It Is What It Is.

To be misunderstood is heartbreaking especially when on the inside you could not be more loving of the things you love and more giving of the things you give. Inside you could not be more true than you are. As I get older the one thing I notice is how much of life is often dictated by external things and external expectations.

I hear people who are the most stern or the most strong on the outside are the ones who hurt the most and would love to exhale. So much weight is being carried and so much is being considered. The impossible thing is that eventually you come to find those closest to you who should know you best, don’t. So the strategy is to try and hold you hostage using everything from guilt trips to what should happen by virtue of the relationship because of the relationship.

It has been a struggle to get to a place in my life where I no longer care what is thought of me; how I talk; what I say; how I feel; how I express myself.  My mind asks the question : Is it really my issue because another has an issue with me? Is it really for me to sort out what it is they feel I should do or say?

As I have gotten older I realize the bondage of these concerns. It is bondage to allow another’s opinion to be so strong in your life and it is bondage to not establish boundaries and stick to them in terms of what and who you will allow in your life.

As I seek God’s way, I have learned that it is not to people  that I give power over my life. It is to him and him alone. It is not the thoughts of people that should become my thoughts. The mind of Christ is the mind I seek. Higher thinking can cause a rift in relationships between friends or between family. But it is what it is. I’m okay with that.

Stuff just got real…

Everything happens for a reason. There are no coincidences. God is always talking to us. He is always communicating in ways we can understand and give meaning to.

God is always at work providing for us and protecting us from others and ourselves. No doubt we can’t imagine how much so.

Today something was shown to me. For a moment I could not think. I could not speak. One voice came to my mind: Before you respond, speak to God. Tell him. Ask him. Listen to him.  I did. I cried. I prayed.

I’ll have to get back to you on this one. Suffice it to say, I trust God.

 

God’s Very Pointed Question

This morning one of my devotionals said that “to truly live you have to forgive”.

The reason this is relevant to me is that just yesterday, as I was driving, I was thinking about my “I forgive” letters that I wrote last year forgiving every person I thought I was to forgive as  a way of getting past any and all things that may have been holding me back. While my list wasn’t long it did reveal something very powerful which will remain with me for now.

During the course of my thinking on the matter, God spoke to me and asked why I had not written a letter to myself. I thought about it and my response was that I never thought about the fact that I needed to forgive myself. We’re so often focused on exercising forgiveness to others that we miss the mark on looking first at ourselves.

Matthew 7:3-5 New International Version (NIV)

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Absolutely mind blowing. God is so good.

I am still pondering the idea to the point that I nearly need to keep with me a small tablet as I think about all of the things for which I need to forgive myself. Listing my “infractions” is one thing but letting go is indeed another. Even if I am able to articulate my issues with me, how do I forgive myself? Where do I start? Is this the key I’ve been looking for? Will this change my life? What will my forgiveness of me reveal about me? Only God could introduce something so simple, so scary to think about and so exciting all at the same time.

Being aware of others and counting their debts is easy. These days, I’m learning to be more aware of me. Admittedly, my debts are what they are. Thankfully, God’s grace is what it is and that is more than enough.

 

Do You Hear What I Hear?

When I thought about the title of today’s post, I decided to look up the history of this Christmas song. Turns out, “Do You Hear What I Hear? was written in October 1962 as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was not a good time in history. The call to action was sent out through the song appealing to all influencers and government leadership to do something about a threat of nuclear disaster. The song was plea for peace for our world as we know it.

The song asks if we are hearing the same thing (do you hear what I hear) and if we are seeing the same thing (do you see what I see?). That”s what I’m asking today.

I am considering that there seems to be so much going on in our world that forms the perception for us that it is sad and hopeless. I listen to the news only to hear horrible stories of things going on locally and nationally with families, children. I tend to opt for comedy reruns over some of the nighttime television depicting stories inspired by the news and still wonder how the “dramas” could be construed as entertainment.

Walking through the mall or into other outlets, I hear young people speak so disrespectfully to each other. They could care less if you hear them or if you approve of what they say or how they say it. I reflect on the fact that these are some of the representatives of the next generation. From what I can see and hear, I’m left to wonder what their contribution will be.

Recently, a father was videotaped disciplining his two daughters for behaviors he found unacceptable. Apparently the daughters were videoed dancing in a highly sexual and seductive manner. The videos were posted. Dad found out. Soon after his video “whipping” his daughters went viral, he was arrested.  The whole incident prompted responses on several blogs about whether or not his discipline was abuse. As suspected responses ran the gamut. See the news of it here.  What Got You Here Won’t Get You There… What struck me in a couple of posts was the fact that the writers found watching this episode between father and daughters “uncomfortable”, another discription was “difficult” and yet another was “appalling”. I’m left to wonder if these same posters found the posted videos of the daughters doing what they were doing equally “uncomfortable”, “difficult” or “appalling” to watch?

When it comes to our young people, is anybody seeing? Anybody listening? We are losing our children and devaluing parents in the big picture by creating roadblocks to families “handling” their families in the ways that generate the expected and reasonable response. Gone are the days for some children that a strong talk is all that’s needed to turn  problem issues around. Disciplinary actions have elevated as a result. If parents can’t get their children to obey, respect authority and honor them as parents, is it reasonable to assume these children will obey others? Will they obey God and respect his authority in their lives? What the Bible says about discipling children

Our children are out of control. Controlling them in strong verbal and physical ways is now being looked upon as abuse. Are you kidding me? This is troublesome.

I don’t have the answer. What I see and hear are things that call right wrong and wrong right (Isaiah) and this is not good. There’s more going on than the call for peace. I hear and see a call for reclamation! It’s time to reclaim our children, our families, our authentic relationships and our ideals that follow God’s way and not that of society. Something has to give.

Leave me there, alone…

I heard the most beautiful song on the radio the other day. Immediately, after just a few words, I turned the song up and tears–uncontrollable tears–began to flow. I had not heard anything so perfect in so long. The words flowed beautifully, as if they were my own, on point, expressing all that I was feeling and had been feeling for a long time.

I don’t know about you but, I have spent many nights trying to pray a powerful enough prayer that would make God move or at least let me know in some way he was listening and that he heard me. When I failed at that I found myself desiring a good cleansing cry like the ones I used to have when I was feeling lost, alone and without any idea what to do about whatever situation I had found myself. There were those nights when tears simply would not come. It was like I was all cried out. There were times when I simply sat on the side of the bed and asked out loud: “why should I bother?” By then, I was tired and desperate to give up, secretly hoping God would feel sorry for me, and change his mind about the place he’d allowed me to be. I didn’t want to be tested anymore and I didn’t want to keep trying.

I’d realized I’d been trying to do everything I thought God wanted of me and none of my expectations had been met. I was still where I started and still in my mind no better off. There were no tears. There were no prayers. There was nothing–not even praise that I could give even for the breaths I was taking while I was trying to quit. Inspiration had escaped me. I felt unworthy to go to God in prayer. Then, I remembered grace.

What do we give to the Lord who has given us so much? How do we fail repeatedly to pray, to acknowledge God and his wonderful work in our life? How is it we rise from restful slumber to start off our days without so much as a “hello Father”? How are we so busy day in and out that by weeks-end, we’re too tired to go to church to worship the true and living God?  When did everything else become so important?

As Christians, I think we will all have these feelings sometimes. I think we will all feel like we are failing miserably as children of God. It is songs like the one I heard on the radio that day that remind me in another of the many ways God communicates with me that he is well aware of where I am, how I feel and what I need. He knows. He’s there. No matter how I am feeling, he wants me to come and to keep coming. He wants me to give him a chance to love me, hug me, rock me to peaceful sleep, and envelop me in a gentle breeze that lets me know all is well whether it looks like it or not.

Take me to the King where at his feet while I am alone, I can lay my self, my broken spirit, my lonely heart, and my troubled mind.

A Made Up Mind is a Beautiful Thing

Job 22:28 says, “You will also decree a thing, and it will be established for you. And light will shine on your ways”. 

I love it! If you’ve ever been faced with making a decision, you know, it is not a simple thing. Sleepless nights are spent searching for solutions, weighing this one over that one. Hours are spent discussing our issues with friends taking into account their opinion which most of the time boils down to their co-signing whatever it is we want to do. With or without their input, our made up mind is the most wonderful thing in the world.

A made up mind allows us to vocalize exactly how things are going to go and precipitates moving forward. It’s liberating to be in a position that is positive, sure and expectant. It is not until our minds are made up that we see things come together brilliantly on our behalf. Suddenly our next steps are clear because we can see the path we are to take.

Just this week. I made up my mind about a few things. I could kick myself for the torment I allowed in my life over these matters that, though important to me, probably don’t measure up as “worth it” in the big scheme of things.

It occurs to me that I’ve allowed myself to be victimized by other’s actions and opinions, even my own thoughts, primarily out of fear that shouldn’t, by any account, apply to me as a believer! What the heck have I been thinking? The answer is that I wasn’t thinking. Instead I was allowing the winds to determine the direction I should go. But thankfully God is always speaking; always trying to take us to another level. When we’re tormented,  tossing and turning he is speaking. Truly, AM is not just the morning–it is when we wake up!

My solution came upon me through the wisdom found in James 1:6-8, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

There it is. The truth, loud and clear. 

A Vision of Great Love and Protection: Psalm 18

(Image taken from the web.)

I love God. I love his word. I love when I read the word and apply it to my life, it does not return void.  It does what it is sent to do. I love that God’s word is a divine weapon against those things that come up against us in our daily living.  I love my confessions and how they revisit my spirit to make me strong and sure that all is well with me. I heard Charles Stanley say once: “Obey God and leave the consequences to him.” That one line sunk deeply into my spirit and has been with me and has penetrated my thoughts many times. Through my conflicts, this has been a mantra, since introduced to me, that I try to live by.

Inside, I shout: I know my redeemer lives! I know that God knows the plans he has for me for good and not for evil that my outcomes are what I hope for.

There is a scripture I turn to when I’m feeling like I do today those feelings of attack from people, circumstances and situations. It is this scripture that brings me the most peace: Psalm 18. This scripture has a lot of meaning for me because I read it during a time in my life when I needed God on my side. I desperately needed his help. I needed  his power; I needed his might. Then, like now, I had nowhere to turn. This passage brought to life an imagery of incredible love and protection that I could feel. I knew then, like now that victory is mine. Through the verses of this Psalm, I am comforted that God not only hears me but will not allow certain troubles to have their way with me. These verses created an image in my mind and heart of a protective Father whose ears hear my troubles and whose actions prove he is ever-present. Like a body guard God and only he, attends to watching over me.

In my distress, I called upon the Lord. I cried unto my God…

PSALM 18

1 I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.

The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.

In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.

Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.

There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.

He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.

10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.

11 He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

12 At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.

13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire.

14 Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.

15 Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.

16 He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.

17 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.

18 They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay.

19 He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

20 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.

21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God.

22 For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me.

23 I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.

24 Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.

25 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright;

26 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.

27 For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks.

28 For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.

29 For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.

30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

31 For who is God save the Lord? or who is a rock save our God?

32 It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.

33 He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places.

34 He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.

35 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.

36 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.

37 I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed.

38 I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet.

39 For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.

40 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me.

41 They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the Lord, but he answered them not.

42 Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets.

43 Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me.

44 As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me.

45 The strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places.

46 The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.

47 It is God that avengeth me, and subdueth the people under me.

48 He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.

49 Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.

50 Great deliverance giveth he to his king; and sheweth mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore.