Put Some Duct Tape on It

Matthew 18:21-22: ” Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

I know you are thinking where in the world could this be going?

I grew up in a family that could have had stock in duct tape. No matter where you looked it was on something. It held the mailbox to the post, the back window in the car, the handle on the stove, the screen in the door, it was on the toilet seat, you get the point the stuff was everywhere. I never really thought about it much any deeper than that. I always thought my Papa was just a rigging genius. In reality the duct tape was used when the correct tool wasn’t known or we didn’t have it. It was a cheap simple fix but it didn’t last very long. It was almost impossible to remove once you used it. After removing it there would be a gray sticky mess for years that collected every piece of dirt that it came in contact with.

My forgiveness life has been kind of like that duct tape. I’ve had a lot of hurts from people that were never supposed to inflict hurt. I spent years almost a lifetime putting duct tape on it. I’ve known Jesus my whole life and that I should forgive others and had really thought I had done that. I had said the words to God, myself and sometimes even them. But honestly, those words “I forgive you” never took root. I spent time with the people who had hurt me and smiled and laughed with them and made excuses for every new hurt. With each new hurt I put my duct tape on them “I forgive you”. Why do I call it duct tape that’s what you’re supposed to say when you’re hurt. I call it duct tape because it wasn’t real. I hadn’t yet accessed the proper tools for those words to work they were just words.

I was saying it but not really meaning it. Whenever they spoke my face said I’m a forgiving, loving, peace making Jesus girl but my heart and my mind said the truth. I despise you and remember everything you’ve done and all I can think of when I pray for you is that I hope you know how much you hurt me and I don’t care how that happens and if I never see or talk to you again that will be fine.

Then it happened. Jesus! My God sending me the correct tools through His Word, a Bible study, other Jesus women I can glean wise counsel from who had been where I was and me listening to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Just like any good duct tape does it hurt to pull off and it left a sticky mess. But thankfully through His grace I am slowly getting the goo b gone to work in my heart and clean up the mess. It’s not completely cleaned up yet but it’s better than it was and it’s no longer collecting dirt. Even more than that I have the correct tools now to only use duct tape for home repair projects and not on my heart and I can truly be that Jesus girl who is merciful and happy working for peace. A heart at peace. No longer an emotional mess creating sickness and disease in myself by duct taping my emotions but a Jesus girl with no resentment and no bitterness who forgives continuously as much as necessary for me to stay in that perfect peace.

I pray over each of you to continue forgiving as much as necessary for you to be whole and that the Holy Spirit will guide you and show you any roots that may need to be pulled out. May any areas that duct tape has been applied to in your life be revealed and the Light shine upon it. In Jesus’ Name.

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FOCUS!!

WOW! It has been almost a year since my last blog post. It certainly doesn’t feel like it but then again 2014 was a whirlwind of so many different things: loss, tears, joy and mostly change. We had a lot of changes last year some we were excited about and some not so much. I won’t even begin to go into the vast list of what each one was that would take my whole post for today. Besides, my scripture for this year is “Forgetting the past”. That’s been the scripture that God has placed on my heart for quite some time. That one I haven’t completely “gotten” yet but hopefully soon.

I have been spending quite a bit of time in prayer about the word God would like me to dig deeper into this year. That one word that could sum up what He wants to work in and through me. It probably sounds crazy to try and get a whole year’s worth of direction in a few months and with one word but, that’s not how it works this is a starting point. Trust me it leads to much more.

My word for this year is focus. Sounds great right? But, oh snap! It’s the same word from last year! What!? I’ve spent quite a bit of time in prayer about where I missed it last year. What is it that I didn’t do or didn’t do well enough?

So, where did I miss it? I didn’t! Praise God. I’m not missing it I’m just not done yet. I am not to put a 12 month calendar date and expiration on what God wants to reveal to me. And especially not where He wants to lead me. I will continue the path and race He has set before me with perseverance and consistency. I will be just as excited with the word “focus” for 2015 as I was for 2014. After all, how could anything God is charging me with not be exciting?

That brought me to really dig into what focus is and what it’s supposed to mean to me. Merriam Webster’s defines focus as the following:

”a subject that is being discussed or studied : the subject on which people’s attention is focused; a main purpose or interest; a point at which rays of light, heat, or sound meet or from which they move apart or appear to move apart; especially : the point at which an image is formed by a mirror, a lens, etc.; adjustment for distinct vision; also :  the area that may be seen distinctly or resolved into a clear image; a state or condition permitting clear perception or understanding <tried to bring the issues into focus>; directed attention”

That definition in itself is enough to realize why it will be more than 12 months for me to fully grasp this concept. This is without even adding scripture. WOW! I am so excited to continue my journey through “focus” and so excited to have this avenue so you can join me.

One of my charges that are requiring my focus is this blog and doing a better job of posting. I journal a lot but they are typically private. There are quite a few things that are not supposed to be private anymore. This blog will be you and I connecting through my sharing. I will be sharing my journey through focus, a new healthy lifestyle, my health battle that I have finally taken control over, the parts of the past that I need to release to move forward, excerpts from my new book, and anything else I feel God wants me to get out there.

Thank you for joining me through this. As always I welcome your comments and feedback.

Love and Overflowing Blessings!

Determination is a necessity!

1 Peter 5:7-8

Casting the whole of your care (all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all) on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. (Psalm 55:22) 8. Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring (in fierce hunger), seeking someone to seize upon and devour.

I have never been that great at dealing with emotions, mine or anyone else’s.  I am not typically an overly emotional person and when I am it usually comes out mostly as anger or is covered up with anger. So for me this has been a really challenging 2 weeks to deal with. For anyone that doesn’t know, my Papa passed away January 16th. He had been battling lung disease for a while and though the timing was a surprise it really wasn’t. I know he was at peace and I know he’s flatfooting around the throne (especially now that my Granny knows it’s ok to dance) and his love for music is being used to praise the King. I am certain he was met by a myriad of relatives he has longed to see for a very long time and they are all there cheering us on.  Though I know all these things it doesn’t change the fact that he’s not here, he’s no longer a phone call or visit away.

I think it’s safe to say that anyone who has ever had a loved one move on to Heaven knows all the ups and downs of emotions that go with it. There are the moments of rejoicing, of remembrance of their lives, sadness, grief and anger. There are the moments of wanting them back so bad you can’t stand it and at the same time praising God that you were blessed to have had them in your life in the first place. We all have ways we cope with all of the emotions that follow the death of a loved one. For me, I typically stay really busy and try to avoid the quiet so I don’t think too much. For the most part it works and most people are supportive. It may not be perfect or someone else’s way but it works for me.

I absolutely hate funerals. Not just because someone we love will no longer be here but all of the other garbage that goes on. Maybe it’s just me but they always seem so drama filled. A moment that should be for family togetherness and consolation turns into back biting, manipulation, fighting over stuff and craziness. Emotions run high and that’s coupled with people that aren’t always the best of friends anyway being thrown together and being asked to play nice when they would prefer to not. It’s also a time that you get together with the people that have probably seen you at your best and your worst and won’t let you forget the latter.

Don’t get me wrong the majority of my family and friends are amazing. But (yes a but) there’s always one. There’s that one person that no matter what there will be something or everything that will be overly dramatic. For me it’s always the same person and the only person. I decided, no I determined, that I was not going to allow this behavior to affect me any longer and definitely not at this moment. I determined that at this point in my life I was going to focus on who God says I am not the opinion of someone else. Someone else’s distorted view of me or their own insecurities with themselves were not going to make me forget who I am in Christ or who God says I am.

It went well through the funeral and the days immediately after, as well as a funeral can go anyway. There were comments and snippiness but nothing that was even validated. But the week after I suppose it had been too quiet for too long or all the other digs hadn’t worked when it hit. A simple conversation turned into 20 text messages of rage, jealousy and nastiness. It’s like the scripture above says “careful your enemy waits”. I was ready this time armed with the Word and what God says about me and who I am in Him. It was close, a week no, a lifetime of emotions and wrongs welled up and everything in me wanted to blast them with all of it. If I could just get it out! Forget the texts I wanted to call, wanted to yell and wanted to put them in their place. How dare them! They had no right to say anything to me about honor, honesty, love or accountability. Not to mention the nerve to choose one of the hardest times in my life to behave that way.

For one of the first times in my life I paused and didn’t blast them, though I had the words there I didn’t use them. I prayed. As I heard the phone chiming with text after nasty text I didn’t even look. I prayed. I was praising God that His Word was written in my heart for times just like this. I was grateful for my phone that has a Bible on it. I was thankful for all of the family and friends that had sent me messages praying for my peace though they probably didn’t really truly know why I needed them. Above all else I praised God for Jesus and because of Him I was a new creature in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold all things have become new.” I praised God for that! I am a new creature in Christ I don’t have to respond the way it would be expected, I don’t have to respond at all. Praise God that according to Romans 8:1 “there is no condemnation to me because I am in Christ”. Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world (1 John 4:4), I am more than a conqueror through Him that loved me (Romans 8:37), I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me (Philippians 4:13) and I resist the devil and he flees from me (James 4:7).

My response after being determined to not allow the enemy to destroy my witness was one of forgiveness, prayer and moving on. This time I have closure with peace and I can go before the Father knowing because of who I am in Him I did what He wanted-stayed determined to put Him first. That my friends is where I am determined to stay In Him and focusing only on those things He wants and who He says I am. Why? Because it is a necessity!

Getting that bird’s nest out of my hair!

I find it interesting how our vocabulary has changed with the onset of our technology generation. There’s so much truth to the new lingo. One such word is tweeting. For those who use this social media outlet relentlessly remind me of the birds I hear through my window. They tweet away beginning at dawn, kind of a nature’s hashtag. At the beginning of spring I love hearing the birds chirping a sweet little song or as it could be called their “tweeting”. By a very few Saturday mornings later this sound just isn’t as soothing or cute as it once was and a month or so into spring I have actually contemplated whether the jail time and criminal record that would follow firing a firearm in a subdivision would actually be worth some quiet. We’ve sent the dog out to quiet it but that too is short-lived as they go higher in the trees to taunt him and then we add his barking to their incessant tweeting and twitting. Eventually, he too gives up and just lays there and watches as they fly from tree top to roof top leaving their path of poo wherever they go and twitting and tweeting along the way.

This made me think what do I do? How do I turn it off or tune it out? For the birds, I like our little puppy have decided it’s a lost cause and keep pegs in the gutters so they can’t build nests and cover the lawn furniture so I can enjoy my morning coffee and Jesus time outside without having to pressure wash everything first.

But what about the social media? It has become such a part of our lives how do we protect ourselves? In this year of living “intentionally focused” this is one of the things God is dealing with me about. There are social media outlets that I must be on, it’s my job and part of the ministry I’ve been called to. There are people that I must stay connected to and people that I really want to stay connected to. At the same time, God has shown me there are people that I need to let go of and I don’t need their “stuff” constantly being in my face and space. This is hard! Some of the things and people I need to let go of I care about, love and some I am even genetically connected to. So, what to do?

Kenneth Hagin once said “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head but you can stop them from building a nest in your hair.” So very true and also my attitude to not just the birds in my backyard but also the social media networks that I am connected with. I choose what I see and who I am connected to. I get to choose what goes into me and my family and more than that my reaction to it. I get to choose who stays and goes. I can’t stop social media or the people on it’s rants and tirades that make no sense and certainly aren’t edifying. But I can keep it off my page and out of my eye sight. Does this mean that if I don’t agree I delete, unfriend and block? Absolutely not! I love debates. I love others opinions we are all entitled to them and I don’t force mine on anyone and expect the same from those I align myself with. Not to mention I may be the only Jesus some people see, I don’t want to turn that off. In a room filled with light you can’t tell where the lights come from but in a room of darkness the light source is clear and necessary.

So, what do I do? What did I do? I spent time this morning removing groups that I don’t need taking up my time or energy, unfollowing tweets that are always vulgar and filled with hate and unfriending those that I prayerfully seeked God’s direction on that it’s time to let go. I deleted some things I’ve “liked” in the past without realizing I really didn’t understand where they were coming from. Now my social media sites are like my patio in the spring, still noisy but not covered in poo and peaceful even with the noise and if it gets too noisy and they start getting too close I can send the dog back out so they will retreat yet again to the tree tops.  I, like Pastor Hagin refuse to allow those nests. What are you allowing to be built in you?

Welcome 2014!

This year has gotten off to a great start. It’s only been 2 days but I’ve been anticipating this new season for what seems like forever even though it’s only been months. I am always in awe at the way God prepares the way for His plans. We are moving into some things that we have been preparing for since the fall but more on that at another time. I’m trying not to get ahead of myself or more than that ahead of God.

I’ve spent the past few weeks and even more the past few days tweaking details, schedules, life plans, meal plans, finance plans and pulling it all together into what I feel God is leading not just me but our family to. I’ve completed action plans, read books, accepted challenges, read books, joined groups, read more books, started new journals, read more, written more and repeated.I think the biggest part of the nation spends this time doing the same all the while reflecting on personal growth and the years past and setting resolutions.

We don’t make resolutions but we do set goals. In our goal setting we seek God’s direction and what He wants us working on for the year. This year the word is: focus. My first thought was ok that seems so simple. Then after I spent some time in prayer and defining what focus really means…WOW. The definition for focus is: pay particular attention to, the center of interest or activity, adjustment for a distinct vision, a point of concentration, attention and effort and my absolute favorite: adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly. What an amazing place to be, so adapted to the level of Light that we see clearly.

It’s not just one word that we pray about but also a scripture that we feel God is leading us to direct our attention for the year and our directive. For 2014 that Word is Philippians 3:13-14 “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended but one thing, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

There you have it in a nutshell and a very condensed version of what you can expect from me this year as we journey together. I will be spending my time focusing in on God’s plans, putting things behind and moving forward. I am excited about all God is doing and about being able to share these things with you.

I would love for you to share what God is speaking to you about your goals for 2014.

Happy New Year!!

Has it really been that long?

I logged in this morning to blog something I felt was deep and chronicling a new journey and a lot of changes going on in our family’s life right now and mine personally, that’s when I realized I haven’t blogged since February. Wow! That’s 7 months, that’s on the downside of a year. Have I really been that busy to have not noticed it’s been that long?

I have spent a lot of time the past few months on priorities. God’s priorities for myself and our family and bringing things into line to only be focusing on what’s important and what He wants and letting some things go. Things that aren’t what God has for me or my family, things that distract and take away from our call and destiny. It’s a hard process! I thought it would be easy to tick off the things from my list that I don’t like doing anyway but no there are some things I have to let go of that I enjoy but just aren’t in my plan, His plan.

As I look over my priority list daily and before I commit to any new tasks and as I release old ones it’s so funny how very simple the God envisioned priority list is. So how did it get so out of whack? Who knows and it’s not on my list to try and pinpoint it either because it doesn’t matter now. What does matter is coming back full circle to where I should be and focusing on what He has for me.

My husband and I spent a week on vacation together 2 weeks ago and I thought-has it really been that long since we spent quality time together?

I had coffee, wine and lunch with some friends and wondered has it really been that long?

I had folks over to just hang out and couldn’t imagine it had really been that long?

I spoke with my brothers, my mom and lots of family and was astonished had it really been that long?

I cleaned house, did laundry, worked out, prepared healthy meals, stuck to my budget, loved on my little ones and my not so little ones: wow, had it really been that long?

Put me first, said no, celebrated a milestone birthday with very little commotion and only one break-down and realized it has been that long.

Spent time alone with Him seeking His direction and His purpose not trying to get Him to work out my plans but getting Him to show me how to work in His plan. Has it really been that long?

Vowed it will be the last time I reflect back wondering has it really been that long. Life’s too short, children are young for such a short amount of time, family isn’t here forever (as much as we want them to be) this moment is only this moment and when it’s gone it’s gone. This moment is called the present because it is just that a present, a gift from God, a gift to be grateful for and participate in.

What are your “has it really been that long moments”? Do they need to change too?

Ma’am Yes Ma’am!

My husband is a Marine and I have always loved listening to his days in the corps stories especially since my oldest son is planning on becoming a Marine as well after college, he gets the “you need to be prepared for this” story. I marvel at all our soldiers go thru in the training process and can’t imagine going thru what they do from their Drill Instructors. I know there is a purpose but as a mom I am really apprehensive about my son going through what they must to become who they need to be to defend our country and make Marines out of boys, the same as my husband. The yelling and structure and my way and that’s the only way mentality of the DI’s and having someone treat my son that way, or should I say someone else. By someone else I mean me.

This week I was meditating on the verse:

She watches over the activities of her household ~ Proverbs 31:27 HCSB

I began contemplating what exactly this verse means and how this relates me and my family and raising Godly children and running a household. The more time I spent on it I realized I haven’t really been watching over my house as much as I rule over it. It bears a big resemblance to the  boot camp in my husbands stories. There aren’t uniforms or 5am bugles but there is a drill instructor who doesn’t play. You may not have to drop and give me 20 but you will have to do laps on the stairs when you leave your shoes in the den. You won’t have to scrub the bathroom with a toothbrush at my house (I do that) but you may have a drawer dumped out that you need to reorganize when you have shirts that should be hung up stuffed into a drawer hidden among tshirts. I won’t even go into the many other little quirks and habits I have that when my household doesn’t want to stay with can lead very quickly to a most prized electronic device or two finding a new home locked away in my office. The my way or no way you cannot deviate from the plan and absolutely not leave anything out of it’s place mentality that has been my house or should I say Oliver Island.

This scripture really made me think about the way I run my house as opposed to watching over it. My house doesn’t need a micromanager and definitely not a drill instructor it needs a mom who is secure enough to be ok that everything is not done exactly as I would have done it, they have tried and that’s good enough. As the wife and mother I set, as do all women, the tone in my house and I don’t want it to be one of bootcamp but rather love and nurturing where everyone is free to step out of line. Still knowing that there is discipline and consequences for wrong or inapporopriate behavior but it’s ok for a short book to be on the tall book shelf sometime. That the role God has given to me as the one who watches over her house should be done the way He would do it, always in love and understanding not always as the drill instructor not allowing anyone to ever step out of line. Because after all, it’s not a matter of life or death if the transformers are left in the lego box.