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.

SHUT UP!

There’s lots and lots of pressure these days right? We have an insatiable need to let people know how we’re feeling and what we think about what’s going on in current affairs, etc. Talk, talk, talk, fuss, fuss fuss. It’s like there’s another person inside of me that takes over and she just won’t be quiet. She feels it’s important to share her opinion and chime in to every post, every tweet…so much so I’ve had to turn it off several times so I would just shut up!

I sometimes think to myself,”I must respond to that, I’m the great revealer of THE TRUTH” so I let it rip.  There’s nothing wrong with blowing off a little steam, we all do it, especially with all these avenues available to us now through which we can indulge ourselves.

I’ve found that if I keep the ball rolling, the current issues are constantly on my mind and if it’s something I don’t agree with I’m constantly anxious (or whatever emotion the topic makes me feel) and my feelings tend to explode from my mouth or my fingers as the case may be. Sometimes I’ve regretted the end result.

In my God time this morning, I read Philippians 4…and the “Light” was especially bright on verse 8: “Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, DWELL ON THESE THINGS.” (Emphasis mine). 

Here’s what I think (ha, here I go again) 🙂

I think about how I FEEL too much. That’s the problem, and that’s where I get messed up. There are many things going on in our world that push our buttons and we respond just like everyone else. There’s the other problem.

I’m responsible for keeping MY peace AND the peace around me. You are too, if you belong to Jesus. I’m supposed to be different (as are you). We’re to be HIS examples of the strength, peace, kindness, in our corners that HE displays through us…if we choose to let Him be displayed. We have the chance to live in this chaotic and scary world as examples of the difference Jesus makes in the lives of everyday people.

The lost need to see (not just hear) the difference Jesus makes in the chaos and uncertainty. We don’t need to sound like everybody else but more importantly we shouldn’t look like everyone else. How we handle what we’re going through could make the difference in someone’s life.

I’m going to shut up, try my best to keep how I feel to myself and walk in/live in the “peace that passes all understanding” given to me by Jesus like I believe it.  Will you? People don’t need my opinions. They need His peace!

Are You Willing To Cut?

We had some storms roll through early this morning which knocked the satellite out for several hours. After the storms passed and after rebooting and doing all the normal things to get it back on, there was still no signal so I called and requested a service call.

I have a beautiful rose bush right beside the satellite which has grown a lot through the summer. It’s been there for years and it has never caused a problem with reception before. When asked if there was anything obstructing the signal I mentioned the rose bush and actually argued with the technician telling him it’s been there for years, never caused a problem, etc. After a five minute back and forth he encouraged me to cut it back and so with hesitation I cut some branches back. Lo and behold, the signal returned.

Here’s our lesson. Had I been unwilling to cut some branches and thin out the rose bush we wouldn’t have TV reception. Where I live, satellite is my only option. Though the bush had been there for years and the same branches were around it, without my knowledge and obscured from my viewpoint it had become thicker where the satellite receiver thingy is and prevented a signal reception because the rain made the branches heavier. I had to cut them and remove them in order to receive. I was sure I was right as everything was, in my view, like it always was and the person advising was right. My bad.

We musn’t assume that because things have always been the way they are that some changes don’t need to be made and something, someone or the way you do what you do needs to be “cut”.  When the “technician” (in this case God) tells you to try something new or to cut something, be willing to try. If Jesus is the Lord of your life, He governs BUT you always have the choice to keep things just as they are.

Had I not cut the branches we wouldn’t have television. That’s not a life-changer but nonetheless we would be “without”. Are you willing to cut? I finally was, and now I have a strong signal.

Lord Jesus, give us attentive and willing hearts to change & cut whatever you say cut for a better & clearer signal to You!

ReRuns

I remember exactly what I was doing six years ago tonight. I was at Huntsville Hospital with my younger sister who was dying. On past anniversaries of her death of course I’ve remembered…but not like I am tonight. I remember laying my head on her pillow and singing “His Eye is on the Sparrow”. I can almost hear the voices of everyone with us in the room. I can recite the prayers and recall the people I met & the conversations we had. Why this year? I don’t want to remember all the details. I had a “trigger” today, a jolt back to that time in my life. I’ve tried all day long not to go “there” to no avail. I’m there and it’s sad & painful.

I’m also seeing what a profound season that was in my life in many ways. The lessons God taught me are numerous and, as a dear friend pointed out to me tonight, defined my faith in Him more than I realized until now.

I’ve had many experiences through which God has shown me who He is and taught me lessons but at no time in my life was He more real to me than He was when Joy died. This is a “footprints” moment. Through every moment of those three days she was in the hospital, her funeral and that first year I look back and see I was being carried. I’m here now so I obviously lived through it though I don’t know how…only one explanation: the carrying grace of God.

That’s when I learned that God isn’t obligated to explain Himself (unfortunately). All the times I’d heard of what He is capable of and His great love for us; His one-on-one personal attention to every detail of our lives came through those days. I saw it & experienced it through one of the worst things I had ever gone through. How crazy is that! I literally felt every cliche’ thing I had ever heard…and believed by the way…but there’s something about KNOWING all of it based on, well, knowing that changes you and your perspective. The knowledge of a personal God…my personal God makes it impossible to ever be the same.

Through her death, I learned the real meaning of Psalm 23:4. Walking through the “shadow of death” is just that: a shadow of death. It’s going through (with Him) what you think will surely kill you. Maybe it’s practice for the real thing. I don’t know. I just know that I didn’t WANT to live through such pain & loss and I’m sure God saw me through it; more than that He carried me. He tended to this grief-stricken pitiful child.

I remember the second I decided not to blame Him. Before that moment it could’ve gone either way. I’m an alcoholic (if you don’t know that already)~I’ve been sober 23 years thanks be to God. On this day six yrs ago I almost went back…I remember it so clearly. I almost decided not to trust Him,that this was my last straw…but I chose to hang onto Him rather than turn away. Why I don’t know, I just did.

Most of the time I try to look forward instead of back. I may take glances because I never want to forget where God brought me from but I don’t dwell in it. Tonight He’s taking me through every moment of that “shadow of death” and I think I know why. I think it’s meant for me to see how far He’s brought me through what He’s brought me through. Many things I had fogotten about that time, many things I chose to forget because it just hurt too much. Not tonight. I remember. This is a bonified rerun, just like watching a movie.

I clearly see that time in my life as forming who this woman of God is now. I’m who I am largely due to back then. I KNOW God now. I know what He did for me and I’ll never get over it, at least I hope I don’t. I’m quite tenacious where He’s concerned. He’s my favorite topic of conversation. Studying His Word & writing/sharing what He brings out of our time together is my “sweet spot” and all of that started with my sister’s death. I loved Him before; I was saved years before. I knew Jesus before…but not like I KNOW Him now. I’m no longer going to apologize for that.

Romans 8:28. ALL things. I know that to be true. Absolutely true. Even in death and loss and yes, especially through “the valley of the shadow of death”. 

So I said all that to say this: when you look back on any of your past, no matter how painful, look back purposefully. Make a point to take in where you were then and where you are now. Somehow miraculously regardless of how devastating it was you’ll see as I have that God has an amazing ability to bring something beautiful out of all the pain. If you don’t see it now, I’m praying you soon will.

The In Between

It’s Holy Saturday, the day between grief and glory. I woke up thinking about the disciples and followers of Jesus. They had just seen Him suffer a horrible death after which some witnessed His burial in a tomb with a huge stone rolled in front of the entrance.

Having lost many loved ones to death, I liken this to the time between their passing and the funeral service where we feel exhausted, grief-stricken, and sad, although I know the comparison is sadly lacking. I say that because He was to them their lives. Their Messiah, Israel’s long-awaited promise. The Miracle Baby of Mary. Those who followed Him literally left their lives to follow Jesus and sit at the feet of the Supreme Teacher.

How devastated they must have been. I imagine some were gathering their strength and the few possessions they had to go back to their lives they had so willingly left behind. I’m sure some were convinced that it was over. He had tried to tell them many times this was going to happen but sorrow had robbed their memory. They were captives of grief.

Have you ever been there? Have you been in that place of stiffling grief, not knowing what to do next and really not wanting to do anything? That’s what I call the in-between place.

Our only weapon during those moments and days is to encourage ourselves. Those are the times which we must choose faith. We choose to believe the promises laid out for us in the Bible and as best we can, we choose to “LET not” our hearts be troubled.

Something inside us gives us the strength to go on and climb out of that bed one more time. Pick up that Bible one more time. Smile, one-more-time. We choose to get busy living and go from here rather than choose to die.

That’s Spirit power because our flesh may want to give up, I believe. The ‘greater in me’ becomes greater in me and I rise. In that place of in-between the work of the power in me that created the stars takes over my weary flesh and I go on. You go forward regardless of how you feel.

Friends if you’re in that devastating place now just hang on. A better time is coming. You will survive this. It’s okay to be there…just don’t stay there. God has everything you need and He will strengthen you. If you’re not in the in-between place right now the next time you are remember Jesus and what happened the next day, Sunday. He conquered death and changed the world. What those sad broken hearts saw as the end was only the beginning, and my goodness! What a beginning it was!

So come on. Let’s walk with our heads held high and the willingness to believe a grand tomorrow is coming. This isn’t all there is!

Good Love

Good love. You got it? The ultimate love: unconditional, everlasting, never failing, unending and regardless love is that love of Jesus Christ. We can only give an imperfect love but we decide…and hopefully desire to give our best. When we do with pure hearts and then we’re used, abused then thrown away it does something to us. We’re wounded and leery of trying it again. This encompasses all relationships right? I’ve been “killed” by some people…and I’ve “killed” some people. I’ve rejected and hurt those who really cared for me. I’ve been used and abused when I gave my best. We all have been. I just need to say that if you’re reading this and you’ve thrown me to the side/manipulated/hurt me…you missed the chance for good love. I’m God’s girl. I have in me the vreal kind of love; a good love. It’s your loss. I refuse to live under that mark of pain and rejection you left on me. I am not a reject. I am loved with an everlasting, real love of Christ. I’m on the mend, and He heals me second by second because I’m letting Him. I still have good love because I choose to. I choose to show it and not let all the pain alter this love I’ve been given. Will you?