MIA— Compassion and Respect

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

I am an Air Force Veteran. I am a woman. These two things should not be opposite sides of the time-in-voluntary-service, but unfortunately they are.

There are so many variants that shaped my personal military adventure. No two experiences are alike, but if I were standing next to my also Veteran, retired, husband— he is the one attention would shift to in interest.

I know this, because I have experienced this 99% of the time. We both can mention our enlistments, and mine is treated like it’s no biggie, but my husband— “Really! Thank you for your service!” with maybe a nod in my direction.

It’s like people don’t know how to process my being a woman in the military.

The military began “shaping” me to live in a man-shaped perspective, from day one.

I was 15 pounds under the expected weight-lifting limit to apply for a job I really wanted to do. You and I know it wouldn’t have been difficult for me to build up to that limit— I was determined and in shape to do that— but that was not an option. I believe this was an across-the-board decision, but I also believe that could, and maybe should, be changed.

The mindset of the military is always “military needs”, and volunteers are “property”.

The process for making me a military-minded person began by breaking me down, separating me into a group of 49 other women, limiting things like time to shower, privacy, time to eat, getting mail or calls from home, and dictating every moment of everyday.

Don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing experience, and I am proud of myself for success in making it through that.

But, for me— coming from an abusive past, it was also an emotionally difficult experience.

Additionally, it was a lonely experience— but that wasn’t a new thing for me. I have almost never had someone to talk to, or go through things with me.

That brings me to my point in writing this.

The military comes at everything from a man’s perspective. It just does. Sure there are videos, and training once a year to learn about being professional and demonstrating polite courtesy to not offend women, or make them feel threatened.

I think that is kind of a good thing, but it’s also kind of condescending.

It also does not work. I mean, just look at scandals way at the top concerning sexual harassment towards women.

Here is another perspective:

https://m.facebook.com/200999403407041/posts/1838927186280913/?d=n

My personal experiences of working in a man’s career field as a plumber (my 10th flowery-worded choice— Utilities System Specialist), in a man’s-perspective-d world are unique and don’t necessarily reflect or match another woman’s.

I get that.

But, men, and even some high-ranking women, certainly have a long way to go towards mutual respect and fair, rational, understanding and compassionate treatment of women— as individuals that are completely unique and separate from the way men are built.

With all the money poured into “research”, you’d think by now things would have naturally “evolved” from arrogant, chauvinistic, neanderthal-like behavior.

Recently, women have finally been provided with something many have needed all along! It took decades for that to happen! Why?

Because it’s a world based on men’s perspective that women are “allowed” to become part of.

Things are getting better, and yet, the latest response/reaction by civilian men to the mere mention of the newly available maternity flight suit just proves— men have a long way to go.

In the famous words of our current President— “Come on, man!”

You can, and should, do better.

He’s With Me Through It All

Imagine this is a picture of God’s hand— catching all of our tears (Psalm 56:8), Holding our hand (Isaiah 41:13), pouring His grace, His mercy out over us (1 Timothy 1:12-17)— within our reach, in His grasp (Acts 17:27).

Imagine His hand designing every part of us, every cell’s information center, every detail from the tiniest strands of Laminin to the color of our hair and eyes. (Jeremiah 18:6), (Isaiah 64:8) (Isaiah 66:2)

His hand— that shelters us (Ezra 8:21-23), heals us as He applies His perfect Heavenly healing balm upon our hearts (2 Chronicles 30:12), our eyes (Matthew 26:64), our wounds… (Revelation 1:17) (Exodus 15:26) (Psalm 107:20) (Jeremiah 30:17) (Jeremiah 17:14)

His hand places us (Ezekiel 37:1), directs us ( (139:10), supports us (Psalm 18:35), it beckons us towards Him (John 14:6) fulfilling His purpose for us (Psalm 138:8) (Jeremiah 29:11), warns us to stop what we are doing and turn back to Him. (Psalm 31:15) (1Chronicles 4:10) (Daniel 9:15)

It’s His hand that holds us (Isaiah 41:13-14) (Ecclesiastes 9:1) and keeps us safe (Isaiah 41:13) and keeps us from being snatched from Him. (John 10:28-29)

His hand gives us the opportunity to humble ourselves so in His timing He might exalt us. (1Peter 5:6-7)

It’s His hand that upholds us. (Isaiah 41:10) (Psalms 63:8)

His hand delivers us. (Psalm 138:7)

He has us inscribed on the palms of His hands! (Isaiah 49:16) Regardless of where you stand in the tattoo debate— think about this culture of tattoos, all the pretty (or not so pretty), creative designs humans come up with and want to display on their bodies— for all the world to see. God— Who created everything— has us inscribed on His hands!

All throughout Scripture we read about His hand executing justice on the behalf of very imperfect people. (Ezra 8:21-23)

And that’s just His hand(s)!

Along with His hand, is His attention. His focus. His love.

We have the attention of The Creator of every universe, every planet, every living being!

The imagination of our loving God is on full manifested display for us to witness, across the sky, and across our world!

The One Who’s thoughts are so much higher than we can ever reach or attain, has His thoughts on us, even shares them with us.

Being reminded of these things is humbling.

How is it possible to forget He’s holding me in the shadow of His hand? When I’m overwhelmed by the enormity of circumstances affecting, over-shadowing my life, there is something that is far greater in size and strength.

God’s hand.

He is with me through it all.

Even when I am aware of my unworthiness. Even when I think what I’ve said or done— or not done— makes me unqualified for His protective, loving hand.

All of us have experienced the same things, in differing degrees, the past year. Add to that individual, unique experiences— it’s overwhelming when our focus rests on that.

Much like those pictures with a hidden picture we can only see when we let go of focusing on what we recognize— God’s hand comes into focus when we stop looking at everything else.

I Remember Who I Was

Have you ever watched someone restore a damaged painting? I find it fascinating, the level of dedication, determination and affection the one restoring it demonstrates. The knowledge of every painted stroke, the understanding of what and how— tedious work, for sure.

Have you ever heard a song that grabs your soul’s focus almost immediately?

This song, Thank You Jesus For The Blood , has done that to me, from the very first line.

I was a wretch. I remember who I was. I was lost, I was blind, I was running out of time.”

I instantly remembered.

In the midst of everything I have going on in my life, everything I am struggling with, all I am endeavoring to push through and overcome, I was instantly transferred right back to that moment my soul heard Him call my name and tell me to turn and follow Him.

My life was the messiest of messes. I was being crushed against my rock-bottom.

He saw me. He reached into my soul, He called my name. My name. He knew my name.

He gently helped me to my feet. He patiently cleaned off all the smudges, He worked out all the mars in the clay of my foundation. He tended carefully, lovingly to the tears, the worn spots from the misuse, the abuse, of others who didn’t know how to properly care for me.

He looked into the depth of my soul, found all that is of value to my Creator. He applied the Blood to every detail.

He Saved me for Eternity, He rescued me with the redemptive relationship no one on earth deserves.

I haven’t deserved such Divine, Perfect attention.

He gave it to me freely, liberally— permanently.

I never have to go back. I have continuously walked forward. Sometimes I’ve crawled, and at times I have danced with Him.

My beautiful Savior.

It’s beyond just His love for me.

He sees me— all of me. He knows me better than anyone ever can.

Paul Versus Hollywood

I enjoy watching classics. In many ways, tv, movies— Hollywood really— played a role in “raising” me.

I learned more from seeing actors pretend in relationships than I did from my own day-to-day experiences. I assumed I was watching how people actually interacted in their own families.

I’ve learned since that I wasn’t. The reason those become so popular is they are “selling” ideas that deep inside people think they need.

It’s an illusion.

As I have been watching some older things, ranging from black and white classics to 90’s favorites, I noticed something— in older things, one main common thread was how men talked about and treated women. And women believed it was justified, normal, ok treatment!

There have been judgments made against the Bible, but what I read in Scripture does not verify them at all.

I’ll start with “In the beginning…”

God made women, from man’s rib, to help him suitably. The very first humbling of “manhood”— men need helpers that are suitable.

God provides our needs.

Too many husbands reject the suitable help of their wives.

Why? Well— first because of ego and pride. I mean— how many men will admit they need help? Scripture never says man asked God for someone to help him. God just saw it was necessary— and He took part of the man He created from the dust— and made another being suitable for help, companionship, love, conversation… All things men’s nature seem to reject.

Looking to things our culture tends to put on a pedestal— the “stars”— there is an obvious disdain, maybe even hatred, for wives. Wives are to be insulted, ignored, talked down to, brushed aside, be unfaithful to, etc. The way men talked about and treated the wives in the “classics” is now a disgusting thing for me to see.

It’s no small wonder women rebelled in various ways, and took over the culture, where male “bashing” became a defensive popular theme. Pretend-wives treating pretend-husbands like they are stupid, idiotic, lazy, untrustworthy— etc., etc., etc.

One thing that is never a Hollywood marital theme is— Mutual. Mutual respect, mutual love, mutual consideration…

I’m not sure I would say that’s a focused perspective in Scripture, but I think when Scripture is carefully studied and practiced, the result becomes a natural mutual practice.

Hollywood has taught husbands to hate their wives, to be abusive, intolerant and unfaithful. Whereas Scripture consistently teaches husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church— and what I sincerely believe to be the key— as husbands love their own bodies (flesh).

Hollywood has taught women first, that they aren’t valuable, capable, intelligent, and only outer appearance is worth valuing. Then, Hollywood in more recent years has taught wives to be disrespectful, unhelpful, even hateful to husbands. Scripture on the other hand has taught all women that our value lives in Christ, that God defines us, has created us with priceless value and beauty as we grow closer to God through Jesus. Scripture has taught wives to respect husbands — treat them with respect.

I believe Scripture has put the greater burden on husbands— because they are to love their wife— helpmate suitable— as Christ loves the Church. They are to mirror Jesus!

How did Jesus treat women Believers? Never objectified them! He was not rude, did not talk down to them, always listened carefully and considered what they had to say. He never treated them as though they were unimportant, or had nothing of value to contribute.

Husbands— who are you following the example of? Pretenders following someone else’s scripts, or Jesus and admonishment from Paul?

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. Nasb

Repost— Mom 139: New Parent’s Translation

I wrote this in 2014 while my husband was deployed. I think all of us parents could use a little creative humor to help us get through some of the roughest times.

Am I right?

Mom 139: New Parent’s Translation

JEM

They have searched for me, my kids,

they know me well.

They know when I sit down, and when I get up to clean;

They perceive my need for time alone from afar.

They discern my going shopping and my lying down for a catnap;

They are familiar with all my habits.

Before a word is on my tongue,

they interrupt and make me forget what I was going to say.

They pull at my hem from in front and behind me,

Their hands are always on me.

Such attention is overwhelming for me,

Too much for me to process all at once.

Where can I go from my children?

Where can I go to flee from the kids?

If I go in the bathroom, they are there, 

In the middle of the night when everyone should be sleeping, they are there. 

If I get up early, they are there,

Try to sneakily eat chocolate behind closed doors, there! 

Even there, they beg!

Their hands trying to take it from me, making me feel guilty.

If I say, “Surely I can have privacy in the darkness

and the quiet becomes peace around me,”

the night will be full of interruptions;

because the darkness means it’s time to play.

They were created in my inmost being;

I am the mother in whose womb they were knit.

I praise God because they were fearfully and wonderfully made,

His works are wonderful!

My frame was not hidden from their kicks

when they were made in the secret place,

when they were woven in the depths of my girth.

Their eyes saw as their hands punched me;

all their days were written in their baby book

hopes and promises before they came to be.

How precious are their words, and their silence!

How vast is the sum of their joyful noise!

Were I to count them, it would require I could concentrate…

I’m sure their questions have outnumbered the grains of sand–

when I’m awake, they are always with me.

In game and play, they slay the zombies.

They pretend to kill the monsters and vampires.

While at church they sing Jesus Loves Me;

they are learning of His precious Name.

Do I not get angry with those who are mean to them,

and abhor those who bully or reject them?

I have nothing but disdain for adults who dismiss them;

I count them as missing out on great opportunities.

My kids have searched through my stuff, and they know what I love;

they test me and cause anxious thoughts.

They push buttons of offensiveness,

but I love them, that’s my way, and it’s everlasting.

https://jemtreeheartrenewed.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/mom-139-new-parents-translation/

The End Of The World

Chaos. This is the idea being pushed all around us. Urgency. Fear. We are surrounded by this, wherever we look. The news. Family and friends. The medical community.

We can’t escape the chaos.

Or— can we?

There’s a newer song with a verse that says, “The atmosphere is all around. The Spirit of The Lord is here. The atmosphere is changing now. For the Spirit of The Lord is here” Here as in Heaven

While everything around us wants to immerse us in chaos— God remains outside of it all.

How can we get outside of it, as well?

When we pray, when we commune with Almighty God, we turn our backs to it all. Much like Jesus who was so outside of the chaos, He slept on the boat. Fear did not touch Him or cause Him to react. But those He loved panicked, and woke Him to change the atmosphere. He was outside of that fear, but He changed it— told that storm— “Peace. Be still.”

And the atmosphere obeyed.

When I read and remember Scripture— Jesus will be returning once again, to rule and reign for 1000 years. Will every person be dead? Will only His haters survive?

No.

So, that means all the chaos caused by fear pushed by media, by political viewpoints, by climate change purveyors— none of that will affect the second coming of Christ.

So why get caught up in it all?

Why let the media convince us to be afraid, worried, to hate people who aren’t persuaded by their narratives?

Why?

We can turn our backs to it all.

We can trust Jesus. We can lean on Jesus.

We can rest in Him.

If God is not moved by it all, why should we be?

We can throw our hands up in surrender to Him, release it all, and confess to Him we have allowed our emotions, words and actions to be manipulated by the pushed chaotic ideas of the day, and release it all to Him.

Because He holds our entire world inside of His hands.

He does not cause the chaos.

He does not get involved in the chaos.

He remains outside of the chaos.

I’m trying to kneel there at His feet, and stay outside of it with Him.

It’s so peaceful and clear outside of the storm.

Or, should we also panic and beg Him to calm this storm?

I personally believe there is a reason— this is the season— for this storm.

I’d rather wait it out while spending the time with Him in His Presence— under the shelter of His wing. I can breath here. I can rest. I can rejoice in Him.

Outside of the chaos, with Jesus— that’s the very best place to be.

Our Changing Worldview

1 Cor 13:11a “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child;

When I was a child, my whole entire view was about me. My immediate surroundings, how big everything seemed, my interactions with family members, wanting to be liked and approved-of by everyone I interacted with. There was always some level of security I sought through confidence in what I knew, routines, and things being consistent.

As I grew older, my view started to include people I cared about, and people I looked up to— outside of my immediate family. Friends, friends’ parents, neighbors, my parents friends, kids at school, teachers, and pastors.

I learned about the world around me and what I could trust through how my parents reacted to things and interactions with me.

As I continued to grow and mature, the response or reaction from others became my “thermometer”. I developed a sense of right and wrong, and learned how to take up the offense of others as though it were also my own. And— sometimes it became my own. Sometimes I saw past it and looked at it in a different perspective.

I began to develop discernment.

As I grew into an adult, my experiences, surroundings and environment changed— several times. I left home under stressful circumstances— independent and determined to make my way, in my way, alone.

Thankfully God placed people in my life to help me propel through all those twists and turns in my personal life story.

I learned from a pretty young age who was in my “corner”— and who was not.

As I ventured into my adulthood story, I learned some really tough lessons in humility and that few people would have my back as I tried to have theirs.

Trust had been a recurring theme in my life— or most often— lack of trust. It’s been an uphill battle to find trustworthy people who support the extremely imperfect me. Letting my guard down has burned me more tines than not.

Now, as I look back through so many years past, the second half of 1 Cor 13:11 makes so much more sense: “when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” Ok— I’m not a man per se, but as a human I now understand I don’t have the full picture.

I also recognize that for some parts of the picture, I have a clearer understanding than some others. And, for some parts, I do not.

Now my worldview has changed into a much wider view. It’s no longer about me— it’s about my children, and as they grow up and venture into their own lives outside of my parental decisions, my worldview includes those who are important to them. Oh, we disagree on various viewpoints and opinions, but the heart connection moves us far beyond that.

At least for myself it does.

I have learned that God’s view is complete and perfect, and I can always trust Him with what I don’t see, or know. He knows all , sees all— is everywhere, at all times. Nothing is hidden from Him or outside if His reach.

That brings me great comfort and security. That’s where my peace of mind lives.

He also has given me a deeper discernment, and with that a confidence that He is helping me see and know things not for the sake of my having knowledge— but so I can pray and I can recognize where He is at work. That is the entire purpose of discernment— to differentiate between where He is, what He is doing, and the absence of His involvement. It’s not to focus on where and what the enemy are up to— it helps us to be aware, yes. But our focus should always be on our Creator and our Savior. This is what His Spirit has taught me over the years.

Now I’m finding that God has completely changed my heart, mind and worldview focus. It’s no longer a tiny area just involving how things affect me. It’s about so many other things, and how those things affect other people and situations. It’s now an earth-wide view. It’s an Eternity view.

I want to see through God’s eyes, not my own opinions and misunderstandings. I want to care through God’s heart, because mine gets tempted to wax cold.

I want to pray for what’s on God’s heart, I want to be aware of what’s on God’s mind.

So much has been centered around our individual selves within our church environments.

There really is so much more.

There will always be “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” 1 Cor 13:12

There are new things illuminated as we seek God for what He wants us to see, know and pray about. I want to participate with Him in what He’s accomplishing— through praying and through recognition.

Puppet Strings— Opinions Of Others

We all have some point where we worry about the opinion of someone else— to some degree.

The affects of that worry can be debilitating! How do we react to negative comments from those we value the opinion of?

Because of our documented-through-the-ages reactions to opinions— the enemy of our soul uses this to create stumbling blocks in our intended path. When I intentionally go in a specific direction, especially if it’s to bring honor to God, there is sometimes a stumbling block that causes me to trip, lose my balance, stub my toe, stumble, and sometimes, to fall.

Often we are so caught up in appearances, as well as our reactions of embarrassment, shock, and/or anger, we miss that this is a device and tactic employed by God’s enemy, the same enemy of humanity. We all know who that is. The serpent, and all the names attached throughout history to identify this evil entity.

What we don’t often understand is, we can be set free from the manipulation. We can cut the puppet strings. We don’t have to live in the tangled web of fear of opinions of others.

When something happens that causes fear to rise up— say this with me— “So What?” “Who Cares?” “Why Should I Let This Stop Me?” “God, Show Me The Truth.”

This is how we stand back up, brush the dust off of ourselves— those tiny, weightless particles of the opinions of others, with the chameleon affect of feeling heavy—brush that dust off, and start walking again. With purpose. With intention. Letting the fiery darts meant to burn us up and out, bounce off instead.

Because the only opinion that actually matters is God’s. In fact— His opinion is just that— fact. Truth. With no distortions. Since He fearfully and wonderfully formed us within our mothers, in secret, then we are His garden of fearfully, wonderfully made blooms.

This is why the enemy of our souls, the enemy of God, tries desperately to plant seeds of doubt, skepticism, fear, concern, worry, hatred— everything contrary to the fruit and nature of our loving Gardener, into the soil of our paths and the garden of our life. Because God tends to us and we bloom into beauty and life only He can create— empowered with His Spirit, nurtured and cleansed by the very, Holy blood of His one and only Son— Jesus. Our enemy wants to crowd that out, to infest us with doubts, skepticism and fear.

We are all His creation, made carefully, delicately, lovingly— by His hand, nurtured and protected by His hand, watered by His Spirit, cleansed by the blood of Jesus that sin can never corrupt. Ever. It is forever, eternally, so powerfully clean of sin— it actually washes sin away into nonexistence because of forgiveness and grace.

So— we can walk— puppet string free— from everything contrary to God’s Word. His Word is alive, His Word lives within us and has always dwelt amongst us. Always.

Isaiah 40:30-31 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. NASB

This blog post was inspired by https://cheriewhite.blog/2020/10/16/a-letter-to-my-teenage-self-2/ parts 1,2 and 3.

Cycle of Frustration

The human ability to adapt to most situations and changes, is astounding. Even more-so is the ability to overcome— to beat, win, conquer overwhelming circumstances.

There are an infinite number of human-interest stories about people who beat the odds— and often God is credited for a person’s ability to do what our minds consider to be impossible.

I personally believe God should always be credited. God created every individual with the ability to focus with determination. God often allows us to be in situations where that is necessary. He put within every form of His creation the instinct to survive— to fight to live.

We see that all throughout nature. Butterflies struggle to be released from their chrysalis womb. It’s often been noted that if a human feels compassion and tries to help them get out, they can get damaged and even die. Human compassion most often lacks understanding of the necessary process for their survival.

Birds push their young from their nests to activate their instinct to fly.

Humans often feel the same sort of desire towards our offspring, but the difference lies in the dynamic of personal relationship between adult and young adult, as well as extenuating circumstances. Every situation is unique within the human relationship system. Background extending through generations, environments, financial situations, educational opportunities, personal experiences, directional purpose… an endless number of variables and belief systems.

The enemy to personal achievement is getting ourselves stuck in a perpetual cycle of frustration. Once we get into that, it can seem impossible to get out. Sometimes we stumble into that, sometimes we’re born into or placed into it, completely outside of our control. So, we adapt. We do what we believe becomes necessary for our survival.

Fight, or flight.

Sometimes the hard decision is to stand our ground and fight.

Sometimes we “feel” the need to fight, but we’re misdirecting our energy towards what looks very much like it should be our target focus. But, like trying to box against our own shadow, it ends up exhausting and depleting us of necessary energy, even robbing us of relationships.

Many marriages break apart in divorce because one or both individuals feel directed towards fighting against one another. Many marriages could be salvaged if only each person realized their spouse is not their enemy. Many marriages could become stronger, if instead all that energy being used in fighting each other could instead be directed towards fighting the invisible enemy breaking them apart.

The definition of invisible enemy is unique to every marriage (though I believe the exact same force is behind it)— but the result is often the same thing— trying to inflict as much pain through anger and disappointment as possible.

Marriages become blurred “friendly fire” zones, convincing spouses each other has become the enemy. Fight or flight is often activated. Instead of fighting to protect the union of two individual souls— nasty destructive anger becomes a sharpened arrow that penetrates the bone and marrow of the marriage.

It’s not only marriages where this happens. Families step into this quicksand-type trap. Brothers and sisters, parents and children, cousins against cousins. Family is messy. It’s a solid ground for forgiveness to be planted and nurtured. Unfortunately the personal nature instead often turns it into a battleground.

I’ve found myself stuck in an awful, exhausting cycle of frustration. There have been occasional outside distractions of conflict— especially lately. There has been the threat of my own marriage becoming a battleground of destructive distractions and fiery darts.

It’s not been easy to lay down my own types of weapons, and surrender everything to God to “please help.” I’m not the same person, deep within my core, that I used to be. My instinct used to be to fight against anything that threatened to hurt me, and not flee from it, but to turn my back and walk away.

God has changed me. He’s opened up my understanding that His way has not been my way. His way is forgiveness, surrendering the hard stuff to Him, and allowing Him to bring the healing.

His way is far better than my way.

At the beginning of my year, on my birthday, I felt God speak into my spirit that He will strengthen me this year. If anyone reading this knows the history of me at all, you could understand that I believed He meant with my physical health. Since the birth of our last child, I’ve dealt with a weakness in my legs, I believe came about because in a moment of personal weakness I chose to have an epidural. Since the birth of my first child, 21 years ago, I’ve fought an increasingly tough battle against other health issues that doctors haven’t found a solid, treatable cause for.

Imagine my surprise that instead of my physical health being strengthened, the very foundation of my life nearly crumbled apart. Many things I had believed turned out to be far different.

God is strengthening me in ways I was so clueless about. But first— I had to ask Him to be my strength, to help me walk because my path was all but gone. Life blinded me, I needed Him to be my sight. I’m still trying to adjust my sight to what feels at times like this blinding darkness— you know, like when you’re eyes are used to some kind of lighting, and then suddenly it all gets shut down— and there is only an absence of light.

My understanding has a new grasp of Jesus being the Light of the world. I now better understand what it feels like to need Jesus to be my Strength. He’s taken my arm and is guiding me through, safely. He is my Shield. God’s Spirit gives me a comfort no other source ever could.

Now I am enabled to walk in a forgiveness that comes from outside of myself. A complete, and all-encompassing forgiveness that spreads a healing balm in every direction that it walks.

Love covers a multitude of sins.

Not covers-up. Not pretending the offense hasn’t been real or caused damage.

Covers. With a healing balm.

Throughout my lifetime, so far, I’ve been given ample opportunities to forgive some very deep-seated wounds.

I have been sinned-against, many times, in personally physical and emotional ways. Others I care deeply about have been sinned-against, and it’s been in my “nature” to want to pick up their offense.

Again I get to practice walking in forgiveness that the world tells me I shouldn’t extend.

I don’t belong to the world any longer.

I belong to Jesus.

His ways are far above what the world would have me practice.

People fail me. I thank God that He continues to never fail me.

1Cor 13:12– “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”

One-Anothering

Scripture tells us, several times, to love one another. Forgive one another. Be gracious and kind to one another.

In this current American political climate, that seems to be farthest from anyone’s mind.

But, this blog isn’t about politics. It’s not about America.

It’s about our heart conditions.

Are we allowing an environment for our hearts to even want to one-another one another?

What does that look like?

Does Scripture give us any idea of how to accomplish this mountain of a task?

I think it does.

It seems like maybe the very first step is to set ourselves apart from whatever keeps us from one-anothering.

Then maybe the second step is to forgive-one another.

Maybe as we do these things, we are loving one-another. Just like Jesus told us to do.

I started writing this with a different direction and purpose in mind.

Seems like, just maybe, all fingers point back at me to do these things.

I try to. Sometimes I fail to.

Sometimes I fail to try to.

Sometimes, while I am struggling with my own stuff, God calls upon me to demonstrate to someone else what I am needing.

Often times, I don’t get what I’ve tried to be faithful and obedient to give.

And— sometimes ministering to someone else with a need, ends up ministering to myself.

God always provides.

Even when I feel a lack from others. Even when I don’t see who I can possibly turn to, to talk with or understand, or give me a helping hand.

God makes sure that I have exactly what I need, when I need it.

I want to feel pity for myself that in my toughest times I’ve been alone.

But— when The Creator takes such wonderful and loving care— how can I complain?

While I am trying to one-another someone else, He is one-anothering me.

In The Way

I was often told I was “in the way” by people who’s opinion mattered deeply to me, for a significant portion of my life. I had no reason to not believe them. So, I did all I could to move out of the way, whether physically or otherwise.

I assumed everyone thought this about me. I have lived most of my life trying to not be in anyone’s way.

My foundational understanding of myself has been flawed by believing that I’m just always in the way.

I was once told by one of my pastor’s that I was in God’s way and I needed to move out of it. You have no idea how that affected how I saw God at that point.

I still don’t trust anyone to “pastor” me.

Over the years I’ve thought about this phrase, and with God’s help, I’ve begun to turn it around into a positive.

The Way is what Believers in the past have called their group. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus lives in me. I am in the way. But– I am not in the way, as being an obstacle.

The pastor who said that to me did not see me in my time alone with God, often prone before God, surrendering my life and my choices to Him.

That pastor was wrong.

In all those years before I accepted that he was wrong, I saw everything that I did or said as being in God’s way. I had no idea how to get out of God’s way, or what that even looked like.

I never felt like I could fit in anywhere, because no matter what I was blind to somehow being in the way.

I reacted by just removing myself. I can’t be in the way if I’m not there, right?

I was then told by that same pastor that I was in sin because I wasn’t at church everytime the doors were open– I was forsaking the gathering together of the saints…

How does one ever please someone who just sees what they think you are doing wrong?

God moved me out of that pastor’s way, relocating me to another area. But that criticism stuck.

How can I possibly ever get out of God’s way when He is everywhere?

Over the years, God has revealed that He does not see that about me. He has shown me that I have, in fact, been in His way. Going out of my way to obey His word, to demonstrate grace and forgiveness, to show compassion and love– I’m trying to do things in His way.

It’s amazing how much healing and reatoration can be released when God corrects wrong thinking.

Now I know– I am exactly where I need to be– in His way.

2 COR 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Giving God What’s Broken

In our culture of Christianity, it’s become easy to sing our promises and confessions of faith.

Do we follow through? When the service is over, do we reflect on the weighty words we’ve sung in praise, adoration and promise to our God?

I can’t say, with a clear conscience, that I have.

When I sing about surrendering it all to God, and beg Him in song to “take it all”, do I really know what I’m asking of Him— what I’m giving to Him?

Lately I have been playing Animal Crossing with my kids and husband. I have this neighbor— Buck— the “neigh”bor that annoys me the most. He’s brash, loud, yells in my character’s face, and he sneezed on her. I mean— the nerve! Lol! In real life, I wouldn’t want a neighbor like that. So, I’ve been trying to get him to want to move away. I give him boots, which he always hands back, saying he doesn’t want my trash.

My point in sharing that is— God *does* want our trash. He wants the worst parts of us— the things we dislike about ourselves, the stuff we hide from everyone else.

He wants our broken hearts. He wants our ugly, horrible thoughts. He wants that anger that seemingly comes out of nowhere. He wants those feelings that cause us to do exactly what we hate…

He wants our trash.

Because then He can make us better. He can make us stronger. He can repair the broken pieces of our hearts and lives. He can calm the storm that rages in our emotions. He can help us see things clearly, without worry, fear or distortion.

But, we have to freely give them to Him. He won’t just take them. He is never forceful with us.

He just wants to make us the best us we can be.

🎶All to Jesus I surrender

All to Him I freely give;

I will ever love and trust Him

In His presence daily live

I surrender all

I surrender all

All to Thee

My blessed Savior

I surrender all

All to Jesus I surrender

Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;

Let me feel Thy Holy Spirit

Truly knowing that Thou art mine

I surrender all

I surrender all

All to Thee

My blessed Savior

I surrender all

All to Jesus I surrender

Lord, I give myself to Thee;

Fill me with Thy love and power

Let Thy blessing fall on me🎶

Focal Point

Have you ever felt invisible?

Have you ever been the sounding-board for someone who doesn’t really see you while they are talking?

Has there ever been an expectation of you to be available to fit into someone else’s schedule?

Have you ever just wanted to not— just for a little while— be available when it’s expected of you?

Have you ever been broken by something completely unexpected?

Have you felt pushed and pulled into expected directions you just don’t feel like going in?

Have you ever tried to pick things back up after being let down?

Have you ever felt like you needed a vacation from your own life?

There’s this song I loved years ago, called Disappear from Out Of The Grey. The idea in the song is the desire to disappear into Jesus— like John the Baptist said— more of Him, less of me.

Well, I did disappear— but into my marriage and my family.

I’m still seen by God, though, even though I don’t feel worthy to be seen by Him. Because I know I am a broken fixture in this world, and I can’t fix what’s broken about myself. There is no doctor, no hospital, for invisible wounds, and my brokenness is invisible except to God— Who really sees me.

I can rest in Him because He sees me. I’m not His sounding board. I’m not empty, I’m not weak because He fills me, continuously, with His strength and love.

As long as He is my focal point— I can push through the emotional labors of this life. I can stand up under the weight of the roles I’m expected to play. I can be who He created me to be.

Physically I can’t do what I used to. Thankfully my spirit still can, through Christ Jesus Who is my strength— He is my focal point.

Because of that— I am okay.

Isaiah 40:31 NASB Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

Fear and Trembling

In this day and age of prosperity doctrines and praying all the bad away— because happiness is this American church’s focus often— sermons or teachings on working our Salvation out with fear and trembling seem to be MIA. Maybe you hear them, but in my circles and resources, I do not.

Today I’m thinking about Job. I don’t know about you, but I cringe at the thought of everything he went through— and all at once. First he experienced peace, and then trauma, loss and devastation all at once as Satan attacked him on every possible front, from every possible angle— with God’s permission— I think we overlook that important fact.

I think God was teaching Job Who He Is and all He has done. God said to Job, “Who is this that questions my wisdom
with such ignorant words?” Job 38:2 Obviously Job had been acting, and reacting to what happened to him, without much knowledge of all that encompasses God.

So God told him.

It’s easy to read God’s response as angry and intimidating. The fact that God speaks from the Storm lends to the idea God is angry or annoyed. But— what if He wasn’t? God allowed the storm, but He did not cause it. If He were angry, do you think He would have been the cause? Does this all come across differently if, instead, we read it with a calm, yet sarcastic voice? With what seems accusatory, what if we inject an underlying sad tone? I mean, God definitely chastised Job, while He also turned the tables on Him— “answer— if you know…” But— look what it took to get Job to a teachable place!

God help us to not need to be brought to brokenness in order to receive truth and the healing Salvation He freely offers to each one of us.

In Job 1:1 we see: “There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless–a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.”

Job knew enough to fear God, which is the beginning of wisdom. He knew enough to do what God required and Job wanted his children to be right with God, to be saved from God’s wrath at sin. Was he arrogant about it? Maybe. He certainly, it seems to me, didn’t know enough to be in a relationship with God— the reason God created mankind. Job was trying to do everything right, his heart actions were right with God. But— he lacked that relationship with Him.

What if we read God’s next words with no anger or frustration, but instead with a firm gentleness that educates Job, while also giving him an attitude adjustment.

Imagine yourself, standing (if you can) before God— just you, no spouse, family, friends or pastor— and having Him confront you with these questions. How do you think you might answer— if you can?

“3 Brace yourself like a man,
because I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell me, if you know so much.
5 Who determined its dimensions
and stretched out the surveying line?
6 What supports its foundations,
and who laid its cornerstone
7 as the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
8 “Who kept the sea inside its boundaries
as it burst from the womb,
9 and as I clothed it with clouds
and wrapped it in thick darkness?
10 For I locked it behind barred gates,
limiting its shores.
11 I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come.
Here your proud waves must stop!’
12 “Have you ever commanded the morning to appear
and caused the dawn to rise in the east?
13 Have you made daylight spread to the ends of the earth,
to bring an end to the night’s wickedness?
14 As the light approaches,
the earth takes shape like clay pressed beneath a seal;
it is robed in brilliant colors.
15 The light disturbs the wicked
and stops the arm that is raised in violence.
16 “Have you explored the springs from which the seas come?
Have you explored their depths?
17 Do you know where the gates of death are located?
Have you seen the gates of utter gloom?
18 Do you realize the extent of the earth?
Tell me about it if you know!
19 “Where does light come from,
and where does darkness go?
20 Can you take each to its home?
Do you know how to get there?
21 But of course you know all this!
For you were born before it was all created,
and you are so very experienced!
22 “Have you visited the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of hail?
23 (I have reserved them as weapons for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war.)
24 Where is the path to the source of light?
Where is the home of the east wind?
25 “Who created a channel for the torrents of rain?
Who laid out the path for the lightning?
26 Who makes the rain fall on barren land,
in a desert where no one lives?
27 Who sends rain to satisfy the parched ground
and make the tender grass spring up?
28 “Does the rain have a father?
Who gives birth to the dew?
29 Who is the mother of the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens?
30 For the water turns to ice as hard as rock,
and the surface of the water freezes.
31 “Can you direct the movement of the stars–
binding the cluster of the Pleiades
or loosening the cords of Orion?
32 Can you direct the sequence of the seasons
or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens?
33 Do you know the laws of the universe?
Can you use them to regulate the earth?
34 “Can you shout to the clouds
and make it rain?
35 Can you make lightning appear
and cause it to strike as you direct?
36 Who gives intuition to the heart
and instinct to the mind?
37 Who is wise enough to count all the clouds?
Who can tilt the water jars of heaven
38 when the parched ground is dry
and the soil has hardened into clods?
39 “Can you stalk prey for a lioness
and satisfy the young lions’ appetites
40 as they lie in their dens
or crouch in the thicket?
41 Who provides food for the ravens
when their young cry out to God
and wander about in hunger?”

Job 39: “1 “Do you know when the wild goats give birth?
Have you watched as deer are born in the wild?
2 Do you know how many months they carry their young?
Are you aware of the time of their delivery?
3 They crouch down to give birth to their young
and deliver their offspring.
4 Their young grow up in the open fields,
then leave home and never return.
5 “Who gives the wild donkey its freedom?
Who untied its ropes?
6 I have placed it in the wilderness;
its home is the wasteland.
7 It hates the noise of the city
and has no driver to shout at it.
8 The mountains are its pastureland,
where it searches for every blade of grass.
9 “Will the wild ox consent to being tamed?
Will it spend the night in your stall?
10 Can you hitch a wild ox to a plow?
Will it plow a field for you?
11 Given its strength, can you trust it?
Can you leave and trust the ox to do your work?
12 Can you rely on it to bring home your grain
and deliver it to your threshing floor?
13 “The ostrich flaps her wings grandly,
but they are no match for the feathers of the stork.
14 She lays her eggs on top of the earth,
letting them be warmed in the dust.
15 She doesn’t worry that a foot might crush them
or a wild animal might destroy them.
16 She is harsh toward her young,
as if they were not her own.
She doesn’t care if they die.
17 For God has deprived her of wisdom.
He has given her no understanding.
18 But whenever she jumps up to run,
she passes the swiftest horse with its rider.
19 “Have you given the horse its strength
or clothed its neck with a flowing mane?
20 Did you give it the ability to leap like a locust?
Its majestic snorting is terrifying!
21 It paws the earth and rejoices in its strength
when it charges out to battle.
22 It laughs at fear and is unafraid.
It does not run from the sword.
23 The arrows rattle against it,
and the spear and javelin flash.
24 It paws the ground fiercely
and rushes forward into battle when the ram’s horn blows.
25 It snorts at the sound of the horn.
It senses the battle in the distance.
It quivers at the captain’s commands and the noise of battle.
26 “Is it your wisdom that makes the hawk soar
and spread its wings toward the south?
27 Is it at your command that the eagle rises
to the heights to make its nest?
28 It lives on the cliffs,
making its home on a distant, rocky crag.
29 From there it hunts its prey,
keeping watch with piercing eyes.
30 Its young gulp down blood.
Where there’s a carcass, there you’ll find it.”

Job 40:1 Then the LORD said to Job,
2 “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty?
You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?”

Do you have the answers?

Imagine Job— broken and traumatized, physically inflicted — all by the devil, who roars about seeking to devour each one of us— with God’s allowed permission.

God is God. He answers to no one, but He has limited Himself by promises and covenants that He always faithfully keeps.

Have you experienced any times of working out your own faith with fear and trembling? Hopefully not like Job had to be brought to.

Philippians 2:12-16 (NASB)
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.”

Tough As Sand

In the past, I thought of myself as a kind of diamond in the rough. But here lately, I realize I’m more a lump of soft coal that wishes it could be a diamond. Coal that is under the heaviest of pressure can, in part, become a diamond. In the past I’ve compared my life’s hardships as what coal experiences as it then becomes one of the very hardest substances known to mankind. Hard circumstances formed a hardened heart within me and a toughened, hardened exterior. I thought that was what I needed to protect myself, to make sure I could withstand more pressure from circumstances outside of my control.

Today I realized what I believed about myself may not even be the case— if it ever really was. God softened my hardened heart after I met my husband. He chipped away at that outer layer of toughness, like an emotional callous, and He took down the walls I had built up, brick by brick.

Nothing I do will protect me like God does. Walls trap the yuck inside, and keep the positive new things out. Before God fixed my old hardened heart, it could have easily been one of the rocks that praises God when people fail to.

It was that hard.

Today, I talked with someone about something I haven’t really thought deeply about in years! I’m not sure what I expected, but I left that conversation feeling as though all that hardness I still managed to cling to is crumbling away into dust. A trauma I experienced as a child re-emerged into my memories, and God has been so deeply at work within me, my reactions are different. My walls are gone. My heart feels soft, crushable and exposed.

I had myself so figured out before, I had every one of my reactions to my history carefully planned out. And now— I let go of my control. I feel like I’m just going to completely crumble as I now deal with old trauma mixed in with something new that was unexpected.

Maybe my life is a series of diamonds made from my spirit being crushed, over and over again. Maybe it’s all still just a lump of coal that has been broken into so many pieces, it more resembles charcoal powder. Maybe it’s a piece of coal used to keep the fire of difficult circumstances stoked at it’s hottest. Maybe it’s more like the ashes and residue left over.

I don’t know.

What I do know is— I am not the same person I started on this journey as. I thought situations had helped shape me. Turns out, maybe God has handled me differently than I believed He had, and maybe my opinions kept me blind to that. No trauma I have or ever will experience could possibly match what Jesus endured on the way to, and on, the cross. He was wounded for our (my) transgressions.

My walls and self protection have to crumble in order to allow His healing process to be thorough in me.

By His wounds I am healed.

Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Saved Through Childbirth

1 Timothy 2:15 “Women, however, will be saved through childbearing, if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.” Berean Study Bible

I’ll be honest— I want to be offended by this verse. And especially by the verse before (14) it that says, “And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman who was deceived and fell into transgression.” I want to say, really? But— it’s right there, in black and white, in the written Word of God.

We all know Eve ate the fruit and then offered it to Adam. There have probably been millions of sermons from various viewpoints on this very subject, over the last 2000+ years. Regardless of Adam’s negligence, or being distracted, or even disinterested in what Eve was being coerced into— Eve picked the fruit off of the only tree God warned them to never eat from, and she ate it. And then she gave it to Adam, who willingly went along with his wife’s tantalizing coercion— after all, she hadn’t died…

Being Saved through childbirth is an idea I’ll admit I’ve struggled with. I mean— childbirth is hard! It hurts!

I experience natural births 3 times, and once I felt I cheated by getting an epidural. Honestly— I much preferred the natural births! I don’t think I can explain why, but it was a much more fulfilling experience each time. I felt like I accomplished something amazing, I persevered, I pushed through— literally! The epidural birth, I felt nothing— no bonding with my baby through a physical struggle— the baby was taken rather than emerging.

The real labor began after each birth, for me, though. My first birth, not only was my daughter born, but also my momhood. It was an ugly process at first— I had so much dying to myself to do— and wow did I do that badly! Sleep deprived with a newborn nursing— new experience for the both of us— she was so tiny, born a month earlier than expected, I fought against sleep to make sure she was getting nutrition and gaining weight.

The next two were easier only because I kind of knew what I was doing. I had so much more to learn! And our youngest was pretty easy with brothers and sister ready to help as much as they could.

My life was completely changed overnight. If you’ve ever had to die to yourself before, then you understand what momhood transforms into for many moms. We fight uphill battles for nutrition, clean houses and what we believe is in the best interest of our kids until they move out— and even then, the worry over most of those things doesn’t disappear. There is never an “out of sight, out of mind” moment when our babies fly from our nest.

Back to the being Saved part. So— my life before I had kids was pretty much my own. I mean, of course I tried to put God first. Then I got married, and had to learn to put my husband before myself. Then the kids each came before me. I felt lost for some of those earlier years, like I had completely disappeared into their lives, routines, and needs.

After pushing through those times, I began to recognize my kids actually gave my life new purpose, new focus. My kids saved me from selfishness, from living for myself. My newborn, premie-tiny daughter saved me while I was learning how to be her mommy, while I was learning how to set me aside and make sure she had everything she needed for her life. I failed so much, but I also had some pretty great successes.

Bearing, birthing and bearing my children has been a journey I would love to repeat— for the most part.

What a wonderful, fulfilling gift God gave to women! It’s unlike anything else! Continuing in faith, love and holiness with self-control can be such a challenge! It’s no wonder the devil attacks children! Thankfully we have the Holy Spirit to help us power-through it all.

Forgive Them? Why??

This is a recurring theme in my life, it seems. And not just little things— really big, hard issues. When things start to finally relax, suddenly it becomes necessary to exercise my forgiveness muscles again. I have lifted some of the heaviest issues with these muscles. I don’t see a need to flex them for vanity purposes— these are the necessary muscles for living a life that keeps me close to Jesus. They are the strength that is unseen, coming from an unseen force— Jesus, Who is my Mediator, my Intercessor— my reason for living. He keeps me continually moving forward.

I’ve been dealt some difficult cards throughout my life so far, most seem to fall under the category of betrayal. I don’t know if I can even categorize them all. The one thing they have in common, besides intense pain, is an attack on trust.

When the burden of offense against me is so heavy— a crushing weight, God reminds me that forgiveness lifts that burden off of me and puts it at the foot of the cross.

We can’t take anything with us when it’s our time to move on from earth— that includes the offenses and hurts from others. When we surrender them to Jesus, Who bore the crushing weight of every offense, past, present and future— we walk in the truest form of Grace and Mercy.

When we come face to face with the knowledge that Jesus said, while being crushed by all of the sins of this world— “Father, forgive them because they don’t understand”, we then have the tiniest of glimpses into what Jesus endured on that cross, in our place. He willingly surrendered to every betrayal we’ll ever experience.

That is why we forgive. Again. And again. And again…

“Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven…” Matt 18:21-22

Back To My First Love

Lately my time, one-on-one with God has been a spontaneous thing, which becomes steered by intention.

Something within me has changed. My perspective, or I guess my realization of the reliability— the consistent stability— of God with me. I never question His willingness to make sure I am taken care of. He has never wavered— though I know it’s certainly not because of anything I’ve earned nor do I dare think I deserve it.

This idea of “first love” is tumbling around in my brain today. Meditating in His Presence, saturating my spirit in the beautiful song Nothing Else, this idea of being taken back to my first love opens up a whole new reservoir of understanding for me.

“Take me back, take me back, take me back to my first love…” Can I say God has ever been my first love? I mean— honestly. Because, of course in “Christianese” that’s what we profess— that God is our first love.

As I just meditate on what that means to me, and question how exactly to get back to my first love when I cannot say that was God, I recognize what I need is to get back to the first recognition of my love for Him, and my first realization of His love for me.

My first time knowing this unique, soul-filling love that heals me, that refreshes me— that holds me close to Him.

“Take me back to my first love…” Take me back to that first moment the veil was torn from my understanding, that first glimpse my spirit had of You.

Take my heart back to being satisfied by sitting in Your Presence, back when things were simplified— back to the safety and comfort, like a newborn babe resting on its daddy’s chest— near to Your heartbeat. Because “Only You satisfy my heart… Nothing else will do— I just want You”

The Verse Everyone Quotes

We hear and see this everywhere in America— “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life…” This is the cornerstone of the foundation of the Body of Christ.

It’s no secret that there are a ridiculous amount of denominations, loftily disputing many ideas from various teachings within the Bible, each believing they have the “true, actual” understanding or interpretation.

I’m going to challenge all of that here. Because, going back to basics, simplifying the simple Gospel message, where we all need to join together is with John 3:16. That is the only key that opens up Salvation and reconciliation with God. None of the rest matters in the same light. Then, I will point out, the next step we all need to join together in is in the following verse— “…For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

Why doesn’t the majority of the Body of Christ focus on this part?

Then, there is this verse— John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Whoa! This makes all those gray areas completely clear— it’s already a settled issue! Should this cause us to treat others differently, depending on the Light of Truth that illuminates the condition of their soul, that is the path they are walking down?

If everything begins with the key, and the next two verses are then entwined into that crucial part of our foundation, then everything else becomes filtered through that. All the disputes and focuses of all those denominations, many resulting from church splits have nothing to do with John 3:16, 3:17, or 3:18.

In light of this, very few Christian denominational arguments against each another are solid— in my opinion. Very few of them have anything to do with how Jesus is the way, the truth and the light. Most are resulting from interpretations of Scripture that are minor details or personal preferences.

Everything we believe, everything we do or say should be filtered through John 3:16, and then John 3:17-18.

How far we have moved away from just that sweet simplicity of the Gospel of Truth.

Inward Brokenness

There is nothing like brokenness of spirit and a broken heart to open or change your view of things for previously unnoticed perceptions.

Like the words to songs. As I relived some memory lane through songs I haven’t heard since my most recent bout with brokenness, I realized I’m seeing things differently. Where before I sang them with the confidence of being enveloped by the Love of Christ, this time that same Love permeated into the chasm coated with reactionary numbness that tries to dull the pain. It caused a different reaction, a realization that now I understand more than before, and perspective that grants revelation to a new depth of understanding.

“Clothe me in white, so I won’t be ashamed…” has a deeper meaning to me now. In order for God to clothe me in white, my soul is bare before Him. He sees everything— nothing is hidden from Him. In the past I’ve known this. Now I more than know it— I experience what it really means— He sees me. He sees my deepest shame, my pain, where I have been abused and cast aside. He’s taking the outer garments I thought I had to wear that I believed covered me, but instead caused rejection of me— and He has clothed me in His acceptance. He’s thrown-out the old garments of being shamed, and He’s covered me in His forgiveness, His righteousness, His approval!! And though people may attempt to shame me— I will not be ashamed because I know Who I belong to— no matter what. The not being ashamed, that’s for me to live out. It has nothing to do with how anyone treats me or talks about me— I am not ashamed of who I am, because of Jesus.

When I sing “set a fire down in my soul, that I can’t contain, that I can’t control— I want more of You God, I need more of You God…” and I tell Him through singing that I want Him “…to pour it out…“ I understand that I need to be intentional about what I am asking Him to do— because He will give me more.

What will I do with the more that He gives to me?

When I sing about how “ I will dance, I will sing, to be mad (not angry FYI) for my King, and I will become even more undignified than this…” Baring my naked soul with unskilled dancing is the most vulnerable thing that I could do. I can boldly approach God’s throne of Grace in this manner— it should be an easy decision— casting off everything that weighs me down.

This is the way we should all be with Jesus. It’s a process we each get to face as individuals.

“…that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Eph. 4:22-24

The likeness of God, is Salvation through Jesus. We have the promise of eternal life with God through Christ Jesus. As we lay aside the old life and choices, we begin to understand the why’s concerning God and His Word. The why’s are important, because without that understanding, we will never be able to really lay aside our opinions that don’t line up with Scripture, or forgive the person who may actually be trying to sin against us 7×77 times daily.

Disadvantaged And Broken

The shock is wearing off now. The sting of the jolt that rocked me is beginning to fade. Numbness that covered me fully, almost like a protective layer of clothing from the elements of harsh weather, is beginning to peel away now.

Ow!

It’s tempting to pull back from some of the most intense, penetrating pain I have ever experienced. But, I’m forcing myself to do what I have always tried to do– lean into it. Soon it will intensify to its strongest point, and then I’ll know the level I need to rise to to move beyond it.

I saw a storm coming, but to be honest– I expected a much different storm, in much different territory. This storm is familiar, but the territory is unexplored.

I’m at a disadvantage– probably more so than I have ever been. I don’t know if it’s the result of being cursed by those I should have been able to trust from a young age, or God just designed me and my personality to be much saltier and independently confident than many others. All I know is– support has almost never been something I could rely on. I’ve dealt with some of the most devastating things alone– often one-on-one with God but never much human support or understanding counsel. For a time I tried to fight for that, but realized it was an exhausting battle with little to no reward for all of my efforts.

As a result, now I find myself in this place where I wish I could have 1 solid person who can or will just walk with me through all the stages, emotions, and healing I will be pushing through as I continue to lean into the pain.

I’ve experienced first hand what so many often try to advise me of. I’m not one who can just settle under opinion or scrutiny, no matter how well-meaning the one doing it is.

I find myself looking for an equal. Not a counselor. Not a Pastor. Not a mentor. Not an advisor. Someone who doesn’t view me as a project or someone who needs their help. Because I know. I’ve already lived it. I’ve already made it to the other side. I’ve heard the voice of God calling out to me, directing my steps. I’ve experienced Jesus strengthening me.

I know how to get through this to that other side where healing will fully embrace me and restore– once again– what the locusts have destroyed.

I am confident in my direction, though I don’t see my path clearly yet. That will come into focus as I take each step forward. I’m not going to fall back– not with Jesus as my strength.

I just need/want someone who can and will walk with me, step with me– listen and respect me and my way of going through a process that I have already gone through successfully more than once. Someone proven that I can fully trust. That’s all. A trusted equal who has leaned into their own painful, devastating situations successfully.

For now, it will be me and Jesus, walking forward with steady, firm, intentional steps. Maybe God will provide me with a spiritual walking partner, too. But if He chooses not to– I’ll be ok. He’ll hold me up just as He always has.

A Song of Ascents. I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121:1-4 NASB

Christian Music VS All Music

There is this notion embedded in our society that Christian music isn’t really good unless it fits in perfectly with what is currently popular. If you can tell it’s Christian then it’s cheesy, it’s less valued than anything not Christian.

What??

I have given in to this in the past, believing I should be embarrassed by any music not accepted by the “in” crowds of the world.

I have pondered this for awhile now, and here is the conclusion I have come to–

Christian music isn’t supposed to sound like everything else.

Christian music has a different focus and purpose. It has a different origin, and if it is written correctly– a completely different target audience of One.

It should always be excellence strived for, but most importantly– it should be Jesus-focused.

That’s why it’s Christian.

If we are embarrassed about a song those who don’t accept Jesus make fun of– are we also embarrassed about Jesus? Are we afraid or ashamed of being His follower– a Christian?

Christian music is supposed to be different. It’s supposed to stand out. It has infused power that no other music can match. It reaches the senses of our Creator– it teaches truth, it can break bondages, and God releases His healing through it. He illuminates truth through it. The music is inspired by Him and directed at pleasing Him.

We aren’t meant to mimic what is “acceptable” and try to fit in– we need to stand out! Shouldn’t our music, as well? So what if someone makes fun of it? There is a deeper, hidden meaning from those who reject the wisdom often injected into the lyrics. The music is inspired from a different area of our hearts and minds– an area only Christians can tap into– experience with God.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 NASB

Expectation Meet-Up

I’ve failed. Again. No big surprise. I’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing the game by now. I show up, with all of my imperfections– which are easily recognized at first glance– and I fail the test. You know– the test– where I do, or behave, or look like the labeled box I “should” just fit right in to. Where I “fall in line” with how everyone just is or just does– just sayin’…

The expectation test.

Although, I must admit, the anger I seem to detect lately is a new twist. I mean, surely I deserve whatever reaction the opinion of unmet expectations metes out, right? Surely I have no right to react or respond, or– heaven forbid– show any sort of weakness emotionally or physically.

I see the looks behind your eyes, I am aware of the reactions, and all it does is push me farther away.

Humanity has been such a disappointment to me most of my life– other than my own family. See there? You didn’t meet my expectations, either. I’ve expected grace, kindness, but have most often been meet with coldness, disappointment or indifference.

Thank God for Jesus.

Jesus didn’t meet most people’s expectations, either. In Him I find my own identity. In Him I find acceptance, and peace– comfort in all of my times of need. Where I am weak, He is strong. Where I am found lacking, He provides everything I need. When life just makes me more tired, when my body fights itself leaving me exhausted and frustrated– He carries me, He ministers to my spirit– giving me rest.

God made us to need other people. For myself– that remains to be a double-edged sword.

This is what has been on my heart this week.

Maybe God will choose to heal me this year. Maybe He will enable me to better fight back against that invisible enemy that attacks my body. Maybe He will just continue to draw me nearer to Him. I have learned to be content with where I am, no matter how He answers my prayers and needs– have you?

If I’m not angry about my personal fight, what gives anyone the right to be angry with me about how I manage my personal fight?

After nearly 51 years of life, I’m tired.

Be kind. Pray. Don’t put expectations onto me–I will never be able to meet them. You have not walked my path, experienced the things I have, or fought the fight I deal with daily. Maybe you’ve heard things about me, taken out of context. If so, you are adding opinion to heresay.

How is that Godly?

I expect to receive the grace of Christ from my fellow Believers.

Are my expectations too high for you?

Used By God?

The Voice of the Martyrs Facebook Timeline headline says– “LAOS Pray that new believers facing angry relatives will not waiver in their faith.”

How many times has the Devil weaponized family and friends against believers?

The Devil has come to kill, steal and destroy– by any means necessary. Jesus said, ” “They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Luke 12:53

In Ephesians 6:12 we are informed– “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

How many times has the Devil weaponized someone at our churches?

Here’s the most revealing question– How many times has the Devil weaponized us?

Deception hides amongst the well-intended. It thrives on emotional reactions. It drives misunderstandings and miscommunications as a destructive force, tearing through walls of relationships as though they are nothing but smoke.

Make no mistake– the Devil intends to use us to tear down everything God is doing.

May God grant us all discerning eyes and spirits, increasing our sensitivity to where He is at work so we can join in with Him through prayer, supplication and surrender completely to His Holy Spirit.

We need to ask Him to reveal where we may be, now or in the future, deceived by His enemy and the enemy of our souls. Lay aside every assumption and belief of being “right”. Step back and just wait for Him to reveal what He is doing, where He is working– who He has chosen to work through.

We cannot allow ourselves to be weaponized– used– by the Devil.

To surrender everything we believe, everything we “know” to Him– recognizing that He knows all and sees all– that is wisdom. It is necessity— right now.

Who’s “tool” are we? Who’s purpose is being fulfilled through our actions and treatment of others?

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we.” 2Cor 10;3-7

Vlogging- Venting Blog

So– I know this will be shocking, but–

I have a pet peeve.

Actually, I have a few.

But the one I am being pounced on by right now is– well– I’ll call it flabbergasted.

I am biting my proverbial tongue pretty hard right now, in all honesty.

The ignorant gall of some people brings me to a boiling point I absolutely have to surrender to God.

First off, I will point out that as Christians, I believe it must be apparent we actually follow the example Jesus set before us. My focus now is on His example and His definition of being a friend.

The greatest lack I see today is selflessness. We have “self-awareness“, “self-assuredness“, “self-esteem“, “selfie“, “self-confidence“, “self-identification“– but not much selflessness.

When a husband returns from the memorial of their recently passed-away dad– that is NOT the time a wife should decide to pack up and move out– as an example of what my pet-peeve is ticked off about.

I don’t understand how when someone needs support the most, a helpmate can turn a cold shoulder and just walk away.

It looks exactly like what the enemy of our God and our soul would convince someone to do– especially in a marriage. Friendship- nurturing is at the root of that lack.

Maybe that’s just the appearance.

I really hope that’s the case.

Someone needs to write a book about the Art of Friendship Within Marriage.