When God asked, “How’s that anger thing working for you?”

Jonah 4:4 “Do you do well to be angry?”

Today I’m crying “uncle“ to another area if my life that I’ve been trying to handle/figure out all by myself. You have probably known me long enough to know how well THAT works for me—I suck at it. Time to begin yet ANOTHER new chapter.

Being previously married for 27 years I thought I figured out what I enjoyed about marriage. What I have found in the last one year plus, is that some of the things that I thought was “marriage“ was just my relationship with Archie. It’s time to Kabash those expectations. I’m heading to counseling for myself.

This brings me to my devotions yesterday and this verse in Jonah, the next chapter on my journey through the Bible. I think most of us know the story of the big fish that swallowed him for three days and then vomited him out on dry land. That’s a mental picture I try not to focus on for too long.

The long and short of the story is the city of Nineveh was doing evil and God wanted Jonah to give them a heads up that, because of this, God was going to destroy them. Jonah knew that if he warned the city, they might repent and be saved. Believe it or not, Jonah didn’t want to go. He thought this city deserved the punishment it was about to get. He hopped on a boat and went in the opposite direction.

Many know the story of the angry storm that happened next: The men in the boat frantically dumped cargo over to lighten the load, but to no avail. They eventually find Jonah sleeping and are like, “What!?! Get up and pray to your God!”

What was Jonah supposed to do? Tell them the storm was all his fault because he was running from the Almighty? (BTW, God doesn’t appear to tolerate disobedience for long)? That’s what he did.

Did they believe them? Would you? Well, the next thing they did was cast lots to see who’s problem/fault it was. Guess who’s name came up. Bingo! Jonah was the culprit, just as he said. The long story short, too late, is that he told him to throw him overboard. They didn’t want to, but did and the storm immediately stopped.

Did God let Jonah drown? In all honesty, He could have! What would be MY price for disobedience? What about people who offend or disappoint me? Do I let them drown/cut them out of my life—ouch!!! Obviously he didn’t or there would be no story of the big fish in the Bible.

After that the nauseous fish did his thing, God spoke again to Jonah and he wiped the fish stomach bile off of his extremities and obeyed. Keep in mind, it didn’t ’t mean he was happy about it. Off to Nineveh he went.

Nineveh had approximately 120,000 people and it took three days to walk across it. It shocked me to learn that Jonah walked through and warned the people without screaming, doing miracles or anything unexplainable but the people of Nineveh repented! Even the king put on sac clothe and commanded everyone to fast. God sent him when the Almighty had prepared their hearts and knew that they were ready to hear. It was all in His time and part of the great design.

You think 120,000 people being saved would put a smile on Jonah’s face but you’d be wrong. Instead, he moped and got angry. He wasn’t happy that they were sorry for their past mistakes. All he could focus on was the pain and misery they caused others before repentance.

That one cut me to the heart. How many times do I get caught up in someone’s past mistakes? Can I leave the past in the past and see them as God sees them now, forgiven and new? The big question is: Can I be happy for them? Forgiven doesn’t mean they won’t have natural consequences for their mistakes—we all do. Who am I to think I have the right to expect anything to or from anyone else when I’m not walking in perfection—ouch!

As I was studying, Heavenly Dad revealed that many of us have very different views of Him. Though I see him as my daddy who scooped my up in my desperation and gave me a reason to keep living, others view Him as a big monster just waiting to pounce on them for every mistake they make. Jonah chapter 4 verse two Jonah says “I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and relenting from disaster.“ Jonah described who God is. “Relenting from disaster…” Means that He wants to stop the mess He sees us creating if we would just FREEZE… and repent.

Jonah is the witness/testimonial, maybe reminder is a better word, that once we make changes in our lives not everyone’s going be happy for us.

Jonah was so angry about their salvation he asked God to take his life! That’s some pretty intense judgment on Jonah‘s part, don’t you think? But then again, don’t we do that to ourselves? We so focus on others “not getting what they deserve,“ that we stop living our life and wallow in anger, wasting our time and breath. That truly is stealing our time and/or the death of OUR life.

Jonah 4:4 “Do you do well to be angry?”

I love this verse! It was like God saying “So how’s that anger thing working out for you? Are you living the life you’ve always wanted? Is this judgment getting you anywhere in life? Do you feel fulfilled, content, purposeful? Are those feelings helping in your relationships, building your business, making you a better and more complete person? How do you feel about yourself when you look in the mirror there buddy?”

Yep, I love this verse. God not only asked once, but twice. He wanted to make sure Jonah heard it. Me too.

That’s why I’m going to counseling. I need someone else to hear the words coming out of my mouth to see if they’re lining up with where my heart needs to be. If they aren’t, I need to get on my face in front of the Great Designer, apologize for criticizing, judging, and manipulating His judgments and design. I need tell Him that I trust Him and actually do just that. Then I need to let Him do His thing and focus on the path He has for ME and not judge the paths of others.

So my question is: how’s the anger thing working for you?

Until next time, blessings!

Just Between You and Me

2 Chronicles 20:22 “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.“

Happy Thursday—for you Friday! How was your day? My Thursday feels like…Thursday. It is midday so hopefully, I’m sliding down towards Friday, LOL.

It’s my lunch time at Heartfelt Creations. Usually during that time I’m praying or checking Facebook videos on food. Whatever I’m doing I’m usually walking. Today’s the same, but my attention span is lacking. I think Heavenly Dad is nudging me about my devotions this morning. I’d best refocus, settle my thoughts, and open my ears to hear His still small voice.

I shared with you that I’m reading through the Bible. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited or annoyed with my devotional time. I’m learning tons but my view of the people of Bible is changing. I always perceived the Bible as a book of perfect people that I have to live up to. Instead, it’s a bunch of people who constantly turn their backs on God. Part of me wonders: had they known all their mistakes would be published in a book to be read for centuries to come, would they have made the same choices?

They followed God. They didn’t follow God. They followed God. They didn’t follow God. When they didn’t follow God crap happened and then they called out to God, “Help me! Help me!“ It’s sort of annoying. I get so perturbed. God was in a cloud for them to see every day and a pillar of fire by night! How could they NOT follow when they didn’t need faith just EYESIGHT?!?!? I often air off to Eric. He tends to do a half-smile at me and then smirks,”For now…” when I complain, “Good grief they’ve turned their backs on God again!”

Then you have the kings that, “…did more evil than any other that came before him.” I can’t even guess how many times that’s been said. There were some seriously bad dudes in the old testament.

With that being said, it does help me keep perspective about loving myself. Do you ever have trouble doing that? Sometimes I feel like all I do is screw up and then say, “Help me! Help me!“ (Does that ring any bells?) At least I know I’m not alone AND thank God my goof ups won’t be documented for generations to come.

The passage above was in my devotions today and I thought it was quite interesting. King Jehoshaphat, who actually did follow God, found out that he was going to be attacked. There were several kings coming against him and he knew they were going to be slaughtered. They took this situation to the Lord and basically the Lord said, “I’ve got this.“

At the end of my Bible reading in the “What did you get out of this?“ I got a real positive. It was seriously cool because after God said “I’ve got this” Jehoshaphat went to the battlefield. He then appointed people to start worshiping and praising God—what?!? They had total and full trust and faith that God was in control. The passage says while they were worshiping and praising, God arranged an ambush for his enemies. They didn’t even have to battle, God did it for them!

When I pondered this to myself, I wondered if I ever had that much faith…? When something comes at me that I know I’m going to fail, I do pray. I may even not even have a shadow of a doubt that God is in control and everything is going to be fine. Now the question: do I automatically start praising Him even before I see the results? That would be a no.

When I contemplate further: have I ever had that much faith? The honest answer is also a painful “no.” Usually, I keep my focus on the enemy rushing towards me. My hands may be in my pockets but my mouth is probably still moving. The thoughts in my head, coming out of my mouth, are not “thank you”s but more of,” Wow, can those guys run! Heavenly Dad, you do have this, right?”“They’re getting pretty close there Heavenly Dad…“ As if I could tell the Creator of all how to do His job better than Him. Seriously?

The Absolute craziest part of this is the fact that I do know that He’s “got this“. In my twisted thought process what I am actually thinking is: “I mean I know you’re in control. Even if I’m defeated in battle, you’re going to work all things for the good, right?“

I expect the bottom to fall out and then trust that He’s going to make a masterpiece out of my brokenness. I very rarely trust that He’s going to SAVE me from the actual destruction. It’s like when bad things happen, I feel like God looks at whatever the bad situation running at me and says, “That’s gonna make some beautiful flowers.“(beauty from ashes).

Today I question myself: why do I only trust Him with brokenness? Do I not believe that He can save and use me the way I am? I took a step away from myself and realized that, with me, it is a very unhealthy piece of me that believed God can only use me after picking me up from rubble and dusting off the soot. That’s sad. That’s not love.

With that insight, I’m not going to pretend to have the answer. I know it’s another area that he’s chipping away at, I need to seek Him in prayer, then shut my big mouth of doubt and listen as He reminds me: I am created for a purpose, I am made in his image, I am His child first and foremost and He loved me enough to die so we could be together.

The first step was admitting to myself that I even felt this way— And then I go blabbing to you, LOL. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone. He said I don’t have to stay this way.

Until next time:blessings!

Social Distancing of the Heart

Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 13:17 “A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.“

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.” I have quipped this childhood saying before. With the recognition of the term “bullying“ and the results there of, this phrase has been proven inaccurate.

This week I was “blessed“ with the opportunity to experience this for myself. Even putting on my “armor“ before heading out for a holy battle didn’t prepare me.

Eric and I were camping. We took it easy and meandered through the morning with coffee and several hours of alone time with Heavenly Dad. We had to share a VERY small space. When I was done I offered to run across the parking lot to the store to give Eric seclusion to pray.

With Covid-19, Eric and I very rarely go into stores. We usually order groceries ahead for pick up. When I stepped through the doors of Meijer, it took a microsecond to remind me why we continue this practice even with the restrictions lightened. The store was packed. Half of the patrons were in masks, the other trying desperately to tango their way down the aisles maintaining the acceptable 6 feet of safe space.

There were small lines in each row waiting to proceed further down the aisle to reach a desired/particular brand. Each time the invisible lines were crossed tension would rise. It was very stressful. Finally my list was complete. It is now impossible to buzz your way to the checkout with distance requirements in place. Since the self checkout seemed the shortest, I took my place in the clothing racks behind the “next” person in line. They were standing on the appropriate star sticker on the floor directly in the middle of the main isle—awkward!! When a register opened, on they went and I moseyed my way to the star.

Carefully taking my place to avoid giving or getting contact from any passerby, I was swinging my cart around to make sure my backend would not block the moving traffic on both sides. That’s when it happened.

Not even fully in place, a woman with a mound of groceries slides into place between me and the person at the checkout counter. She looked back at me as I smiled pointed to the safe social distancing stars on the floor. She nodded and…turned her back to me, staying in the middle of then aisle blocking traffic. Oooookkkkkay.

My thought was,”At least I’m not on a time table,” and I waited. Next a man came up behind me, not hiding out in the racks like I had done but distancing himself down the center aisle. I smiled. The woman in front moved forward to take the next open register and then it happened.

The man behind me went around me! At this point I was feeling very invisible and said to the gentleman,”I’m so sorry but the stars on the floor show us where we are supposed to stand and I’m am actually next.” Barely making eye contact he mumbled,”I’m with her her,” and went ahead. Now I’m tired, as I had been waiting for sometime, felt disrespected, and if that weren’t bad enough, when I scooch up to take the lady’s place to make sure no one else stands in front, a Meijer employee chastises me for not being on the star! In my mind I was thinking,”Where were you just moments ago?!?!”

To make a long story short—too late, I made it through the line but grumpiness was in my heart. As I slowly made my way back to the campsite I was comparing the feelings of joy, fulfillment, and peace that I had when I left with the frustration, impatience, and disrespect I was feeling now. I would say I was miffed but being honest, I was angry. That stunk! It only took an hour, even less, to literally feel like a completely different person. I had felt so…prepared! Now I had to face Eric. Who was I going to be when I walked through that door?

Thankfully, I did have time to process and pray about this between the store and Eric. I plopped down and told him what happened and the feelings I had but that’s where it ended. I confessed how frustrated I was with myself, first and foremost, for letting the actions of others affect my feelings. Instead of giving Eric the opportunity to jump into the situation and be angry with me to justly comfort me, I asked him what I could do better to prepare for the next time that happened.

Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 13:17 “A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.“

What would my day have been like if my recollection of the details would have stayed negative? How would that have set the stage for maybe not just that day but the reminder of our camping? “Trouble” seems like a simple term for all of the turmoil we probably avoided by choosing not to “act” on the negative feelings even if they were justifiable.

Hmmmm…I’m still working on not feeling that way to BEGIN with. It’s definitely a process.

Until next time: blessings!