Thoughts By Me

Thoughts from the Shoreline

I’m so blessed to live by the ocean. I love walking on the beach, hearing the roar of the tide crashing in. Hubby woke up this morning and came down with a big grin on his face. “Let’s go to the ocean”. I’m always game to go walk a few miles; smelling the fresh air, finding “treasures” (I got a huge shell this time), listening to the gulls crying as they swoop down to snag a fresh crab dinner.

 

The expanse and enormity of the water reminds me how very small I really am and how this life really isn’t about me. It puts my life in perspective. You can’t convince me that any of this is an accident. It’s too orchestrated. I’ve experienced way too much “God-incidence” to believe anything else. There’s something way bigger going on then what my finite eyes can see, that I’m a participant in. This is SO not about me.

 

The hardest part is realizing that we have no control over what happens. Humans are flawed. We make mistakes and bad judgment calls. People are infamous for hurting other people, despite intent. We can’t control our circumstances but we CAN learn to control our reaction to things.

 

Now hold on! Don’t stone me yet!

 

I said NOTHING about it being easy. Its not in our nature to think this way, either. You have to be proactive and intentional. And there are no instant, lasting results. It’s a process; a refining. And sometimes the progress doesn’t seem fast enough. It’s SUPER hard work, it sucks and you’ll have opposition, but the reward is so worth it!

 

The reward is peace.

 

The key is giving up control to God. Total control. It isn’t on your strength at all. When we finally realize that we aren’t REALLY in control to begin with and let God take the reins, He then has the ability to place us where He needs us to be, free of worry and fear. He will bless your socks off for it!! Test it out and see if I’m not right and your life doesn’t change drastically for the good! Stop speaking negativity over yourself and start claiming the promises of the bible as if it already is. Talk yourself INTO good thoughts, not negative. You have to choose to see things differently. Then sink yourself into God’s Word (do some word searches on the areas you want to improve your life in the glossary/concordance) and hang on for the ride of your life.

 

No, it’s not a natural instinct for most people, I realize that. It wasn’t for me either. But when you’re walking in line with God, peace follows no matter the circumstances. The absence of peace should be a red flag. This guy had been to prison, beaten, stoned, lashed, verbally abused and this is what he had to say about it.

 

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me
Philippians 4:11-13

 

From an earthly standpoint Paul didn’t seem to have much to be joyful about. He was even shipwrecked and still praised God in it. That’s some rock-solid faith, determination and commitment! That’s called not being shaken by what this broken world throws at us and standing victorious. He knew it was a choice. He set his mind on the prize and kept it set. Instead of focusing on the crap around him, he claimed victory until he had it. I don’t imagine he always “felt like it” either (there’s those pesky emotions again).

 

We are only here for a fleeting moment in the grand scheme of things. Just a whisper in time, a leaf blowing by in the wind. Here, and then suddenly gone. From dust to dust in the blink of an eye. From an earthly perspective it seems like some cruel and unusual joke. But there is a purpose…..you know you’ve seen some of it in hindsight. It can’t be denied. Read Ecclesiastes (yes; the whole book shouldn’t take you but 15-20 minutes) with this in mind: he’s saying if you look at the world through human eyes without acknowledging your Creator then of course there’s no hope. But with God this messed up world can still have hope even in its brokenness.

 

I want to let the One who created this place be in charge. He can see the big picture and he really does want an abundant life for me. Life doesn’t always look how I think it should and that’s actually a good thing. It’s not an insult to me. It just reminds me of my need for Jesus. We weren’t meant to do life without Him.

 

My heart beating, my soul breathing
I found my life when I laid it down
Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground
Find me here at Your feet again
Everything I am, reaching out, I surrender
Come sweep me up in Your love again
And my soul will dance
On the wings of forever
– “Touch the Sky”, by Hillsong 
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Thoughts from the Past

Wow! I can be so arrogant sometimes. I would even venture to say I was zealous; full of fiery passion! I was fuming and ready to shove the bible down his throat….once I came down from my high horse. He stormed out implying that I was nuts and I furiously grabbed my pen and notebook and began at the beginning of the bible. By the time I got to the New Testament, it had been hours and my brain was fried!

 
How dare he tell me it’s impossible to hear from God and that He doesn’t speak to us! I had spent my whole life learning to hear Him. Plus, the bible is full of incidences of God speaking to people. Packed full! Most occasions actually say “God said…” I wrote down every reference I could find for proof.

 
I didn’t finish the New Testament until the next day. He HAD TO see that God speaks to us and I was willing to be the one to prove it to him. I would finish my task no matter how long I had to scour God’s Word for my case against him. I had pages and pages of bible references that I was planning to haughtily wave in his face.

 
That was over 2 years ago. I never gave him the evidence. Every time I went to, something would stop me. Then too much time had passed and so had my opportunity . The enormous list sat in my notebook until the other day when God had me shred it.

 
I was watching a Charles Stanley sermon when he said something that hit me…….hard. What I should’ve done was ask God to reveal Himself, because He does talk to us and He can get our attention. But, He makes Himself known. He’s not on our timeline; nor is He at our beck and call. And He certainly doesn’t encourage prideful displays of “know-it-all”.

 
Force-feeding him my notes was not the answer. It was a stinky, unloving delivery that probably would’ve sent him the opposite direction, ruining my witness altogether. This wasn’t about teaching my opponent a lesson, it was about teaching me my place. I thought I meant well, but I wasn’t trying to help him understand, I was trying to make him see what I wanted him to see. And all that does is point to me.

 
I’m glad he never got my list. I want God to manifest in a better, healthier way. Not through my rude promptings or boastful anecdotes. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. It’s a choice. Which is what God wants; for us to choose Him. That’s the reason He made humans to begin with.

 
The best witness we have is how we live our lives. With love, integrity, honesty and mercy. That’s how we show people their need for God, through our need for Him. I might have been “right” about God speaking, but that was the wrong way to go about it. Love is what paves the way to a relationship with God, not being “right”.

 
Thank You for not ,leaving me the way I started, Lord. No matter the discomfort, peel back my layers of fleshly wants desires until I look more and more like Jesus. I want to leave a legacy of Your love not my “rightness”. Keep reminding me that this is really Your story and that I have a job to do. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Thoughts from the Gas Station

I used to get so frustrated when things didn’t go just the way I thought it should. I was so silly at times, and quite often ridiculous. I would get so angry at people’s bad driving and inconsiderate behavior that it would ruin my day. I thought God and the world were against me. I used to think God looked at me and considered me “His joke”. I imagined Him sneezing me out and going, “Awe, she is kinda spunky, I think I’ll keep her just for a good laugh”. But of course back then, I thought the world revolved around me.

 

 

One day God revealed it to me through my sister. “What’s the big rush? Are you in a hurry? What are you hurrying to get to? Half the fun is getting there!” When we rush through our day thinking of our agenda only, not considering anyone else’s needs and getting frustrated when things don’t go as planned, we forget to look around and see who could need a little brotherly love. So, I asked God to help me see people through His eyes. If we can change our perspective on how we view people, life has a LOT less irritation in it and we realize they are just like us: they make mistakes plus have their own agendas, perspectives and feelings.

 

 

This morning God woke me up at 5. Its not a normal occurrence for me to be up so early (I’m usually up around 7 or 8). I got dressed to go run some errands instead of going to the gym today. I usually go 6 times a week, but having just spent 4 days adventuring through Lincoln City, OR, putting on some miles and climbing MANY steep stairwells, I decided to take my day off today. I’m exhausted from my 10th anniversary weekend beach trip. I needed a day of rest.

 

 
I had to do some grocery shopping but I wanted to run to Bath and Body Works (this is my addiction) first to redeem my free coupon. I pulled the door handle and it was locked. I looked at my watch and it said 9:36 & they don’t open until 10 (**facepalm**). Getting up so early threw me off. So, I decided to go grocery shopping and skip the coupon….since I just did one yesterday. I pulled into the parking lot, went to the back of my jeep and grabbed my shopping bags. I noticed a lone cart in the cart corral. I felt like I was supposed to get it to use as my cart. While walking to get it, a lady came walking past with a purse and a gas can.

 

 

The gas station was at least ½ a mile away so I asked if she wanted a ride. She said, “Wow, most people don’t help out anymore and I’m having a really bad day”. I pulled up to the gas pump, she got out, paid and filled her container. As I drove her back to her car we chatted. She was in her 20s, I think. She had a 3 year old that was thankfully with her mom . She and her “man” were going through a really hard time and not only did the car run out of gas, it had a glitch. She had to jump start it too due to some ongoing car problems. She carried a battery jumper box with her, but it needed to be charged since she used it so much. She was stuck in the turn lane but God cleared out traffic for me to pull up in front of her. It’s usually a pretty busy intersection.

 

 

There was a time that I would’ve been rushing through the whole situation, but then I would have missed out on a blessing. Her comment made me sad but I’m glad God sent me to show her not everyone is like that. I’m glad my favorite store was closed. I wouldn’t have been there to see her walking and she might’ve had to carry that container all the way back to her car and continue to wait for her jumper to charge (it was plugged in at the taco shop). We should be helping each other, not complaining about each other. We should notice each other Instead of seeing through each other. We just might help make someone’s bad day a little less bad if we open our eyes.

 

 

In fact, Jesus said and reiterated that the greatest commandment is to love God and the 2nd is to love others (Matthew 22:37). It’s the very reason He came to earth! To heal the broken; to open up the eyes of the blind; to show love to the unloved. We are to do what Jesus did to the point of laying our lives (wants, needs) down for each other (John 15:13). We are supposed to serve each other. To say, “I really wanted to spend my $20 on lotion (that I have plenty of), but I’ll help you out instead”, “I’m really busy right now and in a hurry, but if you need someone to listen to you, I’ll be the ear that you so desperately desire“, “I just had to come back into the store for the ice I forgot when I was here 5 minutes ago, but yes I want to hear what I can pray for you about”, “I’m not feeling well today, but yes, I’ll be a shoulder for you to cry on”. This is the life we are called to as Christ followers: service.

 

 

I think its funny when people think that being a Christ follower means you have to turn boring. Like you have to give up all things fun and turn into a big fuddy-duddy. That’s religion (and it’s not for me!!), not a relationship with the Creator. Quite the opposite is true if we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, we are blessed in blessing others. Especially if we do it without complaint of our day being interrupted. It’s actually endless adventure when we let God lead our day. I meet some great people and hear some amazing stories. We’re all in this together. We need to look past our own noses because we very well could be the only Jesus someone gets to see. Maybe they just need a spark of hope. A light shining in this dark world. A little love goes a long way.

 

 

Wake up Bride of Christ (the church)!! Its time to do what we signed up to do when we said yes to the gift of freedom and eternal life. It’s time to love others like Jesus showed us to do. It’s time to show the world what Christians are really about. Let’s take as many people as we can to heaven with us. This is what God is waiting for! Open your eyes and see what God sees. To God be the glory!!

 

 

13 For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the [e]sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through [f]love serve and seek the best for one another. 14 For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is fulfilled in one precept, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF [that is, you shall have an unselfish concern for others and do things for their benefit].” 15 But if you bite and devour one another [in bickering and strife], watch out that you [along with your entire fellowship] are not consumed by one another. Galatians 5:13-15

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Thoughts from the “Judge’s Bench”

I’ve been battling my hormones and emotions all week. Once a month they stand up and try to take charge of my brain and sometimes I become a slave to my judgments and irritations. No, I don’t have to listen to them, but all too often, I do. So many of us think, “well, that’s just my personality“, or “I can’t help it, I have no control over it”. While it is true that we can’t control hormones or emotions, but we can chose HOW we react to them. And, I’m not inferring that what I’m suggesting is easy by any means either!

 

When I arrived at the gym this morning there was a family that went in with me . It’s an apartment gym so it’s just big enough to suit it’s purpose. There was a mom, dad, grandma and 2 little girls. Of course my first thought is to tell them about the rules that are posted in plain sight, in large lettering. Rule one being, no kids under 14 allowed. The girls are not even close to 10 year olds.

 

Slightly irritated, I took my rain boots off and exchanged them for my walking shoes, took off my hat, hung my coat, wiped down the treadmill, set up my sweat towel, water, phone, tablet (to watch a sermon) and got on the treadmill. Then it hit me…..I left my headset at home. Grrr! Not wanting to pack up and unpack again or leave my stuff out around the kids, I decided to suck it up and do my time. I couldn’t imagine they’d be there the whole workout, so I’d just listen without my headset when they left.

 

By then, the parents (still wearing their coats) had moved from elliptical to treadmill to bike. Back and forth they went from machine to machine while the grandma watched the girls play on the treadmill beside me. With nothing to block out the distractions, out of the corner of my eye I watched the girls play with the settings and try to stop the belt movement with their feet. It was all I could do not to reprimand them and tell them to get off before they got hurt or ruined the machine. I tried looking out the window the opposite way, but I kept finding my thoughts on them and how I “never would’ve let my son do that!”. The grandma seemed to be encouraging them. One of the girls kept demanding candy, jumping on and off the treadmill, while the smallest just kept walking and playing with the toggles.

 

I continued to judge them even after they finally left. Even though I succeeded in not saying anything, I still wasn’t being loving like Jesus would’ve wanted me to be. I didn’t act nasty to them by any means either. They were none the wiser to the judgmental thoughts in my head, but that didn’t make it ok. My thoughts now drift to a time where I did let my hormones take over my mouth in a similar situation.

 

2 years ago, we’d just moved to Oregon and I was at the store trying to find an item that I was having trouble locating. It wasn’t where it would’ve made sense to keep it. Already aggravated, I combed the aisles searching for my item. All of the sudden a 3 or 4 year old came barreling down the aisle and slammed his cart into me. He then proceeded to continue ramming me with it. The mom came around ignored me , grabbed the cart from him and didn’t say anything to correct him. My big mouth opened up and venom spewed everywhere. “Hey! That’s not ok! You may not be rude like that! No, no!!” and to the mom “Control your kid!!” The mom snarkily replied, “he’s little it’s not his fault, don’t talk to him like that”. Instantly, my face turned red and I went into judge mode. “My son never would’ve done something like that. I would’ve spanked his butt! You should be paying better attention to your child”. The mom snapped back “he didn’t mean anything by it, he doesn’t know any better! Leave him alone.” Now, I’ve set a runaway train in motion, “that’s because you don’t correct him!”. We continued to bicker for a bit.

 

I’m definitely NOT the perfect parent with the perfect child that I was making us out to be. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing with my son. I got it wrong more times than right. The truth is, I didn’t spank him often because I could never catch him. Half the time it was a fiasco. Me chasing him, him laughing, me finally catching him, throwing his flailing body to the floor as I sat on him to stop the insanity of his swinging arms. He could be a real punk at times and I was terrible at knowing how to deal with it. I was not supermom despite my intense love for him and my wishes to be supermom. After I realized what I’d done, I tracked her down to apologize, but the damage was already done. She was even nastier.

 

As followers of Christ, we are the only Jesus some will ever experience. When we blow our testimony like that, it’s hard to repair it without making God look bad. It makes people think that Christians have a “holier-than-thou” viewpoint. Like we are above wrongdoing as we sit on our high-horse thinking we are better than “sinners”. It gives Christ followers a bad rap when we bring up everyone else’s faults, as if we have none. We are His ambassadors and sometimes we only get one shot to show love.

 

This is precisely what my morning devotional was about today. In John chapter 8, we are introduced to a woman who has been caught red-handed in adultery. Jesus was in the temple teaching when they marched her in. She was probably terrified of what her future held. I imagine her hair and clothes were quite disheveled as they shoved her into the middle of the crowd and started throwing verbal darts. “The law of Moses tells us to stone her to death for her wretched act!!” The indignant Pharisees thought they had Jesus trapped this time. But, what did He do? He calmly bent down and started doodling in the dirt. As He continued His impromptu art they continued to bombard Him, demanding an answer. Jesus stood up, probably dusted His fingers off and said, “The one among you who has no sin….he’s the one who should throw the first stone”. Then He bent down and went back to His drawing.

 
I’ll bet you could’ve heard an ant crawl across the floor in that place for the next few moments. Slowly, one by one, from oldest to youngest, the crowd dispersed until it was just the woman and Jesus. “What happened to your accusers? Did anyone condemn you?” He asked her. She humbly replied “No one did, Lord”. Then, the One who was worthy to….the One who could’ve actually, rightfully thrown the stones said “I don’t condemn you either. Go, and sin no more”.

 

Instead of being rude to the lady at the store, I should’ve let her know she wasn’t alone. I should’ve encouraged her and reminded her that this was just a phase. I should’ve told her that he was just being a typical little boy. But I let my temper decide what to tell her and she might have really just needed some understanding. I’m so thankful my mouth stayed shut this morning or it could’ve been another really messy situation. But, God is growing me and thankfully He’s not finished with me yet. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to butt out and mind my own business instead of judging other people’s parenting. At least it’s a step in right direction. You really do catch more flies with honey.

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Thoughts from the Book of John

One of my pastors offered the worship team a challenge on Ash Wednesday at our monthly meeting. I accepted.
Lent definition according to Dictionary.com:
noun
(in the Christian religion) an annual season offasting and penitence in preparation for Easter,beginning on Ash Wednesday and lasting 40weekdays to Easter, observed by Roman Catholic,Anglican, and certain other churches.

According to Miriam Webster Dictionary:
noun
: a period of 40 days before Easter during which many Christians do not eat certain foods or do certain pleasurable activities as a way of remembering the suffering of Jesus Christ

 

There was a time that I thought the whole Lent thing was just for Catholics (which I am not). I was raised in a Missionary Baptist church, so it “didn’t apply to me”. Catholics I encountered seemed to be all about legalism, technicality, and ritual. The only Catholic service I’d attended was with a friend in high school. It was not positive. The priest read something to us, not Scripture, and there were times to say something back, but only what was written for me to say. The priest said something that I knew was not biblically sound. My friend had to shush me (a few times) and keep me from raising my hand. I was used to being able to speak freely in church. I was even told they discouraged reading the bible yourself. So I had a very negative, judgmental opinion of Catholics.

 

I now realize that if we are in the body of Christ (meaning, we accept His gift of eternal life through the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross and choose to follow Jesus’ example of living to serve), denomination doesn’t matter. Religion is man-made, following Jesus is a lifestyle and relationship with the One and only Creator. There will be people in heaven….not Baptists ; not Catholics; not Lutherans; not “you fill in the blank”s……..people, like you and me. I bet we’ll actually be shocked to see some of them 😉

 

Anyhow, the challenge is to study the book of John for the 40 days of Lent (I’ll attach the reading plan for you later. It’s good even a week or so late). Now, I’ve read the book of John MANY times. In fact, sometimes we do something so often and if we don’t take care to absorb what we are reading, we become complacent. That is the point of this plan, to meditate on it….to chew it well before ingesting…to apply It’s truth…to be doers not just hearers (James 1:22)…..to allow it to impact our lives.

 

This morning’s reading was in John chapter 5. Go read it yourself, but for this post here is a summary of verses 1-9:
Jesus and His disciples head to Jerusalem for a feast, where there is this pool with 5 porches (I imagine you can fit a LOT of sick, blind, lame and broken people in that much space). Sometimes, an angel comes and stirs the water. Whoever gets in first gets healed….but, only one. Jesus approaches a guy that He knows has been suffering a debilitating problem for 38 years (only 4 years less than I’ve been alive) and asks him what, on the surface, seems like a really rude and ridiculous question, “Do you want to be healed?”. The man promptly whines at Jesus, “No one will do it for me by picking me up and putting me in, so I keep missing my chance”. Jesus tells the guy to get up and walk and he’s healed.

 
“Do you want to be healed?”…..seems like one of those “well, duh!” moments doesn’t it? But is it really?

 
Sometimes it’s so much easier to say it’s someone else’s fault for what is happening in our lives; to point a finger and say, “well, if so-and-so had been there for me things would be different“, “if I’d had help, I could actually get somewhere in life”, “if my parents would’ve been better parents, my life would’ve been easier”, “if they hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have done that”. The list can go on and on. But the time comes when we have to decide to take action or continue wallowing in self-pity (like the rich man in Matthew 19). When God gives us a solution it might not be what we want to hear. Excuses rise in us and the blame game ensues if we aren’t willing to change our perspective and see our part in things.

 

I believe this was the reason it took me so long to quit smoking (cigarette free for 4 ½ years now!!). I actually blamed others for my addiction to tobacco. “If he’d stop making me angry, I would quit“, “If my friends didn’t do it, I wouldn’t crave it” and of course my favorite, “If I wasn’t so stressed out, I would do stop”. The fact is that I loved smoking. I loved the “break” of it….the “reward” system I had set up for myself. Despite my insistence that it was other’s behavior causing my addiction, my real problem was me. Not a one of them stuck a cigarette in my mouth, lit it and kick-started my lungs.

 

I’m so thankful that if we let God grow us into who He intended us to be, He will save us from one of our worst enemies…..ourselves. Like the song “Where would I be without You” by Citizen Way says, “My foolish heart lead to trouble , but I followed anyway. I’d be one big disappointment if You hadn’t rescued me from me”. When we let our hearts deceive us , we can be overcome with doubt and fear and it can keep us from doing what we need to do ourselves.

 

I still get it though, in other parts of my life. Sometimes I allow me to get in my way. With the loss of most of the use of my right hand, I fall into that trap at random and decide I’m not able to do things before I even try. I feel sorry for myself and give up on dreams and goals. For instance, learning archery has been on my “list of things to do in life”……obviously a two-handed sport. Instead of admitting defeat I am going to learn anyway. I had given up hope, but after a long talk with the guy at the sporting goods store, I now see that what seemed impossible is now TOTALLY doable. It’s just going to look different. Same with playing the guitar, too. I’m not giving it up like the surgeon rudely suggested, it’s just gonna look different. I don’t have to play for anyone but God so it can be soft. I can also change the rhythms in my written songs…they don’t have to include finger picking and slap-rhythms. God said to make a joyful noise (Psalm 81)….not achieve perfection. It’s about doing what I can do.

 
“Say hey, hey wake your heart
And break, break, break apart
The walls that keep you from being you
And walk, walk towards the light
And don’t stop ’till you live your life
Like someone died for you
This is the time to try
Step out your life is waiting
And as you fall you’ll find
That you can fly” -Superchick, “This is the time”

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Thoughts from the Treadmill

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My workout time is more like worship time (I call it worship workout/worship yoga). I listen to sermons, my audio bible and worship music (yes, I’m the lady in the gym belting out songs of praise at the top of my huffing, puffing breath; I’m not embarrassed and most people have their headsets on and can’t hear me anyway….I think). I discovered that when I focus on God, the hard things in life become easier; the overwhelming becomes doable; what I think is ridiculous becomes necessary; the unachievable becomes victory.

 
If I take the focus off me and my health struggles, my workout becomes something I look forward to instead of dreading. Especially on the days I really don’t feel good, when I have to force myself to face my dizzy, nauseous, off-kilter days but would rather sleep through it (even though I feel it in sleep). Like I told my sister last night, if I focused on all the negative in my life, I would end up in fetal position in a padded room overcome by despair and hopelessness. But, we could all say that. It’s all about perspective. It’s all about our choice of focus.

 
Today during worship workout I listened to a Joyce Meyer sermon titled “Thoughts and Behavior parts 1&2“ http://joycemeyer.org/BroadcastHome.aspx?video=Thoughts_And_Behavior_-_Part_1

It focuses on self-control. When she hit on one particular point, my flesh arrogantly screamed “boy! I’m glad that’s not my issue anymore”. But, then my morning devotional came to mind, which hit on the same topic. Unfortunately, my reaction was the same both times. Any red flags going up for you, too?

 
I don’t believe in coincidence (I call it God-incidence). Usually when God repeats something in Scripture, it means “Hey!! Pay attention here! Beware and on the lookout.” When I come up against the same warning twice, I’d better keep my eyes peeled (Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour, 1Peter 5:8). I don’t want to be complacent and ride on the waves of former triumphs. It’s so easy to be on auto-pilot and not notice what’s about to side-swipe us when we think a particular battle is won.

 

 

Regrettably , humans have a tendency to contrast our lives with one another. We have this ridiculous urge to keep things “fair”. It’s drilled into our heads from childhood. My mom tried to make things “fair” between my older brother and I (as many parents do) by getting us the same items for birthdays and holidays. The harder she tried, the more guy stuff I got ( like the Atari which I rarely used but my brother loved…..not a gamer). She tried to match her parenting style to be the same for both of us even though we were 2 completely different individuals , for “fairness”. She allowed me to do things because he had done those things, to be “fair”.

 
So where do we get this idea? The bible doesn’t even allude to making sure we are “fair”, yet we try to no avail. “Fair” , in this sense, suggests entitlement; what I deserve; my human right; what’s owed to me; equality. The dictionary doesn’t even define it that way. The enemy is lying to us and we are falling for it. If I compare my life to yours, I could come up with the short stick every time if I don’t know what you went through to get where you are. From the outside your life may be enviable, but the inside might be bleak and desperate. You might look like you’ve got it together, but are crumbling on the inside.

 
I used to wish I could live someone else’s life, even just for the day. Step out of my own sorrow and suffering for a minute. I wanted to sing better, be more graceful, less clumsy, more observant, less ADHD, more in control of my emotions, less out of control, more loved, less……whatever the problem of the day was. I prayed that constantly. “I wish I could just be someone else today. My life is too hard!” I looked around and saw moonbeams and rainbows around many other’s lives. I thought if I could just avoid being me that life would be spectacular.
Then one day God confronted me about it. “It’s so unfair!” I whined as I had many times before, “Why do ‘K’ and ‘J’ get to do that and I can’t? What’s the harm? Why am I not allowed and they are?” He promptly put me in my place. Because you are not them! Have you walked in their shoes? Have you gone through the trials they went through? Have you cried their tears? Have you been overtaken by their fears? Have you lived their life? And as Joyce Meyer reminded me, I’ve asked Him for a lot……do I want it or not? The answer is yes, I do. Well then, I don’t always get to do what others do. What’s good for the goose could be destruction to the gander.

 
Instead of trying to be what I can never be, I need to see myself through my Creator’s eyes. Instead of wishing for the same gifts another has, I need to allow God to develop my gifts. Instead of whining about what I don’t have, I need to praise and thank Him for what I am blessed with (which is A LOT!!). I’m entitled to nothing on this earth. I deserve nothing good. I was made from dust and to it I will return. I can feel sorry for myself, do the bare minimum and ride the shirt tails of His mercy and grace and still get to heaven. But, you get out of life what you put into it. I need to go all in and embrace God’s exclusive plan for me and not be nosy about His plan for others. It’s none of my business. On judgement day He’s not going to ask me to account for someone else’s deeds…..guaranteed.

 
I’m SO grateful about the fact that God is not giving me what’s “fair”. I deserve a long torturous death for some of the things I’ve done in my 42 years. It wasn’t “fair” that Jesus had to die because of my major shortcomings. It wasn’t “fair” that God had to turn His back on His own flesh and blood (even momentarily) to redeem us from the pit we continue to dig and climb out of repetitively. I don’t want God to love me “the same” as He loves others. I want Him to love me uniquely , for who He created me to be not for who He created someone else to be. My life is complicated enough……I don’t need to be jealous of someone else’s battles.

 
Lord, thank you for not leaving me the way I started. And thank you for keeping me on guard for things I get lazy about. Help me to be a vessel that blesses not curses; that loves and doesn’t display a green-eyed monster who wants what others have. Help me to be content in any situation You present me (Philippians 4:12). Help me to walk in Your Light. No log-sawing**, no comparing, just allowing You to change me into who You want me to be.

 
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:6-12

 
**log-sawing: pointing out the speck in your brother’s eye when you have a whole tree hanging out of your own (Matthew 7:3)

Thoughts from a Box of Tissue

My nose is raw. I’ve used half of a box of tissue since I got the news this morning.

 

Times like this really put life in perspective. It’s amazing what we take for granted and how God reminds us that this life is SO not about what we think is right or wrong; good for us or bad for us; too young and not too young. It doesn’t have to make sense to us, we can’t see the big picture that God sees.

 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:8-11 (ESV)
I know He weaves good into our bad times and that He can use us where we are for whatever purpose He needs. It sure gives a new focus and shows that there is a God, who created the universe and that He controls our every breath. He doesn’t have to have my permission for anything. I am here for His purpose which I’m promised is good (Romans 8:28…..the whole chapter is good stuff, though). Most of the time we can look backward and see the reason in hindsight. Sometimes it takes a while, but usually He shows me what the reason was.
2 years ago this week, my friend Katy handed me a gift. As my going away present, she had knitted me a scarf and told me, “it’s not finished yet. You have to crochet the rest of it. I just didn’t have time.“ It included the rest of the skein of yarn she had used. She knew I would need it: I was moving to icy North Carolina to live with Hubby again after my son turned 18. We had lived in separate states for a year and a half with me going back and forth between NC and NM every couple months. I never got around to finishing the scarf that winter.
Katy helped me through that hard year and a half of living in a different state than Hubby. My son had run away from home on top of everything. She taught me gardening that summer so I could plant a garden for my mom. She even helped me work on my mom’s house (I was trying to do what I could to fix my mom’s quickly aging house). We spent hours on end playing the guitar and singing together. We even rerouted her horse’s coral in the snow. She was my spiritual mentor. I will miss her. My heart goes out to her son and boyfriend. I loved her much.
To answer my BFF’s question when she called me this morning, “Are we really at the age that our friends are starting to die?” No, God can call us home whenever He wants to. This is really God’s story, we’re just the players in it. Of course, she’s sorta right also. There does come a time in life, that we hear that phrase more frequently.
I want to remember that we are here for one main purpose…….love. First to love God, next to love others. The greatest commands of the bible. Katy knew that. She lived that. She had the biggest, most sincere heart. She was generous with everything and she made great tamales and refried beans. I knew her for about 20 years altogether. That’s nearly half of my life. I wish I’d gone and seen her even though she wasn’t really feeling up to company, when I was there in NM last week and over thanksgiving. She and her boyfriend had missed thanksgiving dinner for her not feeling well. I missed my chance.
I didn’t get the scarf finished last year because I hurt my hand and was waiting for it to heal. Now I don’t crochet any more, since it never healed. So, I pulled my scarf out last month and cut off and tossed the excess yarn. It’s perfect the way it is. Exactly how it was made.
Katy is in heaven riding horses, playing her golden guitar and praising her Abba. She’s having a blast right now. I know she’s there too, because she loved Jesus and believed He died to take away her sins. Which is all any of us have to do. It’s a good feeling knowing she’s gonna be there when I go home.
See you there my dear friend. You will be missed.

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Thoughts from the Albuquerque Sunport Airport

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It’s always bittersweet leaving my family and heading back to my hubby. I’m so thankful for the time God gives me with each and every one of them. Even though my “Arizona” family is currently living just outside of Cleveland, not in Tucson where my 2nd house had always been until 2 years ago, the people still make it “home” for me.
I had an amazing time with them celebrating my 2nd mom’s birthday. It was lovely spending a week with her, my siblings and 3 of my nephews. Although I do wish my oldest brother, sister-in-law and other 2 nephews could’ve been there, it was the perfect visit. I adore both of my sisters-in-law. They are definitely blessings from God!! My 3 aunts were able to be there too. One lives there, but the other 2 were surprise visitors like me. Was wonderful seeing my cousins who just had a 2nd baby, too. I had individual time with each person. It was so refreshing and uplifting. The birthday dinner cruise was so much fun. My sister pulled it off as a surprise as well. She did so good arranging everything!!
After the week was up, I headed to my other “home” (where I went to school) in the Albuquerque area to see my mom, kids, granddaughter, granddog and best friend of 25 years, for 2 weeks. I had so much fun playing with my 7 month old bundle of joy! She is the perfect baby! I am completely enamored by her. She and Grammy (that’s me) had so much fun together. She looked so cute on Thanksgiving with her autumn colored tutu, her “I’m stuffed” onesie with a picture of a turkey, and her autumn colored headband bow (her mommy is a genius when it comes to baby headbands. She really could sell them).
It was so nice to wake up to the sounds of a giggling baby. There is no sound more pure than the sound of an excited or happy baby. What an amazing blessing!! I was so happy to have the honor of babysitting my little gremlin while mommy went to work (she stuffs everything into her mouth pretty fiercely, she tried to eat my chin on multiple occasions…….gotta love the teething stage). I had such an amazing time playing and singing and snuggling my sweet little baby girl. I had a wonderful time with my daughter-in-law too. She is the neatest! So creative!
I loved having coffee with my mom every morning, going shopping and just hanging out with each other. I especially loved watching the Macy’s Parade on thanksgiving with her. She was the one that started that tradition in our family. I still love it and watch every year. It was so neat putting up the Christmas tree with her after so many years, too. I got her to go geocaching also.
I always enjoy the tastes of home. A big part of any trip is stuffing myself with as much green chile as possible. Wecks with it’s infamous “Bowl of Papas” (eggs over-medium with Christmas….aka red and green chile), Stuffy’s with enormous stuffed sopaipillas (refried bean and green chile), Blake’s Lotoburger for breakfast burritos, Twisters for an Indian Taco, Costco for 2 containers of Sadie’s salsa to bring home, and some green chile to make green chile stew (that I made for last night’s dinner). Oh yeah!!! I always return a bit more plump.
I didn’t get as much time with my BFF as I would’ve liked, but I understand the reason. It’s too hard for me to drive far with my dizziness, too (I hate driving now). I’m so happy that she was able to come see me when she could and Thanksgiving dinner was at her house as well.
I’m also grateful to God that I got to spend my baby’s 20th birthday with him. It seems like just the other day he was the size of his daughter and I was loving on and playing with him. It all goes so fast……too fast. It’s unbelievably easy to take those times for granted. I miss him terribly and am always excited to spend as much time as possible with him.
My visit went fast and it was time to return home. So, last Saturday I found myself at the airport in Albuquerque, in line to buy a cup of pinon coffee and some to take home at the Black Mesa stand in the terminal. And it hit me….the promise God made me last year.
I had a surgery (that didn’t help) on my right hand last December 15th . In January, when I came off the continuous pain meds, I realized I’d missed Christmas….I bawled my eyes out for about 30 minutes. I have vague blurbs of memory that include getting the stomach flu on Christmas Eve. I don’t remember much else. In the midst of throwing myself a pity party, God spoke to my heart. He said, “Dry your eyes, I’ll make it up to you next holiday season “.
And boy did He!! I got to put up 2 houses worth of decorations with 2 trees…….I love decorating! I got to spend time with Aunt S, whom I haven’t seen in YEARS and my Aunt J whom I haven’t seen in almost 3 years. I love seeing my Aunt M too who just became grandma again x2 (now she has 3). I always enjoy being with my sister…..taught her how to geocache. I adore my baby brother and his amazing boys. Such a great time with my sister-in-law. Good talk with my nearly 18 year old nephew. Love seeing Chico my furry brother, my dad’s best friend. Got to go to the cemetery to see dad a few times. Had a wonderful time with both moms. Had a great conversation with my BFF one night. Got to see my son as a dad, and had great time with my daughter-in-law and my little ladybug.
I’d say that God more than kept His promise to me!! My heart is full….my cup runneth over!
You are so good Lord!! Thank You for ALWAYS keeping Your promises and Word!!! You never let me down. I love that You already know how things will turn out before they even happen. Help me to always rely on You, because You know me well….what I need and when I need it.

 

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you. (Psalm 139:13-18, ESV)

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Thoughts from the Mall

I love how God never gives up on us. He’s so patient with us as we learn to hear Him leading and guiding us. It’s a lifelong journey that doesn’t end until we return to the dust from which we were made. I’m so thankful for all the chances He offers me to show others His love and mercy. I miss way too many. If I were witty and quick enough to get it right every time, the blessings I could leave in my wake would be immense; but, I’m not and I don’t, so I can’t. And I miss an opportunity to be like Jesus.

 
Often it’s just a faint impression He gives. A little whisper in our hearts. A peek into the lives of others as they wrestle with the demons that plague their circumstances. A chance to be light and love. Even when it seems insignificant to us, it can mean the world to them. You don’t know the impact a kind word can have in the life of another. It can literally save a life. We just might be the one who shows them that they do matter. Don’t get me wrong, He whacks me over the head at times and it’s clear that I need to do something specific. But, in the heat of the moment with emotions gone wild or if I’m on autopilot and wrapped up in my own thoughts God can have a hard time getting through to me if I don’t stay sensitive to Him.

 
It’s the little things in life, our daily routine, that we need to be careful of. I can let that person trying to turn left into traffic go before me if I’m across the street, turning right; I might show them selflessness in a world drenched in selfishness, instead of leaving them stuck while I keep going (and so do all the people who turned behind me). Or if I tell the salesperson at the mall who offers free yoga classes on Sunday morning saying it’s a “spiritual” equivalent for church, that I don’t go to church to be “spiritual” but to have a relationship with my Creator and to serve my fellow church members. I might change her view on church fellowship completely.

 
But, I don’t always hear that little voice until it’s too late and I’ve left that person to battle traffic as I move happily through the traffic light seeing them stuck, in the same place, in my rear view mirror. I don’t always feel merciful when offended at the idea that the saleslady inferred that a workout class was a fair trade to gathering with my church family and learning more about God.

 
I missed those chances and can’t get them back, but I can learn from them. I need to be obedient to His pokes. Sometimes they are subtle, but there nonetheless. At times I have but a millisecond to choose right or wrong; love of others (what Jesus did here on earth) or love of self; to say “me, me, me” or “Him, Him, Him”.

 
What He meant when He said we are to die to self is that we are to put His will above ours, to serve others to our best ability, to love those who don’t necessarily love us back, to offer hope in a brutal, hopeless world.

 
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me[believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].25 For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will[eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will find it [that is, life with Me for all eternity]. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world [wealth, fame, success], but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory and majesty of His Father with His angels, and THEN HE WILL REPAY EACH ONE IN ACCORDANCE WITH WHAT HE HAS DONE. (Matthew 16:24-27 AMP)

 
24-26 Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? (MSG version)

 
I don’t always choose correctly, but it’s a lifelong battle and I will go on striving to be a more loving, merciful, forgiving person. It can mean giving up what I want most for something better, even if I can’t see it or don’t agree at the moment. The world tells us we’re missing out if we don’t do what we want. The bible and my life experiences prove to me we are missing out on vital blessings for us and others if we don’t listen to God.

 

This world will one day perish, but our souls will not. I want to take people to heaven with me and not worry about what the world thinks. It’s flawed, broken and dying. The reason we’re here to begin with is to love God and to spread God’s love and I want to serve my purpose. After all, I was bought with a very high price;the blood of Jesus.

My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
9 Honor the LORD with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.
11 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the LORD reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.
Proverbs 3:1-12 (ESV, read the whole Chapter…it’s a good one)

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