life.  I know, I know..do not worry. I’m human, I don’t always get life right.  Go figure.  Say what you will, but in that moment, as I cried over that broken bird, I knew that broken bird was me and God’s heart was breaking over my own brokenness.  And then I’m reminded that Jesus loves me.  He…LOVES…me.  I’d let the enemy in the door with my worry and God brought a broken bird to remind me I need not worry and He will heal my broken parts. Unfortunately, just like the injured bird, hobbling off in fear, I too hobble off, muttering under my breath while trying to take care of things the only way I know how; relying on me, myself, and I.  Why on earth would I do that, when I have the Trinity? God, His Son, and His Holy Spirit.  Now, that’s a force to be reckoned with, dontcha think?

John, 15:5 states, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  Why do I forget just how close He is?  Why do I forget just how much He cares?  Why do I forget that He loves me with an everlasting love?  Worrying bears no fruit.  It causes so much stress on our bodies.  We were never meant to carry that kind of stress, is it any wonder we can worry ourselves sick?  Our worry hurts our Father in so many ways.  Truly, I know, it breaks His heart.

He is a good God.  He does not like to see us hurting, alone, detached from Him wondering what’s going to happen.  He wants for us to trust Him, to stay close to Him and hear Him breathe and speak life into the very being He created.  For you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  He creates all that is good and light and lovely. He didn’t create a mess. Man creates mess. So if you’re life is a mess, then look for the One, who is good and He will show you the light, the truth and the way.  Aren’t you tired of hobbling?

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One

It took one God to create the entire earth into being and everything in it.

It took one serpent to entice one woman to eat one fruit from one tree and pass that one fruit to one man to create sin.

It took one brother to kill another brother to create murder.

It took one Savior to come down from Heaven to touch the earth with His grace and glory.

It took one virgin to give birth to one Savior.

Throughout the Bible there are many stories of what just one can do with the One.

It took one shepherd boy to take down one Goliath with one stone.

It took one queen to save the Jewish people from perishing under the edict of one man.

It took one man to build an ark.

It took one man to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

It took one woman at the well to spread the good news.

It took one man to betray Jesus.

It took one death to break the veil.

It took one resurrection to overcome death.

It took this one death….one sacrifice to take away ALL the sins of the world.

Jesus Christ is the truth, the way, and the life.  He is the Alpha, and the Omega. The beginning and the end.  The first and the last.  He is I Am.

For such a time as this….we are now the one He’s called.  We have a purpose, we have a mission, we have a calling, and we only have right now.  Don’t let one second, turn one minute, into one day, that never happens.

Right now, this is your life. Right now, He’s in control. Right now, He knows what you’re doing, what you’ve done, what you’re going to do and not going to do.

He’s placed you here, where you are, in the midst of His purpose. Straight up, your life is not your own, you only have one life to live, and let’s throw in you only live once…shout it out…YOLO.   So what are you waiting for…..yes, you…. You. Are. That. One.

So, what’s your one?

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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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Losing My Religion

Maybe it’s not a blog post I need to write.  Maybe it’s just putting down all the various thoughts running through my head.  I prayed….maybe not the right prayers…I sought…but didn’t really know what I was seeking or who for that matter I was asking these things of.  People I was surrounded with called him God.  I was a catholic, I didn’t know this God, I knew a religion.  Growing up, I knew how to go to a Priest and report my sins as if a human was truly able to absolve me of my actions or remove any guilt I may have had.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to crap on religion, I’m just saying, this is what I knew.  It was very regimented, being a Catholic.  You had rules, you said prayers, you knew about such things as mortal sins and how you never wanted to be guilty of committing a mortal sin.  Don’t take communion until you go to confession if you have one of those mortal sins you’re guilty of.  Divorce?  Are you crazy?  Birth control?  I don’t think so.  Turn the other cheek, confess, pray, sit, kneel, stand, the signs of the cross, the rosary, the apostle’s creed, Hail Mary’s, Our Father’s…I mean you just knew, like a lemming what came next.  Steps to your salvation almost as easy as 1,2,3 as long as you played by their legalistic rules.

Doesn’t sound very personal does it?  Sounds more like God took a big cookie cutter and just cut us out of the same mold and then plopped us down for amusement.  But, that’s not God.  God is not a religion, He never was, nor will He ever be a religion.  He’s not Catholic, He’s not Muslim, He’s not Mormon, He’s not Episcopal, or Baptist….but what He is, in all those religions…is there.  He is the great I am in the great right now, wherever you are, whatever you’re a part of, whatever you’re thinking, feeling, trying to run from, trying to hide behind, wishing for, praying about, stuffing down, celebrating…there is nowhere that He is not.  He is everywhere and He made you and placed you, right where you are for His purposes.

And He promises…He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Right now, He’s holding His hand out to you, giving you the choice to either take hold or walk away.

Looking back I can see the people He placed around me trying to get me to notice Him, but I didn’t know to notice, and I was too hardened to even care.  But, it was easier for me to reflect on my religion over thinking of a relational God who cared. There are many things your religion can tell you about the way you should live your life according to their rules but there is only one Bible, the very Word of God that shows you, the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No religion can ever grab a hold of your heart the way knowing God can.  No religion can change you, because religion didn’t make you. God made you.  He’s the reason or should be the reason for every single step you make, because He is in every single breath you take.

I don’t know what your path looks like.  I don’t know why your life doesn’t look how you think it ought to look.  Maybe it’s because of the choices you’ve made, maybe it’s because you need to walk in obedience, or take a step of faith or maybe it’s just simply because you’ve taken your hand out of His.  Maybe you think God left you, or is angry with you, or you’re angry with Him for taking things or loved ones from your life.  Maybe you think you’re too broken, too far gone, too unworthy, too dirty, too (insert your word here), but I can assure you, you are none of those condemning thoughts because Jesus already took that nail for you.  Why? Because it is written, “For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~~John 3:16 (NIV)  It is not written, For God so loved the world He sent His religion…..because He’s not a religion.  God is so much more than a religion.  He is the very essence of your being, your beating heart, your breath, your life.  And He has such plans for you.

How do I know?  Because it is written: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~~ Jeremiah 29:11

Religion can’t make promises, but God, oh yes my friends…God makes promises.  His Word is living and active and just as relevant today as it ever was, so yea, I’m all about losing my religion and holding onto His promises, His hand, and walking into His vision because He promises it will not harm me, but indeed gives me hope and a future.

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Stay away from my husband…

Even though it was a voice I had never heard over the phone or ever before for that matter, I knew she was hurt, angry, and territorial despite her trembling voice which gave away the fear behind her words.

I was doing something upstairs in my bedroom when my son came in and handed me my cell phone and said it was for me.  I asked who it was and he didn’t know so I answered…”hello,” and she simply stated, “stay away from my husband.”  My first thought was…which one…whose wife could this be? But she continued on and revealed the little bit of what was going on because she’d found an email between myself and her husband.  Not my finest hour.

But you know what?  After we hung up, these were my thoughts.  Thank God my husband didn’t answer the phone and what was she doing calling me when she should have been talking to her husband?  In my righteous indignation, I thought, “if she’d have been the wife he needed, he wouldn’t have come looking for me.”  There, right there was my justification for being an intruder in someone else’s mess.

As the day wore on, I grew livid and even more indignant.  How dare…how dare THIS man put MY marriage in jeopardy by being so stupid as to leave “evidence” out in the open for his wife to find? How dare she call me and try to put me in my place?  Are you getting the irony of this?  Do you see the problem here?

My day was spent with my heart doing a new little pittery pattery type of “how to cover my tracks” dance while I thought of ways to make this go away so my own marriage wasn’t affected.  Ummm…too late.  It was affected when I chose to step outside of the sacred marriage bond and smack onto Satan’s playground.

When I was a little girl, my family would go camping.  If they couldn’t find me close by, my mom knew I had traveled to the women’s restroom so I could talk with whoever would listen.  She told me she would either come herself or send one of my brothers to come get me.  She knew I would be telling those souls who would listen how my daddy was drunk and my parents were arguing.  Lord knows what else I may have babbled on about.

During the majority of my school years, I would be set off to the side at a table or desk by myself so I would keep quiet.  Ummm…helllloooo, I wasn’t talking to myself, but it was me who invariably wound up separated from the pack.

I once got into a fist fight because of my never ending chatter. Nice way of saying gossip. I have a point.

Yes, I was an adulterer…a very brazen adulterer.  I didn’t know my worth.  I didn’t know my place.  I didn’t understand the full affect of my actions.  Yes, I knew right from wrong….however, when you hang with the adulterous crowd, the wrong fades into the background.  Birds of a feather most certainly do flock together. But, in the end, I’m responsible for my actions.  I own them.

Before you throw that proverbial stone my way, make sure your slate is clean.  Would it make it better if you knew the destruction I brought into my own life?  Would it be helpful to know the guilt, shame, and regret brought me to the point of a suicide attempt?  Maybe you’re thinking….good, you reap what you sew.  But my answer to that is, it matters not what you think.  You weren’t there. You don’t know why it was permitted in my life.

What I do know is, its part of His redemptive story in me and just like all those years ago telling strangers about my parents arguing, I can’t keep silent about this any longer.  It screams to be released and I won’t let it consume me any longer.  I was meant for more.  And if you find yourself in an adulterous relationship, in case no one has ever said this to you…let me say it.  You were meant for more.  You are worth so much more than being someone’s side dish.  You deserve to be the main course.

I no longer dance on the devil’s playground.  Being lulled into a honey trap of deceit, dishonesty, shame, and guilt wields no power only regrets.

These days I dance on God’s amazing dance floor.  I have nothing to hide.  I twirl and spin as He holds my hand and calls me redeemed, forgiven, precious, a jewel to behold and daughter of the One True King!!  I owe Him everything because He gave His ALL for me.  Let me tell you, this life….this resurrected life…a bazillion times better than I could have ever imagined.   He is all that and beyond.  He’s where I find my salvation and here is where I sit, at the foot of the cross where my sins are nailed and forgotten.  No sin is worth my joy.  Jesus…there’s my joy.   Jesus….there’s my life.

If you need a little more insight…take a look at a story written long ago…

John 8:1-11~~“Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives,  but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them.  As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.  They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.

Repent, ask forgiveness, and sin no more…yes, it can be that simple.  Grace is the pardon for your jail time, but not a license not to change.  “Go, and sin no more.”  Means you’re not stuck in the pit you created.  Means you have an out.  Grab your “get out of jail” free card and live the life He created you for…live the beautiful life.

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Back to the Beginning

I began filling out my passport application.  I’m going along quite nicely until I get to the part where it asks the date I got divorced or widowed.  I had to think really hard on the date I got divorced, and I can’t quite pinpoint the exact date.

Earlier in the application process they asked if I had ever been married.  Piece of wedding cake!! (finger snap for emphasis) I knew right off the bat the date my last marriage occurred. OK, if I’m going to be really honest, I can remember the dates of 2 out of the 3 times I’ve been married but I can’t remember the dates I got divorced.

So I go to my “divorce” file.  I hate this file.  It reminds me I failed.  Not gonna lie, it’s a file that still makes me cry.  I’m not entirely healed of that mess just yet.  I realize I still carry some shame from that and I have to place that mess at the foot of the cross and let my Savior step in and heal the wounds.  I have…no…scratch that…I need to let His love and truth cover the stain of my humanness.  Jesus, I need You!!

When I was in the Air Force, we had to wear name tags on our uniforms that displayed just the last name.  For the most part of my career, non-flyers wore a sewn-on name tag on their utility uniform or what is now called Airman Battle Uniform.  However, the flyers wore a Velcroed name tag, one that could easily be taken on or off.

After my third wedding, my spouse and I attended my squadron’s Christmas party.  I don’t remember a whole lot about that party, but I do remember during that party when everyone in the squadron was receiving gifts.  I remember when they called my name and made a small speech about my “gift.”  They made fun of the fact I had been married a third time and said that I should go to a more temporary means of putting my name tag on and proceeded to hand me an empty Velcro flyers version of a name tag.  They all laughed and I died a little on the inside from being mortified.

Forgiveness….I need to forgive them.  In my mind, they don’t deserve my forgiveness. They were cruel and they laughed at my expense because they thought it was funny.  They put a nail in my flesh and I had covered up the nail with hurt, humiliation, and hate.  It was buried.

To be honest, I’d forgotten about this event.  As I started writing this story, I really didn’t know where I was going with it.  In fact, I had started taking a different road and got stuck.  I sat back and asked Him to show me, and the memory plopped in my head.  I was stunned.  I started crying…a lot.  I didn’t even remember their names, but I do now.  I remember the room, I remember the feeling, I remember their faces, and I remember the name tag.  I remember throwing it in the trash.

Sometimes, in order to move forward, you have to go back to the beginning.  It’s a necessary part of healing.  Yup, not gonna lie, it hurts.  My eyes are puffy, my face is red, and countless Kleenex lay on the floor.

So I say their names out loud, one by one, I say “I forgive you,” and then send a blessing their way.  I don’t want anything standing in the way of His redeeming grace.  I want to know the fullness of my Savior’s love, so I remember His words “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,”~~ Luke 23-34 (ESV) and I step into His grace. And you know what?  I may look a little worse for the wear at the moment, but I sure do feel better.  Trust Him when He wants to do a work in you…He loves you so much and He knows what He’s doing.

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