"And As You Wish That Others Would Do To You, Do So To Them."
Luke 6:31 (ESV)
I have been doing the Secret Santa for a few years now and it something I always look forward to doing. As soon as the email comes from Suzanne, I fill it out and wait anxiously for an email back letting me know who I will be buying for. Then I set out and purchase whatever I can based on the form that is sent back to me. The one who received my form went all out. :)
(Excuse the shoddy picture taking, I had to use my phone)
I received my package two days ago and I know I should have posted then, however I am in the middle of finals and I also had to preach yesterday so I was preoccupied preparing a sermon and studying. The presents were packed tightly in the box, each one individually wrapped...
** Sidenote I need to do that next year!
Here they are all wrapped so pretty... Look at the dove on that paper in the very front... Beautiful! I did not want to tear the paper, however, I am human, therefore I tore into it... I am not one to "save" wrapping paper and kudos to those of you that do! I do not have the patience to tear gently. We have established that I am not a patient person and unwrapping gifts falls under that category.
The first one I unwrapped was a journal with the Serenity Prayer on the front of it. I love journals and I love that prayer... Beautiful! Next came the Book of Psalms, as well as a Book of Promises from the Message Bible. I do not have the Message Bible, I use it, however I have not gotten around to buying one so this was perfect. Next two boxes of Butterfinger Bites... My fav candy when I do eat it is Butterfingers, however, both boxes were absconded by my little one and my niece, though they each gave me one single piece from their boxes lol... Yummy!
The final gift was a bracelet made entirely of Crosses...Brought me to tears... Absolutely gorgeous! The bracelet came from an Etsy shop in Texas and the box came from Michigan, therefore I have no clue who my Secret Santa is.
To her, I extend my gratitude... Each present had thought put into it and I love every one of them. May you have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year! God Bless you and yours!
To Suzanne, I thank you for once again hosting the Secret Santa! You rock!! God Bless you and yours!
"It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone."
Ephesians 1:11-12 (Message)
This past Monday my hard drive died, without warning. I lost everything due to the fact that my back-up system was not working, as I thought it was. Almost 3 years of school work, music, sermons, all of my pictures, websites I visited etc... All of it gone.
I ended up having to buy a new hard drive which my Dad was kind enough to install, but in the few days it took me to get my computer up and running, all I could do was fret. Each week I am under deadlines for school and as each day passed without my computer, the worry enveloped me like a fog. Now that my computer is back up, I am pressed for time to complete the assignments for this week, however, as you all know by now, if a post is brewing, I cannot do anything until I get it written.
I heard her, before I saw her. She is about 10 or 11 years old.
I saw her on Monday night and then again on Thursday.
I sit in the same place these 2 nights of the week, waiting for little man, as he is tutored in Math...
I am ashamed to admit that I do not want to be disturbed.
I need this hour to read whatever assignments I have and 99% of the time, the area is empty, except for me.
I take out my book, my papers, my highlighter, and a pencil... Praying that my computer will be back up and running before the assignment (which I write down a week ahead of time, thank goodness) is due, praying for His wisdom, as well as praying for clarity.
I am lost in the Book of Acts,which has been a tough book for me to absorb.
Normally I can "block out" noises around me, this night was a different story.
Like I said, I heard her, before I saw her.
*Sniffles* "Tissue!!!" I think to myself. (I am in a center designed for children, therefore I am assuming "sniffles" are normal around here.)
*SNIFFFFFFLES* "Seriously???" I think to myself as I glance up and see her sitting on a chair, knees drawn up to her chin, head hung down low, a piece of paper in one hand, and a pencil in the other.
She must have sensed that I had glanced at her, as her face rose up a fraction, and it was then that I could see she was crying.
I thought to myself, "Selfish much Serenity?" All I wanted was peace for an hour to concentrate and now I knew I would not be able to get back to what I was doing, until I made sure she was alright.
She caught my eye and I asked her "Are you okay?"
She put her head back down, but shook it up and down as if to let me know that yes, she was okay.
Then he came around the corner.
I had seen him in action with her on Monday, and while I am not one to judge anyone on their parenting skills, I will admit he was a bit off-putting.
She was not there for tutoring (one of her siblings was), however, he had her bring her homework with her and I guess considered this the place for her to do it, with his help.
"Honesty nugget" **I would rather gnaw my own arm off than to do homework with little man... He is an absolute nightmare when it comes to sitting down and focusing on the task at hand and more than once, each of us has left the table in tears.**
"Are you done?" he asked her... Done with what? (I think to myself) She answered him with the shaking of her head, as she had done with me and he said, "Good, get your pencil and we will try again."
She got up and went off with him to a different room and I did not see her for the rest of the night.
This was a teaching moment for me.
I will admit I get caught up in "me" sometimes, that I do not see the world around me, until I am smacked in the face by it.
I do not do well with a hundred voices speaking to me all at the same time, it is absolutely debilitating to me within when it starts to happen. I begin to tune everything out, because I cannot focus on everything all at once.
However, as I sat in that room, God gave me a chance to look past what I felt I needed to do at that moment, and see other things around me.
He opened my eyes so to speak, in order to see that there will be times that I have to put aside what I deem "most important" and focus on what He deems "most important.
It is written in Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV) "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
If that passage does not slap some sense of humility into you, I do not know what would. How many of us like to feel that what we do is soooooo important?
Perhaps you feel that work would shut down, if you did not show up; or the choir just will not be able to handle to song, without your voice to carry it; or the world would cease to exist, if you did not climb out of bed today.
Eveyone is just as important as you are, as I am, and we need to get to the place where we treat each other as such.
It is time to open your eyes and truly look at the world around you.
Focus on what He is trying to show you.
Be Still I’ll Never Leave You
When You’re Far I Am Near
My Grace Will Always Be Greater
Than The Sum Of All Your Fears
"So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."
Romans 12:1-2 (the Message Bible)
I sat in the dark late last night, the house was quiet and every person was sleeping except myself, I take the quiet whenever I can get it and usually it is the wee hours of the morning.
I had some music on in the background and the room was lit up only by the screen of my computer.
I wanted to write, yet couldn't pinpoint anything specific, it has been almost two months since I have posted and I have 74 "drafts" saved, but none of them are complete. I tried to complete a few other posts that I have been tossing around, yet it wasn't the "one" I was wanting to write.
So I turned off the moniter, sat back and allowed my mind to wander.
Back to who I used to be, before the bomb went off, and I started to compare then me to now me...
Back before I accepted this walk, before I was born again, before I was baptized...
I thought I was so happy, that I had the whole world in the palm of my hand...
I may have "looked" different, however I was a nice person, I didn't treat people meanly, I had my moments, however who doesn't?
I have been called some names on occasion and there were times I followed instead of led, just because it is easier than arguing (and yes, that type of thinking got me into some serious trouble quite a few times).
Yet, I still thought I was happy...
My have times changed.
I have a serious problem with people who live in the past, I truly do not think anything can irritate me faster than someone who dwells on what used to be, what used to be done, the way things were etc...
People do not seem to like change and will do just about anything in their power to avoid it.
Because I am where He has placed me at this point in time, I accept it, I do not always like it, but I try like all get out to not allow it to affect my walk... I will admit that sadly some days it does.
Change happens, every moment of every single day... That is life and there truly is no way around it.
You can either accept it or fight it, but one way or another, it is going to happen.
People change as well, some for good, some for the not so good.
The problem lies when you are making changes (for the good), however, those around you only want to see you as the person you used to be.
The __________ (fill in the blank).
I can say that one of the most painful processes of this walk, is getting people to see past what I "used to be" and accepting what I am now.
Some just will not accept it, therefore, what do you do?
Here is the painful part... Nothing.
There is nothing you can do to change the preconceived notion that others may have of you.
Therein lies a huge struggle for me, because I do not want my past to be the "end all, be all" of the legacy I leave behind.
I do not want to always be known as the ex-addict, the lousy daughter, the failed wife etc... I do not want to be defined because of my past, instead I want Him to be the One who defines me now.
I want Him to be the One, who brings out the best in me.
Because of what He did on the Cross, I am no longer bound by the chains of my past... And neither are you.
There will always be people who want to keep you bound up tightly in those chains, however, you have to make the decision to let Him free you.
If you know in your heart that you are not the person you used to be, you need to make to decision to keep moving forward, no matter who you have to leave behind.
It may be family, it may be friends, it may be a different Church, perhaps it may be a new job...
Whatever the chains are that are wrapped around your neck choking you, ask Him to release them, no matter what.
G once told me that "Even Jesus knew when to move on" and he is correct in that statement.
3 out of the 4 Gospels agree as well...
Matthew 10:14 ~ "And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town."
Mark 6:11 ~ " And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them."
Luke 9:5 ~ "And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them."
Those are His words... Not mine.
What is keeping you from moving forward today?
What are you needing to leave behind?
Do You Want To Be Free?
Lift Your Chains
I Hold The Key
All Power On Heav'n And Earth Belong To Me
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28 (ESV)
It was almost 1am, my body was screaming that it was beyond time for rest, yet there I sat, backstage, filled with hopeful anticipation.
Like a child waiting for the break of dawn to light up the morning sky on Christmas, I wiggled around in my seat, only to hear the words, "He has already left the building."
Tears burned behind my eyes, I held steadfast, refusing to let them fall, as I quickly came to terms with the situation, I was not going to meet him... Not today anyway.
Disappointment flooded me to the very core of my soul. At that moment in time, I could not remember ever being so disappointed, with something so seemingly small.
I sat along the wall in the dressing room of one of the band members... The. Dressing. Room. Of. One. Of. The. Band. Members. In. Creed.
My all-time favorite band in the world and I could no longer even catch a glimmer of excitement from within.
Isn't that how disappointment usually sets in?
You have a certain expectation of someone, they do not live up to the hype that you have surrounded them with, and BAM, you are left with nothing but your hollow day dreams.
I counted down the days for over a month, had the perfect outfit picked layed out, it was a good hair day, drove about an hour or so, ate dinner to kill time between being there early, and the actual time the concert started.
We met the same band member (whose dressing room I was hanging in) mentioned above, prior to the concert.
We all chatted for a few and then he handed us 4 tickets and 4 VIP backstage passes... I could have burst with happiness when one was laid in my hand.
The concert itself was terrific. :)
The first band to open was a New Zealand band called, "Like A Storm" and they were absolutely wonderful. After they were done on stage, they mingled around the concession stands, having their pictures taken, signing autographs, and just acting like a bunch of normal guys. I took some pictures of my Mom with the lead singer Chris, and the guitarist Matt (brothers). Very sweet guys.
Sidenote ~ The men from New Zealand are simply stunning. Mental note to plan a vacation there someday ~ End of sidenote :)))
The second band was "Eve to Adam" and they were good as well. Not exactly my taste in music, however, I try to appreciate all kinds of music. I did not see any of the band members once they were done, therefore I cannot comment on how they were around the "common folk." HaHa
Then it was time for the reason I came ~ Creed
Just like the last time I saw them, they were magnificent. They played old songs and new songs, keeping the audience out of their seats for the duration of the show.
Which brings me back to sitting in the dressing room of B, (if you know Creed, you will know whose room I was in) clutching a new shirt, in the hopes of it being signed by Scott.
As the disappointment settled in, I glanced around to see a room filled to the brim with people. I looked over to see B and caught his eye, he just smiled sadly, because he knew what this moment would have meant to me, he knew that I came with the expectation to see/meet/ Scott, and he also knew that it was not going to happen.
He is the one who told me, Scott had left.
You know who else knew? God knew... He knew that in that moment I was placing someone else before Him, and as His daughter, He was going to do whatever He could, to take my eyes off of meeting Scott and place them back on Him.
So as I sat there I began to look for a lesson, because I knew that this was going to be a teaching moment for Him, and a learning moment for me.
I pushed the disappointment down and watched...
I watched B, so very tired from the traveling and the performing, almost to the point of being weary, and I saw what God was trying to show me...
A lesson in humility.
I knew prior to the concert he was tired, it showed on his face and there was a strain in his voice.
Yet as I watched him, the people who came to him would have never known. You see he met each and every single person that came backstage. He shook hands, he took pictures, he hugged, he smiled, and he signed everything that was thrust at him.
Never once complaining, never once putting on a "diva-like cloak," never once putting someone off, never once acting like he was better than anyone, who walked through that door.
Humbleness is not something I have struggled with, however, I have to make a conscious effort to not allow my head to become inflated, especially after I preach a sermon.
When I step down from the pulpit, the only thing I want to do is find a room where there is not another living soul in it, just so I can "be" for a few minutes. However, once the service is over, people come to you. They tell you your sermon was wonderful, there are hugs, tears, laughter, and joy...
If one is not careful, that can go to their head very quick-like.
Because this is an area where I am very aware that it can happen in an instant, God used B to show me a picture of humbleness.
No matter how big his name is, no matter how many people he performs in front of, no matter how popular his band is, he knows that he is no better, nor worse, then the next person.
Neither am I.
No I did not get to meet Scott Stapp, however, I took something away from that night that is irreplaceable...
Through the eyes of my disappointment, God showed me how I am to live and treat each person, He places in my path.
In This Life That I Live
I Hope I Can Give Love Unselfishly
I've Learned The World Is Bigger Than Me
You're My Daily Dose Of Reality
"He Made The Storm Be Still, And The Waves Of The Sea Were Hushed."
Psalm 107:29 (ESV)
I love and listen to all kinds of music and those who spend any amount of time with me know that Creed is my all-time, hands-down, favorite band, and they have been for about the past 14 years. It took me over 10 years before I saw them in concert, thankfully it will not take me another 10 years before I see them again.
I will be seeing them tomorrow night. **Happy dance in my seat**
Now this is not like a "normal" concert for me. You see my sister went to high school and is close friends with one of the band members. Since his family still lives here, everytime he is in town, the two of them are hanging out. I have met him and he knows of my love for Creed, more importantly how much I simply adore Scott Stapp. Therefore when the band announced they would be coming to a town close to me, him and my sister were kind enough to hook me up. When I say hook me up, I mean early admittance so I can see the sound check, tickets to the concert, backstage passes, and a face to face meeting with Scott... People, I may just pass out!
A FACE to FACE with Scott Stapp... There. Are. No. Words. I am counting down the hours now :))))))
Now pray that I will be able to actually speak in complete sentences!
I promise to post some pictures this weekend.
I am now officially the first white female minister in my Church. If you recall in my last post, I was on my way out of town to make history. I spent 3 days in Tallahassee, met the Bishop, was prayed over, talked to, and on the 3rd day, I received my certificate. There were many tears, lots of smiles, some trepidation, and tremendous encouragement, from each person I met. God willing, I will become ordained in 2 years.
As I sat a little over 3 years ago watching all that I ever believed in, implode in my face, wondering where to go from there, I never would have guessed that I would be sitting in this place today. It still wraps me in complete awe when I see His Hand move in my life.
There are some things that I would change in an instant, however I have faith that He will take care of those mountains in His time.
After waiting a little over 9 months (classes, facing the Bishop etc...), I was behind the pulpit preaching, once again this past Sunday.
If you have been reading for any length of time, you will know that the thorn in my side is public prayer (on my part). The minute I open my mouth to pray, something happens that seems to cut off my vocal cords. If called on to pray aloud, panic sets in and I begin to stammer, to whisper, my heart feels like it is going to pound out of my chest and I feel like I am choking.
3 years I have been dealing with this, by praying outloud when I am called on and it seems to be getting a smidge better.
As I stood behind the pulpit this past Sunday, I was still unsure how to "open" my sermon. Contrary to my beliefs, I cannot sing (as my family will tell you) HA, therefore, opening with song was out of the question... My next option was open with a prayer.
I called for the congregation to bow their heads, close their eyes, I took a deep breath and I did it... I prayed outloud, behind the microphone... No panic, no stammering, no choking.
I prayed from my heart, to the heart of my Father... OUTLOUD!
My prayer partner and my Pastor were thrilled, knowing this was a huge step for me :)))
And I know in my heart, He was pleased... That is all that matters :)
Many blessings to you all.
If You Think That This
Is The Best That It Can Get
Oh The Wonder Of It Is
You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet
"My Help And Glory Are In God —Granite-Strength And Safe-Harbor-God— So Trust Him Absolutely, People; Lay Your Lives On The Line For Him. God Is A Safe Place To Be."
Psalm 62:7-8 (the Message)
Has it really been 2 months (exactly) since I last posted? It sure has and I am so sorry, however, I am here now so put a smile on your face. :)
I have been overwhelmed with school this semester, having taken 5 classes instead of my usual 4, due to some weird scheduling and at about mid-semester I was taking 4 all at the same time (usually broken up 2/2 every 8 weeks)...
Needless to say, I am needing a vacation and I don't see one in sight HA!
This semester ends on the 17th (I think) and then I move right into the next semester on the 20th. Last year I took the Summer off, this year I didn't and I am feeling it.
I have to keep this pace up (no breaks between semesters) so that my graduation coincides with my ordination, therefore posting sporadically is about as good as it gets for right now. :)
So let us get to it...
I titled this post with the words my Pastor spoke to me last week, "Don't you give up, don't you dare give up."
Whispered, hurtful words, surround me... The enemy, crouched, ready to pounce if I just nudge that door open even a fraction... Church, work, school, my little one, family, expectations, responsibilities, small victories, and huge failures all came crashing in one evening and doubt found a way in.
I will let you in on a little secret... Next week my class from the Ministerial Institute will be presented to the Bishop, and I am on course to make history... History people... Little ole me.
My Church is over 60 years old and there has never been a white, female preacher...
Let that sink in.
Then let the fact that the majority of people do not like change and you will see why he said those words to me.
It has been 9 months since I preached my first sermon and I knew back then that this was a big deal (especially after I found out my Pastor wanted to call in the press, but held off knowing it would scare me to no end), and I was okay with that, however, as the time draws closer, I can feel the anxiety rise.
I see the enemy closing in, doing everything possible, to keep me from getting to the next place. Plans have fallen apart, Scriptures have been forgotten, things I know (like the back of my hand) have fallen right out of my head, I have gone back to speaking quietly, instead of with purpose, fear is trying to live, where confidence was once reigning.
Questions swirl, where I had answers yesterday; doubt, where I had clarity; worry, instead of peace; therefore I sit and I talk to Him, asking Him if He is sure I am the right person for this...
Yes, I question God and what He is doing in my life...
Then I am reminded of the night Jesus prayed in the Garden... I imagine He probably wondered as well, especially considering one of His chosen, would betray Him with a kiss.
I am right where He wants me to be, that is what I get from Him. Yes, I am out of my comfort zone, however, having a comfort zone can also keep one from moving forward.
Stepping out of your comfort zone, allows you to seek Him even more. You begin to call on Him more because you do not know what is going to happen next, and this is where I believe He wants each of us to be.
Each time I become a little bit more comfortable, another door opens and He moves me forward a little more, leaving behind the comfort I was (finally) getting used to.
I still have the comfort of knowing that I have some pretty terrific people in my corner; cheering for me, praying for me, encouraging me, and helping me (when I actually let anyone know I need some help).
So when I spoke to my Pastor about some things that I have heard recently, as well as the fact that the anxiety is so bad, I can barely breathe at times, his answer was not to give up...
To give up, allows the enemy to claim this victory.
Therefore, I have to find the balance and the only place I can find that balance is with Him.
The Scripture above says that ".... God is a safe place to be."
Truer words have never been spoken. The fact that I can sit anywhere, call upon Him, and feel His presence right there beside me, is beyond any description I could even begin to conjure up.
So when I want to just give up, I take it to Him, because I know I am not a quitter.
I have overcome way too much to give up now.
Someone right now reading this needs to know that He is the One place you can find comfort, the safest place you will ever be, and He is the One who will never, ever, let you give up.
To my prayer warriors that are reading this, I ask that you pray for me. Pray that the people see less of me and more of Him, pray for acceptance, pray for tolerance, pray for peace, but most of all, just say a prayer of Thanksgiving for us all.
When I Rise, When I Fall
You'll Be There Through It All
At The Start, At The End
In The Center Of The Center Of It
"You Call Out To God For Help And He Helps—He's A Good Father That Way. But Don't Forget, He's Also A Responsible Father, And Won't Let You Get By With Sloppy Living."
1 Peter 1:17 (Message)
I love the Message Bible, however, I do not use it on a daily basis. More likely than naught, you will find me with the English Standard Version, unless I am studying for school - I use the King James Version (which is required) and if I am doing Bible Study, then I use the New International Version.... But for this post, for that passage above... The Message is appropriate.
The thing that stood out to me in this passage of Scripture was the two little words ~ Sloppy Living.
When you think about someone who is sloppy, normally your mind will go directly to their appearance or the state of their house/car/desk etc... You think of clutter, lack of order and (at least in my mind) some form of dirtiness. I do not like slop, period. Not in any form of my life, but most especially where my living quarters are concerned.
Everything has its place and it would be so much easier if I could get Tigger to understand that when he plays with something, just put it back where you found it. Because we share a room and this is also where I work and study, I have got to have some sense of order... No matter how much I fight him about it, I do not have order LOL.
Chaos reigns supreme, where this 9 year old child of mine is concerned. He puts dirty clothes BESIDE the laundry hamper, instead of in it. His shoes sit OUTSIDE the closet, instead of within it. Wet towels are deposited ON the floor, as opposed to hanging them up on a hook. You get the idea? Chaos! I walked in the room the other day to check on something and I had to walk right back out due to the fact that I swear I started shaking in panic.
All the animals that go on top of the bed in a neat and orderly fashion, were strewn about the floor, the nicely made bed, had the covers ripped up from the corners and haphazardly thrown on top of the mattress, pillows were all over the place and there he sat, innocently at the computer, playing a game.
"Dude! What happened in here?" (Yes, I call my son "dude" sometimes lol) I asked... He pauses his game, looks around, and says "What do you mean? I was playing and I cleaned my mess up." That would be the day I contemplated that school should be year round.
I have found that a lot of us are like my 9 year old son, when it comes to the way we decide we should be able to live our lives.
God is the master of organization, not the author of chaos. Where you find chaos, confusion, and lack... You will find the enemy, chillin in your easy chair, drinking your favorite brand of coffee, laughing, as he watches you, trying to bring order to the confusion he has caused.
It never ceases to amaze me the lengths Christians will go to, in order to continue to live their lives, the way they see fit. I hear more justifications than I even have time to list, I witness more sinful behavior than I have ever thought possible, and I am now privy to a host of excuses uttered, that I never thought I would hear. It all leads up to "sloppy living."
Now before I go any further, I will make it known that, contrary to what people say about me, I am not perfect. Don't worry, I will wait while you pick yourself up off the floor from that little knowledge nugget... All good?
I have never once claimed that I am perfect, nor have I ever claimed that I am without sin... My claim is to live a life as free from sin as possible, striving for (but knowing it will never be achieved) perfection.
Here is another nugget for you... I sin daily.
There you go, my secret is out in the open. My mind is a cesspool of sinful thoughts and I have learned that where you find confusion (in my mind), you will find sin. Some days my thoughts are better to control than other days... The key is to continue to strive to keep my thoughts, aligned with His word.
Isaiah 55:8 (ESV) "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord." His thoughts are not my thoughts, His thoughts are not your thoughts... I have the fullest capability of controlling my own thought process... And so do you.
The problem lies when people do not fully understand this. We have free-will, control over the choices we make, the way we respond, and the way we live. Sadly I have found that people do not want to take responsibility for the choices they made, the repercussions that have followed said choices, and the numerous regrets that will inevitably be not far behind.
They choose sloppy living and then want to lay the blame at the foot of another, when that way of living does not pan out the way they thought it would.
As I stated earlier, my mind is a cesspool of horrific, sinful thinking at times. If I close my eyes, I can almost see good vs. evil, sparring in a ring. The question is, which one is going to win?
I would like to say that good wins every time, sadly (here comes another nugget), that is not the case. There are days that I allow my mind to wander into the devil's playground. Heck there are days I run and skip in his playground... However, I am almost immediately convicted by the One whom I trust.
Because I am a baptized believer, I can no longer claim ignorance. I can no longer say "Oh, I did not know that I was not supposed to do ______ (Fill in the blank)." The beauty of that is... God knows this and He still loves us!
He knows that ALL believers are going to sin... Some more so than others. He knows that every single believer from time to time will stumble, that some may take the wrong path, and some may even make a few, very questionable choices.
He knows that while true believers can no longer claim ignorance, some are extremely unprepared (raises hand) for the assault that the world and the enemy has waiting for them.
See, the fact is that as a believer, you are going to commit a sin, however, note this... As a genuine believer; one who has surrendered ALL to Him, you will not be able to live a life of sin. Do you see the difference?
Here is a example:
"Genuine Believer" ~ For arguments sake, let's just say that you come across someone who is wearing something that leaves little to the imagination... Your first thought? Who does she think she is? Why in the world would he leave his house looking like that? Don't people own mirrors anymore? This is judging and it is a sin. Yet during your thought process of tearing the person down, conviction sets in "Hey, who am I to say a word about that person (or something like this)?" You repent to Him for judging, you may ask Him to show you why you felt it was necessary to judge another, and then you go about your day.
"Believer" ~ This person does whatever they want, repenting here and there, yet never turning away from the sin they repented of. They continue to live the life they feel they should live, and dare anyone to question their Christianity.
The difference between a genuine believer and a believer is that the genuine one has truly surrendered their life to the Lord. They know that as they continue to surrender daily, the "world" loses the appeal it used to show. They know that the more surrendering they do, the more they will be able to discern His will in each area of their life. They are striving for having absolutely zero separation between their spiritual life and their everyday life.... The two become one.
Most believers separate the two... Sunday life vs. Monday-Saturday life. By doing this, your spiritual life has very little impact on your "normal" life.
The only way to grow and mature in Christ is to completely surrender to Him and allow Him to have complete control over every aspect of your life.
I can almost see your thought wheels turning right now... "I don't want to give up complete control" or perhaps, "I am doing just fine on my own, thank you very much."
Surrendering means letting go of the pride, giving up the control, turning over the independence, and giving up all those things in our life, that we have made more important than Jesus Christ.
Surrendering to Him means allowing Him to guide your life, and it also means bearing our crosses for His sake. It means you acknowledge Him in all things (good and bad), it is a realization that everything we have in this life comes from Him. Most of all it means that we can finally comprehend that no matter how hard we try, we cannot make it, without His constant guidance and protection.
Is today the day you surrender your sloppy living?
TENTH AVENUE NORTH
You Say Let It Go, You Say Let It Go
You Say Life Is Waiting For The One's Who Lose Control
You Say You Will Be, Everything I Need
You Said If I Lose My Life It's Then I'll Find My Soul
"That Christ May Dwell In Your Hearts By Faith; That Ye, Being Rooted And Grounded In Love, May Be Able To Comprehend With All Saints What Is The Breadth, And Length, And Depth, And Height; And To Know The Love Of Christ, Which Passeth Knowledge, That Ye Might Be Filled With All The Fulness Of God."
Apparently it has been awhile since I have posted. I logged onto Blogger this morning only to find the layout had changed and I could not find anything anymore. With a little digging I was able to locate the previous posts I had started, this being one of them.
It seems I last posted over a month ago when I was heading out to see Michael W. Smith so I will start there. My word that was a magnificent concert! It was held in a Church so the seating was limited and it was just him and his piano. No blindingly bright light shows, no deafeningly loud drums, no fire, no smoke...
Just sweetly simple. He chatted, he prayed, he sang, but most of all he encouraged us to praise. I would still love to see him in a stadium setting, but this was beyond words.
Not long after the concert I started a second form of school, one that is required by my Church. I go 2 Saturdays a month, in a Church about 2 hours from me, therefore I have to get up at 3:30am (yes that says AM, as in MORNING people) in order to look presentable when I arrive. I have learned a lot, as well as questioned a lot.
All of our instructors are Pastors and it is a blessing to have access to so much wisdom and encouragement. To know each one of them has walked this same road is something I did not expect when I started this journey. They know how we feel, they know the fear, the doubt, the worry, and the utter aloneness that each of us is facing and they do everything in their power to ease the transition (so to speak).
I still have not found my "speaking voice" when I am called on to speak aloud. However, I have found tears, in spades and you all know how I feel about crying. Not just sad ones, but happy ones as well. I find Him moving me when I least expect it and I will admit, if I did not have to mess up my "face" nor sniffle, nor struggle to catch my breath, nor have a hard time swallowing, I would find it beautiful.
The boys are doing well. Eeyore is one I do not see very often, however, I am hoping time will mend that. My Pastor as well as their Dad told me to just give it some time, however, I am not known for my patience. Tigger, well he is just a joy, my shadow as he is called. When I am at the house, he is never far behind me. He has his issues that we are dealing with, however, I can see he has come a long way since his Dad left. He no longer drops the "F" bomb every other word so that in itself is a great thing! :)
One month ago yesterday, my divorce became final. I have not processed that as well as I should have, but I am trying. I would think being separated for almost 3 years would have helped, yet the day I received the final papers felt like I had ripped a too small bandage off of a very large wound.
I would like to say I have moved past the bitterness and hatred, yet there are times it creeps back in. Usually when it has to do with my boys or when I am so overwhelmed that I want to crawl in a corner and bawl like baby. When I feel like my shoulders are so weighed down that I can barely hold my head up straight, when my back feels like it is being crushed under the heaviness of expectations from other people, when I can not, no matter how hard I try, find the light at the end of the tunnel. Then it comes in, as if I am just holding the door open for the enemy, welcoming him with a cup of hot coffee and a smile, to please just come in and wreck havoc on my soul.
I have covered this topic before and will continue to do so, until at least I can understand it. "You can trust me" is something I hear often, however, that line no longer works for me. I have learned the hard way that when you are walking the ministerial path, there are people who want to be in your circle, only long enough to see you falter. I do not say that out of cynicism, I say that out of experience.
Trust.... I have always believed that it should be given 100% freely, however, difficult circumstances have caused me to rethink that stance. I now think that people should receive a certain level of "general" trust upon meeting. You start by handing out a little bit of trust, just enough, because you have finally realized that it is something that needs to grow and be nourished, then (and only then) can the general trust you placed in another, grow into a deep-rooted trust.
Trust.... Once you have the trust of someone, you should do all you can to protect that trust.
Trust.... There are very few people I trust implicitly, very, very few who have crossed the line from "general" to "deep-rooted" and I believe that God has designed circumstances to be that way for a reason. I know, without a shadow of a doubt who I can and cannot turn to and for now, I am okay with that.
Matthew 22:37-39 "Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
All too often we reverse these two commandments and then usually drop off the "love your neighbor" portion, leaving only yourself and perhaps if there is time, God. He should be first in each and every thing that you do. I do not care if you are a janitor in the local elementary school or the president of the United States, do what you do, to glorify Him.
I have admitted I am not a great speaker, my voice is quiet and becomes even quieter when I am called on, which will inevitably bring forth someone saying "I can't hear you" or "Speak up." I am trying to get past this by continuing to do it, because I love Him. I fear like there is no tomorrow, yet I also know He did not put that spirit of fear within me so I continue to face each fear head on, because I love Him. I worry what others think (more than any one person should ever have to do so), yet I can not allow that to deter where He has placed me.... I obey Him out of love.
Love is not supposed to devastate everything in its wake. Love should protect & it should be loyal. The Bible says that out of Faith, Hope, and Love, the greatest is Love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (paraphrased)
Love can be explosive (not in a harmful way) and it can also be quiet. It can hit you like a firecracker on the Fourth of July or sneak up on you like a calming breeze on a midsummer day. It is a look that passes between the parties involved, a gentle hug, a tender kiss, a firm hand on your back but one thing it should never do is hurt, either physically or emotionally.
Love is a choice, not just a feeling. It has taken me a very long time to accept that my ex-husband made the choice to leave. In the past 3 years I did everything I possibly could for him to know how much I loved him and I tried as hard as I could to give him the best of me. I was so far from perfect it is almost laughable now, because I most definitely had horrific days and I still have soul crushing moments of being terrified and lonely, but I am doing the best that I can.
I do not necessarily advocate divorce, however, because he made the decision to leave, God released me from my marriage because I was faithful to my husband and to God.
That will not define me, yes, it is a defining moment, however I know now that I am more than that. The moments that define me, make me a better person, as long as I respond in the way He calls me to respond. With love.
One of my favorite passages of Scripture is found in Philippians, chapter 4, verse 7 and it reads "and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
The pure peace you seek will never be found in man. This was another lesson I learned the hard way... Seeking anyone who could restore the balance I had lost, yet never finding. I have said it before and I will say it again, I thank God for my Pastor each and every single night. He placed a man in my path who will go out of his way to steer me in the correct direction. I keep nothing from him, because he is the one I trust the most here on Earth. He has no hidden agenda, he does not want anything from me other than to see me succeed, and he does it in a kind way. He knows my secrets, as well as my fears, doubts, and worries. He can look at my face and know if I am "good" or "hiding" and he also knows that in my time it will come out, so he does not push, instead he waits until I am ready.
From suicidal planning, to a new walk in ministry, he has been right there and I am honored and humbled to call him my friend.
We all need someone in our lives like this, someone who will tell you (whether you want to hear it or not) how it is or how it should be. Do we always see eye to eye? Nope... There are days I feel he is "picking on me" and I do all I can to stay out of his line of vision (for fear of having to do some form of public speaking, like my first Bible study tonight), yet there is a part of me that knows he is just pushing me to the next step. He is the one who comes along once I am nice and comfy, and drags me out of my new comfort zone, kicking and screaming and most likely crying and I am grateful for that. Otherwise I would just stay stuck. God will not allow me to become stuck and He seems to use anyone He can to pull me out of the pit I too often find myself sinking in.
That thought right there.... Brings me a peace that is hard to put into words.
I am not alone. He is right there by my side and He has placed some pretty phenomenal people in my path as well.
I never realized how much I missed writing until I sat down to post these thoughts. I do so much writing now, however it is required, and this is freely me... This allows me to think outloud.
These past 3 years have been a walk through hell, however, I have not walked it alone. God has seen fit to walk with me, carry me when I couldn't take another step forward, and allowed me to rest within His embrace, when I was too tired to go on. He is the One who lays with me as I sleep and rises with me when I wake.... Every second of every single day, He is right there.
Do you realize what kind of love that is? I mean do you truly feel it in the blackest recesses of your soul? Does His light collide with your dark? Do you realize that each day you wake up, He made that day for you? Do you hear Him whisper your name in the darkest of nights as well as the brightest of days?
If you do not know of His love, I beg of you to find it....
Seek Him out, He is but only a whisper away.
'Cause All That Makes Me Who I Am To Be
Is Everything In You That I Still Need
It's A Long Road Left For Me To Make It Home
But I Don't Go Alone