Our Journey for REAL Love

1 John 4:18-19 “18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.”

Do you remember when I said long, long ago, that when God talks to me He usually has to tell me anything important at least three times? Bingo!

This week He’s been talking to me about love. I know it is the Christmas season, and love/charity is “in the air.” It’s like one time a year the world recognizes the gift(we know it to be a sacrifice) of Heavenly Dad giving his beloved son. His love message for me has gone much deeper.

Eric and I were talking about when we first met, almost 14 months ago. We discussed how we felt then and how we feel now. That reflection took us back to the core values of love. We pondered how Heavenly Dad fills us up to the point we are so full of His love it spills onto everyone else—we can’t help it.

That spun into what happens when we’re not feeling close to the Lord. Sometimes we sense a distance, it seems like HD is quiet and we feel…empty. Upon contemplation came the theme, for at least a period of time, for me: you can’t give what you don’t have.

The next day my devotions was about that very thing. If you’re counting, that makes three. Wisdom Hunters was speaking about two enemies of love: fear and pride. That devotional was a life changer and here is that link: https://www.wisdomhunters.com/two-enemies-of-love/

I can’t stress the need for everyone to read this devotional by Shawna Schuette. Her insight puts perspective and description of the exact conversation Eric and I were having, aka, You can’t give what you don’t have.

If you are full of fear, which is often self preservation, there’s no room for love. If you’re full of pride, which often is self-hate in disguise, there’s no room for love. We are God’s vessels and when we become empty of ourselves then we can be full of God‘s love-flash back to last week’s, “I want More!”

Due to past relationships failures, Eric clings to fear, not trusting completely because he doesn’t want to get hurt. He has stepped out in faith that Heavenly Dad can heal the wounds and cut through the scar tissue, trusting that God will not “just” restore but teach him HOW to love. It’s sometimes a painful process for both of us but I respect and admire how hard he is working to move himself out of God’s way. He is trying to recognize when he feels vulnerable as that is when fear sets in. He is amazing in his drive to heal so he can someday pass on what Heavenly Dad is teaching him. Eric has given me permission to share his journey.

As for me, the self-hate is a stronghold I struggle to shake. It can easily appear as pride because I keep people at a distance. It may appear as though I am puffed up and the reality is I don’t want anyone seeing how stupid I actually feel.

At least we are broken together 😉. Heavenly Dad is revealing our love “issues” so He can teach us how to love like Him. This journey begins today.

Until next time: Blessings!

I Want MORE!

“We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). 

What is your favorite day of the week? Yesterday a gal at work was joking that we need an extra day between Sunday and Monday. Then a gentleman said, “No matter what, the first day of the week will always feel like Monday.” He’s right.

Before Eric, technically when I was dating Eric, I would take one day as a Sabbath or day of rest. After Arch died, I felt like I was running all the time and never had time for anything. I was always chasing my tail. In all honesty, that’s exactly the way I wanted it. The faster I ran the less my mind had to remember the life I no longer had and missed so desperately.

With healing came desire to stop running. The life that I had created for myself to that point, however, was full speed ahead, foot on the accelerator-all the way to the floor. It was during that period, at a Dani Johnson event, that she was speaking about the Sabbath as the day of rest. I took that to heart. I introduced that to Taylor, and even Kristian got to hang out with us on a Sabbath or two: Church, food, movies, quiet…rest. Enter Eric and he embraced my Sabbath, as well, until we got married… .

I’m not sure what happened, but life got really, really busy. I think it had a lot to do with his job as an HVAC tech. He was on call every third weekend and normally worked 10 to 13 hours a day. Sunday just became a day to catch up on all of the everything’s of life. Even then, I still loved and longed for Sundays. Going to church feeds my soul.

This last Sunday there was a special speaker by the name of Jay. He spoke of being a cocaine addict and when he came to know the Lord. He said people would tell him he had to pray, so he did. People told him he had to have devotions and he didn’t know what that meant. People said that was reading the Bible, so he said OK. People would say “do this”… so he did it. People said “do that”… so he did. He said what he came to realize through all of that was that, for what he truly wanted, there was no action “to do.” He challenged, “Do you want to know God better? “He paused then continued, “Raise your hands and spread them out.” He spread his arms out wide. He questioned, “Are you ready? “ He then prayed an extremely spiritual prayer: “God, I want more.” We all laughed, but it was true.

I went home and chewed on that. I listened to music, prayed while doing my every day tasks. I dwelt. It’s during those times, when I’m chewing on something, that God speaks. It’s not audible or from a book. He puts all of the pieces together that are tumbling around in my mind, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Errrk! I take that back. I think it’s more like spinning in a circle and everything is whirling around me. I’m not sure where to look because everything is blurry until God calms my spirit, slows me down to a stop and then everything comes into focus. That’s what he did for me on Monday.

As I chewed through the, “I want more, “I was reminded of my journey with God alone, beginning almost 4 years ago. I remember laying on my face, the feel of the carpet on my forehead and nose and the tears trickling down my nose into the carpet. I pleaded for Heavenly Dad to take me home. I felt like I had had a very good life. I had a happy marriage and a wonderful child. I had been blessed beyond measure and there was nothing else that I desired. I was ready to go home.

It was at that point Heavenly Dad began to empty me out. The things in the house were just things. The vehicles were just vehicles. The house was just a house. Everywhere I looked there was just stuff. There was no purpose in anything I could see or feel.

When nothing has any value, I then said, “God? I want more…“ What I meant was: I wanted more of Him. When Jay was saying he wanted “more.” my thought process went back four years. As this was being digested, I realized that in order to “get/receive” more of Him, I had to make room. If I get more and more and more it would be like a hoarders house filled to the brim but nothing has any value. I pondered, if I walk into an empty house and get a bed in order to rest, I value that bed. If I then get a table and chair so I’m not sitting on the floor to eat, I value that table and chair. If I get a cup to drink out of so I’m not scooping the water in my hands, I value that cup. If I get a plate so I’m not eating over the sink, I value that plate.

Processing that message: the memories, life lessons and just the crap over the last four years, the picture that I had to empty out myself. When nothing had value I was finally ready to ask God for more. I could then be focused, appreciative and value every single thing He gave. It’s not hard to focus if there’s only one thing in an otherwise empty room.

Last night I was talking through all of this with Eric, who I am grateful HD brought into my life as an extra blessing. The verse came to mind, Hebrews 4:15. It was speaking of how our high priest, Heavenly Dad, can sympathize with weaknesses. The crazy thing is, at that moment it all became clear. When I ask for more, I’m asking to be weak so that I can be strong through Him. I am asking to be in situations where I am uncomfortable so that He can be my comforter and make me brave. Ultimately, I’m asking for less of me to make room for more of Him. That’s what He said to me this week.

Well dear friends, there are closets in my life that are full of crap and messiness that I haven’t taken the time to deal with. Do you have any of those? If I want “more“ of Him, I’d best get busy.

Until next time: blessings!

Oranges, Apples or Tri-Colored Roses

1 John 1:6-7 If we claim that we share life with him, but keep walking in the realm of darkness, we’re fooling ourselves and not living the truth. But if we keep living in the pure light that surrounds him, we share unbroken fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, continually cleanses us from all sin. 

That first sentence about did me in this week. Do you ever do random self checks to see how you’re doing physically, spiritually, emotionally, and financially? OK, so I probably wouldn’t do them all at one time because I don’t emotionally want to tank, LOL.

Last weekend I took a hard look at my thought life. I stopped and actually thought about,”What am I thinking about?” Then I evaluated it according to biblical standards: “Finally, my brother, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Phil 4:8

Let’s just say, I’m grateful nobody is grading my thought life. If they did I’d be begging for them to grade it on a curve. Some days are better than others, but for the weekend, a big fat “D+” might’ve been considered generous. The description from the verse,” walking in the realm of darkness,” was accurate. The sad thing is, I didn’t realize I was doing this but it was reflected in the way I reacted to people and even my fury kids! The next part of the verse rang true,” (If we claim that we share life with him) we’re fooling ourselves and not living the truth.”

In my self-evaluation, I was wondering where the negative thoughts were coming from. It’s not like I’m thinking life threatening thoughts, but they were not lovely, encouraging, or commendable—you know the Biblical ones. Once I realized that, I turned my brain off and my eyes on.

I looked at the atmosphere I was choosing to place myself in. What music was I listening to? What shows were I watching? Where was I spending my time, with whom and what were their moods? What was I surrounding myself with: positive or negative influences?

My negative self talk was justified in by head as being humble, lowly traits I thought were referenced in Proverbs 3:34, “He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.” In all honesty, I was oppressing myself and I don’t think that’s what Heavenly Dad had in mind.

I had to chew on that one a bit.

Sunday service reiterated my line of thinking when pastor Kyle referenced fruit. I can’t plant the seeds of an orange and expect to grow an apple tree anymore than I can be in negative situations and expect ME to be positive. His example spider webbed my mind to yet another example: a white rose. If you freshly cut a white rose then put it in colored water, it drinks/takes in the color from the water. A white rose can turn into the most beautiful shade of orange, pink, or even blue! If you split the stem into three separate glasses you will have a tri-colored rose (at least the examples I’ve been shown). If the water is murky gray, guess what color of flower you’re going to get. What is sucked up, or goes in, seeps into every pore of that rose’s being and comes out for all to see.

As if those weren’t enough elbows in my ribs by Heavenly Dad, He sent a third message at, of all places, the hospital (was that a hint that I needed some healing???). I was with Taylor, waiting for test results, when a book caught my eye on Anxiety. I know a lot of anxious people (I am in the middle of that list) so I decided it might be worth thumbing through as I was waiting in line for coffee (shocker). It’s a short read, big font and lots of double spacing–SOLD! Not only was I taken aback by the simple truths, but Taylor wants to read it when I’m done! One of the topics covered is the root of anxiety and possible answers for killing them. One root is dwelling on negative thinking, the “What if’s” in life (Seven Answers for Anxiety by Gregory L Jantz, Phd).

“Ok, ok! I’ve got it! I’m a dweller. That’s….normal…ish, right?” I asked Heavenly Dad. The issue was, if I’m dwelling on negatives (“what if this happens, that happen, the other happens?!?!?!”), I’m taking out the God factor, the one that says He is the Creator, Controller, Provider, Comforter, Peacemaker, Healer, and need I go on?

Proverbs 3:5–6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Time for the rest of the top verse: ” But if we keep living in the pure light that surrounds him, we share unbroken fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, continually cleanses us from all sin.” Though Eric and I agreed that, since we hadn’t fallen into bed until after midnight Saturday night (veeeery long day), we were going to go to “TV church” Sunday morning. We would then sleep until our bodies said they were done sleeping. Heavenly Dad had other plans because my body was wide awake by 8:05 and Eric’s 10 minutes later. Off to church we went were I ‘heard’ the second Heavenly Dad elbow and we shared unbroken fellowship with our small group leaders after the service. Hmmmm, next? Well, how does He ‘cleanse us from all sin’? Confession it is. Thank God/Jesus for forgiveness!!! I gotta go.

Praying for you! Until next time: Blessings!

Pursuing Selfishness-WHAT?!?!

Psalms 139:1 “ Oh Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.”

Pity party time. Do you ever feel like life keeps you running? Sometimes I feel like I can’t even catch my breath let alone catch up to anything else. Side note to tie in shortly: During one insightful conversation recently, someone told me of a young woman who said “I want to be pursued,” referring to a young man.

Today I hit a brick wall. To be honest, I didn’t care if I could catch my breath, because I’m ready to go home. No, I do not have a death wish. I’m just…tired. In that moment of extreme fatigue, I fully came to understand what that young woman meant. When I stopped running, out of shear exhaustion, I sensed how completely alone I felt with no one chasing me. I realized I have been pursuing everyone else so they wouldn’t feel like me, but it was not until that moment that I could label the feeling: worthless.

I went home and directly to bed, decked out in full pity party attire—fuzzy jammies. I laid in misery, unable to sleep in spite of extreme weariness. After two hours of partying—tossing and turning without rest—Heavenly Dad whispered to me in the dark. I shot up with the realization that I am being pursued…by Him.

HD revealed a painful truth. Though it sounds selfless to try and make sure no one else feels worthless, in reality, it’s selfish. I was trying to meet my own need by using them to stay busy. Crap.

I grabbed my robe and phone and headed to the living room in the dark. I used every ounce of my biblical wisdom I could muster and said…“Google, Biblical versus on God pursuing me.” I know, I shocked you by my keen insight, right?

Psalm 139 popped up with a cool website: pursuegod.org. A couple of nuggets from my time there are:

Everyone is pursuing something ultimate, aka that is their God, believer or unbeliever.

God pursues everyone Ps 139:16-17. God knew us before we were born and has precious thoughts about us NOW. How many people do you know who think about you ALL OF THE TIME?!?! I can’t even name one as it would be impossible to hold down a job!

Jer 29:11, 13 He has plans for me and if I seek Him I WILL find Him, there is no hide and seek. He is just waiting for me to stop running away from Him.

My pity party instantly came to an end. I emailed my self the link to continue on with their series, popped on some Elevation worship and decided to hang out with you (without using you :o) ) Don’t you feel better about our relationship? I do, giggle, giggle.

Anyway, I will continue on with my study about being pursued by Heavenly Dad, getting up and doing the next right thing and trying to serve others because that’s the purpose HD put me on this earth for–not to meet a selfish need of my own. In turn, hopefully they will feel Heavenly Dad’s sincere love instead of my empty efforts. I wonder if Eric (poor thing has to put up with me) will notice?!?

Until next time, dear friend: Blessings!

If you are wondering if it’s ok to not be ok, I am embracing this song I found on Youtube: