Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Jesus here we come...

Today my sweet sister sent me a link to a great sermon from Elevation Church, Pastor Steven Furtick, called "Dysfunctional Comfort." I love the relationship that is already like a life long sisterhood, after about 18 months. God gently set this beautiful, smart, and bold sister down in my life at the last MYRRH Ministries retreat, "The Joy comes in the Mourning." That was my 4th retreat and her first. Since then we have talked so many times, we've cried together, shared laughs and also done some hard conversations. This will be our first time being back in the same place though, and can I just share how excited I am. In about 24 hours I get to see my sister and hug her. This last 18 months has not always been easy. We have both had joyous occasions and also heart break, but one thing we both knew we had was each other.

She is definitely a gift from God. At a time when many other people, including family, have run away from me and my struggle with change and control, she stands next to me. She isn't just a "trophy" friend who is just for the good times. She's not afraid to be next to me during the darkest hours of either of our lives. She has boldly spoken God's message to me, even knowing that I may react in anger and possibly lash out at her. She doesn't shy away from the truth God's giving her to share, she isn't distracted by my outbursts. She loves me enough to speak the hard truth and then give me a moment to accept it. She's not blinded by my defensive reactions, she knows my desire is to live for God, all the time. She also isn't afraid to let me share a word with her. Even with the hard stuff, she seeks God's message and trusts my heart is to love her, not hurt her. She's knows how much I love God and she knows how much I love her. 

I can't begin to share just how many amazing sisters God has blessed me with at my retreats. These sisters come from so many different states across the US. The one thing I see that is common, our love for God and to live for Him boldly. Every single year I explain to people that I get to go be myself, live my faith out loud without fear of offending someone. Not that I don't live my faith out always, but they don't look at me crazy and most know me and love me anyway. Many have shared words with me, words that I have never spoken or thought over myself. They see someone I don't see most of the time, or through those who live close to me. They also accept who they see, they love me regardless of me. 

I don't know if I can explain the depth of the love I have for women I see once a year, or sometimes only ever see again on Facebook. I can't explain why I am so comfortable with these women, I can only share that my heart is to live boldly for God, all the time. They have been a huge part of my walk of transformation. This year I am hoping to meet the sweet young woman who hosted the "Biggest Loser" challenge that God used to get me on His path of transformation. I have yet to meet her, her mama is one who has walked me right into the presence of Jesus on many occasions, and both her mama and daddy prayed with me and shared a truth from God with me at the last retreat. I know that this family is a wonderful gift from God. 

So I just want to say, Texas here I come, ready for all God will speak, pour out and usher in at the "Propelling Prayers" retreat. I am coming filled with the excited anticipation of the mountains God will move this year...and all the hugs and love that these sweet sisters bring and share...every year. If you are searching for an annual retreat filled with the presence of God, check out this amazing ministry, 

They are amazing, they love Jesus and they live Jesus.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

I don't want to miss this birthday...

This is my favorite suitcase. No it's not still packed from a previous trip, it's actually packed for my trip to Texas, for my annual women's retreat. This is God's gift to me each year, for the past several. I have been to Jesus' lap so many times in the presence of these amazing sisters. This is where God will also share His plans for me, where He will speak openly and honestly about just the right stuff. These are the sisters that make me know I am "home," every time God walks me into their presence. I have honestly not felt like I was "home" since my dad died. But every single year, I get to enjoy that feeling of being "home." These women have never asked me to be something other than who I am. In fact, several have told me directly to be exactly who I am because God made me just perfect. This always brings tears of joy to  my eyes and I know that God made these sisters, just for me. One of the best parts about these amazing encounters with my sisters and our Savior is that every year God brings new sisters and they become part of "home." 

God brought me to my first retreat with this wonderful and faithful ministry, MYRRH Ministries in Fort Worth, with a woman I barely knew. I flew for the first time in too many years to count, to Texas and joined a group of women I had never met. The retreat wasn't there, it was in Georgia. So what does a group of women, most of whom didn't know each other, do to get from Texas to Georgia...yep a road trip. Since that first retreat, God has taken me to 3 others...from Fort Worth, to Georgia and the beaches of Florida where I was re baptized in the beautiful ocean with several other sisters.

 These women are a great example of living God's Word out loud. They don't pretend to love God, or to never have struggles with sins, they trust God to use their stuff to teach others. The best part of that is, that I can just live God out loud, I don't have to try not to offend. I know that is part of the reason God keeps taking me back, to teach me that I was not made to be subtle. He purposely created me to be BOLD for Him. He teaches me more and more every time. This is a great reminder for me...

Each and every year God meets me there. He comes to refill my dehydrated spirit with joy and also to ignite the sparks of the flames He's already lit. He knows what He's doing when He brings each sweet sister and places us all exactly where He knows we will find Him. God has spoken about some painful and heartbreaking things through these sisters and He's also poured out His perfect peace and comfort in the hugs of just the right ones. I am more than grateful for these days in His presence with the amazing women He surrounds me with...this year is even more of a gift...I will get to celebrate my birthday with them, for the first time ever!!! I am overjoyed at the thought of just breathing in God's Spirit and power with so many women of Christ! 

I'm also so ready for whatever He wants to teach me and the release it brings me. God is preparing me for something, I have felt it for a while...I don't know what it is, but I know it's for Him and I know He will move mountains for not only me...but others too. 

The count down is on...I'll be landing in Texas in 9 days...

Monday, February 26, 2018

God gave me you...

These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.  Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.
Luke 10:2-3 NLT

Today as I was searching for the perfect verses for this message, Luke 10:2 came up. I opened up chapter 10 to read above and below it. My first response was confusion...I read it again and this time I listened to the Spirit. I love that God will generously give of truth to me, without hesitation. These are Jesus' instructions to the disciples He sent out. There is a lot of great instruction in this chapter. I could go on and on, I was just confused at first what this had to do with the message title He gave me. Then I understood, Holy Spirit has a way of bringing God's understanding my way, when I stop and listen.

Whether the "workers" are sent from God, or satan, they are there for a reason. The only reason God allows them into my story is so He can use them to teach me. They will serve His purpose, with or without them knowing that. They don't have to understand, or even know God for Him to work His purpose through them. The one message I don't want to miss in these words Jesus, Himself, spoke to His disciples and those who stopped to listen, is that "the harvest is great, but the workers are few." this powerful truth is followed up by the perfect instruction, "So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields." This just hit me out of nowhere...ask for more workers??? 

When I think of workers from God I think of those people who just shine Jesus...He is definitely the Lord of their lives, no doubt. Reading this with His Spirit...well it brought fresh understanding for me. These verses may mean something completely different to me later, or may mean something completely different to you. For me today, this message is about loving and appreciating ALL the "workers" God uses in my life to mold me and transform me. The ones I love and the ones I "try" to love. For God there is NO difference between them. This is what He's teaching me. So when Jesus gives the instructions to pray to God and ask for more "workers," He's not saying to only ask for the easy people. He's saying ask for ALL people. In fact, several verses down in Luke 10:25-29, it says...

One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus doesn't say, Love the nice people who believe the way you do, and don't push your buttons. When the religious expert answered His question, Jesus told him, "Right!" Jesus told him he was right, he gave the right answer...and yet the first thing the man did was try to "define" who he was to love.

 I see me in this question so many times. There are so many of those God calls my "neighbors" that I would be so much happier without ever having cross my path. I know that if I was honest I would have to admit that there are some that have taught me so much about the sins I still harbor in the deepest parts of my heart. They have unknowingly held a mirror up to me in some of my darkest moments...not that they just mirrored my sins, God showed me where I was hiding the same sins. Where I was holding onto pieces of who I was before I found Him. Those moments are painful, they are brutally honest and they are some of the most teachable moments for God. 

A couple years ago I found this sign in the clearance aisle of Hobby Lobby...

For all this time I have looked at this sign to remind me that God gave him to me. I have only recently started to understand a deeper meaning. God doesn't just give me my family and friends...He gives me everyone who will bring His word to life in my story. Even those the enemy tries to use to distract me, will only be a distraction if I choose to only see the distraction. If I dig deeper and search for the teaching God has instead, I will find what God has for me. This is how God grows me up and matures my faith. God can also use my teaching moments to grow someone else's faith, to teach them. If I am humble enough to be transparent about my sin.

This new meaning has opened up many areas of me that I am realizing are still broken and lost. I have shared that I am pretty much constantly in prayer for God to place a guard at my lips and to be my self control. These 2 important parts of me are many times the ones I tend to hold onto, with a very tight grip. I struggle with being right. Many times I know what I am talking about, and in my prideful heart, I will make sure everyone else knows I was right too. In my desire to let them know that I am right, I never fail to tell them they were wrong. With the sweetest voice and the purest intentions...why are you laughing? Ok ok, I will be honest. I am definitely not the gentle type. I know my dad used to say "you're like a bull in a china closet." For years I have listened to answer, to be right. It's less about offending them and more about being right. So I am not "loving" them like Christ, it's more like teaching them...with an electric cattle prod. I don't know about you, but I learn less from the prod and much more from the love that Christ gives abundantly through those living for Him. 

Since I have found Jesus and I made the decision to follow Him, I have to make the choice to continuously surrender my heart and life to Him. When I truly surrender old, broken pieces of who I was, He doesn't throw those pieces away. No Jesus does not waste. He will pick them up and clean them up. He will teach me through the whole process. He can teach others through my learning too. What once was lost will again be found, only this time the power that the brokenness had over me and my life, well it will be replaced with God's wisdom and love. My willingness to share those hard lessons will ignite a gentle humbleness for me. A humility that will be less about talking and more about living. I will be able to let go of my need to be right and focus instead on living out God's greatest 

Some of the most painful lessons I have learned have been at the cost of relationships. I have cried over and chased after these people, I have even taken it upon myself to drag them back into my life. That never works for long. If it's me dragging them back or them dragging me back, it won't take long for the same divider to come back up. Some people I am not prepared to share a hard truth with and some people can't share a hard truth with me. That's ok. Those are the moments God is teaching me that I still have a ways to go. It's the times I rush ahead and try to teach His lesson for Him that I tend to struggle with the most. It's also in those times I am grateful for just how patient and merciful God is to me. Instead of giving up and turning away, He is faithful to stay and keep teaching me. 

When I go off on my own strength and share what I believe His message is with someone, more often than not they only hear condemnation and judgement from me. Then defense is my instant go to and I jump right in full force and try to push my understanding off on them. Almost always without any consideration of the consequences. If it's my understanding and not what God means they won't hear Him, just my demanding, judging words. The consequence this usually gets is they never hear the message God had for them. There have been times I am sure that have actually chased people away not only from me, but also from God. 

But God is faithful and forgiving. He will not give up on me. He is teaching me just how important words are. They have the power to give life, or death. In Matthew 12:36-37 it says this about the words that leave my mouth...

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

My words will leave a legacy. They will leave behind the love of Jesus, or the selfishness and hurt of a broken person. Words can be weapons of destruction, or life giving seeds. As I grow deeper into my relationship with God and I surrender the most painful and broken parts of who I was, I understand that He is not surprised by my desire to save others from the same pain. This truth brings with it an understanding for me...while the enemy comes to try to convince me that I'm less like Jesus than the world, God reminds me that I am His work in progress. He shows me that with each difficult lesson I learn from, the more transformation He makes in me. I know I still have a long way to go, but the more I dig into His teachings, the closer I get to my Poppa God. My prayer becomes, 
"Lord place a guard at my lips and keep showing me the way to self control. May I bless people and not curse them with my words. May they hear Your message in love, so they find You. Thank You Poppa for every person you give me."

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Do you have a housekeeper?

When I was younger I remember hating having to clean house every weekend. My little sister and I would wake up early and do our best to sneak to my mom's bedroom door and close it quietly. We knew if she woke up, even just for a moment, she would yell her usual question/order, "DID YOU GIRLS GET YOUR HOUSEWORK DONE????!!!!!" Then we would have to get to work cleaning the kitchen and living room, our rooms and our bathroom. But if we could get away without waking her up we would have a morning of watching cartoons and eating cereal in front of the tv on the floor, before having to do our house work. If we sat in front of the tv we could keep the volume down and hopefully mom wouldn't wake up. If we woke her up, we would be put to work. 

When I say cleaning, I learned about 3 kinds of cleaning when I was growing up. The first was the "pick up" kind of clean. That's the kind my mom taught us to do everyday. Just mostly picking up after ourselves so the clutter would be manageable and dishes at night. But on Saturdays we did the second kind of cleaning. I called it "cleaning GOOD." That's the when we had to polish the wood furniture, put everything in it's place and sweep, or vacuum. We would do the bathroom just as good, it was scrubbed clean and readied for another week. Then we would head to our rooms. My sister would usually just get busy and get her room done. However, I hated to clean. I used to sit for hours in my room because I didn't want to clean my room good. But my mom would NOT give in. She would let me sit in there for as long as it took. Sometimes those days turned into evening and I would end up having dinner, doing dishes and then going straight to bed with my room still a wreck. Me thinking I won.

 Other times I would take the path of least resistance and shove clothes in drawers, or my closet or even under my bed...when I say I didn't like to clean, I really mean HATED to clean. Those times more often than not my mom would go to put something away in my room while I was at school, or out playing and that would be the beginning of her "helping" me clean. She would pull every piece of clothing from my closet and dump every drawer in my dresser in the middle of my room. She would flip my bed up on the wall and leave it up there. During this rampage she would be screaming and cussing, and a rage would continue to build in her with every bit of mess she would find. Sometimes I would come home in the middle of the rages, those days could tear my self worth down because of the words she used. But the days that she went in my room when I was gone, well those were probably what taught me how to "teach" people with destruction. Those days I would come in without having any clue that my mom had even gone into my room. I would walk in and she would be her normal self, never giving away a hint of the HUGE mess I would be walking into. She knew what I was walking into, she knew I was going to get mad. She would then come into my doorway and stand and yell orders at me. 

The third kind of cleaning, well that one I can only describe as the "pretend" cleaning. That was done when people from out of town were coming to stay with us, my parents were having a party or some other major event that my mom wanted to see her house as a "perfect home." This kind of cleaning I think made me hate cleaning more than either of the first 2. This kind of cleaning meant every single inch, every crack, inside and outside. We all worked on this cleaning. If you stopped for a moment, mom assigned you more work!! I think that I hated it most because I knew that every other day we lived in a normal house, not a museum. When I got older I would say "Why do we have to pretend to have this perfect house when people come over?!?!? It's being fake!!!!" That of course was a gateway to a HUGE blowout between us. She would scream berating threats angrily and what I couldn't say out loud I would say in my thoughts. Well I told myself every time, "I will never do this pretend cleaning when I have my own place!!!" Of course for many years I did exactly this. 

  For a long time my homes were a wreck. If people showed up unexpectedly I would pretend not to be home. If I knew someone was coming I would sound like a drill sergeant and pretty much redo everything anyone did. I would go from my cabinets being empty of clean dishes and having to wash one to cook or eat, to every dish being clean and put away. There was never an in between. I hid in my room and I didn't care what anything outside that looked like. Honestly when I lived in my room I kept everything I might need within an arms reach. This kept my life within my control, but my house was chaos. But if someone was coming, I'd be out barking orders and being everything I hated growing up with my family. I didn't realize that the way I lived my life was directly reflected in my housekeeping. Then I met God.

Funny thing is that when I met God He didn't say "you have to clean your house." In the beginning I still lived with a dirty house in the chaos. I honestly didn't relate my relationship with God, with cleaning my home. I couldn't even relate getting into God's word, with a relationship with God. I could keep my relationship with God in one part of my life and every other part of me in another. I lived for God when I thought about it, remembered or needed to look like it. But really living for God takes much more than just accepting Jesus as my Savior. Salvation is not instant in who we are, only how God sees us. God asks us to give Him ALL of us. He knows when we say yes what our expectations are. As our Creator, He is already prepared and not at all surprised when we expect instant perfection. He also isn't surprised when we get in a rush, get frustrated or even when we fall away. He doesn't put us in our rooms until we do what He wants us to. No He does the exact opposite. He lets us make our own choices, because He sees His whole plan. He will wait patiently for us. He has personal knowledge of what it will take for us to really learn what He's teaching us. He knows change is hard for me. He also knows when I am faced with change I will fight against it, as long as I can. But He waits for me.

So as I am reading my book for my women's Bible study, "Open Your Bible" (by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams) they share this bit of truth, 
"There's a kind of unsettled comfort in keeping the messy parts of our lives out of the light. There is comfort, but NOT peace." 

Instantly I think about the state of my house, and I puff up a little because I have come a long way from the chaos and dirty mess.  As I was reading I had been thinking to myself, "the closer I get to God, the more I learn about Who He is, the cleaner my house is becoming. The cleaner I NEED my house to be, continuously. I want it more organized and less chaotic, both inside and outside."  The more He changes me the more I recognize the changes He's making. With this new knowledge I decided to search through His word on the subject of a clean house. So I searched Google for Scriptures about house cleaning...this is the truth He gave me.

This was the first time I have read these in the Message translation. It brought new understanding to these Verses! As He's been cleaning me of the sins I was drowning in, it's ignited a fire for me to clean my house and keep it clean. Not only spiritually, but physically. Where there is less clutter, dirt and chaos, there will be less distraction. There are less places for the enemy to sneak in. The closer I am growing to God, the more mature my faith is getting. Then I went to my usual translation, the NLT to see the difference...

I love that God says that as I let go of the dirty, messy parts of me and begin to seek Him, I will crave more of Him. I will then understand real salvation. When I make my relationship with Him and learning about His will for me my priority, He will bring about change in every part of me and my life. Some of the changes will be very recognizable, and some changes will be subtle, like a clean house. As I look back on the different times in my life that I have had the messiest house, those were moments I was the most lost. On the opposite side are the moments I was closest with God and my house was clean. When I let God in to clean out the darkest, messiest parts of me that I have been burying and hiding forever, that's when the REAL cleaning gets done. That's when I learn how much more I appreciate a clean house and heart, than the mess and dirt of the old me. That there are going to be dark corners He has to bring to the light, for them to be cleaned up. Those moments may be painful, but God is answering my prayers for a clean heart.

Not that every moment of every day my house is dust free or spotless, but it is clean and I gladly answer the door. Believe me we still have all 3 kinds of cleaning going on in my home. In fact if you talk to my family today, they will tell you they hate when people come to stay for a visit, only because of my expectations of  cleaning that has to be done. I actually end up only having 1 helper, and he reluctantly helps. When I am cleaning I find myself complaining about having to do it all and arguing with God about how much I have to do while others sit. He reminds me that my expectations are the reason I have to do it alone. God has taught me that if I leave the messes in the dark corners, they will grow into an unmanageable mess, one that will be much harder to clean. In those moments I usually start talking about having a housekeeper...then I remember that I have a housekeeper, the only housekeeper I'll ever really need...Who's your housekeeper?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Who are your warriors?

Can two people walk together
    without agreeing on the direction?
Amos 3:3 NLT

This weekend Pastor Bill brought this little goody out. It's not one that I remember reading, but it's etched deeply into my heart now. It seems pretty simple and straight forward, on the surface. When God brings it to life through the heart of a mighty messenger, one who boldly shares Truth without fear and isn't afraid to throw a throat punch or 2, it takes on a much deeper meaning as the truth comes out. 

The truth is that we can't be going in more than one direction in our lives. We can't walk in faith and the world. We can't walk hand in hand with those who shun God and walk hand in hand with God. Don't take what I'm saying wrong, let me state clearly up front that I am not saying stay away from those who don't know God, or even those who hate God. Jesus said in

Mark 2:17
When Jesus heard this, he told them, "Healthy people don't need a doctor--sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners."

God wants us to love, unconditionally, but He doesn't want us to live the same as those who don't know Him. They will never know Him if we seek to please them and walk the same lost path. What I am saying is that when I try to live just like the world, I can't live to please God. That's clear in

Galatians 1:10
 Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between those who God places around us as warriors. For me His warriors are people who will speak God's truth in my life without fear. Letting anyone who calls themselves my friend speak into my life, has been a pitfall of mine. I tend to go all in when it comes to friendship. I have never been able to keep up a fake mask up for long. So a lot of them haven't lasted. That's been something I have been really giving to God and He's gotten me to the point of not even putting on the mask. It saves me a lot of heartache as I realized that if I am just who God created me to be, always, my tribe finds me. I don't have to go out to seek them, I don't have to pretend to be someone I'm not. I can accept who I am created to be and embrace me. God gives me everyone He knows I need, just when I need them. Like Pastor Daniel says, "my tribe has my vibe."

 There aren't many warriors in my life, but the ones He sent are true warriors. They love me. They aren't put off when they have to share a hard word and they know I have a tough time hearing the hard stuff. They stand firm in the truth and love me in spite of me. I see God moving mightily not only in their words, but I see Him living and breathing in their lives. This is important for me as I am seeking hard after God. If I don't see God in their lives how can I expect them to speak Him into mine? Not that God can't speak through anyone and anything He can. I take the word to God's Word to see if it line's up. That's how I know if it's from God.

I know that the warriors God is surrounding me with all have the same desire for me as I do. They love God and they want to see me living in His peace and chasing His plan. They don't bring the hard truth with excitement they bring it with faith. I believe they feel blessed God asks them to share His truth with me. They don't want to see me stumbling around in the darkness, they want to turn on the Light to help me. As I have started to really take that in and realize that they are the safety God is surrounding me with. 

In Proverbs 27:17 it says,
As iron sharpens iron,
    so a friend sharpens a friend.

I'd say it's pretty clear about what a real friendship is. It's not always giggles and fun. We have to be willing to both hear the truth and also speak it in love. God is not saying for us to seek out the things that irritate us, or we think are wrong and go give our friends an earful. No, not at all. He does ask us to first pray to Him about the stuff He shows us. I have to make sure I am not comparing their stuff to mine. That I am not holding myself up as the guideline of what they should or should not do. Only God knows the plans He has for each of us. Once God gives me the words and my heart is in the right place, then I take His message to them. It's all about where my heart is, if it's buried in God and not out of selfish control, He will shine through. 

Some of the people we call friends will not being going where God is taking us and that's ok. All God asks us to do is keep moving with Him, He will change the scenery, He will change the seasons and He will change those people He surrounds us with. But our core group of friends should be speaking boldly His truth into us. They shouldn't be part of our core if they aren't lifting our names in prayer. 

My prayer is that we all pick up our cross everyday and walk with others who are lifting up their crosses everyday. And on the days that our cross or theirs is too heavy to carry alone that we will carry ours on one shoulder and theirs on the other. Lord let me never try to dull Your light and may I always walk brightly for You.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Friend like Him...

A friend is always loyal,
    and a brother is born to help in time of need. 
Proverbs 17:17 NLT

Do you ever get that feeling of amazement when you're reading a Verse that you've read many times before and suddenly it says something so much deeper? I do, and today as I felt God asking me to sit with Him and share this message with y'all it's one of those days. This is the first time I have realized the last line of Proverbs 17:17 has a totally different meaning than I've understood it since the first time I read it. I have usually read it in other translations and it says, 

A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
Proverbs 17:17 NIV

For me the last line has always meant that my family will be a struggle? I have always thought it meant that my friends would always love me and that my family will always be a struggle...WOW was I off!!

 I love when God brings His light of understanding into my confusion. He is faithful like that, I see just how faithful He is in ALL He does in me and my life. I now understand that the part He has been working on in me, is "how to be a Friend like Him."

I decided that to truly understand what it means to be a "Friend like Him" I needed to understand the definition of LOYAL. So I found several definitions and all included most of these words; undivided, content, and support. My favorite was on Your Dictionary, it says...LOYAL-
Having or demonstrating undivided and constant support for someone or something.

This definition really just spoke to me. It confirmed exactly what Pastor Bill said this past weekend in the series "War Buddies." He said that a real friend is LOYAL even when it costs them. What I heard when he said that was that in good times, in bad times and in ALL times, a real friend is there. 

They don't run when the times are overflowing with joy for you or them, they stay and celebrate with you. They don't run when the chaos overtakes you and you lay in a dark pit of self pity, they stay and pray with you and share God's truth, even when it's hard. They don't run because you take a word of love and a message of truth from God to them, and then fumble with the delivery...they stay and help you learn to hear God's whispers of encouragement and share the hard stuff with God's gentleness, His love and how to allow Him to be heard. 

I don't know about you, but I haven't been really LOYAL to very many people. I am not saying I am not LOYAL, I am saying that many times I have run away at the wrong time. It's hard to look in a mirror sometimes and see the truth. But it's necessary to look into the mirror to see the parts that God points out. Then we can recognize those little pieces of pride and darkness still in us and give them to God. 

 God is faithful to allow me to be thoroughly tested in the areas of pride and self pity. Especially in the area of friendships. Many times I've thought of people as a friend only to find out that my definition of friendship and theirs are nothing alike. I jumped in with my whole self thinking that I had a friend. I can be overwhelming, I am excitable, I'm an extrovert who loves to everyone. So God created me for a specific kind of friend. Not everyone was created to be my "War Buddy" and I was not created to be everyone's either.

He blesses me with so many gifts, one of which is discernment. This gift is more like an automatic weapon in my hands at times, especially when I believe someone is my LOYAL  friend. The LOYAL friends that God has blessed me with so far, well after they've had the gift of me wielding my weapon of truth blindly, I can count on my own hands and maybe have fingers left over. I felt blessed to have this gift, but after losing people I thought were friends, I felt like it was more of a burden than a gift. 

That's why God is so faithful to keep teaching me. Yes there were people I truly cared about that walked away, some with out a word, others still pretend to be a friend when we run into each other. I have struggled with God over some of these people that I dearly loved like family, and I have begged Him not to take them, to bring them back...but God is faithful and He wants us to not only have life, but have life in abundance, that's what it says in John 10:10. 
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

When I read that bit of truth it helps me to understand, those He walks out of my life would keep me from having life abundantly. They were placed for only a season, for God to use to make me more like Him. The struggle mostly lies in being able to keep that truth etched in my heart because it's painful. Especially when the wrong people are part of my inner circle and God knows that eventually I will let go for my peace. When I've fought God about taking some out of my life, the enemy can use that to get in there and cause major problems. Situations God won't be glorified in. I have found the easiest way for me to let go and not be bitter is to pray for them. If I am asking God to bless them and keep them I can't be angry with them and God will swiftly put a stop to me praying for them to "learn."  What I end up learning is that it's me that needs to look into where my heart was. Why am I asking God to teach them? Am I the all knowing? 

In less than a month God is taking me to my annual retreat. There are women there that know parts of me that only God knows, these are my sisters. I'm so excited to see them, to hug them, to hear them and know that God will be speaking through them...sharing His heart with me. When I am with them, I am me. I can live BOLDLY for my Poppa, my Savior, without fear of rejection. They love the Jesus in me. 

 It's not easy to be LOYAL, but we have to be LOYAL if we want to be a "Friend like Him." There will still be those little testers put in the mix, to help us learn to choose LOYALTY over envy, frustration, and so many different negative choices. That's how He creates in me a clean heart, how He refines me, and how He makes me a "Friend like Him." The choice, as always, is mine...

Friday, October 13, 2017

You're destroying her, purposely...why? Parental ALIENATION is child abuse

She's going to hear, see, find the truth...I've saved it ALL. Please realize that contact denial for the last 355 days is CHILD ABUSE. When she asks you if you knew about her baby sister, I pray you're honest...because I will be. She will know for a FACT that we both text you to let you know & you received the messages we have the "message read" receipts. So if you try to do to her as you & your "attorney" have done to her since the sad, sickening lies you filed in 1/2015, I will NOT be quiet...she deserves to know that you & your girlfriend have systematically denied her mother & mothers entire family, visits with her. Videos & texts & proof of calls sent to voicemail then unanswered messages...prepare because she has a Mighty Powerful God...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Life with Nona: Growing beauty in the ugly...

Life with Nona: Growing beauty in the ugly...:   I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.  It’s not important who does the plant...

Growing beauty in the ugly...

 I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 
It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 
The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.
1 Corinthians 3:6-8

This year I planted some sunflower seeds I had gotten many years ago. They were the giant ones...the ones with the big beautiful faces. I can't pinpoint one reason for waiting so long. I just knew this year was the year I would take the seeds out of the packages & plant them, talk to them & watch them bloom. I wanted to grow something new & after reading about the wonderful extra large faced ones...I knew they were the ones I wanted to spend my time & effort on this year. 

I researched the best ways to start these beautiful, smiling lovelies. I learned that the seeds that grow in the center, creating that smile, would eventually feed the birds that visited my backyard & that was ALL I had to read. I was determined to love these seeds to their very best selves. I would plant seeds of love & harvest a crop of joy. But that doesn't always look like what I imagine, in my rose colored mind. Sometimes the reality of behind the perfect pictures of the beautiful things on the package, well it only tells a very small part of the whole story. Just like with life. It's what's in between that is why that picture is as beautiful as it is. 

I got them planted a little later than I had planned, but I got them in the soil. Then I added them into my normal morning routine. I would do all my feathered friends waters, birdbath & my doggies water bowl...then fill all my feeders...then I would water & sing or talk to the sweet seeds hiding in the soil. It didn't take long to see the first sprout...proudly springing up to brighten my day with a fresh breath of life in the air. I name him, Adam.

Fresh new life. I was so excited to share with everyone that the seeds I planted were sprouting. I get so excited to share joyous news with those I know, I forget that they may not be as excited as I am. For a long time I would be more selective about who I shared my excitement with. I worried about offending others, I worried about what others would think/say about me sharing a wonderful blessing. Sometimes my blessings don't seem to be the same for others, in their lives. It may be more burden & less joy for them. God has taken the last several years to teach me that I may not be a fit for everyone, but I am just what He created me to be. So through too many experiences to count, I have learned that it's ok. It's ok to be excited & to share my excitement with long as I remember that they may not react the way I am expect & that's ok, God has taught me that it's NOT me they are reacting to, but themselves. So I share.

Before I got up the next morning 2 more beautiful green sprouts were peeking out & a tiny little one was just reaching the surface...

For several mornings after that day, I was blessed with at least one new beauty breaking through the dirt that had covered it until it was ready to share it's beautiful face with the world. Each new green sprout, brought me such joy & pretty soon I felt like I had a new litter to take care of. 

As they started to seek the sun, they started to stand taller...trying not to be the one with the shadow, but the one that was always bathed in the warmth of the sun. So funny that in life it seems that when we think others have something, we need it too. That if God asks us to step back into the position with less, we tend to compare what we have, with what others have. If we come from a view of "we all deserve..." well we will live in a constant state of "the grass is greener..." I, myself, have found that when I start looking around at what others are doing, getting or being, well it makes my life look "less than." If I stay in that mindset, I will stop seeking what God has for me. I will miss out on what God has for me & what God has is always better. 

As the days, then weeks went by my litter of future seed bearers kept growing. They were growing so fast, then a late bloomer came up one day. I called him Paul.

Paul came along right before I was going to transplant them into a couple of storage tubs...I decided that if I plant them mobile, I can take them with me. I tend to get attached to living things. 

I used to consider this a curse. But God. He has shown me that loving living things is how He created me. When I try not to be who He made me to be & surround myself with stuff, I am not happy. I seem to just want more & more. Which is part of the reason I allowed food to be such a huge struggle in my life, for so long. I was created to love, just not to love things, but to love life. When I finally gave God this part of me, the struggle to fit in & have the same thing as everyone else, I found my sweet spot. The place where I have never failed to find God. Not in stuff, or places, or food...but in every breath I the peace that only He can give. 

I have to stop seeking others & their opinions about my journey. I have to stop getting attached to things & places...even to people. In this season of trimming, He has walked so many right out of my life at the end of their season. I think that I have fought Him more over this...but in Psalms 32:8-9 God says...

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
    I will advise you and watch over you.
 Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
    that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”

As I read & search His word for His point is for these verses...for me...I realize He is basically saying to me, "Don't be stubborn, stick with ME...not people."  He reminds me that He, is ALL I need. He will ALWAYS give me what I need. People may come & go, but God...He is faithful. So in this season of growing this litter, I may be doing it without other people to share the joy with. 

The ruler of this world knows that God created us to crave connection, to struggle with chasing happiness. So he will send people into my life to distract me, to deter me from God's path, to drag up the desire to find the joy in things...instead of God. God can use though people to remind me that He's ALL I need. God will remind me, that though those people may not know it, He is using them to mold & shape me. I do know that with or without those people, God is creating & building a He will be known. A testimony that will bring Him glory, show His power & also how much He loves me.

As I started to realize that the sweet sprouts were getting too big to share the tiny containers they were in, I knew it was time to give them more room to grow. I was going to put them into a single 32 gallon tub, but after getting prepared with soil & then carefully separating each plant, I realized that a single tub wouldn't be enough. So out came tub #2. Some of the plants were attached by the root, they couldn't be separated without killing one of them. 

The instructions on the package suggested that I "thin out the plants." I knew that I couldn't make that I decided to plant the ones that were attached in a single spot. I told my guys, "survival of the fittest I guess." When God thins my circle I know I stand around looking dumbfounded & wondering where people are going? But God sees the whole picture & I only see surface level. So I figured if God wanted to thin these flowers out, He would do it.

I did however talk to, sing to & care for ALL of them...they ALL survived. The grew taller & more leaves. They tried to outgrow their neighbors, they tried to steal their sunshine. It's funny so many times that's how the enemy distracts us. He tries to up his offer, he tries to use others against us to make us rise up in pride, or envy.

Soon the signs of the smiling faced beauties started to show up. The buds were quickly starting to top each of the stalks. Some had more than one bud. 

The anticipation of when I would finally see the beauty bloom was almost too much. I knew how much love I had put into bringing them above the soil, then to keep them living & growing. I was so excited. I know that in my life I have poured myself into so many relationships, only to have them fail. I wasn't ready for these to decide not to bloom. I really wanted to see the efforts I had made in the beautiful face of these flowers. 

I wouldn't have to wait long, the next morning the first one opened it's beautiful self up & I was NOT disappointed. He was beautiful, amazing. Then I noticed another ready & before the end of the day I had 2 beauties chasing the sun with their faces lifted high.

I have continued to watch each of these beautiful babies open up their faces to the amazing sun. I have fed them, trimmed them & kept them in spots with all the sunshine they wanted. They did not disappoint me. They brought me lots of joy. Not only because of their beauty, but because of the life.

Even Paul brought his joyful face to follow the sun...

I am new to this growing sunflowers role. The days got hotter here in the desert, so the morning I went out & my beautiful litter had fallen over...I started to cry. I truly cried sitting on the patio looking at my poor babies. I thought if I got them water they would be ok. So I watered them, but they wouldn't lift their faces that day, actually I had no idea they wouldn't lift their faces to the sun again.

I couldn't figure out what I had done? How did I kill them? I searched them on "the Google" & learned that after blooming they go into a "ripening" season. Their faces fall & they lose all their petals. Those smiling faces just disappear that fast. Kind of like some of the people God's taken from my life. One day they are there with me, professing a forever friendship & the next day they are gone. But thankfully I have God. He helps me realize the road He is walking me is narrow & others will fall away as my road narrows.
 In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus says...

 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate.The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it."

I read on & learned they are ripening the seeds they are growing. So though the beauty they once had was bright & cheerful, their new beauty would come from deep down inside. They were almost disguised as "ugly" by this world's standards, during the time they are busy working hard on the inside. The deepest parts of themselves. Like when God is working on the deeper parts of me. This world may tell me that parts of me are "ugly" but God's doing a work in the deepest parts of me. This process isn't pretty, but it's necessary for God to grow this story of His.

One morning I was heading out the door to enjoy my usual routine & startled a sweet red headed bird that was standing on the back of Adam, bent over the side eating the seeds...a new joy raised up in my heart. I could barely contain my excitement as I headed over to talk to & water my beautiful litter. I whispered this is why I planted the seeds Lord!!! I wonder if that's how God feels each time we actually receive the wisdom He has for us & we do what He's created us too?

I know this, God has asked me to trust Him & His plan. This is a struggle for me sometimes. It used to be a lot more often, so He's changing something in me. I know that before today if I would've known that the beautiful time with this litter was so short, I may have just left the pack of seeds in my gardening tub. It helps me realize that just because it's not my perfect, that God's perfect will always be better. That though all the hard work & time I put into something may not create what I imagined, it will still serve it's purpose. That all the relationships that have come & gone, served their purpose for God.

 I pray that I can live in the purpose He created me for. I know that sometimes the beauty of growth comes during the "ugly" times. May I remember that even in my longest, hardest, deepest struggles, God is growing something me.