Loved Of God, Called By God

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 NASV

As a child until young adulthood, I didn’t expect anything good to happen for me. When it did, I would brace myself for it to be ripped away from me, because then I wouldn’t feel disappointment– because I just “knew” *I* didn’t deserve good things like everyone else did.

I carried that belief with me until I made the decision to stop just letting things happen *to* me.

I had been rejected, abused, trash-talked and the butt of family member’s and some “friendsjokes my whole life. I was convinced I was stupid, good for nothing– worthless– because I was told I was by people I thought knew me best. I thought I had to believe them.

Someone even told me they wished I had never been born. Everyday it was confirmed that I “was just in the way.”

Inner wounds and scars are tricky things. People react with compassion and understanding to outer wounds and scars, but fail to recognize that some behaviors are more than likely the evidence of inner wounds, of deep scars only God Himself can see and heal.

And He does heal them.

This is what Romans 8:28 reminds me everytime I hear it. For me, it’s deeply personal.

It’s evidence of God reaching out for me– to me– because I’m not in the way of His plans and purposes– I am a part of them.

He took my life, and He repurposed it. He refashioned it, reshaped it into something He can use. He has taken all of my bads and made them into part of His continuous story within my life.

He takes all of the bad, and uses it to help others know that He is Jehovah Rapha– The Lord Who heals.

I used to worry that people said things to me because that was how God saw me, but the more I learn His Word, the more I can see He has always had compassion for me, has always accepted me. He carefully made me, and where abuse and rejection had trounced and marred me– He picked me up, reshaped me around all of those circumstances, and He reminds me that if those bad things hadn’t happened, I could never understand the depth of His love for me, and His forgiveness towards me. He helped me forgive those who have acted with selfish ambitions– with little or no concern for how it has affected me.

I still have “people trust” issues.

What I no longer have is God trust issues. He has proven Himself reliable.

Relationship Versus Wrongs

What do you focus on with your best friend? How about with your spouse or significant other? Your family?

Do you concentrate on what you have in common? Do you remember how they have wronged you?

Are you confident in how good things are, or are your thoughts consumed with how they just don’t measure up to your standards?

Do you tell others the positive things about them? Or do you feel justified in telling others about what you see as negative qualities?

Does how you treat them, how you talk about them to others, have any impact on that relationship?

How do they treat you, or talk about you? Does that affect how close you feel to them?

What does a healthy relationship even look like?

What about Jesus?

Do we focus on how Jesus has wronged us? How He just doesn’t meet (or mete) our standards? Do we tell everyone negative things about Jesus?

I’m pretty sure the answer is no to the last 3 questions. How do you even measure against His perfection?

So, let’s flip it around.

Does Jesus focus on how we have wronged Him? I think some people really believe He does, but Scripture tells us He throws our sins as far as the east is from the west. That there is no record of wrong.

Is He disappointed that we just don’t measure up to Him? I mean– who can, right? Scripture reminds us that Jesus is our strength, the Holy Spirit is both our Teacher and our Comforter, and that God is our Father. We have been adopted by Him, grafted into the vine of His family tree!

Does Jesus tell everyone the negative things He knows about us? No. Instead, He is our Mediator. He prays for us– He prayed for us all in the Garden of Gethsemane. He felt so much love and compassion, burdened so deeply for us then, that it caused Him to sweat His blood as He prayed! Who else has ever done that for even one of us?

And then– then He willingly died to become the final sacrifice to God, to pay for our failings, our inability to do right by God.

He became our Mediator– standing between God and the punishment for rebelling against God in our actions and in our hearts. He became our covering, the lens God now views us through.

If this is how much we are worth to Jesus, how much should we practice love, kindness, generosity– forgiveness– with our friends, spouses and loved ones?

The saying is, “You can’t pick your family.”

Jesus didn’t pick us– and yet He did! Our sins, our rebellion, against our Creator were the cause for Jesus to be abused and nailed to a cross to be murdered. There was no justification for Jesus to be killed, He did nothing wrong. We did! Jesus could have hated us all, instead. He could have focused on all we did wrong, and turned away with hatred and anger at us. He could have– but He did not. And God accepted His willingness to die the eternal death every one of us deserves. And because there was no sin found in Jesus, God raised Him back to life, and took Him up to sit next to Himself, at and as His righteous right hand. Jesus is God’s Right Hand man.

And Jesus, having done all of that for us, does not focus on what we did to cause Him to be murdered. No. Instead He has given His life to God, to help us be better. To strengthen us. To give us confidence. To free us from the death traps that have been set out for us by the enemy of God, the enemy of our souls. He sets us free as we trust in all He is, all He has done, and all that will come to pass.

Jesus has forgiven us. Jesus has forgotten our sins, all of our sins.

Shouldn’t we?

It’s no longer about sin– it’s about our relationship with Jesus.

Jesus paid it all!

All to Him I owe!

Sin had left a crimson stain,

He washed it white as snow!

My Shoes

Nobody says, “I wonder what it would be like to walk in their shoes?” about abused children.

No one daydreams about being yelled at, called names– or worse.

No one envies the child with the broken spirit, no one celebrates their choice to fight to survive.

One of the strongest memories of my dad was the time I walked into our living room and he just started yelling at me about how much he hated me, how I was just in the way– how he wished I were dead and had never been born.

I reacted to that, at first, by contemplating ways to take myself out of the way. Then– I called my best friend.

She helped me realize the best way to help myself would be to remove myself from the situation. So– I planned a vacation, where I could strengthen my will to continue to live.

I was in high school at the time. I planned for a two week vacation from my life. I took time off from my job, I arranged for a place to stay, and I told no one except the person I stayed with where I would be.

That saved my life.

It was inconvenient for others, I know. Some worried– and they should have. They should have been worried more about my state of mind before I took my time-out, than the fact that I left.

I only used a week of that planned two weeks.

I was introduced to a life I had never known before that, but it was just enough to realize– that also was not the kind of life I wanted to live.

I woke up to some harsh realities, and I walked away from some permanent options that would have become permanent mistakes– had I chosen to take them.

I had always had a secret life of envying others who had dads that were loving, kind, and healthy. Dads who’s hugs were not dangerous, where insults were not the “norm”– ones that cherished their daughters.

My dad, he had a rough childhood. He probably had a secret envy life, as well.

I forgave my dad for his failings, years ago.

I made sure my own children had what I envied of others (God made sure too) because I knew what I had missed. I don’t blame my mom for my dad’s issues. It’s never been her fault.

I love my friends who have had wonderful, nurturing and healthy relationships with their fathers. But, it’s like bumping an unseen bruise to know that that’s something I will never get to know firsthand.

I’m old enough that I’ve forgotten many things I’ve experienced. That ache at what I was robbed of is always there, though, silently throbbing under the surface.

I’m so very happy for others, but my heart silently envies and daydreams about what their lives must have been like.

I’ve attempted to try on their shoes, but my callouses and bruises keep them from fitting comfortably, I’ve never been able to walk in them.

I’ve heard more often than I can count, that God is my Father. True– He is. He is a good father.

As awesome as God is, I still have a lack in my heart for a loving, mentally healthy, earthly dad. That’s my reality. Acceptance from God has been more healing than anything anyone could offer. This is why more mentally healthy, accountable-to-others, Christian men need to step up inside the church. There are people of all ages missing healthy relationships. We are so quick to just expect God to mysteriously fill every void and heal every affliction, when God gave us to one another.

Jesus made sure his own mother had someone to step in to fill the void He was leaving. What an amazing example of compassion and understanding! We lack nurturing, healthy relationships inside our church families. Our own members are hurting from devastating wounds and circumstances, and we busy ourselves with programs, not recognizing the deep needs right in front of us.

God help us to be what our own family-in-Christ needs us to be– what You call us to be.

God has given us shoes to wear. Shoes of the Gospel of Peace. Shouldn’t we wear them at all times, starting inside the Church? And if we don’t wear them there, if we take Abaraham’s burning bush approach and take them off on Holy Ground– Jesus made it abundantly clear the need to wash one another’s feet.

In other words– we need to look after one-another, with the same intimacy as close, healthy, loving family.

We need to get this right so we can effectively affect and reach the world around us with God’s gift of Hope, Love, and relationship with Him through Jesus.

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.

Reflections

Today is my birthday. I’m ?? years old– my Grandma always said “A lady never reveals her age.”

I’m feeling like– I made it! I survived! I feel a kind of rejunenation today.

Also tired.

I’m leaving an era behind me. My husband just retired from the military, and we’re moving into a new phase that I think we are both pretty excited about. I wish I had the same energy I had in my youth to do cartwheels and cheers. My mind is full of energy, but my body is on a whole other plateau.

My husband and I get to enjoy the fruits of our labor now– or soon, anyway. There are always hurdles and obstacles in our course. We’ve learned to weather some big, strongs storms– natural and figurative.

I find myself taking some serious deep breaths. I can let go of some of the heavy things I’ve carried over the years. I can let out that mental breath I’ve held for over 20 years as my husband was sent away from us for months at a time, waiting to find out the unknown, not anticipating the unexpected. I can start thinking about plans I’d like to make that we won’t have to change at the last minute.

I can start thinking about things I want to do.

That’s hard.

I’ve been mom, and military spouse for so long, I’ve tied most of my own interests into my family. My relationships with my kids and my husband have taken most of my energy and planning.

I have a new stage ahead of me that I get to set. I get to explore new things to find what I want to put on it.

I get to relearn, maybe even remake, who I am.

I’m still wife, mother and homeschool/violin teacher. But, now I can look around and add some other things that I want to. I’m not limited to what’s chosen for me, my plans aren’t laid out for me, I have a plethora options I didn’t have the freedom to choose before.

I have the benefit of hindsight, and the excitement of foresight.

I have so much to be thankful for to God, my husband and the military.

I haven’t felt a physical joy in a long time. It feels almost foreign to me as I feel it now– almost like that part of me is thawing out.

I’m genuinely looking forward to the next ?? years that God grants me to live.

Also– I have birthday pancakes made for me by one of my boys.

Life is good.

Strength Of Endurance

God made me to be strong.

I’m not as physically strong as I once was, but emotionally He helps to keep me strong. He helps me exercise my emotional muscles through daily circumstances, and special circumstances that both test and increase that strength.

God designed me to be able to carry a lot.

When I look around, it sure appears that my load is much heavier than others– but I’m not a good judge of what others bear.

Often, while I am preoccupied with carrying my own stuff, He brings people to me that need help carrying their stuff too. Once in awhile, I am overwhelmed by the extreme weight of my own stuff, but often I’m distracted by the need other people have that God chooses to entrust me with to help them carry.

Today, I waver through feeling the heaviness of so many things, and remembering I am not alone in this life task. God is with me. Where He guides, He provides. Today I am reminded that His provision means that He is carrying me. I’m not going to break, because He has my back. He keeps my emotional state in balance, in check.

He does that, even when I don’t think to ask Him to, even when I don’t realize He is.

My path has been paved– carefully, lovingly, with His patience, His endurance, with His peace that defies all worldly understanding.

Today I am weak. He– in me– is strong.

More Than A Glimpse

To catch just a glimpse of what God is doing in the earth is an amazing privilege! He is busy, changing hearts and minds. He is actively working to bring about unity, undermining the enemies of humanity and of Himself, at every turn.

He is constantly aware of every heart’s cry, every tear shed behind closed doors.

He knows.

He sees.

He cares– more deeply than we could ever *get*.

When we are hurting, He gives us His comfort.

When we are lonely, He keeps His listening ears attentive.

When we are distracted, He is not.

We are the tallest trees in the forest.

He sees us.

He sees us.

More than just a glimpse.

He hears us.

He hears us.

More than just a slight whisper.

He is with us.

Always.

He provides for us.

He is our Maker, our Creator, our amazing Designer.

He’s taken great care and detail in all He put into our uniqueness.

He made us for Himself.

Sometimes others appreciate how He made us. Sometimes they do not.

God always admires His handiwork. He always admires His creativity and detail within us.

He always loves us.

If only we could catch a glimpse of Him admiring and adoring us, we would forever understand–

He will Never forsake us. Because we belong to Him. When we knock on the door, it is opened– and never closed on us. When we confess with our mouth that He is Lord– we are acknowledging what will never be changed. When we believe in our hearts that He died, was resurected after 3 days, and walked again with those who followed Him– and then He was taken up to Heaven to sit at God’s Right Hand, we believe eternal truth. He said He would be going to make a place for us. There is a place for us with Him in eternity, as His children. He made that for us. He’s put so much thought and effort into us.

How much have we put into Him?

“Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

For The Bible Tells Me So

Little Ones To Him Belong

They Are Weak, But He Is Strong

Yes Jesus Loves me

Yes Jesus Loves me

Yes Jesus Loves Me

The Bible Tells Me So.”

To catch a glimpse of what God sees– we would see our reflection in His eyes.

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)

Awoken

Have you ever told the truth, then had to try to prove you were telling the truth, about something that no one wanted to believe?

I have.

Have you ever been called a liar by people who knew you were telling the truth, to others who did not? And the others not only believed you were lying, they punished and rejected you because of it?

I have.

Have you ever had your character slandered, purposefully, just to protect the actions of someone else?

I have.

I know, beyond any shadow of doubt, with a passionate fire in my bones– I know President Trump has been put into that situation a million times worse than I experienced.

I hated being put in that position.

I despise with every fiber of my being what is being done to President Trump’s character and his family.

I’m not talking about his past life of bad decisions and unChristian choices.

I’m talking about now. How he has stepped up to do what no other President has ever done, by listening to the concerns of people, like myself, who have been shut down and ignored for years, decades– for some of us our entire years of understanding.

I am deeply grieved that so many will not simply take a step back and see what is actually happening. The slander of the media, the political attacks from all sides against President Trump and his family.

I am even more grieved that Christians cannot accept or recognize where God is working through the actions of this President and his administration.

People are being set free– in record numbers– from human trafficking.

Most of those people are children and women– the two groups the opposing party claims to “champion”.

I had to write this, because I am so deeply troubled by a lack of compassion and ability to see God through the smoke and mirrors people opposing this man and his prayerful, praying choices are constantly tainted and painted with.

Please– wake up. Ask God what the truth is, because He will show you.

I may not have accurate knowledge of everything– and I don’t– but I firmly believe at the heart of President Trump is a man who simply wants to fix what Americans cannot fix, for Americans.

He has the vision God gave to our Founding Fathers.

If you truly trust God, you will learn through His Spirit that you can trust President Trump.

He needs our prayers and our support.

Regardless of your belief about him, as Christians we all need to be praying, unbiased, that God’s Will and Purposes be accomplished through him and his administration, and for his and their continued protection.

Pray that those mountains of obstacles be removed from the path God wants President Trump to plow through.

Don’t pray for him to fail– that is not God’s Will.

God is blessing our Nation through President Trump– like He blessed mankind through imperfect King David and his bloodline.

Please– ask God to show you the truth in all that is happening.

“Call unto me and I will answer you and I will show you great and marvelous things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

As Christians, all of us need to seek Him for the truth. Because if we don’t– we may be allowing ourselves to get caught up in a snare of lies and deception. And that’s on all sides of the political spectrum! God wants us to dwell in the truth— at all times. Not in our opinions or our fears that we may be wrong if we decide to believe what others say.

I was telling the truth.

Others chose to believe I was lying.

I was defensless.

I was punished and rejected.

I recognize the fruit of this pattern happening now with President Trump.

My spirit bears witness with his.

Trump deserves to be treated with Grace by every Christian.

I hope you will seek God with all you have, surrendering your opinions and your prejudices, and let God wash your understanding with the truth.

Because– He will.

Home

Home- Chris Tomlin

As a kid, when my Grandma yelled “Kids! Dinner!”, I stopped what I was doing, dropped everything, turned towards her voice and house, and raced home as fast as my legs would move me.

Before that, I was so involved in whatever I was doing or playing like “ice cream truck” with my tricycle upside down and the pedals spinning, (not sure how exactly that made it an ice cream truck, but– it was the best game to play!), or burying m&m’s and pennies hoping for very special trees to grow quickly– nothing else mattered!

Important things, right?

As I Watched the video linked above, I had this mental picture of Jesus in the distance, and then of me just freed from wrist shackles– throwing off the weight of the world that ties me to this place, taking off at a full dead-on run, pushing my legs hard to get to Jesus.

All those things I’ve been focused on asking for God to bring His Kingdom here on earth– Jesus is His Kingdom.

Jesus is His promise.

There is no one else I want to be as close to as possible, besides my husband– and even he takes a backseat to my Jesus. My Rescuer. My Holy Hero.

There is some ugliness in the world that is not going to let the healing, transformative Light and Life of Jesus into it. Ever. It will burn in that lake of fire with the enemy of God and our souls.

I want to be as close to Jesus as I possibly can be. Here on earth, in Heaven. Everywhere.

This song has reminded my spirit. There is nothing more important than closeness with Jesus.

Nothing.

No matter where I am, when I am close with Jesus– I am Home.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 NASB

His rod and staff can only comfort me when I am close to Him. This Psalm is a picture of walking close to Jesus.

Believer’s Meeting

9:00 am, Sunday morning eyes close, hearts open– cue the perfect opening song, chosen because it’s upbeat, uplifting, and it gets the blood pumping. Energy surges. Those who practice loudly in their cars are ready to join in corporate Praise and Worship of Jesus, right?

Except, “I” and “me” are used far more often than His name.

It’s all about You, Jesus and how much You have done for me, how much I have been changed, how much You love me, how You’ve made a way for me…”

Song one finishes. Cue songs 2 and 3, in similar keys and subject so they can flow into each other smoothly. Hearts and minds are focused on all Jesus has done for “me“.

Cue song 4 for the offering, something catchy and convicting to encourage Believers to give to God freely…

Song 5 helps transition right into the sermon, getting hearts and minds prepared to receive the Word of the Lord and the Preacher’s sermon.

The sermon is deep, convicting, full of Truth and equipping Believers to make it through another week until it can all start over again.

A closing song extending the sermon message, inviting people to let down their personal guard so they can receive personal ministry to help them overcome the things holding them back, keeping them from fully embracing Jesus, God’s healing and deliverance…

And… we’re done.

It’s a set, a church service proven to be a smooth and embraceable formula that the majority of American Church models follow now.

What’s the fruit? Happy people, a love for deep, powerful music, a new determined focus to meet the challenges and difficulties of a week focused around “me”.

Mid-week, there used to be Wednesday night Believer’s Meetings to help get us past the dragging down of our spirits, and re-focus in putting Jesus first and foremost in hearts and minds. It seems many churches have instead poured their entire focus on that Sunday morning gathering. Which is fine, Wednesday night sometimes just adds into another thing that keeps us busy and exhausted.

Which songs in church help equip Believers in how to treat others? How many prepare Believers for interacting with those hurting, abused, or abusive outside of the Church bubble?

What church service songs encourage us to help rescue others from the spiritual muck and mire that acts like quicksand, holding and pulling people farther from freedom through Jesus.

We hear the words “help the dying and lost” so often, we’ve gotten numb to their meaning and impact.

The world that has not embraced the Salvation, Grace and Mercy of God through Jesus– it’s not a friendly, warm place. There are people who hate Christians, hate everything about God. Are we ever prepared to walk in the empowerment of God to not only deal with people that hate us, but also show them Jesus?

We lack transformative power, most often, because I believe we are stuck in a “me me me” rut.

Me filters everything– how does this song minister to me? How does this affect me?

All fingers are pointed at me. I’ve recently been confronted with my own boundaries of keeping the ugliness of the world out of my perception and eyesight-hearing range.

Choosing what I allow my understanding to be exposed to is a luxury.

The hurting, lost and spiritually dying don’t have that luxury. They don’t have Jesus, the necessity for us all, to protect them, to shield them, to deliver them from the cold, dark world of animosity towards all God has created– which includes them.

I had forgotten where I had come from. But– God reminded me. How can I not go back and help others ? Did Jesus rescue me so that I could become cold-hearted towards others who need Him to rescue them as well?

Jesus told us to go, share the Good News with the world that hates Him, and by proxy– hates us. Share the Good News that they don’t have to serve hatred any longer, they can have His free gift of Eternal Salvation. Before meeting Jesus, after allowing Jesus to give freedom is like night and day. It’s like shackles and freedom, caged and free, oppressed and… free.

Free.

No price.

No bondage.

No entrapment.

Free.

Mind-blowing, am I right? The human mind cannot even fathom what that means, and so many reject it because it sounds far-fetched and unbelievable.

We need God to empower us to demonstrate that reality of Jesus.

Where does the neat and tidy American church service infuse that empowerment?

We will never find that power on our own, within ourselves, to reach out to a torture victim. Because they do exist– in America.

How can we help rescue someone’s mind who has been trapped in human slavery– because, again, that exists inside of America.

Jesus left Heaven to be born as a human to walk with us, so He could rescue us– heart, mind and soul. Not just our soul. Not just physical and heart healing.

Our minds.

Our emotions.

He came to set the captives free.

Where are we most held captive?

In our minds.

How can we ever be ready to help people get free from the ugly hatred of the world if we stay focused on “what Jesus has done for me? Those trapped don’t care what He has done for me. They need Him to help them, and they need us to stand in the gap while He sets them free.

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

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

There Will Be Weeping And Gnashing Of Teeth

My stomach has been in knots lately. I avoid the “ugly” online, as much as possible. What I’ve recently seen– I can’t unsee it. I didn’t look for it, but I was still confronted by it.

It’s a reality that I can’t hide my understanding from any longer. And now I realize, I cannot pray effectively if I hide my head in the “positives” that make me feel safe and happy.

Some have had their safety and happiness stolen away from them.

Whether you follow the recent “conspiracies” or you just struggle through your day-to-day life, God is unchanging. He is unmoved from His position.

What is His position, you might ask?

Righteousness.

Justice.

Forgiveness.

Grace.

Mercy.

And– when necessary– Vengeance.

Why am I writing about this now?

Even those who don’t turn to God through the Salvation of Jesus recognize that– for some– there is a need for Justice, and even want Vengeance.

We Christians often talk about the Love of God and all those “feel good”, “warm fuzzy” things. It’s time we start recognizing there will, soon I believe, be a time God will execute His Vengeance.

I can’t even bring myself to say for those who deserve it. Because I know, if not for Jesus, we all would be in danger of it. It will be worse than the most awful thing anyone could contrive in their imagination.

“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 NASB

I’ve heard of and seen some things that should just never be.

When those people– and I believe He has them in His sights– refuse to turn to Him, convinced they don’t need Him– when Repentance, Grace and Mercy are rejected, what is left?

God sees all, knows all, is everywhere at once. Nothing, no thing, is hidden from Him. He knows our thoughts. He sees us when we wake up and when we go to sleep.

It’s important for those who Trust in Him to walk in forgiveness of others and trust Him for His timing and choice in the execution of His Vengeance.

His Wrath will be seen– soon. There is no rock to hide under, no cave that is deep enough, no place in space or the air that is out of His reach. The Creator of all the Universes is greater, more powerful than everything combined. He sees into those dark places most of us do not want to look at or acknowledge.

He knows.

I pray He grants Repentance to those who are in His sight for Vengeance.

The Wrath of God is a terrible thing! Those who may very well experience that, they have no idea what is coming. No person or group of people, or event can stop it or soften it’s blow.

Repent now, seek God while He May be found! The Lord is slow to anger, quick to listen to a sincerely reverent repentant heart. Will some of them repent?

His anger has been building up slowly for some time now.

They may not believe in Him, but their unbelief cannot protect them.

Only Jesus can protect them.

“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:31 NASB

We should be praying God gives those doing wicked in His sight, ears to hear and eyes to see what the Lord would say to them.

As much as I want to hate those who are purposefully involved in the ugliest of evil– I am afraid for them. Their arrogance and pride will melt away as nothing.

If only they would repent and be sincerely Saved. Not saved from their actions. Their souls rescued for Eternity, while they are held accountable to humanity.

I can say it is well with my soul. Yes, I feel a seething anger, and I know God’s judgement has to come. I can hate the actions and words of some, but I can never rejoice that the wrath of God will be like an angry lion ripping apart its prey. Hell was not made for people, and I hate that some will be tricked into it.

No one who is living has gone too far away from Salvation.

It Is Well

Wound’s Protector— The Scar

I’ve mentioned a few times that I have scars on my scalp from a “friendly” domesticated adolescent cougar “playing” with my head as his chew toy. I’m thinking about that today because they hurt. Kinda bad.

So that got me to thinking– if my physical scars hurt so badly at times, what about those deep emotional scars? Sure I’ve gone through all those rituals of forgiveness, repentance for my part in some things, and trust in God for healing. And He has healed me– so much! (I’ve even felt Him heal my esophagus as I praised Him through singing– what an amazing, warm, wonderful feeling that was!) I wouldn’t be married again if God had not done major surgery on my mind and my heart. We just celebrated 20 awe-inspiring years!

Those of us operating in the American mindset think we have everything all figured out. We put things in neatly labeled boxes, organized by category, decorated prettily with descriptions, definitions and diagnosis.

But what if we’re wrong?

What if we take a box out of the organized line-up, sort through it and realize it really isn’t the way we believed it to be?

What if emotional pain is not always as explained? What if it’s the manifestation of pain from emotional scarring?

The tough thing about emotional scars is no one can see them. Only the person who lived the experience can feel and remember.

Incidentally– that’s exactly the experience of Christianity. Only the person who has experienced Divine interactions can feel them and experience their reality. That does not invalidate that person or experience, just like it does not invalidate one who has emotional scars. The experiences did happen, they did have an impact on the person they happened to. Jesus did Save the Christian, His actions and the Holy Spirit interactions continuously impact the Believer, though it’s deeply personal.

Do emotions exist? Do memories represent past experiences? Does pain from emotional wounds and scars ever manifest in our reactions, responses, emotions and beliefs?

I think maybe the “professionals” are really just guessing– and maybe they have guessed wrong in some things.

Maybe we look at mental health the wrong way. I don’t think PHD’s have all the answers because I don’t think they have been asking the right questions– many times they are just masking the symptoms, not getting to the core and root of what they diagnose– not looking for a healing solution.

Only God has all the answers, only God knows all things, sees all things and understands the “why” of all things. He has promised in His Word that we can call all to Him and He will answer us– He’ll show us great things we don’t know. Do we believe that?

I think I do. Sometimes. When we step away from the bindings of what has been explained to us with human understanding, and seek Divine understanding, God will show us, Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to teach us, to comfort us, to empower us.

How much of that have we stepped out in faith to embrace?

We cling to our diagnosis, definitions and descriptions as though those have life for us. The One Who holds all knowledge is life. My desire is to cling to Him.

I fall short.

Do my emotional scars manifest sadness through their pain? Anger? A desire to be comforted? A lack of trust in others?

I honestly think maybe they do. Maybe that’s part of their intended function as God has designed them to protect where we once were wounded.

Hello Plank, How’d You Get In My Eye?

I have a view. An opinion. About everything. I have a view about that opinion I have of everything— I’m right. Of course I’m right! Can’t you see that? What do you mean you look at things differently? There’s only one way to see things– my way!

I think if we’re all honest, we’ve fit that description at least at some point in our lives. The one where we measure everything against our own perspective, and toss away everything that doesn’t line up.

When I’m sitting in a movie theater, and a tall person sits in front of me, I adjust so I can look around them to see the screen, or I change seats. When I’m driving somewhere and there is road construction, I find a way around it.

When I have an opinion about something, or a judgement– a plank– I look around the log in my eye instead of directly at it. I don’t recognize it as a log, or an obstacle in my view. I accept it as part of the reality I “see”. I make excuses for it being there– “That’s just the way I am…”

God is doing something in me. It feels kind of weird, I’m seeing people different than I ever have.

Tonight I met unfiltered guy. I saw the speck in his eye. Then God showed me the log in mine.

God’s Word clearly tells us to come to Him as we are. As we are. Not “clean yourself up, behave with societal ‘normal’ behavior– you know– fit in perfectly!” Nope.

Come as you are.

Broken.

Discouraged.

Bitter.

Judgmental.

Hurt.

Offended.

Offensive.

Homeless.

Rich.

Weak.

‘Perfect’.

Intelligent.

Ignorant.

Annoying.

Pleasant.

____________. (fill in the blank)

“Come as you are.”

“Those who are weary will find rest.”

“Those who are hungry will be fed.”

“You who are lost will be found.”

“The hurting will find comfort.”

Come.

As

you are…

If God extends that to everyone, shouldn’t we as well?

God can handle it. With God working through us, so can we.

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.

Don’t Forsake The Assembling Of ‘Ourselves’ Together

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Hebrews 10:25.

How many times I’ve heard that– especially when I’ve missed a service at some churches. I’ve lost count!

I’ve exhausted and frustrated myself trying to jump through those hoops that lead to acceptance.

What about when the assembly forsakes it’s own members?

Like me.

When my health started to betray me, and I was going through some honestly scary stuff– where was that assembly then?

Not rallied around me, listening, praying and cheering me on with encouragement.

No. It was silent.

Unless I asked for prayer. Then– it prayed, maybe laid hands on me too– and then it went back to whatever else was going on, and silence for me again.

And let me tell you– I have had need of encouragement!

When I was struggling as a kid and teen with things I couldn’t tell anyone about, I needed that assembly.

When I nearly died, a few times, that assembly has been nowhere around.

When it was up to me to forgive some deeply serious and scarring offenses so I could be free to move on with my life and follow God’s path for me, where was that assembly?

When my dad passed away, and I was numb because our relationship was so screwed up, I needed the assembly.

How thankful I am that I have that close relationship with my Redeemer. He has always given me exactly what I need, when I need it.

But– God made us to need others. The Church isn’t supposed to be like a game of jump-rope where you just jump in and hope you don’t mess up the rhythm or get hit or tripped-up by the ropes. There is supposed to be a mutual-ness to it. Not a sizing-up, or a dressing-down. It’s not one-size-fits-all, and yet it’s supposed to be all for people.

The safest place on earth.

That’s what Church is supposed to be.

I always thought it was like a hospital for the sick, a resting place for the weary, and a nurturing place for neglected outcasts. Welcoming and warm…

I’ve struggled my whole life with fitting in, or feeling like I fit in. We all have our family issues and personality quirks, along with unrealistic expectations.

But when, as a kid, I heard several congregations singing about being “The Family of God”, my mind formed certain expectations that I honestly haven’t felt are unrealistic.

I see others laughing, spending time together, helping one another out. I’ve watched from the outer courts on so many occasions, like the envious little girl watching the big kids skillfully turn the jump ropes while the confident kids jump in and sing rhymes timed with fancy footwork.

So when I heard the song about being family– well– I’ve been looking for the evidence of that.

I’ve wanted to find one where there is a healthy father- figure for me, one where the women are not competitive, judge-mental, or seem to actually ignore and look past me.

I am so tired of the Church acting like the world. Or worse.

I want to find that true Family of God.

One where the assembly does not forsake me.

One where God doesn’t speak to my spirit to tell me the Pastor is my enemy, not my friend.

This is what is on my heart and mind today.

When I Was A Young Lass

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I’m getting older. I can’t deny it. I can stop counting years when I celebrate my birthdays, but I can’t stop aging– as much as I’d like to freeze a few years at a time. And, to make things even trickier– my birthdays happen so much faster than they used to!

My birthday was a few months ago, but it’s really just hitting me now– crap! I’m a year older, again! My mind feels 20 and my body is somewhere in the waaaay-older-than-that range.

I’m at a stage where I tend to reflect back over my life, remembering what I was like when I was younger. I don’t wish I were there again, and I’m realizing I’m not even the same person I was.

For starters, I’m a mom now of kids ranging from age 7 to age 19, with my oldest being a much more beautiful and just as stubborn version of someone much like I was– but way better than I ever was.

If I were to wish for any part of who I was to be part of who I am now, it would be the endless energy I had! I’m tired now– all the time! I was designed by God to be a survivor, fighting my way through difficulties and challenges that I do not miss. I had so much energy, so much motivation to be the best version of me I could be.

I’m not the same person that I was in my younger years. Each experience and phase I’ve passed through has been evolving me in metamorphosis that happens so slowly, so deceptively simple yet intricately detailed, I can’t catch it with my eyes. Except in hindsight. Only through the rear-view of my life, rewinding the years and events through my memory.

I went through years of self-hatred, believing the things perfunctory and critical people, who’s opinions I valued as much as I value the air I breathe and the water I drink, said to me and about me. For many years I heard the words my dad said to me, and they guided me into relationships where I believed them so deeply, I allowed others to be abusive because I didn’t believe I deserved better than that. Then I would have a moment of waking up, realizing that things didn’t have to be that way at all. I didn’t have to let myself be bullied, harassed or abused.

I was evolving into an independent woman who was learning her self-worth came from my opinion of myself, and the opinions of others did not shape me or choose my path for me.

Ultimately my God’s opinion of me pulled me out of some very dark places mentally and physically– certainly spiritually. He views me far differently than any human, and not at all like my dad did.

So– as I reflect back over my youth, and covet the energy I used to have, I wouldn’t want to change the path I’ve been on. There are situations and circumstances– and people– I do wish I could have avoided. But they helped propel me in many cases in the direction I followed, which led me onto the path I now walk with Jesus.

Forward is now where I need to set my view, with Jesus being the window I look through. I believe our world is speeding up to the end, that Jesus will be returning, and I need to get myself ready.

Now, instead of looking back over my younger days, I will focus on the child-like faith Jesus told us we need to have. I don’t have to give up youth, it’s just evolved into a different form now.

Mark 10:13-16 (NLT)

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

Unavailable

Usually I make myself available for others to talk with, to help with their online businesses, to help their friends with their online businesses…

It’s rarely convenient for me. But I value people and sincerely want to help others succeed.

I’m seeing how little that is actually valued beyond the moment it happens, so I’m stopping that part of my friendship offering.

If I kept a journal of friends and family seeking me out first to talk with and spend time with because they genuinely enjoy my company, because they take an interest in what I am interested in– it would be full of blank pages.

I have become that person that is an afterthought to everyone. I’m the convenient one to ask to buy things, or help get someone through some sort of a bind– as long as I don’t ask for the same in return.

I’m the person who has no value outside of political opinions. And if mine don’t match yours– I am valueless.

I’m the mom expected to help in the nursery or with the kids at church often, to pay my “dues” since I have kids– and if I don’t, I’m the mom everyone gets upset with.

I have been a giving person because I want to be. I can’t remember the last time I was given to. I rarely ask for advice or help– especially when I need it, because I already know I will be hard-pressed to find it.

I often say yes just because I know too well how it feels to be told no.

Well…

Now it’s going to be no.

No more helping online parties. No more sacrificing sleep to listen and be there for someone across the world. No more taking up someone else’s interests just to spend time with them.

I am right now feeling exactly how empty giving of myself has made me.

I am now unavailable. I doubt it will be noticed or that I will be missed.

Someday God will also be unavailable. Seek Him while He May be found– because instead you may find Him unavailable and at that point it will be too late.

3 fingers pointing back at myself at that reminder.

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.

I’m A Mom

Maybe you can relate–

Do you know who I have to talk to on a daily basis? My kids— one who can on occasion be opinionated while challenging everything I say– makes me feel like I’m the stupidest person on earth because I never know what I am talking about. I have my husband, but he gets busy or involved with his own stuff and doesn’t always even hear me. He tries, but he can’t stop doing his own stuff just because I want someone to talk with and do things with.

Some days it would be nice if I had a friend who didn’t stop talking to me when I start talking about me. Who’s there for *me*, not just me for them. I don’t need problem-solving or advice, I don’t need to be ignored until it’s convenient to talk because something is needed. I need a consistent friend that does not expect me to always initiate or to give until it hurts while agreeing with everything they believe politically/religiously and then wait until they get around to getting back to me after they just drop off texting. Or gets offended and doesn’t value me enough to work things out.

I am far more isolated than most realize or care to know, I guess. But— pay no mind to my irritated rant— I’ll go back into my corner and look at the news–

That’s what I feel like saying sometimes.

I don’t know if this is common, or just me. It’s pretty much always been my life. I think if someone else stepped into my shoes, they would get back out really fast.

My life itself is really good. But that friend issue– it’s a lonely place.

Thankfully when I start to feel sorry for myself, God reminds me that He always provides what I need. I always have just who I need in my life when I need them. Then they move on or get busy with their own lives, or just step back because they don’t much care for me. I’m used to that– life goes on.

I’d be surprised if anyone really does relate.

It would be a nice surprise, though.

The Ego and the Communicator

Have you ever been in situations where people glean off of your success, and get embarrassed by your failures?

Have there been people who change their treatment of you based on your performance or appearance?

Are there those in your life who have attached their ego to their expectation of you, and then communication becomes this one-way street where even if it’s physically impossible you are expected to elevate them? And if you fail– if you try to signal or explain why you are unable to– the transmission of pertinent information is incomplete or ignored?

Most people are allowed– even forgiven– for their mistakes. Most first-world people are afforded the the right to individual successes and respected with reciprocal dialogue.

I bear the scars of being crushed by expectations and egos of others. I’m not sure why that has been the case for me.

I’ve recognized how I’m treated differently when I fall short of getting them some glory versus when I hit that mark head-on.

People exhaust and overwhelm me. I’ve been trying to figure out why that is, and I believe God is opening my eyes to help me break free from unvocalized and unadmitted rejections I’ve experience far too often.

God’s glory is not attached to my perfection when the world’s spotlight singles me out. He’s not embarrassed when I fail, nor is He prideful when I succeed. He is always consistently the same with me, my relationship with Him isn’t affected by me except where I allow it to be. He never moves away or towards me because I perform perfectly or I miss it by any length.

My whole life I’ve born this crushing weight that I have to say things just right, I have to play every note perfectly, I have to openly be supportive, embracing and encouraging of specific people, while being given little– sometimes nothing at all– in return.

While I am hard on myself, I often take cues from the responses and reactions of others to me after I fall short of where they expect me to land. My mistakes and successes somehow get tangled in with the egos, even pride, of others.

I believe God used my very public mistakes yesterday to open my eyes to this so I can begin to walk in freedom from crushing expectations.

I hope He also helps others to start giving me what I need in every situation. I do see a turning point, I just hope I can use that to shed this chain and fetter people have used to attached me to their pride-success balance.

Maybe then people will no longer exhaust and overwhelm me.

Foolhardy Judgement

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How many times do we hear something and jump to a conclusive opinion without actually looking into things for ourselves?

Examples I see everyday are critics of Christianity, political opponents, public school supporters against home educators, race criticizing race, Christian critics of anything secular… I’m sure you can think of many I haven’t listed here, there is an endless supply of judgement that is both uncalled for and unnecessary. But we sure do value our opinions!

I once, many years ago before the internet saturated me with knowledge, said I thought the POW/MIA flag was some sort of American Indian symbol. Of course my husband– then friend– sarcastically corrected me. Yeah– I was that ignorant! He had to tell me that it actually means Prisoner of War/Missing in Action. I was deeply ashamed, but I had never even seen that flag before.

I used to judge table top games, such as Dungeons and Dragons as demonic and evil because Jack Chick made a tract about it that seemed like facts. But, the facts are– it’s nothing more than socially creative story making and acting out the different characters. Sure there are millions of directions it can go– just like any fiction novel. But, I don’t think he wrote a tract about The Lord of the Rings. D&D is so much like that, and Christians miss out because they refuse to investigate what it really is. https://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0046/0046_01.asp If a person is swayed to leave Christianity because of a game, there are far deeper issues involved. More than likely they never actually gave their lives over to Christ.

Being confronted with my having badly judged a book by its cover woke me up to how easily I can fall into that trap of not looking into things before forming an opinion– judging what I actually know nothing more than the appearance I see.

It shocks me every time I hear people who have never enlisted in the military talk about the military being soldiers at war, killing innocent children with no accountability. That’s actually the opposite of what I’ve known for more than 20 years in military life. I’m sure it would surprise many critics to know military life is like everyday life, but super structured and strict. There is far more accountability in the US military than in any organization– especially of size and scope– in the world throughout history. Certainly far more than in our current government! But, don’t take my word for it, find out for yourself. Do some research, interview military members, Veterans, contractors– even enlist for yourself!

Critics of our military sometimes falsely accuse it as blindly going along with whatever is commanded. Obviously they don’t realize each member has the responsibility to not obey a constitutionally unlawful order. The military is beholden to no person, no political party, no cause. There are core values instilled within each member. Core values unique to Americans and our 1st world allies.

While there is purposeful misinformation out there trying to sway people to specific sides of various issues or keep people from knowing what’s actually going on, there is no excuse for not researching the facts. The easy way is to not challenge sound bites and points of agenda for what we want/hope to be the truth. The responsible way is to dig deeper and find the truth.

For the past 10-12 years I’ve noticed how historical facts are being changed to paint a different picture than actual reality. I’ve seen things disappear off of the internet, I’ve caught the main news sources passing on false information, lying, and even staging events to mislead people watching to trick them into a political point of view or support some cause.

In this day and age of purposeful deception, it’s imperative that we take on some form of an investigative role. No one likes to be fooled, and no one likes to find out they are reacting in a foolhardy way.

From The Darkness Of Despair To Hope: The Future’s Light

I have darkness in my past. In my 20/20 hindsight view, there are things I’ve said and done, parts of who I used to be that I deeply, deeply regret. I was young and foolish, brought up in a culture that never mentioned accountability or conscience, my immaturity and lack of common sense mixed with my world-view of life was self-destructive.

When I look back at the heart of who I used to be I cringe with disdain and distaste– and then I look away, ashamed of the hatred and jealousy that polluted my younger self. I don’t want to see it, except now I can use it to measure how far I’ve traveled from what used to be my expectations and experiences.

Living in the moment, desperately trying to “find myself” and figure out how I “fit” into the world’s big picture, I made so many bad decisions.

I used to blame the bad things that happened to me– some, the things of nightmares and semi-horror stories, some, happenstance of being wrong place-wrong time– for my negative situations, many I had zero control over.

The one constant I had that never faltered was God.

I remember standing at my window as a small child, around 8 years old, crying, watching the kids outside who seemed to have no cares in the world. I remember the feeling of hopelessness drowning my thoughts. I didn’t fit in, I sincerely believed that no one liked me, that I was such a horrible person that my own family hated me.

And then I saw a rainbow.

Suddenly my thoughts and emotions were flooded by 3 words I heard and felt at the same time, from deep within my being- “I love you.”

The darkness that engulfed me that day was pushed out by the bright, warm light of hope– things would get better.

I’ve always believed that was God. Now when I see a rainbow, I know beyond the shadow of any doubt God is reminding me that He loves me– and He keeps His promises.

Fast forward to today, looking into the review mirror of hindsight– God has indeed kept His promises to me. He turned my darkness into light, my mourning into joy, my fear of the unknown into hope for my future.

I remember as a kid trying to imagine what my future would be like. The thing is, I couldn’t have guessed because I hadn’t experienced or seen anything like it. I had dreams of happiness, but I had no picture of what that was except it was full of this warm light. I was afraid to bring children into a world I had been shown pain and abuse from. I lacked faith that my choices could create a different type of future for my offspring. If others walked through what I barely managed to survive, they could understand the lack of hope I was surrounded by, that tried to overtake my inner confidence and boldness to push through to find the good that others seemed to have.

Had I not pushed through that invisible force that was so heavy and thick that tried to hold me down, I never would have left the life I was born into physically, and stepped into the life Hope embraced. I never would have stepped out of the grappling hooks the enemy of my life, of my soul, attempted to try to imprison me with.

God designed me carefully, He put in me what I have needed not only to survive, but to want to survive. Many living in my circumstances and experiences might have given up, and I don’t say that lightly or with no understanding. I was tempted to give up, to let go of that brilliant shard of hope my spirit desperately clung to.

I understand darkness in a way I don’t think many who know me realize.

Thankfully, I also now understand the light of hope even more fully than I remember the darkness that embraced me with its death-grip.

I am undeserving of God’s grace and mercy, but I am so very, very thankful He wrapped me up in it, healing my heart and my mind. An inner strength pushed with a force far beyond my own strength, to get out of the stronghold of that darkness.

I’ve often seen myself as a 50 yard-dasher type– a short-distance runner. I start out strong, and if the distance is short, I finish strong. But, with longer distances I find myself being tempted to stop short. In this rearview-mirrored view, I can see that God has carried me those distances I didn’t have the strength on my own to go, and the view lighted by the hope He planted deep inside of me, has made it far more beautiful than anything my childhood imagination could have dreamed.

I’m maybe halfway, maybe more, through God’s planned distance for my life. I’m greatly anticipating the view through the remainder of hope’s light for my future.

The Oppression of Skepticism

I was right.

God has spoken to my spirit a few times about things over the past 25 years, and I continue to find out that I heard Him correctly. Yet– when I try to step out in faith of what I know my Lord and Savior has shared with me, has led me to pray about, or has warned me about, it amazes me how my brothers and sisters in Christ— some near to my own heart– shut me down. They don’t trust me or believe that God would choose to be active in our– in my— relationship with Him.

They don’t want to hear from God– through me.

Well, I’m not letting people hold me back or push me down any longer.

They can live with their skepticism, I choose to step out in the faith of my amazing, loving, kind God Who leads me in all wisdom, Who increases my understanding, Who gives and increases my discernment.

I blame me for trusting in or relying on the opinions of those around me– for allowing myself to be gauged by people I have believed would listen to God’s Spirit for confirmation rather than skepticize– and I repent from that. Their lack of faith in God’s Spirit for confirmation and trust in my ability to discern my Shepherd’s voice is deeply hurtful.

Deeply.

I’m trusting God to guide my steps forward with new confidence because–

I was right.