Random Thoughts

625449134810a0c8ae7be761a0ed627dI had a very vivid dream this morning followed by some random thoughts that I can’t get out of my head so thought I’d share. It was just going to be the first paragraph or so on a status & kept growing so here it is on my site. 😉 This is to no one in particular-for real- just in general & to myself even.

If you feel like you HAVE (meaning you have absolutely no desire to, but feel the need to, not that you must because of a great desire) to share the gospel, maybe you still need to hear it yourself. The gospel by its very definition means GOOD NEWS. If what you have to share isn’t good news, then it’s not the gospel & could very well be intermixed with the shackles of a religious mindset. I don’t know about other people, but when I have good news, I have a really hard time holding it in. The people who were touched or healed by Jesus in the Bible did too- even when He told some to try to keep it to themselves or just share with their family. That’s just what good news does. It begs to be shared. The people who have it have a hard time keeping it in & the people receiving it usually want to hear it.

Jesus is the desire of the nations (Haggai 2:7). The nations DESIRE Him. If you’re a Christian; at one point, you did too. Remember the darkness you were in when you first heard of Him, & put yourself in other people’s shoes. We were comforted in order to comfort others. Share what He did for you, & in so doing, wants to do for somebody else. There is NO one too far gone-even yourself. If you have a hard time believing it over yourself, but would never tell that to anybody else, maybe you need to forgive yourself. I know I do & have had to many times.

“The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy.” In Revelation, the saints overcome the accuser of the brethren (Satan), by the blood of the Lamb & the word of their testimony. Nobody can take your testimony from you. That’s your personal experience. Many would love for it to be shared! As I’ve shared before, when I was around 6, I broke my collarbone so badly that the dr. told me he wasn’t sure if it would fully heal. I went to a church that night with my mom & people were sharing their testimonies how after being in a drought, their nation repented & God healed their land. They had vegetables bigger than people’s arms from what I remember. Nobody even prayed for me. I just thought while watching it that if God could do that for those people, surely He can heal my arm. As soon as I thought that, He did. I felt it & raised my arm with no pain & excitedly yelled without thought of where I was, “God healed me!” & remember the whole church gathering around me praising God for what He had done. That’s the power of the testimony of Jesus. If God did it for someone else, He can & wants to do it for you. Don’t be jealous over God’s blessings; receive them for yourself! God is no respecter of persons!

It’s not God’s will that ANY should perish. Jesus’ name means “God saves”. God doesn’t need us, but He WANTS us. God cared about us so much that He stooped down to our level & came in the form of a baby- Jesus, for the very reason to seek & save those who are lost. We’re ALL lost without Him. If you don’t believe that, then you’re believing a lie.

Also, if you’re wasting time accusing people who could be your brethren, you’re wasting your energy & might just be following the one you call your enemy as he is the accuser of the brethren. Jesus said, “Whoever is not against us is for us.” My pastor just spoke about sectarianism yesterday & it’s probably the best word I’ve ever heard on it & a little of what I’ve been talking to my husband about lately after seeing different Christians accuse others of being false teachers. He shares it so much better than I could so please listen (part 6 when it’s added- it is OH SOOO GOOD, everything I’ve heard has been though-so feel free to listen to others as well!).

C.S. Lewis put it this way:
“Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.”

John 13:35 says, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” I’ve seen a hurtful, manipulative status shared that has accused others of not being Christians just for disagreeing with the way to deal with Syrian refugees. Honestly, I’m on the fence with that one. I see wisdom on both sides regarding the issue. I don’t believe it’s ever been the government’s job to take anyone in. It’s the government’s job to protect us. I can see why so many people don’t trust our leader (though I do believe that God calls us to respect him in his position) & seeing his reaction to different governors wanting to protect their states has felt really manipulative. I do feel it is our Christian duty to love others & do unto them what we want done to us & maybe God is calling different Christians to invite others into their homes & love on them. If God is calling you to do that, please do. I don’t think it’s okay to force that on others though or to say they’re not Christian if they don’t feel the same way as you do on that. God has called different people to do different things. The legs of a body aren’t called to do the same things as the hands. We as Christians are the body of Christ. To say someone isn’t being a part of the body because they don’t feel called to do the same thing as another part of the body is just silly. If you’ve seen “Inside Out”, you should know that all the feelings are an important part of the body. 😉 We all need to work together & love each other. When we pick apart each other, we’re doing exactly what Satan wants us to do & isolating each other so he can attack easier. We lose our strength. There is strength in love, strength in joy, & strength in number. Don’t isolate others just because they’re called differently than you.

Along the lines of what my pastor shared yesterday, God is so big, we can’t even comprehend Him fully. We’ve only seen glimpses of God. Surely He can give others a different experience than we’ve had. Surely He can speak to others different aspects of Himself than He has to us. That’s why we need each other & to hear others’ testimonies to see more of the whole picture. Honestly, I’ve had a hard time understanding how God can give different people so much love for the refugees but not their own brothers & sisters in Christ. Frankly, if I were others looking in at how we’re treating our family, I wouldn’t want to be a part of it. Maybe your brothers & sisters are being Pharisaical. Maybe you are. Maybe I am. Anais Nin said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Maybe we should stop wasting our energy trying to decide who’s being what & doing the job they’re supposed to do & just focus on what we are called to do. I feel like I have to tell my kids that on a minute by minute basis at times! “Stop focusing on whether or not others are doing what they’re supposed to be doing & just make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.” I know I struggle with that at times, but I’m trying to improve & maybe these thoughts are doing the same things I’m saying not to do. I don’t know. I just know I’m called to love God & love others & share the things I feel like God wants me to share. I couldn’t shake these thoughts this morning & thought maybe I should share them. Maybe we are supposed to allow refugees over here, & maybe we aren’t. I don’t think calling other people who don’t agree with us not Christian is going to change anybody’s mind, & even if it did, it would be in a controlling, manipulative, unhealthy way & nobody would enjoy being led that way. We’re better than that. We’re God’s children & Jesus’ brothers & sisters as He’s the firstborn among many brethren. Maybe we should just do our best to follow His example, & in so doing, people will want to follow us, just like they wanted to follow Him. We just need to be making sure WE are following the way, the truth, & the life & leading others to Him. All else is just meaningless, joyless, perverse (devoid of truth). The truth sets people free. We are supposed to set people free as Jesus did.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Who doesn’t want to be free? I know I do. I think others do too. 🙂

One Heck of a Mess

for love covers a multitude of sins.

for love covers a multitude of sins.

“Would you like me to cut you up an apple too?” The words slipped from my mouth as I could hardly even recall the last time I had taken the time to do to my husband what I would want him to do for me. I remembered a moment in time several Christmases ago when as I was getting myself something to eat, I asked he & his friends if they would like something too. As one of his friends looked shocked, my husband said, “That’s just the kind of person she is.” Or something along those lines. And I was. For many years.

Somewhere along the way, I’ve started acting like an entitled brat.

There was a hard 8 years my husband put me through what seemed like hell in many ways. It wasn’t all that way, there were some good times he likes to remind me of when he thinks I only remember the bad. However, through the roller coasters of dishonesty, pain, & extreme selfishness & manipulation at times, it was hard to think that the good times weren’t somehow just a rug put over the accumulating mess that needed swept up. Somewhere along the way, God got a hold of my husband’s heart, & I was left dealing with the mess left behind because I had let my heart grow too calloused to ever allow God to disrupt my self-sufficiency. But the thing is, being self-sufficient isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s making a god of myself because I forgot that God cared about me anymore. It was thinking that I could take the reigns & do a much better job than He did.

But I couldn’t. I can’t. Nobody can.

For years, I tried to act like I could overcome all the mess. Like I could clean it up on my own. I did all the wifely duties & then some. I thought if I just did this & this, then my husband would love me. If I just do a little more, then he would appreciate me. I started playing my own manipulative games unaware of the enemy’s hands I was playing into. Looking in from an outside perspective, my husband didn’t deserve the treatment he was getting. If I were a guy, he would have been told he was lucky to have me. Being the girl in the family I grew up in, I was just doing what was expected of me. Which really didn’t help. When I was told by those who didn’t know all I did for him & all he had put me through how lucky I was if he helped out in the least, it made me furious at times. I wanted to share with them my story, what I had gone through. What I was put through. As though I had no choice in the matter. And truth be told, in ways, I felt very stuck. Like I had no choice.

My husband was dishonest about a lot of things until we were engaged. When I found out, I didn’t want others to think badly of him, & kept it to myself. Originally, I felt awful & then furious at Satan that my husband would think I wouldn’t accept him completely as he was, that he felt the need to hide who he was from me. But after getting blamed for his dishonesty due to my lack of trust at a time I was completely vulnerable, I was just blindsided. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I bottled it up. I lacked any knowledge about boundaries. As my findings of more dishonest areas grew, so did my confidence in the fact that God brought us together. I tried to run away from the relationship. I gave him back the ring many times & was just told to put it back on, & I did. Part of me knew I was supposed to marry him, but I knew it shouldn’t have been under these circumstances. And my lack of boundaries & my growing insecurities didn’t help. The rockier things became and the more lies surfaced, the more I wanted God to come through, & when it didn’t feel like He did, the more I started building a wall around myself to protect myself from the hurt. I felt if I couldn’t physically separate myself from the pain without leaving him & ruining our marriage & in a way, our kids’ lives through divorce, the only way I could stay in it, was if I mentally separated myself from it with my imaginary walls. The problem is, when you build a wall around yourself to protect yourself from pain, you also trap yourself from ever feeling love too. Or any good thing.

And I didn’t. For many many years. My walls became my prison. When I didn’t feel hurt, I felt numb. Nothing could get in. Or go out. My dreams became tormenting. I could literally feel when another lie was about to surface from the tormenting dreams I would go through, & my walls would go higher. If that’s not hell on earth, I don’t know what is. When my walls cracked & let some of the pain get in, I would get controlling. I wanted to control our circumstances because I felt like I physically, emotionally, & spiritually couldn’t handle another hit. And truth be told, I couldn’t. I was already in survival mode & I was drowning. I read once that a person with my personality’s body often manifests on the outside what they’re going through on the inside. It didn’t matter how controlling I became with my food or how much I withheld from myself or how much discipline & hard work I put my body through, my physical body went into survival mode. There was a point in time, I didn’t know if I was going to make it. And it wasn’t even the time I tried not to.

That’s what bottling in pain & becoming a victim can do to a person. It’s not pretty. It often feels like hell on earth. It’s scary to even admit I allowed myself to get so deep that I couldn’t even see the surface.

And the even harder part was having tasted intimacy with God in the past. If I didn’t know what could be, I might not know I was missing out on so much. But I had. To know how good & great God is, & then to go through almost a decade of intense tongue lashing flames with no God in sight, is agonizingly painful. I was ashamed of who I had become. I felt He would no longer accept me. I didn’t want to be where I was. Who would? I cried out to Him. I just cried at times. I tried and tried. And tried harder. Hoping He would accept me. Playing the same manipulative games with God that I started playing with my husband. GOD, PLEEEASE ACCEPT ME. LOVE ME. FORGIVE ME. I CAN’T GO ON LIKE THIS! I NEEED YOU! The pain was unreal. I gave to Him, I gave to others, I obeyed all I knew how. I honestly wouldn’t wish what I was going through on my worst enemy, yet at times wished someone knew what I was going through so I could have someone who could relate. But all I felt was alone. And in a way I was. I was crying out to this wonderful amazing gentle lamb of a Father, yet all the while knowing He can seem like an untamed lion at times that could allow me to go through this dangerous “adventure” & I was too terrified to truly let my guard down. To let Someone so wild that didn’t have to answer my growing number of questions in. Knowing some questions might never be answered in this life. And I didn’t know if I could deal with that.

Yet despite my growing pharisaism, God completely ruined me one day in a good way. He burst right through my built up walls, and lavished His love on me in a way I can’t describe. I was literally trembling and a complete puddle of a mess for a whole day. He showed me the beauty He saw in me & what He imagined me to be despite the beast that was growing inside. He brought back this innocence and childlikeness I had long forgotten. I thought it was too wonderful to be true. Yet, it felt so real. More real than anything I had ever experienced. Too wonderful to experience on this earth that I thought He was going to take me to be with Him then. I wrote my family and some old friends just in case so they’d know what happened to me & what He had in mind for them as well. It might seem crazy, but nothing felt more real. When it happened, I knew that all I had gone through was for a reason & forgiving my husband & others seemed easy. I lost 14 pounds in the 2 days following just confirming what was going on spiritually & the burdens I was carrying so long were starting to be lifted after not being able to lose any weight for almost 2 years & going to doctor after doctor who couldn’t tell me why my body wasn’t absorbing any nutrients I was eating & one told me how I couldn’t fix all the problems I had physically even if I had all the money in the world.

But despite it being the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me & despite it giving my husband & I a second chance on our marriage, there was so much that happened after that made me afraid to ever let it happen again. I started realizing how much I cared about what others thought after all. I enabled a spirit of rejection to grow stronger than my love of God in my life, and the areas that I had swept up & cleaned, but not yet allowed to be filled with God’s love & His spirit, I only allowed something 7x more ugly to start growing in my life. And being put through a hard miscarriage, 2 cysts rupturing, being told by a dr. what I mentioned before, almost 11 weeks of bleeding & severe pain after my miscarriage worse than any of my natural full-term births, followed by a super busy reffing & athletic directing season on top of teaching my husband had, a super hard pregnancy I had, followed by all the changes mentioned in the last post, I have felt wiped. And while I’ve felt wiped, I haven’t given much thought to how any of this has affected my husband either. I’ve been too busy attending to my own wounds. Too busy trying to convince myself that none of the insecurities I feel have to do with my identity. Too busy trying to convince myself that while my security & stability seem to have been severely shaken, my husband’s a new person.

God got a hold of him.

My sister reminded me how all our lives we had a really nice grandpa. He made us feel so loved. He was married to our very bitter grandma who we never felt loved from. Apparently, he acted stupid early on in their marriage & the rest of their lives she could never forgive him. He grew up to be this amazing, loving family man, & the beauty she once possessed seemed long forgotten.

It’s kind of been passed on through the generations.

I don’t want to be like that.

My husband was stupid. Apparently, a lot of guys start out stupid. It takes a long time for some to grow up, even if they are 6 years older. But he has. He’s grown up. He’s become an amazing man. I don’t need to remind him how stupid he’s been. I don’t need to keep re-hashing all the negative years to make myself feel better about how far I’ve fallen or to allow myself to keep my victim mentality. If he’s allowed God to change him & I’ve seen him at his worst, then I can allow Him to change me too. You jump; I jump, hubby. 😉 I don’t need to be an entitled brat. Nobody should deserve what I went through, but in a way we’re blessed when we don’t get that. Only Jesus dying & paying our price has even made Heaven on earth & beyond attainable. My husband doesn’t owe me anything for all the years of selfishness & pain that affected me. And I don’t have to go the rest of my life acting like he does.

I want to love recklessly again. I want to break the chains of bitterness & unforgiveness of past generations. I don’t want to pass it onto my children. And boy, is it strong. But my God is stronger. 🙂 And God’s love can even pour through this dried up wasteland of a person I’ve become. He can make these dry bones live again. 🙂 And you know, giving is just the kind of person I am (as my husband once said)-the person God created me to be, that I’ve buried for so long. It’s time to let Love in-& you know, out too. 😉 And if He can do it through me, you better believe He can do it through you because I’ve been one heck of a mess.

 

~*Weathered Heart*~

You left your heart open
For far too long
Thought it was invincible
Couldn’t be more wrong

You didn’t use an umbrella
To shelter it from rain
You didn’t know storms
Could weather so much pain

Now you’re left
With a torn, weathered heart
You’ve tried to mend it some
But it’s easily torn apart

And your heart
Once thought to easily survive
Is just dying
Dying to stay alive

In an attempt to
Rescue itself from more pain
It closed itself up
To shelter floods of rain

And the door of your heart
Was shut to many-a helpful knock
And in order to survive
It would have to unlock

It would have to open up
To see blue skies again
And it would need to let the Son
Take the place of sin

It would have to risk dying
In order to survive
And it would have to open up
If it ever wanted to thrive

And with one last gasping
Breath of air
It cried out with strength
You never knew existed there

It cried out for mercy
It cried out for grace
It cried out for healing
To take place

It cried out for forgiveness
Of not opening up before
When the Helper chose
To knock on its door

And it opened up
Wider than ever
It chose to risk everything
If it was its last endeavor

And the floods came
And the rain
But it wasn’t like ones before
It washed away the pain

And the Son came
He helped your heart thrive
And with His help
Your heart will always survive

You leave your heart open now
Never to close
Sometimes storms may come
But they leave with rainbows

-R.A.D.

Faith Like a Child

One of my favorite photos of me as a baby. :)

One of my favorite photos of me as a baby. 🙂

Sometimes I wish upon everything to have the child-like faith I once possessed. I think sometimes it’s easier for kids to understand more about the Kingdom of God than we adults do. Sometimes I feel like I need to strip off all the things I’ve “learned” that have led to self-righteousness at times and go back to the foundation that caused me to hunger for God in the first place. I’ve shared some of my desire for God at a young age due to my mom’s hunger for Him and her constant prayers over my siblings and me, but God really made Himself and His love known to insignificant me when He healed my collarbone at a young age.

When I was a young kid-I’m guessing 6 or 7, the two neighborhood boys my age and I were taking turns on the slide. Of course, as it is with kids, they got so excited about going down that one of them started getting way too pushy. I wanted to go backwards that time and asked if he could scoot back, but instead he pushed me off. I still remember glimpses during that time (almost as if I had an out of body experience where I can still see my mom looking out at me through the kitchen window and almost as though I can see myself falling from her point of view). With the weird angle of being mid-trying to turn around, I fell on my collarbone. At the time, my dad thought I was just making a big deal out of nothing, and moved my collarbone that I told him I could not move on my own when he asked. Of course, I screamed like a baby. I remember them temporarily setting it and later wheeling me into St. Francis hospital since any movement was painful with all that the collarbone’s connected to, only to hear the dr. say that it was broken so badly, it may never fully heal. My mom had a habit of going to a Word of Life Church (or Word Alive?) occasionally in addition to the church I regularly went to and brought me with her that night. It was no accident-purely Spirit-led as they ended up having a video (yes, at the time, it truly was still called a video) they played with a TV and VCR they had wheeled in.

I still remember watching what the Holy Spirit was doing in the country that was being shown. After turning their country over to God, they had huge vegetables the size of people’s arms and bigger where there was once a famine and as I was watching it, my faith in God grew knowing that if He could do that for them then surely He could heal my arm; and when that happened, I remember getting feeling in my what-was-then-casted arm and lifted up my arm in the middle of the video, shouting, “God healed me!” I still remember the whole crowd of people at that church coming around me and praising God for healing me!

I had a huge desire to share how good God was after that. I told the neighborhood boys all about Him and invited them to church with me; but after a while, while I still had a huge desire for God, my experience and the things I saw around me didn’t seem to line up. While I learned more about God and the life He calls us to live in the Baptist school I went to, I had forgotten His great love for me and dwelt more on all the things I could or should be doing for Him. I grew insecure in His love and tried to earn it by living the best I knew how and when I still wasn’t confident in it, I lost my desire to live. Even at a young age, I struggled greatly with depression and sought to find purpose in life.

It wasn’t until I was 12 1/2, the youngest allowed to go to a church camp to Philly we called boot camp that I was reminded of God’s great love for me, was filled with the Holy Spirit and true Joy, and was given a reason for living. This was my first poem I wrote after being filled with the Holy Spirit when I was 12. I saw others who reminded me of my passion when I was younger, and it made me yearn for that again. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times God showed up on my behalf and made Himself known to me since then-sometimes even in the smallest answers to prayer. From healing me of a sudden-popped out jaw during boot camp that was hurting immensely, to ANY time I needed $5 for a meal at work & didn’t have cash for it (I used a debit card for everything)-sometimes I would just happen to get 5 different random people tipping me $1 each  when nobody usually liked paying more than the then $19 charge to park and was told nobody tips garage cashiers to a stranger handing me $5 just in time or even someone dropping off a meal & telling me I didn’t need to pay, to a reader of my old blog I didn’t know who was on the other side of the country saying she felt like God wanted her and her husband to give me their tithing money of $200 that week after my sister said THAT day she could come to my high school graduation if I could get half the plane ticket that would cost $400 & I never told her I needed that amount, but she had sent me a $200 cashier check just in time. I’ve mentioned before how my husband and I had a really rocky relationship for years, but I knew that God brought us together from Him answering some crazy prayers I had from years before I met my husband where I had asked God to specifically lead my husband to do different things in a time of confusion in past relationships and we had many prophecies as well from different churches and people that didn’t know our situation that only confirmed us being together. God knew I needed every singly one of those confirmations during the rough years and I can’t thank Him enough for giving them to me or for helping us get to the place we are now that I had lost all hope for. There were so many more that I could go on and on.

Life definitely wasn’t “easy” growing up-in fact God seemed to show up most in the most difficult times, but He made Himself so real to me and gave me a reason for being and true joy in the midst of some of the hardest times during my teen years. I never doubted that God answered prayers or that He was real because of how real He made Himself on my behalf, and I knew it was all due to Him and His goodness. I couldn’t take any of the credit. I wasn’t anyone special, and I knew He wanted to answer prayers and be that real for everyone and loved sharing Him with anyone I came across. I wrote Him almost daily in my journal-a continual reminder of His goodness in answering prayers, would dance in worship to Him in my room and even at a Spirit-led Tuesday night worship service at my church I often walked to, and read the Bible for fun as I loved hearing from Him and knowing all I could about Him.

Around that time, I prayed that God would do whatever it takes for me to become even closer to Him. I wanted all He had to offer, to grow closer to Him than ever before. I shared some of my struggles since then, but not all. Along the way, I lost a lot of my child-like faith in Him and saw a huge decrease in my prayers being answered. After almost a decade of feeling like I screwed up too much for God to accept me after being so close and turning my eyes more on my circumstances than on Him, God has been reaching out to me in ways only He could. For the past year, God has been revealing so many things I’ve allowed to get between us. Most Christians might say these things are good as outwardly I continued to try to do a lot for Him and others and didn’t rock the boat so to speak, but as I’ve shared, a lot of it has come from an insecurity in His love for me-almost as though I felt like I could earn His love if I just tried harder or did more. But I know better now-or at least I’m re-learning that NOTHING I can do can earn His love. I already have it. You already have it. We just need to accept it and walk in His love for us and walk out His love for others continually reminding ourselves of all He’s done for us and where we were without Him. Only then will our love not grow cold. Only then can we sustain a faith-filled walk seeing Him answer prayers on our behalf. Only when we fix our eyes on Him and His goodness and remember where we came from and share our stories/testimonies, knowing He wants to do for others what He’s done for us, and sharing what He’s laid on our hearts for others through seeing them through His eyes can we be effective in our walk towards Him. Everything else just leads to self-righteousness and makes us think that we’re better than others who are struggling in other areas than we do or makes us feel like we can earn His love by something we do because we aren’t already secure in His love. Trust me, I’ve been there for so long. I’m not entirely sure I’m completely out of that mindset yet as it seems to be a continual struggle for me, but I don’t plan on stopping here. I know there’s more out there- and He is so much more real and powerful and amazing and awesome than we could ever imagine because I’ve only seem glimpses and tasted samplings and it’s always enough to lead me to come back for more. 🙂

I read these verses this morning:

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Mark 16:14-20 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Great Commission

14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they[a] will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Christ Ascends to God’s Right Hand
19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

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A few things popped out at me that I put in bold. First off, Jesus rebuked the unbelief and hardness of heart of those who didn’t believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. Then He told them to go into ALL the WORLD and preach the GOSPEL to every creature. Then, it says that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved and that these signs will follow those who believe- in Jesus’ name, we will cast out demons, speak with new tongues, take up serpents, if we drink anything deadly, it will not hurt us, and we will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. A couple verses later, it shares that as they preached EVERYwhere, the Lord worked WITH them and CONFIRMED the Word (His Word will not return void) through the accompanying signs-all the signs He said would follow those who believe.

It just makes my heart cry out, “Oh God, help my unbelief!” Like I said, the more I struggled and focused my eyes on my circumstances rather than on God, the less I saw my prayers answered. However, I know there’s more out there because not only does God say there is, but also because I’ve experienced it. I’ve been so blessed to visit a few churches this past year-a couple in Minnesota and 1 here and am always so blessed to read and hear what’s going on at Bethel Church in Redding, CA where God has been moving and confirming His Word with accompanying signs and my heart has been burning within me for that again and let’s just say, the tears have flown freely during those times causing a desire and passion for God that had been dormant for some time. I’ve heard from many and read articles saying that we should be happy with JUST the Word of God and how anyone who’s not satisfied with that is just looking to be entertained, yet Jesus Himself said the accompanying signs followed those who believed. Also, in Matthew He said how if the mighty works/miracles had been done in Tyre and Sidon and Sodom as they were done in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes and remained ’til that day and their-Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom’s (very wicked places) judgment would be more tolerable than those cities He performed mighty works in that weren’t turning their hearts towards Him. There’s just something about God moving and confirming His Word with signs that shows people His realness and His heart towards them that they cannot deny is God and it makes them face their Maker. Without it, we’ve only reduced the gospel to mere words. God is looking for true worshipers who will worship Him in Spirit and Truth. He inhabits the praises of His people. He desires to make Himself known to us.

Jesus says to the Pharisees in John 5:

36 But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. 37 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. 41 “I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.

Sometimes I just wonder if we limit God because the circumstances of our lives have drawn us away from keeping our eyes on Him that we no longer truly believe He’s alive today and still wanting to make Himself known and is bigger than His Word. Sometimes I wonder if we’ve forgotten His love for us and go back to trying to earn His love by the things we do and no longer have the love of God in us just like the Pharisees lacked it. We always equate the scribes and Pharisees to hypocrites and horrid men-after all, Jesus called them hypocrites, but do we ever see ourselves in them? These guys, while we know what the Bible says about them, knew Scriptures-shoot, the scribes were the only ones who were taught to read and write, they loved money, and justified themselves before men, but God said He knew their hearts and what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination to God. Are we ever like that? Am I ever like that? Do I try to justify myself before men and reduce God to Scriptures instead of allowing Scriptures to point me to Him Who gives life? Do I forget all He’s done for me and lose sight of His love for me and others? Do I try to live and hold others to an impossible standard to earn His love rather than allowing His Spirit to take root in my heart and bear His fruit? Do I readily accept His Kingdom as a child does or do I look at those who are seeing the fruit of His Spirit and His mighty works with envy and turn it into skepticism all in the name of Christianity? If anything, as far as I can tell, skepticism and unbelief are the opposite of what Jesus taught and out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants He has ordained strength and perfected praise. May God give us the faith, strength, and praise of a child who readily acknowledges and accepts Him.

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If you want to be really challenged and encouraged, you should watch this:

Sunday Morning 1/25/15-Bethel sermon

Words of Life

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." (One of my newest projects.)

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (One of my newest projects.)

When I was younger, my mom used to take me to not just our normal church building, but all kinds of churches with her. There was such an outpouring of God’s Spirit in so many different churches at the time, that people were not only getting healed but speaking in tongues they didn’t understand and people from other countries were being told the gospel through their native tongues that the people praying over them didn’t even understand, but God’s Spirit was doing the work and people were being saved and would just weep that God cared so much about them.

At most of these places, my mom would ask for people to pray for her eyesight so she could see without glasses. At the time, I used to be so embarrassed because she was never healed. I think I thought maybe God didn’t want to heal her or else He would have. However, the testimonies from these churches and even my mom’s persistence that God’s heart was so good that He wanted to heal her caused me to have a deep longing for God at such a young age. I remember knowing that God was present and still working and as a young girl sleeping in a bunk bed with my sister, I remember praying every night telling God how much I love Him and saying that since He’s here, I would love to give Him a hug and kiss good night and would often kiss and hug the air knowing He could feel it because I knew Him to be a loving Father and wanted so badly to show Him how much I loved Him in return. This poem was written years later from that memory.

Honestly, I didn’t even remember about my mom asking for prayer for her eyesight until this past week, and when it was brought to my memory, I was actually sad that as far as I know, she doesn’t do that anymore. It made me sad that we as a body have stopped the flow of the Spirit so much that people don’t think God wants to heal them. People aren’t leaving the church because people are so evil, but rather the church is only giving people a God that’s being proclaimed only by mere words, and God is so much bigger than that. The verse: “My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him” popped into my head. I love that David said his expectation was from God. Do I believe that? That my expectation is from God?

I just finished the book Release the Power of Jesus by Bill Johnson and was so incredibly encouraged and moved in so many ways. At one point, he shared how it seems that people are always either building a case for God or against God. There are times that things happened that he didn’t understand like a leader’s wife’s baby dying in her womb even after they felt like God was going to heal her baby and spoke life over her child and a person close to them dying of cancer after they had prayed for healing and thought God was going to deliver him from cancer. He said they could keep dwelling over things they don’t understand and think that maybe God doesn’t want to heal people or they could dwell on things they do know, and what they did know was that God came to bring life and healing and deliverance and they were commanded to speak words of life. Since then, they have had multiple testimonies of babies who were proclaimed dead in the womb who were brought back to life as well as multiple testimonies of people being completely delivered from cancer. However, he doesn’t know that they would have had that breakthrough if they dwelt on the things they didn’t know or understand.

The world is full of things we don’t understand. There are so many things in my own life that I don’t necessarily understand why they happened. Reading that, I was so convicted because there are some things that I have been praying for and healing I have been desperately crying out for and realized I had let my heart grow cold to God. Bill Johnson shared how some people will come up to him and say how they’ve been prayed for up to 100x and prophesied healing over by so and so and still haven’t been healed, but would he please pray for them. He tells them he will only agree to it if they act as though it’s the first time because they’ve already started building a case against God and hardening their hearts to Him, that if healing doesn’t come, then God basically doesn’t want to heal. After agreeing to that, many have seen breakthrough.

I was reading some of Jesus’ words today in John 12:49-50 :

“For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”

Jesus said that He only speaks what the Father commanded and His command is everlasting life. I’ve been so convicted of that. Do my words bring forth life or death? God’s Word says death and life are in the power of the tongue. Are my words and thoughts building a case for God or are they causing me and others to doubt His goodness that leads others to repentance?

I shared in my last post how God’s been really challenging my faith this year and whether or not I believe what I say I believe and 3 different times being shared the verse about how much more our Father wants to give good things to those who ask of Him. This summer has been an even greater challenge as I’ve felt led to pray for people I honestly might not have had the courage to pray for, yet God had just given me a heart for them. Most people gladly receive prayer, and I’ve been thanked, blessed, hugged, and seen some crying and thanking God. It has been so encouraging at times, though it’s been also sad to see the only refusal I’ve had in a church building. To be honest though, I get it. Like I said, I had a hard heart towards God thinking that maybe He doesn’t want to heal and building a case against Him. I was afraid to pray for people for a while because I was afraid God might not answer their prayers like He wasn’t answering mine. I didn’t want others to grow hard towards God as I was growing hard towards Him. I don’t understand why God doesn’t answer all our prayers-there are some reasons given in the Bible, but I won’t stop praying. I know that He is good. I know that He is life and the giver of life. I know that He commands us to speak everlasting life just as He commanded Jesus to. I know that my expectation is from Him. I know that sometimes it takes praying multiple times to see breakthrough, and God is looking for people who are willing to recklessly abandon themselves and make a fool of themselves to show their love for Him. God’s Word will not return void even when we don’t always see the fruit right away, and I realized that even if my prayers aren’t answered over others, they know that I actually believe what I say I do and at least I can point them to Him.

Don’t give up on praying! You will see breakthrough as you remember His promises and dwell on His goodness and His testimonies! Someone shared this with me along with the verse I was reminded of a few times and as she did, it was so moving that as I watched this, it brought tears to my eyes again. Only God knows how many tears I’ve cried as I’ve prayed to Him, and while this doesn’t share it, there is a verse that shares how God keeps all our tears in His bottle that came to mind as she was sharing this analogy with me:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqG9_acZbZA

Be blessed in the name of Jesus! 🙂

Me, faithless?

My youngest daughter looking skeptical...taken by her Aunt Laura. :)

My youngest daughter looking skeptical…taken by her Aunt Laura. 🙂

For the past year, I feel like God has been really challenging my faith. In essence, I’ve been challenged with questions such as “Do I really believe what I say I believe? Do I really believe God is who He says He is?” And not only that, but “Do I believe I am who God says I am?”

For so long, I have been faithless. Not faithless in a sense that I’m disloyal, but faithless in a sense that I’ve lost faith in God’s ability and my ability through Him. I lost faith in what He clearly says in His Word. I realized that everything I did, while they may have been “good” things, were really things that I could do on my own apart from Him-nothing I did really caused me to go beyond my ability into His ability. Yeah, I could work hard and maybe had talents that others might not have, but a lot of that can just come through hard work, practice, or might be said to be a hereditary trait. Anybody can come up with something to give to those in need, save their first kiss for their spouse, tithe, keep a nice house, etc. Although with young kids, the whole keeping a nice house is a little easier said than done. 😉 Anybody can even pray for the sick. Honestly, none of those things really require faith.

However, to speak healing over someone requires faith. To believe that I am the bride of Christ when I have been so faithless requires faith. To believe that I am dead to sin and alive to God requires faith. To believe that when Jesus died on the cross, He not only died for my sins, but all power over sickness and death was handed to Him and that He later handed all that authority to us requires faith. I could go on and on. I read today how He didn’t just say or rather, command us to pray for the sick, He told us to heal the sick. By the way, in those verses, He also tells us to raise the dead. Talk about requiring faith!

Like any good parent, God doesn’t do everything for His children, but rather equips us and gives us the tools we need to accomplish what He has commanded us to do. Yes, there are boundaries and rules just like in any loving household, because there are consequences when rules are broken. For instance, having a rule to not touch the stove top, is not to keep a kid from fun, but rather to protect them from being burned. A toddler might not understand that, but the older they get, the more understanding they’ll have. It would be unloving to just watch them do that without saying anything! However, it’s a sad state when the church speaks more about the rules and what not to do than about the loving Father behind those rules.

Colossians 2:20-23 says:

“Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations  “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”  which all concern things which perish with the using–according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”

When I was younger, I was fairly dramatic-ok, so not much has changed. 😉 As with most kids, there were many times I questioned my parents’ love for me, yet was given a lot of chores. I did them and would later write in my diary how I felt like they only had kids to be their slaves (pretty humorous and yet humbling to read my old journal entries). My mom used to even boast that she didn’t have just one dishwasher, but five and then would state our names. I was taught to do different things because they were the right thing to do. Nothing wrong with that, but it definitely helps an attitude to know the love behind those commands. Many people aren’t able to realize that until they have kids of their own.

I remember when God first really made Himself known to me, I started asking my older sister to use the restroom and maybe bring a book in with her, then would try to surprise her with doing all of her dishes. My older brother used to pay me to clean his horrific room in the basement, yet after God touched my life (I’ll go into more detail in another post), I remember trying to give what little money I had to clean his room just to bless him. I know what you’re thinking, what a sister! 😉 I remember wanting to do everything unto God and I truly loved blessing people. I remember standing at the kitchen sink trying to envision Jesus coming into our house and wanting to clean and make things nice for Him. Talk about a major change in my life and attitude! What used to seem like slavery became a way of worship!

However, it wasn’t until I realized just how much God loved me-silly old me with my dramatic attitude, and that He cared about even the little things in my life! His love for me entirely melted my perception of Him and of life. Rules no longer seemed burdensome and I knew He gave me my parents and wanted what was best for me even when I didn’t always understand or feel it from my parents.

Like most people, I’ve had things happen in my life that has led me to question God’s goodness. I think it’s interesting that when the serpent spoke to Eve, he didn’t say that God didn’t say to eat of the fruit. That was an obvious lie. He knew the rule was there and he knew Eve knew the rule (though obviously she didn’t entirely know it as she said God said to not eat or touch of it, when he only said to not eat of it), but he knew he could get her to question the reason God gave her the rule. He knew he could get her to question God’s goodness. Breaking the command might have been the sin, but what led to her sinning was questioning God’s goodness and thinking He was holding out on her.

Recently, I was led to read Matthew 7:9-11 that says:

“Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

Within less than a week, 2 other people shared that same verse with me! I knew then that God really wanted me to read it! It’s caused me to start hoping again when I pray. I know it may seem silly, but for a long time I had grown so disappointed with God and His answering of my prayers that while I may have asked at times, I wasn’t truly able to do it in faith. The Bible says that whatever is not done from faith is sin.  It saddens me that I had been sinning so long without even realizing it. I started building on a foundation that God maybe didn’t want to heal everybody, maybe He didn’t want to answer every prayer, yet when I read in the Bible, not once did Jesus turn anybody away who asked of Him in faith. Not once did He not heal someone who knew all He did was have to say a word or if they could just touch His garment, they would be healed. It was the Pharisees around Him who said that the people’s sickness or blindness was a result of their sin and that God was trying to punish them, not Jesus. He doesn’t teach people lessons by striking them with sickness, disease, or blindness. Obviously, those can sometimes be natural consequences for certain actions and He may allow them (and promises to redeem them for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose), but it’s Satan who came to steal, kill, and destroy and Jesus came to give life abundantly!

What I find even more mind-boggling is that Jesus told us that we would be able to do even greater things than that-even greater than someone touching His garment and being healed, even greater than raising Lazarus from the dead, even greater than calming the storm. Sometimes I think I’ve always pictured Jesus as a super human in a way-not in the sense that I thought He looked like what we perceive a superhero in movies, but in a sense that He could do anything He wanted to do. Yet, even He says that He had no power in Himself, and only does what He sees the Father doing.  I think sometimes we think it’s heresy to believe that. Yet, God says that those who are born of the Spirit of God, are not only children of God, but heirs, and that Jesus would be the first among many brethren. God’s word requires faith. He didn’t just come to save us from our sins, but to make us heirs and co-heirs with Christ. Christ in us is the hope of glory! When are we going to allow God to adopt us as His sons and daughters? When are we going to believe His Word? All of creation is longing for it!

Through Love

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“Through Love”- My hubby & youngest daughter 2 Christmases ago-absolutely melts me! 🙂

I actually wrote this in an old blog post on July 24th, 2006, but I recently came upon it and thought it was really fitting today as well. Kind of like the last post, no matter where I am in my journey, God keeps bringing me back to this:
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In the book of Job, Job and three of his friends started having an argument/discussion about who God is (sounds familiar in Christian circles, eh?). They all have their own thoughts and some seem pretty good in fact. However, none of them really knew who God was- not even Job- whom God proclaimed that there was none like him in all the earth, being a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil in chapter one. Job didn’t even know exactly who God was. So finally God spoke up for Himself and proclaimed who He is in Job chapter 38-40:2 (I originally had copied the verses, but in order to make this shorter, added the links-though it would be awesome if you wanted to look it up in your own Bible.)

Job responds in Job 40:3-5:

Then Job answered the Lord and said: 4 “Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. 5 Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.”

God’s response in Job 40:6-24; Job 41.

Job’s final response to God in the book in Job 42:1-6:

Then Job answered the Lord and said: 2 “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. 3 You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ 5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. 6Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.”

The end of the story from Job 42:7-17 (which I noticed something new tonight that I highlighted in bold print):

And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. 8 Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord commanded them; for the Lord had accepted Job. 10 And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11 Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold. 12 Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. 13 He also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 And he called the name of the first Jemimah, the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch. 15 In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. 16 After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. 17 So Job died, old and full of days.

(I just love that God didn’t restore his losses until he prayed for his friends-you know, the ones who kept falsely accusing him of doing something wrong and saying that’s why he was being “punished” by God because of their poor misunderstanding of Him. I just think it’s such a picture of God’s love and how it works that I never really noticed until now!)

Onto my old post:

So, what was the point of all this? I realized something. I don’t know God. I may have heard or read a lot about Him. I might know parts of Him from spending time with Him, and I may have seen glimpses of His majesty, seen glimpses of His healing and saving power, seen glimpses of His beauty, but there’s SO much more that I have not yet even touched of Him.

If I can be enticed by sin and ever think of it as a good thing when it’s settling for less than God’s best and will for my life and is something that can hurt Him and hurt me, if I can be enticed by such a disgusting thing, I must not know Him or His greater plans for my life.

If I can purposely cause a child of God to stumble by the way I dress or act, I must not know that God cares so much about His children that it’d be better for me to have a millstone hung around my neck and me to be tossed into the sea than for me to cause a child of God to stumble.

If I can walk around with bitterness in my heart and unforgiveness towards another, I must not have experienced His complete forgiveness and will not until I forgive the other person just as Christ forgave me.

If I can go but a moment thinking only upon myself and not caring about others, if I cannot be absolutely disgusted with abortion and praying against it, I must not know His heart.

If I can ever look upon someone and think myself better than them and let a prideful look cover my face or enjoy and linger upon a proud thought, I must not know that it was not my hand or my righteousness that saved me, but His.

If I can go one whole day without being in awe of something He has done for me THAT day, I must have looked out to appreciate even a glimpse of His beauty. It’s EVERYwhere!

If I don’t believe He can heal someone or even me right then, right now, the moment I lay my hands upon that person or myself in His name, I must not believe in His healing powers.

If I can be more concerned with receiving love than giving love, His love must not be real in me, not all the time at least. If I can ever go a second without knowing I am completely and utterly loved, then I have not experienced His fathomless, unconditional love for me.

If I can judge someone before taking the plank out of my own eye or believe the worst about someone instead of believing the best, I must not love that person as He does because Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things and never fails.

If I can ever let fear overpower me, I must not know His perfect love for it casts out fear and I must not trust He has everything in His hands and that everything’s under control.

If I am afraid of death or do not know that I am going to Heaven after I’ve given my life to Him, I must not believe in His Word and what He says.

If I can ever doubt Him, I must have forgotten His uncompromising faithfulness.

If I cannot look upon the least of the least and see Jesus, I haven’t experienced the beauty of seeing through His eyes.

The fact is, we proclaim we know God. I say I know God. We get into little divisive arguments/discussions about who God is, and we maybe have seen a glimpse of Him. We may have seen a glimpse of His beauty and love through the eyes of a child, but we have yet to see all of Him. We have yet to show all of Him either, but that’s what we are called to do, and we do it through Love.

~*For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.*~

~1st Corinthians 13:9-13

Love Conquers All

My 2 baby girls when my youngest was 11 days & my oldest 3 1/2.

My 2 baby girls when my youngest was 2 days old & my oldest was 3 1/2.

Do I know how much God loves me? I mean, really  know deep down in my heart and soul? It doesn’t matter where I’m at in my journey with God; He keeps bringing me back to this. And with that comes the question, “Do I love others and see others the way God loves and sees them?”

I re-read through the New Testament this year and as always before I read anything, I asked God to speak to me through what I was reading. I found myself underlining so many verses about Christ having compassion on the people. It was such a beautiful thing. These were people most other law-abiding people turned away or condemned and accused. Jesus loved the least of the least, had compassion on them, and healed them! And that’s what He’s called us to do!

I know I’ve only had small glimpses of Christ’s love, but it’s enough to keep me coming back for more. It’s amazing how freeing seeing through the eyes of Love can be. For too long, I had lived under the weight of feeling like I had messed up too much to be loved by God. I would never speak anything like that over anyone else’s life, but I believed so many twists of the verses in Hebrews 6 about falling away from salvation, that I thought I who once tasted God’s incredible gift had fallen too far from His grace. I became like the people described by J.S. Park trying to earn Christ’s love:

” I meet Christians who are super-glossy, picture-perfect, law-abiding people, but they are absolutely miserable and difficult to be near. Their every movement is dictated by a strict rigid ruleset that is motivated by a desperate fear. If your efforts are not driven by grace — that God absolutely loves you no matter what — then you will punish yourself towards an invisible standard that looks like success but feels like slavery. Such a standard might work for a little while to conform your behavior, but it will never become a part of you: it’s just an apparatus that imprisons you. Only grace can truly be internalized to melt your heart, and though it can take longer, a truly tenderized heart follows God with all joy and perseverance. This is motivation by grace and grace alone. ”

I was miserable. There were many times in my marriage that I looked like a modern-day Proverbs 31 woman on the outside, but as I mentioned before, a lot of it came from a striving out of an insecurity that I was unloved. I would see and hear about all these women who were overwhelmingly loved by their husbands and while I’ve always wanted other women’s husbands to show their wives love, because I wasn’t loved even with how much I was “doing”, I would look at them and wonder what they did to be loved like that and why what I was doing wasn’t enough, why I wasn’t enough. I felt like something was inherently wrong with me deep down. I was jealous that these women could be so loved without the performance. The more unloved I felt, and the more my husband sought other things than me, the more I felt the need to control our situations. I’m still not perfect in this. There were so many years of dishonesty, I’ve developed some ugly habits. But the more love God has shown me, the more freeing I’ve become, and the more God has been able to work in my husband’s heart. My husband has told me that the times he’s sought other people and things, it wasn’t because of a lack on my part, but a dissatisfaction he had with God. The more he’s satisfied with God, the easier it is to turn away from any temptation, and the love God has given him for me and really for and through both of us as I hardened my heart a lot during that time has been better than we’ve ever experienced. It’s a beautiful thing that could only come from God’s unconditional love and grace! (We’re definitely not perfect in this though!)

Too often I’ve seen that we as Christians seem afraid of speaking of God’s unconditional love and grace. We may speak of it to people who haven’t heard of Christ, but it’s almost as though once someone receives salvation, we expect performance or if people who have known God’s love screw up, we immediately condemn them and forget that God’s a God of second chances and thirds and fourths and nothing can separate us from His love!

I often wonder if we speak so much about performance because it seems easier to love others if they’re doing what we want or if we ourselves have forgotten the wonder of His love for us. We put sin on such a pedestal and act terrified of it and speak about the Bible as though it’s a book of rules we need to follow without getting to the heart of it. We expect people who don’t know God’s love to perform as though they do and act as though the good news is about looking perfect and following the rules. Yet, God says that LOVE is the fulfillment of the law and whether we can speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, we’ve become nothing but sounding brass or clanging cymbals. And though we have the gifts of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though we have all faith, so that we could remove mountains, but have not love, we are nothing. And though we bestow all our goods to feed the poor, and though we give our bodies to be burned, but have not love, it profits us nothing!

I love how David says in Psalm 119:32:

“I will run the course of Your commandments, For You shall enlarge my heart.”

God enlarging our hearts with His love is the only way to fulfill the law. Walking in the faith of His love for us and our pursuit of Him is the only way to please Him! You can be the best preacher and have the most appealing arguments until you’re blue in the face, but only God’s goodness will lead people to repentance!

God humbled Himself and came in the form of a man and brought Himself to our level to show us His love for us and defeated Satan and all powers of darkness through that love and that is our greatest weapon because love conquers all and never fails! When are we going to take up His weapon of choice and fight all manner of darkness? When are we going to love the least of these? When are we going to remember the depths of our sin and remember the wonder of His love for us and show that same level of compassion and grace and love to those around us? When are we going to soften our hearts enough to love as Jesus did?

Embrace Your Mess

     ~*Art grows out of each particular situation, and I believe that artists are better off working with whatever their environment throws up.*~
                                                                          -El Anatsui (Artist)

As an artist, I normally have a vision in mind when I create something. It’s that vision that always gets me started, and it’s that vision that carries me through the tedious, monotonous, and often draining process that creating can often have. Sometimes I embrace those times and enjoy the process, but part of me gets so excited about my vision finally coming together that sometimes it can just seem so draining during the long process it might take to make the best masterpieces. Often, I get a vision and think, “I can do this. If it can be done, I can do it. God’s given me that gift.”

As with any piece of art, before it really starts coming together, it doesn’t look anything like the vision I had in mind. Sometimes it looks nothing short of a big mess. If anybody else sees my unfinished piece, I often find myself either feeling like I need to explain my vision or reassure them and myself, it won’t look like this in the end. Often, I start doubting myself and my abilities during that time and wonder what in the world I got myself into. Thankfully, the vision I had in mind and the passion God has given me or sometimes even just the fact that I have to get my artwork done helps push me to finish the final steps of my creation. I never regret it when I do.

There have been times that the piece might not be entirely what I had in mind, but I’ve grown to learn during those times that they can always be corrected and perfected. All artwork can be. Some of the greatest masterpieces in museums were done over an old piece of art due to the lack of money an artist might have had during their time- as the term “starving artist” didn’t come out of nowhere and most artists weren’t made famous until after their lifetime.

As a perfectionist, there have been times I’ve feared my mistakes or the messy part of art. There have even been times I’ve dreaded my gifts or hated that other people knew of them. I grew to resent them because when you create something great at a young age, then people just expect greatness all the time or expect you to get even greater. Sometimes it was myself and my own expectations- which can lead to a fear of mistakes and the process it takes to get better.

However, to become a great creator, you can’t fear the mistakes and the messy process. Often, as mentioned before, the greatest masterpieces come from the worst beginnings. I experienced this firsthand when I created my latest piece, “The Heavens Declare” when I decided to do acrylic underneath of oil. Paintings often require many layers and it was my first time using acrylic paint on canvas and I decided to use it originally because I knew that it dries faster and I had a quick-approaching time frame, but also grew to realize I could use it with the oil paint to create the effect I want for the angels. However, the first few layers looked like a huge mess and I was embarrassed when we had two different visiting families at our house during the unfinished process and kept reassuring them and myself that it wouldn’t look like that in the end. Thankfully, it doesn’t and ended up being better than I could fully envision. Here’s the final product:

THE HEAVENS DECLARE. Original is 36" x 36", 2013. Oil over acrylic on canvas.

THE HEAVENS DECLARE. Original is 36″ x 36″, 2013. Oil over acrylic on canvas.

 

My husband- who hasn’t always appreciated art- thinks it’s my best piece. *smile*

Sometimes I forget that God’s a Creator too. Obviously, He’s the Creator of the universe, but sometimes I think people forget that He’s not just the Creator of the universe, He functions as a Creator as well. Only He not only has a vision for each of our lives, He also has the whole picture in mind. Each of us are His masterpieces. Often, we go through messy times in our lives or we might go through a tiresome or draining season where we forget the vision of ourselves He has in mind. We forget that we are His creations and He has our best in mind and we get fearful of the messy process He’s leading us through or the fact that He has our whole picture laid out before Him and has the passion and vision to carry Him through our messy process. He will always finish a work He’s started in us.

Oftentimes, during these seasons, others who can’t see the vision over their own lives or who just have a hard time believing the visions God has spoken over them try to discourage others from believing God’s vision. Maybe it’s because He started a work in them in the past and the difficult seasons were too much that they couldn’t see the visions He had in mind for them anymore. Maybe their unbelief caused them to doubt the new creations God was starting as they were once new creations and they felt the need to speak their unbelief over the new creations. Maybe it was jealousy over another creation’s beauty after not seeing the beauty God had in mind for them. Maybe it was just not understanding God had to bring others through a messier season to create the work He had in mind for them. Maybe it was just hurt.

The messy seasons are HARD. So hard. It’s hard to keep the vision God has in mind for us sometimes when nothing in our lives looks like the vision He has spoken over us. It’s hard to see ourselves the way God sees us when not only do we have a hard time believing, but others are speaking their doubts over us and have a hard time envisioning the final picture as well. People often act out what they believe about themselves and it can be a very harmful thing to speak words of death over God’s creations no matter the reason. God wants us to trust Him with the process- even with the messy seasons…especially with the messy seasons.

suffering quote

It isn’t always other people though. Obviously, it normally comes off as an attack from a person, but we often forget that we’re fighting in a spiritual battle and we take what others say to heart not realizing they’re fighting their own battles. In case you haven’t noticed, Satan hates God’s creations and seems to especially hate new life/creations, creators, and life-givers (you can be a life-giver without being a physical mom. I believe that with all my heart.) It seems like during the messy seasons, he uses his army and others to try to take away the vision God has given us. Unfortunately, with how discouraging these seasons can be, many of us place our trust in what Satan or others speak over us rather than continuing to trust in God.

I know I did for a time. Like the prodigal son, I stopped believing in my Father’s love for me. There were a lot of people believing and speaking lies over me and I was in a really oppressive environment and I started believing them and acting out those lies spoken over me. I stopped hoping for the vision God had for me, and I know I had a hard time at times even being around other people who were already beautiful creations or who had the joy that new creations have, thinking that if only they experienced what I had gone through, they would understand. It was very dangerous and very harmful. I don’t know that I actually spoke those lies out loud, but I know I believed them over myself and others at times. I wanted so badly to believe what God had spoken over me during other seasons of my life, but I lacked the vision He had. I couldn’t see the whole picture.

When God started restoring my husband’s life, he said he was praying for me and he felt like God was saying how all these hard things I was going through were needed for me to become God’s beautiful bride He had in mind. At the time, I wanted so badly to hope for that and loved the thought, but was also so hurt by the messy seasons in my husband’s life, it was so hard to see. However, my husband’s extreme transformation started getting me to hope again. One of the greatest changes I saw and felt in his life was how much freer he was to be around. He didn’t feel the need to be controlling anymore and realized God can use anything. It was that freedom that I experienced that helped set me free.

While I wouldn’t wish upon anyone some of the things I’ve gone through (not just in my marriage)-and I know some others have gone through worse- and would have a hard time choosing to go through those times again with how hard it was to keep God’s vision, I’m so so thankful that nothing I did ever worked. While I know I’m a pretty good artist at times, God is the absolute best. I couldn’t have created the masterpieces He has given me with my husband and kids and I’m so thankful for them.

Sometimes, it seems that the more we do “for God”, rather than allowing God to do the work in and through us, we forget that He makes all things new. We limit Him to creations He’s already done, to books He’s already inspired, not realizing that He only included the testimonies and stories that are in the Bible to show us how vast His creations can be and how nothing’s impossible for Him. John 21:25 says:

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

So, please allow Him to write a new story in and through you. Ask Him to give you His vision for yourself and others. Be a life-giver, not a life-taker. Be a visionary like Him, not an accuser of the brethren. God wants to free us and help us free others-not hold others captive by our fear of the messy He’s working in us or other people’s lives. He doesn’t fear it and neither should we. He makes all things new and some of the greatest masterpieces start out with the messiest lives.

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P.S.~ I just stumbled upon this video and it has so much that God’s been laying on my heart lately and went so well with this, that if you have 40 or so minutes, it is so worth it! *Not for those listening to a religious spirit, or maybe especially for those with a religious spirit.*

The Transforming Power of Love

My husband and I on our wedding day.

My husband and I on our wedding day.

I read this article the other day. As always-at least from pretty much all that I’ve read of his, Matt Walsh was spot on. I was challenged to be the best for those I love. I read it for me-for me to grow and become a better person through it. I can’t say that I’ve always read things like this for me. Sometimes I’ve read things like this and wanted to take it to my husband and say, “See, I’m not the only one who thinks this way and why can’t you be more like this or understand this?” It would have made me feel even more justified to withhold love from him. As I was reading through some of the comments, I noticed a lot of people weren’t reading it for themselves. They were reading it for their significant others or just people in general, thinking what a narcissistic generation we have being raised up. And when we think that way, I think that we become part of the problem.

While it may not seem related, I’ve never really understood why people don’t go to church because of the hypocrisy that’s there. I know it’s there. I know it’s hard to be around people who are hypocritical. I’ve just always thought that if you see things you don’t like, you should try to be part of the solution not the problem. So, if you don’t like hypocrisy, make sure you’re not being hypocritical and make sure you’re being the picture of Jesus you wish to see in the church. Merriam-webster.com defines hypocrisy in this way:

hy·poc·ri·sy

 noun \hi-ˈpä-krə-sē also hī-\

: the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do : behavior that does not agree with what someone claims to believe or feel

So in a way, any time someone claims he/she won’t go to church because people who go to church aren’t acting like Jesus, I have to question what one thinks Jesus would do and whether or not he/she is doing what Jesus would do. Luke 4:16-21 says what Jesus did:

16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,[a] To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”[b20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Not only did Jesus go to the synagogue (kind of like our modern-day church), He also spoke of what He came to do-what we should be doing. By saying we won’t go to church because others aren’t being like Jesus-who by the way, was surrounded by the Pharisees-the people Jesus even called hypocrites, I think in a way, we’re being hypocritical. We’re not acting like Jesus either-whose custom was to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and not only that, He wasn’t part of the problem looking down on others, He took the responsibility to be part of the solution. Actually, He is the solution.

In the same way, I think when we read these articles thinking about what others need to do rather than for ourselves, we’re being hypocritical and part of the problem. We’re on dangerous grounds then because we’re doing exactly what Satan would have us to do as an accuser of the brethren. We become so blinded by the plank in our own eye and instead start pointing to the speck in someone else’s eye. We let a root of bitterness grow up in our lives that defiles many. When you instead focus on other people’s problems rather than taking responsibility for your own actions, you take Satan’s side and start accusing people that God wants to redeem. Your love grows cold and can no longer have the affect that love has. As Martin Luther states:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

I think that it’s an honest assessment at times to say that a lot of “Christians” are hypocritical. I think a lot of us resemble Pharisees more than people who have been redeemed. I know I have and am truly sorry for it. I know there are times I still forget and continue to act hypocritical. It sometimes seems that the longer a Christian “serves” Christ, the more entitled we feel. We become like the jealous brother in the prodigal son parable forgetting that all our Father has is ours. We forget that while sin may be pleasurable for a season, it only leaves us absolutely enslaved to it. We become addicted. I don’t think any Christian man or any man with a conscience that hasn’t been seared can honestly say that he truly enjoys being enslaved to the addiction of porn. It might seem enjoyable at first, but the longer you look, the more your lust grows to even things you would have originally been mortified over in the past, and the more you become enslaved. It’s a fix for them- just like any drug addict or any person stuck in sin can attest to.

When my husband sinned against God that I let have an affect on me, I grew really bitter and unforgiving. While I tried to do everything right on my own, the more he sinned against me, the more justified I felt to be unloving. What hurt the worst was when my husband would sin and hide it from me-always believing it wouldn’t have an effect on me if I just didn’t know, not realizing the wedge it was creating between us. Then, he would often tell me, “Well, if you don’t forgive me, God won’t forgive you.” It was absolutely selfish and disgusting and not apologetic at all. Trust me, if anybody can say that they married someone with a narcissistic problem, I can. I wasn’t given an apology and I wasn’t given time to heal; and to make matters worse, I knew he was right. God says that if we want forgiveness, we have to be forgiving ourselves. Instead of becoming forgiving, I felt justified in my anger because what he was doing was absolutely wrong; and I knew it, and I continually tried to get him to know it. It didn’t matter how many times I told him what he was doing was wrong, that I wouldn’t even wish this on my worst enemy; it didn’t change him. It didn’t matter if I tried to be everything others deem as the perfect wife, my actions could not penetrate his heart. If doing everything perfectly on the outside made someone lovable and led people to repentance, then the Pharisees would be the most lovable people of all and have had the greatest influence. And like I said, I knew God brought us together and I grew really angry at God for ever bringing him into my life. I had never been treated so badly in my life- and I haven’t always been treated so well. Instead, I could have just continually taken it to God and allowed God to soften my heart more and become more like His perfect bride.

Unfortunately, it took me a long time to do that. God’s still releasing me from the strong hold I’ve had over my life. I lost a lot of trust in God during that time although He’s always only remained faithful to me. My view of God became tainted with how my imperfect dad had treated me growing up and how my husband was treating me. I lost sight of the fact that people are flawed-all of us, including me. The only blameless human to walk this earth was Jesus. I started trusting my own strength to protect myself rather than casting my cares on God, and became overly sensitive and hurt to all the sins my husband committed. I became controlling of the situations we were going to be in, and became fearful of the times that I couldn’t control.

Even if I could manage my husband’s actions during that time, I couldn’t change his heart, and I knew that. It was a painful realization. I could never draw his heart to me by anything I did, and it made me fear never being loved. Because I stopped trusting God, I didn’t have a stable foundation and the more uneasy I felt about different things (I had the worst nightmares during that time-was seriously tortured during my dreams), the more controlling I became and the more I felt like I had to find out if my husband was being unfaithful because he wouldn’t be straight with me. While it was painful to find out the “truth” of situations, it was also relieving to me to know I wasn’t feeling uneasy for nothing. It became a fix for me. It was addicting and very damaging. I would have given anything to just be completely set free from it. I felt like there was no way out.

Thankfully, nothing right I did changed my husband’s actions and heart. If it had, I might have continued to trust my own strength instead of turning to the only One who has the power to save. The only One who can redeem all of us. I would have been trapped into believing the lie and sin that my works could save me and others, rather than God’s grace. I would have thought that I could produce the same fruit that only a life connected to God’s vine can produce. We are only branches. When we disconnect ourselves from the Vine, NOTHING good can come from us as God is the only One who is good who can produce goodness. And it is that goodness that leads people to repentance.

The fact that nothing I did and the fact I couldn’t do it on my own-literally, I couldn’t handle it; I was driven mad and on the verge of insanity with my un-forgiveness and bitterness- although I was good at hiding it at times- made me come to the end of myself. While I had cried out to God to fix all my problems before, I cried out to God in a whole new way. I needed Him. I wanted Him. I couldn’t do it on my own and I realized that. I realized that I had gone down a path of sin that was leading me to Hell and I feared the One who has the power to send me to Heaven or Hell, but I also knew He loved me and a broken spirit and a contrite heart, He would not despise. He has always remained faithful to me and never denied Himself despite my many infidelities/sin. It was His love and goodness that led me to repent to Him, and I could trust in His forgiveness over me because of His lovingkindness and faithfulness that never fails.

Because I had been forgiven much, I’ve been set free to love much. I have been set free to love in a way I’ve never loved before. And my husband, holy cow, he’s like a whole new person! Yesterday, I was again reminded of that fact as we were walking on some ice and he, without my asking, held my hand to make sure I wouldn’t fall. He’s written me numerous letters apologizing for the way he’s treated me (obviously, a far cry from how he was before) and yet so grateful for the way God has used Satan’s plans he intended for evil over my life for good. He’s become the biggest blessing in my life and my best friend! I often feel like he’s too good for me now! Only God could do that! Only the transforming power of God’s love can do that! Yeah, we still screw up at times. We still fall back occasionally. We’re still human and we haven’t fully “arrived”, but we know what that path leads to and are more aware right away when we start heading down that path. We can turn to God and ask for forgiveness from Him and each other now and know we’ll be forgiven. Because we’ve both been forgiven much and can love much more freely.

We all have a choice. We can keep reading articles and the Bible and think of others and point fingers and feel justified with where we’re at in life or we can look to Jesus and allow His perfect transforming love and the fire He tries us with to melt all the impurities in our lives. There’s always going to be someone worse off than we are. But pointing at others who are worse off than we are doesn’t make us any better ourselves and doesn’t produce the change we wish to see in them. Only love can do that. Only by seeing ourselves in light of Jesus and His truth will we be able to freely allow Him to do the work He wants to in us. Only by His power can we love our enemies (sometimes people who shouldn’t be our enemies), do good to those who hurt us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who spitefully use us, and that’s what God has called us to do.

Like I said in my previous post, God wants to be glorified in any and every marriage. He doesn’t want us to separate what He has joined together. Yes, He’s called husbands to love and serve their wives like Christ does the church and to wash their wives with the word. But women, even the best husband isn’t God. He’s going to be imperfect and have flaws. The only way we’re going to have our “happily ever after” is when we get to see Jesus face to face. Don’t expect from an imperfect man what only God can deliver. We’re still called to respect him even in his failures. Don’t withhold love because your husband isn’t who God created him to be at the time. If anything, that’ll just drive him more into his sin as he’ll feel justified in his sinful mind to keep sinning since he’s not receiving love at home. Men, please don’t wait for your wives to be all God’s called her to be either before you start loving her. Withholding love from her will not produce the fruit only God can do in her. You can go your whole lives waiting for the other person to do what they’re called to do and I know personally many people who have done that (I wrote this poem after attending the funeral of one of those people) and wasted the rest of their lives in bitterness and some who are still doing that.

Who you are, what you do, and how you react are all things you’re going to have to answer for yourself someday when you face God. We don’t answer for others, only ourselves. We need to make ourselves in right relation to God and allow His Holy Spirit to work through us and the fruit that comes from that is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. You can try hard and seem to have some of those on your own, but if you’re not allowing God’s Holy Spirit to work through you, your “fruit” will not last through the storms of this life. We all face storms. Some of us are fortunate to have more loving marriages from the start, but everybody faces battles in this life. We can allow those battles to harden our hearts to God and others around us causing our love to grow cold and unusable, or we can allow God to allow that fire to shape and mold us to be the people we’re created to be and soften our hearts to Him and extend the grace and mercy we’ve been given to others. What choice are you going to make? Are you going to join all the others waiting for others to get their acts straight or are you going to become responsible for your own actions and become transformed by allowing God to love you and use you to love the unlovable? It is impossible to do that on our own and when we do that, God gets all the glory and we are here to bring Him glory!

*There’s a story I want to share where this lady has clearly brought God glory and allowed God to extend a love that most of us can’t even comprehend in an extremely difficult marriage where most of us would have told her to leave and felt very justified in doing so. Because she allowed God to use her to love the unlovable, she has allowed her life to glorify God and reach others in a way that wouldn’t have been possible had she not responded in the way she did. When I first read this story, I think I was in high school and bawled like a baby praying for God to give me a love like this but hoping I wouldn’t have to go through something like this to produce that kind of love. I almost forgot about the story though since it had been a while back, until my pastor read this story this past Sunday during his message (really good if you want to hear it) when he talked about marriage and divorce. Again, I couldn’t hold back the tears at all. This story is such a beautiful illustration of God’s love and it is so worth reading! It’s only 3 pages in the book “Larger Window” by DeVern Fromke (HIGHLY recommended-pretty much anything by him as he is a great man of God) and I know it’ll make this post seem super long, but if you read anything today, I hope it’ll be this.

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Could You Have Loved as Much?

Bob Considine writes…

Edith Taylor was sure that she was “the luckiest woman on the block.” She and Karl had been married twenty-three years and her heart still skipped a beat when he walked into the room. As for Karl, he gave every appearance of a man in love with his wife. If his job as a government warehouse worker took him out of town, he would write Edith each night and send gifts from every place he visited.

In February 1950, Karl was sent to Okinawa for a few months to work in a new government warehouse. It was a long time to be away, and so far. This time no little gifts came. Edith understood! He was saving his money for the house they had long dreamed of owning someday.

The lonesome months dragged on. Each time Edith expected Karl home, he’d write that he must stay “another three weeks.” “Another month.” “Just two months longer.” He’d been gone a year now, and his letters were coming less and less often. No gifts…she understood. But a few pennies for a postage stamp? Then, after weeks of silence, came this letter:

Dear Edith,
    I wish there was a kinder way to tell you that we are no longer married.

Edith walked to the sofa and sat down. He had written to Mexico for a mail-order divorce. He had married Aiko, a Japanese maid-of-all-work assigned to his quarters. She was nineteen. Either was forty-eight.

Now, if I were making up this story, the rejected wife would fight that quick paper-divorce. She would hate her husband and the woman. She would want vengeance for her own shatter life. But I am describing here simply what did happen. Edith Taylor did not hate Karl. Perhaps she had loved him so long that she was unable to stop.

She could picture the situation. A lonely man. Constant closeness. But even so, Karl had done the easy, shameful thing. He had chosen divorce, rather than taking advantage of the young servant girl. The only thing Edith could not believe was that he had stopped loving her. Someday, somehow, Karl would come home.

Edith now built her life around this thought. She wrote Karl, asking him to keep her in touch. In time he wrote that he and Aiko were expecting a baby. Maria was born in 1951; then in 1953, Helen. Edith sent gifts to the little girls. She still wrote to Karl and he wrote back: “Helen had a tooth…Aiko’s English was improving…Karl had lost weight.”

And then the terrible letter. Karl was dying of lung cancer. His last letters were filled with fear. Not for himself, but for Aiko and his two little girls. He had been saving to send them to school in America, but his hospital bills were taking everything. What would become of them?

Then Edith knew that her last gift to Karl could be peace of mind. She wrote that if Aiko was willing, she would take Maria and Helen and bring them up in Waltham. For many months after Karl’s death, Aiko would not let the children go. They were all she had ever known. Yet what could she offer them except a life of poverty, servitude and despair? In November 1956, she sent the two girls to Edith.

Edith has known it would be hard at fifty-four to be mother to a three-year-old and five-year-old. She hadn’t realized that. in the time since Karl’s death, they would forget the little English they knew. But Mariah and Helen learned fast. The fear left their eyes; their faces grew plump. And Edith, for the first time in six years, was hurrying home from work. Even getting meals was fun again! Sadder were the times when letters came from Aiko: “Aunt, tell me…if Maria or Helen cry or not.” In the broken English, Edith read the loneliness, and she knew what loneliness was. She knew that she must bring the girls’ mother here too.

She must make the decision, but Aiko was still a Japanese citizen, and the immigration quota had a waiting list many years long. It was then that Edith Taylor wrote me, asking if I could help. I described the situation in my newspaper column. Others did more. Petitions were started, and, in August 1957, Aiko Taylor was permitted to enter the country.

As the plane came in at New York’s national airport, Edith had a moment of fear. What if she should hate this woman who had taken Karl away from her? The last person off the plane was a girl so thin and small that Edith thought at first she was a child. She stood there clutching the railing, and Edith knew that, if she had been afraid, Aiko was near panic.

She called Aiko’s name, and the girl rushed down the steps into Edith’s arms. As they held each other, Edith had an extraordinary thought. “I prayed for karl to come back. Now he has- in his two little daughters and in this gentle girl he loved. Help me, God, to love her, too.” (B.C.)

From DeVern:
I feel sure many wives would have exhorted Edith:
“Forget him! Get on with your own life.”
To some that may seem like sound advice, but that is not what Edith felt God wanted for her, and we appreciate her decision. She might even have questioned in weak moments: “Was it really God telling her to forgive, and forgive some more?” Yes, she chose to send her roots deeper into the river of his grace: And God responded by giving her two daughters and a close friend.
It is awesome! When God writes the last chapter, for whatever He writes is good…good for all. The Psalmist seems to know this:
“I will bless the Lord who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh shall rest in hope… Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Let us be assured…
“…weeping may endure for a night,
               but joy cometh in the morning!”

Father, I am sure that I could not endure as Edith did, but I remember that You are the One Who provides special grace for those Who choose Your best. I now choose to become Your channel for loving all the “Aikos” and their children around me, who are helpless victims of sin and lust.

Every Wasted Second

Engagement photo of my hubby and me.

Engagement photo of my hubby and me.

There he is. He’s hurt you countless times. You can’t even remember the last time you only had good memories. Every offense brings back a painful wound that has never seemed to fully heal, and yet he expects to be loved. He hopes to be forgiven. Oh, the nerve of him! How dare he! Doesn’t he know you have a right to be mad? A right to get even?

You. You’ve been so good to him. You take care of his kids. You clean his house. You fold his laundry. You work out and try to look nice for him. You even pack his work lunches on occasion. You even look forward to time spent in the bedroom and you hear that’s rare. You’ve been the perfect wife.  Anybody would be happy to be with you, but him, obviously. I mean, if he were happy, how could he do this to you? He’s the luckiest man in the world and he takes it all for granted. He takes you for granted.

You’ve never done that to anybody, have you? Surely, you’ve never treated anybody so badly, especially not someone who’s treated you so well; or, have you?

I think sometimes we forget, sometimes I know I forget, that there is Someone who we have all betrayed who has only ever loved us. Someone who’s been nothing but good to us and yet we’ve nailed His wrists time and time again. Someone whose forgiven us way past the 490th time. Yet, somehow, we turn our eyes to other things-things we know are going to hurt Him. We know in our heads He has our best in mind and yet fail to really know in our hearts.

Somehow, we forget just how many times we’ve failed Him over and over again when He’s never deserved it. Somehow we forget that throughout all our mistakes, all our purposeful failures, all our faithlessness, He’s been faithful and He will never deny Himself. He’s our Anchor and support when our whole world crumbles.

Then, a spouse, a significant other, a child, or even just a friend, fails us. How could they? We’ve never done anything to deserve it. We haven’t failed them. So we start keeping mental records of the times they’ve hurt us and feel justified in not loving them. We forget that love suffers long and remains kind and keeps no record of wrongs. We forget that love never fails even when everything else does. We forget that Jesus will never leave His bride, the church; yet think that He’s all for a separation when we’re not treated fairly as though He was and is treated right. We forget that nobody’s perfect and we’re debtors ourselves in need of forgiveness; yet, we turn to those “in debt” against us and act just like the unforgiving debtor in the gospels of the Bible.

I understand. I’ve been there. In fact, I lost so much hope for our marriage and over myself and knew I would beat myself up if I ever got divorced my whole life, that I just tried to end my life instead. It was an ugly mess. Honestly, I knew there were issues -major trust issues before we got married. I couldn’t stop shaking and bawling and could barely force myself  into my wedding rehearsal and needed major prayer from my sister and her husband just to get me through the doors. I know it might seem weird that I didn’t call off the wedding. Believe me, that thought crossed my mind plenty of times. I even gave the ring back probably 10x while we were engaged and was told to just put it back on and I did and I pretended like we were happy and not many people knew anything I was going through because of it. I didn’t want anybody to think badly of him and I stopped talking to any of my guy friends because I knew I was vulnerable. And somehow, through all the mess, I had to lean on the fact that God did show us, plenty of times actually, that He had a plan over both of our lives together. With all the trust issues, I started doubting those promises God made over us, but I knew that He did make them and He’s always been faithful to me, and I knew He never gave me peace to end it.

While I didn’t go into my marriage blindly, I didn’t realize just how badly the sins were that we were both entangled in. His might have seemed worse at the time, but I was believing so many lies myself and I grew angry at God for ever bringing us together because I knew He did. I had read “Created to be His Helpmeet” (read with caution if you choose to read it please-there are definitely pros and cons to it as I have grown to realize) about 4x before marriage and even again after marriage and was determined to be the perfect wife. Somewhere along the way, I started taking up burdens not only over myself and my actions, but over my husband’s actions and his salvation. I definitely never meant to be manipulative and honestly normally had a heart for my husband the majority of time, but when he would hurt me again, you would have never known it. And he knew that. My husband knew my “love” wasn’t strong enough to love him through his flaws because I lost hope in God and started trying to love him out of my own power, which was limited. I grew so hopeless and so angry at God that my works weren’t producing the results I wanted. I couldn’t make my husband love me. I never felt loved. Our love was flawed and imperfect, and honestly still is, yet God has slowly been redeeming lost time and giving us a marriage we had long ago lost hope of ever having. Our love has grown immensely for each other in the last year! That itself is a miracle!

Time can’t heal our wounds, but God can. When we walk in His wisdom, God can redeem lost time.  Un-forgiveness and bitterness are not worth it. Trust me. It’s a death trap. Literally. You cannot live fully when you have un-forgiveness and bitterness in your heart, no matter who you’re with. The Bible says divorce covers one’s garment with violence. I get it. There are issues you might need to separate yourself from until you and maybe even your kids can heal, but please even then, pray for your spouse from afar and lean on God and His strength that never fails, and seek wise, Godly counsel from people who fear God before making such a huge decision-if not even just for the protection that might be needed in those circumstances. You never know what God can do through you being willing to stay, even without the word at times, by your chaste conduct, accompanied by the fear of God. God says whatever He has joined together, let not man separate. He wants to be glorified in any and every marriage and wants us to show the mystery of God’s covenant love for the church. God can restore the most difficult marriages and use your struggles to help others going through similar situations. And when He restores difficult marriages that would have completely fallen apart without Him, He gets all the credit.

I wrote a new poem tonight kind of through my husband’s eyes when I felt justified to bring up his wrongdoings, but also through eyes that have been hurt just by not being loved well. We all want and need Love and are lost without it. However, we cannot love without receiving love from the unending Source of love. You may be right in feeling justified to not love someone; but in the end, it won’t do anybody any good and you’re wasting your time. Anyways, my husband seemed to enjoy it and I hope you do too.

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~*EVERY WASTED SECOND*~

You talk to me, mentioning
All the mistakes that I’ve made
The last thing I need to hear
Are all the times that I’ve strayed

I wish I could take back
All those painful memories
I wish I could say sorry
In a way you believe

I wish to be forgiven
Through all my mistakes
We need to cast an Anchor
Whenever our world shakes

You’re right to be mad
You’re right to accuse
But every second we waste not loving
Is a second we lose

I want to love you
In the good, the bad, the in-between
I live to want you
When you’re nice and when you’re mean

I need to hold you
In the times you want to leave
I’ll give you a reason to smile
When all you can do is bereave

I want to be loved
In the good, the bad, the in-between
I live to be wanted
When I’m nice and when I’m mean

I need to be held
In the times I want to leave
Give me a reason to smile
When all I can do is bereave

Can we move forward now?
Not dwell in the past
Every second not loving is wasted
And the years go by so fast

-R.A.D. (me) 1/25/14

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*If you have been divorced, please know that God can and wants to forgive you and restore you and especially with my past actions, it would be silly of me to ever think less of you!

**My hubby has read this (honestly, I have him read all my stuff- normally before, but sometimes after if he’s not around ’cause I normally need the reassurance and he’s been gracious to give it to me!) and even said, “You’re on a role.” 😉 God has truly transformed him far better than I ever could have done if I had my way! Thankfully, for the most part, I’ve been learning to get out of God’s way; though, occasionally, even tonight, I struggle at times remembering to do that. Live, screw up, and learn all over again I guess. 😉

***If you want to read any poetry on screwing up in relation to God, go here.

Flesh and Blood

I think one of the hardest and most important things to remember is that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. There’s a real enemy out there that has so easily deceived us into thinking that people are the problem. Somebody cuts us off in traffic, and we go off on them (not that most of them can hear us anyway). Somebody hurts our feelings, does something we don’t like, or just is somebody we don’t like or that we don’t agree with, and how many times do we find ourselves gossiping about them as if we’re better than them or if they just didn’t exist or if we weren’t around them, we would be happier and life would be better?

Sometimes I find myself wishing people or problems away and of course, it just doesn’t work. I’ve not only fought or tried to run away from people or problems at times, but also God. I thought God brought this person into my life and He knows the beginning and end and everything in-between, so why didn’t He just not bring someone into my life who’s going to hurt me so badly?

God doesn’t work that way. He cares too much about us to work that way. He cares too much about me to work that way. I always have to remind myself that. Since when has life been just about being happy or easy? Since when has it even been about me?

If you go into life or marriage or anything really thinking it’s all about making you happy; I’m guessing you’re going to be sorely disappointed. To be honest, I knew this was going to be hard work. Everything good in my life has come from either hard work or blessings or both. Honestly, if I really thought about it, and I didn’t dwell on how hard everything would be, how hard everything is, I’d want it that way. There’s no growth with no challenge. But also, we’re in a great spiritual battle. Not just when we want to be. Not just when we’re ready to be. But always. Always. With each and every decision we make, we can choose to be on God’s side or Satan’s. Seriously, it’s as simple and yet scary as that. Those voices we hear telling us to lie or cheat or look at porn or steal, or basically anything outside of God’s will aren’t necessarily our own fleshly voices, and they’re not necessarily a part of us.

It’s amazing how easily we forget:

 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
-Ephesians 6:12

If you know what it’s like to be tempted, to give into that temptation, and then feel so ashamed afterwards, do you really think it was you telling yourself to do those things? We are in a war! Do you really think our enemy that goes to and fro throughout the whole earth (Job 1:7) is going to let you off that easily-I mean, especially, especially, if you’re doing anything for God, His enemy, or are even in a marriage, what’s meant to be a picture of Christ’s love for the church? He HATES that picture and will do ANYthing and everything to destroy it. If you’re being attacked constantly, maybe you’re doing something right. After all, why would our enemy feel the need to really attack someone who’s not a threat?

And here I am. I’ve been attacked. I’m worn. I’ve been hurt more times than I can even count or even care to at this point, because every time I even think back on it, I just get angry. And I want to hurt the person who’s hurt me. Or leave them. The person who’s sided with our enemy so many times and hurt me deeply. The person I should be able to trust more than anyone and yet I have no safe haven to rest in. Sin ALWAYS hurts and affects people. ALWAYS. There are no exceptions.

But then I’m reminded of all the times I’ve messed up. All the times I’ve hurt God deeply for siding with our enemy, whether I realized it at the time or not. All the times I thought my ways were better than God’s ways and have had to face the consequences. How utterly lonely I was when I would turn from God and have no one to run to, nowhere I felt safe and at home. How completely devastated I was in myself for screwing up again. And again. “Would I ever get this right?” The feelings of being completely ashamed of not being the person God created me to be and running away from my purpose. I could go on and on. Not to mention, all the people I hurt in my path during those times. And how much I needed someone, an anchor, a safe haven to rest completely in then, when I deserved it the least. And God was and is ALWAYS there for me then. When I’ve screwed up the most, and deserved His love the least. And that’s exactly what our enemy wants us to forget. He wants us to forget the One who loves us. He wants to trip us up and then have us be so ashamed that we run away from the only One who can bring us back. The only One who truly, deeply loves us.

And that’s part of what love is. Accepting someone completely after they’ve made so many mistakes you’ve lost count. L O N G suffering. Being there for the person after they’ve hurt you deeply and even when it hurts to be in the same room as them. Doing what’s best for them and others and not giving up despite feeling like you’re going to fall apart and looking to the only One who can hold this fragile cord together. And still giving them your best whether you’ll get it in return or not. This life has never been about me. It’s never been about my happiness. It’s never been easy; and at this rate, I don’t even know if I can hope for it.

But as I make the tough choice to love someone who’s betrayed me once again, dwelling on who God is and what He’s done for me, I can’t help but think of all the times He’s felt this same exact feeling, from me and others. And how hard it must have been. How it would have been so much easier for Him to take away our free will and make us love Him; and yet He knew we would betray Him over and over again, and He still loved us enough to give us the choice to choose Him. He believes in us that much. His love is so strong for us that it can win us over. And I have to believe that when I allow His love to shine through me, it’s strong enough to win this battle.

I’m not giving up. Love never gives up. Love never fails. And while at times it’s easy to forget who the enemy is, and I may direct my anger at the wrong person; I’ve been trying to remind myself that we’re all people. We make mistakes. Sometimes constantly. If we didn’t make mistakes, we’d be God. And we all desperately need Him. Myself included. Especially myself. But God has always loved me in spite of it, and maybe at times because of it. He completes me and He’s transforming me. And when I place my trust in Him, not only is my love unshakable, it’s strong enough to win not only the battle for myself, but my family. And what better picture of Christ’s love can there be?