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!!