No longer needed

Be careful of the man who exaggerates.  The story is one of pride, love of self, one-sided always, lacks wisdom, and its purpose leads to heart break.

Be careful of the man who exaggerates.  The story becomes fuller of lies each time it’s told.  He can’t help himself for the lies consume the entertainment.  He just wants others to look at him.

Be careful of the man who exaggerates.  The story always fines blame elsewhere.  Excuses are created, for he never sees is own undoing.

Be careful of the man who exaggerates.  One day you will no longer be needed.  He will have used you and abused you.  You won’t recognize yourself.  He will have turned you into someone who needs him.  Yet, he leaves … and exaggerates the story to someone else.  Telling everyone how you left him.  Of course, remember, his life is based on excuses.  His heart is full of lies.  His words are empty promises.

You are no longer needed because you now know him.  He only needs those he can manipulate with his exaggerations.  He only needs those who haven’t seen him for him yet.

I think of a story that came to me … what would it look like if I watched this man and his family without him knowing it.  If I was a fly on the wall or spirit in his dreams or watching hidden video.

____

I watched him take 3 slices of bread.  No asking.  Just doing.  His wife had only made 2 slices for each family member.  Yet, instead of asking … he took.

This moment sums up their family relationship, their marriage.  Yes, in 30 seconds you can see so much.  It is a scary thought that 30 seconds of our lives can sum up, can show, can prove exactly where our heart is, and of what our hearts are full.

He took, never asking, and only giving when an ulterior motive was in order.  Excuses all he knew was excuses, his own excuses.

The wife had once wrote a poem, maybe it’s a poem or more like a series of words about an exaggerated man.  In those 30 seconds as I watched, I realized the wife words were about her husband.  I don’t know if she realized yet.

I watched him eat, after all he took, most went into the garbage.  Did he take so none else could have?  Did he realize his wife didn’t eat?

The exaggerated man never sees his faults.  One day he will be all alone.  Everyone will eventually see the way of the exaggerated man.  One last time, the wife calls out to Jesus praying this man can see his own heart.  See the pain he causes and the lies he spreads, the excuses he uses.  Maybe, just maybe, he will see himself through another’s eyes, instead of his own.

She feels, she begs to God, she calls to him, “I can’t pray for him any more.  I am done.  It is up to you to reach him.  It is up to him to reach his arms to Jesus.  I can’t do it for him.  I can no longer be the go-between. He must do it himself.”

________

In our society, the exaggerated man is everywhere.  Our eyes must be open to seeing what is there and what is being hidden ~ the truth of heart.

The truth of our hearts is many times revealed in our words and our actions, especially when we feel we are up against a wall.

I see this in the business world, in the church world, in families, EVERYWHERE.

Recently in the business world, I overheard a conversation between 2 men.  One I could tell was an exaggerated man.  As he tried to appear humble, tried to appear as a Godly man coming before the other embarrassed.

As the 2 were deep in discussion, it became obvious to me, he was full of it.  His words as he realized he wasn’t getting his way. “Go ahead. My dad told me I don’t have to pay my debts.  People can sue me over past bills. They can sue me all day long.  If I don’t have the money, I don’t have to pay.  They can’t anything.”

I realized that this exaggerated man was taught by an exaggerated man.  How the webs we weave … we reap what we sow.

The Bible is very clear about paying our debts.  It is an integrity issue.  It is a heart issue.

Yet, in the business world, I see and hear people complain about not having money yet they are first to eat out, treat themselves to a day of pampering, take their kids on crazy vacations.

Being real always works.  Staying true to who we are always works.  It might not be easy, but it works.  And, being real teaches our children to be real.  Teaches them good habits.  We sow into them what we do.  And, sometimes putting our family first means having to say, “No,” instead of keeping the charade of exaggeration up.  God is a good father.  And, God answers us with a “No,” every once in awhile.  This keeps us real.  It helps keep us from living the exaggerated life.  He does it because He desires us to need him … to want him.

Modesty Builds

Modesty is something our society, our culture, has lost.  Modesty … in so many ways. Yup, I said it.  Don’t really care what you think, because I know what I see.  What I see on a daily basis.  What I see every time I open up Facebook.  What I see every time I turn on the TV.  What I see at church.  What I see everywhere.  What I see in the hearts of people around me.

How we dress … how we act … choices we make ~ they are all a reflection of us; our hearts; how we feel about ourselves.

Our modesty reflects what we want others to think of us, how we position ourselves in their thoughts, in their hearts, and in their treatment of us.

Humility and Modesty go hand in hand.

Maybe this topic is so raw and real to me because I refuse to allow my teenage daughter to prance around in shorts with her butt hanging out, in a bikini that shows more than anyone needs to see, in a half-shirt around town.  Yet, I see mothers who do allow it and even post pictures on social media.  Really?  What emphasis are showing your daughter?  What are you teaching her value? What are you teaching men to value about her?

Hearing girls brag about their too short of shorts … I mean seriously how do you not have an infection.  Your shorts are so tight and so short, just looking at them makes me cringe in pain.

Maybe it is because my daughter is modest, and in fact, she is super proud of it.  Maybe it is because she believes that God created her to be a princess and being a princess isn’t just about the clothes … it is about how you act, how you treat others, how to take confidence in yourself, and YOUR HEART!!!!  Yes, I am blessed with an amazing daughter.

We must teach and show our daughters and our sons that women are meant to be God’s princesses … not a piece of you know what who only have value when they flaunt their stuff and look like what society tells us is beautiful.  Beauty has changed much over the years.  In medieval times, a pale curvaceous woman was the most beautiful because they were considered to be of “wealthy and healthy” standard.  Only slaves were tan and thin. (Just some food for thought.)

I am not the only one to see it.  In a weekend when all I have seen is half-naked teenage girls being flaunted by their parents or being allowed to flaunt it … a wonderfully wise woman approached me.

“You have the sweetest daughter,” she said with a hug.

I replied, “Thank you.  Yes, her heart amazes me.”

My sweet older friend continued, “She is beautiful.  On the inside and on the outside.  She shines.  She is so confident in her modesty.  SUCH AN EXAMPLE!”

This is beautiful statement and truly sums up my amazing Isabella.

And, her statement got my mind racing.  What kind of man do I want my daughter to find?  What kind of women do I want my sons to see?  What traits do I want others to see in my children?  As they continue to mature and grow up, they will one day get married.

Who do we marry?  Someone to whom we are attracted.  Men fall in love with a woman they find attractive.  Women find attractive the man with whom they fall in love.

Attraction is a crazy thing.  We can find someone physically attractive.  We can find someone’s qualities attractive.

In the relationship we choose, we will reap what we sow.

What really happens when we allow our daughters to expose their bodies?  Are we taking away the intimacy she will one day have with her husband?  Are we taking her away from a true relationship, raw and real and intimate with God?

Just as a side note:

  1. I know I am just as intelligent as men.  (in some cases more)
  2. I am for equality.
  3. I believe women are just as strong as men (some cases stronger)
  4. I don’t think women have to walk around in turtleneck or head pieces.
  5. Feet can be sexy too!
  6. This is not about jealousy or body shaming.

If I teach my daughter she must dress or I allow her to dress provocatively, what I am really saying?  I am telling her …

  1. Her mind is not as important as her body.
  2. Men will only value her for her body.  Body first … mind ~ what?
  3. Why try to educate or better herself … all she will be is arm candy.
  4. The only way to the “top” of any industry is through sex or her “top”
  5. Equality doesn’t exist.

WE WANT EQUALITY!

Women in the office walk around half naked while men walk around covered up.  Sometimes even with a tie!  I don’t see guys walking around their goods hanging out.  When we allow our daughters to dress a certain way we are taking away their equality.

What am I teaching my sons if I allow my daughter to dress provocatively?

  1. Only value a woman’s body.
  2. Equality doesn’t exist.
  3. A woman’s mind is not as important as the rest of her.
  4. Her values are non-existent.
  5. Focus on her boobs not her words.

True BEAUTY is confident.  Confidence is God’s vision of us; not man’s visions of us.

Isabella could daily wear a bikini.  She prefers to be a little more covered up.  She values and chooses the modesty God gave her.  She is confident in her talents.  Her mind.  Her beauty.  Her heart.  As a leader.  Her naturalness.  Kids flock to her because of this.

By teaching her modesty, I am allowing her to grow up at even pace.  I am not pushing her to be older than she is.  This gives her time to mature and develop as woman of God … a woman purpose … a woman of greatness!

The attitude of modesty is born from the teaching of humility.  The action of humility brings the idea of modesty.  God desire for us to be both.  The rarest of jewels are the hardest to find.

At Some Point …

One of my good friends got me hooked on a book, “Me Before You”, and then of course I had to read the sequel, “After You”.  The books are well written and straight from the heart.  Maybe I feel that way because I understand tragedy and moving forward ~ deciding to heal.  And, deciding to live.  And, then deciding to THRIVE!

When you have had a tragedy happen in your life, we have the choice, “Do we keep living?”  And, if we decide to keep living, we then have the choice, “With what emotions will live that life?”  Are we going to live to just survive or are we going to live to thrive?

Survive vs. Thrive.

These two books bring these questions to mind.  Yet, we all have to deal with tragedy.  At some point in our lives we will experience tragedy.  Nobody is bullet proof.  Nobody is tragedy proof.  I know first hand.  I have experienced several big tragedies my life. Not just big … huge … life changing in so many ways.

And, at the beginning … during the middle … and at the end … we have the opportunity to choose if we live and how we live.

So … what brings all of this about now?  I saw a blog title (now, I didn’t read it), but I am pretty sure that the title spoke for itself.  It was about the book “Me Before You”.  The title was sharing that the book was showing that life after a handicap is not worth living.

In fact, I believe that the book shows quite the opposite.  That is why the ending is so painfully sad … because no matter what Life is Worth Living.  You just have to choose it.

Each and every moment of each and every day, we have the choice.  Do we keep living?  And, if we keep living, what kind of mentality to live with?  With each choice, we cannot rely on someone else to live or choose for us.

That is whole point of the book.  The main character was hired to show

He simply wanted to be a man who went on a date with a girl in a red dress.  That life … the life of normalcy he had lived … was no more.

Yet, when I think about it, each day we create a new normal with our experiences of the day before.

We are so busy looking up, looking at other people, looking down, looking around.  We are so busy looking every where but inside of ourselves.

Everything you need is within you … right now … in this very moment.  God designed it that way.  Inside of us is a place for Holy Spirit … a place for Jesus … and place for Him.  That is what completes us.  Not someone else.  This isn’t a Jerry McGuire movie! Life is not a movie.  There are no quick lines; perfect endings don’t always happen.

Sometimes it is up to us to see the perfect ending in the imperfect journey

One of my good friends got me hooked on a book, “Me Before You”, and then of course I had to read the sequel, “After You”.  The books are well written and straight from the heart.  Maybe I feel that way because I understand tragedy and moving forward ~ deciding to heal.  And, deciding to live.  And, then deciding to THRIVE!

When you have had a tragedy happen in your life, we have the choice, “Do we keep living?”  And, if we decide to keep living, we then have the choice, “With what emotions will live that life?”  Are we going to live to just survive or are we going to live to thrive?

Survive vs. Thrive.

These two books bring these questions to mind.  Yet, we all have to deal with tragedy.  At some point in our lives we will experience tragedy.  Nobody is bullet proof.  Nobody is tragedy proof.  I know first hand.  I have experienced several big tragedies my life. Not just big … huge … life changing in so many ways.

And, at the beginning … during the middle … and at the end … we have the opportunity to choose if we live and how we live.

So … what brings all of this about now?  I saw a blog title (now, I didn’t read it), but I am pretty sure that the title spoke for itself.  It was about the book “Me Before You”.  The title was sharing that the book was showing that life after a handicap is not worth living.

In fact, I believe that the book shows quite the opposite.  That is why the ending is so painfully sad … because no matter what Life is Worth Living.  You just have to choose it.

Each and every moment of each and every day, we have the choice.  Do we keep living?  And, if we keep living, what kind of mentality to live with?  With each choice, we cannot rely on someone else to live or choose for us.

That is whole point of the book.  The main character was hired to show

He simply wanted to be a man who went on a date with a girl in a red dress.  That life … the life of normalcy he had lived … was no more.

Yet, when I think about it, each day we create a new normal with our experiences of the day before.

We are so busy looking up, looking at other people, looking down, looking around.  We are so busy looking every where but inside of ourselves.

Everything you need is within you … right now … in this very moment.  God designed it that way.  Inside of us is a place for Holy Spirit … a place for Jesus … and place for Him.  That is what completes us.  Not someone else.  This isn’t a Jerry McGuire movie! Life is not a movie.  There are no quick lines; perfect endings don’t always happen.

Sometimes it is up to us to see the perfect ending in the imperfect journey.

Sometimes … the roots must be bigger than the bloom

The blog wasn’t coming together. All the pieces were there but they weren’t in the right order.

Sitting in the building where Patrick had his life and journey celebrated. Sitting in the building where 25 people gave their life to Christ as we remembered him. Sitting in a building where I praised God during my son’s Celebration of Life. Sitting in that building as I remembered that special person who I got to baptize and as I remember a person who said, “When I saw your hands raised in praised, it took my breath away. How amazing you could do that in your son’s death.”

I did that.

I raised my hands as many mourned. I raise my hands still to this day. I say thank you to that tumor. Thank you cancer.

It is because of you tumor that I saw an unconditional love, I experienced unconditional love, and I gave unconditional love.

All because of Patrick’s unselfishness to accept the journey. Yes, I know he had talks with Jesus. I could see it in his eyes. I could hear it in his life. I could feel it in his smiles. I could sense it in his cuddles.

“Mama. Pick me up.” His last words. The last words I would ever hear come out of that sweet mouth. How he knew.

God is our source ~ not the church. The church has gotten us hooked on hope! Now, you may be asking, “That’s a good thing, right? Hooked on hope is good, right?”

Hope is a wonderful thing when it is built on the rock named Jesus. Yet, man keeps getting in the way.

What exactly do I mean? Miracles come in the No’s too. God will give you a “yes” inside that “no.” If we always got a yes … we would never learn. We learn so much in the No’s.

The church seems to have forgotten this. They focus on the yes so much, that we don’t know what to do in the no’s. What we are “taught” is that money isn’t the only blessing God gives. Blessings come in many ways. When we are obedient, we are blessed. When we tithe, we are blessed.

There is so much more. Life is not a series of yes’s. Christian shows such as The 700 Club focus on the big miracles. The yes’s. What about the No’s. There is so much to learn in the No’s. So much to be seen. So many miracles in the No’s. The Bible is full of stories of “waiting” and “no’s.”

One of the No’s we read about involves Jesus. He didn’t follow man. He followed God. And, in doing so, he suffered. He suffered greatly. Man said “No” to his release. Man said “No” to his love. Man continues to say “No” to his name, his power, his love, his freedom. God told Jesus “No” when Jesus asked if there was any other way. Luke 22:39-46

The only way was through Jesus.

Not the church. The church has us clinging to their hope. It ropes us in, and using “hope” they keep us there. Hope is a wonderful thing when it is built on a rock named “Jesus.” Yet, man gets in the way. Our focus must be different. We must root our faith, our hope, our choices in HIM. That is where our roots grow. And, in that our roots must be bigger than our blooms.

Jesus ministered through his pain. He had an undeniable spiritual maturity, even at a young age. With that maturity, comes the ability to see the miracles in the no’s.

Our roots grow when we raise our hands in praise during the No’s. No’s can create change; you can find a commonality with new people to minister, and it can build into a Yes!

Roots are a must for blooms to remain strong. It is easy to keep faith in the yes’s. It is building to keep it and grow your faith in the no’s.

We all still crave the yes. We all still get disappointed in the no. Be thankful for the answers. Look at how those in faith kept going. No doesn’t mean we have to suffer. No can protect us. Light is brightest in the darkest place.

Your roots must be deep, must be bigger in order to hold bigger blooms.

When we get a NO … that is time to be the brightest light. And, let that light shine. When you walk through a fire … anything is possible on the other side. What a perfect day to share this message.

Jesus walked through the fire. And, on the other side EVERYTHING is POSSIBLE! His roots were huge in his faith and his blooms, grow bigger each day, as we set our faith foundation in him.

The Puzzler

I shared yesterday about how my dad and I have a love for putting puzzles together.  A connection ~ or bond ~ that has lasted and I have passed down to my babies.

The working together.  The working alone.  The frame.  The color sorting.  The types of pieces sorting.  The conversations!

More than the learning and life experience, more than the quality family time ~ My puzzle time growing up was with someone who chose me, someone who took me in, someone who loved me when he didn’t have to.  Chose me to be part of his family.  And, most of all, accepted me.  Accepted me with all of my flaws.

He understood what I needed.  Pushed when I needed the extra “umph.” Stood back when I needed alone time.  His time … his acceptance … gave me confidence.  Never once did he say anything to tear me down.

It was that frame … the frame of the puzzle ~ it built trust.  Trust a relationship is built upon.  Trust that went both ways.  Trust that I would figure it out.  Trust that would let me fall when I needed to learn.  And, a trust that I would be guided so I would not stay down.

I know this person wasn’t perfect.  I never expected him to be ~ nor did he expect perfection from me.  What a beautiful concept to learn … Love through the imperfections.

I realize now, that was the frame of my puzzle.  The key in the foundation of my relationships, in my marriage, in being a mom, in my confidence, in my independence, in my faith, in my strength, in my ability to love.

Someone shared with me over the weekend, “When I watch you, you love fully.  You love with your entire heart.  You give it all.  And, sometimes, you don’t get that back in return.  You continue to love.”

That puzzle frame … doesn’t leave me feeling puzzled.  In fact, it gives me concrete information and experiences to keep going.  It was a love like Jesus.  It was a love like Jesus without even know it (at the time).

My foundation was all part of God’ plan.  I think about what my life would have been like or where I would be right now.  One man’s decision changed my entire world.  I learned what it felt like to be accepted.  I experienced and saw love at its finest.  To hear someone say, “I love you.  I choose you to be part of my family.”  that changes your heart.

It is a bit of heaven on earth, as God chooses us each and every moment of the day.  He desires us to be a part of His family.  He accepts us … flaws and all.  He gives us confidence and never does anything to tear us down.  He is always there watching, guiding.  He leaves to ourselves when we need to be.  He never expects us to be perfect.  Knowing this … Loving Us Enough … Accepting Us as We Are … His love is the frame of everything good in our lives.  His love … is Jesus.

Thank you to the man who accepted me … and helped create the foundation … the frame … of how I love … of my heart … of me.

(Part 2)

The Puzzle

Right now, you just need to focus on the bigger picture. Have you ever been told that?

What is this bigger picture we have told about?  This one we all long to put together.  To see.

The picture ~ the puzzle ~ can get complicated when we are too confident that we can fit the pieces together ourselves.  We force pieces together.  Some seem to fit, but they either leave room for light to shine through or just too tight and bend the pieces to fit.

The biggest issue with making them fit is the next piece, and the piece after that, and the piece after that.  You can’t fit the right pieces after that.  Yes, it affects the bigger picture.  Your picture just won’t make sense.

I love putting puzzles together.  A love instilled by my dad.  We both loved the process; it wasn’t so much about finishing the picture.  There was excitement over each and every piece we found.  You could feel the pieces snap into place.  Now … it was great to push in that last piece!

What made the puzzle easier was of course having the picture in front of you.  Have you ever put a puzzle together without the picture?

It is called life.  We don’t have the “bigger picture” yet we still have to put all the pieces together.

Today, when a puzzle pieces falls or snaps into place (in my life) I get that feeling ~ that excitement.  As much as, at times, I crave to know the bigger picture, I take gratification in the pieces, not wanting to go crazy over the entire thing.

God has control over that.  All I can do is control the choice that leads to the next piece.  And, the frame.  The frame is key as any good puzzler knows.

The frame of the bigger picture is our foundation. Our faith.  Our relationship with God.  The words of the Bible.  The prayers we say.  Our Hearts.  True intentions.  Our ability to forgive.  Mercy we show.  Love we share.  Jesus. Praise we give.

Make sure your frame is right.  It makes the rest of the pieces easier ot put into place.

(Part 1 of 3)

A Seed’s Comfort Zone

It is easy to plant a seed.  The hardest part of planting a seed … is waiting for it to grow.  Even if it is just a glimpse that your work has not gone unnoticed.

We, as human beings, are much like a seed.  God has planted us in a nice soil.  The soil is rich.  Someone else is taking care of it.  It is being watered.  The sun shines abundantly.

The seed (us) begins to grow.  We are growing up through this nice comfortable soil.  It feels so good.  It has everything we need.  We made it through the birds attempts to pluck us form this soil.  In human words … Satan’s attempts to steal us from Jesus’ loving arms and distract us off path.

So, yes, we continue to grow.  Our roots weak and still a bit surface.  Our bloom is getting bigger ~ our stem will be entrusted with the fruits of our work, of our growth.

The soil still tends to us.  It protects us.  Keeps us feeling comfortable.  Our roots get a bit deeper.  Our stem grows closer to the top of the soil in search of the sun.  In search of the place we can bloom.

This is where most of us get stuck.  The last step before the breakthrough.  The top of soil.  Will we get there.  Will the seed of “us” break through?

God plants us in our mother’s womb.  The womb is meant to care for us, giving us the right nutrients, creating a comfortable place for us.  It is the start of the planting of our own seed.  Once a mother finds out she is pregnant, carrying the seed, she begins to wonder what purpose that seed will fulfill.  What is God’s plan for this precious seed?  She takes care of her body because it is the temple of the seed.  Satan tries to pick that seed by creating anxiety and uncertainty in the mother’s heart. Your life is about to change he whispers in your ear.  Money.  Sleep.

Will she see the seed through to the break through … to the bloom?

As “adults” God allows the Holy Spirit to plants seeds in our heart.  That seed is meant to grow into Jesus in our lives.  Satan tries to pick that seed by creating sickness, doubt, trouble, insecurity.  Your life will change he yells in your thoughts.  No more fun.  No more doing whatever you want to do.

Will you accept God’s call on your heart?  Will you have that breakthrough when you head dips under the water in baptism?

If the seed stops before it reaches the top of the soil, before it breaks through the soil, it will never see its fruit.  You must breakthrough in order to see your fruit.

How do you breakthrough?  How do you leave the comfort zone?  It is so comfortable ~ and the other side is unknown.  OH NO!  The Unknown!  It is what keeps us from the breakthroughs.

If all seeds stop at the top ~ never pushing through ~ there would be no fruit for anyone to eat, to grow.  No trees for the birds and animals to live.  No flowers for the bees pollenate.  No honey.  No air to breath.  This all leads to the death of the seed … all seeds.

At some point in our life, it comes to a place when it is our choice to push through ~ to take care of the our seed.  To know/faith/believe that the fruit will come.

And, in this faith, in this belief, tests will come.  Satan still wants your seed.  He wants to keep your seed from spreading ~ from planting other seeds.

These tests … God wants us to see what we will do with the test.  He already knows.  The beauty of His plan.  He wants us to see what we will do.  He wants us to see our faith growing.  He wants us to see that the seed will have fruit.  He wants us to know …

It brings confidence.

It grows our faith.

It plants more seeds in our own lives and in the lives of those around us.

When a mother is in the birthing room, she must push through her comfort zone in order to see their baby.  To see that seed come to fruition.

When you allow the seed of Jesus grow in your heart, and you push through the comfort zone to accept Him as your Savior, the fruit, the glorious fruit you will now see in your life is amazing.  When you leave behind your past self and follow Jesus into water baptism, pushing through the comfort zone of “What will people think of me?” or the devil’s whisper of “You won’t fit in any where.  No one will like you.  They will only know you as the Jesus freak,” you will go in the water as one person and come out NEW.  You are part of the Kingdom.  Your Father is King.  You will glow with confidence that find only in your new family.

If the mother didn’t push through … she would never know the love you feel when that baby comes out.  If you never accept Jesus, you will never know the love you will receive and newness you can become.

You are a seed … right now … sitting in your nice comfortable soil.  You are willing to grow only to the top of soil.  It is such hard work and so much trust is involved in pushing through the top of soil.  PUSH.  Push today.  And, the excitement you will see and find in your heart when that first glimpse of the bud, of the stem, pushing through.  It makes it all worth it.

Mama Said

lifewritteninpen1Adam Sandler and sports fans can always turn to the move “Water Boy” for laughs and football. Some of the best lines in the movie come at the expense of the water boy’s mom.  She taught her son to fear things ~ really anything that could “hurt” him. And, controlled him with false information.

We may have experienced this in our own lives as well.

Lines such as, “Mama said football is the devil.” or “My Mama says that alligators are ornery because they got all them teeth and no toothbrush.”

(Of course, I am saying it in my best impersonation ~ in my head!)

In many ways she is right.  She just goes about it the wrong way and sometimes with the wrong information.  She feels her intentions are right.  Sometimes, we need to check our intentions.

To fight satan, we must first realize that he can use anything to his advantage.  Anything!  Even the simple, the innocent, or even what we feel/know to be good.  Yes, even when you think you are doing good ~ it can simply be a distraction satan has you focusing on.

The only time you can walk looking straight ahead is when your eyes are focused on Jesus.  If you are following anyone else ~ you better watch where you are putting your feet.

Now, this is not saying “don’t do anything; sit back.”  We (our country) have gotten into lots of turmoil from just sitting back.  Satan has put us in a stand still.  Do we take action or do we keep on believing what “Mama Said”?

Think about how satan has used our love for God.  Yes, he has used Christianity for his own work.

  • The Holocaust:  People believed and convinced a nation that Christians were better than the Jews.
  • ProChoice:  Well, God gave us free will.  Yes he did … but murder is still illegal.  If we use the free will argument … then we should accept murder, theft, rape, lying as simply free will.
  • Acceptance of Sinners:  We know we are supposed to love everyone … not judge … that is God’s jump.  In this, we have been taught to accept the sin.  We can’t offend.
  • ProLife:  Yes, I am pro life, but I would never stand outside an abortion clinic condemning, yelling, spitting on those who walked in.  There are more powerful and effective ways to show the importance of life.
  • Saving Souls:  Do you get on your soap box?  I recently went to a concert, downtown Nashville.  A gentleman stood on his soap box shouting, yelling.  As I walked by, I heard the words, “You are going to hell.”  Really?  Do you know my life?  Do you know that I have accepted Jesus into my heart?  Just because I am going to a concert or a hockey game or walking Broadway at 4th of July … that makes me a person who is going to hell.  Do we treat others like this … judging them on where they are?

Today, it continues.  In such a way that we wouldn’t think twice.  Satan gets in our heads telling us we aren’t good parents if we don’t spoil our kids.  We stink as parents if our children have to go without that new phone, if we don’t put our kids in each and every activity (and then run them around like a crazy person), if we don’t say yes all the time. It is one thing to nurture and to guide our children to achieving their dreams; it is another to drop everything and do it for them.  What are we teaching them?  How are we teaching them to be good people?  What is more important ~ the homerun? the touchdown? the olympic medal? Or, that they love Jesus, are congruent, speak with love, show mercy, have compassion, and know how to take action with good choices?

Distractions.  Satan uses everything to distract.

What are we missing when satan distracts us?  When he gets us to focus on our own view of what is right.  Our view of God’s interpretation of Good and Evil, our own interpretation of fighting for God.

Where is your focus today?  Are you looking to fix the world?  Maybe … just maybe … you need to start with your own heart.  Then, you can move to strengthen the hearts of another.  If we focus half as much on serving with our hearts as we do trying to “fix” the world, our world would require “less fixing.”  Our impact would be multiplied!

Here is an example of “fixing” instead of focusing on serving. (Using strictly as an example.  Not judging.)

Recently, the county where I grew up had a wet/dry vote.  Yes, I grew up in a dry county.  They still exist.  Well, Marshall County was dry until very recently.  Not living there any more, I had not vote, but Facebook was lit up with many people’s opinions, thoughts, views, negativity, etc.

Now, I am not saying how I would have voted ~ but an argument here for all of those who voted, “No,” because they believe “alcohol is the devil,” that alcohol takes you further away from God, that alcohol is not “Christian.”

I am not arguing the typical, “Jesus drank wine.”  This is much deeper than that.  Here are a few questions for those “No’s.”

  1. Do you eat McDonalds or other fast food?
  2. Do you over eat, binge?
  3. Are you buying and eating processed foods?
  4. How about drinking soda (and lots of it)?
  5. Sugar in your tea?  Every southerner takes pride in their sweet tea.
  6. How about gossip?  In that small town, do you feel like you know someone’s business before they do?
  7. Smoking?
  8. Monster/Energy drinks?

What do these things have to do with Voting “No” to alcohol?

Your Body is a Temple.  And, once you accept Jesus into your heart, Jesus lives inside of you.  Does Jesus really need that smoke?  Does he need the excess energy drinks to live?  Is Jesus craving that McDonalds cheeseburger?  

A sin is a sin.  No sin is measure more than another. 

So as you spoil your child, as you stuff Taco John’s, McDonald’s, sugar, cigarette smoke into your body … as you say you want to help your brothers/sisters yet instead you are using it to get onto the gossip train … as you create debt, robbing Peter to pay Paul type of attitude so you can keep up with Jones … what are you really doing?

Are you living with the same mindset, making similar choices for which you have condemned your brothers and sisters?

Two books come to mind … James and Proverbs.

James is very clear.  Our words and actions must match up.  They must be congruent.

Proverbs is an amazing book.  Well, the entire Bible is amazing.  Love Proverbs 18:20-21.  It shares that our words have life.  They all create a fruit.  It is up to you whether your fruit is life giving or poisonous.  What do you want your words to create?  What kind of words do you spoken into your life.  Yeah … that what I thought.

Speak life.  Focus on your servant heart.  Be the change.  Focus your eyes, your heart, your actions on Jesus.

Did You Remember?

Transitions are never easy. You see people come and go.  Your surroundings change.  Your knowledge and wisdom is increased.  You pray like you have never prayed before.

And, finally, you see the end of the tunnel.  You see the light.  You see the yes’s come.  Then, you move on with your day, your week, your year.  You build new relationships. Your heart grows.

You forgot about those yes’s.  Did you remember to thank God for those yes’s?  Did you remember to praise Him?

Yesterday, before phone call, I got a pit in my stomach.  Nerves? Satan trying to mess with me.  I simple began to pray for good news, for blessings, and remembering that everything is in God’s control.  After the phone call, where good news was received, it was time to make lunch for the kiddos.  Life began immediately.  Yes, had to get right back at it.

Once the kids were fed, I had a thought, “Did I remember to thank God? Did I remember to praise him for the good news?”

About 10 years ago, a friend and I were talking about prayer, church, and praising God.  I love how God uses people in our lives to spark conversation, to spark thoughts, and to grow our relationship with Him.  It was during this conversation that I had the feeling come over me ~ praise is where it begins and where it ends.  Praise is what ties any relationship together.  When we stop praising, we lose our connection to Him.  It isn’t when we stop praying.  It isn’t when we stop going to church.  It was when we stop praising ~ because that is key in communication with God … with anyone/everyone.

Did I Remember to Give Praise today?  To God?  To those in my life?

There are lots of things to remember through out the day ~ so much that if we focus on each individual one, we may just feel overwhelmed.  So, we take life, one choice at a time, one day at a time, one everything at a time.  We must make the decision to Praise each and every moment during this “one thing” at a time.

I felt conflicted when I couldn’t remember if I had praised Him.  It must become an action that we do just like breathing.  For it to become a natural part of us and our heart.

When praising become natural ~ so many other things in our lives will feel better, look better, everything will sound better to us.

Goodness should be natural for us.  There are people who are brought into your life for a reason.  I am so thankful that God connected the dots and the hearts of some amazing people who believe in my purpose, who take action on helping, and who always give out of the goodness God placed in their hearts.

What are your “natural” actions saying about you?

Do I remember that my words have meaning?  Do I remember that my intentions show through my actions?  Do I remember how I would feel if someone did that to me?  Did I remember to show Jesus today?

Today, did you remember to slow down to say thank you?  Or did you let life run away?

Did you remember that you have purpose? Because you do.

In the Shadows: Identity

This thought process has 2 fronts. 2 ideas for some reason, I felt needed to be blended into one.  Maybe in the process of writing this out, it will be revealed.

It feels like forever since I sat down to my journal.  Not because I haven’t had thoughts going 90 miles per hour in head.  Of course I have!  More, because I feel that sometimes I go unnoticed.  I know deep down, they don’t go unnoticed.  Even if one life is impacted, it is noticed.  I think a life of shadows brings this into my idea of my identity.

The one left out.  The one compared to everyone else.  Hearing words such as, “Can’t you be more like _______(Insert person’s name)___,” creates an identity in the shadows.  Why do you not love me for me?

That identity in the shadows even created a job ~ as a ghost writer, an organizer (not by nature but by pure environment), creating brands, writing for others.  I get paid.  I do get paid monetarily, but job relies on others taking credit for my work, my ideas, my gifts.  Thus ~ my identity being built on the foundation of the words, “Can’t you be more like _________(insert person’s name again)____?”

Being the event organizer.  Working hard.  Making sure each detail is handled.  Writing the speeches.  Set up.  Tear down.  18 hour days.  In the shadows while a front person just shows up at the last minute to get the applause.  And, the identity grows …”Why Can’t You Be?”.

Then this identity trying to take over ~ the shadow become almost suffocating.  A need for the real identity to come through ~ for the truth to be revealed.  As the identity, the real one, fights through, the shadows grow.

Have you ever seen the movie “Identity” with John Cusack?  Not family friendly language, but a brilliant work of inside of the mind.  the mind of someone with multiple personalities.  A fight for the right identity to prevail. The one with a pure heart.

In a way we are all a bit “multiple personalities” trying to find our true identity.  Who we are in our hearts.

It is difficult for the true identity to shine ~ when you let a glimpse out, someone automatically thinks what they have seen, read, heard is someone else.  I deal with this all the time.  Even on something as simple as Facebook.  When I write and pour my heart out, someone who is friends with Keith praises him for my words even thought it clearly says,  “Erin wrote …”

Why does this matter?  Does it make a difference?  Do I know the truth?  Does God know the truth?  It matters because it affects the identity.

I am me.  I don’t want to be anyone else.  I want to be me!

To be me.  To be you.  Shadows happen where there is the existence of light and dark in the same place.  You must be light enough to push the darkness away.

This thought can be taken into many aspects of our lives especially how we live out our faith.  We can’t have the shadows of evil (of sin), the darkness of certain TV shows, movies, things on Facebook, in our lives if we want to live in our identity as a child of God.  For that is where I strive to be ~ I know it, that place, listening to my Father, I will never hear those words, “Can’t you be more like ____(insert name)?”.  He wants me to be me.  The Best Version of Me.  That comes the more I deepen my relationship with him.  Deepening comes with my thoughts and action.  Pushing the shadows.  Being the light.

We don’t have to be a creature of multiply personalities.  Most of us choose it because we are too scared or unsure of being our true selves.  For the world is a shadow calling to us in every way, “Why can’t you be more like ____(insert name)____?”

Be strong enough to say:

I am me!  I am a child of God.  I am light.  I am a shadow fighter.”

In this thought, I find why God placed Patrick’s Everyday Warriors in my heart.  I am a shadow fighter!