Beauty is in the Eyes

Actually, true beauty is found in the heart.  It’s the one place where the Spirit of God lives. If the Spirit is not in our hearts, then how we appear to others may not be attractive.  Does that really matter? Does how I look on the outside really, truly matter to people? I’m not huge on wearing makeup daily or having the latest fashions. How important is that?

It never ceases to amaze me how much society values outer beauty. Take Hollywood for instance. Every year, People Magazine produces a “beautiful people” issue. The front cover displays the “most beautiful” person with a blurb on the inside of the magazine about why they were chosen for this descriptive title. What makes that person really more beautiful or attractive than say, someone like me? I won’t compare myself to the celebrities in Hollywood. I’m not them and they’re not me.  I used to idolize the women of Hollywood. I wanted to be an actress at one point in my life. The problem was that I never felt I could measure up to the societal standards that Hollywood set. I was never outwardly pretty enough. My thighs are too thick and my stomach isn’t flat.

Funny, that stuff doesn’t matter to God.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

God’s looking at my heart. He sees the beauty on the inside of me; the beauty that I am cultivating with His help. Think about it for a moment… What is attractive about a person’s outward appearance if they are mean, rude, crass, and volatile in spirit? What is manifested in the heart, shines on the outside.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” – Galatians 5:22

I cannot say enough about how God wants our hearts. He has my heart. My desire is to be the fruit of the Holy Spirit, becoming love, joy, peace, patience, and all those other things that come from believing in Christ’s atonement. When others look at me, I don’t want them to notice that I’m not wearing makeup or a trendy pair of jeans. I want them to see my smile and the way my eyes light up at acknowledging their presence. I don’t need compliments from men about my looks or my body.  Oh my gosh! At work, we utilize surveys to improve our customer service. Several weeks ago, there was a comment directed towards me. It was sexual in nature, discussing my “luscious breasts”. I was horrified! I was not viewed as a medical professional but rather as a sexual object. I felt degraded and dirty. I dress modestly, especially at work. My body is not on display to lure or entice the sexual appetite of others. That particular comment scared me. It made me wonder what I was doing wrong. Luckily, I have a boss who does not allow any of the women to be disrespected in that manner. He’s quick to step up to the plate and immediately asked our regional manager to look into the comment. Our corporate office has since removed the comment and that particular patient was transferred elsewhere.

I’ve never really thought I was pretty until the last 10 years. I thought I was okay looking and I used sarcastic humor to attract others. Never felt gorgeous or that I lived up to Hollywood standards. It was a blow to my self-esteem for many years. Now, I don’t particularly care if others find me attractive. I know I’m beautiful. On the inside. Where it COUNTS! I’ve never had a consistently ugly personality, thankfully. I know several women who are pretty on the outside but the minute their mouths open, the ugliness spews forth.

“likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,” – 1 Timothy 2:9

I wish I could say that I truly didn’t care about my looks. I don’t to a degree. I’ve decided that I’m reserving my physical appearance for the man God needs me to have according to His will. On occasion I’ll wear makeup. I might even do my hair or wear a dress and heels. For now, I’ll wear the beauty of God’s Spirit, which is in me.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I understand that it is my heart that makes me beautiful. I must give credit to You and Your Holy Spirit which dwells in me. Please help me to let the wondrous beauty of who You are shine on the outside. Please continue to fill me with Your fruits and help me to cultivate them. My desire is to bring forth the characteristics of Christ in all I do, so that others may see You as the Creator of all things.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Finding Purpose in God’s Plan

I am a planner. I have to know what I’m doing and when.  It’s a struggle some days when life throws a curve ball that I can’t catch. Depression, and overcoming it, is truly one of life’s lemons.  I am learning how to make lemonade though.  It’s sweetness completely depends upon what God has planned for me that day. Depression, and all that accompanies it, is a day-to-day battle.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13

Let me be clear about something in regards to my depression. When I’m in the throes of a deep depression, to the point of suicidal ideation, I don’t want to find joy or think about things that might make me happy. I want to curl up on my bed and wallow in my tears. I have no motivation to do much of anything. I’m argumentative and easily agitated during this period. Emotionally distraught, I tend to shut down and shut people out.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

My mind was in a very dark place but I heard God calling me. He was offering me respite from the darkness. The next thing I know, I was on my knees calling out to Him. It wasn’t easy. The tears were flowing down my face. I spent most of the time in silence, waiting to hear my Heavenly Father speak to me. I heard Him. He was telling me to reach out, not only to seek Him, but to bring some very special people closer to me. I needed accountability to overcome what I was going through. One of the hardest things I had to do was face myself and to lay my heart out to these women. I continued to pray before I picked up my phone to send the first of many text messages. I never realized how much I needed to have Godly women in my life. When I started the process of reaching out, I felt a light come on inside of me. There was a yearning that I hadn’t felt before. I had to humble myself in order to feel God’s presence.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,” – 1 Peter 5:6

Admitting that I needed God to combat the demons of darkness that were waging a war in my mind was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Only God could cast out my demons. He is doing just that and I believe He has used my depression to draw me nearer to Him. It’s my fault that I never looked to the heavens first when I was trying to battle depression on my own. I never acknowledged God or even that He had a plan for me.

I’ve spent a good portion of my life searching for my purpose. I have wasted precious time focused on the things I have failed to accomplish. I failed at marriage. I failed at motherhood. I have failed at finding love. I have wasted time on the wrong people, those who loved me for what I could do for them, and when I failed at that, I failed their expectations of me. The bottom line is that I have felt like a failure and that I had no purpose in life.  Boy, was I wrong! The only place where I have truly failed was in not seeking God first in my life.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33

By putting God first these past two weeks, I have seen a change in my heart. It doesn’t matter to me if others have seen it; for some people, visualizing change takes time. I’m on God’s time and I refuse to fail Him. I know I will disappoint the people in my life but this time, it does not matter. I am learning to not be so caught up in what others think of me. Over the last two weeks, I have still been searching for a purpose for my life in God’s plan for me. As I walk faithfully towards Him, I know that He will use me to His benefit.

As I take my baby steps, my faith grows. Trust is still a struggle though. I wish I could say that it is difficult to trust in something that I cannot see but I see God every day, in every thing. God isn’t just in the things that we find beautiful; He is in the sunsets and sunrises and bouquets of flowers.  He is also in the thunderstorms and the floods and things that many people find to be ugly. The situation doesn’t matter; God is there!

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21

At one point in my life, I had plans and goals for myself. Each of those plans fell through. Now, my only plan is to look to God for my purpose in this life.  There’s a joke that goes something like this:  If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plansI know there have been a few occasions where I’ve made Him laugh. I’ve tried to plan my life but God has thwarted those plans. He has His reasons. I’ve seen some of those reasons in hindsight. I’ve been protected during those moments.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” – Jeremiah 29:11

God has protected me in so many ways. He has provided me with a direction that may have seem detrimental to my life but everything I have done has had a purpose. The good, the bad, and the ugly has all been orchestrated by the hands of God. While I have felt like I have failed in the things I had wished to accomplish, the reality is that I’ve only failed God by not looking to Him for guidance. I’m at the point to where I refuse to fail God for the remainder of my days. I do not know my purpose, but I am asking Him to use me however He wants. I’ve turned my life over to God and He will give me a purpose that has prosperity beyond measure.

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” – Proverbs 16:3

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

I can make all the plans I want. BUT are they the plans God has made for me? My will is not my own. My plans are not my own. My life is not my own.

“Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.” – Proverbs 54:4

It’s Not My Problem

Oh how I’ve said that a lot in my life! I think we all have. I really believe the problems of others are not my issue. However, those problems cannot be overcome without God’s help. Which means, when we come together and are united in Christ, there is more power to overcome the struggles we face. God didn’t design Adam to live in social isolation; He created Eve as a companion.

Think for a moment… Why is the situation at hand not your problem? Is it because you don’t want to become involved? Is it because you want to fix it for someone else but don’t know how? Is it because you don’t want to be held responsible for the outcome? I don’t like to involve myself in other people’s relationships. I have a friend who is constantly telling me that they are going to file for divorce. It’s been said so many times that I’ve gotten to where I roll my eyes and I do not believe them. In fact, after the last time the comment was made, all I said was “Okay”. I was very apathetic and unbelieving of the words. I didn’t even understand the point of why they were telling me this. It’s not like I was interested in having a relationship with this person. I can see through the lies. A couple of days later, I sent my friend this text:

I know you weren’t expecting my response when you told me you were filing for divorce but try looking at it from my perspective. You’ve been saying that for over a year now. Did you really expect me to believe you? I never told anyone I was divorcing L until I actually filed. So, when you actually do it, I’ll be supportive. Divorce is hard no matter what. Our time is over, so I’ll always be your friend no matter what.”

Was I wrong to say what I said? I don’t think so. My friend’s issue is not my issue but what I can do is pray for them. I also know quite a bit about the relationship and I believe if they focused on God, they will be able to work out the challenges in their relationships.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” – James 5:16

My problems are not unique. At some point, we’ve all had the same problems or even issues with similarities. What makes me different, is that I’m learning to rely on God to help me with the issues. God is not going to fix it for me, but He will lead me in the direction He wants me to take. I have a huge issue with men and physical attraction. Every day for the last 10 or so days, I have been on my knees, begging God to remove this temptation from me. He won’t cure me of my struggles but He will provide a way out

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Right now, I’m tempted to not finish this blog and go get a cup of coffee. Or go back to bed. I digress, I have to work today.

Jumping right back into an issue when I haven’t healed is another challenge I face constantly. I have a tendency to be very impatient. Until recently, I had internally fought against the idea of waiting on God. Had I been doing what God has been asking of me, I might not have had to suffer the consequences of my actions. Waiting on Him has become a priority. I am rather excited to see what happened when I wait for His sweet timing in my life!!

“keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” – Jude 1:21

God is very interested in our problems. He won’t fix them or remove them from our lives, but He will help us take the necessary steps that draw us closer to Him. Remember the “still, small voice” I posted about yesterday?

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” – Hebrews 2:1

When life gets difficult, it is easier to turn away from God and try to solve the problems ourselves. It doesn’t work very well, does it? He is there, on the back burner, waiting for us to call on Him so He can show us the way.

“And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” – Psalm 139:24

“And you know the way to where I am going.” – John 14:4

God knows where we are going. He knows every struggle we will face before we face it. He will provide the way out from under temptation. I don’t want God to remove my problems. Although, I will admit, I would like them not so hard! But He does give me ways to overcome the issues. I’m still learning how to listen for Him and seek His guidance. Work in progress, people.  Work in progress.

Traveling a Narrow Path

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

The Road Less Taken – Robert Frost

When I chose to walk the narrow path, I knew it would not be easy. As I was standing at my crossroads, I knew I could not follow Jesus and follow the world.  The world with its wicked pleasures and false sense of security! Every little indulgence that promises happiness is a fake, phoney, disruption of the truth. It is only in truth that a genuine happiness can be found.

One thought that has been running through my head this past week (and it’s popped up quite frequently – I’d say at least once a day) is…

Why am I trying to fit in when I was born to stand out?

I always wanted to be popular in high school. Hang out with the “A” crowd, be a cheerleader who dated a football player, the one girl that was invited to all the hot parties, etc. I wanted to be liked by everyone. I wanted people to know my name. Sadly, it was a blow to my self-esteem that I had never fit in. I still don’t fit in as an adult. I am learning to live with that and to accept that.  The reality is, the only person who has to accept me on this earth, is me.

God accepts me as I am. I am HIS daughter. I am loved, cherished, and valued by God.

“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.” – Romans 12:2

I’ve spent the last 47 years of my life searching for acceptance on earth. I’ve been disappointed every time. People are flawed; I’m flawed. Imperfectly perfect as Heidi Powell would say. Over the last week, I’ve spent a lot of time with God. I’ve spent time on my knees praying. I’ve shed enough tears to fill an ocean. I’ve been waking up early every morning to start my day with God.

Now, I do not particularly care if the people on this planet like me, love me, or accept me. It is not my place to seek solace in mankind. My value and worth comes from God. He is my judge and the only Being that can deem me to be worthy to inherit richly treasures that exceed my comprehension.

“Man does not know its worth, and it is not found in the land of the living.” – Job 28:13

“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”  – 1 Corinthians 15:50

Imagine you are standing on a platform. There is no way to get down from this pillar. You are hungry and the only source of food is on another platform, across the way. There is a rope connected to between your platform and the other; the rope isn’t very wide or thick. The platform with the food has a ladder leading down to the ground. When you look down, you see that the people look like ants milling about and you feel faint from the height. You can smell the delicious food, but are looking down at the people on the ground. It’s a long ways down! You tremble with trepidation and fear begins to consume you. The food is beckoning you, calling you to come satisfy your hunger. Although you are afraid, you take that first step. Unsure, unsecure, a bit wobbly, but your foot is on the rope. You take another step. Then another, becoming more balanced than the first step. You have your eyes on the prize: the delicious food. You pause, listening to the grumbling of your stomach, and try to regain your balance on the narrow rope. You reach your arms out, not only for balance but also to possibly reach what is ahead. Step by step, you grow closer and closer to the food. Your fear begins to dissipate and you focus in on what is in front of you. A quick glance behind you shows how far you’ve come. Don’t look down though; you aren’t a part of the crowd and they are not a part of your journey.  Keep your eyes ahead, you zone in on the platform and keep walking. Finally, with one last step, you have reached your reward.

“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” – Matthew 7:14

God is on that other platform but in order for us to reach Him, we have to take the first step and walk the narrow path that He has placed us on. He is our food!  Our life-sustaining food! That narrow path He has set before us has no room for the treasures of earth.

I will admit that I have some fears about the ever-narrowing path I’m on. At the same time, I also know I’m finally on solid ground.  My relationship with God is growing and I am tasting the food He is providing.

“For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 10:1-4

Jesus is our food, people.  I hunger for God and His Son more than anything. Only God can take care of my hunger, my thirst, and the void in my heart. Are you hungry enough to walk the narrow path? If you are, then it’s time to set aside your fears. I will warn you though, you will stumble. It’s because we are human and therefore imperfect and prone to sin.

I’m not walking my path alone. I find great comfort in that. I can feel God’s presence and it fills me. I am walking alongside Him and when I grow too weary to walk, I know that God is carrying me. I will have to step outside of the path on occasion; there may be several reasons for this. Whatever those reasons are, it will be to help me grow and go further in my walk with Christ. I did step out of my comfort zone today and I shared the life-changes I have been making this past week. I shared them with my doctor. She didn’t think it was weird, although, I did preface my statement with “You’ll think this is weird”. I don’t know what she believes or what her faith is or even if she is a follower of Jesus but I planted a seed by proclaiming my walk.

I can only hope and pray that my walk will inspire someone else to seek the narrow path and obtain the right food to fill their bodies.

“Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble.” – Proverbs 3:23

Waiting on Him

I was listening to John Waller’s song While I’m Waiting earlier today…

“I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait”

There are things in this life that my heart desires. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life on earth alone. However, if that is God’s will, I will accept it. I’m learning to be patient and wait for my needs to be provided for. One crucial thing: only God can fill the void in a human heart. I won’t ever find comfort in a man’s arms until I can find comfort in God.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3

So, I’ve made the decision to wait. Wait for what? I have no idea. But I’m going to wait until God decides to give me what is His Will for me. I already know I will be impatient. I will be frustrated. I may even get angry at times. I could kick, scream, cry, and throw the very same temper-tantrum that a 3 year-old would when they can’t have a cookie. Yes, I am quite capable of doing all those things; after all, I am a child of God.

“I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.” – Psalm 69:3

It will be exhausting waiting on God to provide my heart’s desires. Not everything I want in life will be given to me. If it doesn’t jive with what God’s plans are for me, then when I make piss-poor choices, my life will go awry. I already know this, God! I know when I’ve made some really bad decisions and I’ve had to live with the consequences. It has not been fun to untangle the web that I created with my attitude on doing whatever I wanted. If anything it has only served to bring me misery. There. I said it. I’ve been miserable in the choices I’ve made for myself instead of listening to God. What’s ironic about all of this is that that I know that God was watching. He was sitting in the back, where I ushered Him, with His feet propped up and munching on a bowl of popcorn. Yummy. I’m quite certain it has been a very entertaining show so far.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” – Psalm 27:14

I was texting with my friend T this evening, moments before typing this blog. He actually inspired it. Our conversations are always appropriate, God-driven, and nurturing. Tonight’s conversation was no different. T is an incredible man that any God-fearing woman would be blessed to have. Heck! I’m just blessed to call him my friend! T and I met on a dating site. We exchanged a few messages back and forth but it never really went any further than that. In fact, we’ve never met in person.What? Yep. We’ve never met face to face. One of these days we will. God willing! I digress. T and I were discussing relationships and he has assumed that I had gotten married. For the record, I’m not married and I’m not even close to thinking about it right now. My focus is on strengthening my relationship with God. That’s all that matters. T is single too. I told him that he’ll find someone. God has a plan for all of us.

T’s response? “I’m waiting on Him.”

Please, allow me to repeat that… I’m waiting on Him.

This has been my mantra all day.  I want to wait for God. I’ve been praying about that statement all day. But to see it in a text message from T, was all I needed today. The tears came next. I know I put too much stock in having a relationship with a man. Perhaps it’s overrated at this conjuncture in my life. I know what I have to do right now. In this season. It will be the hardest thing I have ever done. Yet, I know it will be the most rewarding. Please, Father, grant me some patience? I’m going to need it as I wait on You. I have to close several doors. I’ve already started doing that and from a physical perspective, it’s been rather refreshing and freeing. I want to stay away from relationships that can create a disturbance in my relationship with God. Is that even possible?

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.'” – Mark 10:27

I simply cannot do much of anything without God’s help. I know He is there for me and will remove temptations from my path. He will provide a way out and surround me with His Warriors to protect me when I feel weak. As long as I stay focused and keep my eyes on the rewards that can only be found in heaven, I will wait.

Dearest Father,

You and only You know the deepest desires of my heart. A woman’s heart is as vast as the ocean and often filled beyond capacity. I ask that You guide me as You see fit so that I may strengthen the bond I have with You.  You are my Father and have made me Your daughter. Please teach me patience, just as You have taught me to give unconditional love.Please help me to stay on the narrow path and to fully understand how You are carrying me during the hardest times of my earthly life. I know You have plans for me to prosper, to have peace, and to be loved. My heart knows that You only have the best in mind for me. I ask that You provide Your will for me in Your time.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Do You Have the Time?

It’s morning, and honestly, I have no clue what time it is exactly unless I take a moment to look at my phone. There is a clock on my laptop but I still have this habit of reaching for my phone to check the time. That’s not the only thing I look at on my phone. I look at emails, InstaGram, and not too long ago, Facebook.  I recently shut down my Facebook account. Sure, it’s great for keeping up-to-date on what everyone is doing, but the reality is, it’s a time-waster.

“I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.” – Psalm 119:147

For the past week, I’ve been getting up early to spend time with God. Those who have known me for years could tell you that me waking up early to read the Bible or pray is out of the “norm” for me. They wouldn’t believe it and might even say that it will only last for a few weeks due to my “noncommittal” nature. They could very well be right. I have a tendency to be noncommittal in so many areas of my life. Nor do I share about my relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ.  I will attest that getting up early every morning has been difficult. The alarm goes off and I hit snooze a few times. It’s not that I don’t want to get up, but rather, this is a process that I am working on. I’ve never really been the type to just jump up and bound out of bed to do whatever activities are on my to-do list for the day. What typically occurs is I will tap the snooze button on my phone until the actual time I have determined to physically extract myself from the luscious comfort of my bed. Sometimes it’s 5am; sometimes it’s 7am. It all depends upon what I need to do for daily earthly living (work, school, etc).

“O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” – Psalm 5:3

God says we are to spend time with Him. I’m getting to where I don’t feel right without spending time with Him first thing in the morning. It does make for a super craptastic day in my personal experience. Yes, I said “craptastic”. In examining my past days, I noticed that when I don’t spend time with God right away after waking up, I’m moody, my mouth has no filter, my temper flares and I fly off the handle, and I’m just plain mean. Nothing about me demonstrates any of the godly qualities that I have been gifted with. Nothing demonstrates the love I have for others; nothing is kind or gentle or truthful.  Ugh! It makes me appear to be an awful person! I hate that person! (Hate is a very strong word that I try not to use often.)

My mornings upon waking go something like this: I hit the snooze until it’s the actual time, then I use the bathroom, make a cup of coffee, and then I’m on my knees beside my bed. I don’t care how you pray but for me, praying to my Heavenly Father on my knees is a blessing! I am grateful that I have the opportunity to be able to move my body in a way that allows me to worship God.

“so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” – Philippians 2:10

Do you have the time? I bet your day is pretty busy. You are working, being a parent/grandparent/spouse, cleaning your house, running errands, and doing all sorts of things on your to-do list. My question is this, how much of that time is spent doing things for other people and not for God?  We get so caught up in those lists we make, focusing on what we didn’t do the  day before that we forget who is at the helm of our lives. God is the Master of our to-do list and Manager of our time. Our time isn’t truly ours; it is designed for us to do what God has asked. In the book I am currently studying, Lies Women Believe by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, she points out that at the end of Jesus’ life, he calls out to God saying, “I have finished the work which YOU have given me to do.” Who’s time are we on? Who’s to-do list do we have to accomplish? I find that as I get older, I place less and less importance on household chores. That does not mean that I don’t keep a tidy home; what it means is if you stop by and the dishes aren’t done, it’s perfectly fine as my priority is doing what God wants me to do – spend time with you. I don’t want to be remembered in death as someone who folded laundry while you attempted to have an adult conversation with me. That’s important. I want you to remember me as someone who was always walking in the light and someone you could count on for godly direction.

Now, as I go about my day, I offer small prayers to ensure my to-do list and time management are in alignment with God’s purpose for me.

“I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.” – Psalm 132:4-5

Once my earthly day is over, I spend more time with God. It is the hour before I fall asleep and give thanks for what was accomplished during the day. I have times where it doesn’t seem like I’ve done much in the worldly-sense, but at the same time, I don’t know who I may have impacted by exhibiting Christ-like qualities during my daily interactions. I see hundreds of different people every day; what if, what if, there was just that one brief interaction that allowed God’s love to be demonstrated and called a new life to grow closer to Him? Eh, anything is possible! God works in mysterious ways and I, for one, will not question the work He does. It is in His time that all will be accomplished on His to-do list.

My thought is this: if you have time for social media, then you have even more time for God. God doesn’t want us to keep up with the Kardashians or the neighbors or our friends who appear to have it all. We are not to be comparing ourselves with the business of others. God’s to-do list is different for everyone. Most importantly, He wants us to keep time with Him.

Do you have the time? The time to give God the opportunity to work in your life and strengthen your relationship with Him? Don’t stress or worry over what you didn’t accomplish yesterday. Focus on what you did do on God’s to-do list. He’ll get everything else done for you.

Finding Forgiveness

It is so easy to simplify forgiveness. What does it mean to forgive? How do we do it?

Several years ago, my second husband was having multiple affairs. As a result of those affairs, I found myself placing blame solely on him. It wasn’t my decision to cheat after all, was it?  No, but I also was not being the Godly wife I could have been. After the affairs were over and our marriage had ended, I was still placing blame on him. I had failed to recognize my actions in the situation. I wasn’t blameless. I’m pretty certain that I had a hand in his decision to commit adultery. Now, I accept responsibility for my contributions to a failed marriage.

I forgave him, yet I still blamed myself. As a woman, I find it easier to take on the burden of blame and shame for others’ actions. Notoriously, the statement “it’s all my fault, you did nothing wrong” removes the accountability for the actions that others commit.  To my knowledge, my second husband never accepted responsibility for the things that were detrimental to our marriage. That’s okay though. I don’t have to face God’s judgment for anyone’s actions but my own. I’m working on accepting responsibility for the things I have done wrong. It’s not perfect but it’s progressing.

After the marriage ended, I was in counseling. It was there that I learned how to forgive Jay for the things I blamed him for and to take responsibility for my actions. I came to understand how I was holding on to unrighteous anger and hatred by not forgiving him.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32

Forgiving someone else is easy but to forgive myself was another story. During my time in counseling, I was required to read two books – After the Affair and The Miracle of Forgiveness. The former was about moving on in a relationship after the exposure of an affair; the latter, by the late Mormon prophet Spencer W. Kimball, was about learning to forgive oneself. The Bible itself doesn’t talk about how I need to forgive myself – it speaks on forgiving others for whatever they may have done. Unfortunately, I was still in the mindset that I had done nothing wrong to contribute to Jay’s decision to have an affair.

The struggle to forgive myself is real, folks.  It is a constant, daily battle.  Never-ending. I sin on a daily basis. Some of the sins I commit, I’m not even aware that I’m doing them. That’s how human nature works and it can be deceptively ingrained. The best part of these instances is that God will forgive me.

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” – Matthew 6:14

God forgives us because He has an incomprehensible amount of love for us. He wants us to come back and live in paradise with Him. Paradise! That is a place that can be difficult to describe as God has placed some things as beyond our comprehension! It is a place of perfection. I strive for perfection on a daily basis. I also fail on a daily basis. I’m not perfect as I work on the Christ-like qualities that God has requested of me to exhibit. I was given gifts that are found in Christ. One of those gifts has to be cultivated. It was the gift of forgiveness. I still struggle with forgiving myself but I also believe that if God has forgiven me, I need to be able to forgive myself. Forgiving others comes easily now as I practice that gift constantly and I pray that I forget as well.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”  – 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

Replace the word “love” with forgiveness. Forgiveness is patient and kind. Forgiveness does not envy or boast or is arrogant or rude. Forgiveness is an underlying attribute to genuine love. Let me also add that forgiveness does not hold on to the actions that were committed in the first place. Once I forgive, I pray that God will allow me to forget. Not forget the lesson that was taught during the wrongdoing, but to see how the actions can consume and define a person.

God forgave me. He forgives me even when I don’t ask for it. That being said, I do my best to ask for His forgiveness and the forgiveness of others. I want to be held accountable for my actions and correct those actions in this life, not wait until I am on the seat of judgment. Once I’ve asked for forgiveness, I know God wipes my record clean. If I have wronged you, will you please forgive me? Let us go forth in peace and love. Please do not ever hesitate to call me out on something I’ve done. This isn’t easy and I may not always see how my actions and activities are not in alignment with God.

Practice forgiveness. It will be difficult at first, but it will get easier. Start by forgiving yourself for being imperfect and human.

Dear Father,

Please forgive me for the sinful nature I was born with. I know I’m not perfect and I struggle every day. I want to forgive myself for the hurt I’ve caused others and I pray that they will forgive me. Thank you for Your Son, who died on the cross for me. It is through Him that I am able to forgive as You have forgiven me. I love you, Father, and thank You for being my ultimate Provider.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Living a Lie (Or All of Them)

I’ve been so caught up in things that should not matter in the worldly sense. I’ve become lost. Over the last few weeks I have been in a state of depression. No real rhyme or reason. I’ve accepted it as something that just happens on occasion. I have enough sense to reach out when it gets ugly for me or my actions are not on par with where my brain needs to be. But, I digress, and need to discuss something that has my focus at this time. I hope that my focus will continue on the path I started a few days ago. I’m praying for it.

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” – Proverbs 4:18

It’s not an easy path to walk when you decide to walk with God. God doesn’t promise an easy life. He promises an abundant life. What does that mean? I had to look the word up in the dictionary, surprisingly weird since I do know how to use the word properly in a sentence.  The word abundant,  according to Dictionary.com, means “present in great quantity,” “more than adequate”, and “oversufficient”.  What does that mean? Well, to me, it means that God will give me more life than I know how to handle. He’ll also equip me with what I need to deal with the challenges I face in this earthly world. God will provide an escape when the temptation becomes too great.  He will instill in me a discerning spirit and voice in which to be guided by.  He will be present in all that I do.

I have to learn how to trust in that, instead of believing in the years of lies that I have been ingrained with. It’s those lies that have become my truth and I am just now starting to unravel them. It’s not easy. It’s even harder when you have been let down by the world and the pain within causes you to seek temporal comfort. You see, my personal journey in this life has been to seek the comfort of other human beings. Mostly male. Definitely all very unfulfilling and creating further chasms of unsatisfaction. There is no peace in temporary physical relationships.  I’m learning and while it’s a slow process, I’m starting to shed the negative habits that led me away from God.

There are many things I desire to discuss and bring to light in my life. Where to start? I could discuss the men in my past but first, I need to be honest with myself. I do suck at lying to others but I can lie to myself all day long. It’s because I believe what I’ve been told by those I seek acceptance from. I’m done with the lies. I don’t want to lie to myself anymore, nor do I want to be caught up in the lies of others.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  – James 4:7

The biggest lie I believe is what others tell me I am or who I should be or what I need to do.  I recently ended a friendship because I believed that she was supportive of who I am inside. Truth revealed itself, and when I informed her that I was going through a depression, she stated that I was never there when she needed me. She made my depression about her. Her mother recently passed and I dropped everything to be by her side. I left work, picked up some food, and drove straight to her house. This wasn’t the first time. When I needed to talk about my grandmother, it became a conversation about her boyfriend. I’ve been praying for this relationship for a long time. I had been asking God to encourage me to stay friends with her. That wasn’t His answer. The relationship had become toxic and very one-sided; I wasn’t trusting of her nor did I feel I could tell her everything. I had realized that I had stopped telling her things a long time ago. I just let her assume that her thoughts and opinions of what was happening in my life were correct. I never bothered to correct her. I just allowed her to think her thoughts. I never stood up to her. She believes she knows what happened in my marriages. and I didn’t say a single word to her about them. Even my own mother doesn’t know what transpired. I keep certain things to myself, whether they are truth or a lie.

I’m learning to examine the lies and the environment surrounding them. My heart knows TRUTH. It’s time to let the truth out and show the truth I’ve found in God and His Son, Jesus.

Truth #1: Not everything I hear or see is God’s truth.

It is so easy to manipulate and twist the truth into something that creates a magical world for me. It’s so easy to believe that I can exist in the fake world I created for myself and that it brings me joy.  NOPE!  I tend to become consumed by what is going on around me and I allow myself to believe in things which are false. If I am in a relationship, my world is complete. If I do these things to make him happy, I will be happy. If I look this way or that way in my appearance, I will be attractive and attract the right kind of man.  NO!!  Again, this is all wrong.  I’ve put too much stock in human beings, especially men. Men who are not Godly and only want their own pleasures and desires.

I made a very hard decision for myself a few days ago. I decided to step away from all my male relationships. At least all those that are tinged with romance and sexual desire. My prayers have changed too, when I made this decision. I’ve been praying for the strength to say no to my sexual nature. Whoa! Did I just say that? Yes. I want truth and peace more than anything. I’m praying for God to help me during this time. I need help in dealing with the loneliness that comes from not being in a relationship. I have never been single or alone. I’ve been lonely but I also know in the recesses of my mind, I’ve never been alone. God has always been present.

God IS always present.

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

NaNoWriMo

Okay, folks!  It’s that time of year again where I indulge in self-torment, high quantities of caffeine, demonstrate my ability to not forage for food, and agonize over all the crap that has to be done before I can even sit down to write.

This is your warning.  Your only warning.

I may or may not be blogging at all for the wonderful month of November.  I’m pretty sure my stress levels will be determined by how I have failed to do laundry or dishes or clean the house.  Hopefully my boyfriend will get the hint.  Or not.  I can anticipate him providing me with provisions though, as Adele (or Queen) mourn their tales of woe through my iPhone while the clacking of the keyboard mounts a tempestuous tale of its own. Maybe I’ll include some BlackBriar, Sara Barielles, Ellie Goulding, or Eminem to proffer as the muse for my novel.

Sylvia Plath and Hemingway simply will not do as an audible.  But, by the end of November, I may find myself at the end of a rope.  Not to hang myself with but more as a cliffhanger in anticipation of my next novel.  The line is dangling and the fish are already biting.  I’ve had a few read the first few rough drafts of my current novel.  They are begging for more.  One of them even slapped me on the arm, wanting to know where the rest of it is.  I simply tapped my temple and said, “In here. Locked safely away until next time”.  She was mad at me.  Until I promised her the first signed copy.

She will be getting the very first signed copy.

I’m on the hunt for an editor.  Someone majoring in English Lit at a local college will suffice as long as there is the understanding that I can only pay in coffee or use of my culinary skills.

Yes, I have skills.  Guys like girls with skills.

What Is Love? Pt. 2

My boyfriend and I had the following conversation last night:

I’ve spent most of today thinking about what love means to me. I’ve come to believe love is circular in many ways. Think about it for a moment…

A wedding band is a never ending circle demonstrating the emotional bond between two people. Love is two hearts sharing a single beat. Does your heart skip a beat when you look at your significant other? Mine does. Perhaps it’s my heartbeat syncing with his as I fall in love.

Love can be symbolized in many ways. It is often seen in the form of a heart. When love, we’re supposed to love with all our heart, right? The symbolism of the heart equating to love began in the 15th century. It’s a great way to write love. Red roses also represent love.

For me, after much thought, love is more of a demonstration rather than the verbal or written word. My boyfriend shows me his love (maybe I shouldn’t use that word just yet in regards to him yet) by doing little things for me. He holds my hand when we walk through a store or at the movies. He holds me when I need to be held, without even saying a word. He came to see me this past weekend after the horrible week I had. I didn’t ask him to but he knew I needed to feel how much he genuinely cares for me.

He’s filled my gas tank on more than one occasion. That demonstrated so much of how he feels about me. Case in point – I drove nearly everywhere and my ex never once offered to pay for gas. Not even for the 45 minute one way drive to pick up his ex-stepdaughter. Sad.

Gifts from the heart are great for birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas but they don’t truly symbolize what love is. Material goods are not a replacement for real love.

Actions speak louder than words. The same goes for love. Anyone can say the words. They’re just words. Do they have meaning? Yes. When said at the right time and in the right context, those three little words have a powerful impact on its recipient.

Love is a very strong emotion. It is possible to love unconditionally. I mean more than just your child.

Love is the ability to give all of yourself, every fiber of your being to another person. It is the internal swelling of your heart when you look at him. It is in the way you kiss – kissing him like you miss him, even when he was simply in the next room. It’s resting your head on his shoulder and holding his hand while watching television.

It is communication. It is finding the words to lift each other up, especially during arguments. It is being supportive during hard times. It is finding the time to just be imperfect together. Nobody is perfect.

Love is a learning process.

It is the process of two hearts becoming one.