Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Filter Responsibly

So, we all have those moments when we are fiercely trying to grab and retract the words that just came out of our mouths. (Am I the only person that gets a clogged filter now and then?) We just say something nonchalantly and have that remorseful feeling in our gut afterward. The one that says, "Oh, I wish I wouldn't have said that now." Goodness, there have been days like that..help my filter, Lord.
Some things are just better left unsaid. That's usually easy if you're like me and don't have much to say anyhow, but even then, sometimes the filter isn't quick enough to catch the words before they leave the lips. (What about the words we never utter but say in our mind? They count too!) Opinions. Points of view. Subtle, but said. I find myself often times bowing my head and asking God for much needed forgiveness and grace...you know, the stuff I haven't readily extended to those who are standing on the other side of my carelessly-flung words. Lord, help me! 
We're all guilty of it from time to time. I know. I am guilty - even today - and afterward God gave me one of those "talking to's". (Didn't take many words from Him before I quickly bowed my head.) He doesn't point a finger in our face or look down His nose at us in disgrace. Just the opposite, He always handles us with love (if we'll receive it that way), but He never fails to get His point across. He'll gently prod us toward repentance if we'll be sensitive enough to hear Him when He speaks.
Here's a challenge for you, and for me. Let's ask God to guard our words. That He will help us to use our words wisely. Let's make an effort to build up, encourage, etc. If we flub up, let's quickly confess it, repent and move on. Let's memorize Psalms 141:3:
"Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; 
keep the door of my lips."
True, in America we have the freedom to speak...but we have a greater freedom to guard what we say. The privilege to protect one another. To build up, not tear down. The responsibility to speak favor and blessing. Our words carry more weight than we realize. Let's petition God's help...after all, He can do anything and we're going to need His almighty help in this endeavor. We hear it similarly put all the time in reference to other ares of life, but today, let's choose to start a worthy campaign called, FILTER RESPONSIBLY. Blessings~

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Questions and Promises

On the trek home from vacation in Louisiana, God did something amazing. It was a beautiful, unforgettable moment...one God- designed especially for me. You see, sometimes God will send things, such as clouds, our way then choose to speak through something as simple as a rainbow, just like He did for Noah. Just this week, God did this for me. It was a wonderful experience!
The usual problem is, when the dark clouds show up, we wonder if we've missed it somewhere along the way. If you're anything like me, you sometimes have a list of questions lined up for God. Am I on the right road? Is this part of Your will for my life? Have I erred? Am I in the right place? The enemy uses this opportunity to show up and begin to put his two-cents in too. Our view can become quickly obscured. Makes me wonder what Noah might have thought when he and his family exited from the ark and saw the devastation of their surroundings.
Although Noah was obedient and did what God told him; yet still, he had to endure dark clouds and a flood, as well as its aftermath. It was part of a divine plan, however. After all was said and done, God rewarded them with a rainbow - a promise.
As I was driving along Sunday, talking to the Lord and voicing my thoughts and questions, the clouds began to darken and raindrops beat rhythmically upon the windshield. After a while, I noticed a small part of a rainbow in the distance. As I continued driving it became larger and larger and it appeared to be sitting right in the middle of my lane. It was beautiful! Suddenly, my heart was full and at peace and I forgot my questioning session. I was reminded again of God's promises, His blessings and His will for my life. I became keenly aware that, just like Noah, God doesn't always deliver us from...but through. And I praised Him.
Yes, we may question but if we will just hold on to what we know to be true, what God has asked of us, if we will commit our ways to Him and submit to His will...we'll always be rewarded with promise and blessings....guaranteed! Clouds don't last always, but God's promises do. To God be the glory~

Thank you Lord for taking a moment
to show me your handiwork, to remind me of
the beauty of your promises, of living
for You, in step with the 
blessings of being in Your will.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Roller Coaster Moments

Mark 4:39  "And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm."

I look in the mirror and see...someone who's changing constantly with every passing day. I look closely and see a few new unruly strands of gray hair (wisdom highlights!). There are changes in my skin tone and new "character" lines starting to appear here and there - and fifty other things I don't care to mention. Yes, on the outside I look like a normal, "middle-age" adult; but on the inside some days I wake up feeling more like a tiny child in need of being saved.
Life can be a roller coaster some days, right? You know, I honestly never did really care for those as a child. I rode the Scream Machine at Six Flags out of peer pressure. The Mind Bender about got the best of me. On the inside I was scared beyond all imagination. I suppose I've never been what you'd call the adventurous type, I prefer to stay safe and live in the "known." Life doesn't always give us that choice though, does it? Life isn't quite polite enough to ask what our  preferences might be. No, sometimes it rushes in at high speeds, jerking, twisting and turning us upside down and we find ourselves holding our breath, wondering if the safety harness is going to hold this time around.
The good news...Jesus is always my anchor, and yours too. During life when we feel our world rocking and reeling to and fro, when our boat is being beaten by waves of insecurity, doubt, and fear, know and be assured of this one thing: we ARE safe and all will be well. How do I know this? Because we are always safe in HIS arms. 
The tears may fall, our knuckles may be white from holding on so tightly, and our voice may even be weakened from screaming out...but when we get our eyes focused once again on our Anchor, all will be well. We're all bound to have these set-backs from time to time. Even as adults, we sometimes lose our faith and wonder how in the world we're going to make it thru. The song, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, comes to mind and as I silently hum the tune, I remember He holds my world in His hands. I am safe regardless!
We have no reason to fear but it's perfectly fine to crawl up in His lap and tell Him if we do. He's always patient and will listen - even as the tears stream down our face. He cares and desires to cast every fear away and fill us with faith and confidence in Him. We can trust Him like no other. He will wipe away every tear from our eye...regardless of what's staring back at us in the mirror - young or old - He can calm and heal our scary moments.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cupcake Days & "Me"ssy Days

 We go through life one day at a time. Some days are good, some we label FAIL. Some days we find ourselves all smiles, while some days we desperately try to chisel a smile out of a worried frown. Some days we feel like a mighty conqueror, some days we feel a hopeless failure. Some days our to-do list gets completed, some days we don't even feel we have the strength to roll out of bed. Life happens to us all. 
On those days when we're put together "almost perfectly"; we call those days GOOD. After all, we're imitating the Lord of Creation when we do. How awesome is that!? We get up on the right side of the bed, get the kids off to school without them forgetting their lunch or homework, we get our spouses out the door and then we start our day on top of the world. You know the feeling, right? Your middle child's third-grade class has Cupcake Day. You're the room mom who shows up early, dressed to-the-nines, complete with matching shoes and purse, to help set up and, as an added bonus, you bring perfectly decorated cupcakes to match whatever theme the occasion calls for. Or maybe it's your spouse's turn to host the work dinner party and you turn out a beautifully decorated table along with a gourmet meal complete with a delicious Tiramisu for dessert. "This girls got it together!", you think to yourself when you lay your head down for the night.
But there are ultimately those times when life gets really messy. Nothing seems to turn out like it did on Cupcake Day. In fact, you're still in your pajamas at noon. Or maybe you are still searching for the other hot-pink sandal so you can get out the door to your Lady's Luncheon. Or maybe a phone call just turned your world upside-down. Or maybe we didn't respond correctly to a co-worker or our boss just "ate our lunch." Whatever the case, it is so NOT a GOOD day and we're a mess...yes, and we all have those messy days.
Do we realize the beautiful truth in those times? That someone sees exactly where we are on our "ME"ssy days? It's true, someone sees the real ME in the mess. God knows what we're feeling and how we might be hurting. He pays attention to every detail on both kinds of days, but He's especially touched by those days when we're feeling like we've hit our lowest point. Why? Because He's our Daddy and He cares...even about our mess. He doesn't get scared off when we break out the tissue box to catch the tears and stuff.
Maybe someone has accused, betrayed, or broken our trust, etc. Maybe financial difficulty has hit our family, maybe disease, death, infidelity...God cares and He sees the mess we find ourselves in. He's willing to help if we'll ask and let Him. He can turn any mess into a miracle. He can do anything...including turning our mess into a blessing. Remember, this too shall pass...there will be GOOD days again. Take heart in knowing that the all-knowing and caring God we serve cares about our MEssy days and we'll never ever find ourselves alone. He will give us peace in the midst of the mess...while we wait on the cupcakes.

1Peter 5:10  "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."

Sunday, June 7, 2015

We're Human, We're Soldiers

We are all human. 
We all have the same covering - flesh. 
We all have feelings and emotions. 
We're all susceptible to being wounded. 
When we're cut, we all bleed. 
We're human.

We are all soldiers. 
We all have the same covering - armor. 
We all have a choice to be bitter or better. 
We're all able to survive vicious attacks. 
When we're hurt, we can choose to forgive. 
We're soldiers.

 As Christians, we are in a raging battle. We're soldiers on the Lord's side. We're admonished in scripture to put on the whole armor of God. We're supposed to be in this battle; we're called to be prepared for the fight, and to war against...THE ENEMY.

Jesus once told Peter to put his sword away. Remember, in the garden when they came to arrest the Lord? Peter grabbed one of the soldier's swords and cut off the man's ear. (Matthew 26:51-52) Jesus reprimanded Peter. I think Jesus is calling us to do the same today. We're sometimes too quick to pull out our sword...but not on the enemy. You see, too often we pull out our swords and try to take off our brother or sister's ear, but they're NOT the enemy.

It's true. We're all human. We are all apt to hurt someone's feelings. We're likely to say or do something which may "wound" our neighbor in some way. Actually, there are times when we may wound someone and not even be aware of it. As humans, we will have some bad days, low times, valleys, etc. We all get hurt from time to time. We'll all have the chance, and a "good reason" to build walls of protection (bitterness) in our hearts. Yes, if we're strong enough to open our hearts, if we are brave enough to love, we'll get our fair share of opportunities to grab up our sword. We'll have plenty of opportunities to become hard and bitter, and also a multitude of chances to practice forgiveness. It's our choice. We must make the decision. After all, we're soldiers.

Friends, let's put down our swords and fight the REAL enemy. Remember, the fight is not against flesh and blood. (Ephesians 6:12) Let's practice forgiveness and bear the fruit of the Spirit! We're human. We're soldiers. We have a choice to fight the real enemy or be wounded and become bitter. Our Captain's command is to love one another. Let's wage war God's way. Love covers a multitude of sins.

Dear God,
Help me to be mindful of the things I say & do.
Let me ever be mindful of others and put the sword away.
Help me to "see" what's really happening so I can
fight the right enemy. Help me to forgive.
Help me to love. I'm human, but I'm a soldier.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Auburn Blessings

Philippians 2:13  "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

 So, while riding down the road the other day, I noticed something I'd never seen before. You know, when you're driving you have to stay focused on traffic and the road - for the most part anyhow if you plan to arrive at your destination safely. However, when you're a passenger you can day dream, sleep or take time to "site see". At times there are some pretty amazing scenes to take in. If you're a driver, you fully understand what I'm talking about. OK, so I WAS the passenger the other day so it's alright that I wasn't paying attention to the traffic and suddenly noticed that the sun shining through the window was spot-lighting something I'd never seen before.

For I had no idea that this person with whom I spend almost every day of my life with has the most beautiful deep, auburn highlights in their hair. I'd never noticed it before but it was absolutely, stunningly, beautiful. (Yes, my favorite hair color. ) I wondered to myself, "How had I missed this before?" I didn't say anything, but my mind immediately shifted into its "think tank" mode. I wondered how many other brilliant things I'd missed along the way.

How many times do we look at people and shallowly sum them up by what we think we see or don't see? Whether our own personal audit report of a person is a good one or not, most often there is so much more to that person. We are complex. We have depth. We are each wonderfully made, marvelous are God's works! (Psalms 139:14) God made each of us unique with certain physical traits, abilities, personalities, etc., yet don't we sometimes tend to overlook the beauty which is right before our eyes. I'd say that we're all guilty of doing this from time to time. We get wrapped up and fail to take time to notice that our neighbor is one of God's finest masterpieces too.

Sure, there are people which get "under our skin", there are sandpaper people, and there are personality clashes and then there are those we get along with easily. Yet, if we'll stop and notice, there is beauty in spite of the obvious...if only we'll let the the light of God open our eyes to see like He does. We've possibly unintentionally missed so much along the way; because we're each a work in progress and in a different stage of growth or completion. We're God's workmanship. While each of us requires much grace and mercy, don't we also deserve to see the best in each other too? There's so much about each other to celebrate and enjoy. What if we looked on in a different light - took a moment to look beyond.

Can I challenge us to allow the Light to show us something different today? What about asking God to help us with seeing our neighbor thru His eyes? What if we would dig a little deeper in our efforts to find positive? We might be surprised, or totally shocked, by what we'll see for the first time...even in those we're most comfortable with. How did we miss that? Hey, we might even see something about ourselves that we've missed before. In God's light...we can all beautifully shine...whether blonde, brown, white or AUBURN. Blessings~

Dear God,
Help me not to miss the beauty you've
placed in others. Help me to really "see" them as you do.
Help me to be ever mindful that we're
all walking this road together and we need
each other to complete the race.
 


Friday, June 5, 2015

From a Veggie Plant - God's Order


It's summertime in Georgia, and coming to a garden near you...tiny buds erupt and lead the way to gloriously delicious fruit and vegetables. I'd venture to say there is nothing quite as wonderful as home-grown produce. (Maybe it's because I love gardening so much.) I find it absolutely amazing on so many levels.  
For instance, if you're not a gardener you might not know that a bell pepper with three lobes on the bottom is male fruit while ones with four lobes is female. Yes, even amongst vegetable plants, God made distinction between male and female. How cool is that? A male squash blossom erupts from long skinny stalks all along the vine while a female blossom is usually tucked away near the center of the plant and has a slight bulge below the blossom which will eventually turn into a squash. Easy to tell the difference when you know what to look for, huh?
Today, while talking with a friend about gardening, I seemed to recall that male blooms usually appear before a female bloom shows up on the scene. (I learned most of my gardening knowledge from my Mamaw. Hours of listening to her talk over the phone about this and that...such valuable and treasured moments. Oh, I won't forget all the seeds she's sent me through the mail either.) After both male and female blooms are present, bees take care of cross-pollination so the blooms will produce delicious fruit and vegetables for us to enjoy. But FIRST, the male bloom must exist. I came home and looked it up to be certain...and yes, what I had thought was indeed correct. Did you know that God arranged it to work out that way? Perfect order. 

In the beginning of time God's first created being was man...male. Man was good, but not alone. God created a second being - a help meet, a woman...female. God even took something (a rib) from man to create woman, just like bees take pollen from the male to female bloom before it can be fruitful. Remember God's command to Adam and Eve? Genesis 1:28, "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth..." God had a perfect plan and order even in Creation. Which gender gave birth to off-spring? The female. Eve. Did you know that only female blooms will produce fruit?! Are you a tomato fan? You won't be eating any of those bright red delicacies without both types of blooms existing.
God has given us so many principles to follow in His Word. He's even shown us the right and acceptable way in so many different areas of life - such as veggie plants. Even in the day and age we live in, God still gives us very practical reminders that He likes order and expects it. Just "anything" WON'T be acceptable. 
Though our world changes its views from day to day, (seems to be more wicked with each passing day) God is the "same yesterday, today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) He changes not. His statutes and principles are unchangeable. God reminded me today that He too created plants to operate according to how He has ordered. What He has established is right, true, and acceptable. Forever and ever. For me...and for you too. Think about that the next time you see a vegetable garden overflowing in abundance, the next time you take a big bite out of a juicy piece of fruit - remember, you're only able to do so because of the order of the Master Gardener. It's not about what we think is right...it's about God's order.

Monday, June 1, 2015

From My Heart

As I sit down for a nice relaxing writing session (oh, how I love these times), I'm thinking of you; and I have just a couple things I wanted to share with you today:

First and foremost, God is ever faithful...full of mercy and grace...ready and alert at all times to hear the cry of hurting, lost souls who need a Savior. Yes, my friend, I'm so thankful that I realized at a very young age that I needed Him in my life. (What ever would I have done without Him by my side? What a mess I would be. Can't even begin to imagine what it might look like.) He is not a disposable part of my life...He is the foundation on which the rest of my life is built.
I'm not certain when I figured out my love for writing, but I assume it must have been while in high school. One teacher would hand out a sheet of paper with topics/titles on it and tell us to "Pick one, and start writing." (If I'm not mistaken, I have a bundle of papers filled with my submissions tucked away in a portfolio in the back of a closet somewhere.) Now, I'll be the first to admit that my work was often returned to me highly-decorated. (No, it wasn't highly decorated like a respected military person either.) Rather it was those not-so-lovely "red ink" marks of which every dedicated teacher wields. Even so, I found that it just made me try a bit harder. Why do I tell you this? Well, because I'm sure there are still plenty of places tucked away in my writing which could be more grammatically correct. Some of my words could be rearranged to make my thoughts clearer so that I connect better with you, the reader. It's just the facts! However, I realized I couldn't allow this to hinder me.
God gave me this particular talent and though it may be "uniquely flawed" at times, and any "red-ink bandit" could slice and dice it, still it may be used to bring God glory and point others toward Him. I cannot shrink from sharing simply because it's not perfectly expressed. (That's how I've finally become more comfortable sharing with you in the first place. It's not MINE, it belongs to my Creator. He's blessed me with a chance to shine His light into dark places that need hope.) And...so I write. Thanks for letting me share with you some of the things God shows me and places on my heart. I'm glad you come by ever so often. (And just so you know, I continually work to use this talent in a more excellent way on a daily basis. God doesn't require what we call "perfection", He just asks us to use what we have to the best of our ability - all the while trusting in Him to complete the work He has begun.)
Amongst the papers I've tucked into my portfolio from years gone by is one I wrote on Paul Revere. Only, I didn't exactly write it from the normal viewpoint you might expect. It's true. I wrote it from the perspective of Mr. Revere's horse as it raced from town to town. (Can't you just visualize that horse with "pen in hoof"?) You see, we're each different in our own ways. God has given us different talents and abilities. However, there is common ground in the fact that He desires us to use what He's given us to bring Him glory. It's not about me, it's not about you; it's ultimately about Him. 
So, I ask you, are you using the talents He's given so liberally to you? Are you bringing Him glory? Or are you allowing it to waste away? Remember the parable of the talents. Let's not bury our talents if we want to hear "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." God is counting on us and one day we will give account for what we've done with what He's given us. 
Can I encourage you today to begin using "what you've got" and allow God to do the rest? I know it might not be easy at first, but take baby steps. (I was petrified at first and sometimes find I'm still leery just before I click the "PUBLISH" button. I've learned to pause and pray though, "God, help the right people to read this today. Someone who needs encouragement and may they find their hope in You.) It's not always easy, but always do-able...with God all things are possible. Friend, dig that talent out of the sand today and put it to good use. And thanks, once again, for stopping by to visit for a spell. Hope you've enjoyed yourself and been inspired along the way. God bless~