Holy Matrimony

Dearly beloved,

We are gathered here today in the sight of God to join this man, and this woman in holy matrimony. Not to be entered into lightly, holy matrimony should be entered into solemnly and with reverence and honor. Into this holy agreement these two persons come together to be joined. If any person here can show cause why these two people should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.

Marriage is a sacred union between husband and wife and shall remain unbroken. It is the basis of a stable and loving relationship and is a joining of two hearts, bodies and souls. The husband and wife are there to support one another and provide love and care in times of joy and times of adversity.

We are all here today to witness the joining in wedded bliss of (Groom’s Name) and (Bride’s Name.) This joyous day celebrates the commitment and love with which (Groom’s Name) and (Bride’s Name) start their lives together. Through God, you are joined together in the most holy of bonds. Who gives this woman in holy matrimony to this man?

These are traditional wedding vows. Would it be blasphemous of me to announce that I’m married to Jesus? My vows to God and Jesus go something like this:

Dear family and friends,

We are gathered here in the presence of God, to witness the holy union of Mia and Jesus Christ. This is a commitment that should never be taken lightly, but should always be held in reverence and a manner that is pleasing to our Heavenly Father.

Repeat after me…

I, Mia, take thee Jesus to be my heavenly partner in life. I will honor and obey Your word, dwelling on all that You speak to my heart. I will always come to You in prayer, sharing my struggles, asking for Your guidance, and seeking You first when I have anything pressing on my heart. I will rejoice when my earthly life is good and praise You when it is difficult. I promise to be patience, kind, loving, and always look to You as my standard for living. I know that I have a purpose and You give me hope for the future. I promise to love You and place You first in all areas of my life.

Not bad. It’s where my heart is and my faith grows daily. Faith is a powerful thing and I know I only need it to be the size of a mustard seed to move mountains.

“So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” – Matthew 19:6

I asked Jesus to come into my heart and save me many years ago. While I said that prayer of gratitude for the atonement. I still behaved in a manner that was displeasing to God. Today’s blog is about recommitting myself to God. I haven’t written much in the past week or so, but it’s okay. Spending time with God and Jesus is my priority. I wake up in the morning and kneel beside my bed, praying before I’ve even considered going to the bathroom. That’s commitment, yo!

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24

The Holy Spirit is in me. It prompts me when I need to seek God’s Word and guidance. It’s there when I need comforting. It is present when I need to escape any situation that is detrimental to my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I feel complete now.  Like a whole person.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be married while living in this earthly existence. I would love to be married. There is some sort of peace in it. Security, even. I want to come home and kiss my husband, wake up in the morning and kiss him again. In the movie, Sweet Home Alabama, Dakota Fanning plays a younger version of Reese Witherspoon’s character. She asks the boy, “Why do you want to marry me anyhow?” He replies, “So I can kiss you any time I want.” That’s only part of what I want. I want the person who is committed to me; who wants me as much as I want him. Someone who is willing to do 25 to life with me. I have no idea how much time I have on this planet. Neither does anyone else. I just want to spend it with someone who values and appreciates the woman that I am just as much as I appreciate the man he is.

“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled,” – Hebrews 13:4

Nothing is worse than being cheated on. It left me feeling like I wasn’t good enough as a wife. Then, as the affairs continued, I felt that I wasn’t even good enough as a person. I forgave him. I’d forgive the next guy too. That doesn’t mean I can forget the feelings of worthlessness that were created. I’m not perfect. I’m COMPLETE.

“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” – Ephesians 5:33

I respected my husband. In fact, I’ve respected all the men in my life. There was truly no reason not to, even when I didn’t agree with certain things. I trust implicitly too, until I’m given a reason not to trust.  Yes, I’m definitely gullible and naive when it comes to men and relationships. It’s not fair. It’s not right for me to judge someone on their past. I want my husband to treat me as well as I treat him.  I don’t need material things. I don’t need a lot of money. I’ve never been that way. I need security and comfort. I’m happiest with a home-cooked meal, a movie on the TV, and snuggling on the couch.

I want a partner in life. Someone who loves God more than he loves me. Someone who wants my affection and passion. Someone who will let me love him through the darkness of time as well as the bright sunshine of day. Someone who laughs when I’m being goofy and holds me when I melt down.  There’s a whole list but the most important thing is that whomever he is, he needs to love God first.

“We love because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

Until God tells me that He has someone for me, I’m married to Jesus! And impatiently patiently waiting as God makes me into the woman He wants me to be.

Inspiration in Infancy

My first encounter with God came when I was 11 years old. I knew something bigger than myself existed but I could not place what it was. I had no explanation for it until a friend invited me to spend the night at her house on a Saturday. I was granted permission and she told me to bring nice clothes as we would be going to church in the morning. I was excited! The only time I had been to church was for weddings.

It was at Calvary Baptist Church that I met an amazing lady. She was 19 and teaching Sunday School for the first time. She was also married to a man of God. I was young, vulnerable, and eager to learn. She taught me that Christ died for me and through the atonement, I was saved. I didn’t know I needed to be saved, but I knew I needed God something fierce. Miss Lorie taught me how to pray. Once I learned to pray and was ready, I asked Jesus to come into my heart.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬

God loved me. He still loves me. I can fully attest that I am a sinner by nature but now I have been blessed with the gift of eternal life through Jesus’ crucifixion. I’m not perfect, no where close. I still sin and make mistakes. But when I ask for forgiveness and repent, God is there to take care of me.

Miss Lorie and her wonderful husband, Prince Albert (not in a can), took me under their wings and welcomed me in their home. They did their best to teach me what it means to be a Christian and live a life for God’s glory. Unfortunately, as a teen, I chose a different direction and pushed God aside. I made a lot of bad decisions and plummeted into a life of sexual immorality, drugs, and deceit. I did whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, without regard to the consequences. I hurt many people with my actions, attitudes, and behaviors.

All of those things have led me to where I am today. It is because of God’s amazing grace that I “once was blind but now I see”. I see how the errors of my foolish ways have affected others. Now, I am in the process of rebuilding. Not only am I correcting my sinful behaviors, I am asking for forgiveness for those I have mistreated or sinned against.

Luke 15:11-33 tells the story of the prodigal son.

“Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”

In many ways, I find myself to be the prodigal son… Ahem, daughter… to Miss Lorie and Prince Albert. I have been restored to God’s fold, which they (and many others) have been hoping for. It’s been a month and it hasn’t been easy. I’m still taking baby steps but I know who to lean on.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭

I am so grateful to Miss Lorie for first planting the seeds in me. I am in the process of strengthening the roots of those seeds and establishing a firm foundation in God.

Heart of Hard Flesh

I am struggling. I’m not perfect by any means. Nor do I ever wish to be perfect. Perfection is a very difficult standard to live up to. Only one being on earth was ever perfect, God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Perfect is boring and I loathe boring.

I am not ready to discuss what I’m struggling with. It’s very personal and I’m still reeling from the situation. Right now, I just want to pray that God will give me perspective. I am trying to understand some things and I am hoping that the situation will be resolved in the future. I have no idea what the future holds. All I know is that for the last few weeks, I’ve been praying for something to be removed from my mind and my heart. I’ve asked for a guarded heart. Sadly, I’ve asked for a heart of stone. Bear in mind, the situation I’m struggling with is extremely painful for me. It happened at the worst time, in the midst of a severe depression and took me to the brink of suicide. I was rejected by someone I deeply loved, cared for, and trusted. My heart was wide open. Perhaps that was my first mistake after 30 years of having walls around my heart. My heart was put into a blender and pulsed into oblivion.

I felt worthless. I felt insignificant. I felt unwanted. In my mind, I had no value. I was unimportant and I didn’t matter to anyone. Rejected. Abandoned. Hopeless. Degraded. Destroyed. Stabbed. Cast aside. Dejected. Trashed.  Thrown away like a used garbage plate trash.

I felt unloved.

I cried for several days. I still cry.  I may never get over this situation. Only God can heal my heart. But, I want a heart of stone. I want a heart that will never be broken again. I would deny myself if that’s what it takes. During the process of this situation, I have torn myself apart. Degraded myself and self-worth. Honestly, I know where these thoughts come from and they certainly do not come from God Himself. It’s all Satan and his vainglorious attempts to take me to the depths of hell. That’s one place I have no desire to be. However, it feels like that living on earth sometimes; hell on earth. It comes from being imperfectly perfect.

I still want a heart of stone. I do not ever want to be rejected by another person ever again. I refuse to trust. I refuse to love. Yes, my stubbornness is coming out. In reality, the only being I want my heart soft for is God and Jesus.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26

Father, please don’t.

My walls are back up and right where they should be. I should never have taken them down. I had prayed about it when I first did; at that moment, everything was secure and I felt safe. I no longer feel safe. I no longer trust anyone. I no longer love.

It took me a few days to shake what I was feeling about myself. I needed to see myself through God’s eyes and not another human’s. God doesn’t make mistakes; People make mistakes. I made a mistake in trusting and believing. It feels like it was all a game. I hope it was worth it. While I am feeling the loss, in the end, I know who I am and only God’s opinion of me is what matters.

I still want that heart of stone.

“His heart is hard as a stone, hard as the lower millstone.” – Job 41:24

It’s the only way I will get through this season. Perhaps even the rest of my days.

Here’s the good news for me…

I know I am loved. I am loved by the One who gives UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. You don’t have to love me. In fact, at times, I really don’t want anyone’s love. Not because I don’t think I don’t deserve it but rather, it might be a waste of time for you as I won’t reciprocate it. Unrequited love is the worst possible thing on earth. To love someone who doesn’t love you back is just awful.

Just called me “Elsa”, the Ice Queen. Oh yes, I’ve been called that many times. One person said I was one of the most “uncaring, unloving, beautiful women” he had ever met. Good. Now let’s get back to it.

I know in God’s eyes, I am worthy. He wouldn’t have sent Jesus to die on the cross for me if I wasn’t worthy of something. I am important. Every one of God’s children has a purpose on this earth, during this temporal existence. I have value. The Proverbs woman is worth more than rubies and so am I. I’ve never been rejected by God. Not once. He’s been waiting while I’ve rejected Him.  I’ve rejected Him a LOT! I don’t have to be perfect to have God’s perfect love.

One thing I’ve learned is that I do not have to trust or believe anyone but God. I will have my heart of hard flesh once again.

You Say – Lauren Daigle

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know (ooh oh)

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
I believe

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity, (ooh oh)

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
And You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
Oh, I believe

Taking all I have and now I'm laying it at Your feet
You have every failure God, and You'll have every victory, (ooh oh)

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
I believe

Oh I believe (I), yes I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
Oh I believe (oh)

 

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

Finishing Well

I used to run. I ran a lot a few years back. I have medals from running 5ks and even a medal from running a half marathon. When I ran these races, I didn’t worry about the time it took for me to finish the course. I simply wanted to finish. I’ve always loved the freedom that running brought to my head. I had mental clarity, my emotions were in check as running was an outlet for my frustrations, and my physical fitness was decent. I haven’t ran in many years and I have excuse upon excuse upon excuse as to why I don’t run anymore. I blame other things instead of accepting responsibility and just doing it. I will have to work on that. I am a work in progress and God isn’t through with me until He tells me it’s time to come home to Him.

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” – Acts 20:24

On June 16, 2020, I started something. I began a renewal of my relationship with God. I have always had God in my life but never have I ever felt His presence more than I do now.  Some events have happened in my life that left me in a state of despair. This situation caused me to learn a few things, some of which are sadly negative and a huge cup of reality, and others have shown me how displaced I really was. The biggest thing I’ve learned is how to not trust people. That’s sad when all we have in life is each other. One thought that was on my mind was about how I’m currently living with my mom. (I’ve had a recurring dream about something I’m not ready to discuss.) When she is gone, I will have no one left. It will be just me and I will die alone.  That is painfully sad. Nobody should ever die alone. We have God but it’s nice to know that we are loved during our time on earth.

I just want to finish the mission God has placed upon me well before I die.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7

That’s no small feat! When God put me back on the path to Him, my heart knew that I would have a challenge in front of me. I’m still not sure of what that challenge is or even what my purpose is. I only know of the rewards that await me in heaven. I plan to stay the course and finish strong. In the meantime, I have established goals for myself. The most important goal is to ensure that God comes first. This morning, I got on my knees and prayed. I had to. Something is plaguing me and I have continuously asked God to take it away. This situation that I have asked for removal is like the bratty sibling that constantly wants to invade your privacy when you are with your friends or need to be alone. Even right now, it’s in the back of my mind and I am patiently waiting for God to eradicate it from my brain and heart. But, at the same time, there’s nothing but love there. Painful love.

“pray without ceasing,” – 1 Thessalonians 5:7

I don’t ever stop praying. I prayed for each person I came into contact with yesterday. I prayed for some friends, whom I know are struggling, and I prayed for opportunities to arise so that I can share my relationship with God with them. I have some opportunities coming up! That’s exciting!

When I am struggling or a challenge arises, I want to face it head on and finish strong in my walk with God. I want to embrace my responsibility for my actions and have the ability to humble myself when I’m wrong. While I cannot change the actions I have already committed, I am not a victim of my circumstances. I can be accountable for what I do.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing,” – Philippians 2:14

There are some things I just absolutely loathe. One of those things is humbling myself to ask for forgiveness. It’s gotten easier as I practice forgiving myself and asking for forgiveness but at the same time, the level of humility I have to accept in order to correct my wrongs can be excruciatingly painful at times. It’s a lesson for my heart though and to keep my walk with God upright.

I think I will always struggle with obedience to God. I know I need to take Philippians 2:14 to heart when I am asked to do something. I need to work on accepting criticism and instruction from others. By being obedient to people like my boss and mother, I am demonstrating obedience to God.

“Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” – 1 Peter 2:17

“Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 19:19

I started a race that will last me a lifetime. This time though, God is running beside me. He is encouraging me, uplifting me, humbling me, and through my actions, I will bring Him honor. I want to finish strong. I will finish well.

My Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for being with me at the start of this race. I am grateful for the strength and encouragement that You have provided. I desire to honor You in all my actions and I accept responsibility for my wrongdoings. You are my strength, my hope, and my joy. No one can take that away from me. My eyes are on the prize at the end of the finish line. With Your presence, I will never be alone and will be blessed with the fruits of Your Spirit. You have equipped me with the tools I need to run this race and to finish well. Please help me to reach for You at all times, in all things.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Let Freedom Ring!

Maybe I should have waited until July 4th to write something about freedom. Today’s study was on freedom so I’m feeling rather compelled to share it. Please allow me to provide some background first.

I’ve always felt that God’s laws and rules for my life were too restrictive. I bucked against authority and believed that my way was best for me. It seemed that I could do pretty much anything I chose and that my choices were my ultimate happiness. The choices I made would give me freedom and happiness. I believed that I would be happy being married. So, I married a good man, L.  He is a good man but not a Godly man. There is a HUGE difference. I was happy being married but there were things in my marriage that were not providing the happiness I believed I needed. The happiness was superficial and unfulfilling. There were things I thought should happen in a marriage that weren’t happening. I made the conscious decision to marry L. That was my choice, despite hearing a voice that said not to. Even my step mother asked me if I was sure about marrying him. Wait…  Before you assume that L is some awful person, let me assure you that he is not. He was good to me while we were married. There were just some things in our marriage that were being swept under the rug and ignored. Actually, I was living under a cloud of depression and begging for help. I had become suicidal and I couldn’t find my voice to state what I needed. It wasn’t his fault that communication had become stagnant and frustrating. I was unhappy and searching for the wrong kind of happiness. I made the decision to leave, believing that I needed freedom. Freedom from the confines of being responsible to and for someone else; freedom from marriage.  Because of my decision to undo what God had created, I have been left to suffer the consequences of my choices. Trust me, I’ve made some pretty bad choices since then. I have been enslaved to the bad decisions, foolishly believing I would be happy and have peace. I also was under the impression that God was dictating my life.  Well, that was certainly not true since I was not listening to Him nor did I have a close relationship with Him. However, God was sitting on the back burner, waiting for me to chose Him.  That’s what I did when I started writing again last week.

I chose God. As hard as it is to submit to His authority and laws, my heart knows there is freedom in obeying Him.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17

I do not necessarily have the freedom to do whatever I want, but rather, I have the freedom to make the right choices. Those choices I make in obedience to God will be free of negative consequences and bring forth peace. I’m calling on God every time I need to make a choice, whether it’s big or small. There are things I already know with certainty:

  1. The Holy Spirit lives in me.
  2. God is always present.
  3. The consequences of my actions are something that I cannot escape from.
  4. Freedom comes from obedience to God’s word.

With the first statement, it means I have to be still, quiet, and listen.

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” ”  – 1 Kings 19:11-13

Elijah heard a whisper. That whisper was God talking to him. During the wind, earthquake, and fire, there was a stillness. A quiet moment where Elijah could hear God. When there is noise, it is difficult for me to hear God. I do not necessarily mean background noise, other people talking, and the like. I mean the voices in my head where I tend to over analyze and overthink certain situations. For example, I’ve been going through something for the last month where I have been twisting and overthinking about someone else’s words when I just need to let it go so that I can focus on God. I am now letting it go. It’s no longer my problem and I’ve given it to God to work on. It’s been quite freeing!

The second, God will talk to me when I seek Him by actively doing the first statement. The only way to talk to God is through prayer.  Moses prayed. Abraham prayed. Sarah prayed. Ruth prayed. Jesus prayed.

“In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.” – Luke 6:12

I am trying to keep an active prayer in my heart at all times. I’m learning to lean on God to get me through the difficult times and to always praise Him, especially when things don’t go my way or the way I expect them to.

Some of the consequences have come at a very high price. I’ve hurt others and I’ve hated myself for it. Emotional scars run deep. I still have scars on my heart that may never heal. For 30 years, I’ve kept my heart closed. I’ve gone through the motions of loving someone, but never really felt it. I’m sorry for that. I opened my heart a few months back and I got hurt again. I wasn’t being obedient and now, the hurt is the consequence. Not to mention, I’ve closed up again. I’m guarded and I don’t trust. My walls are back in place. I feel like that is what needs to happen and stay that way. At this time, I refuse to get close to anyone except a few of my amazing, female Christian friends. I do need their support and love. Hopefully, they will help me to stay focused on God and His wonderful timing for a life of peace and happiness!  It is the abundant life I am seeking in Him.

“Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back, you yourself must bear the consequences of your lewdness and whoring.” – Ezekiel 23:25

Yes. Yes. Yes. This verse says something rather important; I am to bear the consequences of my behaviors and actions. So many times I have acted without God being fully present in my life. Now, I’m dealing with the end results. I’ve asked for forgiveness, not only from God but also from those I’ve hurt. The hardest part is always forgiving myself for what I’ve done and moving on.  I do not particularly care if others forgive me despite me asking for their forgiveness. People are trite and will say anything to make themselves look good and feel better about themselves. My request for forgiveness is genuine and heartfelt. God knows my heart and where I’m headed.

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” – 1 Peter 2:16

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

The choices we make can free us or entrap us in a life of sinful slavery. I’ve spent a good many years enslaved to the world based upon my ungodly choices. I’m done. It has not been a happy or peaceful or free life.  It has been greedy and selfish.  With those as my past focus, I have gained nothing but hurt. I’m done with trying to please others but at the same time, I’m not about to do things that are pleasing to myself. I want to do things that will keep God close to me and bring me freedom.  As I look back on my life, I see how I was ensnared by Satan’s lies. I believed a serpent, just as Eve did when she ate of the fruit in the garden. I ate of the fruit of the world. I know what makes me happy in a physical sense, but it doesn’t give me the peace I need to survive this world and have the abundant life that God has promised me. That’s what I am seeking.

“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

Dear Heavenly Father,

I want to thank You for this time of renewal. The past week has been hard but it has brought me peace. I’ve let go of the things that have kept me a slave to the world. I can feel my relationship with You growing stronger. I feel like I can finally breath and become the woman You have destined me to be. I know who I am and I’m loving the person I’m becoming. She is smart; she is strong; she is beautiful. Please, Father, remind me to only seek value within You. Please quiet my spirit so that I may hear You and obey Your Word. Please help me to understand the consequences when I take matters into my own hands instead of searching for the freedom found in You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

 

What is LOVE?

You know you sang the title.

But, what is love? Love means so many different things to so many different people. I’ve heard some women say, “I know my spouse/boyfriend/significant other loves me because they did ___________________________ (fill in the blank)”. Ask my mom how she knows I love her. She will tell you it’s because I cook, do the dishes, carry the laundry downstairs, play with the dog, and do all the heavy lifting around the house. Ask the dog how she knows I love her and she will probably want you to pet her while she nips at your nose. She’s a dog. I give her water, snacks, and force her to go outside. Sometimes we go for walks. I gave her a bath once, in hopes that she would dislike me and not want all of my attention. It didn’t work. That dog thinks I’m the greatest thing since Kraft American sliced cheese (her favorite treat).

What is Godly love? It is the love we give without conditions.

“I love you but…” Ugh! I cannot stand when people say that. If you are expecting something in return for your emotions, then why do you love that person? It’s as if you need to have something in order to give something. The world is full of people who take; why not try to give sometime?

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John 4:8

I’ve read this verse before. I read it again today. It has a profound impact on the way I love others. I have no expectations. My love has no expectations.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13

Jesus laid down His life for us – no questions asked. God gave up His Son, whom He sent to earth to do His work, to call His children back to the fold, and to restore a lifeline that had been severed when Eve ate the apple in the garden. There were no arguments when it came time for Jesus to die on the cross. Even while hanging on the cross, Jesus demonstrated love. He asked God to forgive the people.

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'” – Luke 23:34a

Many of the people during that time did not fully comprehend the love that Jesus had for them. Still today, God’s love isn’t easy to understand. Questions like, “if God loved us, why do so many bad things happen in the world?” or “God doesn’t love me. If He did, then why did he take my parent/spouse/child from me?” or the even more popular question, “If God really loved me, then why did He allow _______________________ to die?”

God does love us. He loves you. He loves me. Those above questions stem from the human inability to give unconditional love. Jesus was the epitome of unconditional love when He died on the cross for us. That love is demonstrated in so many personal ways. You may find it in a sunset or a simple cup of coffee. You may even feel it when your child runs up to you when you come home from work.

Physical love is different than emotional love. I used to believe that the only way I could feel someone loved me was through physical gratification. Yes, sex. Physical love is fleeting! It took me many years to stop believing that love was only physical and that if I loved someone, they needed my body. For many years, I believed that if my spouse didn’t have sex with me, then he didn’t love me. Wrong! This way of thinking is so detrimental to a woman’s mental health. It has nearly destroyed me on many occasions.

CONFESSION: I used to meet random guys and have sex with them just so I could feel that I was loved for a moment. I cared about these guys but I didn’t truly love them. After the act was over, I would wrestle with the genuineness of my emotions and mental health. It never ceases to amaze me how that one act can alter the wiring in your brain when it is not done within the bound of marriage as God has ordained.

Several years ago, during my last marriage, I made a conscious decision to emulate Christ’s love for His people. I decided that I would learn how to love unconditionally. At that time, I often heard myself say, “I love you but…” and I didn’t like that. I didn’t want to put a price tag on my love for others. Honestly, I don’t think I could put a greater price on my love than the love God has for us. I would die before I gave up the life of a child. Yes, I would give up my life rather than see a child die. I’ve been pretty successful in voicing my unconditional love; I’m still working on demonstrating it. Work in progress, as usual. I’ll get there.

A more recent decision I’ve made is to not have sex again until marriage. I learned a long time ago that sex within the boundaries of a God-ordained marriage is way better than sex outside of marriage. Someone, please hit me in the head if I ever forget that! It won’t be easy, especially because I’m so used to having this in my life. However, it is a very accepted worldly trait. It won’t be easy. Sex is the physical act of love deemed wonderful and beautiful within the boundaries of marriage as God has commanded. Outside of marriage, sex is temporary and unfulfilling. I’m tired of being unfulfilled. So I will wait on God and His perfect timing for love. God’s love for me will last far beyond any feelings I would have here on earth.

“Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.” – Psalm 136:2

Dear Heavenly Father,

I come before you to confess my desire for love in all forms. Please help me to understand how You love me, as You gave up Your Son for me to have a life in heaven with You. Please help me to be strong when temptation arises and not give in to the temporary love that is found on earth. Please continue to teach me how to demonstrate the beauty of Your love and the permanence of the fulfillment found in Your embrace. Allow me opportunities to show my love for others and a continuing obedience to You. You have commanded Your children to love one another and so I shall.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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.