Friday, May 30, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Nothing

I run the water and sink back deep into my white retreat.  The sound of the water fills my ears and its warmth encases my body.  I slide my fingers over the space that had held life and now doesn't.  I had only known it was there for a short time and now it is gone.

"Why did you even give just to take away?!"  my heart and sobs break.  "I told you I could not handle loss such as this.  I told you I am not strong enough for this!  WHY? WHY?!  I don't understand!"

The burgeoning life that was here one moment is now gone.  I went from being filled with someone to being filled with nothing.  Nothing is left.

I don't even know when it slipped from me; the life and the form it held. I just know it is no more.

I turn off the water, but I can't turn off my tears, my hurt, my empty.

Two weeks earlier

I hold the stick in my hand, the one that will tell me what my future holds.  Two lines.  Two.  My future holds you, an unknown yet suddenly deeply known person.  I want you. I love you. You are my future.

Three days earlier

My sister and I sit across from each other eating lunch.  I tell her about you.  I also tell her about the spots of pink I have been finding.  I am trying hard not to worry.  I have spotted before and all has been well. This time doesn't feel the same though.  I rub my belly where you are growing and I tell you to hold on, keep growing.

One day earlier

I am bleeding, no longer just pink spots.  I am really scared for you and for me.  We go to the hospital. They do an ultrasound.  The doctor says he can still see you, but you look pretty low, not where you should be. He says not to worry, there is still a chance.  He gives me hope.  

Earlier that morning

The bleeding is worse.  I go to the hospital for a follow up ultrasound.  The woman is horribly insensitive. She has no idea how much I already love you and hope that you are still okay despite the odds and the red, all the red that says you aren't.  She comes and she goes three times talking to her boss.  She isn't finding anything.  He makes her come back and look more because they had seen you last night.  She tells me how that doctor last night should never had said he saw you, now her job is harder.

She pushes down hard on your home that is my womb and the red rushes out and I curse her in my mind because I feel like she is pushing you out. 

"Wow, you really are bleeding aren't you?"

She is finally able to confirm my fears.  You are gone.  

"You can go get dressed now"

I can hardly see for the tears streaming down my face. I don't know how I find the strength to dress myself and walk out to the car. You are gone and with you the future that stick had promised.  

Just shy of 7 years later

I still think about you.  I still wonder why you were given just to be taken.  I still love you.  You will always be someone to me.  The kids took to calling you pooh bear, the baby Mommy lost in her tummy.  So my Pooh Bear, my womb and my arms may have been left empty and filled with nothing when you left, but one day I will meet you and I will get to hold you.

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I Will Rise

The Butterfly's Story

You captured me
Took advantage of my delicate nature
Knowing I could not fight
You chained me with your actions
And you left me sitting in darkness


Chains and darkness are not my destiny
I am meant to fly
Love comes and lights what you made dark
Gives me hope and strength
Freedom is calling


Lifted by Light I stretch out my wings
Your chains they pull
 I pull harder
The promise of my future is stronger
Than the pain of my present


Torn and tattered by your actions
I rise as your chains fall away
The light of Love fills my broken and my empty
With Love lifting me
My fragility is stronger than your captivity.



A Soft Gentle Voice

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Monsters Among Us *Re-post*

This is a re-post from August 2013.  
I have been a little devoid of words the last couple of weeks, but came across this last night and thought I would share it again.  

We got there as the skies were just turning from the black of night to the gray of early morning.  The streets ran like rivers from that night's rain that was still dripping heavy.  My son and I crossed the street and were thankful for flip flops that air dry quickly and don't sog up like tennis shoes and socks do.

We made our way up to the 6th floor.  We arrived before the staff had, so we waited in comfy chairs as I tried to keep him awake with small talk and playful banter.  As the staff trickled in we moved to the less comfy chairs in the waiting area for the EEG clinic.  The halls were quiet as we counted the minutes until 7:30 would come around.

An older man who looked slightly frail, but not an iota weak rolled past us into the clinic.  A minute later he rolled back out in his electric scooter chair and parked next to our seats.  I smiled at him friendly like and he smiled back.  "I am soaked." he said.  After he said it I looked a little closer, past basic friendly acknowledgement, and I noticed that what I had taken for dark gray pants had really been light gray, but were now drenched into darkness.  The small patch of light peeked out behind his right calf testifying to the fullness of truth in his statement.

"You sure are!" I replied back with my profound ability to state the overwhelmingly obvious.

He told me how a car had seen him on the side walk and drove close up to the curb to purposely splash him with a tidal wave of morning rain and then drove away laughing at his wetted state of being.

Again my profundity at stating the obvious was immense and I said, "How RUDE!"  Followed with me stating how I would like to just "smack that guy in the face."

He nodded in agreement with me and told me how if he had "caught that guy" that "he would not have been laughing" when he got done with him.

And as I sat there with the drenched older gentleman who was waiting for his wife, the nurse, to bring him a raincoat, so he could go back home to change along with my head bobbing slightly snoring son who I was neglecting to keep awake, my blood began to boil white hot.  Hot with the injustice and cruelty of man and those who prey on others for nothing but their own folly.

This man with his soggy shoes and saturated baseball cap was the victim of all that is wrong in this world and it came too soon after a week of such stories where too many victims lay soaked in the sins of others cruelty.

"Monsters Lord, they are monsters!" I spit out in prayer.  "They are what is wrong in this world, it is them!"  And no more did I say this to both He and myself when my blood ran cold with the realization that no, they are no different than me, because the truth is we are all the same.  We are all living in a world full of lies.  Lies that tell us that life is really just meaningless, there is no value in a person, no worth in the souls that are clothed in flesh. All that matters or doesn't matter, depending on which side of the lie you look at, is you.  And these men and boys and people who damage others for their own whims and their own pleasure they are the ones who ultimately are the biggest victims of all, because they have grabbed on tightest to the lie.

I shift my weight in the chair, nudge my son with my elbow to wake him up, and watch as the man and his raincoat roll away.  I don't like this realization.  I want there to be a them and an us, I want to categorize us into different categories so that I can assure myself that I am and never will be like them.  And He nudges my own soul awake, "If you do that, if you categorize them, you are them.  You are buying into the lie just as much as they are, because they become nothing, and baby they are not nothing.  They are souls clothed in flesh just the same as you."

I shift again, nudge the snoring son awake again, and wonder if it is 7:30 yet, because the conversation in my head is getting rather uncomfortable, but it isn't and God keeps going.

"Every time you draw the lines, them against you, you all lose out."  And I think of all the lines we draw in this world. I think of how the church, me, the media, the various "sides" have all drawn lines upon lines of 'us vs. them'.  Then I think of how when Jesus came his biggest crime to the religious leaders of the time is that He erased all of their lines.  He didn't erase right and wrong, but He came saying that we as people are all souls worth saving and His message to everyone is "I am what you need". 

Lines are easy to draw.  Loving the soul next to me or the one on the other side of the latest scandal or news story and admitting that they are the same as me in value and worth, that is much harder, but every time I draw the lines I am telling the world that people don't matter and I continue to propagate the lie.

Straight vs. Gay

Black vs. White

Faith vs. Faith
Pro-life vs. Pro-choice 
My parenting choices vs. Your parenting choices
My sin issues vs. your sin issues
The lists and the lines can go on and on, but they all lie,  and they tell us that whoever stands on the other side of that line does not matter near as much as I do.  But here is where that lie gets ever so tricky, because if they on the other side of the line don't matter, if their choices/beliefs/actions negate the importance of their souls, then the reverse can also be true and ultimately I can stop mattering.  My choices, my beliefs, and my actions could strip me of my soul's worth and turn me into nothing more than flesh. And herein lies the real monster: the monster is the lie that none of us really matter.
The door to the right of us opens.  It is our turn to go in.  I nudge the snoring boy beside me and we both go in freshly awoken.
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Romans 3:22-24
*I don't know who you are, the person who needs to read this last little bit, but I feel it very heavily that whoever you are, this needs to be added in for you.  There is only one line that will ever matter.  When you die there is a line drawn not for the worth of your soul, but for where it will go.  Christ's love is for everyone.  He draws no lines for who does and who does not deserve His love.  His love is like the best Christmas present you could ever open.  But like all good gifts He won't force it on you.  You have to choose to accept it and open it.  When that day comes the only thing that will matter is if you accepted His gift.  God wants you with Him that is His desire, but being a just God He knows that a gift is only a gift if it is accepted, if it is forced on you it is no longer a gift, because there is no choice in the matter.  Jesus is called the bridegroom over and over again in the Bible.  If a bridegroom hands you an engagement ring he is giving you a choice to marry him.  That is exactly what Jesus is doing.  He is giving you the choice.  If you say yes, this earthly bit is like your engagement and heaven is like your honeymoon.  If you choose to say no, God, on the day you die is not going to force you into marriage with His son, nor will you be able to change your mind.  Please choose wisely friend.*

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A conversation with my Daddy

Dear God,

                 I am feeling very sad and empty this morning and I am not sure why that is.  I just wish I could break this sadness.  Maybe I am supposed to be sad today.  Really, God, I just want to climb up in Your lap and cry.  I am not even sure what it is I want to cry about.

                  I have been putting myself out there and being vulnerable and maybe that is what is causing the empty feeling.  Maybe that feeling is more of a vulnerability than an emptiness.

                  Lord, please tell me what it is You want me to hear.

"Oh, My daughter!"

*I lean my head into Your chest and pull my knees up to my own as I burrow into Your lap.  Your strong arms gather me into You.  You lean Your forehead down and rest it atop my head as You breathe in my child scent.*

"My beautiful, beloved daughter!"

You say not much louder than a whisper.

"This little girl inside of you who feels so empty, who longs for love, who aches for acceptance and safety; the one you don't know how to quiet or fulfill, this little girl who has you climbing into My lap; I am enough for her and for you.  

Feel my arms of protection wrapped tight around you.  Listen to my heart that beats for you.  Breathe in deep my sweet scent of peace, let it fill your lungs.  Oh little one, know Me, rest in Me, and let the knowledge of who I am fill all of these aching empty spaces.  May that raw open feeling of vulnerability be replaced with the security of knowing just how securely You are held in My hands."

*Long held tears empty themselves out, wetting His robe that lies beneath my head.  I clutch the fabric and press it to my face.*

                   Oh, God, this is where I should have been all along, all those times I was searching for comfort and fulfillment.  All those times I went out trying to quiet the emptiness in the wrong arms, in the places the world said fulfillment lays, help me to come back here when the past rises and the vulnerability comes.  The times I feel empty help me to remember this moment, this holding.  Help me to know that Your lap is always waiting.

*My bitter tears of the pasts hurts and harms empty out and soak into His garments and there bitterness turns to sweet.  Emptiness and vulnerability exchanged with fullness and safety.  I am known and I am loved. He kisses my head as I get up to face the rest of the day.  He is more than enough to fill.*

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, 
that we should be called children of God! 
And that is what we are! 
1 John 3:1 NIV


A Soft Gentle Voice

Monday, May 12, 2014

What happens when you reset Mother's Day

This is what happens when you reset Mother's Day....

You go to church.

A waterfall greets us as we enter the park
No one cares that you are twenty minutes late and all 9 of you parade down the packed church to your front row in hopes that it is still open.  You can't see if it is open or not because everyone is standing and singing, but when you walk up there you see that the whole row has been left for you and your family.  (I don't think there was another open row in all the church, so I am thinking God had hung a spiritual reserved sign on it, just for us.)

The pastor preaches a message that is EXACTLY what you needed to hear.  That spoke directly into what you have been thinking and feeling for the last month plus.  You label your notes with the heading of "CONFIRMATION".

The view on the way up to tower.
You speak with a friend after church that you have been wanting to connect with and she tells you something she sees happening in your future and to be prepared for it and it completely confirms more of what you feel God has been preparing you for.  A thing you haven't spoken to anyone about.

You marvel at God's goodness and His blessings and you are so thankful that you didn't run away and that you didn't skip church and that you were given a reset button to push.

You get in the car with your waiting family and you apologize for throwing a Mommy temper tantrum in the morning and let them know you could have handled yourself better.

You then go on that picnic you were planning with your family, but you forego the PB&J sandwiches and opt for fast food instead, because it is Mother's Day after all, let someone else do the making.

You can see the tower up on the hill.
You go and you have an amazing day with your family and the neighbor boy down the street who gets to come along too.

Your neighbor boy brings his football and you get to play catch with him and remember how much you LOVE to throw a football.  You will even start to get your spiral back.

*mental note, buy self a football on payday.  Force neighbor children to play catch with you.*

You come home and everyone has had a good day and is happy and you get to go on a walk all by yourself to think over your day and how grateful you are that you didn't let the anger win and at how good God is for blessing you beyond what you deserve.

A description of the tower's dedication.

You enjoy your children, your husband, and your life.  You realize that the freak out is only temporary.  You don't live in the freak out, you live in the reset, and life is good.  God is good.  And your mothering, well it is pretty good, too.
The view from the tower.

Here is the tower.
more tower views.
My little hambone, Klayton

this is at the bottom part of the park.

group shot

group shot take two

happy girl
"Take a picture"
A beautiful tree from my walk.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Reset

It is Mother's Day and I lost my *&^%.

I need a reset.

It started off nicely.  My 11 year old brought me two donuts and some iced pink lemonade at 6:30 in the morning, staring at the back of my head until I rolled over and looked to see who was breathing down my neck.

I took my thyroid pill and got into the tub.  Found a place on the internet that I wanted to go after church for a picnic with my family.  Was in a really good mood.

Went downstairs to the kitchen I had left clean the night before when I went out to the movies with some ladies from church.  No longer clean, but I am going to have a good attitude anyways.  Start filling up water bottles with ice and water.  Where are the water bottles I JUST washed yesterday?  No one seems to know.

Go upstairs to help littles find their clothes for the day.  Their room, is a mess.  Walk by the kids bathroom, the one I spent an hour deep deep cleaning not that long ago.  It is trashed.


I had told them to clean the upstairs yesterday, banished them upstairs until it was done while I cleaned up the downstairs that they had destroyed that morning, the one I had spent two hours getting deep cleaned the day before.

They all swore it was done.  I was busy and took them at their word.  My mistake.

I lost it!  I am still seething.

Thought about driving away and leaving everyone.

I didn't/don't want to go to church with them, I don't want to sit in the van with them, I don't want to go to the cool castle park with them.  I don't want to spend time making a billion peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to take on the picnic with us. I want to just walk away and leave them to their messes.

My melt down set the mood for husband's melt down and all the big eyes and tears that followed.

We need a reset.

We should be leaving for church right now.

I am trying to breathe and pray through the seething.

This Mom gig is hard and frustrating and I don't know how the good Mom's do it.

I wonder if Mary ever lost it.

My son literally just brought me his mother's day gift.  He wasn't here for the LOSING IT, since he spent the night at a friend's house.

It is a travel mug with a poem on it.

Only One Mother
by Kody

Hundreds of fish in the sea,
Hundreds of birds flying by, 
Hundreds of hugs you give to me, 
Hundreds of clouds up so high, 
Hundreds of things you need like a bus,
Hundreds of planes in the sky,
Hundreds of loads of laundry you do for all of us, 
But only one Mother to hug me good-bye.

Sigh.  Reset button pushed.  It is time to celebrate being a Mom; mediocre, good, or otherwise.  I am a Mom and my kids only one.  Time to celebrate.

Happy Mother's Day to all my fellow Mom's who are trying to figure out this whole Mothering thing.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A day at Smilow

The kids were off to school and I was off to my appointment.

I stepped into the truck and started on my hour long drive to get there.  The rain was beginning to come down, the day outside looked dreary, but I felt like a little ray of sunshine as I bopped along to the music on the radio.

I had done all my homework leading up to this visit.  I had used my Google PhD well and I was ready with my notes and questions.

I knew I was going to need radioactive iodine treatment, but I didn't know the plan of before or during.

There are different methods of preparing for the treatment, ways to get your body ready and wanting to suck up that iodine.  One way is to stop taking your hormone replacement for a month prior to treatment. Another way is to get a series of shots.  Going off of the medication can leave your body aching, weight gaining, and depressed.  Been there, done that, prefer not to go back.  I was going in prepared to state my case for the shots.

During treatment you become radioactive.  You cannot be around other people.  You have to use a different bathroom, are supposed to use disposable dishes, be in a room by yourself, etc.  With seven children, the youngest a momma's boy to the extreme, this would be impossible to do at home.  A hotel stay expensive, plus you are exposing the hotel workers and other guests to your radioactive self.  I was set to present my case for hospitalization.

I was driving, dancing, and ready.  I took my exit and followed the signs to Smilow Cancer Hospital, turned into the parking garage built for small cars and felt like a Little People car on a Hot Wheels track.  It is tight in there.  Our 12 passenger van would have no luck, which means I get to use my hubbies big (yet still smaller than the van) truck.  I think the truck has about a 2 inch clearance from some parts of the roof.
Like this, but surround the track in
dark gray foreboding concrete.
isn't she cute?

I went in.
Stood in line to get my beautiful plastic bracelet.
Filled out paperwork. (current symptoms, circle the ones that apply.  Weight in, "not that I am complaining!")
Get called back to the processing vitals room.  (Stand on scale down 11 pounds since last visit. Yip! Yip!)
Wait in waiting room.
Go back to be seen.
Visit with the nurse.
Have same conversation with the attending.

Then the attending starts talking about what comes next and the options that are out there.

Doctor comes in.
She starts answering all of my unasked questions with the answers I wanted.  7 kids at home, hospitalization it is.  Thyrogen shots are a lot nicer than a month of yuck, so shots it is.  I didn't even need to say a word about what I wanted, because it was being handed to me on a silver platter stainless steel medical tray.

I was told that Nurse Brian would be calling me to set up all the dates and let me know when I needed to start my low iodine diet and what to avoid, etc.

Then it was off to the lab.

I showed the beautiful woman with the flawless brown skin my pretty bracelet and checked in.  She asked me if I had a port or needed it drawn from my arm.


The question took me by surprise.  It was asked as though it was commonplace, as if I had just ordered ice cream and they wanted to know if I wanted chocolate or vanilla.  I guess being a cancer hospital that to them it is common, but it isn't to me. It is kind of strange to feel so good and be in a place with so much sickness that the sick has become normal, commonplace.  ( I think there is a deeper world application here.)

Get called back.
Get poked.
Go home, in the rain, driving my little people truck around the hot wheels curves, dancing, ready for what lies ahead and very thankful.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Read My Word!

Since my surgery I have been going for walks as often as I can manage it.  I use my walking time as my praying time and as my listening time.  A couple of weeks ago (4/24) God spoke during that hour long walk so clearly and was showing me in detail some things that I believe will come to pass in the future.  It was amazing to me just how clearly I was hearing Him that day and the images that were coming to me.  I felt like Moses coming down from Mt. Sinai when I came home.

Exodus 34:29 When Moses went down from Mount Sinai carrying the Ten Commandments,
 his face was shining because he had been speaking with the Lord; but he did not know it.

I may or may not have looked in the mirror to see if my face was shining, because that is how clearly I was hearing the Lord speak to me.  I thought if this is going to happen when I go walking I am going to be walking as much and as far as I can!   But since that day God's voice has been much quieter.  The voice I have been hearing is mostly my own.  To be honest I was a little frustrated.  I had been given these visions and I wanted to hear what the next step to fulfilling them was.  I asked, "God, where are You, why aren't You speaking, what is my next step to get from here to there?"  Plain as day I heard (in my mind), "Read My Word."  

"Oh. Okay."

I love a good topical Bible study, but to just sit down and read it, I have a hard time staying focused.  I went home.  I will read later.

The next day as I was walking I asked again, "What next, show me the next step."

Again, "Read My Word."

"Okay, I hear you.  Tell me what I should read then. Do I start in Deuteronomy?  It had that cool verse I liked, or how about Matthew?"

I no more than finished the "ew" in Matthew when He said, "Ephesians."  

"Okay, Ephesians it is."

I came home, went about my business and then last night opened up The Message to read Ephesians.  (I was recently given this version by my friend.)  Highlighter in hand I went to town reading it, all 6 chapters, in a row, without fading off and losing focus.

I am going to share with you the highlighted sections from the book, because, well, if you have followed my story at all, you will see how much of a God thing this really is.

*This is not the complete text of Ephesians, only the sections that I highlighted.

How blessed is God!  Long before He laid down earth's foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. 

{HELLO!  Right off the bat, WHOLENESS! through LOVE}

He wanted us to enter into the celebration of His lavish gift giving by the hand of His beloved Son.
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, we're a free people - free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds.  Abundantly free! He thought of everything, letting us in on the plans, a long range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in Him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
It is in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.

{Can I get a Whoot Whoot?! Does not my blurb about me even say, "who I am, well I am still discovering that myself."!}

 The Holy Spirit is the first installment on what's coming, a reminder that we'll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.
I do more than thank. I ask - ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, teh God of glory - to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing Him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is He is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life He has for Christians, oh, the utter extravagance of His work in us who trust Him - endless energy, boundless strength!
He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything.
You let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, tell you how to live.  You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience.
God didn't lose His temper.  Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, He embraced us.  Then He picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
We neither make nor save ourselves.  God does both the making and saving.  He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join Him in the work He does, the good work He has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

{Seriously, at this point I feel like a black woman about to get all Holy Rollin' up in a church service as I read this!}

The Messiah tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance.  Then He started over.  A fresh start for everybody.
Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals.  through Him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.  This kingdom of faith is now your home country.  You belong here.  God is building a home.  He's using us all - irrespective of how we got here - in what He is building. He used the apostles and prohets for the foundation.  Now He's using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together.

{Totally channeling my inner black woman shouting out an "AMEN!!" Despite where I have been or what I have done He is building a home and using me to build it.}

The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of Him all their lives stand on the same ground before God.  They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus.  The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.  
This is my life work; helping people understand and respond to this Message.  It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details.

{Is anyone else choking back some tears at this point?}

God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.  And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ.  My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. 
When we trust in Him, we're free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go!  Be proud!
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father.  Ask Him to strengthen you by His Spirit - that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite Him in.  And I ask Him that with both feet planted firmly on love , you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love.  Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights!  Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God can do anything you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!  He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.
I want you to get out there and walk 

{mmmhmmm, I know!}

Better yet, run!
on the road God called you to travel.  I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere.

 my words from 1/22/11 " Will my road to healing lead me to "home" or will it end up just being a road to nowhere?  There are those roads out there too...the ones that just end, with no connections to anywhere."}

I insist that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty headed, mindless crowd.  They can't think straight anymore.  Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.  We do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything - and I do mean everything - connected with that old way of life has to go.  It's rotten through and through.  Get rid of it!  Then take on - a God fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces His character in you.
Mostly what God does is love you.  Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Christ love was not cautious, but extravagant.  He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us.  Love like that.
Figure out what will please Christ and then do it.  
It's a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see.  
Wake up from your sleep, 
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!

Watch your step.  Use your head.  Make the most of every chance you get.  These are desperate times!  Understand what the Master wants.
God is strong and He wants you strong.  Be prepared.  You're up agains far more than you can handle on your own. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words.  Learn how to apply them.  God's Word is an indispensable weapon. Prayer is essential.  Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and your sisters.  Keep your eyes open.  Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. 
Pray that I'll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time, telling the mystery to one and all, the Message that I am responsible for getting out. 
Love mixed with faith be yours from God the Father and from the Master, Jesus Christ.  Pure grace and nothing but grace be with all who love our Master, Jesus Christ.

* Bold text mine.  

Amen, amen, and amen.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

When you question your calling (Beautiful Rubbish guest post)

Beautiful Tales from the Rubbish Heap
When you question your calling

Four years ago come August I started a blog.  I wasn't sure who was going to read it, if anyone, but I knew I needed to write.  My heart was locked behind a tower and writing was the crack in the wall through which it could find a means of escape.

I named my blog, Praise the Lord and Pass the Calgon.  Praise the Lord, because faith is a large part of who I am. Pass the Calgon, because the thing I wanted most of all was to be taken away... "Calgon, take me away!"... mostly from myself.

The more I wrote the more I let my heart slip through the crack in my wall.  I shared hard things.  I wrote of depression, abuse, self-harm, and counseling.  Always keeping the hope of faith intermingled with the hard of life.

And then I fell.  I fell hard.  And by fell, I mean like running straight towards a cliff and jumping off of it without a parachute...............

Will you all please join me for the rest of this story over at my friend Amber's blog, Beautiful Rubbish.  She is ever so graciously hosting me there for her Tuesdays in May blog series titled "Tales of Beauty from the Rubbish Heap" in which she has invited some fellow bloggers to share their stories of redemptive beauty with her readers. When you have finished reading the rest of my post you would be doing yourself a favor to click around and read some of Amber's words as well.  They will not leave you empty.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Who Am I?

Quite a few months ago one of my friends from church invited me to go to a women's conference that was being held at a local church a couple of cities away.  I knew the conference was sandwiched between two of my daughter's birthdays, so I told her I would think about it and then quite frankly I forgot all about it.  Two nights ago a different friend invited me to the same conference.  I figured that this had to be a God thing, so I went.  It was such a blessing.  The church was so warm and welcoming. I went alone since the first friend who invited me was unable to go and the second friend who invited me was helping to run it and was unable to physically be with me at the conference.  The fact I went alone ended up being for the best, because I was free to meet new people.  I met quite a few lovely ladies, but two ladies especially made an effort to sit and visit with me during the breaks.  We exchanged our information and I am looking forward to hearing from them in the near future.

The them of the conference was our identity.  We were given index cards and told to write who we are on them.  I.E: Mom, wife, daughter, writer, etc.  In other words the words that we use to define ourselves. Later on in the day we were given five minutes to reflect on who God says we are.  During this reflection time I wrote this on my index card:

Who Am I?

writer      mother    wife     sister     artist     daughter   baker
Child of God
*I could have added more, but we had a limited time to do this in*

Who Is God?
  • a lavisher of love-grace-hope-promise
  • a washer of the dust of sins
  • a restorer of dreams-purpose-life
  • a snuggler- wrapping us tight in the arms of His care
  • a healer- tenderly stitching the wounds, removing the infection, applying the salve

Who Am I?

I am a promise.

Who Is God?

A promise keeper.

Towards the end of the conference when things were wrapping up, I did something really brave.  During the testimony time I raised my hand and I read these words out loud.  Can I just tell you how much speaking out loud terrifies me! God has been telling me that I am going to need to learn to get over the fear, because He needs my voice, not just my written words.  

As I spoke my blood started rushing fast and my throat constricted. I felt like I was going to choke on each syllable, but I kept on speaking until I had read it all. (I know what I wrote was not very long, but in that moment it felt like I was reading forever.) Then when I was done my heartbeat must have been at least 150 beats per minute, because it felt as though I had just ran the 100 meter dash.  

I am telling you this, because I want to: 1. Be able to remember this step into what God is orchestrating and 2. To let you know that even in the midst of your fears and all the things that tell you just to stay where you are and to quit walking God can still use you.  It is okay to take those steps despite the fear and despite the voices that tell you not to.  

We don't have to be neat, tidy, polished packages before God can move in us and through us.  He can do both of those things right smack dab in the middle of our anxiety, fear, or whatever else might be describing our "midst".

Even if my words spoken out loud did not move another soul in the room, the speaking out of them moved me and that is a mighty step indeed.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Mess

I have had a lot of changes, really good changes, taking place inside of me.  God has been working hard putting my broken shards into just the right places, but there are still some days when I am a bit of a mess. Today is one of them.  

God has laid on my heart that there is more work that needs to be done.  More things to remember and understand.  As those things start to surface it leaves me messy.  I am not fearful of the memories anymore, but they sure do leave me tearful.

He is also impressing on me that I am to start sharing my words with real people.  People whose eyes I have to look into and whose eyes look into mine.  Every time I have done just that old tapes start to play in my head telling me that now I have done it, I have shared too much, and they will be offended/ disgusted by my being.  I share and then I regret it, want to take it back.  He is showing me through this that my tapes are liars.  With each share I am learning that He is placing people in my life that I can trust to hold my heart and my eyes with care.

My little fledgling of trust is still timid. It is still learning, but it's wings are stretching, and like most fledglings it is a bit uncoordinated and messy.

Five Minute Friday