Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Red to White, Lord.

The richness of unjust rampage
viewed from a platform
constructed of self-righteous stones
appears crimson.

Take heart!
Within the muddled spectrum
Light abides
and ever changes the hue from certain death
to life.

Red to White.

Hearts are changed in this way.

Hate becomes love.

And the view changes.
____

I am struggling, Lord, to find any compassion in my heart for people who are unknown to me.  I feel they have opened fire upon what is mine.  What is Yours.  Stealing.  Maiming. Plundering and killing.  Lord, I feel every strike made at their hands elevates them to a platform from which they feel invincible.  And I find myself wrapped up in wanting the worst outcome for them.  Lord, I know I am not created for this mischief.  I know You did not design me to hold grudges.  I know You are unhappy when I judge.  Please help me.  Please help our community.  Please remind us, Lord, of Your supernatural ability to heal across all of our differences and allow tenderness to not be crusted over with the scars of evil events.  Help me, Father, as I desire to think, behave, and reach out in a way that is glorifying of You.  Father God, help me rise above this miry pit of pain and ugly feelings.  Lift us all up so that we may continue in this spiritual fight, knowing that Victory is already claimed – that YOU have overcome this world.  Give us strength.  Give me the ability to see through glasses that are tinted by Your light, and not my desires for justice.  You and You alone, Father, are able to take stuff like this and suit it up to bring a testimony that is Kingdom Building.  Ever remind me of Saul, Lord, and the testimony you gave him.  Let me remember this every time I want to write off the hands that pull the triggers, Lord.  Thank you for what You have promised and for Your truth.  Thank You for the hope we have in Jesus.  Crimson dotted with light, Lord!  Turn this place into your blinding spectrum of life!!

In Jesus’s name,

Amen

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…At Peace

MEMORY CHALLENGE:

AT PEACE
free from anxiety or distress / a state of friendliness / unruffled / undisturbed / harmonious / serene

Recall a time when you felt the most at peace, and invite Jesus to reflect with you. What do you remember? How did you feel then, as compared to how you feel now, re-visiting that time?

…Alone

MEMORY CHALLENGE:

ALONE
isolated / separated from others / exclusive of anyone and anything else / incomparable / unique

Recall a time when you felt the most alone, and invite Jesus to reflect with you. What do you remember? How did you feel then, as compared to how you feel now, re-visiting that time?

“When I felt most…”

During this season of Thanksgiving, join me for a time of reflection – “where we’ve been”.  As we explore our most personal memories, my prayer for you, and for me, is that The Lord will apply His balm, His humor (Yes!  I absolutely believe laughter is a good, good gift from Him.), and His view of all the times that come to mind as we ponder the most vivid emotions we have emblazoned in our hearts.  May God also reveal His presence with you during these reflections, and may you find thanksgiving in them.  What a celebration we will have together…We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!

The first challenge will be posted tomorrow!
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Love You, Mom

Recently, I found something that belonged to my mama. It was something I thought had been lost even before her death 20 months ago.  It was something very special to her, and because of that – especially because of that – it’s special to me.

This lead me to my Mama’s Box Of Stuff so I could place the item  where it belonged. When I opened the box to put the found item in, I noticed something I hadn’t seen before. It was a bright yellow Dollar General bag.  How did I miss this little bag about a year and a half ago when I was sorting mama’s things, ever so carefully and in great detail, searching for and extracting memories from each picture, doodled on scrap of paper, address book and to-do list I could find?  I opened the small bag to find a signed, un-delivered birthday card…..from mama to me.  From my mama, to me!

I guess I don’t have to tell you there was a dramatic pause. Time.Stood.Still as I read every word in the card and felt the separation between the here and there caressed ever so tenderly.

LOVE doesn’t die. LOVE lasts. LOVE transcends. LOVE lives. On. and On. and On.

Mama didn’t know when she bought and signed that card when exactly it would be delivered to me…but God’s timing is always perfect, and better than anything we could ever orchestrate.  As I celebrate birthday 48, I am most thankful for the gift of eternal life…Hope in Jesus Christ….and know that a Heavenly celebration is yet to come!

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And thank you, Lord, for the gift of my mama’s love.

Mom’s Tank Top

My mom has cancer.
Pancreatic.
It’s a ferocious intruder.

Our days, 50 since her confirmed diagnosis, have been mechanical.
We’ve tended to things.
Like setting up her bedroom.
Our home.
Getting a wheelchair. And walker.  And shower chair.
We’ve taken care of paper work.
Opened our home to visitors and guests.
Family and friends.
Hospice.
Picked up too many prescriptions.
And bags of ice from Sonic.
And worn out her craving for orange slushies.
We’ve dotted I’s and crossed T’s.
Days have come, and days have gone.
Numbered.
But task-filled.

Then there was today.

       Today was hard.

Momma, still very mechanical and checking off boxes,
Showed me the pajamas she wants to be buried in.
They are beautiful.
Colorful.
Flowery.
Momma asked me to buy a tank top to go with the pajama shirt.
That I can put on her, underneath the pajama shirt.
When it is time.
For her to be buried.

So I went to Belk.
With mom’s burial pajamas in tow.
I found two tank tops right away that matched nicely.
One green, the other, blue.
Then I spent the next hour and a half, just walking around the store.
Counting down the minutes.
Until it closed.
Letting my thoughts wander, and wonder, and prepare
For checking off this final box.
A final task.

This whole thing seems surreal.
I mean, my momma’s sick.
She’s not getting better.
And even though I know this, it still feels like
When I wake up one morning,
She’s going to be healed.
In the flesh.
And having a great day.
I know this is not likely to happen.
But I still feel like none of this is really happening.
Just 3 months ago, momma was dancing at her grandson’s wedding.
Just a week ago, she was shelling a bushel of butterbeans.
And today?
Well.
Today, I bought her a tank top.
I finished her ensemble.
And a final task box is now checked off.

       I cried the whole way home from the store.
       Crying out loud for one more good day.
       One more Sonic run, with momma riding shotgun.
       One more afternoon of her sitting at the kitchen table
       Watching me unload the grocery bags
       Like a parent watching their child open Christmas packages.
       Why can’t she have one more good day?
       So at 1:15pm, I can call from work and interrupt Days of our Lives.
       Or she can sit with me outside
       And marvel at the birds, flowers, heat.
       Just one more day!
       One more day of no pain.
       And no worry.
       And no cares.

She told me which shoes to pair with her burial pajamas.
She calls them her wedding shoes
Since she wore them to her oldest grandson’s wedding this spring.
And I thought
it very appropriate
For His bride to be wearing wedding shoes
As she enters the Kingdom
of her Groom.

A tanktop.
A surrender
To what is to come.

She chose the green one.
And just like that, the box was marked with a  check.

Fighting the Need to Feed

Today marks 1 week of being on a modified Daniel Plan type of new eating life-style.

And I want a frozen Totino’s pizza.

I’m not hungry!  I just had a full lunch of homemade chicken soup with gluten-free noodles and a gigantic plate of salad.  H-U-G-E.  Piled with fresh chopped veggies.
But it’s raining outside, which physically looks like the inside of me right now.
Cloudy.  Dreary.  Melancholy.
Really a bit sad.
And wanting comfort.

Normally, I would fix that with a steamy cup of coffee  (who doesn’t love to curl up on the couch with a book and a good cup of joe when it’s raining cats and dogs outside?), but I can’t have anything sugary or really cream-er-y, so I’m not gonna.  Not a fan of black coffee yet.  My next go-to quick fix, would be something like chips.  Or a Totino’s frozen pepperoni pizza.

Have you ever had those things?  A Totino’s.

Don’t be all posh and say “Ewww….no!”.  Those little processed discs of wheat and preservatives are quite delicious.  Especially if you bake them an extra minute or two so that the crust is extra crispy.  They have a good amount of tomato sauce on them, which is like a sweet, warm filling in a crispy, salty shell, covered with mozzarella cheese substitute.  That’s what the label calls it.  Substitute.

One of the things I’ve learned from the Daniel Plan book is a rule so simple, yet, so easy to follow when planning for meals and snacks that are healthier.  Look at the ingredient labels on products.  If the list has more than 5 ingredients, you probably shouldn’t eat it.  And all of the ingredients listed should be words you can pronounce.  For instance, when I buy canned tomatoes, a good ingredient label has tomatoes, water, salt.  That’s it!  There should be no added sugar, or sugar substitutes, and no preservatives.  Easy, right?

Here’s the label for a Totino’s frozen pizza:

totinos-pizza-ingredients-2

1.  too many ingredients

2.  added sugar

3.  wheat (gluten-filled) AND added gluten

4.  look at all those chemistry words!  (sufates, aluminum…)

As you can see, Totino’s doesn’t have a placecard at my Daniel Plan table.  Is it okay to mourn this broken relationship?

And here is the heart of the Daniel Plan.  Remember I said I feel like I need comfort food?  Why do I feel like that today?  I can excuse it away and say it’s because of the dreary weather outside, but come on — I promised transparency, right?

It’s been a very high-gear 2 and a half weeks in our home.  High activity.  High stress.  Things have been out of the normal, schedule-wise.  Yet today is the last day of Christmas vacation, and our house is quiet.  Settling.  We’re all a little bit tired in our house, and a little bit down about having to go to bed early so we can get up early for school / work / life.  We have house guests whom we miss.  We are having to tie up our carefree, frayed lose ends, tucking them in nice and neat for the new year’s first full week.  We’re sad we have to set our alarm clocks for 6am.

It has also been a few weeks of sickness and death.  Flu and pneumonia and bronchitis are running rampid between friends and families.  Several loved ones who’ve bravely battled terminal diseases – some for years, some for only weeks – have been healed and welcomed into their eternal home.  That’s hard.  Real hard.  What an emotional conflict that is.  Happy for those welcomed into Jesus’ arms – but here, mourning, remembering, longing, waiting…wanting to console hearts that grieve.

It is also a time marked with change.  Change is inevitable, you know.  Whoever said “the more things change, the more they stay the same” must have been running on excessive amounts of high fructose corn syrup.  The way I see it, when things change, they change.  That’s that.  It is what it is.  The very deffinition of change is that it is different, not the same.  I have a beautiful friend who is facing uncertainties soon.  The unknown.  Change will definately occur.  This doesn’t mean bad will happen.  Nor does it mean good.  Just change.  And for the week ahead, my heart is heavy for her.

Heavy.

Now, it makes no sense that any particular type nor amount of food would bring true comfort to any of the things that are weighing on my mind this evening.  Right?  I mean, that Totino’s would be tasty, but the euphoria of engulfing a whole pie folded in half (I always called those calzones – ha!) would not really bring any comfort.  But do you know what can?

Prayer.  Interaction with the Heavenly Father!  Jesus, my friend!  Is not He where true comfort comes from?

Friends out there on the other side of the computer screen – I thank you for your encouragement – and I want you to know that the primary focus of learning how to live healthier through the Daniel Plan is by incorporating prayer into this whole thing.  Prayer!  Jesus supplies everything we need.  Every.Single.Thing.

Need comfort?  Stop with the junkfood.  The comfort food.  Turn to Jesus.

Don’t you know He is not just on standby for the big things?  He wants to be a part of every thing.  Every. Single. Little. Thing.

So as I’m craving a Totino’s Pizza, it’s okay for me to cry out to Jesus, and tell him like it is!

“Jesus – this is hard!  Life it hard.  Father, please help me right now to fight the urge to indulge in food that is not good for me.  Help me to remember quickly that my body is a temple belonging to YOU.  Father, take away my cravings and everything in me that associates down feelings, or negative feelings, with needing the high of calorie-packed, nutrient-depleted foods.  Father, I need you.  I can’t do this on my own.  Lord, you know the things that weigh heavy on my heart right now, and I ask you to take away any worry and any sadness over things that are out of my control.  Father, YOU are the one in control, and I want to trust you and allow you to work through all of this for me.  Thank you for loving me and wanting what is best for me.  Father, I yield to you.  Thank you loving me no matter what.”

Totino’s Pizza need?

Gone.

Thank you, Jesus!

Picnic Basket Epiphany

It’s 5:45pm on a Monday.
Everyone and their brother is at Target.
Maybe their grandma, too.
Why?!
It’s pouring cats and dogs outside.
Can’t people find anything better to do than peruse the aisles of knock off candles, As-Seen-On-TV gadgets and turquoise jewelry?

Wait a minute.  I’m here, too.  Without my brother, might I add (’cause I don’t have one), but Nana is waiting in the car outside.

A quick trip to the pharmacy found me lolligagging through the grocery section whilst I waited on a prescription to be filled, seeking out a quick meal to fix for my family tonight.

Spaghetti sauce?  For just a dollar a jar?
Heck yes!  I’ll take two, thank you!

Sourdough bread?  Peperidge Farm?
I never buy that brand, ’cause it’s so pricey.
It’s a splurge, but I just saved a ton on the store brand sauce.
S
ure, put it in my buggy!

Now I need some of that sprinkle stinky cheese for the top of Ole’ Smokey.
Maybe the name brand kind will be on sale.
Now where is it at?

As I rounded the corner of aisle number 5, I saw it.  I SAW IT!  Not the cheese, but something more sparkly.  Sitting on the lower shelf in the cool housewares section that taunts the hamburger meats and pineapples across the way in the grocery department, was a picnic basket.  Staring back at me in all of it’s pink and yellow woven glory, it was a simple wooden basket, much like I would imagine made a trip through the woods to granny’s house. Only, this one was jazzed up in colorful summertime hues.  It begs passersby, “Take me home with you and I’ll afford you the luxury of a perfect weekend picnic.  It will be all rainbows and unicorns.  Buy me and see!”

I realized something in that split second of hearing the fruitless attempts of that basket to promise me something it cannot (probably) deliver.

Thank you, magazine ads and television commercials.  Thank you, sitcoms and soap operas and ooshy, gooshy romance novels.  And thank you, Little Bear and Little Red Riding Hood.  Because of all these things and more, the promises of the picnic basket are alluring, to say the least.   Based on sheer emotion of these recalled things alone, it’s almost guaranteed a sell to a sucker like…well, like me!  Who woudln’t love to have a Sunday afternoon picnic with Pa and Ma and the Ingles girls in Walnut Grove?

Here’s what I’m getting at.  I’m a marketer by training, having the B.B.A. from a local university stuck behind some dresser or file cabinet in my house to prove it.  The lure of certain items, of styles of decorating, of ways of behavior…often these things come from our longing for the greener grass over there some where we’re not.

If only I would buy that picnic basket – all my fincancial woes, my menopausal blues, my family stresses, my lack of free time, my frizzy hair – all of this would go away, and I’d have chicken salad croissant sandwiches on an ant-free, plaid blanket.  I’d be drinking  lemonade spritzers  from old-timey paper straws with barber-shop stripes of orange and blue, enjoying head-tossing laughter with my immaculately clad children and adoring husband on a perfect 77 degree, partly sunny afternoon on a grassy green knoll overlooking a babbling creek.  

Babbling?  Or is it bubbling?  Babbling, bubbling…..anyhow, you get the picture, don’t you?  Can’t you see it?

I think having this picnic basekt epiphany might just cure my magazine addiction.  Yeah, we’re all addicted to something, right?  Things that promise to take us away to the perfection we imagine.

If only I could afford to buy that $400 dress from _____________ [you fill in the blank – I’m no fashionista, and little more than Wal-Mart and Catos comes to mind for me – but go ahead, plug in whatever expensive, high-end dress shop you can think of there] I’d surely turn the head of my ex-spouse and make his new girlfriend jealous…

If I eat a cheeseburger, I’ll feel so much better.  I’m a stress eater, you know.

If I [drink or smoke or do some sort of illegal drug excessively], I will be more confident.

If I buy all of those home decorating magazines, and cooking magazines, and gardening magazines, I will magically be able to turn my home into a Southern Living home, make my family healthier with all the good foods I prepare, and have a yard I can relax in.

Oh my!  I could go on and on and on.  So many things seem to offer us a quick answer to what we feel is missing.

The dress?  Self-value or worth.

The cheeseburger?  Comfort.

Alcohol, smoking, drugs?  Self-confidence.  Maybe a need to be seen as “cool”.

Magazines?  Perfection.

And what about my picnic basekt?  The one I didn’t buy?  It promises me time without worry.  It sings me a lullaby of carefree moments spent without worry over bills, or my kids’ schedules, or the Middle East…

Here’s the thing.  That all sounds great, but the conjured up image I have of the picnic basket perfection fails to mention the ants.  And the bumble bees.  And the wind, which will surely turn up any and all corners of the blanket I spread out, which will probably in turn spill drinks and flip grass clippings up onto any food the ants haven’t already eaten.  The humidity will be high, causing the crossaints to be soggy.  The temperature will be high, setting the stage for quick spoiling of the mayonnaise-based chicken salad.

Yeah, I think I’m going to give up the magazines for a while, but I might just go purchase that picnic basket. Afterall, it’s a perfect reminder to stop longing for the perfection of what might be, and instead enjoying the perfect imperfection that is all around me.

Jesus tells us in John 16:33:  “I have told you these things, so that in Me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world!”

Perfection in everything earthly is just not possible.  For each of us, what we would consider perfection is different.  Take heart, my friends!  Stop seeking out perfection and trying to “fix” things with….well….with things!  Or with other people.  Jesus Christ has overcome the world, and everything here is temporary.  TEMPORARY!  That includes the bad feelings, the oppressive longings, the insecurities….all of that junk.  Take heart!  And buy a picnic basket if you need soemthing to remind you of the immaculate celebration that awaits us on a perfectly manicured, lush lawn of green in The Master’s garden.

I Was In Darkness…And Then I Saw You

Several years ago, I went through a divorce.  The circumstances surrounding my life then left me feeling betrayed, broken and unworthy.  I was hurting.  I was angry.  And I was afraid.  The whole ordeal introduced me to poisonous feelings I had never had before, including some very unhealthy disdain for my ex-husband and his new wife.  Disdain is a nice word.  I used that instead of hatred.  But that’s what I was feeling – raw, destructive hate.  Hate for people I credited for my wounds at the time.  For my broken family.  For my children who were now part of a single-parent household.  For the gossip and rumors.  For the fishbowl I was sure I now lived in.

Years passed.  Those negative feelings, though, really didn’t.  Instead of addressing them, I buried them under busyness and new relationships.  I avoided the two people whom I felt caused me pain at all costs.  Wanted nothing to do with them.  Neither one.

Then one day, almost ten years after my divorce, I became aware of the Holy Spirit nudging me.  I strongly felt that God wanted me to reach out to my ex-husband’s wife, the one for whom I still carried most of the ill-feelings.   The one for whom I had shifted all of the blame to after all of these years.  Absurd as it seemed to me, I ignored this feeling for as long as I could.  I can remember saying outloud in my car once, “You want me to do what?!”  Softly, and continually, an urgency seemed to grow.

I had joined a church close by, one that I spent a lot of time at when I was a child, and had been getting in on bible studies and attending services pretty regularly.  For the first time in my life, I had begun to read the Bible consisitenly, too, actually digging in to understand The Word.  Christ’s ministry on earth had come alive for me and though I had been baptized when I was 24 years old, about 6 years before my divorce, pieces I didn’t know were missing started to click into place as I grew in my understanding of what it means to be a daughter of Christ.  No doubt that this is the reason it had taken me 10 years to finally acknowledge the negative, damaging feelings I had been harboring.  I was being convicted.  I had been committing the same sin for all of these years, day in and day out, and the Holy Spirit was guiding me to do what was right.

You’d think that would be enough, wouldn’t you?  But it wasn’t.

I kept ignoring Him.  I kept arguing with Him.  Debating with Him.  I didn’t want to give in.  I didn’t want to face the very person whom I had hated for all of these years.  I thought I knew what was best.

So God gave me a vision.

It came to me in a dream, but unlike any I’ve had before or since.  I chose to believe it was a vision, because I was stubborn enough and so obstinate — well, it’s like the “big guns” had to be brought out so I could understand what was being asked of me, and why.

This is how it was presented to me:

It’s dark.
Pitch, so.
I can only see the outlines of figures.
It’s so dark and scarey.
I have a feeling the others all around me are not friendly.
They are talking aggressively, in a language I can’t understand.
We are alone.  
In a solitary place.
It’s small, reminding me of a deserted island;
except, there are so many others.
I cannot see trees, or sky.
I only see these agitated figures flailing around.
It’s growing louder.  Their voices.
I still can’t understand them.
Everything is colorless.  Dark.
But I am not dark.
I sense that I don’t yet belong to this darkness, but I am here anyway.

Why am I here?
Who are these people?
I become anxious.
Frustrated, because I can’t understand what’s around me.
The sound is so loud.
Almost like growling.
I feel an urgency to flee, but there’s no where to go.
Then in the rush of fear, I see two people through the crowd of bodies.
They are not dark figures either.
It is them!  
Hallelujah!
I know them!  I know them!
My heart leaps with joy!
I’m so excited over recognizing them.

And then I woke up.

The two people were my ex-husand and his wife.

I understood.  I finally understood.  No matter how much hate I felt for them, it wasn’t enough to keep me from being excited over seeing them in a place like hell.  Not because that’s where I wanted to see them, but because in the midst of all that despair, I was happy to recognize someone I knew.  That put it in loud perspective for me.

The next day, the Holy Spirit dialed my ex-husband’s wife, and before I could change my mind, I asked her out for coffee.

Forgiveness.

It is absolutely required of us, to be forgiven by the Savior.  I’m so thankful for the Holy Spirit.  I’m so thankful for a patient, loving Father.  He wants only what is best for us.  And He doesn’t want anyone to perish without knowing Him and having the chance to accept Him as Lord and Saviour.  I was headed down a very dark, dark path for ten years.  TEN YEARS.  Praise His holy name that I had an opportunity to forgive, and to ask for forgiveness.

Jesus paid a mighty big price for me.

Thank you, God.

He paid the same mighty price for you, too.

He’s waiting.  Patiently.  Is there a nudging you need to yeild to?  You won’t regret it!  The day I was obedient to what was being asked of me is one of the best of my life.  I followed through, and He was glorified because of it.  But the blessing was all mine.  Christ showered me with a joy I had never known before, but one I have known since.  I hope you’ll be obedient to what He is asking of you, too.

 

The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. (Galatians 5:17 NLT)

 

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV)

 

For if you forgive people their wrongdoing,  your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.  But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing. (Matthew 16:14-15)

Gettin’ Ready

Why is it that I need to…

  • Fix my hair before I go to the salon for a cut and style?
  • Mop and vacuum the floors before the cleaning service comes to my house?
  • Get “healthier” before I can go to the doctor for a check up?

Doesn’t make sense, does it?
        The stylist is going to fix my hair for me.
        The cleaning service is going to clean my house, including my floors.
        The doctor is going to help me with getting healthier.

I was just thinking about this on the way to work today.

What do I need to do to “get ready” for Jesus?  Anything?  Or am I ready now?

How about you?