Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

Well Meaning People

I think it’s safe to say we all have that friend that always offers up what you should do because let’s be honest, it’s probably what they’d do. Their solution to your problem is a good fit for them and since your friends it should be a good fit for you too, right?

Not necessarily. Have you ever taken a friend’s advice and it went horribly wrong? What was the fallout? Do you trust your friend less now? Did you blame them for their advice despite the fact it was your choice to follow it? Did you kick your friend to the curb over it? Maybe it changed the dynamic of your friendship.

Maybe you’ve been that friend well meaning friend. I know I have.

I believe people mean well. But, let’s face it. We’re all flawed. We’ve seen things we shouldn’t have seen, and done things we shouldn’t have done, and they left a mark. Etched in our memories is the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s that never happened. A reminder that “next time” I’ll do that thing differently.

Only next time doesn’t come so we replay the past event in our minds and kick ourselves for doing the “dumb” thing. We say things like “why did I listen to so and so?” and “how could I have been so stupid?” and “some friend they turned out to be”.

It’s not that you’re stupid; you’re human. You tried something and it didn’t work out. You learned a lesson but instead of moving on from it, you clutched it in your hand and made a fist with it. What’s inside your fist?

The night before Jesus was to be crucified he was in the garden of Gethsemane with His disciples. Judas, one of the disciples, had betrayed Jesus. He wasn’t in the garden with them but he showed up with a crowd that was armed with swords and clubs. They were sent there to arrest Jesus. Jesus addressed the crowd;

“”Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?”

Mark 14:48 (NIV)

He goes on to remind these people prior to them coming at him with swords and clubs He’d been with them every day teaching them in the temple courts. They “heard” Jesus teaching, but did they “know” Him? If they knew Him would they have still brought the swords and clubs?

I’ve read this passage of Scripture several times. One night it hit me and I asked myself “what do I come at Jesus with”? “What’s inside my fist?” In my Bible that night I wrote “self loathing,” “bitterness,” “hate,” and “anger”.

Those were what the clubs and swords represented to me. Can Jesus handle all that? Of course He can. But at what point do I lay them down? At what point do I stop coming at Him with swords and clubs and KNOW He is worthy of all my praise?

I can’t answer that question for you. That’s a personal journey between you and your Heavenly Father. For me, it’s when I KNEW Jesus died for me. He chose the crucifixion.

When I see the word crucifixion. I see “fix.” He came to “fix” the sin that separated us from God. He came to “fix” what was broken in me. He came to ”fix” the self loathing, bitterness, hate and anger. To restore and redeem what the enemy has stolen.

God will finish what He started. But I have a part in this beautiful exchange. So I open my fist, my heart, and my whole self to Him and allow the good work He wants to do in me. Why? Because I’ve experienced enough to know God is who He says He is and He does what He says He’s going to do!

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work in you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ returns.”

Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

That’s some good news right there my friends! Open your fist! It’ll be ok! Have an amazing day and remember you are loved and so very precious in His sight.

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The Air of Familiarity

“Hello darkness my old friend,” are lyrics to the song “The Sound of Silence.” If you don’t know, the song was originally written by Paul Simon of the duo Simon and Garfunkel. It was composed after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Maybe like me, you didn’t know that bit of historical trivia. You’re welcome! The song has a bit more meaning now.

I’m sharing this with you because those first words I wrote seemed to envelope my being as I walked into a local Legion this past weekend to support a fundraiser. They were serving up a chicken bbq and I love me a good chicken bbq.

My son was helping out at the event. He actually pulled aside one of the meals for me. So sweet, right?

When I got to the event, I didn’t see my son outside where all the fun was happening. I thought, I should’ve texted him to let him know I arrived. You know what they say about hindsight, right?

Since I’d left my phone in the car and he wasn’t outside and I was in unfamiliar territory, I decided to pull my big girl panties up and venture inside.

This entails me putting on my “you can’t touch this” armor. I know all too well how to throw this armor on. It starts in my mind. “You got this girl.” My shoulders square up and my head tilts up a little higher. I walk with intention as I make a bee-line to my destination. Eyes front, but keenly aware of what’s going on around me.

Sounds like a lot just to head into a bar, right? But, I didn’t know what I was heading into and I knew I didn’t want to stay any longer than necessary.

As I got to the entrance of the bar, a man stood there between me and the door. I stopped. I waited. He didn’t move. He kept talking to whomever he was speaking with, so I waited.

It was almost as if I was given the opportunity to change direction. But he moved, and I went in. The air of familiarity wrapped its arms around me as if to say, “welcome home.”

I knew this place. Not because I’d been to this bar before, but I had been to what seemed like hundreds just like it.

The stark difference from walking out of the sunshine into the dark didn’t escape me. The neon lights dimly lit the room. My eyes adjusted to the dark. The stench of stale alcohol wafted up my nose and infiltrated my senses.

I quickly scanned the room for my son. He was at the bar. It hit me, hard. My son, was at the bar. It was the first time I ever saw him at the bar. As I got closer to him, one of his friends turned to me with a drink in his hands and said “you want some”? He knew better.

I’d be lying if I said the drink didn’t look “good”. In that moment several things went through my mind.

So many heart wrenching moments caused from the over consumption of alcohol. So many “fun” times. So many memories forgotten. Are they memories if they’re forgotten? Hmmm.

A lot of those forgotten memories had to be filled in by friends who were witness to my drink enabled ways.

Words that typically flowed from my lips after being filled in by the previous evenings antics were “yeah, that sounds like me.” Insert hollow laughter or total disbelief that I’d do something “like that.”

I had no clue if those things being repeated were true or not because I used to drink so much, I’d “blackout”. I’m so thankful smart phones didn’t exist back in those days. Pictures did. But not the technology to record drunken shenanigans in a small hand-held device. Can I get a hallelujah?

Alcohol is not my friend. It isn’t my family’s friend and truth be told, it’s not your friend.

It deceives you. It lulls you into a false sense of security. It makes you think you need it to get through the day. We glamorize it. We use it as a coping mechanism to “relax.” We say things like, “I just want to take the edge off” or it helps me “unwind.”

Let’s call it what it really is. It’s a justification to do what we want. Be careful the justification doesn’t turn into an addiction.

I remember going out a date several years ago. I was appalled on this first date he downed the entire bottle of wine during dinner.

So appalled I went home after the date and downed my own bottle of wine. Oy vey!

He at least let me know what I was in for had I continued to date him. I, on the other hand, hid it. Do you maybe see a problem there?

The Bible warns us about the destructiveness of our behaviors. God is a gracious God. He gives us the free will to make our own decisions. I’ve made some doozies! How about you?

Those “doozies” don’t define me. They taught me valuable lessons. It’s what I do with those lessons that either propel me forward, or drag me down.

We’re told by the Apostle Paul:

“Everything is permissible,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,”but not everything builds up.”

1Corinthians 10:23 (HCSB)

I can’t explain why some people can stop at just one drink and others can’t or won’t. I can’t explain why someone would deliberately want to hurt themselves by doing something we’re warned is bad for us.

I can explain the damage it’s done to my life. I can explain how it affected my childhood being surrounded and raised by alcoholics. I can tell you how it affected my life when my brother left this world after being caught up in the demonic clutches of alcohol’s call. Those things I know all too well.

I can say without a doubt, if darkness is a friend, alcohol is its name. It’s not something that builds me up. It tears me down.

I may not always make the right choice, but that day of chicken bbq, I did. I stared my foe in the face, well, ok, a plastic cup, and I said no.

I choose me. Why? Because Jesus thought I was worth dying for. This life is not my own. He paid the ultimate price for my freedom. I spent years wasting it in the dark. No more!

I’m a child of light. I’m gonna shine.

The best part, those wasted years will be used for His glory! He brings beauty from ashes my friends. Whatever your darkness is, it’s no match for Jesus! He’s overcome it all. Sweet Hallelujah!

Have a fabulous day, friends!

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Escaping Yourself

Have you ever watched the movie “Never Been Kissed”? It’s like a girl’s worst High School nightmare come to life. If I see it’s on TV, I give the remote a rest and settle in.

I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it, but I still cringe and say…”Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it.” She doesn’t listen. She does it.

If you’ve not seen it, it’s basically about a reporter who’s sent back to High School. Her assignment? Get in with the popular group and get the salacious goods on them. Simple, right?

No, not simple. Our heroine finds out all too quick she has her work cut out for her. She was not part of the popular clique in High School and her brother is quick to remind her of that fact when he learns about her writing assignment. He was even so loving as to remind her of the nickname they gave her. Josie grossy.

After a painful flashback her brother gives her a pep talk and she’s ready to seize the day! Or not.

After many awkward trials and embarrassing tribulations, her brother comes to her rescue and he goes back to school too. He has no problem getting into the popular group on his first day. He knows how to speak their language because once upon a time, he was popular too.

So what does her brother do when he’s “in”? He talks her up. He says a bunch of things to make her appear “cooler” than she is. He even goes so far to say, he dated her and that her family is well off.

I’m gonna stop there. To know what happens next, you’ll just have to watch the movie.

Let’s just call what her brother did what it is. A lie. In fact, he told multiple lies. It’s all very innocent isn’t it? After all, he just wanted to help his sister with her job assignment. What’s the harm in that?

Remember, on her own, she wasn’t “good enough” for the popular group. It was only when they believed she was something she wasn’t, she became acceptable in their eyes.

I can relate to that. I’ve tried pretending to be something I’m not in order to garner the approval of someone. I wonder if you can relate as well.

Imagine putting on someone else’s clothes that are too small. No matter how much you try to wriggle your body into them, they don’t fit. But let’s say you actually manage to squeeze yourself into them. It doesn’t take long to realize, this look is not for you and you can’t wait to get them off.

At what point does a lie become so uncomfortable you feel compelled to tell the truth? How long do you think a lie can “live” in you before it changes you? And by change, I don’t mean in a good way.

Typically when one lie is told, another is sure to follow. Eventually you have a string of lies to keep up with and before you know it, you’re in a constant state of worry over who knows what. It’s exhausting.

Lies have a way of catching up to you. Either someone figures it out or you become so frazzled, you have to tell the truth. Either way, be prepared to suffer the consequences.

Why is telling the truth so hard? Why is being who God made us to be, never enough? Why are we so afraid of the person in the mirror?

It’s the person in the mirror, you can’t escape. When you wake up, you’re there. When you leave the house, you’re there. When you go to sleep at night, you’re there. You are literally everywhere, you are.

No matter how hard you try, you can’t escape you. Let me ask a simple question. When does self-acceptance start? It doesn’t have to be complicated unless we make it so.

Let’s begin with answering what makes you feel most like you? Not what everyone else thinks you need to be, but what speaks joy into your soul?

When we try to be something we’re not, we do ourselves and others an injustice. We rob ourselves and the world of that “thing” that makes us who we are. We can even hurt others in the process of pretending we’re something we’re not. Including ourselves.

Sweet friend, self-acceptance isn’t a weakness. It’s a knowing who you are and not letting someone shame you for it. It’s a strength! I daresay if someone feels the need to shame you, they’ve yet to accept who they are. Why else would they feel the need to attack you? Think about that.

Everyday I see someone caught up in societal chains and social media makes those chains stronger. Living life behind a screen is a futile way of living. Are you exhausted from trying to keep up with the popular trends? Have you spent hours trying to copy someone else’s look? Dance? Talent?

Have you noticed the minute if you’re able to conquer the latest trend, it’s already passed and you have to begin the next one? Consider this. Maybe someone needs what YOU have to offer. But you’re so bogged down with trying to be someone else you forgot how awesome you are.

Our heroine from the movie inevitably couldn’t keep up the facade she’d taken on. Her “self” beckoned to make a stand. To be heard. To be seen.

It’s only when she stopped being who she thought she should be, that she became everything she needed to be. The approval of others faded into the background and she lived her life.

Is your “self” beckoning to be heard? To be seen? Maybe it’s time to listen. I know a thing or two about shunning myself and wanting to be someone, anyone, other than me. But at the end of the day no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t escape me.

I allowed others to disapprove of me and I wore their disapproval like my armor. No one told me it was ok to just be me. I needed to be skinnier, smarter, quieter, louder, dumber, and the list goes on.

It seems everyone had an opinion on what and who I needed to be or look like. So I became a version of other people’s input only to find out, by their measure, I still wasn’t enough.

Just like our heroine from the movie, I couldn’t keep up. Something had to give. So when I was at the end of “me,” I came face to face with my Creator, Jesus Christ. Maybe you’ve heard of Him.

If not, allow me introduce you to the One who loves you, just as you are. He accepts you, even when you reject yourself. A little secret…you can’t escape from Him either. How do I know?

It’s one of God’s promises. The LORD God goes with us. He will never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6) Where you go, HE goes. Who else can make that kind of promise?

If you’re tired of all the noise, may I invite you to come sit with God? He knows what your tired soul needs. He wants to refresh you and restore what’s broken.

You don’t have to accept His invitation. He’s secure in who He is despite being rejected daily. He’s so secure in his identity, He’s stays the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) He won’t change for you. He knows what He stands for. Do you?

In a world that begs us to believe in everything it tosses our way, aren’t you ready for something that doesn’t shift with every passing fancy?

I know I was and you know what? Jesus, was patiently waiting. My life combining with Jesus is the BEST decision I ever made. I can say with bold confidence:

Jesus! He is the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6)

Have an amazing day my friends! Shine Bright!

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Treasure

Matthew 6:21 says:

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Don’t you just love this time of year! The lights, the decorations, the gatherings of friends and family? It seems just about everywhere you look people are a bit more generous, kinder, happy, and loving.

Kids are doing all the extras, thinking if they behave just a wee bit more, Santa will be extra nice to them. My social media is filled with all things holiday-related. Are you smiling in agreement?

One of my favorite things to see are the pictures of kids going to see Santa.

I remember my granddaughters’ first visit to Santa.  She was all dressed up in her little Christmas outfit and they handed her over to sit on Santa’s lap and she looked up at Santa like, “who in the world are you“? 

Santa

It seems the first year visiting Santa can be a bit scary for most kids.  A lot of pictures you see are of them crying with expressions that say, “what have you done to me”? “I want my mommy”  Seems, they can’t get away from Santa fast enough. 

When emotions and reactions collide you just don’t know what’s going to happen. 

A couple years ago, a big wooden cross was brought in for our Sunday morning message. We were asked to fill out a sticky note for something we wanted Jesus to do in our lives and then take that sticky note and place it on the cross. 

I remember filling out my sticky note and getting in line to place it on the cross. Easy peasy! Let’s do this! Everything was going pretty good, But, that was about to change.

The closer I got to the cross, the more my emotions came bubbling to the surface and my reaction to the meaning of the cross grew. My knees started shaking, my heart started racing, and I was overwhelmed with an array of emotions. It was all I could do to keep moving forward to the cross.

It reminds me of that song “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me.

“Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all”

Pretty sure given my reaction as I walked up to the cross, I’m just gonna pass out when I come face to face with Jesus. Ha! 

I digress, back to the story.

That day at the church service we were given an invitation to write something on a sticky note and put it on the cross; to give whatever we wrote to Jesus. To be honest, I don’t remember what I wrote; I just remember my reaction to the cross.

Walking up to the cross, I felt so unworthy to even approach Jesus with my need. I felt vulnerable, yet compelled to keep moving forward. By the time I was face to face with the cross, I was overwhelmed with gratitude as I caught a glimpse of what Jesus did for the sake of all mankind; for me, and for each one of you.

But, don’t take my word for it. Let’s read Luke 2:8-20

The Shepherds and the Angels
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch
Over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”

I suppose the shepherds could’ve chosen to stay in the field and keep tending their sheep, but they didn’t. They were sent an invitation and they answered with: “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” (bold and underline added for emphasis)

Did you catch the shepherds reaction?

They didn’t dilly dally and check their social media to see what the other shepherds were doing. They didn’t check with others to make sure it would be ok to go. They didn’t wonder if they were worthy or not enough or too far gone to go see the babe. No, it says “they went with haste.” Haste means “excessive speed or urgency of movement or action; hurry.” So, that’s what they did. 

And when they had seen all they were told about, they went back to their flocks “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”

The Lord’s invitation to come to see the baby Jesus is not just for the shepherds. Verse 10 says:

“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (bold and underline added for emphasis)

Great joy for ALL the people; not some of the people, not a few of the people, not certain religious denominations of people, not specific race or gender of people, but ALL the people.

And that’s no different today! He invites each one of us into a relationship with Him: 

Matthew 11:28-30 in the Passion Translation says:

“Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear.”

So who is this invitation for? Say it with me…ALL the people. Just as the shepherds had a choice to answer the invitation to come and see what had happened, we have a choice to answer the invitation of relationship with Jesus. 

Jesus is calling…will you answer?

In closing, Luke 2:19 says:

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

As we reflect on the Love sent down from Heaven during this season and the seasons to come, I wonder, what things you’re treasuring up and pondering in your heart? 

Remember, 

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Merry CHRISTmas to you and yours. May you know the abundant love, peace, and joy of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

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In Vain

A couple of women gave a testimony this past Sunday at church. While I couldn’t hear all of it, I believe I heard the words I was meant to hear. Words like disappointment, unbelief, and worry. 

I call those types of words, heavy. If heavy words are allowed to fester into feelings they will drag our souls down to places we weren’t necessarily built for. If we sit with them long enough, they can change the way we see and do things. Maybe you know what I mean.  

After church, I went to the store to get the fixings for Thanksgiving day. I heard a song by Elevation Worship called “Resurrecting”. I’ve heard this song a lot. Normally, you’ll catch me singing right along, but I was content to just listen to the words as they blared through the radio. 

When they got to the part of the song where they sang the lyrics “The tomb where soldiers watched in vain” it was like a light bulb went off.  

These lyrics come from the story in the Bible concerning the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid to rest after his crucifixion. You can read about it here in Matthew 27:62:66.

“The tomb where soldiers watched in vain.” For 3 days the tomb was guarded. I guess they thought they could stop what was going to happen. I wonder what they talked about? I wonder if they were worried, or scared, or prideful because of their position? So many questions. But two little words “in vain” were what grabbed my attention and set this brain into motion.

Whether that tomb was guarded for seconds, days, weeks, months, or years, the outcome was going to be the same. Jesus was going to rise despite their human efforts. 

Did you ever feel like you could’ve stopped something in someone else’s life before it happened? I believe the soldiers watching in vain thought they could stop people from coming to steal the body of Jesus. But I don’t believe they could’ve ever thought or imagined what was really going to happen. 

Last night I was watching tv. Have you ever watched tv and talked back to the characters in the show? I do it all the time and last night was no exception. As if my commentary is going to change how the show will go. Just like the soldier’s standing there in vain, so is my commentary. 

Back to my tv trash talking. As I was relating to what was going on, I started talking. In this part of the show, the woman having been cleared of any wrongdoing couldn’t let go of the fact she felt responsible for the death of someone. I was so over her feeling responsible so I told her “get over yourself already, you’re not responsible.” Geez, Louize! 

The moment the word “responsible” left my mouth, I felt in my spirit God said, you feel that way. Cue argument with God.  “Excuse me?” So, I let Him show me.

You see, I’ve been feeling “meh” for a couple of months now. I’ve been asking, where is this coming from? I already knew disappointment was a huge part of it. Disappointed from the way my life has turned out thus far. Disappointed my son is not in life where I think he should be. Disappointed the illness I’ve had for 2 years is still lingering and the doctors can’t seem to figure out what’s wrong. You see where I’m going with this? 

When you know what something is, you can start to deal with it. What’ the opposite of disappointment? For me it’s grateful. 

If you’ve ever tried to turn from disappointment and grab onto grateful you know it’s not as easy as you think it’d be. If you’re not careful, you can turn not being able to instantly be grateful into disappointment. Crazy, right? 

Anyways, back to last night’s revelation from my Heavenly Father. Five months ago my brother passed away. I still shake my head in disbelief that he’s no longer on this earth. I have moments where I just cry for a few minutes and then I remember my brother never liked to see others, sad. So, I stuff it down and put on a happy face. But the happy face doesn’t change that my soul is still sad. And that’s ok! It’s called grieving for a reason.

What’s not ok, is me thinking I’m somehow responsible for his death, or that I’m responsible for the choices my grown-up son, my friends, or family members make or have made. That type of responsibility is “in vain.” 

A child who grows up in a chaotic, dysfunctional home will take on responsibility at an early age they were not built for. That same child who grows into adulthood will carry the weight of responsibility into every relationship. 

It’s not uncommon for us to think we can fix everything if we pull the right rabbit out of the right hat. It’s exhausting to be the fixer of everything and everyone. It’s prideful to think anyone has that kind of power. More to the point, say it with me, it’s “in vain.” 

Top Gun is one of my favorite movies. If you’ve not seen it, color me flabbergasted and know I’m about to spoil part of it for you. Goose dies from a plane crash that Maverick was flying. Before the plane crash, Maverick and Goose were best buds. The dynamic duo in the sky. Maverick was described as being “larger than life.” 

After the plane crash, his demeanor changed. He didn’t want to fly anymore. Despite being cleared of any wrongdoing in the plane crash, Maverick still felt responsible for Goose’s death. I imagine he felt responsible that Goose’s wife and child would no longer have their husband/father in their life. He just took on a responsibility that wasn’t his. 

Just like I did after my brother died. All the “what if’s” came after me. After all, he was my baby brother, I should’ve been able to prevent this travesty. Except his life was never in my hands. His life was not my responsibility. I was not the one who created him nor was I the one holding him up. I didn’t breathe life into his lungs. I didn’t form him in his mother’s womb. I didn’t see every part of his life. I didn’t know all he struggled with on this earth and for me to think in any way that I could’ve prevented or stopped his death, is, in vain. I did not number his days. 

As those realizations hit me and tears streamed down my face, I knew I needed to say the words out loud. In order to release the burden I had placed on myself, I choked out the words “I’m not responsible.” Over and over, I repeated those words.  

I imagine I’ll be repeating those words until my soul truly embraces them. 

Maybe you feel responsible as well for something that wasn’t yours to take on. If so, may I suggest taking those thoughts to Jesus? A simple request to Him, “Lord, where is this “feeling” of “meh” coming from”? Why is my soul distressed?”  

He may not show you right away, but trust that His timing will be perfect. Remember to thank Him for His faithfulness to show you and that you trust He will do as He promises. Only when God knows your ready, will He reveal what you’ve requested. 

My friends, Jesus is the Savior of the world for a reason. He was built for it. He was sent down from Heaven by God to fulfill that very purpose. Even better, He’s the perfect person for the job. 

Deciphering what you’re responsible for and letting go of what isn’t, will allow you to live the life God planned for you. Holding on to what isn’t yours will make your soul weary.

Father God, thank you for another day! Thank you for being all that we need and for showing us the way to go. May we be aware of what is our responsibility and let go of anything that’s not planned for us. May we trust that even though we get off track, You’ll place us back on the right path. May we know that You’re in control and to worry about anything is in vain. May we trust Your ways are higher and You know more than we ever could. May we stay humble and seek You in all things. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen. 

Have an amazing day, my friends. Be blessed! 

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Everything I Ever Did

Can I be totally vulnerable and honest about something? Before I was a mom, I was woman, and before I was a woman, I was a child. Shocking, I know. During my formative years I saw a lot of things I shouldn’t have seen. I carried those things into every single relationship I had.

I didn’t know what love looked like.

I knew what damaged, fractured love looked like. Love in action in my home was ugly, hurtful, and once in a while, you got a glimpse of good and hope. But those moments were few and far between.

As I grew, I made vows to myself that I would never have “those” kind of relationships. If relationships stopped being fun, then color me gone.

In my effort to keep those promises to myself, I put on selfish love and thought that would make for a better kind of relationship. It was gonna be all about me, what I wanted and needed. I would do what I wanted and thought someone else needed. But, it was still to my satisfaction and the accolades I would get from them.

I would be that person who treated someone like dirt under my feet in a effort have them break up with me so I wouldn’t be the one at blame for the break up. Then I could say, look at what so and so did to me. And with a gasp of shock add, can you believe it?

After all, I only wanted a break, I only wanted to find myself, and I totally need you to understand that I need this in order to be better….for you. Can you say narcissistic behavior?

In all honesty, I didn’t want or need anything from them any longer, they had served their purpose as far as I was concerned. These were all excuses because I wasn’t brave enough to just say I was done.

I dunno, maybe I got some sort of sick, twisted satisfaction over having someone hang on for me while I got right with myself. But, I never did get right with myself, I just kept on keeping on. How sad that makes my heart now. If I ever did that to you, I’m so very sorry.

I know all the games, because I played all the games. We talk about things like worth, respect and honor. But those things are not one sided. When done out of love, these things are a beautiful back and forth dance done with humility and hope that loving one another is more than just empty words and actions.

When someone shows you their true colors, please believe them but don’t forget to look and accept your part in it. There are two sides to every story. We can all agree that the people and things in your life that you love, will change you. But you cannot deny your part. After all, you were there. And you can either let that change make you bitter, or grow you in wisdom.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about the woman at the well. If you’ve never read it, please go read John 4. Seriously, do it now.

As this unnamed woman sat at the well with Jesus, He spoke to her and she learned so much about who He was and who she was. So much so that she dropped everything and went into her town telling her story. John 4:28-29 depicts it like this:

“Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.”….

Did you see that, “He told me everything I ever did.” Not what the other people in her life did, but what she did.

I believe this woman whose name we don’t know, can be any one of us. I know, she was me. That woman at the well is my sister, my friend and mentor. She sat with Jesus, she listened to Him, she questioned Him, she received what He had to say, and then went out unabashed and shameless into a town declaring that she had been with a man who had told her everything she ever did. Crazy, right?

The chains we carry, or that carry us, will not be broken until we face them, question them, and then make a choice to break them.

It wasn’t until I stared myself in the mirror and accepted that I was also to blame, that I could begin again. As long as I was blaming others for my misery, I was never going to accept, forgive, and then conquer the learned behavior that broken love taught me.

Was this an overnight process? Umm, no. I had a lot to unlearn, a lot to forgive, and a lot to confess. But in this process, I was, and I am never alone.

Just as Jesus was with the woman at the well, He is with you too. It’s not Him who moves, it’s us. How do I know? Because His word says,

“…he will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

So are you ready to face you? Are you ready to let Jesus in and show you everything you ever did so you can truly be free? Get ready then, because I guarantee it’s a ride like no other, but it will be so worth it.

Freedom isn’t free my friends, it comes with a cost. Just ask Jesus, because He knows all about it, and He can tell you everything He ever did for you. But, don’t take my word for it, take His.

I’ll leave you with this, if you’re reading this, Jesus is calling. Will you answer?

 

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The Choice You Choose

The hard fact of the matter is, you may not like it, you may not agree with it, but it is their body and it is their choice. Please, hear me out. Your right to believe in something does not give you the right to stomp all over someone else’s choice and make them feel less than because you believe your choice is better.

Screaming louder does not make your choice superior. Nasty quotes and making fun of things you wouldn’t choose, or name-calling is a form of bullying, allowing for division and pompous “knowledge” to rule over compassion.

From choosing whether or not to go to college, choosing a career path, getting tattooed or pierced, who to vote for, pro-life or pro-choice, having sex before marriage or not, to eat the donut or not, and so many more, are all choices an individual makes. You and I both know that choice conviction comes from God, not man.

Need an example? Read John, chapter 4 or 8. Let’s look at John, chapter 8. Here we learn the penalty for adultery is death by stoning. Could you imagine being hit full force, over and over with stones laced with hatred and “righteous” indignation, until you died? Umm, no, thank you. I’ll take a hard pass on that one!

But, that was not the case in this story. Two people decided to commit adultery anyways. They both made the choice and agreed that the act of committing adultery was worth dying for.

No matter the law, or what anyone else may have said, in the end, despite knowing the severe penalty it was their choice. They wanted what they wanted and they went for it.

Maybe like them, and dare I say me, you’ve made dangerous choices that weren’t in your best interest. Choices, no doubt others didn’t agree with or wouldn’t do. Choices others warned you about. Choices deep down you knew were wrong. So.Very.Wrong.

But if someone made the “wrong” decision in your eyes, what was your choice? Did you fight fire with fire or did your words/actions help put out the flames? Ugh, let me just say, I’ve fought fire with fire. But, I’ve learned that tactic only causes division, heartache, and regret.

Friends, God didn’t call us to shame and condemn one another. When did any of that ever make a relationship better? You could actually push the person to do exactly what you’d rather have them not do by being so crazy zealous over what you think they should do.

All you have to do is look back over your life and I bet you find a decision you made was because someone “forbade” you to do it. And you got all puffed up and under your breath, you muttered: “I’ll show them.”

Just so you know, that’s probably proof you shouldn’t make that decision. Nothing good ever really comes from, “I’ll show them.” Oy to the vey!

When did we get so wrapped up in trying to live other people’s lives, we forgot how to live our own because we knew in our knower, we “knew” what was best for them?

Why would I think I’m so good at telling others how to live their lives when my life can be such a mess? Maybe because it’s easier to put our focus on others instead of cleaning our own house?

In all honesty, I think we truly have the best of intentions when we want our loved ones and others to learn from our mistakes. I mean, experience must count for something, right? Seeing others fail must make a positive impact on our choices, right? That would be awesome, but it’s just not always the case.

A lot of my family members were alcoholics. I witnessed the devastation from it. I knew my chances of becoming an alcoholic were higher than others. I was educated on the effects alcohol has on the body and brain. However, despite being armed with all that knowledge, I still drank copious amounts of alcohol for years. That’s right, years. So.Many.Years.

No one made me do it. I chose it and many suffered from those choices. I can’t change it. It’s part of my story. But, it doesn’t define me. And no one can make me feel worse about my choices than myself.

The result of condemnation from myself is bad enough, but pile on condemnation from others and my little “woe is me” pit, will quickly escalate into a cavernous pit of self worthlessness and defeat. It’s the perfect place for the enemy to come in and keep talking me down.

Is that what we want? To help the enemy kick a person when they’re already so down on life they might not find their way back? What proverbial stone are you picking up and launching via your mouth, just because someone made a choice you wouldn’t? And don’t think that disapproving scowl goes unnoticed. That’s just adding insult to injury.

If we truly trust God, then can we have faith that while we “know best”, He actually knows better? That in fact, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:16) and not you. That what we should choose instead of slapping people with our churlish tongues is to pray for them while we love them through it? Not berate them through it?

And since we trust that God knows better than our best, maybe we should ask Him how we can help, not further hurt another.  Actually, pray for God to show you, your part in this process. Psalm 51:10 is an awesome prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.” (bold emphasis added) Notice, you put the focus back on you in this instance and off of them. Lord, how can I help and not hurt?

Y’all, hate, bitterness, and rage are harsh taskmasters. All kinds of unhealthy emotions and physical and mental unwellness are tied to it.

In a world of “what have they done for me lately” (Totally just sang that Janet Jackson style) maybe start asking “what can I do for them?” Because in the end, all the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s and what-ifs, will never change the choice of what is. And when someone leaves this earth, you won’t worry or regret that you coulda, shoulda, woulda done something more.

We’re really only a choice away from what someone else chose. Every choice has a ripple effect. They’ll touch more than just our own life and we may never know how what we chose to do, say or act will impact another. But whatever they choose to do from what they’ve seen, learned or heard will be their choice.

So, share your stories. Share your failures and your wins. Share love, hope, and give great encouragement. Share your faith and your fears, and do unto others as you would have done to you. Share your gifts and give abundantly and don’t worry about the outcome. God’s got that part. Just do what you know to do with love and I guarantee you won’t regret it!

But that’s my choice, what’s yours?

Peace and much love to you my friends.

 

 

 

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There’s More To Your Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Will You Love Me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I gave him permission…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Bold Blondie

with love, Jilly

#UNFILTERED

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