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.

Father’s Day

Mother's Day 005

        Father’s Day for me, is a bittersweet day. I think most people, if they stopped long enough to think about it, would agree with me. Whether you’re young or old I think that life’s experiences have made this day a bittersweet reminder of the father in our life.

There are many different Fathers honored on this day which is why I believe it to be bittersweet. There are those Fathers who have passed on and have left a family saddened by the loss. While others are embracing the new role of fatherhood for the very first time.

Then there are those who never had the opportunity to know their Father for any number of reasons, some good and some bad.

But there is a Father who is often time overlooked and the memories of whom brings great pain. These Father’s often times live a life of regrets for the mistakes they’ve made with their children. They painfully watch as their children limp through life with the wounds they themselves inflicted. They often struggle with the guilt wishing they could somehow fix what they’ve done. Their children want to pretend that their Father was a “good” Father and so they set off for the card aisle at the store only to pick up one after another that just doesn’t seem to fit. They want to be honest but they also want to be loving and that seems to be impossible to find.

So this Father’s day no matter what kind of Father you are I want you to know that YOU are a PERFECT FATHER!

You were made by a God who does not make mistakes.

Yes! I know you may have made mistakes and if you haven’t made any yet, the day will come. When that day does come and you’re looking at your children wondering what did you do?

I want you to remember that YOU are FORGIVEN!

God will fix the mistakes you’ve made and use them for his glory.  Every time you mess up is an opportunity for God to show off his mighty power. God is our ultimate perfect Father. If you were perfect your children would not need God.

In case you’re wondering……Yes!

        My earthly Father did hurt me and scar my heart.  But because of his mistakes God was able to reach down from heaven and reveal his great love for me. He is healing my wounds so that I can be the person he created me to be.  So this Father’s Day I want to honor my Father not just for all the good things he’s done in my life but also the bad.  I wouldn’t change it and I want him to know that I forgive him. I hope he carries no guilt and can forgive himself for the mistakes of his past.   My desire is that he will look to the future and see how God’s grace is there for EVERYONE who accepts it.

I wrote the following poem as I struggled to figure out who God was as my Father.

Daddy

Daddy, Daddy, Daddy
Keep me safe, Hold me please
Wrap your arms around me, till the world all fades away
Speak your words of wisdom, wrapped in Love and Grace,
Hurry please! Before I run, for fear of your embrace
I’ve tried escaping here on earth
But every time I turn around I see you standing there
Your arms are open wide
But the question in my mind is are you full of love and grace, Or are you full of condemnation?
I know I have done wrong and forgiveness is supposedly for me
But trusting you,
Somehow
Seems wrong to me
My hearts been stolen many times, But you still claim your innocence
I’ve picked the locks a hundred times while you possess the keys
You promise me unending mercy for the imperfection of my heart
You promise healing from my journey, making me a reflection of your heart

Mother's Day 014
So Daddy Please
You’re the one I want
Your love embracing me, your love chasing me, your love protecting me
Daddy it’s you I desire to please
Fill me with your peace so I can rest my soul
For you alone will make me whole
Daddy it’s your Love,
Your unending perfect love that sets me free.
November 25, 2012

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!

 

Like a Willow Tree ~ Trusting in the Lord

Heavenly Raindrops

Taken one foggy morning recentlyTaken one foggy morning recently

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord.  For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters…
Jeremiah 17:7, 8
NKJV

God promises that when we put our trust in Him, we will resemble trees planted by the waters.

I am most certain that the tree He has in mind for me is a weeping willow.  Rather than maintaining a constant plateau of rejoicing, I often find myself allowing my joy to weepout when encountering sad or disappointing circumstances.

It is not as though I go around depressed all the time; I think others would attest to the fact that I try to live life upbeat and encouraging.  There are just those moments when I cave towards despondency.  During those hard times, I’m as weepy as a willow.

However, an interesting fact about weeping…

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Scruff of the Neck and Out of the Fire

Talk about a wild winter!   Who’s ready for some heat?

I think most everyone is a little tired of this snow and cold.

Everyone except me……

I’ve been quiet on my blog for almost 4 months and I’m sure some are wondering what happened to me.  So I thought it was time to share now that I have some answers.

I’ve been on a journey that has not been very fun.  Some people in my life have been hurt and I’m terribly sorry for that, but on the flip side I am not sorry for the things I’ve done or said.  I know that it must puzzle some of you reading this to try and understand but if you go back to my post titled “Balloons of Hope” you might get a better understanding of what I’m going to share.

I finally succeeded in popping that balloon that just didn’t want to pop.  The one you can bounce on ridiculously and it just expands to move the air out a different side.  Well I finally popped it and all the others that I thought would help my situation.  The only one I had left was God’s balloon and since it was tied to my belt loop there was no escaping when I got into some trouble back in December.

I felt like God picked me by the scruff of my neck and pulled me out of the fire.  He then set me down and told me to stop trying to jump over the flames.  That is easier said than done when you don’t see another way.  God then picked me up and began to carry me back across the burning coals toward the flames.  I was terrified as I could see the flames as we began to walk past and sometimes I even feel the heat, but I’m not burned.  It’s not always comfortable but Gods got me wrapped up in his arms protecting me as we walk through this furnace.  I didn’t create the furnace and neither did God, but I do have to get through it to get to the other side.  Sometimes I get anxious and try to do it myself but I’ve learned that if I continue to try to cross this furnace by myself I will keep falling short into the flames and will have to start all over again with a new set of burns.

Fires can be just like the balloons in life.  Balloons are good things that come along and give me hope but they can also distract me from my hope in God.  The fires though are challenges that can appear much scary than they really are.  If I allow my fear to overcome me and try to avoid them I will always wind up smack dab in the middle unable to see.  But I do know one thing for sure and that’s that God is faithful and will rescue me every time.

I have had situations in my life where I’ve gotten burned from jumping and I didn’t even realize I was jumping over a situation.  That has been my life for the last year or maybe even 2.  I didn’t even see the fire or even realize I was crossing it.  I could feel it and I knew it was there but I didn’t understand because I couldn’t see.  There were a few people in my life that I was screaming at in desperation for help but since I couldn’t see where I was  or the danger I was in…. I didn’t know what to ask for.  Instead, for the first time in my life, I screamed wildly and out of control lost in the dark billowing smoke.  I don’t know if all the people I hurt could see my situation and if they knew where I was but I hope they know that I’m sorry.

It’s taken a long time but I finally found the light.  The last 4 months God has been shining the light around showing me just where I have been and what I have been in the midst of.  He’s shown me how much danger there has been and how much he has saved me from.  So to say that I’m sorry for the things I’ve done would be wrong because if I hadn’t done or said them I wouldn’t know where I am today.  I would still be lost, feeling the excruciating pain of the flames I couldn’t see.  So if you feel like God’s got you by the scruff of the neck perhaps it’s time to relax and let him lead you out of the fire so he can show you where you’ve been and where you’re going to go.

Psalm 27:5

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling.

Dear Neighbor

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I’m sorry I don’t remember your name….

I know I probably should……..

I’ve been told it a number of times…..

I know…….

I’ve smiled and waved Hi!

Only a gazillion times ……..

and yet…..

I still don’t remember your name.

But……..

There is one thing that I will remember about you when I’m gone.

I’ll never forget our first Christmas in this house.

That November evening when the sun went down and all the Christmas lights came out.

My son was only 2 at the time,  and there he sat on the back of my couch….He was peering out our big picture window in total amusement of what he saw.

There before him was a giant Christmas train!  It was all lit up with the wheels  rolling and smoke billowing.  He had a front row seat with which to view this spectacular scene.  I didn’t know at the time that I too had a front row seat to a scene of my own.

See every year my kids would know that Christmas Day was near based on whether or not your train was up.  The night it appeared the count down for Christmas officially began.

We noticed the year that vandals came and knocked it down.  They broke pieces of it and my children thought it was gone for good.

The following year we didn’t see it at all.  Convinced that it was officially gone we moved on with our Holiday festivities for that year.

Then one November night

The Christmas train returned…..

And I once again..

Had a front row seat to the smiles on children’s faces.

I know that you worked hard every year to put up that train…

I know when it was knocked down it took time to repair.

I would see you over there with flashlights working so hard in the dark.

I may not have ever said anything about your hard work, but I did notice.

I also know that my children are not the only children that your train brought great  joy to.

I watched many children in my house over the years and they would all take turns sitting in  my big picture window watching your train.  The opportunity to witness the joy that it brought them, the first time they would see it…… was priceless.

This year my son is 12 and I heard him say the other day “Hey Mom it’s almost Christmas….The Christmas train is up!”

I smiled……

Then quickly turned away as I shed a tear.

We will be moving next year and although you can’t come with us, the memories you gave us will never leave us.

So I want to thank you for all of the work you put into that Christmas train year after year.

I want you to know that your neighbor noticed

I want you to know the joy that it brought the children who came in and out of my house.

Matthew 6;19 says do not store up your treasures on earth but store them in heaven, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The treasure here is not in the train that took so much time and work every year.   I’m sure that it has value here on earth, but the real treasure is in the joy that I was able to witness in the children that came and went.   I had a front row seat to one of the best shows around and you gave me that treasure.  Your train made it possible so now  I want you to have a piece of that treasure too.

I may not remember your name….

But I will never forget……

How you’ve blessed our lives.

And so I Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thanksgiving

 

Beautiful MaumeeThanksgiving…….

A time to look around

A time to take note of where we’ve been……. and where we are.

A time to look at what we have……… and not at what we don’t have.

A time to acknowledge what matters most.

So what matters most?

 

 

Is it how the Turkey is cooked?

Is it the words spoken over the table?

Is it who is sitting at the other end of that table?

 

 

This year I was blessed with three Thanksgiving meals:

 

The first was with my extended family.

Conversation got a bit too personal……. and was quickly followed with the accusation.   Then I heard it…..it only took them two years to dig in with this one so here it is….. when I am I going to start dating?  I’m quite sure I am not the only person out there with family members  who like to ask too many questions with the excuse of “we only ask because we care.”

 

The second was joining a friend with her family.

I didn’t know everyone but that was okay.  I was quickly introduced not that I remember all the names but I can remember their faces.  It was a bit awkward ……but the food was good and it was nice to not be alone.

 

The third was with my children.

A turkey that I prepared along with mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, dinner rolls and pie.

We all squished around a table that was too small, with me sitting on broken chair and my daughter on a footstool.

There was no fancy dishware or wine to share…….. But the memory we’ll share.

The thing that mattered most in all of these was not what was served………… or what was talked about,………. but who was there and the love that was shared…..That is what I am thankful for!

Thankful for the opportunity to be graced with the presence of others even if it is sometimes uncomfortable.

Even if…….. sometimes the conversations hurt.

Even if…….. its with someone I may not ever see again.

Even if…… its under humble circumstances.

So this year I looked around

I saw where I was and where I had been.

I could see what I had……… not what I didn’t have, and I am choosing to acknowledge what matters most.

Love……

Love matters most…..

Love is all encompassing….it makes the world go round.

Without it there is no meaning, no purpose, no hope.

Love is, Love does and Love will always be what matters most.

So this Thanksgiving if you have Love open your hearts and your arms wide.

Give freely of what matters most.

Love holding nothing back.

Galations 5:14

The entire law is summed up in a single command;  Love your neighbor as yourself.

1 Corinthians 13:13

And now theses three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the GREATEST of these is LOVE.

 

 

 

Lesson’s in an Epic Failure

I recently had the opportunity to speak to a group of 20-30 youth, I wasn’t exactly thrilled since I have never spoken to a group like  that before.  Now speaking isn’t necessarily new because I’ve spoken at board meetings and small bible studies surrounded by friends but as far as a group of people I don’t know well……. to share something that God has placed on my heart, it was a first.  It all came about because the week before I found myself sitting in the back of the sanctuary as one of the leaders was giving the lesson and God began to press upon my heart to share a lesson I had struggled to learn that was along the same lines of topic being taught.  I went home and spent 3 days just praying about it and asking God what it was exactly I was supposed to share.  I knew the point and I knew the story I just wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to say it.  I am a writer so I’m used to planning out everything going down on paper and if I don’t think it sounds like what I’m trying to say I can always go back and reword things.  Speaking however is completely different and once a word is spoken there is no taking it back.  You can try to explain and maybe the listener will understand but maybe they won’t.

Sunday morning came and I found the courage to ask the leader if I could share.  The response was put together an outline with supporting scripture on the topic you would like to share and get back with me.  I went home thinking more about what I should say and the possible verses that would go with it.  After some prayer I came up with an outline and scriptures to go along.  I wouldn’t say that I was nervous,  I was just curious where God was going with this.  I didn’t think that I was qualified to be speaking and wasn’t sure how I would be received.  I also wasn’t convinced it would all come out the way I wanted it to either.  I have this problem that when I get in front of people my mind freezes and I can’t think straight so most of the time I don’t say much.  At a board meeting I’m usually just giving facts on a situation and it’s nothing personal.  This was different and knew that by sharing I had the ability to speak into the lives of others.  I didn’t want to say something wrong and negatively affect the lives of these kids.  My purpose was to share a struggle I’ve had in my own walk with God in hopes that it might encourage them and perhaps bring freedom to someone.

The night came and I thought I had realistic expectations of the evening.  I knew it wasn’t going to come out the way I wanted it to and I also knew that it might be an epic failure.  I did however know that it was what God was asking of me and that he would give me the words to say.  I also knew that he could take anything I said wrongly and fix it.  This was for God and no one else,….. so really no matter what happens it was in his hands.

I started with this prayer.

Lord,

I come before you tonight and thank you for all of the precious souls you have brought here tonight.  I thank you for the opportunity to speak to them and that you would soften their hearts so that might hear and see the words that are spoken.  I ask that you give them understanding and that my words might glorify you.  I pray also for your protection over us as we go home tonight and as we go through the next week.  I ask this all in Jesus name Amen.

After that I’m not really sure what I said.  I know what I intended to say and I know at some point I froze and wasn’t sure where I was at or where I was going.  I prayed and just let go of every expectation had.

What I tried to say was that just because I’m now a Christian doesn’t mean I’m never going to make a mistake again.  I used to think that if I was truly a Christian it meant that I would be given the ability to do the right thing all of the time.  Because that didn’t happen I was constantly asking Jesus into my heart.  I thought that somehow I must not have done something right if I kept screwing up.  I would hear of drug addicts and alcoholics who would change in one day.  I used to think that because I couldn’t just change at the snap of my fingers like they did, that something was wrong.  What a lie the enemy told me.  I knew all of the sin in my heart that I struggled with, we all have it and we all struggle with it.  Most of us hide it from everyone afraid to tell.  We are afraid of the judgment, afraid we have somehow not done something right.  The truth is……being a Christian doesn’t mean we won’t struggle with same sins but rather we are forgiven and free from them.  I guarantee you will still struggle but the battle is won and the world will take every opportunity to tell you of all the negative things that you are.  You can listen to the world and believe what it tells you or you can listen to God.  You can’t just know in your mind what the scripture says you are.  You have to believe it.  For the longest time I knew in my head what God said I was, but I didn’t believe it.  The world was constantly telling me all of these negative things about me and because I could see it myself it was so easy to believe.  I knew that God said I was beautiful, smart, and funny but to the world I also knew that I was ugly, stupid, and worthless.  I always told myself that it didn’t matter what the world thought of me because one day I would be in heaven where the truth was and I would be free.  What I learned after years of struggling is that it’s not enough to just know the truth of what God says of me.  I can be told a million times that God loves me and that he says I’m beautiful, but that didn’t help me believe because that was not how I was treated.  Not even by the church.

 1 John 3:16
This is how we know what love is….Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought lay down our lives for our brothers.  Dear children let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth,  this then is how we know that we belong to the truth,  and this is how we put our hearts at rest whenever our hearts condemn us.  For God is greater than our hearts and he knows everything
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I had been told by people and read in the bible over and over how special I was to God but what I didn’t experience was that truth followed up by action.  It wasn’t until someone actually took the time to show me by their actions that I truly began to believe the truth in God’s word.  This is why it is so important that our actions match the words out of our mouths especially since we all know actions speak louder than words.  What are your actions telling the people in your life?  How can you show the person next you that you love them?

Below is a little something that I read to myself when all I can hear is the world telling me how bad I am.

Daughter of the King

Listen to yourself

What are you saying?

Did you screw up?

Do you think you are stupid?

Are you crazy, fat, ugly or worthless?

You would never tell anyone…..would you?

You hide it inside

Ashamed of the truth of who you think you are.

Is it really you?

Stop!

Listen again

Do you hear it?

There’s a faint whisper

What do you hear?

What is it saying?

You’re smart

You’re sane

You’re the beautiful daughter of a King

Listen closely

It gets louder

Louder every time you hear

Louder with each word

Till it SCREAMS and you can no longer deny

Deny who you are

Smart, Sane, Beautiful daughter of a King

Not just any King

The King

The King of all kings

He has claimed you

You are his

To him you are smart, sane, beautiful

Perfect just the way you are

Precious daughter of the King

I know I’m not perfect and I also know that everything didn’t come out the way that I wanted it to that night.  I do know that I was obedient to what God asked me to do and that I did it to glorify him.  I also think some might think it was an epic failure or so I heard.  What I didn’t expect in all of this is that God would give me the opportunity to walk out what I just shared in my own life.  The test came just 15 minutes after I finished.  The world telling me I was wrong this time it was even in words.  I had a choice what was I going to believe?

I curled in the stairwell and prayed searching for the truth in the words I had heard.  I went home that night and a friend prayed with me asking God to please convict me of anything that I may have shared that was wrong and if not to please show me clarity in the situation.

I woke up early the next morning to go for my run and while I was out God began to speak.

Monica,

Didn’t you just speak on not listening to who the world says you are but to who I say you are?

Yes Lord.

Who do I say you are?

I am your beloved daughter.

Did you get up and speak because I asked you to?

Yes Lord I did

Then your motive was pure and you were obedient to the calling I gave you.  I am the one who determines if it was a failure, not those other people.

There is a lesson here.  You didn’t exactly do as I asked.  You did what you thought they wanted not what I asked of you.  You took your story and tried to teach it.  That is not your talent.  Your talent is telling stories whether it be in writing or speaking.  Follow my son, did he teach? Or did he tell parables?

He told parables!

Monica,   sometimes our epic failures are simply to show us what we are not good at, so we can discover what we are good at.  You my darling, are good at parables, don’t try to teach, let the lessons come naturally through your story and they will be more meaningful to your audience.

I’m sure there are people in my life who might read this and judge me harshly and I don’t care.  I used to, but I’ve given up caring what anyone in this world thinks of me.  I know my savior is tucked safely in the core of my being, breathing life into each beat of my heart.  I will say that it is easier to believe what God says about me when the church backs up those words with action.  But even if they don’t, I’ve learned to believe in the truth of God’s word and its through his grace that I am able to extend forgiveness to those who have hurt me.


 

SPIDER!

Worlds Largest Spider

A familiar scream pierced through the cool night air and I turned quickly to see my 2 daughters jumping out of the car.  Tori who is 14 and Christy who is 8., had chosen to wait in the car and play on the I Pad and Kindle while I ran into a few stores with my oldest daughter Alison who was in search for a Homecoming dress.  We just so happened to be walking from one store in the shopping plaza to the next when I heard the scream.  I turned to Alison and told her to go on while I took care of the other 2.  It was late and the stores would be closing soon and we only had 4 more days before the big day so I really didn’t have time for the commotion at the car.

My guess was that there was a spider somewhere in the car and it needed to be dealt with.  Now I’m not really a fan of spiders and quite frankly I try to ignore them  because I really can’t handle it.  I figure if I pretend they are not there then they cease to exist in my mind.  My children however cannot do that…. so this time I must suck it up and go squash the little bugger.

As I approach the car their screams confirm what I already guessed and yes it is a monstrous spider by their description and it had been crawling up Tori’s leg when she discovered it.

I take a deep breath secretly wishing once again that I was not a single Mom and that I had some man in  my life that I could call to come deal with this thing.

Tori holds up her hands to show me that it is 3 inches in diameter and tells me its on the side of the seat between the floor and the edge.

I slowly peak into the car…..the adrenaline, rushing through me as I struggle to remain calm.

The back seat is covered with school bags and miscellaneous stuff that piles in the car with them every day.  All I can think about is how there are lots of places for this thing to run and hide under.  If this thing is really as big as she describes it, it is probably a wolf spider and there is no way I am driving home with one of those in the car.

So her I am standing there trying to get a good look at this thing and I can see what appears to be long legs but I can’t quite make it out.  I figure that if I can get some of the stuff out I might have a better chance of killing it before it hides on me.

Suddenly I hear voices behind me and I turn to see a young couple walking to one of the last cars in the parking lot.

“You wouldn’t mind killing a large spider for me please!”  I plead with the young man.

He hangs his head and says ” I knew you were going to ask me that and no I don’t want to kill a spider.”

“I really don’t like spiders either” he says as he is backing away

Great the guy is even afraid of them,  my spirit deflates again as I turn back to my car.

“Wait! I want to see it first.”  the girl with him shouts as she runs over to look into the car.

I point to where the spider is supposed to be and she leans over attempting to get a visual of it, but she can’t.  It’s too dark and of course she doesn’t want to get too close either.    She decides to pull out her phone to try to take a picture of it so we can see what were dealing with.  As the flash goes off the thing jumps at her and all of us scream and jump away.  Petrified and shaking we look to see what is now sitting on the seat of the car and it is HUGE….Really HUGE!  In fact I don’t think I have ever seen a grasshopper this big.  We all start to laugh hysterically.  At this point  another car pulls up having heard the commotion and the man asks us ” are you alright?”

We all turn to him and explain that what we thought was  a giant spider has turned out to be a giant grasshopper.  He kindly offers to remove the grasshopper for me and I graciously accept his offer.  I am so relieved while thankful and so appreciative for his help.

On the way home I begin to thank God for sending someone to help me and I hear God speaking back to me.

Monica,

Do you know how many spiders you think you see in your life?  How many times do you look at situations and freak out because you think it is a giant spider.  If you would just let me shine my light on it perhaps you would find that your spiders…..are simply grasshoppers.

We all have spiders in our lives.  Some of them look big and we simply want to squash and run.  Some we would simply prefer to ignore as long as there is no immediate threat.  Perhaps what we really need to do is STOP!

Really look at the spider and determine the truth through Gods light.

Is it really a spider?  Maybe its not.  May be it is.

If it is…… Gods light will show you how to get rid of it and if its not……… you’ll get to enjoy the surprise and relief of conquering a fear.

 

Ps 34:4

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;

he delivered me from all my fears.

New Mornings Light

Peace has found its home deep within my heart

As the new day dawns, each ray of sunshine

Splashes your greatness upon my soul

Words will never do justice for the beauty of your creation

My breath is stolen by the colors of emotion

Colors created and painted by your heart

You delicately paint my life as sweetly as the morning light

You tenderly direct the path you set before me

So I will walk in confidence

For I know your paths are true and right

For they will lead me home to heavens throne