The Story Behind a Name- SimplySpokn?

I have a thing about names.

There is a fairly unique story about how I came about the biological name that I have. My oldest son is named for a 1990s Nickelodeon cartoon character and my youngest son is named after an Uncle that neither he or his dad ever knew.

I even took thought in naming my new kitten, Joel the Brave, that came into my life last month. The name Joel means “the one to whom JEHOVAH IS GOD”.

But, SimplySpokn?

Seeing as I have committed to GOD to getting my blogging back full time, I felt it was time to talk about why I gave the blog THAT particular name.

Partly, it starts with a unique part of who I am. I am an “old soul”, meaning that I tend to like things that most people my age would think was old-fashion or outdated. One of the things I love is the art of letter writing. At about 12, I started signing my name “Simply, Heather”

(I will gladly send you a letter, if you would like to email me your mailing address. Send email to fstopchick (AT) gmail (DOT) com) 

The other part of that is that I am a simple person. I don’t care much for having lavish things for myself (though I do love old fashion soaps wrapped in paper). Even if I had millions to spare, I would much rather live a simple, relaxed life and bless others with what extra I have.

SimplySpokn became a Motto

I wanted what I write here, what I share here to be simply from my heart. I am no eloquent writer, nor will I pretend to be. I am no theological student, but I will share with you the Truths that CHRIST has revealed to me through HIS Word.  I am no expert, but I can share with you what I know.

If you blog, I’d love to hear how you came up with your blog name or of how the title represents who you are.

Me? I am a simple lady. What I share here is simplyspokn here, filtered through GOD’s grace.

 

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Simply Spokn Sunday: Am I teachable

I had one of those moments in church service this morning that set the wee hampsters in my head whirring.. Am I teachable?

The Pastor was talking this morning about being obedient. Obedience does require that we do what GOD says when HE says and how HE says. But Obedience is also in being teachable.

I love to learn. I mean- I love it. I take great joy in learning new things. I love to read, to study, and yes, to even watch those how-to videos online.

But am I teachable?

Stubborn

I confess. I am stubborn. To a FAULT, sometimes. There have been too many times that I have ended up with my pride (or more) hurt by trying to be so stubborn.

I like to sometimes brush it off, saying that I do come from a very long heritage of stubborn women. And yes, that is so true. My great-grandma’s legacy still nearly 40 years after she passed from this life was of being a highly-stubborn lady.

But… I regress. Am I so stubborn that I won’t move off my caboose if GOD says?

But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee.
Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the LORD, which I speak unto thee:
so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live. (Jeremiah 38:20, KJV)

I have found over the last 6 years, I have picked up a terrible habit. I have caught myself saying, “Oh I will never do that in church…”, or “I can’t do that..” Eek! Who am I to say that I will not? If GOD so calls me to do this or to do that, I must obey or I sin.

Sin, at the end of the day, is disobeying GOD.

Red Shirted

Did you play sports? I did. I played one year of basketball, and ran cross-country track for one year.

One thing that can happen to an athlete is being red shirted. Sometimes, it is for things like bad grades or other school issues. But there are times that a player sits out because they are hurt.

I wanted so badly to get to walk in a children’s cancer march 2 years ago. But I was unable because I was too badly injured. I had (in stubbornness, yes) sprained by ankle.

But what if I am red-shirting myself?

I, like so many many others in this world, have been hurt by people in the church buildings. It is honestly hard to trust and serve in a church when you have been hurt like that.

But if I do not forgive- and do not serve- I take on a double-sin penalty. I need to put myself back on the bench and say, okay, here I am.

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying,
Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
Then said IHere am I; send me. (Isaiah 6:8, KJV)

Not a Team Player

This hinges a bit off the last point. I have become highly isolated. Partly due to my anxiety, but mostly out of sheer exhaustion from having been through a lot emotionally over the last three years.

I have GOT to put the past in the past, folks. I am so encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ. I can’t do that hiding under the quilt. I am to pray with and for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I am to be challenging my brothers and sisters in Christ to grow Closer to CHRIST JESUS, to study Scriptures more and to be about Kingdom work. None of that happens when I am hiding in the corner. It means taking my selfishness out of the equation and start being an intentional, interactive Christ Follower.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;
teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns
and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16, KJV)


Am I teachable? 

I would never have known how to capture a perfect sunset on a camera if I hadn’t been taught. My youngest son would not have finished his last season with 7 Soccer goals if he had never been shown how to play soccer.

Will I ever be perfect? No, My readers, not here upon this earth. But I can strive to be more teachable – more useful to The Master. Pray over your life and seek out ways that you may need to be more teachable.

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things,
he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master,

prepared for every good work. (2 Timothy 2:21)

Growing Where I’m Planted, 2017 Edition

There have been two recent catalyst that have spurred my desire to begin to grow here, where GOD has placed me.

(1) a blog post by Brad Lomenick (http://www.bradlomenick.com/2013/05/30/no-more-sideways-energy/) In the post, Brad wrote about sideways energy. After reading it a few weeks ago, I found that I had unfortunately become highly proficient in the use of sideways energy. I have been directing so much of my energy and my talent everywhere instead of forward, toward a joy-filled life. It was one of those sickening moments where you paint yourself in remorseful tears.

(2) The Ending of a Relationship.

2016 ended with me being rather unsure about the future of my relationship with the guy I was dating. He had said he wanted me to marry him, even bought me a ring.. but something just didn’t set right in my heart.

I had doubt. I doubted whether this guy, who had repeatedly lied to me and had even had some issues with the integrity he carried at work. And in a singe of Grace (though I didn’t know it or feel like it was at the time), the guy cleaned out my bank account, and I ended the relationship.

My Garden, Now

In reflection, I look at where I am today.

Watering

To water my garden of now, I need to be sure that my sideways energy isn’t infecting the the seeds of my now.

I have begun to truly love being in my current city, and to learn more of its interesting past (a post for another day). I have been making an effort to participate in local activities and to simply just pray over my little community.

I have always loved my job, though I admit it has some very hard days. I am making an effort to swallow some of my protective nature and to get to truly know and interact with the people around me. I have spent a lot of the last 3 years there just staying to myself, for a lot of reasons. But how am I to share the Hope of JESUS CHRIST by staying to myself??

The search for a new home church is one that I am very focused on. For three years now, I have sat to the side thinking that I cannot serve because of my past. The devil doesn’t mind us going to church. he only minds us BEING the church. I need a place to not only worship and be taught, but I need to be serving. Pray for me as I seek that place.

A long distance relationship. Wow. Now, there is something that I would have told you I would never do. And to my surprise, it has been a huge blessing. Steve encourages me, prays for me and with me. He also isn’t afraid to call me out when I am allowing the garbage of my past or the lies of the devil creep into the garden of my mind. I recently decided to bury all of my past relationships and their hurt and pain and leave them in the cemetery. A pastor that I love dearly recently said, “Why do we search for life in the graveyards of our past pains”. If I continue to dig up the corpses from my past relationships, I risk the possibility of losing out on this relationship with Steve. GOD forbid! Only our Sovereign GOD knows if Steve is my ‘for now’ or my ‘forever’. Either way, I need to be a good caretaker of this beautiful relationship that GOD has blessed me with this year.

And Joel. Lest I leave out that curious, playful, cuddly little guy. How, possibly, could I water that? By being a good “hooman” (pet owner) to him and for simply enjoying him. GOD has been using that little black kitten to help me process some of my anxiety. I pray that GOD will keep me accountable in my caretaking of the little guy, and that I will share many years enjoying his antics.

What of you? When is the last time that you evaluated where are you in your life? How can you better care for the seeds of your current life, so honor GOD and to be a good steward of the things and places HE has planted you in?

 

Who Am I?

The first day of college, I was asked by my professors to write an essay on one thing: Who Am I?

I thought I knew then the purpose of that exercise. I thought it was a simple writing assignment in which the professor would get a decent grip on where we were in our writing journey and what areas we most needed help on.

I dragged out my 3 ring binder from the top of the closet. Here is some of what I wrote, nearly 20 years ago:

“…therefore, this is not just a paper- another sheet before your eyes.
It is ME, professor
What I am
My joys and tears I cry.
It is a sliver of my hardships; a record of what I have survived”

And I think of a song..

I can’t ask the question Who Am I without also thinking of a song that my Daddy often sang.

Song, Who Am I (made famous by Elvis Presley, written by Charles ‘Rusty’ Goodman)

Came to dwell among the lowly such as I
To suffer shame and such disgrace
On Mount Calvary take my place
Then I ask myself this question
Who am I?
Who am I that The King would bleed and die for
Who am I that He would pray not my will, Thy Lord
The answer I may never know
Why He ever loved me so
But to that old rugged cross He’d go
For who am I?
When I’m reminded of His words
I’ll leave Him never
If you’ll be true I’ll give to you life forever
Oh I wonder what I could have done
To deserve God’s only Son
To fight my battles until they’re won
For who am I?
Who am I that The King would bleed and die for
Who am I that He would pray not my will, Thy Lord
The answer I may never know
Why He ever loved me so
But to that old rugged cross He’d go
For who am I?
But to an old rugged cross He’d go for, who am I?
(Source: azlyrics)

So Who Am I, then?

I could answer that by saying I am Mom and Daddy’s oldest daughter. I am the oldest of my siblings. I am a Kentuckian (with a Georgia peach heart). I could also say I am a Customer Service Representative. Or that I am a mom and a friend.

But is that really Who I am? Those are pieces of me, but not me.

I could say I am a survivor of abuse. I am a divorcee’, twice. I am a Grad-school drop out, and a I am a lower-middle class citizen. They may be true, but yet they are not me.

Who am I, then? A writer? A blogger? A photographer? A Snoopy Collector? A bookworm? Again, all pieces of me but not who I am entirely.

Hey Internet, help me out..

I’ve long collected notebooks of quotes that smack me in the face. I was browsing around Saturday evening when I first came across this quote:

Quit letting who you were talk you out of who you’re becoming. – Bob Goff

That hit me square in the mouth.

I am NOT my Past

It is easy to let our past circumstances or the family or places we are from to become some kind of definition for us. They are merely trail makers. They tell me only, “You have come this far.”

They don’t tell me or you- where I am today and where I am going.

Rest In Peace

I have been living in the definitions of my past. And they have kept me from living.

So at church yesterday morning, I decided to visit one of those things (more on that tomorrow, okay?) one last time. I let myself look long and hard at a very painful part of me that I have been letting cripple me. I kissed it, told the memory thank you for what it taught me..

and I pulled the plug.

I cannot and WILL NOT let who I was keep me from who I am becoming.

Who Are You?

So, I ask.. Who are you? What circumstances and things have you allowed to define you or to hinder you from enjoying life?

 

Who am I -the prequel 

I needed to step away to pray about some things. I’ll be sharing about that journey this week.

My purpose of this brief post is to tease my post for tomorrow. 

Pray for me, Brothers and Sisters. God is doing some big things in my heart. 

Prequel for tomorrow’s post:

Furbaby Friday: Pets

Growing Up

The first pet that I can truly remember having was a dog. He was a collie-German Shepherd mix that I loving called Rambo. He was a golden tan. I fed and watered him daily and played with him sometimes. But all too often as an awkward 13 year old girl, I would have my attention pulled towards exploring and reading.

Over the Years

In July 1998, I found Bishop. There was an ad in the local newspaper for free Collie-German Shepherd pups. Bishop took one look at me and I was his. He was smart beyond words. He learned to shake hands, beg, and roll over rather quickly. But more smart was the loving way that he was automatically protective over my sons when they were born.

goodbye bishop 12 18 12 Bishop 1998-Dec 12, 2012

In 2011, after a move and other life events, I thought I would give pet ownership a chance again. I lived in an upstairs city apartment, which would not accommodate a dog but would a cat. A lady that I knew was giving away a little grey kitten that she had found, so I took the kitten in. Her name: Beret.

11262011 (33) Beret

There were two problems: One, my oldest son seemed to be allergic to her. Secondly, she was feral. I ended up rehoming her and finding myself yet again petless.

And then, my life changing moment. The day Mr. Carson James adopted me. February 8, 2012

20140206_215708 Mr. Carson James

Mr. Carson is a full-blood Basset Hound. All ears, and all love. From Day one, he loved me well. He could fetch, but that was about the extent of the tricks that he could learn. But he was (and is) and exceptional listener. He would lay on my feet daily while I told him my woes and joys. Due to life changing yet again, I would leave him with a family friend where he still lives today.

And Along comes Joel The Brave

20170630_224401 Joel The Brave

June 23, 2017, I became the human for Joel the Brave. His markings indicate that he is an American shorthair or perhaps a tuxedo cat (with only one white spot). He has been one of the best things that I have had happen to me so far this year (notice I didn’t say the best, though. More on that another time.)

So, there goes. The pets of my life thus far. Tell me about your pets.

 

 

Thursday Thoughts: Psalm 37:4

Delight yourself in The LORD, and HE will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4, NASB)

Spend any amount of time around church attending folks (and even some who do not), and you will likely hear this verse tossed freely around like dust.

In the last year, I went through a tremendous financial hardship. Without going into a lot of details, I found myself unsure of how I would have groceries for the week ahead. Don’t panic- GOD has more than supplied for my needs since and continues to do so.

But I became tremendously frustrated with how many times I would hear people quote Psalm 37:4 as part of their reply to my situation.

The context

Psalm 37 speaks on dealing with those who do us wrong, our adversaries. When dealing with our enemies, we need to trust GOD for the battle and the outcome

GOD is not a genie

Too often, I’ll hear this verse quoted when someone wants something that they do not have yet. Recently a woman told me “I don’t have a nice house, but I’m trusting GOD. He will give me the desires of my heart. That’s what His word says.”

Um, nope. That isn’t how it works. GOD isn’t santa or a genie. Yes, we can come to GOD and ask anything of HIM. That is true. And GOD is abundantly able to give us anything HE wants, that is also true.

But notice I say anything HE wants.

Psalm 37:4 starts with “Delight yourself in the LORD…”

Delight here is ʻânag, meaning to be pliable (source: delight). So if we are pliable, if we are bending ourselves to GOD, HE will give us the desires of our heart.

Shape me, Lord

I love older art forms, such as pottery or weaving. One of my favorite older art forms is that of caning a chair. To weave the beautiful intricate seats, the cane must be soaked and made pliable.

For our hearts to be pliable, we need to also be soaked. We don’t need to just be dipped in scriptures, but we need to soaked in them- pulling their lessons and wisdom and correction into our hearts.

So what about the desires of our heart?

When we are soaked and made pliable through GOD’s HOLY and PERFECT WORD, our heart essentially becomes like HIS. We might lay aside our selfish desires for a big home, and instead have the desire to be a better steward of the home we have.

Yes, GOD hears our prayers and HE does sometimes give us the very things we ask for. But we must be cautious to not think of GOD as our genie that will give us all we want.

 

Walked Through

prints

People Can be Mean (or rude, or cruel, or fillintheblank)

I work in phone Customer Service. 40+ hours a week, I get to talk with and try to help people from all over the United States. SOme are very polite and will even thank me for my help, while others simply want their question answered and will hang up. A few others might be short and a bit rude. And yes, I will get those very, very few that will yell and cuss.

I went into the workforce nearly 25 years ago. When I started my Daddy took the time to pass some of his wisdom along to me. One of those things that he told me was this:

“Be Kind. You never know what someone has just walked through, is walking through, or is about to walk through.”

 

We all Hurt

Isn’t that true? We can all sit and tell our stories and memories of hurts. And hurt-people can sometimes hurt people.

Ever have a bad day and snap at someone unintentionally? We probably all have. I know I have, at least.

Ephesians 4:32 states, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

Daddy was right (yes, I admit it). We don’t know what people are going through that may have created the reaction that we see or hear. But we can choose to be Kind, and show them love and grace through Christ JESUS.

 

Contending with The Past

Sorry for the delay in posts. WordPress issues and work have hindered my regular posts. This post was intended to be published on Sunday, July 16th

The Opponent 

As Superman fights Lex Luger or any good guy fights the bad guy,  I have my arch enemy. She is a strong, loud dragon whose fangs could pierce concrete. Her name: The Past.

She lurks in the shadows of the night or in the loneliness of the crowd and whispers, ‘you are failure’. Mind you, she doesn’t whisper that I have failed but that in fact my failures define me.

In the last 7 years, I have been divorced twice, went through five jobs, moved three times, and went through two cars. Come on, that screams FAILURE. Yes, I hear you.

In the last 7 years, I have developed one incredibly unhealthy self-image. Worthless. Insignificant. Unwanted. And Yes, she has been winning. In seven years, I have actually grown to hate myself.

You have messed up too much. You will never be any good. You will never______ (fill in the blank). 

She is fiercely strong, and well armed with nearly four decades worth of mistake after mistake.

The Fight, so far

Flanked by anxiety and an incredibly unhealthy dating relationship, The Past has battered me dawn till dawn until I am shaking, crying, pleading for some comfort.

I’ve tried to wield a general hope and faith, finding myself instead weaponless. Again, The Past, she is a fierce enemy.

But Then, comes GRACE

I didn’t know Him when he walked onto the battle field. Small in stature, Grace walked up and placed His firm arm around me just when I thought I had lost for good.

At the beginning of 2017, GOD had gotten my attention. I found myself at the alter of the church, asking GOD to remove the relationship I was in if it wasn’t what HE wanted. And.. GOD did.

I won’t say it was painless. I cared about the guy, though the relationship was highly unhealthy and I ended up with my heart feeling burnt and reburned.

I had to be broken. I am one incredibly stubborn person (Irish-German, what a combination). And it took being financially striped bare, emotionally striped bare and finding myself at an all time high for reasons to absolutely HATE myself.. it took all of that for GOD to get me to see and feel HIS GRACE.

I finally knew GOD’s GRACE was there Mother’s Day of this year. I found myself celebrating my very first Mother’s Day without my sons. My mom, who I have a rocky relationship with, didn’t want to see me.

I found myself sitting and watching the sun come up that Sunday morning, feeling defeated by The Past. Just as tangible as the words on the screen before you, I heard and felt something spoken over me. “THIS ISN’T HOW IT ENDS”.

Speak, LORD, for Your servant listens

One of my favorite Old Testament stories is in 1 Kings Chapter 19.

“So HE said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD.”
And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 

After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire;
and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.” (1 Kinds 19:11-12)

It’s a reminder that GOD doesn’t always use the big or showy things to get our attention. Sometimes, HE just whispers.

I can remember when I was eight, we lived in an area that was prone to tornado activity. On one particular occasion, a tornado struck incredibly close to where we were. I panicked. I began to shake and cry and froze where I was. My Daddy kept trying to give me instructions on what to do, but I was paralyzed in fear. My Daddy, in his loving nature, knelt down in front of me and cupped my face in both of his hands. He didn’t scream. He whispered. And I calmed down.

EL ROI, OUR GOD WHO SEES, could have spoken to me on Mother’s Day in many ways. But HE knows HIS daughter full well. So HE whispered.

I’ve probably heard people say that it wasn’t over for me before that Sunday morning. But What GOD spoke over my heart that morning was slightly different. “THIS is not how it ends”.

GRACE and I versus The PAST

I wish I could say that every day since Mother’s day has been easy of that I have won my battle with the guilt and shame and worthlessness that The Past flings at me. I can’t, though. There are still days, or multiple moments through out a day that those thoughts might over come me.

And then there are days, that I grab GOD’s GRACE firmly in my hand and I walk in the victory I have in CHRIST JESUS.

There will likely be more hard days, but I pray daily (and sometimes hourly) for GOD to remind me that I fight not alone.

“for the LORD your GOD is the one who goes with you,
to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.” (Deuteronomy 20:4, NASB)

 

 

 

 

Song Reflections: I will Sing of my Redeemer

Story behind the song:

Near the end of 1876, Philip P. Bliss and his wife were traveling to Chicago to sing for the evangelistic services led by Daniel W. Whittle at Dwight L. Moody’s Tabernacle. But a train wreck and fire en route claimed their lives. Their trunk, which was spared, contained this hymn text by Bliss. (Source: I Will Sing of My Redeemer)

Redeemer?

If you grew up in church as I did, this song is one that you probably sang regularly. Though I learned the words early in life, I didn’t understand it’s meaning until later in my life.

In 2008, I would attend a Precept Upon Precept (https://www.precept.org/)Bible study on Redeemer.

Redeemer, which stems from the word gâʼal (meaning to redeem), means that we are bought back. (Source: Blue Letter Bible)

GOD created us, to worship Him and have fellowship with Him. But we are also the creation that sins. CHRIST JESUS, GOD made flesh, willingly and lovingly spilled HIS blood to purchase us back from death of sin into Life in Christ (and life more abundantly).

Get that for a moment. CHRIST paid that Ultimate Blood price to buy us back, and HE didn’t force us to worship HIM. We are still given free will.

Lyrics

I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered,
From the curse to set me free.

Chorus: 

Sing, oh, sing of my Redeemer,
With His blood He purchased me,
On the cross He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.

I will tell the wondrous story,
How my lost estate to save,
In His boundless love and mercy,
He the ransom freely gave.

I will praise my dear Redeemer,
His triumphant pow’r I’ll tell,
How the victory He giveth
Over sin, and death, and hell.

I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His heav’nly love to me;
He from death to life hath brought me,
Son of God with Him to be.

(Source: hymnal.net)

Thank YOU, LORD

Jesus, thank YOU for buying me back from the darkness into Life in YOU.

Have a Listen, and sing with me to our Redeemer:

I Will Sing of my Redeemer