God, Unravel My Mess!

20180706_104722.jpgI was fighting with this clothes line to untangle it. Arrrgh 😐😫!

Instead of surrendering to frustration and defeat, I confidently asked God to help me unravel the mess. I was determined to hang my basket full of clothes outside this particular day! I know it slounds strange to pray for such a silly thing. But, I’ve seen God care about every little detail of my life. So, I didn’t hesitate to ask.

I’m not typically patient with unraveling messes. My husband can tell you a few stories! I usually defer knots, twists, and all things tangled to him. He takes his time and calmly unravels the mess bit by bit until it is back to its original state. Not me! I’m good at creating messes, not fixing them!

A few minutes after I prayed, viola! I had my clothes line back and didn’t have to wait for hubby to unravel the mess 😁👍.

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As God untangled the clothes line for me, I got to thinking. We humans make pretty good messes of our life and have no clue on how to fix it. Thankfully, there is One who can unravel our messes to set things right. His name is Jesus. We just have to call on Him and he will come to our rescue.

I’ve made quite a few messes in my lifetime. Nothing that couldn’t be unraveled by a mighty and powerful God, but I’m still experiencing the consequences of some of those messes today.

On my own, I don’t know what to do with the mess I make. The more and harder I try to fix it, the worse things get. It’s because I am relying on my own understanding and intellect, which got me into the mess in the first place! How foolish of me to think I can get myself out of the mess I created from my own folly 😕.

These days, I’m quick to turn to God for help with my messes. Even with something as simple as a tangled clothes line 😉. It saves me from wasting time and spares me the aggravation of trying to undo my mess with faulty human effort. I practice handing things over to God bit by bit, before they become out of control messes that takes over my life and consumes me with anxiety. This way, I can be free from the turbulence my mess tends to create. Free from trying to figure things out on my own. Free to enjoy the life God gives.

And the best part? Watching God do miraculously unraveling of my mess, no matter how many I’ve made, because he loves me and patiently teaches me through each one 🤗💜.

Listen, as long as we are human messes will happen. But we don’t have to face it with our own limitations. We have access to heavenly help from the powerful God who made us. He fixed the sin mess of humanity by letting his Son Jesus die in our place, so we don’t have to figure out a way to escape forever death.

If God can bring Jesus from death back to life, there is no mess too hard for him to unravel!

 

Posted in Breakthrough, Christian Living, Daily Life, faith, Freedom, Growth & Maturity, Wellness, Worries | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Broken to Breakthrough

KODAK Digital Still CameraI captured this photo last week going over the Delaware bridge on our way to visit family in New Jersey. This picture came to mind in the wee hours today when I awoke several times to God telling me, “Breakthrough comes when you are broken before me.”

God often relay his instructions to me through dreams so I wondered what he was trying to tell me this time. As I spent time reading His Word this morning, God gave clarity to the words he had repeated to me in my slumber.

The book of Job 33 in the Bible says, God speaks in dreams and visions to open our ears and seal instructions on our hearts. He does this so we will turn from our sinful deeds. He wants to keep our souls from the pit and our life from perishing. God wants us to be enlightened with his light of life as we experience breakthrough from self-driven, self-directed ways.

God spoke this to me because He knows I’ve been working towards a breakthrough!

You see, breakthrough needs to continually happen in every area of our life or we stop growing into our best self. Then we won’t be productive and effective in our service to God and humanity.

Being broken before God means we humble ourselves to repent from our way of doing. We ask God to show us his way to break through habits and appetites which will lead to the pit of destruction. This is where I am. Broken before God because I want and need a breakthrough from God-given appetites which have been perverted by selfish desires and ambition.

Whatever breakthrough you are awaiting, it is not beyond reach. God sent His Son, Jesus to be the bridge connecting you to your breakthrough. All that’s required is a willingness to admit you can’t do it on your own, that you need His help. And Breakthrough is yours. Do it today and start your weekend, next week, next month, the rest of your life, on the right path!

Breakthrough comes when we are broken before God. It requires humility and repentance. To get to our breakthrough, we must be willing to give up our pride and let go of control in order to experience the freedom and enjoyment God has waiting for us.

What sin do you need to be broken over in order for God to bring you to your breakthrough? Why wait? Come to God. Come broken. Spill your heart. He already knows what’s in there. He will bring you to your breakthrough and set you free to enjoy the life he’s given you 🤗.

Posted in Authenticity, Breakthrough, Change, Christian Living, Daily Life, Fear, Freedom, Growth & Maturity | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Growing Through Crisis

20180630_165807I wish someone had told me how hard marriage is before I said “I do.” Looking back on my married years, I see how clueless I was about this thing called marriage.

No one warned me before I took the plunge and pledge my faithfulness to God and my husband-to-be. Family, friends, and acquaintances cheered me on without clueing me in on the roller coaster ride of marriage. Why didn’t my Christian friends give me any pointers on what to expect? I do wish they had.

June 30th, marks 17 years of marriage for hubby and me. 2018 has been most challenging, but it has ushered us into  an intimacy level we didn’t know existed. The eruption of an escalading crisis sent us into the biggest growth spurt in all our years together, individually and as a couple.

For the protection and health of our marriage, I can’t write more specifically at this time. But God willing, a future book about the crisis that saved our marriage is in the making.

Even in a Christian marriage crisis happens, because husband and wife are imperfect people. Crisis threathens because we have no idea it’s coming. It can crush or grow a marriage relationship. Thankfully, my husband and I are not crushed under the stress of our crisis. Instead, we have grown stronger and more committed to God and one another because of it.

Crisis taught us about our failings. We learned how to cling to our Heavenly Father for wisdom, strength, and courage to move out of crisis into deeper intimacy with each other.

Marriage is no board walk. It is hard work. Challenges arise. Conflict happens. Crisis comes. Expect them. Be prepared by depending on the God who designed marriage. He knows how to help. He will show you what to do. Even in crisis, God can grow your marriage to make it stronger and the best it’s ever been if you turn to him for help.

Hubby and I are witnessing God’s growing work in our relationship even now. We’ve come through our crisis and are both thankful for the priceless lessons it is teaching us.

Crisis was a wake up call for us to cherish one another. God allowed it to saved us from a status quo marriage. For it was God’s intention when he brought us together as husband and wife, to give us unity and deep intimacy with one another and him through the bonds of marriage.

Crisis in marriage and any relationship is actually God’s protection in disguise. He uses it to alert us to dangers ahead so we can work on problems we’ve been ignoring. If we are willing to seek his counsel, God will give us the wisdom to get through our crises so we can experience deep, heart to heart connection with others and with him.

 

 

 

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Learning to Love My Dad

20180618_154548I wanted to write a nice piece for Father’s Day to honor my dad. After all, I am a Christ follower and it’s what I’m supposed to do. Except I couldn’t pull it off. I’ve always written from an honest place, so I have to stay true to how God has called me to write.

The truth is, my relationship with dad is not how I want it to be. We don’t talk much, even though he lives with our family. He hasn’t been what my four siblings and I needed in a father. But I’ve come a long way to the place of forgiving him. I’ve learned to love him in spite of his faults.

Over the years my dad’s harsh words and conditional love has not been discriminatory. He has treated all his kids the same. In his mind, we are big disappointments because we have not made him proud in our work and we have not taken care of him the way he thinks we should. Compared to other people’s kids, we have not been loyal and grateful for all he has done for us. To sum it up, we have failed him.

Even with all this said, I have learned to love my dad. I don’t like and agree with how he treats us, but I choose to love him anyway. I do it because my Heavenly Father commands me to love. As a child of God, I am to imitate him and live a life of love (Ephesians 5:1-2) in following the example of Christ. In loving my dad, I am doing what God would do. I love my dad in spite of his faults because God loves me in spite of my faults. And I can only love in this manner by the resurrection power of Christ living in me!

Now, is it easy to love a dad or anyone who treats you poorly and doesn’t realize they need to change for the better? You bet it is! Loving my dad is an impossible thing to do on my own. When I recall his hurtful words and how he insists on his own way, the last thing I want to do is show him love. The weak human part of me wants to return the hurts he’s dished out. Yet, the Spirit of God living in me fights against my flesh, reminding me to act differently. He reminds me to treat my dad how I want to be treated, as Jesus taught in Matthew 7:12.  When I wrong others I want forgiveness, grace, and do-overs. So, I should do the same for my dad when he wrongs me.

I can love my dad because God first loved me. When I don’t feel like loving him or feel I don’t have what it takes to love him, I can borrow God’s love with which to love my dad. If God can love me with all my faults and failures, how can I not love my dad?

My dad is an imperfect human like me. He has weaknesses and failures like me. God loves him as much as he loves me. The more I get to know God and love him, the more and better I love my dad. I can love him not because he has changed his ways, but because God has changed me. God has soften my heart and given me wisdom, understanding, and compassion to see my dad the way He sees him.

You see, my dad is a by-product of his family environment and culture. He parents how he was parented. He loves how he was loved. Since he doesn’t see the error and harm of his parents’ way of parenting, he never changed the practices he learned from them. And more importantly, he is a man who is living without the guidance of the Heavenly Father. He is the master of himself and the leader of his own life. He does not know how to love unconditionally because he does not know God, who is love (1 John 4:8).

I’m not excusing my dad’s actions, but knowing about his family upbringing has helped me to understand his methods and to have compassion for him. I no longer resent him for wounding me because I understand how he fathered from a place of brokenness himself, and he didn’t know it.

As for him changing his ways, I pray he will one day soon. But I won’t allow his stubbornness and oblivion to the need for change interfere with my love for him. Doing so would mean I have the same conditional love for my dad as he does for me and my siblings. And it would make me a hypocrite in regards to Jesus’ teachings of love. If I treat my dad the way he treats me, I’d be repeating the sins of the generations in his family. My kids would learn the same from me and their kids from them and the unhealthy patterns of parenting would spread to even more generations. This, I will not accept.

So, with the help of my Heavenly Father, I will love my dad unconditionally regardless of how he loves me. It’s what I’ve learned from my Father, God. And I shall love no other way. I want to break the generational sin of dysfunctional parenting in our family and begin the practice of parenting with God’s love for all future generations in our family and beyond.

 

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A Letter to My Suicidal Self

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In light of last week’s suicide of 2 celebrities, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, my heart grieves for the families and friends left behind. I fear for others who may be on the brink of suicide and am compelled to write this letter. I want to offer those in darkness real hope in a real God who wants to help you fight your demons and bring you out of  darkness forever. Because He has done it for me, he will do it for you too.

 

Dear Heart,

If you only knew how much you’re worth and how well your life will turn out, you won’t want to kill yourself.

Life won’t always be this hard. You won’t always hurt this much. The pain will go away. In time.

You are so lonely, I know. But it’s because you’ve isolated yourself from everyone. You’re keeping too many secrets for fear no one will understand. Reach out to the people in your path and tell them why you hurt. Don’t be afraid to let them know who you really are and what you need. They can help you if you let them.

You don’t have to cry yourself to sleep every night in the dark! Shut that depressing music off! It is putting wrong thoughts in your mind and dragging you low. You are loved! Your life does matter! People do care about you! They do want you to live!

So you think taking your life will make people feel sorry for how they’ve treated you? Even if you are correct, would this matter if you are dead? You won’t be around to see their remorse or receive their apologies. This is idiotic thinking!

How you feel about yourself may be real, but your view of yourself is skewed. You do not have a right and true perspective of yourself because you’ve been tainted by wounds aimed to tear you down to shreds. You have an enemy who wants to destroy you because he hates the One who made you. And, he has a cast of demons with him to help with his cause.

Yes, dear heart. Demons are real. For your struggle is not against yourself and others, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against the mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. You don’t know this yet, but God wrote these words in Ephesians 6, chapter 12 of the Bible specifically for you. These demons are your enemies. They lie to you about yourself, your world, your life, and the people around you. They want you to loathe yourself and feel hopeless so you’d end your life. Then, they’d defeat you and your Maker.

That was the bad news. But, there is much good news for you to hear.

Dear heart, darkness is not your end because God has sent light into the world. And this light shines in the darkness. And the darkness cannot extinguish the light. 

Beloved, God loved you so much that he sent his one and only Jesus into the world to extinguish your darkness. You will come to believe in Him and his light will penetrate through the darkness, which has clouded your vision and outlook. You will understand why you went through the valley of the shadow of death.

Years down the road, you will see how the light brought you out of darkness so you can offer hope and help pull people out of darkness by pointing them to this same light that rescued you from your dungeon. You will learn to love yourself because you’ll understand how your Maker made you just as you are on purpose and for a purpose. You’ll stop hating the person looking back at you in the mirror. You’ll value her and even thank God for the darkness you went through, because He will constantly remind you how he carried you through the darkness so you can help point those in darkness to Him

So, hang in there dear heart. You are not the ugly, useless, loathsome, and unworthy person you believe you are. Light is coming into your darkness sooner than you know. No longer will you be a self-hater. For your Creator, God made you in his image. Because he is love, he will show you how to love yourself and keep you living in his light, away from the darkness, once you give your heart to him.

Dear suicidal self, you are God’s treasure. Your life matters. You have much to offer because God put much worth in you. Don’t give up. Keep hoping. Keep praying. Don’t take your life. Give your life to Him. He will do more with it than you can ever hope for and he will fill your heart with so much love, passion, and satisfaction that you won’t ever go back into the darkness again!

With deep love,

 

Your Redeemed Self  🙂

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The Path of Least Resistance

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“If you keep doing the same thing and it’s not working, why would you keep at it? It will cause frustration, discouragement, and eventually you’ll believe you’re a failure because you can’t seem to get anything right in your life. Perhaps, God has a different way but you are unwilling to accept it. You refuse his way because you’ve always done things your way and insist on continuing in the same direction even though nothing is working as you intended.”

This was my recent encouragement to a family member who is struggling and has struggled with severe health issues stemming from stress. Little did I know these are the exact words I needed to hear right now. God gave me these words to encourage, but he is using it to help me as well.

You see, I’ve been writing and teaching my sons in the way I think will work. Except it has caused frustrations, confusion, and restlessness in me. Even worse, it makes me want to quit everything because nothing is working out as I had envisioned!

Choking up with weeping, this family member admitted to being tired. Tired of fighting. Tired of having ongoing health issues, one after another. Tired of worrying. Tired of being self-dependent. Tired of trying to keep everything in order. My loved one has come to the end of their stubborn way. And it is a very good thing. Because now, they are wanting to know God’s way since doing things their way is wreaking havoc on their body, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

I can’t criticize because I’ve been doing the same under the disguise of following God. I’m tired too. Tired of striving to prove myself a worthy a writer and using conventional ways to pursue my passion. I’m tired of teaching my boys using traditional methods that isn’t productive and produces frustrations. Mostly, I’m tired of doing things my way when I know God’s way works!

Being a control nut, I can be stubborn. I often choose my own way until it doesn’t work. Then I want to give up. I lose hope, thinking I can’t accomplish the work God has given me to do. I go back to the lies of my youth, believing I am a failure and I can’t get anything right. Yet, I will keep doing things the same way. It’s a deadly cycle.

I suspect I’m not alone, that this way of thinking and doing is a part of the human condition.

We want to take the way of least resistance to our own way of doing things and most resistant to God’s way. Our way makes sense to us. We think it will work because we’ve planned it and can understand it. Unfortunately, we don’t know everything and we can’t see into the future. We can’t see how our decisions today will affect the rest of our lives. But God does, because he knows everything and can see what is ahead.

God loves us and wants the best for us. He wants us to take his way so we don’t have to stress in trying to figure things out on our own. He made our intricate bodies and knows stress makes us sick, so we aren’t able to function at our best for ourselves or anyone. This is why he wants to direct us onto his path. For His way is always right and his plans are for our good, not harm. God wants us well and whole for our benefit.

If we keep going the same way, doing the same thing and do not have peace but keep hitting roadblocks, it’s time to give in to God’s way. Ask him what to do. He’ll show you!

Giving in to God is no easy feat. The first step is the hardest. We will resist because it is in our rebellious humanness to do so. Only by God’s power are we able to yield to his way. But even difficult things can be accomplished with prayer and practice.

So I pray for my family member to accept God’s plan over theirs. And this is my prayer for myself and you who are feeling the frustration, discouragement, and confusion of taking your path of least resistance instead of taking God’s way.

Do not be afraid or dismayed as you seek to follow God’s way. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. You will not need to fight this battle. Position yourself. Stand still. God promises to be with you when you seek him. Do not fear or be dismayed. The Lord is with you. He has the power to help overthrow our stubborn resistance to his good and prosperous way.

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When God Shows Up on Vacay

My husband and I surprised our boys with a trip to the beach last week. We packed all their things and loaded up the van Saturday night. Sunday came and they assumed we were headed to church…….until we turned in the opposite direction 😉. They were totally surprised! On to Florida we went!!

It was a relaxing and restful seven days with no agenda and no expectations. Our plans were to soak up the sun and enjoy the ocean as much as possible.

Well, I guess I did have an agenda. I wanted to have some alone time with my Heavenly Father. So, I snuck out early to walk the beach a few mornings while my guys were sleeping in. What a special time He and I shared. I talked. He talked. I listened. He listened. We reconnected. I cherish every single minute of our few hours together. His canvas captivates me 💜. Every time.

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Rain met us the first day and a half. The boys were antsy to play in the ocean so we asked God for sunny, dry days. The morning of our second day came with threatening dark clouds, but we went down to the beach anyway around 11:00. As Isaiah and Caleb were playing in the water, I looked up into the sky pleadingly and asked God to move the storm clouds out into the ocean. Minutes later, I watched those storm clouds on either side of us move out towards the water. By noon, God had pushed all the clouds out to the ocean and the sun showed its face. It was the most amazing, quickest answer to prayer I’ve ever experienced!!!

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God never ceases to amaze me. I’m continually in awe of all he does! He is such a good Father. He cares about the littlest details of our days. If it’s important to us, it’s a priority to him. This doesn’t mean he always answers quickly or in the way we hope for. After all, we did wait a day and a half before rain clouds stopped hovering over us 😁. But, He does always answer in ways that will reveal his power and increase our faith.

The rest of our week was sunny and pleasant as we had asked for. God surely is good to us, his children 😍. On Sunday morning the rain came back as we packed up Old Faithful (our 2001 Odyssey van with nearly 200,000 miles on her) and headed home.

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What a treasure to have time away to rest, refuel, and reconnect with one another and with God. How blessed we are, to experience God’s kindness and mercy as he rolled back the clouds to reveal himself to us in so many unforgettable ways!!!

Once again, I learned this truth: When we don’t limit God, He shows us there is no limit to how he loves and cares for every little detail of our lives.

 

 

 

 

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