Heart Strings

I love rainbows. Besides being beautiful, they fascinate me. The origin and history are intriguing.

Besides the colorful streams that invoke a feeling of warmth, to me they are one of the many wonders of our world.

Rainbows and I also have a history. My very first memory in our shared history is seeing one outside my bedroom window. Inside my room, inside of my heart, it was raining– tears of sadness. I don’t remember the cause, maybe I’ve blocked it, maybe I was too young. But I remember that rainbow. I remember crying because I didn’t think anyone loved me, or liked me. I remember, fairly vividly, seeing that rainbow and feeling the voice of God inside my heart tell me that He loves me.

I knew He had made a promise to mankind that He wouldn’t destroy all of mankind by flood again. I remember a kept promise being a deeply important thing to me.

That is my first memory of connecting with God. Through that rainbow, having known about that characteristic of God, He brought His Word to life and breathed life into my spiritual lungs. I was about 7 or 8.

When I was 8 I began to learn to play the violin. I don’t think I took learning it seriously until I was 9 or 10. I had a wonderful teacher who took the time to help me find a sincere love for playing it. That’s when I began to practice. I started practicing everyday during the news– I hated the boring news back then!

As I grew in my ability to play, I also grew in my affection for it. At times it became the extension of my inner secrets, those things I couldn’t give voice or words to, things I didn’t understand.

I struggled with learning certain techniques, and I began to practice hours at a time because I wanted to be the best I could be– I wanted to be 1st chair. You see– that violin sounded scratchy no matter how much I practiced. I had to work extra, extra hard to get the scratchiness to not be noticeable.

My parents were kind, they didn’t complain about what must have been awful sounds at times. They didn’t have much money, and that violin was a rent-to-own. It was what they could afford. They gave me something far more than just a musical instrument to learn. They gave me what I needed to succeed, to survive, to feel. I had a way to access a depth and passion I would not have otherwise.

Without that, I’m not sure I would be here today. My violin became my best friend. It was the tool that I could use to help bring healing into my soul. It was the tool that allowed confidence and accomplishment to be poured into my spirit.

As that rainbow I first recall observing became a vehicle for God to reach into those inward places only He has access to, so became my violin. So much so that when, during my first military duty assignment, my dorm room got so hot from the heater I could not adjust, the glue melted and my best friend literally fell apart.

It was as though I lost my right arm.

I think I was in shock that I didn’t have it anymore.

A few months later, after making payments with my meager A1C salary, I brought home a new violin.

Then my dad bought me a special one, that I sincerely believe God set aside just for me. Someday I’ll tell that story, I’ve gotten myself side-tracked.

As I continued to play, a new passion stirred up in my heart, a desire to serve God while playing, an intense need/want to help bring God closer to other people’s hearts. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming, it feels like my breath is taken away, hoping I can be His vessel to pour healing and life through.

Rainbows, to me, are a visual of how God reaches into our inner recesses through music, through His Word, through prayer– through His Spirit.

I’ve been meditating on the song Remembrance all morning, and as I’ve been writing this. There is so much in this simple, short song. The music is nice and it gets intense. The words are nice and they get intense. My memory gets intense as I internalize, absorb, soak in every note and word– saturating my soul. Communion is deeply personal for me, the words remind me to not just take it but to remember Him as Christ is formed in me– continuously, as I take Communion and live my life for Him. He has been so, so good to me– oh the things He has delivered me from, and protected me from. No matter how bad things ever got– they could have been so much worse.

The rainbow seems like an illusion, but science has proven it’s absolutely real. Just like God in our lives. To others He appears to be an illusion to us, but through our personal experiences with Him interacting with us, we know beyond any shadow of any doubt that He is more real than any problem we face. In fact– the problem becomes the illusion and dissipates completely as He takes it and deals with it in His timing and His way.

Yes– He has been so so Good to me. Unworthy as I am, as I have always been– He has not withheld His goodness from me– I would have. He has provided me with all I need, He gave me a husband who reminds me of Him in how he treats me and loves me. I don’t know what He sees in me, but I am Eternally grateful that He does.

I owe Him everything. I have nothing of worth to pay Him back, He has accepted my life. My life.

My life.

Some days I do need Him to remind me that He’s not finished yet. I don’t understand why he has not given up on me at times.

I would give up on me.

My life is no longer my own, it belongs to Jesus.

Limited as it is, He still finds ways to use it as a catalyst for His healing Spirit.

Until I see You face to face, Until at last I’ve won my race– remind me You’re not finished yet. Hallelujah…”

Here’s another link to the song– Remembrance– Hillsong Worship

Worship– What Exactly Is It?

We’ve all been there:

Cue music:

Oh, I love this song! I wonder if my hair looks ok? Did I brush my teeth? Oooh, my voice sounds so good today, I’ll sing louder!

How much thought do we give to God, really? Everytime? Do we pay attention to the words we sing?

Are we really worshiping God through music and singing?

As a worshiper, these are things that have been stirring up contemplation in my own heart lately.

The Bible tells us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. It tells us to exhort one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs and sing to God with gratitude.

I looked at 71 Bible verses about worship, and out of all of those verses about 10 mention singing.

Not one mentions music.

Am I saying worshiping God with music is bad? Absolutely not– I believe it is genius!

But, what I am saying is– worship and praise are not music. They can be done with music, with singing, but music is not the definition.

I wonder how God sees what we do in our churches we call His house? Does it really honor Him? Does He approve? Does He even like it?

Or, does He see that really, we are doing it for ourselves, at least, sometimes, and only think it satisfies God?

Or, maybe we are missing that whole worhip Him in spirit and in truth, completely.

How do we worship God in spirit and in truth? What would that look like to God? Do we even try to worship Him outside of the music sets and practice times?

What does worship mean?

What does praise mean?

I do believe we all come to a point in our walk with Jesus where these questions burn into our spirit. We think we know, but–

Do we really?

May God grant us understanding, a willingness to learn, along with eyes and ears to hear and see what we might not already, clearly.

Don’t stop the music and singing. Let’s just do a heart and understanding check to see if we are missing something.

Tapestry

One strand

One life

Interwoven

With other lives

Intersecting with strangers

New strands

Intervening

Interceding

To the eye it looks random

Like a bunch of tangled, messy strings

Being brought to order

Composing a theme

One step at a time

One stitch purposely sewn

A picture emerges

The goal’s being shown

As it progresses

The outcome’s unknown

Images are messy

Haphazard, disjointed– monotone

The longer the strand is

Woven in and out

The motivation’s

Revealed throughout

At times it looks abstract

Like Van Goph tried…

But if I look closely

If I squint my eyes…

Is it Jesus in the center?

Or me that I see?

I hope to weave Jesus

Into people I meet

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19 (NIV)

Being Mary In A Martha World

I’m a worshiper. Most often, when I am able and there is a place and opportunity for me, I join the Worship or Praise team of a local church or chapel. We’ve moved quite a bit, or we’ve moved on when we find a church no longer is a good fit for us and our family needs. Right now my husband is stepping in to cover for Worship leaders and pianists that are taking a summer break with travel. Our current chapel service that we feel most fits us doesn’t have need for our usual talents and skills very often, so we both find ourselves in a kind of new situation.

As a home educating mom, in the past I have hit the “your kids use the nursery or classrooms, so you need to volunteer” in a head-on collision quite a few times. Many times I’ve responded by not using those things at all and teaching my children how to behave and participate in the praise and worship while I play my violin or sing.

The problem came in when someone got upset because I was playing violin and not rocking babies. This hasn’t been an issue for me in quite sometime– mostly because my kids aren’t nursery babies any longer, but I find I still have a tough time dealing with attitudes about me not serving the way someone else thinks I need to step up and do.

First of all– I am not 25. I have the energy of someone 20 years older than I actually am, and I live with limiting circumstances in a community that often just doesn’t “get” that. It takes everything I have to play my violin in Worship, some days.

Here’s a conversation I can imagine having:

Me— I’m here.

Church— what do you have of value that you can give to me?

Me— I have nothing of value in me right now, I’ve given all of myself to worshiping God.

Church— I’ll talk to you when you have something to give me that is worthy of my time.

I’ve had work supervisors that would get on me about not standing around, always looking busy. I’ve attended churches that treated me the same. If I “stand around” and don’t exhaust myself volunteering for every opportunity to serve, my value drops.

Can the Church please stop acting like the world?

Programs and outreaches are nice and often helpful. But sometimes they aren’t the necessary things they are presented as being. Church members are often exhausted, which causes dysfunction. Or maybe, a shifting of focus could help assuage those that do need ministry focus inside of the church body.

Many times programs, outreaches and ministries are started and run with good intentions but not necessarily at the leading of the Holy Spirit.

People in the Church have needs not being met. We are often encouraged and prompted to “give of ourselves”, but we need to be given to, we need healing, healthy relationships– we need kindness shown to us all just because and not because of something.

God made us to need one another.

This isn’t the big issue it’s been for me in the past. I’ve learned my own limits to avoid unnecessary exhaustion, as well as how to say no.

I want to be about the Father’s business. I want to worship at His feet, to rest in His Presence, to be a drawing force for others to enter into His healing, comforting Presence.

I am a Mary in a Martha world.

One Size Fits… Um No

I confess– I have a tendency to be a serial unasked-for advice giver. I can’t help it. I know others can glean from my experience-gained wisdom. Right?

Except that’s never how it’s taken.

If I’m honest, it’s also not how I take it from others, either, even though I try to be polite and respectful.

The old cliche’ about judging a book by its cover fits here well. How often do we hear or read something someone says and opine that we know the solution to their problem? After all– it worked for us, so it will work 1000000% for all– right?

Well, no. It won’t.

Nothing about me or my life is ever a one-size-fits-all fit.

Even Scripture is not a one-size-fits-all life application. I mean– it is– but it applies in endless ways. Some Scripture is the same for everyone. Like John 3:16-17. And most Scripture will help us achieve the same outcome as others, but it applies individually and uniquely over every life it touches.

Because it’s the Living Word of God.

It’s not a one-size-fits-most bandaid or covering. It’s the healing/repair balm uniquely designed to fit our specific needs.

God’s Word is not reactionary to us, it’s designed for us to respond to it.

Unlike our random acts of unasked-for advice-giving.

I have so much more to learn about letting God love others through me.

His ways are so much better than mine.

Simple Gospel


John 3:17– “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
And yet–

We constantly see judgement coming from those of us who claim we belong to Him.

We have redefined judgement as love, giving ourselves excuses to do exactly what God did not send Jesus into the earth to do.

God alone is judge. We are not equal to Him, we serve Him. If He made it clear in His preserved Word for us that He didn’t send His Son here to judge the world– why do we believe that’s what He’s calling us to do? 

God has bound Himself to His Word. His Word tells us to love one another.

Love does not include our well-meaning criticism. It does not look like what we define it to be, at all.

Love endures all things.

Love looks past what we opine as being flaws.

Love encourages.

Love is gentle.

Love is kind.

Love leaves evidence of Grace everywhere it touches.

Love gives.

Love forgives.

Love is impossible without God. 

I believe we can often be so focused on the speck in someone’s eye, we miss the log in our own.

Though we are individuals in Christ, God is unchanging. Just as He is bound to His Word, we are also bound to His Word– Jesus is the Word, and we have been given the written Word to help keep us grounded in Him firmly. There is a danger when we stop measuring everything against what is found in Scripture.

God has chosen love as the vehicle to give us Hope, He has chosen Jesus, His nonjudgemental Son, as the Savior of the world.

He has called us to be wise as serpents, yet gentle as doves, as we wear the sandals of peace to spread the Good News.

He has called us to fast for Him to remove unbelief. 

He has told us through His Word that the battle belongs to Him, that vengeance belongs to Him. We must be so careful to make sure our actions and words are lined-up accurately with His written Word.

He speaks to His people, today. But He never strays from His written Word.

Who are we listening to? 

The more complicated we make things, the more exhausted we become. 

The Gospel message is simple. Always.

Luke 2:11″For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes upon Him shall have everlasting life.”

Just Stop–

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Daily busyness mutes His voice.

So many things clutter our lives, clutter our hearts– clutter our churches. So many good things. So many good intentions. So many ideas to please God, programs to help people, traditions we’ve convinced ourselves we need.

Abel understood the very heart of God. It was more than just hearing and obeying God. It was more than the best of what he could come up with, within himself. Cain gave of his best efforts, his strength, his creativity, but it wasn’t the same as Abel. Not because it wasn’t the exact same offering. Cain did what was required, and he lacked the understanding or caring of why.

Mary sat with Jesus. She was bold and brave, in a culture when women did not sit with men, she sat with Him. She listened intently with her heart. She understood and openly sought the heart of God– despite what anyone else would say or think. We might, in our culture and time, think Mary was being lazy and trying to get out of work. She sought Jesus while He might be found. Martha was steeped in her culture and the burden of what had to be done. She prepared the meal, and she openly complained to Mary about her not helping. Martha did what was required of her in her culture’s role for her. She lacked understanding of why Mary did not. Maybe Martha had a bitter root planted in jealousy, as well as offense that it looked bad. There was Mary– sitting down with the men– listening and being taught, but not pulling her own weight in the work of serving.

For many of us, we try to do the minimum requirement when tasked. We have a mental checklist, and at the end of that checklist is what we would rather be doing– if we’re honest. Our heart’s are not in it. Like Martha, we look at someone else not doing what we think they should be doing, and we get jealous. We complain. We give in to frustration and allow bitterness to plant a root.

Cain had a jealous and bitter root, which produced the murder of his own brother. Like his parents with God, he tried to hide it.

What does God require of us? Is it perfection? Maybe exhaustion? The best programs? The most outward sacrifice? Praying the most profound prayers? Knowing the most and best Scriptures?

There is a plan layed-out through Scripture that highlights what He requires.

Come as you are.

Trust in the Lord your God.

Fear not.

Rest in Him.

Beloved– He requires us. Everything that we are.

He inhabits the praise of His people– not our works or sacrifice.

Take a deep breath… just stop– worship Him, meditate on Who He is, thank Him for all He has given, all that He is, and that He will do and has done.

When He Walks Into The Room   https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=r50EGH7x2nw&feature=youtu.be

The works will happen as we regain our focus. Not our works– His work through us. We will be more in tune with Him, He will lead us to be about His business– not our busyness.

When was the last time our heart started to burn for His Will, or the darkness trembled at the Light of God breaking through our lives?

That’s when the miracles will happen. When His Spirit will pour out on all flesh, sickness will be healed, mountains will be moved.

But first, we need to stop and get reaquainted with Him and remember our first Love.

Me, Myself And My Husband– One Flesh

My husband doesn’t do things the way that I do. He doesn’t say things the way I say them. He doesn’t look at things the way I see them.

He doesn’t have the same Political views that I have…

When we married, we were taught through God’s Word that his body is my body, and my body is his body. In some ways that has become a kind of joke for us throughout the years.

“Honey, we have some things to do.” “Do I have to?” “Well, since your body is my body– yes.” Or, the silliness of doing something impossible– like using the restroom, lol.

Since my body is my husband’s, and vice-versa, does that mean his mind is also mine and mine is his?

Could you imagine if this were the case? If I had the ability to get him to think like me, and if I thought as he does, misunderstandings would become nonexistent!

But, the mind is such a complicated thing. The closest we could get to that is doing our best to consistently work at clear communication. Practicing listening. Sharing openly. Discussing differences.

Body ownership has been defined for us in Scripture– we become one-flesh, two halves of a whole. But our minds? As Christians, they should belong to the Lord. They have the unique ability to multi-task. While doing one thing like talking with people, we can pray, remember Scripture, Praise and Worship God at the same time.

The Bible exhorts us to pray without ceasing, because we can. We are able to do that. It takes practice, reminders, and at first a lot of attention and time. But then it becomes a habit. It happens naturally.

Our minds were made to interact with our Creator continuously.

That’s why there is so much competition for it with the world, people, even within ourselves.

We have a choice in who or what we give our minds to.

Everyday I want to choose God. Many times I fail somewhat, some days completely.

Every day is a new chance.

Fighting An Invisible Enemy

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I have an invisible enemy. I’ve fought against it for as long as I can remember. This enemy does not fight fair. It hides in the shadows. I have exhausted myself many times throughout my lifetime trying to fight back, but it dodges every retaliatory jab.

My enemy catches me off-guard, though less often now. It strikes with the intention of crippling my efforts. It dismantles my credibility. Mocks my accomplishments, experience and concerns, rendering them invaluable– useless. It attempts to define me as “too emotional”, “uneducated”, “ridiculous” or “ignorant”. It laughs at me, or rolls its eyes with a sarcastic dismissal of my importance.

It steals my confidence– tries to steal my joy.

I’ve learned to stand back and just observe how this enemy attacks and come to recognize that part of its victory over me has been through the use of decoys. It’s as though I am blindfolded, and I think I know its location through a sound or a movement. But, when I attempt to retaliate, I punch through thin air, exhausting– even injuring– myself in the process.

It’s impossible to fight this enemy.

In an effort of self-protection, I surround myself with people who have proven their trustworthiness to me over time. People who value me and don’t laugh at my creativity, experience, or blow off my concerns. Sometimes those people disappoint me.

I have begun to realize, the best way to defeat this enemy is to guard myself during its assailment and then assess the damage.

The damage hardest to overcome or heal from is the friendly fire. I know my visible enemies will not care about or recognize the truth over their opinion of me, so their words no longer hurt me. But, those closest to me– their opinion becomes the fiery darts my enemy uses to go straight to my heart.

When I remember to hide in the shadow of God’s wings, the damage is minimal, often non-existent.  Psalm 63:7 reminds me: “For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy”. Hosea 14:7 encourages me that:  “Those who live in his shadow Will again raise grain, And they will blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon”.

Then I know, the only thing that ever matters is God. He sees all, knows all, and He’s with me every step of the way, guiding me with the light of His Word, working through me regardless of how useless or unimportant any person believes me to be.

God is my strength, and He helps me defeat the intentions of my invisible enemy, by praying and believing God’s Word– His promises. Every time.

The Spiritual Damage Of Anorexia

I’m a former anorexic and bulimic, reformed through Christ. This post has been a long time coming.

To look at me now you can’t tell I was near death at one point from practicing anorexia.

The Spiritual consequence is what I want to get into with this post. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about that before.

Fasting is an important part of our growing relationship with God. When we fast unto God, we deny our flesh to set aside our physical wants and needs temporarily to focus on seeking God. We fast to repent, seek God, grow in our faith and understanding, and to actively put Him completely first. The focus is God, not our body, not the avoidance of food.

Anorexia is a tool the devil uses to corrupt that. Fasting not only becomes an obsessive practice of focus on ourselves. Opportunities open for the demonic to gain footholds in our lives, choices, beliefs, vision, perspective and practices. The devil sells us the idea we can obtain perfection.

When Jesus is our Lord and Savior, God sees us as perfect because Christ is in us.

Through the practice of Anorexia, the devil causes deformity within our spirits and our understanding. The devil clouds our vision, and converts our perception to a distorted view and belief system– the belief that our body is the enemy we need to fight against.

The Bible is clear that our battle is not against flesh and blood. We are transformed through the renewing of our minds, new creations through Christ Jesus.

Striving for perfection, we work hard for acceptance and approval of the world. But like a small kid in a game of Keep Away, or Monkey In The Middle, we never lay hold of it. The constant effort steals focus, energy, confidence– reality. The bar gets raised higher. It’s always just… out of…

Reach

God accepts and approves of us because of Jesus. We don’t have to prove our worth to Him because Jesus showed us how much He values us by dying on the cross, and rising up again. We are wanted, welcomed by God.

Jesus made it possible to have acceptance from our Creator. We can have a relationship with Perfection Himself, and He is working to make us the best version of ourselves– for His glory.

We have a choice: We can work really hard for a distorted version of perfection that’s never within reach. Or we can rest in God’s approval and meet Him in the changes He makes as He perfects us His way.

I have experienced both. I prefer God’s way.

Scars– Survivor’s Thick Skin

I have scars.

Some are easily seen. Like the one on my hand where I got stitches from grabbing a knife out of a distressed friend’s hand. He was threatening self-harm.

Tonka The Mountain Lion

Some are hidden. I have scars in my scalp from an attack by a playful young mountain lion my aunt kept and adopted from a hunting trip. When my fingers locate the indented bite marks my hair now hides, it seems as though the scars remember the trauma– the pain. All that blood… I can still almost taste the metallic flavor as it as  gushed out of the fresh wounds, covering my face. The rush of fear– I had no idea how to get away from Tonka cougar’s implanted teeth in my scalp. The tears. The shock as my aunt just stood there, watching, with what I remember as being a curious and possibly slightly amused look on her face. Her husband grabbed a towel and somehow got my head out of Tonka’s clenched jaw. I don’t remember being separated from my new “friend’s” grasp. I vaguely remember being in the ER, having my head bandaged. The rest is hidden in my memory, deep beneath those still sensitive-to-touch scars.

There is a Proverb that says– “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” (Proverbs 27:6) I’m not sure I can apply this one to what happened with Tonka.

Then there are inner scars that no one person see. The ones that form over our emotions. The ones that guard our hearts. They cover our memories, stretching over wounds as a protective layer. They remind us to avoid people and situations that cause us pain. They encourage research into preventative measures. They might even be what makes us want to build up protective walls– to keep similar pain out.

Maybe they are the walls…

I have hidden scars. From an abusive childhood. From people who called themselves my friends, but never really followed through. From a devastating first marriage.

I have other scars I call regrets. Wow did I do stupid things! I had no self worth. I was beat down by the words of my dad on a regular basis, convinced what he said about me was how everyone saw me. Worthless. Good for nothing. In the way. Why was I even born?

I am thankful that God swooped down and rescued me the times I almost gave in and gave up.

He was my Comforter. He was my  Rescuer. My Protector. In later years He also became my Shield.

He brought people, one at a time, into my life. He worked through them to help me. He helped me find the path to trust and healing.

My list of traumatic life experiences is longer than many people’s. I hate that so much! Not because I would ever want anyone to experience more. Because each situation where the scars have sealed-off painful memories, is horrible.

I have fought a tremendous uphill battle just to be normal. I fought to have a healthy mind. I’m fighting to have a healthy body.

I have hated my life for most of my existence. Except where God made the changes that delivered me from being bitter, hate-filled and angry. I love that He has healed and transformed me to the me I am now. Believe me– I was beyond  repair. Consumed by anger for my dad. Filled with hatred for my neglectful, abusive, rapist-coward of an ex-husband.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real. I look at who I was before I allowed Him to walk with me, and I feel a sense of shock that He didn’t just have me removed from the face of the earth.

He healed me. He revealed a deeper love for me than anyone had ever shown to me.

All I ever really wanted was to be loved, to be welcomed– to be wanted.

God has given that to me.

The scars remind me.

One of my scars is sadness. You can’t walk through all I have and not still be affected in some ways by it all. God healing me does not erase those circumstances or all of the emotions still attached. I was still robbed of a healthy relationship with my dad. I remember the horrible words he said to me, how he hurt me in so many ways– physically, emotionally, mentally, even spiritually.

It all still happened.

It all no longer defines who I am.

Jesus has scars. Crucified on a cross. Nails the size of small railroad stakes pounded into His wrists and feet. Scars on His scalp from the crown of thorns. Scars on His back as His flesh was ripped apart by a whip called the “cat of nine tails.” He endured that for me. His scars remind me that His love and compassion are so deep, He willingly went through everything He did for me. I couldn’t have done that. I wouldn’t have been able to look at my abusers and say to God the Father, “Father. Forgive them, for they know not what they have done.”
Jesus did that.

His scars remind me.

Why My Defensiveness Is A Reflex Reaction For Me With Some

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Last night, I had the most wonderful time having dinner, talking, then just listening to a dear friend. I learned so much about her, things I never would have guessed! It’s even easier to see why she is such a beautiful, loving, sincerely kind woman of God.

As is the usual case with me, it’s also hard to not also see that deep contrast between her life and my own.

Again I come face-to-face with why I have often felt a type of rejection from some I’ve hoped to get to know. I’m no Miss Congeniality or Miss Anything.

Often in my lifetime I’ve been left feeling as though I’m not worth people’s time. Some of that is cultural, sure. Some of it is personality-clash. I can be abrasive. I’ve even been described as a “bull in a China shop”.

There aren’t many “boxes” I allow myself to be put in. I tend to fail under heavy-handed expectations. I am as God designed me, also molded from my unique life experiences, which also at times have borne the weight of heavy-handed expectations.

I have learned that not everyone is alike, not everyone does things the same, or reacts to expectation the same way.

I probably will never meet any human’s expectation.

I can only try to meet God’s. And, I fail… All. The. Time.

One of the toughest things to put into practice is listening when it feels like you are not heard by others– that’s where my reaction of defensiveness tries to overtake me.

My life is full of many amazing, even some miraculous testimonies of God’s work.

It’s easy to focus on things that happened because God was not in the circumstances. It’s best to focus on contrasts caused by God’s healing, intervention, love, kindness, miracles and His Mercy.

While the contrast between our lives is somewhat vast, my friend and I have one very important thing that is similar– the knowledge of Who God Is in contrast to who we are and how amazing it is that He loves us.

Why I Am This Way, And How It Applies To My Dating Daughter

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I grew up a fighter. At a time when women were belittled– not taken seriously while harassed for wanting to break out of the “norm” set for us by men– I decided not to just accept that, but to push past it. I have dealt with that issue head-on for many years now. From a grandpa who refused to call me by my given name because it was a “boys name”, to being treated as an emotional idiot, I have learned how to stand my ground and not ever just take what someone has dished out.

I’ve fought for jobs that “girls aren’t hired for”, and won. The pizza place that refused to hire me to work in the kitchen because “girls only work as cashiers and hostesses”– I worked in the kitchen. The Air Force recruiter who thought I should enlist to be a cook– I became a plumber. The plumbing shop owner who laughed at this female Veteran AirForce  plumber– because “girls don’t get hired as plumbers”– I was hired by someone to help with their in-house plumbing problems. (Nevermind that I had mostly worked on Japanese plumbing, and as a side-effort, I tried to help my aunt in her older house. Let’s just say, I screwed that up REALLY bad! That’s one of my biggest regrets.) 

I drove heavy machinery in Korea when women still didn’t drive there. I drove a Humvee in the middle-east where women aren’t allowed to drive.

When I am backed into a corner and told I can’t do something just because I’m a girl– watch me do just that.

I don’t deal with that so much anymore, as a military spouse and stay at home mom.

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Now, I’m dealing with a new kind of thing– I’m now the teen girlfriend’s mom. Oh yes. So far her boyfriend has referred to me as not knowing what I’m talking about, and childish. This 18 year old boy that I am allowing my 16 year old daughter to date– with getting-stricter monitoring.

He has some nerve! I am struggling to not take my “childish” attitude and sever his relationship with my daughter!

How do I get it across to my daughter that how he treats me and his own mother will be how he treats her, once they move past all the hormonal ushy-gushy crap?

I am angry that he has the nerve to say things like that about me.

I am concerned that he does not have a relationship with Jesus at all. I want to put a stop to them dating, but at the same time, she is not going to learn important life lessons if I do that.

I am uncomfortable with my daughter dating him at all. Very uncomfortable.

So, the fighter in me has taken to prayer and sobering interaction.

I am accountable to God for my daughter. I will not take that lightly, but I’m not going to give into the temptation to “fight” with her boyfriend. I’m gonna let God fight that battle for me.

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God Loves Divorcées

I get it. God hates divorce.

Divorced people also hate divorce. It’s ugly. It’s destructive. It tears apart what God put together. It turns a peaceful union into a war zone.

Moses gave permission for divorce because mens hearts had hardened against their wives. A hardened heart makes way for cruelty and abuse. Moses was protecting the wives by allowing it.

As one who went through a Scriptural divorce– it sucks! It hurt!

Divorce rips apart lives, hearts and families. It destroys reputations, confidence and dreams.

Divorce is Hell on earth. It separates two people who were once bonded together by love and agreement.

Every divorce is different, it happens for different reasons. It’s a deeply personal experience that cuts through the one-flesh union down into the marrow of our spirit. If you have ever had to have a bone marrow biopsy done, then you know how much that cutting hurts the spirit of those split apart by divorce.

Divorce is more destructive and devastating than losing of a loved one to death. It’s cancer to marriage.

Going through a divorce is pain-filled dying yet still living. 

Can we as the Church, the Body of Christ, just stop? Stop judging our wounded family. Stop throwing stones. Stop rejecting. Stop pouring on our salt… Just stop.

Can we just love one another?

Can we just reach out and encourage each other, especially those in our church memberships that we haven’t taken the time to really get to know?

Let’s trade rejecting for compassion. Hatefulness for love. “Tough love” for gentleness, kindness. Anger for patient listening. Judgment for hugs and healing words.

We can do this. We need to do this. We’ve got to stop wounding our wounded.

I hope to see more teaching to couples and congregations about the difficulties of marriage and the solutions God provides through His Word and through praying together. I hope to see less rejecting of divorcées, and more kind and gentle ministries offered compassionately towards them.

Come on, Church. We are better than this ugly, hate-filled rejection of those who are hurting and struggling to get the pieces of their lives together, alone.

What Would Jesus Do? What does He expect us to do in His Name?

Comfortable In My Faith

Do you find yourself being a reactionary or responsive Christian?

I want to be responsive, but I have reactive tendencies far too often. My reflex at feeling attacked, questioned, put on the spot or called names like hypocrite used to be to jump into action and find Scripture to back up my actions, words and belief.

I fell into the false belief that my job as a Christian is to be on the defensive, to fight back with words, to defend my faith, my belief, my Savior from attacks. I thought that was what being a Christian looked like, what it meant.

I was wrong.

My job has never been to convert anyone to my beliefs.

My job is to live out my faith, while living at peace with others as much as is possible.

And, it’s not actually my job. It’s who I am.

Christian is what defines me.

Not my appearance.

Christ within me.

I am comfortable in my faith, because I am able to rest in God. I am able to trust God. Everything I am now, in this moment, is because of changes God made in me, because I am His. And He is mine.

He is Worthy to hand my complete trust to. He is Worthy to give over my plans and decisions to. He is Worthy to live for. He is Worthy to represent.

This past week I have been reminded where He has Saved me from. I remember who I was. Because of a nightmare and a school friend’s recent death, I’ve been taken back to where I’ve come from.

I needed to be reminded.

I have the loveliest peace resting in my heart, because I am comfortable in my faith.

I don’t pounce on those who say things to make me feel defensive. I don’t jump on people who mock us, hate us, and live in ways we don’t agree with. Because that doesn’t reach hearts or change minds.

I live to be a heart changer, to have God’s healing work through me. Defensive fighting doesn’t heal or help others see Who God really is.

I understand God expects me to reach up towards Him through prayer and demonstrate His higher ways. That is a tall order from God, but to whom much is given, much is expected. I have been given much experience, much forgiveness, many, many chances. Should I not give those to others, as well, where it’s appropriate?

180 Into Momhood

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It started with a carnation.

Just over 20 years ago I walked into my church service on Mother’s Day Sunday. A divorced Airman, stationed in Japan, I assumed everyone knew my status. But a boy handed me a red carnation, my favorite flower. I started to give it back, saying I wasn’t a mom, and he told me not to worry about it. I could keep it.

As I went to find my seat, I saw a friend who was a mom. I told her I felt bad for keeping the flower, and she said, “Don’t. It’s a promise from God that you will one day become a mother.”

A few years before that day, I nearly made an appointment to have surgery so I wouldn’t have children. I had a sad, awful childhood, and I didn’t want to bring kids into this world full of such ugly hatred for innocence and vulnerability. A friend talked me out of it.

Today I have 4 children. Each one carried and formed within my body. Their lives are so different from how mine was.

The change to motherhood began in my heart, a seed desiring children was planted the day I received that carnation. I wasn’t in a relationship, but I began looking into adoption options. I pondered the future, thought of ways I could include a child. I thought I’d be a single mom. I believed I’d never find a man I could trust to be the father of my children. I refused to have children with the  man who divorced me because I did not trust him.

God did a work in my heart that caught me off guard. I don’t know how or when He made the changes. I made a list of 50 things I believed I’d find in the man He would bring into my life, if He wanted me to remarry.

Months passed. I forgot about the list I had written. I was introduced to a guy, and we started walking and talking together. We went to church together. It wasn’t long before I found the forgotten list. I could check off 46 out of the 50 things, and I recognized evidence of God at work on the 4 things unchecked. A short time after, he asked me to marry him.

I said yes!

The next year and a half was a jumble of long distance, high phone bills, separation anxieties, misunderstandings, making up, praying together, wedding preparations, family frictions, and finally we were together as man and wife. During that long year and a half, God spoke to my heart about the promise of a daughter, and He gave me her name. Deborah.

I got pregnant immediately after rejoining with my new husband.

It was not an easy pregnancy. I had awful morning sickness, and a terrible rash some first time moms carrying girls got… I knew that child was fulfillment of God’s promise of a daughter. Everyone thought I was carrying a boy, but I knew she was a girl.

My water broke 30 days before she was due to be born. She was a tiny 5 pounds 8 ounces. Then she lost a full pound the first week. Our first two weeks together were the hardest I have ever endured. I was fighting to keep her alive. She slept all the time, nursed constantly. I was sore, tired, scared… I had no family nearby to get help from. There were ladies at our church that supported me and prayed for us, and I know God used them to help me continue.

When my daughter was born, my mom-hood was born as well.

I went from fighting as a survivor from my own circumstances, to loving a tiny human who was part of me and yet separate– loving her so much I could feel my heart tearing to be able to fit more love inside of it.

With each child, my heart has stretched and broken apart to fit even more love inside of it. The eye can’t see that, but I have felt every tug, pull and tear. Each child and I have our own story, our own bondings, as well as our own conflicts.

God has been incredibly good to me. He fulfilled His promise and gave me so much more! He provided me with a safe, healthy environment to raise my own children, with a man who selflessly displays so many of God’s characteristics.

I am indescribably thankful that God helped me find my way on to a different life course than I started out on.

 

 

 

Exposed

I hate my past.

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I hate the parts of my personal story that involve my past. I don’t like who I was, I don’t like what I lived through. I abhor my reactions and choices. I despise where I had no choice or that I had no one to help me, to comfort me, or just talk with.

Yeah, I hate my past.

Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to get my book written. I hate reliving it. I hate thinking about it. I hate how when I am in a group of people and I just want to fit into the conversation, I feel compelled to share my experiences so I can identify with others. And I hate how vulnerable and

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I often feel when I tell something deeply personal.

Who really wants to hear about the horror experiences of my childhood and teens, and for what reasons do they want to hear about them?

Who cares? About me?

I loathe feeling like other people think I’m competing in storytelling. I hate how it just feels normal to me that I have gone through so many things, and then I see that look of shock on the face of someone I’ve opened up to- then I realize, my life has been anything but normal.

It’s like a thorn in my side.

The parts I don’t hate about my past are when God shines through, as a warm, magnanimous Light, as if He has given my heart the most loving hug.

Healing me, bringing completeness to my injured, abused soul.

Exposure reveals the miracles and even the heart of God throughout my life.

Hating my past has helped me to love and appreciate God. Living my life, I’ve learned there is no one more trustworthy and faithful than God.

Embracing Pain and Fear

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It’s on my heart to share this, and given recent events in the Middle East, I can see that in some respects, it could be a timely message for some.

As an American, I’d say–in our modern American culture, there seems to be a strong growing trend to avoid pain and suffering. We’re a first world nation, we should expect to have comfort and some luxuries, isn’t that the mindset we have all just accepted as normal, healthy living?

We tell ourselves we deserve it.

I think this has, in some ways, weakened some of our resolve and even work ethics.

In today’s America we often expect to be well paid for a job we put minimal effort into doing well. We complain about working, about customers, about our bosses, about not getting paid enough–so little contentment with so much expectation and even an overreaching of an attitude of entitlement of money, healthcare, cell phones or the latest electronic device, of getting everything we want and having every convenience possible, with as little effort as possible.

Us moms, we often give in to the temptation of having a pain-free birth. I gave in with our 4th baby, but I felt like I had somehow cheated. I’m not saying I think that’s wrong, but it seems like it could be a symptom of pain avoidance.

My first 3 births were natural, no pain killers at all. Our second child came so quickly, there was no time to even have an IV put in.

Through childbirth, I learned how to embrace the pain of the contractions, to use that pain to know when to help my baby come out into the world. I bonded with my babies, I struggled and strove to help them. The pain wasn’t something I feared, but something I embraced, I used it to accomplish purpose.

During the labor of my 3rd baby, God spoke to me through the pain.

He told me no one could touch my soul because it’s safe with Him. No matter what happens to my body, my soul can never be touched, harmed, or stolen.

With the recent growing number of killings of Christians, this is something He has reminded me of, to share and have others meditate on.

Pain is fleeting. Salvation is Eternal. Our soul is safe when we give it to God through belief on Christ Jesus. As a result, I know deep within, I Never have to be afraid of any pain. I know that God will avenge me for anyone who hurts me, because I belong to Him.

I know that God will avenge every Christian murdered by those who have set themselves up as enemies of The Most High God. We may not see how He does it, but their souls will never have the comfort, peace, rest or safety that the souls of those they murdered will have for ALL of Eternity.

God’s judgment is coming for those who dare to touch the ones He has claimed as His own.

I have no fear, because I know Who I belong to. And, if I stumble into fearfulness, God reminds me that it’s His perfect love that casts that out. I don’t have to succumb to it, to let it take over my reactions, my emotions or my actions and words. I don’t have to let it take control, I am not helpless because I have Help.

I have read and heard quite a few interpretations of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo–from prosperity encouragements, to commitment, to God’s faithfulness to us. But, what I get out of that account is that no matter what–no matter the pain, no matter if God chose not to intervene or help them–No Matter What, they would remain faithful to God. Because they knew Who they belonged to. No amount of pain, or manipulation, or fear-inducing circumstances could make them turn their backs to God.

He chose to help them. I have no doubt if He hadn’t, they would have died in that furnace still completely faithful to God. Because they knew He knows the end from the beginning. He knows the reasons He does, or does not do things.

Do you know Who you belong to? Do you believe on Him so deeply, that no amount of pain or suffering will manipulate you into relenting and turning away?

We need to pray that those being killed for belonging to Him through Jesus know Who they belong to. We need to pray that God will intervene, that Jesus will return, and that this persecution will be stopped. Only the return of Jesus is going to stop it.

When we obey the command to pray for peace in Jerusalem, we are praying for Jesus to come back and intervene on behalf of those who are suffering because of His Name.

Return, Lord Jesus, return quickly!

When we Christians unite, the power of God is manifest through our agreement in prayer, through our worship of God, and that is what causes fear in our enemies. That is why they kill, because Satan knows and wants to stop God’s power from flowing through His body–The Church, The Bride of Christ.

We are part of something so much greater than we are just in ourselves.

Satan is using people who believe his lies to try to stop God from working through us. He will not succeed, we know that from The Revelation of John.

But, where 2 or 3 are gathered, He is in our midst. When we have faith, we can tell a mountain to move, and it will.

Do we ever challenge our own faith?

Paul had a thorn in his side that God chose not to remove. There is debate of what that thorn was, but what I understand is–Paul chose to continue to faithfully serve God with that thorn unremoved. He didn’t complain. He didn’t yell at God. He didn’t quit. He didn’t rebuke it.

Paul focused on God, not on the thorn.

Our faith and our commitment need to grow up. We need to put off the American part of ourselves and embrace the Eternal, like putting off our old selves to put on the new. Ephesians 4:22-32 Colossians 3:1-4

We can’t, after all, take America with us, and America can’t keep our souls safe Eternally.

Only the One True God can do that.

Before and After: A Matter of Perspective

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It’s been 2 months since my dad’s passing, wow, to the day. My timing isn’t planned, just lucky coincidence.

This picture accurately represents something unexpected for me.

My dad is smiling here. He was happy because my husband was able to visit him.

When my dad was alive, it wasn’t his smile I remembered, or his comforting shoulder hug when he walked up next to me after not having seen me for a long time.  It wasn’t the twinkle of kindness and love in his eyes when he looked at me during my short visits so far and few between the passing time. It wasn’t his jokes, or the happy tone behind all he said.

The thought of my dad when he was still alive wasn’t anything warm and fuzzy.  It was sadness that he was in hospital or nursing home care. It was frustration that so much of a normal relationship with him had been stolen from me because of mental illness (also PTSD misdiagnosed and neglected) and his “guinea-pig” status with the VA. It was anger that he was so unpredictable, I never knew what to expect when I was able to visit him. My mom claims he had no “filter”, what I know as practicing self-control and taming the tongue. The last time I saw him when he wasn’t being kept alive by machines breathing for him, he told my husband some really awful things, stuff he said he was confessing to concerning me. There are so many holes in my childhood memory, some of what he said I  can’t even verify.

He was moved around so often by the VA that I rarely knew where he was, and he did not always have access to a phone for me to call him. My mom stopped remembering to tell me he had been moved, it became part of her normal life. And, the truth is, I often cringed at the thought of talking with him on the phone. What would I say? What would his frame of mind be?

The most surprising aspect of his passing is that all those fears and negative emotions have just sort of evaporated away. I am finally free to feel the good feelings when I think of him now. My guard can be let down, I don’t have to defend myself, or prepare for the worst. I don’t have to remind myself of the bad things.

I never once wished him dead- well, after I forgave him, that is. So, there is no guilt to deal with now. Life circumstances kept my family and I far away from him, so again, no guilt about any of that. It was out of my control.

I can let the little girl I once was think about my dad and remember what I loved most about him.  No more guard, no more self-defense, no more cringing as I think of him.

My heart is free to remember safely now.

Church “Home”

I feel so blessed that this time as we transition, we are leaving an actual church home. Not just because we chose to become members and begin to lay down roots. No. There are many facets in why we stayed with this church until God, through the military, chose to move us on from the area.

There are a lot of really “good” churches. There are also, sadly, some not-so-good churches. Every church has different focuses, different ministries, and even different reasons for having been planted.

This church has felt like home. I have been free to just be myself. I have been allowed to make mistakes, to grow, to be the vessel God has molded me to be. Not everyone has been formed by God into a pitcher. Some are vases, some are bowls, some are cups… All can be poured into by God, but there are a variety of ways God redistributes what He uses through us. I have been able to serve as God has built me to serve. And, it’s not been an issue with anyone that my season just has not been one of exhausting myself getting involved with everything possible. Maybe some haven’t liked that, but I don’t feel judged or labeled, or even rejected. No one has resorted to calling me offensive names, or directing sermons at me trying to get me to change something that they completely misjudged about me. Nope. Not this time.

I love that this church is involved with several missions to quite a few international locations. They open their doors to guest speakers who share stories about God using them to help people who don’t have many opportunities to be shown hope, kindness, love or grace (Project Rescue). They embrace opportunities to reach out to hurting children in ways that don’t try to conform the child to any standard, but just to give them a chance to rest, and have fun in a safe environment (Royal Family Kids Camp). They reach out into the community to give what is needed, and make things fun and inviting (Harvest Party and Feed the Multitudes).

I’m not going to blather on all mushy-like about how perfect it’s always felt to me since we started going. It’s not perfect. It’s not fakey-polite, it’s not elevating of certain people. It’s well-balanced. And, while, of course, there are things I would personally change, the things I would not change far out-weigh anything petty.

It’s real, with real people, doing real things, with God at the heart of it all. The teaching is sound, with just the right touch of “edginess” and twists on perspective to illuminate the Word of God being alive – that double-edged sword that separates our understanding and everyday ways from God’s actual intentional purposes and plans.

That’s why I consider this my church home- because it reminds me of how things will be in our Heavenly Home. I have been satisfied here.

 

 

Missed

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I’ve said goodbye to an extraordinary amount of people during my lifetime. So many, I’ve lost count. Different phases, stages, careers and places I’ve moved on from.

This past year I’ve lost 4 people near to my heart, to death: 2 sisters in Christ that I admired deeply, my dad, and my middle school music mentor who helped form the individual I’ve become.

 I don’t remember how the two sisters in Christ that passed on last year dressed. I remember how they demonstrated their love for the Lord by giving Him their lives, their hopes and dreams, in service, worshiping Him in spirit and in truth. I remember seeing the reflection of God’s heart as they prayed for me and others. I remember the Hope they lived out and openly shared with people who had no idea they even needed it. I remember when I was young, how my dad made me laugh. I remember how my music mentor encouraged my creativity and helped me form a sincere love for music, how it could be fun, how we could take the notes and put them in different orders to make new melodies. I don’t remember what color shirt he wore, or if he wore sneakers or dress shoes. 

It’s human nature to size people up. We value our opinions more than we value the person our opinions are about. It’s God’s nature to value what’s within each individual, the unique qualities that make us all who we are.

We’re all so much more than our outer packaging. My own life has been full of adventures, twists and turns, comedy, drama, tragedies, trials– easily missed by an outward scan of the eye. 

My heart misses the people who have impacted my life over the years. My eyes miss seeing their smiles or tears of compassion. My ears miss hearing their laughter and voices.

The things we place value on in the here and now are often completely erased– rendered invalid as time passes on.

What do you miss about those you’ve cherished?

Individually One Flesh

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Mark 10:8 “and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (NASB)

Marriage is the most unique relationship between humans. When a man and woman marry, it takes time to learn how to live together.  How to agree and disagree. Whether or not to even have children.

Then, if having kids, how to raise them and discipline them. How to encourage them in the midst of parents coming from 2 different perspectives, backgrounds, and maybe even world  views.

There are many outside forces to consider. The husband and wife learn they have to set boundaries for outside forces so they can follow the path together that they set out on when they said, “I do”. There are things to compromise on, things to agree on, and times where tongues may or may not be held, when one does things the other doesn’t like.

I learned a lot from my first marriage that failed. I was rejected by a husband who was far from the image he sold me before we married. I was shoved out of the way to make room for another woman. As I struggled with my hurt, I also learned how to become an individual again. I lost “me” completely within that marriage.

When God brought His choice for me into my life, I remembered my previous marriage experience. How bad things were with a man who would have nothing to do with God or church. I realized it would be best to focus on what is right with my second-chance marriage. I chose to not adopt society’s way of focusing on what I see as being wrong, and telling others about my irritations, getting people to be on my side.

We are one flesh. There are no sides.

What I say reflects back on both of us. It points to my character as much as his character.

But although we are one flesh, we are still both individual people. One of the hardest lessons I have gleaned from is: I can’t take his failures personal. Not everything is about me. Sure, his decisions and actions affect me more than any other person besides him. Sure, I am in it with him, and when he makes bad decisions they affect me like they affect him. I am part of the fall-out. My feelings are entangled with his choices. And, no, he doesn’t often remember to think about that.

God gave him to me. To love me, to provide for me, to protect me.

Sometimes I forget: God also gave me to him.

God gave me to him to be his help mate. He may not want my help. He may not recognize what I am trying to do as being helpful.

But, God has given me a mission as his wife: help him.

How am I supposed to help him? The first thing is to let him be the individual God created him to be.

I have to disengage my feelings when he falls off the pedestal I tend to put him on. He is not immune from making sinful decisions. So, how can I help him look to God more? How can I help him be a man of prayer and response, rather than human reactions? How can I help him make decisions best for the whole family, that please God, rather than just decisions for himself?

I need to remind myself at times that God will work out the details for what He sees as faults.

How can I help him be his best for God? Without being manipulative. Without trying to be his Holy Spirit. Without putting my opinion and expectations in place as the standard I try to push on him. How can I just let him be him, treat him with respect and loving-kindness, regardless of what I see as being wrong?

How can I submit to his leadership, in a sense, without losing my own individuality in the process? How can I help him consider my needs and instincts, while balancing myself against things I recognize as not being God’s best for him, us, or our family?

My husband needs me. Whether he acknowledges it or even recognizes it, or not.

He needs me to be encouraging when he feels overwhelmed. He needs me to pray for him. He needs me to help carry his burdens, when possible, and let him handle them his way when I can’t.

He needs me to love and accept him, unconditionally. He needs me to not harden my heart when he doesn’t do things “perfect”, or even when what he does and says hurts me.

The hardest part of being his helpmate is focusing on my mission from God to respect him and be the helpmate God gave me to him to be. Through prayer, fasting, encouraging, silence, sharing Scripture, and being nonjudgmental when he does not do things the way I would.

Individually, we are one flesh. He does not have anyone else like me in his life.

God has given me an important mission on earth. To help one of His children in ways no other person can, with God’s help through my life.

We are 2 individuals that are also one-flesh. Even when my other half messes up, or strays from God. I still have my purpose given to me from the Divine. That does not get cancelled out. If anything, it becomes a more urgent focus.

My feelings and expectations are not the standard I live by. God’s standard is what I am striving to live by.

I can’t just give up and walk away, even if it ever felt like it was killing me.

Jesus didn’t give up and walk away when it was killing Him.

Bondage Gospel: Good News?

1048428-Royalty-Free-RF-Clip-Art-Illustration-Of-A-Cartoon-Happy-Springy-Man-Running-BarefootMark16:14-15 (NLT)
Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead.  “And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone…”
Recently in the news, many rejoiced that 3 young women who had been held captive by a man for a decade, were suddenly found and freed. They were alive! Though not unharmed, and changed in ways most of us will never comprehend. They were finally allowed the freedom to return to their loved ones, robbed of a decade of memories and experiences with them.
 I think we can all agree, their new freedom was good news!!! And, it was spread, far and wide.
Also, recently in the news, the government has enforced a new law that is popular with some, and unpopular with others.  For years, many have been shouting the good news about free government healthcare. For others, they recognized a new bondage they have been forced to embrace.
The Gospel can come across that way. When we Christians quote the 10 Commandments of God to the world, many look at it as a new bondage. One that locks them into a box of condemnation and away from the freedom to live as they choose to. Many hear the clanging of gongs whose noise level is deafening, and it makes them run away from what they think of as a type of ancient imprisonment. It makes them strike out in anger at the ones making the noise.
Sadly, we have been ineffective messengers. We’ve caused many to equate the Good News of Jesus conquering eternal death, and being raised up from the grave, as an agreement to surrender to a bondage. One they cannot live up to, and don’t even want to try.
Do we hear how we sound?
Is what we say, and the attitude in which we say it, how we ourselves were drawn to Jesus?
When we say to someone, “You will die a forever death that will keep you eternally separated from the love of God, from the goodness of God, from God Himself”, what reaction does that invoke?
How can we communicate the Gospel message effectively?
Do we even want to communicate effectively?
See, it seems like sometimes we prejudge people and we tailor our message to fit the perception we have created with our opinion. Then, we leave God out of the message. Oh, we talk about Him, we try to thump it into people’s guilt and consciences. God is probably not in that.
Many have come to equate the Gospel message with a message of condemnation and criticism for how they are, who they are, and how they want to live.
When did Jesus ever talk to an unbeliever like that?
How many people actually ask us what they have to do to be Saved? Most often, it’s an unwilling listener who gets a barrage of what a horrible person they are.
When my husband asked me to marry him, if he had told me what a horrible person I was and how he could make me be a better person if I would marry him, I would have never spoken to him again.
That’s what we do when we walk in condemnation of the people God loves and wants to draw near to Him. They aren’t going near God with a 10 foot pole, when we approach them like that.
Are we like Jonah? Deep down inside, do we feel like they don’t deserve our loving God’s arms wrapped around their lives, or His promises fulfilled for them?
Is it really a Gospel of repelling and condemnation we are wanting to pass on, so they will instead reject the wonderful things we have been given in Christ Jesus?
Or, is it a manipulative way we embrace because of how we view our own inadequacies in sharing Jesus with a world full of hostile critics? Is it our own lack of faith in God working through us to draw others to Himself through us?
Are we willing to be vessels filled with His love and grace?
Whatever our definition of love is, I do not believe, most often, it is God’s definition of love. Where is the kindness, the gentleness, the peacefulness that God Himself demonstrates to us constantly? Is God like the slave master who whips us into submission to Him?
NO!
He is gentle, and loving, and Kind, giving us everything we need. Why is it, then, that often we take on a harsh, mean attitude, and shout about Sodom and Gomorrah, the 10 Commandments, and how the unbeliever needs to repent?
Perhaps there is a time and a place for that. But, most often – I think not.
I believe these are some hard questions we need to be asking ourselves. This is a mirror for us to look into, and do a heart and motivation check.
Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 5:9-12 (NASB)
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church

United We Stand

glass broken  heartGod has sure been stirring up a lot of things in my heart and thoughts lately.

One of the recurring issues I deal with is that I am still missing out on a father figure for my life. I understand that Scripture teaches us that God is our Heavenly Father, and He has never disappointed me.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but I am 40-something, and I still wish I could just have a normal conversation with my daddy. I have never had that. I have missed that, and struggled not to envy what others have been given.

There are so many people, of all ages, who have not had real, or healthy  relationships with their parents.  Where are the Godly men who will step up, and allow God to use them to replace what has been stolen from so many?

“When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing heart-photo-by-Carien-of-sxc.hu_nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household. (John 19:26-27 NASV)

He understood that those relationships are of utmost importance.

We are missing so much with our individualistic approach to Christianity. We are missing out on so much.