Time is Short

Yesterday morning, I received news via text that shook me up far more than I would have expected. To use the modern lingo, I was shook. And I was shook most of the day. A dear friend texted to let me know that a mutual friend (and former coworker) lost his wife in a car accident the night before. My heart was crushed for my friend. And this would be a great way to start a blog about how we are the body and when one body part hurts, we all feel it. But, that’s not where we are going today.

The friend who texted me told me that the accident had been on the news. So, I started Googling. (Those who don’t know me may not know that I am the Google queen!) Eventually, I found the accident, but I found many more on I-40 that ended fatally. My heart grew sad for all the people who said goodbye for the last time to their loved ones, not knowing it would be the last time.

James says, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’” (James 4:13-15 NASB). Vapor. Other versions of the Bible use words like mist, smoke and morning fog. They all speak to something that is gone quickly. In other words, life is short. And we don’t know how short.

Here would be a good spot for me to take off on the “do it now” tangent.  Say the words, do the things, love hard, forgive easily, break free from bondage, live life to the fullest. But, we’re not going there either.

What really struck me as I pondered the shortness of time is this: did all those people know the Lord? Did they have people pointing them to Him? Were they welcomed into Heaven and Jesus’s presence or did they go from one torment to another?

And I can’t ask those questions without asking the biggest one – what am I doing to point more people to Jesus? A friend of mine likes to say, “What are you doing with your life?” In the 90’s, the phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” became popular. Today, it fits. What would He do? Well, let’s look at what He did while He walked the earth.

Jesus healed the sick. He cried with the brokenhearted. He raised the dead. He fed the hungry. He told people how to get to Heaven. And He always, always pointed everyone to The Father and assured everyone that His power wasn’t His own, it came from God Himself.

We may not be Jesus, but we can do those things. We may never get the opportunity to raise anyone from a physical death, but we have the answer to their spiritual death. And we can share it. We can love, show compassion and mercy, feed the hungry. And when we do those things in Jesus’ name, people will see Him.

I don’t know about you, but the thought that a soul may miss Heaven because they didn’t see Jesus in me breaks my heart. I pray that I’m always walking so close to Jesus that they see Him instead of me. 

Be blessed and tell someone you love them. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Year of the Pit

***Trigger Warning***

The subject of depression is tough for some to read. I am going to share details that very few know. It will be real and raw. But, of course, my pit story ends with the beauty of God’s grace and healing.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255

***Read with caution.***

Today is the last day of suicide prevention week. As such, all sorts of people have decided to weigh in on the matter. Facebook has been full of posts encouraging people to seek help, telling them that they matter, and reminding everyone else that they are their brothers’ keepers. But. There are those few who choose to frame it differently. One such post is what has prompted this writing.

As I was happily numbing my brain on Facebook’s nonsense and foolishness last night, I ran across a post that started with, “Please read if you are struggling with depression…The question will a person go to heaven or will they go to hell if they take there (sic) own life? Please read all of this before some people get upset with me…” Now, normally I cruise on by such stuff without a thought. This person and I have almost nothing in common as far as beliefs go, despite the fact that we belong to the same church denomination. I often shake my head at her stuff and roll on. But. BUT. What she said later was so damaging, so damning, I couldn’t let it go. Essentially, after some poorly quoted scripture (that was taken completely out of context), she arrived at the conclusion that a person struggling needs to just rely on God and if they commit suicide they will go to hell.

I’ve struggled with mental illness most of my life. As a child, I couldn’t pinpoint it, explain it, or even recognize that it was different because that was my normal. As a teen, when my life completely blew up (that’s another blog post for another day), I spiraled. Depression and anxiety earmarked my existence. I was seen as difficult and spoiled. No one recognized what I was going through as a real issue, so there was no help. My first real memory of wanting to die was when I was 17 and driving. I thought about how easy it would be to simply fail to navigate a curve. I was young. People would chalk it up to teen driving, mourn and move on. God had a different plan, planted people in my life to offer just enough hope and I made it through.

Fast forward to the pit.

The year was 2009. I was 28, about to turn 29. I had a husband, two children, a church I loved, a relationship with the Lord. I’m not sure exactly what happened. In January, I started slipping. I fell quickly. Before I knew it, my sadness was an overwhelming dark cloud I couldn’t escape. At first, my friends were all very encouraging. They reminded me that God loved me, that I could pull through, that I could just pray and praise enough that I could move that cloud right out of the way.

It got darker.

Soon, I just wanted to die. My friends starting distancing themselves. They couldn’t handle me. They didn’t know what to do with me. They were convinced I just wasn’t praying enough. Or that there was some hidden sin I hadn’t confessed. Or if I would just read my Bible a little more I could walk away from the depression.

What they didn’t know is that the depression was paralyzing. I prayed constantly because I didn’t know what else to do. Sometimes my prayers were as simple as “Help me Jesus!” I read my Bible, looking for help. I played praise music. I listened to sermons online. I was at the altar every Sunday at church – for awhile, anyway – until people got tired of seeing me there.

For nine solid months, I wanted to die. There were days I could see myself hanging in my closet. I was terrified. I yelled at the devil. I begged Keith not to leave me alone. I wouldn’t let him tell anyone because I was afraid they would take my children.

And there it is. The reason for my post. The stigma. I desperately needed help. My husband needed help. He didn’t know what to do with me. He went to work many days not knowing what would happen while he was gone. My children needed help. Their mommy was crazy. They never knew if I would spend my day crying or yelling or if it would be an okay day.

Yet, the very people who had promised to love me through anything walked away. The ones who are supposed to love with God’s love were the most judgmental. They refused to view my depression as what it truly was – mental illness.

So of course I’ve done a little research. According to health.harvard.edu, depression is much more than a simple “chemical imbalance” in our brain. Despite our conviction that emotions and moods are housed in the heart, they reside in the brain, along with thoughts and involuntary things like breathing and heartbeat and so much more. The website says, “there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. It’s believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression.” There are many chemicals involved. Millions. Or maybe billions. They’re simply not sure. Just like the other organs in our bodies, the brain is a magnificent, beautiful, intricate organ that can break.

When a person has a faulty heart, the church doesn’t tell them they’re not praying enough – they are encouraged to do what it takes to ward off a heart attack. Those things may include watching what they eat, stopping smoking, reducing stress, increasing exercise, and taking medication. Diabetics have broken organs. The pancreas doesn’t produce the right amount of insulin. If they go into diabetic shock, we don’t shout scripture at them, we get them the proper medical help.

Depression is an illness. Can it be spiritual? Sure! But so can any other physical ailment. But, we encourage a person to do what it takes to stay alive until the Lord reveals what He needs to reveal in every other instance. People with mental illness deserve the same amount of love from us.

After nine months of absolute hell, I was finally delivered from my pit. It was God’s grace and nothing short of a miracle that I lived. God had met me in that dark, nasty place in a way that I had never met Him. I learned that He was truly the only One that mattered. And that it didn’t matter that I was coming out to no friends, I was coming out to Him. The rest would take care of itself. Like all deep wounds, it took time for that one to completely heal, but I was a different person. Like a butterfly, I had undergone a complete metamorphosis, from the inside out.

So let’s get back to the original question. Will suicide send you to hell? The truth is, I just don’t know for sure. I really don’t think so. I don’t have a “just sayeth the Lord.” But, I have a good idea of what I believe to be true. God is love. He sent His son to die on a cross for us out of that everlasting love. Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The hardest battle I ever fought was the battle for my own life. I fought it every single day for nine months. If I had lost the battle, I believe the promise is that God would have gathered me in His arms and comforted His weary daughter. I certainly hope so. Because in all that time, I never gave up faith that He would help me. I never quit loving Him. I never quit serving Him.

I went through that time without medication, foolishly. Now I take a tiny pill at night that helps regulate my moods and thoughts. Yes, I still struggle at times. There are many reasons which simply don’t matter. The point is that when we remove the stigma, we can help people. We can love people. You can’t love and judge at the same time.

Church, it’s time for us to wake up! Is this a spiritual problem? Yes, at least partially. Are we going to help people by telling them they are going to hell if they kill themselves? NO! I can’t say it hard enough! Are we loving the families of those who kill themselves by making such statements? No. We’re not. So, it’s completely okay if I haven’t changed your mind. But, I hope I’ve helped you see the hurtfulness of the statements. If you know someone struggling, love them. Hug them. Send them a card or a text. Call them. Make them food. Get them help. Tell them it’s going to be okay. Know this number: National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. This epidemic is real and we need to be ready to show the love we say we have.

If you’re struggling, I’m sorry. I understand. It’s going to be okay. I know how bad it hurts. Get help. Get help. Get help. I can’t say it enough. If your support system isn’t supportive, get a new one. Jesus loves you. I love you.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255

Be blessed and tell someone you love them.

Rom_8-38-39_Chalk_Web_2000x

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Pool Chronicles

When we moved our kids from Charlotte to the sticks, one of the things that made them the saddest was the fact that we were leaving our pool behind. So when we found our new home up here and it had a pool in the backyard, we were all ecstatic. Sadly, we could never keep the pool clear. I was beginning to think I had lost my touch at balancing chemicals.

Last year, I was battling health issues. I really didn’t feel like dealing with the pool. Add to that the fact that we had a broken piece on the pump and no extra money, and it quickly led to the decision to just ignore the pool.

Fast forward to this year. We had finally sold our Charlotte house (Praise God!) and were using the money to do some things around the house. Yes, one of my priorities was the pool! After a couple years of neglect and not being covered, we had developed a beautiful swamp and frog habitat. 🤢🐸

To begin working on the pool, first we had to drain the swamp (no politics involved). We drained as much water as we could and then were left with about a foot of murky, marshy water that was full of leaves and golf balls (thanks Jake), and frogs. Most of that had to be bailed out with buckets. (I bailed out on that project!) Finally, the liner was cut away so we could see the bare bones of the pool.

Yuck. The water that had seeped out had to be removed. We were ready to put the liner in! But the day had gotten away from us, so the man we had hired said he would come back the next day to finish. Of course, that night, it rained. And poured. The next morning, we went out to find standing water in our dirt pool. So once again, it had to be dried out. And then the liner went in! Yay! So close to swimming!

But. As the water started filling, part of the liner came down.

So most of the water in the pool had to be bailed out so the liner could be put back into place. Up to this point, Keith had been available to help the pool man. But now, he was stuck with his fiance and me as helpers. Poor pool man! Finally, he got it replaced and we were in business! Except we had discovered that the reason I could never keep the pool clear is that we had a leak in our pump. Uh oh. But fortunately we had rescued the pump from the pool at the old house (thanks Mom!) And it is working perfectly! The pool area is still a work in progress. The deck has boards that need to be replaced. The pool rails need to be cleaned. I did get our good steps put in, but they’re not perfectly balanced. However, we have the rest of the pool season to work these things out.

And I have a beautiful pool to swim in, work around, exercise in. I am thankful!

As we went through the process of the pool remodel, I’ve also been going through a couple other projects. I’m redoing my floors inside (which is a much slower process!). We had to replace a wall, due to black mold. (Yuck!) We ended up needing a new refrigerator. And we tore one wall down completely. The first week or so, it drove me crazy that we weren’t able to finish it immediately, but I’ve settled myself into the idea that it will get done in time.

I’ve had yet one more project going. This one is much more personal. That project is me. I watched myself on video a couple months ago, ministering to a group of ladies, and all I could see was how I had let myself go. I have reasons. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, medications, genetics. But those reasons had become excuses and I had packed 40 pounds on my short, already overweight frame in the last couple of years. As I watched the video, I wondered if everyone else was as distracted by my appearance. I decided then and there that it was time to do something. I started praying and researching. I settled on a plan that looked like it would work for me. And it has. With God’s help, I am well on my way to a healthier me. Not that the journey has been all that much smoother than with of my other projects! Some weeks, it’s been one step forward, two steps back. But the key is to keep moving forward.

And that leads me to the point of the blog. As I’ve been on these journeys, and they’ve all ended up being far more complicated than they should have been, God has been speaking to my heart about the spiritual parallels.

There have been times in my life that I’ve thought, oh! Now I understand God! Only to find out that He’s just revealed another piece of Himself to me. As I’ve matured in Him, I’ve come to realize that He grows us as we go.

Look at David. David was annointed as king long before he was ready for the crown. God had lessons for him to learn. Then, once David was crowned king, he had it all together, right? Wrong. He still made mistakes. Big ones! Yet, he always went back to God. In fact, God called David “a man after His own heart.”

In the book of Job, we read about a man who refused to curse God, no matter the fact that he had lost everything. So Job had it all together, right? Well, not quite. He did get very frustrated and very sassy with God. Then God had to remind him Who was really in charge. Job turned his attitude around and, in the end, was a blessed man once again.

Then, there’s Peter. Peter was a disciple of Jesus. He walked with Jesus daily, loved Jesus, walked on water with Jesus (briefly), confessed He was the son of God. He saw things most people didn’t get to see. He even defended Jesus against the guards who came to arrest Him! Surely, Peter never faltered, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Three times Peter denied even knowing Jesus after His arrest. But in His love and mercy and goodness, Jesus forgave Peter and gave Him the opportunity to grow from it. Three times, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Three times Peter responded Yes. Three times Jesus told Peter to tend His lambs. Peter readily agreed and went on to be a leader in the early church.

Life is full of transition. It’s seasonal. What is today may or may not be tomorrow. The only way we can handle these ups and downs of life is with Jesus. You may have noticed in my pool chronicle, that we hired a pool man. He’s an expert in his field. Because of that, we were done in several days. With the house project we’re doing it ourselves. And it’s not done. Seeing a parallel? There’s only One expert on life. That would be the One Who gave you life.

So. Where are you today? Have you given up? Return to God. Are you trying to go it alone? Return to God. Are you feeling stagnant? Draw closer to God. Are you serving and loving God to the best of your ability but feel a but stuck and confused? Just keep loving and serving Him. Here are some scriptures to help you out. Oh, and those stories listed above? The Leigh version is pretty accurate, but I really recommend you go read them yourself!

Be blessed and tell someone you love them.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

And rend your heart and not your garments ” Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil. Joel 2:13

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. Proberbs 3:5-6

I the Lord do not change. Malachi 3:6

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Swimming with Daddy

Good morning! I’m sitting on the balcony this morning, watching the water. Amy and I are in Florida this week. We love Treasure Island – the water is clear and calm, the sand is white, and the condo is almost on top of the beach. I’m pretty my place in heaven is going to be similar! 😁 However, when a storm comes the water is neither calm or clear. Yes, that would be a blog all it’s own, but that’s not where we’re going this morning.

I managed to drag my chair, body, Bible, and coffee out about 8:30. Normally by then, folks are already staking out their place on the beach. Today, however, there were only a few stragglers on the beach. The storm was bad enough last night to wake me up (Believe me, that’s bad!), so the water this morning is rough and angry. The wind is still blowing. For the most part, the only souls brave enough to go out were the ones hoping to pick up treasures washed in by the churning waves.

Except one cute little family. Now, I saw this family at the pool yesterday, so I already had a first impression. I’m a people watcher by nature and tend to notice things others might miss. They are your basic family of four – mom, dad, girl, boy. My best guess is that the girl and boy were about 4 and 2.

As I watched the little girl laughing and playing in the pool, I immediately noticed I could only see about 2 square inches of her skin above her legs. Everything else was covered by various protective equipment or covering! She had an ear band on. (If you’re not familiar, it’s this fabulous thing they’ve come up with to keep water out of a kid’s ears! Where was this when I was constantly fighting swimmer’s ear as a kid?) I then noticed the telltale wires and attachments of cochlear implant. She also had goggles, sunblock, super-duper can’t sink swimwear, and a fearlessness that made me smile.

The parents were attentive, loving, interactive. Both kids were well cared for and protected. I enjoyed watched them. Yes. I know sound like a voyeur. Oops. At any rate, they weren’t the kind of family that made me cringe when they showed up at they pool!

Back to the beach this morning. I noticed the dad had the little girl in the water. He had her securely in his arms. They were jumping, splashing, playing and the little girl knew she was safe in daddy’s arms. I imagined I could hear her giggling as they jumped the waves. Occasionally they would stop and pose for mom, who was on shore, taking pictures and tending baby brother.

God started speaking to my heart about His Daddy’s heart towards us. He reminded us that He often takes us to unfamiliar territory, but we are always secure in Him. Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my ritghteous right hand.” As I watched that daddy hold his little girl, I could feel my Heavenly Father’s right arm holding me just as securely.

As I basked in that glorious thought, the dad suddenly let go of the little girl and start swimming towards shore! My mama’s heart froze. I was on the balcony of the sixth floor, but was still ready to jump into action. Before my heart stopped completely, I realized the little girl had followed suit. She was swimming furiously towards the shore. After about 5 strokes, the dad stopped, turned around, and scooped his baby girl up. He told her what a great job she did. I realized then what was going on. He was teaching her how to swim in the ocean!

I remember those days. I had a dad who was convinced his girls needed to be as self sufficient as possible. Ocean swimming was definitely on the list of lessons. As a result, we are all strong swimmers. And strong women. I guess his lessons stuck. But back to the story…

As the dad and little girl practiced their swimming, he was never more than two steps from her. She was never out of the range of safety. His protective watch and long reach were right there.

Oh my. Are you with me? Do you see? God often carries us into places we can’t survive alone. If we’re not careful, we can quickly lose sight of Him and forget His promises. Like this one, ” Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, He will never leave or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 3:16)

The little girl was able to relax and enjoy her swim because she trusted her daddy. Do you trust your Daddy? If not, why? When has He failed you? Hebrews 11:6 says “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Have you ever thought about that? Why? Why can we not please God without faith? Have you ever taken a kid swimming who didn’t trust you to not let them drown? It’s miserable! I think it must be close to that! But seriously, why ask Him for something if you don’t trust Him to provide? Is He truly the Lord of your life or a convenience store where you ask for what you want, when you want?

Finally the dad and daughter were done swimming. They came ashore to high fives from Mom. The little girl had a huge smile on her face. She already trusted her daddy, but now her faith in him was a bit stronger.

And so it is with us and our Heavenly Father. The more we trust Him, the more we see that we can trust Him. At first, He may just carry us into deep water. Then, before you know it, you’ll be swimming in waters you once couldn’t even imagine. He is so good! His ways are so much higher than ours. And you may never know why He takes you swimming in water over your head. But nothing in His kingdom is wasted. Trust Him. He hasn’t dropped you yet.

Be blessed and tell someone you love them.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Victim or Victor?

A few weeks ago, I ran across the opportunity to purchase a devotional journal with matching shirt. 100 Days of Less Hustle, More Jesus. I was in the midst of several different things and felt like the waves of the storm just wouldn’t stop. I immediately ordered a set and eagerly waited to start. The sweet friend offering the set was also planning a Facebook group to coincide with the devotional to give us all a place for support and feedback and more Jesus time. Ironically, the start date she had set was the first day of my friend trip with Amy. How perfect!

Days one and two went perfectly well. No problem. Day one was all about God Himself being our peace. I’m down with that! Day two was about surrendering the things we’ve been holding onto, those things that we decide to handle ourselves. Okay. That was a little harder, but after a good talk with Jesus, I was ready! Then came day 3.

It seemed innocent enough. Be authentic. I’m authentic aren’t I? I mean, don’t I tell you guys when God is dealing with me? But here was the rub. There was someone who God had been prompting to speak to me to walk in victory. And for some reason, I was having trouble making those things line up in my life. I read the page over and over several times, then shut the book, unable to do the journaling that is a vital part of the study. Finally, screwing up my courage, I messaged my tormenter…er…friend who kept posting stuff on Facebook about the victorious walk. Thankfully she’s a patient listener. As I poured out my heart, the truth I didn’t even realize came gushing out. My internal battle came from a statement made from someone who chose to walk out of my life. She implied I was a victim. I have spit and sputtered about it ever since. But since I couldn’t shake it, I was concerned there may be some truth there. My friend was loving enough to speak truth to my heart.

First of all, she did the most important thing a friend can ever do for us – she pointed me back to Jesus. She told me to get in the Word and pray. I told her I was. Then she pointed out something I had never seen about myself.

Now. Here’s the authentic part. I’m not thrilled to share this. But, I’ve promised to be real here, so here goes. That person who called me a victim was right. Ouch. Not all the time, mind you. Throw a health issue at us? Bam! Strong warrior woman of God! Picking on my kids? Warrior mama! Need someone to pray with or for you? Let me grab my armor! Reject me? Oh, poor me! Why is this happening? Why????

Splat. Victim.

I could write you a book about why that gets me. I could write you another one on why satan chooses to use that on folks who have rejection issues. But, you know what? I really don’t think that’s going to change my victim status at all! I don’t want to be a victim! I want to walk in victory and let God have all the glory!

So. I did exactly what the friend said to do. I read the chapters of the verses that were offered in the devotional. Then, He woke me up at 4am and invited me to some precious time with Him. I would love to tell you that I was a gracious receipient of that gift, but I actually asked could we not do it over coffee at 9am. He said no. So we had coffee on the beach at 5:30am and I’m glad He’s bossy and got His way!

I once had a dear friend who always said that the natural parallels the spiritual. To highlight that, I walked out to a stunning moon on the water being overtaken by storm clouds. As the sun came up and moved over the beach, the storm just seemed to disappear. And yes, that’s how it felt for me. When I allowed God to shine His light in my storm, it has seemed to just disappear.

Now, let’s talk about victory vs victim. The definition of victory is “an act of defeating an enemy or opponent in a battle, game, or other competition.” It comes from the root word “vincere” which is a Latin word that means “to conquer.” Victim is a word of uncertain origin that filtered through Latin. The Latin root meant “person or animal killed as sacrifice to a deity.” Oh my! Do you see what I see?! Oh that’s powerful! But let’s not get caught up in that.

John 16 has Jesus instructing His disciples about the Holy Spirit. The verse we were supposed to be looking at was 13, which we will definitely cover, but 12 really captured my attention. “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” See, I was really struggling last night with the fact that I’ve walked this walk so long, but am just now realizing I have this huge issue! God made me realize two things. One, I was being a bit of a snob. I know I’m not perfect, why was I trying to act like I was? Two, even the disciples weren’t ready to hear some things from Jesus Himself. Our Heavenly Father’s timing is always perfect. Maybe I just couldn’t handle that truth before now. I don’t know. But I’m thankful for His correction! Verse 13 goes on to say, “But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will only speak what He hears, as He will tell you what is yet to come.” See. I was ready and the Holy Spirit was dealing with me.

Next, we were to read Ephesians 4:25. But, in good faith, I was reading the whole chapter, as I had been urged. Verse 15 hit me right between the eyeballs! “But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” Ouch Jesus! Did you just tell me to grow up?

“Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by it’s deceitful desires.” My desire, I think, was sympathy. When the going got hard and I felt personally attacked, I rolled into a ball and fell apart. Not very victorious. “To be made new in the attitude of your minds. (!!!!! Emphasis mine!) And to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Put off falsehood and speak truthfully with your neighbor. In your anger, do not sin.” (Vs. 23-26) I have to pause here. I was very angry about a situation at work. To be honest, I had the right to be angry. But my attitude wasn’t godly at all. Again, I was assuming that victim status.

Now, check this out… “And do not give the devil a foothold.” That’s how the NIV puts it. The NASB says “opportunity.” Both words are accurate and paint a pretty good picture. How often do we grumble to everyone else rather than putting on our armor and letting God handle a situation? When we do that, we’re opening the door to that old deceiver.

“”Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29) Oh. Ouch. I’m so sorry Lord. Please forgive me! “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (V. 31-32 NIV). Y’all. I was expecting from everyone else what I wasn’t willing to extend. Oh my. I’m so sorry.

So our next verse was 2 Corinthians 12:9. But. God had other plans and I accidentally landed in 2 Corinthians 1. So let’s go there first! “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (V. 3-4 NIV). If we don’t allow Him to take our troubles and help us, how on Earth can we lead others to the cross for that help? If I’m a victim, I can’t teach you to walk in victory. In fact, if I’m looking like a victim, the Christ walk isn’t going to look appealing at all! It will look no different from a worldly walk.

So let’s go back to the verse we were supposed to be looking at. 2 Corinthians 12:9. Paul had seen a lot. God himself had picked him out, converted him, shown him wonders and miracles. Paul knew he had the propensity for conceit. He said to keep him from it, God gave him a thorn in his side, a messenger of Satan. Now, I’ve read all different opinions of that thorn. Some say it was a physical affliction. Others say it was an evil person. I say if God wants me to know specifically, He’ll tell me. In the meantime, I’d say our thorns can be just about anything the devil throws at us to derail our walk. Paul goes on to say that he asked God three times to remove the thorn and God’s response was, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is perfected in weakness.”

God’s grace. It’s all we ever need, right? Yet, I had avoided reaching out for the one thing I pushed everyone else towards. As I sit here gazing at this beautiful water, the sun beating down on my back, I can’t help but be thankful for His correction, His guidance. I use the word correction because that’s exactly what it is. Like a ship who had blown off course, I had gotten a bit out of whack. These last weeks of wrestling (whining) have been tough, but in the end, profitable. I hope to never again have to come to you and admit to being the victim. If I do, I hope you can extend grace. But, today, I declare, I am WALKING IN VICTORY!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunshine

🎶I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day. When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May. I guess you’d say what can make me feel this way? My girl, my girl, my girl… talkin’ ’bout my girl… My girl.🎶

Good morning all you fabulous women of God! Did I song bomb you? Good! That was the plan! Now, I know that was not a Christian song by a Christian band about a godly subject. But, we’re gonna talk about it anyway.

When people see you, do they want to greet you with “good morning sunshine!” Or are they thinking “uh oh here comes the storm cloud?” Ooohhh am I stepping on toes here? See God’s had me thinking about victory. We all want to think we have the victory. After all we’re saved! If you are like me and part of the Penecostal church you are used to hearing “saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost!” And you have to say it in the preacher voice for it to really have impact! 😁 At any rate we have Jesus in us! The SON. Are you tracking with me?

Now I won’t lie to you. Satan stole my joy in the last six weeks. I will not recount what all has happened. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that I surrendered my authority and handed over my joy. And when I handed over my joy, I handed over my victory. You know, that victory in Jesus we like to sing about. I didn’t mean to. And I didn’t even realize I had. Until I realized. And in that moment I felt remorse, shame, guilt. But God is good and he met me in that moment.

In the meantime, since I snatched my victory back, and have been writing again, and have been giving God all the glory, Satan has been trying harder! I have been open about my physical limitations. I have fibromyalgia. I believe completely that God can and will heal me. Until He does, I must live in this broken body. This week I fell again. For the second time in a week. My body is not really a fan of me throwing it to the ground. I have two choices. I can wallow in self pity. I can whine about the fact that my body doesn’t work the way I think it should and that it hurts. Or I can be thankful that I can still proclaim Jesus’s name, proclaim his glory, praise his name, spread his joy! My friends, choice number two is where the victory is!

So. How are you this morning? Are you stormy or are you sunny? I get it. Life is hard. And it can throw some rotten stuff at us. It’s important for us to remember that that rottenness of life doesn’t reduce the goodness of God. He is love. He can’t do anything outside of that love. So, if He’s allowed something in your life, it’s not because He doesn’t love you. Romans 8:28 promises that He works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. All things. That surely means the rotten things too.

So I’ll ask again. Are you sunny? Is the Son shining in your life? If not, why don’t you slow down a little bit, take some time at His feet, and let Him tell you how much He loves you. He’s waiting for you. And when you show up, who knows? He may just break into song. 🎶My girl🎶 “The Lord your God is with you, the mighty warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

Be blessed and tell someone you love them.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beautiful

Lately, I’ve been pondering beauty. Have you ever met someone who seemed not so beautiful when you first met them, but became more beautiful over time? Or have you met a person who was just gorgeous – until you got to know them? Yeah, that’s what I want to talk about.

Merriam-Webster describes beauty as “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.” 🤔 I like that one. But more often, I think we think of beauty like this, “a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.” (Google)

According to Statista.com, the revenue of the cosmetic industry in 2018 was more than $62 billion. 😳 That includes “Skincare, hair care, make-up, perfumes, toiletries and deodorants, and oral cosmetics.” Now, I’m a big fan of soap, toothpaste, deodorant, hair gunk (curly hair here!). I have a small love affair with Bath & Body Works, because, for some reason, most of their products don’t affect my allergies. I even love makeup, though I rarely wear it. And when I do, I don’t wear much. But y’all. Sixty-two billion dollars?!?!?! That’s a lot of money!!!! Skincare makes up roughly one third of that amount. Yes, some of those products are just to keep us clean and socially acceptable. (Please don’t give up your soap and deodorant!) But a lot is to make us beautiful!

Which takes me back to my point. Is a well done face of makeup what makes us beautiful? My Mamaw and Mama always said “Pretty is as pretty does.” So I guess your eyeliner can be on point, but if you’re giving someone the stink eye, you’re not so pretty! 😁

The Bible has a few things to say about beauty. 1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornmentRather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” Hmmm.

Okay.

But what about Esther? I mean, didn’t she get a year’s worth of special beauty treatment before her selection as queen? Didn’t God use her in her position as queen? Surely that means something! Yes, it means Esther lived in a different time from you. Put on your Oil of Olay and go on with your day!

Proverbs 31:30 says beauty is fleeting. I bet if we further analyzed those beauty industry statistics, we would find that a lot of money is spent on men and women trying to stay young looking.

Ephesians 2:10 says we are God’s handiwork. Seriously. Think about that. Can you imagine God Himself placing your nose and teeth and eyes. How do you think He feels when we study ourselves in the mirror and critique His handiwork? Especially if we’re not looking inwardly to critique our inner beauty.

Ouch. That hurts, doesn’t it? Don’t worry. I’m stomping my own toes too. 😬

So, in my pondering and praying and reading, the scripture that has rolled through me is this: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7 (NIV) It’s repeated in Romans 10:15: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (ESV).

Okay. I know it says feet. But work with me here. Those who are teaching/preaching/telling the good news, praying for others, walking with Jesus have that inner beauty that we read about in 1 Peter.

Since I started mulling over the beauty thing, my FB timeline has been full of beauty memes. “An ugly personality destroys a pretty face.” “If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies. How different our ideals of beauty would be.” “No beauty shines brighter than that of a good heart.”

The most beautiful people I have ever known have been the prayer warriors who fight battles no one knows about. The friends who get their knees for you in private, hug you in public, encourage and exhort, and always point you to Jesus. The preachers who speak truth and leave all they have at the feet of Jesus for the cause of winning souls. The pastors who balance family and congregations with better balance than the circus man on the tightrope. The folks who are full of love for everyone because they’re full of Jesus. Beautiful are those who preach the good news.

So. Are you beautiful? I ask You to gaze deep into God’s face and ask Him. If you’re not, He alone can transform you into the beauty you want to be. If you are, keep spreading that beauty. You’re making a difference, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

As for your share of the cosmetics industry, I really don’t care. And I’m not so sure that God cares. I think He just wants your insides to be the most beautiful part about you!

Be blessed. And tell someone you love them.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment