Grasp

Another share from my previous blog

I love watching a young child learning how to walk. I love the way they wrap their tiny fingers around the large fingers of their parents. It would seem, at first, that the child has the tightest grip; but any parent knows that it is the parent who grips tighter, to keep their child safe.

In your grasp

What are you holding on to?

I’m not referring to the remote control or computer mouse in your hand, although they may have something to do with it.

What ideas, thoughts and memories do you carry around with you so tightly that they have begun to embed themselves into your skin?

Maybe it is the memory of a loved one. Perhaps it is the hateful last words that you spoke to a friend, on constant replay in your mind. Do worries and fears shadow your every thought?

In my grasp

I admit: I have a death-grip on my worries about money. I can barely remember a time in my life that the sickening fear of poverty has not been with me.

I have found, though, that my money fears have not made me richer. Worrying has not balanced my checkbook or wrote out a budget. Pacing floors has never put a single penny into my pocket. It does not matter how tightly I hold on to my money fears; the fears are not helping me get by.

Giving up our grasp

So, let go.

No, you won’t fall. No, the world will not discontinue its’ revolving.

Like the wee child holding onto his parent, we will not fall when we let go of our grasp. We have a wise Father that holds onto us.

“My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father’s hand.”
~ John 10:29

If we have surrendered our lives to The LORD JESUS CHRIST, then we are in HIS grasp.

If you have not surrendered your life to The LORD JESUS CHRIST, then what is stopping you?? What good has the things you are clinging so tightly to really doing?

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Smug to Sin

Posted on my original blog in 2008

Smug


Many of us who have surrendered themselves to the LORDship and salavation of the LORD JESUS Christ have become smug/complacent to our sins. We (I include myself here) have become too comfortable in the fact that we have an eternal, incorruptable salvation. Because of this comfortableness/smugness, we don’t tend to deal with our sins as we should, or we treat them as normalacies.  The Smugness MUST end.

Why is this a big issue?

As Followers of CHRIST JESUS, we are servants to a HOLY and Righteous GOD (Leviticus 20:26). We must serve HIM with clean hearts (Psalm 24:4). Because we know from the Word of GOD that HE is a HOLY GOD, HE cannot be in the midst of filth. Do we desire to be close to the LORD or to be separated from HIS presence in our lives because of the iniquities of our sins?

Just a little …

Why is it of importance to deal with the little sins in our lives? We know that everyone sins, and that living a sinless life is impossible. Although these statements are true, they do not take into account the effects of sin. Sin is like yeast. In Galations 5:9, we are told that just a tiny amount of leaven effects the whole loaf. “That makes sense,” you may think, “But what does that have to do with sin?”. The Jews of JESUS’ time would have understood the seriousness of this statement. In preperation for the feast of Unleavened Bread, they were to throw out all yeast (called leaven in the KJV translation) (See Exodus 12:15). If just a tiny bit was left lying around or somehow got into their dough, any bread backed during that time would show this. Sin, in likeness, shows up in our lives. We can try to cover it, disguise it or ignore it, but the results of the sin show up. The longer the sin festers, like yeast proofing, the more it will permiate your life.

Don’t Be Fooled

Don’t fool yourself. It may seem that your tiny sins have no effect on your life (and they do). It may seem okay to brush off tiny wrongs (and it’s not). GOD’s WORD is true and will always be true: “..be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23b)

I wish I knew, but didn’t: Lessons Learned, Part 2

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We first met in 1993. We would lose touch until 1997, and then stay in touch on and off until 2009. We would only date for a few months before we would get married in a private ceremony on October 8, 2011. We would divorce in 2014.

Lesson 1: Being a friend is different than being a Spouse

He & I were wonderful friends. He got my nerdiness, and I got him awkwardness. But we were TERRIBLE at being married.

We would not force- and never should have tried to force- a friendship to be a marriage.

Lesson 2: Make time to Spend time

We were so rarely together, in each other’s presence. There would be weeks when we would rarely see one another for more than 8 hours.

For a marriage to grow, it must be tended like a garden. You must spend time in it.

Lesson 4: CHRIST must be central & HE must be involved

We were married less than a year after my true Christian conversion. But I confess.. we did not make our relationship with Christ central in our marriage nor did we pray together as much as we should have.

Lesson 5: Make Marriage a Priority

This was our biggest issue, and ultimately one of the main reasons our marriage did not survive.

As a Christian, my first and main focus should be Christ and my relationship with Him. In my second marriage, I did not pursue GOD as I should have. I did not pray daily. I did not make time to be in GOD’s Word daily. Those were big mistakes, and I regret them much,

Being in a marriage also means, though, that you make your spouse a priority. We live in a world that does sometimes require both the husband and wife to work. Please hear my heart when I say: don’t be more married to your job than you are your spouse. Don’t be more married to your birth family or friends or hobbies than you are your spouse. Your spouse needs to know that you are there for them, that they matter, and making the marriage work must always be something to be sought after.

 

 

Briar specialist

Another piece from my previous blog.

I am a briar aficionado. If it grows in the Appalachian mountains, I have probably squirmed, pulled and fought my way through whatever species of briar it is. With trial and scars, a young Appalachian learns to quickly unsnag themselves.

There is the exception of saw briar – there is no quick methodology of escape from them. 

Saw briar, thick in mass. Curl their tiny talon-like teeth into skin. Fighting their pull deepens their bite, shredding away your skin as you pull. Slow, meticulous care to gently ease out each and every spur is often the only means of escape.

Life’s thickets are full of briar and among them are saw briars, too. The briars in my life go by the better known alias of Brutal Honesty.

I like honest people. Being betrayed and whipped by the dishonesty of others is sonething of a rare hobby for most. Honesty is refreshing. Honesty heals. The old adage tells us ‘ The truth shall set you free.’ It is even more so true of Brutal Honesty. 

Brutal Honesty is yielded by wise and caring individuals, while other times abused by selfish people. 

The precise coil of the caring individuals words will curl the talons of truth deep into the victim’s heart but the shipmates will do so with earnest love for the victim. As the victim seeks to deal with the laceration, the whipmaster will annoint the wound with oils of loving words and encouragement. 

As I continue to pursue my education in briars, I have found the briars of honesty my bitter-sweet teacher. I am thankful for the wise and caring whipmasters in my life that gave coiled words of truth around me. I am thankful for the brambles, even though they hurt. Brutal Honesty,  like saw briars, will hurt as it instructs you. I have learned from the saw briars a means of escape; I long to learn from the brutal honesty how best to heed it and apply it to my life. 

I wish I knew, but didn’t: Lessons Learned, Part 1

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We met in May 1997. He was shy, and I the social butterfly. It would take until August before I would ask him out for a date- and he turned me down. He made up for it though- he would take me on our first official date a week later. We would get engaged in January of 1998, and marry on July 11, 1998. We would seperate in November 2010, and divorce in 2011.

Lesson 1: A “good church going boy” does not equal a Godly husband

He came from a good church going family. Wasn’t that what every girl longs for?

I didn’t take the time to see if he was truly a Christ follower, or if he was merely a pew warmer. I didn’t have my relationship with Christ right at the time either. Big mistake. If GOD isn’t in it, problems will arise. GOD must be #1 in the relationship- for the husband and the wife; for the couple.

Lesson 2: Guarding the marriage isn’t only about affairs

It is something I’m rather ashamed of, but it is the honest truth: I had an affair when I was married to him. I can make excuses from here to the moon, but it was wrong. Plain & simple. There is Never an excuse for adultery.

Guarding the marriage, though, should have been about more than guarding it from unfaithfulness. There were way too may people calling the shots in the marriage. Yes, we were young. And yes, we perhaps needed advice. But at the end of the day, the decisions should have been he & I & GOD- no one more.

Lesson 3: It’s okay to admit that everything isn’t okay

This was something we struggled greatly with. We didn’t want anyone to know we were having marriage struggles.

Every relationship is going to struggle at times. It’s like growing pains- sometimes it’s going to hurt a bit. It’s perfectly okay to admit that there is a problem and then DO something about it: seek Christian counseling. Stop fighting with each other and start fighting for each other.

Lesson 4: Build a community that supports your marriage

Oh, how I wish I had known this then.

We were professionals at isolating ourselves. We did not take the time to build and nurture relationships with other Christian couples. It is OKAY to have friends outside of marriage, and in fact it is essential. Please be sure, though, to keep not be in a close friendship with someone who could potentially harm the marriage.

Lesson 5: Be in constant Pursuit

Wooing our spouse does not end in dating. Daily, there is a need to remind the person “hey, thank you for choosing me.” Letting the spark die at home can create the temptation for outside fires.

Lesson 6: Be open

One of the biggest things we both allowed to creep into our marriage and create a problem was one thing: cell phones.

If you have to hide Facebook messenger, your snapchat, or text messages from your spouse, that is a BIG red flag. STOP! Be open enough to hand your phone to your spouse and say “hey honey, I got this message from so-and-so and before I deleted it I wanted you to know what was going on”.

Also, don’t be afraid to be open. Yes, there is a need for privacy to a point. I don’t necessarily want my future-spouse to know I am having female problems- but I shouldn’t be ashamed to say “Sweetie, I am going to message with my best friend about some female issues that I am having”. There shouldn’t be any message we send, any conversation we have that we should be afraid to let our spouse be aware of.

Lesson 7: It MUST BE Christ-Centered, or it will suffer

I won’t say that a non-Christ-Centered relationship cannot last. I am not that naive. I am saying that without Christ as the Center, any marriage will suffer.

It is Christ that holds all things together. It is through Christ we are able to be patient, kind, long suffering, and non selfish. It is through Christ we are able to love our spouse more than ourselves.

 

The Legacy of sin, or how I broke my family tree

Mind you, I have many Godly people in my lineage. I am most blessed to come from a line of ministers and prayer warriors. But, there are also some darker limbs of my family tree.

It’s not about the details

I’ll spare my living family any shame by simply saying that there is a generational scar of abuse. 

I don’t think I had ever reflected much on how my own history was so deeply influenced by things of the past until the last year. It was a sullen thought of how many of those in my genealogy suffered because of this scar of abuse.

So, I broke my limb

I gingerly approach this topic as I know that some people would be angered and shamed. It is out of utmost respect to them that I leave details very general.

I confess: I did suffer abuse growing up. Details, again, are arbitrary. 

Lamentations 3:58-59 NASB —

 O Lord, You have pleaded my soul’s cause;

You have redeemed my life. O LORD, You have seen my oppression;

Judge my case.

I made the intentional decision when I became a parent that I would NOT abuse. Yes, abuse is a choice. I also chose to Not let my children be alone with those who were the abusers in my childhood.

But, there was yet one decision left to make. The limb of the family tree was broken, but still attached. I needed to cut it off and plant a new tree. I need to forgive.

Please understand me when I say that my abuse was in no way comparative to what others face. This isn’t a measuring contest. Abuse hurts, no matter the degree.

So that is my current journey in prayer: praying for God to help me to forgive the abuse and to truly heal from it. 

Revisiting the Stones

Seven years. At least, that’s how long I estimate it had been. 

It was different this time. It had been so sad the last time I stood here. Today, I felt an awareness of my journey.

Stone marked places: Bible

6“Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’

7then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”

 -Joshua 4:6-7, NASB

1 Kings 18:32 NASB — So with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he made a trench around the altar, large enough to hold two measures of seed.

Ecclesiastes 3:5 NASB — A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.

Ecclesiastes 3: 5 ran through my head as I stood in this stone place Friday.

Stone Marked Places: Mine

  • The triangle Celtic tombs of Red Bird
  • The small brick marker at Heritage
  • The little black rock gathered from Cove Lake
  • The rocks surrounding the Pinnacle

These 4 “stones” in my life mark places where things began and things ended. Most of all they mark places and times from which God has grown me.

Gather & Toss

I think going back this week was the milestone (punintended) of me dealing with more recent things I needed to finally toss.

The triangle graves will always be a part of my story about how GOD pursued me. And I am grateful that in that case, God is now showing me what things/memories to gather close..and which to toss. 

Relay

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In my younger years, I ran cross-country track for one year of high school. It was a good experience and it taught me a lot about endurance.

7 Years ago

Seven years ago, I was in a Precept Upon Precept Bible study class on the book of 2 Timothy. I miss those classes so much, but they are no longer taught in my area. In 2010, I also became certified to teach Precept Upon Precept. Sadly, I only got to lead one class which was over Psalms 119.

I have been mulling over the notes I took seven years ago now. And it has birthed a lot of blog posts, so be ready for many to come.

Today, I am sharing something that I studied week 1 of my 2 Timothy class

The Christian Relay Race

The Christian Life is like a relay race – always running but also passing it on. To Whom are we passing the Gospel?

It’s very true. The Gospel of JESUS was passed to us by someone.

My Daddy brought me up in church, and often read scriptures and prayed over me. But, can I boldly share that it was not my Dad from who I received the saving knowledge of JESUS?

In 2011, I would meet a pastor of a small church plant in Pineville, KY. And he was different. Pastor Mark loved big. He loved (& still loves) people way beyond their past and hungers to see his church members grow in the knowledge and peace of JESUS. It was Pastor Mark that would lead me to the LORD, and I would go into the baptismal waters a second time on March 27, 2011.

And oh, how I’ve stumbled along this race. I have gotten of course, and I have sometimes gotten distracted.

The Process of the Christian race is:

  • Receiving
  • Learning and Living
  • Guarding
  • Entrusting

Pass it on

I remember as a teen we would sing a song called ‘Pass it On’ (Listen to it: Pass it On)

Who are we passing the Gospel to? Have we talked to our family, friends, coworkers, neighbors and strangers about the hope that is in CHRIST JESUS?

When GOD surprises you

I love to surprise people with little gifts. Though my primary love languages are quality time and words of affirmation, I do tend to express my care and appreciation for people through small gifts. And I giving them to them the most when it is completely unexpected.

We’ve all been told NO

I won’t imagine that I am alone in that I have prayed so hard for GOD to move in something or to provide something and HIS answer has been a soft, loving NO. (And sometimes, a firm NO).

I can think of so many instances when the answer from GOD was ‘NO’.. but there is one that has been my biggest and hardest No. January of 2009, I learned I was pregnant. I was estatic, as I had for so long dreamed of having a little girl. Having had complications with both of my sons, I was sent to a high-risk pregnancy doctor 2 hours away. Using a special ultrasound, he smiled as he refered to the wee one on the screen as ‘she’. A daughter. Prayers answered, right? A week later, I would go back to the same doctor because I was having some health issues. A second ultrasound was done. Immediately, the doctor’s face was pale. I watch as the fluttering of a tiny heart ceased.

The next morning, I would go through surgery to remove the baby from my womb. The nurse lovingly explained to me afterwards that I would have less than a 15% chance of ever conceiving again.

I didn’t understand GOD’s no. Wasn’t I a good mom to my boys? Wasn’t I a decent wife to the boys’ dad? I remember asking lots of hard, painful questions in the months to follow. It has only been in the valley of the last three years, that I have begun to see that God’s no was to prepare me. Perhaps some day, GOD will allow me to minister to another young woman who loses a child. Already through that no, I have developed a deeper compassion and concern for those who are in mourning or are walking through grief.

We do get “yeses”

GOD blesses us. Oh, how HE richly blesses us.

GOD gave me a Christian Daddy. My Daddy and Grandmothers had heavy influence on the woman I have become.

I could list a hundred thousand things that GOD has blessed me with, and barely scratch the surface of HIS goodness. One answered prayer was in my current job. I came to work for my company on September 2, 2014. That very first week in the building, I told my dad that I had found a department in the building that I wanted to work in. I was told by supervisors in my workplace that getting into that department was very difficult, and that it usually took 4 to 5 years to even get a chance.

Just over a year ago, GOD gave me a great big yes by giving me a job in that department- after having only worked for my company just shy of 2 years. And GOD answered a bigger prayer. Because of romantic relationships that I had been a part of, I had become very very isolated. I didn’t have a single person that I could have called a friend. GOD not only gifted me my dream job within my company, but GOD also placed me among ladies that would become my friends.

And Then, GOD just might say “Not Yet”. “Wait”

It is hard sometimes in our flesh to surrender to GOD’s timing. We have read GOD’s Word and know full-well the Word of GOD says:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9, KJV)

In our flesh, we grow inpatient with GOD’s timing. We start to think that GOD has forgotten. But, no. HE hasn’t. Sometimes HE has us to wait to prepare our hearts and minds for what HE has in store.

April of 2016, I became engaged. And through that, suffered a great heart ache. A lot of emotional abuse and emotional pain. But GOD was saying NOT YET.

I would have to walk through pain. I would even walk through tremendous depression and despair.

GOD was getting me ready. I didn’t know what for. Or I should say, who for.

I met Steve just as I was beginning to start truly allowing myself to heal from my hurt. And what a surprise from GOD Steve has been. Instead of looking down on me for my past, he has lovingly found beauty in my ashes. I never ever expected to find a kind, gentle Christian man like Steve. I thought men like him were extinct. I thank GOD that my Wait has led me to the relationship I now have with him. (Visit Steve’s blog at http://www.courageouschristianfather.com/)