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Thank You …….For The Little Things……….. That Matter To Me

I heard some dj’s talking on the radio this week and they were asking the listeners when the last time was that they had experienced God? How did I as a listener know that God was real and alive? And what was the evidence that I had seen of his existence?   Now just in case your wondering this was christian radio.

One of the dj’s experienced God’s amazing power over the weekend and he wanted others to share their stories so that other listeners could be encouraged.  So this immediately brought to mind several stories that I have tucked away but since he asked for the most recent one that is the one I will share.

About a month ago my daughter convinced me to let her purchase a baby bearded dragon.  Now I was not crazy about the idea for several reasons.

1   I already feed 3 children and 2 outdoor cats why do I want to add a reptile who eats bugs to the mix?

2   They are creatures that need heat and more than I like to provide in the winter in Ohio.

3   Who is going to pay for it?

4   It means I will have to learn about them…….because I will end up having to take care of it at some point.

Long story short here….. she convinced me when she showed me a video proving that they eat wolf spiders!

I absolutely hate spiders so anything that would take care of them for me becomes my best friend. hmmm (I wish I could put a smiley here but I don’t know how….sad face here!)     This how Maleficent came to be part of our family.

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She is a tiny thing still and loves to be with someone.  If she is left alone too long she gets stressed and I’ve discovered sunlight is much better for her than the lamps you buy at the store.  Because of this I have started taking her around with me particularly when I am outside so that she gets sunlight.  I have learned a lot from this little lizard in the last 4 weeks and have grown quite fond of her.  I’ve wondered why God created this particular creature and his motive or reasoning behind it…..until last Thursday.

I had gotten home from working that morning and I only had a short amount of time to get a lot done before I had to leave again.  I quickly turned on the stove to warm up some food for lunch and then I went and picked up Mel (that’s what we call her for short).  I placed her on my shoulder tucked just under the edge of my jacket since it was a little chilly outside.  I then headed outside to hang some clothes on the line so that they would dry.  I had gotten about half of the basket up when I remembered I had turned on the stove and started my lunch.   I took off running for the house figuring it would be filled with smoke and I would be cleaning my pan instead of eating.  I was blessed and my food was ok…not burnt!

But wait!

Where is Mel?

Crap! What if I dropped her?

I’ve carried her all over and she is really good about hanging on.  But I can’t find her…

I quickly look on the floor between me and the door and no sign.

I run outside to the clothes line looking and calling like she would actually come….(she is too little yet to do that)

I run back inside to stand in front of the mirror.  Maybe she is in my hair and I can’t see her?

I quickly take off my jacket, turn it inside out.  Off goes my shirt and I’m looking in the mirror to see if she is hanging on somewhere and I’m just missing her.

No Mel…..my daughter is going to kill me.

How am I going to find her?

I ran to the front door,  took 3 steps off the side of the porch….then I stopped and look out into the yard.  The path I had taken from the clothes line to the house was covered with leaves.  There were leaves everywhere yellow and brown the same color as her, not to mention she is only 6 inches long.  If she was out there she was going to be difficult to find.  These lizards don’t make noise and I’ve learned that they like to hide.

So I did what I do so frequently when I lose my keys.  I said….. God you know where she is.  You know how important she has become to us.  You know how heartbroken my daughter will be if I don’t find her and you know how sad I will be that it was my fault.  You also know how much fun I have had with her and how she has slowly warmed my heart.  Help me find her please.

I started to turn back to the house and for whatever reason I picked up my left foot.  There underneath my foot was Mel!  She was right in the arch of my foot and her little face was looking up at me.  If she could talk I wondered what she would say.

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That experience had God written all over it.  The first time I ran into the house I kicked off my flip flops…..If I hadn’t done that she would be dead!  But God knew what he was doing.  He knew how impossible finding her in all those leaves were and he also knew how perfectly my foot would land on top of her so that I would find her but that she wouldn’t be hurt.

How perfect is that?

God also answered my questioned….He created them for enjoyment……To play with and have fun.

He also revealed something else…cold blooded animals need warmth to stay warm, they reflect the temperature just like we reflect God.  Without God touching us….giving us light….warming our hearts…..

We would be cold and dead inside.

1John 4: 16-17

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love.

Whoever lives in love, lives in God

and God in him.

In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement

because in this world we are like him.

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Why am I living?

Today has been rough for me, I’m exhausted and my heart aches inside.

I’m sitting here with my computer listening to the drizzle of the rain outside my window.  Yesterday I watched as another casket was lowered into the ground. I listened as they gave a 21 gun salute for a man who was there on D-Day to served our country.   Five funerals….. that’s how many I counted off the top of my head as I stood there. Five funerals in the last 2 years.  That’s a lot!

Tomorrow is my Birthday and I really don’t want to celebrate.  A friend asked me why yesterday and all I could think of was “why celebrate?”  To me its just another year of blood, sweat and tears gone by, another year closer to the day I die,

Really? What am I celebrating?

I suppose I’m celebrating life.  The opportunity to live rather than die. But what does that mean?

So I wonder am I really living and what am I living for?

I know what I’m supposed to say and supposed to think………but what is the truth?

What am I really living for?

Are my reason’s selfish?

Perhaps they are….am I living for my kids?  To give them a better life than I had and to teach them about God.

Is that really why I’m living?  Well it’s not enough…… at least not for me.  I can think of several people in my mind who could do a better job than I could at raising my kids. So what exactly am I living for?

It’s been 2 years since I first started this post.

I can now honestly say that I have an answer to that question and its not simply what I know I should say…. it IS what I am truly living for. It is the purpose that keeps me going when everything else falls through.

I used to believe that being a Christian meant that I would be persecuted and that I would face trials. While this is true I also believed that it wasn’t until I reached heaven that would experience true joy, love, peace and happiness. I didn’t see these things as things I could count on obtaining here on earth.

What I now believe to be true is that believing in God means that I have the power to claim his promises for joy, love, peace and happiness here on earth while I’m still living. I don’t have to wait till I get to heaven. I have the power now to change my circumstances and I have a Father who loves me even in my brokenness.  I am his cherished beloved daughter and with that comes the ability to stand before him and claim his blessings. I’ve seen God move mountains for me when I pray and I’ve witnessed first hand how I can speak things into existence with faith in a God who desires to give me all good things NOW not later.
All he asks of me is to trust him with the knowledge that he knows what is good for me and be patient with his timing knowing it will be perfect.
This is where I discovered my propose for living. To have a relationship with a God who loves me more than I can comprehend which enables me to have the opportunity to see other broken people in this world and speak life into them. This brings change and freedom to those who are trapped in this massive web of lies our culture endorses.

I’ve discovered that having the opportunity and ability to witness God work his miracles in other peoples lives so that they can be free and experience the joy I have……Is Priceless!

Before I go…
I don’t want to be misleading…… but just so you understand my life is not all roses and I do still experience persecution and trials. I still feel pain and I still bleed but the difference is…….. now I have HOPE.

Hope that with Christ I can overcome, change and rise above anything that comes my way. If I’m still breathing than there is purpose because I have found a hope that can never be stolen.  I have a peace that passes all understanding and a love for others that the world cannot recognize.

A love that never runs out…….

“You were made by God and for God and until you understand that, life will never make sense.” - Rick Warren: “You were made by God and for God and until you understand that, life will never make sense.” - Rick Warren

Psalm 23 God’s Provision

God has provided me with this house and I am so blessed to have the opportunity to make it my home.

God has provided me with this house and I am so blessed to have the opportunity to make it my home.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters.

I listened to a  sermon recently that was on Psalm 23 and it was the first 2 verses that intrigued me.

The speaker shared how over in the middle east you don’t find pastures of green grass like we see over here.  Shepherds in that area would spend all day sometimes looking for patches of grass to feed their sheep for that day.  This was not always an easy job for them and finding water for their sheep could be just as challenging.

The Lord is my shepherd so he will find the grass I need for today.  I shall not be in want.  God will never leave me without shelter or food to eat.  So I say and meditated on that………I may not have the latest gadgets or trendy wardrobe but my children and I will be taken care of for the day.  I don’t have to know where our food will come from next week because next week isn’t here and God could lead me to another pasture that I cannot yet see.

I’ve learned to be pretty savvy with my money and manage it wisely.  I have zero credit card debt and own 3 cars which are all paid for.

However I just signed a lease to rent a house because I am being forced to move.  I have to admit I have worried some about this since my income is so little. My motto the last few years leading up to this moment has been that God will provide the perfect house, at the perfect time, at the perfect place, for the perfect price.

Boy did God do that!

God brought me to this little blue house out in the country and it is more than I could’ve ever dreamed of asking for.  But it is exactly what God knew that I needed.  It is so perfect to the tiniest detail that I know it is Gods provision for us.  The challenge for me has been believing that God could bless me with something so wonderful.  I have struggled for so long and when I put the figures down on paper it doesn’t look possible.  I have prayed about it a lot because I really don’t want to make the wrong decision and end up in a bad spot, not to mention I didn’t have the money they were asking for up front…………..God provided though through someone anonymously giving me exactly what I needed to come up with.  That is not something I asked for or even saw coming but it was God providing for me because I am his daughter and he wants to meet my needs if only I have the courage and faith to let him.  I know going into this my expenses will exceed the income that I can bring in and amazingly……. I am not laying in bed at night worrying about what I’m going to do.  Instead I wake up each morning and thank the Lord for blessing me with the opportunity to make this house my home.  I know that there is no need of mine that is too big for God’s wallet.  I may not always like the way that he provides for me but I have learned to be thankful and humble which has given me the privilege of witnessing some miracles that I can now share with others.

I know that there are a lot of Christians out there who would disagree with my decision.  Even Dave Ramsey would have a problem with my decision and would probably say that I need to get another job.  I am not sharing this to justify why I have made this decision but rather to be an example to others of how God has worked in my life through my financial struggles.

My options if I were to find a place with in my budget responsibly speaking would consist of……… living with someone else, government housing,  or finding a small 2 bedroom apt in a bad area of town for me to cram all 4 of us into.  I don’t know about you but I don’t think that if I am God’s princess any of those options are acceptable.

I have spent a good portion of my life working 40+ hours a week just trying to make ends meet.  I did whatever I could to make money in order to provide for my family.  All of the stress of working and keeping up with 4 kids as a single mom wore me out to the point that I couldn’t function.  It seemed that no matter how hard I tried we were barely scraping by.  I sacrificed so much emotionally and spiritually in my life to do what I thought I needed to do.

Now let me clarify here so you don’t get the wrong idea here because I was not working this hard to have 2 fairly new cars and a 4 bedroom house with a nice yard.  I was working this hard to keep 2 old vehicles running and a small 2 bedroom house that was falling apart.  I have spent most of my life time living beneath the poverty level and a lot of time trying to rise above it.

I have seen God’s hand personally in the first part of the scripture in the sense that even though I have been in some tough financial positions I have seen God provide with just enough to cover our needs time and time again.

It is the second part of the scripture here that I am experiencing for probably the first time in my life.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

That is to rest, to let go, to do nothing???????  Really?

Not just rest but God MAKES me lies down in abundance?  Am I getting this right?

I always believed that in order for God to provide I had to do something like work, or ask the right people for help or even maintain the right relationships………..come on now be honest……. we all have those friends with the pool in the backyard and if you don’t, you are probably that friend with the pool in their backyard.

Ps 23:2 implies that I have to do nothing……

In fact it implies that God insists that I rest and do nothing.  So what if I surrender all my efforts to God and lay down to watch what he does in my life?

As I look back over the last 9 months I can see how God has been forcing me to lie down in green pastures.

Last January I ended up in the Hospital for the second time in 2 years.  It was there that I was told I should apply for SSD.  I told the woman that it was ridiculous and that I could work and had been working.  She looked at me and said

” But you are here because it is not working for you.  If you want to get better you need to take a break from working before it kills you.”

I left the hospital and the thought bounced around inside my head for a few weeks before I decided to go ahead and apply.  I was told by my Doctor “Good Luck!  It will take you like 2 years to get it”  I figure in 2 years I wouldn’t need it so if it was what God wanted he would take care of it.

Long story short here….I did get SSD within 6 months and I saw doors fly open for me on the journey that people said I would have a hard time opening.

SSD is not enough to live on but it helps make ends meet so I can be the mom my children need me to be.  I have been learning through all of this that it is not me who earns the money but rather God who provides it.

Just like the green grass just for today I have what I need for each day and I may not know about tomorrow but I have total confidence in my shepherds ability to lead me to the green pastures that I need.

I’ve learned that when something crosses my path whether it is an opportunity to work or way to get assistance I listen to the promptings of my spirit.  Some times God even places people in my path with whom I can share my story with.  I’ve found that sharing my struggles allows others to reach out and meet a need that I have.  This type of experience can be quite humbling and I am learning to not be ashamed of my situations but to be open to allowing God to use them so that He can be Glorified through my unpleasant situations.  All of this takes a willingness on my part to be vulnerable before others and is something that can be risky but for me that risk has paid off on more than one occasion.

I just want to encourage you today to ask yourself if your overworked or if the numbers on the paper are in red……..

Take the time to rest before God forces you to and listen to the directions he gives you not the words of the world.

All the “shouda, coulda’s and what if’s” aren’t going to help you but God can lead you out of your situation if you listen and follow.

Disclaimer…..I am not saying to go buy a boat when you don’t have the money and expect God to pay for it or lead you to someone who will give you the money for it.  But if you want a boat pray about it and talk to people.  God just might surprise you and send someone across your path that is willing to give you a boat.

I am saying that if you don’t see how your going to meet the basic needs of your family you can trust God.  He is faithful and he wants to provide for you if you just let go and give him the control.

Rose Among Thorns

Rose

You are like a long stemmed rose, each layer of your inner beauty is revealed as yet another velvety red petal…..

The rose has been a symbol of love and beauty since the beginning of time.

Sometimes I wonder why?

Why red?  Why this particular flower?

There are so many other beautiful flowers so why the rose?

Is it red because it symbolizes the blood of Christ that he shed for us?

Does it remind us of the perfect love that God has shown us through his son?

and so my mind wanders on to……

What about the thorns?

Do they remind us to be careful …………..because where there is love there is pain?

Does it remind us of the crown of thorns that Christ wore in his death?

The pain he suffered because of his love for us.

Or maybe it’s because anything of beauty is worth fighting for…….taking risk……are you worth the risk?

Or perhaps its because beauty needs to be protected because it isn’t free and it’s priceless to those who obtain it.

 Then there are…….

Multiple velvety red petals that start off tightly woven together in a tiny bundle only to slowly open into a breath taking picture of beauty……

Is each petal a piece of who you are?

Each one a characteristic that makes you unique……

As time goes on do the petals fall and wither away just as seasons in our relationships?

Every heart has layers that slowly unfold when we take the time to stop and look.

So I wonder…….What does my heart look like?

It is said that every woman wants to be loved and wants to know that she is beautiful.

I believed that to God I was beautiful and that He loved me.

I told myself that I didn’t need anyone to love me or to think that I was beautiful because I knew God did.

Something deep inside of me wasn’t right though.  I didn’t fully understand what was going on.  I was still sad and there was a deep longing for something so much more.  God wasn’t enough for me but I knew he should be.

I was mad at myself because I couldn’t find contentment in just knowing that God loved me and thought I was beautiful.  I needed more of something cause I didn’t feel loved or beautiful and all I kept hearing was don’t believe your feelings.

What I’ve learned though after 3 years of running, losing 60lbs, and desperately trying to find friends that I can trust……

Is that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of me.

I’ve been told I’m beautiful and that I’m loved ……..

But it still didn’t do anything for me…..

So What’s Wrong With ME?

No one could tell me I was beautiful or love me enough to make me feel loved and beautiful.

The problem wasn’t anything that anyone could fix.

Anyone but me……

So this is what I’ve learned

Mark 12:29-31

The most important command that Jesus gave us was to Love the Lord our God with all of our heart and all of our soul and all of our mind and all of our strength.  The second was to love your neighbor as yourself.

So how do I love God? 

(I know this question doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with feeling beautiful or loved so bare with me as I explain what God showed me through scripture.)

This was a question I wrestled with.  Do I love God by reading the bible and praying?

I found that I got discouraged because I always seemed to fall short somewhere.  I was trying to live up to the standards I found in the bible and I knew that I was forgiven but it didn’t make me feel any better so what’s wrong?  I wanted to be perfect for God but I couldn’t be no matter how hard I tried and I hated myself for it.  I was trying to be what I thought God wanted instead of who he created me to be.  I hated myself and that has been the root of my problem.

God showed me that in hating myself I was telling God he made a mistake.  I was throwing in God’s face his own creation.  Would you tell God he made an ugly sunrise?  or He should’ve made the leaves on the trees purple instead of green?  Every time I looked in the mirror and wished I could change something about my physical appearance I was doing just that.

So part of loving God is learning to love my own body the way he created me.

I now love myself by taking care of my body gently and not abusing it.  I still run but not excessively.  I try to eat better although there are days that I still struggle.  I choose though not to beat myself up over those shortcomings.

Luke 6:37

Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn and you will not be condemned.  Forgive and you will be forgiven.  Give and it will be given to you.  For with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

I used to think that the standard I use to judge others is the standard that will be used against me but it’s so much more than that.

When I judge others I am at the same time judging myself or holding myself to that same standard.  I am the one who judges me not anyone else.  When I forgive others I am at the same time forgiving myself for those same mistakes.

So the other part of loving God is realizing that no one can judge me but me just like no one can forgive me but me.

Bottom line here is……Do I want to feel beautiful and loved?

Then I need to Love myself……letting go of imperfections that God doesn’t see because of the cross.

realizing that I am all I need to be and forgiving myself when I make a mistake instead of beating myself up.  Not trying to be something I can’t be and taking off the mask in front of people that love me.

If I can learn to do this for myself then I can learn to do it for others.  If I can’t love myself how can I possibly love others?

If God lives in me then it makes sense for me to love myself first and then love others second because after all God lives in them too.

I can’t say that I have perfected this but I can say that I do truly believe and feel Beautiful.  Sure there are still things I don’t care for but it doesn’t change how I view myself anymore.  Rather on focusing on what’s wrong with me I focus on the things I love about me and let those attributes captivate me.

Now feeling loved is another post I have yet to write.  I’m still learning this one, but for now my comfort is in knowing God loves me even when I don’t feel it.  So  now I leave you with my definition of beauty and a poem I wrote when I finally realized the beauty in me.

Beauty isn’t found in physical appearance or even outward behavior,

Beauty is found in knowing who I am deep inside and having the courage to be who I was created to be!

I am beautiful,   I am Beautiful

Those are the words I felt

I didn’t just hear them or read them.

I felt them penetrate deep within the protective barrier around my heart.

The words ignited a flame from within me

It grew and spread quickly

Its flickers warmed the cold hidden corners of winters past

The corners of my mouth slowly turned upward as the realization of what was occurring unveiled in my mind.

these words weren’t simply written or spoken to anyone who could see or hear

God spoke these words in the language of my heart

to me and only me

He told me I am beautiful

Therefore I AM!