Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

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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Search Me

“Investigate my life, O God,
    find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
    get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
    then guide me on the road to eternal life.”

Psalm 139:23-24 (MSG)

The past two days I’ve been attending our local 2022 If: Gathering event. It was phenomenal. If you’ve never attended a Christian women’s conference, I highly recommend this one. So good!

The church was filled with women from all over the local area hungry to learn more about their relationship with Jesus. The friends that attended with me, well, it would take more than one blog to tell you about how they’ve each touched and enriched my life. I will say, I hope you have a tribe of friends who support, encourage and love you, the way these women do for me.

Before I even attended the conference I had prayed Psalm 139:23-24. This is never an easy prayer. You’re asking God to search you. You’re asking God to show you what is going on in your life that’s not in line with His will for you. It’s an intimate prayer for God to come in to your life and see what’s going on.

Now, let me say, I thought for sure I already knew. I mean, I live with me 24/7 so, I got this, right? Insert loud buzzer noise for…wrong!

The very first speaker of the night was local. She spoke about God’s Holiness. It was really good. Until she got to a part that made my heart “freeze” and body turn hot.

She spoke about getting advice from someone concerning her marriage. That person told her, she’d find her a good attorney. Then she said, that advice giving person had been married four times. I heard the tone in her voice. I know she was just trying to make a good point on being careful who you seek advice from, but it still hurt. In the context of the message she said the divorced person was the wrong person to ask. I suppose in her case that was correct.

The negative thoughts came rushing at me like a raging river. Wait. I’m divorced. Not once, but 3 times. Does that mean I’m not a person of wise counsel? Does that exclude me from sharing with others how divorce affects me to this day? What was happening inside me, was deeper than all my negative thoughts.

God, through this woman had just answered my prayer. He searched my heart and He found the shame I still carry from those divorces. Sure, I talk about them. I “laugh” it off, but it appears I still care more deeply about what others and even I, think of my past, over embracing being made a new creation when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

Divorce does not define who I am, unless I allow it. But wait! It gets better. Remember, I said that was the first speaker of the first night. I tucked that shame down and kept on keeping on.

But God, wasn’t done yet. He will finish the work He begins in you.

During the morning of the second day of the event, we had more worship, more phenomenal speakers and then it was time for lunch.

As I sat at the table with my friends, my heart started to beat a bit faster and knew I needed to get this confession of shame off me.

I almost forgot something. Days before this conference, after watching that episode of 9-1-1, I wrote about, I didn’t mention I had cried like a baby. I cried because for the first time I realized the type of running I was doing in my own life. God led me to say, “I’m safe”. I haven’t felt “safe,” in I can’t tell you how long.

Back to lunch with my friends. I knew I was “safe,” with them, but how would they feel when I’d share what God showed me the first day of the conference?

There was only one way to find out. I told them I wanted to confess something to them and then, immediately started to cry. Through my tears, I told them exactly how I was feeling and how I came to be in the vulnerable place I was in.

These women listened. I mean, really listened. It’s not that they didn’t know I’d been divorced, because they did. They just didn’t know the degree of shame I felt over it. Surprise, neither had I until yesterday. These godly women and friends had tears in their eyes and when I was done with my confession, they immediately began lifting me up out of my pit.

One woman reminded me with conviction in her voice, “there’s NO condemnation for those in Jesus Christ.” (Romans 8:1)

Another spoke God’s Truth over me.

Yet another, hugged me and spoke words of godly affirmation over me.

All of these amazing women, heard my hurt, embraced what I had to say, and immediately took what the devil meant to destroy me with, and flipped his accusations upside down and back into hell where the lies belong.

These type of women, are the ones you want in your corner. These loving, precious daughters of God, spoke life back into a weary heart.

Yes, I could’ve kept that shame all to myself. As hard as it was to confess, the damage it was causing inside me was worse. I’m so thankful God surrounded me in love and knew exactly who to place around me. He’s a good God.

Even when He asks you to confess.

Confession is not a punishment. Confession takes any power you’ve given to the enemy and gives God room to those ashes into something beautiful. Because God is a creator, He will always, bring about good from evil. Always!

So now I have to apply this truth in my life. Every time the enemy tries to creepy crawl his way back in, I have to take my stance and say, “NO SHAME,” however many times it takes for it to be thrown out as far as the east is to the west.

Maybe there’s something in your life where you have shame. I’m so sorry for whatever happened to cause that in your life. Let me be the one through Jesus, to speak beauty into your life, just as my friend did for me.

You are a child of God. You are God’s masterpiece. You are the apple of God’s eye. You’re precious. You are loved, chosen, and highly favored. God’s not mad at you. God’s not surprised by what you’ve done and He will use whatever was meant to destroy you, for His good and glory. And He will finish the good work He’s begun in you.

Your mission. Trust Him with your story. Ultimately, it belongs to Him, because you belong to Him.

Much peace and love to you my friends. And to my friends who walked out that tough road with me today, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You’re all amazing in ways, you may never know this side of Heaven.

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Outshine

Last night I watched an episode of 9-1-1. A lot of the show resonated deeply with me. It was mainly about the character Maddie. She fell into what was initially thought of as postpartum depression. Turns out it was a thyroid thing. She was so depressed and convinced she wasn’t worthy to live, she attempted suicide. Thoughts of her hubby and newborn baby made her seek help instead.

She wanted to get healed before she went back to her hubby and baby whom she left months previously. She left because she was so exhausted from her medical condition she drifted off when the baby was in the tub and the baby slipped under the water for a few seconds. She felt on top of her condition she was a danger to her family.

There’s nothing worse than knowing there’s something medically wrong and no one will listen. Maddie ran from her family and her husband with baby in tow decided to find her. He felt responsible. She asked and pleaded with him not to follow, to give her the time she needed to heal. He didn’t listen.

Eventually after months they were in the same city. He daily sat outside a hospital where he thought she’d magically come walking out of one day, until a friend told him to get back in the game called life. That friend also told him that maybe, since he hadn’t found his wife, it was time to let go of what he so desperately wanted and let the “universe” do the work for him. As in, give back to the “universe,” and maybe the universe will give back to you. (Because you know, it’s all about what the universe can do for us.)

Eventually, Maddie and her hubby find each other and after the shock of the meeting, they finally get to talk. What it came down to is Maddie left because she knew her husband didn’t grasp the severity of her mental illness. He thought he could fix it by simply loving her through it. He had a good heart, but she needed so much more than he was gonna be able to give her.

Maddie had been through a lot of trauma. It hadn’t been respectfully dealt with, so the trauma dealt with her. Sometimes space is the best gift you can give someone who needs proper time to heal.

Maddie wasn’t able to heal while focusing on her family, job and all the life things. She didn’t leave to hurt them, she left to help them. She left to seek a deeper inner healing than they could provide. She knew in her knower it’s what was best. The fixers in this workd mean well, but people don’t need to be fixed. They need compassion and a safe place to land. We also don’t need our trauma to be trumped by another’s.

Listening is hard. Being vulnerable is hard. Fixing is nothing more than slapping a bandaid on a hemorrhaging wound. It takes guts to really listen with a compassionate ear. It takes guts to stop “running” from your pain and dealing with it. In reality, you truly can’t outrun your pain.

Maddie tried outrunning her pain by doing the daily grind and stuffing it down. But it came on her full force and it tried to take her out of this world. She succeeded in getting the help she needed. Sadly, many don’t.

I guess the point to all of this is, in a world where people are constantly trying to outshine one another in an effort to become noticed, we’ve forgotten what true compassion looks like. This “look at me and what I can do” world is a harsh place to exist. It’s even more harsh on those who feel they don’t have a place.

I’ll wrap this up with the new commandment Jesus gave us:

“And so I am giving a new commandment to you now—love each other just as much as I love you. Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”” ~ John 13:34-35 (TLB)

Notice it didn’t say to outshine one another. Because that’s not love, that’s selfish.

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Breaking-Up

“Breaking up is hard to do” is the name of a song sung by Neil Sedaka back in the 70’s. No truer words have ever been spoken.

As I journey towards emotional and mental well being I’ve learned it’s hard, excruciatingly hard, to unlearn and break up with things that no longer, and in truth, have not ever served me well.

In a group friend session today we were asked what’s one thing you’d like prayer towards in your healing journey?

I said I’m in the process of letting go of the guilt of others. Let me explain.

As a sensitive child growing up in a dysfunctional home, I wanted peace for everyone. I seldom tended to my own emotions because I was so concerned on ways to help others feel better. It’s another reason why I didn’t want others to see me cry. I felt like I was placing another burden on top of an already toxic situation.

It didn’t help that when I brought up how I was feeling, it was pretty much dismissed. To include the time I broke my arm and I was sent to school anyway. It took a school nurses’ voice of concern to get my parents to hear “me’.

In essence these type of dismissals led me to feel unworthy of having feelings.

On the flip side, I was also the one who acted out. So much so, the doctor told my parents to tranquilize me. All she needs is a “little blue heart pill” as it was referred to and she’ll be calm. No one ever addressed the toxic home or the neglect.

I learned, I was the problem. Awesome, right?

As I grew older, in an effort not to be the one my Father would single out to verbally abuse, I’d stay holed up in my room. But, toxic has a way of getting past your boundaries and taking up residence where it doesn’t belong.

My role models were from those wholesome tv shows, that depicted perfect families. I know, I know, there are no perfect families…now.

When I ventured into the world and was considered a grown-up, I had all that mess inside I knew nothing about. When my own grown-up relationships failed to be “perfect” I’d mentally check out before I ever left physically.

Control, or that of perceived control was paramount to my well-being. So, when things didn’t look or feel “picture perfect” I took that as, I was failing. Then I’d lash out with anger to try and reign in the messy, uncontrolled parts of “my” life. Which included taking things out on my loved ones. Ugh!!

I’ve been several years under construction. Each day, I learn a bit more as God helps me towards healing.

Emotional neglect is something I’m learning now. Stuffing down any emotion is neglecting to honor what I’m feeling. Feelings are important to understand why something is happening inside.

What I’m learning is that I feel guilty for having my own feelings. It goes back to when I shoved my own feelings down as a child.

Not only do I feel guilty for my stuff, I feel guilty for those loved ones who may have made poor choices due to my own inability to function well.

Please understand, I know we all make mistakes and I will no doubt continue to make mistakes. Learning to heal is a process.

I know I’m not responsible for the choices others make, but in my thought process, if I could’ve done something better or differently, maybe the outcome would’ve been better. It’s only now, I realize it could’ve been worse.

No one else needs to validate how I’m feeling. No one else can tell me I shouldn’t feel a certain way.

When my nephew hurt my niece while playing, she cried. Not wanting to get in trouble, he told her to stop crying, because what he didn’t couldn’t have hurt her.

In essence he was telling her to shove the hurt down so he wouldn’t have to apologize and possibly get in trouble for roughhousing. Needless to say, since I was there, we talked it out and he apologized.

Kids don’t know how to process feelings. They need to be taught. They need to be allowed to express what’s happening. But, when grown-ups didn’t have a good example, they pass what they learned on, or they over compensate to the other side.

That’s what I did with my son. I overcompensated. I tried to make up for him not having his dad in his life. Some would say I “spoiled” him. I truly dislike that term by the way. But, that’s for another day. But, I would argue, I did the best I knew how to do with the information I had.

I felt guilty for what I thought he lacked. But, was the toxicity of our relationship any better for our son? No, it sure wasn’t. But that didn’t make me feel any less guilty for what I thought I did by getting divorced.

Guilt, my friends, is a hard task master. It’s not from God, and it’s a burden our tender frames were ever meant to bear. And yet, I’ve not ever met a person who has said they’ve never experienced guilt.

Guilt has been one the hardest things to break up with. Guilt stands in the way of my receiving God’s forgiveness. God’s grace is so much more than I know. God’s love is so much more than I know. And I will not experience all He has for me with the yoke of guilt around my neck.

Freedom from guilt is my prize. How do I get there? Not on my own. I need God to help me. I need Him to help me understand where my worth comes from. My worth, your worth, is not in guilt.

Our worth comes from knowing we are loved and created by a loving God. We’ve been set free to live an abundant life. Not a life wracked in emotional pain from past trauma. It’s up to us to do our part. We are worth the effort. We are worthy of love. We are worthy of being here. We are worthy to be healed and whole. Not because of who we are, but because of the love sacrifice made by Jesus.

Jesus thought we were worth dying for, why is it so hard for us to believe that truth? Maybe today, like me, you can take that step towards deeper healing and simply receive His love.

You don’t have to prove anything to God. That’s already been taken care of by the shed blood of Jesus.

Today is my break up day with guilt. It’s way overdue. I’m sure I’ll stumble, but I will persevere to freedom, because guilt is not my story’s ending. I’m praying for you to know it’s not your story’s ending either.

Breaking up is hard to do, but with God, ALL things are possible.

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Misfits

I often find myself humming or singing Christmas songs even though the Christmas season has past. Such has been the case for a few days now.

Rudolph is one of my favorite claymation movies. What’s not to like? It’s packed with drama, intrigue, romance, and it ends, happily. Add in super catchy songs and for an hour you can forget all your cares.

The song that’s been playing in my head is sung by the “misfit toys” stuck on, well, the island of misfit toys.

Each of these toys has what they believe to be a “deformity” and no child could possibly love them due to their imperfection.

A choo choo, with square wheels.
A squirt gun that shoots jelly instead of water.
A cowboy who rides an ost-a-ridge (in my head, I sung that, hence the misspelling)
A fish that doesn’t stay afloat.

I think you get the picture. They’re all misfits.

On Christmas eve, the day they’ve been waiting for all year, the toys are huddled around a fire. There’s been a horrible snow storm and the toys believe they’ve been forgotten once again.

Poor Dolly is overcome with all the emotions. She just wants to be loved. She doesn’t want to stay on the island any longer. Through her tears, she remarks “I haven’t any dreams left to dream”.

But then in the distance, the toys hear Santa’s sleigh bells and see Rudolph’s nose. Santa sleigh lands, the toys happily jump into the bag, and off they go to their new adventure.

Yes, I’m smiling as I type this. It’s how I roll.

Maybe like Dolly, you find yourself in a place where you haven’t any dreams left to dream. I’ve been there more than once.

I typically find myself in this dreamless state when I’ve been beat down by life. More specifically, it’s when the life I’d imagined, didn’t happen.

This state of mind is the perfect setting for Satan to come in and start picking you apart.

That’s why we’re warned:

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

One errant thought is all he needs to start feeding you even more negative thoughts. The nasty thoughts that tell you, you’re no good. You don’t have the talent. You don’t have the skills. You don’t have what it takes to do anything right. Nobody cares about you. You’ll never be good enough. He loves to see you defeated.

But, just like Santa made it through what seemed an impossible storm for to get to those toys, you have a Savior who knows your name. He chooses you. He chases you. He rescues you. He loves you.

Why is it so much easier to believe in a fictitious character over a God who created the person who in turn brought the idea of Santa to life?

Even after I found out Santa wasn’t real, I still desperately needed to believe that someone cared enough about me to listen to what I wanted.

Since I didn’t grow up in a God fearing/loving home, I didn’t know Jesus could have been that for me.

Maybe no one has ever told you that Jesus can be that for you. Someone who cares about every single detail of your life. Someone who cares to give you what you need, over what you want. Because, let’s face it, what we want is not always what’s best.

And just as the devil prowls around, Jesus is also seeking for those lost. He’s the good shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:11 (NIV)

A good shepherd gives good gifts and has good plans for you. I’ve experienced both and I bet if you look back over your life, you have as well.

Friend, you’re no misfit. The dreams you have may not look exactly like you thought, but that doesn’t mean you’re forgotten, or unloved. It just means, there’s something better. I truly believe that. The waiting can be the hardest part.

You don’t know what storms lie ahead and you may not understand the timing. But that’s where faith happens. Don’t give up before “it” happens.

One day, you’ll understand, but in the meantime, keep moving forward. The best is yet to come and this gal is cheering you on!

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Love Makes You…

This morning my Lent devotional’s primary Bible verse was a reminder of what love is, what it does and what it’s not. Let’s read it together:

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

Last night during a televised show, an unfortunate action happened. If you’re on social media, you know. If you watched the show, you know. Staged or not, what we saw was not love.

I have this thing about owning up to our actions. Lord knows it’s not easy. The days I came clean about my adulterous life style with all 3 of my ex-husbands wrecked me. But, hiding it, almost killed me. It’s why I’m passionate about owning choices and the consequences that follow. Hiding behind a bad behavior choice and then blaming it on anything but yourself, is toxic.

This world we live in is awesome at the blame game and forfeiting any actual owner responsibility.

Last night, the excuse given for the bad behavior, was a cop out. And for those who don’t understand what love is and does, and what’s it’s not, will always protect the bad behavior and see it as something to be rewarded.

Friends, love the action, will not make you do crazy things. All the other emotions will make you do crazy things.

If you need another reminder of what love is, please, I beg you, don’t look to the world and it’s idea of what love is. It’s flawed. It’s misguided. It’s selfish. It’s attention seeking. It’s fantasized. It’s proud. It’s lazy. It’s flipped upside down, and it’s damaging.

I’m not saying that love doesn’t exist in the world. It most assuredly does. When you see someone helping another with absolutely no venue or thought that the action could be repaid, love lives. When you see someone lay their life down for another, love lives. When you see sacrifice lived out by a parent for their children, love lives.

When you see someone publicly humiliate another human being, rest assured, love most assuredly did not make that person do that. That’s not love.

When you see the person publicly humiliated rise up over the altercation, that’s a step in the love direction.

I’m no better than the person who did the hitting or the person who rose above. I’m just as flawed as the next guy. Most days I’m that clanging cymbal. I’ve been pained, and I’ve caused pain.

Admitting that I’m the one who has grieved another human being over my actions, is a hard pill to swallow. But in order to be fully healed, it’s imperative I own my part and admit, I suck too.

Otherwise, it will always be the other person’s fault who has me using misguided love for myself or another as an excuse to continue making poor choices.

What I know is that when I stand in front of Jesus, He’ll ask me what I did with the life He gave me. If I try to answer with an excuse about the way someone treated me, I have no doubt He’ll stop my babbling mouth in heartbeat and remind me, He asked me what I did with the life He gave me.

You see, it’s not about other people. It’s about what I know to do based on the instruction Jesus gave me. No, it’s not easy. Yes, I make mistakes. But, when we know we can do better, isn’t it time we actually do better?

I can’t answer that for anyone but me. All I can say is, don’t let the excuse of “love makes you do crazy things,” become the basis for the way you live the life you’ve be given. If you need another reminder of what love is, let me repeat it here:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

I don’t know about you, but nowhere in those verses do I see. “love makes you do crazy things,” but I would argue that LOVE made you, formed you in your mother’s womb, loves you with an everlasting love and love led Jesus to die on the cross for you. He chose it out of love for you.

That kind of love will never make you do anything. That kind of love gives you the choice to love as He loved or love like the world.

The choice is yours, choose wisely, and make no excuses.

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Grief

Today was a good day. I went to a funny movie, I spent time with family and friends and then out of nowhere the floodgates opened. Driving and tears don’t mix well. But, when grief comes knocking, I’ve learned it’s easier to let it out than bottle it up.

A friend once told me that grieving is sometimes more than what we actually think we’re being emotional over. I had to give that some serious thought and I’ve come to the conclusion; she’s right.

Today for example I grieved the times my brother and I didn’t get to have. But, my initial wave of grief was over how much I miss him.

Grief gives us permission to feel all the things. There’s no shame in grieving or how long it takes you to grieve.

I think the worst injustice we can ever do is tell someone to “get over it”. How deeply someone is affected by whatever grieves them is their business. The uncomfortably we have with others in pain is what drives us to push others to healing.

It’s not to say it’s a bad thing. Good intentions, right? We don’t like to see someone in pain. Yet, everyday people are dealing with some type of pain.

Although it may not feel like it, grieving is what helps us move forward. It releases the anguish from our souls so we can move forward in hope that this too will pass.

As a little girl and a big chunk of my adult life, I cried in private. I didn’t want people to see me cry. I hated crying in public. I related crying to weakness. I was told crying would make my face be unpretty. I guess in way, you could say crying was my enemy.

I remember the first time I felt like crying during worship time at church. I was like, what in the world is happening here? Nope, not happening. So, I stuffed it back down. I’d look all around, take a sip of water, search through my purse, and do whatever I could to stop those tears.

Then I looked over at a dear friend and she was openly crying in church. I felt bad for her. I thought, you know people can see you right? I never asked her about it.

A couple of weeks later during worship the same thing. It was as if the tears were coming up from a place deep inside me. I couldn’t stop it this time. But, you can bet I tried my best to hide it.

But, God saw those tears. He knew my heart and as the tears fell, a reshaping of my heart started to transform my thinking.

Romans 12:2 was the very first Bible verse I felt led to memorize:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” ~ NIV

I still don’t like to cry in public, but I no longer stop what God wants to do through my tears. Crying allows the pent up frustration, hurt, anger, shame, and guilt out.

I often wondered why after I came face to face with my Savior why I cried all the time? Stuffed down tears will find a way out. Grief can look like working out too much. Eating too much or too little. Grief can look like anger. Grieving is complicated, yet so very necessary to our well being. Whatever it is you lost, it’s ok to grieve. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Your shoes. Your story. No body else has license to tell you to quit crying or they’ll give you something to cry about. Just means, that once upon a time, someone told them to quit crying too.

I guess all I really have to say is, it’s ok to cry. It’s an emotion that God gave us and even Jesus wept. How awesome is it, that the Savior of the world wasn’t ashamed to cry?

Friend, there’s freedom in your tears. And there’s not a thing you can hide from Jesus. So you may as well let those tears flow, because one way or another, they’re coming out!

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I Believe In You

This morning I was having a conversation with my 5-year old baby grand. Every time I see her she imparts innocent wisdom my way. What is it that they say? Oh yea. Out of the mouths of babes. This morning out out the blue, she simply said, “I believe in you”.

It didn’t take long for the tears to well up in my eyes and start their trip down my cheeks. I didn’t even know, I needed to hear those words. But God did. So allow me to pay it forward.

If no one has told you lately, let me say with all the love I felt when my granddaughter said it me.

I believe in you.

I don’t know what you may be going through, but I believe if you’re reading this, God wanted you to know He heard you and He’s working on it! Our God never stops working!

Sometimes I picture God in Heaven with a glittery musical conductor’s baton. He points the baton and things begin moving in place. Trumpets sound, and then He twirls in another direction, points that baton and things begin working in concert together. The way it’s meant to.

God knows I’m a visual gal. Visual’s help me understand things better. Demonstrations help too!

Since I love music, I believe the visual of God with a glittery baton helps me better understand these verses from the book of Romans:

And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:27-8:28 (NLT)

This visual picture also helps me remember God is not looking down at me, scowling. That’s how I pictured Him for a long time. Disappointed and sorely grieving over me. I constantly wondered why He allowed me to be here on planet earth. This was the misconception of God I had.

Comparing the pain humans cause to God’s actions has a tendency to make us believe God is just as angry and hurtful as humans can be.

Let’s not forget that God is the One who sent His Son down from Heaven so He could have a relationship with us. Not a condemning one, but a loving one.

As His Son hung on a cross, dying, He taught us the greatest act of love. He asked His Father to forgive the ones who put him on that cross. Forgive them, for they know not what they do. Even after He asked God to forgive them, they divided up his garments and cast lots for them. I guess it wasn’t enough to take His life, they needed to take it all. (Luke 23:34)

Anytime we confuse what God is doing with our limited understanding, we tend to lean toward the fallacy that God hates us. That includes the bigger picture of why God would allow His own Son to suffer. The bigger reason behind that is more than we could ever imagine and more than we could ever understand.

When God says He will take EVERYTHING to work together, He means both good and evil. Evil is a part of this world and God continues to use it for His glory. Because the darkness of evil will never prevail over the light of goodness.

It’s why He can promise to turn beauty from ashes. But, you have a part in that. You have to want to give up the “ashes”.

Beautiful friend, you will have people come into your life and not all of them will mean you well. I’m sorry for that. It sucks when people hurt others. But in order for us to live the life God intends, we need to move forward in love and forgiveness.

But just as those people come and go, so do ones who love you well. Hold onto them.

Pay close attention, because His love can come through people you never expected and yes, even 5-year old’s who simply say; “I believe in you”.

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