Tag Archives: The Book Salvaged

Let’s Talk the “F” Word – Part 3

If you would’ve looked at my life over the last ten years or so, you would have said that “forgiveness” was one of the major areas in my life that I needed to work on. No need to go into specifics, but let’s just say I had many moments of hurt (as we all do). Many of those hurts I held on to and a few I let go. The one’s I held on to turned into some serious forgiveness issues and it impacted many areas of my life. I needed to deal with it but I also knew it would require some work – and trust me, I didn’t want to do it but I knew it needed to be done. I also knew that I wasn’t quite sure how.

Do you know what the Lord did? First, he gave me yet another major offense that I needed to work through – a little fresh meat so to speak. Then he taught me forgiveness in the strangest way ever – he had me write about it. I started writing a story about a girl who had some things happen in her life that required her to forgive. Her issues weren’t necessarily similar to mine, but I was able to walk through the entire process through the eyes and the “spirit”of someone else. It was fascinating. Somehow, that story became a book. Then, I wrote a second book  about the same characters and found myself writing about forgiveness again, although for a different type of “offense”. Again, learned the process through my character.
I can honestly say that for almost a full year, I studied forgiveness, wrote about forgiveness, pondered the topic of forgiveness and tried to live it out in my life. Here’s the interesting thing though, I’m as interested in what forgiveness is as much as what it isn’t.
Why? Because for so many years I had people telling me that if you’ve truly forgiven, you should be able to reconnect with the person(s) that hurt you. I battled with myself about it for years. I felt guilty, I felt like a failure and I feared that although I believed I forgave people, maybe I’d been wrong. Maybe I never really had.
So, I went back to the basics and looked up the word.
Forgiveness is typically defined as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, and ceasing to demand punishment or restitution. (That was completely copied off of Wikipedia so I’m not sure if the links will work or not).
Have you noticed what the definition doesn’t include? It doesn’t say you have to go back to how things were. It doesn’t say you must remain friends or close to the person who committed the offense. It doesn’t say you aren’t allowed to still hurt when you’re reminded of the offense and it doesn’t say that you have to explain your decisions to anyone else. All it says is that you will stop harboring resentment and anger and that you won’t spend your time hoping for some type of punishment to rain down from the heavens.
God knows we’re human. He knows we’re weak and although he asks a lot from us, he doesn’t ask the impossible. He doesn’t necessarily say we have to forget – otherwise he wouldn’t have given us a memory. He just says we need to forgive.

Sometimes we’ll reconnect with people and sometimes we’ll cut ties. Either way, as long as we’ve forgiven – we’ve done all that God asks us to do.

I’d be a total loser if I didn’t point out that the Lord isn’t asking anything of us that he hasn’t already done – time and time again. He’s quick to forgive . . . and forget.

There are losses in my life through offense that still hurt – 20 years later, 10 years later, 5 years, 1 year . . . we’ve all been hurt. We’ve all been wronged. AND – we’ve all hurt and we’ve all wronged. We’ve been on both sides of the coin – we’ve needed to forgive and we’ve needed to be forgiven.

The major lesson I’ve learned is: Forgiveness is a gift for us from the Lord. It’s a gift he gives us and it’s a gift we give ourselves. When we chose, as painful as it is, to forgive someone else – we free ourselves. We free ourselves from thinking about them, from dwelling on the offense and we free ourselves from any hold they had on our lives.

As a person whose finally dropped some chains of forgiveness – chains that have been attached to certain people, I feel a lot less pressure and weight on my shoulders and on my spirit. I wish those people well and I move on – and it feels good to have done so.

That’s it for my posts on the dreaded “F” word – unless of course the Lord prompts me to write something else. My prayer for you is that the Lord will reveal those places in your life that a little (or a lot) of work might need to be done. Where a gift needs to be given — or received.

I hope you’ll be willing to drop the chains and free yourself.

Let’s Talk the “F” Word – Part One

I kinda knew this post was gonna be heavy when I woke up at 4:30 in the morning feeling the need to write it.
Here’s my problem: I made the mistake of praying before I went to bed last night. I told the Lord that I was under the impression he didn’t want me writing about anything right now because I wasn’t really getting anything from him – but, should he change his mind he should just let me know and I’d be glad to follow his direction.
Big mistake.
So here we go – the message he gave me… the grandaddy of all topics…
 F-f-f- forgiveness.
Let’s all slap our foreheads and groan in unison.
Forgiveness? Come on! Can’t we talk about patience or community service or something . . . seriously, did we have to go there?
Unfortunately yes. You see, I have this fear of blatantly ignoring the Lord and since you’re crazy enough to take the time to read my ramblings, you’re stuck having to read what I get stuck having to write.
So let’s just walk down this road of misery together- shall we?
Forgiveness . . . does anyone actually even like the word? Personally, just hearing it gives me the willies.
I wonder why that is? . . . Could it be because the process can be downright painful? Could it be that our flesh would forever enjoy holding grudges, dreaming of revenge and plotting the destruction of any and all people who’ve ever wronged us? Well yes, there’s that.
From where do you think so many novels come? Someone’s sick and twisted revenge dreams played out on paper since they can’t actually do it in real life – not that I’m talking about myself or anything . . .
Anyhoo – I’m starting to believe that the topic of forgiveness gives us the willies cause we just flat out aren’t very good at it and we know it. Many times, just when we think we’ve mastered the concept, the Lord lovingly gives us yet another situation that demands it from us and we again realize how human and pathetic we truly are.
Personally, I’m figuring out that forgiveness and our difficult time in doing it, is one of the Lord’s ways of reminding us that we aren’t him. We tend to look at our lives when all is going well and prance down the street whistling Dixie saying- “Look at me, I’m great. I’ve got this life thing all figured out”. Then we walk into the completely unnoticed glass door of offense, get stuck with the throbbing pain of realizing the need to forgive and we’re right back to admitting – “I’m pitiful and I can’t do this alone.”
Don’cha just love it when God reminds us of our crapiness?
So, forgiveness . . . for – giv – ness. Fo – rgi – ven – ess. Okay, no matter what em-phas-is you put on which ever syl-abble, the word still stinks.
No more avoidance- Forgiveness is demanded of us! And do you know why?
–Uh… so we can bless other people?
     — Sort of but that’s not THE reason.
–Uh… so we’ll be forced to pray for our enemies?
     — Not really, but if that actually happens,  I think you get bonus points up in heaven.
–Uh… so that if we run into them in public, I’m not tempted to run over and rip their eyeballs out of their skull.
     — Bingo! No, not really.
Here it is. The reason God wants us to forgive…
For you.
So that you can throw off that weight and walk around carrying so much less of a burden.
So that you aren’t spending your time thinking about and pondering on things that wrap you up and keep you from doing what you’re meant to do.
So that you can get a very teensy-weensy glimpse of what it is that the Lord does for you practically every single second of every single day.
So that you can witness your own miracle – and in return, increase your faith.
Forgiveness, a miracle?
I think it is, yes… and I’ll explain more in my next post.
There, enough for one day. Come back tomorrow for more FU-U and I’ll serve you up another stinkin’ heaping of forgiveness stew.
(By FU-U I was referring to Forgive U University . . . what did you think I was referring to? Geesh.)

“Verb”age!

I love how God works! I would scream that, but I’m sitting in Starbucks and I might freak out the customers – so I’ll just shout it this post. “I love how God works!”

I sat down this morning to answer e-mails and messages in my Facebook inbox. Collision has been out a few weeks now  and feedback is streaming in. I’m getting questions, comments and amazing proclamations. All of it is amazing, and I love responding (although it can take me some time).

But, there’s something about this book and the story told inside that is compelling people to want more. To discover their purpose. I’ve had several people say they put the book down and signed up for a mission trip. I’ve had more say that they are now really thinking about what it is they are meant to do with their time on this earth. It’s gotten people thinking and that’s exactly what I was hoping it would do.

In answering these notes, one of the things I’m trying to tell people is, just do something! Act. Start. Believe. Search. Say “yes” when God says “Go”!

So, I went back into the archives of my blog and found this post from a few years back. This is for all of you out there that are waiting for God to speak to you – to give you direction. I hope my confusion and wandering of a few years back, will encourage you in a  new way. It sure does me.

I love you guys, and I’m thankful for each and every one of you! And please, if you’re feeling compelled to head a certain direction, let me know so I can be praying for you on your journey! It’s the least I can do for all that you do for me!

Have you ever sat around and waited for God to do something for you? Have you prayed, begged, questioned, ranted and raved? “Where are you?” “Why aren’t you doing something?” “When are you going to act?”

Maybe I’m the only one.
I was thinking about that today. Not that I’m sitting around and asking God those questions during this season of my life. Actually, right now all is going well. But I know that I have asked those very questions and I have a lot of friends that are asking those questions. So, being snowed in as I am, and having nothing better to do, I sat and pondered. Then, I decided to re-read the book of Exodus (for some reason I’m going there a lot right now).
Once God and Moses have made their formal introductions, God gets right down to business. He tells Moses what he has planned. He is going to rescue the Israelites.
Now, do you think God really needed Moses to “help him” do it? No. Obviously he didn’t, but he chose to use him.
But here’s where it gets interesting. I am going quote the first or first several words of every single time that God speaks to Moses. Are you ready?
“So now go” 3:10
“Go back” 3:19
“Say” 6:6
“Go” 6:10
“Bring” 6:26
“Tell” 6″28
“See!” 7:1
“Throw” 7:9
“Go” and “Wait” and “Take” 7:15
“Say” 7:16
“Tell”, “Take”, “Stretch out” 7:19
“Go” 8:1
“Tell” 8:15
“Tell” 8:16
“Get up!” 8:20
“Go” 9:1
“Take” 9:8
“Get up” 9:13
“Stretch out your hand” 9:22
“Go” 10:1
“Stretch out your hand” 10:12
“Stretch out your hand” 10:21
“Stretch out your hand” 11:1
“Up!”, “Leave”, “Go Worship!” 12:31
I think you get the point. Do I really need to keep going? There are a lot more chapters in Exodus, but I’ll spare you the list.
Even with the parting of the sea, God required Moses to hold up his arms – the entire time!
Do you see a pattern here? God requires action. He may have wonderful plans for you – all of which he could very well do on his own and with no help from you. But, that’s not the kind of God he is. He requires verbs! He requires your action. If you can’t step out and act on your own behalf, why would you expect him to?
So many times we sit around and wait for God to deliver us. All the while he’s sitting around waiting for us to get up off our butts and put some action behind our demands.
You’re called to a purpose. It might be to impact the life of your neighbor or it might be to change nations! But you’ll never know until you act. Take a step of faith. One step. Show God that you’re ready, willing  and able to be used by him. God loves a willing spirit, but I’ve gotta think that it thrills him to the bone when someone is actually willing to put action behind that willingness.
Let yourself be used by him! I can promise you that no matter how far outside the box the “mission” might be, you won’t ever regret taking part!

In The Mist

I originally wrote the post below on July 27, 2009 – right after the loss of two children we’d been trying to adopt for close to two years. I’m so grateful that I wrote this post in a horrible time of pain because I can look back now and see that we made it through and God still had a plan for our lives. It wasn’t the plan I thought it was, but it was still a plan.

It’s nice to know that you’re missed when you’re gone. So, thanks to all of you who have been asking where I was and when I would write on my blog again.

Do you really want to know where I’ve been? I’ll warn you, it’s not pretty. The actual physical location I’ve been in was beautiful, but where I’ve been mentally and spiritually has been really ugly. You know, that lock yourself in a room, lights off, curtains drawn, watching daytime television and eating nothing but very unhealthy snack foods (I gained 10 pounds). That’s where I’ve been since July 4th week.
I’ve come to lovingly refer to it as “In the Mist”. It’s sort of a play on words for the saying “In the Midst”. So many friends, family and supporters have given me the “In the midst” speech since the loss of Karim and Phiona. Not that I don’t appreciate every one’s efforts of trying to make me feel better by looking for positives in a crappy situation, but I must admit that when they say “In the midst of your pain” all I picture is mist. Misty air clouding my vision.
There are different levels of mist – have you ever thought about that? There’s the light mist that hangs over your yard in the early mornings. There’s a slightly heavier mist that hovers even higher and seems a little thicker but you can still see items above and below. There’s the mist that encompasses everything and blurs your vision but you can see through it; and there’s the mist that is so thick that you literally can’t move in it. Highways and roads close, planes can’t fly, your vision is almost completely impaired – that kind of mist. I guess the proper term would be fog ~ but mist sounds more poetic.
Personally, I’ve been in some misty life situations before. I’ve had bad things happen that clouded my vision, or I’ve had an unexpected change of plans that caused the vision of my future to blur and become unclear. But until recently I don’t think I’ve ever been in the type of mist that was so thick and heavy that I couldn’t see a foot in front of me let alone for any distance.
Almost nothing seemed familiar or recognizable and that was a scary place.
One year ago my husband and I were on a path. We knew where we were going, we had an idea of what our future looked like. Things were good. In October we made some difficult yet necessary decisions that left things a little less certain – like the early morning mist covering the ground. Although our path was less clear, there was bright sunshine above and we were certain of our choices (and still are). In January I was given a wonderful opportunity to start a new life. Crazy as it sounds, my company was laying off and I wanted to be one of those people who received a pink slip. I had two new little ones about to enter my world and a year off with pay would have been the perfect way to devote the time and attention needed on the little ones while still having my income. My wish came true and my name was pulled out of the hat. I was laid off. The mist seemed to clear, my purpose seemed to reveal itself. I was meant to stay home for a while and really focus on the children – all five of them. Over time a few more not so positive events happened which brought the mist back in and this time it was the heavier kind but we still felt certain that we could see our path ahead.
Enter July 4th week and the loss of Karim and Phiona. The mist crept in. All the plans we had made – destroyed. The very thing that I thought had become my purpose – gone. The idea of thinking that maybe I’d figured out why I’m on this planet, why God put me here – obviously wrong. For the first time in my adult life, I didn’t have a job to go to, or a purpose to fulfill.
(For all of you out there screaming “You have three other children!” – I realize that, so don’t misunderstand that I don’t see impacting their lives as part of my purpose. Nobody said that you think rationally when “in the mist”.)
So where has being “In the Mist” left me? Dazed, confused, concerned? Certainly. But finally, the mist is beginning to evaporate. It’s becoming lighter. The people and things that I know and love are back in focus and close by and although I can’t see any type of path ahead, I can now see what’s standing right next to me. That in and of itself is enough for now. And I know that although I can’t see my path, God can. He knows the plans he has for me. He knows the path I’m on and as the mist continues to dissipate I become hopeful, curious even as to what he has up his sleeve.
In the midst of the uncertainty I can rest in knowing that life was and still is good, very good. And one day I’ll look back and be thankful for my time in the mist.

I hope this post can give you encouragement to push on through the mist when it enters your life. When life seems to blow up and make zero sense or when circumstances seem unfair and are downright painful – God is still there. He’s still directing your path- even if he’s harder to see than normal.

Don’t let the enemy rob you. Don’t let him cloud your vision to the point that you won’t allow yourself to have any vision at all. Don’t give up. Push through the mist and victoriously walk through the other side.

Blessings,

Stefne

Lord, if you had been here . . .

“Lord, if you had been here. . . “

Have you ever said that? Maybe not in those exact words but perhaps: “Where were you? Why didn’t you do something? Why did you let this happen? Why are you making me go through this?”

Trust me, I’ve said it and I’ve said it a lot. You see, I don’t like pain. Physical, emotional or spiritual pain – any kind of pain. I have an aversion to it and would like to avoid it at all costs. But unfortunately life doesn’t worry itself with what I want and I end up suffering right there along with everyone else. Our pain might be different and it may have come about for differing reasons, but yet, I suffer right along side everyone else.

Human nature causes us to turn that pain and suffering around on God. We point the finger – and questions and accusations begin. We wanted our miracle and it didn’t happen. Why? We wanted to escape the pain, but he didn’t make it go away. Why? He could have, but he didn’t. That fact is what runs through our minds. He could have done something, but he didn’t. Sometimes that thought haunts us and causes our faith to plummet.

Now before you get all down on yourself for ever having said such words, don’t forget that Jesus said something similar once. He was in the garden before being arrested and knowing what was going to be happening to him; he cried out to God for him to find another way to bring about his will. He didn’t want to suffer and he was begging for God to spare him.

It’s one of two times that the Bible mentions Jesus crying. The second was in John Chapter 11 and it was upon witnessing the grief of Mary and Martha over Lazarus’ death. To be more specific and to quote the Word: “Jesus wept.”

I’ll probably blog about that some time – it makes me cry every time I read the words and it makes me love my Savior even more. “Jesus wept.”

If you back up a bit in the story, Jesus finds out about Lazarus being ill and he replies: “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

A little while later he says: “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

Interesting. At one point, when he hears that Lazarus is ill he says he isn’t going to die and waits two more days before starting the journey back to the town where Lazarus laid. Later, when his disciples talk to him about it, Jesus acknowledges that Lazarus has in fact died and it was in their best interest for it to have happened.

When Jesus and the disciples show up on the scene, Mary and Martha are distraught with grief. Martha actually runs out to him and the first thing she says is: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Jesus responds: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Martha said that she did believe and then ran and retrieved Mary who runs out to the Lord and the first thing she says is: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

It is then that Jesus weeps. But then (we all know the story) he raises Lazarus from the dead.

Jesus could have acted earlier – Mary and Martha are right. He could have come earlier and they would have received their miracle – Lazarus would have been healed from his sickness. Now, that would have been quite a miracle and it probably would have increased the faith of the women and Lazarus. But Jesus knew what was coming. He knew that they would need a faith much bigger than what that miracle would have provided. Jesus knew that he was about to die. He also knew that he was going to rise from the dead and that nobody would believe it when he did return from the grave – unless they’d seen him perform the miracle before.

The Lord sees the big picture. He knows what lies ahead in our lives and in the lives of those around us. He could jump in at any moment and deliver the miracle we want (usually that’s whatever will get us out of our current situation). But – have you ever thought about the fact that he’s waiting to provide the miracle that he needs to perform? This is about him and his glory – not ours, and while he could make it about you and step in at any moment – he’s going to make it about him and what glorifies him and his kingdom. Want to know the best thing about that? It’s those types of miracles (the type that glorify the Lord) that impact the lives of others – not just ours.

So yeah, maybe Lazarus and his sisters would have had an increased faith in the Lord if he had performed their miracle. But instead, Jesus performed his miracle -and because he did, the people of the city were impacted. The Bible says: “Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.”

Now that’s what it’s all about.

I know it’s hard when your in the middle of pain and/or grief. I know it’s hard to encourage others when they are suffering. It’s okay to sit down and weep about it -Jesus did. But I encourage you to try to remember that just because Jesus isn’t providing your miracle doesn’t mean he isn’t going to provide a miracle.

One way or the other, he will be glorified. The question is whether or not you’re going to let him use your circumstances to bring it about.

- – – -

My debut novel, Salvaged, is now available for purchase. Buy your copy today by clicking here.

Re-Post: Can You Hear HIM now?

Do you remember the story of Samuel? Come on now, if you ever went to Sunday School you colored a page or two that showed Samuel mistakenly running to Eli when it was actually the Lord who had called out to him. I’ve personally probably heard or read it twenty-five times or more.

About a year ago while doing a Bible Study I stumbled upon the story again, but for some reason when I read it there were certain portions that stood out to me as if they were in bold print. Small sentences that had seemed insignificant upon first glance but this time held great meaning.
To give a little bit of back story (for those who have forgotten or never heard the story), Hannah was a woman who had been unable to have children. She prayed and prayed to the Lord for a child and promised that if He would in fact give her a child that she would dedicate him to the Lord. Of course she ended up having a son named Samuel (meaning: because I asked the Lord for him) and she took him to live in the House of the Lord under a man by the name of Eli.
So,
1 Samuel 2: 21 Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the LORD.
He literally grew up in the Tabernacle near the “Lamp of God”. Could anyone actually be any closer to the Lord? For us in the present day it would be like living inside a church and never leaving. Everything we knew would be about the Lord (assuming we are at a church where the Holy Spirit actually resided and the work of God was being accomplished). Samuel literally lived and breathed the Word of God.
Moving farther on in the story we read:
1 Samuel 2: 26 And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men.
In other words, God’s blessing was on Samuel.
Continue on: 1 Samuel 3
1 Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.
Sadly, this reminds me of today. True messages from the Lord are rare and very few people receive true visions of the Lord.
2 One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed.
I could practically write a dissertation on this sentence alone – but I’ll spare you. Why is this sentence in here? The Bible contains the literal words of God and we can assume that He didn’t just add this part for nothing more than adding to the story. I don’t only see this passage as God explaining that Eli’s eyesight had become poor due to old age, to me (and I do not claim to be a Biblical scholar) this also speaks to the fact that after many of years of serving the Lord but also accepting the sin of those around him, Eli wasn’t seeing the Lord as he once had. Eli had allowed himself to become surrounded by people (his sons and other priests) who had no regard for the Lord and even after God had sent people to warn Eli, he failed to act. So, Eli didn’t quite “see” the Lord as he once had.
3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out,
aka: the presence of God was still there among the people although it wasn’t as obvious (through visions and messages)
v 3 continued: and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle[a] near the Ark of God.
Again, Samuel is close to God – in His presence and in His favor.
Okay, here is where it really gets good!
4 Suddenly the Lord called out, “Samuel!”
“Yes?” Samuel replied. “What is it?” 5 He got up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.” So he did.
6 Then the Lord called out again, “Samuel!”
Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
“I didn’t call you, my son,” Eli said. “Go back to bed.”
7 Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before.
Did you get that or should I repeat it again? “Samuel did not yet know the Lord”. . .
Here he’d grown up in the presence of the Lord, watched others as they served the Lord, he probably served the Lord himself but yet he still didn’t KNOW him! God even had a call on Samuel’s life (he found favor in God’s eyes) yet Samuel didn’t KNOW him!
No wonder he didn’t recognize God’s voice – he didn’t know God – how could he recognize His voice if he didn’t truly know Him?
Please tell me that this is hitting you like it hit me! I mean come on, how common is this scenario today?
People grow up in church, they pray before meals, they serve in the name of God – heck, they may even do ministry in the name of God, but for many of those who do all of that – they don’t really even know the Lord and wouldn’t know His voice if He screamed in their ear. God could call their name over and over but they would miss it. [I am speaking to all of us – yes, you too!]
8 So the Lord called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
v 8 continued: Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy.
Although Eli wasn’t as close to Lord as he had been, he could still recognize the call of God.
May I also note that I find it sad that although both Eli and Samuel were in the Tabernacle, God was now choosing to speak to Samuel rather than Eli. The Lord was beginning to work in the life of someone who would listen to His voice and act on his instruction.
9 So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed.
10 And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!”
And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”
Oh how that last sentence brings tears to my eyes. “Speak, your servant is listening.”
So many times we want God to speak but we don’t really want to hear what He actually says. I feel like a lot of times that’s why we go to church and serve but make the choice not to truly know Him – we’re afraid of what He might say to us, of what He might point out and of what we might ask us to do if we actually acknowledge hearing Him. (I remember being afraid that He would ask me to go to Africa. I finally listened and guess where I ended up going? Uh yeah, Africa.)
We have to be courageous and full of faith in order to be able to truthfully say: “Speak Lord! I, your servant, am listening. I’m willing to hear whatever it is you have to say and I will obey whatever it is you tell me to do.”
If you read on in the story, when Samuel listens to God what he hears isn’t warm and fuzzy. God says some pretty scary stuff – He can do the same with us. When we finally listen, what we hear may not be pretty but if God’s speaking it must be pretty darned important.
Okay, so I’m rambling – sorry! I guess my plea in all of this would be: Don’t just come to know who the Lord is, come to know Him. In a crowd of voices, learn to recognize His voice above all others. And last but not least, be willing to act on whatever it is that He whispers in your ear. You never know what He will use you to do – you may just save a nation.

Ever Feel Like This . . .?

. . . like you’ve got a target attached to your body at all times and no matter how hard you try to use your escape skills, you keep getting bombarded.

Have you seen the commercial where they show two versions of a man playing paint ball? In one scenario labeled “too light” the balls are hitting him and aren’t even exploding. In the other, labeled “too heavy”,  a plane flies over and drops a huge paintball on him that explodes and so much paint is on him that he’s practically unrecognizable.  To me, that’s kind of what its like to walk around with a target attached to you. Some days the attack comes and it seems to hamper you in no way, shape or form. Then there are other days where the attack is brutal and you’re left as nothing more than a shell of your former self.

I’ve been a part of or witnessed several situations recently where either I or someone else was “on their way”. They (or I) were doing what the Lord told them to do and then **blam**!!! Out of nowhere, the torpedo sized paintball is dropped and they (or I) am left reeling.

Here’s what’s interesting: being under attack by the enemy is actually a good thing – it means that you’re up to something that he doesn’t want you up to. It means he sees you following the will of God and he doesn’t want you to. So, he calls in his buddies to try to get you to withdraw.

A few years back, my husband had been out of ministry for a few years and was making the decision to go back. I remember practically begging him not to go back. It wasn’t that I didn’t want him in ministry or at that particular church. It was more that I understood that him taking that step would mean that our family would be walking around with a bigger target on our chest than normal. It would mean that the more good we tried to do, the enemy was going to amp up his assault. I knew it would be hard. I knew it would be painful. I knew the attack would come. And it did. And it was hard. And it hurt like heck. And guess what, we survived and not only did we survive, we walked out better off than we ever were before. (Although let me be sure to tell you that as we walked away, we weren’t sure we had survived. It wasn’t until later that we realized all was well).

Do you want to know how we survived? I can only guess, seeing as how I don’t have a direct line to God and know all of his thoughts.But, here’s my analysis: We fought back – with the Lords help of course. We recognized the attack for what it was. We paid attention to the signs as they presented themselves and when we saw the signs we pressed in to the Lord. We dialed in to the Lord so that when he told us to move, we moved and when he told us to stay still, we did. We were bound and determined to not let Satan win out – no matter what. Even when it seemed like going back to ministry had been the worst decision ever – we never stopped believing that God had planned the entire thing and he had a purpose for all of it. We also held on to the fact that what Satan means for bad – the Lord will turn it for good.

Sometimes, I think as humans we tend to focus on the enemy. We shirk back in fear of what he’s capable of. We run away from anything that might cause us pain or discomfort. Heck, sometimes we wave the white flag and flat out give up on what it is God wanted us to do. So- Satan wins. Does that grieve your heart to read? Satan wins. It grieves me to write it.

What we tend to forget is that we have someone on our side. A spiritual target so to speak – and he already won the battle. God has his “army” too and they’re ready, willing and able to come to your rescue at any moment. But here’s the deal – you have to uphold your part of the bargain. You have to press in to the Lord. You have to pray and ask for his help. The Bible just doesn’t tell us to put on the full armor of God because the writer thought it sounded catchy – it’s there because it’s a warning. It’s a warning that bullets are going to fly your direction and you’re going to need to be ready so like the “too light” commercial scenario – the bullets bounce right off.

My prayer for you is that you are under attack. My prayer is that you do have a target on your chest. Because if you do, it means you’re doing something right! But my next prayer for you is that you’ll put on the full armor of God  and prepare for battle. And not only will you prepare before hand – but you’ll continue to wear the armor when you’re smack dab in the middle of the mucky battle field.

Nobody said this walk with Christ thing was going to be easy – and if someone did tell you that, they lied. But, if we’ll grab ahold of the power that he offers and if we’ll stay real close to him – the bullets won’t hurt as much and won’t leave as big a scar as most would think. We won’t walk out completely unscathed, but we will walk out- and isn’t that what matters most?

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My debut novel, SALVAGED, is now available for purchase. To buy your copy, click here.

This Might Hurt a Little

I’ve never been one to like nature shows. It’s not that I don’t like animals, because I do. What I don’t like is seeing them suffer and on every nature show they have to have a segment where an animal dies or gets hurt. I hate that – well, that and when they show the mating process but that’s a whole ‘nother topic.

In one of the few nature shows I watched, they followed birds through their lifespan. When the baby birds are first born the parent birds care for them. They go hunt for their food, bring it to them and shove it down their throat. They  do everything for them. Then, one day they shove them out of the nest.

Yep, the change is just about that drastic. One day they’re shoving food down the throat and the next they’re throwing it over the edge of the nest. Now obviously they’re trying to teach the bird to fly. The only way to learn to fly is to try. It makes sense but you can’t tell me that when that little tyke gets that initial shove it isn’t thinking (as it falls towards the ground): “Now wait just a minute. Here I was just enjoying the comforts of the nest, having every need met by my parents and the next thing I know they’ve sent me plunging towards certain death. What on earth went wrong?”

At just the right moment, instinct kicks in, they start to flap those little wings and off they go – flying.

Do you think that if given the option, that bird would have chosen to go over the edge on his own? I mean seriously, even if the parents took the time to explain the pros of jumping out of the nest, the little bird would be thinking: “You birds are crazy. I’m not going anywhere.”

I’ve learned over the last year and a half that God is very much like those bird parents. Sometimes he gives you the option of making a decision on your own but sometimes he just flat out shoves you out there – giving you no choice but to act. Now even after getting that shove, we have a choice. We can either accept what is and start flapping so to speak. Or, we can ponder and complain all the way down . . .

The bird parents knew what was best for their baby. They knew that he wouldn’t be safe staying in that nest forever. With flying, the bird has a way of protecting himself. A way of getting food and heck, a way of having fun. The parents knew that it would be scary at first, but the baby would soon realize that it was much better off. Maybe they’d luck out and even get a thank you.

God knows what’s best for us too. He knows what will come of us if we stay right where we are. He also knows that if he warns of what’s to come, we won’t make the choice to fly. So, he gives us a shove.

Want to know the best part? If you fall – he picks you up, dusts you off, puts you back in the nest and waits until just the right time to shove you out again. He keeps doing it until you make the right choice – and fly.

Next time God pushes you into action what are you going to do? Fly and accept that God knows best or hold on to your own idea of what’s best and fall? Either way, God will eventually win out – it’s just a matter of when and how much you’ll lose out on because you waited.

Coffee Talk

For Christmas this year I received one of the best gifts ever! It was one that I specifically asked for and my oh-so-sweet Mother-In-Law got it for me!

Wanna know what it is? It’s a Keurig Single Cup Coffee Maker! And, I get to keep it in my “girl cave” so that I may have a cup of coffee in a matter of seconds any time I want. It keeps the water warm and then whenever you want a cup, you pop in this little shot glass sized coffee thinga-ma-jig and push a button. Thirty seconds later – wah-lah! You have a cup of coffee!

I have to be honest, when I made my first few cups I was a little disappointed. It only filled my insulated “Viagra” coffee cup about half way, so I thought I’d have to make a few cups to reach the right “caffeine” saturation level in my bloodstream.

But here’s the interesting part – it’s the perfect cup of coffee.  Each individual coffee filter doo-dad makes the perfect cup! So, even though it makes less, I don’t need to drink as much!

My point? We can spend a lot of time in our spiritual lives trying to fill our “spiritual mugs”. We try this and we try that – all in an effort to feel better or to become spiritually awake. We think we need to go to just the right church, or listen to a certain kind of music or maybe read books from a particular author. But, the reality is that if we just seek the Lord and what direction he wants us to go – we may get a lot farther, with a lot less effort and work! It only takes a little bit of the real thing to get the “job” done. Once we’ve found him, the extra stuff like serving those around us, begin to add to the entire experience rather than dilute it. And, once we’ve had the real thing – going back to the old, just isn’t the same. It’s never as satisfying.

Seek what actually changes you and fills you up forever – not for what will fill you up momentarily.

Open Up a Can of . . .

I watched football all weekend long. It was one of the last weekends, so I figured I might as well get my fill. I hate to say it, but I was highly disappointed. None of the games were close and it got me wondering: “What keeps the players from the losing team on the field when they’re getting their tooshes kicked?” If given the choice, I don’t know if I’d rather keep playing or just raise my hand, get the attention of the ref and say (ever so meekly): “Um, excuse me. This is rather embarassing not only for myself but for my fellow players and our fans. If you’d be so kind as to just call it a game, we’d greatly appreciate the gesture.”

Weird, I’ve never seen that happen. Course, the players aren’t the quitters that I seem to be. Well, that and they’re getting paid buko bucks to keep their rears on the field. If I were getting paid what they are, I might stay too. Of course I’d ask everyone not to hit me very hard, but that’s neither here nor there.

Let’s face it, they’re a part of a team. A family. A community. They’re all for one and one for all. They stand for a cause (even if the cause is football). They take pride in their efforts on the field whether they win or they lose. They committed to themselves and to everyone else to try their hardest – win, lose or draw. They know you don’t just walk off the field when things aren’t going their way.

I’ve witnessed a lot of situations recently where people have been hurt by Christians or churches. Or, they’ve experienced something horrible in their life and they can’t understand why God would let it happen. They’re getting their butts handed to them out there in the field of life and lets face it, it stinks. It’s embarassing. It’s painful and sometimes it’s downright devastating. But, they stay on the field. They remain committed to the Lord no matter what. They signed on to love the Lord with all of their heart, mind and spirits – and not only when things are going well.

Even when we lose, there’s something about knowing that we gave the good fight, we tried our hardest – that in and of itself can be a wonderful reward.

But, I also know that the Word says that God can take all bad and turn it to good. He can take a loss and turn it into something that is a positive in our life. Not that the loss was positive, but what he makes out if it can be.

I’m so thankful to have a Lord that considers us winners no matter what the scoreboard says. When we walk off that field he pats us on the back and tells us “You did good.” I love that about him!

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