Jesse Walker Scars

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Have you ever had a childhood scar speak to you at dawn to expose a secret about a struggle you have today? On our bodies a forty year old scar would be barely noticeable, but those childhood scars on our hearts can affect us for as long as we let them. Today the scar of Jesse Walker, which had been buried in the recesses of my mind for years, woke me up in a spiritual sense, and gave me a new perspective for an old problem. When I was a child, my Jesse Walker doll had a place of pride in my room. She was a tall doll with red hair just like me, and my grandmother had even made a beautiful red velvet dress for her to wear during the holidays. As I entered my teens, I stopped playing with her, but she still occupied that place of pride in my room because she was special to me, so when I found out that my mother had given her to my younger cousin without even asking me, my heart broke. I may have been fourteen, but I wasn’t ready to part with Jesse Walker. In my heart I mourned the loss of Jesse Walker for years, and quite frankly, I was angry about it. My younger cousin probably didn’t even care about Jesse Walker at all, and I had lost so much after my parents filed for bankruptcy and lost our home. I guess in a way, Jesse Walker was the thing that represented all that loss. I know now that my mom was heartbroken herself, but at fourteen I couldn’t see anything from her perspective at all. All these years, I’ve had no idea how deep the scar of Jesse Walker is, but even as I put these words on paper, my eyes have filled with tears.

I woke up thinking about deep cleaning, and why my treehouse (my personal space, my home office), which was the first room I addressed on my deep cleaning journey, has been trashed again by things my daughter brought up here because she doesn’t want her room full of things she doesn’t use, but isn’t ready to send to the next person yet. The scar of Jesse Walker revealed the reason I’ve felt so strongly about allowing my children to keep things for as long as they want, and let go only when they are ready. I’ve never really helped my children learn to let go of things. Right now I’m not sure if this has been healthy for them. As a parent, I thought I was doing what was best for them because I didn’t want them to have a Jesse Walker scar of their own, but I digress… The problem for me, is that I have allowed their things to infiltrate my treehouse, the space where I pray and read and write and sew and collect my thoughts. So today, I have to take my space back, and as I do, I have to forgive my mother for giving Jesse Walker away, because I now know that because of my dad’s carelessness her world had been turned upside down too. I forgave my dad a long time ago, and I didn’t even realize I was holding things against my darling mother.

Right now I pray, Father give me fresh lenses from which I can see my mother and the events of my childhood that left me scared, as You heal my heart and give me beauty for ashes. I’m sorry that I’ve held onto hurt that happened so very long ago. Father forgive me, and mend all the scars between my mother and me, because I’m sure I’ve given her scars too. Let our friendship flourish, Father I pray in Jesus’ name, and I’m so thankful that You’ve opened my eyes to this scar I had forgotten about, and shown me the way to healing. I love You Lord; You are a good good Father.

Forgiveness is as much for the forgiver as it is for the forgivee. I’m excited to see how God will use this epiphany to do a great work in my relationships. If you’re reading this and you have unforgiveness that has been buried for years, ask God to give you a fresh perspective, new lenses from which to view the thing that left a scar on your heart. God honors our prayers for healing in relationships, and he makes all things new in the name of Jesus.

Count It ALL Joy

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations; knowing this , that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Koda and Joy

I’ve heard the phrase “count it all joy” for as long as I can remember, but I have surely never lived it. To be honest, I hadn’t even given much thought to what it meant. And if I’m being 100% honest, I didn’t even understand what joy meant in that capacity, and I’d be willing to bet that most people don’t really understand that kind of joy. That “praise Him in the storm” kind of joy sounds great until you are in the middle of a storm and you find yourself praying for God to remove the storm instead of finding peace in knowing that God is in control, and joy in knowing that when I am at my weakest, His power is made perfect. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you , for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. This is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. I for one can’t walk out a life that delights in weaknesses without inviting my Heavenly Father into every aspect of my life. Frustration, fear, disappointment, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, etc. are the result of trying to fight life’s battles in our own strength, and the opposite is true when we invite our Heavenly Father in to every situation in our lives. So lately, God has been showing me that things happen for a reason, and that I should ask Him what He is wanting to show me or teach me in the different situations that occur in my life. Recently, my cat, who’s name is Joy if you can believe that, somehow got her tail broken in multiple places, and the vet had to remove it at the base. All she has is a nub if you were wondering, and thankfully it is healing nicely, and she didn’t experience any the complications that could have happened. Anyway, it was just such an odd weird thing that happened, and I asked God what the lesson in this was. He revealed to me that the vet we took her to was thirsty for something more, and that I need to tell him that God loves him. Okay God, that’s gonna be awkward, but I can do that. When it was time to take Joy to get her stitches out, I was fully prepared to give this message to the vet, but one of the assistants came out and got her, and I was told to wait in the waiting room. While I was waiting, I was thinking I could just send him a card with the message from God on it, or I could just tell them I’d like to talk to him before I go. Thankfully, I didn’t even have to ask, the assistant called me back because the vet wanted to talk to me about how serious the situation was and how well she was doing all things considered. After we finished talking about Joy, I told him that I had asked God what the lesson is all this was, and that it turned out, it was not for me, but for the him. I told him exactly what God had told me, and he was genuinely happy to be reminded that God loves him, and he even allowed me to pray with him. It was a lovely experience, and I have not idea what the purpose of any of it was, but I’m every happy that God allowed me to be a prat of it. I have no idea how my beautiful kitty’s tail was broken, and I could have wasted my energy being angry and investigating something that I certainly couldn’t change, and I could have been upset about the money I had to spend getting her tail amputated, instead though, I invited my Heavenly Father into the situation, and He turned it into something beautiful. Joy doesn’t even seem to notice that her tail is missing, and it hasn’t changed her life in the least; however, my life is forever changed because God used Joy the cat to teach me how to take hold of the joy He has for me. Because of that, I’ve been very aware of God’s presence surrounding me at all times, and I’ve been looking at life differently. Rather than being irritated by the trials of life, I’ve been inviting God in to every situation. I’m even learning to take time to appreciate all of the beauty He has so carefully crafted in this world. In the midst of praise and worship Sunday, I found myself thanking God for all the trials in my life because He has used every one of them to mold me and shape me and bring me closer to Him. How can we not count it all joy when we have the revelation that God is always with us in all things. I don’t want to miss anything He has for me, and I never want to forget to invite Him into every situation in my life. Sometimes God’s voice is loud, but usually, it is a whisper that we must intentionally lean in to hear. My prayer is to remember to be grateful in all things, to rejoice in knowing that God is in control, and that I am His and He is mine, and that I keep my focus on Him so I don’t miss anything He has for me. I pray all things in the precocious and mighty name of Jesus. Amen

Power Stance

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Picture a day where you are cruising along with all your favorite tunes playing on the radio, and somehow catching all the greenlights. It’s a great day to be alive, and your energy and expectations are high, when out of nowhere BAM, you are sideswiped by someone else’s bad day. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could freeze time right here to evaluate the situation and collect your emotions so you could be intentional about your reaction. You have a decision to make, but unfortunately it’s a snap decision. What do you do? Do you do the easy thing, and just speed away leaving them to deal with whatever has caused their bad day on their own, or do you join them in their misery and let their negative energy overtake you, or do you offer them some of the peace you are currently enjoying? I hope you are thinking about choices, because if you’re thinking about choices, then you realize that while you can’t control anyone else’s attitude, negativity, unbelief, doubt, anxiety, depression etc., you can control how you react to it.

It’s fascinating that two people can be in the same exact place, surrounded by the same exact energy and people, but have two completely different experiences. Perception is key. I’ve learned that when I keep my focus on me and how people perceive me, or my perception of how people perceive me, then I get caught up in things that ultimately don’t even matter; however, when I keep my focus on the Father and give it all to him, I become fully aware that He is the preeminent one, the one who created everything, I am in His hands, He is holding me through the good times as well as the bad, and He is my hope and my reason. Werther I surrender control or not, God is on His throne, He is the preeminent one, and by holding onto the reigns so tight, I am actually putting myself in a power struggle with the creator of the universe. How silly, how ridiculously arrogant, how self destructive to think I am better equip to handle anything better than God. So perception of life’s events is based on where your focus is placed. Let go and let God; so simple, yet so hard.

STARFISH; THE POWER STANCE

Feet planted firmly, hands lifted high with palms open wide giving everything to God. Praise is our weapon, and there is surrender in an open stance that says, “It’s all yours God.” When you start your day, take your power stance and give your day to God. Ask Him to equip you with the grace you need to be salt and light in this world. Whenever you’re sideswiped by someone else’s bad day, ask God to open your eyes to see and your ears to hear the need in your brother or sisters life. We are all travelers on this earth, and have all sideswiped someone with our bad day. How much more wonderful would it be to offer encouragement, peace, and love to a hurting traveler, than to speed away, let them steal your peace, or even worse, kick them when they are down.

Whatever life throws at you, ask God to show you the lesson and the blessing. Give thanks to the Lord for what His is doing, whatever He is going to reveal through the situation, and whatever He is changing through the situation. God’s ways are bigger and He doesn’t do things in the way we think they should done. Thankfully, He sees the whole picture, and in the end, we always look back and realize how God turned things around and used them for our good. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 You can trust Him in ALL things. My prayer stance has become one of a starfish. Feet planted firmly, arms lifted, and fingers fully extended letting go of everything. Body language experts acknowledge that this stance is impowering, and fuels confidence if you are headed into a situation that requires confidence. Imagine how much more powerful this stance is when your hands and heart are open letting go and giving everything to God the Father.

With an attitude of surrender and gratitude, and a heart focused on the Father, You’ll be prepared for whatever life throws your way, and you won’t speed away from a fellow traveler who is in need of encouragement, Instead, you’ll be equip to offer them a hand, and specific encouragement with prompting from the Holy Spirit, and with full awareness that God is in the situation, you’ll be thankful that He allowed you to be His hands and feet. We all encounter situations that are not what we would have chosen, but with a heart full of gratitude, not only for the things our human eyes see as good, but also having faith that God is using even what we perceive as a bad situation for good, you will be the salt and light in this world so desperately needs. How can you be salt and light if you’re ruled by circumstances? It’s important to remember that God doesn’t always reveal His plans to us immediately. We don’t have to know what He is up to to be obedient, and to offer encouragement, peace, and love to others.

In church we sing about freedom. You are free, and you don’t have to be beat up by life. Take your power stance, standing starfish giving everything to God: your praise, your fear, your disappointment, your anger, your love, your hopes, your dreams, and even your relationships, because He can be trusted with all of it. By doing this, you won’t be angry when you’re sideswiped by someone’s bad day, You’ll be better equip to be an encouragement to fellow travelers. This world is hurting and dying, and so very thirsty. Be a wellspring of God’s love; stand starfish and let Him fill you with more of Him.

Take a minute to think about what you are holding onto so tightly; what you’ve been afraid to trust God with. Open your heart and open your hands and release it to Him. Trust Him to take care of it. Open your heart and open your hands to release praise to the one who does all things in love. Let faith rise up in you, and be an encouragement to others. Ask God to open your eyes to see the hurting and the lost, and rather than joining them in their misery, or speeding away, bring them into your peace so that they may see the love of God the Father.

Pray with me:

Father I’m sorry for all the times I sped away from people who were hurting and lost, I’m sorry for all the times I joined them in their misery, and I’m asking You to increase my faith, help me to remember that it’s not about me, it’s about bringing You to the lost and dying people who desperately need to experience Your love extended through the lives of Your church. I want to be salt and light Father. I want to be a balm to the wounded, and I want You to shine through me so bright that when I enter a room, the darkness has to flee. I love You Lord. Thank You for reminding me that it’s not about me or my feelings, it’s about You. Thank You for changing my heart and changing my life, and thank You for allowing me to be Your hands and feet in this world. I pray all things in Jesus name.

Amen

The Wood-Pile

BY ROBERT FROST

Out walking in the frozen swamp one gray day,
I paused and said, ‘I will turn back from here.
No, I will go on farther—and we shall see.’
The hard snow held me, save where now and then
One foot went through. The view was all in lines
Straight up and down of tall slim trees
Too much alike to mark or name a place by
So as to say for certain I was here
Or somewhere else: I was just far from home.
A small bird flew before me. He was careful
To put a tree between us when he lighted,
And say no word to tell me who he was
Who was so foolish as to think what he thought.
He thought that I was after him for a feather—
The white one in his tail; like one who takes
Everything said as personal to himself.
One flight out sideways would have undeceived him.
And then there was a pile of wood for which
I forgot him and let his little fear
Carry him off the way I might have gone,
Without so much as wishing him good-night.
He went behind it to make his last stand.
It was a cord of maple, cut and split
And piled—and measured, four by four by eight.
And not another like it could I see.
No runner tracks in this year’s snow looped near it.
And it was older sure than this year’s cutting,
Or even last year’s or the year’s before.
The wood was gray and the bark warping off it
And the pile somewhat sunken. Clematis
Had wound strings round and round it like a bundle.
What held it though on one side was a tree
Still growing, and on one a stake and prop,
These latter about to fall. I thought that only
Someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks
Could so forget his handiwork on which
He spent himself, the labor of his ax,
And leave it there far from a useful fireplace
To warm the frozen swamp as best it could
With the slow smokeless burning of decay.

I’m not sure if I’d be the speaker in this poem, off on a journey I’m not even sure is a good idea, or if I’d be the one who left the woodpile behind because I moved on and forgot about it. I mean life gets pretty hectic at times, and I am easily distracted from tasks. I don’t remember leaving a woodpile neatly stacked in the woods, but I can’t swear I didn’t. I’ve found that when I’m not intentional about life, things have a way of getting left unfinished, and the way I pile up clutter can be quite architectural; not in that it looks beautiful by design, but in that it seems structurally sound. Sometimes, however, there are structural issues and an impending avalanche is waiting for the first sign of stress on the delicate structure. Clutter is not only unattractive, I believe it can also be dangerous. Allowing things to pile up creates snares, or self-made traps. At times, I’m late because I can’t readily find the things I need in the midst of the clutter, and being late can cause all manner of stress. It’s a chain reaction, causing me to drive too fast putting myself and others in danger, or causing me to trip over things in my way causing personal harm, and making me feel bad about myself and my home.

What is your stumbling block? In this life, we all have time vampires that act as stumbling blocks. For me, the main one is the Internet. I can get lost on a rabbit trail for hours; it’s like the Land of the Lotus eaters, where time slips away unnoticed. I’m a former English teacher, turned librarian, so research seems justifiable in my work, but SQUIRREL… I’m off topic, and what should have been an hours worth of work turns into three because I followed a YouTube link I came across in my reading, and that caused me to either watch several more videos on the topic, or go off in search of information about something I tripped over in the video. Yes time management has been a struggle for most of my adult life. I’m fully aware of the list of things that need to be done, I just go off course and before I know it, I’ve wasted so much time, that I don’t have enough left to get to the things I’d planned for that day.

My prayer has been, “God help me keep my eyes on You.” I know I keep talking about focus, but for me focus is the biggest problem. Life itself is noisy, and it is so easy to get off task if I don’t set some parameters for my day. I used to think people who made lists were just silly, but God has shown me that because I’m so easily distracted, lists can serve as a daily goal sheet, and can give me the parameters I so desperately need. He is the change. I’ve started moving anything I didn’t finish today, to tomorrow’s list. I don’t make long lists that are overwhelming, I make a new list of things I can reasonably get done in the time I’ll have to do it, and if I get off track and some of it doesn’t get done, I’m bummed, but I forgive myself, and just add it to tomorrow’s list. I don’t make tomorrow’s list the day before. I can only focus on one day at a time. I make my list each morning after I’ve had my quiet time with the Lord, because I want to give my day to Him, and if He has things for me to do, I want to make sure I put those on the list, and I want to make sure I get to them on that day. The days I don’t take the time to make a list are far less productive than the days I make and follow a list.

The way I’ve started to conquer clutter is to focus in on one area at a time. I fully deep clean that area, throwing out anything that is not useful, and donating things I don’t use, but others could use. I’ve learned to let go of things I don’t need; I’ve not perfected this art yet, but I’m working on it. Once an area is fully cleaned, I focus on another area, but try to continue to maintain the areas I’ve already cleaned. This is the only way I’ve determined to keep the clutter under control, because my family and I actually live in our home. God has been showing me that cleaning my house and cleaning up my spiritual life can use the same process. In cleaning up my spiritual life, my thoughts, and my actions, I have to maintain the areas that God has gotten into the cracks and crevices of, and continue to allow Him access to deep cleaning all of me. The cleaning is a process, and once I’ve gotten an area of my life cleaned up, I can’t let the devil creep in and make a mess of it again. Just like house cleaning, spiritual cleaning is not a one and done; it is a continual battle with my flesh, and I have to be committed to continually being open to allowing God to work in me and through me. In this battle, I’ve learned that praise is a weapon. Music is powerful, and I listen to music that reminds me of who God is and of His promises; worship music has become a great weapon in my life. Perhaps the most powerful weapon God has show me is guarding my mind, which can be tricky because I’m exposed to so many people and opinions each day. So no thoughts about clutter would be complete without pondering the people in my life. Jesus commands us to love one another, but He does not command us to spend our time with just anyone who comes along. People can be a stumbling block, and sometimes it is wise to take the time to evaluate relationships. Those people who try to suck the fun out of everything with their perpetual negative monologue, those who plant seeds of corruption, and those who lie cheat and steel, do not have to be allowed into my friend circle. It’s certainly not kind or loving to dump people for making a mistake, none of us are perfect, but if a person always leaves me feeling irritated, angry, or tempted to do things I know are wrong, I need to pray for that person, and I need to ask God to help me evaluate that relationship. Psalm 1:1-2 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” The world is full of clutter and people who would love to see others fall. I know this is true because I’ve seen it too many times, and I know I must be diligent in my walk, and in my quiet time with God. I’ll close with Philippians 4:8-9 “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

Pray with me. Father I am so thankful for all the good in my life, and I pray that You will help me to keep an attitude of gratitude. I pray that You will keep my quiver full of weapons to fight off the plans the devil has for my life. I pray against every evil plan he has for me, and I pray that You will help me to meditate on every good thing that comes from You. I am open to You oh Lord, shake me and cleanse me, and give me strength and guidance to maintain my clean heart and right relationship with You. I love You Lord, and I am committed to following Jesus all the days of my life. I pray in the holy name of Jesus. Amen and amen.

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The anticipation of forever being joined together with the one your heart desire is purely sweet, and the bonds of love that joins two souls together till death do us part is utterly divine. Entering into marriage is not a commitment to be taken lightly, because what we are pledging is to be devoted to our betrothed for the rest of our life. The bride and groom promise to take each other in marriage to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto give their troth. In making sure I was on the right track with my thinking, I looked up a few words pertaining to wedding vows. First of all, I looked at the origin of the word wedding, and found that it’s Old English, and simply means, “to pledge oneself”. Then I looked at the phrase, I give thee my troth, and found that it simply is a pledge of loyalty and faithfulness. It’s no wonder the Lord uses marriage as an example of our relationship with Him. This is exactly what our relationship with God should look like; He has certainly shown His unconditional love and unyielding faithfulness toward His creation as He sent His only begotten Son, who knew no sin, to die for our sins so we may be reconciled Him. And the life of Jesus was the perfect example for us to follow in all things. Making the comparison, as a wife, I should always consider my husband’s thoughts, feelings, and opinions as I make decisions throughout my life; he should never be an after thought, he should be at the forefront of my mind. I know him, I know what will make him proud, what will strengthen our bond, and what will show him how important he is to me, and I also know what will disappoint him, hurt his feelings, embarrass him, or even make him angry. I am painfully human, and it took me a long time to understand that when I make decisions with him in mind, I am actually feathering my own nest, instead of destroying my own nest. One summer I was on vacation; I was relaxed and peaceful, and I began thinking about my husband and how much I loved him and appreciated him for all that he is and all that he does, and God interrupted my thoughts and said, “That is how I want you to feel about Me.” I understood Him immediately; I had always called on Him in my time of need, but never had I just sat in total peace thinking about how wonderful He is and appreciating all He has done for me. This simple moment changed my thought process forever. God was calling me to put Him first, to consider Him in all of my decision making, to appreciate Him, and to be cognizant of the things He does for me on a daily basis. Believe me, I’m well aware that this revelation was not for His benefit, but for mine. Just like considering my husband when making decisions makes me closer to him, considering my Heavenly Father, and keeping Him as the preeminent one in my life, makes my relationship with Him stronger. It sounds like a simple thing, but wrestling against our selfish flesh isn’t easy because it’s not like we can just walk away from our own flesh. If I love Him, if I am His bride, then I will follow the example Jesus set and spend time with the Lord, pray, and read and meditate on the scriptures. In John 14:2-3 Jesus said. ” In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were no so , I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

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Jesus is preparing a place for His bride, and while we are waiting, we should be busying ourselves like any bride to be with the work of inviting everyone we can to join us. “The harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few.” Matthew 9:37. Spread the word, tell everyone that Jesus is coming for His bride, and there is room at the table for everyone. Anticipating the return of Jesus is cause for celebration, especially in the continually decaying moral state of man, and the declining health of our planet. Even non believers have a sense that things cannot go on like this forever. Not everyone will accept the invitation, and we are not accountable for those who outright reject the invitation, but we are accountable for those we neglect to invite for one reason or another.

Pray this prayer with me. Father, Your love amazes me, and I’m so thankful that you never give up on me. My heart celebrates the knowledge that Jesus is preparing a place for His bride, and He will come back for us one day. Nobody knows the day or hour, and I pray that you will help me to be cognizant of the time. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear, and when I’m in the presence of someone to whom I’m supposed to extend and invitation of salvation. Father help me to keep you at the forefront of my mind, and make all of my decisions with you and your word as my guide, and give me strength, wisdom, energy, and enthusiasm for the work at hand. I love You Lord, and I pray in Jesus holy name.

Don’t be afraid to pray the prayer of salvation with others. There is no magic set of words; God knows our hearts, and He said, “whosoever believes”. The important parts of this prayer are believing Jesus is the Son of God, and accepting Him as your Lord and Savior.

I freaked my daughter out trying to take a picture of traffic, so she took this picture for me.

Have you ever shined your car all up before a road trip hoping to arrive at your destination in style, only to see it covered in road grime when you arrive at your destination. Road mist, dust, and even mud under the finder well from that storm you drove through along the way. Foot traffic in your home can be just as bad. You sweep and mop, then children, pets, family, and guest leave a whole new pile of debris that needs to be swept and mopped again. Cleaning is a never-ending job that left undone can get out of hand in a hurry. Left undone for too long, and the mess can become overwhelming, leaving you wondering where to even begin. When I’ve gotten overwhelmed with the traffic of life, I’ve found that the first thing to go was my focus, leaving me disorganized and scattered in my efforts. Rascal Flats sings, “Life is a highway”, but sometimes there is a traffic jam, or a detour sign, or wreckage and debris on the metaphorical highway of life, and these things can cause us to lose our focus and our sense of direction, so our soul needs a metaphorical GPS on our metaphorical highway.

  GGod – Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
PPrayer – I Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
sScripture – Psalm 119: 105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
One day I’ll learn how to create fancy images, but you get the idea.

Without this GPS, it is next to impossible to be all that God has called us to be. He has a plan for each of our lives, but the devil is looking for those who have taken their focus off God, who have forgotten to pray, and who have let dust collect on their Bible. Without God, we are vulnerable prey that the devil can easily distract with the traffic of life, and cause us to become overwhelmed, scattered, and blown around like leaves in a hurricane.

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Psalm 1:1–6 (ESV):

1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

I don’t want to get caught up in the traffic of life and be swept up in someone else’s agenda or wreckage, I want to be like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season. I asked God to create in me a clean heart, and the only way to keep it clean is to use my GPS: Keep my focus on God, pray in all things, and read the scriptures regularly. Pray this simple prayer:

Father, I know Your ways are good, and I praise You even in the storm. I need You every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day. Direct my path, keep my focus ever on You Lord, so that I can fulfill the destiny for which You have created me. You are my GPS, and I am so thankful that You love me, and call me Yours. I love You Lore, and I ask these things in Jesus name. Amen

Made To Shine

We were made to SHINE, to be a holy example of God’s love for mankind, but how can we shine and be that light in the world if the cracks and crevices of our heart are filled with hidden yuck. One thing that hurts my heart right now, is that so many people who need love, are being indoctrinated to believe that Christianity is a religion of hate, when that couldn’t be further from the truth. However, if that’s the way the world perceives us, then it’s time for us to do some deep cleaning of our inner most parts. Surface cleaning takes effort, but deep cleaning takes real commitment.

I have walked this earth for hmmm hmmm years, and on my journey, I’ve ended up with a lot of yuck getting into the cracks and crevices of my core being. The ideals of this world are hard to avoid, and everyone is ready to share their opinions with anyone who will listen. It’s really hard not to get the stink of the world on you when you are here in the midst of it, but God tells us in Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Sometimes, we get comfortable with our lives, and we embrace our hidden yuck because we deem the sins of others far worse than our own. I’ve found that when I’m comfortable thinking at least I’m not as bad as that one, God will let me step into a metaphorical steaming pile of poo and remind me that I’m not so high and mighty as I think, and to be honest, I love Him all the more for keeping me humble.

But I digress… The point I was getting to is about asking God to search our hearts for the hidden yuck, and get deep into the cracks and crevices so we can shine. This cleaning is not an act of your own hand, it is an act of surrender that says, “here I am Lord, (Psalm 51:10) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. This kind of deep cleaning can only be done if you surrender your hidden hate, pain, desires, idolatry, etc. etc.. Only when you are willing to lay it all at the foot of the cross, will God dig in deep and clean the cracks and crevices of your heart. Of course, He can change anyone in an instant just like He did with Paul on the Roman road, but he gave us free will, and He wants us to choose Him above all else. He wants to be our first choice every time. He created this world, set it in motion, breathed life into us, and gave us free will to choose Him, or to reject Him. I can’t even begin to imagine how His heart must break when we reject Him when He wants nothing more than to dry our tears and give us beauty for ashes.

If you are tired of running, tired of being a mess, tired of trying to be better using your own strength, then pray with me now.

Father, you are faithful and good, and your mercy endures forever. I love you Lord. Forgive me for my foolish pride, for holding onto (insert whatever your hidden yuck is here), I trust you Lord, and I surrender it all to you Lord. I lay it all at the foot of the cross, and ask you to create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me. Make me shine for You Lord. In Jesus precious name I pray, Amen.

Salvation is the most beautiful and perfect gift that has ever been given in the history of giving. For those of us who trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we know that salvation is just the beginning. We are still humans with the number one need of all humans, acceptance, and we have to learn how to let go of searching for approval and acceptance from man, and embrace only needing God’s approval and acceptance in our lives. Getting to this place is a process that rarely happens overnight. When He created us, God gave us free will, and He wants us to choose Him above all else, in every situation, every time, but in our own strength, we are weak and subject to seeking approval and acceptance from the people in our lives. This is the best argument for keeping our inner circle filled with those who share our love for Jesus. Even as I type this, I realize there are people in my life who’s ideology doesn’t line up the the Holy Word of God. The idea of choosing your own path, making your own way, charting your own destiny flies in the face of the Creator who lets us know in Jeremiah 29:11 , “I know the plans I have made for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

We are all looking for truth, and the truth begins and ends with God. If we pick and choose which parts of the Bible we want to believe and follow, we are serving self, trying to make God fit our agenda rather than conforming to His will. This my brothers and sisters is where the need for deep cleaning comes in for all Christians. In the words of the apostle John, He must increase, but I must decrease.

Get Up!

I failed miserably this week, and now God is using that failure to remind me to get up quickly when I fall. When we fall, the devil tries to weasel his way in and use it to make us feel like we are not good enough for God. The beautiful thing about God is that even as I was failing Him by interfering in something I said I was trusting Him for, He was reminding me that I am loved, I am worthy, I am enough, I have a purpose, and I am fearfully and wonderfully made. He loves His children so much that He disciplines us in love, and expresses His love for us at our lowest. You see, I felt defeated because I faltered when I thought I had set my resolve to stand firm in my faith. I put myself somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be, and went against what God had purposed in my heart to do. So today, He is reminding me to get up quickly.

This is not my quote, but I can’t find the book that I copied it from. I will give credit when I find the book.

Come On

Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on Pexels.com

I’ve never officially chosen a word of the year to start my new year, and I really thought I had my word for 2021 nailed down until just a few days ago. I had been reading the book of Psalms for a few weeks and every time the word lovingkindness would appear, it would just leap off the page and I would marvel at the fact that it is one word. The word is of course in reference to God’s lovingkindness, and I kept thinking how I wanted to make it my focus for the next year after the brutal political bloodshed of this past year. I envisioned myself being more loving and kind in the year to come, and that is always something I aspire to, but God had another word in mind for me. The lovingkindness I was dreaming of, that I’m so attracted to, is God’s lovingkindness, and let’s be honest, I can’t live up to that. I definitely aspire to be more loving and more kind; I don’t want to put any more toxic energy into the universe, however my focus word for this year will be “come on”. Not in the connotation of “are you freaking kidding me”, rather in the connotation of “let’s do this”. Come on, it’s yours for the taking. Come on, I’ve given you everything you need to be all that I’ve called you to be, so come on and let’s do this.

I don’t know what this new year holds, but one thing I’ve learned in 2020 is that I may not always be able to rejoice in the circumstances around me, but I can always rejoice in my Lord and Savior, the God of the universe, who created Heaven and Earth, and is with me in the light as well as in the darkness. I can rejoice in the knowledge that nothing can separate me from the love of God, and that I am NEVER alone. This journey may be difficult at times, but it is leading me to heavenly places where one day I will be clothed in white, and experience the fullness of God in the place He has prepared for me and ALL who believe in Jesus. So come on, come on, come on; let’s do this, let’s live in the fullness of His grace; let’s say yes and amen to everything God has for us. The future is unknown, but the love of God for you and for me is certain. Come on, Come On, COME ON!!! Come on… We have seen that the land is very good. Aren’t you going to do something? Don’t hesitate to go there and take it over… God has put into your hands, a land that lacks nothing whatever. Judges 18:9-10. Come on.

Pretty is as Pretty Does

If I heard it one time, I heard it a thousand. Through my whole childhood, my mama reminded me repeatedly that, “Pretty is as pretty does.” From a very young age she was teaching me that inner beauty if far more valuable than outer beauty. I Peter 3:3-4 illustrates this point exactly, “Whose adorning let it not be outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on on apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” Unfortunately, society is so focused on what’s on the outside, that even the most physically beautiful females feel as insecure as those of us who are not built like a swimsuit model. I wrote a poem a while back titled, “I Love This Body”, and in it I chronicled all of the amazing things my body has done. It was liberating to think of my body in a positive light, and to thank it for all of the amazing things it has accomplished, and I made up my mind then and there to stop hating on my own body. Now my journey has taken me to this place of internal cleansing, and getting rid of the hidden yuck as I’ve said.

I totally hijacked this balloon arch from a ladies conference at church.

What are the qualities that make a person beautiful on the inside? A person who is beautiful on the inside has love in their heart and shares that love with others, they have a joy inside that lifts others up, they have peace in their heart and make peace with others, they are longsuffering towards those who continually wrong them, they exhibit gentleness in their dealings with others, they always choose kindness, and they have these qualities because they have faith in God. These are the very qualities that Galatians 5:22 calls the fruits of the spirit. In my own power, I can’t consistently have any of those qualities. Today for example, I wanted to be mad at a lady who just didn’t show any kindness towards people who were trying to help her, but the Holy Spirit reminded me that I am forgiven, and I knew I couldn’t be angry with her. I had had a catching all the greenlights kind of day and this one person showed up at the end with her bad attitude; without the Holy Spirit’s prompting, I might have been irritated all evening and rehashing the incident with my people, but because I’m sensitive to the Holy Spirit, I was quickly able to recognize that I myself am forgiven, so why would I be mad over something so silly as a rude person. The journey of internal cleaning has caused me to be quicker at putting on the breaks when outside forces try to steal my joy. There are so many things that are beyond our control each day, and as Christians to keep our joy, we must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. We will be a much more powerful example of the love of Jesus if we remember to have love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, kindness, and faith. Lets set our resolve to be all that God has created us to be and remember 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Giving it to God

For the space I have, it seems like I have a lot of stuff. In fact, there is so much stuff that I don’t even know where to put it all. There is stuff behind stuff, and stuff on top of stuff, and it’s really quite overwhelming.

This book shelf in my “treehouse” is a prime example of the type of clutter I’ve let pile up. There are things on that shelf that I haven’t even looked at in years; things that honestly need to either be donated or thrown away. I think I even see a notebook from college (I graduated in 1997). The clutter up here is the very reason I don’t invite people into my treehouse very often. I love my treehouse and I’d love to sit and visit with friends up there, but this clutter is holding me back. Thankfully, deep cleaning is a work in progress and this bookshelf, and any other clutter in my home doesn’t have to stay like that; I just have to commit in my heart to take the time to do something about it, and make the room what I want it to be.

The same can be said about our relationships with God. When our hearts and minds are so full of clutter that we can’t even make room for Him, it’s time to commit in our hearts to do some deep internal cleansing. I pray and say, “I want more of You God”, but if I ‘m not willing to give Him my problems, to lay it all at His feet, if I’m still trying to work things out in my own strength, then my heart is just as cluttered as this messy bookshelf. In order to make room for God, we have to let go of our hidden yuck. Hidden yuck is simply the hidden things your are clinging to so tightly, like the hidden worry about your family or finances or health, whatever you are worrying about that consumes your thoughts and keeps you occupied; hidden insecurities that cripple you and prevent you from fulfilling your destiny because you listen to the wrong voices; hidden unforgiveness that you are holding onto because you are not ready to let go and move on from the pain; hidden sin in the form of that little something you do that you know God has convicted you about, but you just haven’t made yourself turn away from it yet. God wants you to trust Him with all of it so you can stop fighting battles, and just rest in His peace. Only then can you truly be open to hear God’s voice, and open to fulfilling your destiny.

This morning that bookshelf was a hot mess, but I committed in my heart that I would clean that one set of shelves today. I was tired when I came home, it has been a long week and I would have loved to have plopped down on the sofa and watch TV, but I remembered that I had committed in my heart to clean that set of shelves, so I drug myself upstairs and worked until it was done.

I threw some things away, I set some things aside to donate, and I sent the trophies and plaques that didn’t even belong to me out. My bookshelf was loaded down with things that didn’t even belong to me. This makes me wonder how much of my heart is loaded down with burdens that don’t belong to me. How many battles are you fighting because you aren’t willing to let go and trust God. When we give it to God, He fights our battles for us. I’m letting go of all the internal clutter; I’m giving it to God so He can fight my battles while I rest in His peace. Tomorrow I’m going to work on my treehouse some more, and God is going to help me continue with the process of deep cleaning me. What an exciting journey.

My Treehouse

This is my “treehouse”. Okay, it’s not really a treehouse, it’s a loft above our gameroom, but it’s my personal treehouse in that it offers an escape from the rest of the world. I come up here to write, to sew, to pray, to read, and sometimes just to sit in silence. I’m sharing a picture of my treehouse because it’s the perfect place to begin with hidden yuck.

This room is the only room up this flight of stairs; it’s tucked away and hidden, and I’m basically the only person who uses it. Anyone looking up this flight of stairs in passing sees what looks like a nice tidy room. Everything that can be seen from the bottom of the stairs looks clean and orderly, but anyone who walks up the stairs and into my treehouse need only to look to the right and to the back, to quickly spy some of the hidden yuck. I say some of the hidden yuck because there is hidden yuck behind the hidden yuck, things I’ve forgotten are even there. Because no one else uses this room, I don’t take much care in actually deep cleaning it.

Have you ever decided to deep clean and the more you cleaned, the more you realized how much hidden yuck there is? Behind every item there is dust and sometimes even a dead bug or two. Is it even worth the effort to deep clean? I mean who is ever going to see any deeper than what’s on the surface anyway? All that matters it that when people see your home is that it looks and smells clean; nobody is going to look in your closets or under your bed or behind your sofa right? The problem with just surface cleaning is that even if no one else is looking in those hidden places, you know there is hidden yuck and this hidden yuck affects how you feel about your place. When people come over, you say something like, “Please excuse the mess.” and they say, “What mess?” You know what mess and you fell self conscious about it, and in your mind, it devalues your place.

It’s the same with our person. We shower, comb our hair, brush our teeth, put on nice clothes, and maybe even some make up or perfume before we face the world. On the surface, we look fresh and clean, and when people see us they say, “Oh, you look so nice today.” Complements on our outward appearance are always nice, but if we have hidden yuck on the inside, that hidden yuck makes it difficult to see our own value.

Deep cleaning is hard, and it’s a never ending process, and if you don’t set your resolve, you may just give up and live with your mess, and never feel your true worth. Truly though, you are worth the effort, and I am worth the effort, so lets dive into the spiritual value of deep cleaning, of getting into the hidden places in our hearts and finding the hidden pain, the hidden lies we’ve believed, the hidden self doubt, the hidden sin, and any other hidden yuck that may be lurking deep inside making us feel we are not enough.