What’s Missing?

Yesterday I realized something, when Brittany and I were talking about baptism in the Methodist church, she mentioned that babies are baptized. Then I remember talking to people about going to confirmation classes when they were teenagers. It made me realize that when you do that, you don’t have a personal connection with Christ because you didn’t make a personal decision to believe and trust Him. I think it is absolutely necessary to have the relationship you want and need to have with Him. Without that personal connection, He is just a God.

Does That Really Happen?

You know, one of those stories that sound so incredibly unreal they are hard to believe. Like the neighbor who won a million dollars or his dog was eaten by an alligator or he found a valuable antique watch or something in an old chair he just bought at a garage sale. Well, they say that truth is stranger than fiction and I think they are right. I have heard of these stories and read them in the paper etc. for years, but never has one been as close as family.

Unfortunately it isn’t something cool that involves money or saving someones life. My daughter-in-law was driving near her home this afternoon and noticed an unmarked police car in her rear view mirror. Sure enough he pulled her over. When he came to the window to get her license, registration and insurance, he asked her if her weapon was in the vehicle. She said it is. He asked her if it was loaded. She said it is. He asked her where it was. She said in her purse. He said he needed for her to get out of her car. She politely said no, she would not. She told him she was not getting out of the car without her baby. He told her to drive on. She committed no infraction. He had no legal right to pull her over.

My son checked when he got home later and there was no record of her tag being run by the PD. I knew from her wording of what he said to her that it didn’t sound right. I knew there was a fake cop working in their area but I never imagined anything like this would happen to anyone I know. I could scream right now. I hate being so far away and feeling so out of control. It is my nature to protect. And when someone has harmed one of my own, I get irate.

So, what am I doing about it? Praying extra hard! Also, if you are ever pulled over and not sure if the cop is real, call 911 and ask the dispatcher to verify the cop is real. They won’t mind at all.

Father, I know You are in control even when I feel like I’m not but want to be. Please put a stop to this fake cop before someone get hurt. In Christ’s name, Amen.

The Power of Prayer

One of the most important and effective things we can do is to pray for someone. But what do we pray? Sometimes I feel like I pray to little and other times I feel like I pray too much. I want to pray with purpose and focus but how do we do that?

Matthew West is one of my favorite worship singers. I call him that because his songs are worship. I read these lyrics from his song “The Power of a Prayer” and it blew me away. The words are familiar to me as I struggled not too long ago with a spouse who just refused to listen to anyone who opposed his “correct” thinking.

“The Power Of A Prayer”

Dear God, it’s me
Calling out to You
Tonight I’m on my knees
Hoping You’ll come through
This one’s for my dad
Can You help him please
The world’s made him mad
At mom and me
And I’m asking you to bring his heart back home
Oh, the power of a prayer
Mom is all I have
But she’s alone again tonight
They always used to laugh
Now all they do is fight
You know she loves that man
But he’s so far from You
She’s done all she can
But she can’t break through
And she’s begging You to bring his heart back home
Oh, the power of a prayer
Just a whisper in the dark
Spoken from a broken heart
Holding on to one last strand of faith
Somewhere in the world right now
A desperate soul is crying out
Hoping Jesus really hears us when we pray
Dear God, do You
Recognize my voice
I haven’t talked to You
Since I was a little boy
But tonight I heard my son
Pray for his old man
It made me come undone
Made me understand
That only You can bring my heart back home
Oh, the power of a prayer.

My son would be described as a good man even by someone who doesn’t know him very well. So it isn’t that I think he is a bad person who needs a serious change of heart. But I also know that the world can damage our hearts unless we take an active role is keeping it healthy. I am hoping this analogy will help.

Pray for a softened heart to replace the one the world created. Over time, our hearts take a beating. If we don’t give this treatment over to God, our hearts will suffer. Ezekiel 36:26 reads “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Pray for a clean heart. This world is full of garbage and behaviors it says are OK. Well, it isn’t OK and can make your heart suffer great sorrow because of it. Psalm 51:10 reads “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Pray they have true desire for God. When we focus on our own desires, they become what is most important to us. If we make God our only true and passionate desire, life in Him is complete. Psalm 27:4 reads “One thing I have desired of the Lord,That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.

Pray they find their strength and manhood in God. So many people boast to be great examples of how to live or act or build wealth etc. But no one can honestly boast a better example of strength and manhood than Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 12:9 reads “‘And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Here is a sample prayer: Father, give name a new heart and a new spirit created from your own flesh and blood. Teach name to continually cleanse his heart with Your love and forgiveness. May name’s desire be to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life. Teach name to completely rely on God in all areas of his life and that God’s strength is made perfect in his weakness.

Of course the first step in any relationship is commitment. We can’t be a fan of Christ and get by. We have to be followers who desire His heart, His joy, His guidance if we are to receive them.

God bless and stay safe…

I Love Fruit!

I really do. It doesn’t matter what kind, I love it all. I am especially fond of grapefruit. Growing up we had three grapefruit trees and two navel orange trees. My grandmother, two doors down, had a small grove behind and beside her. It was awesome. We ate the ones on the trees and threw the ones on the ground…lol. They made for fun grove fights with cousins, siblings and neighborhood friends. Of course our mothers weren’t thrilled but we had fun.

For nine weeks our pastor has been teaching us the aspects of the Fruits of the Spirit. On http://www.dictionary.com, it is described as “The fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23; Eph. 5:9; James 3:17, 18) are those gracious dispositions and habits which the Spirit produces in those in whom he dwells and works.” The New King James Bible for Galatians 5:22-23 reads “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

I made a point to write down several things I wanted to remember over the course of these several weeks. 1 John 4:7-8 reads “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. “By this token, since we are made in God’s likeness, we can be known by how we exhibit love. There have been many occasions where my family and I would be at a restaurant or in a store and someone would start talking to us about church or some deep moral issue. I believe we can know other Christians by how we act. We can also know who is not at least exhibiting Christ-like behavior as well. I often watch and listen to people as they interact with each other. When someone chooses to be mean or loud when being gentle and pleasant isn’t that hard, I often want to say something to them. But I figure I’d get shot so I pray it up instead and keep my mouth shut. Our goal should be to love like Jesus.

This joy has it’s source in religion, not so much elsewhere. A relationship with Jesus is necessary to feel real joy. This joy produces a burning desire to share Jesus with other people. If we show true joy, other people will want what makes our joy.

Peace is not just the absence of war. Peace is a choice and has to begin with us. Isaiah used the phrase “Prince of Peace” to describe Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 which reads “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Peace be still comes from Christ and is triggered by our trust in Him.

True patience is completely supernatural. It is not something we are naturally born with. It is infused into us when we love Jesus and love like He does. In 1 Corinthians 13, known as the love chapter; God is love, love is patient, therefore God is patient or He would contradict himself. Patience is perfected in our perfect love for Jesus. It is knowing that He is in control of everything that provides the trust we need to cultivate patience.

Kindness is one of those behaviors you have to work at. Many people who are kind hearted do not speak with kindness. Some come across harsh or even mean because they do not acknowledge their abrupt manner. Kindness and forgiveness also run hand in hand as we see in Colossians 3:12-13 which reads “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

God is good…All the time! It stands to reason that goodness is one of these fruits.  In John 10:11 and 10:14, Jesus declares that He is “the Good Shepard”. If we are to bear fruit and witness to the world, we have to be consistent in our behavior. This is a serious mandate if we are to attempt to mirror Jesus.

God was faithful when he provided the Holy Spirit. He always keeps His promises. He is always faithful. Fear should immobilize us to serve God, not make us run from Him. Adversity and fear (just to name a few) should draw us closer to God, should make us run to the Father, just as a little child will run to their parent’s side. We possess this quality because our God does but He is a jealous God. Our grace comes at the expensive cost of Jesus’ life.

The Greek word for gentleness is prautes. Prautes as defined by the ancient Greeks has several meanings and examples. According to www.ExecutableOutlines,com, Prautes is defined as:

1. To describe persons or things which have in them a certain soothing quality… — E.g, having a humble and kind demeanor which calms another’s anger

2. To describe gentleness of conduct, especially on the part of people who had it in their power to act otherwise… a. E.g., a king forgiving a servant who failed a particular task 1) The king has the authority and power to render punishment 2) But chooses instead to show kindness and forgiveness b. Such a king would be praised for his gentle and meek behavior

3. To describe the ability to take unkind remarks with good nature… a. E.g., as when embroiled in controversy b. Being able to discuss things without losing one’s temper because of unkind and unfair personal remarks

4. Most often, to describe the character in which strength and gentleness are perfectly combined… a. E.g., a horse obedient to the reins, a watchdog friendly to the family owning him b. There is great strength present, but it is tempered by a gentle spirit.

It can also be described as being submissive, teachable and considerate. Again, God is our perfect example. He is able to show gentleness when needed and not when needed.

Self-control is difficult to master. By nature, we want things our way or the easy way. Having self-control is not natural or easy. Without this virtue, the other fruits will not be evident. Without it the works of the flesh cannot be overcome. Self-control starts with the choice to have and execute it. It is easy to run to fear when we are afraid or run to anger when someone wrongs someone. Having self-control propels the other fruits which would remain hidden and undeveloped with out it.

Seeing the big picture of these fruits has given me more understanding of how weaved together they really are. We tend to compartmentalize bits and pieces of ourselves, whether it is memories or behaviors. Seeing how these virtues work together makes making them work together easier.

Did I do that?

Considering my son’s fathers’ behavior while he was growing up, I understand that my son has issues making decisions but WOW! Everyday he changes his mind about his job. He has a great career working for a well paying fire department. He has a job offer at another fire department from a former chief. The chief sought out my son because of his reputation and integrity. They have worked together for years and share a mutual respect. The inspector job, however, would be a traditional 8-5 job except for on call time which is shared over the course of the month. Weekends off, vacation days, better family insurance but a lot less money than he is making now.

The problem, my son can’t make a decision. Everyday he changes his mind. My daughter-in-law wants to be a good wife and listen to his concerns etc, but he is spinning in circles between the two opportunities and staying where he is. I feel so badly for her because his father was the same way. I am a fixer and I can’t fix this. I am an exhorter, and I don’t know what to say to him to be of help. I feel defeated and useless. He is lacking a life skill and I feel responsible.

I paused to pray and got an idea. I told him he needed to put all three options on a piece of paper. Chart it out with pros and cons for each so they can discuss and decide on something they can actually see. Figure out the money differences, the hours, etc. and see what happens from there.

Father, I know You know what the future holds for their family and I trust you with their future. Please help them make the decisions You want them to make. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

What was she thinking?

Behavior is a tremendously deep subject and science. I shake my head at people all the time. I like trying to figure out what motivates someone to kindness or deceit and everything in between. Were their actions a result of learned behavior? Was it a defensive mechanism? Was it just plain meanness? Or was it something else.

My daughter-in-law is a beautiful young woman inside and out. She has a heart of gold and loves her profession. She is a CNA and also takes care of her elderly grand parents. She is the mother of my newest grandson. She does tend to be brutally honest and seldom has a filter on her mouth; which is very refreshing unless you happen to be the person she is talking to. Although she tells it like it is, she is learning how to do that with grace. Something that her journey to getting closer to God is producing.

Her cousin’s girlfriend has been keeping the grand baby for three hours a day for a few months now. Today she didn’t show up or call. She isn’t answering texts and is avoiding her completely. She spoke to her cousin, concerned since his girlfriend was expected, and he asked “didn’t she call you Saturday, she said she did and she told you that she quit”. Well, she didn’t. So now everyone is wondering what is going on.

It would have been easier to just quit. Call and say she couldn’t make it. Things happen. That is understandable. But to lie and avoid someone who had, up until now considered her a friend, is hard to take. She is digging, whatever hole this is about, making it worse than it needs to be.

Now my daughter-in-law is bewildered, upset, and hurt to say the least. It isn’t that there is a problem, it is how the girl went about it. She left her hanging knowing she had to be at work.

This behavior tells me several things about this girl. She is immature, a coward, has no self respect, is a liar, is selfish just to name a few. Now that she has made this so much worse than it needs to be, how does she come back from that? More over, why would you do that to someone?

Father, You know what the problem is with this situation. I pray that we remember to forgive, to support and to shine Your love to everyone. Especially to those who have questionable behaviors. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Brand New Day

I have been struggling with some things lately that I have needed to pray up. Nothing major, just things I need to get settled in my mind or my heart. I have also been off track lately with my prayer and devotional times. I haven’t replaced it with anything, just not making it a priority like it was. I got slack and lazy and my body is feeling it. With everything else my body is dealing with, I don’t need to have anything added to it.

I was waking up in the morning and spending about 30 minutes reading my devotional and then spending time praying. I was keeping a prayer book where i wrote at least one prayer in a day. When I didn’t know what to pray, I would read the prayers I had written.

Lately my main focus has been to pray for my children and grandchildren, their marriages, their friends, their teachers and their school studies. Since both of my children and their spouses are involved in the fire service, I had been praying for their safety and health. I’ve been praying for my folks and sister too. My parents turn 78 this year and while they don’t need my help now, they will soon. I pray for strength and courage when that time comes.

I have also struggled with desires, although normal, I want mine to be in line with what God wants for me. So instead of praying for the desire itself, I pray for the desire to be removed if it isn’t what God wants for me. To my amazement, for some reason…lol, the “bad” desires are gone. Things I have longed for are no longer causing me the grief that desired desires can cause.

Well, today I finally prayed it all up to God. Not sure what took me so long. I hate that I am so slow to pray up the little things I think God doesn’t have time for. I spent about an hour praying, listening and thinking about the things that seem so out of whack. As I was praying, I felt God shadowing me with a peace I cannot explain. A peace that restores my desire to make and keep Him the focus of every thought I have. For His name to be on the edge of my tongue. For His song to play over and over in my head. To keep Him so in focus during my days that I see His shadow just beyond the light. Knowing that I am forgiven, cherished and His child.

I love the way He loves me.

 

I got it wrong!

How could I be so stupid? How could I miss that so easily? What have I been thinking and doing? Wrong!!! I was thinking and doing it all wrong!

For several months I have been trying to pray and decide if I should attend another church. Since I am a student of counseling, I have been making difficult social choices. I stopped seeing a very nice man because he wanted a physical relationship. I want a challenge and to live a Christ centered life. I noticed that the church I attend condones several behaviors that are not Christ like and thought about going to another one.

This is a difficult decision because my parents and sister like the current church. While I know they cannot be persuaded to change their faith and conform to this, I felt it necessary to look elsewhere. Mainly because I am working on my masters in Christian counseling. I would be a hypocrite to say something to a patient that my church says is OK. I cannot portray a Christ follower and not completely be one.

So for several months I have been scoping out possibilities. I have my sights on one I went to when I was a little girl. I have prayed and made plans to attend one of their Wednesday night prayer meetings. Mostly because it is a smaller crowd and I could get a feel for the people etc. I keep having something come up that prevented me from going.

Either it didn’t correspond with my eating schedule, I didn’t have a vehicle, the weather was bad and even the one I have been having more lately and more strongly. That is a sense that God doesn’t want me to go. I figured I was praying enough that God was telling me not to go for whatever reason and like a good soldier, I listened. Well, this week in my illness, I finally realized I had it all wrong. The negative, don’t go messages and feelings were not from God after all. They were from the other voice that creeps into my feeble head. We are all feeble in that respect so don’t feel bad about it. Just pray more that God will keep His voice louder than the other.

So now that I have it right…I’ll be going to that Wednesday night prayer service real soon.

The moral (if this warrants one): Keep praying! Read God’s word so you can know what you think He wants is really from Him and not the other.

I avoided naming the “other” on purpose, mostly to be funny. I think it denies him some satisfaction. HA!

Dog days of winter

Since Monday, I have been sick as a dog. I’m not sure where that expression came from but I feel real sorry for the dog :). I’m not sure what I have since it isn’t completely gone, but it knocked me down for a better part of the week. It started with a sore throat and that was pretty much it. Only one side which the doc said was unusual. Well that is my normal so it wasn’t unusual for me. So, he gave me prednisone, zovirax and levaquin. I have heard of these but this is the first time I have taken them. I do feel better so I guess whatever it is, is going away. Good riddens!

I have been allowing things to get me down. The stupid government and all their lies, things that should be against the law that aren’t, and so much chaos in general. The news is full of it. Sometimes I feel like we are being overrun and the few honest and loving people are dwindling down to even fewer in numbers. Makes me want to buy an island and go hide from the rest of the world.

But then I look at my bible sitting on my shelf across my room. I almost sneer at it knowing the answers are in there. Knowing that God works in his own time and not mine. Knowing all of this is under His control and He will deal with it in His own better-than-mine time. So why do I bother even thinking about this junk?

I think mostly because I don’t want anyone to wind up in Hell because they were not interested in learning the truth. Because they didn’t think it was important. Because they didn’t think they deserved it. Even though Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, He nevertheless died for all of us. No matter what we have done in the past or present, we all have the ability to accept His sacrifice and be forgiven. It is His free gift. It is that simple.

Hey, Have you seen that movie?

My sister and I go round and round with this question. She’ll ask me if I have watched a movie with a few famous actors and I will say I had not. She’ll find it and save it on DVR and let me know so I can watch it. A few days later she’ll ask me how I liked it. I will say something like it had too much bad language or physically revealing scenes in it and I didn’t watch the movie.

She will always say “it’s only a movie”. We have similar conversations about books, TV shows and even lifestyles. I have struggled for a long time with how to explain to her my choice not to watch such shows etc. Well, I finally found the words. Unfortunately they didn’t come to me in a dream or a divine vision  🙂 ; I found them, of all places, on the internet. So here goes…

“I refuse to entertain myself with the things my God went to the cross for.”

Oh my Gosh! Every time I read those words I get chill bumps. What an enormous statement to make and to live up to. I still have a huge grin on my face while I write this. Not because I found it but because it is the ultimate statement a Christ Follower can make.

Worn

I haven’t had the opportunity to thank you for reading my posts, so thank you. I use to journal with pen and paper  but this works better. I love to share my life in the hope of inspiring others to greater things. It is liberating when we read about other people and we realize we are all mostly just as normal as the next guy.

I wasn’t going to write anything right away, just let the events of yesterday settle in for a little while. But I can’t stand it. I have to write. I guess if I had someone I could call at 11-ish pm at night, I might not have to write but I am the only person I know that doesn’t have a job to wake up to in the morning.

I am grateful that my family asked me to move back home. My parents are coming up on age 80 soon and I didn’t want to get the call in the middle of the night to “Come quick” so together we planned my return. It has given me an incredible opportunity to spend time with my folks that I would not have otherwise had. I feel blessed beyond measure. But this wasn’t in my plan. It wasn’t my idea to divorce after 29 years. While we had our issues, we could have worked them out, but he decided he wanted to finish life his way. I had pictured us retiring soon and traveling some and enjoying our grand kids together. But God had other plans. My vision was not His and sometimes I become weary waiting on God.

I have a slight crush (that sounds very silly for someone my age) on a guy my family knows better than I do. That feels really weird to say but during the years while I was elsewhere, their paths crossed almost daily. So, I have resisted saying anything to him except for casual conversation and always in the company of other family members. I have wanted to say something several times but I always back off because if this is something that God wants to happen, it will happen in God’s timing, not mine. And I don’t want to mess it up before God gets a chance to do His thing. Besides, I am still old fashioned and I never liked the idea of making the first move. I also figure since he is single and all that, if he were interested in spending time with me, he would ask. I am learning to wait on God but I will admit that waiting on God is one of the hardest things I have ever done.

Phew! Now that that is out, I feel better.

I heard a song by Tenth Avenue North this morning called “Worn”. I have heard this song a few times but today, for some reason, it grabbed me.

“I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world”

I don’t like lingering in my fear and doubt. I hate it when I remember my mistakes and then I wonder how badly I crushed Jesus’ heart by not allowing Him to be my God. Then I remember I am human. He became human so He would understand us. And when He forgives us, we know He knows how we feel because He has been there too. Jesus experienced every emotion we ever will in the short time He lived on earth. He knows what it is like to feel “worn” and He knows what we need to be redeemed. It is His gift to us. And it is always free.

Father, thank You for loving me with an enormous heart. Please forgive me for breaking Yours. I love you dearly, Amen!

 

First things first!

After my 29 year marriage to a narcissistic sociopath ended, I didn’t know who I was. I had spent half of my life letting a horrible man, who called himself my husband, turn me into a moneymaking slave for his drug habit and God only knows what else. I recognize my fault in all of that but I am now free. Free to be me. This journey is a day to day struggle to learn what it means to be Me again. Only this time, it will be a far better me. So, I am enjoying this journey regardless of how my day to day blogs may sound. I am in the arms of Jesus as I travel through this ever changing world. And while I don’t always understand it, I know He does and that is enough for me. Thank you Father that you not only have my back but all sides. Help me always give You the glory. In Christ’s name, Amen!

For several years now, God has been showing me little glimpses of things. Most recently, He has shown me what it looks like when I love Him more than anyone else in the world. We say we do and we think we do but what He showed me was not even close to what I thought. I have had a crush on a local guy I went to high school with recently. I have asked God to put the man He wants me to be with in front of me to trip over because I’m not looking for him. I do know that God wants me to be with a Godly man of His choice, not mine. I was able to break thru the crush and expectation barriers and see what it really looks like to love God and love Him alone. Not like you love your family but more like you love yourself. I have learned the hard way to love people unconditionally, not because I want to but because God wants me too. Loving Him, His way is completely different than anything I have ever experienced. I don’t even know if I can describe it. Actually I can’t. I can however describe how I felt the moment I realized what was happening. The word glorious comes to mind first. I felt as though I didn’t have a care in the world. Like I was on cloud 9 above the world. Like my soul was so completely at peace and my heart was so warm and content.  It is very peaceful and assuring, surprising and mysterious, fulfilled and forgiven, and completely and totally loved. I wish I had better words. A better explanation. But I don’t. There are no words. It’s like John when he was on Patmos trying to describe heaven and the end days. Hopefully my smile and my changed outlook on life and love will shine thru in a way to be a blessing. Thank you Father, You are marvelous!

This weather hurts my body. On top of the cold nasty wet damp rainy junk, I stopped taking my MR on Monday. Why you ask. Mostly because I think it is causing other problems I want to eliminate more than the pain. I know that sounds wrong but I don’t know what else to do. I feel stuck and it is getting worse. Not just the pain but the fatigue. I don’t like having to do what this disease tells me I can and cannot do. Yes I give it to God but I guess I need to do a better job of that.