Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

Dangle or Jump All In

I wrote the words below as a Facebook post in May of 2020, after a memory of my son popped up. He was a security guard on the Air National Guard base where I worked. For some odd reason, I had the post in my email and when I searched for something, this came up. Title and all. Which was weird because none of the words I searched matched this email. So, since I don’t believe in coincidences, I thought I’d share here. I’m hoping it encourages you.

Hard to believe this was 10 years ago. So much has changed. He said this was his favorite job. The base closed shop and moved across town to JBER. My Chief position got eliminated and retirement was on the horizon. I had no clue what I was going to do when I retired. People asked, “what’s next?” I’d answer, no clue, but God has a plan. Y’all, I didn’t even have a real relationship with Christ then.

My son the security guard working the main gate at Kulis Air National Guard Base

The thing that came next was a move back to NY. An amazing bed and breakfast owner named Cheryl Barber said I could come work for her at 10 Fitch Bed and Breakfast, so off to Auburn we went.

Through a turn of unfortunate events and my bad decisions, I eventually, wound up back in the city I said I’d never live again. Bloom where you’re planted has been a theme for me as I struggle in my heart to be in the town I grew up in, and couldn’t wait to escape. My mom said, my “roots” dangle. Makes me think of sitting on a dock with my feet kicking at the surface of the water. My tootsies test the water but I don’t fully jump in. Ya know what? Sometimes dangling is enough. 

Dangling doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, sometimes jumping all in too soon can have dire consequences. The world is made up of all kinds of folks. If I dangle in this season, it’s ok. God can use the danglers and He can use the all-in folks, and all the others in between. He’s not limited to who or what He can use. God has absolutely everything at His disposal. 

My point is no matter where you are in life, God’s got you. What someone else perceives about your life is a snippet shot of the sum of you. God sees it all. He’s the only one who knows your whole story. He’s not looking at where you live, He’s looking at how you live. My roots don’t have to be planted where I live to bloom, they need to be planted in Him to bloom. Let’s read Matthew 13:1-8 (ESV)

The Parable of the Sower

“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

What does that mean? Let’s read Matthew 13:18-23 (ESV)

The Parable of the Sower Explained

“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

And finally, let’s read John 15:4-6 (NLT)

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

So, dangle or jump all in! Just make sure you do it all with Jesus, where ever you’re at! Have a great day my friends! Jesus loves you

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Red The Cat

Well, I guess since I can’t shake the visual from my dream last night, I’ll share with you all. Fun, right?

I was in the woods. I was with somebody but not sure who it was as I didn’t see them, I only heard them. We came upon a BIG cat. I named him, Red. Poor critter was struggling to get a matted, worn looking sweater off. He rolled on the ground, pawing with all his might to get that thing off. You could tell he was getting weary from the struggle.

After a discussion with the voice, I decided to approach Red the cat to help get the sweater off. I was surprised he didn’t try to scratch or hiss at me. I worked slowly and talked calmly to Red as I first pulled one paw out, then the other. I gingerly reached for the collar and slipped the sweater off, only to find pajamas that encompassed his entire furry being.

Red trotted off before I could further assist. End of dream. But, Red and his pajamas are still ingrained in my brain.

As I reflected on my dream, my first thought was, pajamas? Really? And how did I not see the pajamas under the sweater? I mean it covered his entire furry body. But, it was the sweater that had my full attention. The details of the pajamas only appeared once the sweater was removed.

My second thought was, why didn’t Red stick around so I could help him with the pajama removal? And what was Red doing in the woods seemingly alone, and not surrounded by a loving family?

By now, you know I took this dream to my Heavenly Father and asked Him what I could take away from this dream and new new furry friend, Red.

Being in the wilderness is no fun. It feels lonely and isolating. Jesus might know a thing or two about being in the wilderness. He spent 40 days and nights there and when it was over Satan came to Him and tried to tempt Him into sin. It didn’t work. In the end, Satan fled and Jesus was attended to by angels.

The reason for His wilderness time was made clear it the first verse of Matthew 4:1.

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

Jesus was sent into the wilderness for a specific reason. To be tempted by the devil. Yikes!

Now let’s tie this all together. I believe Red is symbolic of the work Jesus does when we find ourselves in the wilderness. We don’t always see what’s happening, but in this place is where we struggle to let go of the things that no longer serve us.

My furry friend Red, rolled on the ground and pawed at the sweater but he couldn’t get it off own his own. He needed help. Had I tried to help before he was ready, we both could’ve gotten hurt. It wasn’t until he was weary from the struggle that I could help.

Jesus doesn’t force us to let go of something that’s not good for us. But, there may be circumstances that happen around you, that lead you to where He wants you to go. Sometimes, that place He’s leading you to, is the wilderness.

In this place, He can slowly and tenderly attend to you. He can show you the things that you’ve allowed to replace Him. He can show you buried pieces of yourself that needs healing. He can show you that He never left or forsook you.

Just as I reached out ever so gingerly to help Red remove that worn, matted sweater, Jesus lovingly helps remove that outer matted, and worn layer that needs to go.

But, don’t be surprised if there’s more than one layer that needs to go. Red trotted off in his pajama’s because he felt relief from that shed sweater. What’s under those pajamas? I don’t know. Maybe it’s his fur, maybe it’s another layer.

What I do know is, God won’t quit halfway through the process. Nope! He’s in it for the long-haul. But, don’t take my word for it. The apostle Paul reminds us in Philippians 1:6:

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

I don’t know what season of life your in my friend. But, if you find yourself in the wilderness, don’t try to rush through it. There’s precious work being done. It’s not a punishment, it’s a refining process because of God’s great love for you. He’s got something meant just for you that He will use for your good and His glory.

And do you think that I chose the name Red by coincidence for our furry friend? I don’t think so. It was after all, the red blood of Christ that was shed for the saving of your and my life. And maybe if you think talk of the blood of Jesus is yucky, then let Red the cat help with the visual until you can embrace the blood of Jesus being your saving grace.

May you find rest for your soul today! May you feel the love Jesus Christ has for you. May you see the works of His hands all over your day today. And may you seek to know Him as He knows you; intimately and personally.

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Silly Love Songs

The past few days, the song “Silly Love Songs” by Paul McCartney & Wings, has been running around in my head. Which is odd because I don’t really like his music. Yet, here we are. Let’s take a look at some of the lyrics:

“You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs
But I look around me and I see it isn’t so, oh no,
Some people want to fill the world
With silly love songs
And what’s wrong with that?”

The song was written by Paul and his wife Linda. It’s said it was written in retaliation to music critics who accused Paul of writing, well, “silly love songs.”

It would seem songs, and movies about love are always in high demand. Who doesn’t love a happy ending? This time of year we’re flooded with cheesy love stories. Despite knowing the overplayed plot of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back, we still tune in. We cry, we laugh, we get all sentimental and we long for the unrealistic tv version of love. Simple, silly, cheesy, love.

However, if you’ve ever been in a relationship, you know they take work. There’s no play by play book that covers every human interaction. For sure there’s similar experiences but no relationship is comparatively exact to another. We know there are highs and lows. We know things get blown out of proportion and feelings get hurt. We know they end. Sometimes we’re so devastated by the end of a relationship, it takes years to fully recover.

Even so, we long for that “silly” love connection despite knowing how awful it can make us feel. Why? Because we all love the idea of love. Can I let you in on a little secret? Love is anything but silly. Are there silly moments? Of course. But what happens when we bump up against the truly hard stuff? Do we tuck tail and run or do we press in and persevere? Allow me to share a story with you.

The beginning of a love story begins with a birth. I mean, we’re all were born at some point, right? In this particular story, this birth, no matter how long ago it happened, the purpose is the same. It never changes. It’s all about love. Not love, the sqishy, ooey, gooey, feeling; love, the action.

Once upon a time, thousands of years ago, a baby was born in the city of Bethlehem. But, not just any baby. No, this baby had a specific plan and purpose on his life. A purpose so big, only he could fulfill it. This baby, was sent specifically for you.

Let me show you.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16 (GNT)

Do you see that word “everyone”? That means, you. Everyone does not exclude you, it includes you. God didn’t say, “except that one,” no, He said “everyone.” So can we now agree that God sent His Son for you?

Ok, let’s keep moving forward. The baby born in the city of Bethlehem was named Jesus. Maybe you’ve heard of Him? His mission, to save the world. Read that again. To save the world. Cue the theme from “Mission Impossible”. Who’s in this world? You are. It’s no accident you’re here, despite what you may have been told or how you may feel.

Let me show you.

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!” ~ Psalm 139:13-16 (TLB)

Can we now agree, you’re no accident? Not only are you not an accident, you’re marvelous because you’re His workmanship. Not only are you marvelous, you’re wonderfully complex. All those things about you, you think are too much, not enough, or over the top, are part of your complex make-up. You are everything He thought of and put into action. I know, crazy, right?

As I mentioned earlier, the mission of Jesus was to save the world. Every single encounter we read about in the Bible is significant and completed with great purpose. As Jesus grew into the man He was purposed to be here on earth, He didn’t bypass the broken or the sick, or the downtrodden or the sinners. No, He went in search of them. Why? The answer is simple, yet so complex. Love. Not silly love. Agape love.

A grape ape what? No, no. Let’s try it again. Agape love. It’s a Greek word. This love is not a feeling. This love is all about action. It’s the highest form of love. It’s sacrificial and it puts others first.

Let me show you.

“If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.”
~ 1 Corinthians 13:3-7 (The MSG)

So, you see, you can write, listen, and sing about silly love songs. You can watch all the silly love movies, but you won’t be filled. There will still be a longing for “something” more. I know, because I bought into the lie that silly worldly, selfish love would make me whole. But, it never did.

It wasn’t until I understood that while I was still neck deep in my pit, covered in sin, that the Savior of the world, chose to sacrifice His life for mine, because of His great love. And friends, there’s nothing silly about His love for you. He’s very serious about His relationship with you. But, that’s something you’ll have to experience for yourself. Because He’s not a stand-offish God, He’s personal.

And it’s not Santa Claus, who sees you when you’re sleeping, or knows when you’re awake. Nope, it’s God. But don’t take my word for it.

Let me show you.

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”
~ Psalm 139:1-12 (NIV)

Nothing silly about that my friends! God sees you. He hears you. And most assuredly, He loves you. He’s not forgotten you, nor has He abandoned you. He is always, always, with you. Your mission…believe it or not. He leaves that choice in your hands. He will never force His love on you. Because His love is a gift, freely given to everyone. And yes, that still includes, YOU!

May God bless you and keep you, make His face shine upon you, and give you peace!

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Not The Glue

“Honor your father and mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” ~ Exodus 20:12

This post won’t be pretty because I’ve struggled with this commandment. I’ve wrestled. I’ve beat myself up with it. I’ve laid awake over not being loving enough. I’ve tried time and again to stuff the ugly feelings down, but they kept rising back to the top. Why wasn’t the forgiveness working? Was there something wrong with me? I went back to the relationship time and again, only to feel like a failure because, truth be told, I don’t like her. I feel sorry for her. I try to put myself in her shoes, but they don’t fit. Whatever she went through at the hands of my father made its way down to all of her children. Not just at his hands, but hers too. When you try to appease an abusive man, and you have kids, the kids suffer too. I guess it’s hard to protect your kids when you can’t even protect yourself.

I used to think, I was the glue that held our “family” together. That’s a lot for one person to take on. I don’t know why I have such a strong desire for family. Lord knows I’ve done my part in screwing things up, yet, it’s still there. Maybe it’s because when your family is so messed up, you desire something stable. Something that hugs and loves you. Something that lifts you up, and encourages you to keep going. That’s not what we got in the family I grew up in.

I’ve accepted that. I can’t change any of it. It’s in the past. But that doesn’t mean the past doesn’t try to seep in and take up space. I don’t recommend ignoring those thoughts. I do recommend giving pause and asking God why it’s coming up. Healing is trying to happen here and it’s a chance to grow bitter or get better. Journaling helps. Like, if you can’t talk about it, you can get it out of you by writing it out.

Forgiveness comes in all shapes and sizes. Crocodile tears, gulps of air in between heartwrenching sobs, whispers, shouting, faces etched in pain and anger, and in surrender. Surrender means you’ve placed the broken relationship in God’s hands where it belongs.

Broken people can commiserate together, but I don’t believe they can heal together. Battle wounds suffered on each person is separate. They may look similar on the outside, but the toll they took looks very different on the inside.

I kept returning to the scene of the crime expecting a different result. After all, she’s my mother. The title invokes respect, right? People innocently remind you, “she’s the only mom you’ll ever have,” and they base it off their experience with their mom.

You should be careful trying to guilt a wounded person to accept an abuser back in their life. It may not be what you mean to do, but sometimes good intentions do harm that you can’t see.

There’s an episode of the tv show “Mom” where the daughter has a podcast called, “The mother of all problems” where she speaks about her experiences growing up with an alcoholic mom. Her mother hears the show and wants to confront her daughter. The mom goes to her daughters apartment and the daughter pulls out her podcast equipment and the mom explains her side and how she’s doing so much better now and helping others. When the podcast is over, and they’re wrapping up the visit, the mom desperately wants to reconnect with her estranged daughter but the daughter tells her no, that she’s better without her mom in her life for now. The mom leaves devastated. I used to wonder how the daughter could be so harsh. I don’t wonder anymore.

In this scenario, it’s not that forgiveness didn’t happen. It did. But, healing takes time. It’s totally possible to forgive someone and not have a direct, hands-on relationship with them.

Even though the mom was now doing better, the daughter was working through her trauma and the experiences that brought her pain. She didn’t wish her mom ill, she just wasn’t ready to jump back into a full on relationship with her. In this case her mom was her abuser. Why would anyone encourage a relationship with their abuser, just because of their title?

It’s totally possible to forgive someone while you’re healing. I may not like my mom, but I love her. I have empathy for what she went through at the hands of my father. I have compassion for her pain. I also understand, that it wasn’t just my father who wreaked havoc in our lives.

I have forgiven her. I want nothing but the best for her. But in this season, the best I can do for her, is love and pray for her from a distance. The Lord knows my heart.

Do you remember when I said I thought I was the glue responsible for holding my family together? I was wrong. That was never my place. God reminded me, He’s the Savior, not me.

My responsibility is love. In this tender place, while I learn about love from my Heavenly Father, I get out of His way, because it’s never been about me. It’s always been about Jesus. But, don’t take my word for it, take His!

““Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~ John 14:6

Honor can happen from a distance. In that distance, make no mistake, Heavenly work is being done. And from all my experiences, that’s the work that matters most. The best part, the burden is lifted from me, and placed in the very hands of the One knows far more than I ever will, the Creator of all.

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Alcohol’s Dark Side

Don’t you love Facebook memories? It’s crazy to think how long Facebook has been around. The other day this particular memory popped up from 11 years ago:

“What an irritating, make me wanna do unspeakable things to people I don’t even know kind of day!!!! Good thing there’s wine in the world =)”

You can tell it’s older because there were no fun emoji’s back then.

11 years ago wine was my go to comforter. What I wrote in the post made me giggle. I have no recollection what happened that day. But I no doubt consumed more wine than I should have that day. More wine than any person should drink in a day.

By the grace of God, I was rescued from the grip alcohol had on my life. Since that Facebook post, two of my loved ones died from the clutches of alcoholism, and another is back in the boxing ring, laid out on the floor, passed out. He would later wake up in the emergency room. Please pray! God knows.

There are people who can recreationally consume alcohol and go on their merry way. Others, become addicted. For those who have never been addicted your opinion about what alcoholics should do is just that, your opinion. Your experience is not the same. Your knowledge comes from what you think, based on your own experience with the substance. Thank God, you never became addicted. Have mercy on those that do.

It’s not an easy thing to talk about. No one starts their day thinking, “I can’t wait to be an addict”. It creeps up on you and by the time you realize it, you’re in its clutches. You deny the addiction. You hide the evidence. You sneak sips or gulp the drink of choice down and I daresay, hate yourself in the process. Yet, you drink it down anyway. You think you’re being clever, yet, your loved ones know, and they pay the price alongside you.

The addiction comes with the high cost of shame, guilt, self-loathing, and thoughts like, “nothing matters, no one cares, my life is over.” Truth is, you’re exhausted from the pain that’s consumed your life. You cry out to God, “kill me” and “I can’t do this anymore”. Your cry is a death song.

But God! The second you cry out to Him, He moves. Make no mistake, God is not in the business of killing, He’s in the business of saving. He’s a Savior! He’s the Alpha and Omega! He’s the Way, the Truth and the LIGHT! He knitted YOU together in your mother’s womb, and He made you with precision and loving kindness.

It’s your enemy, Satan who comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He’s the one whispering in your ear you’re worthless and nobody cares. He will do anything he can to bring you low and crawling around like a serpent in the darkness.

When you cry out, at God’s command, people move. He already set in place who would help and fight in the gap for, and with you. They are His people, putting themselves on the front lines of faith, knowing that God has a plan, a good plan, and in tandem they fight on their knees, and worship the goodness and might of God and their battle cry is “Not one more lost to this disease, Abba Father” and they ask the Good Shepherd to bring His lost sheep home into His embrace. Why? They’ve experienced first hand what God can do/has done in their own lives.

Do you know the parable of the prodigal son? The Father didn’t stand there waiting for his son to return home. No, instead, as soon as he saw his son, he RAN to meet him and embraced him in a hug, despite his son’s running off and squandering his fortune away.

You can read the parable here.

Your cry may be a death song, but God’s action is saving grace. What you do with that, is your choice. The struggle to get where you are, has already been won. Not by anything you do, but by everything He does. You simply can’t out do or out run the goodness of God.

If you know someone in the thick of the battle of addiction, please know, they already know how sad their life has become. No one keeps drinking themselves into oblivion because everything is sunshine and rainbows. Because let’s face it, life is challenging. How you walk through it, is made up of your daily choices.

Everyone talks about the fun and glamour of alcohol. No one talks about its catastrophic effects on your body and the ruination of your life. Maybe it’s time to talk about the ugly truth and bring the LIGHT into the darkness.

If you’re addicted to alcohol and reading this, know I’ve prayed for you and for God to make Himself known to you. I’ve prayed for the saving of your soul and for you to know the great love He has for you. I have faith, it’s why you’re here. It’s why you’re still reading this post. So, this is where I let His Truth speak into your soul:

““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.“. ~ Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)

For those addicted, cry out to Jesus! Invite Him into the battle, because ultimately, the battle belongs to the Lord. The burden is too much for us on our own. Just remember, He’s your Savior, not your destroyer.

For my brothers and sisters in Christ, armor up, the front lines are calling.

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Walk The Walk

If you know me, you know I love the movie Top Gun and it’s sequel. I really liked how they merged the two movies together. One of the lines that carried over to the sequel was Maverick saying that up in the air, in a combat situation, there was no time to think or you’d be dead. (Paraphrasing) Pretty much he was saying in the situation, he acted on the knowledge and skills he’d learned through living and honing those skills.

In the original movie, in what I’ll call the simulation room, they played out his encounter with a mig on the screen and broke down and critiqued his maneuvers. The civilian liaison said that while the outcome was a success, he did it wrong and then they showed what it should’ve looked like via the “text book” instructions.

I don’t know who wrote the text book, but I know the book wasn’t in the air. How could a text book give every possible scenario to any situation? Pretty much when it comes to technology, the minute the book is printed, it’s already older than the current day technology. Is that to say the book is now irrelevant? Hard to say. I’ve not ever flown a plane.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, experience is key to the knowledge Maverick used to fly his plane. It was by practical performance and living through the experience that gave him the wisdom he needed.

Yet, there will always be someone who thinks they know how to do things better by telling what they think over having the actual experience. Where is the knowledge garnered from if you’ve not experienced it?

I had a friend who said that everyday he got behind the wheel of a car, he played out scenarios of how he’d handle a traffic incident should it happen. Have you ever been in an accident? It happens in seconds. What you do is based on so many variants, and in those moments, what you know to do, based on your experience can be crucial. But, not everything is controllable.

And that’s the scary part. The uncontrollable. It’s in those moments we try to control the variants by pushing our opinion around. All that is, is a desperate attempt to control a situation that feels out of our control. We hold on so tightly to what we think should happen, we’re willing to cause a verbal or even physical confrontation. Despite not having any practical experience in the matter.

The phrase “talk the talk” is just that. You’re talking about something you really know nothing about. “Walk the walk”, means you’ve put in the work, you’ve experienced the work, and you know first hand the battle you walked through.

When we try to define or box up another’s persons life through our opinion, we belittle what they’ve walked through. We talk about things we have no knowledge about and we try to make our opinion their new accepted reality, because it’s what we selfishly want. We get frustrated because they aren’t listening. But, who’s really the one, not listening?

Trying to control a situation with your opinion is a fool’s folly. Just take a look around social media and you’ll see it.
Proverbs 10:11-14 reminds us,

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.
Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.
The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.”

Imparting wisdom is not opinion. It’s a telling of what a person actually walked through and came out the other side. Maybe, just maybe if we stopped talking long enough and quit trying to manipulate things for our gain we’d live a way more peaceful life.

Eventually, and practically speaking from experience, trying to control something that’s not in your wheelhouse will exhaust you. If you’re always putting your best interest first and what you want ahead of others, you’re already behind.

Living selfishly means the only person you look out for is yourself. And don’t be fooled. They know how to cleverly disguise manipulation through doing things “for” you, but later using those very same things against you. And when they see they can’t control you, they’ll go after someone close to you. Be vigilant, my friends! Those red flags, don’t ignore them.

Living unselfishly means, you look for ways to help someone else succeed, to make their day better, so in turn, your day is better. Easier said than done, but so much more rewarding.

Ok, I’ve rambled on long enough. If you made it this far, I hope you have a beautiful day. It’s new. It’s filled with possibility and all kinds of gifts from your Heavenly Father. ❤️

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Cover-Up

You know that moment everything is going really well and the next thing you know, tears are streaming down your face? Yeah, me too. It’s kinda important to pay attention to what’s happening in that moment. Then again, it’s way easier to ignore the inner turmoil and just “keep swimming” as Dory, the Pacific blue tang fish from Finding Nemo would say.

I recently visited Santa Rosa beach in Florida. It was beautiful. I’m not your typical beach- goer. I love to watch the ocean and all its majesty, but I neither care for sand or the things that live and breathe in those waters. Literally, shiver me timbers mate, at the thought of all the creepy, crawly, wiggly tentacle and sharp teeth having creatures that could come alongside me.

This particular beach had the softest sand and the prettiest shades of blue water. It was peaceful and just what my soul needed. What I didn’t appreciate were the translucent looking crabs. These camera shy claw pinchers would burrow under the sand to get away from any and all prying eyes. This didn’t stop my friend and I from trying to get the ones we saw to smile for the camera. And, it didn’t stop people from trying to catch them. It’s no wonder they took to burrowing under the sand.

One evening I was walking along the beach, getting my feet wet and decided to take a few pictures. Little did I know I was standing on one of them buried crabs. The crab had enough of me and scooted out from under my foot. I jumped up like a crazy arm and legs flailing ninja and quickly backed away from the water. Done! I wanted no more crab encounters.

Let’s talk about those crabs for a second, shall we? As I thought about the crabs I thought they had a good lesson about hiding. These crabs just wanted to do crabby things. Whatever that may be. They hid when they didn’t want to be seen, and they revealed their hiding place if too much pressure was put on them. I‘m guessing they hid because they automatically considered us a foe and it’s a good defense mechanism.

What the crabs may not know is what’s under where they’re trying to hide. Is it possible for an even bigger danger to be found? Only the crab knows.

We’re not too far off from the crabs. When someone hurts us, we tend to hide and cover-up the wounds with false words like ”I’m fine.” When too much pressure is applied we use learned defense mechanisms to ward off potential foes. I say foes because it gets harder to make friends when pain and hurt do the leading under the false bravado of ”I’m fine”.

I don’t know how deep those crabs can dig down, but, I know how deep wounds can go. That’s where I found myself the other day. Thinking everything was fine. I said I had forgiven this person. I appropriately and messily walked through the hurt with Jesus and declared myself healed.

Imagine my surprise when something out of the blue nudged that ”healed” place. I exclaimed, ”Lord, I thought we were done with this?” Now, this is a great place for the enemy to try and convince you what a failure you are because you’re still dealing what seems to be the same hurt. Don’t you dare buy a ticket to that condemnation show.

God wants to fully heal and restore you. If something you thought was healed comes back to “haunt” you, take this opportunity to go deeper with Jesus into healing. As I processed this familiar hurt once again, God showed me I had merely covered up the remainder because I thought it to be inconsequential to my journey.

Apparently, God didn’t think it was inconsequential. Friends, God loves you. He wants to fully heal and restore all the areas we try to hide. He knows all the bad and sad things that covering up and storing our hurts away does to our mind and body.

Feeling shame or guilt from not being where you think you ought to be on your healing/forgiving journey only hinders moving forward. It doesn’t stop it, but it adds undue pressure on top of it. Remember, condemnation is not from God.

I had to remind myself that I was years in the making of where I am today. Why would I think it would take mere seconds for the undoing? There’s beauty to be found in the ashes and my pile of ashes is pretty hefty. But that just means even more beauty to be discovered. That’s good news!

Wherever you are in your journey, let God walk with you. He knows how slow or fast that healing will take. And if you think its done and something nudges your heart to go deeper, trust that on the other side of deeper, is everything God intends for your good. Heal on my friends!

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Closure

I don’t know what closure means for you. I’ve heard people say they can’t move forward until they get “closure” from a life situation.

What happens if the closure you so desperately want never happens? Do you stay stuck where you are forever in wait mode? Never moving forward?

Do we always wonder about the “one that got away”? Or the bully that changed the way we see a certain aspect of life? How long do we fumble around in the darkness of non-closure? How many days, weeks, months or even years have you waited to get things “settled” the way you want?

I had a friend who told me on the heels of my last divorce that she wasted years of her life after her divorce. She was sad. She didn’t want to be divorced. She wanted things the way they were before the divorce. She warned me, sternly, not to do the same.

When my brother died, my mother told me not to waste my life like she had done. When I asked her what she would’ve done differently, she said she didn’t know.

From what I can tell, the only person in charge of closure is ourselves. We have the power to close the chapter, without the apology, without being paid back, and without anyone’s permission.

It may be easier, said than done, but don’t you think your life moving forward is worth it?

Frank Sinatra sang these lyrics from the song “My Way“;

Regrets, I’ve had a few“.

What happens when regret takes over our present day living? I daresay regret turns into resentment, which turns into bitterness and finally anger. It’s a slippery slope down to the pit of depression.

Life is seldom the way we plan. When people get married, do you think on their wedding day they’re already planning on getting divorced?

What about your dreams as a child? Did you become what you dreamt you’d be? Seldom does a person take their first sip of alcohol think they’ll become an alcoholic.

What about remorse? It’s a kissing cousin to regret.

All of these things are a road block to moving forward. When we stay stuck in them for too long, we forget how to enjoy life. Not only that, we forget what it’s like to take the small forward steps. Somehow life got too big. Suddenly, everything became overwhelming and the next step became the whole staircase.

Staring at the whole staircase is daunting. We forget each step represents moving forward. Trying to jump from the bottom to the top, will no doubt cause a fall.

This is as much for me as is it for anyone you who happen upon this blog. I know the pain of all the things I’ve mentioned here.

I guess for me it’s a longing for an easier time. But, those easier times, had their share of trouble too. It’s like I’ve carried them all with me and without them, I don’t know who I am. As if my identity is wrapped up in all the things I did wrong, over the things I did right.

Truth of the matter is, my identity is not tied to any of them. That’s the performer in me still seeking worth. But, my worth doesn’t come from my performance. I know all this in my head…but how do I get it into my heart?

I stay the course and stick with Jesus. He’s the giver. I’m the receiver. He’s the Vine. I’m the branch. He tells me to forget the former things; He’s doing a new thing. But, I have to open my closed fist, let go of what I’m clutching onto, which threatens to kill, steal and destroy me, and release the former things.

You all know I love me some claymation Christmas shows. Do you remember “Santa Claus is Coming To Town“?

I love the part where Kris Kringle teaches the evil warlock to “put one foot in front of the other” in an effort to change from evil to good. When the evil warlock goes to take his first steps, he’s really shaky. But, then he takes another step and another, and with each step he becomes less shaky. With each resounding step he was leaving his past behind.

Maybe that’s the key. Sing your way through it. Sounds a lot like praise Him through it. The “it” being whatever’s not right in your life. I love to sing. I love to give praise to Jesus. It settles my heart. It allows for God to move and replenish my weary heart.

No, we may not always get the closure we want, but Jesus always makes sure we get what we need. In His time, in ways we can’t even begin to imagine.

Ephesians 3:20 says:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” (NIV)

That’s the beauty about God being a creator, He never runs out of ways to show us His glory.

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Pedestals

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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Cinderella

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

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

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

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

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

Now comes my favorite part.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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