Queen or Slave?

How are you feeling today?

Do you live like a queen or a slave?

A queen has rights, responsibilities and rightful ownerships.

A slave has excuses, exemptions and evictions.

A queen has power, personality and principles.

A slave has pity, problems and polysemy.

A queen makes choices, has character and a conscience.

A slave has disdain, degradation and disrespect.

A queen is never a victim, but rather a product of the chosen one she has become.

A slave is always a victim, never realizing her justification for hate and sin destroys her potential, her dreams, and her future.

Fight to win the victory.

Stand with royalty and honor.

Walk in the queenship you’ve been given.

1 Peter 2:9. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

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Character: Measure Up

Character is not dependent upon how much money you have, how many friends you have or even your upbringing or your ethnic background. I’ve heard it said, “Money doesn’t change you; it only makes you more of what you already are.”

Character is solely dependent upon the choices you make. Character is shaped by the thoughts you think, the decisions you make and the things you allow to penetrate your soul. You can choose to be a person of character, or you can choose to be a victim to every circumstance and crisis that arise, even those that don’t even truly effect you.

I have seen the poorest of souls carry themselves with the highest level of character known to mankind, and I’ve seen the richest of rich carry themselves with the absolute lowest of character, never to be desired. Character is truly how you live when you have nothing, and how you react when you have everything.

The choice is yours.

When looking for quotes about character, I came across this “Six Pillars of Character” chart. I looked at each point of this list and thought, if everyone on this planet simply lived by this list of character traits, what an amazing world we would live in. What an incredible world we would be leaving for or children…

One common denominator ties together all of these assets of character: Faith. I’m not talking about religion. I’m not talking about a spiritual belief. I’m not even talking about one god or another. Just F. A. I. T. H.

Faith in a higher power than self. Faith in a greater cause than ourselves. Faith in goodwill, joy, peace, strength and freedom. Faith in a better world for the next generation.

Do I rest my faith in a “higher power?” Yes. Do I believe there is a greater cause than myself? Yes. Do I believe you can have joy, peace, strength and freedom without taking it from someone else just to obtain it? Yes. Do I believe there can be a better hope for this next generation than the mess we are presently managing for them? Yes.

What we do today in our actions, our words and our lifestyles will either confirm or destroy the character we claim to possess.

For He Is Your Cause

I see you standing there as you patiently wait for the end of his game.

You have things to do, responsibilities to fulfill; yet, you wait to show you care.

You and he are alone in this world, but you fight to make it a good one for him to grow, to succeed.

You have no promise of another to join you in this cause, but that is no matter.

For he is your cause and your reason for this time.

I see you crying in the shadows as you receive another blow that knocks you to your knees.

You never scream. You never retaliate. You simply take what life might give. You make it the best you can, and you smile…for him.

The love from those who birthed you strengthens your resolve, but this fight is yours alone to consume.

You win it for him, to impress upon his memory the reward of dedication, faith, and love.

For he is your cause and your reason for this time.

I see you resting there in the Father’s arms as you gain purpose for the journey.

You will soon soar with the eagles as he begins to find his wings and fly.

You will soon, once again, charge the enemy and slay the dragons for the victory of your own dreams.

Yet, for now, you patiently wait as his game grows momentum, knowing one day, it will come to a close.

For He is your cause and your reason for this time.

Penned MG 6/4/16

*I wrote this for a friend a few years ago when she was going through a difficult divorce. She became a hero in my book, as I watched her deal with her own pain privately as she fought and clawed for the protection of her child and for the protection of her own sanity through the storm, all the while holding steadfast to the only anchor that holds: Jesus. ❤️

No matter what storm of life you may be walking through, He is the anchor that holds. He is the refuge and solace for your soul. He will walk with you through the fire, and He will hold your hand through the deepest, darkest of nights.

The Struggle is Real

Somedays, the confidence in who I have become is almost mesmerizing…to myself. Other days, the struggle is real…so very real. Does anyone else go through this?

Often, I wonder if anyone else actually goes through the struggles of purpose, pertinence, and passion. I walk through life with a limp and wonder if I’m just simply destined to embrace these struggles for eternity, never really getting beyond them, just settling for a toleration, a sort of cease-fire, until the moment of intimidation or fear of rejection creeps back into view. I watch as many of my friends seem to have it all together, or at the least, are so comfortable in their own skin, in their own calling and in their own life choices that they don’t seem to battle the same mind games and moments of hesitation.

Then, I see from whence I’ve come, and I see those who have gone before who are still struggling for this place of significance and value. I see those who have won the battles and those who are still wallowing in their demise. This is the moment my determination and fight, and solidarity with Scripture, comes into clear focus. I realize in this moment, there is no turning back. Retreat is not an option. Failure can not be part of the equation.

Philippians 3:14, “I press toward the goal for this the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

The struggles we face aren’t only given to us for our own learning, our own character-building and our personal faith-strengthening. The victories on the other side of those struggles are not only for us and our own celebrations. These are to be a witness to those coming behind us. These are to become testimonies which help someone else to achieve more than we ever imagined. These are to stand as pillars, mile markers and ancient boundary stones to mark the way for those coming behind, to help them find their way through similar struggles, and to enable them to achieve more victories than we ever thought possible!

So resist that urge to quit! Keep up the struggle for as long as it takes, and win that fight toward your destiny! Clear the path, and strategically change those battle lines to victory, and set those boundaries in place that scream to the world you have won! So then, all who encounter these will know, “There is hope! You can fight and win, too!”

Comfy Cozy

Comfort zones are so… well, comfortable. They’re nice and cozy. They’re places of no discomfort, no pain, no adjustment, no change. They are places where it’s easy to do what you do, and you have no fear of failure, intimidation or rejection. Comfort zones are where you can set your course “steady as she goes” and not worry about a thing.

Comfort zones can also become the place of stagnation and mediocrity. If you remain in your comfort zone long enough, you’ll never grow, you’ll never be challenged, you’ll never have to face the fact that you could be wrong in your methods, your words or even your mindset and how you approach life. When you choose to stay here for decades upon decades, you can even begin to regress.

The huge oak trees never become massive shelters in the forest without the acorn moving beyond the comfort of the warm soil. The flower never becomes a beautiful rose or a lovely tulip that comforts at the graveside without the moving and sprouting beyond the tiny seed that once was. A child never develops a skill that can affect the world until he goes through the needed the process of learning, development, and training that causes him to step beyond where he began the process. Growth simply doesn’t happen without change.

Even so, you and I never become mighty men and women of strength, character and grace without those uncomfortable moments that draw us out from the shadows and force us to adjust to the new, the uncomfortable, and yes, the changes that come.

If we constantly refuse to adjust, we will constantly stunt our growth. If we constantly stunt our growth, then we may remain in that comfort zone, but we will have nothing to show for it at the end of our days. Once something (or someone) grows comfortable, unyielding, unmovable, and stagnant, what purpose and what value does it really hold at the end of life?

How comfy are you??

Trapped Again!

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Gal. 5:1

This Scripture came up today in my Youverse app, and even though, I’ve read it many times before, it seemed to settle in a little deeper this time. Have you ever had that happen? You’re re-reading a scripture that you’ve read for years, but that next time, it’s like reading it for the very first time all over again, because God seems to speak to your heart in that very moment.

That’s how it was today. I’ve been doing this bible study on the power of our words, and it has really been strengthening my faith, challenging my flesh and transforming my words. This past week, we were studying the lesson on gentle words and memorizing the Scripture in Provers 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” …You would know, the one week when the stress loads of life are heavy on our boys and me, schedules are tight, tension is heightened, and words are short and snappy every day, that this is our memory verse and the lesson I’ve got to study and share with the class! …geez! Talk about feeling like a hypocrite! 😑

Regardless of the feelings, I kept studying, and God kept convicting my heart, reshaping my responses and working the repentance out of my mouth. By the day class time rolled around, I had made my mistakes and my confesssions and worked out a plan for us all to do things better this coming week. Amazing how, sometimes,  we have learn how to “adult better” alongside our children. 😉… I guess, if we were perfect, we’d be in heaven already; so, I’m all for the learning.

What struck me about this verse in Galatians is how, too often, we realize those sins of which we need to repent, we ask for forgiveness, and we think we’ve move beyond them; yet, somewhere along the way, we find ourselves trapped again by the very things that tripped us up in the beginning! How does that even happen?

Thinking over this, I was led to another well known scripture in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” The devil is always seeking to destroy us. His search for our weak spots, and his schemes to bring us down never stop! He is relentless in His strategy to take us out!

However, I believe, our daily struggle to crucify our flesh (or die to selfishness) and feed our spirit (or live more like Christ) isn’t always so relentless. We get distracted by the cares of this world. We become negligent in the studying of His Word and in the seeking of His face. We allow “the little foxes to spoil the vine,” so to speak, and the battle (for our freedom from sin) becomes lost as we stop being vigilant in our fight. We start lowering our shield of faith and raising our selfish ambitions and outlooks. We start laying down our sword of the spirit to rather pick up those things from which we have been freed, as we become more “me” focused and so much less “Christ” focused. Before too long, we find ourselves ensnared with the very things He freed us from years before.

This is not what Jesus plans for us! This is not what He desires. Let us fight this good fight of faith. Let us not return to those sins for which He died. Let us live freely in the freedom (from sin) He has given us, and let us finish this race well! … There is a generation, of both young people and young Christians, coming behind us. They need for us to remain free and to finish well. Then, we might be able to share our story with them on how it’s done and allow our legacy of faith to be passed on. Live free today!

Power of Our Words

The words we choose to use will bring life or death, and it is up to us to choose the right one. For the last few weeks, I’ve been doing a study on the power of our words, and today a friend shared an incredible video to illustrate this fact of power portrayed through the letters we string together to communicate with our world.

This video got me to thinking… What if you could actually see the impact of your words on a daily basis? What if, when you spoke, the skin of your child turned brighter and healthier or darker and less healthy, all depending upon the words spoken? What if the hair of our spouse became glossy, healthy and beautiful or dry, brittle and profusely damaged, all dependent upon the conversations we had with him or her? What if mold built up within our homes when we spoke ill words and fragrance was spewed when we spoke kindness? What an interesting orbit of living we might have.

I believe if the immediate impact of our communication was seen more easily, it might just alter our interaction with the world around us…

I watched this video this morning, and it led me to several others who performed the experiment. I will share it with you at the end of this post. It is amazing. Our words have so much power, and we must choose wisely to bring life and not death into the lives of those we love.

*Note: I did not create nor do I own or possess any part this video. This comes straight from YouTube.

Life Is So Short…Stop.

Friday, some good friends of ours lost two of their nephews in a tragic car accident. Today, another family will be saying goodbye to their father, grandfather and husband, whom they lost suddenly about a week ago, and yet, another family just laid to rest their family matriarch, yesterday, after her sudden illness in just the last few days. There are several more I could mention who are going through a season of grief or who are just on the verge of it. Sometimes, when it rains, it pours.

Life is so short. It slows down for no one. Stop. Inhale. Breathe. Make the Moments Last. Cherish those you love longer. Treasure those around you, even when you feel like they’ll be there forever. Don’t let those memories be lost, simply, because you haven’t the time to remember. Don’t brush away the tears, simply, because you don’t want them to see. Pause and ponder. Look up and wonder. Gaze into the eyes of a child, and remember what matters most.

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Sometimes, life can be a fierce reminder of what can be lost in an instant. We are never guaranteed tomorrow. We are never promised our next breath. This why it’s so important to savor the dimming light in a sunset, to treasure those last embers around the campfire. We never know what may be around the next bin or beyond the next horizon. How we handle “right now” may determine our regrets and our joys for tomorrow.

We can live our lives letting life happen, or we can choose to make life happen. We can roll on, allowing life to impact us in whatever fashion it comes, or we can choose to make an impact on the life around us. We can be a victim, or we can be the victor. What we do with the time we are given may very well become our anthem or our lament.

If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share with you what King Solomon said about this in Ecclesiastes 3…

“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,
    And a time to die;
A time to plant,
    And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
    And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
    And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
    And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
    And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
    And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
    And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
    And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
    And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
    And a time to speak;
A time to love,
    And a time to hate;
A time of war,
    And a time of peace.    

…(14) I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever.

From the wisest King who ever lived, we are given confirmation that time never stops; there are seasons for everything, and that whatever God does, that is what will last forever. So, I leave you with this question, ” What things or people do you hold so dear, and for whom are you living your life today?”

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Isolated for Purpose

Just thinking about this today, and thought I’d reshare… 

(Originally posted May 7, 2015)

Have you ever been in a crowd and felt so alone? Have you ever been surrounded by family and friends and, yet, still felt as if you’re isolated and no one cares? I have, and it’s not always a fun place to be! 

Sometimes, I’ve done it to myself. I’ve pulled back from relationships, rejected caring hands, or simply stepped away from the fun and festivities, all the while, feeling as if I didn’t  belong. Other times, a certain responsibility has hindered and caused me to feel isolated,  because sometimes, God will ask you to simply obey and follow His directive rather than allow you to “go play.” Then, there have been those times, where like Esther, He allows me to go through a season of isolation to teach me something and to prepare me for what He has planned ahead in my life.  

No matter the reason, no matter the season, I’m not sure I’ve ever found isolation to be an “exciting” or “thrilling” time; however, I’ve always come out on the other side a little wiser and more experienced, having a little more understanding and compassion for the world around me.  As I’ve grown older, I have learn to be patient in these moments and have actually begun to look forward to the end result, knowing that on the other side, I’ll be a better person for it. 

I’ve always emerged from the times of isolation with a deeper awareness of those around me, with a keener sense of confidence that I can make it through the next time and a more intense passion for where I am going. Those times of isolation, especially when they are appointed times to walk closer with God, have always caused me to have a deeper thirst for His presence and a deeper hunger for His grace. These moments have always caused me to realize more fully the Scripture, “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6,8) For it is in those times of isolation, we all find that He “sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24). 

When I read Scripture, I see the great heroes of the faith went through many times of isolation and loneliness. Abraham left his family to obey God and move to the land of Canaan. Later, he became the father of nations. Joseph spent years in isolation, while in prison, until he became the second in command to Pharoah. Daniel was isolated in his times of prayer and later in the lions’ den before being valued as a friend of the king. David spent years tending sheep in the pasturelands and then spent years running from Saul before he was crowned king. Esther spent 12 months in isolation while being prepared to meet the king. Paul was isolated in prison before preaching to noblemen and rulers. John was isolated on the Isle of Patmos while writing the Book of Revelation. All of these men and women were isolated, and each one of them did great works for God. They made an impact. They left a legacy. 

Loneliness, when given to God, can bring out the best in us. It can make us strong, more aware, more deliberate in our actions. Isolation, when guided by God, develops within a deeper walk with Him. It causes us to focus on Him. It causes us to hear Him, and it will cause us to have a greater impact for Him. 

So, I leave you with this… How deep is your walk? How far are you willing to go? Will you step into a season of isolation if He leads you there? Can you submit to loneliness in order to grow and be more effective? 

Will you go?

“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14b

Press on Through

(Sorry, these pics are only of the backs of the shirts to protect the camp name and location. 😉 )

This week, I was at Youth Camp with 400+ 3rd-5th graders. It was hot. It was loud and crazy, and I had to do tie-dye, outside, at 2:30 in the afternoon for 3 days! On Tuesday, I mixed up some yellow dye, and apparently, I had an allergic reaction to whatever I breathed in, because by the time we finished the craft session, I had totally lost my voice and felt like I’d been hit by a Mack truck.

By the end of the night Tuesday, I really felt awful, and this feeling kind of came and went the rest of the week, mostly coming. Yet, I just made a decision early Wednesday morning that this wasn’t about me, and how I didn’t feel good, how I’d really just like to stay in bed, or how hot it was outside, and how crazy, labor intensive this job was. I decided this was for the kids. Their little faces just beamed when they saw their tie dye shirts with the camp logo on them!

They were so excited to have a “real souvenir” that they made themselves, and even more than just their reaction to the shirts, their reactions in the altars each night. The way they hungered to worship God and to know Him more.

Then, I remembered the way JMan fell in love with the horses the day before; he stayed and rode ALL of them and wanted to ride them everyday for the rest of camp! Then, I thought of how JGrizz had been so responsible, working with the canteen team, as if he was already grown…These were the things that made me remember the reason I was there. They were the reason I decided to press on through, because they’re worth it. More importantly, HE is worth it, and their encounters with Him are worth it!

 

‘Cuz, sometimes in this Christian walk, that’s just how it’s going to be. The road is going to be wearisome. The future isn’t going to look so bright, and you’re just not going to feel like your younger, “conquer all self” in that moment. You’re gonna wanna just lay down and quit! You’re going to want to back up and question, “How in the world did I get myself into this mess? Why am I doing this? Is it even worth it?”

But can I tell you? It’s gonna be worth it!! God’s got great plans ahead for all of us! He’s got great plans for those coming behind us! We can’t quit now!! No matter what this world looks like. No matter what decisions are being made in Washington. No matter what friends and family members say against us.

This is a battle for the next generation. If we don’t reach them; if we quit now; who will? The enemy will. That’s who! These children are counting on us to win! They ate desperate for us to win!

So, your question now may be, “How?” How in the world can we win when we seem to be so out numbered, so overwhelmed, so discouraged? How can we possibly win when those who have even been on our side seem to be walking away? We look to Him! We look to the Author and Finisher of our faith. We look to our predecessors. Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” We look to Him, and we press on toward the mark, and we pray! 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us, “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” It says if MY people, not sinners, not government, not politicians, not foreigners, but if MY people will pray…

If we will spend more time pressing beyond our circumstance, beyond our petty arguments, beyond what we’re hearing in the news and in social media, and we’ll press into prayer and relationship with Almighty God, we can watch Him move mountains!! We will see Him transform lives, and then we will realize that it’s truly worth it!! 🙂