Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Seasons

A few weeks back, I was reflecting on my life on a Saturday morning, and suddenly I was journaling about it. I have felt for a couple of weeks that I should post it, so that's what I'm doing.  The following is taken from that Saturday morning-with-coffee time of reflection:

There are some things I have learned about myself over the years.

Fact #1--I can't function in chaos. Right now there are various items on the kitchen table, where I am seated, that do not belong here. Some mail, mostly junk, that never made it to the bill rack or trash can.  It has to be sorted though, because there are some pieces of this that I need. There's a half full water bottle for some reason. My Bible case. Pens and markers.  Ugh.  It is really distracting and I have to do something about it today.

For whatever reason, I need a clean table or desk to properly sit and write in my journal or on my blog. The same goes for my desk at work.  I have rearranged my desk top several times in the last couple of months trying to have a cleaner surface so I can work efficiently. As of yesterday, I'm finally happy with my desk.

I don't know why this is.  I'm just happy that I finally realized this about myself.

Fact #2--I have to have my Saturdays to re-charge my "batteries" so to speak.  I used to run and do stuff every weekend and somehow had the energy and stamina to work all week and run all weekend. Not anymore. Except for the occasional weekend trip, for which God gives the grace and energy, I am a hermit on Saturday.

I have come to the the realization that God gives us the grace and strength for what we need to do for a season. Part of it is the aging process.  I am 60 now, and don't have quite the energy level I had when my kids were in high school and I ran all the time doing stuff with them.  However, part of it is just this:  God gave me the ability to run with my teenagers, work my main job all week, and work a part-time job in a fast-food restaurant on nights and weekends at a time in my life when it was needed. More recently, He gave me the motivation and energy to go to college and do homework every night and weekend well past the age when most people are in college.

Now I know it was for a season, and it's over. It's over. Funny thing is, I'm not upset about it. I am grateful to get to be home most nights and on Saturday.  It's my favorite place to be. I have projects around the house I enjoy working on like my pictures, writing my blog, and learning to live a minimal lifestyle.

So those were my thoughts that Saturday morning as I sat with Bible, journal, and coffee. I was left with the impression that it's time to clean up my environment--physically, mentally, and spiritually--and get to what God has called me to do in this season.  For one, I know I'm drawn to writing in this blog. It makes me happy, but most of the time I don't feel like I have anything to say. I have to depend on Jesus to show me what is "share-worthy" in my life.

In other words, I need to sort through the stack of "mail" in my life--the necessary stuff and the unnecessary stuff--and figure out what is junk and what is not. That may not make sense to anyone else, but the analogy is very clear to me. Aside from the junk mail, none of the things on the kitchen table that day were unneeded; they were just out of place. I love to organize. I am excited about this challenge. God will show me how to sort everything out according to His plan.

My main reason for writing is to encourage others and point them to Jesus, who is the only answer. If you are facing a new, uncharted territory in your life, maybe it is just a new season that God is bringing about. Don't be afraid; He will equip you for what He has called you to do.

I embrace the season that God has put me in.  With His help, I know I can do this.

"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Remembering Not to Fear

A while back, Facebook initiated the practice of giving us glimpses of posts from years ago.  I usually enjoy seeing these, though I rarely re-post them.  I am content to reminisce and move on.

Tonight though, something from 2007 caught my eye.  I hadn't started this blog yet, I had barely ventured away from MySpace (yes!  I had one!), but Facebook had a Notes feature--do they still have this?  I don't know. So many changes in the social media world in the last 7 or 8 years.  Anyway, I had a minor breakthrough and had to shout it from the rooftops, or post it in a note on Facebook.  Same effect, right?  

Here is the note in its entirety.  I was less wordy in those days I guess.

to fear or not to fear

When something happens that is obviously a scare tactic of the devil, I usually run and hide. I have dreams and panic attacks, and I am generally unsettled inside for days or even weeks. The spirit of fear has had a chokehold on me for most of my life. I know in my head that it's the devil, and I know in my head that God is in control. Knowing something in your head is not the same as knowing it in your heart, though.

Earlier this week something happened that really upset me. Immediately, I knew it was an attack and an attempt to scare me and it made me MAD! For the first time, my first thought wasn't one of fear and panic. My first thought was "no weapon that is formed against me shall prosper." (Isaiah 54:17)

That day for the first time, I knew in my heart that it was a fear tactic! I suddenly knew that the devil had no power over me because I am a blood-bought child of God. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you that every tongue that accuses me you will condemn! Today, You have opened the eyes of my heart and allowed me to see the truth--and be FREE! Darkness cannot last in the presence of the Light of the World. Fear has been exposed, and is now defeated.


Today, eight years later, I'm thankful for victories both large and small. Although, is any victory really small when it's yours?  This impacted me so much I had to share it with the world, even though I don't even remember what it was that upset me so much.  It doesn't matter.  God used it to open my eyes to a spiritual truth that had long evaded me

I still get afraid at times, but I turned a corner that day. I respond to it differently these days.  I know God's promises, like the ones in Psalm 91, are true. I choose to stand on them.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!”  Psalm 91:1,2. NASB

Saturday, August 15, 2015

More Than Many Sparrows

It has been quite a stormy spring and summer where I live.  We've had a bunch of rain with thunderstorms, and even a flash flood a couple of months ago. All this is most unusual summer behavior for this area.  As a rule we are normally without measurable rainfall in the summer months. It is now August, and though by now it should be dry and brown outside, this is not the case this year.

Memorial Day this year brought a huge thunderstorm through in the late afternoon. Damaging winds and possibly hail were in the forecast for the day.  So I did what I always do in these cases: I decided to ride it out in my safe place just in case.  My bedroom closet, which is in the middle of the house, is where I go when I am uneasy about the weather but don't feel like going to the tornado shelter is necessary.

This particular Monday afternoon's storm quickly escalated to a severe status because of the straight line winds. So I'm in my bedroom with the TV on, watching the play-by-play report they have on when the weather turns nasty. I was sitting on the bed until it started sounding really windy outside, so I moved to the floor of the closet to be farther from the windows. Suddenly, *BOOM!* there was a crashing sound of something hitting the house right beside my bedroom window.  And then darkness. I was quite shaken up, and afraid to go anywhere near any windows, so I sat in the closet floor for another 10 or 15 minutes until the wind subsided some.  

It didn't appear the roof was damaged because there were no leaks in the house. I investigated as well as I could without going outside, because I knew there was probably a power line down, possibly still live, in my back yard. I soon discovered why I had no power when I finally got up the nerve to go to the back of the house and look out the window.  A neighbor's dead tree had come crashing down on the power line that goes from my house to the pole--and pulled my electric meter off the house! It wasn't something hitting the house that I heard; it was the meter being forcefully ripped off, completely disconnecting the electricity. I found out later that it was fortunate that it pulled the electric lines completely clear of the house, because sometimes a fire can start from partially detached lines arcing. 

I reported my outage to the electric company, then did what a lot of us tend to do when something like this happens: I shared it on social media. Almost immediately I got I phone call from a family member offering to let me stay with them, and I took them up on it. Because I had to get an electrician to re-attach the meter to the house before the electric company would re-connect my power, I ended up staying there a couple of days.  I am so thankful for my family.

A few days later, I was walking around in my back yard and praying. There was something still there that was troubling to me.  Another dead tree on the same neighbor's property was leaning and hanging over my property.  I was worried it would come down on my power line and I would have the same problem and expense again.  Knowing that God cares about my problems, I asked Him to somehow get that remaining dead tree removed in a way that did no harm to anyone or anyone's property, and did not cost me any more money. Then I did my very best to dismiss it from my mind, because I had given it to God. This was in early June.

Two months later another storm came through, the first week in August.  It rained heavily, with thunder and lightening at varying intervals all night long. Several times I was awakened by the storm, but never one time did I think about that tree.  I had really cast that care on God.

At 4:00 am, I was suddenly awake, probably from loud thunder. Before I could go back to sleep, I heard what sounded like a wire being stretched very tight, and then it was dark.  This time, it was really dark, because it was the middle of the night.  I found a flashlight and ventured carefully to the back of the house to see if the meter had been pulled off again, but it was so dark I couldn't see it. I called the electric company and reported my outage and tried to go back to sleep. 

Finally, after I tossed and turned in a dark house with no fan or AC on, unable to sleep, the first hints of dawn finally started to appear at the windows.  When it was light enough, I looked out the window by the meter--it was still attached! There was no damage to property, just as I had asked the Lord for. Since the electric company just had to reattach the wires, I was only without power for 5 hours that time.

This has been a long post, but I felt it was necessary to give some back story.  I was really concerned about the tree, and I went to God about it.  He took care of it in His way and in His timing. It was encouraging to me that when He takes care of us, He takes all things about our lives into consideration. 

The lesson He taught me from all this is if He took care of that need, He will certainly take care of all my other needs, too!

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows"  Luke 12:6-7 (NIV).

Sunday, June 21, 2015

My Dad's Legacy


This is a picture of my dad, Harry King, when he was in his early 20s, around the early 1930s. He was one of the most musically talented people I've ever known. He loved to sing and could play anything with strings on it. He mostly played guitar, but he also played the piano and the violin. He even had a cello for a while, and he learned to play it pretty well before he traded it off for something "better." I have a picture of him with it, miraculously, shown below.  He was always buying and selling musical instruments, so he would have different instruments all the time. If he were alive in today's world, I have no doubt he would be on eBay all the time.

Some of my earliest memories are of my dad and me singing some silly song he made up. How I wish I had recordings of those times! There wasn't any video, of course, or even cassette tapes in those days. He had reel to reel tape recorders though, as you can see in the picture below from about 1960. I guess he didn't think about the silly songs as anything of consequence, so he didn't record them, but those are the main things that impacted me. You just never know what your kids will remember and treasure about their growing up years.


So, remember that, you young moms and dads.  Make memories with your kids and document it well. Today's fun and games become tomorrow's treasures in their memories of their childhoods.

My dad left me a legacy. No, he didn't have money or anything of any real value according to this world's standards. He loved the Lord, though, and he loved to worship Him with singing and music. That is the legacy he left me. He passed that down to me, and now I am worshiping the Lord in song. It's a passion of mine. Recently, our praise team sang "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" during worship on a Wednesday night. I was flooded with memories of singing that song with my dad. Sometimes we sang at church, sometimes on the radio program he had for a while. I was thinking how he would be blessed to know that I'm still singing and praising the Lord. He instilled a love of God and of music in me, and it's still there! I got choked up and almost couldn't sing that song thinking about him.


What a Godly heritage I have! Here's to my dad, who has been in Heaven for 32 years, worshiping Jesus in person!  Thank you for what you left with me. 

(By the way, your grandkids all sing and play, too, in case you didn't know.) 

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

No More Chains

This is a very long post that I have prayed over a lot. I have made it as concise as I could, but this is like a fire shut up in my bones. I didn't sleep much last night because I had written this in my journal but not posted it. I finally came to the conclusion that I cannot keep this inside if even one person will benefit from it. So here is a portion of last night's journal entry: 

Over the last few years, the Lord has been peeling away layers of my heart, like layers of an onion. At times this can be painful, but most of the time I’m just amazed that I am seeing glimpses of “the real me,” instead of the fa├žade that I have hidden behind most of my life. I'm just as surprised as everyone else; I had no idea who I was, either.

In the last couple of years or so I have learned a lot about myself.  For instance, I now know that I am an introvert.  I am much happier alone or with a few I am close to than in a crowd. I have to have my alone time to rest and recharge. Being around large groups of people is exhausting and drains all the energy out of me as a rule. I am ok with being with close friends and family to an extent, but even with them I find I have to be alone after a while.

I’ve been reading old journals; some from over 20 years ago, and some from recent years. I have found a common thread throughout: I discovered that I had severe emotional damage up until about 3 or so years ago. It is suddenly so clear to me, and was quite a revelation to me, though I'm sure those close to me knew it long ago. I was desperately needy, and always seeking to have that need filled by various people. I’m not even going to try and analyze why I became that way. God knows; and if He wants me to know, He will show me. If it is better that I not know, I’m ok with that.

One of the characteristics I developed as a child and teenager is embarrassing to admit, but I can tell it now because I am totally delivered from it. I became very much in need of approval and affirmation. It was revealed to me as I prayed and sought the Lord that I was an attention seeker.  Some emotionally damaged children seek attention in any way they can get it because they are so neglected and so starved for love and acceptance.  Sometimes the attention is in the form of discipline, but it seems that they would prefer negative attention to no attention.

I was not one of those who did bad things to get attention, though; at least not openly bad.  I didn’t break things, or steal, or intentionally try to hurt others.  The destruction I rendered was to myself.  I turned my insecurities inward and became my own worst enemy. I constantly berated myself inwardly for things about myself in which I didn’t feel I measured up to the standard I had set for myself. 

As I said before, I’m not into analyzing why I became self-loathing and critical of myself, but I do have a theory. It all came into focus in my time with the Lord last night. I believe it was a generational curse intended to destroy me. This was mentioned by a Christian counselor I went to for a while a few years back, and I knew when they said it they were right.  I have renounced this curse in the name of Jesus, and I am free from it. However, God is still cleaning up the damage left in its wake.

I used to be so focused on everything that was wrong in my life that if I happened to open up to a friend on occasion, afterward I would hate myself for being such a pain. It became a vicious cycle, and it constantly fed the ever-growing chasm in my heart that the insecurities of feeling insignificant and unloved had made. After I shared my heart with someone I would hate myself and became convinced I had made the listener angry or not love me anymore.  On and on and on, ad nausem.

Most of my friends from childhood had no idea I was such an emotional wreck because I was very good at hiding my true feelings. I'm sure I didn't even know I was doing it or that I had emotional problems, but I didn't let very many close enough to me to discover it.

I went along like this until I met my husband when I was 17.  For a while, things were much better.  I loved him, and he made me feel good about myself because he claimed to love me. Of course, it wasn’t long until I began to doubt that he really did, and I proceeded to try his patience with me like I had with the few friends I had let close to me.

He wasn’t without emotional damage himself, though. He was an imperfect human being just as I was. He did love me as much as he knew how, but he was only human. No human can fill the void that is intended for God, no matter who they are or how much they love us.  So we were like two damaged souls trying to find the light switch in a dark room.  Neither of us knew where it was, and we kept hurting each other while trying to find it. 

I remember a specific time in the first year of our marriage where we had been arguing about something.  I don’t remember what the argument was about, but I do remember crying and running down the hall to the bathroom hoping (probably subconsciously) that he would come and comfort me and tell me it was all going to be ok.

He never came. I needed a knight in shining armor on a white horse, but he was just as broken as I was.  This event set the tone for our entire relationship.  I can see so clearly now that we both just needed Jesus.  At least, I know I did. I can't say for sure about him.

I found out about the grace and forgiveness that Jesus offers when I was in my late 30s.  By this time, we had 3 children entering their teenage years and our marriage was teetering on a precipice of fear and insecurities that we had lived on for so many years. This pattern I was into of setting up anyone who loved me to not be there for me, which I perceived as proof they didn’t love me repeated itself over and over until God finally opened my eyes to what was happening.

One morning I was all alone in the house, and the pain in my heart became so intense I could stand it no more. I had been attending a church for over a year that taught about the saving grace of Jesus, and all that Word that had been planted in me finally broke through my crusty, hard heart. I gave my heart to Jesus on October 31, 1994 in a broken, sobbing mass of tears on my living room floor. My life began to turn around, but it was many years and heartbreaks later that I began to see and experience the chains actually falling off.  

There was so much damage and so little trust and respect in our marriage that we eventually divorced in 1997. That was a very dark time in both of our lives.  God mercifully intervened into our lives and it appears that my ex is now a Christian, too.  He remarried years ago and seems to be happy now.  I am truly happy for him.

I am a different person today than I was even 3 years ago, thanks to the miraculous and healing touch of Jesus in my life.  Even though I gave my heart to Jesus 20 years ago, the healing is a process; it didn’t happen overnight. I know now what I did when I set people up to dump me; I was only repeating the pattern that had been established in my family line many generations earlier.  I am so thankful that the blood of Jesus breaks that curse and those chains of emotional damage have fallen off.

Jesus is my Savior; He is my Knight in shining armor who rescued me on that day 20 years ago when I cried out for Him to save me and help me.  He always ALWAYS comes to my aid when I am hurting.  He meets me at the very point of my need; He picks me up and holds me until I am reassured that He does love me and always will and He will never, EVER forsake me.


Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 NASB


Monday, June 8, 2015

There and Back Again: A Mother's Journey to Arizona

It has been 4 weeks since my trip to Arizona, and I hadn't taken time to blog about it until today. When I arrived back home, I stepped off the plane into another dimension; the one where we enter the crazy, hectic, last two weeks of school where I work. It's certainly been life in the fast lane lately. Finally, I am getting around to writing about my trip.

And so my story begins....

Mother's Day morning at 4:15 am, I left for the airport to catch a 5:15 am flight to Dallas, where I would have a 2 hour layover and fly from there to Phoenix. Because there's a 2 hour time difference in Arizona, I would leave Dallas at 8:20 and arrive in Phoenix at 9:05. My son, his wife, and her mother and I would have all day to frolic in the Arizona sun and enjoy each other's company. That was the plan.

But that's not how it played out.

I arrived at the airport in plenty of time and got checked in.  By shortly after 4:30, I was sitting in the waiting area by the gate. We boarded the plane on schedule, even though there were thunderstorms in the area. We sat on that plane for about 45 minutes, then were told that our flight was delayed due to storms in the Dallas area.  After over an hour, we finally took off, but my connecting flight was supposed to be at 8:20, and I knew I would miss it.

They put me on another plane to Phoenix, and it was boarding when I landed.  I had to practically run to get there, since the Skylink was down due to lightning. I made it, and boarded that plane.

And we sat there an hour.

Eventually, the pilot announced that this flight had been cancelled.  We all had to deplane, and get in line to get yet another flight to Phoenix.  I stood in line for probably 45 minutes to an hour and was finally given another flight, but I was told it wasn't a boarding pass.  They told me I would have to go to the gate where this plane was departing and get a boarding pass. I encountered some very unhappy American Airlines personnel who proceeded to take their miserable attitudes out on anyone who dared to ask them anything.

By the time I found where my flight would board and get someone to make the effort to print me a boarding pass, it was mid-afternoon. My sweet little plan to arrive in Dallas about 6:30 am and have a leisurely breakfast during my 2 hour layover had totally fallen apart. I finally got something to eat about 3:00 or so. There was a Starbucks and a Wendy's in that part of the terminal, so I had myself a caramel macchiato and some chicken nuggets. Unorthodox combination, I know, but I had my heart set on Starbucks coffee for breakfast and by George, I was going to have it!  I knew I needed some protein, though, so that's why the chicken nuggets.


My flight was delayed a couple of times, but it finally took off about 6:15 pm.  I was finally headed for Phoenix, and landed about 6:45 pm Phoenix time.  At least I got a couple of hours of my miserable day back due to the time difference.


The graduation ceremony was the next day at 10 am. Pictured is my view from our seats. This ceremony was just for graduate students; those getting a Masters or Doctorate. My daughter-in-law received a Master of Arts in Music. I'm really proud of her; she has worked hard for this for the last 2 years. I'm so glad I was able to fly out there for this.

After the ceremony, we had lunch at a quaint little restaurant near the campus called The Normal Diner. Of course, with a name like that, you might know it would be anything but normal. The food was really good, and the fellowship was, too. My son, daughter-in-law, and her mother, along with a couple of Alli's friends that also graduated sat and visited for a couple of hours.  We had a great time.  


The picture to the right supports my claim that this eatery was anything but normal. It had a flair for pop culture that was quite charming. For instance, there was an entire wall of 8 track tapes. Yes, that's right. Eight tracks. If you don't know what those are, I'm really, really sorry. They were great.

Google it.  

You can get online and find out more about them. They were very popular in the 70s and they had a great sound. Sadly, they didn't really catch on. When cassettes finally came on the scene, they faded out.  

Alli had play rehearsal and her mother had to fly back home that night, so they didn't get to go the the Botanical Gardens with us. This was one of the activities we had planned to do on Sunday but didn't get to, thanks to my being stuck in Dallas all day.  *sigh*

Jeff and I spent a couple of hours touring the gardens.  There were more types of cacti than I ever knew existed. It was a neat place but SO HOT. I'm sure it seemed extra hot to me, since we had been having an unusually cool spring this year.  The day I flew there, it was a 65 degree, rainy day at home. It was in the 90s when we toured the gardens, though, so I felt like I was being roasted alive. 


But it's no secret I'm not a fan of hot weather, so I'm probably not the best judge of how hot it really was.

One of the neatest things was this sundial, pictured above. As you can see, it was 5:00 pm when we were there. This sundial was completely accurate, thanks to the fact that Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings time. 

We talked it over, and we decided this sundial is probably the reason they decided to stay with standard time. They wanted it to be accurate.  (Haha. Just kidding. Not about talking it over; we did that. We have no idea why Arizona doesn't observe Daylight Savings time, though.)


After we left the Botanical Gardens, Jeff, Alli, and I went to downtown Tempe to find a place to eat.  I saw something I hadn't seen before. I don't know what to call them, but they put out a mist of water to cool down the people walking on the sidewalks there. We were there at night, but it gets very hot in the daytime, as I had just experienced at the Botanical Gardens. I wish they had these there.

It was a great trip, even it it was short. I flew back home the next day after graduation. This time, the flights left as scheduled. I was back home Tuesday night about 10:30 pm. I am so blessed to be able to go and see my children.  It's tough sometimes, with them all living away from here, but I get to go some neat places to see them.

 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Because I Said So

"But why do I have to?" 

"Because I said so, that's why!"  

I know the parents reading this can relate to this. All of us, at one time or another, have uttered those words to our children.  

Kids question why we say to do what we do, just like we questioned our parents, and they questioned theirs.  

We do the same thing with God.  He prompts us to do something, and we want to know why. He directs us to not do something, or go somewhere, and we want to know why.  

I think when God directs our path, as we ask Him to, we question what He directs us to do or not do because it's human nature to question things. Sometimes He is protecting us from harm when the thing He gently guides us away from would be bad for us. Sometimes, though, it's a completely innocent thing that we want to do and He urges us not to do it.

And then we ask "Why?"

God doesn't exactly say "Because I said so," but he does say in Isaiah:

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," declares the Lord."For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9 (NASB).

Recently I went against the still, small voice that was urging me to stay home instead of going somewhere.  

What I wanted to do wasn't bad; not at all.  It was a really good thing.  I just wasn't supposed to go.  I needed to stay home.

I may never know the reason I was hesitant to go where I did. This was my first clue, though: I was hesitant to go. Sometimes the Holy Spirit's leading is very subtle and quiet and comes in a mere uncertainty about the situation at hand. I know this from experience, but I need to be reminded at times.

There are times when His leading is very strong and I have no doubt at all if it is His voice or not. I know His voice when He is emphatically telling me yes or no about something.

This was not one of those times. This was more a learning experience; an exercise in listening to even the slightest urging of the Holy Spirit. 

In fact, it is very possible that He set me up so He could show me this. Or maybe He knew I was tired and He wanted me to stay in and rest.  It could be that God wanted to speak to me. I did have a slight word for a blog brewing in me just a little before I went. It's gone now, though. 

It's all good if I learn from it.  He has a plan and a purpose for each of us. I didn't "blow it" by ignoring the slight urging of the Spirit.  I just learn from it, and do better next time.

And write the blog He gave me about it, even if it is after midnight.

Good night, folks!  



Monday, March 23, 2015

Fingernails on a Chalkboard

We've all been there. That person that gets on your nerves so badly. Every time you're thrown together with them, you just want to scream, or cry, or pull your hair out. Or pull their hair out. 

Which is, of course, frowned upon in most social settings. 

Yes. I'm going there, because the Lord is insisting on it. This may not be a very popular post, but it is one I have to do. The fact is, I have put off writing this one for a while now. It's not an easy one, but here goes.

How do you get along with a person if they are just unreasonable? Because, it's them, right?  Of course, it has to be!  It could not possibly be us

I can't tell you how many times in my life I have found myself in a social situation, such as work, church, or a volunteer group that included one person that totally rubbed me the wrong way. 

It's like everything they do or say is "fingernails on a chalkboard" to me, you know?  

A lot of this type of irritation happened early in my Christian walk, but it still happens from time to time. So what are we to do?  

It is my experience that sometimes the Lord allows us to be irritated or annoyed, maybe even mistreated some in order to mold us into the people He knows we can be. If we remove ourselves from all unpleasantness, we might just be hurting ourselves in the long run. I've found that you can run, but you can't hide. You may be able to remove yourself from this type of situation sometimes, but before you know it there is another one. Sometimes a worse one that the one you ran from.

Because, face it; the Lord knows what, or perhaps who, is needed to be "sandpaper" to us to help us become more like Him. 

It is also very possible that the person that is so offensive to us might just be hurting and in need of some kindness, even though they haven't been kind to us. Every time we react in love instead of hate we display Jesus to them. 

They may be very much in need of the love of Christ, just as we all are. Luke 6:31 says, "Treat others the same way you want them to treat you" (NASB).  

I've had to ask myself how I would want to be treated if I were the irritation to someone (because, I'm sure I have been before and may be again).

This is a challenge for me, but it is one that I am doing my best to embrace.

Monday, March 9, 2015

No Longer Needy

One of the definitions that Merriam-Webster gives for neediness is:

"needy:  marked by want of affection, attention, or emotional support"
 <emotionallyneedy> — need·i·ness noun

Yes, that would be the one that described me. For many years, I was that needy person. I'm not proud of it, but part of what I do on this blog is tell about my struggles in the hope that someone will be helped or encouraged. Sometimes, it really helps to know you're not the only one. So here goes.

I'm not going to go in to the details of why I was so needy. Let's just say that seventeen years ago I found myself newly divorced. It was certainly not what I had wanted; I believed when I got married that marriage is forever. I still believe that God intends for it to be; it just didn't turn out that way for me. 

This new-found state of singleness was overwhelming and downright scary most of the time. I had always been a nervous, easily frightened person. There was no peace in my heart; it was always in turmoil. Suddenly, I was the responsible adult in the house with custody of my youngest child, who was 15 and a sophomore in high school. I was scared out of my mind.  

Adding to this, at this point in my life my worth was reflected in the eyes of my friends. There was no one else. My dad, mom, and brother were deceased. My two eldest children were in college a whole hour away (which seems like nothing now!) and the youngest was, as I said before, in high school. I had a cousin, kind of like an older sister to me, but there was really no other family. Many times I cried myself to sleep because I felt so alone and so afraid. So the stage was set for the drama that my life was becoming.

In time, I found myself seeking the company of friends to fill the void in my heart. In my mind, at least subconsciously, if people included me in their lives I was loved and accepted. I desperately wanted to be accepted

I was a relatively new Christian, having given my heart to Jesus only about 3 years earlier. Even though I had been raised in church, it was all head knowledge. I had no concept of what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus; in fact, I did not recall when I was growing up ever hearing the phrase "personal relationship with Jesus Christ." So, I had no idea that I was already accepted and loved by Him.  

Thus began a journey toward emotional freedom that lasted for over fifteen years. 

I prayed, read the Bible, got in lots of prayer lines, and took every workshop or Bible study that came along in an attempt to be free of the pain I felt: the pain of rejection.  

God, in His infinite mercy and wisdom, gave me some solid, Bible-believing, praying friends along the way that helped guide me forward in this quest for emotional freedom. Of course, I proceeded to drive them crazy with my neediness. Oh, dear Lord, I was a mess. At the time, I had no idea just how messed up I was. I just felt empty and rejected all the time.

The turning point came in 2003 during a Beth Moore Bible study called Breaking Free.  If you are struggling with emotional issues, I highly recommend it. It started the process of turning my life around. You can read the post where I tell about that by going to this post:

http://debbiev120.blogspot.com/2010/03/emotional-freedom.html

You may have to copy and paste the address into your browser to open it. 

I would love to tell you that I was completely free and no longer needy immediately after that course, but I wasn't. I did start making more progress after that Bible study, but it was several years before I woke up one day and realized my worth and value are in Christ and I am accepted by Him. 

It was years in the making (mostly because I was hard-headed and did not yield to God's leading) but He has filled me with such peace! I seldom feel lonely anymore; those times are brief and happen less often. I don't feel rejected anymore, either. That chain has been broken! Anytime I am even slightly tempted to give in to that, I remind the enemy that I am accepted and loved by Christ and quote scriptures until the feeling passes. For this reason, I kept scriptures taped up everywhere for a long time until they became a part of me.

Today, I am no longer the same person.  I am a new creation in Christ! I am complete in Him! 

At times the pain was intense, but with every battle I grew a little stronger and became a little freer. If you are going through a battle with feeling needy, take heart! God has set me free, and He will do the same for you. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Not for a Select Audience

I just posted a day or so ago, so I'm sure readers are wondering why I'm posting again so soon.

I started this blog in 2009, and for a couple of years I just posted on the blogspot site without putting a link to it on Facebook. I guess I wanted to hide away safely, letting this blog sit there in the background, and trust God to lead people to it. It made me feel more secure, knowing I wasn't "out there" on the internet for anyone to read.

There was just one problem with that. There was no way of knowing if anyone was seeing it. I was convicted that I was "hiding my light under a bushel," as the children's song goes. So I dealt with that for a while.

The Lord continued to deal with me to make my writing more public. After all, He gave me a desire and ability to write for one primary reason: to be an encouragement to others who might be going through some of the same trials and battles I have been in during my life, especially after I became a Christian. 

But I was not sharing it nearly enough. Then I started a couple of years ago posting a link to each post to my Facebook page, and I felt better. 

I felt somewhat safe; after all, only my friends could see my Facebook page, and therefore, only my friends could find their way to my blog.  A few times I noticed it got shared, so that took it outside my friends' list, which was great. I am always blessed when someone shares one of my blog posts to their wall. However, for the most part, it was still only a select audience. 

Jesus didn't die for a select audience; He died for everyone. And then there's the Great Commission to "go into all the world" with the Gospel of Christ. Yeah, there's that. Hmm. What am I doing with that?  

So, lately I've been feeling the pangs of conviction again. Even though my spiritual gift is encouragement, I still am responsible to share the Gospel, too. Oh boy. I do have some work to do.

Therefore, there will be some changes on the blog in the next few days and weeks. I have to get the plan of salvation on here where it can easily been found, in addition to the encouragement I hope to bring in the blog posts.

Getting out of my comfort zone for sure. 

So, with fear and trembling, I am going forward with this. In addition to the improvements on the blog, I will now be posting it to my Twitter feed, which is set up to automatically post on my Facebook wall. Twitter, unlike Facebook, is completely public. This scares me, but as Joyce Meyer says, sometimes you have to "do it afraid."

And so I press on.

"I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness."  Psalm 40:10 NLT


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In Defense of the Quiet

I woke up on my own this morning, which is a rare treat for me. Normally I am rudely awakened by a combination of an alarm clock and my cell phone alarm (it's hard for me to wake up). For work I have to get up about six in the morning, but this morning it was almost seven when I opened my eyes.  That doesn't seem like sleeping in to many of you night owls out there, and it really doesn't to me, either. In days gone by, this self-proclaimed night owl has been known to sleep until nine or ten, after being up until two in the morning.  However, as I have grown older, I have noticed it harder to sleep past seven or sometimes eight, and I have found it increasingly difficult to stay up for very long past the ten o'clock news.  I attribute this to the many years of having to get up at six for work. We'll just go with that and leave the joys of aging to another post.

Yesterday, the cold temperatures finally got the timing right and coincided with the arrival of precipitation in our area and the result was: SNOW! I am home today on a snow day, and enjoying it immensely. I love snow, as I have written on here before. However, that's not what this post is about. I am merely setting the stage for something that I observed this morning in the few minutes after I got up.

As I always do when I am home on a snow day, I went to the door and opened it to look out on my street and marvel at the beauty of the fresh snow. Why do we do this? The snow didn't melt or disappear during the night. It was still there, and I knew it was, but I opened the door and looked outside for a moment just the same.

I noticed it as I was about to close the door on the beauty of it, with its 25 degree temperature that caused me to shiver. The quiet. There was absolutely no sound. I opened the storm door to listen better. There was a hush in the air, a stillness that probably always comes when it is early, and cold, and people are not out and about yet. I just hadn't taken the time to notice before. I stood there for a minute more, just listening, straining to hear something. There were no sounds of cars driving by, even on the usually busier street a block away. There no sounds of children on the playground at the nearby school. There was not even the sound of a dog barking or a siren in the distance. It was just so SILENT.

As I shut the door, it occurred to me that all these sounds that are usually present because people are up getting their kids to school and going to work were not there because of the snow. The snow and ice on the streets had temporarily shut everything down. Many who did have to work were going later, when the snow had melted some.  

Most people are irritated at the inconvenience of snow and ice. It is considered a nuisance, breaking our routines and causing an interruption in our daily lives. I totally get that. As I said before, this post is not in defense of snow, per se. It is in defense of something else; a side-effect of the snow:

Being still.

This post is in defense of being quiet. "Be still and know that I am God," Psalm 46:10 says. I'm as guilty as the rest of rushing through my day and making sure all the important stuff gets done. However, I'm only shortchanging myself when I don't go to Him in the times when He allows something to slow me down. Strength and refreshing can come in those quiet times, when it seems that life is at a standstill.

Perhaps these inconveniences are in our lives at times so we will stop, just for a moment, and listen. Sometimes, in just a few minutes, the Lord can bring rest to our souls or healing to our hearts. Everything we need is found in Him.  

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul." 
Psalm 23:1-3 NIV

Friday, February 6, 2015

Love That Makes the World Go 'Round

Ah, romance.  Hearts, flowers, candy...this month is brimming over with all the mushy, gushy, "love that makes the world go 'round."  In fact, from a marketing standpoint, the Christmas decorations were still on half price when "pow!" Out came all the pink and red Valentine stuff.  

I have steadfastly avoided all the mush and goo for many years now, mostly because I was hurt, really really hurt in a very deep place in my heart.  The reminder that I was not in a loving, romantic relationship was just too much. I couldn't take it. So I asked God to heal me, and He has been doing just that--I'm a work in progress. In the meantime, though, while He works on me, the pain that is still remaining is buried, and I manage to forget most of the time that my heart was once broken and I feared it would never, ever be the same. 

Except during February.  During this month, the world will not let me forget. 

Valentine ads on TV scream, "You are a failure, you know. No one loves you." The card rack at the front of the store, an explosion of pink and red, whispers as I walk by, "There is no one special in your life that loves you."  Even Valentine banquets, couples' retreats, and marriage seminars, all very good things done with the very best of intentions remind me,"You are alone, so therefore, you are less valuable."

Can anyone relate?  I'm sure someone reading this is feeling alone and unloved and dreading the 14th of February, known to singles as "Single Awareness Day" because of what a good job that day does of pointing out to us just how single and alone--and therefore unloved--we are.

However, I don't feel that way anymore.  I am not unloved, and I am not less valuable, and I can prove it.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness" says my God in Jeremiah 31:3 NIV. 

So you are wrong, TV ads. I am not unloved.

The cards in the hearts and flower section may be saying "No one special in your life loves you," but God's Word says:

"God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us," Romans 5:8 NIV.

God loved me so much He sent His Son Jesus to die for my sins. He went to great lengths to redeem me from my sinful state so He could have a relationship with me. So, I guess you are mistaken, Valentine cards.

If I listen to all the negative voices around me, I will be convinced that I am "unloved" and "less valuable." But if I turn to God when those voices start to get to me, I can be assured of God's love for me. In Psalm 66:19-20 it says, "God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, Who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me!" NIV.

I may live alone, and not be in an earthly relationship, but I am far from alone.  God loves me more than I could ever fathom, and He is with me 24/7, never leaving nor forsaking me. He will never stop loving me, no matter what I do. I didn't deserve His love in the first place, and yet He loves me.  

I was praying and asking God to show me how to approach this Valentine season.  During our praise team practice this week, while my heart was turned toward Him in worship, He showed me. I am to put all the energy I have spent hating and avoiding this season into loving Him. In other words, turn my focus outward, away from myself.

He will show me as we go along how to love Him back.  For starters I can:

Love my neighbor as I love myself.

Really pray for others. It took some time, but I have formed a habit of stopping and praying right then when I tell someone on Facebook that I will pray for them.

And most importantly, tell the world what He has done for all of humanity to save us because He loves us and wants a relationship with each one of us.

"For this is how God loved the world:  He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 NLT

Because love is more than just feelings.  Love is also an action.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Birthday with a Zero

What a weekend I just had!  I don't know where to start. Before I can tell about it, I have to give some perspective on just how rarely I see my kids.

I've mentioned my children on here, and it's common knowledge that they are grown and out of the house. Really, really out of the house. None of them live nearby.  One lives a half day's drive away, but the other two live in two different states to the east and west of here. I've learned to accept the situation and have come to expect to see the two that live farther away once or twice a year. Last month, as a rare treat, they all three came in at once for my graduation from college.  It was the first time I had seen them all at the same time in 3 1/2 years.  

So, this weekend, even though they had just been here a month ago they all three came in again to celebrate my 60th birthday, which is coming up on the 20th.  They threw me a surprise party at a local pizza place. Unknown to me, my daughter and my best friend had been working together for several months to make this party happen. Several white lies were told in the process to pull this off.

Friday night my friend texted me and said we should go shopping the next day. I didn't think too much about it; we don't shop often, but we do on occasion.  I told her ok, and she said she would come pick me up about noon or a little after (we're both night owls. No early shopping for us!). 

She showed up at my house as she said she would, but she looked at little upset. She told me she was sorry, but she had forgotten she had to make an appearance at a co-worker's birthday party before we could go shopping. She said not to worry, though; they wouldn't mind if she brought someone and we would only stay 15 minutes.  

She was very convincing. I trust this woman with my life. She and I are like sisters. I was still not suspicious; it sounded reasonable. So we got in her car, and I saw the gift with the person's name on the card.  More evidence to support her story. 

We got to the restaurant and went inside.  When we got close to the party room, I was greeted with a loud "surprise!" There, in the party room were all three of my children, my son-in-law, my granddaughter, and some close friends and family members. I. WAS. SHOCKED! 

The prettiest cake ever!
I've never been so surprised in my life! They had totally kept it a secret for months!  It was the best thing that has happened to me in a very long time. I have never been given a party like that. I was so touched that they had gone to so much trouble to make this party happen for me. 

Everyone has gone home, and I'm sitting here alone in my house just trying to process it all. I knew that for a Big Deal like this, I had to blog about it. I have the best children, family, and friends in the world!  I know that one of my love languages is quality time, and I was given a bunch of it this weekend. We all had the best time visiting at the party and afterward.

God is so good to me!  He brought my children home to help me celebrate this zero-ending birthday number (that also involves a 6) and "soften the blow" in the process. We've already established that I don't act my age, anyway, so it's just a number. It does not define me. Tomorrow morning, I leave my fifties and enter my sixties.  

But the world will keep on turning.  Hello 60!

Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things He does for me. Psalm 103:2 NLT

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Hat Hair and a Diploma

I'm sure some of you have wondered where I have been. I'm sorry it has been so long since I have written. I've been mulling over in my mind how to put what I need to say into words.

I was about to graduate from college at my last writing; as of December 11 I did just that. However, I have simply been at loss for words. I just don't know how to describe this huge event that just happened in my life. I am going to try, though, to put some words out there in an attempt to describe what I felt and what I am still feeling.

All three of my children came to see me graduate, which made the event so much more special. Since they all live away from this area and a couple of them more than a day's drive from here, they don't manage to all come in at the same time very often.  It definitely takes some coordinating and effort to make this happen, but they did it, and I was overjoyed. By Thursday afternoon, they were all in my house at the same time. Amazing.

The evening of graduation, I had to be in the building next to the arena by a certain time.  I was there, in the room earmarked for "languages and communication," and I found that I was very nervous.  How much skill does it take to walk in, sit with the other graduates, and walk across the stage when my turn came? I didn't have to say anything at all.  I just had to hand the Dean of the English department my reader card that had my name on it, smile, and walk across the stage when he said my name. It would seem to be a cakewalk, but I had a bad case of butterflies in my stomach nonetheless.

 hat hair and a diploma
Additionally, I had the worst case of hat hair I have ever had in my life!  I could not get my hair to look decent with the mortarboard on no matter what I did.  I finally gave up.  A quick look around the room revealed that most of the women had the same dilemma I did.  There were a few that looked adorable, but they were also probably 22 years old and couldn't really help it. I relaxed a little.

The time finally came to line up and walk in. This process took a long time, but at last we were at the doors to the arena.  I started to tear up when I heard "Pomp and Circumstance."  I was not going to cry!  I couldn't! Why was I tearful all of a sudden?

The years of working full time while going to classes part time at night, on weekends, online, and even during the work day during the last two semesters suddenly culminated into this night. The long wait was over; the work had been done.  Now all that was left to do was walk. Just walk. Just follow the person in front of me until we arrived to our row of seats. Yeah, right.

I knew that the professors would be lined up on either side of us, but somehow it was very intimidating.  I passed by instructors I knew, and many that I didn't know, all lined up, cheering us on. Some of them shook hands with me and congratulated me.

Finally we were on the arena floor and people in the crowd were cheering and calling out the names of the graduates they came to see.  I was still choking back the urge to cry. I was filled with such an overwhelming sense of joy to be there, to finally, finally be there, graduating. I have always considered the opportunity to get an education such a privilege. I do not take it lightly. It means so much to me! I looked up and saw a very dear friend (who is more like a sister), her husband and granddaughter, waving like crazy from the top row. She believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. She encouraged me all through the journey I had just come through. Now I really had to fight the tears.

As we neared the row where we would be sitting, I finally saw my children. They had great seats, really close to the stage.  I can't describe what I felt, seeing all of them standing there in a row, waving and cheering me on. They had never stopped encouraging me in my quest for an education. They always believed I could do it. I waved back at them, and I noticed that my cousin was there with them. I just had time to turn and wave at my friend, and then we had to sit down.

I can't remember most of what was said from the stage during the ceremony. It's all kind of a blur. I somehow managed to put one foot in front of the other without falling down.  I made it to the stage, gave the Dean my reader card, and started walking when he called my name, along with the words, "bachelor of arts in English." There were pictures, I waved at my children and my friend, and then it was over.  I had graduated.  I did it!

Though I say I did it, it was not something I could have done unless God had enabled me. He blessed
me with the ability to do the work necessary to complete the coursework.  He helped me to remember what I had learned when I was taking a test. Because of Him, I was able to draw from the skills I had learned over the years to write the papers I had to write. Most of all, He gave me the grace to be able to keep on going. I got discouraged sometimes, but I never seriously considered quitting again, as I had done over and over since my first "Intro to PC" class in 1988. I made my mind up in 2007 that I was going to go for it, and with God-given fortitude I pressed on until I got there. That, my friend, is the grace of God in action.

To get a degree at any age is not an easy task.  It takes a lot of work and determination. I believe that it means more to me now than it would have when I was in my twenties. I have walked through much adversity over the years, but God enabled me to persevere and reach my goal.

My mother and father were poor growing up. Neither of them had a formal education past the eighth grade. I was the first in my immediate family to graduate from high school, and I remember how proud my mother was.  Before she died, she encouraged me to go to college when I expressed a desire to do so. I started and stopped several times because I lacked confidence, but I kept going back. Now, as a very non-traditional more "mature" student, I have graduated from college. My mother would be so proud. I wish she had lived to see this.

Somehow, though, I think my mama knows it. I believe God let her see me graduate from college, and she is smiling.

All things are possible to him who believes. Mark 9:23 NASB.