The Monster in the Mirror

There she is again.  Every time something goes wrong, even with something goes right, this wicked monster is the first to cast stones.  She’s quick to remind me of everything I’ve ever done wrong.  Every day, I must contend with her.

Every day, she reminds me of how weak and beaten up I am and all I’ve been through.

Minute by minute if I listen to her, I’m reminded of why I shouldn’t try, why I shouldn’t believe for better and should quit while I’m ahead.  With every new day, the old stares me in the face – if I focus on her long enough, her voice overpowers the God in me.

Perhaps the most important choice is at the beginning of the day, deciding who you’re going to listen to.  The monster doesn’t lie, she tells the truth…her version of it, anyway.

She wants to keep my focus on the past and all the pain affiliated with it.  She needs an excuse to make no effort.  Not because she doesn’t believe (she does – she knows God) but because she does and she knows if I choose not to listen to her (myself) and heed His word and His truth instead, efforts must be made, exercises in faith and trust must ensue.  She’s tired.  She’s weary and she’s discouraged.  She finds very little reason to believe a single word she says or trust even a fleeting thought of hope.  It’s all justified.  Just like a victim seeking revenge on her assailant, her actions would be righteously justified.

Here’s the thing, though.  She’s submitted to God so her right to herself has been relinquished to His right to her.  Her own actions to justify herself are null and void…She’s put her trust and heart into the hands of a Mighty Savior who has already won the battle with the monster.  All she has to do is believe it.  She knows she’s no match for fighting the monster but she’s sure her Jesus is more than capable for the battle of the day.  It’s not her strength against who she sees (and remembers) in that mirror that will have victory this day; it’s His.

Every single day, the choice is ours.  Who will lead us?  Who will we listen to?  Who will we believe?  Ourselves or our King?  The battle is won or lost with that one decision.  The truth is, we may have to make that decision on a minute by minute basis. It won’t be easy (the past will attempt to discourage); it won’t be fun (fighting ourselves is ugly and messy) but we will be victorious against our giants if we choose to fight with all of our armor on – trusting Him with everything they throw at us.  Are you in?

“…even if our hearts condemn us.  For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”  1st John 3:20 NLT

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Ellis

He was a friendly little kitten and at first glance, he looked like a normal, orange tabby.  He was meowing in the parking lot.  A big tomcat was approaching him so me…being me…got out of the car and picked the kitten up.  The first thing I noticed was the huge scar on his neck and upon closer inspection I fought back tears as it wasn’t an animal marking, it was a knife wound.  Still, he purred and cuddled like nothing had happened. He was unaffected by his past trauma, seemingly.  As I got to know him better, the visible signs of abuse were evident.  His eye looked abnormal, whiskers had been burned and cut, and two more deep gashes on his sides were prominent.  This kitty had been through some stuff, yet he was still loving and affectionate.  How in the world could this baby critter (vet said he was no more than 4 months old) still be trusting to any human hands? I was amazed.

Ellis reminds me of us.  Some have wounds that are visible and when we see them we find them repulsive and sad while their owners, because they’ve become a reminder of their survival, think nothing of them. I’ve met so many courageous people who’ve been through unspeakable things who bear their marks as evidence of our God who freed them and flipped their horror into absolute healing.

Oh God, that we would believe to be an Ellis. God can do it.

He can turn our ugly scars into most beautiful reminders of what He’s done for us. More importantly through the healing He renders, we can cultivate a deeper relationship with Him discovering who He truly is.  You can trust Him.  Will you?

Proverbs 3:5-6

Hebrews 10:23

Delight in Your Desert.

I liken my life in Alabama to being in a desert. I’ve met many, many wonderful people here. I’ve had some wonderful experiences and folks have been good to us. I’ve gotten to know, love and respect my sister and that surely would have never happened had I not lived here. I had the opportunity to know my Father before he died and to care for him in the years just before he passed.

I had the opportunity to do the right thing(s) regardless of how I’ve been treated all my life which allowed many deep wounds from my childhood to be dealt with and healed. I’ve learned through asking for the truth to be revealed and when it was it was as ugly as I feared it would be ~ but once exposed it can’t hurt me anymore. Truth is better (no matter how painful) than the lies of a lifetime.

I’ve seen God, face to face, and I know Him intimately through the circumstances and I’ve learned complete trust in Him. I’ve learned what it’s like to have only Him to cling to, rely on and His love for me is more than enough. MORE than enough. I’ve learned that the choices made in a desert experience are critical because they determine whether you live or die there…not literally perhaps but spiritually for sure. You can keep crawling, digging through, and stepping one tiny step at a time going on nothing but trust in God to see you through until you’re through it or you can give up and give in because it’s just too hard. You can pick a place and make a home in the wilderness and settle or you can choose to believe and be compelled to keep moving until you know you’re through it.

It’s not that I don’t like Alabama nor have I been discontent. I just don’t belong here. I had to be here to be restored & healed so I could be able to go from here. Those who don’t know me & our history won’t understand that. I’ve learned to be content whatever my circumstance and that in itself was worth the 26 years of the desert!

If you’re in a “dry place” I pray you have Jesus in your life & have a relationship with Him. Frankly I don’t know how anyone could survive…or would want to survive…without Him being with you through it. I so get why people do crazy things so much better & I have learned not to judge. Desert walking is extreme, in extreme circumstances. Desperate people do desperate things; thus the results we see in our world today.

I’m grateful for every single moment of these past 26 years. I’m grateful for the friends and my sisters (one of which is in heaven) who walked with me and loved me through. I’m grateful to God for being my Guide, my Teacher, my Redeemer, my Restorer, my Spring of Life, my Comfort, my Provider, and my Healer (to name a few) every second and every step.

Don’t give up if you’re in that place and try to see and believe it’s for your good because it surely is or you wouldn’t be there. God bless you.

Keep Looking and Keep Believing.

Anyone who knows me knows how much hummingbirds mean to me. I think of them as tiny angels and maybe a hint of the Glory of God. How creative He is to make this magnificent tiny birds! He must have known the effect they would have on us. Who doesn’t enjoy watching them?

I look forward every year to seeing them. I have feeders right outside my office window so I can see them all the time. A friend of mine who’s visiting the beach in S. Alabama sent me a text yesterday telling me they had seen one and thought of me. In both of my books, I’ve written stories about them to share what God’s taught me. So with that prompt, I mixed up some nectar and put my feeders out expectantly waiting to see them. No hummers.

This morning to my delight, they came to feed. I was delighted to see them and have been mezmerized by them most of the morning.

It occurred to me the act of believing they would come encouraged me to fill up the feeders and put them out. Even though they didn’t appear the day I put them out, I didn’t fail to keep looking. I believed I would soon see them as friends living close by had already been blessed by their presence. All the encouragement I needed to believe was there; it was my choice to act on what I believed!  I could have chosen not to fill the feeders. I could have chosen not to believe they would come. After all, just because they were all around me didn’t necessarily mean they would come to my house. Knowing that, I still decided to believe.

Friends, that’s such a great analogy of our faith-walk. We must decide to act like we believe God will “show up” in our lives. Actually He’s in our lives continually we just have to choose to be focused enough on Him to see evidence of His presence.  If you’re troubled by something, have a need, etc., believe you’ll see Him in action. Put out “feeders” (pray, look) and believe. Keep believing. He may not come when you think He should. He may not manifest Himself in the manner you’re expecting but He will see to you. He promised (Philippians 4:19).

Keep looking and keep believing.  And WHEN (not if) you see Him and His handiwork in your life be sure to thank Him. Enjoy Him and all the blessings and promises that are yours from Him. And, enjoy the hummingbirds!

I Don’t Trust Me

Over and over for the past two weeks Proverbs 3:5 has come to me in many different ways.

So much that happens doesn’t make any sense. Such as: All that’s happened in my family. Why I’m alive and pretty much everyone dear to my heart isn’t. Why good people, “God people” suffer such horrible things…why life is so hard for us and mean people who intentionally inflict pain, lie and manipulate seem to breeze right through…the list is long.

In order for me to keep walking forward and not just fall in a pile and give up; if I’m to really trust God and believe His Word I can not lean on “my own understanding”. I must love the Lord with all my heart and that means I have to put me, my opinions and my feelings behind Him in my life. I have to lean on Him and not my own understanding. I must acknowledge Him: believe Him and that He’s  working in all this (good, bad, struggles and the ugly) for my good, He’s in control and He’s supremely over it all.

A tall order. I have to choose with every situation…the good ones and the hellish ones…to trust Him. Friends this is not a one time decision…it’s a constant one. Trust/acknowledge are verbs…action words. I have to trust Him, not me. Don’t let your feelings or emotions dictate your faith. We can be swayed. God can’t be.

Trust is much larger than faith, a step beyond. Believing and ACTING on belief are very far apart at times. Look. More often than not, things are way more intricate then they appear. There’s a physical thing going on but rest assured there’s also a spiritual thing going on. Don’t trust you…trust HIM!

Keeping The Faith

Have you ever noticed all the action words in the Bible? We have a responsibility in this faith walk. “Do not let your hearts be troubled…” just one example that’s snatched my attention of late and it’s huge! We’ve all suffered unfairness, hurt, and some have endured worse things than I can even comprehend. I hear about horrible things and wonder how they survived; I’m not sure I could.

I’m learning it’s not so much what life does to us but what we do with what’s happened. I believe we have a choice when bad things happen. We can allow it to consume us by constantly focusing on it or we can pray about it and every time it crosses our mind (and I mean EVERY TIME) we can purposefully take the thought and pain and tell God “I don’t get it. Yes it’s ugly and unfair but for some reason You allowed it and I trust You. I believe Your word that says ALL things work for the good for those who love You. Father that’s me, so help me fight the urge to retaliate, to be bitter or walk wounded. Heal me and let me see You through it”.

I believe that’s at least some of the working out of our salvation…ultimate trust that He knows what He’s doing and that if nothing else through whatever comes, I’ll have the privilege of growing closer to Him because I’m getting to know Him in a way I haven’t before.

What about you. Are you keeping your faith?

Reassurance.

My sister once gave me a Winnie the Pooh card that came at the perfect time. “Ppppppoooohhh?” Said a timid Piglet. “Yes?” a calm Pooh said. “I…I…I…nothing. I jjust nnneeded to be sure of you.”

That’s how we are isn’t it? Sometimes we just need to know someone’s there. We need reassurance. Sometimes we need to hear another voice.

In Joshua chapters 3 and 4 I think the Israelites found themselves in that place. Moses had died, Joshua had taken over and they had the Jordan to cross. One more river and they would set their feet on the promise. Almost all the first Israelites had died on the journey. This generation had heard about their destination all their lives. I believe God took a survey of hearts and said,”let Me just remind them of whose they are; let Me give them a little taste of encouragement”.

So He did something phenomenal only He could do, one more time. He gave Joshua instructions for the people and the priests. They chose to comply and they were all privy to getting a taste of what their ancestors witnessed. God mounded the waters of the Jordan while the priests held the Ark of the Covenant in the Jordan which allowed them to cross over edging closer and closer to the promise.

God did what He had done before, I believe, to reassure His people He was still with them. He will do the same for you and me. Relax. Keep walking. Keep believing. If you need a little reassurance pray and look around. You’ll find God setting your mind at ease. Rest assured. He’s still with you.