The humbling reality of Creation

Stars fascinate me. They always have. I was about 9 when Daddy began to teach me the constellations: Orion, cassiopeia. Still today, I look up into the night sky to see if I can find these old familiar things.

Did you know it is estimated that there are between 200-400 BILLION stars just in our galaxy. That is a lot of stars. (source: Facts about Stars)

Think about this

Genesis chapter one states that GOD spoke the stars into being (Genesis 1:14-18). HE spoke them. I wonder- did HE call them each by name? Did HE say “Orion, go over here”?

GOD the creator, Elohiym, spoke those billion of stars into being. HE commanded them to be, and they were.

And the same ELOHIYM created me.

Before my parents even realized, HE was beginning to put me together in my mom’s womb (Psalm 139:13). My green eyes, HE chose them. Most of my biological family has blue eyes, but that isn’t what GOD chose for me. My reddish brown hair, HE chose that too. And yes, even my feistiness was part of how HE created me.

What a humbling thought. That ELOHIYM created me, just as I am. HE didn’t create me to be my mom or my sister. HE created me to be me. And by HIS grace and mercy day by day, I strive to be more like HIM.

I don’t always understand why GOD made me like I am. I struggle so greatly with anxiety, and there are many a times that it nearly cripples me from being able to compose a coherent thought. But who am I to question how GOD has made me (Romans 9:20)? Maybe it is to make me humble, fully aware of my need for GOD. And maybe it is for GOD and His glory.

Think on it.

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Following when it doesn’t make sense

I’m usually the first in line when someone says “Are you ready for an Adventure?”. Who I am was wired by GOD with a sense to explore and see knew things and experience new things.

How is it, then, I can so easily go to new places without a hesitation but I hesitate when GOD asks me to do something that makes NO sense.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are MY ways higher than your ways
and MY thoughts than your thoughts.
– Isaiah 55:9, ESV

I don’t pretend to know better or more than my Lord.

But trust is NOT an easy task.

Losing it

Earlier this year, I went through a tremendous financial loss. I nearly lost the roof over my head or the ability to buy food. BUT GOD…

Notice I said nearly. GOD provided through that. Yes, there were some times that I had to do without things- and I confess to not being as financially secure as I would like. But GOD was sufficient. It was marvelous to experience GOD giving me just exactly enough for the exact moments.

So Why then..??

It is because of that loss that I am struggling. GOD has been leading me to downsize my life. To sell or give away many things that I am no longer using or need.

Mind you, I don’t have a lot. But having gone through so many times in my life of having been stripped of most of my possessions, I have hung on to things.

Maybe that’s the point.

Maybe I am being given my Peter moment.

When they had finished breakfast, JESUS said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love ME more than these?” He said to HIM, “Yes, LORD; you know that I love YOU.” HE said to him, “Feed MY lambs.”
HE said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love ME?” He said to HIM, “Yes, LORD; YOU know that I love YOU.” HE said to him, “Tend MY sheep.”
HE said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love ME?” Peter was grieved because HE said to him the third time, “Do you love ME?” and he said to HIM, “LORD, YOU know everything; YOU know that I love YOU.” JESUS said to him, “Feed MY sheep.”
– John 21: 15-17, ESV

So, simplyspokn gal, Do you love HIM?

I don’t understand it. And there is the fleshy part of me that wants to resist it.

But, do I love my LORD? Yes.

I don’t have to understand it. I only have to trust that HE does understand. And obey.

The Essentials of Encouragement

I need encouraged.

Who wouldn’t say that, though?

Several years back, I was studying through Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love languages and learned that I am bilingual – that my primary love languages are Quality Time and Words of Encouragement.

How much?

I have been looking through notes I took in 2010 on the book of 2nd Timothy and one thing stopped me in my tracks:

A Person needs 5 times the encouragement to make up for correction

Wow. That is a lot of encouragement.

I couldn’t find any scientific facts proving this statistic true, only that when I was studying Education in College we were taught to always double the amount of positive affirmations versus the negative corrections.

What Does The Bible Say

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV

These are just two examples.

A Race, yet not a competition

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB)

Scripture tells us that the life of a Christian is a race. But mind you- it isn’t a competition.

We think of school yard races, or of track and field, how there is a winner and then a lot of other people who may or may not get a ribbon. That isn’t the heart of Christianity. There is only one #1- JESUS CHRIST.

And our reward- is being in HIS presence. GOD’s Word does tell us that we shall receive a crown in heaven. The point here is that the Christian life isn’t a competition. We should hook arms with our brothers and sisters in Christ JESUS and encourage one another. Working together, we can accomplish far more Kingdom work than trying to be better than someone. We are in this together, folks. Let’s act like it.

So, Accept my Challenge?

I dare you. I’ll even be old school and say that I double dog dare you.

I challenge you over the next 48 hours to use your social media and blogs to encourage those in your life. Life can be brutal to us all. I still recall my dad’s saying “You never know what a person has just walked through, is walking through, or is about to walk through”.

I’d love to see what you share. Comment with a link below.

 

The re-purity pledge: Why?

I found myself looking into the black tunnel of April, and the oncoming lights of 39 were gleaming through. 

And on the weekend of my 38th birthday, I made a re-purity pledge.

My virginity

It’s difficult to talk about. I lost my virginity at the age of 15. I won’t go into the details of it, but it is a tearfilled memory. 

I would marry my first husband at the age of 20. And sexual sin would creep back into our marriage during our 4th year. Our marriage would end after 12 years, as a result of further sexual sin. 

I would remarry and the curse of sexual sin would rattle the marriage early and would end the relationship quickly. 

And then, I’d make a giant mistake. I would enter into a dating relationship that was not honoring to Christ. Countless times, that man would either be given or would take the honor that was not his. 

So why bother?

When I began to talk openly this year about my commitment to purity, I was surprised by how many people (including professing Christians) would question why..

“You’re not a virgin anymore. And you’ve had two husbands, plus a fiance..why should you even worry about purity?” 

That question hurt and saddened me. Yes, it is true that I can never again be a true virgin. And yes, it is true that I have been in three serious relationships in the years since. 

But I also know that GOD has forgiven me of those sins, and has cleansed me of them. Since HE has forgiven.. And HIS Holy Word states 

1 John 1:9 KJV — If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

And Scriptures also tell me 

2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV — Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

So being forgiven and being made new are two precious, big gifts from GOD. I thank GOD for those two gifts. And in my gratitude, I offered up to Christ Jesus the vow to remain sexually pure until I am married again (& if I do not marry, to remain chaste until I die).

In the days to come, I will share with you the actual re-purity pledge I signed back in the spring. 

Unexpected Lesson

I grew up poor here in the hills of Appalachia. I don’t say that to rally any type of sympathy, but to give you an idea of where I came from.

I haven’t lived most of my life under the strong Spiritual, Biblical truths that Daddy tried so hard to raise me up in. I’ve messed up. Way, way messed. Messing up messed my life up, two marriages up, and has costs me many years suffering in anxiety and self-hatred.

It was Sunday 

I went to attend church with Steve, two hours from my humble home. I was looking forward to spending time with him and also hearing a friend of his preach.

I remember the pew felt like a coffin as conviction from the Holy Spirit fell on me during the sermon. Without hesitation, when the alter call was given, I went to the front and knelt.

Lord, I recommit myself a new to serving You. Lord, I recommit myself to studying Your Word more. Lord JESUS, I surrender to comewhatmay. Amen.

I walked back to my seat, and felt a guilt wash over me. Oh. No. The devil was stealing my peace.

You aren’t good enough for him. You’ve messed up too much to be his. He’s a good guy- and you are nothing but trash’

Oh how that naughty devil likes to lie. But he was using the words that I had heard so many other times in my life.

So crying, I tried to find reason to leave. And crying, I even tried to resist the comforting of my sweetheart.

Humble and Kind

I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t forsee the powerhouse fella that I cared about doing what he did.

Kneeling in front of me, tears searing his face, he told me that he didn’t look down on me. That he too was fallen. That he too had messed up his life like me. And that if I had asked Christ’s forgiveness (and I had), I was forgiven. I was cleansed of those wrongs. And that yes, I was good enough for him.

His humbleness and kindness startled me. I’ve been so use to harsher reactions. We talked a lot that day, and in the days that followed. And for the very first time, GOD got something through this stubborn head of mine that HE has been trying to teach me for 3 long, painful years:

WE ARE NOT OUR PAST, WHEN OUR PAST HAS BEEN GIVEN TO GOD.

Leave it All Behind

In the weeks since this happened, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on various things that have happened in my life over the last 6 years. Daily, I have been thinking over the lesson that GOD is teaching me through Steve. Yes, it is okay to remember where I’ve been in this fragile life. Yes, it is even okay to remember what GOD has brought me through. In fact, I rejoice over what all that GOD has brought me through. But just because I’ve been through it, does not mean that I should try to drag it into my now.

So, I have sat aside a lot of time alone over the last few days, and have found safe and limited ways to reflect back on the relationships I’ve had and other mementos (after all, I am a sentimental person and a memory keeper through my pocket scrapbooking). And Once I have thrown something away this week, I have left it there. No picking it back up.

Thank You, LORD JESUS, for teaching me to let go and to cling to YOU. Amen. 

When it Doesn’t make sense

I hate him.

Yes, I know. Hate is a really strong word. But I do. I hate him.

I try to avoid him. I keep myself busy. I pray, a lot. I bury myself in scriptures. I do everything I’m suppose to do, according to experts, to keep him away.

And yet, there are mornings like today. His hold captures me from my first waking breath and no amount of prayers shake his grasp. He shoves fear into my mind, and rattles my body. 

Depression/Anxiety. He is brute.

I look at my world right now, and logically it doesn’t make sense for the grasp of this mental monster to have a hold on me. I love my job, I have my loving Daddy, my incredible sons, and a really awesome Christian boyfriend. Logically, depressed is the last thing I should be. 

Mental health is a real battle, hurting a body and mind with its cancer-mimicking ways.

So just breath. Remember God has not abandoned you. And don’t do anything rash.  Rest in Christ. Just breath. 

Daughter of an Eagle

For those who are not aware, today is National Eagle Scout Day. (Read more about the holiday here: (National Eagle Scout Day)

The Boy Scouts of America, founded in 1910, looks very different after over 100 years.

My Daddy, the Eagle Scout

gran crop 3

(Above, my Granny pinning my Dad for his Eagle in 1974)

I don’t know much about my Dad’s time of earning his Eagle. Hopefully, GOD will permit me the time to have that talk with him. Perhaps even record it, to pass along to my sons someday.

Growing up Under “Daddy’s Wings”

My Dad is by no means perfect. But for the most part, he raised me under the the Scout Law:

A Scout is …
trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,
courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful,
thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. 

(Source: Scout Law)

One such example of this was in how he insists, still today, that I refer to others as Sir or Ma’am. Shortly after my oldest son was born, I attended a local event honoring area piano players and worship leaders. At the event, my Daddy introduced me to a new minister that had moved into the area. He was close to my age, so I called him by his first name. My Daddy, in love, leaned over to me and said “Unless he said otherwise, you should honor this man of GOD by saying Sir”.

In so many ways over the 19 years I lived at home, my dad would bring up various aspects of the Scout Law in his loving way of trying to help his fiesty, auburn-haired girl grow into a woman of integrity.

Flying under Daddy’s lead

Years later, I find myself feeling my Daddy’s lessons filtering through my life. So, here on National Eagle Scout Day, I make my own declaration:

  • May I live a trustworthy life
  • May I be loyal to CHRIST, to my sons, and to (GOD willing) my future husband
  • May I live in a helpful and friendly way towards others. How people respond to that is not on me.
  • May I be courteous and kind to all of those I encounter in my day, be that in person, on line, or on the phone.
  • May I be obedient to the Holy Scriptures, obeying CHRIST’s commands to the best of my ability, and repenting for the many times I fail or fall short
  • May I be cheerful. This is harder than it sounds. I have Severe Anxiety disorder, which I have been diligently seeking treatment for over the last 3 years. Regardless and in fact, because of that fact, I need to focus myself on being cheerful (ie, content) in the here and now of my mundane life
  • May I be more thrifty. Those who know me best know that I have a bit of a gift for this. But I want to begin to use this gift to also serve those around me.
  • May I be brave. Again, going back to the anxiety. I need to be intentional about reminding myself that:
    The LORD is my strength and my shield

(Psalm 28:7, KJV)

  • May I be clean. Now, mind you, I am sometimes a bit lazy in keeping house while other times I will clean for hours just to relieve my anxiety. But I can do more to guard my heart and mind from unclean thoughts.
  • May I be reverent. May I show respect to all of those who I work with and work for, not only in my job but also in my community and in service in a church
  • One added: May I be LOVING. To Christ, first. My family. To my coworkers, to strangers.

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)

 

 

 

 

The Ashes of Pachelbel

I was two decades of age.

Clothed in white.

Pachelbel playing as I walked the brown carpet path to the brown eyed man whom I adored.

I still remember that at the conclusion of the ceremony, he and I rang the church bell together.

The promises Made at 11:07 a.m.

My Dad, being a traditional Southern Baptist Minister, insisted in using a set of vows from his minister’s handbook. Those vows, of honor and love, we made to one another and to our families.

But life is such a more beautiful place when you are 20 years old, and thin and full of hopes.

With all I was that day, I fully intended to be standing still by the side of that curly topped man..

The Ashes of 19 years

Today would have been- or could have been our 19th wedding anniversary. But it isn’t. Sin and selfishness destroyed that marriage nearly 7 years ago.

Last year, it was all that I could take. In the low lights of July 10, 2016, I sat in the floor of my bedroom and penned a suicide letter.

After all, what hope was there? I was a 38 year old woman who had endured two divorces. What kind of man really wants a woman like that? After all, I was merely too broken. Shattered. A Year ago I penned the following words in my journal:

I would escape this inescapable situation.

I miss normal. I miss being romanticized. I miss being with my kids. I miss a real house. I miss loving & lavishing a mother in law. I miss my family – who now stir clear of me in shame.

Strip away my hopes. Scrape away the dreams of what I might could have had or or hopes for anything different. 

I must in part die. Bury the carefree wild girl I have been my whole life- bury the dreamer, the fairy of a girl, ….I must lower her into the ground of the past, knowing she will rot away. Be swallowed up in dark despair, sweet girl, & die.

I placed my suicide letter with a copy of both of my life insurances, and a small gold cross necklace and laid them on my dresser. I left my apartment with all full intent to never walk back in.

The very first words spoken to me that morning were by the guy I was dating at the time. Worthless, he had called me. Further confirmation I thought that I needed to end my meager existence.

My work day ended and I drove to the lake. That had been my planned route. I sat in my car, weeping. And then- my phone rang.

In a world flooded with cell phone, one little cell phone ringing doesn’t seem significant. So if you will, allow me to explain why this one phone ringing was significant. My ringer was still on silent. And I had absolutely no service.

Yes, LORD, I hear YOU

I hit my knees there and then. And I made a new commitment to The LORD- a rededication. I didn’t understand then why GOD would have spared me.. but I only knew that HE did.

A lot has happened in my life over the last year. I have changed departments in my company and through that have made some of the best, most supportive friends that I have had in 20 years. I totaled my silver car. And I got out of the destructive relationship I was in. And just recently, GOD has placed an incredible, supportive handsome gentleman into my world who GOD is using to help heal me.

I had a verse come to mind as I reflected on today.

“A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.” ~Ecclesiastes 3:4 NASB

I’ve weeped enough over today. What’s done is done. I can no more change the past than you can. I have seen over the last year that I need to simply surrender all the ashes of my past into The hands of JESUS CHRIST. I have mourned enough now. Now, it is time to dance.

 

 

To the three: Here’s your Pardon

Today (July 7th) is International Forgiveness day.

Seeing that fact caused me to stop and ask: from whom do I need forgiveness or is there someone I should forgive?

Mark 11: 26 says, “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”

Eek. I don’t know about you, but I certainly do want to be forgiven of my Heavenly Father for my many failures and shortcomings. So..

1993

For various acts of violence, and verbal abuse I issue you full pardon. I pray that along these vast decades since that Fall, you have gotten help for your anger issues.

2011 

You may not even realize that I am capable of forgiving you. It has taken a lot of tears and a lot of thinking to get to this place. I thank GOD for the grace to be able to say: For the acts of disloyalty, betrayal, and verbal abuse I issue you a full pardon. I will always pray for you every morning and every night for as long as I am able to draw a breath, for you will always be connected to me. And I do pray you find a true relationship in Christ Jesus one day.

2017

You. You are hardest to forgive. And yet, if not for you, I would never have found out how incredibly strong that I can be through Christ Jesus. I laid on my face countless nights just praying and begging GOD to remove the pain in my heart that you created. And now I know why- I need to forgive you.

I won’t make excuses for or belittle your actions. Wrong is still wrong. I fully admit that there are so many things that I could have done better or done differently, but you still did wrong.

So (deep breath, dear heart) .. For the acts of theft, betrayal, manipulation, abuse, and fraud, I grant you a full pardon. With all I am, I truly do pray you will find true peace – which only comes from Christ JESUS.

Who is it that you need to forgive? Who is it that you need to ask to forgive you? Is there a phone call or an email or a drive that you need to make? Sweet readers, there is absolutely no promise of another chance. In three years, I have buried 4 friends all under the age of 40. Let’s put down our pride’s long enough to seek to forgive and to be forgiven.