Filling In The Gaps

It’s been amazing to me how God’s goodness has just followed me throughout my whole life. This doesn’t mean my life has been perfect, nor does it mean that it’s been devoid of pain and sorrow. That’s actually very far from the truth. However, looking back through the years, and even at the very beginning, His goodness was there, almost lurking in the shadows at times.

I can see His hand at work so many times, comforting me, shielding me, overshadowing me and even uplifting me to be encouraged and reminded of this. I hear often, from people who want to reject Him, ask the question, “If He’s so good, why do bad things happen? Why do people get hurt? Why doesn’t He rescue all from evil?” To completely, and theologically, try to explain the answers to these questions, it would take too long for this blog, and it might be too deep or too boring for some.

Yet, I will say this much, typically, these questions aren’t from true searchers who would actually accept God if they found Him. These questions are designed to set up rebellion in a heart and argument in a mind to the point of stubborn resolution that either there is no God or He’s just a deity that is too lofty for our minuscule life, and He never cared anyway. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and I’d have to contend that you are not a true seeker nor a very good reader. You don’t do any research or read anything to truly help you find the answers to the questions you ask. But I digress. That will be another post for another day.

We live in a fallen world, and just as a person being sick doesn’t make the doctor less of a doctor, dealing with the evil of a fallen world doesn’t make God any less God. Having bad things happen in my past doesn’t nullify the Sovereignty of my God nor does it mean He loves me any less. There are a ton of reasons bad things can happen, and I won’t try to pretend to have all the answers for the Whys. I will say, the more I focus on Him and on His goodness, I see more and more of Him intricately intertwined into every piece of my life’s tapestry, and for this, I am eternally grateful!

I see the godly men He brought into my life when my own father abandoned me time and again. I see the godly women He brought into my life when my own mother and I could never see eye to eye. I see the friends He brought in when another would wound and scar my tender heart. He has always filled in the gaps when the entities of this world left my soul wrenching in pain and agony.

God places specific people in your life to fill in those voids that others leave, those gaps where others have failed their purpose. Sometimes, we are too fixated on what was lost that we fail to see the refreshing fulfillment He places right before us. We have to get our eyes focused back on Him, and He will give us sight to see what we could never have imagined possible.

“Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.” 1 Samuel 16:1

Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19:11

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To Steal One More Quote from LOTR

Everything we do impacts another. Everyday we impact someone.

Will you be ordinary?

Will your deeds be extraordinary?

For good or for evil, we all must live.

It Is Time

I’d like to ask our modern culture and our “evolved” Christian believers, when did we get to the place where Truth cannot be spoken for fear of offenses and Sin cannot be confirmed for fear of judgement? If we are a follower of Christ, Truth is absolute and irrevocable, and sin is sin, not “grace-filled” or “judgement-filled.” It just is, because God deems it so.

When did we get to the point where we care more that we not offend someone than we do about their very souls? When did we get to the point where we work so hard to preach grace that we forsake the reality of sin, hell and an eternal death? If we read the Bible, from the front cover to the very last page, God is so very clear.

We’ve come to the place where we’d rather argue, too often quite hatefully, with our brothers and sisters in Christ over the possible offenses taken or not taken over an issue rather than the merits of truth. We’d rather drum up dissension over the intentions of someone’s words rather than seek His Word for His truth on the subject at hand. We’d rather slash the hearts of our fellow kinsmen, and in turn, wound those who are listening and trying to find their own answers, rather than speak with love AND truth and let the Holy Spirit bring forth His conviction and mercy.

It sounds too much like the arguments of old when men and women would argue over the color of the pews and the length of the choir robes while their babies were battling issues of sex, drugs and rock and roll. It smells too much like the wayward youth of decades past who fought so hard for their independence and their owns rights that they forsook the ancient boundaries set before them to show them the only way. It looks too much like the sly dealings of darkness who always brings forth confusion, contention and chaos in order to distract, disengage and devour those who are most vulnerable and afraid.

Wake up, Church. Lift up your eyes. Look upon the One whom we have pierced! Gaze upon His torn flesh, His stripes, His pierced hands and feet. He was wounded for OUR transgressions! He was bruised for OUR iniquities! It was not for someone else. It was for our own prideful stance. It was for our own arrogant words. Not a one of us is not guilty. Not a one of us is worthy of the mercy and grace He gives.

It is time for us to stop claiming our own opinions and laments as Gospel. It is time we stop doing what is right in our own eyes. Lives are at stake. The innocent lie within the balance.

It is time we all repent. Moses stood between the children of Israel and God’s burning wrath. Moses stood between the children of Israel and the armies of Pharaoh. Moses cried out to God for their lives to be saved. Moses was their hero. Yet, he could never have brought them to freedom had they not listen, followed and obeyed him! He was not God, but He did show them God, and they chose to receive.

Whose hero will we be?

Whom will we follow?

To Nullify or to Rectify

To nullify or rectify, that is the question.

Sometimes, we are faced with the choice to swallow our fears and face our purpose and march on resiliently. Other times, we are faced with the temptation to embrace those fears, learn from them, process them and grow through them. Because, “after all they’re a feeling, and feelings are real,” aren’t they?

We are faced with the choice to nullify our fears in order to grasp our future purpose or nullify our future purpose by embracing our fears when those fears are all too overwhelming, all-consuming, and debilitating. Which should it be?

If this is your only crossroad of decision, then, you’re not asking me for a real change, but rather a shallow answer that you can simply follow for the moment and move on. No, if you truly want difference in your life when face with a deep rooted fear that threatens to take over, you’ll realize there’s another option than just nullifying the fear or embracing your purpose.

One definition of rectify is “to make a substance pure.” (Cambridge) I love this description, because it perfectly describes what must be done if you want to get rid of a confining fear that threatens your very hope of purpose and livelihood. Scripture tells us, “Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18) It’s not that you have to push out the fear, deny the fear, ignore the fear or even pretend it isn’t real. You just have to love something greater than the fear!

In other words, i may be scared of being shot; however, if someone breaks into my home and threatens my babies, you better believe I’ll do everything within my power to protect those boys…even if it means stepping in the way of that bullet being fired. It’s not that my love for them is “perfect,” but my love for them is perfected in my desire to keep them safe, and my fear of that gunman is cast out because of my love for them.

You may be scared to death for the things you need to accomplish, the decisions you may have to make, the person you must confront or the new endeavors you have to face, but if your “love” is greater for the purpose you have, the hope that is coming or the God whom you serve, this love will cast out any and all fears you may have! You must carry within you a desire for something greater than that fear. You must hold within your soul a resolution of the hope for a better tomorrow, a purpose in the future, and this will rectify those fears of today!

Being truthful about your fears never nullifies your purpose. Recognition is the first step toward healing and personal victory! Once you recognize the hindrance, that hindrance can be moved. Once you recognize the roadblock, you can devise a strategy to get around it, over it or through it. Once you recognize a fear, you can rectify the problem and work to conquer it!

It is only when you recognize, embrace and refuse to take action against a given fear that you begin losing ground and take steps away from your future hope.

Your future purpose doesn’t not nullify your fears for today; however, if you dwell in them, those fears can nullify your future purpose!

So, face that giant today! Fully embrace and love your purpose more than that wimpy, gimpy fear. Realize it IS conquerable, and charge it! Nullify those fears by rectifying your purpose!

Sometimes, My Heart Just Grieves

I’ve had several conversations over the past few week with friends who are going through incredibly tough seasons of life, and, as I think back through them all, my heart just feels heavy tonight. Many days, these conversations cause me to seek good, practical advice, Godly wisdom and a lot of scripture to encourage, admonish and uplift their weary hearts. Often, these stories told cause my spirit to rise up in righteous indignation over injustices done. I encourage them to fight, to never give up, to seek God, as well as, to seek their personal well being at all cost.

Yet, sometimes, like this evening, my heart just grieves over their losses and their pain. I wish I had a magical wand that could, somehow, make all the heartache, fear, doubt and turmoil just disappear. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

If you’ve not experienced sorrow yet in your life, well, just keep on living, because it will come. If I can give you a piece of advice, both for those going through the trial and for those who are listening to the story, find someone to lean on. Don’t ever try to carry your burdens (or theirs) alone. You aren’t meant to.

Especially, for those of us who call ourselves a Christian. God never set up the Body of Christ for you to walk through this life experiencing all the brokenness it can bring and travel that painful journey alone. Find yourself a good church family, a wise pastor, spiritual leaders, and pour your heart out. Let them pray for you. Allow someone to come alongside you and help carry those burdens!

If you’re the one always walking alongside helping to carry the weight, you’ve got to learn to lean as well. You can’t always lean on those hurting, because they may not be ready to help carry you; however, you can find someone stronger than you to lend a helping hand. You’re not Superman! (Sorry to bust your bubble!)

Learn to lean. It’ll help you stand stronger.

Learn to release tears. They will wash your soul and help you to breathe deeper.

Learn to grieve. It’ll help your heart be real.

Learn to take a hand. It’ll help you to walk steady on that road to eternity.

Video is not mine. Simple YouTube search.

Video is not mine. Simple YouTube search.

Listen to both and be encouraged today. 💗

Fight. Win. Share Your Story.

I found this pictured quote posted the other day, and it seems I’ve shared it a gazillion times this week. It’s such a simple statement; yet, it seems so profound. Everyone of us, whether you’d like to admit it or not, has someone within reach who has walked the new and painful paths we must face throughout life, often times, that person is even within your orbit of living.

Whether it be sickness, terminal illness, relationship heartbreak, job loss, death of a loved one, divorce, tragedy, or whatever, there is someone out there who can relate. Especially now, with as much access we all have in cyberspace, the ability to reach out to someone who at the very least has a slight understanding, is exponential. There are resources upon resources to find knowledge, personal experience testimonies and short groups for any every dilemma one might face.

In many ways, it seems to be easier now than any other time in history to overcome what dilemmas and trials might come. Yet, our suicide and trauma rates seem to be higher than any other time in history. I have a theory to this, and please forgive me, I’m not an expert, and I’m definitely not trying to trivialize any pain or conflict you may have experienced in a particular scenario. However, I do hope this theory will resonate: more often than not, we hav become a society that focuses too much on “me and mine,” rather than, realizing there is a whole new generation coming behind us who need the wisdom, the testimonies, the experience and the legacy of both failures and achievements that we can give.

Understand, I am not stating this from of “high and mighty judgment,” never realizing the pain of depression, sorrow or suicidal thoughts or tendencies. I have been to low points in my life that I’d rather not share in this current post. I have

If it had not been for the grace of God, the prayers of those who knew and loved me, and the self-fortitude and remembrance in my own heart and mind of my higher calling and purpose, I assure you, I wouldn’t be writing this today, and you could be visiting me in the cemetery on a sunny day.

I can attest to the truth of this quote. You come through those hellish nights, and you persevere through those grueling, sun-scorched days of pain in order to help someone else along the way. Or at least, you should, because it is through your testimony of grace and endurance that someone else can find their strength to hope for a brighter tomorrow.

So, push on, broken one. Hum until you sing again. Struggle until you find your fight. Strive until you thrive. For there is some lost soul searching in the dark for just one clear footstep to help lead them out beyond the storm.

Perspective Can Make or Break You

I saw this the other day, and I thought, “Yep. Isn’t that the dang truth?” If ever forget where you came from OR you lose sight of where you are going, it’s no better than if you drop your compass in the middle of a rain forest and wonder why you can’t find your way back home.

If I ever forget where I came from, then, my perspective becomes skewed either out of arrogance or out of self-abasement. If arrogance, I begin to somehow believe I am better than I am. I trust in my own wisdom, and I rely on myself for everything I need, forgetting that the achievements and victories I’ve achieved have not only come by my own strength and resilience, but also, by every friend, family, and sometimes even total strangers, who encouraged and cheered me on along the way. If self-abasement is the angle, it is the same road of sorrow and self-focus, only it has more hidden objectives and behaviors. It’s still an arrogant approach, because self-abasement comes from a place of self-loathing to the point you cannot receive wisdom, strength or even encouragement from anyone, and you live your life in a perpetual rejection of and rebellion against any ounce of truth.

If I lose sight of where I am going, then, my perspective for the future is skewed, because I have no focus, no direction and no purpose for days ahead. Ultimately, I die in the embalming of my yesterdays, because I have no hope for my tomorrows.

Our past molds and shapes us for our present being, and our future gives us hope for which to grow and reach beyond our today…

Homemade Happiness

I have this in the center of my kitchen table. Our kitchen is kind of the “hub” of the house. This table sees a lot of activity throughout the week. This table gets family meals, single-man breakfasts (when my son is headed to work at the crack of dawn and no one else wants to get up), late night homework binges, random board game ambitions and Sunday afternoon chillin’-on-FB-and-WP time.

I found this trivet, as they call it, and I knew I needed to sit it in this spot as a constant reminder to myself, our boys, and anyone who enters our home, of its vital truth. Too often, in today’s society, especially in the realms of media, we hear so much of what will bring happiness, what will bring fulfillment, what will bring an inner peace to one and all. Some claim more money, materialistic endeavors, fame, fortune, popularity, and even more political based ideas and agendas, will bring you all the happiness you need.

Yet, I wish I could scream this phrase from the rooftops and write it in the sky for the world to see. Happiness IS homemade. Happiness is found within rather than “without.” In all actuality, happiness is never truly found…

You see happiness is simply a feeling that will come and go with the trials of life. It is an emotion that will rise with the next success story and plummet to the depths in the next failure. Happiness does not last longer than the event with which it enters.

Oh, but JOY does! Joy is that homemade “happiness” that doesn’t just rise on occasion or fall with common mistakes. Joy is birthed within one’s very soul, and it can sustain the midnight hour of grief, sorrow and pain.

So many mistake happiness for joy, because it brings a smile to your face and a spring in your step. Others replace joy with the temporary seduction of happiness, because a greedy heart is satisfied or a fearful mind is momentarily calmed. Yet, this kind of happiness dwindles when the storms of life roll back in with the tide of broken hearts. This kind of happiness dissipates as the rocky road of despair and doubt settle in for the long haul.

No, joy comes from a deeper source. Joy is a state of being that, often times, can’t be described in mere words, but rather, it must be experienced. Joy like this is only found in the One who gives life, the One who brings all things good, the One who knows every intricate part of you and me and who has unfathomable, unforgettable plans for each of us.

Yeah, He is the only One who can give you this kind of JOY. He is the only One who can give it, because He IS that joy, and that joy is Hope in Him!

Is Happiness Relevant?

There is a cultural push in today’s world to “do what makes you happy,” “do what makes you feel good.” Honestly, these phrases and this mentality boggles my mind and even infuriates me. This type of mindset can even be dangerous and detrimental to any and all it impacts.

Go ahead. Get annoyed with my approach. Get frustrated. Get angry with my words if you’d like. However, before you turn away, click the back arrow and decide to never again visit this blog, finish out this post. Read till the end and then decide…

Struggle doesn’t feel good, but it brings the ability to persevere. Conditioning doesn’t feel comfortable, but it brings a strength and durability that wouldn’t exist without it. Conflict isn’t something that brings enjoyment and “all the feels,” but it brings more wisdom and experience than the avoidance of conflict ever could.

When I struggled to teach my sons to bathe themselves, dress themselves and wipe their own backsides, it wasn’t always sunshine and roses, but as I persevered, they learned how to be little men. When I conditioned my mind to not dwell on the thoughts of my father’s abandonment in my childhood or on other broken relationships that have wounded and scarred my life, it was never comfy, but in my consistency, I have learned to stand strong. I have learned to be stable on my own, forgive the craziness and pain of the past, and become a durable, strong and reliable woman. When I have had conflicts throughout my years, never once did I look at those conflicts with giddiness or excitement, but every single trial has brought me closer to my God, deeper into wisdom and has instilled more insight, more perception and more maturity than any truce and moment of surrender could ever bring forth.

Living for every “happy” moment not only causes us less growth, but it causes us to miss out on so much richness that is freely available for our character and soul. Seeking only the thrill moments and avoiding every difficult moment, causes us to be selfish, self-consumed and altogether blind to anyone else in our life.

Living for only what “makes me happy” causes us to seek personal pleasures, eventually, at the expense of everyone we love and care about. This only leaves us lonely, desolate and desperate. Addicts, divorcees and abandoned children can all attest to this truth.

So, I choose to grow. I choose to mature. I choose to be strong, resilient and dependable. I choose to dig deep and persevered through the storms of life. I choose to choose life not the fantasy or the fairytale.

And because I serve God, and I love Him, I choose to glorify Him in all I do rather than allowing the winds of cultural “happiness” seduce me to believe that “doing what makes me happy” will actually bring me happiness and “all the feels.”

Learn to Dance

I saw this pic the other day, and please forgive me, it hit me all wrong. Yes, I do understand the concept. I do understand that everyone wants to not feel broken. I do understand that being happy and free feels so much better than being heartsick and broken beyond repair. I get it.

I’ve had my share of brokenness. I’ve had my share of broken dreams, broken promises, broken images, and broken foundations in my life. I’ve had more than my share of tears shed through the years. I’ve experienced more than some and not as much as others. Brokenness is not comfortable, enjoyable, or even a bearable element of my soul.

But I cannot embrace the cultural trend that forgetting from where I came makes me more joyous, more loose, more free to live. I refuse to welcome the notion that to obliterate my past makes me a better, more balanced, human being. I will not accept the propaganda that tells me “a forgotten past brings a brighter tomorrow.” (*chosen words before seeing similar quote online. No correlation or reflection. Unaware of that author, quote or beliefs.)

When someone is hiking up a mountain, forgetting from whence you came will only cause you to lose your way back down the trail. When someone goes on a long extended trip, obliterating the road map will only cause you to never return to home.

When someone tries to erase history, history is never truly erased. What has been has been, and there is no way to live as if it never existed. That is just pretending, and pretending just makes you as a child.

Being a child is wonderful while you are of a physically young age, but once you have crossed the threshold of maturity, that immaturity only makes you look like an ignorant fool. (…and yes, those can mean two very different things.) So then, you have to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself the hard questions…

How old am I? How old should I be acting? Will I live my life in immaturity, ignorance and foolishness, or will I live in maturity, knowledge and wisdom? The choice is truly yours.

I choose to walk in integrity, maturity, wisdom and truth. I choose to embrace my past, my pain and my brokenness, even the shattered pieces that may always carry a shards of irreparable moments. I will carry on, even if I walk with a limp, and even if my scars are evident for all to see.

I choose to be full of joy. I choose to have peace. I choose to love and be loved. I choose to have life and give life.

Is it hard? Heck, yeah! Is it uncomfortable? Always. Telling you that’s it’s not would be returning to those childhood days of pretend and make believe. Life is so much better than the fairytales. Not because it never rains and not because there is no pain, but rather, because through the rain, I learn to dance, through the pain, I learn to sing.

And this song and dance is better than any mythical enchantment I could ever dream. This song and dance gives birth to a beautiful melody called life created by an unimaginable symphony of experiences and awakenings. Without these notes on the pages of my soul, I could never leave the legacy of song for my children, my friends, my family, for one who is ready whom I may never know.

So, I will choose to dance even when it’s raining and even though the storm brews darker. I will dance and sing, and sing some more, to bring a little memory of sunshine through the pain; so, the legacy will live ever more brightly for my children and those who are to come.

**Listen to this.

*I do not own nor possess this song, video or photos. These are all from simple Google search.